4th Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Deprivation of Holidays
– I wish to know from the Postmaster-General whether his Department proposes to have the new Commonwealth stamp printed during the Christmas season, and that, consequently, those engaged in the work of printing will lose their Christmas holidays. I ask if there is any need for this, except to give effect to the intention of having the stamp issued on the 1st January next?
– That question should have been addressed to the Treasurer. I read the statement in this morning’s newspapers. It is true that I have promised to have the hew stamp issued on the 1st January next, if possible, but it is not proposed to take away from those engaged in the work of printing it the two main holidays of the Christmas season. Personally, I am not very desirous of having the stamp issued on a particular date, and part of the issuewill, in any case, be ready on New Year’sDay. If the Treasurer concurs, I would: say that the men need not work on holidaysto which they are entitled.
– I ask the Minister of External Affairs if he has made any announcement, as stated in the press, to the effect that the High Commissioner is coming to Australia in March next?
– I have made no such announcement. It is reported in to-day’s Argus that I made the statement last night that the High Commissioner is coming to Australia in March next, but I made no such statement. What happened was this : Yesterday evening a representative of the Sydney Daily Telegraph asked me whether Sir George Reid was coming to Australia in March. I told him that I had received no official intimation of the fact that he was or that he was not coming, but that Sir George Reid had written tome a private letter stating that, for personal reasons, he would like to visit Australia during the coming year. I said that I would make -no public statement about the matter, because it was merely a privateaffair, but I told the reporter that I had’, replied privately to Sir. George Reid that. I felt sure that if he desired to return to Australia on private business the Government would raise no objection. In his letter there was no statement about his wishing to come in March,. and if he comes. I think it will be considerably later in the- year. I told the reporter that the message was a private one, and that I had no desire to announce the fact that Sir George Reid wished to come - that I preferred, as it was a private matter, to allow Sir George to make the announcement himself..
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice-
Is it the intention of the Minister to have a police or other canvass made in connexion with the electoral rollsprior to the issue of the writs for the ensuing elections?
– It is not proposed to have a further canvass prior to the issue of the writs for the forthcoming elections. Persons who are qualified for enrolment, and who have not enrolled their names, as required by law, are now being prosecuted. This action is producing a marked effect on the enrolment; two summonses recently issued resulted in sixteen other persons becoming enrolled.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
If, in view of the fact that in our Law. Courts undefended cases are taken first and defended cases taken last, will he, before the House becomes attenuated, arrange so that private members can have divisions upon the motions moved by them taken first, providing members agree to have such divisions taken without debate; and, where the movers of any motions desire debate, such motions to be taken afterwards?
– With the concurrence of Mr. Speaker, unopposed business may be taken first. We can go through the business-paper, and take a vote on the motions that are not opposed.
asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice -
asked the Minister of External Affairs, upon notice -
What has been the result of the alteration, if “any ?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
asked the Prime. Minister, upon notice -
Where practicable, will he kindly cause the casual employes in the Commonwealth Service to be paid on the 24th instant; and, if possible, include payment for any holidays they are entitled to be paid for up to the end of the year?
– Payment on the 23rd December for the period ending 31st December has already been arranged for, not only to permanent employes, but to all casuals whose services are likely to beretained up to the end of the month.
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s first question is “Yes.” An endeavour will be made to obtain the information desired.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers -
Report, by F. V. Theobald, on the second International Congress on entomology held at Oxford, August, 1912.
Defence - Memorandum by the Minister of State for Defence on the Estimates in Chief of the Defence Department for the Financial Year 1912-13.
Ordered to be printed.
Defence Act -
Military College - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1912, No. 231.
Universal Training - Regulations Amended (Provisional) -
Statutory Rules 1912, No. 228.
Statutory Rules 1912, No. 230.
Inter-State Commission Bill 1912 - Summary of English and American Legislation.
Maternity Allowance Act - Provisional RegulationStatutory Rules 1912, No. 225.
Bill read a third time.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
This is rather a technical Bill, making amendments of sections 3, 25, 27, 28, 34, 35, 38, 39. and 42, of the original Act. Clause 2 amends the definition of “ value of improvements” in section 3 of the principal Act. The question of “added value” has been a source of trouble in the administration of the Act, and claims have been repeatedly made by taxpayers that something should be allowed apart from, and in addition to, the actual amount involved in bringing the unimproved land to its improved condition. The amendment confines “added value” to the principle which was intended in the first case, and allows as “added value “ the amount reasonably involved in bringing the unimproved land to its improved condition. This will include not only the money actually spent, if it is represented by a value on the land, but also reasonable interest on the amount being expended while the landis being brought up to its improved condition. Clause 3 amends section 2 5 of the principal Act by excepting persons who are the owners of a freehold estate by virtue of a lease for life from being assessed as the owners of the fee- simple to the exclusion of the persons entitled in reversion. The effect of the section was that a freeholder by leasing his land to persons for life in parcels under . £5,000 unimproved value would escape taxation as a reversioner, while the lessees would not own enough land to be taxable. It is proposed to assess lessees for life on the same basis as other lessees, in accordance with clauses 4 and 5 of the Bill. Clause 4 makes important amendments inprovisions dealing with the assessment of lessees under leases after the commencement of the Act. Under the wording of section 27 such a lessee is assessable as if he owned the leased land, but he is entitled to a deduction similar to that allowed to secondary taxpayers. The effect is (a) that if the lessee leased from the lessor who pays tax at a higher rate than himself after the aggregation of his severalty land with the leased land, the lessee pays a higher rate of tax on his severalty land, and does not pay any tax on the leased land, owing to the deduction for the amount paid by the freeholder ; or (b) that if the lessor is a smaller land-owner than the lessee, the latter pays the whole of the tax on the leased land if the lessor be not taxable, or, if the lessor be taxable, the lessee pays the amount by which his own tax on the leased land exceeds the lessor’s tax on the leased land. As this was found to cast an inequitable burden on the lessee, the amendment makes the lessee taxable on the present value calculated for the unexpired period of the lease of the fair annual value of the land which has been fixed at 4½ per cent. on the unimproved capital value. The Commissioner may alter the rate of calculation’ if he thinks the circumstances demand it. This will represent a large reduction in the unimproved value assessed to the lessee. The lessee is to be entitled to deduct from his tax the sum of the amounts set out in sub-section 2 of proposed new section 27. The wording of the sub-section is slightly altered from that of’ the previous subsection 2, but expresses the same principle as is contained therein. By subsection 3 of the proposed new section lessees from Mutual Life Societies, who are exempt from taxation under section 41, are to be treated on the same basis as lessees of land exempt under section 13. Clause 5 merely amends sub-section 3 of section 28 by stating in precise words what has been the practice of the Department since its inception. The practice of calculating these interests at the rate of 4½ per cent. was challenged on the ground that the Commissioner had no power to fix an arbitrary rate. The amendment fixes the rate, but gives the Commissioner power to alter the rate if he thinks that the circumstances so demand. Clause 6 amends section 34, which deals with the deduction for an annuity charged on the land. At present, if the annuitant is an owner for land tax purposes, and his annuity is a charge on the land, a deduction is allowed in respect of the annuitant’s share as owner under subsection 7 of section 38, and also in respect of the annuity under section 34. It is considered that a double deduction of this kind was not contemplated, and it is proposed to amend section 34 so that where an annuitant, whose annuity is a charge, is also an owner for land tax purposes, he shall only be entitled to deduct whichever is the greater of the two deductions previously allowed. That is, the deduction in respect of the share as owner under section 38, or the deduction for the annuity charge under section 34. Clause 7 amends section 35, under which equitable owners are to be assessed on the same basis as legal owners. By the proviso to section 25. a special concession is made to certain legal tenants for life without power to sell. This concession has been claimed for equitable tenants for life under similar circumstances. The concession was never meant to apply to equitable tenants for life, and it is proposed to amend section 35 so that the concession granted by the proviso to section 25 will apply only to legal tenants for life.
– Is the Prime Minister reading the Bill?
-I am reading a technical explanation of the Bill. I would not attempt to give an explanation in my own words.
– If the Minister does not understand the Bill, how does he expect other honorable members to do so?
– I honestly tell Honorable members my own position.
– We should have an opportunity of understanding the Bill.
– It would have been very handy if the document from which the Premier is reading had been printed and circulated.
– We could have it printed immediately.
– In the meantime the Bill will go through.
– In regard to clause 8- The High Court, in the case of Isles v. The Commissioner of Land Tax, decided that where persons are entitled to a multiple of deductions as being entitled under a will or settlement prior to 1st July, 1910, then, if these persons are joint owners of land with some other persons, these multiple de ductions must be allowed in the joint assessment. This was never intended, as all joint ownerships, other than those “falling wholly within the sections relating to these special wills and settlements, should only be entitled to a single deduction. The clause, therefore, amends sub-section 2 of section 38 to provide for a single deduction in all cases of joint ownership, except where the whole joint ownership falls within the special sections relating to wills and settlements. The clause also amends sub-section 7 of section 38 by limiting the deductions to the persons who, at the time of assessment, hold original shares under the will. This would in practice amount to all persons who hold shares under these wills or settlements, provided their shares are original shares within the meaning of sub-section 8 of section 38. Sub-section 7 is also amended by limiting the value of a share to the share in the unimproved value of the land after deducting from the unimproved value the value of any annuity charged on the land, as it is considered that, for land tax purposes, the value of the annuity so charged represents portion of the unimproved value which does not belong to the owners. A new proviso is also added to subsection 7 to meet the case where the same persons are entitled under more than one instrument. Under the Act as it stands they are entitled to a multiple of deductions under each instrument. This was never intended to be granted, and the amendments proposed will limit the persons to one set of deductions, as it is considered equitable that a person should only receive one deduction in respect of the land or the interest in land owned by him. Sub-section 8 of this section is also amended by this clause. The amendment was inserted to meet the case of persons taking over immediately after the interest of the settler has ceased, as, for example, where the settler’s wife dies in his lifetime-. It is considered equitable that the persons who succeed in remainder after the settler in such a case should be treated as the holders of original shares. Clause 9 adds a new section to the Act, which! deals with the case of an original will or settlement, and the beneficiaries under the original will or settlement making wills or settlements, all of which came into operation prior to 1st July, 19 10. Under the Act as it stands there were sets of deductions under each of these wills or settle- ments, even though the land might still be vested in the trustees under the original will. It is thought that in such a case the deductions should be limited to persons who hold original shares, solely under and by virtue of the original will or settlement. Clause 10 is proposed to meet the case of a shareholder in a company holding land where such shareholder is an absentee. At present there is no method of obtaining the tax if the shareholder does not pay, and it is proposed to make the company the agent of such shareholder, so that the company is responsible for the payment of any tax to the extent of the assets of the shareholder, such as dividends in the hands of the company, which can be used by the company in payment of the tax. Clause 11 adds a new section to the Act to deal with the control, use, and occupation of land without any lease or agreement for lease by persons who are not owners. It is inserted to meet the following case, which is typical : A person owns a large quantity of land. There is also land in his wife’s name, his niece’s name, and his secretary’s name, but the land is all stocked by the land-owner’s sheep, and controlled and managed by him. It is considered that in such a case the landowner is. virtually the owner of all the land, and should be treated as the lessee for land tax purposes. To meet the case of temporary arrangements to tide over critical periods, the Commissioner is given power to suspend the operations of the section in such a case.
– That provision may affect joint occupiers or owners.
– The persons who are supposed to be holding the property may or may not be joint occupiers or owners. The effect of the amendments will be to tighten up the provisions, but the Commissioner will be able to exercise his discretion in dealing with cases where hardship may arise. Honorable members who are acquainted with land transactions will see the necessity for making provision of this land to meet cases where land has been parcelled out amongst a number of persons
– Is it intended to enable the Commissioner to get behind the certificate of title?
– I hope not.
– That would be the effect of it.
– If a man has land in his wife’s name, or his secretary’s name, and the ostensible owners have bond fide certificates of title, I do not suppose we shall be able to deal with them except as lessees. But if they do not hold separate certificates of title, the land ought to be taxed. Clause 12 merely deals with the application of the Act, and makes the amendment regarding lessees from mutual life societies retrospective, which confers a benefit on these lessees.
– This Bill is equivalent to a new Land Tax Act.
– My information is that the amendments are simple, but very technical.
– Will the Prime Minister tell us the plain English of the proposals now ?
– I can tell the honorable member the plain English of some of the amendments.
– Will the amendments have the effect of adding to the revenue?
– They will stop evasions of the tax.
– Those who are capable of forming an opinion say there are as many amendments in the direction of making concessions as there are in the direction of tightening up the provisions of the Act, and in all probability the revenue will not be increased. A considerable number of concessions are made in cases where otherwise hardship would be inflicted, and the provisions of the Act are altered in other directions as the interests of justice seem to require.
– The Bill was brought in at the request of a member of the Opposition.
– Did he ask for all these amendments?
– Not all of them. I presume that honorable members do not desire that amendments should be made only at their request.
– Certainly not. But you told us that there was to be only a small amendment of the Act.
– This is not a Government measure in the sense that it involves matters of policy beyond questions arising out of the administration of the Act. The Commissioner of Land Taxation, whose business it is to advise the Government in this matter, has indicated where he thinks the Act should be amended in the interests of the public, or in the interests of the general policy of the Act.
– I rise to a point of order. I have been listening very attentively to the Prime Minister, who was frank enough to say that the amendments were of a highly technical nature and difficult to understand. I am quite at a loss to follow the explanation given, and 1 would suggest that the document from which the Prime Minister has been reading should be printed and placed in the hands of honorable members so that they may have an opportunity of properly understanding the Bill.
– - I understood the Leader of the Opposition agreed to go on.
– We do not want the Bill!
– I really think we might as well go on. After all this legislation is only like other legislation that is being put through this House at the present time. Nobody knows what the Bills mean, least of all the members of the Government who introduce them. I do not see that this Bill is very much different from any other Bill we have had put through this legislative ‘chamber recently. I ought to apologize for using the words “legislative chamber,” because this is no longer a legislative chamber. This business is merely a legislative farce, and one can make neither more nor less of it.
.I did think that in an amending Land 1’ax Bill some relief would have been afforded to mortgagors, but I cannot see in this Bill any provision in that direction. The Attorney-General knows that many mortgagors are very hardly dealt with. A man is ostensibly the owner of a large estate, but has a heavy mortgage upon it, and under the existing Act he gets no consideration at all for the amount of the mortgage. In New South Wales, under the old Land Tax Act, provision was made for the exemption from taxation of the amount of a mortgage. I should like the AttorneyGeneral to state whether this Bill interferes with the right of each of several beneficiaries under a will which was executed before the 10th June, 1909, to get an exemption, or whether it alters the Act in such a way that joint owners, although they are beneficiaries under a will, can receive one exemption only of ^5,000. I am inclined to think that it does not
– I do not think it does. The honorable member will see that under . section 43 the liability of primary and secondary taxpayers is set out. Under section 27 certain persons are not fairly treated, and this Bill will put them on a proper footing, leaseholders particularly. That is the main object of the Bill.
– It is very difficult to understand what these proposed amendments really mean.
– It is the most difficult Bill that could be brought before the House.
– Would it not be a fair thing then to postpone consideration of it for a little time until the typewritten manuscript which the. Prime Minister read has been printed ?
– This Bill was brought in entirely at the request of the honorable member for Kooyong.
– T have’ nothing more to say, except that I think some little time should be given us to consider this Bill, otherwise it will be impossible for honorable members to intelligently discuss it.
.- It does come as a surprise to find a number of important measures brought forward at such a late period of the session. The amendments asked for by the honorable member for Kooyong are easily understood’. I understand that they provide for concessions to people who have leasehold estates, but other amendments have been> included in the Bill by the Government which will greatly increase the incidence of the tax, and there are also notable omissions from the Bill, to one of which- the honorable member for North Sydney has* referred. I should like to refer to another omission. I have once or twice brought under the notice of the Prime Minister the fact that, although the Act is now nearly three years old, the interests of those who have shares in banks or companies have not yet been assessed for taxation purposes. The Prime Minister has replied that there are legal objections inthe way. I should like the AttorneyGeneral to look into this matter becauseit is becoming a serious scandal. Those taxpayers do not know what they are liable for, and if they are served with the assessments of three years in a lump, they may not have the money to pav the tax. Their- total liabilities may not be very great, because the tax is paid on the land by the company or bank in the first instance, and as companies and banks are pretty large holders of land, they are assessed at a high rate. These particular taxpayers cannot at present tell what they are liable for.
– The accumulated effect of the tax in regard to’ companies ought to be wiped out.
– Probably so. The tax cannot amount to any large sum. Itwill be costly to collect, and the Government will practically get nothing out of it. There are many who do not know that they are liable for this tax, and they will get a surprise when the demand is made upon them for payment. I do not think it will have any effect as regards the bursting up of large estates, which we know to be the policy of the Government, and to which we do not object. When an amending Bill is being ^passed, consideration should undoubtedly be given to the cases of these persons to whom I am referring.
– This Bill will get over the difficulty.. I think.
– I am surprised 10 hear that, but I hope it will.
– The main object of this Bill is to adjust the inequitable incidence of sub-sections 1 arid 2 of section 27 ire regard to the exemption permitted under section 43. I cannot fully explain the position while the honorable member is addressing the House.
– We all approve of that. If the Attorney-General wishes to speak, I shall not continue my remarks.
.- Instead of this Bill making the law more simple, it is making it more technical and more difficult to deal with. There can be no more debatable point. than that which arises in connexion with the proposal to add at the end of the definition of “ Value of improvements “ the words -
Provided that the added value shall in no case exceed the amount that should reasonably be involved in bringing the unimproved value of the land to its improved value as at the date of assessment.
It is well known that there are, in Australia, large areas of land that were cleared in the old days at much cost. In arriving at its unimproved value one has only to secure the evidence of those who knew it in its natural state, and are familiar- with its condition at the present time. I fail to understand how the Minister will be able to administer this particular provision. The improvements made on many holdings, especially in my electorate, would cost 50 per cent, more to make to-day than they did originally. This provision will cut both ways, but instead of making the administration of the Act easier I am confident - and I speak as one who .knows a good deal of the land question - that it will lead to still further complications. Another difficult problem remains to be solved in connexion with the question of leases. Clause 4 provides for the repeal of section 27 of the principal Act, and the insertion in its stead of a new clause dealing with “ the owner of a leasehold estate in land.” The Attorney-General will have to make a little plainer the intentions of the Government. The proposed new clause, as it stands, might include any lease. It speaks of “ the owner of a leasehold estate,” but there is nothing to show whether the reference is merely to a Crown lease or to leases of all kinds. As it stands the provision might bring within the scope of the principal Act a number of leases to which at present it does not apply. It will be necessary for the Attorney-General to place in the Bill a clear definition of the term “ the owner of a leasehold estate in land.” Difficulties are also likely to arise in regard to the amendment of that part of the Act which relates to joint-owners. It is a great hardship that partners, working two estates as one, and so securing greater economy in management, should have to deal separately with them. This will be an incentive to men to evade the law. The Bill has been in our hands for only half-an-hour, and yet, within that short space of time, we have been able to discover in it several matters that will need to be remedied. Another provision which requires to be closely examined is that contained in proposed new section 42A which declares that -
Where land is occupied, controlled or used by a person who is not the owner, and there is no lease or agreement for a lease for a definite term in respect of the occupancy, control, or user of the land, the person occupying, controlling, or using the land shall be deemed to be the lessee for life of the land……
Will the provision, as to joint-owners, apply to properties owned by a man and his wife or his children and worked as one? In Australia a married woman is allowed, and rightly so, to hold land in her own right, and very often to secure greater economy, husband and wife work their properties as one. Under this Bill, however, it will be impossible to do so. Joint properties will have to be divided; the stock of the husband and the wife will have to be branded differently, and a great deal of unnecessary expense will be involved. The Attorney-General, instead of assisting the taxpayers of Australia by passing this Bill, will add. to their difficulties, and be guilty of a very serious blunder. Proposed new section 42a will certainly lead to trouble in the country, and anything that will make trouble should be avoided. We were promised a concise amending Bill that would make much clearer the position in regard to the joint ownership of land, and also as regards the improvements on land. That promise has not been fulfilled. It seems to me that we require an improved system of dealing with the lands of Australia for taxation purposes. It would be much better for the Government to bring in :a simple measure to deal with the lands as they are to-day, separating rural from town lands, and imposing a very much smaller tax on land values.
– We have not the power under the Constitution to do that.
– I hope that it will be found that we have not the power to enact some of these provisions. I am -confident that they will lead to a great deal of trouble, and I am sure that the ^honorable member has no desire that the people of Australia should be unnecessarily harassed. The two clauses to which I have referred, instead of assisting the land-owners, will hamper them, and will also hamper the operations of the Commissioner and the land tax assessors. At this stage of the session we cannot devote to the consideration of this Bill the time that we ought to give to it. I know that the Prime Minister desires to be fair, and I think that he should at least postpone the further consideration of this measure until printed copies of the statement made by him have been distributed amongst honorable members, <and time Was been given us to carefully study the proposed provisions.
.- I do not pretend to understand the technical portions of this Bill. For one reason I have not had time to look into them, and it would involve some hours of study to grasp what is intended, and what the Bill really provides.
– I admit that.
– There are one or two matters . in connexion with this question that I desire to emphasize. In the first place, we have in this Bill a complete departure from the principle underlying unimproved land value taxation. Roughly speaking, the basis upon which we work in estimating the unimproved value of a property is to imagine it in its unimproved state, and to consider what price it would bring in that state at the time that the assessment was. made. Here, however, we have a complete departure from that principle. Under clause 4 it proposed to establish a new basis of valuation, as ihe result of which the effect of the improvements is not to be taken into consideration, only the bare monetary cost. That is most unfair. It will lead to a con?siderable increment in the taxable value of many holdings, and will work out most unjustly. Take the case of the country in which there are artesian bores. A man might be fortunate enough by sinking once to strike a good supply of artesian water, and the value added to his land by that improvement would be very great. Another man might have to bore four or five times before striking an adequate supply, but while the added value to his property would be only the value of one good bore, he would have been at the expense of putting down four or five bores to secure it. I suppose that, taking things by and large, the added value of the property of land-holders in Australia is about what has been expended in the improvements, but it is clear that in certain cases it may be much less or more.
– We could not make the assessment higher than the sale value.
– The honorable member should know that the basis on which the assessments are made is not the sale value at all, but the unimproved value, and I say that this Bill proposes a complete departure from the principles of unimproved value taxation. The object is to get at the taxpayer to a greater extent than it has been possible to do under the existing law. I take the case of a man who runs the risk of taking up swamp land, which, unimproved, may be valued at 10s an acre. He may believe that it will be very greatly improved by drainage, although some swamp land is no earthly good when it is drained. Though he mayspend no more than one-third of his estimate of the cost of draining the land, the improvements may add enormously to its value. Under this Bill all that he will be able to deduct in respect of the improvement is the actual cost of it. In such a case the basis of taxation will no longer be the unimproved value. Many men who take such risks often lose thousands of pounds, but the Government take no notice of their case at all.
– Why not take another case, where, by reason of the construction of a railway, land is very greatly improved in value.
– That is an entirely different matter. I agree that where the added value is due to the construction of a railway, it is perfectly right and just to levy this tax, but that is not what the Government propose to do by this Bill. I think I know what is at the back of this proposal. A man may take up land, and by simple and inexpensive means improve it considerably. The added value in such cases will be very much more than the actual cost of improvements, but it is intended under this measure to add that added value to the taxable value of the land, and I say that is not fair or just.
I am sorry that the Government have not seen their way to introduce legislation to sever from the individual interest the interests of taxpayers in companies. I think that a company should be treated as a separate entity. During the three years in which the Act has been in operation it has been found impossible to properly assess the interests of people in companies. If these assessments are ever made the aggregate tax which the Government will collect upon them will be comparatively very small. They would have been very well advised if they had proposed to strike out of the original Act the provisions which make the interest in a company accumulate upon the individual interests in land of each shareholder, thereby increasing the incidence of individual taxation. In regard to mortgages I should very much like to have seen the Government propose insome way to ease the position of the mortgagor. In their experience of the actual working of the land tax they must have found that in many cases it works most unfairly and unjustly. I am also sorry that they have not seen their way to alter the provisions of the existing Act with regard to absentees. The Prime Minister must have had ample evidence of the annoyance which this taxation has caused to people whom it is to our interests not to annoy at all. In the circumstances, the Government would have been wise if they had proposed to relieve absentees of this additional taxation, which is the means of bringing in very little additional revenue. Honorable members opposite are beginning to realize that the tax has not had the effect which they anticipated. The actual area per head which is now under cultivation is a good deal less than it was prior to the introduction of the tax. The increase in the area under cultivation is falling year by year. It will probably be found that that increase this year will be much less than it has been for many years.
– What about the big estates which have been cut up?
– When the big estates are cut up they are usually put under wheat. I never thought that the operation; of the tax would have the effect which honorable members opposite predicted. The whole matter requires review.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Glynn) adjourned.
In Committee: (Consideration resumed from 15th November, vide page 5592).
Division 38. (Central Administration)
.- There is an item here, “ Inspector of Rifle Ranges,£360.” I do not know what has been the experience of other honorable members, but my own experience of rifle ranges has been of a most unsatisfactory character. In connexion with the formation of rifle clubs a lot of routine has to be gone through which takes up a considerable time. But the chief difficulty arises when it comes to the actual construction of the range itself. Casino, one of the principal centres in my electorate, where there is a battalion of Light Horse, and other branches of. the service, including cadets, has been without a range for more than three and a half years. When I was returned to this House the range which they had been using had been condemned. Since then a new range has been constructed. The selection of the site occupied a great deal of time. But when this trouble had been adjusted a little more than a year was allowed to elapse before the authorities commenced the construction of the range by means of day labour. No sooner had the work been completed, and the range opened than it was condemned. It does seem extraordinary that the new range should have been condemned immediately it was opened. I do not know who is to blame for this.
– There are too many experts.
– Officers are appointed, and all they seem to do is to condemn what the “ other fellow “ has done. As a result we can get no finality. There should be some honest attempt on the part of the authorities to deal with these rifle ranges with reasonable expedition. There is no necessity for delays extending over years. We need to encourage those who are prepared to give up their leisure to practise rifle- shooting in order that they may be a source of strength to us if ever we should require their services in the defence of Australia. As far as I can see, the Department discourages them. They are not being helped to carry on the work which they are doing. The Minister ought to “ shake up “ officers in charge of this rifle range work. He should bring those responsible to book, because there is clearly negligence in regard to this work. Important matters are hung up month after month. The great source of trouble seems to be that the officers in control do not think the riflemen of much account. They are regarded as not worth bothering about. It is a scandalous state of affairs and discreditable to the Department that tolerates it.
Mr. SPENCE (Darling) Ti 1.43].- My electorate is the largest one in New South Wales, and in every centre there are enthusiastic riflemen. But they have great trouble with the administration in Sydney. As far as I can ascertain there are some officers who ought to be removed, or forced to get “ a bit of a hustle on.” Complaints have been made from every centre
– It is impossible to get the officers to move.
– Then they ought to be sacked. I suggest to the Minister that he should get rid of some of them, because it seems to be hopeless to do anything with them. It makes one riled to feel that the defence of Australia has to depend on such officers. Apparently they think that war will be conducted like a prize fight, and that due notice will be given beforehand by the enemy. At Coonamble, for instance, there is an enthusiastic rifle club.
The last time I was in the town, sixteen members of the club mustered at the butts for practice. But the secretary had to get a motor car, drive out, and tell them that they could not shoot because there was no ammunition. They had previously borrowed from other clubs, and endeavoured to get a supply from the officers who are supposed to look after that department. Again, at Cobar, nothing was done in the matter of a rifle range for about a year. I do not think that the fault lies with the central office in Melbourne. Those in charge in Sydney appear to be responsible. It is said that there are not sufficient range inspectors, and that the Minister intends to appoint more. I can speak with personal knowledge of the difficulties experienced by rifle clubs at Coonamble, Bourke, Cobar, and Nyngan, all of which have made loud complaints. Possibly some of the delay may be capable of explanation, but I am satisfied that it is not reasonable in all cases. After a range has been selected the Department ought surely to be able to do something in less time than two years. Many of the men are beginning to feel disheartened, and are seriously talking of troubling no more about rifle shooting. They will probably find amusement in some other way. It is really a serious position of affairs. If called upon to take part in the defence of Australia, these riflemen would be able to render most valuable service, for they are experienced bushmen, in the prime of life, and have been very well drilled by. enthusiastic and capable officers. I cannot understand why there should be such long delays in connexion with the transaction of rifle club business. Matters that I thought had been attended to long ago have been again brought under my notice, and it appears that nothing whatever has been done. I really do not know what, some of the officers in Sydney find to do. There is an annual rifle competition at Nyngan, a central point for the west. Money is subscribed for prizes, and there is a spirit of enthusiasm amongst the riflemen. But the lack of spirit shown by responsible officers damps their ardour. It does not seem to be recognised that these men are giving up their time and spending their money for the benefit of Australia. We ought to back them up. But those in control seem to have lost the power of doing anything. I hope that calling attention to the matter will have a good effect, and that a change will take place. Personally, I think that the officers who are to blame ought to be removed altogether, and that the Minister should replace them by live officers, who will be able to get a hustle on, and do things. We ought not to have in Australia in time of need the bungles that have characterized many of the wars in which Great Britain has been concerned, where many valuable lives have been lost before things were got into working order. That kind of thing was due to inefficient officers.
– Perhaps there is a shortage of rifle ranges.
– There are ranges, but the difficulty arises in connexion with the supply of ammunition and rifles, and from general inattention; in fact, the clubs are humbugged all the time. When a rifle range has been selected locally, an officer inspects, and approves, and it is gazetted, but that is the last heard of the matter. It would appear as though nothing short of dynamite would shift some of the officials.
.- I agree in a great measure with what has been said in regard to the disabilities under which the rifle clubs suffer in the delay in granting facilities, supplying targets, ammunition, and so forth -in and it is certainly a great pity that the Department cannot make more adequate provision for essential training in shooting. At the same time there is something more important even than straight shooting, namely, drill and discipline. My idea is that if a simple cheap uniform were supplied, the members of rifle clubs would be quite willing to undergo a certain amount of drill. This would add greatly to the efficiency of a large body of men who would prove a valuable adjunct of our Defence Forces in case of emergency. There are other matters to which I desire to call attention; and one is the system adopted in the purchase of remounts. Recently a very serious position arose in connexion with a portion of the New South Wales staff, the Minister seeing fit to censure some of the senior officers. I find, for instance, that Commandant, Colonel Wallack, has been censured.
– The Minister denied that.
– Then Major Darvall has been censured, and Captain Lyons, officer for the supply of transport, has been severely censured.
– He got off easily !
– I do not agree with the honorable member, for Captain Lyons is a diligent, painstaking officer, who has always endeavoured to do his duty. That officer has not only been censured, but informed, in effect, that if he does not improve he will be retired.
– What would the honorable member do with a recalcitrant officer ?
– -I think the honorable member is speaking without knowledge, whereas I know the facts of the cases. It is a very serious matter to severely censure an officer of the standing of Captain Lyons, who has been nearly thirty years in the service.
– By whom has he been censured?
– By the Minister of Defence.
– What for?
– In connexion with confidential correspondence; indeed, I think it is on confidential correspondence that all these officers, have been censured.
– Is the honorable member drawing public attention to this matter on behalf pf Captain Lyons?
– That is a most despicable thing for a Minister to say !
– I rise to a point of order. I draw attention to the remark of the honorable member for Parramatta. He has started already to-day, and if he continues with his insulting manner, you, Mr. Chairman, will have to take some course not conducive to his best interests.
– Does the Honorary Minister take exception to the remark made by the honorable member for Parramatta ?
– I merely take public notice of the remark, but if the honorable member continues in the same strain I si/ all take further notice.
– I did make the remark complained of. It was in reply to a remark by the Honorary Minister, who asked an honorable member if he was taking notice of a report concerning the censure of an officer with that officer’s concurrence and on his behalf. I characterized that as a most despicable thing for a Minister to say. If the Minister says my remark is insulting, I withdraw it in obedience to the rules of the House.
– The censuring of these officers is in connexion with the administration of the remount branch. The trouble commenced at a camp at Glen Innes, where there was some trouble about the return of a horse, which had been wrongly described as private property or something of that sort. A Board of Inquiry was instituted to inquire into the whole matter of the purchase of remounts, with Colonel Lee as President, but that Board failed to find out anything wrong with the particular horse I have mentioned. It appears that the whole thing arose from a clerical error. As a result of the inquiry, however, the officers have been censured, though I venture to say that none of them could be held in any way responsible. The blame for the present state of affairs in connexion with the remount depot lies entirely with the Department, which has absolutely failed in its administration, and pursued a foolish policy in connexion with the purchase of horses. No advice was asked from officers who had had experience in connexion with horses, but, as is always the case, the militia officers were absolutely ignored, and men were sent out indiscriminately to buy horses at high prices until something like 900 had been obtained. This gave rise to some difficulty, because they could not all be stable fed, and in New South Wales two depots were provided, one at Chipping Norton, and another at Cunninghame. In the winter months the horses became hide-bound, and got, generally, into a bad condition. I went myself to see them at Chipping Norton and Cunninghame, and, in my opinion, it is absolutely wrong that over Jl1 0,000 worth of horses should be left in the charge of a sergeant, with one noncommissioned officer and two privates to assist him. No doubt Farrier- Sergeant Kelly is doing his best with the material at his disposal, but the responsibility is. too much for one man. It is absolutely ridiculous to hold the other officers responsible. The whole trouble occurred before- Colonel Wallack took over the position of State Commandant. It occurred during the term of the previous State Commandant, so that to censure Colonel Wallack is absolutely ridiculous. The same remark applies to Major Darvall. Captain Lyons is a very busy officer indeed, and to expect him to be responsible for the conduct of a remount depot at Liverpool is really ridiculous. He is staff officer for supply and transport, and any one who is acquainted with military duties knows that such an officer has very many onerous duties to perform. Captain Lyons is diligent, painstaking, and most conscientious at his work, and it was a cruel act indeed that he should be severely censured by the Minister of Defence, simply because the Department blundered, in rushing wildly into a scheme of purchasing horses. No provision was made for properly looking after the horses, and they got into a bad condition.
– They were in the paddocks?
– Yes. Troughs were erected for feeding the horses, but they certainly were not in good condition. Colonel Wallack and Major Darvall were not responsible at all. I do not wish to men-‘ tion the names of those who were. During the term of other officers a most scandalous state of affairs obtained at the remount depot. A man, called de Lampy, was put on, and it was found that, instead of being a horse-breaker, he was a horse-spoiler. The men at the camp got blind drunk, and the horses were scampering all over the place.
– Were they allowed to do that twice?
– They were allowed to do it for a considerable time. The result of the scandalous state of affairs was that, when the horses’ were wanted in camp, they were absolutely unfit to perform the duties required of them. A horse has to be in very good condition, and to have his shoulders seasoned to be able to do the work in connexion with the guns. It is very heavy work - work which tries the shoulders of even a seasoned horse to a very great extent. When the horses were taken into camp from the remount depot they were not serviceable. Several men were injured in trying to make use of half-broken horses^ - some of them were worse than colts. A half-broken horse is worse than a green horse. I would sooner take a horse that has never been handled than have a half-broken horse. Halfbroken horses were expected to do the work at the Easter camp in Sydney, with the result that men were injured, and the work was not done. The transport people refused to use the horses, and a report was made. That is simply the result of the Department rushing wildly into a policy of purchasing horses before they knew exactly what they were going to do with them. My idea of arranging for the upkeep of remounts and gun-horses for use is that they should be let out to reputable firms of carriers and vanmen, under an agree- ment that, in consideration of providing the feed, they should have the use of the horses for so long as they were not wanted for military purposes. It would be necessary to see that the arrangement was being carried out properly.
– In nine cases out of ten the horse would not be of any use when it came back.
– I do not agree with the honorable member. The horses of a reputable firm of carriers are generally a credit to them, being always in good condition.
– Because they had to buy the horses.
– Does the honorable member mean to tell me that men would not be prepared to take remount horses, subject to the condition of feeding them, and only having to give them up when required for a camp or gun practice? I believe that on those conditions we could let out as many horses as we liked.
– Would that be fair to other carriers who had to buy their horses ?
– That is another question. I do not see that any unfairness would come in.
– What about the interest on the money which other men have laid out.
– That is, I think, beside the question. If we can in that way obtain serviceable horses for military purposes without cost, it would be a public benefit. The only other way in which to obtain serviceable horses would be to stable, feed, and work them all the year. Suppose that we had the best remount depot in the world, with grass up to the knees of the horses. At camp time, the horses would be rolling fat, and as regards guns, absolutely useless. If a horse rolling in fat is given a hard day with a gun, his shoulders are wrung to pieces. The only way in which to have a horse serviceable for military purposes is to corn-feed him, and keep him in constant work. His shoulders must be seasoned.
– They are on the grass at Chipping Norton.
– Yes, and at Cunninghame too. There was not very much grass, but they were on the grass, and at the same time they were fed in troughs in paddocks.
It is hot satisfacton’, I hold, to buy horses without making provision for their proper upkeep. I do not think that we are effecting any saving. I believe that the censure of the officers which has resulted from the adoption of that policy is a very seriousmatter indeed. Is the Minister prepared; to give the officers an opportunity of clearing themselves before a Board of Inquiry? It is only fair, I think, that such an opportunity should be afforded. Nodoubt, the whole trouble is the fault of the Department. Captain Lyons has been sent, here from New South Wales, presumably through this business, though, of course, he might have been sent over in any caseHowever, he has been sent to this State,, and told that if he does not display morediligence during the next six months, and’ attend more carefully to his duties, he will be retired.
– He was dealt with by the Military Board.
– He has not been dealt with, except by the Minister.
– He has been dealt with byrne Military Board.
– He has not been dealt with by any Board. The Board which inquired into the question of remounts under the presidency of Colonel Lee, did not make a specific reference to Captain LyonsIt was only through the censure administered to him by the Minister that his name came up at all. I desire to refer to some of the warrant and non-commissioned officers of the Royal Australian Garrison Artillery, who have not participated in the increase in pay which has been granted toother non-commissioned officers. It is very wrong that they should. be overlooked, seeing that they have to undergo such a strict technical training. Master gunners have to go through a very severe course before they cart obtain promotion, and are certainly entitled to increased pay. I have here the syllabus of the gunnery staff course - the syllabus of instructions for officers and noncommissioned officers at the School of Gunnery, South Head, Sydney. This showsthe subjects in which these noncommissioned officers are required to be wellposted. First of all, I find that they are required to be acquainted with ‘ ‘ the general principles of the. construction of’ B.L. and Q.F. guns and howitzers.” This knowledge would take years to acquire. Then they have also to be posted up in the following: -
Systems of breech closing and obturation; pad obturators, care and use.
The differing firing arrangements with B.S. and ordinary tubes. Systems of rifling.
Breech mechanisms of the guns likely to be met with in the Commonwealth.
Locks - the various patterns of percussion and electric locks; names of parts, action, and safety arrangements.
Sights- description of the different sights, clamps, &c. Care of the sights and tests.
Dismantling and assembling of mechanisms.
Aiming rifles - names of parts, description, action, assembling, and fittings of the gun.
Identification of the various stores and fittings.
Examination and preservation of ordnance.
These officers are also required to have a good general knowledge of electricity. They have to know something about electrical resistance, electric currents, electrical circuits and electro-magnetism, permanent magnetism, the electro-magnet, the principles of galvano-meters, the magnet circuit, measuring apparatus, dynamos, accumulators, the telephone and sound waves and practical work. They have to undergo a great deal of hard study ‘before they can become master gunners, and surely they deserve an increase of pay when the rates are being raised all round. I think these men have been overlooked, and I would ask the Minister to see that some steps are taken to provide for a general advance in pay.
– Would the honorable member indicate the particular class of noncommissioned officers who are not to get an increase of pay?
– Yes. The master gunners have so far received no increase. Warrant officers, of the rank of garrison sergeantmajor, have received an increase from j£256 to £285, but master gunners of the first class are now being paid ^238, the same amount that is provided for on the present Estimates. Similarly, master gunners of the second class are receiving ^219, and no provision has been made on the Estimates for an increase in their case.
– Statements have been made publicly that these men are to get increases to date from 1st July, but they cannot get their increases until the Estimates are passed.
– But no provision has been made on the Estimates. Brigade or regimental sergeant-majors are to receive no more than formerly. Master gunners of the third class, who have been receiving i.os. 9d. per day, are still provided for at that rate.
– The honorable member has been repeatedly told that these men are to get increases.
– I don’t care what I am told. The Minister cannot bluff me in connexion with these Estimates. No provision is made in the Estimates for the increases, and, in view of this fact, I do not trust the Minister. If provision is not made on the Estimates the men will not get any increases.
– Fire away. I have had a lot of your blank cartridge.
– Brigade or regimental quartermaster-sergeants, battery or company sergeant-majors, R.A.G.A., battery quartermaster-sergeants, R.A.F.A., company quartermaster-sergeants, R.A.G.A., staff-sergeants, orderly room R.A.G.A., and sergeants in the R.A.F.A. and the R.A.G.A. are not provided for among the increases. It is of no use for the Minister to give promises. If it was intended to give these men increases, provision would be made on the Estimates. I consider that the administration of the Department shows that those who are responsible are sadly lacking in the necessary ability. The Minister of Defence has altogether exceeded his powers in censuring officers holding the important position of State Commandant. The State Commandants are treated more like children than military officers, and do not possess sufficient discretionary power, particularly in connexion with small matters of finance. If an officer is fit to occupy the position of State Commandant, surely he may be trusted to disburse small sums without in every trivial case sending a voucher over to the Department.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I quite indorse all that has been said with regard to rifle ranges. On two occasions during this Parliament I brought under the attention of the Minister the hardships that are being suffered by rifle clubs in various parts of my electorate. Promises were made, but nothing has been done. In one case a rifle range at Flemington was closed because there was something wrong with it. The Home Affairs Department took the matter in hand, and let a contract for £B8, and then kept the rifle range closed for ten months. Then I received a notification that the range was ready for use, and a month later I was notified that it was closed altogether, and that the State Government had resumed it. I asked the Minister to make some arrangements for the members of rifle clubs at Granville and Auburn, who were compelled to go to Randwick for practice, and very frequently were not allowed to use the rifle range there, because the regular forces were in possession. Arrangements were made for the members of those clubs to go to Baulkham Hills, in the Parramatta district, but they found matters there in a worse state than they were at Randwick, and that there was no room for them. The Home Affairs Department tried to get an additional two acres for the range, and the matter was hung up for five months. I was requested to apply to the State authorities. I interviewed the State Minister, and I was informed that they were waiting for one of the State surveyors to deal with the matter, but the remark was made, “ Why do you wait for the State surveyor? Why do you not send your own surveyor? It has nothing to do with us.” On inquiry I found that there was no need to wait for the State surveyor. Recently I was informed that these 2 acres have been resumed, but no arrangements have been made for the members of the Granville and Auburn rifle clubs to practice regularly at a range. The members of the rifle clubs . assert that the Defence Department does not want rifle clubs, and, judging by the action of the Department, I honestly believe that everything is being done to discourage the clubs. We are assured from time to time that additional money is provided on the Estimates, but the rifle clubs do not get the benefit of it. The straightforward course for the Minister to adopt would be to abolish rifle clubs altogether, rather than continue the present condition of affairs. As regards the remounts at Liverpool, I must say that that Liverpool business is altogether a disgusting one. The area over which they manoeuvre is not our own property, and some inquiry is absolutely necessary into the conduct of those officers who deal with the remounts. Although the Department has 500 horses of its own, when the authorities want horses -for convoy purposes they find their own horses useless, and have to appeal to private people for the loan of horses. In one case a man’s horse was borrowed and was used for help ing these broken-down horses in the remount department. The horse was killed, and when the man applied for compensation the officers disclaimed any responsibility in connexion with the matter. The officers simply swept the man on one side, and said that when he went into the service, and his horse was hired, they did not undertake any responsibility.’. The Department is altogether lax in dealing with the action of these military officers who go down into the manoeuvreing area and cut people’s fences, and use their horses, and do not accept any responsibility.
– Does the honorable member mean to say that they cut people’s fences and use their horses without authority ?
– They cut people’s fences and let stock out of the paddocks. For instance, when a troop of cavalry is within 20 or 30 yards of a gateway the members of the troop simply cut the fences and let out the farmer’s stock, and if anything is said the officers draw attention to a regulation which states that all estimates of damage have to be lodged within twentyfour hours. I have known cases where farmers have not been able to round up the cattle and horses which have been let out by these military johnnies in less than a week. An inquiry ought to be held, and not only should these officers be summoned, but the people aggrieved ought to be allowed to state their grievances before the authority appointed to inquire. In the particular case to which I have referred, the horse died on the military ground, and four or five days afterwards the owner was called upon by the military authorities to remove the carcase. He replied that the carcase was of no use to him, and that he would make them a present of it. He has put in a claim, but he has been simply brushed aside, and I believe the Minister is being gulled by the system of red tape which exists in connexion with these matters.
– In the case of an accident to, or death of, a horse an independent committee makes inquiry, and there is a very elaborate report, and if anything they err on the side of leniency towards the individual who owned the horse.
– In this particular case no inquiry has been held. The matter is being again inquired into.
– The honorable member is trying by these tricky points to bluff me.
That sort of thing will not go down with me. This man is poor, and has a right to get justice. He has lost his horse, and if the Defence Department is responsible for the loss it ought to pay him. The twisting of words is no satisfaction to this man, who has been deprived in- this way of his means of livelihood, and I hope that the Department will see that he is given a fair deal.
.- I listened with regret to the remarks made this morning by the honorable member for North Sydney, whom I regard as an authority on military matters, and who, I feel confident, would not make any statement that he could not substantiate. As to the purchase of horses for military purposes, I can only say that the officer commissioned to make purchases in South Australia did very good work. . He visited Mount Gambier, and made there some excellent purchases. He is a good judge of horseflesh, and I am glad that the Commonwealth has such a man to look after its interests in this respect. If he were sent to Sydney, the honorable member would have no cause to complain of military “crocks,” or Liverpool mongrels.
– I did not say that the horses were inferior. I spoke only of their condition.
– Quite so. All who have had experience in dealing with horses know that a horse taken from the back country, and yarded or stabled, does very badly for a time, no matter how carefully he is looked after. At the end of a month, however, it will begin to pick up, and, if properly looked after, will soon regain its condition. A report was presented to the last Government pointing out that it would be well if the horses required for military purposes were leased- to butchers, bakers, and other tradesmen, who would keep them in work. In that way, the Government would make a very handsome profit, but care would have to be taken to lease the horses only to men who were known to be careful. Horses which have been turned out for some months are unfit, when brought in, for military work. They get sore backs and shoulders, and are so restive that they would not stand fire. In the South African war, it was clearly proved that London omnibus horses and others that had been in constant work were the best for field artillery purposes. Horses need to be exercised. I saw a man run ning a horse round in a circle the other day, and was told that he was giving it exercise. We could secure exercise for our military horses by leasing them to tradesmen. The charge made by the honorable member for Nepean that military men in New South Wales cut down fences, and allowed stock to wander, is a very serious one. I am sure that the Minister will see that a stop is put to that sort of thing, for its continuance would soon bring our military system into disrepute.- In South Australia we have had no cause for any complaint of the kind. Our military men are most careful, and we are always pleased to see them. We look to our military officers to set an example to the young men of Australia, whom they are training. We expect them to train them in the way they should go, but they certainly ought not to train them to go through other people’s fences. I agree that the Department of Defence has been very dilatory in providing rifle ranges in various districts. The people of Mount Gambier, until recently, had been without a rifle range for over two years. About two years ago, I offered for competition amongst our riflemen a really good; three-year-old horse, but, owing to the want of a rifle range, not a shot has yet been fired for it.
– Is there no rifle range there ?
– I am glad to say that the Minister has just purchased at a’, very reasonable price a piece of land eminently suited for the purposes of a rifle range. It is close to the town, and if the Department wished to sell it to-morrow, it would get more than was paid for it. The Minister and Senator McGregor intend tovisit Mount Gambier early next year, and 1 am sure that they will be pleased with the bargain that has been made, and that the Government will never think of parting with it. I wish now to refer to the action of the Department in doing away with the kilts.
– The honorable member will not be in order in discussing that question, since he already has on the business-paper a notice of motion dealing with it.
– In order that I may discuss the question, I should like to move that the item be reduced by £1. lt is to be greatly regretted that the historic kilts should be done away with as part of our military dress. We had in our town in the early days, an enthusiastic Scotchman, Mr. McKenzie-
– I cannot allow the honorable member to discuss that question. He has on the business-paper a notice of motion dealing with it, and has been promised, an opportunity to discuss it.
– Very well, sir; I shall bow to your ruling. I hope I shall soon have an opportunity to deal with the matter, which, in my opinion, is of great importance to the people of this country. The kilts were done away with in 1715, and I am. satisfied that if they are done away with again in 1912 they will later on be restored.
– It is my duty to my electorate to reiterate the statements which have been made by several honorable members with respect to the dilatoriness of the Defence Department in providing rifle ranges for the country districts. As the honorable member for -Nepean has said we are told from time to time by the Minister representing the Minister of Defence that greater provision to meet the requirements of rifle clubs is being made, but I find that whilst a vote of ^17,820 appears upon the Estimates for this year for rifle clubs and rifle ranges the vote submitted last year for the same purpose was ^22,900. This represents a very considerable reduction in this particular vote, though we should perhaps take into consideration the fact that last year only ^11,400 of the amount voted was spent. I fail to understand why money which has been appropriated by Parliament for this purpose and placed at the disposal of the Defence Department is not spent when there is such pressing need for the expenditure. I have noticed that votes for expenditure in connexion with the professional branches of the service and under the control of the tall poppies, who wander round the cities in the gay uniforms which the honorable member for North Sydney so much admires, are spent to the last farthing. These’ people appear to be able to find a way to spend all the money placed at their disposal. My predecessor in the representation of the Robertson electorate had occasion frequently to bring under the notice of the Department the need of providing the residents of Gulgong with a rifle range. For many years the men in that part of the country enjoyed the advantages of a range, which for some reason or other was subsequently condemned. For nearly four years now the matter of providing a new range has been the subject of negotiations between the member representing the district and the Department. I regularly receive communications informing me that the matter is still receiving consideration. The members of rifle clubs have displayed their anxiety to acquire such a measure of efficiency for the defence of the Commonwealth as may be acquired by undrilled men, and yet the Department seems to be unable to spend the money made available by Parliament for the establishment of rifle ranges to enable’ them to acquire proficiency in rifle shooting. I should say we have no lack of range inspectors. I believe that the money spent in obtaining reports with regard to the Gulgong rifle range from range inspectors would be more than sufficient to establish the range. Mudgee, which is the centre of the Robertson electorate, is the centre also for a large number of rifle clubs that have been formed into a district association. Each year an annual shoot takes place at Mudgee for a considerable amount of prize money, 75 per cent, of which is contributed by the residents of the district, the funds being supplemented by subsidies under departmental regulations. During the present year and the year immediately preceding it the departmental contributions have been curtailed in the most cheese-paring manner. The Mudgee District Rifle Association greatly wish to increase the number of competitors at their annual meetings, and have made frequent requests to the Department for the establishment of new ranges in the district. We have urged for three years or more the establishment of ranges at Uhlan, Windeyer, and other places in the district, but the applications have been hung up, and matters are entirely unsatisfactory to the people who desire opportunities for rifle practice, and to myself as representative of the district. I may be allowed to say that, .so far as Gulgong is concerned, the Department may be said to have acted generously towards the local rifle club, because the yearly reports show that during the last four years every member of the club has been recorded as efficient, the subsidy has been regularly paid on behalf of the Government, and regular supplies of ammunition have been .sent for the use of the members, though not a single shot has been fired during the whole of the time. Honorable members will agree that that is a deplorable state of affairs. The honorable member for North Sydney drew attention to the fact that certain high military officials have been censured by the Minister of Defence. I feel sure that there must have been some grave reason to induce the Minister to take that course.
– Ought not the men to know that there is a report against them?
– They certainly should. It becomes a serious matter when the Minister of Defence finds himself called upon to severely censure persons holding such high and responsible positions in the service. If such men are guilty of acts which merit censure so severe, we can have little reason to hope for good behaviour and discipline in the lower ranks of the service. I wish at the same time to say that there was no necessity for the honorable member for North Sydney to exaggerate the matter, as I think he did when he informed the Committee, that Colonel Wallack had been censured. It appears to me that whenever the professional soldier requires anything to be done, and money is available for the purpose, that money is readily expended. I trust that the same policy will be applied to rifle ranges and rifle clubs, so that we may have the benefit of the voluntary services of men who are prepared to do something to defend Australia out of pure love for their country.
– I wish to say a word or two in regard to rifle clubs. ‘ I know that in this matter each honorable member has his own grievance. Personally I usually endeavour to obtain redress of complaints received in this connexion by going direct to the Department. 1 know that some of the difficulties associated with rifle ranges are due to the trouble which is experienced in obtaining suitable sites. But the expressions of opinion which I have heard in “this Chamber ever since I have been a member of it lead me to believe that the Defence Department does not regard rifle clubs as being of very much importance.
– That complaint is general in all electorates.
– I do not pose as a military expert, but I did follow with close interest the memorable campaign in South
Africa. The incidents connected with that campaign illustrated that it was the men who could ride and shoot who were able to put up such a good showing. Nobody will suggest that the Boers were pastmasters in the art of drilling. But they could ride and shoot, and we know the performances which they put up against the greatest army which could be placed in the field against them. I think that the Minister has a right to ask why it is that large sums can be expended in other directions, whereas the money provided for rifle clubs is not expended? I do not agree with the honorable member for North Sydney that we should begin by supplying members of rifle clubs with uniforms. I hold that we should commence by supplying them with rifles. Throughout my own district there are bands of young men who are enthusiastic in their desire to become expert marksmen, but who were discouraged from doing so. The Defence Department applies a cheese-paring policy to our rifle clubs. 1 hope that the Honorary Minister will impress upon the Minister of Defence the necessity for giving earnest consideration to this matter during the recess. If ever an enemy lands in Australia a guerilla warfare will have to be conducted, and we shall have to depend - not upon the men who look the nicest - but upon the men who can ride and shoot. I hope that the money we are now voting for rifle clubs will be spent, and that those clubs will be provided with more ammunition and more encouragement to enter competitions with a view to becoming proficient marksmen.
– The question of the treatment of our rifle clubs is becoming an annual one. Up to the present they have not received the consideration which they ought to receive, in view of the great fighting force which their members would supply in time of national emergency. It is the men who can find the target under all sorts of conditions whom we want to encourage, and I am sorry to say that hitherto they have received little consideration from the Defence Department. I agree with the honorable member for Corangamite that it is much more essential that the members of our rifle clubs should be supplied with up-to-date rifles and with ammunition to enable them to become efficient marksmen than that they should be supplied with uniforms. I will guarantee that the members of an ordinaryrifle club will beat any squad from the per- manent forces at rifle shooting in any competition in which they may engage. I am glad to say that the question of defence has always been above party considerations I hope we shall obtain from the Minister representing the Minister of Defence something much more definite than we have hitherto done. There is a belief that the Military Board and certain of our permanent officers are not favorably disposed towards our rifle clubs.
– I do not think there is the slightest justification for that suspicion.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.30 p.m.
– Every year, for a long while past, the complaint has been made that the rifle clubs do not receive from the Defence Department the consideration that is their due, and many of their members are of the opinion that there is a feeling on the part of some in authority that the clubs are not required. I do not say that such a feeling exists, but I hope that when we come to vote for rifle clubs the Honorary Minister will state definitely that the clubs are to be treated very differently in the future. The complaint of want of consideration does not come from one club or from one electoral division, but from all parts of the Commonwealth. All the members of these clubs are fair, and the majority of them are good rifle shots, and they deserve more consideration. The Department could have done more in the way of providing rifle ranges, but often the reasons for not acceeding to fair requests have been little better than mere, excuses. It is not in the interest of the Department that things should continue as they are. I hope that by a motion for the reduction of the vote by £1 action will be taken by the Committee which will impress upon the Minister the. need for treating the clubs better. I protest against the manner in which these Estimates have been put before us. The Defence Department is the greatest spending Department of the Commonwealth. Its expenditure in these Estimates amounts to ^2,500,000. Yet they are put before us without the slightest explanation of many important changes that are being made, and no doubt the effort will be made to push them through in one sitting without affording information to honorable members and to the country. My view is that Estimates should be discussed early in the session, and that members should have the fullest and most complete explanation of proposed changes of policy. The Honorary Minister is always ready to give fair answers to questions, and he knows that there is nothing personal in my suggestion that the Department should be represented in this House by its Minister. It is not right that the head of such an enormous spending Department should hold a seat in the Senate. The Honorary Minister is always ready to afford what information is in his power, but he cannot be held responsible for the administration of the Department. It should be .one of the first duties of the Government, whatever Government may be in power at the beginning of next Parliament, to re-allot portfolios so that the great spending Departments shall all be represented by Ministers in this Chamber, which alone controls the fate of Ministries. I complain that there is a statement in to-day’s newspaper of a change of policy about which Parliament has not been informed. Almost always Parliament is informed of the intentions of Ministries only by press statements, about which one member or another asks the Minister responsible if they are correct. In to-day’s newspaper it is stated that cadets who have failed to attend drills will be confined in barracks. Compulsory training is essential to our defence system, and we should know what this change means. Is it intended to bring from remote districts, and to imprison in the barracks in the larger centres, boys who have failed to attend the necessary number of drills? The centres in which there are barracks are few.
– The honorable member knows that what he suggests is not intended, but he thinks that if he puts the worst construction on the action of the Minister he must be doing right.
– The honorable member for Hindmarsh is so blinded with party prejudice that he fails to recognise fair criticism. If only those boys who live in centres where there are barracks are to be punished, three-fourths of the cadets will go unpunished. Either the Government intend to punish only those boys who reside in districts where there are barracks, or boys are to be brought from long distances to be imprisoned in barracks. We should have had a statement from the Minister on this important matter; the press should not be used as a vehicle for conveying information while Parliament is in session. The Minister should have made a statement in his place in the Senate, and the Honorary Minister should, at the same time, have made the same statement here. I hope that the latter will inform us of the exact intention of the Minister. If the compulsory system is to be universal, means must be provided for compelling boys to attend the specified drills. At present the boys are practically volunteers, because, although they may be fined for nonattendance, no provision is made for recovering the fines. We should be informed whether imprisonment in barracks is to be made a universal punishment, or whether it is to be a punishment inflicted only in the larger centres. Our expenditure on defence amounts to £1 per head for every man, woman, and child, in Australia, and the country should know what the intentions of the Government are in defence matters. The action of the Government in forcing through the Estimates in the last week of the session will not redound to their credit. We are not being treated fairly in connexion with these Estimates. We can only endeavour to obtain information when the Estimates are before us, and now, in the last two or three days of a dying Parliament, we find that our endeavours are in vain.
– As the representative of a large country division, -I have much sympathy with the criticism1 that has been levelled at the Administration, particularly in connexion with rifle clubs. In my electorate there are a number of farming centres and towns of varying sizes, where there is a genuine desire to establish such clubs, and where the very best material can be obtained for the purpose. The young men would willingly devote their spare time to rifle practice, not only with a view to exercise, but with a view to making themselves efficient for the defence of the country. One of the great obstacles is that these clubs cannot carry on their work until sites have been provided for rifle ranges; and there would seem to be almost insurmountable difficulties in this direction. The first difficulty is in getting the right of occupancy of Crown lands from the State Departments, but exactly where this trouble arises I am not prepared to say. I am informed that the delay and trouble are so considerable that, as a rule, it is found preferable to deal with private landowners, although the State Governments ought to be as keenly interested in defence as is the Commonwealth. As to private land-owners, the Defence Department very properly requires that the leases shall extend over such a term as will enable the Government to recoup themselves for the necessary expenditure. In the early stages of my experience, a gentleman who was interested in rifle shooting, and was the manager of a property held by a Melbourne syndicate, agreed, I presume, with the consent of his principals, to make a suitable area available for the purposes of a range. The offer was accepted, and considerable expenditure was incurred by the Department. Some little time afterwards, however, another manager was appointed who did not take the same keen interest in rifle shooting as did his predecessor, and he was of opinion that the company would receive greater benefits by the utilization of the land for grazing purposes. He, therefore, ignored the original arrangement; and it looked as though the expenditure would prove to have been thrown away, when the company agreed to extend the lease, reserving to itself some grazing privileges that had hitherto been enjoyed by the club. This case shows, of course, that there must be a definite agreement with private owners; and it is here that another difficulty arises. Land-owners very often intimate that they are willing to make land available, but when they are presented with an agreement, in full legal phraseology, they become afraid and withdraw from their undertaking.
– The honorable member would not wonder at that if he saw some of the agreements.
– I think there is something in that suggestion; the phraseology is not only very legal, but some of the conditions do not seem to be quite necessary in the case of land leased for rifle shooting. At any rate, it often happens that, when all the preliminary negotiations have been completed, the signatures are withheld. There is considerable ground for complaint, because of the fact that the Department adheres much too firmly to red-tapeism. If an officer is sent out to inspect a site, and does not approve of it, he will not, under existing conditions, consent to inspect any other sites there may be in the neighbourhood, on the ground that these latter are not included in his instructions. That being so, if a site is adversely reported upon, the whole of the business has to be begun de novo..
If the Department were run on business lines an inspection officer would not limit himself to one particular site, but would turn his attention to any other available areas that there might be in the neighbourhood. In one such case, those interested in the club we’re most anxious to have an inspection made of some other site, but the officer absolutely refused to go outside his instructions. That seems to me to be a weak spot in the administration; and it would be better if a little common sense and elasticity were introduced into the business. Of course, it is likely that the officers are not to blame - that if they went outside their instructions they might be open to censure at the hands of their superiors - but there is no doubt that some latitude should be allowed to men intrusted with such, duties. There are other little troubles and difficulties that arise. For instance, in one case, the site offered had some advantages, but because a track had been made across it by some of the local residents, there was great difficulty in arriving at any finality in the negotiations; and I believe, though I am not quite sure, that that site had to be abandoned. The young men start these clubs with great enthusiasm, but the delays and other troubles have a very damping and depressing influence. Very often by the time the Department is in a position to offer a site the enthusiasm has altogether disappeared, and it would seem as though the Department set out to test the genuineness of the desire of the promotors of the club by delay and worry. The value of rifle clubs in a citizen force cannot be overestimated. It is well known that the more highly-drilled sections of the British Army showed deficiency in shooting in the South African war, and that it was just in shooting that the greater efficiency of the raw Boer soldiers was displayed. That war taught us to some extent a lesson; but, as I say, the delays and difficulties are great dampers on the progress of this branch of our defence system. The Department will be well advised to eliminate a great deal of red-tape, and thus simplify the process of forming rifle clubs.
The Australian Light Horse is a very important branch of our Defence Forces ; but the policy of the Department in the past has been to limit the corps to the big cities and the coastal districts. Even where there is railway communication objections are raised on the par of officers to the encouragement of the formation of corps of light horse. It is in the country districts - on the stations and farms where many of the young men practically live in the saddle- that the best material can be obtained, and not in the cities, where bank clerks and others only devote a small part of their spare time to riding exercise. If this reluctance to permit the formation of corps has anything to do with the somewhat expensive equipment, something might be done in the way of creating a Scout adjunct.
– Do the Government pay for the equipment.
– I understand that the expense is one of the objections urged against the establishment of these corps.
– I think that the honorable member would find that the men themselves pay most of the expense.
– I am told that the men contribute very liberally, but that the Department has to make certain contributions which are pleaded as art excuse for not extending this arm of the Forces. In back-bush districts, we might allow corps of bushmen to be formed, and these men might become thoroughly efficient for defence purposes without involving the Commonwealth in any large expenditure. The officials of the Department know that several residents of Condobolin went to the South African war, and when they came back formed a light horse corps. For several years they tried in vain to obtain recognition from the Department, and ultimately they enrolled themselves as members of a mounted rifle club. Our regulations should be more elastic, and the Department should be able to look with a more kindly eye upon bodies of men who are willing to give their services to the country under conditions which will involve little or no outlay.
In connexion with out cadet system, the weak point is that the officers who have been placed in charge of the various divisions are not paid sufficient to enable them to devote the whole of their time to the important work of training cadets. They have to devote the greater part of their time to private business, and give only odds and ends to public business. One of the results is that the cadets have to be trained at inconvenient times, and, in view of the partial service rendered, the divisions are in many cases too large. I believe the officers do their best, under the circumstances; but we shall always have trouble until we are able to command the whole of their time.
Then, again, the Department have made some radical changes recently in connexion with uniforms. I have looked into the arguments of the Department in support of the abolition of the Highland dress.
– The honorable member must not discuss that question. There is a notice of motion on the businesspaper dealing with that question.
– On a point of order, I would like to ask if you rule that an honorable member is out of order in discussing on the Estimates a matter of departmental administration that is the subject of ‘a notice of motion.
– I do rule in that way.
– I would point out that, in my view, your ruling is not’ supported under standing order 117 or standing order 274. Under the firstmentioned standing order, “no motion or amendment shall anticipate an Order of the Day, or any other motion of which notice has been given.” We are not now discussing any morion or amendment, but are debating Estimates which cover the whole field of Defence administration. Therefore, I submit that your ruling will not stand. Standing order 274 provides that “no honorable member shall digress from the subject-matter of any question under discussion.” The honorable member has not been digressing. It is further provided that no honorable member shall “ anticipate discussion on another question.” The honorable member is not dealing with another subject, but is discussing a matter which comes well within the scope of Defence administration. >If your ruling could be sustained, it would, if followed to its logical conclusion, burke the discussion of every division of the Estimates.
– On the point of order, I submit that if your ruling were sustained, it would be within the power of any honorable member to block discussion on any subject whatever. If some grave scandal arose during recess, an honorable member might, immediately Parliament reassembles, place a motion on the noticepaper for, say, four months ahead, and prevent the matter from being discussed, except when that notice of motion came on for consideration. It has been held by the highest authorities that, in connexion with the granting of Supply, any matter involving the expenditure of money for which’ provision is made on the Estimates, is open for discussion, and no ruling could be tolerated which would prevent the fullest and completest discussion of the items on the Estimates.
– I would point out that there is a simple method of testing the matter. If the motion on the businesspaper affirmed that it was undesirable that money should be voted for the purchase of kilts for Highland regiments, your ruling would absolutely shut out honorable members from the possibility of striking the amount off the Estimates. Even though it might be known that the feeling of honorable members was entirely against the purchase of kilts, we should be prevented from taking action. The effect of such a ruling would be to place every penny of the amounts provided for in the Estimates beyond the control of the Committee. Honorable members are entitled to exercise complete control over every item. The standing order which has been referred to does not relate to items on the Estimates - otherwise there could be no discussion in Supply in relation to any item. Moreover, the whole of the Estimates could be covered by one notice of motion on the business-paper, and discussion could be entirely prevented. It was never intended that the standing order should relax our control over the Estimates.
– I have only the Standing Orders to guide me.. Standing order 274 is very clear. It provides -
No member shall digress from the subjectmatter of any question under discussion; nor anticipate the discussion of any other subject which appears on the notice-paper.
Notice of motion, No. 5, in the name of the honorable member for Barker, reads as follows -
That, in the opinion of this House, it is undesirable that the distinctive uniform - Kilts - in the Scottish Regiment should be abolished in connexion with the Military Forces of Australia.
– Which is the same subject, and not another subject.
– There is not the slightest doubt that the honorable member for Barker intended to discuss that motion in connexion with the consideration of the Estimates, but I ruled that he could not do so. Only last week, a similar question arose in this House.
– But it is quite understood that, in that matter, the Speaker was wrong.
– There may be casual references to the matter, but there is nothing in the Estimates relating to the particular class of uniform referred to in the motion.
Mr. W. ELLIOT JOHNSON (Lang) (3.15]. - It is with regret that I have to move -
That the Committee dissent from the Chairman’s ruling that it is not permissible, in discussing the Estimates, to refer to a matter which is the subject of a notice of motion on the business-paper and relating to the same subject.
I take this step to protect the rights of honorable members, believing that a very serious situation has arisen. I recognise that, in order to expedite business, as well as for personal considerations, it is sometimes just as well to accept a ruling, even if we disagree with it. But the ruling just given by you, sir, affecting, as it does, the right of honorable members to discuss on the Estimates matters of administration affecting the Department to which they relate, raises a very serious question. Under your ruling, sir, the discussion of the administration and expenditure of the various Departments could be absolutely blocked by notices of motion relating to them being placed on the business-paper. That, I am sure, was never intended, and I feel confident that standing order 117 is not capable of the interpretation which you have placed upon it. Its wording is clear and explicit. The honorable member, in dealing with this question, did not attempt to move a motion, or an amendment, anticipating any motion of which notice had been given, so that standing order 117 could not possibly apply. The honorable member was merely following what has been the invariable practice - of discussing, on the first item in these Estimates, any administrative matter affecting the Department to which they relate. This is the only opportunity that we have to deal with such matters, and I submit that everything relating to the Department of Defence and its administration can be discussed on the Estimates now before us. It is not necessary that an item should be specifically mentioned in the Estimates in order that an honorable member may be allowed to deal with it. If, for instance, the Minister of Defence had, by some administrative act, brought discredit upon his Department, we should be allowed to discuss his action, although there was not on the Estimates any item relating to it. Standing order 274 deals with the question from another stand-point. It provides that -
No member shall digress from the subjectmatter of any question under discussion ; noi anticipate the discussion of any other subject which appears on the notice-paper.
The honorable member was not accused of digressing from the subject-matter under discussion, nor was he guilty of any digression. He was dealing with a question of administration, which is certainly the subject of a notice of motion on the noticepaper; but it is not “another subject” than that which is actually under consideration. It is the same subject, and, therefore, standing order 274 does not apply. In order to protest against this invasion of the right of honorable members tq discuss fully the administration of the Departments before granting Supply, I think I am justified in submitting this motion. I desire to protect the privileges of honorable members which, in this respect, have been honoured from time immemorial.
– I wish to point out that the honorable member, in his notice of dissent, has set forth a ruling that I did not give. What I ruled was that an honorable member could not discuss a motion that was on the notice-paper.
– We do not wish to discuss it.
– I said that a reference to it would be allowed, but that I would not allow honorable members, under cover of the Estimates, to discuss the motion of which notice had been given by the honorable member for Barker.
– I am very glad to hear that.
– I did not propose to discuss the motion of which notice has been given by the honorable member for Barker. I desired simply to express my disapproval of the action of the Defence Department in first adopting the principle in question, and then eliminating it. The reasons given by the Department for its action do not seem to me to be sufficient to justify such a radical departure as is proposed. I trust that the honorable member for Barker will be given an opportunity to discuss his motion, and I shall then be able to discuss in detail the principle involved. In conclusion, I have only to say that I think the Minister will be well-advised in looking into the. administration of the rifle club branch of his Department. An attempt should be made to speed up the consideration of appliances for rifle ranges, and to avoid the disheartening delays that have hitherto taken place. Rifle ranges are vital to the very existence of rifle clubs, and by their speedy provision a greater impetus will be given to this side of the defence movement. I also hope that the Department will consider the advisableness of establishing, either companies of the Australian Light Horse, or bush squads in country districts, where the very best material can be obtained. In both these directions, I think that the Department has unexplored possibilities for effective and efficient defence, which, with the exercise of a little common sense, can be developed and made invaluable tor the security of Australia.
.- At this late hour of the session, I do not propose to trespass upon the patience of honorable members by entering into anything of the nature of an exhaustive study of the Defence Estimates. It is unfortunate that the Estimates should be so late in coming before us, because, at no time in the history of any section of our race, has it been so urgently necessary as it is today, to earnestly inquire into the basis of our racial security. I have in my hand perhaps one of the most important official documents ever issued by any British Department. I refer to the memorandum published b,y the British Admiralty in connexion with the recent Canadian proposals. It is a memorandum which, in its bare recital of facts, shows that the old traditional idea that has guided our counsels and formed the basis of our local defence considerations, is disappearing, and that, in all human probability, unless the problem be earnestly grappled with by every section of our race, it will disappear for all time. I refer to the basis of British Naval supremacy which has so far been accepted as axiomatic in connexion with all our defence schemes, both naval and military. I do not propose to canvass this memorandum. I shall simply draw the attention of the Committee to one sentence in it. After quoting the extraordinary expansion of German naval strength and the recent phenomenal increase in the readiness for war of the German Navy, the Admiralty, in the second part of that document, says -
At the present time, and in the immediate future, Great Britain still has the power, by making special arrangements and mobilizing st portion of the reserves, to send, without court. ing disaster at home, an effective fleet of battleships and cruisers to unite with the Royal Australian Navy and the British Squadrons in China and the Pacific for the defence of British Columbia, Australia, and New Zealand.
That sentence ought to be most earnestly considered by every Australian patriot.: It is only at the present time and in the immediate future “that Great Britain will have this power. In the past, we have been assured by every British Government and by the Admiralty officials that they would make themselves responsible for the defence of Australia against foreign aggression. But now we have an intimation that owing to the force of naval competition they will not, outside the immediate future, be in a position to guarantee the defence of the oversea Dominions. The position is so serious that, for my part, I regret that these Estimates have been presented so late in the session that they will have to be passed without . adequate consideration being given to the enormous issue with which we are confronted. In my judgment, the naval memorandum to which I have referred shows conclusively that this German Naval Force is being created with one object - to realize the oversea ambitions of Germany, and probably to gain command of the sea.
– It is certainly challenging the position of the British Empire.
– It is doing a great deal more than that. The statement contained in the preamble of the German Act of 1900 reads -
In order to protect German trade and commerce under existing conditions, only one thing will suffice, namely, Germany must possess a battle fleet of such a strength that even for the most powerful naval adversary a war would involve such risks as to make that Power’s own supremacy doubtful. For this purpose it is not absolutely necessary that the German Fleet should be as strong as that of the greatest Naval Power, for, as a rule, a great Naval Power will not be in a position to concentrate all its forces against us.
Thus the German Government are absolutely counting upon the parochial influences which operate in Australia and the other oversea Dominions preventing the combination for effective action of the naval energies of the British people.
– It must be admitted that the German authorities repudiate any hostile attitude towards Great Britain.
– Let us inquire into this subject. We all know that in these days Governments are swayed by public opinion.
What steps have recently been taken to sway public opinion in Germany ? I have in mind a pamphlet, which was not only issued broadcast throughout that country, but which was actually bought by the German people. That pamphlet contained two maps. It showed a map of the world on the date of its issue, and a map of the world in 1915. In the first map, the British Possessions throughout the world were coloured red, and in the second were shown the countries among which the British Empire had been parcelled up. Australia and New Zealand had apparently been given to Japan, Canada had been absorbed by the United States, and South Africa and Egypt had been taken possession of by Germany. The desire underlying that attempt to form German public opinion was an alliance between Germany and Japan for the destruction of the British Empire. We know that, for reasons which it is not necessary to discuss now, the Anglo- Japanese alliance has been happily renewed’, and Germany has answered its renewal by making still greater efforts in the direction of naval expansion - efforts involving an increase of 35,000 in the personnel of the navy during the past year. These facts speak stronger than do the words of German statesmen. They speak for themselves. And the Australian public must recognise that this country stands to sink or swim with the same Power which gave it birth, and with the same force which alone can maintain it - the sea strength of the British people. Even in the absence of a desire on the part of Germany to occupy Australia - and it is admitted that she desires territorial aggrandisement - without sending a man or a ship nearer to Australia than the English Channel, Germany could bring this country practically to the verge of bankruptcy. Australians are an exporting people, and half our population depend upon the maintenance of existing markets oversea for their livelihood. It will be found that about 98 per cent. of the wool we produce is consumed oversea.
– Germany is a very good customer of ours.
– And, no doubt, she would like to be in a still better position to decide how much of our products we should send her. About 85 or 86 per cent. of our gold and silver production finds its market oversea, and, roughly speaking, about one-half of our dairying products find their market there. Now, if those who are engaged in these industries failed to find a market for their commodities, they would cease to receive payment for them, and the great cities of this continent, which live on the back country, would be on the verge of financial ruin. That would be the result of any hold-up of our oversea trade. That hold-up might be effected by Germany in the North Sea with less effort than would be involved at any other place this side of Suez.
I am afraid that I have been led into dealing more comprehensively with this question than I intended to do. But apart from the naval problem, the admission which has been made by the Admiralty compels us to take count of our land defences. If honorable members will take a common-sense view of our position, they will realize that, should the command of the sea pass from Great Britain, the integrity of our territory could not in any circumstances be guaranteed by the Australian people. Why ? For the simple reason that military distance and geographical distance are two distinct things. Military distance is assessed by the difficulty that is experienced in traversing it. It is as difficult to send military supplies over 100 miles by land as it is to carry on similar operations over 5,000 miles of sea. Take, for instance, a strategic railway to the Northern Territory. Gauged by the long distance charges levied on our railway systems, the minimum cost of sending a ton of material from Sydney to Port Darwin would be about £5, whereas the cost of sending a ton of material by sea from Japan to the Northern Territory would be about 10s. Which country would have the better chance of winning? A well -organized community of 40,000,000 people, with communication facilities which work out at 10s. per ton, or a scattered population of 4,000,000, with communication facilities which work’ out at per ton? It would, therefore, be impossible for Australia to contest with any foreigner the occupation of any portion of our mainland, with the exception of the south-eastern portion of this continent.
As the Admiralty memorandum indicates the possibility of our being cut off from oversea assistance, I want to direct honorable members’ attention to the necessity to take stock of our military position, with a view to deciding whether the material which at present must be imported is adequate for all our possible requirements.
Take the most important arm of the military side of our defence, namely, the artillery. Artillery cannot be improvised. An artillery officer must undergo a great deal of training. The gun has to be found. A whole host of things are necessary to an efficient artillery service. It cannot be created on the spur of the moment, or without incurring a great deal of trouble. If, owing to the loss of the command of the sea, which will occur - if it does occur - merely because the Australian and Canadian people are too intent on their own affairs to take part in any organized effort to maintain the security of the Empire, no further- military stores can reach Australia, the artillery obviously cannot grow beyond the maximum provided under the scheme that will mature in 1920. Under that scheme we shall have about 100,000 men and 220 guns, or about two guns to every 1,000 men. Now, France has four or five guns to every 1,000 men, and foundries to keep up the stock, should the war be protracted. In that country an army corps of 33,000 men has 144 guns, and there are other heavy guns distributed among the various army corps. In Germany, twenty-eight batteries are allotted to 30,000 men; in Japan, a division of 18,700 men has thirty-six guns, supplemented with three batteries of Kobi artillery, that is, eighteen additional guns, or, in all, three’ guns per 1,000 men. We cannot improvise artillery, and should take stock of our requirements in regard to it in the light of the Admiralty memorandum. Having thought the matter over, I have come to the conclusion that the best way to meet the situation would be to establish gun factories in Australia. The making of a field gun is not phenomenally difficult. If India can make them, I think that Australia could. The making of the heavy guns used for naval service - the wire guns - is more difficult, but even there the task is not insuperable. We must materially increase our gun strength in proportion to personnel, or we must establish factories capable of increasing it should the need arise through the loss of control of sea communication by our race.
One other matter Australia would be wise to remember that Germany and Austria have a system whereby an enormous reserve of horses is maintained practically without cost. Their Governments, for a nominal charge, let out stallions to the owners of mares likely to throw foals which will be useful later for military work. In return for the services of the stallions, the owners of the mares undertake to sell the progeny at a fixed price, and to hold them subject to the requirements of the military authorities; with the result that horses suitable for military purposes swarm in those countries. Reference was made this morning to the excellent work done by ‘bus horses in the South African war. Such animals, no doubt, played an honorable part in their declining years in South Africa; but the organization and operations of the Imperial Forces in the comparatively small campaign there are not a sufficient guide to what must be done when the enemy to be met is not the unorganized manhood of a fighting race, but the organized armies of a great militant people. We must establish in Australia, without undue cost to ourselves, a reserve of horses upon which we can draw at any time, should we have to enormously expand our Military Forces. The most practical and cheapest way of doing that is the system I have just described.
I see nothing to lead one to think that advantage has been taken by the Government of the great military enthusiasm of our people of a year or two ago, which has not yet begun to wane. Slight changes and improvements have been made, but, compared with foreign Powers, which have been increasing their efficiency and strength during the past twelve months, we are no better off than, if in as good a position as, we were twelve months ago. Our international position must be gauged, not by what we have done, but by what we have done in comparison with what others have done; and in the past year we have not done enough for the increase of our efficiency. The Prime Minister, after seeing the march past of the cadets the other day, said that they were equal to the best troops in the world ! No one was better pleased than I was to witness that excellent display, and I hope that we shall have others of the same kind ; but I would remind the Committee that preparation for war involves more than marching. It involves, among other things, the exhaustive and scientific training of the officers and brain of the service. The most defective link in the chain of Australian defence is the system of training officers. We are partly training our boys to serve in the rank ‘and file, but we are not systematically training a sufficient number of officers to be sure that when the time comes we shall have men who, when the command of the seas is being decided, will not only know their own duty, but will be able to train the recruits who will be drawn upon. There is at present no guarantee that the man who gives his time and ability to learning his profession will be promoted by virtue of his qualifications, promotion still going with seniority. We should aim, as the territorial force in England is aiming, at giving promotion, irrespective of age or length of service, to those who fit themselves by passing through prescribed courses. I would not mind if our colonels were only twenty-two years of age, provided that they were efficient. But our departmental authorities would fall flat if such an idea were propounded to them. The marshals of France, with the exception, perhaps, of Massena, had all won their best battles before they reached thirty. What we require is efficient training for our officers, and we can encourage men to fit themselves for the position of officers best by providing only for the promotion of those who have the time and the enthusiasm to give attention to the acquirement of military science. I hope that the next Estimates will be submitted sufficiently early to enable Australia’s national Parliament to deal adequately with this great national subject, instead of being rushed and hushed through in the dying hours of the session.
.- I do not propose to deal with Empire matters as the honorable member for Wentworth has done, though he is wise in noting what takes place abroad, and in reminding us of the doings of other nations. It was a surprise to learn that certain communications made by the Imperial Government to Canada have not been kept secret.
– It is recognised that you cannot get a people to co-operate in these matters without putting the full facts before them.
– I can understand the putting of the full facts before a Government, but the document to which I was referring has, no doubt, been discussed in the inner circles of the military and naval services of every country.
– That was intended.
– I do not know that it was. In my humble judgment, certain paragraphs of the memorandum seem to indicate that Great Britain fears somewhat for her naval supremacy.
– There is not a fact stated which was not known and understood by every German strategist.
– I suppose they know a great deal, but you must always put’ your best side foremost. We must take precautions to strengthen our position, but I do not know that we should disclose to the world the inner thought of those who have the management of our national affairs. It was the right thing to forward this document to one having the responsibilities of the Prime Minister of Canada, but it appears to me a public declaration to the world that Great Britain, from the defence point of view, is not in the position she was in in days gone by.
– It suggests insecurity.
– I think it does; and the best method, in my opinion, is to put our best front to the world and “ keep our powder dry.” When I first saw the cables I had a feeling, which this memorandum’ has intensified? that something has been told to the world, plainly and bluntly, which ought to have been kept quiet.
– Doubtless it was felt that the money would not be forthcoming unless the taxpayers realized their danger.
– That may be. In Germany the Government have inaugurated schemes that are bringing into the public Treasury large sums of money; whereas the profits of similar enterprises in Great Britain find their way into private coffers.
– Germany is Building her navy out of loan funds.
– But Germany has sources of revenue altogether apart from taxation; indeed, we are told that from the State coal mines alone there is a profit of ^2,000,000 a year.
– Where is the proof of that?
– I have not the figures with me.
– I have seen a statement which shows that Germany has made a loss on those same mines.
– The latest figures I saw show a profit of £2,000,000. In Great Britain £6,000,000 per annum is paid to wealthy land-owners as royalties on the coal mines, and the coal industry returns a profit of £11,000,000 a year; while only £15,000,000 is paid to 300,000 miners, or less than £1 a week. Yet, when there was a desire for cheaper coal, it was the miner who was first asked to submit to a reduction in his wages. From the State coal mines and other enterprises the German Government receive millions of revenue every year, and this enables’ them to maintain the navy and the army establishment in a far better fashion than we see in the Motherland.
– For all that, Germany is borrowing right and left.
– Yes ; and a very significant paragraph in the financial columns of our newspapers a little while ago informed us that the German Government reserve to themselves rights over the savings of the people which, if only mentioned in a British community, would cause considerable confusion. The German Government practically reserve the right to take, if necessary, everything in the Savings Banks.
– And privatebanks as well.
– Yes. This is a fact we ought to bear in mind, because there is no doubt that, if Great Britain, in the first place, had adopted a proper Tariff, and had socialized some of her great utilities, there would have been flowing into the national coffers millions that now go to private individuals, who, when they were asked, under the Lloyd-George Budget, to contribute to the Government upkeep and defence, went about howling that they would be ruined.
– Criticism of England does not solve the problem of how we should participate in defence.
– I am always pleased to listen to the honorable member; but, as I said before, there are certain portions of this memorandum which, in my opinion, should not have been sent out broadcast. It is safe to say that the very next day after it was read in the Canadian House of Commons its contents were seriously discussed in the inner circles of the leading countries of the world.
– The facts were known in the inner circles.
– That might be; but? there is no need for us to make such admissions. I join issue with the honorable member for Wentworth when he says that Australia to-day is in no better position, from the defence point of view, than she was two or three years ago. It seems scarcely possible that any honorable member could make such a statement, when we. a mere handful of people, have an annual defence expenditure of £5,500,000. In the establishment of factories, in the creation of our citizen soldiery, and an Australian Navy, we make a most effective contribution towards the defences of the Empire. All this has evoked almost the admiration of the world ; and, therefore, in my opinion, this criticism goes by the board. It is quite true, as the honorable member says, that an army is not built up by marches past; but if the honorable member goes into any of our parks or open spaces on a Saturday afternoon, he will see thousands: of our youths being trained in a fashion which will fit them to be good defenders of the nation in the near future. The Government have done splendidly, and, so far from being deserving of adverse criticism, they should be commended.
I am surprised at two or three lines in a report which has been circulated relating to the Cordite Factory. We are told -
The Cordite Factory is at present engaged in experimental and proof work, but will shortly, it is expected, be in a position to turn out cordite for the use of the Forces.
I do not know the exact date of that report ; but I understood some months ago that cordite of our own manufacture was being used at the ammunition factory for the cartridges distributed to the Defence Forces.
It is a peculiar commentary on the situation to hear the honorable member for Wentworth complaining of what the Government have not done, in face of the fact that, only a little while ago, he and others were criticising the Government for establishing Commonwealth factories. In my opinion, the. Cordite Factory, the Small Arms Factory, the Harness Factory, the Clothing Factory, and the Woollen Factory are going to prove a very important development in our defence scheme.
I am a firm believer in rifle clubs, and I trust that the Honorary Minister will pay serious attention to the comments that have been made by honorable members on both sides. On 30th June, 1911, there were 55,400 members of rifle clubs, whereas, on 30th June, 1912, they had decreased to 50,615, a difference on the wrong side of nearly 5,000. this discloses a very serious position; and I hope that the Government will not only provide the necessary money for ranges and equipment, but will see that that money is spent to the best possible service*
One of the best moves that has ever been made in the British Navy is that to increase the pay of men on the warships. In the past in the Navy, as well as in the mercantile marine, sufficient monetary inducement has not been held out to cause desirable men to take up a life on the sea. In Australia, I notice a disinclination, when we employ men to carry out certain works in the Defence Department, to pay them even the money provided by law. For instance, men temporarily employed in the Stores Branch of the Ordnance Department are receiving less than they ought to under the Public Service Act and regulations ; and, no doubt, similar complaints could be made in regard to other branches. As to the heads of the Military Forces and the Navy, and superior officers generally, an increase in salary has only to be suggested to be granted, whereas men who do some of the most important work lower down the ladder have to make request after request before being listened to, although they, to a large extent, are subject to the Public Service Commissioner, and their rates of remuneration are provided under the Public Service Act. I wish to draw the special attention of the Minister to this complaint.
I hope that every possible encouragement will be given to rifle clubs, in the shape of the provision of ranges, and the supply of ammunition and rifles; and that this time twelve months, instead of mourning a decline in the membership, we shall be able to congratulate ourselves on a substantial increase.
.- There are only three points to which I desire to direct the attention of the Minister. There is much that is fascinating in these Estimates, but this is not the time to yield to the temptation to make long speeches, even on subjects in which we have taken a special interest. I do not ask the Minister to pay any particular attention to anything I may say, from my point of view, concerning such an intricate and difficult Department, but I should like him to realize that what
I am about to lay before him is due to representations that have been fairly made to me. Some feeling has been caused amongst officers and men of the Intelligence Corps, who have made a special study of topography work, by the importation of four men of the Royal Engineers of England into South Australia, for the purpose of making surveys and military maps. These men feel that, while no doubt from a military point of view they may have much to learn, as surveyors they could not be taught very much about the work of map-making, and that they might very well have been intrusted with the preparation of a map of their own country. The success of our compulsory system will very largely depend upon our Area Officers, and I consider that, particularly in some of the larger districts, ^150 is not sufficient pay for the men who are engaged in the delicate and trying work of inaugurating the system. Possibly some of the Area Officers in the city and suburbs would be well paid at £I 50, but where they have to travel over long distances, I think they should receive some special consideration. A friend of mine has directed special attention to the fact that under the regulations of the Imperial Army and Navy, and also under the Army Regulations of Germany and France, it is obligatory that the members of the Forces shall learn to swim. I think we might very well follow this example, both in regard to our Naval Cadets and the boys who are connected with our Field Forces. These are the only points to which I desire to direct attention. I trust the Minister will take a note of them, and that full regard will be paid to the interests of both officers and men.
.- No Department in the Public Service is more capable of the subject of criticism than the Defence Department ; and I, cannot conceive of anything more antagonistic to the Australian’s love of freedom than our present compulsory military system, and I offer my strongest objection to some of the acts associated with the administration of the Defence Department. I regard war as the last resort, and cannot but look with horror upon the preparations we are making in connexion with naval and military matters. I am quite aware that our military system is designed purely for defensive purposes, and that is the only good feature about it. I wish to offer a few observations in the way of friendly criticism. I was a member of a deputation which was recently introduced to the Minister of Defence by the honorable member for Maribyrnong. The deputation asked that the Minister should arrange for instructional lectures by medical experts upon physical diseases, and that these lectures should be delivered to the cadets at the statutory parades. Some strong statements were then made as to the necessity of taking advantage of the opportunities offered by these military parades to make our young men acquainted with some of the real dangers that dog the steps of every army, and I wish to place on record my appreciation of the action of the Minister in consenting to arrange for the delivery of these lectures, so that the boys may be warned against the most insidious and serious diseases that threaten the young manhood of this country. I particularly wish to say a few words in reference to a matter upon which I addressed questions to the Minister of Defence on 6th November last. The questions were as follow : -
And these were the answers : -
Hospitals - military and civil.
I am interested to. notice that an increased amount of £2,724 is put down to make better provision for the staff instructors who will be required for duty in connexion with the Army Medical Corps. I find by the memorandum which has been issued to honorable members that last year there were 900 men on the staff of the Army Medical Corps, and that it is proposed to increase this number to 1,398 during the year. This is a highly satisfactory provision, so far as it goes. But during the last week or two I have been brought face to face with some startling facts and figures with respect to the care of the sick and wounded in time of war, and the fearful ravages made by disease, and I wish to place on record my appreciation of the very pressing necessity for incurring an even larger expenditure in the direction I have indicated. It is well known that behind every army - indeed, with every army - there stalks an unseen foe. The greatest danger to which soldiers are exposed is that which arises, not from the offensive operations of the enemy, but from disease. Whilst it is interesting to hear honorable members expatiate on the arrangements we are making for the destruction of life, it is highly important that we should pay special attention to the saving of life. Sickness seems to be an inevitable attendant on every army that takes the field. In 1889 the celebrated Russian writer, I. S. Bloch, wrote a book entitled Is War now Impossible, and, although I was unable to agree with the deductions of that writer, I was startled by the figures quoted showing the serious ravages of disease in time of war. He gives the following particulars in tabular form -
The small proportion of deaths from disease in the German Army during the Franco-Prussian War is attributed to the fact that the campaign was a short one and the army was in close proximity to its base and its hospitals. The records show that the average loss from sickness is four times greater than the average loss from wounds. I was able also to obtain the statistics in regard to the Boer War, in which we were more immediately concerned. Honorable members will recollect that a Royal Commission was appointed by the Imperial Government to inquire into certain state. ments with regard to the care of the sick and wounded during that campaign. The Commission, in their report, make some startling statements. The statistics from the commencement of the war 6th October, 1899, until 27th July, 1900, show that, exclusive of casualties in action, the deaths recorded were - officers 155, men 5,122, or a total of 5,277. The invalided officers numbered 1,016, whilst the men who were invalided numbered 16,127, or a total of 17,143. The total number of men incapacitated for active service during the period was - officers 1,171, men 21,249, or a total of 22,420. One only needs to look at these figures to realize the disadvantage at which we should be placed in time of war if our medical arrangements were inadequate for the proper care of the sick and wounded. We have to consider, not only the number of men whom we should lose in action, but the number who would be incapacitated by sickness. During the American- Spanish war, thousands of men died who had never reached the firing line. The records of that war afford some of the most painful and pathetic reading that could be imagined. The absolutely cruel and inhuman inefficiency, and the want of preparation shown in connexion with the medical arrangements, were an outrage to our civilization. Here is a further statement in regard to the Boer war -
Sick in hospitals - exclusive of Natal : - December, 2,380; January, 2,834; February, 3,828; March, 6,107; April, 9,215; May, 10,856; June, 10,757 ; July, 9,545.
Those figures afford another illustration of the fearful havoc wrought by sickness in time of war. That we have not made much progress in this respect is shown by the news of the Balkan war that has recently filtered through. The Sydney Sun of the 18th ultimo published a telegram stating that -
Disease is decimating the Turkish ranks. It is estimated that last week 10,000 victims were rendered non-combatants as a result of various ills.
In the Argus of the 19th inst. it was reported that there were 1,000 victims dying daily from cholera, whilst the Melbourne Herald of 22nd ult. contained the following statement -
The Daily Telegraph war correspondent with the Turkish Forces which are defending the Tchataldja lines, paints a horrifying picture of the cholera outbreak at the front. He describes the square at Hademkoi, near Tchataldja, as resembling a fly paper after having been exposed for some time. It is covered with corpses and writhing bodies. Some are sitting or kneeling, while others still alive lie prone. The dead are piled in heaps in some places, and stretcherbearers are constantly bringing fresh victims from the camps and forts. All the tracks leading to the impromptu morgue are dotted with bodies.
Is there not another side to the picture? One nation - I refer to Japan - has given the world an object-lesson in regard to the provision of medical aid for its soldiers. I would commend to honorable members a book entitled The Real Triumph of Japan, by Louis L. Seaman, which is to be found in the Parliamentary Library. The author, who is an American, points out in a very spirited manner that the Japanese, in preparing for war with Russia, made special provision for the treatment of their sick and wounded; and the figures that he supplies in regard to that war show that something can easily be done to remedy the shocking abuses that occurred during the Boer war. Some of the particulars relating to the treatment of the sick and wounded during the Boer war are sufficient to bring a blush of shame to the face of the reader. I shall quote only one extract from a statement given by a witness who appeared before the Commission to which I have referred. Writing” from Capetown, the special Correspondent of the London Times reported -
From morning to night the gloomy processions followed each other across the Market Square at slow march with arms reversed, bearing shapeless figures sewed up in blankets to unknown crowded graves in the cemetery on the southern hill, day after day’ and week after week in evergrowing numbers. How many of these might to-day be strong men, full of life, rejoicing at their near return to home and friends is a terrible speculation, which must be left to those who consider the conditions attending their sickness and death.
Throughout the report of the Commission it is shown that witness after witness attributed the trouble that arose in regard to the treatment of the sick and wounded to the utter inelasticity of the medical arrangements, their failure to allow of prompt attention being given, and the ready acceptance of offers of help for the sick and wounded. Professor Dunlop, in giving evidence, said -
If I were asked what seemed to me to be the defects of the Medical Department of the Army, Y should reply as follows : -
The Queen’s Regulations hamper prompt and energetic action in times of difficulty. However suitable they may be in times of peace and in barracks they do not admit of rapid extension in time of war, and in such a war as we have had in Southern Africa.
It has to be kept in view that the war was thought to be one that would soon be over, and only a very small provision was made for sick and wounded, and when pressure upon the hospital accommodation and equipment in the way of supply of nurses, doctors, &c, became imminent, some of the heads of the Medical Department at the base not being familiar with the advances of modern surgery, and not gifted with the experience and forethought and judgment necessary for men occupying such important positions, it is not be wondered at if there was inaction, delay, and even blundering in the early administration of the hospital systems of the Army in times of war.
The Commission reported -
In this war, at any rate, at its commencement, some members of the Royal Army Medical Corps appear to have had a difficulty in divesting themselves of the old traditions of the service, which are undoubtedly antagonistic to the employment of nurses in military hospitals. For example, we find that when the Langman private hospital arrived in South Africa, its principal medical officer applied to the authorities for the assistance of nurses, but his application was refused, though ultimately nurses were supplied to it when it arrived at Bloemfontein. This prejudice, however, has long since ceased to operate in the care of the sick and wounded in South Africa.
The nurses employed in this war have shown great devotion, and many have lost their lives in the discharge of their duties. Scarcely any complaints have been made during this campaign with regard to the nurses. The soldiers have much appreciated their services, and seem to prefer to be attended by them to being attended to by orderlies. But, bearing in mind the ordinary conditions of a military hospital, we think that it will always be necessary, even in fixed hospitals, and in suitable wards, that .the employment of nurses should be supplemented by that of properly-trained orderlies.
This brings me to the point that I wish to emphasize, namely, that whilst we are making preparation for taking life, we ought to be more active in our preparations for saving the lives of our men who may have to go to the front. It is too late to take such action when war has broken out. It would be criminal on our part to repeat the inaction and delay, and the want of elasticity, shown in connexion with the medical arrangements for the care of the sick and the wounded during the Boer war, and which lost to the Empire so many brave men. The Japanese say, in regard to their wounded on the hospital ships -
We have the most precious cargo here that the world can imagine. We must hurry home with all speed, so that not one of its parts may suffer the least damage on the way. Give us free road. Here come the nation’s greatest treasures, the sick and wounded.
I dread the outbreak of war in Australia more because of the dangers of sickness than because of the dangers from battle. Having regard to their mobility and adaptability, Australian’ soldiers can be well trusted to take care of themselves and to look after the enemy in time of war. But those of us who have noticed at times the inefficient character of the hospital and sanitary accommodation in our military camps cannot but dread the possibility of our having not only to defend our coasts but to prepare for the attendant danger of sickness to our men.
– Relatively to our numbers, I do not think there is anything better in the world than our little Army Medical Corps.
– I do not think that the honorable member was present when I referred to the commendable increase in the Army Medical Corps. The point that I wish to make, however, is that that corps in itself is not sufficient. The report of the Commission which inquired into the South African war proved that, unless supported by some efficient system of voluntary aid, every medical arrangement made for the care of the sick and wounded breaks down. Why was Japan able to show such a splendid record in respect of the treatment of its sick and wounded in connexion with its war with Russia? I find that the Japanese in then* war with China, in 1894, lost three from disease, as against one from bullets, with 45 per cent, suffering from beri-beri. In the War with Russia, from February, 1904, to May, 1903, 52,946 were killed or died from wounds, while the deaths from all diseases totalled only 11,922. There we have a complete reversal of the records of every other war concerning which we have any figures. As is pointed out by Mr. Louis Seaman, there were more than four deaths from bullets to one from disease, as against the record of centuries of four from disease to one from bullets, or 8,003 better than the average history. Only 1 2-ioths per cent, of the entire army died of sickness or disease, and only lj per cent, died of gunshot wounds, although 24 per cent, were wounded; 2,000 more men died from wounds than from preventible diseases; and of a total mortality of 64,938 from all causes there were 40,954 more from casualties than from disease. The secret of this success may be readily ascertained. Japan has a number of auxiliary societies. The Japanese Red Cross Society has branches in every city or town, with a total membership of 1,250,000. It is stated that -
Organized strictly as an auxiliary, it is transferred bodily to the army in time of war. . . . It becomes a part of the army’s Medical Department. . . The society had 3,85a nurses, men and women. . . 2,628 of whom were females employed exclusively in hospitals and other home stations where sick and wounded need attention. . . Excellent work was also done by the Nursing Association, which is allied to the Red Cross Society and which the princesses and the wives of the nobles and the diplomatic staffs joined freely.
I wish again to impress on the Minister of Defence the urgent necessity for the immediate establishment of an effective system of aid for the sick and wounded secured by voluntary effort, or preferably by the compulsory training of the young women of Australia to act as nurses in time of war. I read in last Thursday’s issue of the Herald an interesting article, in which a number of authorities spoke of the beneficial effect which military training was having upon our young men. If compulsory nursing, first-aid, and ambulance training were given to the young women of this country, I am sure that they, too, would be immensely benefited. If compulsory military training has led to the better discipline of our boys, and has raised their moral tone, I am confident that the compulsory training of our young women in firstaid and ambulance work would also be immensely beneficial to them. What an advantage it would be to Australia if our young women were trained in this way. When they married, and became the mothers of our families, spreading all over the Continent of Australia, the knowledge they had thus acquired would be of immense advantage in case of ordinary sickness in time of peace, as well as in time of war. Hundreds of lives in Australia might be saved if the women who had passed through first-aid training periods were able to apply the knowledge thus gained to those accidents, diseases, and troubles which arise so frequently and so unexpectedly. The saving of life thus effected would be well worth the expenditure that would be involved, and I believe that the young women of this country are just as anxious to exhibit their patriotism in this direction as our young men are to defend it against foreign aggression. We have not in this country the voluntary military system which obtains in England and other parts of the world. But that system in the Army is breaking down, and we have recognised that by placing upon every citizen the responsibility of defending this country ; and I can conceive of nothing which would appeal to the higher instincts of the women of Australia more than would an opportunity to stand by their brothers who do the fighting, by nursing them through the sickness and trouble which inevitably attend marching operations.
– The honorable member for Brisbane has referred to a very important matter indeed. But may I suggest to him that unless he looks into these cases on their merits, he is very liable to be misled. The honorable member has quoted figures to show the great difference which obtains between the number of deaths that occurred from wounds and sickness in the Japanese war against China, and the number that resulted from similar causes in the RussoJapanese war. He ought to know that that difference arises from a very simple fact, namely, that in the former war operations were conducted in a more leisurely way. In the conflict with Russia the Japanese could not afford to wait. They had to hurl their legions against the foe in the quickest possible time. Their resources would not permit them to wait, or to take extra precautions for the preservation of their lives. That is why there are a greater proportion of deaths from wounds and a less proportion of deaths from sickness in the war with Russia than in the war with China. This factor, I am afraid, will operate more and more in modern wars. Those wars are so costly that they must be finished quickly, otherwise they will bankrupt the nations which engage in them. For that reason we shall not see so much finessing in future wars as there has been, although, of course, there will always be room for strategy and tactics. The same result will probably be found in connexion with the
Balkan war. I venture to say that in that struggle there will be a tremendous disproportion between the number of deaths from sickness and the number of deaths from wounds. The results will work out very much in favour of the Balkan allies. But the reason will be that the conflict has been a short, sharp, and fearful one, in which the armies have gone in either to win or lose in the quickest possible time. It is that which leads to the fearful destruction of life from wounds and gunshot. It cannot be attributed to extra skill in medical science, and better organization in the Army Medical Corps. The simple fact is that modern armies cannot afford to wait to manoeuvre. Very frequently the Japanese hurled their forces headlong at what was practically an impregnable position. _ If they had waited, with a view to playing a game of chess, we should have witnessed a very different state of affairs. In no other way could Japan have won that war.
– That does not alter the fact that she made very elaborate preparations in the organization of her Army Medical Corps.
- Her arrangements were admirable. But the honorable member must not lose sight of the fact which I have mentioned. One cannot compare a short, sharp, decisive war like that with a long-drawn-out war such as we had to conduct in South Africa. In the latter case there was every chance for men to die from deprivation, and from bad sanitary arrangements. It is very difficult to organize sanitary conditions over a wide expanse of country. None the less, it is true that the Japanese are to be commended in every way for the admirable arrangements which they made for the care of their sick and wounded. That is due to the voluntary effort which is prevalent throughout that country. Figures which I obtained some three years ago showed that in Japan alone there were 1,000,000 women in the Red Cross League, and they had subscribed over 000,000, or £.1 per head, to that organization. There is nothing like that organization in the world so far as voluntary effort is concerned. The sooner we organize in that way the better will it be for all. But it is quite a mistake to imagine that everybody’s arrangements are better than our own. It may be that that idea gives us an added spur to perfect our own arrangements. But I have not the slightest doubt that if other nations could be heard discussing their own arrangements, they would be heard instituting comparisons which were not favorable to themselves. Distant hills always look green. I know that our own arrangements are not perfect. A great deal has to be done before perfection can be reached in the organization of our Army. But I would remind honorable members that in the South African war a little Army Medical Corps which we sent there was acknowledged to be as wellorganized a unit as was to be found there. Lord Kitchener was glad to avail himself of it, and he even wanted it back after its return home. So far as its numbers go, it is about the best organized unit in our Army Forces. We have nothing to complain of in that respect, save that we have not enough of it. But all these cases must be considered in the light of their own surroundings, and in that v/ay we may account for the great increase in the number of deaths resulting from wounds in short, sharp, decisive wars, as compared with the number of deaths from the same cause in long-drawn-out struggles.
– The bullet which is used nowadays is very different from the bullet which was used previously.
– Until recently it was thought that the tremendous range of our modern guns would prevent great loss of life. But it is evident that contending armies cannot afford to stand off each other. They must go in and finish the struggle, and the nation which gets its blow in quickest will, in the future, as in the past, be likely to win. It all comes back to this: That the increased range of our modern arms has not yet ruled out the personal equation. While the range of our guns is longer, we cannot afford to take advantage of it, because of the necessity which exists for finishing the conflict in the quickest possible time. I should like to make just one observation in regard to our land defences. I think that the Minister representing the Minister of Defence ought to tell us exactly how the increased cost of our land defences has been brought about? This year it is proposed to expend .£2,900,000 upon our land forces. The figures have been supplied to me by Mr. Pethebridge himself. Some time ago I endeavoured to ascertain from the Estimates what our land defences were costing, but I was unable to do so. In despair, I appealed to Mr. Pethebridge, and that is the information which he has given me.
– Did the honorable member get the cost of our naval defences?
– When we have the cost of either, it is easy to ascertain the cost of the other. The total amount which it is proposed to expend upon defence this year is ,£5,200,000. Deducting ,£2,900,000 - the amount of the military expenditure - you have ,£2,300,000 left for naval defence. I call attention to the disproportion between the two amounts. No doubt a good deal of the extra expenditure on land defence is for material, but we should know the details. Lord Kitchener’s scheme, when fully developed, and working at its normal, was to cost £1,880,000 a year; but it is not yet fully developed, and, therefore, should cost much less. I suppose a good deal of money is being spent on the purchase of guns of heavy calibre, and other special preparations; but Parliament cannot ask too many questions on these matters, and should be supplied with the fullest details. No one grudges money for defence, but we should know that we are getting full value for our expenditure. Nearly £3,000,000 have been spent on land defence this year ; but our scheme when fully equipped is to cost at the normal ,£1,880,000. I have no wish to tie down the Department to the estimate of Lord Kitchener, which may be an economical one, and may have omitted items because of his want of knowledge of our local circumstances, but it was made after consultation with such men as Colonel Legge and the late Mr. Thompson. Lord Kitchener had the advantage of consulting any one else in the Department whom he wished to see.
– Would not Admiral Henderson’s report also mean some land expenditure ? There is the expenditure on naval bases.
– That is debited to the Naval Estimates. I understand that a great deal of money is being spent on the establishment of naval bases, but I have been speaking purely on land defence. There is a discrepancy of £1,200,000 or ,£1,300,000. Perhaps by searching through the Estimates one could discover how a great deal of this money is to be spent ; but I should like the Honorary Minister to give us the necessary particulars, which we are entitled to know before agreeing to the expenditure. While I do not think that we are doing too much for land defence, our preparations are lopsided. The Navy is, and always must be, our first line of defence, and our land preparations should not be made at the expense of our naval preparations. It is upon the Navy that we must rely for our safety in co-operation with the Navy of Great Britain. This year the naval expenditure is to be about £2,300,000, and we have spent £1,000,000 less than Admiral Henderson recommended. No doubt his estimate was only approximate, but reasons should be given for this large departure from it. He began his forecast ot expenditure as from a year and a half ago, so that this is the second year of the working of his scheme, which for the first seven years was to cost £3,000,000 per annum, rising to £5,000,000 per annum in twentytwo years’ time. If we spend all that is proposed, we shall have spent on the Navy in two years £5,000,000, instead of £6,000,000 as estimated by Admiral Henderson. Our naval preparations must be hastened as much as possible, because, while it is very easy to lay down proposals, it is difficult to carry them into effect. Our great difficulty is in obtaining a personnel. Admiral Henderson’s scheme was based on the lending of men by the Old Country until our own men could take their places. I do not know to what extent that is going on, but the position is not calculated to make one sleep comfortably. The naval strength of Germany and Austria, taken together, is greater than that of Great Britain. Those countries seem to be bound together indissolubly. In comparing the warlike preparations of Germany and Great Britain, one must not leave out of sight the strength of Austria. The other day, Germany’s foreign Minister declared that she was prepared to fight over a very small matter affecting an ally. He did not speak without the fullest consideration ; and when Germany is willing to fight if certain things should happen to her neighbour, one can see how undivided their interests are, and how we must judge of the strength of both in determining our relative naval strength.
– Is the honorable member right in assuming that Great Britain has no allies?
– I should be sorry to think that she has not. I think that she has allies, some of whom will stand her in good stead. Still, we must consider, not merely the naval strength, but the strength of both arms of defence; and it seems to me that the totality of the strength of the allies should make us pause.
Should Germany make an attack by sea, it will, I imagine,, be in conjunction with an attack by land. She will not rely on her sea power alone, but will join both arms in some dash which will make, for one side or the other, a great change in its influence in the councils of Europe.
– The honorable member has changed his views since he used to talk of mosquito fleets.
– The honorable member belongs to the party which first proposed the creation of mosquito fleets. We have got beyond that stage. I am concerned now with what is ahead, and I take it we all wish to know how we stand in relation to other countries, and must be impressed by the evident intention of some of the nations that there shall be a change in the relative military and naval strength of the Powers. The figures show that Great Britain’s naval strength is getting further behind with the passing of the years. In 1915 she will have twenty-five Dreadnouglats, and Germany will have seventeen; and both will have’ six battle cruisers - I suppose battle cruisers of effective strength. Great Britain no longer makes a pretence of keeping up the two- Power standard - that she has been forced to abandon. Therefore, the outlying Dominions must do their fair share in defending the Empire, and the trade routes which are its arteries. I am glad to know of the development in Canada, though one cannot help feeling that a great deal is being said there about what, after all, is relatively very little. The spending of £2,300,000 seems to be a matter ot jubilation throughout the Empire; but I hope and believe that this is only the beginning of things. As to the question of control, and so forth, I fall back on the scheme which we are developing, and which was suggested by the Admiralty itself. I’ do not know whether the Admiralty has suggested any change since, or has even given any hint to the Government that it would be better that the arrangements then made should be modified, but, in the absence of any information, we may assume that the present position of our Naval Forces, relative to the Naval Forces of the Empire, is as determined on at the Imperial Conference. There the matter may be left ; but, in the meantime, our duty is to hasten our preparations in every possible way. Whether the best is being done with regard to the construction of our naval bases, and so forth, I do not pretend to know ; but there are certain anomalies that strike one in connexion with the works. For instance, about £600,000, I understand, is estimated for ‘ the Flinders Naval Base, and of that £400,000 is to be spent by the Admiralty, and £200,000 by the Department of Home Affairs. I believe that the Admiralty is undertaking that part of the work which means the preparation of the base - the removal of rocks and slush, and the putting in of foundations - and that then the Department of Home Affairs will put up the buildings. It is altogether contrary to one’s notions of such matters to see the Lord High Admiral of the Fleet doffing his gold lace and going into this work of excavation, while the real construction authority, the Department of Home Affairs, stands by until that is done.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The most bitter opponents of the Government will admit that, during their term of office, they have made wonderful improvements so far as the Defence Department is concerned; and much further headway would have been made had not the expenditure been curtailed by the House itself. The honorable member for Brisbane made a very important suggestion in regard to the sanitary and medical corps. We all know that in war more lives are lost through insanitary conditions than by the weapons of the enemy, and the Defence Department is not so up-to-date as it should be in this respect. It is very pleasing to notice that the honorable member for Wentworth possesses so much knowledge of defence matters ; but it is rather annoying that honorable members should be kept here, with no chance of getting home, while the honorable member makes speeches, which, I fancy, will have very little effect on the Committee. I rise for the .purpose of bringing under the notice of the Minister the fact that, while increases in salaries are granted to the central and administrative staff, the rank and file do not share in this advantage. The Estimates show that the Paymaster last year received an increase of £too, and this year he is given another .£55, while the Chief Clerk and the Senior Clerk are each given £20, and Colonel Wallack has his salary raised from £700 to £750. Then there are nine additional appointments, all, I understand, of Imperial officers, whose salaries range from £450 to as much as £950 a year.
– That is buying brains for the Army - brains cannot be got for nothing.
– But perhaps the Minister will give the Committee some explanation of these items. The warrant officers and noncommissioned officers are really the brains of the Department, so far as the training is concerned; and if the reason for the increases in the higher branches is the cost of living, the same reason holds good throughout the Service. It certainly looks as though there was a little bit of selfishness on the part of the central staff; and I point out that some of the warrant officers and noncommissioned officers, prior to Federation, enjoyed emoluments of a higher standard than those under the Commonwealth. I have been desired by many of these officers to bring this matter before Parliament, and I feel justified in calling attention to the facts.
– The discussion has taken a wide range, from the erection of a target in some small township to international policies. At one moment we had almost been taken by Japan, and the next moment Germany had completely enveloped the British Isles, and all was lost. However, I have no doubt that each honorable member considered that the subject he brought before the Committee was of importance, and, under the circumstances, justified the time occupied. Personally, I think the Minister of Defence is to be congratulated on the fact that the criticisms are all of a kindly character rather than adverse; and in the one or two instances where the criticism was, perhaps, a little more keen, there are replies which, I hope, will be satisfactory to those concerned. It would not be proper, I think, on my part to interfere in the international relationships of countries, even if any words uttered by honorable members might have that effect. I am confident that the Minister of Defence, with the information at his disposal, is aware of what is taking place in various direction, and that, compatibly with the money at his disposal, he is doing his best to establish a system of defence that will be effective from every point of view. Necessarily, in the establishment of a new system, some anomalies will be discovered and some disagreements will arise. Some persons in the service may find themselves removed from the positions they have hitherto occupied, and they complain, simply because the defence scheme, gene rally, means to them only their position, and they cannot be expected to, as it were, place themselves at the centre, and realize that the whole of the Commonwealth, and its relationship to the Empire, has to be considered. While every effort will be made to minimize inconveniences, which must necessarily arise in a new scheme of this magnitude, the inconvenience of individuals cannot be regarded as of such importance as to justify any great divergence from the general plan. As to the cadets, I desire to offer my personal congratulation to the boys of Australia on the magnificent response they have made to the call of their country. There are, of course, a few objectors, and, in addition, a few recalcitrants, but these, I hope, will, ere long, be enthusiasts in so far as the work is concerned. Generally speaking, the compulsory training of the boys has been established with a minimum of inconvenience, and, I am pleased to say, with a minimum of opposition. When we remember that the principle of compulsion is almost anathema to British-speaking people - that it is entirely novel, and, to some extent, interferes with ordinary vocations and the ordinary methods of spending spare time - we may congratulate ourselves on the results. As to the proposal of the Minister, made public only a day or two ago, to deal with those lads who have been particularly recalcitrant, honorable members will agree that it would never do to permit those boys to defy the laws of the country. It would not be fair, and it would not be honorable to the tens of thousands of boys who have cheerfully come forward to do their duty, that a few should be permitted to repeatedly place the law at defiance - a law that was placed on the statute-book only after careful consideration on both sides of Parliament, and because of the recognition of the imperative necessity to put ourselves in a position to adequately defend this country. It was, I think, the honorable member for Franklin- who asked whether it would be only lads who lived near barracks that would be subject to the treatment proposed by the Minister; and, in reply, I have to say that unquestionably the policy will be uniform throughout the Commonwealth. There will be no distinction made between lads who reside in the country and lads who reside in the cities.
– Will the fines be dispensed with if the boys are taken to barracks ?
– Many of the fines have been dispensed with, but, in some cases, despite the leniency exhibited, the lads have disobeyed, not merely the ordinary provisions of the Act, but have also disobeyed the orders of the Civil Courts; and remissions will not be readily made in such cases.
– Will the Department deal with them in barracks, instead of fining them?
– That is a matter I have not discussed with the Minister. The treatment will be uniform throughout, and the utmost leniency will be shown. But where oft-repeated efforts have been made to secure the attendance of lads, and they continue to openly refuse to present themselves, honorable members must agree that some little extra attention will have to be paid to their cases. I am confident, however, that the Minister, whilst firm, will also be kind. Quite a number of subjects have been presented for consideration. The chief complaint of the honorable member for Nepean was that a horse owned privately had been injured and killed during military operations, and that no inquiry had been held. The general practice is for an inquiry to be held, and compensation to be granted at the earliest possible moment. But there are many cases in which hacks worth a £io-note are, after having been injured in military operations, claimed to be worth £50: and if the owners happen to get something less than £50, they are reasonably dealt with all the same. The tendency of the Board of Inquiry is to show leniency to the owners under circumstances such as those mentioned by the honorable member for Nepean. I will bring the matter under the attention of “the Minister, with a view to ascertaining whether there has been any justification for the delay, or for dispensing with an inquiry. Three points were brought forward by the honorable member for Boothby. Some of his constituents appear to take exception to engineers being brought out from England to assist in preparing maps and dealing with topographical matters in connexion with military affairs. I am somewhat amused at the attitude now assumed by the honorable member, because I know full well that he takes the view that the advent of immigrants amongst us makes work for those who are already here. It is strange that the honorable member should now contend that the introduction of two or three engineers with special knowledge will deprive local residents of work, or, at any rate, interfere with their legitimate promotion. The engineers referred to in this case had special ability, and were brought out to assist in perfecting our military scheme. I do not think their introduction has in any way militated against the advancement of other men, but, on the contrary, I have no doubt they will be able to add to our store of knowledge and enable others to reach a higher standard , The honorable member said that Area Officers in the country districts should receive more pay than those in the city, presumably because they have to travel greater distances. I cannot guarantee that any distinction will be made. I know that the Minister has the whole subject under consideration, but I do not think I should be justified in holding out any hope of extra pay. Travelling expenses are allowed under certain circumstances ; and if, in country districts, a little extra travelling is entailed, I am confident the Minister will meet any just claims. The honorable member also referred to the importance of teaching our boys to swim. This work is undertaken very largely by the educational authorities in South Australia, and I doubt whether, in view of the* sixty-four hours in each year to which our operations are now limited, it would be of any great advantage to devote any portion of the time to instruction in swimming. I would direct special attention to the repeated allegations of honorable members that these Estimates are thrown on the table just a day or two before the prorogation, and honorable members are asked to take them, or leave them, in a lump with practically no explanation of the different items. There is not a scintilla of justification for such an assertion. The Treasurer made his Budget Speech’ on 1st August, and gave a general explanation of the Estimates. Subsequently a lengthy debate took place on the first line, and honorable members on both sides contributed to the debate, in which practically every line of the Estimates was under consideration. Since then the Estimates have been before honorable members, and they have had opportunities of obtaining the fullest information in regard to every item. Therefore, it is rather unreasonable on their part to assert that the Estimates have been thrown down, and that they have been asked to vote millions of money without any consideration. I feel justified, also, in calling attention to the fact that a week or two ago, when the Estimates were under discussion, honorable members exercised their right of debate upon one line of a comparatively unimportant character for fifty odd hours. No doubt they had a perfect right to do so, but, at the same time, it is scarcely fair for them to say that they have not had opportunities for reasonable consideration. The honorable member for North Sydney was concerned principally with the difficulty, happily now overcome, which existed some time ago in connexion with the remount depots in New South Wales, and also with what he termed the censure administered to certain officers by the Minister of Defence. When I tell him that the Minister of Defence has not censured Colonel Wallack, Major Darvall, or Captain Lyons, I hope my statement will be sufficient. The honorable member knows full well that, in the best interests of the Forces, it is often necessary to remove officers from one locality to another. In the interests of the officers themselves it is desirable that their experience should be widened, and that they should have opportunities of familiarizing themselves with methods and conditions with which they have not previously been brought in contact. It is scarcely fair for an honorable member, merely because an officer has been removed, to take advantage of his position as a public man to drag in the names of certain individuals and allege that they have been censured and removed by the Minister.
– Captain Lyons himself considers he was censured.
– I asked the honorable member whether he was speaking at the request of Captain Lyons, and he answered in the negative. I asked that because I knew that the censure spoken of had not been passed, and could scarcely believe that the officer had asked the honorable member to make any public comment on what had taken place. The honorable member’s criticism was not justified. There is no need for secrecy in the matter, and it may be stated at once that there was, at the time, some little oversight in connexion with the care of the horses, and an inquiry was made into the subject. Necessarily, in matters of this description there will be oversights or dereliction of duty, which it may be necessary to inquire into, and these inquiries may result in officers of high or low rank being brought under censure. In the scheme we are endeavouring to establish, the Minister is entitled to the sym pathy and support of honorable members who have had experience in military matters, and it is scarcely compatible with the public duty of such honorable members to make much of every little incident. Where honorable members think that they have reasonable cause of complaint, and go to the.Minister, the papers will be made available to them, and they will be made acquainted with every detail. If, after that, honorable members do not feel satisfied, they may take what action they consider necessary. But until the Minister has been given an opportunity of explaining the situation, it is not in the best interests of the Forces that too much publicity should be given to military matters. The honorable member for North Sydney, and others, also referred to the question of the pay of non-commissioned officers in the Royal Australian Garrison Artillery. On several occasions during the last two or three months, the Minister has said that certain increases have been agreed to, and that these increases will date back to the 1 st July- But they cannot be paid until the Estimates are passed. It is true that some of the non-commissioned officers are not set down for increases this year, but, if I mistake not, some of them - the staff sergeants, for instance - during the regime of this Government, have had their pay increased from £138 to £156 per annum. If that increase was made last year, or the year before, it was scarcely to be expected that they would receive an increase this year. Some of the noncommissioned officers - master gunners of the first, second, and third classes, as well as regimental sergeant-majors, and others are having their pay increased, while in other directions avenues for promotion are being extended in such a manner that the poss:bilities of promotion, with subsequent increases of pay, are greater than they were. I hope that, in the circumstances, we shall not be unduly pressed in this respect. The Minister has given his promise that certain increases will be made, and I have no reason to believe that that promise will not be fulfilled at the earliest possible moment.
– I do not see any provision for its fulfilment, but I do see in these Estimates provision made for increases in the pay of staff officers.
– Certain officers on the Central Administration Staff are receiving increases which, in the opinion of the Minister, are commensurate with the added responsibility of their position, their wider experience, and the additional work which they are called upon to perform owing to the expansion of our defence system. Some are receiving increases, but a goodly number of them are being left, so to speak, at the post. They are “ non-starters “ this year in the matter of increased salaries. I feel that the Minister must have had. exceptionally good ground for granting each increase-
– This sort of sophistry is not much good to the man who is not receiving an increase.
– I am sorry that the honorable member should regard my statement as something in the nature of sophistry. No doubt, the fact that Justices of the High Court receive £3,000 a year is very little consolation to the man who is working with his pick and shovel for only 8s. a day. I do not wish to bring my illustration nearer home, but doubtless there are many persons in Australia who are not being remunerated, at all events in the shape of a cash equivalent, for their labours to the same degree as appertains to political service. I am confident that the increases which the Minister has granted have been well considered, and, in the circumstances, are justifiable. My attention has been called to items in the Estimates suggesting increases in pay, where, in reality, no increase has been made. The fact that in respect of one office £600 or £700 is being expended this year, as compared with £550 last year, does not necessarily mean that an increase of salary has been granted. It merely means that the services in question were not continuous, and that the whole of the salary available for the office was, therefore, not used. There have been increases in the lower grades, and further increases will be paid to many of the noncommissioned officers as soon as these Estimates are passed. I feel confident that from year to year, if anomalies as to pay are made plain, the Minister will take the earliest opportunity of rectifying them.
I desire now to refer to the complaints of delay in the construction of rifle ranges, and the unfounded allegation that the permanent officers as a body are not over-sympathetic with our rifle-club men.
– It is correct.
– That impetuous statement does not do the honorable member credit. It is based on mere supposition. The honorable member may suppose <what he pleases; but if his supposition takes the form of a reflection upon persons employed in the Federal Service it is scarcely fair.
– Are the permanent officers sympathetic with the rifle clubs?
– Speaking as one who keenly appreciates our Citizen Forces, and who believes that they must be our defenders in the future, the small Permanent Force simply discharging administrative and instructional duties, I do not hesitate to say that in my opinion there is no feeling against the Militia on the part of the permanent officers. I have the very greatest admiration for our riflemen, and for the services which they freely and cheerfully render in perfecting themselves in a branch of defence that will be most useful should we be called upon to protect ourselves. After careful investigation, I do not believe that there exists on the part of our permanent officers any want of sympathy with th’e rifle club movement. Let me say at once that if it came under my notice that a permanent officer, no matter what his rank, displayed a want of sympathy in that direction, I should use to the very utmost whatever influence I possessed to secure his removal from office. The establishment of rifle clubs, and the encouragement of riflemen to perfect themselves as marksmen, is part of the policy of Australia, and it would not do for any permanent officer to set himself in opposition to it. As a citizen, he may vote as he pleases; but if, as a permanent officer, he set himself against the established policy of the country, drastic action would be necessary, and I am sure that it would be taken by the Minister. Much difficulty unfortunately exists in increasing the number of our rifle ranges. In the first place, the great ‘ increase in our Forces has necessitated a great increase in the number of targets and ranges. Rifle ranges are called into use more frequently than was previously the case, and riflemen have undoubtedly had to submit to some little inconvenience. In securing ranges and erecting targets many difficulties are experienced, and these are just as annoying and as disconcerting to the Minister and the Department as they are to honorable members generally. I wish to’ assure the Committee that neither the Minister nor his Department has been guilty of any intentional delay. There is no attempt to wilfully delay the provision of ranges, but countless difficulties are encountered in meeting the demand for them. For instance, a number of men form a club, and that club is approved and established. It then writes to the Department and asks for a range. The next question is where that range shall be secured, and the difficulty is to find a convenient piece of ground for the purpose. After a suitable area has been found, difficulties often occur in acquiring it. In New South Wales, for instance, we have to appeal to the Minister of Lands, who, perhaps, finds himself helpless in the matter. He in turn has to appeal to some such body as the Pastoral Board, which in turn may have to appeal to some such institution as the Rabbit Destruction League, and so forth. These difficulties having been surmounted, we have to obtain the permission of the local council to fire over a particular area. I frankly admit that at times a difference of opinion occurs between the Department and the owners of land thought to be suitable for rifle range purposes. That difficulty has to be surmounted before the range can be established. It is scarcely fair to expect that because a man believing that he has the Government in the hollow of his hand, asks £100 for a block worth only £50, the Department should say, “ Very well, take what you want.” However anxious we may be to establish rifle ranges, we must have regard for the responsibility attaching to the expenditure of public moneys. I am confident that the Minister and his department are anxious to facilitate the work of the rifle clubs by providing rifle ranges and targets with the utmost speed ; and whilst annoying delays have occurred, I am hopeful that there will be less friction in the future. In some instances these delays are absolutely unavoidable. I do not know that there are any other points to which honorable members have referred-
– The honorable member has not yet dealt with the matter of abnormal expenditure, or the discrepancy between the normal and present expenditure.
– In other words, the honorable member refers to the difference between Lord Kitchener’s estimate and the amount that we are asked to vote.
– It does not follow that Lord Kitchener’s estimates necessarily define the actual expenditure to be incurred each year. In general, the scheme laid down by the Field Marshal is being followed with such modification or altera tions as circumstances demand, or local requirements make essential. Lord Kitchener’s estimate is not to be regarded as necessarily controlling the Defence Estimates each year. As I understand them, the facts are set out in detail in the Estimates, and every increase is clearly shown. The Minister of Defence has also distributed a memorandum in which he deals with the principal increases that are under consideration. Perhaps a perusal of that document will meet the requirements of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Division 39 (Special School of Instruction), £11,800; division 40 (Physical Training Staff), £8,332 ; division 41 (Aviation School), £5,600; division 42 (School of Musketry), £3,050; division 43 (Royal Military College), £38,313; division 44 (Chemical Adviser), £2,014; and division 45 (Examination of stores and equipment), £3,982, agreed to.
Division 46 (Cordite Factory), £21,000.-
.- Will the Minister representing the Minister of Defence give the Committee some explanation of the position occupied by the Cordite Factory to-day?
– The Cordite Factory is not yet supplying ammunition for actual use by our Defence Forces, but it will be doing so within the course of a few weeks. Up to the present the work done at the factory has been largely of an experimental character.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Division .47 (Small Arms Factory), £43.45 T» agreed to. .
Division 48 (Clothing Factory), £12,280
.- Will the Honorary Minister be good enough to inform me of the position of the Clothing Factory ?
– I do not know that there is any particular position, other than that the factory is in full working order. It is not yet meeting the full requirements of our Defence Forces, but it is turning out garments which are satisfactory to the experts, and it will soon be self-supporting.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Division 49 (Harness, Saddlery, and Accoutrements Factory), £8,920.
.- - In regard to all these factories, it would be more satisfactory if a report from the manager of each were laid on the table of the House before the Estimates are dealt with. Honorable members ought to be informed of the way in which work is progressing at these Commonwealth establishments, as to what labour conditions obtain there, as to the number of hands employed, and as to the wages which are being paid, and also of the cost of production. In regard to the Clothing Factory, the only items which figure on the Estimates are the salaries of the manager, accountant, and clerks, which aggregate £1,280. The balance of £11,000 is to cover contingencies. Similarly in connexion with this item, the salaries total £920, while a sum of £8,000 is to be paid to the credit of a trust account to cover contingencies. In such circumstances, we ought to be supplied with an annual report from the manager of each factory before the Estimates are submitted for our consideration.
– I can assure the honorable member that in future the course which he has outlined will be followed. It is the policy of the Government that these factories shall be self-supporting, and, in addition to an annual report, a balance-sheet will be placed in the hands of honorable members each year, so that they may thoroughly understand the position in every detail.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Division 50 (Woollen Cloth Factory), £4,410; division 51 (Royal Naval College), £21,000; division 52 (Boys’ Training Ship), £31,125; and division 53 (Naval Forces), £227,500; agreed to.
Division 54 (Naval Establishments),
.- I wish to point out the necessity which exists for erecting some kind of dock in the vicinity of Hobart. In my own electorate, at Smelting Works Bay there is an ideal site for a dockyard. In the centre of a magnificent harbor there is a landlocked bay, in which, for a very small expenditure, a dock could be constructed to accommodate any ship coming to Australia, and especially our war-ships. I think that this matter was brought forward last year by the honorable member for Denison. Anybody who is familiar with the A B C of naval matters will recognise that there ought to be some kind of dock here in which our war-ships can be repaired. I trust that the Minister will impress upon the Minister of Defence the necessity of giving immediate and earnest consideration to this question.
– I can assure the honorable member that I will bring the matter under the direct notice of the Minister.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Division 55 (Royal Australian Naval Reserve), £62,828; division 56 (Imperial Royal Naval Reserve), £2,500; division 56a (Uniform, Clothing, and Necessaries Account), £25,500; division 57 (Medical Services), £4,500; division 58 (Signal Stations and Examination Services), £2,000 ; division 59 (Maintenance of Ships and Vessels), £250,000; division 60 (Repair and Maintenance of Naval Works,&c), £4,000; division 61 (Miscellaneous Services), £13,500; and division 62 (Postage and Telegrams), £1,000; agreed to.
Department of Home Affairs.
Division 97 (Administrative Staff),
– I wish to make a short statement to the Committee of the causes of the increases in this Department. On reference to page 147 of the Estimates it will be seen that the net increase in the cost of the Department for the current financial year over the actual cost for the year 1911-12 is £11,738. Included in that sum are increments to salaries, both automatic and those provided on the recommendation of the Public Service Commissioner, £1,753, leaving a balance of only , £9,983 of increase. The amount proposed to be expended before the 30th June next on works and buildings, acquisition of land, and other services under the control of the Department, exclusive of the construction of the trans-Australian railway, is £2,188,316. The actual expenditure during the financial year 1911-12 was £921,220, the expenditure now proposed showing an increase of £1,267,096. So that while there is an increase in the estimated expenditure upon works, land, and other services of , £1,267,096, the extra net cost of the Department is only £9,983, exclusive of increments to salaries. The net increased cost, namely, £9,983, is accounted for principally by the provision in these Estimates for permanent positions in the Lands and Survey Branch. This branch is charged with the acquisition and leasing of properties for public purposes, and matters incidental thereto. The work, involving an expenditure of enormous sums of money, and being necessarily of a very important and responsible character, has been hitherto carried on by temporary assistance, and it is considered that these duties should be undertaken by officers with a permanent status. Comparing the actual expenditure for the year 1910-11 with that of 1911-12, there is an increase in the latter year of £180,617. Comparing the actual expenditure Tor the year 1910-11 with the estimated expenditure for 1912-13, there is an increase in the latter of .£1,447,713- So that, while the Department is undertaking the larger responsibility involving the increased expenditure, the extra cost of administration is proportionately small.
.- 1 regret that it is my duty to revert to a matter that I have already discussed in the House - the appointment of Mr. Henry Chinn to supervise the construction of the transAustralian railway on the Western Australian side. I do so because, having commented on the singular fact that in a batch of testimonials submitted in Mr. Chinn’ s favour there was not one of a technical character, some four months later the deficiency was supplied, or professed to be supplied, by certain testimonials that were published to the country and certain statements were made in connexion with them. I shall briefly discuss the position thus created. Any one who looks carefully at those testimonials will agree that they have much in common. No doubt all testimonials have family features, but in those to which I refer these features are very much more pronounced than was to be expected in productions by different people, written at different times. These testimonials are all characterized by the same extravagant adjectives, the same ponderous sentences, and the same exaggerated tone of praise. This is somewhat singular, as they are alleged to have been written by level-headed, practical, business men, some of whom possess only the ordinary educational acquirements, and would disclaim ability to write any remarkable literary production. The information that I am about to put before the Committee was not sought by me in any special sense, but, to a large extent, has been supplied. After I criticised Mr. Chinn’s appointment, a considerable number of communications were sent to me which I could not make public until I had verified, to my own satisfaction, the statements that they contained, but having made the necessary inquiries, I propose to give the result to the Committee. My observations will be specially directed to those testimonials upon which particular emphasis has been laid as giving that force to the application of Mr. Chinn which it previously lacked. The first which I wish to read is from’ Messrs. Garnsworthy and Smith, contractors. It is dated “ Collinsstreet west, Melbourne, 14th August, 1898,” and is as follows -
Dear Sir, -
At your request, we have much pleasure in committing to paper our appreciation of the valuable services rendered by you as our engineer in connexion with various contracts carried out by us under the Public Works and Railway Departments and Melbourne Harbor Trust.
The construction of the new entrance to the Gippsland Lakes was a work that necessitated more than the ordinary amount of foresight and skill, and we are confident the successful issue was only brought about by the untiring energy and exceptional ability displayed by you.
So much’ were we impressed with you on the above works that we determined to engage you on all future contracts, and, in every instance-, for a period of about eleven years, your professional knowledge on all classes of works proved invaluable to us.
It would be hard to single out any particular branch of engineering to eulogize you on, for you are equally familiar with harbor and river works, sewerage, and railway construction, and as the sewerage works of Melbourne were some of the most difficult ever carried out in Australia, the successful issue you brought our contracts to demands the highest praise from us.
We trust your career will be a prosperous one, and feel confident, if the opportunities only present themselves, you will do full justice to your office and continue to earn further distinction in your profession.
Garnsworthy & Smith,
– Is that one of the testimonials referred to by the Minister?
– No ; it is a testimonial that was subsequently made public by a supporter of the Minister to make up, I presume, the deficiency upon which I had commented. Previously, no testimonial certifying to Mr. Chinn’s technical qualification had been made public.
– I hired him on what I knew about him myself. I did not ask for any testimonials.
– The testimonial which I have read is a very fine one, beautifully worded, and highly eulogistic. If it correctly states the facts, the person who carried out so successfully the work mentioned in it is entitled to all the praise that can be bestowed upon him. The making of an entrance to the Gippsland Lakes was an undertaking of considerable magniture and difficulty, which occupied many years, and cost the State of Victoria an immense sum of money. If we had secured, for the work of constructing the trans-Australian railway, the gentleman responsible for the success of the Gippsland Lakes Entrance, we should have done very well for ourselves. But I was not altogether satisfied of the correctness of the statements in the testimonial, and, having had some indication of the direction in which to investigate, I made a few inquiries. For instance, I asked the Government of Victoria what was the nature of the work carried out by Messrs. Garnsworthy and Smith in connexion with the making of the Gippsland Lakes Entrance ; whether they had been, as we are given to understand in the testimonial, the contractors for practically the whole of that work; and whether, under them, Mr. Chinn carried it to a successful issue. This is the letter which I received from the Secretary to the Department of Public Works, Victoria, in reply to my inquiries - 29th November, 1912.
With reference to your further inquiries in the matter, I beg to inform you that the amount expended to date at the Gippsland Lakes Entrance is£136,000.
The plans and specifications were prepared, and the work supervised by the Public Works Department.
I wish the Committee to take notice of that.
– That can be said of pretty well all Government work.
-The honorable member had better not speak too quickly, lest he be sorry afterwards -
Messrs. Garnsworthy and Smith’s contract of 1/12/83, for£13,0791s. 2d. being one of the earliest let.
It appears, therefore, that the total responsibility of Messrs. Garnsworthy and Smith in connexion with the making of the Gippsland Lakes Entrance, was for work worth only £13,000 odd out of a total expenditure of £136,000 odd; that is, they were responsible for aboutatenth of the work. Yet, in the testimonial, we are given to understand that they were responsible for practically the whole work, and that Mr. Chinn was the man who brought operations to a successful issue. I saw Mr. Smith, the surviving partner of Messrs. Garnsworthy and Smith, and submitted the testimonial to him. Having read it, he expressed the utmost surprise at it; and when I asked whether Mr. Chinn was responsible for carrying out their little bit of a contract, he assured me that the full extent of Mr. Chinn’s connexion with it was that they hadreferred to him a few times in regard to certain minor features of the work. I leave the Committee to decide the amount of truth there is in the paragraph of the testimonial which gives credit to Mr. Chinn for the supervision of the whole of the work done at the Gippsland Lakes Entrance.
– Will the honorable “member explain why they took Mr. Chinn on at Adelaide in connexion with the trams, subsequent to that?
– I have already said that honorable members opposite should not be too hasty about making remarks, lest they be sorry afterwards; and I can assure the Minister that that applies with a great deal of force to the question which he has just put to me.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.
– Having shown the microscopic nature of the association of Mr. Chinn with the construction of the entrance to Gippsland Lakes, I pass on now to certain assertions that were made in connexion with the firm of Garnsworthy and Smith - assertions in which it was attempted to give Mr. Chinn the benefit of further association with the firm. It has been stated that Messrs. Garnsworthy and Smith had, amongst other large contracts, the construction of a railway line from Kelly Basin, on the west coast of Tasmania, to Mount Lyell field. Mr. Smith states to me that his firm did not construct the railway from Kelly Basin to Mount Lyell field. They had a contract in connexion with another line, which runs from Strahan to the Mount Lyell district; but I am informed that Mr. Chinn had nothing whatever to do with that contract. Seeing that Mr. Chinn has been given a great amount of credit for overcoming engineering difficulties in connexion with the line from Kelly Basin to the Mount Lyell field, I prosecuted my inquiries still further, thinking that, perhaps, a mistake had been made in confusing the two lines. I communicated with the contractors for the line from the Kelly Basin to Mount Lyell fields, and this is the answer I received -
Melbourne, 14th November, 1912.
In reply to your inquiry, we beg to state that we were the contractors for the North Mount Lyell Railway from Kelly’s Basin to Gormanstown, Linda Valley, and built it from start to finish.
Mr. Chinn was not in our employ on this or any other of our works. He applied to us for engagement, but we were unable to utilize bis services.
Yours faithfully, (Sgd.) Baxter and Saddler.
Following the matter up still further, I found the engineer for that contract, and applied to him for information as to whether Mr. Chinn had carried out this work and was responsible for all connected with it, as the public have been given to understand. This is the reply I received from the engineer in question -
Belmore-road, Randwick, N.S.W., 7th December, 1912.
In reply to your wire received to-day, Mr. Chinn was a draughtsman in my Melbourne office, and under my directions prepared most of the contract drawings for the North Mount Lyell and Macquarie Harbor Railway. He was not employed by me in Tasmania, either in the construction of the line or surveys.
Yours faithfully, (Sgd.) Alfred Clayton.
– He has some ability.
- Mr. Chinn, who has been alleged to be responsible for the carrying out of this difficult engineering undertaking, was, it appears, employed in the office of the engineer in the humble capacity of draughtsman. So much for the reiterated statements that Mr. Chinn was responsible for the plans and for the superintendence of the construction of this very difficult railway line. Now I come to another testimonial, on which a great deal of emphasis has been placed. It runs as follows - “Warleigh,” Brighton, Victoria, 23rd April,1903.
Mr. Henry Chinn, civil engineer, has been employed by me during a great number of years as engineer in charge of construction, &c, on almost all the large contracts I have engaged in, and I can, without the slightest hesitation, speak of him in the very highest terms as a professional gentleman.
I have carried out some of the largest contracts in New South Wales, Victoria, and Tasmania, under both the Governments and Harbor Boards of these States, also many of the underground contracts in connexion with the sewerage scheme of Melbourne, and I owe a deal of my success to the untiring energy and marked ability displayed by Mr. Chinn as my engineer in all these works.
To hear of his further success will give not only me great pleasure, but the great body of contractors, with whom he is deservedly popular, and it is due to him to state he is an engineer of exceptional ability, and that no more competent and popular gentleman in his profession is known to me.
Another very fine testimonial, indeed ! The sequel to it is contained in a letter which I shall now read from Mr. William Falkingham, a son of the contractor who is alleged to have signed the testimonial I have just read.
– Will honorable members please listen? The letter I received is as follows : -
Nixon-street, Shepparton, 28th November, 191 2.
With reference to your inquiries about the testimonials on behalf of Mr. Chinn, and signed J. Falkingham, appearing on page 1427 of the Parliamentary Debates, I beg to state it is not correct that Mr. Chinn was employed by my father as engineer in charge of construction on almost all the contracts my father carried out. Mr. Chinn was employed only on two contracts, one a railway contract in New South Wales for about six, the other a sewerage contract’ in Pickles-street, South Melbourne, for about three months. He was not in charge of either of these contracts, but was engaged in a subordinate capacity without any responsibility. My brother Joseph and myself were on all my father’s contracts as managers and partners, and I deny that Mr. Chinn had anything to do with our or my father’s success. On the contrary, we had a good deal of trouble with Mr. Chinn, and he was finally dismissed by my father from the sewerage contract in South Melbourne, because he could not carry out his work in a satisfactory way. Mr. Chinn gave the wrong lines in a drive, which put my father to big expense. I am positive that my father never wrote this testimonial, and it is most unlikely that he ever put his name to anything so incorrect and misleading. I wish also to point out as proof that this testimonial was not given by my father, that at the date it bears, 23rd April, 1903, my father was not living at address stated upon it, namely, Warleigh, Brighton. He had left there threeyears previously, and at the date given on the testimonial was living at 95 Riversdale-road, Glenferrie. I have no prejudice whatever against Mr. Chinn, but in the interests of truth, and of my father’s good name, I consider it my duty to supply you with the above information.
I am, Sir,
Yours faithfully, (Sgd.) Wm. Falkingham.
I leave the testimonial and the subsequent letter before the Committee for honorable members to draw their own deductions.
– Is the father dead?
– Yes, he died some years ago.
– On the official file, which was produced in justification of Mr. Chinn’s appointment, there is a document containing the following statement-
Went to Adelaide and made up tender for 54 miles construction electric tramway successfully, and acted as contractor’s engineer on works.
That is an official statement - part of the official file submitted by the Minister to justify the appointment of Mr. Chinn. I have a letter here from the contractors who carried out that work, and it runs as follows-
Smith and Timms, Contractors,
Adelaide, nth November, 1912.
In reply to yours dated 30th ult. re Mr. Chinn’s connexion with the tendering for the Adelaide trams. Mr. Chinn was never at any time engineer for the tramway, nor did he ever do any engineering work in connexion with it. As far as his connexion with the making up of the tender for the construction of the 54 miles, he had nothing whatever to do with it, any more than check amounts as submitted. Mr. Chinn was appointed as manager of the tramway construction, but after a few weeks’ trial he was removed from that position, as, in our opinion, he was not competent to carry out the duties.
Yours faithfully, (Sgd.) Smith & Timms.
In connexion with the appointment of Mr. Chinn, allusion was made by that gentleman in his application to a certain patent he alleged he possessed for the welding of rails, and the use of which he said was going to be of great benefit in carrying out the work of the transcontinental railway. In regard to this, I desire to read the following letter -
Australian Thermit Co. Ltd.,
Engineers and Contractors, 387 Kent-street,
Sydney, 7th December, 1912.
In reply to your inquiry regarding our experience with Mr. H. Chinn, we beg to say that when Chinn was acting for a short time in 1909, as engineer for Messrs. Smith and Timms, during the construction of the Adelaide electric tram line, he became acquainted with the “ Goldschmidt Alumino Thermic System “ for welding metals. Evidently Chinn must then have studied the Australian patents granted to Dr. Goldschmidt, and finding that a certain patent did not apply to South Australia, he, in company with another Adelaide gentleman, manufactured by the well-known Thermit formula a welding compound, which he called “ Kalipsite,” and for which he applied for a Commonwealth patent.
Dr. Goldschmidt, the inventor of the “Thermit” Welding System, opposed Chinn’s patent application. The latter then offered to sell his invention for£20,000, reducing his figure shortly after to £1,000, but was told that the inventor of “ Thermit,” as well as the Australian Thermit Co. Ltd., refused to have any dealings whatsoever with Chinn and Co.
Chinn then endeavoured to sell his imitated “ Kalipsite “ to the Adelaide and Sydney Tramway Departments, whereupon Dr. Goldschmidt brought an action against Chinn ‘for infringing his patent rights, and obtained from the Supreme Court of New South Wales an injunction with order of costs against Chinn, restraining Chinn from infringing the Goldschmidt’s “ Thermit “ patent rights.
The taxed costs against Chinn amounted to £980 18s.9d., of which Chinn has so far not paid one penny.
An execution against Chinn in Western Australia proved fruitless, as Chinn could prove that he had nothing more than the clotheshe was wearing.
Australian Thermit Co. Ltd., (Sgd.) O. Granowski, C.E.,
Enc. : Cutting from Daily Telegraph dated 12th November, 1910.
– A very unlucky man - not the only man in the world in that unfortunate position.
– In the face of what I have brought before the Committee, I desire to know whether the Government are still prepared to befriend and champion Mr. Chinn, or whether they are going to have some regard for public decency and the public welfare, and to reconsider the whole situation? I have given them the first and second chapters of my statement. I can assure them that I have no desire to give the third, and for their own sakes I hope that they will not make it necessary for me to put it forward.
– When I engaged Mr. Chinn, I did not ask him for a certificate of character, or anything else, as I have no faith in testimonials, because my experience is that Australia is now being hopelessly operated by men possessing strong certificates of character but little ability. I have had experience enough in Australia to know that that is so. I do not care what any man tells me. I have had as much business experience as any man in Australia. When any one offers to teach me, I invariably want to know where he had better opportunities than myself. As a rule, great talkers are not good business men. In America business men are frightened of great talkers, because they are generally dreamers. I am going to tackle this question. I know Mr. Chinn to be an able man. I regret that there are some people who will persecute others into their graves. I have made one of the biggest reforms in a Government Department ever recorded in the history of the world.
– Oh I
– The honorable member may laugh, but I challenge him to show that I have not made in a Government Department a reform the like of which has never previously been made.
– What reform?
– It is useless to talk to my honorable friend, because he is not a business man.
– I think that the Committee would prefer to hear a justification of Mr. Chinn’s appointment.
– I do not give a. snap of the fingers for what some members of the Committee think. I am speaking now, and when I have finished the honorable member may have his turn. I intend to say what I please. I say straight out that I engaged Mr. Chinn, and that he has already proved his wonderful ability by saving us the construction of from 5 to 6 miles of railway which we should have had to build had the old survey been followed.
– He has done nothing of the sort. Another man was responsible for that saving. I can absolutely prove that that is so. Mr. Chinn cribbed the idea from another man.
– Another man is responsible for the fact that the honorable member is in this House, just as another man is responsible for my appearance here. I beat the other man. Ever since M.r. Chinn has been in office he has carried out our orders, and has conducted cur business in an economical way. Until some specific charges are made against him I am not going to listen to slanderous rumours. I wonder how many of us would be here if we had to do as the old Roman candidates were required to do. Having enveloped themselves in white shrouds, they had to walk the streets of Rome, and if any one pelted stones or dirt at them they had to retire. How many of us could pass through such an ordeal? Where are all these pure people? It is all very well to drag up a man’s past and to show where he may have been unfortunate, but the fact remains that only two out of every hundred men in the world succeed. All the rest are failures. They fail in regard to everything they touch, because they do not operate on systematic business methods. They can talk well.
– And the honorable member is one of the two?
– I can explain what I do, although I am not a great talker. The honorable member for Perth says that Mr. Falkingham, junior, feels confident that his father did not give Mr. Chinn the certificate to which reference has been made. Would it not be fairer for the honorable member to make these statements outside, and to give Mr. Chinn a chance to make him prove them in the Supreme Court? I have never said in this House what I would not be prepared to say outside. I have declared from the housetops that I shall never sack a man because of statements made about him by any one else. I like to prove a man’s ability. I do not care what the honorable member for Perth or any one else may say; my only desire is that that man shall “ make good,” and Mr. Chinn has “made good.” He may not be the descendant of, a saint or an apostle, but he is a very able business man, and has “ made good1 “ since he has been in the service of the Commonwealth. My honorable friend says that the address “Brighton” appears at the top of the certificate alleged to have been given by Mr. Falkingham, although that gentleman had left Brighton three years before the date in question. As to that, I have only to say that I issued an order that the officers of my Department were not in future to commence their official letters with the words “ I have the honour,” &c, or to conclude with, “I am your humble, obedient servant.” Such a thing is humiliating ; but because some of these old humiliating forms, that had come down from the early ages, happened to be in my Department one of my officers recently used a few of them. When I inquired why he had done so, he said, “ The paper was in the office, and we thought that we might as well use it up.” Does my honorable friend say that, although Mr. Falkingham had left Brighton before the date given on the certificate, he could not have used paper bearing his old address ? Would the honorable member for Flinders accept such evidence? I think that he would like to cross-examine the honorable member for Perth on the point.
– I think that he would rather cross-examine Mr. Chinn.
– That is immaterial. The honorable member for Perth has had his Chinn music motor-car propelled by borrowed petrol ever since he has been dealing with this subject. It is about time it was dropped. Some of those who have produced the very best testimonials have proved to be among the worst men ever employed in the Home Affairs Department. The boozers and the “ staggerjuicers” have come to me with the best of testimonials.
– Does that apply to Chinn ?
– No; I did not ask him for testimonials. They were all put in later on. I did not put them in. I shall be his testimonial until he proves to be incapable of carrying out the business intrusted to him. When he does so he will quickly go. .
– Did the honorable member know Chinn before he appointed him?
– Certainly. Does the honorable member think that I would have engaged him if I had not known who he was?
– The Minister said that he knew him in Western Australia sixteen years ago.
– 1 met him many years ago at the residence of Dr. Taff, a leading medical practitioner in Western Australia, of St. George’s-terrace, Perth. Mr. Chinn was then a very honorable, decent man.
– The Minister will have to hear the third chapter.
– Get it out; but I think that my honorable friend ought to be prepared to say outside what he says here.
– Very well.
– Why should he?
– Does my honorable friend think it is right to scandalize a man under the privileged cover of this House without giving him a chance to clear himself.
– I have given the Committee facts.
– Does the honorable member for Flinders think that we ought to take advantage of our position as members of this House to slander people ?
– Give us a Select Committee of Inquiry.
– Give your grandmother something ! We are getting tired of this sort of thing. All the failures of this country are up against the successful and progressive Government.
– The charge is a serious one, but the Minister is turning the proceedings into a burlesque.
– The honorable member is a born burlesque. We are getting too many croakers in the House. They weep and wail against every successful person. What has Chinn done ? Has he sacrificed any of the property of the Commonwealth since he has been in Western Australia? Can honorable members make any charges against his administration? If they can, let them bring them forward and prove them, and I will sack him.
– There is the charge that he attempted to rob another man of his patent rights.
– Rob a man of his patent rights ? That is “ dog eat dog.” I have been robbed of lots of things in this world, but I have not robbed any one yet. Some of my honorable friends opposite at the next general election will be robbed of their seats. I do not intend, under any circumstances, to dismiss Mr. Chinn, no matter what may be said in this House as to his past record, unless some one will make charges ‘against his business capacity since he has been in our employ in Western Australia. That is my position. I should not be worth my salt if I sacked a man on mere hearsay evidence. According to the honorable member for Perth, Mr. Falkingham, junior, says that he does not think his father signed the certificate alleged to have been given to Mr. Chinn. That is a preposterous statement. I believe that my honorable friend from Perth is conscientious, but this maher has taken complete possession of him. It is like a terrestrial serpent. It has absolutely encircled him within its slimy folds, and it is squeezing Chinn into him and Chinn out of him.
– I can to some extent sympathize with the desire expressed by the Minister that the subject of Mr. Chinn’s appointment should be allowed to drop; but, having regard to the revelations that have just been made by the honorable member for Perth, I do not think he can expect the Committee to pass it over.
– Let the Opposition put me out, if they can.
– It is not a matter of “ putting out” the honorable member. The question is rather whether some inquiry should not be made. It will be remembered that when Mr. Chinn was appointed to the very responsible position of supervising engineer of a section of the great trans- Australian railway, the strongest doubts were expressed in the House as to whether his qualifications warranted his appointment. It was pointed out that there was no evidence that he had ever been engaged in a responsible position on any large engineering work. We were then told by the Minister that he did not require testimonials, that he did not want evidence of experience, because he himself knew that Mr. Chinn was capable of carrying out this very responsible work. We are now told by the Minister that, since his appointment, Mr. Chinn has “made good.” With very great humility, I venture to express some doubt as to whether the Minister is a sufficient judge of the technical ability of Mr. Chinn.
– Mr. Chinn is only a subordinate officer. The engineer in charge is responsible for the work, and not Mr. Chinn.
- Mr. Chinn is the engineer in charge of the construction of that portion of the line. Earlier in the session, grave doubts were expressed as to whether his qualifications were sufficient to fit him for this very important position. When the matter was debated here, the same kind of answer was given to the criticism in which honorable members indulged as the Minister has favoured us with tonight. It was very amusing and very interesting from his point of view, but he merely turned all the arguments which had been advanced into a burlesque. Shortly afterwards, the matter was debated in another place, and, at a very late stage, the testimonials which should have been brought forward at the beginning as a justification for Mr. Chinn’s appointment were produced. These are the testimonials upon which the honorable member for Perth has dilated. I must say that there are one or two statements made in. the letters which have been read which demand the attention of the Government. In the first place, unless each of these persons whose evidence has been read by the honorable member for Perth is deliberately lying, Mr. Chinn never could have obtained these testimonials. Regarding the one from Mr. Falkingham, the statement is made that it was impossible for Mr. Chinn to get it, inasmuch as the former had left the house from which it is alleged to have been addressed three years previously. Of course, it is possible - but it is very unlikely - that Mr. Falkingham may have preserved some letter-paper with his former address upon it - an address which he had relinquished three years before - and upon which he wrote that testimonial. I think that the House should have an opportunity of seeing the originals of these testimonials. Moreover, the least the Minister can do is to cause an inquiry to be made into these allegations. But, instead of doing that, he has adopted the easy course of challenging the honorable member for Perth to say outside of this Chamber what he has said inside of it. That is the last refuge of a man who has no other argument to bring forward. To challenge the honorable member to make his statements outside this House is an unwarrantable thing. It is a challenge to the honorable member to throw aside the protection which Parliament extends to us all. We are not to say whether the statements contained in these letters are true or untrue. Of course, if an honorable member were to bring forward a perfectly scandalous statement, and one without any tittle of foundation, he would be abusing his parliamentary privilege. But where statements are produced which are not of that character, I submit that they constitute reasons why a prudent Minister should say, “ This is a matter which ought to be investigated.” But we have statements made not merely in regard to Mr. Falkingham’s testimonials. If it can be proved that that testimonial is probably not genuine, the whole fabric raised in support of Mr. Chinn’s appointment falls to the ground.
– He does not deny that Mr. Chinn worked for his father.
– But he says that he worked for him under such conditions as rendered it impossible for Mr. Falkingham senior to give a testimonial in such terms.
– Has Mr. Falkingham’s son made a statutory declaration? Why does not the honorable member call upon him to do that ?
– How can I compel him to do that?
– The honorable member is a lawyer. He can tell him how to do it.
– The honorable member knows that no private individual has a right to compel any other man to make an oath. Here are some of the statements made in Mr. Falkingham’s testimonial -
That Mr. Henry Chinn, civil engineer, has been employed by me during a great number of years as engineer-in-charge of construction, &c, on almost all the large contracts I have engaged in, and I can, without the slightest hesitation, speak of him in the very highest terms as a professional gentleman. I have carried out some of the largest contracts in New South Wales, Victoria, and Tasmania, under both the Governments and Harbor Boards of those States, also many of the underground contracts in connexion with the sewerage scheme of Melbourne, and I owe a deal of my success to the untiring energy and marked ability displayed by Mr. Chinn as my engineer in all these works. “Untiring energy and marked ability” seems to have a very marked resemblance to a phrase used in another testimonial by Garnsworthy and Smith. They use the term “ untiring energy and exceptional ability.” Mr. Falkingham’s testimonial proceeds -
To hear of his further success will give not only me great pleasure, but the great body of contractors, with whom he is deservedly popular, and it is due to him to state that he is an engineer of exceptional ability, and that no more competent and popular gentleman in his profession is known to me.
Suppose against that statement we place the allegations of Mr. Falkingham’s son. Mr. Falkingham is dead. So is Mr. Garnsworthy. So is Sir William Zeal.
– Sir John Madden is not dead.
– But I do not suppose that Sir John Madden would for a moment give a testimonial regarding the professional ability of Mr. Chinn. Mr. Falkingham’s son, who is the only man who is capable of speaking of the real facts, says that he does not believe that that testimonial was given by his father to Mr. Chinn, because the statements contained in it are not true - because they are very far from the truth. He says that Mr. Chinn was not engaged on all, or nearly all, of these large contracts.
– What is the date of the testimonial?
– The 23rd April, i893-
– What was the age of Mr. Falkingham’s son then?
– The son is now an elderly man. He says that Mr. Chinn was not engaged on these works, but only upon two of them, and in a minor capacity. . He says that Mr. Chinn was engaged on one constructing work for a period of six months, and that he was also engaged upon a very minor contract in connexion with the South Melbourne sewerage works, from which he was dismissed for incompetence after three months. He writes as follows : -
I beg to state it is not correct that Mr. Chinn - was employed by my father as engineer in charge of construction on almost all the contracts my father carried out. Mr. Chinn was employed only on two contracts, one a railway contract in New South Wales for about six months, the other a sewerage contract in Picklesstreet, South Melbourne, for about three months. He was not in charge of either of these contracts, but was engaged in a subordinate capacity without any responsibility.
– Does he say that Mr. Chinn forged his father’s name?
– He says that Mr. Chinn was engaged in a subordinate capacity, without any responsibility. This is the charge made by the only man alive who knows anything about the facts - that this testimonial is forged.
– Let him make that charge.
– He does make it. He says -
My brother Joseph and myself were on all my father’s contracts as managers and partners.
I presume, unless he is lying, that he knows what he is talking about. He proceeds -
And I deny that Mr. Chinn had anything to do with our or my father’s success. On the contrary, we had a good deal of trouble with Mr. Chinn, and he was finally dis- . missed by my father from the sewerage contract in South Melbourne, because he could not carry out his work in a satisfactory way. Mr. Chinn gave the wrong lines in a drive, which put my father to big expense. I am positive that my father never wrote this testimonial, and it is most unlikely that he ever put his name to anything so incorrect and misleading.
If this is not a genuine letter, the man who wrote it is not only a liar, but a rogue of the deepest die. But what interest has he in the matter?
– It is a very simple thing to give wrong lines.
– It may be. But Mr. Chinn was dismissed from the contract for so doing.
I wish also to point out as proof that this testimonial was not given by my father, that at the date it bears, 23rd April, 1903, my father was not living at address stated upon it, namely, Warleigh, Brighton. He had left there three years previously, and at the date given” on the testimonial was living at 95 Riversdale-road Glenferrie.
– When was that letter written ?
– It was written this year. If this matter be subjected to an inquiry, Mr. Falkingham, junior, can be forced to swear to these things; and if he swears falsely, he can be prosecuted for perjury. All that we seek is that the truth of these allegations shall be inquired into.
– Let Mr. Falkingham, junior, make a statutory declaration.
– Here we have quite a number of persons who make statements, and presumably they are not all engaged in a conspiracy. Why should they be? Unconnected with one another, they make statements which they believe to be true which are inconsistent with the pretensions put forward by Mr. Chinn. The testimonial from Messrs. Garnsworthy and Smith is written, as the honorable member for Perth has pointed out, in the same turgid phraseology - a most extraordinary coincidence, if one compares its phrases with those of the other testimonials.
– Testimonials are often similar in terms.
– I have copied a testimonial.
– It is possible that Mr. Chinn may have written the testimonials himself. Testimonials are sometimes written by a man who gets others to sign them.
– Mr. Chinn was not appointed on these testimonials.
– That is another question.
– He was appointed on his ability ; that is all.
-I challenge the honorable member’s ability, no matter what his instinctive knowledge of human nature, to possess a knowledge of all these matters.
– Have a deal with me, and see how I will come out of it.
– There is not merely this one case, which alone would demand the fullest inquiry, but there are the other cases, in which the claim has been brought forward that Mr. Chinn did great work, and men who know about the thing swear that he did not, and had no responsibility for the work. A stronger case for inquiry has never been made out, and the matter cannot be left to rest where it is. It is no answer to say that the honorable member should go outside, and assume the responsibility of proving things which are not capable of proof by him. lt is the duty of an honorable member to whom statements of this kind come, to put them before Parliament, in train for inquiry by a Committee of the House, or by. the Minister, in order that the truth of the allegations on one side or the other may be established. This case having been made out, matters cannot remain as they are. With the doubts that have been raised, backed up by these independent letters and information which will appear in Hansard, how is it possible for the matter to be allowed to rest where it is? I do not believe that honorable members on either side will think of that. The case requires investigation. If a Committee or a Commission be appointed, it will have power to compel all these persons to come before it, and to swear to what is written. It they cannot, Mr. Chinn will be relieved of all the aspersions or implications thrown on him by their letters. If they can prove their statements, they will have made a case which he will have to disprove. One or the other must be done.
.- As under the standing order I have the right to make another speech, I take up the challenge of honorable members of the Labour party, and give chapter iii. of this case, and as soon as I get the proof copy of the report of my speech, I shall repeat what T have said outside, word for word, at the earliest possible opportunity.
– There is no need to do that.
– I have said it, and I shall do it. This man Chinn is a worthless scoundrel and imposter, and members of the Government are aware of it. At the time when he was alleged to be carrying on a highly lucrative business in Melbourne, his motherless children were being left in such a state of neglect that they had to be taken charge of and brought up by relatives. Let me tell the Committee the circumstances under which Mr. Chinn left Victoria in a hurry. A gentleman at present carrying on business in this city was approached by an individual who represented to him that he was co-trustee with a certain- person holding a very high position in this State, in connexion with certain moneys which they wished to lend out to farmers at low rates of interest. The business man was asked if he could put the lenders in communication with farmers needing loans of money. He took the trouble to communicate with a friend, then in business in the northern parts of Victoria, who at present holds a responsible position in the Government of this State. This gentleman on being communicated with arranged to drive the individual who had alleged that he had money to lend, to see some farmers. This individual made a pretence of inspecting some farms, said that the security was good, and that the money would be lent. He then levied the inspection fees, and that was the last that was heard of the matter, so far as he was concerned. The gentleman who worked that swindle was Mr. Henry Chinn, the man who was appointed by this Government to superintend the construction of a portion of the Western Australian railway, who has been championed and defended by this Government right through until now. The business man, finding that Mr. Chinn had disappeared, went to his alleged cotrustee, and asked him about the affair. The alleged co-trustee said that Mr. Chinn had no money to lend in connexion with him,, and probably none at all, and that, as a matter of fact, the business man had been “got at.” That is a good many years ago. I come now to a later episode. About six years since there was a great outcry in Western Australia about goldstealing at the Kalgoorlie mines. It was pretty well known that large quantities of gold were disappearing in a mysterious fashion, and the difficulty was to find, not only who was stealing the gold, but who was getting away with it and disposing of it. An inquiry was set afoot, and although the results of the inquiry were never published, I believe that some very interesting evidence was forthcoming. I am in a position to prove that during this period when there was so much -anxiety regarding gold stealing, Mr. Henry Chinn was trying to dispose of a parcel of gold in Perth, not at the Mint, but to a private buyer, if he could find one, at £2 an ounce - about half its value. One of Mr. Chinn’s first acts, after being appointed to his present position, was to get into communication with a firm which has a certain patent process from which it naturallydesires to get some advantage. He informed the Melbourne manager of the firm of his appointment, and said that in all probability he would be able tothrow some big business in his way, but. that there should be a commission on it. The words he used in connexion with this suggestion of a commission were that the manager would have to talk to him, not in hundreds, but in thousands, of pounds. This is the gentleman whom the Minister of Home Affairs has stood up on the floor of the Chamber to-night to defend, and whose appointment the Government has endeavoured to justify. Ministers are prepared to stick to Mr. Henry Chinn through thick and thin. Are they going to do it now? I challenge them to take up the gauntlet at the earliest opportunity that I have thrown down.
– What was thefirm ?
– I may as well let the Committee know that the firm whose manager Mr. Chinn approached was the Powellising Company.
– That is not. true.
– I am prepared tostate outside, at the earliest possible opportunity, everything that I have said tonight, and I again challenge the Government to take up the gauntlet.
– The charge that the honorable member hasmade against the Powell Process Company
– I made no charge against the company.
– Is absolutely without foundation. I heard the very same story at the time - though I have nothing whatever to do with the Powell process. I do my business direct with the Western Australian Government. I sent for Mr. Gorton, and he “said that it was a wilful and deliberate falsehood. Hesaid that in the office before several of the secretaries. I told him that if that was true - the story I had heard - that Mr. Chinn would go very quickly. Hesaid, “ It is an absolute falsehood,” andif the honorable member for Perth wilh make the statement outside about Mr. Gorton, and Mr. Gorton does not takeaction, I shall “ sack “ Chinn in the morning.
– The Government will be “ sacked “ by the country over this in very quick time, or I much misunderstand the electors of Australia.
– I can assure my honorable friend that he will have his work cut out in securing his own seat. He need not worry about this Government. As far as he has gone, it was the last croak of a dying circus.
.- I have no desire to continue these polemics, and still less to introduce any further difference. But I ask the Minister whether the Government does not, under the circumstances, propose to take the necessary steps for a full and fair inquiry into these charges. Honorable members on both sides will agree that, having regard to the allegations, made apparently on excellent authority, the employ^ of the Government who has been mentioned, and against whom the charges have been levelled, has as much interest in the early holding of an inquiry of the fullest and frankest kind as have those who have made the charges. Under the circumstances, I ask the Minister whether he will make a statement now, or whether he will undertake to consult his colleagues on this subject. The matter cannot .be allowed to rest as it stands. Either a very grave and serious injustice is being done to an innocent man, or there is an officer in a Ministerial Department who has no title to hold any office of trust.
.- In view of the statements that have been made this evening, I say at once I think it necessary and due to the country that some inquiry should be made into the position of Mr. Chinn. If half of the statements which have been made are true, Mr. Chinn is not a suitable man for his position. In justice to him, and to the Government, there should be an inquiry to ascertain whether they are true. I am not one of those who contend that an honorable member is bound, to make such statements as these outside the House.
– The position that he is bound to do so is an entirely wrong one.
– There are many statements which, if made outside, would lead to trouble. The representatives of the people are privileged in what they say in Parliament, so that in the public interest the fullest light may be thrown on the character of any individual, or on any matter. The honorable member for Perth has made very grave charges against Mr. Chinn. I say frankly that I never heard a stronger case yet stated against any man in my life. If this man has been guilty of selling gold at £2 an ounce in Perth-
– I said he tried to sell it.
– If he tried to sell gold at that price, the matter ought to be sifted to the very bottom. I know that, ten years ago or so, gold stealing was common in Kalgoorlie and the Boulder. I happened to be there at the time, and I know that in some cases the charges were proved, though in other cases the offenders were not found out. If gold is offered at £2 an ounce, there is something wrong, for gold can be sold at its full value at any time. Of course, I do not say that the charges made are true, but no honorable member would make charges of the kind unless he had evidence to support them ; and there ought to be an inquiry. If these charges, or any one of them, can be proved, this officer should not hold his position one moment longer. On the other hand, if the charges are incorrect, then an inquiry will only do justice to Mr. Chinn himself; at any rate, he cannot rest under the stigma that has been placed upon him. I do not agree that the honorable member for Perth should be called upon to make these charges outside.
– That is a most unfair challenge.
– It is, and I contend that in our public capacity we are privileged to make statements, and, if they are of any consequence, it is the duty of the Government to make investigation.
– In the interests of the House.
– And in the interests of the country. A man who has not clean hands should not be in any responsible position connected with the public affairs of the country; and I, as a supporter of the Government, hope the Prime Minister will take into consideration the statements that have been made. Some inquiry must be instituted, and, if the charges are correct, this gentleman should be sent about his business.
– I have no hesitation about an inquiry into this matter, providing that the honorable member for Perth will come to the inquiry and make those charges.
– Does the honorable member think that I would stay away?
– I am perfectly willing to have an inquiry, but I do not think that Mr. Chinn ought to be sacrificed unless the charges are absolutely true. A man ought- not to be deprived of the opportunity to make his living if he has the ability to make it. Of course, if what the honorable member for Perth says about Mr. Chinn is true, Mr. Chinn cannot hold such a position - that is all.
.- L generally like to be on the side of the “under dog.” I can carry my mind back to a time when in the Victorian State Parliament I endeavoured to have an inquiry into the scamping of the contract for this Parliament House. The present Leader of the Opposition here was a member of that Parliament ; and the man who would not accept a bribe, but refused to pass the plastering, that is a disgrace to the Queen’s Hall, and the man who refused to pass the stone used to build the Law Courts in this State, were sacked. Sir Bryan O’Loghlen also endeavoured to have an inquiry made, but the power of the contractors in the House was sufficient to prevent it. If any one looks at the stone in the Melbourne Law Courts, from the second story upwards, he will find every single stone spotted like the Dalmatian dogs that follow carriages. Every stone had to be tested by a model stone, but that model stone disappeared, and a reward by the Government, supplemented with a reward of £100 from the contractors, failed to secure its return. Every single stone in the second story of the Law Courts is a disgrace and a dishonour to the contractors for the building. Again, I tried to get justice when Sir Henry Wrixon was AttorneyGeneral in the State Parliament, by means of an inquiry in the case of Silas Harding, who was proved to have committed wilful and corrupt perjury, and yet he was allowed to die in his bed as an innocent man. I am glad that the Minister of Home Affairs is prepared to have an inquiry, because I do not believe that Mr. Chinn is as bad as he is painted. I believe that he is able to do his work, and I have yet to know that the head of his Department has contradicted the fact that he has saved Australia a large sum of money in shortening the track of the transcontinental line.
– That statement is not correct.
– It is absolutely correct ; and, at any rate, it has nothing to do with the charges that have been made.
– The shortening of the track was made by another man altogether.
– The honorable member for Perth has the courage to say that he is going to repeat his speech outside. Although I do not desire thai, he should do so, I know of nothing more courageous.
– The honorable member challenged me to do so.
– No; I challenged the honorable member for Flinders, who represents a minority that sent him into this House. I was somewhat amused with the legal twist that that honorable member put on the matter when he said that the wording of the letters was somewhat similar. We naturally ask for testimonials of persons whom we do not know ; and, after all, sons do not know all their fathers do. As for the testimonial being taken from an address occupied by the writer three years before, I last week received a letter that had been sent to my address of twenty years ago, and that letter was from a scientific society. Of course, we know that equity barrister style that the honorable member for Flinders always displays, and his tones are so ponderous that we should be really impressed if we did not know him. I hope that, for Mr. Chinn’s sake, an inquiry will be held; but it should be arranged that Mr. Chinn should not be mulcted in law costs, for his salary is not big enough to bear them. It is only right that the Government should bear the cost of such an inquiry regarding one of their officers. I had three afternoon experiences in the High Court, and I should not wish a Newfoundland dog to be tried in that way. In that case there were 150 sworn declarations, and it would have cost £2,000 to try to get justice. Sometimes when we read judgments we wonder where the Judges get their sense. We know that they go to the tail of the horse in order to decorate their heads, and very dirty wigs they have sometimes. A Judge occupies the very highest position, but some of them sit silent when the most terrible perjury is being committed. I hope mat Mr. Chinn will not be put to expense, but that the Government will find the money to defend their official.
– I was unavoidably absent from the Chamber, and did not hear the charges made by the honorable member for Perth regarding an employe of the Commonwealth, named Henry Chinn, supervising engineer on the transcontinental railway. The honorable member will correct me if I am wrong; but I understand that one of the documents read in relation to that employe purports to be a forgery. That document, I am told, represents Mr. Chinn as a man of competency in his profession, and speaks highly of him in other respects, and it is said that that document is not true, and that the fact that it is not true is known to Mr. Chinn himself. If that be so, of course a state of affairs is created that makes it due to the Government, the House, and only fair to Mr. Chinn himself, that early and ample opportunity should be afforded him to defend himself against those charges.
– The charges might have been brought forward earlier.
– I presume the charges are made in a bond fide way ; and I do not say that the position would have been improved if the matter had been brought forward earlier. We do not know that the documents were in the possession of the honorable member earlier; and I take it that if they had been we should have heard the charges earlier.
– What brought me to my feet a second time only recently occurred in another place.
– Even supposing that the information were in the possession of the honorable member earlier,, that would not relieve the Government from taking action at the present time, now that the charges have been made.
– This is the first opportunity that I have had.
– That, of course, exonerates the honorable member from any imputation of withholding information.- Although I have not heard all that the honorable member has said, I feel that no time should be lost in investigating the whole of the facts, and I shall be prepared tomorrow to make a statement on behalf of the Government.
– I should like to direct attention to the item “storage and seasoning of timber,” under which head £4,320 was voted last year, and £1,549 spent. I understood that some two years ago the Minister of Home Affairs announced that it was his intention to erect in some centres in Australia depots where the various wood and timbers of the States could be seasoned and made available for the use of the Government as they were required. We are now undertaking works of great magnitude in connexion with which enormous quantities of timber will be required. By way of illustration, I would point out that the sleepers required on the railway from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie, and for the projected line from Oodnadatta to Pine Creek, will probably involve an expenditure of over £4,000,000. Surely the Minister, having regard to his business capacity, does not propose that we should make no effort to secure the best timbers available for the purpose. I have, on many occasions during the session, impressed upon the Minister the desirableness of attending to this matter-
– Will the honorable member allow me to interrupt him for a moment ?
– I have asked the honorable member for Perth privately whether he will be good enough to lay on the table the papers which he has used, and which I presume are original documents, so that they will be in the possession of the House, and can be dealt with in a formal manner. If he will intimate his willingness to do so, a difficulty will be removed.
– I shall certainly do so.
.- In connexion with the construction of the Federal Capital,” vast quantities of timber will also be used, and we can obtain the best value for our money only by taking steps to secure seasoned woods. There are different processes of seasoning. The Minister has mentioned two or three, and we all know that by up-ending timber in stacks beneficial results are naturally secured. Unless steps be taken to obtain supplies of seasoned timber in advance, the Government will one day find it necessary, without notice, to issue orders for very large quantities, which will have to be hurriedly cut and used without being properly seasoned. We have in Tasmania large quantities of blackwood of magnificent quality; but, unfortunately, many blackwood trees are being destroyed because, owing to their remoteness from a market, the rates at present offering would not pay.
– Blackwood fetches a big price in Sydney.
– I have seen blackwood burnt. As a matter of fact, for furniture-making purposes, blackwood is as good as the best mahogany. For beauty and durability, it cannot be surpassed. If the Minister took action now, he could secure a supply in the log to be cut and used as required. The celerytopped pine, another beautiful timber, could also be secured in large quantities. I think that the amount voted for the storage and seasoning of timber last year should have been expended. Unfortunately, year after year, we agree to large sums of money which we are told are urgently required, only to find, at the end of the year, that perhaps not 10 per cent, of the total amount has been expended. The Government should look well ahead and make provision for the timber they will require in connexion with railway construction and other works. I have complained on a previous occasion that, although we have in Tasmania timber equal to the very best jarrah, not one order for a sleeper has been placed in that State by the Government. I do not suggest that timber required for railway construction purposes in Western Australia, where large supplies of jarrah are available, should be secured from the east; but, at the same time, I think it is equally foolish to bring from the west timber required in the eastern States when we have in Tasmania ample supplies of, at least, equally good timber. First class mills in Tasmania are awaiting orders, and the industry would be greatly assisted if the Government, instead of waiting until large quantities are required, were to place their orders in time to allow the timber to be thoroughly seasoned. The Minister should establish testing depots in the different States, so that the Government will be able to get good value for their money. The life of seasoned timber is three times that of green timber placed in the ground.
– Is there any timber in Tasmania suitable for wood-pulp purposes?
– Yes, the best in the world. I regret that the amount placed on the Estimates for this purpose last year was not expended.
– We expended ;£*>549-
– I am sorry that the Minister did not spend the full amount.
– We have spent it since.
– Although this sum of £4,320 was placed on the Estimates last year, no attempt has yet been made to thoroughly test the timbers of Australia. The timbers of Queensland, New South Wales, and Tasmania ought to be well tested. There are various seasoning processes, but the best process for one class of timber might’ prove to be quite as unsuitable for another. The Minister should recognise that it is not good- business to utilize green timber on Government works when, by the exercise of a little foresight, large supplies of well-seasoned timber can be obtained.
– I wish to bring under the attention of the Minister the question of the supervision of Commonwealth works. Since the inception of Federation, it has been the practice to pass votes for certain works and to leave their supervision to the State Departments. The Public Works Department of New South Wales is carrying out large State works, and its officers naturally give first consideration to the State undertakings. Commonwealth works have suffered very considerably because of the system that has hitherto been followed, urgent works sometimes being delayed, although provision has been made for them on the Estimates. This question has been discussed on previous occasions, and the only remedy that has been suggested is that we should establish a large Works Department in connexion with the Department of Home Affairs. It has been urged that the Department of Home Affairs should have the supervision of the detailed work hitherto transacted by the State Departments ; and it seems to me that we have now reached a point at which some system of the kind should be adopted. I find that provision is made on these Estimates for a total expenditure of £183,612 in respect of ordinary works and buildings to be carried out by the Department of Home Affairs. Last year, the actual expenditure on such works amounted to £157,741. The prevision made for expenditure on works and buildings in the several States this year is as follows : - New South Wales, ^£46,098; Victoria, £26,842; Queensland, £19,242 ; South Australia, £12,032 ; Western Australia, £6,412 ; and Tasmania, £.3,323. Ifc will thus 06 that the annual expenditure in public works in three, if not four, of the States is large enough to warrant the special supervision for which I ask. The figures I have quoted, however, relate only to the ordinary expenditure of the Department. In the Estimates providing for Additions, New Works and Buildings, provision has been made for an estimated expenditure of £991»647> under the supervision of the Department of Home Affairs, during the present year. So that, altogether, the appropriations for these new works total £2,789,000. Last year the expenditure upon similar works was £2,457,324.
– Was that for the whole Commonwealth?
– Yes. These figures indicate that the operations of the Commonwealth in regard to its public works are of such an extensive character as to warrant the appointment of a larger staff for the purposes of supervision. I would like to know from the Minister what he intends to do by way of increasing the State staffs in order to cope with this work of supervision? From the large volume of work which is being done, it seems to me that whatever objections to duplicating services may have existed at the outset do not exist now. In order to secure efficiency, it is absolutely necessary that the Department should have a supervising staff of its own. I shall be pleased to know whether the Minister has any scheme in reference to this matter.
.- The Prime Minister has promised to institute a full inquiry into the allegations which have been made against Mr. Chinn. I would suggest to the Minister in the most friendly way that, in view of that promise, he should withdraw the challenge which, in the heat of the moment, he threw out to the honorable member for Perth that the latter should make outside of this Chamber the statements which he has made inside of it. It would be only a fair thing for him to do in the circumstances. There are also one or two matters of an important character to which I wish to direct the Minister’s at tention. The first has reference to the plans which have been prepared in connexion with the Federal Capital. I have spoken to the Minister upon this subject on several occasions, and as one who takes a deep interest in it I entertain some anxiety as to the wisdom of building the city in accordance with the plan which is now on exhibition in the Queen’s Hall. I am not going to make any charge against the ability of the six officers of the Department of Home Affairs who have prepared that composite plan. When I was Minister of Home Affairs, I had an opportunity of meeting them, and I am pleased to recognise their ability. But I do not think any one of those officers will claim to have had the slightest experience in the scientific matter of town planning. They are admirable officers, but in town planning there is not one of them who has had the slightest education or experience.
– Are there any men in the Commonwealth with that knowledge?
– I understand that there are. The Minister has spoken most loudly of his desire to establish in Australia the finest city in the world. We are all anxious that that should be done. But it can only be done by building the Federal Capital on lines which accord with the best experience and knowledge that are available. How is it possible for six officers in his Department to draw up a plan for the Federal City? We have the premiated designs which are on exhibition in the Queen’s Hall, and we have also the composite plan which the Minister intends to adopt.
– From a layman’s stand-point, that is the best design of the lot.
– But we want a plan which is the best from an expert’s standpoint. The men who have been appointed to prepare this conglomerate plan are all laymen. In Germany, America, and other portions of the world, town planning has only become a science during the past few years. I would impress upon the Minister, before starting to build the Federal Capital, the necessity of securing the best expert advice that is available.
– There would be no harm in. getting an opinion upon the composite plan.
– That is all I wish. If the Minister is prepared to call in experts,
I shall be satisfied. But I am not satisfied to see the building of the Federal Capital started in accordance with the ideas of six officers who have no knowledge of this important subject.
– Most engineers study town planning now.
– Who are the engineers amongst these officers? Colonel Miller is not an engineer ; Colonel Owen is a military engineer; and Mr. Murdoch is an architect’s draftsman.
– Is not Colonel Owen an engineer ?
– He is a military engineer by education and experience, and although he is in the Department of Home Affairs, his proper place is the Defence Department. Then we have Mr. Oakshott who is Director of Works in New South Wales; and Mr. Scrivener, who is a surveyor, and who has been knocking about the back-blocks of New South Wales all his life. These officers are not engineers.
– A great many engineers study these matters, although their knowledge of town planning may be theoretical.
– -I do not think that even the Minister will contend for a moment that these officers have made a study of town planning as it is known at the present time. I know men who have made a study of that science.
– Does the honorable member suggest that the Minister should bring a town planner from America?
– I suggest that, before we start on this important work, the Minister should secure the most competent advice available, in order to ascertain whether the composite plan which has been adopted has been framed upon proper lines. Then there is another matter connected with the Federal Capital upon which I desire to touch. When the Minister and some of his colleagues visited Jervis Bay some time ago in connexion with the establishment of the Naval College, they recognised the necessity of extending the State railway system from Bomaderry to Jervis Bay. The New South Wales authorities have expressed themselves as perfectly prepared to undertake that extension, provided that the Commonwealth Government make a definite statement before the Public Works Committee of New
South Wales as to the policy which is to be adopted in the matter of linking up the Federal Capital by rail with the port of Jervis Bay.
– That railway can wait.
– I merely desire to see Ministers keep their promises. The Prime Minister, the Minister of Defence, and the Minister of Home Affairs recognise the necessity for an extension of the line from Bomaderry to Jervis Bay. But the Minister knows perfectly well that that extension cannot be carried out until a definite statement of the policy of the Commonwealth Government is put before the New South Wales Public Works Committee. Surveys of the line from Yass-Canberra to Jervis Bay have already been “made. The Minister sent one officer, in the person of Captain Chambers, to give evidence before the New South Wales Public Works Committee, but he was unable to give that body any real information. I desire that theMinister should see that the policy of the Government in connexion with linking upthe Federal Capital with the port of Jervis- Bay by means of a railway is put before that Committee. If the Government do not intend to undertake the construction of thailine, it will mean saying good-bye to an extension from Bomaderry to the Naval College. In all probability the Committee, which is now favorable to the extension, subject to the policy of the Federation being put before, it, will, before long, go out of existence. Therefore, the Government should deal with the matter quickly. It has beenbefore them for the last twelve months. I ask the Minister to see that the Committee is informed of the Government’s policy, so that the works may be carried out. I alsowish to impress upon the Minister the need; for having a report upon the designs of the Federal Capital, so that no mistakemay be made in laying it out.
– I bring under the notice of the Minister the great delays that take place in connexion with land transactions and resumptions by his Department. I have had instances in my electorate in which people who have parted with allotments for postoffices and other small areas of land have had to wait twelve and fourteen months after the proclamation of the resumptions for their money. Regarding one instance, in which only about £80 was involved, F had about six letters. It is very unbusi- ness-like not to deal with these matters more expeditiously. The great Home Affairs Department should settle more promptly.
– It is the Crown Solicitor’s Department that holds us up.
– Whoever keeps poor people waiting for their money should be hanged. If I want to buy a piece of land, 1 can do it without the help of the Crown Solicitor, and the Government should be able to do likewise. If these high-salaried officers were kept waiting for their money as they keep poor persons waiting for payments, things would soon move more quickly.
– It is the slow process of legal connexion.
– The Minister can do something to quicken procedure. A matter that has not moved a peg is the resumption of the private lands in the Liverpool Manoeuvre Area. The Prime Minister told me three weeks ago that that would be finished by Christmas; but to-day I received a letter from the Home Affairs Department saying that nothing would be done until February.
– It will take until that time to get into running condition.
– I remember the Minister telling me two years ago that “ She will be settled up now within a few weeks.” The way in which the matter has been handled is scandalous. I have been told repeatedly by the Government of New South Wales that they would carry out the work if the Commonwealth Government would find the money. The Prime Minister assured me that he had placed the money at the disposal of the Minister of Home Affairs. Why, then, cannot the business be completed ? According to the letter that I got to-day, the land must be surveyed and the proper boundaries fixed. But the maps which I have received since I have been interested in this matter, as the representative of the district, would paper this chamber, so that is only an excuse. Every inch of the Territory must have been mapped and remapped, until the people living on it are sick of the sight of the surveyors. The New South Wales Government possess all information that is needed for the resumption of any part of the area, and would be quite willing to supply that information to the Commonwealth. The Home Affairs Department, instead of sending a staff of surveyors to examine the land again, should ask for information about it from the Government of New South Wales, who will be only too glad to give it to them.
– We are in communication with the New South Wales SurveyorGeneral.
– It should not take three months to get a reply from him. I take it that the New South Wales Government are still alive. My fear is lest, if the matter is not settled before we get into recess, it will be shelved till the next session.
– We ought to hold the House up until it is settled.
– Ministers should declare themselves one way or another. Either they do, or they do not, want this work carried out. Had they any shame, they would get it finished. I am tired of bringing it before the Chamber. Nothing is being dome in New South Wales. I was there a fortnight ago, and made inquiries in quarters where, if a move were being made, it would be known, but I was informed that there had been no move for sixteen months. The Minister keeps assuring me that “ She will be moving now in about a fortnight.” I hope that he will humbug these people no longer; and I urge him to take the matter in hand, and deal with it as early as possible.
– We are finding out in connexion with the Home Affairs Department that it is badly in need of an entire reconstruction’. In saying that, I do not reflect on any one in the Department. What we need is a Construction Department, which we have not to-day.
– Is not the Home Affairs Department three Departments in one?
– It seems to me that it contains the odds and ends of all the Departments. The sooner it is relieved of branches such as the Electoral and Statistical branches, which have no affinity with its chief work, the better. It should be turned into a Public Works Department. Do honorable members realize the amount of our expenditure on public works? This year we are voting £4,000,000 for works to be constructed, some by the Defence Department, some by the Department of the Postmaster-General, some by the External Affairs Department, and some by the Home Affairs Department. A condition of success and efficiency is concentration, and it is high time that the Home Affairs Department was revolutionized. At present the Minister of Home Affairs is carrying out the construction of the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta railway, and the Minister of External Affairs is constructing a railway in the Northern Territory. It is a serious matter to have several authorities constructing railways without suitable plant or a properly organized Department. All constructional works should be carried out by one Department; the Home Affairs Department ought to be a Public Works Department.
– Ought there not to be a Minister of Public Works?
– The appellation of the Minister does not matter much, but the Department ought to be a Construction Department. A Minister in charge of all the construction work of the Commonwealth would have plenty to do with that alone. The other duties now falling to the Minister of Home Affairs might very well be undertaken by other Ministers. The Minister of External Affairs is supposed to exercise a subtle, farreaching diplomacy in regard to matters affecting more than one State, or having to do with our relations with the rest of the world. What connexion is there between that business and the constructing of railways, the building of steam laundries, and the laying out of market gardens? The business of the Home Affairs Department has been added to until things there are in a chaotic state. We also need something in the nature of a Public Works Committee. Each of the State Governments, whose expenditure is considerable, informs its Parliament what it intends to do, what plans it is proceeding on, what are the purposes in view, and all other details concerning proposals for which money is asked. The Commonwealth Parliament, however, have to vote money without knowing how it is to be spent. We need a Public Works Committee, or an expert Board of Inquiry, and the sooner we have one, the better. There are difficulties in the way of appointing a Public Works Committee, because it would have to travel over such a vast area that its members would have little time for parliamentary duties.
– Their time would be well spent in investigating public works proposals.
– It would be. Certainly, there must be inquiries. The State Governments, who spend only a tithe of what we spend on public works, provide for this investigation. The Commonwealth, however, makes no investigation. Parliament votes the money, and has then done with the whole concern. Notwithstanding that our expenditure amounts to £4,000,000 a year, there is never a plan, a specification, or a statement as to how the money is to be spent, submitted to Parliament.
– What about the digest of the Home Affairs Department?
– I cannot find that that digest has brought any nearer the construction of works in any Department, or that it has got the manoeuvre area resumptions any “ forreder.”
– The manoeuvre area matter has now disappeared from the digest.
– A “ chaser “ will have to be sent after it.
– I should like to call attention, not merely to the rate of progress of the works already undertaken in the Federal Capital, but to the basis of the whole administration of the Federal Territory. Victorian members ought to understand that the Federal Capital is not going to be the great incubus that they imagine on the Commonwealth.
– Hear, hear ! It is a paying concern.
– A few thousand pounds have been spent in the Federal Territory, but already a good income is being derived by the Commonwealth ; so that the net loss is very small indeed. In my judgment, the Federal Territory ultimately ought not to cost Australia one penny, and it will not if the business is gone about in the right way. The growth and development of the city itself will pay for its building and construction ; and the sooner we begin in a sensible business-like way to put the whole Territory under Commission, the better it will be. Why not do as is clone elsewhere, and vest the whole of the lands of the Territory in trust in a Commission, whose duty it will be to govern and manage the Territory and make it selfsupporting as early as possible? Colonel Miller is an excellent man, full of ability, energy, and devotion to duty; but, all the same, it is my opinion that the control ought to be in the hands of a Commission - and it might be in a few years - so relieving Victorian representatives from a great nightmare which leads them to believe that they are being fleeced of huge sums of money. The Department of Home Affairs requires re-organizing so that it may be devoted to its original purpose as the construction authority for the whole of the Commonwealth. When my time expired this afternoon, I was pointing out that, at the Flinders naval base, the Defence Department is undertaking the excavating work, while the Home Affairs Department will follow on with the building, and a similar state of divided authority can be found in the Northern Territory. I presume that the Minister of External Affairs is going to construct the railways in the Northern Territory, so that I suppose the two Departments will be competing in order to show which can do the best and cheapest jobs. The Minister of External Affairs has quite enough to do with his Land Ordinances, the employment of niggers at 3s. a day, and the milking of the cows of the Administrator, without also undertaking the work of constructing railways. With the rapid acquisition of “powers taken over from the States, the conditions are now very different from what they were originally ; and the time is ripe for re-adjustment and reconstruction, particularly in the case of the Home Affairs Department, which should be put on a more scientific up-to-date basis, with a clear distinction drawn between its constructive and its administrative work. I do not say that all the work ought to be done by this Department, but the scientific training necessary for the efficient performance of the work ought to reside in the Department, and all public works of prime importance ought to be under the supervision of the expert staff.
– That would stop duplication of work.
– Then, why is it not done? We shall never have efficiency and economy in the construction of public works until we have concentration and special ability.
– I am quite amazed to hear from the honorable member for Nepean that the question of the Liverpool manoeuvre area has not been settled. For two years or more negotiations of one kind and another have been in progress, and the time has arrived when there ought to be some detailed statement showing exactly in what Department or branch the delay is occurring. It is nothing short of a public scandal that the honorable member for Nepean has to rise in his place - I suppose I have heard him at least one hundred times - to ask why this work has not been completed. I must say that I receive more attention and experience less delay in the Department of Home Affairs than in any other Department, and I am very sorry to have to refer to it in anything that appears like adverse criticism. But all these promises about completing the work next week, or in February, are not good enough for me, and I do not see why there should not be formed a party of New South Wales members on both sides of the House to hold up the business until this matter has been finally dealt with. This manoeuvre area is not in my electorate, but, as a representative of New South Wales, I must enter my protest against what can only be described as humbug ; and certainly we ought to be given day and date as to the cause of the delay. If the honorable member for Nepean cannot get any notice taken of him as an individual member, I am quite prepared to join with him in seeing whether any more attention will be paid to an organized effort.
– It is all fixed up.
– I heard the Minister say that six weeks ago, and yet we are told by the Minister of Home Affairs to-night that it will be “fixed up” early in February.
– We have found the money that the State Government were going to find, and we have done everything but carry the people away on our backs.
– We cannot fix up the transfer of £100,000 worth of land in a week; there must be a survey, and so on.
– The adjustment may not be complete, but the land is ours.
– Then I think the Minister has been very unfortunate in the delay that has taken place. This land has been surveyed over and over again ; and, at any rate, I do not see why the Commonwealth Government should not be content with the survey of the New South Wales Surveyor-General.
– It is the New South Wales Surveyor-General that we are doing business with, and he tells us that he is not able to fix the matter up in a minute.
– These things cannot be fixed up by talk.
– I am surprised that any representative of. New South Wales should be found apologizing for the extraordinary delay that has taken place. I do not care whether the amount involved is £100,000 or £1,000,000. For two years the whole matter has been suspended, lite Mahomet’s coffin, between earth and Heaven. The position is absolutely ridiculous. It did not take so long to complete the survey of the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta railway.
– It took ten years to get a survey of that line.
– It did not.
– A Bill to provide for the survey was introduced in the first Parliament, and it took ten years to get the survey.
– I repeat that, from the time that the Parliament decided that a survey should be made, until the survey was actually effected, not many months elapsed. That was a very much larger undertaking, and there is no excuse whatever for the delay that has taken place in regard to the Liverpool manoeuvre area. The decision having been arrived at that the area shall be acquired, the question involved relates not to the merits of the site, but to the transfer of the land, and I do not hesitate to assert that no business house in Australia would tolerate the delay that has taken place.
– Some of my constituents are interested in the matter to which the honorable member has just referred, and for three or four years, correspondence has been passing between them and myself, as well as between myself and the Department of Home Affairs and the Department of Defence. The matter, however, so far as the private interests of the land-owners involved are concerned, does not seem to be much further forward than it was at the beginning of the negotiations. So far as I can gather, those whose land is to be resumed, have been notified that it is to be taken over, but by whom, and when it is to be resumed, they do not know. The result is that they cannot lease or sell their land, nor can they put it to any profitable use. The position is most unsatisfactory. I understand that this area is regarded by the military authorities as absolutely necessary for training purposes. I do not say that the Minister is in any way to blame, but there has been an inexplicable delay. I ask the Minister to look more closely into the matter and to bring to bear upon it that business acumen on the possession of which he is always priding himself. I trust that he will expedite the settlement of this very much vexed question. Both in this and a previous Parliament, question after question has been asked as to the stage which the negotiations have reached, and the reply usually received has been, “ The matter is under consideration, and is now on the fair way towards completion.” Honorable members get tired of such replies. The negotiations are probably advancing, but the process is very slow, and it is not fair to those whose financial interests are involved that the whole matter should be so long delayed. There should be very little difficulty, after the surveys have been completed, in bringing the negotiations to a satisfactory conclusion. The people concerned should be relieved of the suspense which this extraordinary delay involves. The Prime Minister himself, in the best of good faith, no doubt, informed the House some two months ago that he expected that the ‘negotiations would be completed very shortly. Most of us thought that he meant that, within a few days, the whole matter would be settled.
– I thought that I could settle it in a few weeks, but I found that I could not.
– I am sure that if the Minister would devote to this question the same energy that he has given to other departmental matters, its settlement would be brought about within a much shorter time than he at present thinks possible. He brought to a successful conclusion large financial transactions in Perth, and also dealt with claims in connexion with the Yass-Canberra Territory which were far more extensive than are those involved in this case. The land-owners concerned are really poor people; but, although the amounts involved are not large, the whole question is of great importance to them. The only other matter to which I desire to refer is that of the allowances made to Electoral Registrars and officers associated with the Electoral Branch, who have cast upon them a large volume of electoral work. I refer particularly to public servants connected with post-offices. The allowance made to them is wholly inadequate. An immense amount of valuable work is done by these officers, and I would ask the Minister to give the matter his attention, and to increase the amount of remuneration that is paid to these officers.
.- I wish to draw the attention of the Minister to the slow progress that is being made in preparing plans for the Federal Capital buildings. I have interviewed the Minister on several occasions, and his excuse has always been that plans for these buildings cannot be prepared until the sites are selected. I have heard to-night, for the first time, that he has in his Department very few practical men. That probably accounts for the delay.
– He has plenty of capable men in his Department.
– But they have to do with other branches. Both Colonel Miller and Colonel Owen are military engineers. Architects tell us that plans can be prepared irrespective of the elevation or the fall of the land on which the buildings are to be located - that plans for the superstructures can be drawn, and those for the basement prepared separately. I think that these plans should be prepared without delay. As it is, after the city has been laid out, there will be another delay of twelve months .before the buildings are proceeded with because the plans are not in readiness. The Department has money provided for this work, and it should be expedited. The plans have to be approved.
– By whom?
– That is what I should like to know. I would also urge the Minister to push on with the construction of the projected railway from Queanbeyan to the Capital city. The line will be only 7 miles long, and its construction would effect such savings in the cost of carriage as would well repay the Government.
– The New South Wales Government are going to do the work for us.
– But when?
– Mr. Deane, on his return from Sydney, said that, save for a few little details, the matter was virtually settled.
– I am pleased that something is being done about the matter, and I trust that the Minister will take steps to have prepared, without delay, the plans for the Capital buildings. If he has not in his Department the architects required for the purpose, let him invite designs from outside architects. There are many architects in Melbourne and Sydney who would undertake their preparation.
– I should not have risen, but for certain remarks made by honorable members opposite. The Minister of Home Affairs has received to-night a good many directions from honorable members opposite, and particularly from the honorable member for Parramatta and the honorable member for Illawarra, who have instructed him to hurry on with the public expenditure at the Federal Capital. The honorable member for Parramatta, pointing to as many representatives of Victoria as he could see about him, asked them to cease telling the people of this State that the Federal Capital was to be an immense incubus. I should like the honorable member to instruct the Victorian organizations that support his party to cease telling the people that the Government are spending millions, and that the Federal Capital is going to be an immense incubus on the taxpayers. There is not a Victorian organization supporting honorable members opposite that is not asserting that millions are being spent by the Government on the Federal Capital. Let the honorable member, and those who support him, play the game, and let them tell their organizations to do the same.
– I have done so as often as I have had occasion.
– I have never seen such a statement on the part of the honorable member reported in the press. Whilst he is instructing the Minister to push on with the expenditure of the Federal Capital, he does not hesitate to go to Bendigo and other places and talk of the “ millions “ that the Government are spending, and of the useless expenditure that is going on. The “two statements cannot be consistent.
– Indeed, they can be.
– During the last twelve months, a resolution passed by the council of a shire that has honoured itself by adopting the name of the Leader of the Opposition - Deakin - has been going the rounds of the municipal councils, protesting against the expenditure of millions which it is said is taking place at the Federal Capital. That resolution is being adopted by various shire councils. The remarkable feature about it is that, whilst the Government are condemned by the organizations which support the Opposition for spending too much money on the Federal Capital, members of the Opposition stand up in this Chamber and denounce the. Government for not spending enough upon it.
– We are not responsible for what organizations do.
– There are so many organizations supporting the party opposite that the members of that party scarcely know where they are.
– Is- the Federal Capital to be made a party question ?
– I hope it is not.
– I was wondering whether all the representatives of New South Wales on the opposite side of the Chamber are opposed to it.
– It is not long since the honorable member for Gippsland moved to reduce an item connected with the Federal Capital by one-half. But his proposal was supported by only seven or eight honorable members, including two members of the Opposition. The Leader, the Deputy Leader, and practically every member of the Opposition voted against that proposal.
– They showed their good sense.
– Exactly. The Constitution provides for the building of the Federal Capital in New South Wales, and that mandate in our Constitution must be obeyed. The city must be built at some time or other. The view which I take is that there is plenty of time in which to spend the money which we are asked to expend. The matter is one in regard to which 1 would like to see the Government proceed slowly. But while the organizations which support the Opposition condemn the Government for lavish expenditure upon the Federal Capital, the honorable members opposite denounce the Government for not spending sufficient upon it.
– It is a pity they have not something better to condemn them for.
– I only want the honorable member to make his position clear. . Instead of worrying the Minister of Home Affairs, he should draft a letter to the organizations in question, telling them that they ought to play the game fairly. I advise the Minister of Home Affairs to take with a grain of salt a good deal of what has been said here this evening, because, while members of the Opposition will accept every penny that he is prepared to spend upon the Capital, they will, at the forthcoming elections, condemn him for that expenditure.
.- The honorable member who has just resumed his seat has, as usual, discovered a mare’s nest in connexion with the reports which he declares are circulated by organizations which support the Liberal party. Where is there any evidence that those organizations have circulated reports that the Government have expended money extravagantly on the Federal Capital ?
– They accuse the Government of spending millions.
– I have not seen any accusations of that sort. Nobody, except, perhaps, a Victorian representative, has ever cavilled against the expenditure on theFederal Capital. That expenditure has. been abundantly warranted, and if honorable members will leave the Minister alone, I think that they will do well. The only fault which I have to find with the Minister is that he insists upon the work at . the Federal Capital being carried out by day labour, because that system involves extravagance. I wish now to say a word or two in regard to the Liverpool manoeuvre area. Some honorable members are very anxious to know how matters are proceeding in that connexion. Although I am a military man, i am not altogether in favour of the acquisition of that manoeuvre area. I think it is a bad thing to have a fixed area in which to carry out manoeuvres every year, for the reason that officers who attend those manoeuvres become thoroughly familiar with every physical feature of the country. They know where the positions of vantage are. They know where there are unfordable creeks, and fences which they must not break through, and this knowledge reduces the manoeuvres practically to a farce. It is all very well to set apart a portion of the Liverpool area for big-gun practice, because in the future it will be difficult to secure sufficient land in the vicinity of Sydney to enable big-gun practice to be carried out. But, for a manoeuvre area, I do not altogether approve of a fixed site. However, matters have proceeded so far that I suppose the Liverpool area will be taken over by the Commonwealth. We have a magnificent manoeuvre area in the Federal Territory - there is no better in the world. I am very pleased to know that a Light Horse encampment is to be held there next Easter. That, in a sense, obviates the necessity for resuming the Liverpool area. One of the reasons why I am opposed to the acquisition of that area is that the country is not at all suitable for the manoeuvring of troops. Half of it is very scrubby, and in a wet season it is almost impossible to get about it. The finest manoeuvre area in Australia is in the Federal Territory. In regard to the Federal Capital, my own opinion is that if the city is built in accordance with the plan which is displayed’ in the Queen’s Hall there will be no cause for complaint by posterity. I think that’ that plan is a very excellent one. I have examined it carefully, and, although I am not an expert in town planning, I think that the officers of the Department of Home Affairs who have manufactured it out of the four premiated plans must know something about the business. I know that they are capable men. Colonel Miller is a very capable officer, and Colonel Owen is a capable engineer. Mr. Scrivener, too, is a surveyor of high repute. I think we should be absolutely safe in leaving the preparation of the plan of the Federal City to the judgment of these officers. There is just one other matter connected with this subject to which I should like to refer. I presume that the magnificent stretch of water which is shown in the plan in front of the City is to be created by damming the Molonglo and Queanbeyan Rivers. Now, the stream which flows down those rivers, although it is better than it is represented to be by some honorable members, is not sufficient to fill that lake. Has any provision been made for constructing weirs and reservoirs in order that that lake may be kept full ?
– Then it will probably be sufficient. On the whole, matters are proceeding in a satisfactory manner in connexion with the Federal Capital. One honorable member has complained because the plans for the Parliament House there are not yet available.
– A start hae not been made with them.
– There, is plenty of time to get those plans. The first work which should be proceeded with is that of providing a scheme of city drainage and water supply.
– We are engaged on that work now.
– In Brisbane, there is 110 sewerage system yet.
– We must have a drainage system or a septic-tank system before we can have a large body of men employed in erecting the necessary buildings at the Federal Capital. I believe that tenders will soon be returnable in connexion with the building of the power-house there. That is the first essential. The electrical power will be used for boring under the Murrumbidgee River, and for conducting the waters of the Cotter River to a reservoir, from which they will be conveyed to the city. I do not think that honorable members need worry because the plans for the parliamentary buildings at Yass-Canberra are not yet ready. A lot of work has to be done before those buildings are proceeded with, although I wish that this Parliament was located there now, because I live within 30 miles of it. But, although the Minister of Home Affairs has done very good work in connexion with the
Federal Capital, I strongly object to the circular which he issued in which he ordered the granting of absolute preference to unionists. That was a fatal mistake. He should realize that all Australians have the right to be employed in the service of their country. The Public Service should not be a close borough for any set of men. There should not be a distinction between men who join unions and those who choose not to do so. Is the union label to be the badge of citizenship? Whatever may be done industrially by unions, there should be no distinction in the Public Service. A man should be allowed to work in the Public Service whether he is a unionist or not. The only preference to unionists that we can countenance is that given by a Court after taking into consideration the circumstances of the case. If a Court chooses to give preference to unionists, that is another matter. It is a wrong thing for the Minister to say that absolute preference must be given to unionists in his Department.
– The honorable member for Indi never makes a speech without advising me to address my remarks to some organization with which I am supposed to be connected. Let me tell him that, wherever I go in Victoria, or elsewhere, I say to the people that the Federal Capital, with proper management, ought to cost them nothing. If the honorable member will tell me what more I can do, I shall be glad to oblige him. He says, in effect, “ The Federal Capital go hang. It is a bush Capital, and a scandalous waste of money. Its construction should not go on, or only at a snail’s pace. But do not blame me ; blame some organization or other.” To-night, he has told the Minister to go slowly, that there is no need to spend money on the Capital. Does it relieve him of responsibility that some organization says the same thing? The’ organization that is saying what he is saying is equally reprehensible. It is all moonshine to say that the construction of the Capital is a costly proceeding. Properly managed, the construction of the Federal Capital ought not to cost the taxpayers of Australia a penny.
– 1 wish to know where the Opposition is in this matter?
– There is no Opposition in this matter, and no Government party, I hope, though the Ministerial supporters are dumb to-night. The honorable members for Indi and Melbourne Ports have made themselves ridiculous with their statements about the water supply of the Capital. My suggestion is that the construction of the Capital should be put under commission at the earliest moment possible, and that Commission should start to work with a will. This should relieve the nervous tension of the honorable members I have mentioned. I wish now to refer to another matter. The honorable member for Corio is writing stuff about me, and I take the opportunity to correct some of his statements. He is quoting something I said in this Chamber seven or eight years ago about preference to unionists. The unionism of which I was speaking has never, so far as I know, asked a man whether he was a unionist before allowing him to get a job. In my time the miners of Lithgow 9id no’t ask a man to join a union before allowing him to take a job ; but after he had been at work a fortnight and had had his coal weighed, and other things done for him by the check weighman arranged for by the union, he was expected to pay his is. a week to the union, like every one else.
– He had to do so if he was to remain at work.
– He was expected to do so, and I never knew a man to refuse. But that has nothing to do with the Government.
– What is the difference between the Government and a private employer ?
– Every man who pays taxes is in the Government union, and all have a right to equal treatment by the Government. When discrimination is made between citizens in the expenditure of public money, there is a negation of citizenship.
– With regard to the Liverpool manoeuvre area, the Government of New South Wales, some time ago, agreed to resume the land, the Commonwealth paying interest on the sum charged for it; but, in the end, we could not come to an understanding over some little tinpot matter. After there had been various communications backwards and for- wards, she went dead. ‘Then the honorable member for Nepean got the matter galvanized into life again, and finally the Treasurer agreed to give the money - over £100,000 - to get the land. We started on it, but we have to get an exact plan and description. We have got into communication with the New South Wales SurveyorGeneral, and we find from him that, no matter how important our business may be, he has other important matters as well to attend to.
– We have bought the land.
– I think not.
– We have agreed to take it.
– Certainly, we will snap her as soon as we get the power to do it But you cannot go’ to the GovernorGeneral in Council and put in a foolish thing.
– The bargain is made.
– It is not completed yet. You have given us the money ; but when we take it, we take it by compulsory acquisition. We have to get. boundary descriptions, which must be exact when they go to the Governor-General.
– New South Wales could compel us to complete our part of the bargain.
– We are talking now about the private land.
– The manoeuvre area has not been taken over, but an agreement has been signed in respect of it between this Government and the Government of New South Wales.
– I am only talking of the private lands. I have spent thousands of pounds on resumption, and I know the business. I cannot do more than the law allows ; I am not a law unto myself. When I go out to buy for King O’Malley, I say, “ How much?” The other party says so much, and I say, “ I will take her,” or I leave her. But in public matters I have the Crown Solicitor to consult, and the laws under which compulsory acquisition is carried out. No matter what pressure is brought to bear, or what may be said about me, I cannot move faster than the snail’s pace which is set. The sloth takes forby years to go a mile, and I am moving at that pace under your laws. Change your laws, and I will take her- in twenty minutes. I wrote to the honorable member for Nepean that, according to the SurveyorGeneral of New South Wales, .we shall be able to do something in February. Then we “shall issue an Executive proclamation, and take the land by compulsory acquisition. We cannot do it until we get the plans.
– You want the surveyor’s description?
– Yes, and the Surveyor-General cannot quit all other business to give the whole of’ his time to us. He has a lot of other work to do.
– He is busy on the redistribution of the electoral divisions.
– The new electoral proposals will come before vis tomorrow. He has bad work to do in connexion with them. As to the Capital design, it is now hanging in the Queen’s Hall. The honorable member for Parramatta made some remarks about public works, and the Prime Minister himself put forward a similar suggestion some time ago. However, we are not ready yet to inaugurate a general Works Department, but we shall, I think, be able to do so at the commencement of next session. This will enable us to prevent waste, and obtain economic efficiency.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Division 98 (Electoral Office), £7,387; division 99 (Public Works Staff), £32,786 ; division 100 (Census and Statistics), £16,537; division 101 (Meteorological Branch), £28,642 ; division 102 (Lands and Surveys), £22,317 ; division 103 (Works and Buildings), £183,612 ; division 104 (Governor-General’s Establishment), £10,773; division 105 (Miscellaneous), £117,820, agreed to.
Bill returned from the Senate with the message that the Senate did not insist on its amendments disagreed to by the House of Representatives.
Motion (by Mr. Fisher) agreed toThat the House, at its rising, adjourn until 2.30 p.m. to-morrow.
– I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
I have just received an intimation from the Auditor- General that he will have his report ready by Friday morning. The first business to-morrow is the Land Tax Assessment Bill, and the next business will be the Estimates.
– What about the electoral redistribution scheme for New South Wales?
– The arrangement of the business to-morrow is in accordance with an agreement with the honorable member’s Leader. .
– Subject always to the redistribution scheme.
– That will come on afterwards.
.- I wish to make one point clear, and I hope it will not be taken as a threat, because it is not intended as such. Our position all along has been that we cannot loose the Estimates until we know what is going to be done about the redistribution scheme. I do not see why that schema could not be put on the table to-morrow.
– If it is not here how can it be put on the table?
– We know from the Minister that it is on its way now ; and what is there to prevent it being put on the table ?
– We wish to see it.
– I see- honorable members wish to Caucus it ?
– Yes ; we have a right to.
– And we shall have to wait here until honorable members do Caucus it, that is all.
– Lest there should be any misunderstanding, I point out that the honorable member for Ballarat agreed with me in writing that the first business should be the Land Tax Assessment Bill, and, later, the Estimates.
– All I have to say is that that is subject to the consideration of the redistribution scheme.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11. 7 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 17 December 1912, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1912/19121217_reps_4_69/>.