5th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Letter from New South Wales Premies - Contacts .
– I have just had placed in my hand, andhave not had time to read it carefully, another letter from the Premier of New South Wales regarding the quarantining of Sydney. As honorable members had an opportunity to read the letter in this morning’s newspapers before I got it, I hasten to layit on the table of the House.
– I wish to know from the Minister of Trade and Customs ifhe is correctly reported in the Age to havesaid that when he was in Sydney recently he discovered that the legislation that was being promulgated by the Government of New South Wales was not that which was demanded by the Federal Government, and he refused to raise the quarantine until legislation in harmony with theideas of his Department was brought in ?
– I have not seen the report in the Age, but the statement made just now try the honorable member is certainly not correct.
– I have been assured that it is true.
– It is not correct. The honorable member for Gwydir asked me for certain information regarding smallpox contacts. I told him yesterday that I had forwarded his request, and the following reply came yesterday evening: -
– On behalf of the honorable member for Bendigo I ask the Ministerof Trade and Customs whether he has been able to obtain the information which the honorable member desired a few days ago ? If so, will he give it to the House ?
– My replies to the honorable member’s questions are that I have seen the Age article referred to, and that the measures taken by the Department to control the export of meat are these -
On the and May,1911, a proclamation under the Customs Act was issued prohibitingtheexport of meat unless certified to be fit for export by a qualified inspector appointed under the Commerce Act.
Whilst a reasonable standard is maintained, itcannot be provided that all meat exported shall be of superior quality.
The conditions governing the export of meat to the various countries must beuniform.
Itwould be impracticable to impose different standards for different countries, especiallyas meat sent to one country is, on arrival, frequently transferred to another.
The inspectors are men specially qualified for the work, and they have been fully impressed withthe necessity, in the interests of our export trade, of maintaining a very carefulwatch over exports.
Collection of Duties
– Is it not the invariable rule to collect duties immediatelyon the introduction of a taxation Bill? I ask the Minister of Trade and Customs whether Excise is now being collected on Australian sugar, and, if not, why not?
Mr.GROOM.- I am afraid thatto answer the question would be to openup adiscussionof measures onthe noticepaper.I explained yesterday the provisions of the Excise Tariff (Sugar) Bill.
– Is it not a fact that the Standing Orders would prevent the discussion at this stage of measures on the notice-paper? ‘ The question I ask the Minister is, whether it is not the invariable rule to collect Customs or Excise immediately on the introduction of a taxation Bill, and, if so, why has not Excise been collected under the Excise Tariff (Sugar) Bill ?
– When it is desired to impose general taxation under a law that is to have continuing force, such as a general Customs or Excise Act, the procedure indicated by the honorable member is followed, but in this instance, as I explained yesterday, we are imposing Excise for the recovery of a specific amount of duty, and the investigation and collection of certain facts is necessary before that can be done. We are providing that the measure shall come into force on a certain day to enable the exact amount of duty to be collected which, in justice to all parties concerned, should be collected.
– I desire to ask the AttorneyGeneral a question arising out of the answer given by the Minister of Trade and Customs, that in the case of a Bill relating to general taxation it is the custom to ‘collect the duties immediately, and his statement that the measure in question is one dealing with special cases, and- differentiating, of course, between individuals and the community. Does the Attorney-General consider that the Excise Tariff (Sugar) Bill is a constitutional measure ? Of course, in anticipating that it is possible-
– Order ! ‘
– This is an essay.
– No one ever reads the honorable member’s essays..
– I would not ask them ; you want brains for that.
– Order !
– I want to know whether the Excise Tariff (Sugar) Bill, which is on the notice paper for the third reading is, in the opinion of the AttorneyGeneral, constitutional. May I say in explanation that I think that the House, as well as the country, is entitled to his advice and opinion on such a point?
– I do not admit that I am either entitled or bound to answer legal questions asked in the House, or to disclose to honorable members the legal advice which I am bound to render to my colleagues. But in this particular matter, I think that I can answer without the slightest difficulty. I see no reason why the Excise Tariff (Sugar) Bill now before the House is not perfectly constitutional. Last session there was passed a Bill repealing the existing duties of Excise. It is always competent for Parliament in another session to pass a Bill imposing fresh duties of Excise. That is the case in this instance.
– I want to know-
– -Will the honorable member allow me to interpose?
– Yes, sir.
– The honorable member has asked a number of questions already in reference to one subject. It is contrary to the practice of Parliament to allow a debate arising out of the answer given to a question, but a practice is growing up daily in this Chamber of practically conducting a debate on answers given to questions by means of a series of fresh inquiries in reference to the same questions and answers thereto. That is a practice which is quite contrary to all Parliamentary precedent, and should be discontinued. Though on occasions it is allowable to ask a further question if it is necessary to the elucidation of the answer given.
– May I ask the AttorneyGeneral whether there is any justification for differentiation in the administration of a particular Customs and Excise Act, as against the measure which is before the House at the present time?
– Does the honorable member mean that Customs and Excise duties are imposed from the time the preliminary resolution is introduced in the ordinary way ?
– That is right.
– In this case the duty is not imposed at once, but after a certificate is given. I might remind the honorable member that the ordinary practice of collecting duties of Excise or Customs before the House has agreed to them, and afterwards getting, an indemnity, is one which, though irregular constitutionally, is adopted in order to prevent persons from taking goods out of bond, and thus causing a loss of revenue to the Commonwealth . That reason does not exist in the present case because the Excise duty imposed by this particular Bill does not depend upon the particular goods remaining in bond. It depends upon a certificate given as to certain facts, which remain the same whether any goods are taken out of bond or not.
– Yesterday the honorable member for Corio asked a question regarding the temporary stoppage of work on the Geelong Woollen Mills. I told him that we were waiting for the supply of steel trusses for the roof, and I am now informed that tenders for these trusses were called on the 11th April, accepted on the 10th May, and the contract signed on the 23rd May. The first delivery was to be within five months, that is, on 23rd October; and the final delivery within seven months, that is, on the 23rd December, the weight of material being about 450 tons. The DirectorGeneral of Works states -
Although the execution has been stopped temporarily, it is an advantage to allow the floor foundations to consolidate (for concrete floors and machinery) before putting on the roof. From the point of view of completion of the factory, the stoppage will not entail a delay. The building will be ready to accommodate the first textile machinery when it is delivered in Australia in about next March.
Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta - Pine Creek to Katherine River
– Has the Honorary Minister any information to give the House regarding the laying of rails on the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta railway ?
– There are now with the track-layer at Port Augusta six bogie waggons with a pilot-car complete. The engine is to be tested to-morrow, and we expect to be in a position to lay rails by the end of the week. So far as the Western Australian end is concerned, twelve bogie waggons are now en route to Fremantle. We expect to have them all ready at Kalgoorlie in a few weeks’ time, when Mr. Joubert, the expert, will have gone there from Port Augusta, and then we shall begin laying the rails.
– I ask the Minister of External Affairs, regarding the nonacceptance by the Government of tenders for material for the construction of the line from Pine Creek to Katherine River, whether that will not mean that nothing can be done for a period of twelve months, because of the rain setting in?
– I have no advice to that effect. I do not think that our action will cause a delay of twelve months, or any similar period.
– I wish to know from the Prime Minister whether action has been taken for the proclamation of the Navigation Act?
– I understand that there must be, first of all, a promulgating proclamation, which is in process of preparation now. Instructions have been given for the proclamation to be drafted, and we hope that it will be ready in a few days.
– That is the preliminary step?
Mr.FENTON.- Last week I asked the Attorney-General a question in reference to an association of master printers known as the Typothetae. The master printers have been holding a conference in Brisbane, and Mr. Powell, a Brisbane master printer, representing the Western Australian master printers, moved, in reference to my question, that the pamphlet setting forth the case for the association should be forwarded to the honorable gentleman. I wish to know from him whether he has received that pamphlet; and, if so, whether he will lay it on the table of the House or of the Library, so that honorable members may see it?
– I have not had an opportunity of looking over my papers this morning, and unless it is among them I have not received it. I would prefer not to answer the latter part of the question untilIhave seen the communication referred to, though at present I know of no objection to making it available to honorable members.
Postal Electricians - Press Telegrams - Country Telephones- Powers of Deputy Postmasters-General - Rearrangement of Duties - Appointment of Commissioners
– Inasmuch as Mr. Justice Higgins, in his award in the postal electricians case, decided upon, not a specific, but a minimum, rate of wages - I emphasize the word minimum - and as, according to his statement yesterday, men whose services were heretofore appraised at and paid for at the rate of 9s. 6d. per day are now being paid for at a rate as low as 5s. 4d., will the PostmasterGeneral, in the public interest, and in justice to the men concerned, approach the Public Service Commissioner with a. view to the settlement of this dispute ?
– The matter is in the hands of the Public Service Commissioner. I knew nothing about it until I received a communication by telephone the night before last. The rate of 5s. 4d. is, I believe, being paid to lads, not to grown-up men.
– Is the statement of Mr. Justice Higgins correct, and were not the Postmaster-General and the Public Service Commissioner joined as respondents in the postal electricians’ case ? The honorable gentleman having appeared at the hearing of the case as a respondent, is he not equally responsible with the Public Service Commissioner for the proper settlement of this matter ?
– I ask the honorable member to give notice of his question.
– In view of the admitted anomaly in the cost of InterState telegrams, will the PostmasterGeneral, institute at least a uniform charge for press telegrams between the States ?
– I shall look into the matter.
– Is the PostmasterGeneral aware that telephone installations in the country districts of New South Wales are in arrears from eighteen months to two years, and that under the existing arrangement a great many of these works may not be constructed during the next twelve months? Will he endeavour to devise some means whereby the whole of the work in connexion with applications for country telephones can be brought right up to date, and, if necessary, a larger trust fund set aside whereby the works can be undertaken quite apart from those which are mentioned in the Estimates each year?
– This matter has been causing me considerable concern lately. I have been reflecting as to the best means of getting over the difficulty, While coming in this morning, or perhaps going home last night, it occurred to me that the simplest plan to adopt - as I am afraid the Department cannot overtake the arrears - would be to call for tenders for as many lines as possible, and thus see if we can get over the difficulty in that way.
– I wish to ask the Postmaster-General a question. Some time ago a thriving mining town called Rosebery, in Tasmania, applied to the Department for a telephone at the hospital. The people are scattered a bit in that country, and through the interminable red tape of the Department in Hobart-
– I - Is it possible for the Postmaster-General to send a chaser over and “ rouse her up “ ?
– Some time ago I gave instructions to have this matter looked into, but I do not think that I have yet received any information on the point. I shall make an effort to get hold of this “ steeplechaser.”
– I desire to ask the Postmaster-General whether it is possible to bring the postal management of a border town in a State under the control of the Deputy Postmaster-General in the adjoining State? As an example, I may mention that the greater part of the postal and other business, at Tweed Heads is done with Brisbane. Is it possible to bring the postalmanagement of Tweed Heads under the control of the Deputy Postmaster-General at Brisbane?
– I have felt for some time that the present system of working a large State from one centre demands too much from the Deputy PostmasterGeneral. I think that these officers have too much detailed work to do, and are tied up in their offices. What is in my mind, if I have an opportunity of doing it, is to cut up Australia into districts and to give the postmasters in each district more power and more responsibility, and if you like, to have a supervisor in each State. The postmaster at a place like Albury, for instance, would manage that district, and so at Broken Hill and other places.
– Divide Queensland into three.
– I do not think it is possible for one man to manage the whole of the postal business of Queensland or New South Wales.
–Adverting to the statement made just now by the PostmasterGeneral that he intends to delegate to postmasters the authority to do certain things, will the honorable gentleman state whether he intends to make this change by regulation or is it his intention to bring down legislation to enable what he proposed to be carried out?
– I merely gave an outline of what was in my mind in regard to this matter. I feel that the Deputy Postmasters-General are overworked and tied to.i much to their office stools. If this change can be done by regulation I shall endeavour to have it carried out in that way. I shall be prepared to take the responsibility if I believe that it is the. right thing to do. On the other hand, if the change can be effected only by legislation, I shall have the necessary Bill drafted by-and-by. I propose to have a conference with leading officers in my Department to ascertain whether what is in my mind in this respect can be carried out.
– Wil Will the Postmaster-General extend this delegation of authority to some of the under officers who are not allowed to have a say, but know a lot more than some of the top gentlemen ?
– In the Ministerial statement presented to the House we have outlined a proposal on the part of the Government to appoint Commissioners to manage the Postal Department. Will the Postmaster-General state whether his proposal in regard to the delegation of certain authority to postmasters is to be carried out at once, or does he propose to delay the initiation of that system until the Commissioners have been appointed “and have had time to consider it?
– A Bill has been, or is being, drafted to provide for the appointment of Commissioners. I was merely telling the House what I thought of doing if I remained long enough at the head of the Department to make certain improvements.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether it is a fact, as reported in the newspapers to-day, that Captain Onslow has been suspended from the Naval Board, and, if so, will he give the House the reasons for such suspension ?
– I must ask the honorable member to put that question on the notice-paper, and I will give him a fuller answer later.
– Touching the .announcement in this morning’s papers re.garding Captain Onslow, I wish to ask the Prime Minister whether he does not think that the fact that a highly recommended and qualified naval officer has been relieved from duty is of sufficient importance to justify a statement on his part as to the reason or reasons that have led to this rather unusual action on the part of the Government?
– I have to say in reply that I distinctly remember that my honorable friend’s colleague, when Minister of Defence, declined absolutely to furnish information concerning the retirement of a naval officer on a previous occasion.
– That is no answer.
– Then my further answer is that the honorable member should put his question on the noticepaper.
– It is shocking treatment of an important naval officer.
Death Sentence on Aboriginals.
– About a fortnight ago I asked the Minister of External Affairs a question with regard to the death sentence passed on some aboriginals in the Northern Territory, and a report in the press which seemed to show that they had not had a fair trial. I wish to know whether the honorable gentleman has since inquired into the matter, whether he has had time to look into Professor Baldwin Spencer’s report on the manner iu which aboriginals are treated in the Northern Territory; and, if so, whether he has reached any conclusion ?
– The papers have not yet reached me from the Northern Territory. Of course, when they do come, I shall give them the most careful consideration. I think that the honorable member may allay any anxiety on his part, because the Executive will approach the matter with a very deep sense of responsibility. I have read the report, but of course it does not really touch the question of whether the death sentence in these cases should be commuted or not.
– I wish to ask the Minister representing the Minister of Defence a question regarding the taking into custody by the Military Department of a lad named Isaac Slingo, of 71 Bridgeroad, Camperdown. Will the honorable gentleman see if there are not circumstances connected with the case which might warrant the release of the boy, who is the sole support of a widowed mother and so on; or, if not, can an allowance be made from the Department to the widowed mother during the lad’s custody by the Military Department?
– I shall bring the honorable member’s question under the notice of the Minister of Defence, and ask him to furnish an answer; but, in order to facilitate that happening, may I suggest to the honorable member that he should place on the notice-paper a question giving the particulars of the case?
– If you will do that it will be all right.
– If my honorable friend will put a question on the notice-paper he can then be sure that the details of his question will be properly given.
– Has the AttorneyGeneral issued special instructions to institute proceedings against newspapers that advocate Labour politics throughout Australia for the publication of unsigned articles; and, if so, will the Liberal newspapers also be prosecuted for doing the came thing?
– I have not issued instructions for the prosecution of any newspapers.
Objections : Removal of Names
– I ask the Hon orary Minister if he has made inquiries about the removal of names from the electoral roll for the Cook division which he promised yesterday afternoon to do ?
– I put the matter into the hands of the Chief Electoral Officer yesterday morning. He has wired to Sydney, but told me this morning that he has not yet obtained the information desired.
– I wish to ask the Attorney-General a question in connexion with the removal of names from the elec toral roll. I do not know, sir, whether I am allowed to quote his statement on the 24th September, as reported in Hansard.
– The honorable member may refer to the statement, but he cannot quote it.
– The honorable gentleman stated that the electoral officers would have to make inquiry into every case, and that the name of a person transferred from one district to another district would not be taken off one roll until his name was placed on another roll. Yesterday, I drew attention to some hundreds of names having been objected to in one subdivision of Cook, and wish to ask the Attorney- General whether the Returning Officer for the district has to personally institute an inquiry into every case, whether it is possible for him to do that with such a large number of cases to be inquired into? Will the honorable gentleman also see that his statement as to the names of persons not being removed from the rolls is sent out to the Returning Officers for the various districts ?
– I think that there is a little misapprehension in the question. In the first place, instructions nave been issued by the Chief Electoral Officer, and have been laid on the table of the House. Upon those instructions, and those alone, as I understand it - certainly not on any other intimation from the Government - the Electoral Registrars are authorized to act. These instructions do not, and can not, under the existing law, authorize a name to be removed from one roll before it is placed on another. They expressly require that the officers - not the Returning Officers, but the Electoral Registrars, who, at the time of an election, are usually Returning Officers - shall make full inquiry before they take any action. If they do not, and have not time to make that inquiry they cannot remove the name. In other words, a name cannot be removed until the inquiry has been made. That is the position. For further information in detail, as to what is actually being done, I must refer the honorable member to the Department in which the Chief Electoral Officer carries on his work.
– If the AttorneyGeneral will pardon me for asking him another question in connexion with electoral matters, and arising out of his previous answer-
-Order! I have already pointed out that it is contrary to the practice of Parliament as recorded by recognised authorities to permit answers given by Ministers to questions to be debated, and although a further question is permissible to make clearer a reply already given, a practice is growing up here of practically raising a debate on ah answer to a question by a series of further questions arising out of the answer already given, and upon subsequent answers. This practice is irregular, and should be discontinued.
– On a point of order, sir, will you kindly state, for the information of the House, what is the object of a question? Is not the privilege which honorable members have of addressing to Ministers questions concerning matters of public importance granted with the object of enabling information to be obtained, and are not honorable members justified in putting questions until they obtain the information for which they ask? Is not an honorable member entitled to obtain a full reply to a question put by him to a Minister?
– The honorable member is asking two questions. Dealing first of all with the second question put to me - whether an honorable member is entitled to obtain a full answer to any question he may ask a Minister, I would say that that is a matter entirely at the discretion of the Minister to whom the question is addressed. As a matter of fact, a Minister is not bound to answer any question put to him without notice. It is entirely within his own discretion whether he shall do so or not. As to the first part of the question which the honorable member, on a point of order, has addressed to me, he desires to obtain certain information, and I have before me a number of extracts from various authorities on parliamentary procedure dealing with the subject-matter of his inquiry. He asked for guidance in regard to the asking of questions, and I would refer him to page 249 of the 11th edition of May, where it is stated that -
The purpose of a question is to obtain information, and not to supply it to the House. A question may not contain statements of facts, unless they be necessary to make the question in telligible and can be authenticated ; nor should a question contain arguments, inferences, imputations, epithets, or controversial or ironical expressions. Nor may a question refer to debates or answers to questions in the current session. Discussion in anticipation upon an order of the day or other matter, by means of a question, is not permitted ; nor can a question be asked regarding proceedings in a Committee which have not been placed before the House by a report from the Committee. A question which publishes the names of persons, or statements not strictly necessary to render the question intelligible, will be refused a place on the noticepaper. The expression of an opinion cannot be sought for bv a question, nor the solution of an abstract legal case, or of a hypothetical proposition. Nor is it in order to ask merely whether certain things, such as statements made in a newspaper, are true; but attention may be drawn to such statements if the member who put the question makes himself responsible for their accuracy. No question can be asked which reflects on the character or conduct of those persons whose conduct, as stated on page 278, can only be dealt with on a substantive motion; and for the same reason a question is not permitted which makes or implies charges of a personal character. Nor can any question be asked regarding character or conduct, except of persons in their official or public capacity. A question also which might prejudice a pending trial should not be asked.
This statement generally covers rulings and practice governing the asking of questions.
– As a matter of privilege, sir, I regret that you interrupted me before you heard my question. You gave me the call, and I was about to state my question-
– The honorable member immediately connected it with an answer given to a previous question.
– The honorable member will recognise from the quotation I have just made that he was not in order in doing so.
– My question does not come within the category which you, Mr. Speaker, have just referred to. It was perfectly legitimate, I submit, and I was asking it in good faith. It arises from a misunderstanding in my mind as to the Attorney-General’s answer.
– If there is any other information I can give the honorable member I shall be glad to supply it.
– I understood the Attorney-General to say that when objections were lodged inquiries would be made, and that the names would thereafter be removed from the rolls by the registrars in the different! districts. I wish to be clear whether it is really the
Registrar or the Returning Officer with whom rests the responsibility of removing names.
– As a matter of fact it is neither. In the case of transfers it is the Chief Electoral Officer of the State who is responsible.
– But when an objection is lodged what is the position 1
– I am speaking now of a matter which is not related to my Department, and only from a recollection of the provisions of the Act and regulations. An official inquiry is made by the Registrar and, as I understand the position, the result is reported to the Chief Electoral Officer of the State. The question first put by the honorable member was whether names were being removed where there was not an opportunity for full inquiry. That is not possible under the law, nor is it prescribed under the instructions issued by the Chief Electoral Officer which, by the way, were laid on the table of the House the other day. Inquiries have to be made. As to whether the Electoral Officer in each division has the power under regulations or does, in fact, remove any names without reporting to the Chief Electoral Officer of the State, I am unable to state without refreshing my memory with regard to the provisions of the Act and the regulations. But no name can under the law be removed from a roll on the ground that the person concerned has removed from the district to which that roll relates until it is put on to another roll, and no authority has been given by the Government or by the Chief Electoral Officer for such a thing to be done. Inquiry must be made by the Electoral Officer concerned.
– I wish, without notice, to ask a. very important question of the Assistant Minister of Home Affairs, who has charge, I understand, of the Electoral Branch of that Department. It has reference to notices of objection being served upon electors. I should like to make a quotation from an official document in explanation of the question.
– The honorable member will not be in order in reading statements of fact.
– Practically, the point is that objections are being taken to names of electors who have been two and a. half, years in the same place and have never been away from their homes for three days at a stretch. I have in mind also the case of a railway station-master who removed to a new house in the same ground, and yet in this case a notice of objection has been served. I wish to ask the Minister whether he will instruct his officers not to harass in this way electors who are legitimately entitled to have their names on the rolls?
– Will the honorable member be good enough to put his question on the paper?
– I should not intervene, but I wish just to inform the Minister that the name of a member of my own household, who has never been out of it, has been objected to.
– This is an important matter.
– All the more reason why it should go on the notice-paper.
– I wish to ask the Minister representing the Electoral Branch of the Home Affairs Department a question, without notice, in regard to the objections made to names on the rolls. Will the honorable gentleman say whether he will issue’ instructions to have all names objected to exhibited at the local post-offices, so that the people of the district may be made aware of what is going on.
– I ask the honorable member to give notice of his question, and that notice be given of all further questions which honorable members desire to put.
asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice -
– The quotation included in the honorable member’s question is substantially correct, though the reference should be, not to “ the Department and the Government,” but to “ the Department of the Chief Electoral Officer.” I cannot charge my memory with the exact words used. As to question No. 2, the statement was made at quite a number of centres of more or less importance in Victoria.
– Has the Honorary Minister the information in regard to the bringing of naval cadets from Newcastle to Sydney, on Saturday next, which he promised to supply to me?
– The Minister of Defence yesterday afternoon addressed to me a letter which I had hoped to have this morning. It has not yet arrived, but as soon as I receive it I shall hand it to the honorable member.
– I should like to ask the Prime Minister whether Ministers intend to answer questions without notice without any limitation, and whether we are to get all the departmental information we want on the floor of this House ?
– My answer to my honorable friend is a very candid one. I consider his question very appropriate. We are taking up a solid hour of our time every day with these questions. I wish to say that I do not blame honorable members opposite, because we ought to cut them off.
– I desire very briefly to raise a question concerning the privileges of honorable members. You, sir, referred this morning, in your pronouncement concerning questions, to the 11th edition of May. I wish to refer you to section 49 of the Constitution, which states that the powers, privileges, and immunities of membersof the Senate and of the House of Representatives shall be those declared by the Parliament, and in cases where they are not declared shall be the powers, privileges, and immunities of members of the House of Commons as at the time of the establishment of Federation.
– Do they include the power to ask questions?
– I am not asking a question. The Attorney-General should not be so smart. I am raising a “matter of privilege, but the Ministerial caucus meeting on the Treasury bench interferes with and embarrasses me, and I hope it will not be continued. The edition of May published at the commencement of Federation was the 10th edition, and I therefore submit for your consideration, sir, that the powers, privileges, and immunities mentioned in the 10th edition are those referred to in the Constitution, and the 11th edition of May has nothing whatever to do with it.
– In regard to the point which the honorable member for Capricornia has just raised, I call his attention to the fact that the powers and privileges of Parliament are also dealt with in the 11th edition of May.
– I was wondering whether you, sir, had looked that up.
– I am familiar with the passages in both editions, which are similar, though on different pages. With regard to the asking of questions without notice, I remind honorable members that, if we were to strictly follow the practice of the House of Commons, those questions would be limited to matters of urgeut public importance, and private notice of the questions would be given to the Ministers to whom they were addressed. We have allowed a very much wider latitude than that in the asking of questions, but there must be some rule governing the practice. This is a matter which is largely in the hands of Ministers themselves. It rests entirely with them to say whether they are prepared to answer questions without notice or not. I have no personal desire to impose any limit upon honorable members in asking legitimate questions with or without notice. I am concerned only to see that the privilege is not abused and that the procedure and practice of the House of Commons and our own practice and procedure are not unduly strained.
– I wish to ask,sir, if the list which has just been referred to will be printed and a copy supplied to every honorable member? I have the strongest desire not to come into conflict with the Chair, and I wish to know exactly what my privileges are, in order that I may put questions that will not be objected to, either by Ministers or by Mr. Speaker. I confess that I do not possess the ingenuity displayed by most members in getting round the Standing Orders to secure information, and, if the list were published for the guidance of honorable members like myself, it might save the time of the House and the temper of Mr. Speaker.
– Order ! So far as the temper of the Speaker is concerned, the honorable member need not be under any misapprehension. I can assure the honorable member that the Speaker is well able to control that. With regard to the question asked by the honorable member for Gwydir., I do not think it at all necessary to have the reprint he has suggested made, especially as every honorable membercan see it in Hansard. May’s Parliamentary Practice and other parliamentary authorities are provided in the rooms occupied by honorable members, and in the library, and may at any time be referred to. If honorable members will look at our Standing Orders, they will find that standing order No. 92 provides that -
After notices have been given questions may be put to Ministers of the Crown relating to public affairs.
With regard to the nature of questions which may be addressed to Ministers relating to public affairs, honorable members may obtain all necessary information by consulting the authorities provided for their guidance in the various rooms occupied by them, and in the Library.
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are - 1 and2. In New South Wales and Victoria the inspectors are under the direct control of the State Departments.
The Federal Government pays the New South Wales Government£3,500 per annum for the services of their meat inspectors and administrative staff.
The Victorian Government is paid the actual expenses incurred in carrying out Federal requirements.
In Queensland and South Australia the inspectorsact under the direct control of the Federal Government.
The salaries of the inspectors range from£420 for chief inspector to £200 for lay inspectors.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
asked the PostmasterGeuer,al, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers : -
Northern Territory - Report of the Administrator for the year 1912.
Ordered to be printed.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired under, at-
Cunderdin, Western Australia - For Postal purposes.
Mullally,New South Wales- For Postal purposes.
Port Augusta, South Australia - For Railway purposes.
South Brisbane, Queensland - For Postal purposes.
Public Service Act - Provisional Regulation - Statutory Rules 1913, No. 256.
Small-pox Epidemic in Sydney - Further letter, dated 30th September, 1913, from the Premier of New South Wales to the Prime Minister, in reference to the Board of Health resolutions favoring the withdrawal of the Quarantine Proclamation.
.- I move -
That, -in the opinion of this House, the Commonwealth should forthwith take over the inspection and effective control of produce passing from State to State.
This is not a new matter. I moved in this direction in 1910, and on that occasion the Minister of Trade and Customs of the day, the honorable member for Yarra, after a lengthy discussion on the motion, promised me that if it was withdrawn he would gather all the information he could concerning the subject and let me have it. Whether the honorable gentleman was unable to obtain the necessary information or not I cannot say.
– I let the honorable member have all the information I was able to obtain.
– The information supplied to me did not really touch the question. This is not a revolutionary matter, as the changes involved, in giving effect to my motion would be comparatively unimportant. At present, when we have an unfortunate visitation in the shape of some disease or pest, the Inter-State trade is thrown into a state of chaos. The producer does not know whether his produce will be received on the market for which it is intended, while the merchant is doubtful about how or when to buy, or to otherwise regulate his business. Altogether, there is much indefiniteness and confusion; and it therefore seems to me that if Federal officers were used instead of the State officers, much uncertainty and undesirable anti-Federal feeling would be avoided. Produce is now inspected at the port of shipment, and also at the port of entry; and, if in the State of the port of entry there has been a good season for the particular produce shipped, and the imported produce is rejected, a suspicion arises that the inspection laws are being used for some ulterior purpose, such as ‘reserving the local market for the local produce.
– I thought the honorable member was a State Righter ?
– This is not a question of State rights, because all the powers that I suggest should be exercised are given to the Commonwealth under the Constitution. Inter-State trade is on the increase, and will continue to improve as the population grows, so that there can be no doubt as to the importance of the issues involved. When sound, wholesome produce, fit for human consumption, passes from one State to another, there should be some guarantee that it will be permitted to go on the market. My desire may not be so easy of accomplishment as one would like, but the constitutional, legal, and other difficulties are not insuperable. It is quite right that) the States should have powers of inspection, because it is their duty to protect the health of the community; and for that reason I limit my proposal to sound, wholesome produce. There will be no more danger of infection if my proposal be carried out than there is at present; the only difference will be that the produce will be inspected by officers with a Federal standing, and the producer will be satisfied that the inspection is impartial. As I say, there is much antiFederal feeling caused by the fact that the produce of one State is rejected in another State; and, however fairly treated people may be, they cannot get it out of their heads that the inspection laws are used for some ulterior purpose. Surely it should be possible for the Commonwealth and State authorities to come to some amicable and satisfactory arrangement, and thus bring about more settled conditions in Inter-State trade., Any surplus over the cost of inspection at present is, by section 102 of the Constitution, the property of the Commonwealth, and there ought to be sufficient to meet the expense of a Federal service.
– In some cases the fees meet the expenses, ‘but not in all.
– At any rate, there would be very little increase on the present cost. The question is, bow far the Constitution will allow the Commonwealth to go before we arrive at the point where we run counter to the reserved police powers of the States, which are exercised chiefly by means of the inspection laws? For instance, in New South Wales and some of the other States there are Acts dealing with vegetation diseases; and I am not sure that we can go as far as I suggest in my motion. The Commonwealth, however, ought to have sufficient power to guarantee the producer that, when sound stuff is placed on the wharfs, it will be permitted to go on the market. Section 92 of the Constitution declares that Inter-State trade shall be free ; and any State law which conflicts with that section is void. By section 102 of the Constitution there is power to annul the inspection laws of the States if these are used for any purpose that is not regarded as legitimate; but still there is some difficulty as to how far we can control the produce if we decide to undertake the inspection ourselves. There ought to be power, when a Commonwealth officer has guaranteed the produce, to insure that it shall not be blocked on the wharfs by any State authority.
– Would the honorable member favour inspection at the port of entry, the port of departure, or both?
– I am prepared to leave that to the authorities after the system I advocate is instituted. Personally, I should like to see inspection .it port of entry only, in order to save expense.
– If there was inspection at the port of entry only, exporters might ship bad goods.
– Th They would have to take the risks attendant on such a course. I ask leave to continue my remarks on a future occasion.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Counting of Votes at Polling Booths.
– I move -
That the Electoral Act should be amended so as to provide for the counting and declaration of the votes polled at all polling booths where forty or more votes are recorded.
I do not propose to speak at any length upon this motion, because it seems to me that it merely seeks to provide for an act of common justice. I recognise that if I wish to secure an expression of opinion on the part of the House upon it, it would be unwise for me to discuss it.
– I rise to a point of order. I wish to know if the motion is in order, seeing that at the present time we have before us an Electoral Bill which deals with this and other matters cognate to it t
– On the point of order, I submit that the Electoral Bill does not make any provision for the reform which I seek to bring about under this motion. This is the reason why the motion appears upon the business-paper. I congratulate the honorable member for Yarra upon his endeavour to interfere with every electoral reform that is proposed in this House.
– I contend that while it is perfectly true, as the honorable member for Eden-Monaro has stated, that no provision is made in the Electoral Bill for the innovation which he desires to bring about, it is quite competent for him to submit an amendment to that effect in Committee. It is idle for him to placard the country in this way.
– Do not throw out innuendoes about placarding. The honorable member is the greatest placarder in the House.
– This is a specific motion, and I submit that if we are to be excluded from considering it on the ground that certain matters may be brought forward when the Electoral Bill is under review, we may be placed in a very awkward position. The question at issue really is whether the proposal of the honorable member for Eden-Monaro is dealt with under that measure. I submit that it is perfectly competent for us to discuss this proposal.
– I I have no difficulty whatever in arriving at a decision upon this matter. I would point out that Mr. Speaker has already had the motion of the honorable member for Eden-Monaro under his observation, and it was for him to decide whether it was in order. Obviously, if it had not been in order it would not have appeared upon the business-paper to-day. Further, it seems to me that the motion does not come within the scope of the Electoral Bill, and therefore I rule that it is quite in order.
– I congratulate those honorable members opposite who do not wish to secure an expression of opinion from the people of this country.
– The honorable member is one of the best advertised members of the House.
– I am sorry that I cannot return the compliment. In Australia there are quite a number of places at which forty or fifty votes are polled, and under the electoral law as it stands at present we have to assume that the electors recording those votes are not honest enough to be intrusted with the counting of them. Very often ballot-boxes from these small centres have to be despatched, perhaps 100 miles, to a larger centre, where they are counted. This procedure involves great delay, and prevents the people in little townships from knowing what votes have been polled.
– And what persons have voted there.
– Exactly. My experience is that persons who vote in country towns have no desire to conceal the way in which they vote. We know how nine-tenths of them vote before any of the ballot-papers are counted.
– The electors do not want a secret ballot in the honorable member’s constituency.
– The honorable member is a secret himself. I am not referring to the practice of East Sydney, but to the practice of the electors in my own constituency, who are not ashamed to have their votes counted after they have been placed in the ballot-box. I do not know why honorable members opposite should be ashamed of the way in which the people in the country conduct their elections.
– They do not know anything about it.
– However, I have no desire to occupy time by debating this proposal. I say that we ought not to have any “ stone-walling “ upon it. I am anxious to take a vote upon it, and with that end in view I will resume my seat.
.- It must be recollected that when it was first decided that votes should not be counted in small centres, the full effect of that decision on many polling places was not foreseen. In my opinion the counting of votes at small polling places will bring about that decentralization in these matters which is so absolutely necessary. Surely Labour supporters in the country are not so dreadfully ashamed of the way in which they vote, that they fear to have the votes cast at small centres counted there.
– Why not have an open ballot? That is what the honorable member is advocating.
– No. Where the total votes recorded at a polling booth number less than forty, they ought not to be counted there, but where they number more than forty they may with advantage be counted on the spot.If we are to Continue to hold our elections on Saturday the votes cast at all these small centres should be counted there. I know of places at which 200, 300, and 400 votes are recorded, and yet under the existing system those votes cannot be counted locally, but have to be forwarded, perhaps many miles, to another centre.
– There is a place in my constituency where I would not have the votes counted for anything.
– The honorable member may have good reasons for that. But under the existing law the chief disability falls upon the people in country districts. Although they could telephone the results of the polling in a few minutes, great delay occurs, consequent upon their ballot-papers having to be transferred to the larger centres. I submit that the proposal under consideration would not interfere with the secrecy of the ballot. In all the States the votes are still counted at the polling places.
– There are a few places in Queensland where they are not counted. But in Victoria the existing system is found to be a good one; and the same remark is applicable to South Australia, Western Australia, and New South Wales.
– The system of which the honorable member speaks does not obtain in South Australia.
– I presume that it is a good one, because the Labour party are in jiower in Western Australia, and in that State the votes are counted at the different polling places. Surely the Labour representatives in that State can speak with as much authority upon this matter as can the Labour representatives of Queensland.
– Where did the .small-pox epidemic start?
– If I told the honorable member he would not know, because he. has no acquaintance with the geography of New South Wales. The only places of which he has any knowledge are those in which he has actually been. He appears to think that only the places in which he has eaten and drunk should .receive consideration. He is unable .to grasp the meaning of numbers. Therefore, the claims of these places do not receive the consideration at his hands that they should. However, ‘apart, from, that aspect- of the case, allow me to address, myself to other members, and also to .the honorable member, if he cares to listen. With the exception of the State of Queensland, the counting of votes goes on at these polling places in all the States, and at places sometimes much smaller than is suggested in the motion. It is manifest that in Western Australia and in New South Wales, in Which States the Labour party have been in power, the great bulk of the members of the Labour party in those States are not dissatisfied with the counting of votes in these small places;, or they would have amended the electoral law, especially when they had in front of them the example of the Federal Labour party. But they did not choose to follow the advice of members of the Federal Labour party.
– It was the Liberal party that put this provision on the statutebook.
– Does not the honorable member see that the Labour party have been in power in Western Australia and
New South Wales, and have had full opportunity of controlling elections, but have not amended the law in this regard? We know that in New South Wales, at all events, the recent distribution of electorates was carried out during the regime of the Labour Government, so it is manifest that in at least two great States of the Commonwealth the State members of the Labour party take no exception to the counting of votes in these small polling places. Again, we see that while the Labour party were in power in South Australia they made no change, so that it can be fairly assumed that there was no objection there to the counting of votes in the small places.
– In South Australia the votes are not counted in the small places.
– And provision is made in this motion to cover that. The honorable member proposes a limitation of forty votes. I do not know what the limitation is in South Australia, but I know it is very small.
– It is not so small as you seek to make it.
– There can be nopossible objection on the score of violating the secrecy of the ballot, when we find that in all the States, with the exception of Queensland, the State Labour members, concur in the counting of the votes at these ‘ small places. In any event, thiscannot be made a party question in any way. On a question like this surely honorable members will exercise theircommon sense ; surely party government is. not to “ rule the roost.” The motion is a proposition that honorable members on. both sides can support. Certainly Caucus rule should not prevail, otherwise it will mean a distinct interference with therights of the State Labour parties, who permit their members to vote as they please on all State matters. When wecome to deal with Federal matters we aredealing with larger rights, and we should give the electors larger powers by removing a=ny restrictions that may exist.
– There is no restriction: in this regard.
– It is a restriction, when we prevent votes being counted. Wecentralize things so much that seriousdelay takes place in the counting of votes.
The sole hope of the Labour party is in striving to make every one unafraid to avow being in the Labour ranks, and so long as there is secrecy of the ballot they cannot hope to succeed as they otherwise might. I can only say that I have much pleasure in supporting the motion.
– A motion of this importance can better be considered when we know the ultimate nature of the electoral law. There is now before the House a Bill to amend the Electoral Act.
– But it does not provide for this.
– The honorable member gave notice of his motion before that Bill was circulated. Whether honorable members can be in a position to support this motion must be very largely controlled by the form the electoral law will take after the Bill now before the House emerges from this Chamber.
Mr.Fenton. - And the other place.
– Yes, the other place also. I am afraid I cannot support the motion at the present juncture. If the amendments proposed to the existing law are accepted, it will be unnecessary, from one point of view, and very undesirable from another, to pass such a motion.
– It is a case of everything for Sydney and the centres of population; no consideration is to be given to thecountry electors.
– Onthe contrary, in adopting this attitude my consideration is purely for the country voters. I am very anxious that votes shall not be counted in small quantities.
– A very wise precaution.
– The Government, and I am sure the honorable member for Eden-Monaro, are determined there shall be no invasion of the secrecy of the ballot.
– Why do you not move the adjournment of the debate, and let us discuss this on the Electoral Bill?
– This is private members’ day, and I shall not move in that direction.
– We are limited to time on this debate, and the honor able member is trying to ‘talk the motion out. He is not so innocent as he looks. If he persists, I shall give him a dose of his own medicine.
– On private members’ day we are all equal, and the honorable member must allow the Government that equality with himself on such an occasion, which, no doubt, he would refuse at other times. The real difficulty of the motion lies in the possibility of exposing voters in country districts to risks, especially if the safeguards suggested in the interests of electoral administration, and included in the Electoral Bill, are accepted by this Parliament. I cannot accept the motion at the present juncture.
– Is that the attitude of the Government?
– The only strong reason for passing the motion would be to overcome departmental difficulties resulting from Saturday being the polling day.
– So it should be.
– It is a most awkward day in the country in New South Wales.
– It is the day on which most people are able to vote.
– The proposition to give the Electoral Department freedom of choice in regard to polling day originates in the difficulties of administration under the present system. It is found absolutely necessary for electoral safety and convenience to have a clear day of work after the day of polling. If the Electoral Department are to be denied a clear day of work after the day of polling there may be something in the contention of the honorable member.
– Do you not think that we should consider the public as well as the Department?
– It is because we seek to do so that we do not wish to risk the secrecy of the ballot, as. we should by adopting the proposition of the honorable member.
– Then you should have been careful in the preparation of your Bill.
– I have been careful, as the honorable member knows.
– How does he know?
– Because the honorable member has read the Bill. I doubt whether, honorable members opposite have done that, judging from their speeches. After this motion has been discussed today, in order that honorable members may realize its importance, I suggest that the debate should be adjourned. That course will not expose the honorable member for Eden-Monaro to any difficulties, because when the feverish zeal of honorable members opposite brings us to the Committee stage of the Electoral Bill the honorable member can move an amendment on the lines indicated by his motion. I hope he will not press the question to-day. He must recognise, the inconvenience and danger of such a step before the ultimate form in winch the Electoral Bill will emerge from its consideration in this Parliament is known.
– Whilst safeguarding the interests of the individual, does the Minister think there can be any sound objection to a locality declaring its political faith ?
– There are some places, for instance in the Maranoa electorate, where the polling booth would be the voting place for electors on one big station only. There might be fifty or sixty employes on that station.
– Very often they delight in voting against their boss.
– No doubt, but at the same time we do not wish to have any one knowing how any other person has voted. The position is not the same in Western Victoria, where the comparatively close-settled nature of the country would debar any such risk, but in other places where there are such huge stations or properties, and where the employes of one station would possibly be the only persons using a booth, it would be undesirable to have the votes counted in that booth.
– Under the present system it is practically known to the employers that many employes are members of organizations.
– But because a man is a member of an organization it does not follow that he always votes the one way. Among my warmest supporters are members of some of the organizations which support honorable members opposite. They are sensible persons who recognise what my friends opposite are really doing, not what they pretend to do. I urge my honorable friend not to press the matter to-day, but to let honorable members be in possession of the facts and consider the subject of a change in our electoral system before we quite grapple with such a position.
– On a point of order, I desire to ask whether this motion does not anticipate debate upon the Electoral Bill, which is now before the House?
– On a point of order -
– The honorable member must bottle up his energy a little.
– A ruling has already been given on this question.
– A ruling has not been given by Mr. Speaker.
– Oh, yes.
– I am trying to listen to the honorable member for Capricornia.
– The honorable member for Werriwa refers to the fact that the Deputy Speaker said that in all probability Mr. Speaker had come to the conclusion that the motion was in order, as otherwise it would not have appeared on the business-paper. But I apprehend, sir, that you do not consider it to be your duty as Speaker to rule a motion out of order before it is moved. Its place on the business-paper has nothing to do with the matter. I do not think that it would be within your province to say that a motion was not in order before the honorable member who desired to move it had had an opportunity of stating his case. That would be anticipating trouble. My point now is that there are in the
Bill before the House several provisions relating to the counting of votes; and that the honorable member who has moved this motion to-day is anticipating debate which is certain to take place in Committee on that Bill. Therefore, debate on this motion is waste of time, and, I submit, is out of order.
– I point out that the honorable member for Capricornia is rather late in raising this point. He was not in the chamber when the point of order was taken.
– You are telling a deliberate untruth, sir - a deliberate untruth. You were not here yourself.
– The honorable member will withdraw those words and apologize for vising them.
– I withdraw and apologlee.; but the honorable, member for Werriwa should apologize too.
– I certainly apologize for having made, a statement, if it was not correct, in connexion with a matter ‘which the honorable member does not fully understand. .
– I object to that.
– It is. disorderly for an honorable member to use expressions which reflect upon another honorable member.
– Perhaps it is unnecessary to take any notice of the ravings of a wild bull.
– The honorable member for Werriwa will withdraw any. observations which the honorable member for Capricornia considers were a reflection upon him.
– If I find that the honorable member has understood what I said, I withdraw in deference to your ruling.
– With regard to the point of order that has been raised, I wish to say that, in going through the Bill to which reference has been made, I do- not discover that there is any provision covering the ground that is covered by the motion of the honorable- member for Eden-Monaro. If the motion had’ conflicted with anything in the Bill, or if it anticipated debate upon the Bill, the Clerk would no doubt have called my attention to it and submitted it to me for my decision. The motion itself is quite in. order. I understand that- a ruling to that effect was given by my Deputy, who was temporarily relieving me while I was engaged upon another official matter.
Colonel RYRIE (North Sydney) [12.20]. - I should like to say a few words in support of the motion. I know that it is true, as pointed out by the mover,, that there is great dissatisfaction in many small centres in country districts by reason of the fact that votes which are cast there are not counted there, and that consequently it is not known by those who voted what the result of the poll at their particular polling place was. . I will undertake to say that if the opinions of the people who had voted at any small centre were canvassed, the result- would be unanimously in favour of having the votes counted at those centres. There is hardly an individual who votes at a small centre who would not say, .” We want to know the result of the poll at our centre.” An election is a burning, question with them, and they want to know how their district voted. They cannot know under the present system. The contention of honorable members opposite that the counting of the votes at these small centres is open to objection, because pressure can be brought to- bear upon individuals, is one that has no substance in it. The honorable member for Maranoa has quoted instances of pressure ‘ which has been brought to bear by land-owners or squatters upon their employes. In my opinion, the day has passed when pressure can be brought to bear in that way, even if land-owners were disposed to exert it. Honorable members opposite are casting a reflection upon, and aTe slandering, both working men and landowners in making such an observation’. They are practically accusing working men of being crawlers, and not men at all. They are accusing them of being under the influence of their employers in political matters, and of voting as their employers wish. I know that that is absolutely incorrect.
– What did the honorable member himself say about tick-tackers spielers, and that kind of thing?
Colonel RYRIE. - I assure the honorable member that I was not referring to him; my allusions were not personal.
– You know better than to suggest such a thing about me.
Colonel RYRIE. - I do. not wish to be severe upon the honorable member, but these interjections from a supercilious and elongated-
– I rise to order. Should you not make the honorable member withdraw that statement and apologize to me, Mr. Speaker? Protect me, sir. The honorable member said that I am supercilious and elongated. I object to those words!
– The honorable member provoked some remark of the kind by his own disorderly interjections. At the same time I remind the honorable member for North Sydney that .such expressions are disorderly and must be “withdrawn.
– Quite out of order; they will, provoke a breach of the peace.
Colonel RYRIE. - 1 hope they will not, for the honorable member’s own sake. Still I withdraw the expressions. I say in all seriousness that it is a reflection upon working men to say that they can be coerced into voting as their employers wish. It is also a grave reflection upon hundreds of land-owners to say that they would endeavour to coerce their employes.
– The honorable member’s argument is really in favour of open voting.
Colonel RYRIE. - No, I am strongly in favour of preserving absolutely the secrecy of the ballot, and I contend that if the result of a poll taken at small centres were known, it would in no way infringe the secrecy of the ballot. Honorable members know that there may be a polling place at which only forty votes are’ cast. Of these six may be given to one candidate. Probably every one of the forty voters will, claim to have voted for the candidate who received only six votes. I remember that when I was a much younger man, I contested an election. There were twenty votes at one polling place. Only one was given to me, and the other nineteen were given to My opponent. But when the election was over, sixteen of those people came to me, and each one said separately that he was the man who gave me the one vote.
– They were sixteen crawlers.
Colonel RYRIE. - Yes, they were; they voted foi the Labour man. I say that this motion does not in any way interfere with the secrecy of the ballot.
– A candidate cannot have a scrutineer at every polling place.
Colonel RYRIE. - I had a scrutineer at every polling booth in my electorate, and the honorable member can do the same. He has any number of wellmeaning enthusiasts in his constituency who would act .for him. I am strongly in favour of the motion.
,- If I thought that carrying, this motion into effect would interfere with the secrecy of the ballot in any way, I would not give it my support. But I do support it for several good reasons. The first, is that it is really a matter of some value in country districts to know the strength of political feeling at particular places. It is of great importance to candidates and political organizations, as well as to the public generally, to have an idea of the political identity of localities. It is really in the interests of country districts that the votes cast at particular polling places should be counted separately. It is advantageous to be able to locate interests and support given by various localities to the great parties in politics. For this reason alone, and without any intention whatever of interfering with the secrecy of the ballot, I give the motion my support.
.- I believe that there is every reason to support the motion of the honorable member for
Eden-Monaro. It expresses the real wish of the country electorates. I venture to say that if the electors in country districts were circularized on the subject, the result would be almost unanimously in favour of the motion. I cannot see how it can create an evasion of the secrecy of the ballot. If there should be a risk of any such evasion, I suggest to the mover that he should delete the words relating to counting, and let us apply what he desires simply to the declaration. It seems to me that we ought to know how each centre votes. The divisional officers could count the votes as they do now, and afterwards make known to the public the result of the voting at each centre.
– You can get to know that now.
– -There is no means of finding it out.
– The honorable member is very slow if he cannot find it out.
– We do things straightforwardly on this side. The practice that I suggest is in vogue in New South Wales, where there is a Labour Ministry in power which has never proposed its alteration. As it has been found good there I think it might be found good in connexion with the Commonwealth elections.
– I am sorry that I cannot support the motion. In my opinion, we should not alter the provision in the electoral law. When the first Electoral Bill was under discussion, our friends from Queensland told us of the great corruption that had taken place there in State elections in the old days, it being known how every one was voting, and we were pressed to provide for the counting of votes at head-quarters.
– The honorable member for Eden-Monaro was Whip to the Government of the day.
– While there are many good metalled roads in my division, there are many roads which are not metalled, and which get into a very bad state in wet weather, but, notwithstand ing the rain that fell before the holding of the last election, no difficulty was experienced in bringing in the various ballot boxes. I have seen some of the new boxes, and think them splendid for their purpose; it being impossible to interfere with their contents when they have been locked. I do not agree with those who say that every one who goes into a polling booth is prepared to announce exactly how he is voting, and that it does not matter whether the votes are counted at the polling booths or not. I think it would be very dangerous to do the counting at the polling booths. Our friendsopposite frequently speak of the danger that voters would run if it could be found out by land-owners and squatters how they had voted, but I think that the voters would be in a worse position if they had to incur the risk of it being found out by the Labour organizations how they had voted. On a Queensland station it. was assumed that the manager, the bookkeeper, and the storekeeper will vote for the Liberal side and the men for the Labour side. If the ballot boxes were emptied, and the votes counted at thestations, it might be found thatsome of the men had voted for the Liberal party, and that would cause trouble. I do not think that any man would be game tovote for the Liberal party if there were a chance of the Australian Workers Union finding it out. Liberal voters would probably be subjected to persecution under snch circumstances. I hope that the honorable member for Eden-Monaro will withdraw his motion, dr postpone it. I shall have to vote against it.
Mr. ROBERTS (Adelaide) [12.38J.- I suggest to the honorable member for Eden-Monaro that, as his own side is divided in regard to the motion, and theMinistry opposed to it, he would do well to. withdraw it.
– This corner issolid.
– That may be so, but if the honorable member will not consent to an adjournment, it will be impassible for him to get a division before 1 o’clock, because there are several members who wish to speak. Were the motion adjourned, it might have more success on a future occasion.
– Let us have a vote now.
– The honorable member is an old politician, and his reputation is that of an excellent tactician, but at the present moment his desire to get the motion carried seems likely to overcome his discretion.
– Would honorable members agree to proceeding at once with the motion of the honorable member for Bass if this motion were adjourned ?
– I am willing to consent to that.
– The honorable member for Capricornia, exercising a generosity which is characteristic of him, and a- tactfulness that is one of his leading traits, expresses his willingness to consent to the adjournment of the next motion on the business paper to permit of the third motion being brought on, and I ask the honorable member for Eden-Monaro to allow it to be done.
– Quite a number of honorable members wish to take a vote.
– And quite a number do not.
– There are .seven Ministers, and the honorable member for Corangamite, against the proposal on that side; so that, if there is anything like unanimity on this side, the motion cannot be carried.
– I have supporters amongst the members of the Opposition.
– I have not heard any of them speak in favour of the motion. Indeed, we have been charged with a conspiracy of silence regarding it. On the other hand, we have been delighted to hear, after the silence of the last few weeks, the speeches of Ministerialists, to whom I offer sincere congratulations on having been let off the chain.
– Will the motion of the honorable member for Bass be adjourned, so that we may proceed with the following motion?
– I propose only to move my motion formally.
– The honorable member for Bass does not propose to press his motion to a vote, or even to have any discussion on it.
– What has taken place is somewhat irregular, though I have permitted it because this is, to use the expression which has been employed by some honorable members, an “ off sort of morning.” The debate on the motion must continue, or the motion may be withdrawn by leave of the House, or the debate must be adjourned. There is no other course open in regard to it.
– Then I ask that it be adjourned, and that I have leave to continue my speech on another occasion.
– The question is that the honorable member have leave to continue his remarks at a later date.
– I object.
– I should have liked an opportunity to discuss this motion at some length. It is by no means a new matter. The subject has been discussed on several occasions with more or less warmth, and since some honorable members entertain the fear that a proposal of this kind would, if adopted, in some way violate the secrecy of the ballot-box, very considerable warmth is likely to be engendered during its discussion. The whole question of voting by ballot engaged .public attention for many years, and the recognition of the principle was secured only after a great deal of tyranny, oppression, and coercion had been exercised. There was much suffering, and even loss of life, before the inestimable boon of the secret ballot was secured. As I understand that there is now no objection to the adjournment of the debate, I ask leave to continue my remarks at a future date.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– I desire to move-
– On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, I would draw your attention to the fact that there is set down for discussion on the 9 th instant a notice of motion, in the name of the honorable member for Wilmot, which is identical in purpose with that which the honorable member for Bass now proposes to move.
– Do not worry.
– The honorable member admits by interjection that the purport of his motion is identical with that of which the honorable member for Wilmot has given notice?
– I do not.
– My point of order is that if one of these motions is permitted to be moved the other obviously will be out of order, and that the motion placed first upon the business-paper should be given preference. I do not wish to burke discussion
– The honorable member’s Government is evidently not favorable to this proposal.
– That is absolute nonsense. The honorable member for Wilmot gave notice of his motion, and a few days later, I understand, the honorable member for Bass gave notice of a motion with an identically similar purpose.
– He gave notice of it later in the same day.
– I ask, Mr. Speaker, whether both these notices of motions are to be dealt with, and, if not’, which of them is to be taken.
– On the point of order, sir, I understand that the notice of motion in the name of the honorable member for Wilmot, which is set down for discussion on the 9th instant, and is identical in purpose with the notice of motion standing in the name of the honorable member for Bass, was on the businesspaper prior to that given by the honorable member for Bass.
– It was set down for consideration prior to the notice of motion given by the honorable member for Bass, but had to be postponed until the 9th instant. As that is so, I submit that the motion standing in the name of the honorable member for Bass should be postponed until that of which notice was first given by the honorable member for Wilmot has been dealt with.
– On the point of order, sir, I should like to say that when Parliament met in July last I gave notice of motion -
That, in the opinion of this House, the recommendations of the Royal Commission which inquired into the losses sustained by the Slate of Tasmania under Federation should be carried out in their entirety.
On the same day, the honorable member for Bass gave notice of a similar motion - that now before the House - and it was accepted. I thought at the time that it was accepted in error, since it covered the subject-matter of the notice of motion given by me, but I did not raise any objection at the time, as I understood from the officers of the House that both would be in order. Owing to the wantofconfidence motion, my notice of motion could not be taken on the day for which it was originally set down, and its consideration had to be adjourned until the 9th instant. When I had my notice of motion put down for that date, the honorable member for Bass moved that his notice of motion be postponed until to-day.
– I should like to speak to the point of order.
– lt is not necessary to further debate the point of order, for I am perfectly clear as to what is the position. Two notices of motion which, though not identical in terms, relate to the same subject, were given at the beginning of the session. Which of these was given first I am not prepared to say.
– My notice of motion was the first to be given.
– It is disorderly to interrupt the Speaker. On the first day of the sitting, a number of notices of motion were given, but amid the hum of conversation it was almost impossible for the Speaker to catch their purport. If the honorable member for Wilmot, having given uotice of his motion, afterwards heard notice of another motion dealing with the same subject, he should have called the attention of the Speaker to the fact at that time. These’ two notices of motion were given on the same day, and almost atthe same time. It is my duty now to call on the notice of motion which is on the business-paper for this day’s sitting. The motion standing in the name of the honorable member for Bass is set down for discussion to-day, and, therefore, it must have precedence.
.- I move -
That, in the opinion of this House, a further sum of Four hundred thousand pounds be granted to the State of Tasmania in compliance with the recommendation on the 23rd September, 1911, of the Royal Commission appointed “to inquire into and report upon the alleged Customs leakage of Tasmania, and any losses the said State has suffered since the advent of Federation,” and that it be an instruction to the Government to take immediate steps to give effect to this resolution.
– I beg leave to second the motion.
– I desire to move -
That the question be now put.
– The honorable member cannot submit that motion until I have stated a question to the House. The question is that the motion be agreed to.
– It is obviously impossible for me to deal with a matter of this importance within the two minutes available to me before the usual adjournment for luncheon. I suggest that the mover of the motion agree to the adjournment of the debate.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Kelly) adjourned.
Sitting suspended from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.
Motion (by Mr. Joseph Cook) agreed to-
That the House, at its rising, adjournuntil Tuesday.
Mr. SPEAKER reported the receipt of messages from His Excellency the jQovernor-General transmitting the Estimates of revenue and expenditure, and the Estimates of expenditure for additions, new works and buildings,&c., for the year ending 30th June, 1914, and recommending appropriations accordingly. Referred to Committee of Supply. budget.
– In presenting the last Budget to Parliament on the 1st August, 1912, the Treasurer announced that, in order to meet his expenditure during the financial year 1912-13, itwould be necessaryto expend, not only the revenue estimated to be received during that year, but also the accumulated surplus amounting to £2,261,673, which was on the 30th June, 1912, at the credit of the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Fund and the Naval Defence Account for Construction of the Fleet.
Instead, however, of this surplus of £2,261,673 being required to supplement the revenue of the year, the revenue exceeded the expenditure by £391,550, the accumulated surplus on the 30th June, 1913, amounting to £2,653,223. In the Budget-papers, it appears on page 69, under the head of Trust Fund -
An explanation of the surplus is also given on page 7. The reason of this large surplus being left at the end of the year was that the revenue received was in excess of the estimate by £1,477,413, and that the expenditure was less than the estimate by £1,175,678. Adding to these amounts the sum of £132, which was an addition to the surplus of 1911-12, disclosed when the accounts for that year were finally made up, the total accumulated surplus on the 30th June last was, as previously stated, £2,653,223. It is, therefore, clear how the credit balance of £2,653,223 was made up, viz., by, the Treasurer receiving £1,477,413 more than was anticipated, and expending £1,175,678 less than was estimated. This amount of £2,653,223 accumulated out of the revenue of 1910-11, 1911-12, and 1912-13, and is available for expenditure this year, 1913-14.
Of this amount, however, only £195,450 was held in cash on 30th June, 1913. .
The balance of £2,457,773 was invested to the extent of £1,310,000 as part of investments of £3,448,015 of General Trust Funds, and the amount of £1,310,000 will mature between 30th November, 1913, and 20th June, 1914, viz : -
Of the balance of £1,147,773 the investments cannot be converted into cash in the ordinary way till investments fall due by maturing, on the Australian Notes Account, between this date and 30th June, 1914.
While the investment of this £2,457,773 (which it ought to have been foreseen would soon be required), except at call, was, I think, unwise, I feel sure the inconvenience which will be only temporary will be easily overcome.
The principal items of revenue received in 1912-13 were: -
The principal amounts of revenue received in excess of the estimate were: -
The principal itemsof expenditure during 1912-13 were: -
The above does not include £413,694 paid out of Trust Fund, Special Works Account, for Telegraph and Telephone Construction.
The principal amounts of expenditure over-estimated were: -
The total expenditure for the year ended 30th June last was £21,507,863, not including the amount of the surplus of £391,550 transferred on the 30th June to Trust Fund for expenditure in future years. The figures show an increase of expenditure over the previous year, 1911-12, of £1,383,841. The principal items of increase on the expenditure for the previous year, 1911-12, were: -
The net increase of expenditure in 1912-13 over that of 1911-12 was, asI have stated, £1,383,841.
The amounts paid to each State during 1912-13 under the Surplus Revenue Act of 1910 are set forth in the following table : -
Revenue, 1913-14. - As regards the current year, the Revenue is estimated as follows: -
It will be noticed that the estimate . of Customs and Excise Revenue is £14,900,000, as against £15,553,033 actually received in 1912-13. For various reasons, I came to the conclusion that it was reasonable to expect during the present year some reduction of Customs and Excise Revenue. Already this important source of income shows a tendency to decline, as the receipts to the 30th September show a falling off of £228,563, as compared with those of the previous year, but as a sum of about £158,000 is outstanding in respect of Sugar Excise, the falling off is only really about £70,563.
On the other hand, I expect a considerable increase, say, £325,000, in Post Office revenue.
The total estimated revenue for the current year, as I have shown, amounts to £21,462,000, which, added to the surplus of £2,653,223, makes the total amount available for this year’s expenditure £24,115,223.
Full particulars of the Estimates of revenue will be found in the Budget-papers.
Expenditure. - The expenditure is estimated to cover the whole amount available, viz., £24,115,223. The most important items I will briefly mention : -
Tlie amounts payable to the several States are shown in the following table : -
Other items of expenditure are as follow: -
I have shown that the total revenue which we expect to receive during this year is £21,462,000.
To this is to be added the accumulated surplus which was, on the 30th June, in Trust Fund for expenditure in future years, viz., £2,653,223. Adding these, we have for expenditure the total amount of £24,115,223.
The estimates of expenditure, it will be noticed, absorb the whole of the estimated revenue available.
There is £24,115,223 available for expenditure (not including items in Loan
Bill), and the following five items absorb £21,396,231: -
The estimated expenditure 1913-14 does not include proposed expenditure from loan on Defence and Post Office for 1913-14, amounting to £1,070,000 (page 31 of Budget Papers).
The balance of the total estimated expenditure 1913-14, viz., £24,115,223, including that for all the other Departments of the Commonwealth, absorbs £2,718,992.
These five items make us realize the rapidity of our advance in expenditure. In 1909-10, on these five items the expenditure was £14,908,395.
Proposed Loan Bill. - It has, however, not been possible to include in the ordinary Estimates of Expenditure provision for the following services, viz. : -
It has been accordingly determined to provide for these items in a Loan Bill. I do not think that Parliament will take exception to this course, as the works are of a permanent character, and such as are properly chargeable to loan.
With regard to the purchase of machinery for dock at Cockatoo Island, honorable members are aware that the transfer from the State of New South Wales to the Commonwealth was ar ranged by the late Government. The arrangement made was that the total cost of the property, viz.
should be treated as if it were transferred property under clause 85 of the Constitution; that is, it would be treated as a debt to the States, on which interest would be paid. In other words, it was treated as loan money. The machinery has been found inadequate for the purpose for which it. is required, and it is proposed to obtain modern machinery, at a cost of £175,000, so that the original intention, viz., the construction of vessels of war, can be proceeded with.
In other words, the Government consider that this amount is a part of the original purchase, and that it is a proper charge (in the same way as the original purchase) to loan expenditure.
It is evident that it is not possible to provide for the immense growing expenditure on the public works of the Commonwealth altogether from revenue. This Parliament has already assented to. the principle that railways, land purchases, and the Commonwealth Offices in London, should be made chargeable to Loan Funds, and the present Government are only slightly extending a principle which has already been begun, and of which they approve.
I have prepared a table showing the total expenditure, including that from loans (page 25 of Budget Papers) -
It is proposed to introduce a Bill authorizing the appointment of a Parliamentary Public Works Committee.
The enormous and increasing annual expenditure of the Commonwealth renders this necessary, in order to reassure the people as to its wisdom and usefulness.
Defence. - The total expenditure provided for Defence for the current year, including Construction of Fleet, is £5,746,853, as compared with the expenditure of £4,079,590 in 1911-12, and £4,331,498 in 1912-13. In 1912-13, £166,600 was expended for Naval Subsidy, which item does not appear in 1913-14.
In this comparison I have included £300,000 for purchase of land, and £175,000 for purchase of machinery, Ac, Cockatoo Island, to be provided from loan. The Naval expenditure (exclusive of construction of Fleet) has grown from £513,397 (including £200,000 for Naval Subsidy), in 1911-12, to £1,031,831, in 1912-13 (including £166,600 for Naval Subsidy), and £1,453,166 in the current year (without Naval Subsidy).
Construction of the Fleet cost £1,108,171 in 1911-12, £604,397 in 1912- 13, and will cost £1,002,432 in the current year.
The Military expenditure was £2,458,022 in 1911-12, £2,695,270 in 1912-13, and will be £3,291,255 in the current year.
The total estimated expenditure for this year for Military and Naval Defence equals £1 3s. 6d. per head of population. In 1912-13 it was 18s.3¾d. per head.
Owing to the rapid growth of this Department, consequent upon the development of the Universal Training Scheme, it has been found necessary to considerably increase the clerical staffs in the Central Administration. Provision has also been made for expenses in connexion with the visit of the Inspector-General of Oversea Forces, as well as for a contribution of £2,000 towards sending a rifle team toBisley.
The ordinary Military expenditure (exclusive of New Works, interest on transferred properties, &c.) is estimated at £1,914,262, as compared with £1,632,465 last year. The increase, £281,797, is due, partly, to the drafting of 22,500 Junior Cadets into the Senior Cadets, and 17,500. Senior Cadets into the Citizen Forces, the increased expenditure being for -
The provision for ammunition is £252,500, which exceeds last year’s expenditure by £80,290. The increase is due partly to the rise in price of ammunition, and partly to the increased amount required. £14,500 has also been provided in excess of last year’s expenditure for free issue of practice ammunition to members of rifle clubs. The following statement will be of interest to the Committee : -
A sum of £3,700 is provided for an Aviation Instructional School, at which volunteers from the Commonwealth Military Forces will undergo instruction in aviation.Asuitable site has been found at Point Cook, Victoria, where the necessary land has been acquired from the State Government. The instructors, mechanics, and machines are at present in Australia; and, as soon as the necessary buildings are completed, for which a provision of £10,000 is made in “ Additions, New Works’ Estimates, the School will be established.
A sum of £81,800 is provided on the Estimates this year for the Royal Military College - £49,000 being for expenses, £30,000 for building, and £2,800 for field guns. Up to 30th June last, the College has cost £150,352 for building, and £80,871 for general expenses, In all, therefore, including this year’s estimated expenditure, the total will be £313,023. There are at present 112 cadets resident at the College, and it is anticipated that thirty-eight more will be admitted during this year, thereby completing the establishment of 150. The estimated cost for this year of each cadet is about £393.
The reports and balance-sheets of the Cordite, Clothing, and Harness Factories for the period ended 30th June, 1912, were recently presented to Parliament.
The total expenditure for land, buildings, machinery, and plant for the Cordite Factory to the 30th June last, was £95,330. It has also cost in maintenance £42,126, which is represented by value of material in stock and finished.
At 30th June, 1913, the number of staff and employes at the Factory numbered ninety. Up to the present, only cordite for small-arms ammunition (.303) is being manufactured, and the Factory has proved to be capable of turning out sufficient to meet the annual requirements of the Royal Australian Navy and the Commonwealth Military Forces. It is intended to establish the machinery for big-gun cordite as soon as possible.
The cost to 30th June last for lands, buildings, machinery, and plant for the Small Arms Factory was £170,377. There has also been expended for maintenance £102,239, a total of £272,616. The total number of persons enaged at the factory at 30th June, 1913, was 295. Several thousand sets of parts have been completed, but, so far - 30th June, 1913 - only forty finished rifles, and 2,250,000 steel chargers have been manufactured. It is expected that 5.000 rifles and 3,000,000 steel chargers will be made during the year. The estimated expenditure this year is £87,000.
The total cost to 30th June last for land, buildings, machinery, and plant for the Clothing Factory was £22,080. The expense of maintenance to that date was £24,423, which is represented by value of material in stock and finished.
This factory is now capable of supplying the whole of the clothing required for the Naval and Military Forces, and also, if necessary, the greater part of the requirements of the Postmaster-General’s Department.
The total number of employes, including the staff, was, at 30th June, 1913, 595, and the value of the output for the year ended 30th June, 1913, was £135,122. I am informed that the quality and cost of the articles manufactured are satisfactory.
In regard to the Harness, Saddlery, and Accoutrements Factory, the total cost to 30th June last for land and buildings, machinery, and plant was £11,146. The cost of maintenance to that date has been £16,682, which is represented by materials in stock and finished.
The bulk of the harness, saddlery, leather, and canvas equipment required for the Defence and Postmaster-General’s Departments is now being supplied from this source.
At 30th June, 1913, atotal of 170 employes, including staff, was engaged, and the value of the output for the year 1912-13 was £49,443.
For the Woollen Cloth Factory, £85,000 is provided on the Estimates for buildings, also £5,800 for maintenance. A site for the factory has been acquired at Geelong, Victoria, a manager appointed, and arrangements are in progress for the erection of buildings and the purchase of machinery and plant, for all of which provision is made on the Estimates.
The total cost of the Woollen Cloth Factory to 30th June, 1913, was -
As regards Naval Defence, provision was made last year for three months only for the Australia, Sydney, and Melbourne, but full provision was necessary on this year’s Estimates. The Australia alone will cost £204,000 for maintenance. For the maintenance this year of the various vessels (including Australia) £376,500 has been provided for wages, victualling, and clothing, and £239,000 for repairs, docking, coal and oil, &c. (£615,500 in all). Provision has been made for 224 officers and 3,402 men.
The Imperial naval establishments at Sydney were taken over on 1st July, and £17,000 is included on the Estimates for the. civil staff. The present strength of the Naval Forces is 281 officers and 7,507 men. The particulars are as follow: -
The Naval Dockyard at Cockatoo Island was transferred from the New South Wales Government to the Commonwealth on 1st February last, the valuation agreed to being £867,716 for land, buildings, plant and machinery. The annual estimated cost of the dockyard is £30,000.
The cost to date of the Boys Training Ship has been £61,582, including £15,000 for purchase of the Tingira. About- 300 boys have been entered to date.
The vote for maintenance of the Royal Naval College, Geelong, is £24,100. The total number of cadet midshipmen will be brought up on 1st January next to fiftysix, so that the annual expense of each cadet is £430.
Naval bases at Cockburn Sound, Westernport, Jervis Bay, and Port Stephens, and the Naval Establishment at Sydney, are being proceeded with in accordance with Admiral Sir R. Henderson’s recommendation, and Sir Maurice Fitzmaurice, of the well-known firm of marine engineers, Coode. Matthews and Company, of London, is coming to Australia to advise the Government as to the best posi tions for the works, and the most economical way of carrying them out. There has already been expended (up to 30th June, 1913), £78,220, at Westernport, and £14,611 at Cockburn Sound.
Provision is made on the present Estimates for £215,721 for the above purpose, though it is estimated that only £165,721 will be expended within the year.
The Fleet unit has already cost £3,860,000. £300,000 is provided this year, and a further amount of £102,266 will be required to complete the work and pay for it, the total estimated cost being £4,262,266.
Coming now to the question of the establishment of the Australian Navy, the proposal of the then Government as communicated by myself as Treasurer to this House on the 1st December, 1909, was to provide a naval unit consisting of one armoured cruiser, three unarmoured cruisers, six destroyers, and three submarines; and it was arranged with the Imperial Government to co-operate with two other similar units - one on the China and the other on the East India Station - to be supplied by the Imperial Government, and which together would form the Eastern Fleet of the Empire. The cost of the Commonwealth unit was to be £3,695,000. It is now estimated that the Commonwealth proportion of the fleet will cost £4,262,266.
The Commonwealth has been active in providing its unit on practically the above basis; but, for some reason or other, of which the present Government is unaware, two units of similar strength on the China and East India stations have not as yet been provided. This important matter is now the subject of correspondence with the Imperial Government, and a conference has been requested, with a view of deciding upon a further increase of construction, in conjunction with the Mother Country and the other portions of the Empire.
Post and Telegraph Department. - The revenue of the Post and Telegraph Department is increasing at the rate of about 7 per cent, per annum - the Telegraph Revenue at about 6 per cent., the Telephone Revenue at about 13^ per cent.
The total revenue received in 1911-12 was £3,916,254, and in 1912-13 £4,224,916, showing an increase of 7.9 per cent. The estimate for 1913-14 is £4,548,000, showing an estimated increase of 7.6 per cent.
If we examine the expenditure figures we find a much greater rate of increase. Not taking into account NewWorks and Buildings, the expenditure in 1911-12 was £4,330,896, and 1912-13 £4,783,744, the rate of increase being 10.4 per cent. The estimated expenditure for 1913-14 is £5,189,265, the estimated rate of increase being8.4 per cent. If we add to this expenditure of £5,189,265 the amount proposed to be expended from revenue on New Works and Buildings, £1,350,113, and the amount of £595,000, which it is proposed to obtain from Loan Fund, also £15,897, the balance of the Special Vote of £600,000, we have the immense sum of £7,150,275 to be expended this year, as compared with a total of £6,284,053 expended last year - an increase of £866,222, or nearly 14 per cent.
This vast expenditure shows, I think, the wisdom of the Government in proposing to appoint three Commissioners to conduct the affairs of this large trading concern. I hope no time will be lost in obtaining parliamentary authority for making this great reform.
The increase of business, the increased rates of pay, the higher cost of material, and the higher costs of contracts for mail services are the chief factors bringing about this large increased expenditure.
It has been found necessary to provide for the following increases for this year, viz. : -
These four items amount to £313,481 so that of a total increase in the ordinary expenditure for 1913-14, as compared with 1912-13, viz., £479,224, the amount of £313,481 may be looked upon as an unavoidable increase. But, as the business of the Department is rapidly extending, it has been found necessary to provide an additional new staff, numbering 2,606 officers, at a cost of £125,328. To enable full benefit to be taken of the wireless stations, an increase of £17,680 has been provided. Then there is an increase of £22,986 for repairs and maintenance of Telegraph and Telephone lines, also £6,879 for increase of Telegraph and Telephone instruments.
As regards New Works, the following table shows the expenditure for 1911-12 and 1912-13 and the estimated expenditure for 1913-14: -
Provision has been made for the completion of automatic switchboards at Balmain, Glebe, and Newtown, in New South Wales; at Brighton, in Victoria; and at Perth, in Western Australia. The cost is estimated at £129,094. It is also intended to proceed with the erection of eight others in New South Wales (Randwick, Parramatta, Mosman, Rookwood, Ashfield, Burwood, Homebush, and Watson’s Bay), at a cost of £116,062, and of nine others in Victoria (Canterbury, Collingwood, Ascot Vale, Footscray, Williamstown, Malvern, Oakleigh, Cheltenham, and Sandringham), at a cost of £113,377.
A sum of £39,148 is provided to complete wireless stations yet unfinished, and to provide for the erection of a station at Samarai, Papua. Altogether £97,206 was expended up to 30th June last on wireless construction.
Twelve stations have been completed and opened for business. Three have been partly completed and been opened for business, and four are partly completed, but not yet open for business.
Tasmania: Additional Grant. - The Government propose to increase the special payment to Tasmania, under clause 96 of the Constitution, by £400,000, making the total payment £900,000, as unanimously recommended by the Royal Commission, and a Bill will at once be submitted to Parliament for the purpose.
The proposed method of paying this additional £400,000 is by paying £5,000 this year, and increasing the amount by £10,000 every year for eight years, and for the ninth year paying £80,000, thus : -
Tasmania has had a hard financial struggle under Federation, and is deserving of tho fullest consideration. Personally, I have much pleasure in making this announcement on behalf of the Government.
Pubic Debts. - The public debt of Australia (Commonwealth and States) on 30th June, 1913, was £301,903,435. Of this large amount, £206,054,787 was floated in London, and £95,848,648 in Australia.
It is a remarkable fact that during the last thirteen years the increase of the public debt floated in London “has been only £32,821,894, while the increase floated in Australia has been £73,854,135 - showing that during that time only 30 per cent, of the loan money was obtained out of Australia. While this, on the face of it, looks satisfactory, it would seem, however, to imply that there is a great tendency to invest in Government securities rather than in industrial enterprises.
On 30th June, 1900, only 11 per cent, of the public debt was floated in Australia, while on the 30th June, 1913, quite 32 per cent, was so held.
I think that the opportunities for enterprise in Australia are not availed of to the extent it would be desirable, and this, I think, has its root in the fact that there is a good deal of friction in industrial enterprise, which is very regrettable and injurious.
This, I think, is one of the causes, and perhaps the principal ono, why the savings of the people have, during the last twelve years, gone into Government securities rather than into enterprising developmental works.
The Government propose to introduce a Bill to take, over the State debts as they mature, and to relieve the States of all liability in respect of such debts afterwards.
Provision will be made for the Commonwealth to borrow for the States, if requested to do so, but there will be no restriction on the States borrowing for themselves.
A sinking fund of h per cent., vested iu trustees, for the redemption of the debts will be provided. The Bill will be a very simple, and not in any way complicated, measure, and should, I think, meet with approval.
There will be no financial complications between the Commonwealth and the States, as the interest and sinking fund will be provided from the surplus revenue paid to the States.
In the case of New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, and Western Australia, the annual contribution of 25s. per capita by the Commonwealth will always be more than sufficient to meet the interest and sinking fund required on their respective loans; while in the case of South Australia and Tasmania it will be sufficient up to the years 1940 and 1922 respectively, and after those years there will be only a small deficiency.
During 1912-13, the various States expended loan moneys to the following enormous extent: -
Taxation. - It is not proposed to resort to any fresh taxation, or to place any increased burdens on the people.
The Tariff question has been remitted to the Inter-State Commission, and it is not considered advisable to deal with it till, it reports on the matter; , and there has not been time to consider other financial matters that require consideration.
During the Federation period, both Commonwealth and State taxation have increased considerably, both in actual amount and also in amount per capita.
For the financial year 1901-2, the first complete financial year under Federation, the Commonwealth receipts from taxation aggregated £8,900,000, as compared with a total of £16,100,000 for the year 1911-12. Similarly, the aggregate of State taxation amounted to £2,700,000 in 1901-2; totalled £5,400,000 in 1911-12. The total increase in Commonwealth and State taxation combined has thus increased from £11,600,000 in 1901-2, to £21,500,000 in 1911-12.
The corresponding amounts of taxation per head of population (through Customs and Excise) were £2 5s. 6d. in 1901-2, £3 4s. 5d. in 1911-12, and £3 5s. 8d. in 1912-13, an increase of 44 per cent. in eleven years.
The entrance of the Commonwealth Parliament into the arena of land taxation, which heretofore was reserved for the States, has raised difficulties not previously anticipated, owing to there- being now three separate authorities enforcing taxation on the same land - the three valuations of the same land are all dissimilar, and general dissatisfaction is the result. At the present time, the same land is valued and taxed for municipal, for State, and for Commonwealth purposes by three separate authorities, and the cost of valuation is three times what it should be.
An effortwillbe made to enter into an arrangement with the States so as to arrive at a uniform system of land values assessment for all State and Commonwealth purposes, and thus save a great waste of time and money.
The estimated amount of revenue for 1913-14 from this tax is £1,400,000, and it is paid by about 14,000 persons.
The machinery of this taxation measure makes its operation’ exacting, and, personally, I hope it may be possible to amend it so as to, at any rate, repeal the company and leasehold aggregations, which, though increasing the revenue, are very troublesome and difficult, as well as unnecessary.
It is not possible to do anything this year for obvious practical reasons. Besides which, thelargeincrease of revenue during the last three years has resulted in immense expenditure and commitments that have to be met.
The taxation of the people of Australia is increasing, and is now, for Commonwealth, State, and local, £5 12s. 6d. per head, as against £4 2s. 2d. in 1909, made up as follows: -
This shows an increase of taxation of £8,316,181, being an increase of £1 10s. 4d. per head of the population.
Northern Territory. - A very difficult problem presents itself as to the best way of making the Northern Territory of the Commonwealth self-supporting and settling a permanent white population there.
A large Government establishment is in existence, and the total estimated cost this year, with Oodnadatta railway, is £721,556, but, as yet, nothing has been done in the direction of making the country productive or in settling people on the land.
As far as I could gather, only seven settlers had actually gone to their holdings, and seven others were on their way. Practically very little work has been done as yet.
In addition to the amount of £721,556, loan authorization for £400,000 will be asked for the construction of a railway in the Northern Territory, from Pine Creek to Katherine River and southwards, the ultimate object in view being to connect by railway with Oodnadatta in South Australia, and with Camooweal in Queensland.
Without means of transit, it is impossible to do anything, and the construction of these railways must be proceeded with. Trial surveys for these railways are in progress, and plans and reports will soon be in hand.
The NorthernTerritory and the Port Augusta-Oodnadatta railway have already cost the Commonwealth £7,868,995, made up as follows : -
This immense obligation renders it imperative that early means of a practical character should be taken to make the Northern Territory wealth-producing.
Commissioners are now engaged investigating the requirements and possibilities of the country, and have been urged to send in reports as soon as possible. The Government fully realize the pressing importance of this matter.
Immigration. - The immigration policy of the Government is the same as the policy of the Liberal party has always been. We intend to co-operate with the States in selecting suitable immigrants, and encouraging them to our shores, the aim being to so divide the task as to enable the Commonwealth to control the matter up to the landing in Australia, while the States assume the responsibility after landing, by finding suitable employment and settling them on the land.
In order to largely increase settlement and produce wealth, and to become a strong and self-contained people, it is necessary to greatly increase our numbers and add to the defenders of our country.
Last year, £19,904 was expended in advertising the resources of the Commonwealth. A vote of £50,000 has been included in the present Estimates for “ Immigration, including expenses of advertising.”
Federal Capital. - Provision is made on Estimates for expenditure within ‘ the Federal Capital of £285,000. I am informed that this expenditure is required for works which should be completed before building and other permanent city construction is undertaken, viz., the supply of water from the Cotter River, a distance of about 10 miles, the construction of the main sewer and sewerage for a portion of the Capital Site.
Works are in progress for providing materials, bricks, timber and other necessaries for these services - an electric plant is being installed for pumping, lighting, &c.
Roads and culverts are being made, and the whole work of preparing for the city is progressing.
Six hundred and fifty men are at present employed on these works.
The expenditure in connexion with the Federal Capital to 30th June last has been £221,705; and the vote on this year’s Estimates is £285,000, making the total authorized £506,705, made up as follows : -
In addition, £600,000 was provided on loan for purchase of land, of which £169,845 had been expended to the 30th June, 1913.
Military College, Duntroon. - On the Military College, the total expenditure up to 30th June, 1913, was £231,224, and the estimated expenditure for this - year is, £313,024. Details are as follow:. -
The railway from Queanbeyan, a distance of 5 miles 30 chains, is nearly completed. The cost is payable out of vote for Federal Capital.
Australian Notes. - The Budget-papers contain much information relating to Australian Notes.
If the proposed amendment’ of the Notes Act becomes law, by which/ a gold reserve of 25 per cent, up to £7,000,000 and £l for £1 afterwards will be always held by the Treasury, there will. .always be a fixed sum of £5,250,000 available fop investment in Commonwealth securities. Of this £2,990,002 has already been appropriated, and a Loan Bill will be submitted this session which will absorb the remainder.
On the 30th of June last there had been received from the sale of notes £9,163,517 in gold, and after deducting all expenses, the interest on ‘ the investments amounted to £301,742. Besides this, interest is being earned by investments of other Trust Funds at the annual rate of £122,200. On the 30th of June last the Treasury held 3,732,557 sovereigns, being 40 per cent, of the note circulate ‘. n.
If our proposals had been in force on the 30th of June last, the gold in the Treasury would have been -
Loan Flotation. - It may be asked, How are we going to obtain our loan moneys?
It is intended that the loan moneys required shall be found by making investments of the Australian Notes Fund and the General Trust Fund in Commonwealth Inscribed Stock.
The late Government loaned to the States and banks £5,720,000, viz., £3,130,000 from the Notes Fund for long periods maturing from 1919 to 1926, and £2,590,000 for shorter periods, maturing between 17th September, 1913, and 30th September, 1914, and, in addition, lent further sums to the States amounting to £1,310,000 from the General Trust Fund.
It seems to me that it would have been wiser, in view of the demands on the Trust Funds for the purpose of these funds, and also for the railways and other works to be charged to loans obtained from these funds, if it-he investments had been, for shorter periods.
I hope, however, that it may be possible to arrange funds for the necessary expenditure as it arises during the year without going on the loan market.
The Budget-papers will explain all these transactions.
Banks and Savings Banks. - ‘The growth of the business of Savings Banks in Australia during the past twelve years has been phenomenal. On the 30th June, 1901, the number of depositors totalled 965,000, but by .the 31st March, 1913, the number had grown to 1,896,000, an increase of nearly 100 per cent, in the twelve years. During the same period the total amount on deposit in Savings Banks grew from £31,000,000 to £73,000,000, an increase of about 140 per cent., while the average per depositor increased from £32 to £38 10s., and the average per head of population of the Commonwealth increased- from £8 3s. to £15 6s. la 1901 the number of depositors per 1,000 of population was 255, as compared with 397 in 1913.
The growth of business of chequepaying banks during the twelve years has also been very great. The deposits have increased from £91,000,000 in the June quarter of 1901, to £152,000,000 in the March quarter of 1913, the current accounts having grown from £37,000,000 to £65,000,000, and the fixed deposits from £54,000,000 to £87,000,000, during that period.
Similarly, the advances have grown from £94,000,000 in 1901 to £121,000,000 in 1913, and the banks’ holdings in coin and bullion from £20,000,000 in 1901 to £29,000,000 in 1913, notwithstanding the gold withdrawn from the banks for the Australian Notes gold reserve.
The Government have not yet been able to do anything in the direction of preventing the duplication of the Savings Banks throughout the Commonwealth, and the consequent large, unnecessary, and wasteful expenditure. There was, in the opinion of the Government, no necessity for the Commonwealth to enter into competition with the Savings Banks of the States, which were beneficent and going concerns, whose operations greatly assisted the agricultural development of the Commonwealth.
It is proposed to consult the State Governments with a view of placing the Savings Bank on a basis which will prevent duplication, and, at the same time, meet the requirement! of the people.
On the 30th June last the deposits in the Commonwealth Savings Bank amounted to £2,693,971, of which £820,441 belonged to Tasmania. Of this £2,693,971, a sum of £1,945,367 was in- vested, the interest accruing being £27,133.
Old-age and Invalid Pensions and Maternity Allowances. - It is proposed to amend the Old-age Pensions Act so as to provide that, when a pensioner enters a benevolent asylum, he shall do so as a free man, and as a “paying guest,” and any surplus above what is charged by the institution will belong to himself, and this will also apply to an inmate of a benevolent asylum who becomes a pensioner while in the asylum. This will, it is thought, be con sidered a valuable provision, and will have the effect of making more happy and comfortable the aged pensioners of the Commonwealth in the evening of their days. It will, however, increase the oldage pensions expenditure by probably £140,000 per annum.
I think, however, that this proposal is both logical and fair, and I have pleasure in introducing and recommending it for the favorable consideration of honorable members.
On 30th June, 191 3, there were 82,943 old-age pensioners and 13,739 invalid pensioners, and 82,556 maternity allowances had been paid. The ‘total amount paid for these three classes during 1912-13 was £2,701,828, and the estimated expenditure this year is £3,270,000.
In regard to the maternity allowance, it is not proposed to attempt an amendment this session. The estimated payment during this year is £650,000. The Government is of opinion that the maternity allowance should be only given to those in need, and that the whole community should not be taxed to give money to those who can very well pay for themselves.
There is no doubt that this maternity allowance cannot continue to be paid for very long, and that a system of social insurance must soon take its place. A system is under consideration which, it is believed, may secure all that is needed, on a contributory principle, by which the allowance could continue to be paid from the Consolidated Revenue for a short time to all contributors, subsequent benefits being drawn from the Social Insurance Funds. By this means those who do not” need the allowance would be eliminated.
The Government are most anxious to help those who are in need of the allowance, but are opposed to those who do not require it being a burden on the taxpayers.
Railways. - The Commonwealth has embarked on railway construction, and the railway to connect Western and Eastern Australia is in progress, and, it is hoped, will be pushed forward with rapidity. Up to 30th June, 1913, a sum of £606,985 had been expended on this work.
Provision has already been made by loan authorization for £1,000,000, and a further loan authorization for £1,400,000 will be submitted at once.
Papua. - You will also be asked to authorize £60,000 being expended from loan funds on a railway from Port Moresby to Astrolabe, and for the construction of wharfs at Port Moresby and Samarai, in Papua.
It is proposed to provide the £60,000 as a loan to Papua. It is believed that this railway will greatly assist agricultural development, as well as the copper mines which exist in the district to be served.
By the 30th June, 1914, the Commonwealth will have made grants to Papua (including £78,125 for this year and the proposed loan of £60,000 for railway purposes) of £455,436.
The estimated revenue of Papua for this year is £45,598, and of this sum £32,000 is raised from Customs duties.
Full particulars will be found on page 88 of the Budget-papers.
London Office. - The foundation stone of the new offices in the Strand was laid by His Majesty the King on the 24th July last. The land and building are estimated to cost £726,500.
Antarctic Expedition. - Provision is made ou the Estimates for the sum of £5,000 as a grant towards the fund now being raised for the purpose of bringing back Dr. Mawson’s expedition from the Antarctic.
Despite the rigours and discomforts of the Antarctic Continent, Dr. Mawson and his devoted band have been carrying on their scientific investigations with a zeal and energy that demand our most cordial admiration ‘ and substantial recognition.
Trade and Commerce. - Let me deal now with the trade and commerce of the country. The following table shows the value of imports into the Commonwealth, 1912: -
The exports for 1912 were these: -
The trade of Australia practically doubled itself during the last ten years. The total trade, imports and exports, 1912, about equal, totalling £157,254,690.
The proportion of the total trade of the Commonwealth with other countries is, as regards imports : -
This shows that 66.04 per cent, of our trade is British, and 33.96 foreign in origin. As to the exports from the Commonwealth, the proportion is : -
The percentage of the imports into the Commonwealth in 1912 was: -
The exports of Australian produce and manufacture in 1912 may be classified as follow : -
ployed in the industry, including in factories, were : -
Production of wheat, 1912-13, was 92,000,000 bushels.
Value of wool exported, 1912, was £27,000,000.
This, I think, is .a very creditable result.
The Sugar Industry. - I come now to what has always been a rather difficult question, namely, that of the sugar industry. The consumption of sugar in Australia for this year is estimated at about 260,000 tons. The estimated production for this year is 226,991 tons, as compared with the production for last year of only 130,059. The amount of bounty paid last year was £370,306. The net revenue from sugar last year, after paying bounty, was £839,770, while for this year the net revenue will be only £397,000, a loss of revenue owing to the abolition of Excise and bounty on 25th July, 1913, of £442,770. The number of white men employed in the industry, including in factories, on 31st December, 1907, was 41,800, while on the 31st December, 1912, it was only 27,380. On 31st December, 1907, there were employed in the industry, including factories, 4,068 coloured persons, while on 31st December, 1912, there were only 1,383. The sugar produced in 1907 was 214,244 tons, while in 1912 it was 130,059 tons, and estimated for this year 226,991 tons. On 31st December, 1912, it appears that there were 14,420 fewer white men employed in the industry than in 1907, five years previously. The number of white men em-
– Does not the right honorable member know that the 1912 season was a bad one ?
– Yes; but I am dealing now with the number of white men employed.
– Men cannot be employed when there is nothing to do.
– There are at present 144,891 acres under sugar-cane and beet, and there were employed on 31st December, 1912, 27,380 white persons, and 1,383 coloured, so that 95 per cent, of those employed in the industry are white.
The sugar industry is suited to our northern lands, and must continue to be assisted in every way possible. Efforts must be made to induce its cultivation in the Northern Territory. This, I am certain, is the wish, as well as the duty, of every one. So long as our production of sugar does not exceed our consumption we can, by the barrier of Protection, secure the Home market by taking the burden on ourselves; but, so soon as our production exceeds our requirements, which is now imminent, we shall have to enter into competition with the production of sugar by the cheap coloured labour of the tropical world - labourers accustomed to another civilization altogether. Herein is our position and our difficulty, in regard not only to sugar, but to many other industries. It is difficult to suggest a remedy. Two suggest themselves to me. The first of these is that we should fill up our country with people who will be both producers and consumers, while the other is to continue to avail ourselves of the most up-to-date appliances so a3 to insure economical production.
Manufacturers’ Encouragement and Bounties Acts. - The next matter to which I propose to refer is the payment of bounties under the Manufacturers’ Encouragement Act and Bounties Acts. During the five years that these Acts have been in force a sum of £168,152 has been paid, and there is provision on this year’s Estimates for £101,800. The payments have been as follows : -
The authorizations, therefore, for these Acts amount to £269,952.
Production of Minerals. - I must make a passing reference to the production of minerals in Australia, 1912. The figures are as follows : -
In regard to manufactures, the value of land, buildings, plant, and machinery employed in factories in 1911 was £64,000,000.
Agricultural Dairying,- ite. - During the past twelve years agriculture has made satisfactory progress, the total area under crop having increased from 8,400,000 acres in 1901 to 13,000,000 acres in 1912. The wheat yield for 1912 was 92,000,000 bushels, a yield for Australia which has only once been exceeded, viz., in 1910, when a total of 95,000,000 bushels was obtained. Large as it appears in itself, Australia’s wheat yield is only about 2 per cent, of the world’s production of this cereal. For the past ten seasons, Australia’s average wheat yield has ranged between 8J bushels per acre in 1907, and 13f bushels in 1909, and has averaged 1 1 J bushels over the whole period.
During the past twelve years the number of horses in Australia increased by 800,000, namely, from 1,600,000 in 1900 to 2,400,000 in 1912. In the same period the number of cattle increased by 3,000,000, viz., from 8,600,000 to 11,600,000, while the number of sheep increased by 13,000,000, viz., from 70,600,000 to 83,600,000. The extensive increases are the more remarkable in view of the fact that progress has not been continuous, owing to the severe drought of 1902, and the less severe, but still serious, adverse conditions of the early part of 1912.
Rapid progress has also been made by the dairying industry during the past twelve years, as shown by the fact that the dairy herds of the Commonwealth, which in 1901 numbered 1,200,000, had by 1912 increased by 1,000,000 to a total of 2,200,000. During the same period the production of butter in Australia increased from 102,000,000 lbs. in 1901 to 187,000,000 lbs. in 1912, and the production of cheese from 11,600,000 lbs. in 1901 to 16,100,000 lbs. in 1912.
Population. - At the initiation of Federation, on the 1st January, 1901, the total population of Australia was 3,765,339, while on the 30th June,. 1913, it had grown to 4,801,946, a gain of 1,036,607 during the intervening twelve and a half years. This total advance in population comprised an increase of 524,922 in the case of males, and one of 511,685 in the case of females. At the last-mentioned date there were in Australia. 92 females to every 100 males. This rate of increase represents a gain of nearly 2 per cent, per annum, and, if it is maintained, the population of Australia will double itself in about thirty-six years. The rates of increase per annum of England and Wales are 1 per cent. ; Germany, lj per cent. ; United States of America, if per cent. ; and Canada, 2J per cent.
During the twelve years, 1901 to 1912 inclusive, the total number of births in Australia was 1,329,000, and the total number of deaths 555,000. This gives a gain in population by natural increase of 774,000, and represents a natural increase of 1.6 per cent, per annum. This rate of natural increase is the highest in the world, and compares with 1.5 per cent, for Holland, 1.4 per cent, for Germany, 1.2 per cent, for England and Wales, and 1 per cent, for Ontario, the only Canadian Province for which data are available.
A feature of the growth of population in Australia during the past twenty years has been the tendency to become more and more Australian-born. Thus at the census of 1891 the Australian-born represented 68 per cent, of the total population; at the census of 1901 they represented 77 per cent.; while at that of 1911 they represented 82.33 per cent, of the total.
Conclusion. - This Government came into office only a week before the expiration of the financial year. In the last three years, during which the Liberals had been out of office, the annual expenditure of the Commonwealth increased from £8,155,666, in 1909-10, to £15,387,933 in 1912-13, the increase being £7,232,267.
The result of the termination of the Braddon clause, and the substitution of a contribution of 25s. per capita to the States, during the three financial years 1910-11, 1911-12, and 1912-13, was that £14,190,095 more of the Customs and Excise revenue was retained by the Commonwealth.
If we add to this the land tax revenue, which for the same three financial years amounted to £4,152,676, we have the enormous sum of £18,342,771 received by our predecessors (the Labour Government) which would not have been received if the Braddon clause had continued, and there had been no Federal land tax imposed.
The unexpected possession of £18,342,771 of extra revenue naturally encouraged a vastly increased expenditure that could not have been possible, or even thought of, otherwise, and, consequently, large expenditure has taken place from revenue, which would have been impossible under the conditions existing for the previous nine years of Federation.
The Government do not intend to interfere with the expenditure to which the country is committed. We intend to administer the affairs of the Commonwealth on safe and economical lines, doing justice to all, and showing favoritism to none. We will do our best to restore public confidence, to stimulate enterprise, and give security to the whole people. “ I have performed my task.” I have tried to place the financial position of the Commonwealth before honorable members, and “ a round, unvarnished tale deliver.” Treasurers come and go, but millions of Australians will be here when we have all gone “ to the undiscovered country.”
If we seek to do our duty, our aim and object must be to act faithfully as trustees of a great inheritance, to be singleminded and patriotic, strenuously labouring for the present and for future generations.
I move -
That the first item in the Estimates, under Division i - The Parliament - namely, The President, £1,100, be agreed to.
.- I have to congratulate the Treasurer on his Budget effort. I am sure he will pardon me when I suggest that, if he has the honour to deliver another Budget speech, he will not fail in that courtesy which has been invariable since this Parliament was instituted. I mean that I hope he will not fail to supply at least the Leader of the Opposition with a copy of the speech he proposes to read. In every other instance of the delivery of a Budget speech that has been done; but in the present instance the press was furnished with absolute copies, while I could not, by request, obtain one for myself.
– No one has had an absolute copy.
– Did the Leader of the Opposition, when Treasurer, ever supply absolute copies?
– To every honorable member.
– I have never seen it done.
– I invariably handed around copies of the manuscript.
– I think the right honorable gentleman is making a mistake.
– The honorable member is quite wrong. Now that I have mentioned this matter, I may as well say that during my term of office the Leader of the Opposition never came into the House without previously being supplied with copies of the Bills to be introduced.
These are little courtesies which have been overlooked in this Parliament, and I think they might well be continued, whoever represents the various parties. As I say, I congratulate the Treasurer on his effort, and particularly on his peroration. We have been told that the Government are here to do their best to restore confidence, and, no doubt, they are conscious of the fact that not only tho Ministry, but the party, need the confidence of the country. The Treasurer, by his Budget, proposes to expend over £5,000,000 more than was expended by. the previous Government. The present Government came back from the country to initiate economy, restore the public finances to a proper condition, reduce taxation, and to clean up the maladministration of the late Government; but, true to Liberal instincts and the Liberal policy, their first Budget runs the country into debt. When the first Fisher Government came into power they were met with a deficit left by the late Liberal Government, and whoever succeeds the present Government will undoubtedly also have to meet a deficit.
– It will be millions, and not hundreds of thousands!
– It is £5,000,000 already. Happily, the Treasurer is in possession of £2,600,000 odd left as a surplus, which he proposes to use, in addition to a .sum of nearly double that amount, for the purpose of carrying on this year’s expenditure.
– Does the right honorable member regret that the present Government came in with a surplus?
– No, I do not, because we secured a surplus purposely; we conserved the public finances in every instance. The honorable member for Hume ought to know that, in addition to that surplus, there is £340,000 odd earned, in the Australian Notes Trust Fund, making practically £3,000,000 of accumulated surplus left by the previous Government, which, as I say, began with a deficit. During our three years of office we expended in works, out of tho annual revenue, a sum of £9,227,286, or, practically, £10,000,000, in addition to the £3,000,000 we left as a surplus The Treasurer points out that the late Government had over £15,000,000 more during their three years of office than the previous Liberal Government had in the three years prior to 1910.
– Which is perfectly correct.
– Which is not correct, in the sense in which the Treasurer puts it, because, if the honorable member for Hume knows anything of the finances, he must know that in 1910 no old-age pensions were paid, and that the party at present in power, when they succeeded the Fusion, passed a Loan Act for the purpose of raising £3,500,000 to pay for the Fleet, whereas the Labour Government paid for it out of revenue. The mere fact that £700,000 odd was not paid during the financial year was because of the delay in the construction of the ships. Before I left office, I asked the permanent, officials to pay every penny that could be paid, and my successor, the present Treasurer, undoubtedly did the very same thing. This’ was not an occasion when Treasurers were trying to keep back accounts; but, on the contrary, they were desirous to get every account in and to meet it. There was no lingering debt left to the present Government. I am sorry that the Treasurer has left the Chamber without waiting for a reply to his statements, but 1 must say that he either wilfully or ignorantly misled the House in at least one financial matter. I challenged the Treasurer regarding the investment of the Australian Notes Fund, and the General Trust Fund, and he emphasized and reiterated the statement that the investment of these two funds was long-dated and that the money would not be soon available. The figures in this connexion can be seen on reference to pages 67 and 68 of the Budget-papers.
– Does the right honorable member think that the Treasurer makes mistakes like that?
– It will be as well for me to get the facts on record. Does the Treasurer say that I am wrong?
– The right honorable member is not so likely to be right as I am at a moment like this. The Treasury officials would not let me make a mistake like that; and, besides, I looked the matter up myself.
– I had to hunt through the Treasurer’s Budget-papers whilst he was reading his prepared statement.
– There was nothing wrong in the statement I made.
– Will the right honorable member do me the honour to look at page 67 of the Budget-papers, where we find set forth the particulars of investments on the Australian Notes Account at 30th June, 1913? He will there see Western Australian Treasury Bills, £100,000, due in 1914.
– I mentioned that.
– On the samepage he will see Fixed Deposits, £800,000, due in 1914; £200,000 in 1914; £100,000, in 1913; £100,000, in 1913; £100,000, in 1913; £100,000,in 1913; £840,000, in 1914; £50,000, in 1914; £50,000 in 1914; £50,000, in 1914; £50,000, in 1914; £25,000, in 1914; and £25,000, in 1913.
– I gave all those.
– But the whole impression conveyed was that these were longdated investments.
– Look at the items at thetop of the list.
– Will the right honorable member turn over the leaf and see the particulars of investment at 30th June, in connexion wih the Trust Fund?
– The right honorable member cannot criticise the figures in this off-hand way. Why not take time to consider them ?
– The right honorable member might have the parliamentary courtesy to allow me to state the facts, so that the people may know them. Is the right honorable member afraid of the facts ?
– Do not appeal to me., because I shall not answer.
– On page 68 of the Budget-papers, under the heading of Trust Funds, we find, Western Australian Treasury Bills, £100,000, due in 1913; £100,000, in 1913; and £200,000, in 1914; and fixed deposits, New South Wales Government, £750,000, due in 1913 ; and Queensland State Government, £160,000, due in 1914. The total amount available in less than sixteen months from those sources for re-investment by the Treasurer is £4,440,000, plus £2,653,000 which was left him as a surplus, making a grand total of £7,093,000 available within that period. Could outrage in financial matters go further? This is the kind of thing the Treasurer desires shall go to the country; and he seeks to prevent, as far as possible, my getting a word in before Parliament adjourns for the week. The statement of the Treasurer would leave a false impression if it were not corrected. Does the right honorable member now say that those investments are longdated ?
– They are.
– Well, the right honorable member is impossible?
– What about the New South Wales Funded Stock, £1,000,000, due in 1919, and others maturing in 1921 and 1926?
– If it is any satisfaction to the Treasurer to know it, the amount not available during the sixteen months on the page to which I referred would be £2,590,000, but some of it is available in a few months.
– Over £3,000,000. Look at the leading items.
– The amount is £3,130,000 in the first items that I quoted, but that is the amount available before the sixteen months. On the next page you have £400,000 in Western Australian bills; and there are amounts of £750,000 and £160,000 on fixed deposit with the New South Wales and Queensland Governments. The total sumthat I have given, plus the surplus of £2,653,000, makes over £7,000,000 available for investment by the Treasury within sixteen months. Is not that enough? The Treasurer endeavoured to make capital out of comparisons between the expenditure prior to 1910 and since 1910, but those comparisons are worthless, and no one knows it better than the honorable member. Comparisons of that kind must, in anycase, be detrimental to Australia. I congratulate the Treasurer on his determination to pay £5,000 this year towards the grant to Tasmania. The Tasmanian Customs Leakage Commission recommended that £900,000 should be paid. The previous Government gave Tasmania a grant of £500,000 towards that sum. The present Government are going to supplement the remainder, and are meeting their difficulties with fortitude by paying £5,000 this year, and an additional increasing sum each successive year, so that, if they exist as a Government for the next ten or twelve years, they will make a substantial contribution to that fund. Our attitude was somewhat different. We commenced our payments with £95,000 to begin with, providing for an increasing amount afterwards. If this money is to be paid, the time to pay it is when the State needs it - whenit is facing itsdifficulties. The Treasurer speaks about undertakingobligations without meeting them. What is he doing now but entering into an obligation without the energy or courage to face it? ‘Why should the present Government leave this burden to another Government] They are doing nothing in regard to the great question of looking after the lighthouses. Not much political capital can, be made out of neglect to look after shipping interests and the lighting of the coasts-
– I - It is very important.
– It is important; but it is not a vote-catching matter, and, therefore, it has been absolutely neglected. The Government provide actually less for lighthouses and quarantine than we did during our term of office, when we were initiating the services and expending every penny we could. They have actually put down a whole £15,000 on the Estimates for lighthouses for this year, during which they are going to spend over £5,000,000 which they are notearning. Does any honorable member believe that that is faithful government in the interests of Australia? We brought out an expertto report on these matters, and when his report was received, the honorable member for Yarra, as Minister of Trade and Customs, had a perfectly free hand to expend every penny he could legitimately spend in the improvement of the lighting of the Australian coast. The report, which is a very good one, is available, but the Government seem determined to do nothing with it, but for all practical purposes to hang it up. Such an attitude is not to their credit. What do they propose to do in the way of expenditure on quarantine, about which we have heard so much lately ? The late Government sent the Director of Quarantine all round the world to investigate the best ways of protecting the health of Australia, and his report was received and adopted, although with certain variations. We put a sum of £50,000 on the Estimates, and expended a large part of it.
– We spent £27,000 of it.
– The honorable member had a perfectly free hand to expend it all. The present Government have placed only £40,000 or the Estimates for this important purpose. We have heard a great deal about the necessity of courageous action on the part of the Government in regard, to quarantine for the protection of the health of Australia, but the Government are spending only a paltry sum on the two important questions of the safety of our shipping and the protection of the public health from diseases from abroad, although they are expending £5,000,000 morethan their revenue. Reference has been made from time to time to the borrowing by the previous Government for certain public works. It has never been the policy of the Labour party at any time to refrain from borrowing money to expend on legitimate public works, but it has been their practice, which is much better than a policy, wherever practicable and possible, to expend on permanent public works any surplus revenue which was made available. During their three years in office our Government expended over £9,000,000 in that way on such works, including defence, and a large part of the success of the Postal Department at the present time is due to the fact that during those three years a great deal of the revenue was put into capital expenditure. As a result the annual revenue is now increasing proportionately to the amount of services rendered. The Treasurer was good enoughto say that the service was of increasing value to the Commonwealth, and that the annual returns were increasing, notwithstanding the introduction of penny postage. I believe it is a matter of indifference to the people of Australia whether the Department actually pays or not, so long as the services are faithfully managed.
– And so long as theyare given the necessary facilities.
– That is all covered by faithful services in the interests of the people, but the Treasurer immediately afterwards used words which ought to sink into the minds of honorable members, saying, ‘ ‘ But we must beware of the increased expenditure.” He said that the increased business, and increased pay, and the increased cost of material and services generally, were the cause of all these difficulties.
– I did not say difficulties.
– I will not press that word, but he meant that all these increases in expenditure brought about the difficulty that the Treasurer would find himself in to provide money for .the various services of the. Commonwealth. What did he expect? Does -the Treasurer desire that the remuneration of the employes shall be less in times of prosperity, or that the people who perform services for the Department, outside the permanent officials, shall receive less, for their labour than they did. before ? Does he expect that material will be cheaper in times of prosperity? I do not see how he can expect it, nor do I see what complaint he has.
– I did not complain at all; I think the honorable member is misrepresenting me.
– The honorable member followed that statement up, as nearly as I can recollect, by saying, “ This’ makes a very grave situation, which must be- looked into”; and speaking subsequently, he added, “ As regards that large expenditure, I am glad that we shall soon have a committee of public accounts to look into all these matters.” Did not the right honorable gentleman say that? I think he did. In this regard he either said too much, or said too little. He left on my mind the impression that the present payments for Post Office and ether services were too high; but I do not believe that there is any waste in the Public Service of the Commonwealth worth talking about. A certain amount of waste is inseparable in a progressive country, and the marvel is that there have not been more blunders. In 1908-9, the National Parliament, from being merely a Parliament receiving revenue, and returning it to others, took on obligations of every kind, and did so without organized Departments and organized staffs, and it has expended over 50 per cent, more of revenue without any seriousblunders that I am aware of, which is a credit to the permanent heads of the Departments, apart altogether from any reflected glory on the Ministry that had to undertake it. Honorable members of the present Ministry are in a great deal better position than their predecessors, because they have organized Departments to deal with this expenditure. They have been searching the records for blunders and suspicious transactions that they told the public were bound to be discovered. I invite them to immediately detail everything they can discover, but though the previous Government were called upon to expend these millions, so far they have discovered nothing that is worth revealing in a political or any other sense. I believe there are too few people in Australian public life who take an optimistic view, of the possibilities of development on safe lines of the Governments of Australia, and especially of the National Government. Five years ago there, were few members in this House who would have done anything but shudder had they been told what functions the Federal Government are now undertaking, but to-day there is no responsible member in this House who is. prepared to go back again to the old state of affairs’ The national idea is worth something, but it must have Ministers to give effect to it. The present Government, like all their predecessors called Liberal, seek to beat time and do as little as possible. They, will pledge the public credit in loan expenditure for some contingency years in the future. But the people know them. They remember when Liberal Governments were in power in the States how soup kitchens were in vogue in the great cities, and how shifting sand and dipping water was the work given to those who could not otherwise be remuneratively employed. Probably if they have their way and the power, they will get back to that state of affairs, but I do not think the Democracy will allow it.
– Yet the very people you criticise have been returned.
– I am not objecting to that. I say that whatever the people desire they can have, but I say that the people will not be obsessed all the time. The honorable member forgets the privileged position he occupies as a member of his party. It is an old-established party with old traditions, and a name earned, not by the present members of it, but by the grand traditional party of past years, though I must say that the former name is not borne by the present party. It has the aid of 80 per cent, of the press. Anything honorable members say that is likely to have a favorable effect on their political existence will be duly recorded; anything they” say that is likely to have an unfavorable effect will be carefully edited ; anything their opponents say that may have a detrimental effect on them will undoubtedly be suppressed or toned down, and any little blunders or slips their op- portents may make will receive Hue prominence. But, giving all that in - and I am not complaining of it, because it is party warfare - we stand by our principles, and are glad to have the opportunity of being the exponents of them. Let me again express my thanks to the Treasurer for the manner in which he has delivered his Budget. I am sure he felt proud when he was dealing, not with millions, but with tens of millions. I could see his swelling pride when he spoke about being able to spend this money in the defence of the country, and that money in the development of this great continent. It is true that he is “going to do it on money that he has not collected himself; he is going to do it in the same handsome way he has always done it - on money borrowed from others, or accumulated during the period of office of another Government. But giving all that in, I congratulate the Treasurer on his effort, and I join with the right honorable gentleman in wishing for the welfare of the people of Australia, the prosperity of this great country, and its development on sound lines, and in the hope that every person who honestly gives his labour to the production of commodities of necessity, comfort, and pleasure, will have an ample and full reward. I propose to continue my speech on some future occasion.
– laid on the table
The Budget 1913-14 - Papers prepared by the Right Honorable Sir John Forrest, P.C., G.C.M.G., for the information of honorable members on the occasion of opening the Budget 1913-14.
Ordered to be printed.
Electoral Rolls - Budget-papers : Amount Available for Treasurer - Naval Board : Captain Onslow - Loyal Orange Institution, Queensland . Issue of Circular - Newspaper Reports : Corrections - Copies or Budget Speech.
– I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
We have already decided to adjourn until Tuesday.
.- I do not wish to detain honorable members, but I have a very important matter to bring under the attention of the Home Affairs Department, and, in the absence of the Honorary Minister, I trust the Minister of Trade and Customs will make a note of the matter. I refer to the way in which electors are receiving notices about being struck off the roll. I have a copy of a notice served on a farmer in my electorate. This man has been living in the same place for two and a half years, and has not been away from his residence more than three days at a stretch. It would seem that some one is exceptionally eager to have people struck off the roll, though these people have every right not to be objected to. This is the notice my constituent has received -
Notice is hereby given that objection has been lodged to your name being retained on the electoral roll for the division of Maribyrnong, in the State of Victoria, on the following grounds - That you have ceased to reside in this division.
– On what grounds but political could that notice be sent?
– The only way to deal with that is for the honorable member to hand me the papers.
– I am telling the Minister of what has occurred. My constituent wrote to me on receiving this notice. He wished to know why he had been objected to though he had not been away from his domicile. I immediately replied, advising him -to write to the Registrar, giving the full particulars, when, no doubt, the matter would be rectified; but later I received a letter from my constituent informing me that no reply had been received from the Registrar, and my correspondent said it was time he had heard something about the matter. Upon this, I communicated with the Registrar, and asked how it was that a man could reside in one place for two and a half years and be objected to. I received a letter from the Registrar telling me that everything had been fixed up all right, and that the elector’s name had not been expunged from the list. But why should a man be harassed in that way ? I cannot conceive of electoral officers doing these things on their own initiative. I have another case - that of a railway employe. This man was living in one of those humpies, or miserable hovels, the State Railway Department supplies for some of the stationmasters, but, in this case, the Department saw fit to be a little magnanimous and liberal, and built a new residence a few yards away, in the same railway grounds. Because this man and his family moved out of the old hovel into the new house, four names on the roll for the old place have been objected to. This is a condition of affairs in connexion with electoral matters that should be stopped at once by any reasonable Government, and if I continue to receive more notices of objection like this, I shall go as far as to move the adjournment of the Souse on every day it is sitting to call attention to every objection I receive; and I shall advise my electors, if they are to be objected to in this manner, that the best thing they can do is for “the whole of them to send in fresh claim cards to the Electoral Office. Then there will be a nice picnic. But I am not going to have these people disfranchised, and I bring this matter forward now, even at the risk of trespassing on the patience of honorable members; because to take away from a man a vote to which he is entitled is one of the worst things that can happen to a community. I hope that the Minister will take notice of the matter.
– I wish to bring under the notice of the Minister a similar matter. Last election day, in the Yarra division, a lady was prevented from voting, the objection being taken that her name had been struck off the roll. Afterwards I made inquiries, and found that it had been struck off because she and her granddaughter had the same names, and the latter was on the Ballarat roll. I wrote to the Electoral Department, and her name was subsequently placed on the roll again for the Abbotsford subdivision, but a day or two ago she received a card saying that it had been objected to a second time and her name had been struck off again, although she has been continuously residing in. the same house for many years. I have, of course, written to the Returning Officer for the Division of Yarra, asking him to have matters put right. I draw attention to the case here because, if names are to be struck off simply . because they are the same as other names, electors who possess names that are very common will run great risk of being disfranchised. If an elector can be struck off the roll, reinstated, and struck off a second time, although attention has been called to her case, goodness knows what may happen to those with regard to whom no notice is taken.
.- Having looked at the Budget-papers again, I find that £7,093,000 of invested money will be available for the Treasurer within twelve months. I overstated the time when I said just now that it would be available within sixteen months. There is another matter to which I draw attention. The Prime Minister, when interrogated this morning regarding a very important act of administration - the relieving from duty of the second member of the Naval Board, who came to this country with the highest recommendations from the Admiralty to assist in the development of the Naval Unit - asked for notice of the question, and gave no information. There are some administrative acts which ought not to be paraded in Parliament, but this is not one of them. An officer cannot be suspended or relieved from duty, which is practically the same thing, and the fact be kept secret. This officer occupied important positions before he came here, and has enjoyed the confidence of two Governments in an important Commonwealth position. ‘ His standing is such that we ought to know what is the difference between him and the Executive. Had I been present when the question was asked, I should have myself desired information from the Prime Minister. To-night, of course, we have sworn a truce, it being agreed that no controversial matters would be entered upon, but I ask the Minister of Trade and Customs to be good enough to inform his chief that I consider that he should take’ Parliament and the country into his full confidence in regard to this matter at the earliest moment. Whatever may be the views of the Government, I regard this action as a serious one. We should know whether Captain Onslow” has been suspended for incapacity, or because of some difference on a question of policy. The Government cannot use its power to do an officer injury without giving an opportunity for the discussion of the action taken. I do not wish to press the matter further now. I am not speaking for Captain Onslow, because I have not been in communication with him, either directly or indirectly, nor have I been in communication with any of his friends, but things cannot be allowed to remain as they stand. I do not want to be informed privately what the trouble is; the information should be given to Parliament. I venture to say that Parliament will demand the reasons for the action taken. The creation and management of the Australian Navy is a matter of the first importance to the people of Australia, and Parliament cannot be safely left without the fullest information on any matter concerning it.
.- On the 23rd September I referred to a circular secretly issued by the Queensland Loyal Orange Institution. I condemned the secret issuing of that circular, and I think that most honorable members will agree with what I said on the subject. Since then, Senator Maughan has stated publicly in another place that those who were responsible for the publication had no authority to include his name among the names of the persons therein recommended to the electors of Queensland as worthy of support. I am glad that he has been able to do that.
– Had they authority to include other names ? It was the honorable member’s duty to ascertain that before .making use of a private circular.
– If the honorable member was here when I spoke,, he must know that I wrote to Mr. Charles Fish, the secretary of the Grand Political Committee of the Loyal Orange Lodge in Queenslaud, asking him what authority he had for saying that I had pandered to the Roman Catholic vote, or to any other vote.
– 1 understand that my name was mentioned.
– It is stated in the circular that the, right honorable member was not worthy of support because he was a Home Ruler, and, worst of all, had included in a Cabinet the most militant Roman Catholic in Australia, Mr. Mahon.
– I have not seen the circular.
– The honorable member for Lilley was recommended as a candidate worthy - of support. If he objects to the use of his name, why does he not rise in his place and condemn what was done? Why does he not join with me in denouncing the issue of a secret circular of that kind ? We are perfectly willing to meet circulars that are published openly, but it is only rarely that we have an opportunity of knowing of the existence of secret circulars. That such circulars have been issued for some time past is apparent, because of the statement, in the circular to which I refer, “that information is contained in previous circulars stating that the Labour party is more pliant than any other party in regard to pandering to the Roman Catholic vote.” In the report of my speech which appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald of 24th September - I do not complain of the length of the report, which extends over twenty or thirty lines, because that is as much as one can reasonably expect in a telegram, no matter how long the speech may be - it is stated that I said that the issue of the circular would have been all right in the days of Henry VIII. I did not say that it would be right at any time. I do not think that at any period of history any body of men should issue a secret circular condemning parliamentary candidates, and appealing to sectarian prejudices. The same report that was sent to the Sydney Morning Herald seems to have been sent to the Brisbane Telegraph, and the passage to which I take exception appears in that newspaper. If the source of a report is inaccurate, the inaccuracy is published over a wide area. Probably the same report will appear in several country newspapers in Queensland. I wish, therefore, to make this correction, so that it may be printed in the pages of Hansard. Senator Maughan was the only Labour candidate in Queensland whose name was recommended by the Loyal Orange Institution of the State.
– I suppose they took him up because they would not have Mr. St. Ledger.
– It appears to be their practice to take up one Labour candidate and put him on their ticket, to try to make the public think that they are impartial, and not opposed root and branch to the Labour party. I warn wageearners - me a who are working for 8s. a day, and have been working for that wage for twenty years, the men who are .suffering from those diseases which attack the workers in mines for long periods - that they should not be misled. I warn them against the practices of individuals opposed to the Labour party, who are using the Loyal Orange Institution in favour of my Tory friends opposite, including the Minister of Home Affairs. I ask them not to think that this institution is impartial because it recommends the giving of support to one Labour candidate. There can be no doubt that the political wire-pullers who issued this secret circular are totally opposed to the Labour party, and every wage-earner in Queensland ought to be made aware of that fact.
.- I desire to explain that it was absolute news to me that there had been issued in Queensland such a circular as that referred to by the honorable member for Capricornia, and that the organization by which it was issued had connected with it a political committee. I shall not question the right of that organization, or of any other body, to issue to its members a confidential circular.
– Then the honorable member believes in itf
– No but I would not question the right of an association to issue a strictly private circular to its members, although I should object to its making a circular of this kind public. I hold the opinion that the honorable member should not have made use of the circular without first ascertaining whether it was issued with the consent or knowledge of the men affected by it. That is the course which a regard for the ordinary relations of life would dictate. In every-day life one would not think of making use of a confidential communication, except in so far as it related to oneself. That, however, is what the honorable member for Capricornia did not do. He would have been justified in quoting it in so far as it affected himself; but by his action he has compelled one of his own colleagues to make an explanation, and will cause others to do so. The honorable member has given to this circular a publicity that it would not have secured if he had not read it here. It will cause a lot of mischief.
– It will cause a lot of mischief to the Liberal-Tory associations.
– I do not know that they had anything to do with it. I have been able to get along in this world with out raising the sectarian devil, and I hope that I shall never hold a seat in this House, or in any other Legislative Assembly, if I can gain it only by such means. I strongly object to the honorable member using this circular for political purposes, and by that means stabbing other people.
– I did it openly, not secretly .
– The honorable member might well explain how the circular came into his possession. I am not a member of the organization in question, and I repeat that I knew nothing of .the circular, nor did I know that this institution had a political committee connected with it.
– Every one knows about it.
– It is news to me. As an old newspaper man, the honorable member for Capricornia ought to have known that, if he had a grievance against the Sydney Morning Herald or the Brisbane Telegraph, the proper procedure for him to follow was to write to those newspapers correcting the misstatement, instead of availing himself of the forms of the House to do so. I am amazed, however, to find that the practice followed by him is quite a common one in this House. Speaking as a new member, and as a journalist, I do not think it is the correct course to follow.
– Will the honorable member guarantee me access to the columns of these newspapers 1
– I do not think that any decent newspaper would refuse to publish a correction; and the Sydney Morning Herald and the Brisbane Telegraph are both reputable journals.
– Why, the Argus, on one occasion, would not publish a letter which I wrote.
-Perhaps it would not publish it in the form desired by the honorable member. If these newspapers refused the honorable member the right to correct the misstatement, then, and only then, should he make use of the forms of the House to make the correction. ‘ I am sorry that I have had to refer to this matter, and that the honorable member should have made an improper use of a circular which, on the .face of it, is confidential
– The honorable member is sorry because he has been exposed.
– It is known down here that the honorable member was on the Orange ticket.
– Then I can only say that people down here knew more than I did. I do not know that this organization extended to me any support.
– The honorable member was on the ticket, and his opponent was being stabbed in the back by this secret confidential circular.
– I invite the honorable member to show that the name of my opponent is even mentioned in the circular.
– It is unnecessary to mention it. The organization issuing it supported the honorable member.
– I did not know that. I presume that the circular is genuine.
– It is perfectly genuine.
– In this circular they gave the honorable member for Capricornia and others a political stab, and I gather, from the honorable member’s reading of it, that at the same time they recommended my candidature. But, so far as I can recollect, no reference whatever was made to my opponent, so that it is incorrect to say that he received a stab. For some reason they appear to have preferred me.
– Because the honorable member is a Conservative.
– Why! the honorable member does not even know me.
– The honorable member is opposed to the Labour party.
– Every man who is opposed to the Labour party is not necessarily a Conservative. However, I have made .my explanation. I regret that the question has been raised in this” way, and I doubt very much whether, as time goes on, the honorable member for Capricornia will secure the support for which he was angling in reading and making use of this circular in the way that he did.
– But it is not a desirable document.
– I grant that.
.- I wish to ask the Acting Leader of the Government whether there will be any objection to proof slips of the Hansard report of the Treasurer’s Budget statement being supplied to honorable members to-morrow morning ?
– That is primarily a matter for the Treasurer himself; but there is no objection on the part of the Government.
– The Opposition were not supplied with a copy of the Treasurer’s speech.
– Although the press were.
– We wish, if possible, to be in a position to deal with the matter next Tuesday.
– I shall ask the Treasurer to do what the honorable member desires.
– 1 would direct the special attention of the Minister representing the Minister of Defence to the position pf Captain Onslow, a man with a brilliant reputation, highly recommended by the Admiralty, who has been relieved of his duties as the second member of the Naval Board.
– He does not get on very well with Clarkson.
– Or Creswell.
– This is too serious a matter for us to joke about. . The action taken in regard to Captain Onslow was apparently communicated to the press. This officer’s reputation is at stake. He has years behind him to guarantee both his capacity and his integrity.
– The Prime Minister has promised to make a full statement when next we meet.
– I think that the Prime Minister has played a shockingly dirty trick on this officer.
– The honorable member must withdraw that remark.
– In deference to your request, sir, I withdraw it. So far as I am aware, I have never met this officer, and am not holding a brief for him. My sole desire is to see that justice is done where I believe that an injustice has been perpetrated. If there is any good reason for. the action taken in relieving this officer of his duties, and giving information of that fact to the newspaper press, why not let us know of it at once ? Why does the Prime Minister say, “Yes, I will give you the information next week “ ? Captain Onslow was drawn from the British Navy, and appointed to the position of second member of the Naval Board because of his ability and bis recommendations. Surely he is not to he removed, from such a position and a stigma allowed to rest upon him. But the Prime Minister says, “ I will give you a statement of the case next Tuesday.” There is nothing decent about that. IE is just such an attitude as might be adopted towards an individual unworthy of the slightest consideration. We know that the Prime Minister is now on his way to Sydney. I see that the Treasurer is now present, and I therefore repeat my request that honorable members may be supplied with a proof of the right honorable member’s speech to-morrow morning.
– I have no objection to any person who so desires having a proof.
– We have not yet seen a copy, and the Treasurer did not extend the courtesy of supplying one to the respected Leader of the Opposition.
– It has never been done anywhere.
– Oh, yes, it has.
– How can copies be supplied when a speaker does not know what he is going to say?
– Why the right honorable gentleman read the speech ! ‘
– It is very few times that I have read such a statement.
– I do not think that the right honorable gentleman said fifty words that were not down in the statement.
– That is only a coincidence.
– This is the consideration we receive for permitting the right honorable gentleman to read his speech, although he was grossly out of order every minute he was on his feet. I may say that the Leader of the Opposition would not allow his supporters to challenge the procedure.
– Why, the Leader of the Opposition, when Treasurer, read his own Budget statement!
– We are now considering the case of a naval officer of reputation, who is highly recommended by the Admiralty, and is the second member of the Naval Board; and although I have heard no suggestion of incompetency, he has been relieved of duty. So far as I know, I have never seen this gentleman; but it is only right that, we should see that justice is done to him, and to that end a statement ought to be made to the House. There is no doubt that indignity is placed upon this officer, and he ought to be given an opportunity to defend himself.
– I rise to deprecate any further remarks by honorable members opposite at this juncture. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie informed us ‘that he did not speak as one holding a brief for this officer, and any one who followed his remarks must have recognised that he was not speaking in this officer’s interest. It was abundantly clear that he was using this unfortunate incident as a means of attacking the Government, and was not considering the best interests of the Australian Navy.
– The Honorary Minister always was a little cad, and nothing will improve him !
– I can hardly think that the honorable member is himself; otherwise he would know that such words from him are, indeed, a tribute, under the circumstances. However, I do not wish any heat to be introduced into this discussion. I point out to my honorable friends opposite that circumstances as unfortunate have arisen on previous occasions, and have not always been treated as an opportunity for the exhibition of party feeling. I can remember, for instance, that the ex-Minister of Defence had to dispense with the services of a very distinguished sailor.
– That is what I desire to say a word or two about.
– But let us know the facts first, and the facts are coming in due course. In that particular case an officer’s services were dispensed with; but did any one seek then to attack the Minister?
– I did; I had a “ go “ at the Minister.
– It must have been in Caucus, for we never heard it in open daylight.
– I can assure the Honorary Minister that that is not so.
– I do not say that it was, but the honorable member for Melbourne Ports says that he attacked the exMinister. Do I understand the right honorable gentleman to say that the honorable member did not attack the exMinister ?
– It is an impertinence for the honorable member to talk about the Caucus.
– Does the right honorable member say there was no attack by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports in connexion with this other case 1
– Not in the Caucus.
– There was no discussion in Caucus on the matter. This is one of the impertinences of the Honorary Minister.
– I regret that I cannot sit at the feet of the modern Chesterfield in order to take lessons in manners or decorum.
– It is not pertinent to the subject - that is all I say. If the honorable member knows what language means, he will know that I mean his remarks are not pertinent to the subject.
– I trust that, as the late Opposition did not in any way attempt to embarrass the Naval Board or the naval administration of the then Government, they will, as the present Government, receive, at any rate, equally generous treatment at the hands of the present Opposition.
– This is a Ministerial act.
– And so was the last a Ministerial act. We do not ask for any better treatment than was cheerfully and freely accorded to the’ preceding Minister of Defence, the then Opposition recognising that discretion and temperance were the best assistance we could give in view of the welfare of the Australian naval administration. In due course, I have no doubt, honorable members opposite will receive the replies they are expecting. Let them wait until there is an opportunity to ask the questions, to which the Prime Minister has promised to give consideration on Tuesday, when we can have the matter dealt with free from party feeling and heat.-
There is one other matter to which I desire to refer. The honorable member for Maribyrnong, I understand - I was not present at the time - said he had some evidence as to names that had been objected to.
– I brought a name forward, and spoke to the Honorary Minister privately about it. “ I intend to send the case on to the Victorian officer.
– If honorable members will come to the Central Administration, every case to which they direct attention will be investigated.
– If this wholesale business goes on, I shall recommend all my elec: tors to send in fresh cards. .
– I do not think that honorable members should take the view that the electoral system has broken down,, because it has not.
– No; it has broken up!
– The most amusing feature of that remark is that it is seriously intended. I suggest to my honorable friends that they need not take a gloomy view of electoral matters. The electoral officers, who also served the previous Government, are addressing themselves to this matter with all the power and disinterestedness that is in them.
– People who have been living in the same place for two years and a half are objected to.
– Such things have been happening on occasions for years1’ past.
– This has not happened before.
– If the honorable member desires to have those errors rectified, and does not seek to use them as a stick to beat the Government with, he ought to submit the cases to the Central Office, when every care will be taken to sift them.
– I should like to say a few words in connexion with the naval sensation,’ and in doing so I do not seek to make any attack on the Government, or the” Minister. I have always contended that the Minister of Defence should be a member of the House of Representatives. This is one of our greatest spending De- partments, and, therefore, the political head ought to be in the Chamber which has control of the public moneys. Honorable members, in dealing with the Defence Department, are always weakened by the fact that the Minister is represented by another honorable gentleman in this House, who is not fully familiar with all the affairs of the Department, and has really no responsibility in connexion with it; and I quite understand the position of the present Honorary Minister, and also the position that the honorable member for Adelaide occupied in the previous Administration. What I object to is that, whenever a man is appointed to the Naval Board who has proved of any use to the Navy of Australia, he is got rid of, by hook or by crook. Captain Hardy, an efficient sailor and organizer, with a faculty for managing men, came out from the Old Country with credentials as long as my arm, in order to take superintendence of the Naval Depot at Williamstown. We all know how hard it is to satisfy a body of men; but it was admitted that Captain Hardy used every endeavour to secure efficiency at the Dep6t generally. However, he fell foul of the Naval Board, and it was a question whether he or the Naval ‘ Board should go, and, of course, he went. I have met Captain Onslow several times, and it is evident that he is a sailor, and not a social man. His record proves his. efficiency and capacity for the position to which he was appointed. I do not wish to speak slightingly of the other members of the Board; but, as a matter of fact, he was the only sailor amongst them. Almost the whole of the naval work is done in my electorate of Melbourne Forts, and these matters come under my notice; but I have always found that, try as one will to get justice, no matter what Government are in power, nobody can get justice from the .Board. By hook or by crook they have always managed to get the best of the Ministry. If the Naval Board is the best system of running the show, we might as well give it up at once ; and I would suggest to the present Go,vernment that we ought to bring a man from the English Navy out here who ‘will be able to undertake the management of affairs, in place of the ineffective system, and the ineffective men, we have at the present time. Al-* though the Minister of Defence for the time being is always the Chairman of the Naval Board, he is hardly likely to have a great knowledge of naval matters; and’ it is certain that, up to the present, so far as the Naval Board is concerned, there has been nothing but dissension, which, if it continues much longer, will lead to chaos. It would have been better if the Government, instead of suspending only one man, had suspended the whole crowd of .them until some improvement was made. I do not want to use threats, nor to take advantage of my position in this House to make a cowardly attack on any member of the Board, but they certainly take advantage of their position on the Board to make cowardly attacks on other men. It is highly necessary for the Government to introduce some system of controlling the Naval Department that would be beneficial to Australia, instead of continuing the hybrid system in existence to-day.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 5.35 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 2 October 1913, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1913/19131002_reps_5_71/>.