4th Parliament · 3rd Session
The Clerk announced that in the unavoidable absence of Mr. Speaker, the Chairman of Committees would, under the Standing Orders, take the chair as Deputy Speaker.
Mr.Deputy Speaker took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers. “
Report (No. 5) presented by Sir John.
Quick, read By the Clerk, and adopted.
Bill presented, and (on motion by Mr.
Hughes) read a first time.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers : -
Commonwealth Inscribed Stock. - Dealings and transaction during the year ended 30th. June, 1912.
Conciliation and Arbitration - Return showing Number of Awards made by the Court during the years 1906 to 1912 (up to 18th December) and Compulsory Conferences summoned by the President of the Court up to 18th December, 1912.
Treasury - Accountant’s and Correspondence Branches. - Explanatory Memorandum re Salaries, &c.
Ordered to be printed.
Appointments made at salaries exceeding £300 per annum for years 1903-4 to 1911-12 -
Audit Act -
Regulations (Provisional) - Statutory Rules 1912, Nos. 248, 249.
Transfers of amounts approved by the Governor-General in Council - Financial year, 1911-12, dated 20th December, 1912.
Defence Act - Regulations Amended, &c. (Provisional) -
Universal Training - Statutory Rules 1912, Nos. 229, 238.
Military Forces - Statutory Rules 1912, No. 237.
Naval Defence Act - Naval Forces - Financial and Allowance Regulations (Provisional)Statutory Rules 1912, Nos. 239, 240.
Papua. - Ordinances of 1912 -
No. 13. - Appropriation 1912-13, No. 2.
No. 14. - Supplementary Appropriation 1912-13.
Post and Telegraph Act - Regulations Amended, &c- Statutory Rules 1912, Nos. 193, 198, 213, 214, 215, 222.
Public Service Act- Appointments, Promotions, &c. - Department of Treasury -
Public Service Act - Department of Home Affairs- Promotion of G. E. Healey, as Clerk, 3rd Class, Accounts Branch, Central Staff.
Public Service Act - Postmaster-General’s Department - Promotion of E. G. Terrill, as Accountant, 2nd Class, South Australia.
Wireless Telegraphy Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1912, No. 212.
Mr. W. H. IRVINE.
– I wish to ask the AttorneyGeneral re the action by the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company against the Commonwealth Government, will the hon- orable gentleman inform the House if the counsel appearing on behalf of Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company is the Hon. W. H. Irvine, K.C., the member for (Flinders in the House of Representatives? Is the Attorney-General aware that the Postmaster- General stated in his filed affidavit that it would be prejudicial to the public interest and to the welfare of the Commonwealth to allow any inspection of the Wireless Station in the Commonwealth ? Would the Attorney- General be surprised to hear that it was solely in the interest of the public welfare and the naval and military defence of the Commonwealth that the inspection was not desired? Is the Attorney-General aware that the Hon. W. H. Irvine, member of this House, is opposing the Government who are taking action in the people’s interests?
– The name of the gentleman who is appearing as counsel for the Marconi Company is in the list of the members of this House.
– The honorable member for Flinders said so himself last night.
– I have seen the affidavit of the Postmaster-General, and agree with him that it would be opposed to the public interests, and to the welfare of the Commonwealth to allow an inspection of the station. I believe that the honorable member for Flinders is not of that opinion.
– Can you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, inform the House of the present condition of Mr. Speaker? Has his health at all improved?
– The information I have is that Mr. Speaker is by no means well, but that his medical adviser hopes that with a few days’ rest he will be all right again.
– I am informed that the Prime Minister has issued a memorandum - No. 591, I believe - to the effect that, during the holiday season, extra leave is to be allowed on the 27 th and 28th December, and on the 3rd and 4th January. I understand that in the General Division this leave is to be divided, half the men taking two days in December, and the other half two days in the New Year, but that in the Mechanical Branch no extra leave is to be given. I ask the Prime Minister if that is his intention?
– There must be some error. It may not be possible for some branches to give all the men leave at the same time, but the equivalent of the leave mentioned will be given in all cases. The responsible officers have been notified to that effect.
– The honorable member stated that the order was to apply all over Australia.
– The mechanical men have been informed that they will not get extra leave.
– I think that the authorities will be able to correct that misconception.
– Some weeks ago the Minister of External Affairs stated that it was the intention of the Government to obtain authority before the end of the session for a survey for an extension of the railway from Oodnadatta northwards, and on Tuesday last the honorable gentleman promised that he would make a statement on the subject before Parliament closed. I ask him if he proposes to seek that authority, or to make a statement?
– The following notice of motion stands on the business-paper in the name of the honorable member for Grey -
That this House is of opinion that the Oodnadatta to Pine Creek Railway should be started from Oodnadatta without delay.
I purpose making a statement when dealing with that motion.
– Has the attention of the Treasurer been called to the fact that doctors and nurses are making special charges for signing forms connected with applications for the maternity allowance? Will he consider the advisableness of dispensing with such signatures where charges are made for witnessing?
– I have been informed that some medical men are charging, I think, IOS. 6d. for filling up certificates of registration for the maternity allowance, but I have not heard that nurses charge for doing this work. To dispense with certificates would be difficult, and, in some cases, very dangerous, though it may be possible to do without them in cases in which a child lives more than twelve hours, or a number of days after the birth. I regret that so high a charge as I have mentioned is made, and I have already expressed my opinion about it. It is a matter for medical men and nurses, but I do not think that it was intended that an extra burden should be placed on the recipients of the allowance by requiring them to pay so high a fee for so small a duty.
– Does the Prime Minister think it unreasonable for a medical man to charge a reasonable sum for the signing of a document to enable a lady whose circumstances, as he is aware, would allow her to pay a much higher fee than he is charging, to receive the bonus ?
– The question is one of opinion.
– Why should not a well-to-do woman pay?
– The sum of IOS. 6d. is an excessive charge for filling in a printed certificate. A reasonable charge might be made under ordinary circumstances.
– Has the Minister of Trade and Customs yet come to a decision regarding the establishment of a testing station for explosives? Will he give the matter early consideration ?
– I have the subject on my list for early consideration, and shall deal with it, if possible, before the Christmas holidays, and submit a proposal to the Cabinet at the earliest moment.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether since naval matters were last mentioned in this chamber any communication has taken place between him and the Imperial Government with regard to the naval relations of the Dominions and the Empire, and whether there has been any correspondence withNew Zealand about a movement for establishing a Pacific fleet?
– The honorable member raised that question some time ago. I may tell him that there have been no official communications between the Commonwealth and the British Government which alter the policy of the Government in any way. Informal communications have passed between this Government and the Government of New Zealand, and at the present time the Dominion Minister of Defence, Mr. Allen, is in the Commonwealth. He will be in Melbourne on Monday.
– In his reply the Prime Minister used the expression “ official communications.” Will he tell the House how he distinguishes between “ official “ and other correspondence, when that correspondence relates to matters of public interest ?
– It is merely a question of etiquette. I consider that a private communication between one Minister and another is not official, but that a communication between one Government and another is official.
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister if he can inform the House whether the Government intend, before the next Parliament meets, to appoint some body to inquire into the grievances of the South Australian postmasters who were transferred to the Commonwealth, and who have been deprived of their existing and accruing rights?
– There is no alteration of the Government policy in that respect.
– I wish to ask the Minister of Home Affairs whether he will take steps, immediately the redistribution of New South Wales into fresh electoral divisions has been dealt with by Parliament, to expedite the issue of the electoral rolls in that State, so that honorable members may know exactly where their constituents are located.
– In the absence of the Minister of Home Affairs, I will see that that matter is attended to, as far as practicable.
– I wish to ask the Minister of Trade and Customs whether he has given consideration to the many weighty representations which have been placed before him regarding the removal of the quarantine station, Sydney, from the vicinity of that popular resort, Manly ?
– I have given consideration to the representations made by the honorable member, his predecessor, and others. I think that the present position of the quarantine station in Sydney is the best that can be secured in the interests of all parties. If it were removed to a place 20 or 30 miles further north, I am afraid there would be a great outcry by the people who would be obliged to go there and be examined before they could return to the city. If it were possible to effect an alteration which would be in the public interest, I should be pleased to do it. ^
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister if the maternity allowance is not payable upon the production of a copy of the registration of birth, and whether in such cases there is any necessity for obtaining a doctor’s certificate?
– It is advisable that some document in the nature of a doctor’s certificate should be in the possession of the Treasury officials in addition to the birth, certificate, for reasons that I need not discuss at present. But it should be possible, if the charge made for a medical certificate is excessive - and I think it is - to remove from, perhaps, nine-tenths of the children born the burden of the half -guinea fee.
– I wish to ask the Minister of External Affairs whether it is a fact that the London contractors are now prepared to tender for the construction of the Commonwealth offices there, notwithstanding that a clause granting preference to unionists is embodied in the specifications?
– I stated some time ago that the High Commissioner had informed me that representatives of labour unions had met him, and requested that when we were calling for tenders for the London offices certain conditions should be embodied in the specifications, amongst others the granting of absolute preference to unionists. I cabled back, saying that the Government could not accede to that request, but that we were prepared to do what we were doing in Australia, namely, to insist upon preference being granted to unionists, other things being equal. The High Commissioner then cabled to me, intimating that he had met contractors in London, and that if we insisted upon that condition being observed there would be no chance of reputable contractors tendering. We then decided to send Mr. Murdoch to England, with a view to ascertaining if the buildings could not be erected by day labour. Yesterday I received a cable from the High Commissioner informing me that Mr. Murdoch has arrived in the Old Country, and intimating that he now has the assurance of five or six reputable contractors that they will be prepared to tender, even though the condition of preference to unionists, other things being equal, is embodied in the specifications.
– I wish to ask the Minister of External Affairs whether he has received any information regarding the referendum and initiative which was held in November last in seven States of America ?
– At the request of the honorable member I cabled to the High Commissioner in London, asking if he could obtain the desired information for me, but so far I have received no reply.
– I desire to ask the Minister of External Affairs when he intends to issue the mining Ordinance for the Northern Territory, and whether he will consider the propriety of forwarding a copy of that Ordinance, and also of the land Ordinance, to every post-office within the Commonwealth?
– Before Dr. Jensen went to the Northern Territory he drafted a mining Ordinance. It was, however, thought advisable before definitely dealing with it that he should be afforded an opportunity of visiting the Territory, and seeing whether it was necessary to make any additions to or alterations in it. By the last mail I received from him a complete draft of the mining Ordinance. I trust that I shall be able to issue it towards the end of the year or at the beginning of next year. As regards the suggestion that a copy of the Ordinance should be posted to every post-office in the Commonwealth, I will take that into consideration.
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister whether he has yet received the annual report of the Public Service Commissioner - last year it was laid upon the table of the House in September - and, if so, will he let honorable members have a copy of it to-day, so that they may peruse it during the recess?
– I have a communication from the Public Service Commissioner saying that his report is not available, because of his absence from the Commonwealth during the year, and because of the excessive work which has been imposed upon him by the demise of a Public Service inspector, and the demands of the Conciliation and Arbitration Court.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister when we may expect the return which was asked for a fortnight ago regarding the number of employes who have been appointed to the Public Service by the Government directly and the number through the Public Service Commissioner?
– I referred the matter to the proper quarters, and the information asked for has not yet reached me. I understand that the return will be available to-day.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether, in view of the fact that our legislation for the repeal of the sugar Excise and bounty has now become law, he will impress upon the Premier of Queensland the urgent necessity for introducing in the State Parliament such legislation as is requisite to fulfil his part of the compact which was entered into between the Governments of Queensland and the Commonwealth?
– I notified the Premier of Queensland that his proposal was accepted in good faith by us, and that we would carry out our part of the compact. We have done so, and Mr. Denham will be officially informed that the necessary Bills have been passed, and will become law. Those measures are to come into operation on a date to be fixed by proclamation, and one of the conditions is that Queensland at least shall pass laws preventing the employment of coloured labour in the production of sugar. Subject to that, the agreement will be carried in full detail.
Vancouver Mail Service
– I desire to ask the Minister of Trade and Customs whether any further progress has been made in the negotiations for reciprocal trade relations with Canada, and whether in connexion with those negotiations we may look forward to a resumption of the Vancouver mail service?
– I have had no communication from the Canadian Minister of Trade and Customs for three or four months. Mr. Foster was recalled from London to Canada, but I understand that the Imperial Trade Commission, of which he is a member, will be in Melbourne in March or April of next year. It has been suggested that a Conference should then be held between the Ministers of Trade and Customs, of not only Canada, and the Commonwealth, but of South Africa and New Zealand, who may be here about the same time, with a view to considering reciprocal trade relations between the several countries. As to the resumption of the Vancouver mail service, I do not think that is a matter which comes within my Department.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether he has any idea as to the hour at which the session will close, and, if so, whether he will take into consideration the fact that there are on the business-paper quite a number of notices of motion standing in the names of private members as well as several Orders of the Day. The right honorable member, in :answer to the honorable member for Illawarra, has promised to allow a discussion on a motion relating to the Northern Territory Land Ordinance. Will he take into consideration the fact that many of us have important business on the paper, the case for which we should like to state, and will he afford us an opportunity to do that before the session closes ?
– I am devoted to duty, and shall sit here as long as honorable members will provide a quorum. The honorable member says that I promised “to allow a discussion to take place on the first of these motions relating to the Northern Territory Land Ordinance. What I said was that that motion would be taken first, and the others in the order in which they were called on by Mr. Speaker. More than that I cannot say. I am not sure that the whole of the Orders of the Day under the heading of Government business will be put through. I should not be so.’ry if the session were to close with this sitting ; but, as yet, I do not see much prospect of that. However, I ask the co-operation of honorable members in every way to facilitate the conclusion of this lengthy and trying session.
– I should like to ask the honorable member for Illawarra a question in regard to a notice of motion that he has on the paper relating to the Northern Territory Land Ordinance. Will the honorable member be’ satisfied, after he has stated his case, to take a vote, in order that other honorable members may have a chance of submitting their motions?
– I am not the judge of whether that can be done.
– Will the Prime Minister allow me an opportunity to move the following motion -
– Order !
– I desire to know whether the Prime Minister will allow me an opportunity to submit that motion.
– The motion has been moved, and is now an Order of the Day.
– I wish the honorable member for Richmond would mind his own business !
– That is a motion on the notice-paper, and it will be quite sufficient to refer to the number of the Order of the Day.
– I am sorry that I am not permitted to read the motion, because I desire, somehow or other, to get it into Hansard. The motion has not been moved, as the honorable member for Richmond so rudely said, but has only been given notice of.
– It seems rather a harmless motion, although of great importance, and I do not think that anybody is against it.
– I should like to repeat a question which I asked the Honorary Minister yesterday, when the answer I received was hardly in the direction I desired. I now again ask the honorable gentleman why some members of the Naval Forces receive a lodging allowance while others in the same grade do not?
– It is not the fault of the Department if the answer to the honorable member’s question is not in the direction that he desires; but in this instance I recognise that one or two points have been inadvertently overlooked, and I shall obtain the information for the honorable member at the earliest’ . possible moment.
Designs for Sydney Premises
– About a fortnight ago the Prime Minister promised to obtain from the general manager of the Commonwealth Bank a statement in reply to a question which I asked as to who was the architect for the new Sydney premises, and why the preparation of designs had not been thrown open to architects generally. Is he prepared yet to furnish a reply?
– I feel sure that I have since answered the honorable member’s question. At all events in reply to some honorable member I think I have said in this House that the architect for the Sydney premises is Mr. Kirkpatrick.
– The Prime Minister has told us that a private architect has been engaged to prepare plans for the bank premises in Sydney. Will the honorable member tell us whether the Governor of the Bank is going to carry through this and other building project’s himself, or whether they will be referred to the Home Affairs Department in the ordinary way? Will the constructing authorities of the Government carry out the works, or will the Governor of the Bank carry them out on his own account?
– I think the Governor of the Bank will co-operate with the Government in this as in all other similar matters. Strictly speaking, however, I doubt very much whether the Governor of the Bank is compelled to do so under the Act.
– I do not think that he is and that is why I ask the question.
– The Governor of the Bank has always carried out his duties in such a way as the Government, and public men generally, would desire; and in the matter of the premises, and all other matters, he has done exceedingly well.
– I am sorry to appear to press this matter, but are we to take it that the Prime Minister does not know whether the building will be constructed by the Home Affairs authorities or by Mr. Miller on his own responsibility? The matter is one of some importance involving an expenditure of hundreds of thousands of pounds, and I desire to know whether the work will be undertaken by the ordinary constructing authorities or whether Mr. Miller is going to carry out his own building projects.
– I have said thatI think the Governor may take any course he pleases. He has asked the Home Affairs Department to exercise the Crown rights in the resumption of the property, and all that part of the business will be done by the Crown. Whether tenders will be called by the Governor of the Bank or by the Department of Home Affairs I am not in a position to say, but my confidence in Mr. Miller will not be shaken or affected in any way by any action he may take in this regard.
– As the AuditorGeneral has not been for a trip to England, will the Prime Minister state why the presentation of his annual report has been so long; delayed ?’ Is it ever likely to be presented ?
– I have explained the position twice during the past fortnight. The Auditor-General’sreport will be laid on the table to-day.
– It is nearly time that it was, or that we got a new AuditorGeneral.
– The Auditor-General tells me that he has been doing his very utmost to expedite the issue of his report. We must not forget that of recent years much has been done, and that the machinery of government has more than doubled.
– Some six weeks ago I referred to the Postmaster-General a matter relating to Mr. E. A. Harden, a late employe of his Department, and was informed that the question involved had” been submitted to the Crown Law Department. Will the Minister state whether he has yet received a reply from that Department?
– I have not yet received; a reply from the Crown Law authorities. I understand that the matter is being very carefully looked into, inasmuch as it will establish a precedent in regard to the transfer of officers of the Commonwealth PublicService to the Commonwealth Bank.
– - Mr. Harden has goneto a State Savings Bank.
– But the same principle will apply. The Attorney-General has not yet advised me of the decision arrived at.
– -Seeing that several important papers have been laid upon the table of the House during the last day or two, will the Prime Minister direct them to be printed if the Printing Committee does not meet and authorize their printing ?
– To what papers does the honorable member refer?
– I refer particularly to a paper in regard to South Africa which was laid on the table by the Minister of External Affairs.
– The Printing Committee is supposed to authorize the printing of all papers of public interest. If the honorable member thought the paper in question was of sufficient importance to be printed, he should have moved that it be printed when it was laid on the table.
– I sent it on to the Printing Committee.
– Where the papers are important we do not take that risk.
– I should like to explain that the Printing Committee met yesterday, and dealt with every paper that had been presented up to date. Its report was submitted this morning, and has been adopted.
– Did the papers authorized to be printed include the South African memorandum ?
– Will the Prime Minister consider the practicability of securing from the mother of the child and some other person in each case a sworn declaration to take the place of the medical certificates in connexion with applications for the maternity allowance?
– The matter is one to which I have already referred, and it is being carefully considered. There are certain certificates which neither the mother nor the nurse would be capable of giving.
– The number of those certificates is comparatively small.
– But they relate to a matter regarding which we must be most careful. We must be protected to the utmost in this regard. Therein lies the whole difficulty.
– I have in mind cases where the infants live.
– I am inclined to the view that, perhaps, in nine-tenths of the cases the extra expense can be avoided.
– Can the matter be dealt with by regulation?
Postmasters’ Quarters - Post Office, Cessnock - Estimates : Statement by Postmaster-General - Postal Accountant’s Report - Telephone Construction - Postage on Catalogues.
– Will the PostmasterGeneral kindly inform the House what decision has been arrived at in regard to the charging of rentals for postmasters’ quarters ?
– I informed the Secretary of the Postmasters’ Association some weeks ago that it was not my intention to abolish rent for quarters.
– I wish to ask the Postmaster-General whether he is aware that at a public meeting recently held in Cessnock a motion was carried affirming that the present post-office in that town is inadequate to the volume of business transacted, and requesting him to have a suitable building erected. Will he see that a post-office is erected there which will be more in keeping with the importance of the town?
– I will.
– In view of the fact that there was a protracted sitting of the House when the Estimates for the PostmasterGeneral’s Department were under consideration, and that the discussion upon them closed at an unusual hour, thus preventing the Postmaster-General from making a statement in regard to his Department, will he make that statement to-day?
– If the honorable member will indicate any particular point upon which he desires information I shall be only too pleased to supply it. I expect to be able to lay the annual report of my Department on the table to-day, and probably the honorable member will be able to obtain from it all the information that he desires.
– I desire to ask the Postmaster-General when we may expect to receive the report of the officer who was appointed about two years ago to look into the accounts of the Postal Department. The officer in question - the Chief Accountant, I understand - was to make special business reports in regard to the telephone as well as other branches of the Department.
– I have already informed the House that the late Accountant of the Department has advised me that it is impossible to send in a report in. respect of the present year, but I have given honorable members a promise that his successor shall submit next year a report dealing with the different branches of the Department.
– In connexion with the report recently laid on the table of the House showing the number of telephone services dealt with by the Department during the last two years, I wish to ask the Postmaster-General whether he has noticed that it shows that, in the division of Calare, for instance, four lines have been constructed, that one is under consideration, and that while no less than ten have been approved, no action has been taken in regard to them. At least one of those Tines was approved as far back as 1 910, and apparently no less than six have been held over. Will the PostmasterGeneral take these matters into consideration, and see that the construction of approved lines is expedited during the coming year?
– I have instructed the Deputy Postmasters- General in all the States to undertake the construction of all approved lines with the utmost expedition. I have also given them authority to appeal to local municipal councils, trade unions, and any other suitable local authority in order to obtain the labour necessary to permit of the speedy construction of approved works. I have instructed them further that men are to be appointed to inspect and supervise these works on behalf of the Department in order to insure that they are thoroughly carried out. I hope that by 30th June next a very considerable number of approved works on the list in question will have been transferred to the completed list.
asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
Will the Minister consider this matter, and take the steps necessary to protect the postal revenue by compelling each firm to send its own catalogue or price list through the post office under a separate wrapper?
– Inquiries are being made, and the desired information will be furnished as early as possible.
Mr. GREENE (for Mr. W. Elliot
Johnson) asked the Minister of External Affairs, upon notice -
Is it a fact, as reported in the press of 16th instant, that there is an electric-light plant, steam water-supply plant, and cold-storage plant, all for the Residency at Port Darwin, and each run by a separate group of engineers. If so, will the Minister state what is the cost of each plant and the annual cost of running same?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is -
There are an electric-light plant which serves the Government offices and Government Residency, and a cold-storage plant, which is available for and used by the public. Arrangements are now on the point of completion to enable the machinery for these two plants to be run by one operator.
There is no steam water-supply plant.
The cost of these are respectively -
Electric-light plant (material only),£558 15s.7d. (Cost of construction notyet available.)
Cold-storage plant, £1,071.
No information is at present available to show the annual cost of working same.
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are: -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Whether, with reference to the promise given to the honorable member for Melbourne, employes of the Commonwealth who cannot be granted extra holidays at Christmas time, because of the circumstances of their duties, will receive equal time off at the first convenient opportunity ?
– I have already, I think, answered this question. The responsible officers will be notified to see that those officers get an equivalent, either at the time or later on.
Motion (by Mr. Fisher) proposed -
That Notice of Motion No. 1, and Orders of the Day Nos. 1, 2, and 3 be postponed until after the consideration of Order of the Day No. 4.
– Does the Prime Minister not think it is time something is done in regard to the Parliamentary Witnesses Bill?
– It is a very big question, and if the honorable member feels like discussing it, all right.
– This Bill has been on the notice-paper for something like 12 years, and, perhaps, we might just as well leave it until the thirteenth year.
Motion agreed to.
Motion (by Mr. Roberts) proposed -
That the request of the Senate, contained in its Message No. 4, for the resumption by the House of the consideration of the Naval and Military Decorations Bill, be complied with, and that a message be transmitted to the Senate acquainting it therewith.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Riley) adjourned.
Bill returned from the Senate with an amendment.
That the amendment be taken into consideration forthwith.
– The Senate has inserted the following new clause: - (3A.) A return setting forth -
With the exception of this amendment the Senate has agreed to all our bounty proposals. When the Bill was before us, it will be remembered that the suggestion was made by some honorable member tha t there should be a return of this kind made, and I. promised that the suggestion would be carried out, thus bringing this Bill into line with the Manufactures Encouragment Act and other measures. Personally I think it is a good idea to have this information published, and I fancy that if a similar return had been issued in connexion with the bounty on wool tops many erroneous impressions would not have been created.
– Will the return be printed and circulated?
– Yes, and I may say that the return under the Manufactures Encouragement Act was laid on the table of the House within three months of the close of the financial year. This work may, perhaps, account for some of the overtime in the Customs Department, about which the honorable member for Illawarra has asked a question. Of course, returns and statistics are practically useless if we have to wait twelve months or more for them. I have consulted the Attorney-General in order to insure that the amendment will cover the whole of the Bounties Act, and not merely that portion which we have amended.
– This is a very proper amendment, but I should like to know to what extent it goes. The advantage received from the return will depend upon the manner in which it is compiled. It has been promised in connexion with the wool-top industry that there shall be a searching inquiry, to ascertain whether the bounty is being used to assist the manufacture of wool tops, or to guarantee a dividend to an associated company. We are all glad to see industries established, butI think that in cases like that to which I refer, a public accountant should be asked to investigate the books, to ascertain what wages are paid, and that a full statement should be made of wages, bounty, and profits, so that Parliament may know whether the industry requires the bounty for its maintenance.
– Parliament should have all the information it is possible to obtain on these matters, but I do not think that we can ask any business firm for a statement of its profits. We give bounties for the production of flax, dried fruits, coffee, and many other commodities, and it would not be possible to get from those to whom the bounty is paid a statement of the profits of each industry. I shall do my best to obtain all the information necessary to guide Parliament in dealing with future applications for bounties.
– I welcome the statement that a return showing the operation of each bounty will be made public, but I am surprised at the request of the honorable member for Illawarra. No Court ever causes the profits of a company to be made public, because to do that might mean ruin to the company concerned. I can understand that those opposing the firm to which the honorable member alluded, some of whom assert that it will not last long, would be glad to have information regarding its profits, but the disclosure of profits would seriously injure those interested in the business. If we get a return showing wages, production, and bounty received, it will be sufficient to enable Parliament to deal wisely with future applications for bounties.
.- Strong statements have been made, and remain uncontradicted, to the effect that the firm which receives most of the bounty on wool tops uses it to guarantee a dividend to another company. Public money should not be used in that way. A bounty is given merely to establish an industry, and should not be continued after that industry is on a firm basis. Parliament should be in a position to know whether the continuance of bounties is needed, and how they are being used. I do not desire the exposure to the world of statements of profits which would ruin those concerned, but I think that Parliament should have every information necessary to guide it in dealing with applications for bounty.
– After consultation with the Attorney-General, I think that a consequential amendment is necessary to improve the drafting of the measure, and to enable us to deal with all the amending measures relating to bounties. I therefore move -
That the amendment of the Senate be agreed to with the following amendment, that after (3a) the following words be inserted, “ After section 8 of the Bounties Act 1907 the following section is inserted : - “8a.”
.- It is usual to provide that the Minister who administers an Act shall cause a return to be prepared and laid upon the table, but here we merely say that a return shall be prepared. There is no mention in the Bounties Act of the Minister who administers it, and consequently there is no obligation on any one to have the return prepared. As a matter of administration, the duty would fall on the Minister in charge of the Act.
Resolution reported; report adopted.
Motion (by Mr. Fisher) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a Bill for an Act to provide for compensation to be paid on retirement or on decease of certain officers of the Commonwealth.
Bill presented, and (on motion by Mr.
Fisher) read a first time.
– 1 move -
That the Ordinance No. 8 of 1912 (an Ordinance relating to Crown lands, entitled Crown Lands Ordinance 1912), made in pursuance of the power conferred by the Northern Territory Acceptance Act 1910 and the Northern Territory (Administration) Act 1910, be disallowed.
Honorable members will recollect that some time ago an Ordinance was submitted to this House by the Minister of External Affairs, and that that Ordinance was challenged by myself, with the result that ultimately it was withdrawn. Now, on the last day of the session, another Ordinance is presented to us in lieu thereof. I contend that an important matter like this, affecting as it does, the whole future of the Northern Territory, should have been dealt with in- a Bill embodying the whole policy of the Government in relation to the lands of that Territory. In endeavouring to develop that great area which has been transferred from South Australia to the Commonwealth, we should be particularly careful to see that our land legislation is based on absolutely sound lines. Neglect to take this healthy precaution has led to endless confusion in the land laws of trie different States. A glorious opportunity was thus presented to us to deal with the matter in an effective fashion by avoiding mistakes that have been made in other parts of the world, and at the same time giving to the people facilities to develop the NorthernTerritory. However, that opportunityhas been denied us. On a previous occasion I dealt exhaustively with the question of leasehold versus freehold, and I do not intend to again traverse the same ground. I pointed out that the leasehold system had been tried in other parts of the world and in various portions of Australia, and that it had absolutely failed. The climatic conditions which obtain in the Northern Territory will render the work of the pioneer in that country very difficult indeed, and if we are to induce people to settle there we must be prepared to offer them the very best possible conditions. But under the Ordinance which we are now considering the inducement offered is not of an adequate character. When the first Ordinance was under consideration in the Senate, the VicePresident of the Executive Council, in discussing it, said -
I do not think that any human ingenuity could devise anything which would conduce more to the possibility of settlement than will this Ordinance.
However, when it was submitted to this Chamber, the Minister of External Affairs saw clearly that human ingenuity could very easily devise something better, and accordingly he withdrew it. I wish to know in what respect the Ordinance which is now before us is an improvement upon that which preceded it? It is perfectly true that in some respects alterations have been made, particularly in connexion with pastoral leases. It has never been the desire of honorable members upon this side of the Chamber to make the freehold system applicable to large pastoral areas. They wish to apply it only to the small areas which will be taken up in the interests of closer settlement. If we are to secure the development of those small areas, we must give settlers the freehold. In clause 16 of this Ordinance the words “pastoral and” have been inserted so that pastoral leases will not be granted in perpetuity as they would have been under the first Ordinance. Then clause 28 provides -
Pastoral leases of lands in class 1 shall be for a term of twenty-one years, and pastoral leases in class 2 or class 3 shall be for a term of forty-two years.
In my opinion that clause constitutes a distinct improvement upon the original Ordinance. If honorable members will turn to page 3 of the Ordinance they will find that the maximum area of pastoral land which may be held under class 1 is 300 square miles, that the maximum area which may be held under class 2 is 600 square miles, and that the maximum area which may be held under class 3 is 1,500 square miles. It will be seen, therefore, that this provision is a distinct improvement upon the original provisions of the Ordinance. Clause 7 provides for the appointment of a Classification Board. That Board is to consist of the Director of Lands, the Director of Agriculture, and the Chief Surveyor. Statements have been made in connexion with one of these gentlemen, which I do not- desire to repeat, but into the truth of which the Minister ought to inquire, so that he may satisfy himself as to whether that officer possesses the knowledge which is requisite for the proper discharge of his duties. To my mind, it is a pity that the classification of the lands of the Northern Territory was riot undertaken a considerable time back. It would have been a good thing if small survey parties had been sent out into the Territory for the purpose of classifying lands before they are taken up. We all know that land classification has been a fruitful source of trouble in New South Wales. What I chiefly desire to insure is that land which is suitable for pastoral purposes shall be used for pastoral purposes only, and that wherever it may be required areas of agricultural land shall be available for settlement. It appears to me, however, that this Ordinance contemplates that the classification made by the Board which is to be appointed will be of rather a loose character. I think it is essential that this work should be properly done.
– The honorable member thinks that the work will be of a perfunctory rather than a real character?
– Perhaps the Minister has better expressed the view which I entertain. Clause 9 of the Ordinance provides -
Lands under lease granted in pursuance of this Ordinance shall be subject to reclassification, but such reclassification shall not come into force until the re-appraisement of the rental of the land included in the lease has come into force, and shall not affect the lease as regards the area of the land which may be included therein.
It will be seen, therefore, that the proposed reclassification will not become operative until a re-appraisement of the rental takes place. In such circumstances it cannot affect the rental. It further appears that the reclassification will not affect the area of the land. If a lessee took up an area under the original classification of the Board his rental could not be disturbed until the period for reappraisement came round. That would be a fair position in which to place him. But the system of reclassification which is provided for in this Ordinance will not place him in that position. What will be the effect of the reclassification? Let us suppose that a man takes up a block of pastoral land in country coming within classes 2 and 3, which he will hold upon a forty-two years’ lease. When the Board comes along to reclassify it, they may take it out of the class in which it stood when leased, and- place it in
Class 1. The result is that the lease instead of having a forty-two years’ currency at once falls to a currency of only twentyone years. That is a very important point. Re-appraisement will not only increase the rental in such circumstances, but will take away from the lessee the most valuable portion of the term of his lease. I do not know whether the Minister intended that that should be done, but it will introduce a most undesirable element of uncertainty.. The whole matter should be further considered. We ‘desire to have small settlersail over the country, and if that desire isto be fulfilled, we must make the holdingssecure so that lessees who wish to raise money for developmental purposes will be able to put forward a fair business proposition. This element of uncertainty, however,, will be most prejudicial to the development of the country. The reclassification affects not only pastoral leases, but the smaller holdings. If, for instance, a man requires an area for mixed farming, he can secure up to 38,400 acres. His chief industry in connexion with such a holding would be that of grazing, but a proportion of the land would be cultivated. Under these conditions, however, the land could be so reclassified that he might be called upon to cultivate a very large, if not the major portion of his holding. Thus a man who had taken up a mixed farming and grazing lease with the object of devoting his energy chiefly to grazing might be required to give practically the whole of his attention to agricultural pursuits, for which he was entirely unfitted, and in respect of which he could secure neither the necessary capital nor the labour that would be required. This is one of the most important features of the Ordinance, and it requires to be further considered. Part III., Division I., deals with leases generally. It relates not only to pastoral leases, but to leases of all kinds, and it provides that a covenant shall be entered into by a lessee that he shall use the land only for the purposes for which it is leased. The original Ordinance which the Minister withdrew contained a clause referring to this very matter. Clauses 23 and 24 of that Ordinance specifically prohibited a pastoral lessee from cultivating any portion of his land, except with the consent of the Administrator. Those two clauses having disappeared, in consequence, no doubt, of the criticism which was levelled at them when the original Ordinance was before the House,
I had hoped that the Government would now be prepared to permit a man to devote his pastoral holding not only to pastoral purposes but to a still more important object. If a pastoralist desires to go in for agriculture and farming generally, why should he be denied the right to do so, except with the permission of the Administrator.
– It means a limitation.
– It does. If a man wants to put his land to a better use than that to which he is required to put it under his lease, he must first obtain the permission of the Administrator. I agree with the restrictions in regard to mining, but where a man proposes to devote a proportion of his land to agricultural purposes, we should encourage him to do so.
– But a man would obtain a pastoral holding for less than he would secure an agricultural holding.
– It is for theBoard to decide. If a man wished to devote his land to a higher purpose, it is not likely that we should refuse him permission.
– There is too much of Government officialdom about this matter. There are too many of these demands that the Administrator, or some other official shall be appealed to as to what a settler may or may not do. We must be careful not to place too much power in the hands of Government officials, because their powers are not always exercised in a satisfactory manner. I come now to clause 17, paragraph i, which provides that -
Leases under this Ordinance (other than miscellaneous leases) shall contain …. any other reservations covenants conditions and provisions which are prescribed, or which are specified in the Gazette notice that the lands are available for leasing
I take it that there is no objection to that portion of the clause, but then we have the words - or which are considered by the Classification Board to be necessary under the circumstances of any particular case.
That means that a lessee is to be bound, not only by conditions laid in connexion with the Gazette notice that the lands are available for leasing, but by any other condition which the Classification Board may see fit to impose. It is surely essential that those who take up land under lease should have set forth in the Government Gazette, notifying that the land is available for leasing, and, in the lease itself, the actual terms and conditions imposed. Once a man has taken up land on lease it should not be possible to impose any conditions of a harassing character.
– How would it be possible to do so under this provision?
– I invite the honorable member to read the provision for himself.
– Any other conditions considered necessary by the Classification Board would be stated before the lease was issued. . New conditions could not be imposed later on.
– I want to be clear about the matter.
– A settler will know before he takes up his land the conditions under which he is to go upon it. They will be set forth in the lease before he signs it.
– I am glad to have that assurance, because, if alterations could be made from time to time in the terms of the lease, a lessee would not be able to make any business arrangements for working his property. As I said at the outset, I do not intend to occupy much time, for the reason that I know that several other honorable members desire to address themselves to this matter. In consequence of a communication that has just been made to me I shall still further curtail my remarks, and refrain from dealing with several other features of the Ordinance which I had intended to discuss. I come now to the regulations, one of which - Regulation 9 - provides that -
The Classification Board or any authorized person may require any applicant for any lease containing a covenant to reside on the land to produce to him a medical certificate of fitness.
Why should that be necessary ?
– It is not absolutely necessary.
– I agree that the word “ may “ is used.
– It must be remembered that these applications will not be made personally before the Board in the Northern Territory, but here in Melbourne. It is desirable that people should know before they go to the Territory that they will be given land, and power is taken to ask an applicant for a medical certificate.
– Does this regulation apply equally to people already in Australia and to people who come specially to the country to take up land in the Northern Territory ?
– Have all the officials and others who have been sent to the Northern Territory been required to furnish medical certificates?
-. - So far as I know, yes; as a matter of fact, many candidates have had to be “ turned down,” because of their inability to pass the medical examination. All men appointed, especially those permanently appointed, have to furnish medical certificates, exactly in the same way as in the general Public Service.
– Is it possible, in the case of a man who has already gone to the Territory and taken up land, for him to be called upon to furnish a medical certificate ?
– I should say not. When the Board has told a man that he can have land, it is too late to ask for a certificate.
– Notwithstanding what the Minister has said, this appears to me rather a dangerous regulation. If people are prepared to take all the risks attendant upon their settling in the Northern Territory, and anxious as we are to have hardy pioneers-
– If the honorable member were on the Board, and two persons, one healthy and the other not, applied for one piece of land, would he not give the land to the healthy person?
– But both may be healthy, though one not so healthy as the other; everything seems to be in favour of the man who can command the best medical certificate.
– The Board has to give the land to the most suitable person, and, as a matter of fact, all other things being equal, they would probably give land to a man with£500, in preference to a man with nothing. This is the regulation about which we have heard so much, and yet now we see how little objectionable there is in it.
– Regulation 10 is also, in my opinion, dangerous. It is as follows : -
In New South Wales, a man who has anything of this kind to say, has to say it in open Court, where he may be subjected to cross-examination.
– I wish the honorable member to bear in mind that the Board will be in the Northern Territory, and will not meet the applicants face to face.
– The person making these confidential statements may be prejudiced or hostile, and, in view of the most undesirable results that may flow from such a system as this, all the business should be conducted with the greatest openness. We all know the great scandals that have occurred in connexion with land administration in Australia ; and dealings of the kind are aways open to grave suspicion. I am sure that none of us care for secret and underhand communications, but rather prefer that every accused person shall have the fullest opportunity in open Court of submitting his accusers to crossexamination. I regret that, owing to the introduction of this business by the Government so late in the session, I have to scamp the discussion of one of the most important matters that has come before us this session.
– There ought to be a Land Act.
– Honorable members on both sides contend that this question ought to be dealt with in a proper fashion by means of a Land Act. The Minister of External Affairs has drawn up this Ordinance, on the advice, and with the assistance, of officials who, however efficient and experienced in other directions, cannot have that expert knowledge of land matters which would enable them to be regarded as reliable authorities.
– Some of the best land experts in New South Wales were consulted as to this Ordinance.
– I am very sorry for such experts, because I think I could find one or two who could pull this Ordinance to pieces. Indeed, Senator Millen, who for many years has been a recognised land expert, has disposed of this Ordinance in one of the ablest destructive speeches ever delivered in this Parliament. I advise the honorable member for Maribyrnong, if he desires the opinion of a leading expert, to read that speech of Senator Millen. I contend that this Ordinance will work- inimically to that settlement of the Northern Territory which we so much desire, and I hope, therefore, that the Minister, before acting on it, will have it rectified in the many directions in which rectification is necessary.
.- I second the motion, and express regret that it has not been found practicable to embody the first land legislation for the Northern Territory in a Bill instead of in an Ordinance. I do not like Ordinances covering so large an area, because they prevent members from making the suggestions tor improvement which can be made during the consideration of a Bill. To induce settlement in the Northern Territory, every reasonable encouragement must be offered to persons to go there, and I appeal to the Minister not to apply too rigidly any legislation that may be passed. I am glad that the new Ordinance does away with leasing in perpetuity, to which objection was taken. Fixity of tenure is better where pastoral leases are concerned than perpetual leasing. A friend who, though not immediately or directly interested in land in the Northern Territory, has a great knowledge of pastoral development, has been good enough to briefly state for my information his opinions upon this Ordinance. He says in reference to clause 8, which provides a limitation of 1,500 square miles for pastoral leases -
Limiting the area in the centre of Australia is, in my opinion, a mistake, but if a limit is insisted on, it should be a very much larger area than that named in this Ordinance.
At present there are a number of Northern Territory lessees who hold considerably- more than 1,500 square miles, and in such country it has been the means of minimizing loss, and has led to development.
In Queensland, where country and facilities as regards markets are better, I do not think the area is limited.
– When we proposed the limitation of 3,000 square miles, the honorable member for Parramatta said that we were giving land away.
– The observations that I have read might be taken as a suggestion by the Classification Board, that it will need to be very liberal in regard to the southern portion of the Northern Territory, where there is a low rainfall. Speaking of the provision in regard to fencing, my friend says -
Sub-section (d) should be eliminated. It is impracticable. The country is too poor to stand the expense, which would be very heavy. Posts are very scarce, and cartage of wire prohibitory Very few, indeed, of the cattle runs of the Western Queensland border are fenced, though they could be at much less cost than in Central Australia, and the carrying capacity of the country is much greater.
– The Board need not require any fencing, and it is to be assumed that its members will be fairly intelligent, and not insist upon unnecessary improvements.
– I agree with the Minister that a great deal must be left to the discretion of the members of the Board, but I hope that they will take this criticism into consideration. My informant doubts that a covenant by the lessee to keep down vermin and noxious weeds would be complied with. He concludes by stating that his remarks apply to central Australia, and possibly to the greater part of the Northern Territory, but that he knows very little about the coastline. He says -
The work of pioneering the Territory from this end has been arduous, and the results have not made many rich. The conditions as regards legislation have been liberal, but the uncertain rainfall, and frequently the inability to get stock to market owing to dry stages before reaching the head of the railway line, are serious handicaps.
No matter how liberal our laws may be,, there must be lines of communication before much settlement can be hoped for.
– The honorable member’s friend has not many objections to urge against the Ordinance.
– His point is that there must be a sympathetic administration, and that railways must be constructed to remove the difficulties of communication.
– I think that the Ordinance itself shows the sympathy of the administration.
– I agree with the honorable member for Illawarra that the limitation requiring the lessee to use his land’ only for the purposes for which it is leased may, if rigidly insisted on, prevent the making of experiments, which is what we desire to encourage more than anything else. However, time does not permit me to say more on the present occasion upon this interesting subject.
– I indorse much that has been said by the previous speakers, but I hope that a Land Act for the Northern Territory will be introduced next session, the Ordinance being merely experimental. It will, however, create obligations by which the administration will be bound/ and it is to be regretted that there is not time to give it more consideration. In New South Wales, free selection before survey was the old-time cry raised by those who wished to take up land without waiting for the -surveying of it. America was settled largely in that way by so-called squatters. - the word has a different signification nowadays in Australia - who pushed out into the wilderness, chose land, and squatted on it, building their homes and gathering their stock round them, until ultimately the surveyors came along, and they acquired titles. I think that in the Northern Territory it may retard settlement if no one is able to take up a piece of land until it has been classified and surveyed.
– In the agricultural areas you must survey first.
– If any person, pushed out into the Territory and discovered a fairly good piece of land on which it would suit him to settle, it would be a shame to retard his operations by requiring him to wait until the land had been classified and surveyed, though, of -course, in certain districts, such as the Minister refers to, such selection might :not be permissible. Even to-day in New South Wales the classification of land is not finished. In the Northern Territory there is only a limited number of surveyors, and the work of surveying will therefore be slow.
– Free selection before survey caused great trouble in New- South “Wales.
– Yes, but that is unavoidable iri a new territory. Settlement should not be kept back for the want of surveyors. The Ordinance appears to make no provision for community settlement, but as, in the ordinary course, not many poor men are likely to go on the land of the Northern Territory, I hope that the Minister will provide for co-operative settlements of which a Government farm will be the nucleus. The settlers could get employment on the farm, and, having proved their worth, could be put on suitable areas in close touch with it.
– There are men working on the Batchelor farm, who, no doubt, will have the first opportunity to settle in that way.
– I think that the arrangement will prove an excellent one. We ought to encourage the settlement of men with little or no capital. In tending settlers might be given, employment in preparing blocks for settlement, a system which has proved most successful in New Zealand, and upon which I should like to enlarge were there the time. There will be a great many men employed in connexion with the construction of railways and roads, and they should be given opportunities for making homes on the land. Co-operative settlements would be splendid institutions in which men could be trained, and after they had proved their suitability to go upon the land, they could be allotted areas in close touch with the central farm. There is just one other matter that I desire to bring under the notice of the Minister. I wish to know what he intends to do in the way of helping to finance the settlers. Does he propose to assist them by establishing a branch of the Commonwealth Bank in the Northern Territory, or by introducing the Credit Foncier system there. In his reply I trust that he will give me the information which I seek. At the beginning of this Parliament I took up an attitude of strong optimism in relation to the Northern Territory. I expressed my great faith in its future possibilities. I declared that in that Territory there are tens of millions of acres of the best land imaginable, and that its potentialities were truly wonderful. To day I reaffirm that, statement. I hold that any assistance that we grant to settlement there will be abundantly justified. This question only requires proper handling. In the first place, we require to get men of the right type on the land. Having got them there, we need to assist them to distribute their produce. We require to open up the Territory by means of railways, and to devise a proper scheme for financing the settlers. When we have done these things we shall have no more to fear in the Northern Territory than we have in Queensland, or any other State.
– This matter is far too important to enable it to be properly dealt with at this late hour of the session. In my judgment the leasing of small areas will prove a great mistake. In the old days, in New South Wales - under the Lands Act of 1884 - people were permitted to select their own land, and surveyors were afterwards sent out to survey their blocks. By that means settlers became dotted throughout the country, and others soon followed. I am sure that the Northern Territory can be de- doped upon similar lines. But we shall never develop that country until a line of railway has been built from Oodnadatta to Fine Creek. People will not sink their money in the Territory until they have a means of getting their produce to market. Consequently, until a railway is built from north to south, the Commonwealth will not be able to deal with the Territory any better than did South Australia.
.- Time will not permit me to adequately discuss this motion. From my point of view the Ordinance which is now before us is just as objectionable as was the former Ordinance, because it provides for a leasehold, instead of a freehold, system in respect of cultivation areas. The issue of permanent leases in the case of pastoral areas with a provision for resumption at any time they might be required for Closer Settlement purposes, would, in my judgment, provide a sufficient safeguard to the Government, and might induce pastoralists to erect more permanent improvements upon their holdings than they would do - if the leases were for definite periods. That is one of the reasons why I did not agree with all the criticism which was directed against the Minister of External Affairs, on a prior occasion. Only one provision is necessary in the case of pastoral leases, namely, that the Crown shall have a right to resume any area it chooses, without being called upon to pay to the lessee compensation for the unexpired portion of his lease. After the leasehold system in respect of cultivation areas has been tried and found wanting I venture to say that we shall have to fall back upon a freehold system. I defy any honorable member to point to any country in the world in which a leasehold system has induced the permanent settlement of cultivation areas. Every such experiment has been associated with some sort of feudalism or slavery. I register my protest against a proposal to establish cultivation settlements on the leasehold system in the Northern Territory. I think, however, that it is quite possible to lay down a scheme which will induce permanent settlement in that Territory. With this end in view I hope that the Minister will take into serious consideration the “expediency of securing the services of an eminent engineer from India, or some other country which has had a large experience . of irrigation, so that he may submit to us a comprehensive report on our rivers system in the Northern
Territory. We have a river system there which is a great deal better than most people imagine. It is a country in whichrain falls during only three or four months in the year. The only way in which we can establish settlement in that country is by a scheme providing for water conservation for irrigation purposes If the Minister will engage the services of some eminent engineer to report fully on the rivers system; of the Territory, and upon its suitability for irrigation works, it will then be possible for surveyors to cut up the land into blocks, and I venture to think that the priceswhich will be realized for the freehold of that land will be sufficient to defray the cost of the works undertaken. If it costs the Commonwealth ^20,000, or ^30,000, to get such a report- -
– There is something in* the proposal, but if I were to do what the honorable member suggests, membersof the Opposition would, say that I wasfilling the Territory with Government, officials.
Question resolved in the negative.
Sitting suspended from z to 2.30 p.m.
Mr. DEPUTY SPEAKER reported the receipt of a message from His Excellency the Governor-General, recommending that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of this Bill.
That the message be taken into consideration* in Committee forthwith.
In Committee :
Motion (by Mr. Fisher) agreed to -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of a Bill for an Act to provide for compensation to be paid on retirement or on decease of certain officers of the Commonwealth.
Resolution reported; report adopted.
.- I move -
That in the opinion of this House a_ Select Committee should be appointed to inquire and report concerning the claims of postal and telegraph officers in South Australia for the preservation of their existing and accruing rights at the transfer of the Department to the Commonwealth.
At this late hour of the session I shall not debate the question, but shall content myself by expressing the belief that this claim is based upon justice, and that if inquiry were made some way out of the difficult situation would be speedily arrived at.
Question put. The House divided.
Majority … … 10
Question so resolved in the negative.
.- I move -
That a return be laid on the table of the House showing the length of service at sea in either the British or Australian Naval Forces of the officers now serving in the Australian Naval Forces.
The object of my motion is to enable honorable members to realize the exact position of the Australian Naval Forces in this respect. I do not wish to press the motion if the Minister cannot see his way to accept it.
– The Government will not oppose it.
– Then I shall content myself with this formal submission of the motion.
– The honorable member is seeking for information to which he is entitled, and there is no objection to the motion. The Government recognise the necessity of supplying, as far as possible, information for which honorable members ask.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– In view of the fact that the Government are about to appoint an InterState Commission, I ask that the following notice of motion standing in my name be discharged from the business-paper -
That in order to secure reliable information on which to base legislation to deal effectively with the high cost of living, a Royal Commission be appointed to inquire into the distribution of imported and Australian products in Australian markets and distribution of Australian products in oversea markets.
The Inter-State Commission will perhaps be able to deal with this matter.
.- In moving -
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,
I desire to say that, had I known the hour at which this notice of motion would be called on, I should have donned the kilts for the occasion.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker-
– Does the honorable member rise to second the motion?
– I wish to make a suggestion to the honorable member for Barker, and if it be accepted I shall be glad to second the motion. I suggest that the honorable member should so amend his motion that it will read -
That in the opinion of this House it is undesirable that the distinctive national uniform of certain regiments should be abolished in connexion with the Military Forces of Australia.
The motion would then apply, not only to the kilts, but to other national dress.
– I am prepared to accept the suggestion.
Motion, by leave, amended accordingly.
– I hope that honorable members are not under any delusion in so far as the uniforms of our Forces are concerned. There is no objection whatever on the part of the Minister of Defence to any uniform, particularly a uniform that has been worn with so much honour as has the kilt in different parts, and on behalf, of the Empire. The scheme of Lord Kitchener is based on location rather than on any other distinctive features, such as are recognised elsewhere, and in order to establish that scheme if is necessary to remove the distinctive dress, for otherwise we might have found a company of troops marching down the street, two or three in kilts, two or three in khaki, and two or three in other uniforms. It would be utterly impossible to carry out the present scheme with a distinctive uniform intermixed with the ordinary Australian khaki. The Minister of Defence has no objection to the kilt, but it cannot be sanctioned in the way proposed if the present scheme of defence is to be carried out. I think I ought to explain, in order to prevent honorable members being misled, that those members of the Forces who now have the right to wear kilts still retain that right until the period of their service ends.
– A great number of people do riot understand that.
– What about those men’s sons?
– All persons joining the Forces from the present time must wear the Australian uniform.
– That is just the point.
– Under the circumstances, I think honorable members will take a view of the situation compatible with our present system of defence.
– Does the regulation apply to the “man milliners-“ as well?
– I am not acquainted with any “ man milliners “ ; but if the honorable member refers to some of the officers’ uniforms, he has only to look at the regulations to see that these are much simplified. What the honorable member terms “ millinery “ is gradually being reduced, and the uniforms directed to useful, rather than to decorative, purposes.
.- It is idle for the Honorary Minister to say that, under the present system of defence, men are allowed to retain the kilt or other distinctive uniform, because, as the compulsory trainees are drafted into the regiments, the Scottish uniform will be done away with altogether.
– Those who are drafted from the cadets have never worn the distinctive uniform.
– It is a great mistake to do away with the distinctive uniforms, not only Scottish or Irish, but all other. There was my own. uniform, for instance, as an officer of the Third Australian Regiment, which I had the honour to form, and of which I was very proud. In my opinion, the abolition of distinctive and attractive uniforms damps the enthusiasm of many young men who would otherwise join the Forces. For instance, the Lancers, a very old regiment, had an attractive uniform and many traditions of which they were proud, and the same may be said of the Mounted Rifles. Of course, in war time, khaki is all very well for use in the field, but in times of peace, when we wish to encourage our young men to take part in the defence movement, smart and distinctive uniforms, as compared with the dirty drab of the khaki are a great incentive. It may be said that all this is mere sentiment, but sentiment has given rise” to some of the greatest deeds in the history of the world. It is a great mistake to put all the men into the miserable, dirty khaki uniform.
.- lt is absurd for the Honorary Minister to say that the wearing of the kilt in the Scottish Regiment, or, indeed, any other distinctive uniform, would create piebald regiments.
– I did not use the word.
– College units are allowed to have distinctive corps, and this does not interfere with the territorial system. I desire to emphasize the fact that, when a deputation waited on the Minister of Defence on this subject, he appeared to foresee that it would be possible to allow distinctive uniforms to remain, because he said that, if the majority of Parliament decided that these uniforms should be retained, he would endeavour to so organize the Forces as to retain them.
– It is nonsense for the Honorary Minister to say that members of the Scottish Regiment may still wear the Scottish uniform, and it is equally ridiculous for him to contend that a regiment on the march would present several men in different uniforms. In England, a rifle company, with a distinctive uniform, may be attached to a regiment, and I can see no harm in our permitting Scottish or Irish companies to form part of some of our brigade. The point is, however, that our Scottish Regiment will come to look ridiculous if they are not allowed to recruit men with permission to wear the uniform.
I suppose that I am as much an Australian as any one here, and I do not agree with the honorable member for North Sydney that a khaki uniform looks dirty. It is a good working uniform.
– But there ought to be a “uniform for ceremonial occasions.
– I have seen ceremonial uniforms of khaki good enough for any man. It is not suggested that in every little centre there should be a Scottish or other distinctive company, but it ought to toe quite possible in the larger cities. After all, we regard the British Islands as our motherland, and we need not fear the introduction into our Forces of uniforms representative of the emotions and feelings of those who first made Australia a British Possession.
– Are kilts manufactured at Geelong, or do they come from abroad?
– -Plaid can be made at Geelong.
.- Are we to understand that it is only the Irish and the Scotch that are concerned in this matter? Where is the Attorney-General, that he is not here to speak for the Welsh? We hear about the “ Scots wha hae wi’ Wallace bled,” but I should like to see the honorable member for Barker bleeding beneath his kilt. If there are to be national distinctions of dress, why should not we of ancient England, who went out with Boadicea to repel the Roman invaders, be permitted to wear the picturesque and simple garb of that early period; or why should we not equip ourselves in the mediaeval regimentals that We wore when, on the fields of France, we helped the Black Prince to uphold the glory of the English arms? Are the Scotch and Irish alone to retain- the national garb, and we of old England, the home of the roast beef and plum pudding, to be confined to the unpretentious and commonplace garments of the modern tailor? If the Scotch think so much of their kilts, why do not Scottish members appear here in them?
Question resolved in the affirmative.
-4J- - I move -
That, in order to absorb and train the unemployed, and with a view to a’ better settlement of citizens on the land, it is desirable to establish co-operative village settlements in the Northern Territory, Papua, the Federal Capital area, and, with the co-operation of the States Governments, in the States of the Commonwealth.
Whenever in Australia there is a big rush of men to a gold-field, or to big constructional works, there are always more than there are positions to be filled, and many of the overplus find themselves stranded, helpless and hopeless. It would be a serious matter for men to be so stranded without employment in the Northern Territory. To prevent this misery and loss to the workers, I suggest the establishment of farm colonies, where men without employment can use their energies in providing for their support while waiting for better occupation. I do not suggest any communistic or Paraguayan scheme. The men who went to these farms would be housed and fed, and would support themselves by their industry in attending to the cattle, sheep, vegetables, fruit, or doing other work on the settlement. It is not the wealthy that make the best settlers. Some of our finest pioneers came to the country without a penny in their pockets, and were forced by stress of circumstances to take up land and develop it. Strong, healthy men who go to the Northern Territory should be kept there, if possible ; and what I suggest would be a means of keeping them there. This is not to be regarded as a relief scheme. So long as men are selfsupporting, their manhood remains strong within them, and they are able to face the world; but give them charity, and they lose their manhood. We must find employment for the surplus labour that goes to the Northern Territory, Papua, the Federal Territory, or the Western Australian railway works, and also temporary occupations for immigrants ; because, when immigrants come to this country in thousands, they cannot expect to get ordinary employment right away, and should not be able to get it at the expense of Australian workers. Any Government that do not wish to see men out of employment and suffering should be glad of a scheme that will make the unemployed selfsupporting, and will give training in rural industries and the development of the land. At the Hawkesbury College, in New South Wales, young men, fresh from school, are put into moleskins and flannel shirts, and, although many of them have been spoonfed and brought up by indulgent mothers, hundreds turn out good workers, with a knowledge of dairying, fruit-growing, wheat-growing, and other rural occupations.
One of the causes of unemployment is want of training, and it is a grievance of employers in pastoral and agricultural pursuits that men who come to them seeking for work are not equipped by training for doing what is needed. Merely as a training school for settlers, my proposal should commend itself. It enables what is now waste material to be utilized. Men who have proved themselves capable, by the work they have done on the farms, could be used in preparing areas for settlement, and could be settled on the land themselves. My suggestion would be that the men on the farms should work half the day for their food and clothing, and the remaining half-day for wages, which should be kept back for them. At this stage of the session, however, it is impossible to state the scheme in detail. I trust that it will commend itself to the House, and that the motion, when carried, will be a recommendation to Ministers to use the means it suggests for the development of our resources and the betterment of the conditions of our people.
Question resolved in the negative.
Motion (by Mr. Frank Foster, for Mr. Poynton) proposed -
That this House is of the opinion that the Oodnadatta to Pine Creek railway should be started from Oodnadatta without delay.
– We are not prepared at the present moment to support the motion of the honorable member for Grey. I would, therefore, ask him to withdraw it, but, on behalf of the Government, I undertake to have a new survey made from Port Augusta right to the Macdonnell Ranges. We recognise that there is already a railway in existence from Port Augusta to Oodnadatta, a distance of 479 miles. The distance from Oodnadatta to the Macdonnell Ranges is 327 miles. There has been, as we know, a flying survey made from Oodnadatta to the Macdonnell Ranges. That survey was carried out a good many years ago, and we feel that, before we ask this House to support a project of railway construction over that country, it is necessary that we should obtain fuller and later information than has already been furnished. Now, some honorable members may, perhaps, feel that, in view of the railway line from Port Augusta to Oodnadatta, it would be to some extent a waste of money and of time to obtain fuller information regarding the route between those places; but since that line was built a great deal of added information is obtainable, and we think that before we absolutely commit ourselves to supporting a line from Oodnadatta to the Macdonnell Ranges - because we realize that it will be a portion of the main trunk line that is to go across the continent - we should obtain all information possible, even if it means that some of the railway line that is now in use is not to be utilized in the future. In view of the fact that the railway has been laid down, strong and sufficient reasons, of course, will have to be given why it is not all to be utilized; but, as I have stated, we feel that, before we can absolutely commit ourselves to Oodnadatta being the starting point for the larger railway, further information should be procured. I may say that, as far as the Government are concerned, realizing that the railway from Port Augusta right to the Katherine will be the main trunk line going through that great Territory, it is thought that, as far as practicable, the railway ought to go in a direct line; that is, that the distance between Port Augusta and the Katherine should be as near as possible the minimum distance between those two points. Of course, we do not purpose sacrificing everything to secure a straight line, as there may be strong, sufficient and cogent reasons why the railway should go either somewhat to the west or somewhat to the east; but those reasons, in our opinion, will have to be strong. Besides having that survey, we purpose having what is known as a preliminary location examination made between Alice Springs and the Katherine River. As honorable members are aware, it is necessary before a railway is built, first, to have what is called the preliminary location examination of the country. Then follows either a flying survey or a permanent survey, whichever is thought the best; but it is necessary before even a flying survey can be made that a preliminary examination of. the country should be made. From what I can gather, nothing of this kind has yet been done. That is, a distance of 672 miles has been so far unexamined. We purpose having, this country examined so as to enable us to follow up that examination with a survey. We also propose having a preliminary location examination along the Barclay tableland towards the Queensland border. No railway construction will proceed along any of these routes until Parliament has had a full and complete opportunity of dealing with the question; but in view of the fact that the permanent survey is being carried out from Pine Creek to the Katherine, we do propose carrying on at once railway construction between those points, following the permanent survey which is now being made. I have not been unmindful of endeavouring to have a Committee appointed which will advise the Government and Parliament as to what railway projects should be undertaken in connexion with the Territory. The reason that I have not yet been able to announce the names of the members of that Committee is that I have not been able, so far, to obtain three persons with all the necessary qualifications. The railways throughout the Commonwealth are extremely busy, and naturally it is very difficult to obtain the services of those who are in the employ of the State Governments. However, I would like to say that the State Governments, whenever we have asked for any of their officers, have always been very ready to place their services at our disposal. I am at the present moment in communication with a certain person, and if I can make suitable and adequate arrangements with him, I feel that it will not be many days before I shall be able to announce the names of the members of the Committee. In view of what I have outlined as to the intentions of the Government, I trust that the honorable member for Grey will withdraw his motion.
– What is the distance between Pine Creek and the Katherine?
– Fifty-six miles.
Question resolved in the negative.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
In the majority of the cases enumerated in this measure honorable members will find that at the time of their deaths the persons in question had due to them what is termed “furlough,” or six months’ leave of absence on full pay. But having died before that furlough was granted, the Government were unable to hand over to their relatives the equivalent in money of that leave of absence, and are obliged to submit their claims to this Parliament for its approval. In the case of Edward Young, the circumstances surrounding his death were of a particularly distressing character.
The death of Gunner Arthur Campbell, of the Naval Forces, Queensland, was very sudden. Had his illness been of long duration he would have been entitled to something like seven months’ sick leave on full pay. The circumstances surrounding his case are of a peculiarly painful character. The widow, who had been an invalid for years, died within one month of his demise, and thus one little girl is left absolutely without provision. J. A. Stewart, lineman in charge, Kyamba, New South Wales, met his death while in the execution of his duty, and a strong recommendation came through his Department that the sum of .£100 should be granted to his widow. It was stated that the accident which resulted in his death was partly due to his own negligence, but the papers disclose clearly that it was his desire to finish the work on which he was engaged at the earliest possible moment that caused him to neglect those precautions which are laid down in the regulations. The nature of the circumstances surrounding his case justify the Government in asking the House to agree to the proposed grant. There is only one other case to which special attention needs to be directed - that of S. E. Rowe, engineman on the Oodnadatta railway. This officer met his death whilst on duty. He was an engine-driver on one of the trains on the Oodnadatta line. A washaway occurred on the line, and though the deceased saw the danger he did not see it in time to avert an accident. But, notwithstanding that death stared him in the face, he heroically stuck to his duty, and by his courageous conduct prevented serious damage to Government property, and possibly injury, or even death, to some of the passengers. We ask the House to recognise behaviour of that description, particularly as his widow and several children are left in necessitous circumstances.
.- I entirely sympathize with the object of this Bill. But I should like to know upon what principle these allowances are based. Has any guiding principle been laid down for their determination, or are they arrived at in just a haphazard fashion ? For my own part, whenever I have brought similar cases to those set out in this Bill under notice - and particularly under the notice of the Defence Department - they have received generous treatment. At the same time, no method has existed for regulating the payments, s
– The provisions of the Workmen’s Compensation Act will regulate them in the future.
– That is very satisfactory. I should like to ask whether persons in the position of the widow of Major Morris will be entitled to avail themselves of the provisions of that Act?
– I am afraid that the honorable member will find that there is no principle of strict justice which can guide any Government in the determination of claims of this sort. I merely rise to say that the appearance of schedules like that contained in this Bill at the end of every session of Parliament indicates the absolute necessity which exists for some final and permanent legal provision being made to deal with cases of this kind.
– They are provided for now in the Workmen’s Compensation Act.
– But I should like them to be provided for on a much more extensive scale, and under a system which would be self-supporting into the bargain. I am glad to see that provision is made in this Bill for granting a gratuity to the widow of Mr. J. Thompson, chief accountant and finance member of the Military Board. Anybody who was acquainted with the work of that officer will know that there has never been a more faithful and devoted public servant anywhere. I am glad to see that some measure of compensation is to be granted to his widow. . There are other cases, no doubt, equally meritorious, but, of course, one can speak only of those persons whom he knows, and with whom he has had close relations. I am bound to say that during my tenure of office as Minister of Defence, I formed a particularly high opinion of that officer’s work and worth.
– I congratulate the Government upon having brought forward this Bill. It contains a list of claims which have been before them for a considerable time. It seems to me that there ought to be some principle governing these allowances, and that it should not be necessary for Ministers to await the decision of Parliament in such cases, especially ‘ as the compensation granted would be of much more service to its recipients if it could be made available immediately after the death of the breadwinner. I notice in the Bill a proposal to grant an allowance to the widow of E. V. Gosbell, formerly a letter-carrier at Parkes, New South Wales. I knew Mr. Gosbell, in this Bill will prove very acceptable to and I know that the gratuity provided for his widow. At the same time, it seems to me that the amount is altogether inadequate. A larger sum might very well be voted.
– A committee investigated every case.
-r-Then I suppose the Committee had some reason for limiting the payment in this case to £6g. I think that there ought to be some governing principle in matters of this kind, and I am glad the Government have established a scheme in that connexion. So far as workmen are concerned, their cases will come under the Workmen’s Compensation Act, while the widow or next of kin of any departmental officer who could have retired and have drawn a retiring allowance is entitled, under an Act brought in by this Government, to receive that allowance. I have had some correspondence with the Postal Department regarding the claim of the widow df the late Mr. Wakley, who was for eleven years postmaster at Edgecliffe, and who spent forty years in the Service. He died in harness, but the allowance to which he would ,have been entitled had he retired was denied to his widow. Investigations were made, and because it was found that the widow had benefited to some extent by an assurance policy that the officer had effected on his own life, and because some of the members of the family were helping to support her, the case was not’ favorably reported on. That claim ought to be formally considered. It is quite as legitimate as is any that has been recognised. The fact that this officer had insured his life, and that his family have since denied themselves to some extent to support his widow, should not be set up as a reason why the allowance to which he was entitled should not be paid to her. I regret that no provision is made for that case in this schedule, but I hope that it will not escape the favorable notice of the Government. I have very much pleasure in supporting the Bill.
– I desire to ask the Honorary Minister if any action has been taken in regard to the case of Staff Sergeant-Major Coleman, who died whilst on duty in Western Australia. I called attention to it some twelve months ago, and I now desire to know why no provision has been made for it in this Bill. Another case which I brought under the notice of the Department relates to an officer of the Postal Department named Sexton, who was employed in the Hindmarsh electorate, and at the time of his death was entitled to long leave. I desire to know whether some equivalent to the pay which he would have received while on leave is to be paid to the widow. The case is a very hard one. The man left a large family, and I understand that the practice, which I claim should be followed in this case, is adopted in connexion with the Department of Trade and Customs. As to Staff Sergeant-Major Coleman, I believe that he died as the result of a cold contracted while travelling in the discharge of his duty, and I think that some relief should be granted to those whom he left behind.
– I have to thank honorable members for the way in which they have received this Bill. In reply to the honorable member for Hindmarsh, I have only to say that if the case -of the postal employe to which he refers is that of Richard James Sexton, who was a clerk in the Post Office at Port Adelaide - a case which he repeatedly brought under the notice of the Government-
– That is the case.
– Then this Bill provides for the payment of ^130 to his widow. That amount is equal to six months’ pay. Furlough was due to him at the time of his death, and this amount is granted to his widow as representing the salary which he would have received had he taken that leave. As to the case of Staff Sergeant Coleman, who was on the Instructional Staff, Western Australia, there was no basis on which to approve of a grant being made. I have not the papers here, but my recollection is that he contracted a cold whilst travelling on duty, from one part of Western Australia to another. But the mere fact that a man while travelling on duty, say, between Adelaide and Melbourne, contracts a cold which ultimately results in his death, does not constitute a claim for compensation. This case was submitted for the production of medical certificates, and it was pointed out that the fact that the officer caught cold while travelling did not constitute a complaint that, within the meaning of the Defence Act, he had suffered any injury peculiar to his vocation as a member of the Military Forces. If, for instance, a clerk employed in any Department, whilst travelling from Melbourne to Mornington, caught cold owing to an open carriage window, no one would say that, in the event of complications setting in and resulting in his death his relatives were entitled to compensation. I wish now to refer to the remarks made by the honorable member for Calare. In the majority of cases the basis on which these claims were submitted for consideration was that the officer concerned was entitled to furlough at the time of his death. We have now on the statutebook an Act which permits the Government, without further consideration, to grant the amount due in respect of such furlough to the relatives of any officer who dies without taking leave. The case to which the honorable member has referred, however, occurred before that Act came into operation. In future a number of cases will come under the Workmen’s Compensation Act, and compensation will be granted in certain circumstances as an act of administration. The basis on which the majority of these claims is allowed is that leave was actually due to the deceased officer at the time of his death. As to other cases, I have explained the special circumstances relating to them, and am confident that they would appeal to honorable members. The honorable member for Capricornia has asked me why a claim made on behalf of John Pile, locker in the Department of Trade and Customsat Rockhampton, Queensland, was rejected. The answer is that there was no foundation on which to grant an allowance.
– The man lost a leg whilst in the service of the Department.
– I am not quite sure as to the actual dates, but this man lost hisleg some twenty-five or thirty years ago,, when the Department was under the control’ of the State. I am not sure whether the State Government gave him any compensation, but I do know that they gave him a position in the Service, which he could fill in- spite of his disability. He continued for twenty years to perform the light dutiesof that situation until he was retired by reason of his age.
– He was then quite capable of discharging the duties of his office.
– He was retired because the law gave us no option in the matter. His case, with many others, came along for consideration, and he was retired under the law on account of age. The accident which happened to him between twenty-five and thirty years ago, and which. the State Government took into considera- tion at the time, can scarcely be claimed to entitle him to compensation when he left the Service.
– He never had a holiday during the whole of his twenty years’ service.
– I am not in a position to rebut my honorable friend’s statement, but had there been any leave due to the man at the time of his retirement he would have received consideration. The papers, however, do not disclose that at the time of his retirement from the Service he was entitled to one day’s leave. That is why, in the circumstances, he has not been included in the schedule to this Bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, reported without amendment, and passed through its remaining stages.
Bill returned from the Senate with amendments.
That the amendments be taken into consideration forthwith.
Motion (by Mr. Thomas) agreed to -
That the amendments be agreed to.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
Mr. HENRY CHINN : ROYAL COMMISSION.
– I have just learned with satisfaction from the Premier of Victoria that an arrangement has been made under which Mr. Justice Hodges, of the Victorian Supreme Court, will undertake the duties of a Royal Commissioner to examine into the charges made against Mr. Henry Chinn. I am pleased to be able to say that Mr. Justice Hodges will undertake the duty of Commissioner without delay.
– He has not intimated the time?
- Mr. Justice Hodges will undertake the duty almost immediately, and the Government will see that the necessary arrangements are made without delay.
.- I move -
That, in the opinion of this House, immediate action should be taken to protect members of this Parliament from the aspersions and misrepresentations of the newspaper press by making an order that, when any article or paragraph appears in a newspaper reflecting upon the good conduct or integrity of a member, which, in the opinion of the said member, is calculated to prejudice him in the eyes of the community, and the member affected, by personal explanation or otherwise, declares that the statements so made in regard to himself are erroneous, misleading, and injurious, and the House in good faith accepts such statement, no representative or representatives of the newspaper implicated be allowed within the precincts of Parliament House unless, or until, the explanation or contradiction made by the aggrieved member be given in the aforesaid newspaper prominence equal to that given to the offending article or paragraph.
I had hoped for an earlier opportunity in the session to submit this motion. Honorable members may remember the circumstances which led to my giving notice of this motion. When the Queensland Electoral Redistribution Scheme was before this House, I objected to it and I was supported in my objection by a majority of honorable members present. The next morning the Age published the following paragraph -
A division that had all the appearance of having been “ readied up “ by the caucus was taken last night on Mr. Bamford’s amendment to the Government’s motion accepting the Queensland redistribution scheme. The scheme prejudicially affects several Labour seats, and for this reason was not popular with the party. But how could it be rejected without giving rise to the suspicion that the Government had taken a purely party view of the question? That apparently was the problem that troubled the caucus mind. The solution was seen when the House divided. The division came earlier than expected, and there were few Opposition members in the Chamber. The principle of “ solidarity of the Cabinet “ necessitated that Ministers should vote for the Government motion. But not a single Ministerialist voted with them. The result was that by two votes the formal motion was defeated, as desired by the caucus, and the scheme goes back to the commissioners for further report.
I take particular exception to the word “ dodge,” and I desire to quote from some of the available dictionaries as to the true meaning of the word in order to show that something uncomplimentary was intended by its use. When paragraphs of this sort appear they are designed, whatever the result may be, to damage the man at whom they are aimed. The writer may not be successful, but the intention is to do some person as much injury as can be inflicted with the aid of the reputation of the newspaper in which the paragraph or article appears. The following are the authorities that I have been able to consult -
Oxford Dictionary -
To move to and fro or backwards and forwards; to keep changing one’s position, or shifting one’s ground ; to shuffle -
To move to and fro about, around or behind any obstacle, so as to elude a pursuer, a missile, or a blow, or to get a sudden advantage of an enemy.
To go this way and that way in one’s speech or action; to be off and on to parley, palter, haggle about terms.
To play fast and loose, change about deceitfully, to shuffle with a person; to prevaricate.
A shifty trick, an artifice to elude or cheat.
Steele : - “ Staring and dodging with your feet, and wearing out your livery with squeezing for an excuse.”
Knox : - “Dodging behind the mizzen mast and falling down upon the deck at the noise of the enemy’s shot.”
Smiles : - “ He does not shuffle nor prevaricate, dodge nor skulk.”
Harvey : - “To make the matter a game to dodge religious, and to go in the morning to church and in the afternoon to meeting.”
Madam D’Arblay : - “ If they saw any suspicious persons about dodging them.”
Still : - “ There was a fouler fault my gammer ga’me dodge.”
Fielding : - “ I was hard run enough by your mother for one man, but after giving her the dodge here’s another.”
Dickens : - “ Sir,” replied Mr.Weller, “ it’s a regular do - an artful dodge.”
A crafty or fraudulent device; a deceitful expedient; an artifice; a stratagem.
Vanbrugh : - “ He was tricked out of the money while he was writing a receipt for it, and sent away without a farthing.”
Fletcher : - “There is some trick in this and you must know it and be an agent too.”
Purchas : - “ But you see they have some tricks to cousen God as before to cozen the devil.” Shakspeare : - “ Did’st thou ever see me do such a trick.”
Congreve : - “ I hope you don’t mean to forsake it, that will be but a kind of a mongrel cur’s trick.”
Holmes : - “We’ve a trick we young fellows, you may have been told, of talking (in public) as if we were old.”
No one can for a moment dispute the fairness of a motion such as I am submitting. If a man is attacked in a paragraph or an article, and, in his opinion, and in the opinion of the House, it is injurious, or calculated to be injurious, and the explanation of the member assailed is not published, no representative of the newspaper concerned should be allowed within the precincts of the building until full reparation has been made.
.- I am sorry that time does not permit of our dealing with this motion as it deserves. The editor of a large daily newspaper is an autocrat, and no Czar of all the Russias has more power. If, by any means, a reflection on a member of Parliament, or other public man, appears, the newspaper may print his explanation or contradiction of the offensive remarks, but very often a footnote by the editor holds him up to ridicule and contempt. The editor very often aggravates his offence. On one occasion when the Brisbane Telegraph had made some observations concerning me as a public man, to which I wished to reply, I sent to the office for insertion as an advertisement the following notification -
You have read the Telegraph on W. G. Higgs. Will you please come to the Exhibition Building and hear W. G. Higgs on the Telegraph.
They would not accept that advertisement, and the Brisbane Courier, the opposition journal, would not take it either, the newspapers being members of a close corporation, so that when an editor has an objection to a public man the latter gets a bad time. The Melbourne Age, on one occasion, pursued a public man to the bitter end. The proprietors of newspapers get certain privileges from the Postal Department, and in other ways, which ordinary members of the public do not enjoy, and if they cast reflections on, or libel, individuals, or make remarks which are deemed offensive, those injured should have the right to reply on the same page, in the same column, and in the same type as the offending passage. No doubt it is very wrong of the honorable member for Herbert and myself to speak thus of editors of newspapers, because these men are so sensitive to criticism that they cannot stand anything but complimentary remarks. I know that that is so, because I spent a few years in the editorial chair, armed with a large pair of scissors, a pot of paste, and a blue pencil. The editor can criticise until further orders, but suffers pangs of unholy torment if criticised himself. Those editors who spend their leisure in reading the Hansard report of our speeches will be of the opinion that we should be guillotined, but in calmer moments will agree that we are right. I am satisfied that the members of their staffs will say that it is fair and proper that the public should be allowed to explain or contradict in the newspapers any statements published therein that reflect on them. Unfortunately, we are so near the end of the session that it is doubtful if the Ministry will act on this motion when carried. The honorable member for Herbert asks that immediate action be taken to protect members, but I do not see how that can be done. The Minister of External Affairs might wait on the editors, but I do not think that he would be well received, because of the views that he has expressed regarding the newspapers.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move -
It takes the wind out of one’s sails to have to speak in the dying hours of the session, but this proposal appeals to me, and to many whom I have consulted, as of such great importance that I hope that I may not weary honorable members by asking for their attention to it for a few moments. Notice has been taken of the motion by some of the greatest newspapers in Great Britain. Only this week I received from the Iron and Steel Trades Journal, the Engineering and Metallurgical Review, one of the largest newspapers in the iron trade, an article that is complimentary to the ideas that. I am putting forward. The Skipping List and Lloyds has published a similar article, and the publication, which announces the views of the Australian Natives’ Association, thinks so much of my proposals that it has devoted no fewer than seven columns chiefly to them. Abroad there is the stirring of war in the Balkans, known in Europe as the East ; and in Japan, known there as the Further East, we have what we term the “ yellow peril.” I have no word of derogation for a great nation that has proved itself in art, science, and literature, and has beaten in war that European nation which, on paper, looked the strongest. But as an Australian who loves his country, which, I hope, its present people will leave as a splendid heritage to the white race, I regard the existence of that nation within a few days’ steam of our shores as a menace, and I regret that our preparations for defence are so small. If war broke out between Germany and England, and the first line of defence - the Navy - failed, it would, take only six weeks, according to experts, to bring Great Britain to the verge of starvation. But trouble, want, and privation would be known there within three days. With all the love I have for the Homeland, with my heart pulsing blood given to me by an English mother, I feel that it is the duty of her children to protect her. That coterie of nations - England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales - if we can help it, should not be starved, but, with proper food supplies, should face the world four-square. The protection of the pathways of the Empire will assure the interests of the farmers of Australia. If our surplus produce could not be sold in Great Britain, of what use would it be to grow it? Prior to Federation the right honorable member for Swan estimated the savings on the conversion of the State debts at ^20,000,000, but I put it now at ^25,000,000 ox =even ^30,000,000. It may be suggested that this is not an opportune time for borrowing. I admit it. But the object of the motion is to gain the sympathy of the money changers of the Empire. During the Boer War money was worth 6 per cent., but, by reason of a wave of patriotism, the money Icings allowed the new debt to be over-subscribed fourteen times at 2^ percent. I do not suggest that immediate effect should be given to my proposal. Those wise men who understand the lending and borrowing of money could be left to choose a suitable time. Euclid’s axiom that “ the whole* is greater than its part “ applies in this case. Australia is greater than any State forming part of it, and Commonwealth stock would be a gilt-edged security. When the money lenders ask, “To what are the profits to be made by the conversion to be devoted ?” the answer will be, “A large part will be spent in the ship-yards of Great Britain.” On what? On the building of iron-clads, and in the purchase of munitions of war. For what purpose? To defend the trade routes of the Empire, and thus prevent the Homeland from being starved in the event of the defeat of her first line of defence, and also to protect the exported produce of the Australian farmers. I have here a vast number of letters received from persons of all professions, trades, and callings. The Marquis of Salisbury has written- thanking me for having brought the matter under his notice, and I should like to make a quotation from one whose legal knowledge is recognised wherever the Australian flag is flown - Mr. B. R. Wise, K.C. He writes-
Nothing more pregnant has been suggested in Parliament for years, not since the new protection idea. The success of a conversion loan would be assured if the savings were to be disposed of in this manner.
The editor of the Quarterly Review assures me that -
If I have an opportunity of calling attention in The Quarterly Review to the movement with which your name is so happily connected I shall not neglect it.
I merely desire this motion to be agreed to as an abstract proposal, so that the Government may consider it during the recess. I have received encomiums from the Leader and Deputy Leader of the Opposition, and from other honorable members whom I have consulted in regard to it. Had the honorable member for Franklin been present, he would have been glad to second it.
– An appeal from the honorable member that this proposal should be permitted to pass as an abstract motion, and one not binding upon the Government, would influence me more than would an appeal by most honorable members. But I doubt whether any Government could accept it as an abstract motion without feeling themselves bound to give effect to it. I do not think it would be possible to agree to the motion, which is of a five-barrelled character, and loaded in every barrel, because its adoption would become a decision of the House, and it is a proposal which requires a good deal of propaganda. Whatever opinions one may entertain on matters of finance, the present time, as the honorable member has himself admitted, is not an opportune one for the conversion of stock. The proposal to appoint a Commission consisting of representatives of the Commonwealth and of the States is not a bad one. But it is not sufficiently matured to be adopted by Parliament as a scheme. To appoint a , Commission to deal with the financial relations of the Commonwealth and States is a serious business. The honorable member has sounded an original note, and will always be associated with this project as the pioneer of it, but having ventilated the subject, I would counsel him to withdraw the motion, and to bring it forward again in the new Parliament. I congratulate him upon his devotion to the protection of the trade and commerce of the Mother Country. There are many in the Commonwealth who will welcome him as an advocate of the protection of all that is good, and especially of the protection of our trade routes, which means the protection of our primary producers. As I interpret his wish, he would like to see the Mother Country and the oversea Dominions so equipped with engines of defence that no Power, however desirous it might be of stealing our territory, would dare to attempt it. I do not commit myself to the scheme of the honorable member so far as regards any profits which might be made by the conversion of State loans into Commonwealth stock. I congratulate him upon having brought this matter before the House. If I followed the wish of myheart, I would consent to the motion being passed, but as the Leader of the Government I must ask him to withdraw it.
.- In asking the leave of the House to with* draw the motion, 1 merely wish to say that 1 appreciate very highly the words of the Prime Minister.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
Debate resumed from 8th August (vide page 1913), on motion by Mr. Sampson -
That for the purpose of enabling the Parliament of the Commonwealth to effectively legislate in respect to water conservation and irrigation the Constitution should be amended to place under Federal control the Murray River and its tributaries.
– The creation of an Inter- State Commission will give the States power to delegate authority to that body, which will cover the range of my motion. In these circumstances I move -
That the Order of the Day be postponed.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
.-! move -
– We will pass the motion if the honorable member will let us oft his speech.
– 1 am very much obliged to the Prime Minister for his offer to assist me in securing the passage of this motion. But 1 wish briefly to state one or two reasons why I have brought it forward. Queensland, as honorable members have discovered, since the establishment of Federation, is a very rich State. I do not mean to say that we have a large number of millionaires there, although there are a few of them. But I do mean that the natural resources of that State are very large and varied, so that in time to come Queensland is bound to possess a larger population than is any other State. But something is required to develop the great northern State. What is required is that it shall be split up into three divisions. Queensland embraces an area of 668,497 square miles. My proposal is that, instead of consisting of one State, three States shall be formed out of it, namely, Northern Queensland, comprising, say, 250,237 square miles, Central Queensland, containing 208,980 square miles, and Southern Queensland embracing 209,278 square miles. Queensland, unlike some of the other States, possesses numerous ports. He ports extend along the whole of her coast from the New South Wales border. There are, for example, the ports of Brisbane, Maryborough, Bundaberg, and Gladstone. Gladstone possesses an especially fine harbor, and one which in time will be spoken of with as much enthusiasm as the people 01 Sydney speak of Port Jackson. Further north, we have the ports of Bowen, Townsville, Port Douglas, and Cairns. There are quite a number of ports on the Queensland coast which can accommodate the largest ships engaged in oversea commerce. But the government of Queensland is carried on from the capital city of Brisbane, which is situated in the southern portion of that State. In these circumstances the requirements of the people of Central and Northern Queensland, who are so far removed from the Seat of Government, are frequently overlooked. It is not that the State Government in Brisbane wilfully neglects the interests of the north, but rather that South Queensland is so rich in natural resources - that there is such a very large area of good soil yet to be cultivated, and so much to be done to carry on the government of even the southern portion of the State, that time will not permit of their giving the attention necessary to the requirements of Central and Northern Queensland. It may be urged that the people of the centre and the north do not each require a separate State Government, but those who are acquainted with what is happening in the United Kingdom, and who know that the House of Commons is unable to cope with the business of the country, will recognise the justice of my claim. Those, too, who are acquainted with the history of Australia - those who know the fight that Queensland itself had to make to secure local government, who know of the agitations that were necessary before Victoria could secure separation from New South Wales, and who are aware of the advance that has taken place in the development of those States since they have obtained separation - will, I am sure, come to the conclusion that it would be a good thing for the northern part of Australia, and for the Commonwealth as a whole, if Queensland were cut up into three, instead of two, divisions, as it is at present. I wish it to be understood that my proposal is very different from that made by the
Honorable member for Herbert. My honorable friend suggests Unification, whereas 1 am not in favour of a unified form of government in Australia. . I favour, in short, the creation of more Governments. I do not suggest that we require two Houses of Parliament for Central Queensland and two more for North Queensland. My own view is that a. Legislative Council is unnecessary.When people talk of Australia having fourteen Houses of Parliament, they forget or at least someof them do that of that number seven are Legislative Coun- cils, with, which, we might very well do without, and that we should be able to conduct our business in the various States as do the Provinces in Canada - with a single legislative chamber.I regret, that, owing to the pressure of public business the Government, have not been able to allow private members an opportunity to discuss to the extent that their merits deserve the proposals standing in their names on the noticepaper.
– There was never a better chance than that now offered.
– It is true that we have now an opportunity to. submit the motions standing in our names but we cannot get awayfrom the fact that , the present session has been the heaviest on record.It has proved even heavier than was the session in which we passed the first Customs. Tariff.
– I think that we havehad more sitting hours.
– Whether that is so or not the session which we are just, bringing to a close has been devoted to Legislation quite as, far-reaching and as important as is a Customs Tariff . Although , the Prime- Minister has just indicated that we have now a good opportunity to deal with , motions standing in, the names of private members we cannot lose sight of the fact that many honorable members are making arrangements to leave at once this busyscene . That being so, I do not feel justified in further occupying the attention of the House save to appeal to honorable members to carry themotion. I would remind them that it is simply a declaration that subject to the con- sentof the Parliament of Queensland being obtained, this House is prepared to agree to the formation of two new States comprising the northern and centralparts of the rich and powerful State of Queensland.
– I second the motion.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Consideration resumed , from 29th August, 191 2 (vide page 2757), on motion by Dr. Maloney -
That this House is of opinion that the definition, in the Post and Telegraph . Act of all newspapers must carrywith it the necessity of all leading and special articles, commentary paragraphs, reports, and letters, being signed by the writers thereof.
Question resolved, in theaffirmative.
– I ask for the discharge of the following notice of motion standing in my name, in view of the fact that the Minister of Trade and Customs has increased the minimum moisture contents of exportbutter permissible under the regulations when the motion was first submitted -
That, in the opinion of this House, the regulation limiting the . moisture content of export butter to 15 per cent, is detrimental to the best interests of the dairying industry in the Commonwealth.
Order of the Day discharged.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 5th September, vide page 2931):
Clause- 3 - “ Net profits “ means the profit made after full and due provision for current expenditure has been made, and doesnot include the proceeds from the realization of assets , orthe conversion of reserves or any portion of reserves.
Upon which Mr. Greene had moved -
That all the words afterthe word “means”, line1, be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereofthe words “profitswhich maylawfullybe distributed as dividends.”
Mr.GREENE (Richmond) [4.40]The difficulties of defining the meaning of “net profits “are very great.The Companies Act distinctly setsforth what a company may and may not distribute as dividends, and this amendment has been moved so as to limit the definition of net profits ‘ ‘ in this Bill to those which maybe lawfully distributed as dividends underthe Companies’ Act.
Mr.HIGGS (Capricornia) [4.42].- Iregret that thehonorable memberincharge of this Bill has not moved to insert an amendment providing that net profits shall bethe surplus profits after making due provision for the salaries and wages of bank employes.
Mir. HIGGS.- They are not a sufficiently full charge orr the profits of the company. The National Bank of Australasia, and several other banking companies, refuse to allow their clerks to marry if they are receiving less than ^200 per annum. The honorable member for Parkes will agree that it is right that every young man and woman in Australia should get married, and that it is monstrous that the banks, in whose interests the honorable member for Richmond is taking up this measure, should have rules providing that the clerks in their employ shall not marry until they get ^200 a year. Some bank employes, even after twenty or thirty years’ service, do not get £200 per annum.
– I would. Honorable members of the Opposition speak of their reverence of the marriage tie, but do not show much reverence for it. With few exceptions the banking institutions whose interests they represent have rules which really tend to prevent marriage in Australia. Do those rules show any regard for the sanctity of the marriage tie? Doubtless the honorable member for Parkes, in the course of the coining months, will quote to the electors extracts from, say, Labour Call articles written by one man, and endeavour to fasten on the Labour party the stigma that we desire to destroy the marriage tie, although, at the same time, the institutions which he is defending, are doing their best to destroy that tie every day of the year. I hope the honorable member for Richmond will endeavour to give us some explanation why such regulations are adopted.
– It has nothing to do with the Bill, which is’ not designed to protect the banks, but to protect the general public.
– I do not think that that is so. How do the banks make their profits? One way is to screw from 6 per cent, to 12 per cent, and more out of poor farmers or shopkeepers who desire accommodation.
– I suppose the Commonwealth Bank is going to provide accommodation for nothing?
– The Commonwealth Bank is going to make its profit, if any, by the charge of reasonable interest.
– Is the honorable member authorized to advise the Governor of the Bank as to what he is to do?
– The honorable member would advise the Great Architect of the Universe if he had a chance. What is troubling the honorable member is that the Commonwealth Bank, by charging reasonable interest, will reduce the profits of the private banks, which are under his care for this afternoon. As a rule, of course, when a bank clerk gets married, children follow as a happy result; and what the banks are afraid of is that, with 15s. to pay for rent, 15s. for food, 10s. for clothing, and j£i every week for other expenses, married clerks would ask for increases in their salaries. Therefore, the stipulation is made that no clerk shall marry until he is paid £200 a year, a salary which the banks take good care he never gets. When the honorable member for Richmond endeavours to assist in erecting, as it were, a political marble monument to a very admirable gentleman in another place, he ought to be prepared, as I suppose he is, to defend this practice of the banks. I received an anonymous letter the other day from a lady who described herself as an “anxious female,” pointing out that she was engaged to be married to a bank clerk, and that, while she believed such a regulation was necessary to some extent, if it were carried out strictly it would be fifteen years before her marriage could take place. This is a monstrous state of affairs in a socalled Christian country. I hope that the honorable member for Richmond proposes- to introduce a clause into this Bill providing that banks which make such an unjust regulation shall not be able to take advantage of the measure.
.- The definition of “profits” opens up the whole question of the receipts andi expenditure of banks ; and the honorable member for Capricornia has detailed in very graphic language the sufferings of a section of the community. It is most awful that, when people reach a marriageable age, they, should be prevented by arbitrary regulations of this kind from living as we expect every man and woman to live. Some of these financial cormorants are so busy devouring profits that they have little time to pay regard to the sufferings of the men in their employ, and their dependents. I suppose we all have had instances brought under our notice, of bank clerks being prevented from marrying by the conditions of their employment. A gentleman of my acquaintance, who was employed in a bank, defied the regulation and got married ; and he was fortunate enough to obtain a lucrative situation in another branch of business. He is now the father of one of the finest families in the community ; and his . case presents a much, pleasanter picture than that of a man and a woman kept apart by the cruel conditions imposed by the banks. In one case, a poor unfortunate liftman employed in a bank signed the regulations, without really knowing what they were, and when it was found out that he had been married, he was called in before the manager, or ‘some other responsible person, and discharged, although he was then the father of a child. Can we conceive a more cruel act in a civilized and Christian community ? I understand that, in the coming session we are to have some general banking legislation, and this would be a good opportunity to consider proposals of the kind now before us. I do not care to grant any further privileges or legislative concessions to financial institutions unless there are conditions imposed compelling the proper treatment of the employes. Last session the Attorney-General told us, as we have been told this session by the Prime Minister, that this Bill is an innocent little bantling j but I am not quite satisfied to take an assurance of that kind. A number of the clauses are lengthy, and in most involved language which may, without the effect being properly understood by the lay mind, prove harmful to some sections of the community. Banks have many ways of adding to their profits. In most banks there are. of course, young men who are on the look-out for means of bettering themselves by taking positions in other branches of business. Nearly every banking company has a provident fund, to which its employes ate compelled to subscribe, the contributions being in proportion to their salaries ; but if a man, after being in the service of a bank for a number of years, and having had to submit to deductions from his salary during the whole period, leaves to better his Con- dition, and perhaps to be free to marry, heforfeits his right to participate in any dis”tribution of the fund. That is very unfair. Bank profits are swelled in this and a thousand other ways. In my opinion, the clauses of the Bill should be amended for the simplification of their language, sothat their meaning may be apparent to the layman. I intend to vote against all of them, but I appeal to the honorable member for Richmond now, as I did at the end of last session, to withdraw the Bill, so that the subject may be dealt with in a general banking measure.
.- Whilst I agree with what has been said by the honorable members for Maribyrnong and Capricornia about the marriage regulationsof the banks, I do not think that this is theplace to deal with them; they should beconsidered in connexion with some other measure. The Bill seems to me a harmlessone, and I see no reason why it should not pass. There is certainly no reason for “ stone-walling “ it. It enables a bank, if it so desires, to use its profits, or part of them, in building up a fund for the payment of its reserve liability. The honorable member for Richmond claims that thiswill protect the public, but it would do soonly in the event of a bank going intoliquidation and its reserve liability not being there for the creditors who had 2 claim against it. A principal advantage is that the Bill may protect persons buyingbank shares. Many persons now buy bank shares without being aware of the reserve liability attaching to them. All they know is that the shares are quoted at so much orv the market. Should anything happen to the bank, they find themselves saddled with liabilities of which they knew nothing. It would be much better for these persons to receive 2 per cent, or 3 per cent, less in dividends, and for the bank to build up a fund to meet its reserve liabilities, which: would make them secure. This is not a Bill for the securing of reforms generally relating to banking. That, I hope, will be done by one of the first measures introduced next Parliament. But this Parliament has done a lot of useful work, and the Government cannot be criticised for not having attended to the important business, of the country.
Amendment agreed” to.
.- I move -
That after the word “dividends’” the words “ after a Government inspector has certified to She accounts being correct.”
If the Committee is determined to tinker with banking legislation, I should like to move for a reform which I have always considered necessary, and the need for which has been shown by the remarks of the honorable member for Corangamite. He speaks of persons buying shares, knowing nothing of the liability attaching to them. We should guarantee the stability of the institutions in which they become shareholders, and give confidence to the public generally by insisting on Government inspection of accounts.
– If the honorable member wishes to block the Bill, why does he not say so straight out?
– I have had communications regarding the measure which lead me to think that it is not a desirable one to pass, even from the banking point of view.
– I submit that the amendment is out of order, as this is a Bill for the specific purpose of providing for the accumulation of funds for the protection of shareholders, and the amendment, according to the statement of the honorable member, is an attempt to make a reform of quite a different direction.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Dr.
Maloney). - I must rule that the amendment is in order.
– It is very desirable that an independent individual in the community should exercise supervision over the accounts of these financial institutions, and I can conceive of no better man than a Government inspector.
– We are all agreed upon that.
– I intend to press my amendment.
– Oh, let it go.
– The Bill has to go back to the Senate.
– Then, if the measure becomes law, I wash my hands of all responsibility.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 4 (Creation of Reserve Fund).
Amendment (by Mr. Roberts) agreed to-
That the following proviso be added to the clause : - “ Provided that when a reserve fund has been created by any company in pursuance of this section, the amount to be carried to such reserve fund out of the net profits made in any halfyear shall (until such reserve, fund is equal in amount to the uncalled capital of the company) be at least two and a half per centum on such net profits, but shall not be more than ten per centum on such net profits.”
.- I accept the amendment, which provides, first, that the amount taken from the profits and placed to the credit of the reserve fund shall not be excessive ; and secondly, that ft shall be substantial.
.- This amendment embodies my whole objection to the Bill. It provides that the bank directors may take from profits and place to the credit of a reserve fund not less than i per cent, nor more than 10 per cent. That leaves them a margin of 7 J per cent, upon which to work. My objection to the measure is that it will afford bank directors an opportunity to manipulate the share market. For example, one year they may take 2
– They may only do that with the consent of the shareholders. The honorable member knows that.
– The honorable member is taking exception to an amendment which regulates that possibility.
– But it must be remembered that this Bill is not compulsory. If the directors of a bank do not feel disposed to set apart a portion of its profits to the credit of the reserve fund they need not do so. If they have an ulterior object in view they may say, “We will take 5 per cent, or 10 per cent, of the profits this year and pay it into the, reserve.” That means that there would not be so much available to pay a dividend to the shareholders. The dividend might be reduced to 3J per cent, on the value of the shares. If the shares were £5 each, and the dividend was 3J per cent., the value of the shares would probably fall to the extent of 30s: If the directors were dishonest they could keep down the value of the shares for a year or two for the purpose of buying them up, and then they could inflate their value for selling purposes. I do not believe the Bill will be availed of by any respectable bank. It will merely afford an opportunity to dishonest persons to “rig” the share market.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 5 to 12 and title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments; report adopted.
Bill read a third, time.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
Debate resumed from 22nd August (vide page 2578), on motion by Mr. Kelly -
That this House, following the practice of the House of Commons, is of opinion, in view of the unequal distribution of Federal properties in the various municipalities of Australia, that the Commonwealth should grant yearly to each municipality as an act of grace an amount equal to the municipal rates and taxes which it would have to pay were it not exempt from taxation under the Constitution.
.- As we are on the eve of a general election, and the unexpected sometimes happens, I would like to embody in Hansard a few remarks for the benefit of future generations of aldermen. I served for a time in the capacity of alderman for the North Ward in the Brisbane City Council. I never worked harder in my life, and after a long course of study and consideration, I have come to the conclusion that the payment of aldermen is a very desirable thing.
– I would point out to the honorable member that the motion deals with the question of payment by the Commonwealth of municipal rates and taxes.
– I desire to move as an amendment -
That after the word “ grace,” line 6, the words “ only to municipalities who pay their aldermen and councillors, and also whose aldermen and councillor’; are elected,” be inserted.
Aldermen should be elected on a proper franchise. My amendment embodies a principle to which the Australian Labour party ought to direct its attention, because, by means of municipalities and other local bodies much good work can be done for the benefit of the citizens of Australia.. Why should municipal councils be made a close corporation for contractors, landlords, and those who want to secure election to them as a hall-mark of respectability? In order to illustrate the mean way in which some ratepayers treat their representatives, let me state an experience of my own. After I had served the city of Brisbane for two years, I sought re-election as an. alderman, and asked a ratepayer for the use of a front room of an empty shop as a> committee-room on polling day. He replied, “Very well,” and when I asked what I should have to pay, he remarked, “That will be all right.” Although I pressed him, 1 could obtain from him no more definite statement, and I naturally concluded that he was a man of generous instincts, and intended to give me the free use of the room. I was. in due course, re-elected, and I thought I would walk round the Terrace and thank those who had helped me. Before expressing my thanks to this gentleman, however, I thought that I had better make sure whether I had to pay anything for the room. When I inquired, “ What do I owe you?” he replied, “ I will leave it to you. I do not want to make anything out of it, but if you give me £I, I will give 10s. to the hospital in your namer and the remaining ros. in my name.”’ Finally, as I was leaving his shop, hiswife said, “ Now, Mr. Higgs, I hope you will see that our footpaths are kept ingood order.” I had given to the city two years of arduous service, and at the end of that period, one of the ratepayers, a wealthy man, was so mean that he would not grant me the free use of a committeeroom for one day. People ought to get rid of the idea of trying to get something for nothing. They think they are getting something for nothing in returning men to the municipal councils, but some councillors, if they do not receive payment by way of allowance as we do, secure the expenditure of public money by improving their own properties. In that way they take it out of the general public just as informer days, before the principle of payment of members was adopted, some members of Parliament took advantage of the knowledge they gained as parliamentarians to line their pockets with the riches that could be obtained in various ways. I place on record my view, as an ex-alderman, that the people would be better served by their local governing bodies if they paid their aldermen.
– A - And they should pay them at least?250 a year.
– Large municipalities could afford to make that payment, but there are hundreds of capable men who would be willing to give their services for ?50 a year. That would help to meet their election expenses. My election expenses in connexion with the Brisbane City Council cost me?30 or ?40, and I got nothing in return.
– I have been returned seven times to Parliament, and have not had to spend ?10.
– The honorable member, in that respect, is the only pebble on the political beach.
.- I should like the honorable member to amend his amendment by adding the words “ and whose aldermen and councillors are elected.” The aldermen of the cities of Melbourne and Geelong are not elected by the people, but are appointed for life, and those municapilities were base enough at one time to refuse women the right to vote, although they compelled them to pay rates. The franchise for the city councils of Melbourne and Geelong is an absurd one. By providing for the election of aldermen and councillors on the basis of adult suffrage, we should bring those councils into line with the Sydney City Council, in connexion with which, I understand, there is an adult franchise plus one vote granted to every absentee owner. With such a franchise, we should soon get rid of the dust fiend in Melbourne, and the whole position would be improved. I would vote against any grant being made to the Melbourne City Council in lieu of rates on Commonwealth buildings unless that council was prepared to enfranchise its real citizens - those who actually reside within its boundaries. Most of the electors of the city of Melbourne live in the suburbs, and many of them have three votes each. The Melbourne Tramway and Omnibus Company Limited has the right to cast nine votes in each subdivision of Melbourne and suburbs, whilst the Metropolitan Gas Company, which, thanks to the Age, has recently received a slight check, has a vote in every ward of the city and suburban municipalities. Have the Government decided to accept the motion ?
– If the motion is to be carried, it should certainly be amended as proposed. It would, in that way, bring to bear a little pressure on the most fossilized municipal franchise in Australia.
Amendment agreed to.
Question, as amended, resolved in the negative.
– - Since there is no chance of passing it at this stage of the session, I ask that the Order of the Day for the resumption of the debate on the following motion standing in my name be discharged -
That, in the opinion of this House, legislation should be introduced to provide a system of pensions to the members of the Defence Forces, and that the resolution be communicated to the Senate, with a request for its concurrence -
On which Dr. Maloney had moved, by way of amendment -
That the following words be added -“ and shall not come into force until the people who pay shall vote Yeaor Nay by the Referendum.”
Order of the Day discharged.
Sitting suspended from 6 p.m. until 10.30 a.m. Saturday.
Mr. Deputy Speaker laid upon the table
Finance 1911-12 - The Treasurer’s Statement of Receipts and Expenditure during the year ended 30th June, 1912, accompanied by the Report of the Auditor-General.
Motion (by Mr. Fisher) proposed -
That the paper be printed.
– We ought to be very grateful to the Government for this speedy presentation of the Auditor-General’s Report. The Auditor-General is of no use to this Parliament. At the present time there is no control over our finances.
– That statement is blatant electioneering.
– And it is not correct.
– It is absolutely correct. No report from the AuditorGeneral has been presented to Parliament during this session, and therefore I say that the Auditor-General is of no use to this Parliament in relation to the consideration of the finances of the country. This late presentation of the report emphasizes the fact. It comes to us when all the financial measures of the session have been finished, and done with. It has, therefore, been of not the slightest use in the considerationof proposals for the expenditure of sums aggregating something like ?22,250,000. According to the newspapers, the Auditor-General again refers to this kind of thing, though I do not know exactly what he says, not having had an opportunity to read the report.
– What is the date of the report?
– I have not seen the report yet. My complaint is that it has been presented at a time when it cannot be of the slightest assistance to Parliament.
– The statement of the honorable member for Parramatta is so far from what I should call a judicial criticism regarding the presentation of the Auditor-General’s report as to be of no value whatever. To say that there is no control over the finances because the Auditor-General’s report has only just , been presented is not within measurable distance of fact or truth. The Auditor-General’s report is in the hands of honorable members, and the position of the Government can be tested, if not in this House, elsewhere.
– The AuditorGeneral is appointed as an impartial critic of the finances, and yet we have not been allowed to know until now what his opinion of the public accounts is.
– The Prime Minister should withdraw the remark that my statement was not within measurable distance of fact or truth, It was most offensive.
– If my remark was offensive to the honorable member, I withdraw it, and with all the more pleasure because his objection indicates that he did not know what his language conveyed. Like other honorable members on this side, I was under the misapprehension that he had made the allegation that the Government had. delayed the presentation of the AuditorGeneral’s report to prevent the Opposition from criticising our financial administration, and had conveyed the suggestion that there is no control over the finances.
– I did say that.
– Then my remark clearly covers the honorable member’s statement. The Auditor-General acquits the Treasury of any intention to do other than facilitate the presentation of accounts. He says that the Treasury officials showed every desire to bring matters before him. If there is one thing that I should like more than another, it is the presentation to the public of the results of a full investigation of Commonwealth affairs since we took office, and such a statement will be presented to the public.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Mr. FRAZER laid upon the table
Annual report of thePostmaster-General 1911-12, and moved -
That the paper be printed.
– Here again we have the same dodge repeated. On the last day of the session, when the consideration of the Estimates is over, and no use can be made of it, this report is presented. Honorable members cannot deny’ that fact. I find too, that the Auditor-General’s report is not even dated. The policy of the Government throughout has been that this House shall not have information concerning its financial administration, and the presentation of these two reports on the last day of the session is evidence of that. When the business of Parliament is finished, and done with, reports which should be presented for the guidance of honorable members are laid upon the table.
– That is an allegation against the Auditor-General.
– He states distinctly that the delay is the Treasurer’s fault.
– I have only just seen the Auditor-General’s report, and the first thing that strikes the eye - -
– The question before the chair is the printing of’ the report of the Postmaster- General.
– As I have not seen the report of the Auditor-General, and do not know what is in it, I am unable to discuss it. All that is left to me is to make a protest against the manner in which the Government has treated Parliament and the country in deferring the presentation of these important documents.
– The circumstances connected with the presentation of this report seem to emphasize the opinion of the Minister of Home Affairs that there is an absence of business principle in some of the Departments. The Post Office accounts, I suppose, close on 30th June, and it seems extraordinary that the departmental report should be presented only “to-day. Any large financial company can get out its report within a month after the books close, and there ought not to be the slightest difficulty in doing the same thing in connexion with a Government Department. It is scarcely fair that we should have to wait until the last day of this session for departmental reports of the kind. It has been remarked outside for a long time that the system of purchasing horses is-
– “ Crooked “ !
– No; I do not mean anything dishonorable, but simply that horses have been purchased that were not fit for the work. I saw a number of military horses the other day-
– The honorable member is not in order in discussing the military horses.
– I do not know whether or not military horses are used in the Post and Telegraph Department, but it would do the animals no harm if they were given a little work- However that -may be, I suggest that the Government should make an effort to see that these departmental reports are presented a little earlier.
– The Deputy Leader of the Opposition has made some caustic remarks on the fact that this report, although it extends to the end of June last, is not laid on the table until December. The honorable member’s remarks are perfectly justified, because the people ought to know that the affairs of this Government, backed up by every member of the party who has not the independence to say what he really thinks on the subject, are conducted in a way that could not for one moment meet the approval of any common-sense business person. The reports, which purport to tell Parliament and the public how certain Departments have been carried on during the financial year, are placed on the table at the very moment of adjournment, six months after the period with which they deal. The criticism of the Prime Minister
– Order ! The Prime Minister has not spoken on the question.
– I simply say that the tone of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition-
– The honorable member must not evade my ruling. He cannot refer to what the Prime Minister has said, because that honorable gentleman has not yet spoken on this proposition.
– I rise to a point of order. Is the honorable member for Parkes not in order in referring in a general way to a report, in’ accordance with the usual practice of the House? I submit that the honorable member for Parkes is perfectly in order in referring to what the Prime Minister has said, in order to point out that a certain line of action is adopted for the purpose of burking discussion, or misrepresenting the position of honorable members.
– I submit that the question of the postal finances must necessarily have reference to the Auditor-General’s report, which, of course, deals with the whole of the finances.
– For ten years we never had a report from the honorable member’s crowd !
– I submit that an honorable member, in discussing the report on the Postal Department, can scarcely avoid referring to the Auditor-General’s report.
– I am not aware that the Postmaster-General’s report is issued by the Auditor- General,whose report has been disposed of so far as this House is concerned. The proper time to discuss the Auditor- General’s report is when it is before us. The honorable member for Parkes was distinctly referring to a speech made by the Prime Minister on the report of the AuditorGeneral, and I rule that he must be confined to the Postmaster-General’s report.
– Mr. Deputy Speaker, I beg to dissent from your ruling, and, with your permission, will put my dissent in writing.
– Such a motion, under the Standing Orders, cannot be discussed before to-morrow.
– I have no desire to refer to what the Prime Minister said. Is it not feasible, however, to criticise what was said by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, who described the Prime Minister’s speech as an unjudicial utterance ? Although we may have documents such as the Postal report before us, it is not obligatory on those who criticise it to keep to a calm form of criticism. If we find that gross injustice has been done to Parliament and to the public by the presentation of a report six months after time-
– The honorable member’s Government presented no report at all.
– This Government is supposed to do everything on moral principle, and yet they are afraid of the impartial reports of their own officials, and keep them back to the last moment in order that there may be no chance of discussion. This is one of the worst things done in this Parliament; and the public will demand to know why the press and Parliament itself” have been deprived of the opportunity of criticism.
– I move -
That all the words after “That” be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof “ in the opinion of this House the Postmaster-General’s Report, and all other reports having to do with the finances of the Commonwealth, should be presented in time to be dealt with by the House.”
– I wish the honorable member to clearly understand that he is not going to evade my ruling by referring to “ other “ reports. I rule the amendment out of order.
– I desire to make a personal explanation. A little while ago, when the Prime Minister was in the Chamber, I interjected that the Auditor-General had stated that the reason why his report was not forthcoming earlier was due to the Treasurer.
– Order ! This is not a personal explanation.
– I submit that it is. In reply to my interjection, the Prime Minister replied, “ That is not so.” Consequently, he practically accused me of saying what is not correct. I claim my right to make a personal explanation, and to show that my statement was correct, whilst that of the Prime Minister was incorrect. I have here the Auditor-General’s report -
– Order ! The honorable member must not discuss the Auditor-General’s report.
– As a member of this House I claim the right to explain my position.
– Order ! This is not a personal explanation. Will the honorable member resume his seat?
– I rise to a question of privilege. Honorable members opposite are not going to brow-beat me. We have a sufficient number of honorable members upon this side of the Chamber to assert our rights, even if we have to remain here till after Christmas. I submit that an honorable member cannot under any standing, order or practice of the House be deprived’ of his rights by you, Mr. Speaker, or the Chairman of Committees, or any other authority when he rises to make a personal explanation, consequent upon misrepresentation by another honorable member of something he has said or done in the House. I would point out that the honorable member for Richmond cannot make an explanation without referring to what has already taken place, and out of which the misrepresentation arose. I submit that you, sir, cannot anticipate what he isgoing to say simply because he mentionsthe Auditor-General’s report. He has a right to refer to the incident connected’ with the motion to adopt that report inorder to correct the misrepresentation which* has been made concerning him, so long as he does not discuss the report itself. The honorable member has a right to vindicate himself before his constituents and the country.
M.r. DEPUTY SPEAKER-The honorable member is distinctly out of order.
– I am speaking on a question of privilege, and. a question of privilege is in order at all times. As the custodian of the rights of honorable members upon both sides of the Chamber,’ I submit that a Minister has no right to be called by theSpeaker to reply upon a motion before otherhonorable members have had an opportunity of speaking to it, and when othermembers have risen to speak. Twice thatprocedure has been attempted this morning,, once successfully, and once unsuccessfully..
– Order ! The honorable member is making a speech.
– This ismonstrous. I will leave the Chamber as a protest against these proceedings. If anhonorable member is not permitted to explain his position when he has been grossly misrepresented, I, for one, refuse to remainhere.
– I rise to a point of order. Do you, sir, rule that when one honorablemember gives the lie direct to another honorable member, the latter is not entitled toexplain his position, and to put himself right before the country?
– I have not ruled that. But I would point out to the honorable member that there is a proper time to make a personal explanation. We are now discussing a motion for the printing of the report presented by the Postmaster-,General. The honorable member had an opportunity to make a personal explanation at the time the accusation to which he refers was made. He cannot break info a debate upon another question in order to make a personal explanation.
– He may do so at any time.
– I rise to a point of order. I understand that you, sir, have just ruled that an honorable member has not the right to make a personal explanation at any time other than between different items of business. I submit that it has always been the custom in this House - and it is the practice of the House of Commons which governs our procedure to a large extent - to permit any honorable member who has been either misunderstood or misrepresented, to make a personal explanation at any time. I do urge yOU, sir’ as the custodian of the rights of individual members of this House, to reconsider the ruling which you have just given.
– I rise to make a personal explanation.
– I have already ruled that the honorable member cannot do so.
– I rise to a point of order. The motion for the printing of the report which has been laid upon the table, necessarily confines our attention to Post Office business. But I wish to refer to a general report which covers the PostmasterGeneral’s Department. In the AuditorGeneral’s report there are constant references to the Post Office.
– The only question before the House is that of whether the report shall be printed.
– On a point of order-
– I have determined the point of order.
– Then I rise to another point of order. The motion before the House is that the report be printed, and a pertinent question is whether or not the material in that report is such as to warrant its printing. Surely I have a right to refer to the contents of the report. If
I can show that there is a general report dealing with the work of the Postal Department
– The honorable member must not discuss, on this motion, the Auditor-General’s report.
– I claim the right, in order to elucidate my point, to show that the position of the Department is referred to in another report before the Parliament. I think I have a right to refer to that report and the light that it throws on the want of value of the report now under consideration. If I can show that in the Auditor-General’s report there is an admission that the accounts were not filed until yesterday-
– The honorable member must either address himself to the question before the Chair or resume his seat. He must not try to evade my ruling.
– I do not know whether you are going to deny me the right, sir, to show that this is a worthless report ; that it is not worthy of being printed.
– How can the honorable member do that when he has not seen the report ?
– I have seen it.
– The honorable member has not. There is only one copy and I have it here.
– I know by a reference to it that the accounts were not filed until yesterday-
– Order ! The honorable member must not follow that line of discussion.
– Very well, sir. Since we are not sitting to-morrow it is useless for me to give notice of dissent from your ruling.
Mr. SAMPSON (Wimmera) [11.5 a.m/). - I desire to register my protest against the late hour at which this report is presented. It relates to a Department, the expenditure of which amounts to something “like ^5,000,000 per annum, and of that amount about ,£1,500,000 is expended on new works and buildings. The report dealing with the accounts of the Department is presented so late that we have no opportunity to review it. There has been a delay of two years in its preparation. It has been complained again and again that it is impossible to gather from the Budgetpapers anything like a clear idea of the the and classification of the various De partments, and this report by the Accountant should have been presented at a time when we should have been able to study it in detail. As it is, we have merely put before us on the last day of the session a motion to obtain authority to print the report. Only one copy of that report is presented, and it seems to be held by the PostmasterGeneral, so that we cannot see it to ascertain whether or not it ought to be printed.
.- I join in protesting against the request made to the House to vote for the printing of a document that we have not had an opportunity of perusing. I understand that the report is one by the Postmaster-General on his Department. I should like to see a report by the Department on the PostmasterGeneral. The Government should ;give us an opportunity to see what is in the document before we vote on the question of whether it be printed or not.
– I desire to raise a question of privilege. The PostmasterGeneral, I understand, has the only available copy of this report, and declines to allow honorable members to see it.
– I have laid it on the table of the House, and have moved that it be printed in order that it may be available to honorable members generally.
– My contention is that the moment it is presented it is no longer the property of the Minister, but is in the custody of the House. The Minister should hand it to the Clerk.
– If there is any anxiety about the matter I do not object to any one seeing the report.
– The report is in the possession of the House.
– I rise to a point of order. Is it in the power of the PostmasterGeneral to refuse to give to an honorable member a report which has been laid upon the table, and for him almost immediately afterwards to hand it to one of his colleagues?
– If the honorable member had paid any attention to my ruling he would know that I held that the report is in the possession of the House.
– I attach no importance to the fact that the Honorary Minister desires to read the report. I do not object to the Honorary Minister trying to make himself conversant with a document that he should have had an opportunity of reading before it was presented to this House, but I would point out that there are other honorable members who also wish to see it.
– I would direct attention to the fact that a Bill has been laid upon the table, and honorable members cannot obtain copies of it. I understand that the “Insurance Bill-
– The honorable member is not in order in discussing the Insurance Bill.
– I do not wish to discuss it. I am pointing out that honorable members ought to be furnished with copies of public documents. I understand that several copies of this Bill were struck off, and were available here, but so far I have not received a copy.
– I saw copies of the Bill in my room.
– I applied to the Clerk of the House, who informed me that there were no copies available.
– I listened for a number of hours the other night, and for a short time this morning, to the impudent and insulting remarks of the honorable member for Parkes-
– Order 1 The Minister must withdraw those remarks.
– I rise to order.
– I have already asked the honorable member to withdraw.
– I thought the honorable member for Parramatta was so accustomed to using language of that description that he would like to hear a little of it.
– On a point of order, I would like to know whether the Minister is in order in adding to his insults.
– Order ! The honorable member for Parramatta is now transgressing in the same direction as the Minister has done.
– Not at all. I am merely asking whether the Minister is in order in adding to his insults.
– It would be much better if honorable members refrained from these insults.
– The Minister has not yet withdrawn his remarks.
– I withdraw.
– The Minister has withdrawn his remarks, and now I must ask the honorable member for Parramatta to withdraw his remarks.
– I will withdraw anything.
– We will forget the honorable member for Parkes, whom we are not likely to see here again. I wish to point out that this is the second occasion on which a report of any description has been tendered in connexion with the Postal Department.
– Six months after it was given to you.
– Whilst my honorable friends take exception to the fact that the report is a little delayed-
– A little?
– Yes, a little. Honorable members will understand that in a large Department of this description, with such wide ramifications, it is impossible to get the returns.
– Some of them were ready months ago.
– You were impudent enough, while you were speaking - be quiet now.
– Order ! The Minister must withdraw that expression.
– I withdraw. In a Department like that over which I preside, with ramifications extending over the whole of this great continent, and in which 17,000 employes are engaged, it is impossible to get the returns correctly prepared, and presented to Parliament within a few weeks.
– Does not the Minister think six months is too long?
– No; not under the circumstances. In the accounts branch of the Postal Department we have had to deal with very serious difficulties which were left to us as legacies from previous Governments. We had .£30,000 worth of unissued accounts for twelve months in the Sydney office, and we got an accountant from Western Australia-
– And the position of things is worse than ever.
– That is not correct.
– During the lastthree years more overtime has been worked than ever before.
– The late accountant was in our employment for less than two years. He did his best to straighten things out, and now he has left. He tried to straighten out ten years’ trouble that my honorable friends opposite made for him, and he has left the Department in a better condition than it ever was before.
– They say it is worse.
– Who are they?
– Those who know. Would the Minister like me to give him the names?
– I would like my honorable friend to have some warrant before he makes statements of that kind.
– I have plenty of warrant.
– I may mention, further, that we have had trouble with the employes. We have now reached the stage that the employes have to submit their claims to the Arbitration Court. The other night statements were made with regard to differential treatment. I say there has been no differential treatment except that this Department-
– On a point of order, I submit that the PostmasterGeneral has no right to discuss the general policy of his Department, seeing that the question before the Chair is the printing of the report.
– The Minister should confine his remarks to the. question before the Chair.
– I am merely advancingreasons why the report should be printed. I am indicating what it contains as justification for the motion now before the Chair. I may point out that the report’ deals with the difficulties in regard to the employes, and shows, among other things, that 40,000 miles of telephone lines have been constructed.
– The honorable member is now discussing the report ; the question is merely the printing of it.
– I think that I am entitled to indicate its contents.
– We were not allowed to discuss it.
– I wish to make only a passing reference.
– Mr. Deputy Speaker ruled out the others.
– Well, then, let it go.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill returned from the Senate with an amendment.
That the amendment be taken into consideration forthwith.
– I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
The amendment of the Senate is one I had drafted to meet a request by the honorable member for Balaclava and others relating to witnesses’ expenses. It provides that when the amount of expenses allowable exceeds 5s., the money shall be forwarded to the person summoned before he commences his journey, but that if it is less than 5s. he shall get it afterwards.
Motion agreed to.
The following Bills were returned from the Senate without amendment or request : -
Land Tax Assessment Bill.
Inscribed Stock Bill.
Lands Acquisition Bill.
Officers Compensation Bill.
Appropriation Bill 1912-13.
Further Supplementary Appropriation Bill 1910-11.
Further Supplementary Appropriation (Works and Buildings) Bill 1910-11.
Bill returned from the Senate with the message that the Senate had agreed to the amendment of the House of Representative on its amendment.
– I have received from Mr. Speaker, who is unable to be present to-day, the following valedictory letter: -
I regret very much that illness has prevented me from attending the House to-day and personally addressing a few words to honorable members at the closing of the last session of the present Parliament. I take this opportunity, however, of making some remarks through my honorable friend, Mr. Deputy Speaker.
I think theHouse is to be congratulated on having satisfactorily completed the labours of a session which has proved to be one of the longest and most trying that have been held since the inauguration of the Commonwealth.
Measures of very far-reaching importance have been dealt with and passed into law, and some, of perhaps even greater moment, now await the decision of the people of the Commonwealth. The work has entailed a large number of sittings and very long hours. Our duties in this Parliament make demands upon the time and energies of honorable members to an extent they could never have anticipated, and for which, in some quarters at least, members do not get the credit they deserve. We feel naturally glad and relieved when the session terminates.
I would like to say, and I feel sure that the House will heartily agree with me, that we are all extremely pleased to see Mr. Duffy once more among us after his recent severe illness, and we trust that the recess will enable him to gain that perfect vigour of body which we all wish him to enjoy. I desire to express my personal obligation to him for the great zeal and ability with which he always assists me in the performance of my duties.
I would likewise express my warm appreciation of the very efficient services rendered to the House by Mr. Gale, who discharged so worthily the duties of Acting Clerk.
I desire also to thank the other officers of the House, especially for the way in which they worked during Mr. Duffy’s absence. During times of great strain and stress all the members of the staff- the clerks at the table, in the offices, and messengers and cleaners alike - have worked right loyally and well, and their services have contributed in no small degree to make my path an easy one so far as the Department is concerned.
Like the officers of the House, the members of the Hansard staff, under Mr. Friend, have had their powers of endurance tested to the utmost. Incidents (notably cases of illness among the staff) have occurred during this and previous sessions, which have demonstrated the absolute necessity of increasing the numerical strength of the reporting staff, and the President and myself intend to request the Treasurer to provide the necessary funds for that purpose. I take this opportunity of acknowledging our indebtedness to the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales for his kindness in placing at our disposal the services of two reporters from the Hansard staff of that State to meet the exigencies of our work.
In regard to the Library, I have much pleasure in testifying to the excellent manner in which the Committee have performed their duties. The staff, too, have done their work well.
The Library is now being steadily built upon the foundation orginally laid for it - namely, that of a national, rather than of a merely Parliamentary, institution. It is becoming wider and wider in its scope, and consequently its utility is daily increasing. The labour involved in managing it is necessarily greater also. In the Australian section we are laying deep and broad the foundations of a truly Australian National Library, which will, I trust, greatly redound to the credit of the Commonwealth. The chief difficulty standing in the way of the satisfactory development of our Library is the ever-growing want of accommodation, not only in respect of the storage of books, but also in regard to their accessibility.
In conclusion, I desire to thank honorable members for the many kindnesses which I have personally received at their hands, and for their assistance in satisfactorily conducting the business of a session which has been so full of strenuous work for us all.
To every honorable member and to every officer I sincerely wish a very “ Happy Christmas and a Most Prosperous New Year.”
– I lay upon the table-
Lighting of the Western Coast of Australia (King George Sound to Cambridge Gulf) - Report, with Recommendations as to Existing Lights and Additional Lights, by Commander Brewis, R.N. - November, 1912, and move -
That the paper be printed.
I may inform the House that this report is dated 20th December, and thatI received it only last night. It completes the reports on the lighting of the Australian coast, with the exception of the coast of the western district of Victoria and the coast of New South Wales. The House will be in recess when the further reports come to hand, but they will be printed and supplied to honorable members as received.
The Department is dealing with the alteration of the lights, and the reports presented to date are very valuable less criticism having been made in regard to them than in regard to any others.
.- What steps have been taken towards giving effect to the reports of Commander Brewis on the lighting of the east coast of Australia, where the navigation is very difficult, and traffic is increasing daily.
– I should also like information regarding the lighting of the coast of the western district of Victoria.
– Order. The question is that the reports be printed.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Mr. THOMAS laid upon the table
Reports received from the High Commissioner re Australian butter market in England, and moved -
That the paper be printed.
– I should like an intimation from the Minister as to what is contained in these reports. A great deal of incorrect information is being circulated regarding the butter industry, and certain big interests are endeavouring to prevent, by every means in their power, the selling of butter in London under the co-operative system.
– And every other exported commodity.
– Yes. I should, therefore like to see the papers before they are put in circulation.
– We do not edit reports such as these.
– No, and no doubt the High Commissioner does his best to get reliable information, but it does not follow that, Because statements come through the High Commissioner, and are printed as public documents, they are correct.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I should like to read a brief financial review of an entirely non-party character which, I think, may prove interesting and informative to honorable members. It is as follows: -
In the following statement the Revenue and Expenditure of the Commonwealth in the year ended June, 1910, is compared with the Budget Estimate for the year ending June, 1913 : -
Reference is frequently made to the growing expenditure of the Commonwealth. There is absolute justification for the whole of the increase, but it is not necessary to go into much detail here. It will be convenient to deal with the matter under the items of Expenditure above set out.
For example, on the 30th of September the amount of , £1,318,368 was held for the purpose of meeting payments in London, also the amount of £1,096,277 was held for the purpose of paying for the Fleet Unit. A further amount of £507,362 was held for the payment of invalid and oldage pensions.
Trust Funds are at this date : -
– Did the Queensland Government ask to renew that loan?
– The loan which was due on 5th March 1913 has been renewed for twelve months at 4 per cent a higher rate of interest.
– What was the cost of these loans to the States?
– The States can best answer that question. The cost, I should say, was nothing.
– Indeed, it is not.
– This is a statement which I think the House will welcome. It places in the hands of honorable members the facts and figures as we know them, so that all may have an equal opportunity to draw their own inferences from the position of the finances of the Commonwealth. Whatever may be our individual opinions - whatever may be our party views - I am sure :that honorable members generally have at heart the welfare of the Commonwealth, and while its finances are in a sound state there is little else that can tend to do it any injury.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta) £12.4]. - I desire to make a few observations in reply to the statement made hy the Treasurer.
– Is it the pleasure of the House that the honorable member have leave to make a statement?
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear !
– I think that we may properly congratulate ourselves and the country on the continuance of good seasons, abounding prosperity, and rolling revenues.
– “ And good management.” Be just, and make that addition.
– I cannot even Congratulate the country without being interrupted by a party interjection. We are under an obligation to be grateful to Providence for all the good times that have come to us in recent years, and we hope they will continue. It is easy to govern Bie country in rolling seasons, and the difficulties commence only when the seasons change and the revenues are depleted. This Government have been singularly fortunate in connexion with the finances. A comparison has been made between the term of office of this Government and the term of three years preceding. Might I point out that there was a great contrast between the conditions which prevailed during the two periods. The present Government have had the advantage of revenue which was previously enjoyed by the States. The Prime Minister has himself stated that, whereas in 1909-10 the States received from the Commonwealth £8,500,000, they now receive only about £6,000,000. The revenue available for Commonwealth purposes has been further increased owing to the imposition of the land tax and prosperous seasons. During the three years they have been in office the Government have received nearly £14,000,000 of extra revenue as compared with that received by their predecessors. In addition to that, the land tax has yielded ever £4,000,000, so that the Government have had the advantage of £18,000,000 additional revenue. When we have startling figures like these, due not to anything that has been done by the Government or Parliament, but to the fact that the advent to office of the present Ministry synchronizes with the new financial arrangements under the Constitution, it must be admitted that this Government have been extremely lucky in respect to the finances, as well as in regard to other things. All the money spent on defence, which has been tabulated to-day, was the subject of statements which we have already read over the signature of the Attorney-General, and only the other day I read most of them in the Ballarat newspapers.
All these revenues come out of the pockets of the people. This is the first, thing that requires to be clearly impressed upon our minds. It is as well for us to recognise that since this Federal Parliament has been in existence there has been a steady increase in taxation.
– And increased prosperity.
– That is quite true. But I should point out that taxation alone during the last ten years has increased by £8 15s. per ordinary family. The increase since this Government took office amounts to 19s. per head, or 95s. per family. The Prime Minister said that “this year the revenue had been estimated at slightly over £20,000,000, and the expenditure at £22,683,000, and but for the fact that the revenue has been more buoyant than the Treasurer estimated our out-goings would have exceeded our income by no less than £2,500,000. All this is going on in rolling seasons. But for the fact that we had a stocking with some savings in it we should have been in a very serious financial position. Next year “when, according to the Estimates, these savings will be mopped, up, we shall probably have an expenditure of 14 per cent, more than that for the present year. I say that, for the reason that the estimated spendings of the past three years have shown an annual increase of 14 per cent. If there is a 14 per cent, increase next year - aria1 that would not seem to be above the average - it is quite clear that there is a very serious outlook facing the Commonwealth of Australia.. There is only one feature that’ relieves the situation, namely, that the condition of the country is usually better than our Estimates lead us to expect. That is the invariable experience, and it is a fact that is entitled to be mentioned in a criticism of this sort.
A’ great deal has been said about the expenditure on the Post Office. I do not want to weary honorable members, but I must refer to the statement of the Treasurer on this point. He pointed out the increased expenditure on the Post Office this year. He did not tell us that £1,592,000 more than the income of the Post Office would be spent ; whilst last year the expenditure was ;£ 1, 8 2 4, 000 more than the income. This year, the excess of expenditure over revenue is 37 J per cent.
– But we have to take the loss on account of penny postage into consideration.
– Of course, the boon of penny postage has been conferred ; but as I have previously pointed out, penny postage has to be paid for, and it is paid for chiefly by the working men of Australia.
– Not at all.
– I will show the honorable member why.
– The merchants charge up the cost against the people every time.
– There is no party significance attaching to the matter, since we all voted , for penny postage. But it is a fact that the people who will have to pay for it are chiefly the working men of the country. I say so for the reason that tSe” deficit on account of penny postage will amount to 6s. 9d. per head of the people of the country.
– Is that why the honorable member voted for it?
– I voted for penny postage because I believed in it.
– The honorable member ought to be ashamed to admit that he voted for it because he believes in increasing the burden on the people by 6s. 9d. per head.
– Does the honorable member say that it does not amount to> that?
– The honorable member ought not to have voted for penny postage for that reason.
– The honorable member voted for it for purely political reasons - to make the people of the country believe that he and his party were making them some dole derived from a mysterious source quite apart from the people’s own pockets. The loss on penny postage alone will mean an average of 30s. per annum in the family of an ordinary taxpayer; and ‘I have yet to learnthat an ordinary working man and his family spend that amount a year ora postage, though I have no doubt that some do. My honorable friends opposite are always saying that the workers pay the bulk of the indirect taxation. Therefore, they must be paying the bulk of this money.
Another matter referred to by the Prime Minister was the fact that we are spending this year nearly £4,000,000 on public works. We are; and there is no Government in Australia, except the Federal Government, which is spending money like this, or spending it In such an unbusinesslike way. We have no plans or specifications for any of the whole £4,000,000 which we are spending this year. We have to put our blind trust in the Minister of Home Affairs. If he were a perfect angel, this criticism would be quite as much in point. As we know him to be an ordinary man of the world, and not even a financial genius, in spite of what he says about himself, our position is that we are spending nearly £4,000,000- on public works without so much as a single independent inquiry to show uswhere any of the money is going. The sooner we have an inquiry of some, kind, aided by expert advice, the better for this Parliament, and all concerned.
I had made notes on other points, but I know that honorable members are anxious to get away. The Ministerial party have got in their own statement for the information of the country. I should not have said anything except for this political statement containing a comparison between the administration of this Government and that of preceding Governments.
– When we do not give reports, you complain bitterly, and when we do, von say they are political statements.
– I do say that this is a political statement.
– It is a mere citation of facts.
– Exactly ; without explanations.
– They are so glorious in themselves that explanation was not necessary.
– Quite so; and I felt it to be incumbent upon me to explain some of them. I am complaining that all this huge expenditure has to come out of the pockets of the people, and that the people of this country are paying 19s. per head for public works for the benefit of future generations.
– Thank God we have got the money to pay for them !
– If the people of this country like to “pay up and look pleasant,” and believe that the more money we take out of their pockets the better off they will be, I have only to point to the fact, and leave them to make the best of the situation. It is necessary that the working men should know that all these benefits which have been conferred by this and past Governments have had to be paid for, and that the bill has had to be footed by the people. As regards these Trust Funds, I shall not say a word, except to put one other fact alongside the fact stated by the Treasurer - that this year we are earning in interest £290,000. The Prime Minister did not state the additional fact that this year there is £750,060 on the Estimates for payment of interest.
We have every reason to be gratified that Providence has been kind to this country during the past three years, and many a year before. We have had a succession of seasons that would enable any Government to finance under any circumstances. But honorable members must not suppose that the extraordinarily flourishing state of affairs mentioned by the Treasurer is in any way due to the efforts of this
Government. It is due rather to good seasons and the lucky circumstance that the Government inherited an additional £14,000,000 of revenue when they came into office. All I have to say is, long may the good seasons prevail.
– Before moving the adjournment of the House, I congratulate you, sir, first of all, on presiding over this Assembly, and at the same time express my regret at the cause of it. Honorable members will be with me when I say that Mr. Speaker has done his very best to maintain the dignity of this Parliament as the National Parliament of Australia, and I regret that just towards the end of a most strenuous session he has been so unwell as to be unable to carry on his duties. I thank you, sir, for the services which you have rendered to the House in acting for him. I should like to refer to a matter which was mentioned by Mr. Speaker, in a letter which he was good enough to address to the House, and which was read by you, in which he specially mentioned Hansard. The chief of the Hansard staff and the members of the Hansard staff generally must be pleased, not only with the way in which their reports are received, but with the credit given to them for fairness and thoroughness. It is seldom that we hear anything but praise regarding Hansard, and, speaking generally, there is a violent contrast between the Hansard reports and the reports of members’ speeches which appear in other places. As regards the statement made by Mr. Speaker., that the time has arrived when there ought to be an increase in the Hansard staff, I desire to say on behalf of the Government that I quite concur in that statement, because there should always be trained men in reserve, so that inferior work may be avoided. A great deal of the legislation that has been passed is on basic principles that will be built upon in the future. I believe that during the last three years the legislation which we have passed has helped to build up a national life in Australia. Any one who has had the opportunity to look into matters will have observed the feeling arising amongst the citizens of this great country. They feel that they are part of one great whole, whilst many of them are strenuously maintaining what I should call subordinate patriotism in their particular areas. I believe that that development and growth will make this country what it ought to be - great not only in its laws, but in its national energy, wisdom, and thought. It is for that reason that I think we ought in some small way to congratulate ourselves upon the fact that we are helping to develop national ideals. We as a National Parliament have to look further afield. We are becoming more and more closely allied with the Mother Country and other British Dominions than we have ever been before, and that is due to the fact that there has been a larger measure of freedom granted to us. The effort of the Mother Country during the last three or four years has been to give absolute freedom to her children, and there has been a development of what I might call a national feeling in the British’ Dominions that is commendable and patriotic, and has, I believe, been helpful to the peace of the world. I am sure that it is the desire of every honorable member that that attachment should never be less than it is at present, and that we and the Homeland should become nearer and dearer as time passes. I do not know that I can add anything more to what Mr. Speaker has said regarding the work of other officers of Parliament. They have contributed to our peace of mind and enjoyment. As regards the little controversies and acrimonies that are inseparable from militant political bodies, I do not think that they have been excessive during this Parliament. We feel that we can meet each other in social intercourse, cordially wishing that Heaven may have the best in store for us. I extend to my friends on the Opposition benches, and to you, sir, and the officers of Parliament the heartiest compliments of the season. If honorable members have to meet each other in Philippi, and say a few words later on that may not be as congratulatory as these are, I hope that those words will be uttered without malice and vindictiveness, and in such a manner as will do credit to ourselves and the people of the country. I desire to wish the whole of the members of the Federal Parliament, the Hansard staff, and other officers of Parliament, and the newspaper press, that has been good enough to give us their aid at times and at other times to administer a rebuke, the very heartiest compliments of the season, and to express the hope that many of them may return and enjoy themselves as best they may in future Parliaments of Australia.
– I want, on behalf of the Opposition, to subscribe to every word of the Prime Minister in making appreciative acknowledgment of the service rendered by all the officers of the House. We are under many obligations to these gentlemen, from Mr. Speaker down to the humblest messenger in the corridors. We are, perhaps, sometimes inclined to overlook thi great services rendered to us by the patient, silent men in the corridors, who administer to the efficiency of this Parliament in a thousand ways every day we meet. I deeply regret the absence of Mr. Speaker, and the cause of it. I express the hope that his health will be speedily restored, and that he will soon be able to serve the country as he has done in the past. To you, sir, as his Deputy, and as Chairman of Committees, I tender thanks for many courtesies. I tender thanks also to the officers placed at our disposal, who give willing help in ministering to the efficiency of our labours, and always assist to maintain the status and dignity of this National Parliament, as well as to the recording angels, who, week in and week out, do their duty under circumstances which would make anybody else rise in violent protest. We are under many obligations to them, and I am glad to hear that relief is promised in the way indicatedIt cannot come too soon in my judgment, and it will be well for this House and the country if our Hansard staff is always maintained in its present efficiency. With regard to the work of Parliament, of course there must always be differences of opinion, but I want to say that I believe every member of this Parliament has been actuated by the best of motives. While we see things through different lenses, sometimes we all, I am sure, try to look for the same goal, to see what is best for the interests of the country. As for the animosities and acerbities that develop now and again, I say that life to me would not be worth living if they remained to linger. When I go out of Parliament I leave everything of that kind behind me. I believe that this Parliament has done a great deal of good work. I make that acknowledgment freely. I hope that some of it has been done in such a way as will lead to the future prosperity of this country. That is a desire which should animate every patriotic man with regard to the Parliament in . which he is privileged to serve and the country in which all his interests are. Later .on there is to come a struggle, a friendly struggle I hope, regarding the question of the future powers and privileges of this Parliament. ‘ We shall be ranged very sharply in opposition on these issues, and, therefore, it is well that we should make acknowledgment of each other’s good intentions before entering the field for that great struggle. I should like to emphasize what the Prime Minister has said as to the development of our Imperial relations. It is quite evident that we are on the eve of changes, vital in their character, which will affect the future progress of our Empire. With the Prime Minister, I hope and believe that in all that we do we shall minister to the strength of the whole, while we preserve the selfgoverning powers of the parts. Indeed, I believe that our Empire has hit upon a plan which has in this respect ‘ better succeeded than the course followed by all the Empires that have previously existed. I again express our feelings of great obligation to all concerned in the maintenance of this House and its privileges. I wish honorable members on the other side a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, and I hope that everything that nature can give us in the way of personal betterment may come to «very one of us during this festive season.
Dr. CARTY SALMON (Laanecoorie) £12.41]. - Perhaps honorable members will allow me a couple of minutes of their time while I most regretfully take my leave of them. Circumstances over which they, as well as I, have had absolutely no control have made it necessary that I should not return to this House. I recognise that with a great deal of sincere regret. It was any privilege to be associated with the Federal movement many years before it assumed definite shape. I have always regarded that as one of the highest privileges that have fallen to my lot. To be intimately associated with the birth, as well as the growth and development, of a nation is surely one of the highest aspirations which any one could have, and must be a source of satisfaction to those who have enjoyed the privilege. During the time I have been a member of this House, which dates from its inception, I have made many friendships. These have not been confined to gentlemen of my own political way of thinking. I have always been glad to recognise and acknowledge the honesty of purpose which has actuated the members of this Federal Parliament in their desire to secure the greatest good for the people of Australia. Although there have been times when, in the heat of debate and the stress of combat, one may have said or done things which might bear a different construction, I wish to assure honorable members that if at any time I have wounded their feelings or hurt their sensibilities, no one regrets it more than I do myself. Something has been said with regard to the f uture, and perhaps, in- my “ last dying speech and confession,” I might be permitted to join sincerely in the hope that, no matter how strenuous the fight may be, or how earnestly we may urge the people to adopt the principles which we advocate, the struggle will be an ‘impersonal one. I hope that it will not afford opportunities to that section of the public, which, unfortunately, exists in this as in every community - though I would not suggest for a moment that it exists here in larger proportion than in other countries - to indulge in sensationalism at the expense of truth or of the good fellowship which should exist between those who are striving only for the welfare of the country. Finally, I thank honorable members of this and of previous Parliaments for the many courtesies and kindnesses that I have received at their hands. Many things have happened which have been, I recognise, in quite a natural way the result of political action, but I assure honorable members that, no matter what my future may be, even if it may happen that I shall have no more part or lot in the political history of this country - and it is now over nineteen years since I first entered this Chamber as a member of the Victorian Legislative Assembly - I shall always remember with satisfaction, and treasure with the deepest satisfaction and most complete appreciation, the great and many kindnesses that I have received at their hands.
– I have been a member of a number of Parliaments, but the impulse has -never before come to me to take part on occasions like these by making a speech. This session, however, concludes what I hope will be my first term in the Federal Parliament, and r I cannot permit it to pass without expressing the pleasure that I feel in having been a member of this assembly. Even if it should not be my good fortune to return again after the prorogation, I shall always cherish pleasant recollections of my associa- tion with honorable members. The honorable member for Parramatta is a man whose opinions are anathema to many of the members of the party to which I belong. In the forthcoming campaign we shall do most assiduous battle with him, and with his followers, and shall endeavour to exterminate them as they will endeavour to exterminate us. But while I have never been in agreement with the views expressed by him, he has won my admiration by the manner in which he has led and fought for the party with which he is associated. I like a man who has the courage of his convictions, and is ever ready to go out and do battle for them. It is a hard thing to have a leader whose followers have to push in front, and it is a fine thing to have one who will lead to battle. There is. an old saying that the memory of a man passes away and is forgotten, and that even his monument crumbles into dust, but it will always be pleasant to us to recollect the manly attributes of our opponents, and I could not permit the opportunity to pass without expressing my admiration’ of the fighting qualities of the honorable member for Parramatta. He has said that we look at the truth through different lenses, and I have, read a Persian proverb to the effect that truth is a mirror direct from Heaven, broken’ into a myriad of. fragments which no man has a hand large enough to gather up and hold together. No one of us, and no party, has such a hand, but each party thinks that it represents the truth. This party will go to the country to demonstrate that the honorable member for Parramatta and his cohorts are entirely in the wrong, and M we convince the people of that, and the truth prevails, we shall be returned. The honorable member for Parramatta sees facts in another light, and he will endeavour to do, in regard to us, what we shall try to do in regard to him. We shall say strong things of one another, and why not ? On the field of conflict there is no room for half measures. You have to win if possible. It is said that in politics there are no principles, only interests; and that is so. But underlying every conflict of opposing parties there are always the powers of good and evil, of right and wrong, of progress and stagnation. In ail the ages these are the primary forces which have been beneath the conflicts for supremacy in every human society. We * have made, and shall continue to make mistakes, but we hope that out of this conflict of parties the truth will emerge, and that the country will be the greater and the better as the result. Some of us will fall on the field ; because there are no fights without victims ; .but while I hope that the party with which I am associated will be triumphant, I repeat that it is a great pleasure to me to have been associated with men like the honorable member for Parramatta, and his party, who have had the courage to fight for the truth as they see it
– In view of the approach of the festive Christmas season I feel constrained’ to say a few words. As the honorablemember for Calare is not here I shall, if honorable members will spare me a few hours, briefly outline the legislation of thesession, dwelling a little on its peculiar phases, and the various turns of eventssince this Parliament was elected. Whilethe messengers are bringing in my notes - but I see that honorable members on both sides are becoming apprehensive, so that I shall merely add that I wish them thecompliments of the season, and a jolly good Christmas.
.- I take this to be the psychological moment for planting some seeds of progress. While indorsing every remark made on both sidesof the House as to the splendid work of the Hansard staff, I hope that the Prime Minister, during the recess, will take into consideration the need for having extra men to be called on when all-night sittings occur, such as we have had of late. Those members of the fourth estate who attend, day after day, and night after night, should be able to fill the places of the official reporters when necessary, and> speaking with some knowledge, I say that I think that the proprietors of the big newspapers, no matter what side they may take in politics, would gladly lend the services of their officers in a time of stress and need; because there are many othersto fill the posts that would then be left vacant. I take this opportunity to say that I started my life with ideals, and no Parliament of which I have had the privilege of being a member has ever carried somany of them to fruition as this has done.One alone remains of those with which I started over a score of years ago, and that is the child pension. If the revenue of the Commonwealth continues to come in asit has been doing, according to the- statement made by the Prime Minister this morning, and the God-given gift of splendid seasons remains to this beloved Australia of ours, I hope, should I be permitted to enter the next Parliament - and I shall make a pretty good fight to get in - that it will be my privilege and pleasure to see the right honorable gentleman moving a measure under which every mother in the Commonwealth will be able to claim, as a right, not as a charity - for that word is accursed to my idea wherever justice holds sway - a pension for her Australian babe, should her income not be sufficient to feed, clothe, and properly house the child; that she will be able to say, “ I claim from the Government of the country this right for the best immigrant that ever came to the shores of Australia.”
– hope, sir, that you will not regard it as an anti-climax if I ask the Prime Minister to make a statement on an important question.
– Wait until I move the adjournment of the House.
– Very good.
– I do not wish to add very much to the sentiments so admirably expressed by the Prime Minister, the Leader’ of the Opposition, and succeeding speakers, but to express my gratification at the way in which the House has passed through a very severe session. Honorable members have, I believe, endeavoured to give expression to conscientious convictions, and what, I think, is more remarkable than anything else is, that in spite of the fierce differences of opinion on various principles which have been enunciated, fraternal feeling has prevailed between members of the Opposition and members on the Government side. Although our minds may be cast in different moulds, yet as regards the heart, we still evidence the oneness of the great human family.
– I wish, on behalf of the Speaker, to thank honorable members for their appreciative remarks in regard to himself, and also to express my regret that he has not been able to attend to complete the most strenuous work he has had in this Parliament. I desire, on my own behalf, to thank the officers of the House who have rendered so much assistance to me during the session.
Motion (by Mr. Fisher) agreed to.
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until
Wednesday, 15th January next.
Adult Suffrage in Great Britain - Maternity Allowance - Canadian Railway - Temporary Clerks, Census Staff - Naval Defence.
Motion (by Mr. Fisher) proposed -
That this House do now adjourn.
.- I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether, in view of the fact that the women of Great Britain and Ireland are asking for the suffrage on equal terms with men, he does not think that the experience of Australia, which led the way in this reform, warrants the adoption of the principle of equal suffrage by the British Parliament? And regarding the maternity allowance, if any instance is brought under the notice of his Department where an agreement between a woman about to become a mother, and an institution, that, for the payment of a certain sum, she shall have the benefit of the institution, has been broken - if an institution, after being paid the amount agreed upon, has deducted further sums up to 60 per cent, of the maternity allowance, will he institute inquiries and endeavour to make the institution restore the money to the unfortunate mother? Also, I wish to ask the Postmaster-General whether in the coming session he will consider the necessity of carrying into law certain resolutions which were unanimously arrived at by the House. Further, I desire to know if the attention of the Minister of Home Affairs has been drawn to the fact that the National railway line of Canada for 2,000 miles, from Quebec to the coast, is run more cheaply as regards the fares for passengers than is any line in the United States of America, and that it is wholly controlled and worked by unionists, with the result that it is better built, operated, and charges lower fares than is the case with other railways?
– I know all about the working of the line to which my honorable friend has referred. I may mention that he will find a leading article on the subject in the Review of Reviews.
.- On behalf of the honorable member for
Fawkner, I wish to bring a matter under the notice of the Minister of Home Affairs. A promise was made that all temporary clerks on the Census staff who served fourteen months would receive three weeks’ holiday - that is three weeks’ pay. Will the Minister see that that is carried out?
-The pro promise will be carried out.
.- By request, I wish to ask the Prime Minister what is the position of the Commonwealth Government with regard to naval defence generally ?
– I wish to allude to the matter to which the honorable member for Wimmera has referred. The point I unstand is that the Commissioner decided that the assistant clerks were to get three weeks’ leave for the fourteen months work which they put in. Those who put in fourteen months’ work, and left on the 28th November, got three weeks’ money in lieu of three weeks’ holiday; in other words, they received . £9. But those who left before the 28th November, although they had put in fourteen months’ work, the same as the others, have been refused any payment. They are twenty-three in number. It does not seem equitable that some should receive nothing while others who put in the fourteen months terminating at a slightly later date should get the three weeks to which the Commissioner has decided they are entitled.
.- If the Prime Minister is prepared to grant the re- quest of the honorable member for Wimmera, will he grant the same concession to all the mechanics and labourers who have been in the employment of the Commonwealth Government?
Mr.FISHER (Wide Bay- Prime Minister and Treasurer) [1.3]. - In reply to the honorable member for Melbourne, who asked me whether I think it would be in the interests of good government in civilized countries generally if women were enfranchised, I can only say, as he knows, that we in Australia have every reason to believe that the government both in the States and in the Commonwealth, has been distinctly improved by the granting of the franchise to women, and I feel sure that I express the feeling of honorable members when I say that they will be gratified indeed if the Imperial Parliament think it advisable to extend that privilege to the womenfolk of the United Kingdom. Beyond that we have no right to go. Regarding the payment of the maternity allowance, if women are called upon to give up their rights by duress, or by improper behaviour on the part of any per” son or persons, it will be our duty to inquire into the matter, and we shall do so. Regarding the questions to the PostmasterGeneral and the Minister of Home Affairs, I can promise on their behalf that they will be dealt with. Concerning the inquiry of the honorable member for Wimmera about the census officers, my recollection is that I . stated that those who are entitled by law - reasonably within the law - will get paid. That is what I have stated again and again. They will not be put off by any technical objection ; but it is clear that they must have put in over a year’s service to be entitled to consideration. I cannot go behind that. I cannot commit myself to a general statement without knowing the facts, but, wherever I have the power as Treasurer, I shall certainly deal with such cases leniently. I do not wish it to be understood from that remark that I am committing myself and the Parliament to make payments to persons where otherwise they are not entitled to them. Favorable consideration will be given to every case where the person has a reasonable claim. The honorable member for Capricornia asked a question as to the position of the Government in regard to Naval defence generally. In reply, I have to say that the Commonwealth is, in my opinion, the only Dominion that has carried out the decision arrived at by the Imperial Conference of 1909. We have built our fleet unit so far as our finances allow, and we intend to continue to do our duty in that regard. I am glad to say that the development of thought at Home and elsewhere is on the lines of the policy originally adopted by the Commonwealth. Canada has followed suit in a way that brings her into line with the Commonwealth. The Pacific Fleet ought, I think, to be provided by Australia, New Zealand, and Canada, and it would be desirable in the highest degree if there were more frequent Imperial Conferences, and if those Conferences could take place away from the Mother Country. I hope the time is not far distant when such Conferences, especially subsidiary Conferences, will be perambulatory. The leading statesmen of the United Kingdom are less informedabout the Dominions than are the people of the Dominions about the United Kingdom. If my words can have any effect on the advisers of His Majesty the King, I nope they will take into consideration the advisability of sending .out here Ministers of De first class to confer on matters that concern the Empire) as a whole.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House, adjourned at 1.8 p.m. (Saturday).
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 20 December 1912, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1912/19121220_reps_4_69/>.