4th Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– Yesterday the honorable member for Cowper asked a question about the granting of annual leave “to the New South Wales officers of my Department. I have obtained this report on the subject from the Collector: -
Leave to some officers in Landing and Warehouse branches was deferred owing to abnormal pressure of business and absence of officers on sick leave. With exception of five officers in Landing Branch and six officers in Warehouse Branch, who are willing that leave should stand over until next year, all officers will receive leave before the end of the year.
Railways, Queanbeyan and Jervis Bay - Committee’s Report - Designs for Public Buildings
– I understand that the Minister of Home Affairs has made a contract with Messrs. Hoskins ‘Brothers for the supply of pipes for the Federal city. Has the honorable gentleman, to save- carting, made arrangements to connect the capital with Queanbeyan by railway?
– The engineer has just returned from the Capital, where he went on that special business. I shall give the honorable member a reply tomorrow.
– Can the Minister of Home Affairs tell us what progress, if any, has been made in connexion with a railway from the Capital site to Jervis Bay?
– I hope to be able to give the information to-morrow. The engineer arrived home only yesterday.
– About a month or six weeks ago the Minister of Home Affairs, in reply to a question, stated that a report from a committee appointed with a view to expedite the building of the Federal Capital would be to hand in a. few days. Has that report yet been received, and, if not, what steps are being taken to bring this business to finality?
– The report has not yet been received, but I hope to have it in a few days.
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the’ honorable member’s questions are -
– Has the attention of the Prime Minister been drawn to the discovery in Germany of what appears tobe a well authenticated cure for consumption? If so, will he communicate with the High Commissioner with a view to getting the remedy made available for the Commonwealth ?
– I have read everything I could on this subject, because of its importance, and because of the interest I takein it and kindred matters. The suggestion is a good one, and I am sure that the Minister of External Affairs will make the communication desired. The Commonwealth has no direct control of healthmatters, except by the exercise of its quarantine powers, but in the interests of the community I think we should do what we can.. I must not be taken to commit myself, or the Government, to the statement that a cure for consumption has been found, as I know nothing beyond the statements that have been made public.
– Has the attention of the Minister of Home Affairs been drawn to a paragraph in the Melbourne Herald of the20th inst., wherein it is stated that’ the attention of the State Minister of Lands was drawn to a statement by myself to the effect that the Victorian State Govemment had given preference at Cohuna to Russian immigrants over our Victorian landseekers? Is he aware that the StateMinister, in reply, said that these Russians, twenty in number, had been introduced to the Victorian Department by an officer of the Home Affairs Department? I wish to- know if that statement is correct? If so, will the Minister have introduced a number of Victorian-born landseekers, who have at considerable expense and loss of time re- peatedly failed in their numerous applications for land, and secure for them privileges - free railway trips, free carriage to selection, lands ploughed and sown, and houses built - at least equal to those enjoyed by the Russian immigrants?
– I am not sure that the Russians did not go to Cohuna before I took charge of the Department. If they did, I am not responsible. It is the mission of the Department, and of the Fisher Ministry, to see that all Australians jure’ given opportunities to go on the land.
– Can the Honorary Minister give me any idea when the records of the Boer war, the publication of which was interfered with by the lamented death of General Hoad, Will be published?
– These historical records are now in the hands of the Government Printer, and it is anticipated that they will be available within a few weeks.
– Is it the intention of the Government to publish as. a Parliamentary paper the reports of the British Medical Association on quack medicines ?
– We asked the British Medical Association if it was willing that we should publish its works as a Parliamentary paper, and received the reply that it was willing that we should do so if we acknowledged the source. I hope to be able to lay the papers on the table and have them printed as soon as possible for the information of honorable members.
On the 7 th November the honorable member for Herbert asked the following question -
In view of their great importance, will the Minister of Trade and Customs take into consideration the advisableness of publishing, as a Parliamentary paper, so that they may be available to honorable members, the books known as Secret Remedies and More Secret Remedies t
To that I replied -
I shall lay copies on the table, and will consult with the British Medical Association, and, if I can get permission, I will move that they be printed.
The following cable was sent to the High Commissioner on nth November, 191 2 -
Government of Commonwealth of Australia -desire reprint as Parliamentary paper British Medical Association’s Booklets on secret remedies. Ascertain whether Association approves.
A reply was received as follows on 14th November, 191 2 -
With reference to your telegram, nth November, Medical Association grants permission to reprint, provided Government of Commonwealth of Australia acknowledge source of origin.
I desire now to lay the paper and the books on the table.
Ordered to be printed.
– There is a movement to obtain the standardization of descriptive terms used in the electrical industry, which I understand has already taken effect in one branch of it, that is the cable-making branch. As this standardization will be of assistance to the Customs Department, and to all connected with the industry, I ask the Minister of Trade and Customs if he will give it his sympathetic support?
– The Department welcomes the assistance of any body of experts willing to standardize descriptive terms in any industry. The movement towards standardization in the ‘ electrical industry will receive the support of the Department.
– On the 19th instant the honorable member for Capricornia asked some questions regarding the payment of railway officials for taking charge of the postal receiving boxes on the railway stations. An interim reply was given, and I am now informed by the PostmasterGeneral -
– Has the attention of the Prime Minister been called to a statement in the Colac Herald of the 15th inst. to the effect that the valuation put on one estate in the Western District by the . Government assessors was ,£40,000 more than, the valuation of the owner? Will’ the right honorable gentleman cause a return to be prepared showing the number of holdings in regard to which the valuations of the owners were below the valuations of the Government assessors, and the difference in each case, without giving the names of the parties concerned?
– I do not think that there will be any objection to the furnishing of such a return. Cases of the kind have arisen by the operation of the check valuation undertaken at the instance of the Commissioner, which, although it means a little expense, is absolutely necessary. The discrepancies generally are not so patent as in the instance referred to.
– I desire to ask the Treasurer whether it is not a fact that the whole of the valuations submitted by landowners under the Land Tax Act have to be reviewed within two years by independent assessors on behalf of the Commonwealth ; and, if so, whether that is being done?
– I think that it is so; but, in addition to that, there is a check, going on at the present time.
– Has the attention of the Prime Minister been directed to the following remark by the Treasurer of Queensland, the Honorable W. H. Barnes, in the Legislative Assembly, on the 13th inst. -
As soon as the Commonwealth Government were ready the State Government was prepared to go on. Further, he assured the House that a’l the machinery was ready for the carrying on of the work.
– What work?
– In connexion with the erection of certain sugar mills which had been approved of by the Government. Can the Prime Minister tell the House to what extent the Commonwealth Government may be held responsible for the delay?
– I was unacquainted with the statement made by Mr. Barnes until the honorable member drew my attention to it. The Commonwealth Government have taken no action that precludes, or prevents, or limits the action of the Queensland Government in any way in carrying out the promise, or the pledge, if any, made by the State Premier. Any attempt on the part of the State Government to shelter themselves behind the Commonwealth Government is, in my opinion, disingenuous, and has no foundation in fact. A few months ago the Commonwealth Government very readily afforded the Queensland Government accommodation to the amount of
£ 1, 000,000.
– For which they pay.
– Does the Prime Minister intend before the close of this session to introduce a measure repealing the sugar bounty and Excise, so as to enable the Premier of Queensland to carry out his expressed intention, as communicated in a letter to the Prime Minister, that if the bounty and the Excise were repealed he would take steps to pass consequent legislation ?
– In asking the question the honorable member has made certain, statements which are not facts.
– I shall read the letter presently, when the House considers. Supply.
– The honorable member, of course, believes the statements to befacts. Prior to the question of the repeal of the Excise and bounty in this Parliament being raised the Treasurer and AttorneyGeneral of Queensland saw me and wanted a guarantee. It was my own suggestion, carried back after a subsequent visit by Mr. Barnes, that that would Be a good way out of the difficulty, and would settle the whole trouble. But that was all subsequent to the action of the Queensland Government declining to go on with the erection of the mills in the north. Regarding, the question of policy I have seen no reason to alter the opinion I expressed then.
– Is the Prime Minister aware that the uncertainty, owing to thestate of legislation in connexion with the. sugar industry, makes it impossible for persons to invest any money in that industry with any degree of certainty?
– I am not aware of that fact, and, if it is so, it arises from no actionof this Parliament, and certainly from noaction of this Government. This is the party that stood by the sugar-growers, and” honorable members opposite know it.
– Did the Prime Minister receive from the Sugar-growers’ Association of Queensland, on 10th July, any correspondence suggesting that he should pass legislation on the lines now proposed?’
– My recollection is not. sufficient to enable me to answer the question. The fact may, or may not, be asstated ; but I shall make inquiries. I may say that I made suggestions of the kind,, myself, five years ago.
– Will the Prime Minister endeavour to make an arrangement with the State Governments so that the Registrars-General and the agents who register births may have available at all times forms of application for a maternity grant? I understand that a statement was made in the Department in New South Wales that the officers know nothing about the matter.
– That statement is most likely to be incorrect, because our desire is to provide all officers with forms and every necessary information. If any instance of the kind mentioned is brought under our notice, we shall supply the officer with forms immediately.
Motion (by Mr. Richard Foster), by leave, agreed to -
That leave of absence for one month be given to the honorable member for Grampians on, account of urgent private business.
Motion (by Mr. Groom), by leave, agreed to-
That leave of absence for one month be given to the honorable member for Oxley on account of urgent private business.
Increased Payment to Registrars - Statistics and Enrolment - Payment of Police - Printing of Rolls
– In view of the complaints by registrars and other about the extra work put on their shoulders by the preparation of the electoral rolls, is the Minister of Home Affairs having an inquiry made with a view to increasing the remuneration of these officers, or is he taking any steps to pay them for the extra work ?
– The whole matter is now being considered.
– I desire to ask the Minister of Home Affairs whether arrangements are being carried out to prove the correctness or otherwise of the statements which have been made as to differences between the figures of the Chief Electoral Officer and the figures of the Commonwealth Statistician. It will be remembered that the Statistician reported that on the electoral rolls for New South Wales and Tasmania there are many thousands more than there are adults in those States, and that the Minister promised some time ago that an inquiry would be made. Has that inquiry been started yet?
– The Chief Electoral Officer has been ill, and has only just returned to the office. A few days ago I told him to go into this matter withthe Statistician, and give me a report, which I expect to get any day.
– Is the Minister of Home Affairs aware that a number of police who have been engaged in compiling the electoral rolls in New South Wales have not yet been paid for their services? Will he state what is the cause of the delay, and see that the amounts are paid ?
– I feel quite sure that if the police are not paid yet, it is not the fault of the Federal Government, because a long time ago the claims wereordered to be settled - unless, of course, some clerk has died who had this matter in. hand.
– There is a number of claims outstanding still.
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are - 1. The rolls are now being set up subject to such re-adjustment as may be necessary if the fresh redistribution scheme, to be submitted to Parliament, is approved. The precise date of completion of the printing cannot therefore at present be fixed.
– Has the Prime Minister any information yet about the resumption of private lands for the Liverpool manoeuvre area?
– The only information I have is - and I think that the New South Wales Government will agree with the statement I have made - that we are ready to provide the necessary funds to enable them to do so, and as soon as they are in a position to proceed we hope to see the business accomplished. Unless the Minister of Home Affairs has received a communication, I do not know what the exact state of affairs is at present, but I hope that Christmas will not pass before the business is accomplished.
– Is the Prime Minister aware that the Premier of New South Wales has stated that he does not know of any arrangement for money being made available for the resumption of land for the Liverpool Manoeuvre Area?
– I do not; but I cannot reveal the business. I said, in the presence of the Premier, and in the presence of the Treasurer, that the money would be available.
– Is the Minister of Home Affairs able to lay on the table a statement showing the price paid to Hoskins Brothers for rails, and also for pipes ?
– The information will be given in the schedule that will be before the House to-morrow.
Deaths of Natives - Publication of Debates of Legislative Council
asked the Minister of External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
Mr. W ATKINS (for Mr. Mahon) asked the Minister of External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
Defence Department : ‘Australian Garrison Artillery, New South Wales : Resignations : Case of Major Chaseling : Militia Officers : Administrative Changes: Cadets’ Uniform: Compulsory Training Committee’s Recommendations - Federal Capital : Land Acquisition : Railway Communication : Banking Facilities - Commonwealth and State Savings Banks - Postal Department : Allowance . and Semi-official Offices : Country Mail Services : Tasmanian Mail Service : Letter Postage at Railway Stations - Bounty on Wool Tops - Sugar Industry : Excise and Bounty - Trade and Customs Estimates - New Protection - Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway: Powellised Sleepers - Transferred Public Servants, South Australia - Seamen’s Wages, Burns, Philp, and Co. - River Don Trading Company - Seed Potatoes.
Question - That Mr. Speaker do now leave the chair, and that the House ‘ resolve itself into Committee of Supply - proposed.
.- Two or three weeks ago I intimated to the Honorary Minister who represents the Minister of Defence, that I intended to move the adjournment of the House in order to draw attention to the present position of the Australian Garrison Artillery in New South Wales; but, instead of taking that step, I shall avail myself of the opportunity presented by the motion now before the House. Honorable Members will have noticed from the press that, in consequence of the action taken by the Minister of Defence and the military authorities, the officer commanding the Australian Garrison Artillery has been placed on the unattached list, with the further result that the greater portion of the members of this fine regiment have resigned. The present position, from the point of view of the manning of the forts at Sydney, Newcastle, Wollongong, and Port Kembla, presents a serious menace to the coast defences of the State. We all agree that defence matters should not be regarded from a party stand-point, and I am calling attention to this matter simply because I think an injustice has been done to one of the most capable officers in the Commonwealth, and that there has been brought about the destruction of one of thefinest, if not the finest, of our regiments. My object is to ascertain whether” something cannot be done in> order to remedy the present state of affairs. The lesson of experience in connexion with, this matter appears to be forgotten. Thehistory of§ the regiment in New South Wales is one to which I shall have to draw the attention of honorable members. Theregiment was in existence long before the Military Forces were taken over by the Commonwealth. The Minister some timeago decided to do away with the commanding officer, with the view of placing theregiment absolutely under the command of a permanent officer of the Royal AustralianGarrison Artillery. Prior to the advent of Federation the Australian Garrison Artillery was under the command of a member of the Royal Australian Garrison? Artillery, a permanent force. During thewhole of the time that the regiment wasunder that command the position was very unsatisfactory. No progress was made. Dissatisfaction was expressed on all handsat the treatment received. The result wasthat, instead of the regiment being in a> position which the people of New South Wales wished it to occupy, it occupied only a second-rate position. However, in 1903; Colonel Lister took command. The result was that the regiment, which had been i2o» strong - the total establishment being 374- - was raised to such a state of efficiencyas to shoot into the first class, and became, if not absolutely the best regiment in the Commonwealth, certainly one of the best. The step taken by the Minister of Defence has, however, resulted in doingaway with the commanding officer and the regimental staff, with the consequence that, the men belonging to the regiment havehanded in their resignations wholesale. It has been said, in justification for thispolicy, that the same was done in Victoria,, where the step taken was successful. But honorable members who have followed thismatter closely must have come to the sameconclusion as I have done, that the position- in Victoria is different. Here the companies are spread over the wide district of” Port Phillip, whilst in New South Wales,, with the exception of certain half companies, the whole are centred at headquarters. Shortly before the resignationsfrom the regiment, the establishment wasincreased_ from 374 to 573, with a citizen commanding officer and the regimental staff. I venture the opinion that what has happened is the result of jealousy on the part of the Permanent Forces towards the citizen soldiers. It is only in the artillery that the militiamen- come into direct competition with the Permanent Forces. In no other branch of the service does that apply.
– It is the same with the engineers.
– They are part of the artillery.
– No; the two are absolutely distinct corps.
– At all events they are not like the light-horse or the infantry. The engineers constitute a technical branch of the service just as the artillery do ; and my point is that it is only in the technical branch of the service that a comparison can be made between the militia and the permanent men. Probably, honorable members will have noticed that in this branch of the service the militia compares more than favorably with the permanent force.
– That is not my experience.
– The justification for that statement is to be found in the shooting which took place under the command of an officer who has been put on the unattached list, and who was formerly in command of the Australian Garrison Artillery. The regiment shot into a first-class position in competition with the permanent men under the command of a permanent -officer.
– That may be; but there is no comparison, all the same.
– It appears to me that if the Minister and the military authorities are to take action such as they have done in this case, they are not going to popularize soldiering. We shall keep the best men out of the service - men who, in the past, have willingly devoted their time and ability to qualify themselves by examination and experience to occupy important positions in connexion with our coast defences. That will have an undesirable effect as far as the popularity of soldiering is concerned. In the position in which Australia is placed, as an outpost of the Empire, it is essential that nothing should be done to discourage the citizen soldier. On the contrary, we should do everything to encourage him. There is no doubt that the step taken by the Minister in this case has injured the regiment very much. I have had an opportunity of seeing a good many of the men belonging to the regi ment, because a portion of it is located in my own constituency in connexion with the defences of Wollongong and Port Kembla. I know that it is in consequence of the treatment meted out to the officer who had command of the regiment that the resignations have taken place. The position in regard to the results of the battle practice is this: The Garrison Artillery shot themselves into an equal position with the members of the Royal Australian Garrison Artillery. A position arose in connexion with the supply of a second relief. When the second relief was asked for, it was apparently determined that a fire commander was not required. The position then arose: if the important post of fire commander was not to be filled, what was to be done with the officer commanding the Australian Garrison Artillery? It was determined to sweep him out. If the officer commanding had to go, the staff also had to go. And that is what the Military authorities did They swept away both the officer commanding the regiment and the regimental staff. But although the authorities said that the position of fire commander was not one it was necessary to fill they showed a short time afterwards that it was necessary to fill the position by the appointment of an officer belonging to the Permanent Artillery in the person of Major Warren. The Minister has stated that he understood that some dissatisfaction has been caused by officers of the regimental staff who objected to the change, and who managed” to get support from’ the men belonging to their companies. The insinuation made in that statement was that the officer who has been placed on the unattached list has been round amongst the men endeavouring to get their sympathy and support with a view of being retained in his position, ‘ or that he had, at least, been encouraging the men to leave the regiment to which they had belonged for many years. It is only because of their enthusiasm and love of the work that these men have continued so long in the regiment, notwithstanding the difficulties with which they have been confronted. The statement has been made that, at what has been described as “ A dying dinner,” held at Wollongong, Major Chaseling and other officers, by their speeches, sought to induce the men to resign, with a view of helping, more particularly the officer commanding, to retain the position that he occupied.
– Who said that?
– That statement was made in the Senate. Senator McDougall denied it, and quoted a statement by myself in support of his denial. I was at the dinner, to which the Minister of Defence was also invited, but owing to the pressure of Ministerial duties, he was unable to attend it.
– Did the honorable member have a good time there ?
– That has nothing to do with the matter. I wish to treat this question seriously. The coastal defence of New South Wales is all-important, and this action on the part of the Defence authorities is calculated to seriously interfere with it. At the dinner to which I have referred, the Officer Commanding the Australian Garrison Artillery, and other officers, including Major Wiseman, who has been in the regiment for a number of years, instead of endeavouring by speech or action to persuade the men to leave the regiment, did their utmost to induce the men to remain there. The Officer Commanding and Major Wiseman were particularly vigorous in advising the men to stand by the regiment to which they had belonged for so many years ; the Major advising the men, to use his own words, to “ hang “ on as long as they could. Notwithstanding that advice, the men resented so strongly the treatment of the Officer Commanding that wholesale resignations have been received, and by the action of the Minister the regiment has been reduced to a condition which we must all deplore. The first intimation sent to the Officer Commanding was dated May, 1912. In it he was told by the Military Board that he and his staff, or rather their positions, were to be. done away with. In a subsequent communication he was told to report what was to be done with himself and his staff. In obedience to that instruction, he recommended that he should take charge of a company, but, later on, he withdrew that proposal, and suggested that he should be placed on the unattached list. That was in May last. In July, wholesale defections from the regiment took place. The Minister then ordered the company commanders to meet and report as to the causes of the defection. They did so, and set out the causes in the following order : -
I draw special attention to the fact that the abolition of the regimental staff and status was set down as the first of the causes leading to these defections, whereas, Major Osborne, Staff Officer for Artillery, in presenting the matter to the Minister, inverted the order, and placed the abolition of regimental staff and status at the foot instead of at the head of the list. On 17th September a conference of militia officers was held in New South Wales to deal with a variety of matters, and when the question of the Australian Garrison Artillery was brought up by the Officer Commanding and Major Warren, the President of the Conference, Colonel Wallack, absolutely refused to allow it to be discussed. So strong did Major Chaseling resent this refusal that next day he addressed the ifollowing letter to the Minister of Defence -
Sir, - Touching the matter of the conference of militia officers convened at Victoria Barracks, Sydney, on 16th and 17th September inst., I have the honour to report the following for your information direct, as it seems to me I have not received the treatment from the District Commandant, 2nd Military District, that should have been accorded me under circumstances, some of which are obvious to you and others, that I will show.
A circular memorandum by the District Commandant, 2nd Military District, notifying the convention of the conference, was sent to Officers Commanding brigades, regiments, and units of the Citizen Forces in his command.
I rank as a Commanding Officer and the Senior Officer in the Garrison Artillery till jmy case is dealt with by Gazette.
Therefore, a copy of above convening memorandum should have been sent me, which was not done.
But, by the specific instructions of the 2nd Military District Head-quarters, it was sent to Major B. W. Warren, G.A., my junior officer.
My reading of the intention of the convening memorandum is that any militia officer was eligible to have a voice in the conference; if not, it would be abortive in so far as being the means of obtaining for you the information you desire.
I draw special attention to the next paragraph
One would think that the question might well have been discussed under the head of “Militia Resignations.” The letter continues -
Major B. W. Warren, commanding the 6th Garrison Artillery for Lieut.Colonel J. Paton, V.D., addressing the president, Colonel Wallack, C.B., said -
In the absence of Lieut.-Colonel Paton, I desire to speak on this subject.
– This matter has been discussed already under other headings of business.
Major WARREN.; The matter I wish to speak about has not yet been discussed, sir, and I desire to speak on the subject, as the question materially affects my regiment. I refer to the question of the recent resignation in the Garrison Artillery.
– I won’t allow any discussion on that subject.
Later in the evening, Major I. Chaseling, late Officer Commanding Australian Garrison Artillery, said, “ I desire, sir, as a matter of privilege, to draw attention to the Garrison Artillery.”
– You can’t speak here, Major Chaseling ; this is a conference of Commanding Officers.
It will thus be seen that both Major Chaseling and Major Warren were refused the right to address themselves to this question, although it had not been discussed at any prior stage. The letter continues -
I have no desire in any way to be troublesome to you in this matter, but I feel sure you desire information on the subject of the Australian Garrison Artillery disaffection, and I wished to seize the opportunity of supplying information on a matter which is canvassed by the public of the Commonwealth.
Owing to the District Commandant’s action, as above stated in 6, I avail myself of the permission given in Commonwealth Military Regulations, and appeal to you, and trust that an inquiry by an impartial jury will be held into the Garrison Artillery trouble.
I beg to add, in conclusion, that the AdjutantGeneral, Colonel Chauvel, occupied a seat beside Colonel Wallack, and that I have forwarded the latter a copy of this letter.
That is a courteous letter explaining the position in connexion with a matter of importance which was being discussed in the daily press in New South Wales, and yet the Minister of Defence did not deign to reply to it. No reply has yet been received to that letter.
– Courtesy is not a part of the military business; discipline is.
– Will the honorable member contend that an officer had no right to speak upon a matter of this kind at a conference specially held to consider, amongst other things, the question of militia resignations? When that was not allowed the only thing to do was to bring the matter before the Minister. A very successful attempt has been made to stifle this matter. That course was con tinued in connexion with the conference held last week in Melbourne. Honorable members who were present at question time yesterday will know that I asked a question of the Minister requesting the Minister of Defence to discover whether this matter had been discussed at the conference held in Melbourne last week. The reply I got was that it had not been considered at that conference. It is evident to me that an attempt, which has so far been successful, has been made, apparently with the consent of the Minister of Defence, to stifle the discussion of this business.
– The Minister of Defence had nothing to do with the conference held 1 cist week
– If he had not, I do not know who had. He is the head of the Defence Department, and is responsible for what goes on in it. The discussion of this matter was stifled at the conference held in Sydney, and because it was not considered there, it could not appear on the agenda paper of the conference held in Melbourne. Honorable’ members will, I think, agree that when matters of importance are stifled in this way it is about time we took a hand in them, and said what we think the Minister and his officers should do.
– Is the honorable member sure that the Minister received the letter which he has read.
– I am satisfied that the Minister has received it.
– The receipt of the letter is not material to the subject at all. No attempt whatever has been made to stifle the matter, and the use of that word in connexion with this case and the Minister is an abuse of language.
– The Honorary Minister has made one of his. usual nasty interjections. I have shown that at the conference held in Sydney, Colonel Wallack, as president, refused officers the right to touch upon this matter, and,, as a consequence, it could not be considered later at the conference held in Melbourne. The Minister of Defence knows all about the matter, which has been brought prominently under his notice on a number of occasions, not only by letter and interview, but also by a motion of adjournment in another branch of this Legislature. In the circumstances, I repeat that it is time honorable members took a hand in the business, and saw that our citizen soldiers, who have done such splendid work for the country, and particularly those connected with the regiment to which I am referring, are not sat upon, stifled, and put aside in the way attempted in this case.
– I say again that the use of the word “stifled” in relation to this case, and to the Minister of Defence, is an. abuse of language.
– The Honorary Minister may describe it in whatever way he pleases, but I intend to make what remarks I please in putting my statement before the House.
– Courtesy, consideration, and leniency have been the leading characteristics of the Minister’s treatment of Major Chaseling.
– We are not in Russia. Surely a man can put his case before the Minister ?
– He has done so.
– I am endeavouring to put the case fairly before the House, and I look forward to an answer from the Honorary Minister. I shall be surprised if he is able to show that these men have received proper treatment, and that everything in connexion with the matter has been done in order. The Honorary Minister will have an opportunity later to show, if he can, that what I have said is not correct. I can refer now to later action taken in connexion with the Officer Commanding the regiment referred to, with a view to further stifling - and I again use the word deliberately - the consideration of this matter. On the 21st September, 191 1, three days after the letter I have read was written, and two days after it was received by the Minister, the following notice appeared in the Government Gazette: -
His Excellency the Governor-General, acting with the advice of the Federal Executive Council, has been pleased to approve of the following changes in connexion with the Military Forces of the Commonwealth : -
Second Military District. - Australian - .Garrison Artillery - Major Chaseling is transferred to the unattached list. 30th June, 1912.
Major Chaseling was placed on the unattached list as from the 30th June, 1912, in order that he might have no status at the two conferences held in Sydney and Melbourne. His mouth was shut, as I have explained, by the President of the conference held in Sydney, and by placing him on the unattached list as from the ;<oth June, 1912, it would appear to give him no legal standing at the conference.
– Colonel Wallack is the man the honorable member should blame. He is the cause of all the mischief.
– I am glad that one honorable member on the other side agrees that in this matter some blame attaches to the military authorities. The honorable members for East Sydney and South Sydney know the treatment meted out to Major Chaseling by the Minsiter of Defence.
– No, by the Military Board.
– And by the Military Board, which is the adviser of the Minister. I hope that honorable members will agree with me that, when officers of the Permanent Forces are allowed to shut men’s* mouths and treat them in this fashion, apparently with the consent and approval of the Minister of Defence, it is time that we insisted upon a fair and open inquiry into the business.
– The honorable member places the most illogical construction upon> the matter. He might just as well say that he is stifled because he is not allowed! to talk upon the Northern Territory where a Bill for the alteration of the Constitution is before the House.
– Nothing of the sort. There is no analogy between the two cases. At a conference called to consider, amongst other matters, militia resignations, officerswere certainly entitled to discuss the wholesale resignations that were taking place from the Australian Garrison Artillery. Such a matter properly came under the head of “militia resignations.” The analogy put forward by the Honorary Minister is no analogy at all. All I ask is that a fair and honest deal shall be accorded to our militia soldiers. Three-fourths, at least, of the men in the regiment have shown that they disapprove of the action which has been taken by the militaryauthorities. In reply to a series of questions upon this matter, put to the Minister by Senator McDougall, the former admitted that, as a result of these resignations, there was a shortage of gunners at the forts in Sydney, notwithstanding that he had previously declared that such a statement was untrue, and merely represented street gossip. The Minister further acknowledged that he had been misinformed when he stated that a fire commandership had been offered to Major Chaseling, and that the position which had1 been offered to that officer was that of commander of the fourth company of the Australian Garrison Artillery.
– Surely the honorable member would not have a militia officer in command of a battery over permanent officers.
– No, but this is not a case of that sort.
– Discipline must be maintained at all costs.
– Discipline was maintained previously under the old conditions. As a matter of fact, the gunners there have actually beaten the permanent artillerymen of Victoria in the shooting competitions.
– Shooting skill is not all that is required of an artilleryman.
– I am quite aware of that.
– A better body of gunners than the Australian Garrison Artillery never existed.
– That is what every commanding officer says of his own battery.
– The records show that the statement of the honorable member for East Sydney is absolutely correct. On the 15th October of the present year, the Sydney Daily Telegraph published a statement by the Minister of Defence in regard to this matter. It is headed, “ The position of Major Chaseling,” and reads -
An emphatic denial was given by the Minister of Defence to-day to the statements telegraphed from Sydney that, since ist July, it had been impossible, with all the permanent artillery men that could be mustered, to man the guns at the Heads.
Now all the world knows that those guns could not be manned without the services of at least eighty-four men from- the Australian Garrison Artillery - “ It is correct,” said Senator Pearce, “ that we have not yet a full complement of gunners, due to the sudden resignation of a number of the Australian Garrison Artillery, but the numbers are being brought up to full establishment, by the transfer of trainees. No trouble is anticipated in making up the total at an early date.”
It is somewhat remarkable that these boys are being transferred notwithstanding that none of them come up to the physical standard of the men who have resigned.
– We must have boys or we shall never have men?
– But boys cannot do men’s work. These lads cannot lift 100lb. shells at the rate of twelve a minute.
– But they can do their best to assist others.
– If we are to rely upon a system of that sort our coast defences will soon be in a bad way.
– A good boy is better than a dissatisfied man.
– Very likely. I suppose that the remark of the Honorary Minister implies that the officer who lately commanded the Australian Garrison Artillery is a dissatisfied man. I do not wonder that he is dissatisfied. Nothing could be urged against him before this trouble arose, either on the ground of the ability which he displayed, or of his zeal, or his enthusiasm. The high state of efficiency ofthis garrison was absolutely due to his efforts. I do not wonder that the whole regiment is dissatisfied because of the treatment which has been meted out to him. The Minister went on to say: -
As regards the position of Major Chaseling, it has been attempted to make it appear that his transfer to the unattached list was due to his action in complaining that he had not been allowed to represent the Australian Garrison Artillery at the district conference of militia officers. As a fact, the Australian Garrison Artillery was represented at the conference by Major Warren, who, on the retirement of Major Chaseling, became senior officer.
As a matter of fact, there had been no retirement of Major Chaseling at that time.
– The honorable member said that he had been retired.
– The Gazette notice, which was published on the 21st September of the present year, retired him as from 30th June. But at the time these conferences were held, there had been no retirement of Major Chaseling. I have no doubt that that statement was put into the mouth of the Minister by interested officers who deceived him in this connexion, and caused him to act in a way which has proved disastrous to the regiment.
– It is pretty rough on the officers to say that they deceived him.
– Who put these words into the Minister’s mouth ? He has to rely on his officers for information, and incorrect information must have been given to him. I do not believe for a moment that he would intentionally make a wrong statement, or that he has any personal feeling in this matter. I desire that an inquiry shall be held to ascertain who has given the incorrect information on which he based his statement.
– The Minister is responsible ; why blame the officers ?
– The Minister was supplied with this information by his officers, and, acting on it, made a misstatement. To continue -
The facts with respect to Major Chaseling are that on 26th June, in reply to a communication from the Department notifying him that it had been decided to discontinue the regimental staff of the Australian Garrison Artillery, he stated that he would be prepared to accept the command of No. 4 Company, -Australian Garrison Artillery.
He did not state anything of the kind.
This offer he, a few days subsequent^ withdrew, ami asked to be placed on the retired list, as from 30th June, 1912. This was also withdrawn, and, on 13th July, an application was received from Major Chaseling that he should be placed on the unattached list.
That was the only thing he could do under the circumstances.
– He asked to be retired in July. When did the conferences take place ?
– They were subsequent to Major Chaseling’s request to be placed on the unattached list.
– That may be so, but /Major Chaseling was still the officer commanding, and had the right to be heard. Major Warren was summoned to attend, but his mouth was also shut by Colonel Wallack. Whatever objection might have been taken to the position of Major Chaseling - and I contend no objection could be taken - nothing could be said against Major Warren, but as the matter was not allowed to be discussed at the Sydney conference, he could not say anything at the Melbourne conference. The Sydney conference was held on the 13th July.
On 21st September his transfer to the unattached list was gazetted in the usual way, with effect as from 1st July. It will be seen, therefore, that he was placed on the unattached list at his own request, and that on the date of the holding of the militia conference he was, in consequence of his own action, not entitled to represent the Australian Garrison Artillery.
Why was he not entitled?
– Because he had been retired at his own suggestion.
– He was not retired until the 21st September, when the Gazette notice was published.
– The likelihood of his retirement was floating about.
– The likelihood of the honorable member’s defeat at the next election may be floating about, but that does not deprive him of his rights as a member of this Parliament now.
– If my resignation had been sent to the Speaker, the position would be different.
– Major Chaseling’s resignation had not been sent to the Minister. The Minister carefully omitted to mention that on the 19th September Major Chaseling wrote to him regarding Colonel Wallack’s action at the conference, and that, although he received that letter on the 20th, he returned no reply. In order to legalise Colonel Wallack’s action, and to put Major Chaseling out of court, the Gazette notice published on the 21st September dated the retirement back to the 30th June.
– The moment that Major Chaseling asked to be placed on the unattached list the ordinary formalities were begun. The fact that that was two days after the conference is merely accidental.
– Why was the resignation dated back to the 30th June, a date prior to the holding of the conference ?
– Because that was the end of the half-year, when all terms end, and only thirteen days prior to Major Chase.ling’s request.
– That is a very plausible reply, but, to my mind, the intention was to make Major Chaseling’s position at the conference appear illegal.
– How does the honorable member account for Major Warren not being allowed to speak at the conference?
– I cannot explain that. Major Warren wished to bring up the matter in connexion with the subject of militia resignations, which was on the businesspaper, but he was not allowed to do so.
– The treatment he received seems to me extraordinary.
– The treatment of both these officers seems to me extraordinary. I have received from the quartermastersergeant, who has been connected with the regiment for a number of years, a letter dated 7th instant, in which he says that it is three months since they had a parade of any kind, and that it appears that so far as the Minister of Defence is concerned, it will be thirty-three. He alludes to the position of Wollongong and Kembla in the matter of defence. Honorable members are accustomed to think of Newcastle as the great port for coal shipments on the New South Wales coast, but only vessels of a certain size can enter that port, whereas at Port Kembla - the big port for all the southern coal-fields - any ship can go in and load a full cargo alongside of a jetty.
– Only when the weather is good.
– There is no bar or anything of that sort. Ships can go straight into a beautiful harbor. Sometimes big steamers which have ‘been loading at Newcastle have had to leave with only a portion of their cargo, and fill up with coal at Port Kembla. I feel sure that honorable members realize the danger of leaving a port of that description absolutely unprotected. About five years ago I got the Minister of Defence to reserve a portion of land overlooking Port Kembla with a view of having that important place strongly fortified, because it is to our coalfields that an enemy in want of coal for its ships must come. Big war ships can go right alongside of a jetty at Port Kembla, and there is absolutely no defence provided. The important port of Wollongong, quite close to Port Kembla, is in a similar state of insecurity. In consequence of the resignation of these men these two important places are left practically undefended. I ask the Minister representing the Minister of Defence whether, in his opinion, that is a proper position, to say nothing of what has happened in connexion with the fortifications in Sydney ? Is that, I repeat, a position which is desirable in connexion with our coast defence?
– I think it is regrettable that any men should resign, but we cannot prevent that.
– You can. These resignations have taken place in consequence of the treatment which has been meted out, and which I have been trying to put before the House this morning.
– If you put it in that way it means that these men are loyal to a particular officer, and not necessarily loyal to the country
– That does not follow at all.
– Does it not?
– I assure the honorable gentleman that for years and years these men have stuck to this regiment faithfully, done their duty, and qualified themselves. He knows, of course, that there is no payment for rendering all this service. The whole thoughts of these men were bound up in the regiment. They showed the greatest enthusiasm; it was a pleasure to hear them talk and to .say how proud they were to belong to the regiment. That is the sort of spirit which ought to be encouraged, but the Department by its action has discouraged the whole of these men, and many have resigned, leaving our coast defence, including Sydney itself, in the position which I have indicated.
– Do you not think that that is deplorable?
– Not only is it deplorable, but it is highly dangerous to the safety of Australia. In this letter the quartermaster-sergeant also points out that, at Newcastle, the Australian Garrison Artillery has been increased very recently from 105 to 165, and that at the same time the Department is disbanding the South Coast Garrison Artillery with a harbor that can load bigger vessels than Newcastle can do, and with a very large output of coal daily.
– Who is that quartermastersergeant ?
– The quartermastersergeant of the Australian Garrison Artillery in Wollongong has written a letter to me on behalf of the men down there.
– Quite right. He is ab perfect liberty to write : he does not belong to the army.
– According to the Minister, a man, because he happens to be in the Militia Force, dare not approach a member of the House.
– No one questions that.
– Surely when men have grievances to be redressed the floor of this House is the proper place to ventilate them !
– I do not think so.
– Surely when wholesale resignations from a regiment have occurred an honorable member is entitled to bring the matter before the House with the view of getting a fair and open inquiry. Surely the present Ministry, represented by the honorable member for Adelaide, are not going to act like Czars of Russia, and not only keep the mouths of officers closed, as they did in connexion with Majors Chaseling and Warren, but also close the mouth of every one else. According to the Minister these men are to continue to submit to the causes which have brought about general dissatisfaction, and no one is to speak here on their behalf. Whenever I believe that an injustice is being done to a military regiment, or any other people in the Commonwealth, I shall be prepared to bring the grievance before the House.
I have taken this course merely because I believe that an injustice is being done. I do not wish to delay the House any longer. I trust that I have satisfied honorable members of the seriousness of the position so far as the Australian Garrison Artillery is concerned. This matter was not allowed to be ventilated at the conference which was held specially to consider these grievances. The permanent officers are apparently endeavouring to get rid of capable militia, officers with a view . of becoming absolute cocks of the walk. I hope that I shall have the support of honorable members generally in my appeal to the Minister of Defence to order a full inquiry to be held into the causes which have brought about the disbandment of a fine regiment and caused dissatisfaction generally amongst military men in New South Wales.
.- On the Estimates for last year I endeavoured to point out to the Minister of Defence the seriousness of the position which he had created by his action in con.nexion with the Australian Garrison Artillery. He will not deny, I feel sure, that a finer body of men. than the Australian Garrison Artillery at Sydney never existed in any military service in the world. Many of these men I have known from boyhood, and their fathers have been my close and esteemed friends, holding honorable positions in Sydney. The whole trouble appears to have arisen out of a few words which Colonel Wallack had with Major Chaseling about manoeuvring or during camp. From that moment Colonel Wallack and the Military Board seemed to have determined to push this fine body of men out of existence. It is quite true that the men in their classification have proved themselves superior to the permanent men. They have shown themselves ready at all times to perform any duty intrusted to them. Previously this section of the military service was under permanent officers. That proved an utter failure, as is shown by the fact that, formerly, the regiment numbered 440 men, whereas under a permanent officer it never got above 200, and their classification was never anything like so high as it was when in charge of a militia officer.- I confess I cannot understand the action of the Minister, who has shown himself at all times prepared to -meet the wishes of honorable members, and anxious to do his best in the interests of the service. There would seem to be at work some influence which no one can understand. . An honorable senator in another place, and one of my colleagues here, sought some light on the question, but were unable to solve the difficulty, and we can get from the Minister no excuse or grounds for his extreme opposition to the request that has been made to him. I realize, however, that no civilian in the position of the Minister of Defence could undertake the whole control of this large Department, but must necessarily pay great respect to the advice of the Military Board; and I really believe that the present position is not due to the Minister but to his advisers. Permanent officers do not, in my opinion, make good officers for the militia. They are accustomed to play the autocrat with the men under their control in the permanent service, and they seek to apply the same methods to the militia; but this, of course, in the case of civilian forces, is a great.,mistake. Then again, the permanent officers do not like the Saturday afternoon or the night parades, and such work ought to be left to militia officers, who make militarism their hobby, and in all things are quite at one with the men. The Garrison Artillery represents a purely technical branch of the service, and the members of this regiment require some years of training before they become expert artillerymen. The position is much the same as that in ordinary civil life; it requires, for instance, several years to turn out an efficient plumber, though a man may become expert with the pick and shovel in a very short time. However that may be, it is a. serious matter when there is great discontent in a large body of men like this. The members of the Garrison Artillery held adinner at the Victoria Barracks, at which there was an attendance of some 400, and there, in language to which no exception could be taken, implored the Minister to retain the services of the militia officer. Of course, we all realize that in times of serious trouble, all the forces - and, indeed all the citizens of the Commonwealth - would be under the control of the permanent officers of the forces. The Minister has pointed out that in Victoria the militia are under permanent officers; but, in my opinion, that is no justification for adopting a similar course in New South Wales.
– It proves that Sydney is not singular in this respect.
– I know something of the subject, and just as much as the Honorary Minister does. In Victoria the distances between the forts are from 30 to 35 miles, and it would entail heavy work on militia officers to take command under the circumstances; whereas in Sydney the means of communication between the forts at Wollongong and the other, . places are ample, and make the work much easier. I pointed out these facts to the Minister, but for all the effect produced, I might just as well have sung “ God Save the King “ in front of Parliament House. I had intended, instead of moving the adjournment of the House, to dealwith this matter when the Estimates were under consideration, but perhaps the most convenient way is to take the present opportunity. Practically, the whole of the members of the Australian Garrison Artillery are behind Major Chaseling in the position he has taken up, and it is to be regretted that the Minister should firmly abide by the advice of the Military Board, and thus do an injustice to the service.
– On what grounds is an inquiry refused?
– I suppose the Board has decided that there shall be no inquiry, and we know that military people never acknowledge a mistake. Once they issue an order they will not retreat from their position. If they are criticised, they think that their critics are incapable of understanding the position. Nobody must speak after they have decided anything. I trust that the Minister will, in the best interests of the service, reconsider the attitude which he has taken up. If he does, it will have a good effect upon the militia. These men were second to none in efficiency. They have proved themselves to have higher qualifications than the permanent men. A finer body could not be found. I have made reference to their technical qualifications. Out of 400 men, I believe that over 300 are mechanics. Their knowledge of machinery is of great value in their artillery work, and increases their efficiency greatly. As to the information furnished to Parliament in regard to the matter, it is my experience, with respect to questions answered by Government Departments, that if statements having the same relation to the truth were made in private life they would be called1 liars.
– The honorable member must not make statements of that description.
– I am only saying what would be said in private life. I have done what I could to avoid this trouble, and I know also that Senator McDougall has done his best. I hope something will be done to heal the breach.
– I think that the honorable member for Illawarra and the honorable member for East Sydney have made out a very good case. Some explanation is required from the Minister, or there should be a public inquiry. If the statements made are true, a very serious state of affairs is disclosed. The Commonwealth is indebted to those who have given up their time and devoted their attention to the military service. We shall have to look to them for the defence of this country. We ought to have an inquiry, to let us know who is in the wrong. The men should not be allowed to chafe under a sense of injustice. The case has been put very clearly, and the honorable member for Illawarra based it on a solid foundation of facts that apparently cannot be gainsaid. Unless proper consideration is given to a body of men like this, the outlook for the Department will be rather blue. We cannot afford to allow jealousy amongst officers to do injury to the Military Forces.
– That is only a supposition. There is no data for it.
– The honorable member for East Sydney apparently spoke with knowledge. If the men have been ill-treated, their case demands consideration. I should also like the Minister of Home Affairs to devote some attention to what is taking place at the Federal Capital. It appears to me that we are getting plenty of promises, but no performance. I cannot understand the delay that is occurring in connexion with land resumption. We had a promise from the Minister that the Act, giving property-owners who did not agree with valuations the right to go to the High Court, would not be enforced. The Minister said that he would afford some other means of having values fixed. What has happened? The Acton estate has been resumed, and the Government put a value upon it. I understand that their valuation was about half that of the owner. This man had to go to
Sydney, engage barristers, take a considerable number of witnesses, and incur great expense, after which the Government practically admitted that they had made a mistake, and gave him approximately the price for which he asked.
– In those circumstances the Government ought to pay the owner’s expenses.
– Men with small capital are alarmed. They say that they cannot afford to go to the expense of a lawsuit. The Government will not even tell them what value is placed on their properties. There ought to be a local tribunal to which property-owners could go for arbitration. There is an efficient administrator in the Territory, who is trusted and respected - Colonel Miller.” Why not give him power to enable him to treat with owners in regard to values? Why not have a little Home Rule in connexion with the matter ? Why should the whole business be dealt with from Melbourne? Colonel Miller, Colonel Owen, and Mr. Scrivener, who are on the spot, are all competent men, and with their aid it should be easy to arrive at finality. Honorable members should insist on justice being done to residents of the Capital, who have no votes, and apparently are to have no consideration from the Minister. The answer given this morning respecting the railway to Jervis Bay was by no means satisfactory. We arc aware that a railway has been promised, yet we can obtain no information about the survey. The Minister simply says that the matter is coming on in a few days. Surely that is not satisfactory. Why, also, should the Commonwealth stand in the way of the State Government connecting Nowra with Jervis Bay by rail. Surely we oughl to be able to get definite information as to what is proposed to be done. I urge that the Administrator, and the officials, be given power to deal with property-owners. Unfortunate selectors who have a few hundred acres, worth, perhaps, no more than . £1,500, naturally want to know what value the Government put upon their properties. Let us try to bring about a settlement. Let us have the valuations settled locally.
– Was there not a Government valuation in 1908?
– The Government will not tell them what those valuations were. The one owner whom they did tell- Mr. Jeffreys,of Acton- had to go to Sydney and take with him, at great expense, some fifteen or twenty witnesses. He engaged barristers to “appear for him, and actually got as far as the Court, I understand, before the Government gave in. The Administrator should have power to deal with these matters. The position is doubly hard for these men, who have no representation in this House, and who think, therefore, that Parliament pays no regard to their interests. I do not think that is so.
– Evidently there is some cause for such an opinion.
– There seems to be.
– They could not have a better advocate than they have in the honorable member.
– No doubt the Honorary Minister thinks that one can catch more flies with, honey than with vinegar ; but he knows that I have no official right to speak here on behalf of the people of the Territory. I do my best for them, but, judging by results so far, that best has not been very satisfactory. The Administrator is trusted and respected, and why should he not have the power to appoint an arbitrator where necessary ?
– He valued all the transferred properties, representing some £9,000,000.
– And gave very great satisfaction. He is quite capable of doing this work. Let him obtain the owners’ valuations, and if they differ from the Government valuations and the parties cannot agree, let him appoint an arbitrator to arrive at a settlement locally instead of these men being sent to the High Court. Another matter to which I desire to refer in connexion with the Federal Capital is the absence of banking facilities. A number of men within the Territory have their homes mortgaged to the Government Savings Bank of New South Wales, which cannot legally lend money outside the State. The Federal Territory is now considered to be outside New South Wales, and therefore the State bank cannot lend money to farmers there. The Government should arrange for the Commonwealth Bank to extend to them the facilities they would enjoy if they were within the State of New South Wales.
– They will get them in January.
– If any of them receive notice next week from the State Savings Banks that their loans cannot be renewed it will be a poor consolation for them to know that they may obtain these facilities next January. Before those facilities come along they might have the Receiver in possession. Money is not as easily obtainable as it was a few months ago, and these men should have some consideration. I am not blaming the Government specially in connexion with this matter, but I urge them to take definite action.
– They could have had a Savings Bank there months ago.
– I hope that these facilities will be afforded residents of the Territory. At the same time it seems to me that we are getting too many Savings Banks, and I suggest to the Prime Minister that he should insist upon an effort being made to bring about an amalgamation. People in my electorate are becoming alarmed. In the main streets of various towns land is being resumed at high prices for Savings Bank purposes, new buildings are being erected, and three sets of officials are engaged in doing work which could be carried out by one. The taxpayers have to bear the cost, and they are naturally becoming alarmed. I hope that we shall back up Mr. Miller, the Governor of the Commonwealth Bank, in his efforts to bring about co-operation between the Commonwealth and the State Savings Banks. The Prime Minister has told us that, although he has made overtures to the State Governments in this direction, they will do no business with him.
– The State Savings Banks object to being absorbed.
– I think the people will absorb some of those who are responsible for the present situation, and in the interests of this Parliament the electors should be told who is to blame. They should be told who are insisting upon the continuance of a system which must mean the duplication and triplication of banks and banking officials. It is becoming quite a common saying in many country towns to-day, “ If you want to sell your land, offer it to one of the Savings Banks.” In New South Wales we have at the present time three sets of Savings Banks.
– The Commonwealth does not need to buy land for Savings Bank business: it can use its own post-offices.
– The Commonwealth Government propose to spend something like£100,000 on a site in Sydney for banking purposes. That will be about the minimum cost of its acquisition.
– They will make a good profit out of it.
– That surely is not a function of government.
– My point is that they will not lose over the transaction.
– Quite so.
– The States will benefit if the Commonwealth makes a good deal.
– I cannot see the logic of the statement that the States will be benefited by a system under which we have three banks and three sets of officials to do work which could well be carried out by one set. The Government should insist upon negotiations being entered into with a view to bringing about an amalgamation. The people would then know who were responsible for the continuance of the present system.. I would also ask that something be done for those in charge of small allowance postoffices. We are told that there is on the Estimates a sum to provide for an increase in the amount allowed these officers. The ex-Postmaster-General, the honorable member for Barrier, and others who have held that office, are agreed that the allowance should be increased, and the Government should anticipate the passing of the Estimates and at once give the keepers of allowance post-offices the extra payment for which provision has been made.
– Why not dispose of the Estimates ?
– I am quite prepared to pass them. I cannot understand why they should be held up. It is no use talking. Argument is lost on honorable members opposite. They have made up their minds that the Estimates shall go through, and they might as well be put through in an hour as in a week.
– Is there any item to which the honorable member objects?
– I object to many items. I object to all items providing for duplicating and triplicating the same work.
– As in the Electoral Department.
– The honorable member may have a grievance against the Electoral Department, but I have none. I always speak well of the bridge that carries me over. I should like to ask whether something could not be done to speed up our mail services in New South Wales. Our mails are being carried by coaches and horses, whilst passengers are carried over the same routes by motor cars. On the road between Cooma and Bega the mail and a passenger car leave Cooma at the same time, and, whilst the passengers get into Bega at 11 or 12 o’clock in the day, the mails do not reach Bega until 10 or 11 o’clock at night. It seems absurd that a commercial traveller following the same road as that followed by letters from his firm would get to his destination several hours before his letters reach him. Perhaps the Postmaster-General will follow the example of the Minister of Home Affairs in this matter, and send a “chaser “ after some of these people, and stir them up. In New South Wales, apparently, the. State Government have no money to build even railways that have been promised, and in the circumstances the Department should take some steps to speed up mail communication. I have in mind the necessity for speedier mail communication between Tarago and Moruya, Nowra and Bega, Cooma and Bega, Eden and Cooma, and Bombala and Delegate. All these services require speeding up. The answer we get from the Department in connexion with this matter is that they cannot afford to pay for the speedier means of transit which can be supplied by private enterprise, but to carry that answer to its logical conclusion we should go back to the days of the bullock’dray, since the mails could be carried more cheaply by a bullock-dray than by a coach.
– The Government have already a few motor cars of their own.
– In these days motor cars are absolutely essential to enable people to get about quickly. I repeat my request that the Government will anticipate the vote on the Estimates, and will grant increases to allowance officers. I believe there is a vote of , £40,000 on the Estimates to increase the payment to officers in charge of allowance post-offices. We know that the vote will be passed, and the increases will date back to the 1st July of this year, and I see no reason in the circumstances, why the vote should not be anticipated. Many of these people are in hard straits, and if something is not done for them immediately they must resign their offices as they cannot now get a living. I am not the only member of the House who has heard from these men. Letters are received by honorable members representing every constituency, asking what these men are to do. It would be merely an act of simple justice for the Minister to anticipate the vote on the Estimates, as I have suggested, and pay the increases at once. I again ask honorable members to say whether it is fair that the owners of land in the Federal Capital area should have to go to the High Court for redress if they do not approve of the valuation put upon land resumed by the Government. In one case that has been settled, fortunately, the owner of the land resumed was a wealthy man. After he had taken fifteen or twenty witnesses to Sydney, and appeared before the High Court the Government gave in. That must have cost a good deal of money, as I suppose the Government had to pay the witnesses’ expenses. We should give Colonel Miller the Administrator, and Mr. Scrivener, the Director of Crown Lands of the Territory, some real power and establish some degree of Home Rule and local government in the Territory. These officials might at least make recommendations which the Minister can subsequently deal with instead of -taking people to the High Court.
– Would the honorable member suggest an appeal to the High Court if a person were dissatisfied with the decision of the Commissioner?
– I think that both the Government and the landowner should have a right of appeal if either is not satisfied with the first decision, but I am myself in favour of a proposal that the land-owner and the Government could each appoint an arbitrator, and these arbitrators should appoint an umpire, to consider all these questions.
– The honorable gentleman would have an Arbitration Court, such as sat in the McSharry case.
– Surely the Minister is not going to condemn all arbitration because the McSharry case cost a lot of money, nor will be contend that people inthe Federal Capital area should be compelled to go to the High Court to get justice from the Government because arbitration in the case he has referred to rest a great deal of money? 1 have mentioned the matter to-day as a grievance, because I do not wish to take up time unnecessarily. I think it is about time we brought this session to a close, but if something is not done in this matter I shall have to move the adjournment of the House to deal with it.
.- I desire to refer, first of all, to the matters dealt with by the honorable members for Illawarra and East Sydney. I shall not go particularly into the case of Major Chaseling and his staff, but propose to deal more generally with the treatment accorded to militia officers by the present Defence authorities. Years ago many men, from purely patriotic motives, joined the Military Forces as volunteers, and received no pay or allowance of any kind. I say that those men are deserving of more consideration at the hands of the authorities than they are receiving to-day. I can instance my own case.I joined the Light Horse as a volunteer. I went to considerable expense in purchasing my uniform and military saddle, and getting a suitable horse for the work, and travelling about at my own expense. I say that I, and. those who followed the same course, are deserving of some consideration from the authorities, and we are not getting it. The militia are discouraged in every way, or, at all events, do not receive the encouragement due to them for the work they did in the past as volunteers. I remind honorable members - that when the volunteers were changed to militia they did not receive any very great remuneration for their services. Taking my own case again I can say that when I became a lieutenant-colonel, commanding a regiment of militia, I received the handsome remuneration of £34 per annum, and I paid as much as fifteen guineas for a mess-jacket. Those who undertook military duties years ago, without remuneration, and have continued to perform them, travelling about, very often at their own expense, are certainly deserving of consideration. They are more likely to be keener in the discharge of their duties than are our permanent officers. Without making any reference to Major Chaseling, I consider that militia officers who have gone through the mill are just as capable of commanding regiments as are permanent officers. I would take it as an insult if anybody told me that I am not as capable of commanding a regiment as is any permanent officer in Aus tralia. I will undertake to say that if I were placed in front of any regiment or brigade of light horse alongside anypermant officer I would absolutely lose him. I believe that Major Chaseling was a capable artillery officer.
– Nobody here can contradict that statement.
– He had a very capable staff, and it was a great hardship upon him and his staff that his regiment should be practically disbanded.
– Did he ask for an inquiry ?
– One point upon which I feel very strongly is that he was not allowed to ventilate his grievances at either of the two conferences which were held. Exception was taken by the Honorary Minister to the use by the honorable member for Illawarra of the word “ stifling.”
– I said that the use of the word “ stifling,” as applied to the Minister of Defence, was an abuse of language.
– At all events, inquiry into this case was stifled by somebody. I take it that it was stifled at the instance of the Military Board.
– The Minister accepts the fullest responsibility.
– I do not see how the Minister can object to the use of the word “ stifling “ in connexion with that responsibility. At all events, the fact remains that Major Chaseling was not allowed an inquiry. The militia officers, as a whole, have not received the consideration which is due to them. Take, for instance, the appointment of a temporary Commandant in any of the States. Until the present regime, the practice followed was that when the Commandant of a State was temporarily absent, his place was filled by the senior officer of that State, irrespective of whether he was a militia or a permanent officer. I admit that a militia officer might not have such a knowledge of details as a permanent officer, and, therefore, might not be able as satisfactorily to discharge the duties of Commandant for an indefinite period. I recollect that on more than one occasion the late Colonel Waddell was temporarily appointed as Commandant of New South Wales. But recently, when the Commandant of that State was absent, a junior permanent officer was temporarily appointed to the position. That, in my opinion, cast an undeserved slur on the militia officers of that State. I hold that these officers are not receiving proper recognition at the hands of 4he military authorities. There is another matter with which I wish to deal - it has reference to the greatest industry in Australia, namely, the woollen industry. I have here a report of a conference of State agricultural experts, which was held in 1907. At that gathering representatives of Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, and Western Australia were present. “Under the Bounties Act of j 907 a bounty was made payable upon the manufacture of wool tops. I take it that Parliament acted in perfect good faith at that time, and with the idea of encouraging the manufacture of wool tops and the employment of more hands in the woollen industry. But it did not recognise that that bounty would be abused, and that it would be the means of creating a huge monopoly which enables the firm of F. W. Hughes and Company, of Botany, South Sydney, to exploit the Treasury to the extent of something like .£15,000 annually. This is a very serious matter to our wool-growers. I find from the report to which I have referred that the bounty upon wool tops was not intended by Parliament to be permanent -
Top making for export, it is believed, can be successfully established here with the aid of a bonus for a period of five years, after which, if conducted on a large scale and in proper hands, the industry should well be able to stand alone ; and once it has been demonstrated that it can be conducted successfully it should take rank as one of the first industries.
I wish to say that F. W. Hughes and Company, whilst making huge profits, are annually receiving £15,000 from the public Treasury.
– That is purely a matter of Free Trade versus Protection.
– It is a matter df penalizing the wool-growers of Australia. The bounty operates in such a way as to bring down the price of wool.
– Utter bunkum.
– This company was formed of 250,000 shares of £1 each. One hundred and fifty thousand of these shares have been issued, of which number 110,000 have been allotted, leaving 40,000 shares available for subscription. Out of the a 10,000 shares which have been allotted Mr. F. W. Hughes and his wife hold 90,000. I say that a searching inquiry needs to be made into this matter. Mr. Hughes was formerly engaged in fellmongering and woolscouring. I believe that he was in anything but affluent circumstances. As a matter of fact, he was practically bankrupt; but as soon as a bounty was authorized upon wool tops he floated his business into a huge company, as a result of which he is now making enormous profits, besides receiving .£15,000 annually from the public Treasury.
– That is not true.
– Let me read to the honorable member the replies given by the’ Minister of Trade and Customs to some questions which I asked on this subject the other day. The first question’ was -
How many firms have received bonus on the export of wool tops under the Bounty Act?
To that the reply was “Two.”
– There was none before.
– The interjection shows the honorable member to be an Irishman rather than a Scotchman. Of course, there was no firm to which the bounty was paid before there was a bounty. The second question was -
How much money has been paid on the export of wool tops from the commencement of the Act to 30th September last?
To that the Minister replied £33,957- The third question was -
How much has been paid to each company under the Bounty Act for the twelve months ending 30th June last, and the name of each company so receiving the bonus?
To that the answer was given -
Now, will the honorable member withdraw his statement that what I said was not true?
– No, because part of the payment was for the previous year.
– It was paid in one year, but covered a longer period.
– The honorable member is quibbling. Next year we shall have the same quibble, that part of the sum should be allocated to the present twelve months.
– How much has been paid during five years?
– I have not got that information.
– What is the benefit of the bounty to the country?
– It does not benefit the country, but, on the contrary, injures those engaged in wool-growing, fellmongering, wool-scouring, and kindred industries, because the company to which it is paid is able to compete unfairly.
– The company is fighting the meat combine.
– It is really a monopoly. The bounty is supposed to encourage the employment of a large amount of labour, but, according to a statement in the prospectus of F. W. Hughes and Company, the wool is fed to a mammoth scouring machine 120 feet in length by one lad, and is scoured and dried without further labour, save that of an onlooker to watch the working of the machine. The prospectus also stated that the profits of the company would amount to £50,000 per annum.
– The honorable member knows what those statements are worth.
– I know that Mr. F. W. Hughes is now in .very affluent circumstances, and that that was not his position a short time ago.
– How does the bounty affect wool-growers?
– The bounty enables the company to undersell the Bradford tops, although its tops are inferior, because a newly-established industry in Australia cannot compete with an old-established industry in a manufacturing centre like Bradford. .When, as the result of the competition, the price of wool tops is reduced by id. or Jd., that information is telegraphed all over the world, and the woolbuyers in Sydney, Melbourne, and Adelaide cut down their prices accordingly. Of course, many factors affect the price of wool, but the price of wool tops is one of them.
– What is the present price of wool?
– There are several prices.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.30 p.m.
– The honorable member for South Sydney, in whose electorate this monopolistic company carries on operations, doubted my statement that it was the intention of those concerned to cut the price of tops in order to secure trade. I shall, however, prove that this was the intention of the company by an extract from their own prospectus. We are told, first of all, that the company possesses machinery which practically does away with the necessity of labour with regard to wool scouring - that they have a machine, 120 feet long, which is worked by a boy. This fact is made use of to boom the company, being held out as an inducement to the public to take shares. The effect of such a policy by a monopolistic company like this is to squeeze out small, struggling firms which* carry on business at Botany and in other parts of the State. Small firms of thekind to which I refer cannot afford to buyexpensive machinery of the kind; and here- I may point out, that the company obtains its machinery from Germany.
– Is it a fact that this company has restricted the action of themeat ring?
– Where is the meat ring in Australia? It is said that in consequence of a meat ring the price of meat has goneup, but where was the meat ring a year or two ago when meat was so cheap that it hardly paid to truck it to Sydney? This bonus operates to the detriment of wholesale and carcass butchers, fellmongers, and scourers, because it gives rise to unfair competition. The following extract from the prospectus may be of interest to honorablemembers opposite : -
The immunity from labour troubles in this industry is in marked contrast to the condition*, obtaining in most other industries in Australia -
Well, I should think that this company ought to be able to pay good wages, seeing; that it receives .£15,000 a year from the public Treasury. The prospectus goes on - while in the combing mills the work is carried) out almost entirely by girls, to whom its light,, clean nature appeals.
It will be seen that what we are getting for the huge bounty is the creation of avenues of employment for some boys and girls.
It will require a production, of 2,400,000 lbs. of tops per annum to earn the full amount of the Federal Government bonus of £50,000.
The bounty is supposed to be spread over five years -
The capacity of the present plant is. about 1,000,000 lbs. per annum, and will be installed about the end of the year. Taking the average profit on wool combing at 4^ per lb., inclusiveof the bonus, and of saving of middlemen’s profits, &c, as shown hereafter, an output of 2,400,000 lbs. of tops per annum would give- £45,000 per annum, so that the directors feel assured that they are well within the mark inestimating that from all branches of the business,, when additional machinery has been installed,, the profits will be £50,000 per annum.
– That is good.
– If any other electoratewere concerned, the honorable member would be on his hind legs shoutingabout the iniquity of feeding a hugemonopolistic company of this sort. The Labour Government of New South Wales are introducing legislation which will have the effect of preventing companies,. including the Sydney Gas Company, from paying over a certain rate of dividend, and thus incidentally ruining a large number of people who have invested their savings in such undertakings. There are many people who have invested their life’s savings in the Gas Company, believing it to be as sound as the Bank of England, but the Labour Government of New South Wales are showing them their mistake. In the Federal Parliament we find the Labour party giving a bonus to a company which, according to its own prospectus, ought to be making , £50,000 a year.
– The company consists of the honorable member’s own friends - what it he growling about?
– I am contending that it is against the interests of the great primary producers of Australia that this bonus should be paid to the company. I am not aware whether, under the Act, the Government can stop the bonus before 1914.
– Parliament has the power, but Parliament will be asked this session to extend the bonus.
– Has the Minister made inquiries ?
– I hope the Parliament will show better sense and “judgment than to extend this iniquitous bonus.
– It is protection, and the honorable member does not like it.
– Where is the protection? If the bonus were given on the manufactured article in the shape of tweed, something might be said for it. As a matter of fact, it is not even given on the semimanurfacture of the tops, but on their export.
– The bounty legislation was introduced by the honorable member’s present leaders.
– The effect of the bounty is to give to Japan cheaper tops than that country can obtain in any other market in the world. It is true that at the present time Japan is an ally of Great Britain, but I do not think that the Japanese have any love for us in Australia, or that we are called upon to feed them at the expense of the Australian public. On looking at the Bounty Act of 1907 I see that, in one sense, the honorable member for South Sydney is correct in saying that £15,000 per annum has not been paid to this company, since the Act provides that not more than £10,000 shall be paid in any one year. I fail to see how, under the cir cumstances, the Minister of Trade and Customs has been able to pay £17,000 in one year.
– There is a section in the Act which enables the Government to pay over to the company any unpaid balance.
– Will the Minister undertake to say that he will not pay more than £3,000 in the current year, commencing 30th June last?
– I shall pay the full amount that the company is entitled to re ceive.
– That is only £3,000.
– No, it is not.
– A sum of £17,000 was paid in the year ending 30th June last, and, therefore, I take it that only £3,000 can be paid this year. However, I promise that I shall ask some very pertinent questions on this matter. I have not yet proved from the prospectus that it was the intention of this company to cut the price of tops in order to secure trade. We are told in that document -
Dividends at a high rate upon money invested may thus he anticipated.
Advantages of making skin wool into tops in one operation in Sydney, instead of only scouring the wool and selling it for combing in Europe -
Saving of cost of one operation, classing, scouring, drying, &c,¾d. per lb.
Saving of buyer’s commission,¾d. per lb.
And here we come to the chief line in the prospectus -
Lower selling price to get trade,1d. per lb.
– Can the honorable member vouch for the accuracy of his statement ?
– Certainly. I never quote anything for the correctness of which I cannot vouch.
– Is the honorable member quoting from the Newsletter?
– I am quoting extracts from the prospectus that I have in my possession. I do not know whether honorable members grasp the significance of the statement, “ Lower selling price to get trade,1d. per lb.” It means that this firm will cut the price of wool tops to that extent in the Bradford market. When that is done the wires get to work and it is known all over the world that tops in Bradford market are realizing only so much per lb., with the result that every buyer of the raw material will have his orders cut down to a corresponding extent.
– Why not let the other fellows here make wool tons?
– That is a pertinent interjection. If the bounty is a good thing, why do not others participate in it? The fact is that it is impossible for men who have not behind them a very large amount of capital to compete with this wealthy company, which has grown and fattened on the bounty. It took advantage of the bounty from the start, and was floated with a capital of £250,000. It monopolises the whole bounty, so that it is impossible for a man, unless he has practically the Bank of England behind him, to compete with it. Expensive machinery is required for the manufacture of these tops.
– The curse of monopoly.
– And the honorable member is supporting the curse of monopoly, or, at least, I believe that he is.
– Do not believe too much.
– The honorable member’s party are supporting it, and he dare not act against his party. He is bound hand and foot by the shackles of his party, the members of which are slaves.
– Do not talk nonsense.
– The action of the Government in giving this bounty is detrimental to the interests of the wool-growers of Australia, who are the backbone of the Commonwealth, and should not be penalized. This is a monopoly, and is going to pay enormous dividends. If this system is allowed to continue it will be a disgrace to the Parliament. I hope that the Minister will not carry out his threat to ask the House to agree to the payment of the bounty for a further period. If he does, the proposal will meet with strong opposition from myself and others, for I consider that it is a scheme to perpetuate the present penalty on the wool-growers of Australia.
.- It is interesting to point out that the honorable member for North Sydney is a follower of an honorable member whose Government inaugurated the payment of this bounty. His leader, the honorable member for Ballarat, when Prime Minister, introduced a Bill to provide for a bounty on wool tops.
– He was forced on by Mr. J. C. Watson and his party.
– The honorable member is reflecting on his leader when he makes, that statement, and asserts that he was compelled to obey the behests of Mr. J. C.
Watson. The honorable member for Darling Downs was a member of the Government, and strongly supported the payment of the bounty.
– I think he introduced the Bill in this House.
– So I understand. The honorable member for North Sydney sticks to him like a leech, and supports him on every occasion. Then again, the honorable member for Kooyong, another member of the honorable member’s party, who was them in the Senate, piloted through the House the Bill to encourage the so-called monopoly. The honorable member for North Sydney Is, I understand, connected with the wool industry. He is a little squatter in his own way, and likes to pander to the big squatters, who have their knife intothe wool tops industry. Let me show why the meat combine in New South; Wales is opposed to this industry. When the industry was started it was found1 necessary to have the sheep-skins almost hot from the abattoirs in order that the whole of the strength of the wool might be” retained. The Sydney Meat Preserving Company, desiring to destroy the industry, refused to allow -it to have its skins. The firm was, therefore, compelled to go into the market to buy sheep, and to slaughter them in order to obtain the requisite skins. It thus became a competitor in the supply of meat to the general public, and my honorable friend’s company and his friends of the meat combine im Sydney have been hostile to it from thefirst. They are opposed to it because it is supplying cheap meat to the people of Sydney, and my honorable friend does not desire that the people shall have cheapmeat. He is one of the meat ring. We have in New South Wales the Auburn. Meat Works, which conducts a large canning industry, and is a large exporter of meat. The shareholders of that company are the squatters of New South Wales, and, indeed, comprise almost all the squatters of the continent.
– Who says so?
– I can tell by the look onmy honorable friend’s face that he is interested in the company. The Auburn Meat Company always has at the sheep sales what are known as buyers. When there is a glut of sheep in the market these men jump off the fence and start to bid with a view:.of keeping up the price, of meat. The sheep they buy are then slaughtered and exported. They receive half per cent, on the whole of the sales that take place at Flemington, this commission being paid with a view of keeping up the prices. In the circumstances, therefore, they resent any company coming into the market if it is going to be a competitor with them, and to stop their spoliation. I can well understand why the AuburnMeat Company and the Sydney meat ring have, from the first, fought those engaged in the wool-top industry. I wish to make the position clear. The bounty was agreed ito by the last Parliament because it was believed that we should do something more than produce raw material. A Bill was passed providing for the payment of bounties to encourage the manufacture of iron and steel, and so to confer a benefit on the country and to provide employment for labour. This Parliament has also agreed to the payment of a bounty to encourage the production of oil. That was a wise step to take, because it means the development of another of our resources, and the employment of our own labour. But when it is proposed to encourage an industry designed to convert our wool into one stage of manufacture, my honorable friend, who is an exporter of greasy wool, and does not want to employ any labour, raises his voice in opposition.
– This industry is carried on in the honorable member’s own electorate.
– And I am not ashamed of it. If the honorable member would like to represent South Sydney let him come over and contest my seat at the next election. I have here a letter from the manager of Messrs. F. W. Hughes, Limited, manufacturers of wool tops. The honorable member for Darling Downs laughs, but after all, I am only supporting a measure which his Government brought in.’
– I was not laughing at anything the honorable member had said. The Bill as introduced was a good one. I think that a request was made for the payment of bounty for .five years, the statement being made that that would place the industry on a sound footing.
– The industry is just getting on its feet. Mr. F. W. Hughes, of Messrs. F. W. Hughes Limited, writes -
I noticed that statements were made in the House recently misrepresenting matters in connexion with the industry carried on by us, and
I now wish to place the true facts before you. During 1911 the wages paid by my company amounted to a total of £57,000 -
Wages amounting to ,£57,000 were paid in this industry, which, according to the honorable member for North Sydney, employs only a few little girls
– Those wages. were not paid in the production of wool tops alone.
– No; they were paid, as is stated in this letter - in carrying on the complete industry of felmongering, tanning, woolscouring, and wool-top making, the whole of which, with us, are inseparable and form one industry.
– Including butchering.
– That was the amount of the wages paid in the whole industry. It would not pay to get outside firms to do the rest of the work for them. The honorable member for North Sydney asserted that this firm was competing in the Bradford market. As a matter of fact, it has never sent one pound of wool to Bradford. It sends its wool tops to Japan, where they compete with wool tops from Bradford. That is the statement of the manager of the company, and- it can be proved by reference to its books. He states that -
The prices we obtained for all our tops sold to the Japanese last year averaged 27^. per lb.
On the other hand, the total imports of wool tops into Japan from Bradford and elsewhere average only 27d. per lb. This shows that the Australian wool tops are not undercutting, but that a better price is actually obtained for them in the Japanese market because their quality is superior.
– Can the honorable member vouch for the accuracy of these statements?
– I can. I have been through the works at Botany, and if the honorable member would only visit them, I believe that he would modify his views on this subject.
– Tell us something to justify the payment of the bounty.
– I understand that the primary object which the Parliament had in view in deciding to pay this bounty was to encourage the manufacture of one of our raw products into a more complete article. There are nearly 700 employes connected with this industry. Surely that is some justification for the payment of the bounty. The next step will be the manufacture of the yarn, which must be produced here before we can undertake the manufacture of cloth,
– But the bounty is paid upon the wool tops exported.
– Those tops are sold to all manufacturers throughout the Commonwealth who desire them. But bounty is paid only upon the tops which are exported.
– Do F. W. Hughes and Company sell any wool tops here at all?
– Yes. They have supplied manufacturers at Marrickville and other places when they required wool tops. I am not interested in the works of Botany in any way. I do not hold a single share in the company, nor have I a friend who is employed in the industry. But I am interested in seeing this country go ahead, so that it may become self-contained. If the policy of the Opposition is that we should always remain hewers of wood and drawers of water, they are welcome to it. I believe that honorable members are glad to see any industry in Australia prospering, and this industry stands like a monument to- the credit of the Deakin Government. Does the honorable member for Echuca believe in establishing industries in this country? Is he a Free Trader or a Protectionist? I believe that this country is in favour of granting a bounty to encouragethe establishment of this industry. Not merely has the firm- in question established an industry in wool tops, but it has prevented the honorable member’s meat syndicate from exporting dried sheep skins, simply because that syndicate was too mean to pay the price demanded for taking the wool, off those skins.
– I rise to. a point of order. I strongly object to the honorable member - =-
– What is the honorable member’s point of order ?
– My point of order is that the honorable member pointed to me, and declared that my meat syndicate has done certain things. I have nothing whatever to do with that syndicate, and I ask that his statement should be withdrawn. It is untrue.
– I did not take it that the honorable member for South Sydney intended to convey that the honorable member for North Sydney was personally interested in that syndicate. Otherwise I would have stopped him. I took it that he used the words in a general sense. I regret to say that honorable members are getting into the habit of conversing loudly and interrupting me when I am speaking. That is one of the worst disorders of which any honorable member can beguilty. It has been laid down over and over again that when Mr. Speaker is on his feet honorable members must remain silent. If I had thought that the honorable member for South Sydney used the expression to which exception has been taken in a personal or offensive sense towards the honorable member for North Sydney I certainly would have intervened. If he did intend his remark to be offensive he must withdraw it.
– I did not apply any of my remarks to the honorable member personally. I referred only to the company which he is keeping. I understand that, he is championing the cause of the opponents of the wool top industry - in other words, that he is championing the Meat Combine in New South Wales. If he wishes to champion that combine, which has kept the price of meat in that State 25 per cent, higher than it should be, I have a right to say that he is an advocate of the interests of the Meat Trust and of the high, prices which are being charged’. The Meat Trust in Sydney is so anti-Australian that, it does not even fellmonger the skins of the sheep which it slaughters. It sends thoseskins out of the country, either dried or inpickle, in order that the wool on them may be taken- off by cheaper labour than can be obtained in Australia.
– Do F. W. Hughes and Company send their wool tops to Japan ?
– Yes. The honorable member cannot object to that, because the Old Country also exports wool tops, there.. Japan cannot grow an ounce of wool. Would the honorable member deny the Japanese the right to wear clothes? If” Japan will give us a market for our wool,. I hope to see the people of that country clad in our woollen cloths.
– What is the proportionof wool tops exported to the total production of wool ?
– It is very small, But ina few years I hope that the industry will’ be able to hold its own without the aid of a bounty. At the present time, however, it cannot compete with the Bradford companies, which have millions of pounds of capital at their command, in addition to* cheap labour. This company employs 700 hands, it has built an up-to-date factory, which is beautifully ventilated, and it extends good conditions to its employes. Itrust that the honorable member for North Sydney will pay a visit of inspection to its works. If he does so, I feel sure that he will not continue to be an opponent of the industry. It is a shame that any honorable member should attempt to decry an industry which has been built up here, and which, by means of successive stages, bids fair to produce our own blankets and cloth.
– They do not stop at the manufacture of wool tops. They crush out all the little men.
– The sheep-farmer grows sheep primarily for their wool. The mutton is merely a by-product.
– Oh !
– The honorable member for Swan laughs at that statement. Those who purchase skins do so for the wool upon them. Although they use the pelt and other parts to produce glue, gum, &c, the essential part is undoubtedly the wool.
– But this company is using the bounty to crush out the little men.
– The little men have been crushed by the Sydney Meat Company. I have no doubt that when a’ vote is taken upon the proposal to continue this bounty upon wool tops, a majority upon this side of the House will prove themselves big enough Australians to support it.
– I desire to make an appeal to the Government to take steps at an earlier date than they have indicated to settle the conditions which are to obtain in the sugar industry. The Prime Minister has stated that he will await the report of the Sugar Commission. The Minister of Trade and Customs will remember that on the 5th September Mr. Denham, the Premier of Queensland, wrote to the Prime Minister as follows : -
I have the honour to inform you that my colleague, the Treasurer, on his return to Brisbane, communicated to me your express opinion that it would make for the welfare of the sugar industry if both Excise and bounty were abolished ; that - you would do your best to influence your colleagues to take the same view, and, if successful, would next session introduce Bills for -the repeal of so much of the Excise and bounty sections as applied to the sugar industry. While thanking you for this attitude on the question, I must say I was not unprepared for the in formation, as I was aware you had on former occasions expressed yourself similarly thereon. Whatever co-operation I can give you in the matter will be cheerfully rendered, for I am fully satisfied that along such lines as you suggest lies the only solution of the difficulties which have to be met. I hope, therefore, you will be able to prevail on your colleagues to take action in the direction mentioned, and to take it during the current session of Parliament, for delaying it until next year would entail very serious consequences on the industry, and, among other evils, the intensifying of the present feeling of uncertainty and unrest in those connected with it.
If you can give me your assurance on this point I shall undertake to introduce legislation prohibiting Asiatic aliens from engaging or working in the industry, and compensating such aliens as may be bond fide owners or leaseholders of land now under sugar cane. The people of Australia desire the sugar industry to be a white labour one, and I gladly give my support to any arrangement which will ensure the realization of that desire. It is also their wish that this industry should pay the white labour . the highest wage consistent with its prosperity, and the better to achieve that end I shall so enlarge the Industrial Peace Bill as to bring sugar workers (both field and mill hands) under Industrial Boards. I think that will be the most effective means of protecting their interests.
The Minister will see from that communication that the Premier of Queensland distinctly stated that if the bounty and Excise upon sugar were abolished, he would introduce into the Queensland Parliament the legislation necessary to give effect to the conditions which he outlined. Cannot the Minister induce his colleagues to take action to repeal the sugar bounty and Excise with a view to enabling the Queens land Legislature, during the current ses sion of the Parliament, to give effect to the Premier’s proposals? On the 13th November the Treasurer of that State again referred to the matter. He said -
They did not know what was going to be done elsewhere. They were not there to say whether the new regulations were right or wrong; but they said that if it was necessary to have those regulations, and it was not possible for sugargrowing to be carried on successfully under them, there should be equalization of bounty and Excise, or something else which would be equivalent. Was that an improper position?
The Premier. - A very reasonable position. Mr. Lennon. - You blame the Federal Govern, ment.
The Treasurer. - When he was in Melbourne the Federal Prime Minister told him that he favoured certain things, one of which was the removal of bounty and Excise ; he said, further, that if the Queensland Government were prepared to do certain things - if they were prepared to bring in a certain measure - he was prepared to move at once in that particular regard. But there was a “ power behind the throne “ which might not let the Federal Premier carry out what he regarded as a sane proposition. The Government were perfectly untrammelled, and desirous of doing their duty to the country, and he could only repeat that every member of the Government was. exceedingly anxious that there should not be the slightest delay in regard to the erection of these mills.
I appeal to the Minister not to wait for the report of the Sugar Commission, but to announce at an early date that he will take the steps suggested, and communicate with the Queensland Government, so that the whole matter may be satisfactorily settled. The regulations under existing conditions are pressing heavily on growers. Some sixteen or seventeen cane-growers met the honorable member for Capricornia in Bundaberg recently, when Mr. W. Allen said that, at a meeting of cane-growers held at Currajong about two months earlier, a resolution was passed for the abolition of the Excise and bounty, or its equalization. Four copies of this resolution were drafted, one each being sent to the Prime Minister, the Minister of Trade and Customs, the honorable member for Capricornia, and Mr. John White. Mr. Allen is reported to have said that it was impossible for the growers to live under the conditions brought about by the excessive regulations imposed by the Minister. It is reported in the press that Mr. Mason submitted figures which showed that he could not live under the existing conditions. He said that when the regulations were issued, in August last, the extra 2s. 2d. per ton should have been given to enable the growers to pay the wages. He said that it was utterly impossible to pay the wages, and that the 2s. 2d. should have been given without the growers having to ask for it. He stated that he made only £2 os. 6d. per week for the last three years, and asked how he could pay the labourer a week.
– The highest rate is only £2 8s. a week, without keep.
– Accepting that correction, is it possible to pay the amount out of £2 os. 6d. per week? Mr. Lauriston said that he would be willing to pay the rates if he could afford to, and that he knew of several who had lost their employment through the growers not being able to pay the wages demanded. The Minister acted on his own initiative in imposing the regulations, and did not wait for the report of the Royal Commission, and I ask him before that report is received to act again on his own initiative for the relief of the small growers, with whom we should sympathize, because they are helping to make a white Australia by settling in the tropical regions and developing the land there. I do not want to see this made a party question, because it would not be fair to make a matter concerning them a cause of political contention. It has all along been the view of thePrime Minister that the Excise and bounty, might in time be repealed. At present the false notion prevails that the industry isbeing pampered, and is receiving preferential treatment, when, as a matter of fact it was dealt with specially to solve a> political problem, but’ does not receive any preference. Many would like to see it placed on the same footing as the iron industry or similar industries. The Queensland Treasurer, in reply to a question by the honorable member for North Brisbanerespecting the delay in proceeding with certain sugar mills, said that -
If it had not been for the disturbing influencesof the new conditions laid down by Mr. Tudor, the possibility of those mills next year being’ a-, very great success would have been abundantly realized, because they had made arrangementsby which a very much larger area of cane wouldbe planted, and arrangements went in the direction of providing for a tram line so that the people in the immediate neighbourhoods would’ be able to grow cane.
I have a copy of a letter which was sent: to the Prime Minister, in which the secretary of a sugar association points out thatthe regulations are deterring men from opening up new country, and from signing; agreements tentatively made.
– The inspectors’ reports show that there is more land being planted.
– I have nothing to say against the integrity or ability of the inspectors, but there may be facts which donot come under their notice. The statement of the Treasurer of Queensland isborne out by the account of a meeting of the cane-growers of the Mount Bauple district, which informed the general manager of the sugar bureau that -
Since meeting Dr. Gibson, on the 4th day ofl” June, 1912, the regulations issued by the Minister of Customs have so altered conditions that until all things are equal we refrain for thepresent from signing the agreement.
No doubt the Minister is eager to assist the industry, and I hope that he will do so onthe lines that have been suggested, that is,, by repealing the bounty and Excise.. Onthis matter I understand that cane-growers in New South Wales hold the sameviews as cane-growers in Queensland. If the Minister can do this, he will allay great anxiety, and create confidence, which will result in the continued prosperity of the industry, and the further occupation of our tropical country by white settlers.
– The Minister of Trade and Customs must be a terrible man. They say that he has gone back on Protection, and, according to the honorable member for Darling Downs, he is acting improperly with regard to the sugar industry. This morning the honorable members for Illawarra and North Sydney spoke strongly about the bounty on wool tops. The former is, of course, a Free Trader, and reading between the lines the honorable member for North Sydney, like the honorable member for Lang, is also a Free Trader. Evidently the bounty has had the effect of establishing the manufacture of wool tops in Australia, and as Free Traders they do not like that. We were told that our wool tops are purchased by the Japanese, and although the honorable member for North Sydney seemed to deprecate that, there have been other occasions on which he has spoken differently of Japan. In the past the Japanese have not known, when buying wool tops, whether the wool was Australian or not. Now they know where it comes from. The honorable member for North Sydney complained that Australian wool tops are competing against Bradford wool tops, but it was the intention of Parliament in establishing the bounty that the manufacture of wool tops should be made an Australian industry, although only the first step towards the manufacture of wool and cloth. I ask if British manufacturers ever consider Australian competitors when they have commodities to sell. If we manufacture any particular commodity and obtain a market for it in Australia we are immediately undercut by the British manufacturer by way of dumping, or in some other form. Honorable members opposite are accusing those associated with this company with being a band of political pirates.
– That is because they have the work done in Australia.
– Exactly ; but when we on this side have charged other manufacturers with being pirates and robbing the workers and consumers, we have got very little support from honorable members opposite. On the present occasion, however, they are venomously assailing this company ; and one of the reasons given for the attack is that this branch of the industry enjoys an immunity from labour troubles - that the company are not like other manufacturers in Australia who rob their employés.
– How many men does the company employ, and what wages are paid?
– There are about 700 hands employed. As to the purchase of machinery, it is open to any other company to do the same; and the fact is that, by their method of working, the company have got the better of the wool and meat kings of Australia. Honorable members opposite regard it as impudence on the part of the company that it should actually save buyers’ commission, rob the poor middleman, and deprive the European speculator of his profits. As a matter of fact, our great desire is to deprive the European comber of his profit, because our desire is to manufacture our own natural products as far as we possibly can.
– The bonus is not on the manufacture, but on the export.
– The honorable member knows as well as I do that if we manufacture so largely and cheaply as to be able to export at a profit we are only doing what every civilized country in the world is endeavouring to do. In the past the argument of the Free Trader has been that we should never be able to manufacture for export; and, now that we are doing so under Protection, it is regarded in the light of a crime. There are two ways in which we may protect industries. The first is, of course, to impose a. duty at the seaboard, and the other is to give a bounty to encourage production, where it is felt that a duty might disarrange the industry if we cannot manufacture largely enough, and that our own people might be exploited. I have heard honorable members opposite advocate a bonus as a form of Protection; but because the interests of their friends or supporters - especially foreign commission agents and the wool knights of Bradford - are affected, they are up in arms. No honorable member opposite has attempted to-day to defend this bonus on wool tops. The honorable member for Darling Downs, as a member of the Deakin Ministry, induced us to offer bonuses on many commodities produced in Australia ; but he must have ceased to regard bonuses in a favorable light, because he has allowed this attack to-day without a word of remonstrance. Under the circumstances, I’ feel quite justified in describing the Opposition as Free
Traders - lock, stock, and barrel. Something has been said about the number of hands employed, and. the wages paid by this company; and I have here a document which shows that there are 670 persons working in the factory, 600 of whom are males, and 70 females. One of the objections raised to-day is that girls go to this factory because of the light and clean occupation it affords; and it would appear that honorable members opposite desire to reserve such occupations for the girls of Bradford. The document from which I am quoting may have been prepared by the company, and therefore I shall not swallow it whole.
– It is prepared by the secretary of the Wool Scourers Union.
– Then it will be quite correct, and it tells us -
At the two mills at Botany, where top-making is carried on in conjunction with wool scouring, felmongering, and basil tanning, from which it is inseparable, for full time employment is being given to 670 persons, of whom 600 are males, and 70 only are females.
The amount of money earned by adult males per week of 48 hours ranges from £4 for skilled wool-pullers and sorters down to £211s. for ordinary able-bodied men, and £2 8s. for men of light physique doing light work.
These rates represent a rise of 30 per cent, over those ruling before the bonus came into operation, and the increase is due to the bonus.
Other employers are forced to pay the same rates. This accounts, in a large measure, for their opposition and for that of the meat ring, who also have to pay the 30 per cent, rise, and do not like it.
That is the trouble. The honorable member for Bendigo - the Chairman of the Tariff Commission, which, for some years, piled up evidence, worthless and otherwise - and his leader, the honorable member for Ballarat, with three or four other honorable members opposite, are supposed to be Protectionists, and yet, on every occasion they, by their silence, allow individuals who sit with them to condemn any form of Protection, and do their best to cripple Australian industries. At the same time, however, newspapers which support those honorable members claim them as Protectionists. We know that they are not Protectionists, and that in Victoria they have some trouble in some of their political leagues, in the effort to smooth matters over in this connexion. The honorable member for Fawkner did not “ slip “ very often when the Tariff was last before us; but after his association with the Women’s National League and other political bodies of that ilk he will not be allowed to vote as he pleases on the next occasion..
– He has not been yiven much chance to vote this session!
– I am not sure whether those so-called protectionist members opposite were not in league with the Minister of Trade and Customs to permit of his Estimates being pushed through in forty seconds the other afternoon. Where were our great Protectionists then?
– Where was the honorable member ?
– I fully expected on that occasion to have again to sit the night through, and the hard work of the “endless chain” necessitated my taking a rest. It was when I was out of the chamber that the Trade and Customs Estimates were passed, in spite of the fact that honorable members opposite had been upbraiding us for not bringing about Tariff reform.
– What has this to do with wool tops?
– The bonus on wool tops represents a form of Protection that the honorable member does not like. The honorable member attacks the wool-top industry because it gives employment in Australia, and he and his associates have so little concern for our industries that they allowed the Customs Estimates to go through in 40 seconds after wasting 40 hours in tomfoolery.
– Is the honorable member in order in suggesting that we wasted 40 hours in tomfoolery.
– If the honorable member for Melbourne Ports used such an expression in regard to other honorable members he was not in order, but he is perfectly in order in making such a reference to himself.
– From time immemorial the consideration of the Estimates has always been regarded as affording the Opposition an opportunity to make an attack on the Government of the day. Last week the Opposition took advantage of all the Standing Orders, and also tried to make rules for themselves, to enable them to debate at length a question concerning a cablegram that was not sent, but which, in their opinion, ought to have been transmitted. The honorable member for Wentworth took up much time in making what appeared to be a somewhat learned speech on the subject, yet, when the Estimates relating to. the Department of Trade and Customs were submitted, he and his party allowed them to be passed in forty seconds. I have always said that the Opposition can obtain from the Government more information than can the supporters of the Government, but had I been present when those Estimates were submitted they would not have been passed as speedily as they were. The Opposition, which is charged with certain duties, lamentably failed on the occasion in question. The Protectionists of the party - and some of their party newspapers claim that they are Protectionists - had an opportunity to raise the question of the Tariff when the Estimates were under consideration, but they did not do so. At the next general’ elections certain newspapers will be proclaiming that the Opposition constitutes the great Protectionist party of Australia.
– Hear, hear.
– Yet the honorable member who says “hear, hear” allowed the Estimates of the Department of Trade and Customs to be passed in forty seconds.
– There is no item in the Estimates of the Department of Trade and Customs referring to the Tariff.
– The right honorable member affects to be very innocent, but he knows that on the Estimates the Opposition Gould have attacked the Minister.
– The honorable member would not join in an attack upon his Government.
– There are occasions when I should be prepared to do so. At the next general election the Opposition will be heralded in New South Wales as the champions of Free Trade, whereas in Victoria the honorable member for Ballarat, the honorable member for Bendigo, and others of the party will claim that it is the Great Protectionist-Liberal party of the Commonwealth.
– What will the honorable member be doing?
– Talking Labour politics.
– The honorable member’s party bars Protection.
– No ; we believe in Labour Protection. In answer to the honorable member for Illawarra, let me say that at the next general election I shall be advocating increased duties, subject to the condition that the workers and the consumers shall be considered.
– The honorable member voted unconditionally for high duties on the last occasion.
– I did not. Last session the Minister introduced an amending Customs Tariff Bill-
– Which the honorable member said he would not vote for unless he could secure certain benefits for the worker.
– And we had evidence that reasonable wages were paid in the industries in respect of which higher duties were proposed. Where will the Opposition be at the next general election so far as the Tariff question is concerned ? The honorable member for Bendigo and the honorable member for Illawarra - the one supposed to be an advocate of Protection and the other a Free Trader - sit cheek by jowl on the Opposition benches.
– And the honorable member sits cheek by jowl with the AttorneyGeneral, who is supposed to be a strong Free Trader.
– When the Tariff was under consideration, we obtained seventeen Protectionist votes from the present Attorney -General, but we did not get one from the honorable member for Illawarra.
– And never will.
– In that respect the honorable member is not alone. Of the Opposition party of thirty-one members, only six are avowed Protectionists.
– How many Free Traders are there in the honorable member’s party ?
– I believe that we have three who still claim, to be old-time Free Traders, but when the time for action comes it will be found that they are new Protectionists.
– The honorable member is supporting a Government which has been dodging the Tariff question from the first.
– That assertion is not correct.
– It seems to have “struck oil.”
– The honorable member for Flinders is one of those men who talk of effective Protection but who refuse, when they have the opportunity, to vote for an effective duty.
– What have the honorable member’s party done for Protection ?
– At the last referenda we endeavoured to obtain certain powers which would have enabled us to provide for the new Protection, but they were not granted to us.
– If they were granted tomorrow to this Parliament the Labour party would have “up their sleeve” some other excuse for not touching the Tariff.
– If they were granted we should bring before this Parliament an up-to-date scientific Protectionist Tariff. Here is a letter signed “ Free Trader,” which appears in to-day’s Argus, and deals with the Opposition and the fiscal issue -
Sir, - What are freetraders to do at the Federal contest? Are they to stand quietly by and hear so-called Liberal candidates advocate, in the most extravagant terms,, practically prohibitive duties, a system which is gradually being abandoned by every civilized community? Logically the Labour party’s position on the question is unassailable. This party admit that with high protective duties the manufacturers get most of the advantages of a privileged class, and that, until some provision is made to share the plunder with the operatives, no further increases in the present sufficiently high protection should be tolerated. Is it not abundantly convincing that throughout the universe Liberalism and Freetrade are co-extensive terms? A genuine freetrader strenuously objects to a protectionist being called a Liberal, and being placed in the same classification as Cobden, Bright, Gladstone, Davitt, and O’Connell. The exaggerated appeals to national animosity, hatred, and all uncharitableness against Germany, preached by Messrs. Mauger and Cook at Moonee Ponds last night, is strongly to be deprecated. Admitting that the freetraders in Victoria are in a minority, still this fact must be remembered, that if threefourths of this minority are goaded by these incitements to prohibition to vote for the Labour candidates, what becomes of the so-called Liberal candidates for the Senate?
As the writer says, our position is unassailable.
– Does the honorable member consider there is no new Protection now ?
– There is very little.
– What about the Wages Boards ?
Mr.- MATHEWS. - I have shown more than once in this House that the Wages Boards, as at present constituted, do not give us new Protection.
– The bosses sack the men on the Wages Boards.
– What will the Opposition do if, after the next general election, they are asked to sit side by side with Messrs. Mauger and Hume Cook? It will be a terrible thing for the Free Traders of that party to have to sit with men who are described as supporters of prohibitive Protectionist duties. I should like the Opposition to act fairly and squarely on the Tariff issue. They will take up an honest stand if they say at the next general election, “ We, as a party, drop the fiscal issue ; each individual member being allowed to deal with it as he thinks fit.” Will they be prepared to say, “As a party, we have no fiscal opinions, although, as individuals, the honorable member for Ballarat, the honorable member for Illawarra, and every member of our party, are free to vote as they please on the Tariff question. We are not a Protectionist party, and do not claim to be the Protectionist party, in Australia.” That would be an honest admission for them to make. If, however, the so-called Liberal party - in reality the Conservative party - are going to be so dishonest as to claim in New South Wales to be the Free Trade party while in Victoria they claim to be the Protectionist party because they think it will suit them- to do so, then, the sooner the people of Australia know it the better. When we are empowered to pass laws providing for effective Protection for every one, the Labour party will be prepared to vote for a full measure of Protection, so that Australia may manufacture all that she requires to make her self-contained. The word “ Freetectionist,” which was coined some time ago, exactly describes the Opposition. I wish to warn the few Protectionists on the other side of the Chamber, especially the honorable member for Wimmera, and some other honorable members who pretend to be Protectionists but who continue to sit with Free Traders, that at the next election, if they are not honest in this matter they will be exposed. I wish also to say that! honorable members opposite who are Free Traders, lock, stock, and barrel, cannot possibly hope for the return to this House of Mr. Hume Cook, who has been denounced by the Argus, and by the whole of its writers. How can they possibly associate with him, seeing that he is an avowed’ Protectionist, and that they have no fiscal faith whatever?
– Is not that the position of the honorable member’s party?
– Decidedly not. We place the new Protection on the forefront of our programme. I have frequently told the Opposition that when we have power to enact certain laws, if any ‘honorable member upon this side of the House refuses to vote for the new Protection, he will have to leave the Labour party. The fact is that the one function of the Opposition is to fight the Labour party. If its members were as honest outside this Chamber as they are inside of it, we should have nothing of which to complain. But, in view of the opportunities which they have had to attack the Government on the question of Protection - opportunities of which they have not availed themselves - the least they can do is to admit that they passed the whole of the Customs Estimates in forty seconds, instead of debating the advisableness of increasing the duties which are at present levied on commodities imported into Australia.
.- I wish to protest against the delay which is occurring in the construction of the transcontinental railway. I claim that the muddle which has been made by the Government in the purchase of materials for that line, and in the contract into which they have entered for the supply of karri sleepers, has put them in such a position that the construction of the line will occupy at least ten years instead of about three years. The Bill authorizing the building of this railway was passed by Parliament more than twelve months ago, and if the right steps had at once been taken to secure sleepers and rails, there would have been at least 300 or 400 miles of sleepers ready to lay down. In addition, those sleepers would have been more suitable for use than will be sleepers which are obtained green from the forest. The wild statements which have been made by the Minister in an endeavour to justify his position, are absolutely childish. The assertions which have been made for the purpose of injuring jarrah as a timber - assertions as to its non-durability - are not borne out by facts. It is distinctly unfair to the jarrah industry of Western Australia that such statements should be made and circulated broadcast throughout the Commonwealth. On the 29th October last, in reply to a question put to him by the honorable member for Swan - as will be seen by reference to Hansard, page 4746 - the Minister said he had telegraphed to the Premier of Western Australia, and had received a reply in which the following passage occurred -
Also produced at same time pieces of powellised karri 5 ft. 10 in. and 7 ft. 11 in. by 9 in. and 4^ in., taken out 5th October, 1912, from culvert, which was built on 28th April, 1908, for test purposes of powellised karri inside old jarrah culvert on Woonerup line, which had been destroyed by white ants. The powellised karri was found to be perfectly sound, no sign of dry rot or white ants.
At the time the Minister gave that answer, I did not catch the name of the line from which the samples were taken. But, in reading Hansard, I was surprised to find that it was the Woonerup line. Now, I happen to have converted that line from one of the first timber lines laid down in Western Australia. I pulled it up and relaid it with heavy sleepers. It is most extraordinary that the wood supposed to have been eaten by white ants should have been taken from a culvert in that line, because, in pulling it up, I found that miles and miles of jarrah sleepers which were laid down thirty years before were perfectly sound, so sound that I used them again. After they had been re-laid for several years, Millar Brothers sold that line to the Government, which continued to run it on the same sleepers. What is the use of the Minister making such wild statements here ? Will they convince the people of Western Australia, who know differently? Will they convince people in other parts of the world who have purchased jarrah by hundreds of ship-loads? This Woonerup line was the first railway in “Western Australia which ran into the jarrah country. It was built by Ballarat people and over it was run the first locomotive made in Ballarat, and the first locomotive which was used in Western Australia. These jarrah sleepers, I presume, are still in use on that line. Yet the Minister has the audacity to tell us that white ants ate the jarrah in one pf the culverts upon it. It is such statements which discount his position in the eyes of the Commonwealth. If such ridiculous statements “ go down “ in this House, they will certainly not “go down “ outside it. On a previous occasion, I stated that an 8-ft. 10-in. by 5-in. sleeper is long enough “ for a line with a 4-ft. 8-in. gauge. The Minister affirms that a 9-ffc. sleeper is in use on that gauge. It is in places. But it is in use only for the reason that it was adopted years ago when chairs were used on railways, and when, owing to their use, a certain amount of timber was required outside the rail which is not required to-day. One of the best lines laid in Australia is that between Wolseley and Adelaide, which has a 5-ft. 3-in. gauge, and upon which 8-ft. 6-in. sleepers are used. Can anybody say that that is not a perfect piece of railway construction? Can it be urged that 8-ft. sleepers, with 80-lb. instead of 60-Ib. rails, would not provide a track good enough for any train in the world to run over? Then I find that the statement that the sleepers on the Pennsylvania line are 9 feet long is absolutely incorrect. I have in my possession photos showing portions of that line, over which the fastest trains from New York run, and I may tell honorable members that the sleepers in use upon it are not 9 feet long. They are only 8 feet 6 inches long. Generally speaking, they are small pine and half-round sleepers. In Canada, the people never see sleepers equal to those we produce in Australia. OU: sleepers are of altogether a better class. Why, then, should we lay down a sleeper of a greater length than we really require? I would also point out that if a long sleeper is put down in a line, it becomes hollow in the middle, and thus tightens the gauge. If we use 80-lb. rails, the least dip in the sleeper will bring the tops of the rails together, and thus the gauge will be tightened. This results from using sleepers which are too long. A sleeper which is just long enough is much better than one which is too long. Seeing that the difference between the cost of constructing the transcontinental line with 8-ft. as against 9-ft. sleepers means a difference of from £150,000 to £170,000, I wish to know whether we can afford to go in for these fads? What is good enough for other countries is surely good enough for us, especially when we have better material. We have been told that a 9-ft. sleeper is the standard length adopted in New South Wales for a 4-ft. 8j-in. gauge. It may have been when Mr. Deane was the EngineerinChief there. But I would like to say that since he relinquished that position the standard length has been altered to 8 ft. 6 in., and even that is too long. It has been altered because the authorities have only just awakened to the fact that, in the construction of new lines, the use of railway chairs has been abandoned. The use of those chairs necessitates the use of a longer sleeper. I wish particularly to protest against the delay which will be caused in the construction of the transcontinental line if the Government adhere to their determination to have the sleepers for it cut at mills erected by the Western Australian Government. So much time will be required to erect the mills and plant for the powellising that the railway could be practically built before the sleepers will be ready. Sleepers of the best quality in the world could have been obtained in millions without the erection of a single mill. No sawn sleeper is as good as a hewn sleeper, and if you put sawn Sleepers through the powellising process they will go to pieces. The Railways Commissioners of Victoria tried the powellising system, but found ‘that it spoilt the timber. They sent picked timber to Sydney to be treated, but found that the treatment was not a success. The timber which I have brought here was- passed by the Defence Department, but it was required to be powellised. A contract for the construction of military waggons was let to Robison Brothers, and timber which, had been passed by the Defence Department was sent to New South Wales to be powellised, with the result that on its return it was condemned by the Department,, and’ is now all to pieces. As I showed on a former occasion, boiling and steaming were found hundreds of years ago todeteriorate timber. I have it on the best authority that a large order for powellising was given by Alcock, the billiard-table maker, and that the timber was spoiled by the process. Timber powellised in New Zealand under the supervision of the engineer now in charge at the Port Augusta end of the Western Australian railway was not a success, the sleepers rotting. I have a statement here to the effect that timber powellised for Messrs. Perry, of Sydney and Melbourne - very big people - was spoiled, the charge being 6s. per 100 super, feet for 3 inches by 3 inches, and 7s. 9d. for 4 J inches by 4^ inches.
– What would it cost to powellise 10 inches by 5 inches?
– Powellising costs more than is paid for the timber at the mill.
– Felloes 4 inches by 3^ inches by 2 feet 6 inches cost. 4d. each for powellising, but the process was not a success. If honorable members look at the samples I have brought here they will find the stamp of the Defence Department at the end, and the condemned mark over it, placed there after powellisation
– What kind of timber is it?
– Tasmanian bluegum,. a very fine timber for wheelwrights’ work and other uses, and New South Wales bluegum, one of the best timbers in the world for felloes. I have bought any quantity of it, and it has proved splendid stuff. The fact that these two valuable timbers have been made absolutely uselessby the powellising process indicates what will happen to the sleepers which are to be used by the Government. I am informed that no money passed in the settlement of “the account from which I have obtained my information, for a reason which it is said is no doubt obvious to me after my “inspection of the samples treated. Mr. Rennick, a civil engineer, who was for years in charge of big works in Western Australia, and has been in Tasmania, and is a son of a gentleman who was at one time Engineer-in-Chief for Victoria, has written to me from Cooma, New South Wales. He says -
I cannot understand how they cun produce a report from Mr. Light stating that the principal timbers used for sleepers in Western Australia are jarrah and karri. You may not know that ….. Public Works Department in 1891 and 1892 used karri for weatherboards in some of the station buildings and for the lower chords of the 40-inch truss spans on the Perth-Bunbury portion of the south-western railway. The first building put upon that line was a stationmaster’s house at Serpentine early in 1892. Karri was used for weatherboards, jarrah for framing, and ordinary white deal for lining. In the middle of 1893, before the line was opened for traffic, the weatherboards were renewed with jarrah, having been completely eaten out. Up to that time the lining was untouched, showing that those white ants evidently preferred karri to ordinary deal lining. In 1896 it was found that the ants had’ got into the karri lower chords of the 40-inch spans in spite of these being high above the ground on jarrah piles and with -several approach spans in jarrah between them and the embankment, and some were renewed in 1897, and I believe all were renewed before the end of 1898. They were put up in 1892 and 1893. 1 have never seen any karri in use in any standing structure for more than four or five years without getting the white ant, and have a always considered it was a timber to avoid. Now, I shall have to go to school again. Victorian or Tasmanian stringybark or messmate, in my opinion, is just as good as karri, and why -not powellise t these timbers and save money. Another unsought letter has come to me from Mr. W. J. George, who for a number of years was Commissioner for Railways in Western Australia. He says -
We want the sleepers cut in Western Australia, but we have plenty of jarrah, and that is beyond question as to durability. Karri is also- beyond question as to lack of durability. I don’t understand Light’s statement. I do not know of any karri sleepers in the Western Australian railways now. There may be a few in -the Denmark line, bought from Millar, but I don’t think there were any anywhere else - of course, leaving out any experimental patches -
I am afraid that political influence has something to do with that statement on page 5. Then, as to powellising, it has always been to me a very doubtful sort of process. To boil or semiboil any sort of timber is to reduce its potentiality as to standing strains. Time seasoning gets rid of the moisture without reducing strength. The boiling process- gets rid of the moisture and leaves the timber weaker in every way. The molasses, &c, don’t impart strength - they are only supposed to act as a preservative against ants and rot. Then, as to the pro cess, I doubt very much if 5 per cent, of the sleepers sent to Port Hedland ever got much more than an outer skin. There is (nor can there be) no guarantee or proof of complete saturation. To ascertain this, you must cross-cut the sleeper.
Directly a sleeper is crosscut, it becomes useless as a sleeper. Such an opinion as I have read, coming from a man like Mr. W. J. George, who had charge of the Western Australian railways, and who knows that the statement that karri is ‘principally in use in Western Australia is incorrect, should have some influence with the Government. The following is a letter which appeared in the Adelaide Advertiser on the 31st October, 1912 -
The determination of the Federal Government to use karri sleepers in the construction of the East-West Railway has been much discussed. On Wednesday Mr. James S. Heithersay, who was connected with the railways in Western Australia for about 15 years, informed a reporter that karri was by no means as suitable for sleepers as jarrah. He added, “ I was stationmaster at Albany for seven years,’ and was in touch with the traffic arrangements between there and Beverley, a distance of 241 miles. I can remember that trains were frequently slowed down to ensure safety on the tracks laid with karri. At the Beverley end of the line for about 40 miles jarrah was employed, and the trains often made up on that portion of the track some of the time lost on the karri section. I do not believe that one jarrah sleeper was removed during the time I was at Albany, whereas relays of karri were frequent. It was a common thing to send messages from the traffic manager’s office at Albany to various stations on the line directing engine-drivers to reduce their speed between certain mileages. The instructions remained in force until the karri road was again repaired. I have been informed by reliable authorities that karri is more subject to the attacks of white ants and dry rot. Karri is a good timber for superstructures, but for anything underground or under water jarrah has been proved to be the best. Sir John Forrest and other members have declared against karri. I might add that I know nothing about the merits of the powellising methods.”
The writer of that letter used to be in charge of the Great Southern Railway at the Albany end. When the late Mr. Batchelor, as Minister of External Affairs, introduced the Northern Territory Acceptance Bill, he used the following words as reported in Hansard -
I can assure the honorable member, on the authority of the officials, that the railway, so far as Oodnadatta, was splendidly made, and is in as sound a condition as any in Australia.
Hien the honorable member for Corio, on the 13th . October, 1910, said in this House -
As doubts have been expressed as to the condition of the permanent-way, let me say that, although I travelled over it at express speed, the easy running of the train was in marked contrast to the violent oscillation of the AdelaideMelbourne express. The sleepers appeared to be in perfect order, and the railway is one of the finest and smoothest that I have had the pleasure of travelling on.
That railway, which is 480 miles long, cost £2,242,342, and at the time the honorable member for Corio spoke, it had been in existence for over twenty-five years, lt was built, of course, before the powellising process was known.
– Does the honorable member suggest that the sleepers on that railway have been in the ground twentyfive years?
– I do. I have known jarrah to be in the ground for forty years ; indeed, I have relaid a line with jarrah that had been in the ground for thirty years. The sleepers on this line - jarrah, redgum, and so forth - were, of course, not powellised; and I ask why we should make so costly an experiment with a timber that is acknowledged to be useless for the purpose without powellising?
– The soil has a great deal to do with the preservation of timber.
– As I shall prove to the honorable member for Riverina presently. The following is a letter written by Mr. Charles L. Hastie, who has been for sixty years connected with the timber business, and is engaged as an expert by the Western Australian Government -
True, we have very fine forests of that timber, but for sleepers or any other purpose where it will come in contact with damp, karri is bound to go with dry rot. This has been proved in every part of the world where it has been tried. As to the powellising process, no one will ever make me believe that it will prevent karri timber going with dry rot. It is very well to say that a few sleepers have been powellised and laid in the line somewhere near Perth without showing symptoms of dry rot. This I can scarcely believe, and it has been proved that this process has not in New Zealand answered all expectations.
The money may as well be spent in cutting the forest down and burning it on the ground as in carrying it to Kalgoorlie and Port Augusta. I am speaking after nearly 60 years’ knowledge of karri timber, and not from any hearsay. Go where you like in a karri forest you will find no dead charred logs the same as you find in jarrah forest. The karri rots in a very few years. You may see a log with moss growing on it; give it a kick and your boot will go to the laceholes Next thing you will see it will have fallen all down like a’ heap of manure. It is not many years ago that the M. C. Davies Company had a large amount of karri cut into 9x3 for paving, which they could not get rid of, as the London people had found it was subject to dry rot. The timber lay at Karridale until the Millars’ K. and J. Company took over that property under the combine. I saw them turning it over; it reminded me of turning a heap of manure. A quantity was cut into telegraph arms, for which Millars had a large order at the time, and it was shipped, but was soon found to be of no use, as the dry rot quickly found its way to where the arms were bolted on to the poles.
If Mr. O’Malley and others that have control of the work persist in using karri they will be the means of completely damning the timber trade of W.A., which has taken 60 years battling against the timbers of the world to get it to the high standard it holds. Jarrah timber has now a world-wide reputation. It is strange that those in authority should fly in the face of public opinion, when we have .jarrah sufficient to lay sleepers in. all the lines in Australia. Millions could be cut on many parts in the south-west that have been cut out by the various mills. I speak of a class of tree that is too small for ordinary milling and would not pay to take to the mill. They will not grow one inch in 20 years, and are only preventing young timber from growing in their place.
I have had a life-long experience of the timbers of the South-West, having worked it in all its stages from splitting in the bush for fencing to the finest piece of cabinet work.
This man with an experience of sixty years tells us that we cannot prevent karri from rotting ; and it seems to me that, in view of the proposed £2,000,000 experiment, the Government should welcome evidence of the kind. Then there is a letter, also unasked for, sent to me by Mr. H. C. Mais, M.I.C.E., who for thirty years was Engineer-in-Chief of the South Australian railways, and is now President of the Society of Civil Engineers -
I have jotted down a few remarks on the proposal to use “treated” karri- in lieu of sleepers of jarrah for the Transcontinental railway.
I have given an extract from a paper prepared by Mr. Octave Chanute, an American engineer of high repute, and an authority on. timber.
The time that must necessarily be occupied in. treating sleepers effectively must be a bar to its. use on a line where time is the principal element.
Of course, sleepers can be “ treated “ insufficiently, and there will be every inducement to- hurry the process, which will be fatal to its. success.
It must occupy a certain time to extract the sap from 10 in. x 5 in. timber thoroughly, and’ unless this is done, the timber will be in a worsecondition than it was before being subject totreatment.
If persisted in, disaster and disgrace to alt* concerned must follow.
The standard sleeper in United States, America, . used on the Pennsylvania express lines, is 84 ft. x 10 in. x 7 in. thick.
What about the statement that it is 9 feet?-
Paper by the Late Octave Chanute, C.E., France.
Proceedings of Inst. C. Engineers, 1907, Vol. CLIX.,p. 509.
A Commission was appointed by the Agricultural Society of South France, and made a report on the result of experiments by Messrs. Sege and Fleury-Pironnet, and also on experiments of their own.
Condition Favorable to Impregnation.
They stated that the condition most favorable for injection of preservatives is obtained by steaming 212 deg. to 240 deg. Fah. for ten minutes to three hours, according to the kind and state of the wood.
This must be followed for ten minutes with as great a vacuum as possible.
Steaming not used in Europe when Creosote is Used.
With creosote steaming is not used in Europe.
Within the last three years doubts have been cast upon the advantages of steaming even for mineral salts.
Author’s Experiments for Ten to Fifteen Years.
The author (O. Chanute), after experimenting for ten to fifteen years, considers the question depends entirely upon the condition of the wood to be treated.
The problem is to replace the sap with some preservative substance.
To clear the sap cells so as to make room for the preservative, some motive power must be produced inside the wood.
This may be by steam generated in the wood by steaming or by air heated by steaming, which has replaced the sap in partly-seasoned timber.
Takes Eight Hours to bring the Centre of a Sleeper 6 or 7 in. thick to 212 deg. Fah. - Timber freshly cut.
The author experimented during 1890, 1900, on various timbers in different stages of seasoning, and found that it required eight hours’ steaming at 20-lbs. pressure to bring the centre of an 8 in. x 6 in. freshly-cut sleeper to “boiling point,” at which the sap would begin to evaporate.
Four to Six Months’ Seasoning.
With sleepers seasoned four to six months, the author found that more sap could be extracted by one to three hours’ steaming at 20 lbs. pressure.
With fully-seasoned timber, i.e., after six to twelve months’ seasoning, the steaming in some cases increased the weight of the timber slightly, and in others diminished it (well within 2 per cent.).
With fully-seasoned timber more antiseptic (chloride of zinc) could be injected, by commencing with the vacuum and dispensing with the previous steaming.
In the author’s practice at his works, he
That is the condition in which our sleepers will be -
He proceeds to set out different processes, which I shall not detail, inasmuch as I have other information of a very valuable character that I desire to place before the House. A Committee of the American Society of Civil Engineers reported in regard to various processes which had been adopted, and, at page 346 of their report, the process adopted on the Houston and Texas Central Railway Company’s line is described by Mr. A. G. Howe as follows -
Two cylinders, each 100 feet long, in which timber is treated, calculated to stand a pressure of 150 lbs. per square inch.
A super-heater, vacuum and pressure pumps, with suitable steam power and pipe connexions and cisterns for conveying and holding the preservative. The process in brief is : -
Superheated Steam : - 1. Application of superheated steam. 2. Withdrawal of condensed steam and sap ‘that may have come from the wood
That is important. The first step to be taken is to withdraw from the bath all the sap that may have come from the wood. The report proceeds to show that the next step taken is -
Vacuum : - 3. Production of a vacuum by means of a vacuum pump, the temperature being maintained at the same time by dry heat from the steam-pipes.
Pressure : - 4. Following with the preservative at a temperature of about 160 deg. Fah., and with such pressure as may be necessary to produce desired results.
The report continues -
Timber treated : - Our ties contain about 4 cubic feet of timber, andwe use five gallons of the preservative to each tie. (Texas pine.)
Green Timber : - If the timber (Texas pine) is green, four hours’ use of the steam, and four hours’ use of preservative at a pressure of 100 lbs. per square inch may not accomplish the same result as thirty minutes’ exposure to superheated steam, and thirty minutes with the preservative under pressure, which are sufficient when the timber is quite dry.
This report shows that it is comparatively easy to treat timber that has been properly seasoned as against timber which has just been, cut, and we have to recollect that the timber to be used on the construction of this line has not yet been touched, and that it will be put into use a few months after it has been felled. The statements made by various engineers go to prove that it is recognised all over the world that it is absolutely necessary that the withdrawal of the sap should be the first step taken in preserving timber. I propose now to refer to a German experience, as detailed by Privy-Councillor Funk, of Cologne -
German experience and practice : -
Soaking. - The system of soaking the wood in a warm or cold antiseptic solution, or even boiling therein, has proved unsatisfactory, compared with impregnation, because the solution cannot permeate the wood thoroughly.
Unless the sap is withdrawn under a vacuum, and the preservative again then applied with a pressure of from 120 to 150 degrees, these systems are useless. The report continues -
The impregnation process is as follows : -
Time : Hours 3. - 1. Steaming for one to three hours at a steam pressure from 45 to 60 lbs. per square inch for the extraction of the sap, assisted by running off the extracted sap and condensed steam at intervals of thirty minutes.
Time : Hours 3. - 2. The air in the tank is gradually exhausted during one to three hours, until a vacuum of 20 or 24 inches mercurial column has been obtained.
This to insure a more complete extraction of the sap from the wood and more thorough penetration of the impregnating fluid.
Time : Hours 4. - 3. Admission of the impregnating fluid into the tank, and absorption by, and forcing into the wood at a pressure of 105 to 150 lbs. per square inch for three or four hours.
Total time : 10 hours 30 minutes.
We are talking of treating 200,000 tons of timber. It seems to me that this is an illconsidered scheme on the part of the Government, in view of the fact that we have available plenty of timber that does not require to be subjected to this expensive process. I have already pointed out to the House that the Powellising Company in Sydney charges 7s. od. per 100 superficial feet for powellising timber, and I fail to see how they could do the work for less. Such a price, however, makes it practically impossible to deal with timber in the quantities that we shall require for sleepers. I come now to a statement by Mr. Mais, M.I.C.E., who was Engineer-in- Chief for South Australia. He points out that all previous examples referred to relate to soft wood - a point that needs to be emphasized. He states -
All the foregoing examples have been soft woods, and the time occupied in artificially seasoning only applies to soft timber.
Hardwood must take nearly, if not quite, double the time.
The sap and mater from freshly-cut timber must be extracted before the preservative is injected.
It is perfectly obvious that unless there is a place for it, a liquid solution cannot even be forced into the timber, and most failures in treating timber have been traced to the neglect of this most obvious requirement.
In any event the treatment of timber cannot be hurried, or the result will be unsatisfactory, if not disastrous.
If the sleepers are spaced 2 ft. 6 in. centre to centre, 2,113 will be required per mile, and as it is proposed to lay two miles per day on the Transcontinental line, 4,226 sleepers will be required daily at each end.
To avoid stoppages from delay, a five-cylinder plant at each end of the Transcontinental line would be the minimum necessity and capable of treating 1,000 sleepers daily each.
Plant very Costly. - This plant would be very costly, and would add a considerable amount to the cost of the sleepers.
Tendency to Hurry Process and Waste Money. - The rapidity of construction would be so great, that the tendency would be to hurry the process, and the result would be a waste of money, as many of the sleepers would not be thoroughly impregnated.
A thin coating would be useless, as dryrot must set in.
Inspection to be thoroughly Reliable. - It is absolutely necessary that the inspection of the preservative process should be thoroughly reliable and skilful as well as constant to insure any measure of success.
Time Required to Saturate Completely Jarrah or Karri is Unknown. - The time required for the complete impregnation of jarrah or karri sleepers is at present an entirely unknown quantity, and it may be assumed to take at least twice as long as soft wood.
All the calculations that are put before the House have been based on the use of soft wood, and this gentleman tells us that the time required to impregnate our hardwood timbers must be nearly, if not quite, double.
– The honorable member referred to a charge of 7s. od. per 100 superficial feet for powellising timber in Sydney ?
– Yes. That means 7s. od. per 100 superficial feet of timber 1 inch thick. Mr. Mais goes on to state that-
A soft wood sleeper 6 inches thick cannot be saturated by any hitherto known process in less than 12 hours, and jarrah or karri would take about 24 hours per batch of sleepers.
That is a statement that ought to stagger the Minister. He explains -
By “ soft wood “ is meant, pine, beech, spruce and other similar timber.
I come now to a point that ought to interest the Minister. The paragraph is headed, “ Boiling in a preservative abandoned in Germany -and Austria,” and it reads -
Boiling timber in a preservative was tried some years ago, and was abandoned in Germany and Austria as being unsatisfactory with the timbers treated, namely, oak, fir, pine, and beech.
What chance can there be of dealing with hardwood ? -
The application of the boiling process to timbers of the same density as karri and jarrah is purely experimental, and, as far as any records are available, there is no proof that complete saturation of these latter timbers for railway sleepers has been effected within a reasonable time, or under working conditions.
This, is an opinion voluntarily given by an old warrior at. the game, and given with the object of keeping us on the right track. Whether his advice be accepted or rejected will rest with the Ministry, since they are in a majority ; but I think he ought to be thanked for the information he has given us. I do not believe there is in Australia a body of business men who would not accept this, advice on the part of a gentleman who has so thorough a knowledge of the subject. I have more information in regard tei the preservation of timber than time will permit of my bringing before the House. All the authorities go to prove that, while sleepers in small quantities, can be treated for maintenance purposes, treatment has never been a success in connexion- with construction works where large quantities are required to enable the construction of a line to be pushed ahead. Sufficient time cannot be given to the process to insure success. The exCommissioner of Railways in Western Aus- tralia states that it is doubtful whether sleepers on the Port Hedland line were properly treated. Then, again, a friend of mine, who was connected with the construction of that line told me that, if there was anything in the powellising system at alii he thought that the sleepers- used in the first 20 miles of that railway were, perhaps, fairly well treated, but that the treatment of those used in the balance of that 100 miles of railway was a farce. If they proved satisfactory, having regard to the treatment to which they were subjected, he believed that they would have done just as well without it. They were plate-laying that line from only one end, and if the system adopted in that case was a farce, what sort of a farce shall we have in connexion with the construction of this railway, where plate-laying is to proceed from both ends, and where timber 10 x 5 and 9 feet long, as against, timber 9x4 and 8x4, and only about 6 ft. 6 in. long, is to be used. It seems to me that the construction of this line will be delayed as the result of this experiment undertaken at the instance of some one who does not know the ABC of railway work. If that were not so, the authorities would have followed the good old beaten track, which has been blazed for them by others. No one can afford to leave that track. The experience of thirty or forty years of railway construction in Australia teaches us, not only the methods that should be followed, but what material is required for this work. No Department can afford to disregard that experience, and to set out upon a new track. It must be acknowledged that those who have pioneered this class of construction work know » little more about the subject than does any engineer who can be picked up in a haphazard way. No engineer who would be useful to the Commonwealth is looking for a billet at the present time. There are twenty billets offering for every man whohas the knowledge necessary for the construction of this railway. Nothing can be too good for this work. I demanded in this House that 80-lb. rails should be used, and I am pleased that the Government have decided to accept my advice. Give us a good sleeper, anc? we- shall have a line which Americans, Canadians, and Britishers alike will1 admit is all that could be desired. But what sort of an advertisement will it be for the Commonwealth if we use a good” rail and a rotten sleeper? It is essential that this matter should be viewed seriously. Only to-day in the Argus the Minister isreported as having stated that he has let a contract to the Western. Australian Government for the supply of 680,000 powellised karri sleepers at 5s. each, delivered at Mangimup, Western Australia.- That means that we shall have to pay another 2s. 6d. freight upon- each of them. He is also represented as having said that he has let a contract for the supply of- 100,000 jarrah sleepers at 4s. 6d. each, delivered1 at Holyoake or Mangimup, and a furthercontract for the supply of 720,000 karri’ sleepers- at 7’s. 9d._ each, delivered at Port Augusta, subject to a reduction of id. per 100 superficial feet for. powellising.. Yet he concludes his statement by saying that the question of treatment has not yet been* definitely decided on.
– That is the Argus statement. The honorable member regards that newspaper as his Bible.
– The Argus represents the Minister as having entered into a. contract to pay only 4s.1d. each for jarrah sleepers, and 5s. each for karri sleepers, notwithstanding the fact that the latter will have to be carried 100 miles further than will the jarrah. I challenge the Minister to prove that jarrah is not a better timber than is karri, or that any karri is obtainable as near to Kalgoorlie as is jarrah. As a matter of fact, the karri upon an average will have to be carried 100 miles further. Of course, if we have money to throw away that circumstance will not weigh with us. But I submit that the question of cost ought to be a consideration with us if we wish to secure stability of construction at a reasonable outlay. Why, a saving of1d. per sleeper in the construction of this line would represent an enormous sum. We have been told, too, that the Government could not obtain jarrah because the supply of it is in the hands of a combine. Yet I notice that they have been able to let contracts to persons who have no connexion whatever with Millar Brothers. For instance, they have let contracts to Bunning Brothers, to the Nelson Cooperative Timber Association, to the Timber Corporation Limited, Perth, and to Lewis and Reid. These persons are not in the combine. The Government are able to enter into contracts with these people for the supply of jarrah sleepers at 4s. 4½d. each as against 5s. each in the case of karri. Karri grows at a greater distance from Kalgoorlie than does any other timber.
– Millar Brothers have applied recently for 70,000 acres of karri country.
– Millar Brothers abandoned the karri country in the south of Western Australia fifteen years ago. Their mills and railways there must have been worth between £100,000 and £200,000. Yet they demolished them, and established them in the jarrah country.
– Have they applied for any karri country recently?
– If they have done so they must want it to grow potatoes, because I know that karri, when rotten, makes a splendid manure. We have it on the authority of Mr. Hastie, a timber expert, that karri logs only require to lie on the ground a short time before they begin to rot. I have not attempted to make this question a party one. But I do appeal to honorable members opposite who are prepared to give the Commonwealth a fair deal to stick to the old beaten track, and not to indulge in this experiment. There is no better timber for railway purposes in Australia than is jarrah. It is not necessary to treat it. Need I remind honorable members that the sleepers in the line from Port Augusta to Oodnadatta, which had not been powellised, and which had been down for twenty-five years, were in good condition when the Commonwealth took over that line from South Australia.
– But thousands of those sleepers have been replaced.
– There is scarcely a line in the world twenty-five years old in which nearly all the sleepers have not been replaced. It would be marvellous if we could find a timber which we could guarantee would stand for twenty-five years. In many countries the average life of a sleeper, even when treated, is only fourteen years, but the average life of a jarrah sleeper, according to Mr. Dartnall, ranges up to eighteen years. What better timber do we require? If we had nothing but pine, or inferior timber such as is to be found in other countries, we might -wish to preserve it, in order to make it last longer. But in all the States we have splendid timber. In Western Australia we have timber which is being shipped to all parts of the world. Yet it is to be discarded in favour of karri. As Mr. Hastie has pointed out, it took sixty years to establish the timber industry in Western Australia, owing to the set back which it received consequent upon the export of karri. The Leeuwin was the first place from which timber was exported from Western Australia. That is where the karri grows. A friend of mine, Mr. Eldridge, lost one of the first vessels which loaded karri there. With all this evidence before us from scientific men, from eminent engineers, timber experts, and old residents of Western Australia, as to the durability of jarrah, why should we indulge in this dangerous experiment?
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I desire to call the attention of the Government to a matter of some importance and one of long standing, and I ask them if they cannot see their way to finally settle it. I refer to the case of the transferred postmasters of South Australia, and to the promise which was made to them prior to Federation - a promise which has never been redeemed. The position occupied by these officials is a very simple one. When they were in the employ of the South Australian Government they were entitled to certain emoluments. They received, for example, commission on the sale of postage stamps, and a certain sum for transacting the Savings Bank business. To all intents and purposes these emoluments formed a part of their salaries. When the leading politicians of that State were inviting the electors to accept the draft Federal Constitution, they laid great emphasis on the fact that the existing and accruing rights of transferred officers would be preserved. But after Federation became an accomplished fact, this Parliament passed a Commonwealth Public Service Act. When that measure was introduced by the honorable member for Hume, he referred to the case of these officers, and repeated the promise which had previously been given that their existing and accruing rights would be preserved. He made that statement in all good faith, and I do not blame him for having made it. But I do blame the Attorney-General of that Administration for not correcting the misapprehension under which he laboured, because he must have known that when the Public Service Act became law the position previously occupied by these officers would be abrogated. In other words, they would enter into a new contract. The House was misled by it being made to appear that the just claims
Of the men have been met. A clause should have been passed protecting the rights of these transferred officers,- and I take it that the Government of the day did not propose such a clause because they were not prepared to recognise their rights, and preferred to break faith’ with them. When We were dealing with the Navigation Bill I endeavoured to have a clause inserted to protect the rights of the South Australian pilots. The Government did not take my view of the matter, but when the measure becomes law there will be no misunderstanding, and the position of the men will be exactly defined. It is not for me to complain of what the Government did, beyond criticising their actions fairly. But matters of this kind should be put on a proper footing and definitely settled. Nothing rankles so much . as the feeling that one has been “got at,” and has suffered treatment that is not fair and above-board, which is the feeling oT these transferred officers. There are not a great many of them, and their salaries should have been fixed specially by the Public Service Commissioner. He was not bound to do that, and did not do it, but Parliament should have passed a provision requiring him to do it. In the fixing of> their salaries it should have been recognised that they had been enjoying certain privileges which could not be allowed to future public servants, but the latter would know, when they entered the Service, the conditions to which they would be subjected. These men have Been continually agitating, and are not likely to cease from their agitation. They have been advised to go to the High Court, but Save not done so, because that body decided against a similar claim made by some Victorian transferred officers. The decision of the Court was that the Commonwealth Public Service Act created a new contract, and put an end to the old one, and that, therefore, they had no case. These men have also been advised to go into the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. It will be generally admitted that that Court decides the cases brought before it in equity and according to good conscience. But it cannot deal with things that happened long before it was created. I have always advised the men not to go into the Arbitration Court, because to do so would be to waste their time, the Court not having jurisdiction in the matter. This Government are not responsible for the present position, and I do not admire the slick way in which these officers were dealt with by an earlier Government. I should not like to be responsible for what occurred. It may be urged that an exaggerated case has been put forward on behalf of the men. If that is so, it is so much the better for the Government. My contention is that the matter is one for settlement, not by law, but in accordance with equity. The honorable member for Boothby suggested the appointment of a Royal Commission, but that would mean a profligate waste of money and great delay. The facts are in the possession of the Department, and all that is needed is an arbitrator or an umpire to hear both sides, that of the Government and that of the men, and to report his finding. When that has been done, if the Government, for reasons of State policy, decide not to meet what is an equitable claim, well -and-good. The men-have -a grievance, as even the man in the street will admit when he hears the facts. Why, then, should the Government shelter behind their legal position? It is not for Ministers to say, “ We are not responsible for what has been done. The matter could have been, and should have been, dealt with by our predecessors.” The High Commissioner once spoke of the House of Commons as the whispering gallery of the British Empire, meaning that there is no grievance which cannot be ventilated there. The same thing might be said of this House. There should be no one on the Australian continent who, having a substantial grievance, cannot get it heard here and obtain redress. I do not claim that these men should be given special consideration because they are public servants, but they have a substantial grievance, and the Government, waiving their legal rights, should settle the matter equitably. I hope an Australian Government will, be never so high and mighty as to feel that they would lower their dignity by abandoning their legal rights and acting equitably. Within the last forty or fifty years we have been getting more equity and less law, and I am certainly of opinion that that is an improvement, because there is not very much justice in law. There has been a steady growth in every part of the Englishspeaking world of the feeling that matters should be settled equitably rather than legally, and I ask the Government to settle this matter in that way. It might be that, if both sides were put before an arbitrator, the Government position would be shown to be much stronger than I imagine it. Certainly, the matter should not be left over’ to be dealt with by a succeeding Parliament. In a few weeks we shall separate, and later the life of this Parliament will terminate. Whatever grievances our successors may have to discuss and settle, they should be grievances arising in their own time; not matters which we should have settled.
.- I desire to refer, as briefly as possible, to the I position the Government find themselves in *on the question of the material for the construction of the transcontinental railway; and it will require only very few words, I think, to show how utterly weak and indefensible that position is. The Minister of Home Affairs, in his attempt to justify the use of powellised karri, has endeavoured to show that jarrah, as a material for sleepers, is utterly unreliable and worthless. He has produced small samples of alleged jarrah, riddled with decay and white ants, and, after suspicion was thrown on the genuineness of those samples - when it was more than doubted that they were jarrah, and, in all probability, karri - he, apparently after a good deal of effort, has been able to discover a surveyor’s peg of jarrah which also shows evidences of decay. He has put forward, also, certain alleged evidence by those who have used jarrah as railway sleepers and found it unsuitable. If the Minister has such strong objections to jarrah as liable to decay, and as utterly unsuitable for railway sleepers, how does it come to pass that he is proposing to use a considerable number of jarrah sleepers now, in the construction of this railway, and does not propose even to powellise them? If jarrah is such a defective material as he has tried to make out, it is quite indefensible for him to utilize it. But the fact is, that all those suggestions, and all the alleged evidence regarding the worthlessness of jarrah, amount to very little, and the Minister knows it; and, therefore, he is using a timber that has been proved by the experience of many years to be the very best that can be found for the purpose. No one in Western Australia disputes the wellknown fact that, for any purpose requiring a permanent timber, jarrah is very much in request. If we go to architects and builders in that State, and ask them what material they put into the foundations of weatherboard houses, we are told that it is jarrah; and could any better proof be afforded ? When any one is building a weatherboard house, he desires to have the foundations absolutely secure, and does not use a wood that is liable to decay or attack by white ants; and so jarrah is almost invariably selected. In the south-west of the State, there is another timber known as jam wood that is preferred to jarrah; but it is not always procurable. Jarrah, when selected with ordinary care, and used for the foundations of weatherboard houses, is found to be entirely proof against internal decay or attack by white ants. Further, I have noticed that in the suburbs of Melbourne weatherboard houses are now being placed on jarrah stumps ; and when I ask the reason why, I am told that it is found thoroughly lasting as a foundation. We have had a second edition of overwhelming evidence to-day from the honorable member for Fremantle as to the danger of the experiment that the Government propose to make. I desire to repeat that karri, for certain purposes, is eminently suitable. The Minister of Home Affairs, a little while ago, triumphantly referred to a company as taking up a tract of karri land, but it is not at all unlikely that this company had the perfectly natural and honest object of utilizing the timber for purposes for which it has been found suitable. These purposes are many ; but in every case it is admitted that Karri is not a suitable timber for placing on the surface of the ground, where it is subject alternately to rain and sunshine, and, in Western Australia, to the certain attack of white ants. For superstructures of many kinds karri is very suitable; it has a greater tensile strength than jarrah, and, when properly seasoned, is very desirable for such purposes as the framing of railway carriages and waggons. I do not think, however, that any one acquainted with timber will argue very seriously that it will last for any length of time, when laid on the surface of the ground. We have had some very interesting evidence in regard to the powellising of Australian timber. If honorable members will only take the trouble to look at the samples of powellised bluegum which havebeen put in the vestibule for their inspection, they will need to go no further, in order to make up their minds as to the detrimental effect which powellising has on the hardwoods of Australia. These timbers were selected by the expert of the Defence Department, after careful inspection, I presume, to be utilized in the construction of ammunition waggons, and possibly guncarriages. At any rate, it was intended to use this Australian timber for purposes for which it had been proved eminently suitable in its natural state, without any artificial process or preparation. The expert went to those who had the timber for sale, examined it carefully, and marked it as suitable. It was then sent to undergo the powellising process, and was returned to all appearances all right. Any one who looks at that timber now will see that on the outside it is perfectly sound ; but, as soon as it is sawn, the objectionable effect of the powellising process is made apparent. The boiling process, with the sudden expansion and contraction, has rent and destroyed the internal fibres ; and this is not the case only in a solitary piece, as the honorable member for Denison a little while ago tried to insinuate.
– I did nothing of the sort.
– If the honorable member cares to go to Perry’s woodyard ire Lonsdale-street he will see whole piles of this timber that has been condemned by the Defence expert after it came back from the powellising process, although he had originally passed, it as suitable.
– The man who cut that timber knows nothing about sawing timber. That is what I said.
– The honorable member did not say that. The Defence expert examined this timber in Perry’s woodyard, and marked it as passed, but, as any honorable member may see for himself, the expert has, since the powellising, removed his mark.
– That timber has been sawn with a blunt saw.
– The honorable member may go to the timber yard, and have the wood sawn in his presence ; and I repeat that it is not only one piece that is affected, but the whole, of the timber that was powellised. It . passes my comprehension - or rather, I should say it would pass my comprehension if I were not acquainted with all the circumstances of the case - why the Government persist in the suicidal course of using a timber that is more than doubtful in regard to its. lasting qualities, and, in addition, putting it through a process which the Defence expert will say has the effect of destroying otherwise good wood. We have in jarrah an almost ideal timber for the purpose of railway sleepers and, under ordinary circumstances, it would be difficult to understand the head long obstinacy of the Government. The best timber in the world for railway sleeper purposes is deliberately set aside in favour of a timber which is regarded as anything but suitable, and, in addition, a process is adopted which is alleged to preserve the timber, but which, in reality, destroys it. Jarrah sleepers can be obtained at less cost than the karri sleepers powellised; in other words, the perfect sleeper is cheaper than the poor one; and it passes the understanding of any one who looks into the question why the Government persist in their course. But I say, as one knowing the facts, that this powellising of karri sleepers would never have been undertaken if the Chinn appointment had not been made.
– The honorable member is now imputing a wrong motive, which he has no right to do.
– I am not imputing any wrong motive to the Government, and I wish that to be understood. What I say is that Mr. Chinn, before he was appointed, indicated his intention to utilize karri in connexion with the construction of this railway ; and he, and he alone, is responsible for the introduction of this matter to the Government. It behoves the Government, therefore, to look around and investigate all the evidence rather than be moved by one solitary individual.
– I have no grievance to ventilate, but, as is not unusual in political life, some one has a grievance against me. Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company, a firm by whom I was at one time employed, and for whom I have a great regard, have written calling my attention to the fact that on the 25th October I stated- - and the statement is proved to .be absolutely correct from the lips of Mr. Justice Higgins - that the Royal Dutch Steam-ship Company pay the highest wages to their white officers of any company that trades to Australia, or on the Australian coast. One statement objected to by Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company is contained in a letter which I read on that occasion, and it is as follows -
Practically speaking, wages amount to £300 per month upon a steamer of a net register of 1,886 tons, which is much higher than what an English boat would pay.
My friend, Mr. Forsyth, of Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company, Limited, writes to “bring under my notice the fact that that company’s vessel, the s.s. Matunga - which maintains the mail service between Australia and Papua under contract with the Commonwealth Government, is a vessel of 1,023 tons net register, and the amount of wages we pay monthly on this steamer is at present £450. This, however, will be increased after the 1st January next, when wireless telegraphy is installed, by a further £18 15s. per month, which will mean that the total monthly wages will then be £468 15s. This is irrespective of further payment which the result of the Navi- gation Bill will entail. A comparison of these figures will show that our rate of wages is more than 50 per cent, in excess of those claimed to be paid on the Dutch steamer, and on a vessel of 763 tons less net register.
I am delighted to be able to place that statement on record, and I propose to read a further statement by Mr. Forsyth, showing the generous way in which this company treated a steward who, on returning from a voyage to the islands, was declared by the Port Health Officer to be ill, and was sent into hospital, and maintained there at the company’s expense. Mr. Forsyth writes -
To give you an instance - we signed on a steward for the voyage to one of the island groups, but on the ship’s return five weeks later the man was challenged by the Port Health Officer and declared to be suffering from consumption. We immediately made provision for his accommodation at the Waterfall Institution, and paid for his maintenance there for a period of three months, and when he became sufficiently well to return to his people we paid his passage to England, and allowed him an amount of £50, the total amount expended on his account being £99 7s. id.
Such treatment is in striking contrast to that meted out to men during my experience as a ship’s officer. Unfortunate sailormen visiting our ports - whether they received is. a month, or £2, or ^3 10s. a month - when they were taken before a magistrate had no hope of escape. They were bound, to be imprisoned and fined. On one occasion, whilst a vessel to which I was attached was at Fremantle, I went up to Perth, and purposely missed the train for the return journey, so that I should not have to give evidence against a man who was being proceeded against by the captain. When I did return, the captain, who was a good fellow, although his treatment in this case was cruel, said, “ Well, doctor, my lad, we got him in spite of you.” “That may be,” I said, “but you did not get him on my evidence.” If a ship’s captain desires to have a man imprisoned - if he considers he is fit only to go to prison - we should make him return that seaman to the port at which he shipped. Honorable members can appreciate the pleasure I feel in comparing the treatment to which I have referred with that detailed by Mr. Forsyth. The reference that I made to this matter on a former occasion related only to English men and officers. I wish that the standard for captains and officers of the Dutch companies were adopted as the standard by the High Court. If it were, the wages paid would be much higher than they now are in the case of many of the men who navigate, and the engineers who control the engines that propel in season and out of season the steamers that trade along our stormy coasts. I have made this correction in justice to the gentleman who gave me the information on the subject, and I think it would be well if every honorable member could be placed in possession of full information in regard to every shipping com- pany, whether it belongs to a combine or not. It would be well if we had, in regard to all shipping companies, the full information placed at my disposal for the benefit of the House in reference to the Dutch Steam-ship Company.
.- As this may be the last opportunity we shall have to ventilate grievances, I desire to avail myself of it in order to bring two questions before the House. The first relates to the mail service between Tasmania and the mainland. After tenders for that service had been called, and before the time for closing them had arrived, a deputation consisting of the whole of the representatives of Tasmania in the Federal Parliament waited upon Senator Findley, then Acting Postmaster-General, and laid before him certain matters for his consideration. Some time later the PostmasterGeneral granted an interview to representatives of Tasmania, and those present at the interview, so far as I can ascertain, consisted solely of members of the Labour party. I do not attach any importance to that point, but I wish to allude to certain information given to the people of Tasmania by those honorable members as to the arrangement which they said had just been made between the Postmaster-General and the shipping companies concerned. After they had given that information, I asked the Postmaster-General if he would lay on the table of the House the correspondence that had passed between his Department and the shipping companies concerned.. He promised to do so, but I am not to see that correspondence until the contract is actually signed. It is affirmed in the Tasmanian newspapers that the account of the interview with the PostmasterGeneral which was given to the press by Labour representatives of Tasmania was not a correct statement of what really took place. The Examiner of 8th inst. published an article in which. i.t stated that two or three items which are rather important from the point of view of the shipping companies Were not disclosed. According to a statement made by Senator Ready in the course of an interview with newspaper representatives, the Postmaster-General arranged with the Union Steam-ship Company and Messrs. Huddart, Parker, and Company for a two years’ contract upon the basis of the previously-existing arrangement for the carriage of these mails. He went on to say that the companies had promised to put on another ship of the type of the
Loongana by the year 1914 if they received an increased subsidy and were given a seven years’ contract. There was to be, he said, a service of four trips a week from each end ; two trips a week were to be made direct from Melbourne to Launceston, and two from Melbourne to Launceston via Burnie. It is asserted in the Tasmanian press that that statement by Senator Ready omits two rather important points.- In the first place, the Examiner complained, not in the article to which I have referred, but in a later issue, that the PostmasterGeneral did not disclose the fact that if the subsidy of £13,000 per annum were increased by £2,000, this extra service would be granted. It states that the additional subsidy would not have to be paid for a period of seven years - that it would have to be paid only for five years, since it would take the company two years to build and place in the service a vessel of the type of the Loongana. Another point which is not made clear is that during the busiest three months of the year - during the tourist season - they were prepared to run an extra trip per week to Launceston, or, in other words, three trips direct from Melbourne to Launceston and two via Burnie to Launceston. The PostmasterGeneral turned down those proposals because, he said, Tasmania would not fare so well under them as under the existing arrangement. I was inclined at first to agree with him, but I was not then aware of these two facts which, according to the Examiner, were not disclosed. I am not suggesting now what I consider the contract ought to be; I simply bring these facts before the House, because I think the Minister ought to be made aware of them. At present the Loongana makes three trips each way between Melbourne and Launceston during the summer months, and the Oonah makes two trips a week between Melbourne and Burnie all the year round. During the winter three trips a week between Melbourne and Launceston are made by a combined service supplied by the Loongana and the Rotomahana. Under the scheme which, according to the Examiner, was put forward by the companies concerned, more trips per week would be run to Launceston than under the existing arrangement. There would be eight as against six sailings per fortnight from Launceston, whilst there would be the same number of trips to and from Burnie, save that in the latter case the service would be supplied by a ship of the Loongana type instead of by the Oonah. The PostmasterGeneral promised to let me see the correspondence, but I have not yet been afforded an opportunity to do so. The newspapers, apparently, have been able to get all the details, whereas I am told that I cannot obtain them until the contract has been signed. The basis of the contract was arranged some time ago. It seems to me that, although the new arrangement provides for two trips a week from Melbourne to Launceston via Burnie, a rising Tasmanian port, Devonport, is going to be neglected under it. At present the Oonah runs from Melbourne to Burnie and thence to Devonport. It takes in cargo at Devonport overnight, and returns to Melbourne via Burnie, If, under the new contract, a steamer is to go from Melbourne to Burnie, and thence direct to Launceston without touching at Devonport at all, it should not be accepted without the fullest consideration. There is one other matter to which I desire to call the attention of the Minister of Trade and Customs. I ask him to consider whether he cannot see his way to reimburse a company which has suffered a serious financial loss in an attempt to benefit the producers of Tasmania. With; a view to combating the Irish blight, some time ago the River Don Trading Company sent to New Zealand for a variety of seed potatoes which were reputed to yield heavily, and to be blight-resistant. This variety was- known as the “ Gamekeeper.” The River Don Trading Company was so rushed with orders from the Tasmanian farmers that it could not possibly fulfil them. Accordingly the company arranged for a small consignment from New Zealand. These potatoes were brought to Melbourne, where the laboratory tests disclosed traces of Irish blight, as a result of which the Quarantine Department held up the consignment. At this very time I may add similar potatoes were being shipped to Sydney, where the consignees were permitted to pick them over, to destroy the bad tubers, and to sell the remainder for human consumption. This privilege was, however, denied to the River Don Trading Company, which was ordered either to return the potatoes to New Zealand or to destroy them. Some correspondence on the matter ensued, and the Quarantine Department then permitted the company to sell the potatoes to oceangoing steamers for stores. Had they been granted permission to sell them to InterState vessels for stores the tubers would have commanded three times the price which they realized. Later consignmentsfrom New Zealand were allowed to be picked over, and the good potatoes sold for consumption in the Melbourne metropolitan area. Such a chance to obtain the top market price was denied the consignees in the present case. For endeavouring to fight the scourge of Irish blight, with a view to assisting the producers, and not of making a profit, this company lost something like £50 upon a consignment of approximately 100 bags of potatoes. Had these potatoes been allowed to enter Tasmania the farmers of that State would have been willing to. use them as seed. Moreover, it is certain that similar potatoes were planted in New South Wales. I do not blame the Quarantine Department for the action which it took, because it is only right that in matters of this kind it should exercise the closest supervision. But in view of all the circumstances I ask the Minister whether, on the ground of equity, he cannot do something to reimburse this company which has suffered a serious loss.
– I desire to say a few words upon a matter which vitally affects a number of persons in Victoria. I refer to the new regulation which has been formulated by the Postmaster-General in regard to the late-fee charge upon letters posted at railway stations. In this State it has always been customary to allow those who. live in the vicinity of a railway station the privilege of placing in a box- on the station, five minutes before the departure of the train, any letters intended for transmission to Melbourne. But now the Postmaster-General, in a desire to establish a uniform practice throughout the States, has issued a regulation under which a great number of persons in Victoria will be deprived of this convenience. I am aware that owing to representations which have been made certain exemptions have been granted. But those exemptions are of a limited character, and quite a number of individuals are labouring under a severe handicap as the result of the withdrawal of a convenience which they have hitherto enjoyed. I recognise that in order that the proper status of various country post-offices should be accurately determined, it is necessary that the mails should be made up at those offices. I realize, too, that a number of rural offices have suffered considerably in status owing to the practice which has heretofore prevailed in Victoria of allowing persons to post letters at railway stations. But I venture to say that the cases in which hardship has occurred are very few indeed. The ex- Postmaster-General was good enough to leave matters as they were.
– I did not know that the’ practice was limited to Victoria, otherwise I would have closed down upon it.
– I ask the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral to make a note of my complaint. It would be very much better to extend the convenience to which I have referred to other States than to deprive a large number of people in Victoria of a privilege to which they have been accustomed. We have always been told that, under the Commonwealth, the privileges of the people would be extended, rather than curtailed. In the same way, the public servants of the States were assured - as the honorable member for Hindmarsh pointed out this afternoon - that if they were transferred to the Commonwealth, their existing and accruing rights would be preserved to them. The general public are just as much entitled to have their privileges preserved to them as transferred public servants are to have their Tights preserved to them. To limit any of the conveniences which the public have enjoyed at the hands of the Postal Department is, in my opinion, a retrograde step. The Post Office carries out a very important work. It is the link between those who live in. distant parts of the Commonwealth and the residents of the great centres. Dwellers in the country have to forego many luxuries which are enjoyed by those who live in the great centres of population, and, consequently, they ought not to be deprived of a privilege which they highly prize. In Melbourne we have a postal pillar at almost every street corner. In this city - including the greater Melbourne radiuS - a city which embraces an area of nearly 100 square miles, I do not think it is possible to go more than 200 yards from a postal pillar.
– Oh, yes.
– I do not think so. I speak as one who has lived in most of the suburbs of Melbourne.
– Then those suburbs must be much better supplied with postal facilities than are others.
– It is unfair that people in the country should be penalized, as they will be under this new regu lation. I would very much prefer to see the Postmaster-General initiating a progressive policy by extending to other States the convenience which has been so highly prized by the residents of Victoria.
There is another matter about which I should like information. I wish to know the attitude that will be taken by the Minister of Defence in regard to proposals recently submitted by the Committee which dealt with the question of compulsory training. It would appear from the press reports that drastic changes have been suggested, and I think that sufficient time has elapsed to enable the Minister and those associated with him to be able to give us an idea of how these suggestions are to be received. I have always had the opinion that the members of the Defence Forces have had too little consideration paid to their opinions on matters of policy and administration. Men who have made a lifestudy of defence, and who have had exceptional opportunities for acquiring reliable information regarding it, ought to receive consideration. The Honorary Minister, who represents the Minister of Defence in this Chamber, may well be asked to tell us what ‘view the Minister takes of the sweeping changes which have been suggested to him. I understand that one of the suggestions is that a coat or. tunic should be substituted for the shirt in the present uniform of the Senior Cadets. But a comparison of the cadets clothed in the shirt uniform with those clothed in the old uniform, as they marched in procession last Saturday, would have shown the enormous advantage of the former. It is a workmanlike and useful costume, allowing more freedom of action than the old uniform, and so cut that it would be easier than the old uniform to pass on from one lad to another. These and other matters will, I am sure, be carefully, but quickly, considered by the Minister, who, as well as the Honorary Minister, has a very intimate knowledge of the details of our training scheme.
.- I wish to again draw attention to the position of those in charge of semi-official postoffices. Although the matter has been considered by the Department, I hope that it may be gone into afresh, with a view to doing something for a large number of persons who have performed excellent service over a number of years. Country representatives know that those in charge of semi-official offices do important work for the Postal Department, and it is unsatisfactory that when semi-official offices are made official offices, they should be superseded by officers of the Department, and dismissed from the service. There are about 300 persons in charge of semi-official offices, most of them ladies, and many of them have given the best of their lives to the work of the Department. Some of them, I understand, have held their positions for fifteen or sixteen years, and they have been so long engaged at their work that they have become as efficient as any officer in the Service could be, but, at the same time, have made it difficult for themselves to get other employment. I know that it is not possible for the Minister to appoint these persons to the permanent Public Service, but I should like him to do something for them. Although their remuneration has been improved recently, it is still very low, and less than they should get.
– I assure honorable members that each grievance that has been put before the House will be carefully considered by the Minister concerned, and will receive the attention characteristic of the members of this Government. We must congratulate ourselves upon the small number of grievances ventilated, and upon the absence of any complaint of an exceptional character. The honorable member for Laanecoorie partly supplied an answer to his request in referring to the sweeping alterations suggested by the different conferences of citizen officers. Being sweeping, they cannot be hurriedly dealt with, but must be given, earnest and serious consideration, and will be accepted or rejected according as they fit in with our scheme of defence, which is based on the recommendations of Lord Kitchener, one of the greatest soldiers of the Empire. However much we may desire to meet the wishes of officers who have done excellent service, their suggestions must be considered in relation to the whole scheme. We recognise that our citizen soldiers form the backbone of our defence system. On them will fall, in time of trouble, the actual defence of the country. Their interests will, therefore, be studied in detail, and nothing will be done to interfere with their effectiveness. The honorable member for Illawarra dealt very vigorously with the case of Major Chaseling, with the full details of which he is possibly not acquainted. In giving effect to the recommendations of
Lord Kitchener, the abolition of the regimental staffs of the Garrison Artillery in New South Wales and Victoria was found necessary, and this abolished a position held by Major Chaseling. The redistribution of electorates has occasionally resulted in the abolition of a member’s seat, an almost identical case. Major Chaseling at first recognised the position, and accepted a command which was somewhat junior to that which he originally held; but subsequently declined it again, and asked to be placed on the unattached list, his wishes being met, and the resignation taking effect from a given date. Time does not permit me to enter into a full explanation of the circumstances now, but the honorable member for Illawarra is at liberty to see the whole of the papers, and possibly I may have another opportunity to explain at greater length.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.
Question resolved in the negative.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
This is a proposal to alter the Constitution by empowering the Parliament to make laws with respect to trusts, combinations, and monopolies. It is proposed to insert in section 51 the following paragraph - (xl.) Trusts, combinations, and monopolies in relation to the production, manufacture, or supply of goods, or the supply of services.
This proposal to amend the Constitution should receive the assent of the House and the approval of the people. It is a proposal to give this Parliament power to deal with the most notable and menacing factor of modern life. Perhaps I may be permitted to invite honorable members to consider the extent to which comparatively recent changes in the economic sphere have revolutionized production, and, in consequence, have revolutionized the conditions under which production and distribution must be carried on. From time immemorial - and at any rate, for over a century of what may be fairly termed modern history - competition was the prevailing law in the economic sphere. The consumer found himself in a world in which a number of traders, merchants, and manufacturers of one sort or another competed for his custom, and sought to press on him their various wares. His every want was supplied, so far as the conditions then were capable of supplying them, by the unrelated efforts of these competing units. There was no concerted effort to find out what the market required to regulate output or fix prices. There was waged, on the contrary, in every department of the economic world a fierce and relentless war of competition. From this economic strife the consumer generally reaped the . benefit of cheap goods, while the manufacturer, trader, or workman too often found his speedy way to financial ruin. Competition, which has many virtues, and which, in some of its operations, can never be eliminated from any sphere of human activity, has also many defects, and these are radical in their nature. Competition under a primitive system of production was in keeping with its environment; but as development- in the methods of production proceeded, it became less and less fitted to survive. We to-day, who are living half-way up the pyramid of modern economic development, see round us a world in which competition is either dead or dying. The new conditions are perman.nent ; it is not a flash in the pan or an evanescent deviation from the settled order of things that we see, but a new order, radically different from the old, the inevitable consequences of the factors that distinguish and dominate modern civilization. We live in an age of machinery ; of centralized and co-ordinated effort- in an age when successful production carried out in any other than by up-to-date methods, by persons having possession of great volumes of capital, is impossible. On every hand we see the small manufacturer or trader brushed to one side. It is the day of big men. In pre-historic times conditions existed in the physical world favorable to monstrous mammals and giant saurians - which, in their turn, gave way to a more specialized and highlyorganized order of created beings - but in these later days we now see around us gigantic economic and highly specialized organisms, products of the changed environment. And the economic world of today is controlled by them.
I desire to emphasize in the strongest manner of which I am capable the revolution that this change has effected in the position of the consumer. The consumer is the community; for every individual is embraced in the term. The con-
sumer in the days gone by was, as I have said, protected by the competition of rival traders for his custom; and, consequently, prices were kept down to a level that allowed only that margin of profit that was fair and reasonable for the manufacturer or trader. If the profit was more than was fair, competition reduced it; if it was less than fair, the manufacturer or trader who tried to produce at an unremunerative price became bankrupt, and prices rose. The consumer, living in a state of society where economic competition prevails, in general gets things at a fair price. This was his position when our political economy was formulated by those very eminent, but, in many cases, totally impracticable men, who gave us our text-books in the dismal science. They conceived that the state of things which then existed was not only proper, but immutable ; and on that basis they formulated their political and economic theories. The doctrine of laissez faire was held by them sacred, and all attempts to impair it declared unscientific and dangerous. It is no exaggeration of terms to say that those doctrines are as little applicable and as useless to present conditions as would be the weapons of the phalanx or the legion directed against modern battle-ships. They have no relation to existing conditions.
We are living now in a new world where the dominating factor is not competition, but co-operation; where the consumer is no longer protected by rival traders seeking his custom, but where everything he desires, and everything that he must have, is under the control of a comparative handful of persons who decide what the output shall be, how it shall be distributed, and at what price. Thatis the state of things in Australia, to-day. The doctrine of laissez faire - let things alone - is no longer applicable. I do not deny that in countries like ours,, with enormous territories, varied and’ bounteous resources, the more or less primitive industrial conditions prevailing outside the cities permit competition to still exist to a certain extent. But we have had evidence here during the last few days to show to what extent competition has already disappeared and is being continuously eaten away. I have myself given instances of this that cover nearly the whole industrial field. I have done this, although it is extremely difficult to obtain precise details in connexion with the matter. Nothing is more natural than that this should be so. We are, then, in a world in which competition hardly exists, and where the consumer has no natural protection. Now, the Constitution under which we live was formulated to deal with a conTdition of things in which competition ruled, and does not enable us to protect the consumer who lives under conditions where competition does not exist. It is not suited to the new condition of things. Yet the consumer must be protected. The question is, how? I desire to point out again in the most positive way that the consumer will never again be protected by competition. For combination must necessarily thrust it aside. The odds against competition are too overwhelming for it to hope to succeed. The advantages of economic production possessed by those who control great capital are obvious. Who to-day is able to sell the cheapest - the small man in a humble way, or the great combine or trust that controls, not only the inlets and outlets* of industry, but the products and the markets in which they are to be distributed, the sources from which are drawn the raw material, and the most up-to-date machinery for dealing with all these that the civilized world can supply? Obviously not the isolated trader; the individual who has nothing but his brains and a few pounds of capital cannot hope to compete in such circumstances.
The world, then, to-day is a world in which competition, so far as the average consumer is concerned, and so far as the great proportion of the things he consumes is concerned, no longer exists. It is for that reason that we are asking for power to make such alterations in the Constitution as will enable us to deal with this new condition of affairs.
This is a revolution that has been achieved in our time. No revolution that was ever consummated in the history of the world can compare in importance with this revolution that has gone on before our eyes during the last twenty-five years. The tendency before that time was plainly to be seen. But during the last quarter of a century, trusts, combines, and great aggregations of wealth have progressed at such a rate as to stagger mankind. I said in this House a night or two ago that the Steel Trust of America controlled a capital of £300,000,000. Conceive of a condition of things of which that is typical. And it is typical. It is true, perhaps, that that is the greatest trust in America, but its opera- tions are not wider than are those of the Beef Trust, the Oil Trust, the Tobacco Trust, and many others. Provided the control is over the whole industry, what does it matter whether the capital of the trust be £[300,000,000, £50,000,000’, £5,000,000? The consumer is equally at the mercy of any set of men whose interests are bound up in doing, not what is fair to him, but what is best for themselves. I make no charge against those who control trusts and combines. I think they are assgood as other men. All men situated a» they are would do as they do. Humannature is singularly pliable. It adapts itself to its environment, and were we as they are, we should probably do as they do.. They are as moral, as good, and as honest: as are other men; but their opportunities, for exploiting the consumer are too greats for human nature to resist. No despot yet ruled for any length of time and whose rule1 was uniformly just and good. Power without responsibility will undermine the most; honorable, just, and perfect character. Here are men who are responsible to no power. . And what is their power? It covers and.directs the lives and destinies of all of us:. Here are bodies of men who determine theconditions under which we shall all live.. They say to one set of men, “ You shall’ work for me for 8f.d. an hour.” “ You shall’work for me for 8fd. an hour, and do as 1” wish, or else, throughout the length and; breadth of America, you shall not be employed.” They say to another, “You shall! pay *£7 5s. 6d. for every ton of my rails, or’ you shall not obtain any rails on this earth f. And there is no appeal. These are. facts. I shall not say that condi-tions are so bad here; but they are bad enough. As I said in the House a-, day or two ago, there exist in Australia, monopolies whose control over the industry to which they relate is equal to 90 per cent, and 93 per cent, of the whole industry. They can say to the people, “ You shall or you shall not have this commodity ; yon shall pay this price or not have it,” or “ We will or will not carry your freight.” And it is upon their fiat and their decision that our destiny hangs. This is not, and cannot be, denied. It is said, however, that this; state of things will right itself - that there are in existence factors, that will deal with it, and that, anyhow, we ought not to complain. We have much less to complain of than has America; but I submit that that is not a sufficient reason why we should do - nothing. The case of a man who has just : been run over by a tram, and whose leg has had to be amputated, is very bad; but it is certainly not as bad as that of a man who has been run over and has lost both legs. I take it, however, that it is a poor consolation to the man who has lost one leg to be told, “’ ’ In the next bed, there is a man who has lost both legs.” Such a statement consoles neither the one nor the other. At the present juncture, action is possible. This country has not yet fallen so hopelessly into the grip of the trusts that it may not shake itself free. In America there is reason to believe that things have gone beyond that stage. There the trusts control not only prices to the consumer and the wages of the worker; nor are they satisfied with “limiting output and creating artificial scarcity. It has been proved over and -over again that they have corrupted the institutions of government, legislature, press, and judiciary, lt is they who “legislate; they who declare what the law is in very many of the States -of the Union. Given a Plutocracy such as exists in America, and how can Democracy stand upright and rear its head unashamed and virile ? Democracy is a plant of tender growth. It can be corrupted. It can be .undermined. If it is to be other than a sham, it must have power and opportunity to exercise that power over all persons. It is proposed to amend the Constitution to give us power to deal with trusts and combines.
In this Parliament in 1910 the honorable member for Flinders supported a proposal to amend the Constitution as we desire. The honorable member for Wimmera followed him, whilst the honorable member for Angas, in a memorandum prepared by him when Attorney-General, favoured an amendment of the Constitution giving us power to make laws to deal with “ Trusts -and combines in restraint of trade in any State or part of the Commonwealth.” It is therefore perfectly clear that the authorities on the Opposition side of the House recognise that the present position is unsatisfactory , and that the Constitution, as it stands, will not enable us to deal with “it. An honorable and learned member, who must be regarded as the best constitutional authority on that side of the House, has declared himself entirely in -favour of the amendment which we are putting before the Chamber this evening. “The honorable member for Angas, whose reputation as a lawyer, and as a fair and broad-minded man, stands very high, has declared in unequivocal terms that we must have an amendment of the Constitution to enable us to make laws with respect to trusts and combines in any State or part, of the Commonwealth. Yet there are some honorable members of the Opposition who, in the face of these opinions, declare that we are amply clothed with authority. It would be a waste of time, and I do not propose to trespass upon honorable members’ patience, to say one word more in reply to such statements. It is sufficient that the law dealing with Trusts and Combines has proved to be futile. And we can do nothing to amend it.
It is admitted that an amendment of the Constitution ought to be made. The whole question is to what length that amendment ought to go. In my opinion, it ought to go to the extent of enabling us to deal with trusts and combines, whether they have relation to trade and commerce, manufacture or service. The honorable member for Angas’ proposed amendment does not go far enough. It would leave the most powerful Trusts outside the law. It is very small satisfaction to the people of a free country to know that, because a combine does not restrain trade or commerce, but controls the manufacture of say, sugar, iron, bricks, harvester machinery - we cannot deal with it. Yet under the proposed amendment of the honorable member for Angas, that would be our position. We should have power only in relation to trade and commerce. It is perfectly clear, then, that whatever power we have in this relation must extend to trusts and combines whenever we find them, and regardless of the part of the industrial field in which they may be engaged. If they control, anything of importance to the people, we ought to be able to deal with them.
I hope I make myself perfectly clear when I say that this party does not take up the position that all combines are bad. I have been misrepresented so often that I am becoming case-hardened ; but 1 may be permitted to state my creed once more. I believe in co-operation. I believe that both in its principles and its results it is so obviously superior to competition that sensible, civilized men can scarcely hesitate as to which they will accept. Combination is very much better for the people than cut-throat competition provided that it exists for the benefit of the people, and not for the benefit of the few who control the combination. But we want power to deal with all combines. When the Anti-Trust Bill was before this House, and an honorable member moved to insert the word “ destructive “ before the words “ combines or trusts,” so as to make that legislation apply only to “ destructive trusts,” I said that we ought to have power to deal with all trusts, just as we have power to deal with all men. A man for twenty years may lead an upright and honorable life, but if he then commits a crime, is the law not to apply to him? It certainly is to apply. It is to apply to him, not when he is good, but when he is bad. Most of us go through life, and the hand of a policeman never rests obtrusively upon us. If we do wrong, however, why should it not do so? With trusts it should be the same. We ought to have control over all trusts, but not because trusts are in themselves bad. Combination, I say, once more, iri the most emphatic way, is a law of modern civilization. It is here to stay. It is like machinery ; if it be used for the benefit of the people, it is good ; if it be used to the detriment of the people, it is bad. I spoke of machinery ; let me draw from it an illustration. Under the Factories Act, a machine cannot be worked except under certain conditions. The parts likely to injure a workman must be guarded. The law steps in, and says to an employer, “ You shall not work a man more than seven, eight, or ten hours per day, as the case may be,” and the question is not “ Ought the Factory system to be suppressed because there are some insanitary and badly equipped factories, or all machines destroyed because some are carelessly exposed or used to the detriment of the community,” but “ How is it used?” If badly, then the law must intervene, but not otherwise.
I may be asked to what particular purpose we propose to put this power. I have here an article in the North American Review for December, 191 1, by that distinguished benefactor of mankind, Mr. Andrew Carnegie. He speaks as a man who is clothed with authority. If there is anything about a trust that Mr. Carnegie does not know, I am sure that undisciplined stomachs like ours could not digest it. Mr. Carnegie gives the world the benefit of his experience of trusts, and with his conclusions in the main I entirely agree. In regard to them he lays down several propositions. He says -
We assume the following as indisputable : - First. - The cheapest mode of production of articles in general use is best for the nation- as a whole.
Second. - Enormous works and immense aggregations of capital are indispensable, since production must be conducted upon a large scale ; the larger the product the more economical, the less the general expenses and many other items nf cost.
Third. - Granted combination, there must be regulation, and as no judge the world over isallowed to sit in judgment in a case in whichhe is personally interested, so no producer canbe judge of prices.
Fourth. - It follows that an industrial Court’ must be formed which shall fix maximum prices, that the consumer may be protected against extortion.
Those are the opinions of Mr. Andrew Carnegie, who goes to the length of declaringwhat he conceives to be the position. Assuming that, co-operation is the law of the economic world, he lays down certain principles which ought to be applied to thechanged conditions. He says that it is. wrong in principle for the man who controls an industry to say what the price of the commodity which he produces should? be. He affirms that an industrial Court should determine prices, so that the consumer may get justice. Judge Gary, Chairman of the Steel Corporation, supportshim. On page 918 of the same magazinehe says - “ I believe we must come to enforced publicity and governmental control.” In answer to> Committeeman Young’s question, “ You meangovernmental control of prices?” Mr. Gary replied, “I do; even as to prices. . . .” Asked by Committeeman Littleton, “ Is it your position that co-operation is found to take theplace of competition?” Mr. Gary answered,. “ It is my position.” And to Mr. Littleton’squery, “ And that co-operation therefore requiresstrict governmental supervision?” Judge Gary responded, “ That is a very good statement of the case. I believe that thoroughly.”
These are the statements of the case by twomen who, in different ways, have been or are connected in the most intimate waywith the greatest corporation in the world. They say that it is coming to governmentalcontrol, that it is a wrong principle for a combine to fix its own price. 1 wish to thoroughly impress upon the House and* the country that this idea, which isrev.olutionary in appearance, is so only because the whole condition of things under which the citizens of this country grew upand acquired their ideas on economic subjects has fundamentally changed. There is no competition now. The combine has the consumer absolutely at his mercy. If he says, “ The price of coal is 24s. per ton,” it is 24s. per ton, and there is an end of the matter. It is idle to go to the next shop, because there exists that honorable understanding which conduces to such delightful uniformity of prices, and has many things to recommend it, although it does not appeal to the average citizen at all.
It is proposed that we should have sufficient power to regulate and control combines - that we should have power to fix prices. Not this Parliament, but some tribunal appointed by it. I remember reading a highly interesting dissertation upon my economic heresy in stating that the natural corollary to fixing wages in a country like this is to fix prices. I have quoted some excellent authorities in support of my heresy. In my opinion, it is a perfectly good idea. If it is permissible for a legal tribunal to fix wages, why is it not permisible for it to fix prices ? If one is an economic heresy, so is the other. As to whether both are economic heresies we do not need to inquire, because this country is committed to one irrevocably. We say to the workman, “ You must go to a tribunal which will declare your wage, but when you are utilizing that wage to purchase commodities, then the price of those commodities shall be fixed, not by a legal tribunal, but by persons whose interests are entirely diverse from yours, and chiefly relate to high dividends and to heaping up still higher mountains of accumulated profits.” It may be that high prices have been caused through many other things than trusts. I have no doubt that the increase in the supply of gold has exerted some influence upon prices. It is said that it is wholly responsible for high prices. I do not believe that for a moment, but I admit that its influence has been considerable. I think, too, that the influence of trusts and combines has been very considerable But even if trusts and combines have not raised the price of any solitary commodity by a fractional part of a farthing, the necessity for this amendment of the Constitution would not be one whit the less, because they would still control prices, and could, when they pleased, raise them. There would still be bodies in this country over which the people have no control - bodies which determine how much shall be produced, how much shall be distributed, and how much shall be paid for various commodities. I want, in relation to this question of the causes of high prices, to quote from an authority of high standing. Mr. J… A. Hobson, an economist of great reputation, and one who has made this branch of economics a particular study, in the Contemporary Review for October of the present year, declares that the influence of thegold supply has been very much exaggerated. He continues -
The aggregate of “ money “ thus expended inthis country alone would amount to a good many thousands of millions, and when we consider how vast would be the sum for the whole industrial world, we can recognise how trifling: an .addition the £50,000,000 of gold would maketo it. It would raise general prices by somesmall fraction of 1 per cent., that is all.
That is the settled and deliberate opinionof one of the leading modern economists-.; Upon page 491 of the same publication hesays -
The rapid rise of trusts, cartels, conferences,, pools, and other forms of trade combination op agreement belongs clearly to the epoch of rising prices and must be considered contributory to it. For though the business men who form these combinations are motived partly by economics in business methods which may assist and not retard production, the main object at which they aim is the maintenance of highprices by means of a control of output. The normal result of the formation of combinesis to restrict the rate of production, makingit lower than it_ would have been under an eraof free competition.
We have in this country, in which trustsand combines operate largely, a ProtectiveTariff. These two circumstances must be considered in conjunction. In a country where there is no Protection, the internal’1 combines are faced with outside competition. There is, therefore, on the face of it, less opportunity for trusts and combines in a Free Trade country than in a Protected country. I do not regard that as a, factor which affects this question very materially. But on the face of it I think it is obvious that in this country the combines inside are protected from thecombines outside. Now, it is an axiom in> the conduct of combines, that they sell the commodities which they produce dearest inthe home market and cheapest in the foreignmarket. In Germany they are forbiddenby law to do that. But it is, nevertheless, the practice all over the world. The Steel’ Trust does it. It charges the Americanmore for his rails than it charges anybody else. It is the glorious privilege of the American to pay more for what he gets than is paid by any other man on God’s- earth. In this country, protection is extended to the combine inside. Where does the consumer come in? Apparently, he comes in only to fill the humble but necessary office of paying up and endeavouring to look as pleasant as possible. I take it that that is not the end for which we were sent on this earth at all. And this Parliament and this party are here to see that everybody gets a perfectly square deal. We are not here to crush the merchant, the trader, or the manufacturer, whether he be part of a combine or not. We are here to give everybody a fair and equal opportunity. At present this is denied to every trader not in the combine. In order to do what we want, our powers must be extended in several directions. First : We must have power to secure publicity. I lay special emphasis on that. Then we must have power to regulate, to control combines. And lastly, to nationalize them. The power to nationalize must naturally be used sparingly, because the resources of the Governmenit are not limitless, yet is is a power that all Governments ought to possess, and that nearly all Governments, ex- cept this, do possess. Its exercise is recommended and favoured in Germany to-day. At page 205 of W. H. Dawson’s Evolution of Modern Germany, it is stated “ that the nationalization of coal mines is advocated by leading economists like Wagner and Schmoller, and all parties but one in the Diet would favour the immediate adoption of such a measure.” The Labour party is pledged to the nationalization of monopolies, that and no more. The word “ monopoly “ has no mysterious and esoteric meaning, but monopolies are protean in shape, and therefore baffle definition, though we all know one when we see it or feel its effects. Technically the only monopoly is that of the patentee, but actually there are many monopolies, and we ought to have power to nationalize those we cannot otherwise control.
The power on which we most rely, and which we shall obtain if our proposals are approved by the people, is the power of publicity. If we can bring into the light of day the facts relating to the fixing of prices, regulation of output, the allocation of profits, and the general condition of affairs in any corporation or combine, the public will know just how things are, and can take what steps are necessary to deal with it. A condition precedent to all effective legislation is precise knowledge relating to the subject-matter of the proposed legis lation. James E. Garfield, exSecretary of the Interior, says on page 144 of the Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science-
The basis of proposed legislation should be publicity. With publicity as the basis, constructive legislation for the supervision, regulation, and control by the Federal Government of the great industrial corporations is comparatively simple.
We must then have power to inquire, to regulate, and to control. The proposed amendment will give us this power. It will enable us to give effect to the greater part of that policv of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat to which the honorable member for Parramatta has lent his approval, “the New Protection policy.” We shall have that elysian state of things whose portrayal threw this House into a very frenzy of delightful expectation. We shall have the means to regulate prices, and the consumer will not be forgotten as at present he is. We shall then indeed have the many and great benefits which the leader of the Opposition said would flow from the new Protection. And not before we want them. For although the regulation of wages by legal tribunals has resulted, in the vast majority of cases, in substantial increases to the remuneration of workmen, it has been largely thwarted by corresponding but unnecessarily disproportionate increases of prices. When wages are increased in any industry, those who control that industry are accustomed to increase the prices of their commodities much more than is sufficient to merely recoup the extra expense. They act upon the principle that whoever suffers they must be exempt. Profits are with them sacred. But profits are not sacrosanct. Why should it be regarded as a fiat of the Almighty that 10 per cent, dividends must be paid ? One great corporation, the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, regards it as a mathematical axiom that cannot be departed from. It tells us that -
Any advance in wages arising from natural causes we will bear, but the loss that may ensue through attempts to interfere with the operation of the laws of nature must be chargeable against the increased price that results from the changes in the Excise duty, because the margin of profit now left to us will not stand any reduction.
The reference is to a margin of profit which never falls below 10 per cent. while the accumulated profits of the company amounting to . £3, 675,000. Yet to reduce those profits by 1 per cent, would be an impious interference with the Divine law I
I wish the House and the country to know what this great corporation regards as the rates of wages fixed by natural causes. In Queensland the Colonial Sugar Refining mills have to face the competition of the. Millaquin and Central mills as well as of some smaller mills. These mills pay 30s. a week with keep, but the Colonial Sugar Refining mills pay only 27s. 6d. a week with keep, and a bonus of 2s. 6d. to those who remain during the whole season. In New South Wales there is no competition, and the rats’ paid at the Colonial Sugar Refining mills at Harwood Island, Broadmeadow, and Condong, to adult unskilled workers, for such heavy labour as the stacking of cane, is 20s. a week and keep, with a bonus of 2s. 6d. a week to those who remain during the season. At Condong 5 per cent., or1s.1d. a week, extra is given.
– That is not so.
– That is the evidence given before the Royal Commission in answer to: questions 16394, 16405, 16595, and 17338. . If we interfere with the natural laws responsible for those wages, the cane-growers are not to get the benefit of any increase in Excise, or any other benefit that Parliament may grant, because the profits of the company cannot be reduced ! This is not a singular case ; there are others. But after all only a handful of men are employed on the northern rivers, while every person in the community is a consumer of sugar. We all enjoy the benefits arising from the admirable and systematic control of this industry. We all have to contribute to keep up the dividends of this great monopoly.
We wish to put an end to the impotence of this Parliament, so that it may be able to legislate for the people. We wish this Parliament to be able to exercise rationally and effectively the functions for which it was deliberately created. The public cannot protect itself, and the Parliaments of the States cannot protect it. If it be said that they can protect the people, I ask why do they not do so ? The honorable member for Flinders hasjpointed out that they cannot do it. The State Legislatures of America cannot protect their people, not for the want of trying, their statute-books being swollen with Acts resulting from their efforts to grapple with the question. In the nature of things this task cannot be achieved by any but a central authority1 controlling the whole domain of trade, commerce and manufacture.
Nothing less than what we ask for will suffice. The honorable member forAngas recommends the amendment of the Constitution to give us power todeal with trusts and combines in restraint of trade in any State or part, of the Commonwealth. That recommendation has two cardinal defects. In the’ firstplace, it contains words of limitation, and’ the amendment if made would enable Parliament to deal only with trusts and’ combines in restraint of trade. One Court might take one view and another Court: quite another of what constitutes restraint: of trade. We desire power to deal, not. merely with . trusts and combines that restrain trade, but with all trusts and combines. We do not wish to suppress therm? any more than we wish to suppress tradein general, but we wish to have power tocontrol them, not only if they restrain-, trade, but also if they oppress the people, charge extortionate prices, or sweat theirworkmen. In the second place, his amendment falls short, because it doesnot relate to manufacture or the supply of service. The great combines of theday are not confined to trade and commerce. It was laid down in E. C. Knight v. United States that the trade and? commerce power does not extend tomanufacture. The honorable and learned member for Bendigo yesterday declared most positively that this Parliament haspower to deal with the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. If he meant that wehave power to deal with their operationsso far as Inter-State trade and commerceare affected, I agree with him, but it is primarily a manufacturing company, and’ its Inter-State commerce is but a fractional and negligible part of its operations. The power of the company to charge what prices it likes for sugar does not arise out: of its Inter- State trade and commerce operations, but from its position as a manufacturer of raw and refined sugar. Therefore, we must have power to deal with trusts-, and combines in relation to manufacture, and also in relation to services. With the experience of the past decade, are we deliberately going to fool the people once more - to ask them for power which stops short of enabling us to do the very thingwe declare should be done ? The honorablemember’s amendment does stop short. Whv? He cannot deny that it is safer to do as we ask than as he desires. Words of limitation, as lawyers know, are pitfalls and bogs into which the most wary may fall, and in regard to which the most honest may make mistakes. In face of the fact that there are combinations in relation to manufacture in this country ; that, possibly, the most dominant of all combines is in relation to manufacture, the honorable mem”ber does not propose to alter the law so as tto deal with such combines. His amend.ment must fail for that reason.
There is just one more phase of the matter on which I desire to touch. It is said that the cause of high prices and all the trouble in this country is the high wages ruling amongst the workers through Wages Boards and Arbitration Courts - -that when prices go up, the Labour party is to blame. I shall not attempt to deal with that as if it were a rational and reasoned declaration, but shall content myself by pointing out that in every country in the world the phenomenon of high prices is to be found ; and that it manifests itself with, the greatest intensity in the United States of America, where there are no Wages Boards or Arbitration Courts. But the trusts and combines in that country are beyond anything on earth. God “knows, no one can say that wages are high in the United States, when a man works twelve hours a day for “8f d. an hour in the employ of the greatest corporation in the civilized world. And it cannot be said that the “Commonwealth is called upon to pay £7 5s. 6d. a ‘ ton - much more than a fair price for rails - because of the high wages paid to the men who make the rails. Sigh prices result from many causes ; and, in my opinion, there is no more dominant cause than trusts or combines. To what extent those trusts or combines manipulate prices we are unable to determine in any particular case except by inquiry ; and effective inquiry we cannot make. We do know, however, that there is nothing to stop these organizations manipulating prices as they like, excepting those natural and fixed limits beyond which human nature is unable ‘to endure. Like the lawyer who, when he was called before the Bar for the unpardonable sin of taking a small fee, pleaded in extenuation that he had “taken all his client had, those trusts and combines do not charge any more than they think people will pay, but they do not stop short of that point. This amendment ‘is necessary, and does not go further than is necessary. It gives Parliament power to do that which ought to be done. This Parliament alone can exercise such a power. The Federation was formed for the protection of the people, who cannot now be protected through -any agencies of government, State or Federal, and for that reason I ask the House and the country to assent to this proposal.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Joseph Cook) adjourned.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
I propose to detain the House only a few minute’s. This proposal, substantially, was before Parliament in 1910. An alteration has been made in proposed sub-clause 2 providing that the clause shall not apply to any industry or business conducted or carried on by the Government of a State or any public authority constituted under a State. This limits the power of this Parliament to any industry, or business of producing, manufacturing, or supplying any specified services, which both Houses, by an absolute majority, may declare’ to be the subject of a monopoly. There is nothing that I can add in this connexion to that which I have already laid before the House. The Labour party has favoured nationalization of monopolies, and advocated it before the electors ever since they came into public life. When a state of things exists in which there is no competition, and in which the welfare of the public is at the mercy of a great corporation, it may be that there is no method of dealing with such a state of affairs except by nationalization, and the taking over by the community for the welfare of all of that which was controlled by a private corporation for the benefit of a few. I have already quoted authorities to show that nationalization is favoured in Germany, and is receiving support in various quarters in other civilized countries. The tendency of the age is to resort to governmental or public control of various utilities and industries. At the present time in Victoria a proposal to nationalize the Melbourne cable tramways receives considerable support; the tramway services in the suburbs are the result of municipal enterprise. In Great Britain municipal enterprise has entered fields which, even in this country, where we have gone very far in giving effect to the policy of public ownership of public utilities, are Still in the hands of private persons. In Germany the nation owns coal mines to a very considerable extent, and is a large shareholder in the potash syndicate, and in the iron and steel industry.
Nationalization of monopolies is not a general, but a specific power which, under the proposed new section, is to be exercised in certain definite ways. The industry must be taken over and paid for on just terms, and may then be carried on by the Government, or dealt with in any way the Government pleases. There is nothing in this proposal which ought to excite alarm or opposition in the mind of any person, whether he be a supporter of the Labour party or not. There is no hint of expropriation; it is simply a businesslike proposal to take over and conduct, as a Government monopoly, that which already exists as a private monopoly.
Debate (on motion by Sir John Quick) adjourned.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time. -
This is a Bill to amend the Constitution to enable the Parliament to make laws concerning conciliation and arbitration for the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes in relation to employment in the railway services of the States. It is to be noticed that this proposal differs very materially from that which was before the House in 1910. Under the proposal of 1910 it was sought to give this Parliament power to make laws in regard to labour and employment, including labour and employment and the prevention and settlement of disputes on railways the property of a State. The present proposal is limited to the creation of Courts of Conciliation and Arbitration for the prevention and settlement of disputes in the railway service of a State, and is in harmony with that provision inserted in the Conciliation and Arbitration Act of 1904. It will be remembered that in 1904 the honorable member for Ballarat, who was leading the Government, resigned office rather than agree to an amendment to include railway servants within the operation of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill.
– That was in relation to Inter- State disputes.
– Quite so. Effect, however, was given to that amendment by the honorable and learned member who then represented East Sydney. It became part and parcel of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, and did very well for some time, but its subsequent career -was rather chequered, and it finally was declared ultra vires by the High Court. I hope, however, that although it fared .so badly, those honorable members who in its hour of travail in this House were its stalwart friends will not now desert it. Lest either they should have forgotten this, one of their very many good deeds, or the country should lack matter to inscribe on tablets of brass to be erected in this building, when all who are here have gone. I shall read the names of these gentlemen to the House. I find that the honorable member for Parramatta and the honorable member for Perth voted for this amendment, as well as a number of others who have ceased to be members of this Parliament. That, in itself, is a very sinister circumstance. I hope that this will not be regarded in the light of an obituary notice, but it certainly has that appearance to me. The honorable member for Illawarra was another who voted for the amendment. All the other honorable members - and there were many - who were colleagues and friends of those honorable gentlemen, for some reason or other, are unable to be present in the House this evening. Death is not responsible for the absence of any but one ; there must be some other reason for their absence. The fact remains that the whole of that section of the party now represented in this Chamber by the honorable member for Parramatta and the honorable member for Illawarra voted with great earnestness, and even enthusiasm, for this proposal. It is said that it was then a comparatively innocuous proposition in that it extended only to Inter-State disputes. If I am to understand that that is the only objection to it, I think it fair to give the House an opportunity to consider the position. When we are so nearly agreed in the matter as to require the insertion of only one word to enable us to agree, such, a little thing as that ought not to keep us apart. I suggest, therefore, with all deference to the honorable member for Parramatta, who finds himself now in the greatest possible difficulty, since he has no one save the honorable member for Illawarra to consult in regard to his past efforts, that he should agree to this proposal. The rest of his party who voted with him on the occasion to which I have referred are gone, and those with whom he is surrounded now were, on that occasion, his opponents.
I ask the House to accept this Bill for the reason that, as the honorable, member for Ballarat has told us very many times, we in this Parliament are charged with the duty of endeavouring to promote in every possible way industrial peace in Australia. One of the most effective ways of doing that is to secure power to deal with disputes in the railway service of a State if unhappily there should arise on any occasion such a dispute as might involve the whole Commonwealth in its meshes. The industrial power of the Commonwealth ought to extend to all industrial disputes wherever they arise; it was the settled and deliberately expressed wish of this Parliament, in 1904-5-6, that it should be so extended. The mere fact that the High Court has decided that we had not the constitutional power to deal with the matter should surely not be a bar to our asking for that power.” We put this proposal before the House, and ask honorable members to assent to.it. It is a strictly limited power. It gives us no authority over State railways, but merely power to create Courts of Conciliation and Arbitration in which all great industrial disputes may be heard and settled. I shall not detain honorable members any longer in dealing with this matter. I have set forth my views on this and the measure with which I have last dealt at considerable length in connexion with the other Bills. I only trust that in my exposition of them they have not suffered. I ask the House to come to the consideration of these proposals with the assurance that it is my clear conviction that they are absolutely necessary to meet the existing situation. In no sense of the word do they impair the spirit of our Federal Constitution, nor do they violate the terms of the compact. And they are imperatively necessary to enable this Parliament to do that for which it was created.
Debate (on motion by Mr. W. H.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
When the original Bill was introduced in this House, in 1901, by the late Mr. C. C. Kingston, it was agreed that the practice which had operated in the various States prior to Federation in relation to the making of a certain allowance on the contents of vessels containing beer, when charging Excise, should continue to operate in connexion with it. At that time, the uptodate methods of brewing which exist to-day were not in operation. There was no filtering or chilling of beer, such as is now carried on in up-to-date breweries. In the circumstances, therefore, although a hogshead could contain from 50 to 54 gallons of beer - in the majority of cases they actually contain 54 gallons - it was the custom to require duty to be paid upon only 50 gallons. That has been the practice since % the passing of the Beer Excise Act of 1901. As the result of exhaustive inquiries which I have caused to be made in all the States, 1 find, however, that there is no necessity to continue the practice of making an allowance of 4 gallons in the case of hogsheads, 3 gallons in the case of barrels, and 2 gallons in the case of half-hogsheads. So far as kilderkins are concerned, it is not proposed to depart from the existing practice. It was held, when the original Act was passed, that hotelkeepers and others who dispensed this beverage could not draw off more than 50 gallons of beer from a hogshead, although it might contain up to 54 gallons. As the result of the improved brewing conditions that exist to-day, they can do so, and consequently the Commonwealth is losing revenue to the extent of between £25,000 and ,£30,000 a year.
– Will this raise the price of beer?
– It will mean the payment of an additional 6d. by way of duty on a hogshead of beer, which is sold today by the breweries at £2 15s. 6d. In some cases, the price is a little higher, and in others a little less. I do not think the passing of this Bill will affect the price of beer. It is not introduced with the object of increasing the tax. Our aim is merely to insure that the Department shall obtain from this source the revenue to which it is really entitled. I am aware that coopers unions have written to some honorable members urging that this amendment of the Act will mean an alteration in the size of the barrels that are used. As a matter of fact, the size of the vessels has not been altered. They will continue to have a capacity of from 50 to 54 gallons as they have at present. The Department will not pass any hogshead having a capacity of less than 50 gallons or more than 54 gallons, and the position will be the same in regard to smaller vessels. The allowance made when the original Bill was’ passed was very liberal ; to-day, it is too liberal. The honorable member for Bendigo has interjected that the trade has not been consulted, and has not had time to make representations. As a matter of fact, this Bill was circulated over> a week ago, and representatives of breweries all over Australia have been in Melbourne, and have interviewed me in regard to this proposal. They considered that there was no need for the proposed alteration, as the law has hitherto worked very well. I told them that the case which they had made out proved conclusively the necessity for the introduction of this measure. The fact is that the large up-to-date breweries have been obtaining an undue advantage at the expense of the people. Since 1901, very considerable improvements have been made in the methods of brewing, and these have resulted in dispensing with the . necessity, except in regard to inappreciable quantities, for adding hops to the casks. If honorable members will consult any hotelkeepers with whom they may be acquainted they will find that, though the latter have been charged on the hogsheads delivered to them, and not upon their contents, it is usually held that the hogshead contains about 54 gallons. The hogshead can still remain at the same size - that is, from 50 to 54 gallons. But the bulk of the hogsbeads used contain 54 gallons. When they sre returned to the brewery for the purpose of being rfrooopered, they are sometimes converted into vessels of smaller size, either barrels, half hogsheads, or kilderkins. Since this Bill was drafted, representations have been made that the brewers and bottlers here are labouring under a slight disadvantage. At present we allow beer to be imported in any sized bottles. But in the Beer’ Excise Act the definition clause provides - “ Quarts or pints “ means quart or pint bottles, and includes bottles reputed to contain quarts or pints.
Then section 44 of that Act reads -
No beer shall be removed from a brewery unless -
it is accompanied by a part note in the form prescribed.
Nor unless it is -
I(b) in vessels; or
It will -thus be seen that the Australian brewer is. limited to these sizes. It is proposed to amend the law to give him the opportunity of putting beer in any sized bottle that he may require. I may tell honorable members that the quantity of beer brewed in Australia during 1907 was 43,000,000 gallons, upon which , £540,000 was paid in Excise. In 1908, the quantity produced was 44,000,000 gallons, upon which ^556,000 was paid in Excise. In 1909, the quantity produced was 44,000,000 gallons, upon which . £557.000 was paid in Excise. In 1910, the quantity brewed was 48,000,000 gallons, upon which , £605,000 in Excise was collected ; and last year the quantity produced was 52,000,000 gallons, and the Excise collected upon it was , £651,000. Had this Bill been in operation, we should have collected an additional ^£25,000 or , £30,000.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Joseph Cook) adjourned.
– !n moving-
That the House do now adjourn.
I wish to intimate that the first business to-morrow will be the resumption of the debate upon the Constitution Alteration (Trade and Commerce) Bill.
– Will the Prime Minister speak in the morning?
– If it is the desire Of the honorable member, I will. It is the wish of the Government, and I believe of honorable members, that the general discussion upon the Referenda Bills shall take place on the Constitution Alteration (Trade and Commerce) Bill. As far as practicable, effect will be given to that desire. The Government do not propose to ask the House to sit on Monday next, but 1 think we shall have to ask it to meet on
Monday of the following week. Time is passing, and if the session is to close before the Christmas holidays, we shall have to make the most of the period that is at our disposal.
– The Prime Minister means that we shall meet on Monday at 3 o’clock ?
– Yes; but not on Monday of next week. I make this announcement so that honorable members may make their arrangements for the following Monday.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 9.38 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 21 November 1912, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1912/19121121_reps_4_68/>.