5th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral, in reference to a circular which he has distributed to honorable members, and which conveys information regarding new postal arrangements, whether these new arrangements have yet come into operation ? The circular is dated the 17th September, but I am informed that yesterday, when a merchant went to the Melbourne Post Office, and wished to send a lettergram to Broken Hill, he was told that the regulation providing for the sending of lettergrams was not yet in force.
– The proposed new regulations were sent to the Crown Solicitor to draft, and he has advised that an amendment of the Act is required to bring some of them into force. I propose, therefore, to introduce a short amending Bill, which, I hope, Parliament will pass.
asked the Honorary
Minister, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is - i, 2, 3, and 4. Rolls were prepared under a proclamation, a copy of which is attached. Clause 5 thereof reads - “ If the Commonwealth Electoral Officer is satisfied that any person is entitled to be enrolled on any new roll as an elector he may (notwithstanding that no claim for enrolment has been received from such person) cause his name to he placed on the new roll for the subdivision in which such person lives.But this provision shall not relieve any person from his duty to fill in, sign, and send in a claim for enrolment.”
In each State the names of all persons, ascertained by the police to be qualified for enrolment, at the time of the preparation of the rolls, were, as usual, included therein.
Claims for enrolment were obtained as far as practicable at the time of the electoral canvass, but for some persons whom the police returned as qualified for enrolment personally-signed claim cards were not at the time of the canvass obtainable owing to temporary absence, illness, &c.
The Commonwealth elcloral officers considered that they had sufficient evidence and authority under the proclamation to include the names of such persons in the roll, and did so. This, and not the dummy cards, account for the names of such persons appearing on the printed rolls.
In order to make the card index as complete as possible for detecting duplications, the Chief Electoral Officer, purely as an administrative act. directed that typewritten cards of names of persons legally on the roll who had not sent in cards should be inserted in the index, pending the receipt of personally-signed claim cards. The outstanding cards gradually came in, until at the time of the elections they were reduced to less than 1 per cent. of the whole.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
Whether he will be good enough to stale the “ various reasons which induced him to come to the conclusion that it was reasonable to expect a reduction of Customs and Excise revenue during the present year “ ?
– The principal reason was the loss owing to the abolition of sugar Excise.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions- are -
asked the Treasurer. upon notice. -
Whether it is intended to place public hospitals on the same footing as benevolent asylums in reference to old-age and invalid pensions as mentioned in the Huilget speech?
– It is intended to place public hospitals on a somewhat similar footing to benevolent asylums.
Mr. GROOM laid upon the table the following paper: -
Public Service Act. - Promotion of T. R. Macnee to new position of clerk, 4th class, Jnter-State Commission, Department of Trade and Customs.
In Committee (Consideration of GovernorGeneral’s mesage) :
– I move -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of a Bill for an Act to grant and apply out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund the sum of ,£400,000 for the purposes of further financial assistance to the State of Tasmania.
I do not think it will be desired that I should say anything in regard to the matter at this stage.
– We wish to know exactly what are the reasons for desiring to introduce the Bill.
– The practice which i8 growing up of discussing proposals at this stage, though in accord with the Standing Orders, is, in most cases, I think, an inconvenient one, because i¥ leads to the discussion of measures before they are actually before the House. The usual plan of deferring debate until a measure has been introduced, and the second reading moved, is much better. It is only on extraordinary occasions, when a Minister may think it preferable to make a statement on the motion for the introduction of a Bill, that there should be any discussion at this stage. When there is debate at the second-reading stage, members have the Bill before them, and can speak with a knowledge of its provisions.
– We know all about the Bill. The right honorable member gave us full information when speaking on the Budget.
– That is so; but, although honorable members may know all about this Bill, they cannot know all about other Bills when the motion for leave to introduce them is moved. The object which the Government have now in view is to do what is thought just to Tasmania, and to give effect to the unanimous recommendation of the Royal Commission which considered the financial position of the State in regard to Federation. The last Parliament voted a grant of £500,000 for the assistance of the State, and of this amount £95,000 was paid up to the 30th June last. Having reconsidered the whole matter, and knowing that the people of Tasmania are very anxious to obtain the full amount recommended by the Royal Commission, and, indeed, feel that they have not been treated as they deserve, Ministers now propose a further grant of £400,000.
Mr. mcdonald (Kennedy) [2.40].- The Treasurer has given us no information concerning this proposal. All that we have obtained from him is a statement that the Government are going to give £400,000 to Tasmania. The honorable member has merely submitted a bald proposition. He has given us no information as to whether the authorities in Tasmania or anybody else have applied for this sum.
– Or whether they will take it.
– Or whether the Government have the money to give.
– The Treasurer will give you all that information when the Bill is submitted.
– The only conclusion I can come to is that the honorable member and certain honorable members on the other side have been privileged to see the Bill before it has been introduced. If that is not so, how is it that the honorable member’ seems to know so much about the measure ?
– It is outlined in the Budget speech.
– I do not know anything about the Bill, but the Treasurer will give you full information by-and-by.
– Is this one of the little dressings that are to go into the shop window in connexion with the coming elections?
– He knows that the Bill was circulated at their Caucus meeting this morning.
– is that so ?
– It was not.
– That is just as true as the honorable member’s other statements.
– If that is so- and I do not doubt the honorable member’s word - it is an absolute scandal.
– You might take a denial.
– I object altogether to this system of government by Caucus which is being carried on. It is about time that the country knew how Caucus ridden the party on the other side are. When they meet in Caucus they discuss these questions. I do not object to Tasmania getting this amount, but I object to the method which is adopted.
– That is your real object.
– I tell the honorable member that it is not, but if it was I would oppose this proposal pretty strongly, and there would not be much hope of him seeing it adopted.
– You never get on your feet now but you challenge somebody. You are like a bantam.
– Last night the Prime Minister threatened to apply the closure, and I challenged him to do it if he dared.
– We could have clone it if we had wished.
-1 know that, but the honorable member had not the courage to do so.
– Because we love you too dearly.
– When the honorable member was on the Treasury bench before, with a majority behind him, he applied the “gag” whenever he got an opportunity.
– Order ! These remarks are quite outside the scope of the motion before the Committee.
– I believe, sir, that I am getting a little beyond the question.
– You passed the “ gag,” and we applied it.
– Order ! It is impossible for me to hear the honorable member because of the interjections which are being thrown across the floor. I trust that honorable members will assist me to preserve the peace of the Chamber.
– I would like to have an assurance from the Prime Minister that the measure to be brought in presently was not circulated at the party’s Caucus this morning?
– Will you sit down if I give it to you ?
– I would only have to get up again. I have only two chances of addressing the Committee on this motion.
– It was not circulated.
– I am prepared to accept the honorable member’s word.
– It has never been submitted to the Caucus at any time in any place.
– The honorable gentleman is quite right. It has never been submitted to the Caucus in detail.
– Or in any other way.
– The honorable member has qualified his statement by saying “or in any other way.” Honorable members on the other side have been talking among themselves as to which is the best way to bribe the electors of Tasmania, and this is one of the schemes for that purpose.
– Do you say that this is a bribe to Tasmania ?
– It is a bribe to the people of Tasmania.
– Is that the opinion over there?
– No j that is my opinion.
– Order !
– The Treasurer should have told the Committee that an intimation has been made by the people of Tasmania that this extra sum of £400,000 is required, but he gave us no information on the subject. All that we could get from him was that this is a bad method of conducting the business - that we have no right to debate the motion. What is the object in submitting the motion ? It is only for the purpose of debate, and for no other reason. If it was not intended that the proposal should be debated, why does the Treasurer go through this procedure? He must recollect that when similar motions were submitted during the last Parliament honorable members on his side never lost an opportunity to talk.
– Very seldom.
– And the worst offenders were the Prime Minister and the Honorary Minister. In the circumstances, therefore, they ought to be the last to object now.
– Eighty -three Bills.
– Yes, eighty-three Bills were passed in the last Parliament. Did we not give the honorable member a Bill last night - one Bill one day? I thought that that was very good. Some weeks ago the Government got the Audit Bill. What more do they want? In any case, I do not see that there is any special reason for hurrying forward this proposal. The Treasurer might well have allowed it to stand over, and permitted us to deal with that other important measure, the Electoral Bill. He submits this proposal when he knows that the Senate is not going to sit for a fortnight or three weeks.
– I want to get the Bill before the House.
– Why did the Government permit the Senate to be adjourned ?
– Surely you are not going to allow an injustice to be done to a State 1
– Is Tasmania so much in need of this money that it has to make an appeal to the Government? If honorable members say that the State is in that position, I am quite prepared to act with them.
– The Government are carrying out the unanimous recommendation of a Royal Commission appointed by the Fisher Government.
– Yon said that Tasmania was a necessitous State.
– For that reason only.
– 1 deeply regret to hear that statement. I do not think that Tasmania is a necessitous State.
– The Premier said they were in a necessitous state.
– What I am afraid of in relation to the proposed measure is that other States may take up a position similar to that of Tasmania.
– Western Australia does.
– Not only may Western Australia, but also Queensland. Where is this sort of thing to end?
– Queensland got assistance in the form of the sugar legislation.
– I do not hesitate to say that if a similar inquiry were conducted in relation to Queensland it would be found that nearly £2,000,000 or £3,000,000 would have to be given to that State. I do not say that Queensland requires such assistance; at the same time, I do not think that Tasmania really does.
– Queeusland has no intention to ask for it, anyway.
– No. If an inquiry were conducted on similar lines as in the case of Tasmania, it would disclose a corresponding state of affairs in regard to Western Australia and Queensland/ and, perhaps, South Australia, too.
– Western Australia had special treatment for five years.
– Yes. In the circumstances I think that the Treasurer was not justified in coming down and merely saying, “ Here is a resolution, and we want you to pass it.” We are entitled to more than that. But if the right honorable gentleman were to come down from time to time and make a reasonable explanation, it would facilitate the passage of his proposals. Instead of that, however, he submits a bald proposal, and if any honorable member on this side asks a question or desires some information, he is told that a statement will be made on the second reading of the Bill . That method of conducting business is not creditable to the right honorable gentleman, because he is always desirous of being extremely courteous and fair to the House. I think he would do himself more justice if he would explain why it is necessary to introduce a Bill for this purpose, and not be content with the mere statement that we have from honorable members opposite that the Government want to carry out the unanimous recommendation of the Royal Commission on the Tasmanian Customs leakages. I am not prepared at present to say whether that is a good or a bad reason, but I must certainly enter my protest against this method of conducting the business of the House. If the Treasurer will not give us more information concerning this matter I trust that the Prime Minister will do so. No one was more ready than he was when in Opposition to give information to the House in regard to all sorts of questions. I hope that he is not ill, and that there is nothing to prevent his giving the Committee this afternoon the benefit of that fund of knowledge, the possession of which he showed so well when he sat on this side of the chamber. If the Treasurer does not know the exact policy in the mind of the Prime Minister in regard to this proposal, perhaps the Prime Minister himself will tell us what he proposes to do. Is the money to be paid over in one lump sum this year, or is it to be paid by instalments, distributed over a number of years ?
– All that will appear in the Bill.
– The Treasurer must anticipate some discussion if he tries to rush measures through in this way.
– I do not like it to be thought that I have any desire to keep back from the Committee information that should be in its possession, and no one knows better than does the honorable member for Kennedy that the proper time to explain the details of a Bill is when the motion for a second reading is submitted. This practice of debating a preliminary motion is quite unusual in this House, and is very inconvenient. On every such motion we now have, during this session, had a long debate. In my Budget, statement, as reported at page 1789 of Hansard, I stated fully what we intended to do in regard to the proposed grant to Tasmania, and mentioned the proposed mode of payment, and the amount that would be paid every year. I have explained our reason for introducing this Bill, and have, I think, said all that is necessary till we reach the second-reading stage.
.- The Treasurer, in his anger-
– I am not angry.
– Then I hope the House will be spared a speech from the right honorable member when he is angry. He tells us that in the course ‘of his Budget statement he gave us all the information we require, but who can say that he has not since changed his mind? Does he not belong to a Ministry composed of honorable gentlemen who have altered their political principles as often as the weather changes?
– The honorable member does not do this “stone- walling “ well.
– I am not attempting to “ stone- wall.”
– The honorable member is “ stone- walling,” and he will be sorry when it is all over.
– The Prime Minister makes what he thinks is a clever remark and then looks to see how his press supporters take it. Has Parliament come to this?
– Yes, it has.
– Have we reached such a stage in the National Parliament that the party in power uses its position to utter mere parrot cries ? The Treasurer, in his Budget statement, said that the Government proposed to supplement the grant made by the Fisher Government by a further sum of £400,000, so as to bring the payment up to the full amount recommended by the Royal Commission which dealt with this matter. It was the belie! of Tasmanians that that State had suffered great loss because of Customs leakages, due to the stopping of the issue of Inter-State certificates.
– So it did.
– The Commission unanimously decided against that contention.
– -They estimated the loss through Customs leakages at about £10,000 a year.
– The Premier of Tasmania, on the basis of the findings of the Commission, made an appeal to this Parliament under section 96 of the Constitution - a very proper provision enabling any State to apply to the Commonwealth for aid. To Tasmania’s appeal this Parliament did not turn a deaf ear. The late Government passed a Bill providing for a grant of £500,000. Under that Act we began with a payment approaching £100,000, the last of the instalments which we declared should extend over a period of ten years, falling away to something like £5,000. The present Treasurer, with a great flourish’ of trumpets, says, “ We are going to pay Tasmania another £400,000.” But how do the Government propose to pay it? By granting as a first instalment, this year, the handsome sum of £5,000. In this year of prosperity - the year of a big surplus left by others - the Treasurer proposes to pay an instalment of only £5,000.
– The right honorable member, when Treasurer, loaned all his surplus.
– Would the right honorable member have the money locked up and earning nothing? This money is earning £300,000 a year. Is that the Treasurer’s trouble?
– It is. We cannot get the money when we want it.
– We shall deal with that point later on.
– The Leader of the Opposition says that £2,500,000 is earning £300,000 a year.
– The Treasurer is referring to the Trust Funds. The late Government very properly invested all money that was not required for carrying on the government of the country.
– We shall have to get -the money somehow.
– If the right honorable member will make inquiries as to when the loans mature, he will find that during this year he will have more money than he can spend.
– What about the commitments ?
– The honorable member can deal with that subject better on the platform than in this House. There are no commitments from the previous Government.
– Many millions.
– The honorable member is not worth replying to when he is dealing with this question.
– Not worth replying to, because he tells the truth.
– It is not the truth; it is a deliberate lie !
– -Will the honorable member resume his seat? Since I put the resolution to the Committee the proceedings have been more in the nature of a conversazione than of a parliamentary debate. I do not wish to proceed to extremes, but I must remind the Committee that I am under compulsion to carry out the Standing Orders just as much as honorable members are to observe them. I hope that in future those who are addressing the Committee will be given an opportunity to make their speeches without interruption.
– Then why do you let the honorable member for Grampians say such things?
– Order ! It is most disorderly that the moment I have called for order an honorable member should immediately break the Standing Orders.
– But for the indorsement of the Prime Minister, I should not have taken any notice of the remark made by the honorable member for Grampians. Does the Prime Minister say that we have any commitments which could not have been met during our term ?
– Yes; most serious commitments.
– Are there any commitments which are not already dealt with under Acts passed by previous Governments dealing with loans, or any more than the usual commitments which would have been necessary no matter which Government might happen to be in office? However, this is not the time to deal with such matters. When honor able members opposite come out into the open in this House and attempt to make good the statements they have made elsewhere we can deal with them fully. Objection was taken by the honorable member for Franklin to my reference to the fact that £5,000 of the proposed grant should be paid in the first year.
– I made no objection.
– I understood the honorable member to remind me that the grants would go on increasing. That is true. It is proposed that the amount to be voted for the second year shall be £15,000, and for the third year £25,000. Assuming that the present Government continued in office during the full term of the present Parliament, the contribution would be £5,000 plus £15,000 plus £25,000, and would that not be an enormous amount for the Government to contribute in three years out of the proposed grant of £400,000. Is that not a splendid effort on the part of those who profess a desire to help Tasmania? We recognised, when in office, that the need of Tasmania was pressing, and was not a matter for the future, and we therefore paid the highest amount in the first year. But the present proposal is like the present Government in all that they do. They are abounding in promises and do the least possible the way of fulfilment. The Treasurer might very well have told the Committee why ‘ the Government propose to give Tasmania only £5,000 in the first year. A complaint was made that the late Government Hid not deal very handsomely with the report of the Commission, and my rejoinder was that they made an earnest effort to meet the recommendation o’f the Commission, and then left it to Parliament to deal with the matter. I am not opposing the additional grant proposed, but I say that the Government, though they may have shown their real intentions in the method they propose for making it, have not shown their bona fides by proposing to give small grants in the early years when the money is required by Tasmania. For that reason the Government proposal is faulty, and ought to be altered.
.I am wondering when the Treasurer will recognise his responsibility to this House. He has had one or two lessons as to what members require on the introduction of a
Bill, but he does not seem to have profited by them. The Audit Bill was delayed by reason of the right honorable gentleman’s reticence in introducing it.
– I do not admit that at all.
– No matter how much we try to lead the right honorable gentleman in the right way, he persists in running his head against the wall, and in wasting the time of the country by making it necessary for honorable members to ask for information which should be supplied voluntarily. Does he think that any honorable member is likely to accept a serious proposition of this kind without information? I should like to have seen the Prime Minister, when on this side, allow any member of the Government then ‘in power to introduce a measure as the Treasurer is doing now.
– I should not tell the country, as the honorable member is doing, that I would do no business at all.
– I may tell the Prime Minister that he occupies a very unfortunate position. He is at liberty to make .himself heard only by way of interjection, and dare not make a speech. By interjection, he tries to misrepresent the proceedings in this House, and he has = not the courage to stand up and tell the people of the country what he means.
– Order ! The honorable member is not discussing the resolution.
– I am discussing the Prime Minister’s treatment of the resolution.
– That is not in order.
– I compliment the Government on being in a position to be liberal to Tasmania, but I remind the Treasurer that the Government can claim no credit for that, because it is due to the surplus left them by the wise financial administration of their predecessors. It is easy for the present Treasurer to be liberal with the money saved by other people. It is all very well for the right honorable gentleman to assume the rtlt of bountiful father to Tasmania by paying away money left to him by the previous Government. If the previous Government had not left a surplus, what chance would Tasmania have of getting this money? The Government have been left a surplus of £2,600,000 by their predecessors, who managed the finances of the Commonwealth in an exemplary way, but what does their liberality consist of? A paltry 5,000 sovereigns for the first year is to be given to this necessitous State. The object is to provide something with which tq dress the Government shop window. They have a few things hanging up in it already. They started by hanging up a great deal of dirty linen, and it will be found to overshadow every other thing they hang in their window. I thought that, when the Treasurer rose after the honorable member for Kennedy, he intended to give the information which the Committee required. Is the Treasurer, or is the Prime Minister, aware that there is a far better justification for a grant of this money to the people of Sydney to meet the losses they have suffered by reason of the actions of the Government than there is to give it to Tasmania. The Government are hoping that this grant will be a placard which they may use effectively in the sweet by-and-by.
– It is the umbrella.
– It is not an umbrella, or even a parasol. It is a stick which the Government hope to be able to use in order to defeat representatives of the party on this side at the next election. The honorable member for Franklin gave the show away when he said, “ You come over there at the next election.” What did that mean?
– Was the £500,000 voted by the last Parliament a stick, then ?
– That money was voted without any political object, and the amount was based on the report of the Tasmanian Customs Leakage Commission.
– The Commission recommended the payment of £900,000.
– The honorable member for Grampians says that we are committed to an expenditure of millions of pounds.
– So we are.
– Then why. spend this money ? I object to the honorable member sitting alongside the Prime Minister in order that he may derive inspiration. I have no doubt that the .people of Tasmania will recognise who came to their assistance in the first instance. They are to be paid on the instalment principle. In Committee I shall move that the grant be increased to £1,000,000. I have every sympathy with Tasmania, and I say that honorable members upon this side of thee House are prepared to make the amount double that which is proposed by the Government.
– Why not make it £2,000,000 ?
– Because, unlike the honorable member, we do not desire to go to extremes in everything. If the Treasurer recognised his responsibility, we should get on splendidly. But is it fair to ask us to carry the first reading of a Bill that we have never seen? If we allow the measure to be introduced, we may then discover that it ought never to have seen the light of day. Why does the Treasurer desire to placate Tasmania at the present time? Is the right honorable gentleman going to pay that State £5,000 during the first year, and, if not, what amount does he propose to pay it? He prefers to look through his papers rather than to pay any heed to the request of honorable members for information. At a later stage I shall move for the appointment of a Royal Commission to investigate the claims of the people of Sydney who reside within the proclaimed quarantine area to some compensation, with a view to seeing if they cannot get something out of this surplus. I do not wish to say anything further. I could say a great deal more, but I do not think it is necessary. I cannot discuss a blank sheet.
Colonel RYRIE (North Sydney) [3.20]. - I have listened with some amusement to the hypocritical utterances of several honorable members opposite, . especially those of the honorable member for Kennedy, who expressed the greatest surprise that the Treasurer did not make a long speech in explanation of this motion for the appropriation of certain moneys for Tasmania. The exPrimeMinister also expressed surprise that there should not be more information given, and I suppose we must take it that if he had been Treasurer he would have made a full explanation in submitting the same motion to the House.
– He would make a partial explanation.
Colonel RYRIE.- Then let us see what he did, and what explanatory speech he made last year in submitting a motion for the appropriation of £500,000 for Tasmania.
– But you did not ask for information then.
– Oh yes, we did.
Colonel RYRIE.- Here we have it in Hansard of the 10th October, 1912 -
Motion (by Mr. Fisher) proposed -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of a Bill for an Act to grant and apply out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund a sum for the purposes of Financial Assistance to the State of Tasmania.
And then the ex-Prime Minister sat down. That was his speech; that was the explanation he gave to the House when he submitted his motion; yet now great surprise is expressed because the present Treasurer does not make a long speech in explanation of his motion.
– What followed the motion submitted by the ex-Prime Minister?
Colonel RYRIE. - The honorable member for Wentworth asked, “ When may we expect to see the Bill?” and then the Prime Minister replied, “This motion is in order to get the Bill on to the noticepaper.” Then later, the honorable member for Wentworth said, “ I should like to see the Bill,” and the then Prime Minister sard, “ I cannot see the Bill myself until this motion is passed.” The position is exactly the same to-day.
– No; the Treasurer has the Bill. He says so.
Colonel RYRIE. - And so have we to the same extent. The ex-Prime Minister wasin absolutely the same position as that the Treasurer occupies to-day. He must have known what the Bill was even if his party did not. The utterances of honorable members opposite are but a poor attempt at “ stone-walling.’’ Certainly they answer the purpose of delaying business, and I am sure the people outside will recognise that the object of honorable members opposite is to prevent the passage of business in this House, though they do it very clumsily.
– And what are you doing now? You are “ stone- walling. “
Colonel RYRIE. - No. I am pointing out the hypocrisy of honorable members opposite, and the way in which they are taking up the time of Parliament which people outside will not be slow to recognise. In fact, honorable members opposite are a lot of blathering hypocrites.
– Order I I must ask the honorable member to withdraw that remark.
Colonel RYRIE. - I withdraw the remark.
– The honorable member for North Sydney was in the last Parliament, and if he looks at the first page of Hansard for 1912 he will see the speech of the Governor- General, delivered on the 19th June, paragraph 7 of which reads as follows -
Provision willbe made on the Estimates for payment to the State of Tasmania under clause g6 of the Constitution of the first instalment towards a grant of£’500,000.
It was mentioned in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech, and it was discussed on the Address-in-Reply.
– Well, it is in the Budget now.
Colonel Ryrie. - Yes, the Treasurer dealt with the whole £900,000, including this £400,000.
– I let the honorable member rave without interjecting.
– And he should let you rave now.
– I do not intend to rave. I am not like the honorable member from the cow country.
– Another insult to the farmers !
– I am not insulting the farmers. I do not know how it is that when I get up to speak honorable members seem to get annoyed.
– Because you insult our constituents.
– Because you are insulting better men than ever stood in your boots.
– I am merely pointing out the history of this matter. Is the honorable member annoyed at that?
– No, I am annoyed at your remarks.
– The honorable member interjected, and the Chairman did not call him to order, so I merely replied. I would have been finished now if honorable members had not been so ready to interject. I do not intend to labour the question. I never do that. On the sugar question last night I could have spoken longer, but I did not take more than nine minutes.
– Then why apologize?
– I am not apologizing, but if honorable members interject from the other side I shall reply to them.
– Even if you insult respectable people.
– I was not speaking about any person, and did not insult any one. I was speaking about the constituency the honorable member represents.
If he is annoyed I shall withdraw the remark.
– I am not worrying.
– But you are interject ing.
– It was a very unmannerly remark, that is all.
– Then I shall be pleased to withdraw it, and if I offended the honorable member I apologize, which the honorable member for North Sydney should also have done. I was pointing out that the Fisher Government notified that they intended to make this grant to Tasmania. The matter was discussed in the first session after the Royal Commission reported. I can show the honorable member for Richmond where to find it in Hansard.
– I was anxious to see what was said last session by the ex-Prime Minister.
– The ex-Prime Minister mentioned what it was proposed to do. I have not looked up the words.
– The ex-Prime Minister did not give as much information as the Treasurer has.
– It was mentioned in the Budget speech made by the ex-Prime Minister, and the Bill was afterwards brought forward. The honorable member for Bass must be congratulated in reference to this matter. He it was who first moved for a Select Committee, and as chairman of that Committee he applied to have it turned into a Royal Commission. Those who were here at the time know that the original purpose of the inquiry was to ascertain the amount of an alleged Customs leakage, but it was not possible to discover a penny of Customs leakage, and there is not a word about leakage in the report of the Commission.
– Yes. The Commission estimated the leakage at approximately £10,000 a year.
– The Commission recommended a grant of £900,000 to Tasmania, because its Premier made an appeal on its behalf as a necessitous State. The honorable member for Bass must be congratulated on the success he has had in this matter, because it is difficult for a private member to get any motion carried.
– We were all in favour of this.
– We were in favour of an inquiry. The members of the Commission were the late Sir William Lyne, the honorable members for Herbert, Balaclava, Adelaide, Swan, Wimmera, and the ex-member for Fremantle. Practically the Commission was composed of Tasmanian members, with the honorable members for Wimmera, Herbert, and Adelaide, not many other members attending regularly.
– The honorable member for Herbert was a regular attendant.
– The honorable member for Franklin has handed to me a report of the Commission, from which I gather that the Commissioners found it impossible to state definitely the loss sustained by Tasmania in Customs leakage, but were of the opinion that they were justified in estimating it at £10,000 during the last seven years of the bookkeeping period, or £70,000 altogether. I went into this matter very carefully when in office, and came to the conclusion that there was no leakage.
– There would be no evidence of leakage in the Department.
– I obtained evidence from persons sending goods to Tasmania. Manufacturers sending imported goods from here were not likely to place the value of the imported” raw material on a low basis; they were more likely to keep it at a high value, as it would then appear that their profits were small. I know of twenty or thirty manufacturers in Victoria who could give evidence to that effect. It is no wish of mine to do Tasmania an injustice, and I congratulate the State on its success, though I do not think that the grant is deserved.
– The honorable member appears to regard his investigation as superior to that of the Commission.
– I obtained evidence that the Commission did not try to get.
– What evidence was that? We had all the Customs officers before us.
– I believe that if an officer gave hostile evidence, he was cut short, but that if a witness gave evidence bolstering up the case for Tasmania, he was made welcome, and leading questions were asked to help him out.
– That is most unfair.
– There were only two Tasmanians on the Commission, and there were four Labour members.
– The late Sir William Lyne was practically a Tasmanian.
– - Has the honorable member carefully read the evidence ?
– I have not read all theevidence, but I have gone through a great deal of it. I think that the honorable member for Franklin will acknowledge that I have taken as much interest in this matter as any other honorable member, though I have never been able to see eye to eye with him in regard to it.
– I do not think the honorable member ever grasped the leakage question.
– We have a habit of saying something of that kind about those who differ from us. Last night the honorable member for Werriwa said that he was the only man in the House who understood the sugar question.
– I said that no Labour member understood it. ‘’
– A number of Liberals are of the same opinion as we are, but apparently the honorable member would regard them as right, and us as wrong. I have done my best to understand the leakage question, and I think that I understand it as well as does any other honorable member. The Commission recommended a grant to Tasmania, but not in respect of any leakage.
– The leakage was a very subordinate matter.
– Yes. The claim in respect of leakage was -practically abandoned.
– Is the honorable member in favour of the Bill, or against it?
– I got up to show that no leakage was proved.
– The honorable member said nothing when his Government proposed a vote of £500,000 to Tasmania.
– And I do not think that any Minister will say anything against this proposal; it is not usual for a Minister to criticise a measure of which a colleague is in charge, and the Treasurer, I am sure, would feel hurt if any of his proposals were criticised by a colleague. The other day we saw the Minister in charge of the Electoral Bill thrust aside, but I do not think that the Treasurer would stand that sort of thing.
– What was disclosed before the Commission was appointed 1
– That there was no leakage, and I think that both Sir George-
Turner and the present Treasurer wrote minutes to that effect. But, of course, if Tasmania is hard up, as her Premier affirms, she must be assisted as a necessitous State.
– Western Australia has been receiving assistance for years.
– For the first five years of Federation Western Australia had a special tariff, which was reduced according to a sliding scale. Then came a period during which the State received no special treatment, but now it is again being specially treated. Tasmania, if necessitous, is equally entitled to special treatment.. But the financial position of the States should be dealt with as a whole. However, I shall reserve my further remarks until the Bill has been introduced.
Mr. ROBERTS ‘(Adelaide) [3.42’;.- This is wholly a financial matter. Some time ago a Royal Commission investigated the financial position of Tasmania as affected by Federation, and recommended a grant to the State in aid of its finances. The majority of the members of that Commission were Labour members, and I congratulate the Treasurer and his supporters that, notwithstanding their repeated denunciations of Labour, and their continual assertion that Labour members know little about finance, they have accepted in full the recommendation of the Commission. So I. again offer my sincere congratulations to the Treasurer. There is not a shadow of a doubt but that the right honorable gentleman, with others behind him, have, from their own point of view, seen the necessity of undercutting, or, if they do not like that word, out-bidding the Labour party. They look upon the action of the Fisher Ministry last year, in deciding to assist Tasmania to the extent of £500,000, as having had some favorable result with the electors.
– You are attributing motives.
– They consider the situation of such a nature that it is imperative on their part to do something in a similar direction, and they propose to do it in such a way as to get the greatest possible credit, while giving at the present time, and within their reasonable life, the least possible sum of money. I intend to support the motion. I have not the slightest objection to the introduction of the Bill. But I do take exception to the method adopted by the Treasurer in endeavouring to secure kudos for his party, and at the same time attempting to belittle what was done by his predecessors.
– How did I do that? You had better explain what you mean.
– I do urge upon the right honorable gentleman, if he desires to do anything which he believes ought to be done, to do it for what it is worth, and not for the sake of the kudos which he and his party will obtain therefrom - to do it without an attempt to depreciate what was done by his predecessors. Suppose he asserts now that he is conscientiously doing this thing, believing it to be right, noble, and national.
– I have said so.
– If that be the case, why should not the right honorable gentleman grant to his predecessors a like situation, and believe that they last year, when they decided to commit the Commonwealth to an expenditure of £500,000, were acting in a similar manner
– I supported them.
– Rather than do what is being done - attempting to undercut the other party, and to depreciate the one action while belauding the other ? If a comparison has to be made, it should be made, in my belief, in something like this way, namely, that the Fisher Administration committed the Commonwealth to assist Tasmania, on an average, to the extent of £50,000 a year for ten years; while the present Government propose to add to that assistance to the extent of £44,444 per year for nine years. If the Treasurer desires a comparison, he comes out in a somewhat weak position - at any rate, in a secondary position; and, as there are only two in the race, he could not possibly be further behind. That is the extent of the commitments that will be made under this proposition. When we were inquiring into the financial conditions of this small State - small in area, and, I am sorry to say, small in statesmanship - we found that it had been rather hard pressed. A direct request was made from the responsible Government for assistance from the Commonwealth under section 96 of the Constitution. Taking that request into consideration, together with the general condition of the State, the Royal Commission unanimously approved of a grant of £900,000 over a period of ten years, starting with a payment of £120,000, and gradually reducing the annual payment until, in the tenth year it would be £50,000. The Government of the day were unable to see their way clear to accept in full the recommendation of the Commission at that particular time , but they committed the Commonwealth to the extent which they thought it was advisable to do, while at the same time rendering material assistance to the little State. Their method of procedure was precisely opposite to that adopted by the present Administration. Peeling that at that time the greatest necessity of the State existed, they decided to make the largest payment during the first year, gradually reducing the amount during the period of ten years; or, in other words, last year the Fisher Administration were able to meet the situation to the extent of £95,000, gradually reducing the sum, so that, in the event of them being put out by any strange mischance in a national catastrophe, such as happened a little time ago, at any rate their successors would not be too heavily committed. They themselves, feeling the necessity for that commitment, undertook to pay the largest possible sum, leaving the smallest possible amount to be provided by their successors. What is the position of the Treasurer and those who, with flare of trumpets and flag waving, are dealing with this particular situation ? They propose to give to Tasmania, this year, the smallest possible sum (that they could give to that State, and to gradually increase the amount, so that, if the political awakening comes within a reasonable time and they are removed from office, the heaviest commitments will have to be faced by their successors.
– They are simply equalizing the payments, that is all.
– When my honorable friend sits behind a Ministry who commit the Commonwealth to an expenditure, he, at any rate, ought to ask the Ministry to meet the heaviest possible items of it, and not to put that responsibility on the shoulders of somebody else. To-day, there are loud comments and: complaints - erroneous, misleading, grossly misrepresenting the situation - tothe effect that the colossal expenditure about to be, or being, indulged in by the- present Administration is due to commitments made by their predecessors. The statements are inaccurate; they are as incorrect as it is possible for statements to be. But here is a striking illustration of the way in wh’ich these honorable gentlemen do deliberately make the heavier commitments for their successors, whoever they may be. The present Ministry are to pay, this year, £5,000; next year, when somebody else succeeds them, which, please God, they will in the best interests of this country, the new Ministry will have to find £15,000, and in the next year £25,000. If even, by a system of political jugglery, the present Government should remain in office three years - and it is inconceivable that political darkness will remain so long over the land that they could remain in office longer than that period - they will have given to Tasmania £45,000; or, to put it in another way, less than half of what their predecessors gave to that State in one year. In these circumstances, I feel justified in continuing the comparison which the Treasurer started, and which honorable members on the other s’ide seek to belaud in such excessive terms. I happened to be a member of the Royal Commission which inquired into the circumstances of Tasmania, and, naturally, I approve of the action which is being taken to comply fully with its recommendation. I think I am quite justified in publicly offering my sincere congratulations to the honorable member for Bass, who was its Chairman.
– How much did your Government pay ? Only £95,000 !
– Quite correct.
– Well; what are you talking about? You have not paid any more than £95,000; that is not much.
– My honorable friend asks . me questions, sir, and I hope that you will not make any deduction from my time allowance ?
– You do not like it.
– Order !
– I like it so well that I am going’ to put it in Hansard in my own speech. The right honorable gentleman asks me, “ What did the Fisher Ministry pay?” and he answers the question, “ Only £95,000.” That is quite correct - £95,000 in one year. My reply to the right honorable gentleman will be in the form of a question. What is he, the genius of finance to pay? - £5,000.
– No; £90,000 this year..
– £5,000 out of his own particular commitment, for which he seeks credit, and £85,000 to which he is- committed by -the previous Administration.
– £85,000. We have to find the money.
– The total sum this year will be £95,000.
– No, £90,000 - that is> £85,000 plus £5,000.
– My right honorable friend asks; What did the previous Administration do? That Administration paid £95,000, while his Administration is to pay £5,000. And the right honorable gentleman asks me what I am talking about.
– We have to pay yours, too.
– I am talking about a matter of finance, and I can understand the right honorable gentleman not understanding it, despite the newspaper belauding whicli is regularly done.
– You are taking credit for what you did not pay.
– The right honorable gentleman must not suppose that because he happens to have a few pounds’ worth of the good things of this world he necessarily has a knowledge of finance. It does not follow that the possession of wealth indicates the possession of brains or ability. He must not suppose that the chance which gave him a little wealth has added to his personal knowledge.. I was making a statement when I was interrupted by the right honorable gentleman, and may I point out to him that while be is regularly disposed to interrupt other honorable members, when he but a day or two ago was reading his Budget speech, he was so rude as to refrain from answering even ordinary questions which were put to him with the view ‘of a little more- information ‘being obtained : he was a Sphinx in that direction. As he declines to reply to interjections, he ought to set an example, and not make them when others are speaking. I want to offer again my sincere congratulation’s to the ‘honorable member for Bass. At Ms instance the Royal Commission was ‘appointed, and he was made the Chairman, and an exceptionally able one -he . proved throughout the inquiry. His ability was most marked, and I must say that abi’lity and tact went a long way in securing for his State the assistance it needed. I am happy to be able to occupy a seat in i&e House when the full recommendation of the Commission is to be indorsed’ ,by Parliament, and I sincerely trust that the money, when it goes to Tasmania, .will be of use in helping it over its temporary difficulty.
.- I wish to join in the congratulations which have been offered to the representatives of Tasmania, particularly the honorable member for Bass, upon having at last got near the goal of his ambition, that justice may be done to the State. It has been suggested here to-day that this proposal of the Treasurer has the appearance of electioneering, of trying to outbid the other fellow.
– :We asked for more last time, and voted for it, I believe.
– Last time, every man on this side voted for another £70,000.
– There is no doubt that most Governments, when they commit themselves to an expenditure of this’-bind, have a mental reservation, or a hope, perhaps unexpressed, that it may bring them some supporters at the coming contest. I da-re say that when our own Government settled the question of the Federal ‘Capital in New South Wales, they expected ‘some reward. “What reward did they get? I bring this matter under the notice of- the Treasurer, not that he may be led into thinking that Tasmania is going to send him a couple of extra supporters, because if that is his view, I can assure him-, from my observations during the past ten years or so> he is very likely to be disappointed. Take, ‘for example, the establishment of woollen mills at Geelong; ‘did. that bring the Labour party any support ?
– I think that the honorable member is somewhat outside the scope of the motion before the Committee.
– I am endeavouring, sir, to bring the Treasurer down from the political clouds. It has been ‘suggested that the carrying of this proposed grant may give the Government political support at the coming contest. I think I discharge a public duty in pointing” out to ‘Governments that if they will keep on ‘the straight and narrow path they will reach the goal of their ambition, But if they get on the broad way that leadeth to destruction by giving giants of this kind in the hope that they will bring political support they are likely to be sadly disappointed. The Treasurer, no doubt, feels that, in view of his long political career, he is entitled to refuse to give to this Committee the information that is demanded. I would remind him, however, that rank imposes obligations, and that -the higher a man’s position in the social and political world the greater should be his urbanity.
– Will the honorable member connect his remarks with the question before the Chair?
– I am reminding the Treasurer, who refuses to give us any information, of the French phrase noblesse oblige - that rank imposes obligations, and that the obligation upon him in this case is that he should give us the information for which we ask.
– We never discuss a motion of this kind.
– As to that, everything depends upon what Government is in power. Believing, as I do, that the present Ministry have the interests, not of Australia, but of the capitalists alone, at heart, I think it my duty to elicit further information. Does Tasmania want this money ? I think it does. It is badly governed, and is in the grip of a disgraceful land monopoly. Its Government makes no effort to bring about the proper settlement of its magnificent lands. Tasmania is the gambling State of Australia. The institution known as Tattersalls, which was driven out of the other States by the force of public opinion, finds a resting-place there. On that account the State has a bad repute. I think there are plenty of people who would decline to reside in a State which gains any part of its revenue from such a disreputable source.
– Does the honorable member think the same people would object to a “win” in Tattersalls?
– I take a serious view of the gambling question.
– That is not the question before the Chair.
– I was about to emphasize my argument by pointing out the grave effects which gambling must have upon a nation. I shall not, however, deal with the matter from the stand-point of eugenics. I should like to ask the honorable member for Wentworth whether he will be coming forward later on with an appeal for a grant to New South Wales because of the injury done to that State by the operation of the quarantine laws as applied by his own Government. No doubt Tasmania wants money, and has suffered because of Federation. A proposal has been made that she should be added to the State of Victoria 1 do not know whether that would not be a very good thing for Tasmania. It certainly might prevent further application for grants of this character. The framers of the Constitution inserted in it a clause empowering the Commonwealth Parliament to assist a necessitous State. Those wise men - and the Treasurer was one of them, although he is not doing many wise things at the present time to justify his reputation - saw that this giant Federation, which will, in future days, realize the hope3 of many, would, in all probability, detrimentally affect the finances of one or more States in attaining a great position amongst the nations of the world. Poor little Tasmania, badly governed, in’ the grip of land monopoly, and controlled by unwise administrators who probably secured their election by unfair means, is now suffering, and it is our duty to come to her assistance. I congratulate the honorable member for Bass on his success in putting before this Parliament the claims of Tasmania for assistance at the hands of the Commonwealth Parliament. I would also congratulate the honorable member for Denison who. has ably supported him. The honorable member for Franklin, I suppose, deserves a little praise, but nothing like as much as do honorable members on this side of the House.
– Never mind the praise; give Tasmania the money.
– I mention these matters because I want the people of Tasmania to give credit where credit is due. At the last general election they certainly did rot give the honorable member for Bass the credit which was undoubtedly his due for his action in this matter. Apparently, Tasmania has no sense of gratitude.
– It was his action in regard to the grant for Tasmania that secured his return.
– No. Because he did not succeed in obtaining the full amount recommended by the Royal Commission he was opposed. Indeed, I am led to ask whether we ought to make this further grant to people who can, apparently, be so miserably ungrateful. Tasmanians have not shown much gratitude. I think that the honorable member for Adelaide rightly emphasized the point that the Treasurer is trying to get the greatest possible credit at the least possible expense. There is nothing like an old dog for a hard road, and no doubt the right honorable gentleman has much perspicacity. When reading his Budget speech he would not reply to an interjection ; but when the Leader of the Opposition was discussing the Budget, the right honorable gentleman was very anxious to obtain information from him by way of interjection, and demanded that it should be forthcoming. The proposed grant is to be extended over a period of years, so that the generosity of this Parliament will soon be forgotten. If Tasmania’s gratitude is likely to materialize in the form of a few extra votes, the Treasurer will most likely experience it at the next election. As the honorable member has pointed out, only £5,000 is to be paid in the first year. The Government propose to leave to their successors the payment of the bulk of this further grant of £400,000. We have had to discover this information for ourselves. But what does the Treasurer care about our request for information ? He says, “ We have a majority, and, with the exception of the honorable member for Werriwa, we have them well drilled, and we care nothing for the complaints of honorable members who ask for information.” Honorable members opposite throughout the country declared that the late Government spent millions of money “ like toffs,” to. use the expression of the cultured gentleman who leads the present Government. In the circumstances, I ask the Treasurer how he can have the audacity to come here and ask for £400,000 as a grant for Tasmania, when he and his followers complained at the last elections of our financial extravagance, although the vote of £500,000 for Tasmania was a part of it
– The late Government never paid it. They paid only £95,000, and left us to find the rest.
– The late Government, at all events, paid more than £5,000, which is the amount the present Treasurer proposes to pay. From the extraordinary method adopted by the Government in taking up Bills and then dropping them, we do not know whether the Treasurer really proposes to go through with this Bill; but if, in the plenitude of time, it should get into Committee, I hope that tlie honorable member for Bass and other representatives of Tasmania will move that the larger payments be made first. I am sure that they have no wish that they should pass away before justice is done to the State they represent. It should be done right away, while the Commonwealth is in a prosperous condition. I do not suggest for a moment that I intend to support the Treasurer in the extraordinary naval expenditure which he proposes, and which, I hope, will never be carried by this Parliament. The right honorable gentleman proposes to vote £5,700,000 for the Navy; but he does not propose to pay honorable members the salary which was docked from them just- before the last Federal elections. There would be a strike in most professions and trades if six or seven weeks’ pay was stopped in the same way without any reason whatever. When we have millions of money to dispose of, justice should be done to members of this Parliament, and also to Tasmania; but that justice should be done at once; there should be no longdrawnout payments to the people of a necessitous State. I make a final appeal to the Treasurer to give the Committee some information. Tact and courtesy are very necessary qualifications for a Minister, and the exercise of a little tact by the right honorable gentleman just now would greatly assist the passage of this Bill through Parliament. If the right honorable gentleman persists in his supercilious, sneering, and cynical attitude towards honorable members on this side, I suppose we shall have to put up with it; but it will only hasten the downfall of tlie Government, which, no doubt, the public would be glad to see. I again congratulate my honorable friends from Tasmania upon their success in the carrying out of a thankless task for the benefit of ungrateful citizens.
– They are not ungrateful.
– I have no wish to impeach the people of Tasmania; but certain individuals in that State have not a spark of gratitude in them. If the people of the State had their way, they would not be asking for this money. Some day, when they get good government, their little island, will prosper, and they will not be on their knees supplicating the Federal Parliament for money to carry on.
– lb is not my intention to delay the Committee. I hope the resolution and the Bill will go through rapidly, and that Tasmania will be given the justice she is entitled to. The majority of the people of that State are grateful indeed to the Fisher Government for the measure of justice given them, but a section of the people wished to have- it believed that the Fisher Government had robbed Tasmania of about £400,000. The majority of the people of the State did not believe that, and notwithstanding the expenditure of large sums of money, and the strong op.position brought against him, we find the -honorable member for Bass again returned with the respect of all sections of th© people, for his efforts in securing this special grant. I wish to say, with all the emphasis at my command, that the representatives of Tasmania, on both sides, in this Parliament have in this matter but the one. object in view, and that is to secure for. their State the grant of £900,000 recommended by the Commission. I hope that honorable members ^generally will assist us to secure this money for Tasmania to enable her to tide over a very trying time, and that for this purpose’ the Treasurer will see his way clear to give the State the larger sums at this particular time. This would be invaluable to Tasmania, because she has spent a considerable amount of borrowed money on public works that are not immediately reproductive. As soon as they become so, we shall be able to retain our population ia the- richest State, for its size, of any in the Commonwealth. I want honorable members to display a Federal spirit. Recently, in another State, I heard nothing but jealousy of a neighbouring State,- and we were told of the course which that State would have followed if the Fleet had called first at her ports. We should do what I found the Canadians doing when I met them. Wherever they are found, Canadians, are Canadians all the time. Even those of French descent, coming from Quebec, regard Canada as. their country,, and not merely the State of Quebec. The sooner we do away with our State jealousies, ‘ the better it ‘ will be for Australia.
I do not object to honorable members upon this side of the chamber seeking that information which should be vouchsafed to them upon a proposal of this character. There are quite a number of honorable members who are here for the first time, and 1 am satisfied that the more information which is given to them the better it will be for Tasmania. When they become acquainted with the conditions under which that State is seeking this grant, I feel certain there will be no opposition to her obtaining that justice which she so richly deserves.
.- When a somewhat similar proposal was before us last year I took up an attitude of opposition to it, because I held that the laws of Tasmania alone were responsible for her mendicant position. I held that those laws permitted the monopoly which acted like a cancer in the north-west of that State to hold her richest lands under a charter, and to escape a’ proper system of taxation.
– They are selling now under excellent terms.
My. Mcwilliams. - We have the heaviest land tax in Tasmania to be found in the southern hemisphere.
– Presuming tha* is so, it must have been operative for only a very short period.
– Oh, no.
– For how long has it been operative?
– - For many years.
– What does the honorable member mean by many years ? Has it been in existence for twenty years, or for three years?
– It has been in existence for fifteen years.
– Is that the reason there are so many unfortunate persons in Tasmania who are not educated ? That benighted State has a lake in the centre of it from which, power could be transmitted to any point, and yet the infamous laws which have operated (there have made that splendid little island a mendicant among the States. I am glad to know that owing to the action of the late Government, and the efforts of the honorable member for Bass, Tasmania is to receive a grant of £900,000 during a period of ten years. That little island has been blessed, with a soil as black as coal, and it possesses water-power second to none in Australia, and second only to New
Zealand, south of the line. The Treasurer, notwithstanding his wonderful Budget - a Budget of boom, borrow, and burst - proposes to borrow £3,080,000, and offers to pay to Tasmania a paltry sum of £5,000 during the first year that this additional grant is to operate. Why does he not say that the Government will give Tasmania the whole additional £400,000 during that year ? If he will take up that attitude, he will be able to claim my vote. I do not believe in this cheese-paring policy under which Tasmania is to be granted £5,000 this year, £10,000 next year, and £15,000 the following year, thus leaving the bulk of the total grant provided’ for in this Bill to be found by another Treasurer. Where is the brave old political warrior described by the Age to be discerned in a proposal of that sort? Does not Tasmania hold her own in mineral wealth ? Is not the north-west of that State known throughout the world for its mineral wealth ? Then from the stand-point of agricultural products, the land will grow anything. Honorable members may think that I am rather hard upon the Treasurer. But we all remember the unctuous tones in which he told us that £25,000,000 worth of minerals were being annually taken from the Commonwealth. Why, a little country only half the size of Tasmania takes for her produce every year no less a sum than £24,000,000 from Great Britain. That country is Denmark, where, during seven months of each year, people have to house their stock. Id some parts of Tasmania the owners of stock have not to do that.
– Let the honorable member compare Victoria with Denmark.
– But Victoria is so much larger that the comparison would not be fair. Denmark embraces an area of only 15,582 square miles, as against 26,215 square miles comprised in Tasmania; and yet the former obtains for her produce, each year, more than the total value of the gold output of Australia. What is the nature of that produce ? It consists of eggs, poultry’, butter, &.c, all of which can be produced in Tasmania. Then, in the matter of fruit, we know perfectly well that Tasmania can produce apples equal to any produced in the world. She holds her own in the markets of the world, and sometimes leads the world in the high prices which she obtains for her apples. The Federal land tax will, I hope, open up a new era of prosperity in that little island. If I have spoken severely this afternoon, it is because the hand of the dead past is still controlling Tasmania in a way that it ought not to control her. Why this cheese-paring policy of granting to that State £5,000 during the current year out of the total of £400,000? The present Government were going to be very economical in their administration. They were going to teach the spendthrift Governments of the past how to administer the affairs of the country, notwithstanding that, the Fisher Government never borrowed a penny piece. In the face of all this, the Treasurer has’ the audacity to ask Parliament to sanction a loan for £3,000,000, and to tell his Tasmanian supporters that the Government will grant that State £5,000 this year, and - if they continue in office - £10,000 next year, and £15,000 during the third year. Such conduct is unworthy of the Government. At the instance of the Fisher Ministry, this Parliament granted Tasmania a sum of £500,000-
– To be spread over ten years.
– Then, under the Bill which the Government now seek to introduce, at least, £40,000 should be paid to that State during the present year. Is not £5,000 a paltry sum to grant her, especially when the Treasurer is about to borrow £3,000,000 ? If the right honorable gentleman will borrow another £500,000 and pay this £400,000 to Tasmania at once, I will vote for the proposal. I wish that little island State every success, and I am sorry that it has been in the Slough of Despond for years. I ask the honorable member for Franklin to bring a little influence to bear upon the Treasurer.
– Honorable members opposite voted against a grant of £70,000 when I moved in that direction last year.
– If the honorable member will move that, under this Bill) a sum of £70,000 shall be paid to Tasmania during the current financial year, I will support him.
– He is not game to do so.
– Tasmania is quite as rich as Denmark, and yet I find that, exclusive of foodstuffs, she exports only £4,500,000 worth of goods each year, as against £34,500,000 exported by Denmark. I ask the honorable member for
Franklin to endeavour to persuade the Treasurer to increase the proposed grant to Tasmania to £70,000 this year. If that be done, I shall certainly vote for the proposal.
– I believe that the Treasurer will congratulate himself on being the honorable member who gave the lead to this debate, because he will admit that, notwithstanding all the general knowledge he possesses with respect to the resources of Tasmania and her needs, some of the expressions from honorable members this afternoon have thrown considerable light on the subject; and I anticipate that, after hearing from honorable members of the Opposition so many strong expressions of opinion upon the meagre allotment meted out to Tasmania, he will alter the schedule of the Bill that is to come down - I am referring to the £5,000 for this year-
– It is £90,000 for this year*
– The more the right honorable gentleman interrupts, the longer I shall take.
– Honorable members are all “ stone-walling.”
– The honorable member is not just. He knows that, under the resolution passed during last Parliament, and made one of our standing orders, an honorable member is precluded from speaking longer than a certain time, and that no “stone-walling” can take place in those circumstances. I maintain that last session honorable members voted away their privileges to a very large extent. But the point I was about to make when the Treasurer interrupted me was that I would not be surprised if, instead of the schedule in the Bill to be introduced being based upon that which we find recorded in the Budget speech, the discussion that has taken place this afternoon will reverse the order of things, and instead of the smaller sum of £5,000 being paid to Tasmania in the first year, it will be £80,000, dwindling down in future years to the £5,000. I am certain that if the honorable member for Franklin desired a friend to be helpful, and that friend came forward, and offered him a mean little sum, though he required a larger sum, the honorable member would say, “ You are not the kind of friend I took you to be.” Yet that is the attitude of the present Ministry towards honorable members representing Tasmania, and towards Tasmania itself. I hope the schedule will be altered. The matter of granting assistance to Tasmania is not new. As far back as 1903, appeals for assistance to Tasmania were made in both Houses of the Commonwealth Parliament by the then honorable members representing Tasmania. I take it that Tasmania was then beginning to feel the effects of the first Tariff Bill, and the effect of a small State entering into a large Union, which must be considerable in the initial stages of that Union’s history. From time to time, I presume, during 1903, honorable members representingTasmania urged on the Treasurer of the day that some assistance should be granted to Tasmania, but evidently their appeals fell on deaf ears for many years. The present Treasurer occupied the samehonorable position in previous Governments, and Sir George Turner and othershave filled the position, but to all the appeals made by Tasmanian representatives, Fusion or Liberal Governments turned a deaf ear.
– You must remember that we had only one-fourth of the revenue to spend.
– But you gave away £6,000,000 you need not have given away.
– Over and above what was necessary to pay back to the States, we paid away £6,000,000, so that the Treasurer need not talk about not having the money; he need not try to make us believe that things were not what they really were. The money was there to allot; and instead of having to wait for twelve years, and lose a good portion of money all this time, Tasmania could have been granted assistance in 1903 ; but the numerous appeals made for assistance were all resisted.
– I do not remember that the Tasmanian Government ever made an appeal in 1903.
– Yes, they did, and you turned it down.
– I have with me a copy of the report from the Royal Commission on the Tasmanian Customs Leakage. Paragraph 4 of the report is headed, “ The Alleged Customs Leakage of Tas.mania” and the side head to the paragraph is “ The History of the Claim.”
This is what the Royal Commission indicate in their report-
From the evidence submitted to your Commissioners, it would appear that the history of this complaint by Tasmania is briefly as follows : - In tlie year 1903, the then Premier of Tasmania, Mr. Propsting, interviewed Sir George Turner, Commonwealth Treasurer, on the question of Tasmania not being credited with the full amount of Customs revenue on goods imported by Tasmania from the other States, and directed attention to the unsatisfactory bookkeeping system in respect to Inter-State certificates.
– That was not asking for anything. That was merely complaining. You said that they had made application for assistance to the Commonwealth Government, and I said that I did not remember it.
-Why split straws ? The honorable member for Franklin, who was a member of the Royal Commission, will bear me out. He must have turned up the records in Hansard, and in the parliamentary papers, and been thoroughly satisfied, as a member of that Royal Commission, before that paragraph was incorporated in the report. The paragraph shows that, as far back as 1903, some reference had been made to the financial position of Tasmania owing to the operation of the Tariff. No doubt applications were repeated from year to year, but the Treasurers of the day turned deaf ears to them.
– No, no!
– I say “Yes, yes!” It was left to the Federal Labour Government, headed by the right honorable member for Wide Bay, to accede, in part, to the request supported by the report of the Royal Commission. Now, in respect of the £5,000 set aside-
– It is not the amount set aside.
– There, again, the Treasurer is splitting straws. He knows that when the Bill passed through both Houses last session it was intended to pay certain allotted sums to Tasmania; but the then Government were not in the healthy financial position in which the present Government find themselves - largely owing to the surplus of £2,750,000 left to them after all accounts on the last year’s operations were paid.
– There was almost as much surplus last year as this year.
– Without being rude, I maintain that to simply allot £5,000 for the first year in connexion with the remaining £400,000 is very mean behaviour on the part of a National Parliament like this, where we have a Treasurer, in delivering his Budget speech, rolling out million after million, until the total reaches £27,000,000., .that it is intended to spend. Yet out of that huge sum the little State of Tasmania, small in area, but big in possibilities, is merely allotted a miserably mean sum of £5,000 for the first year.
– We are paying £90,000.
– Of which £85,000 is ours, and only £5,000 yours.
– “Unless the Treasurer makes some alteration with regard to the sums to be paid from year to year, there will be several amendments from honorable members of the Opposition in order to increase the allotment.
– You will do anything to obstruct business.
– Order I
– That is an unfair statement for the Treasurer to make.
– 1 make it deliberately.
– On a point of order, the Treasurer says he makes a deliberate statement that we are obstructing business. Such a statement is distinctly offensive and incorrect, and I ask that it be withdrawn.
– I made the statement, and I believed it, but I withdraw it.
– That is a qualified withdrawal. I must ask the Treasurer to withdraw his statement unconditionally
– As my statement was against the rules, I withdraw it.
– The present Administration are putting up a record.
– That is so.
– One of the things future historians will have to record is that in the early stages of this session, Ministers, more than any previous Ministers, have had to withdraw disorderly statements.
– They have had more to put up with.
– The present Government have been very fairly treated. If the Treasurer will peruse the report of the Royal Commission, he will find in it very valuable material for the secondreading speech he will deliver a little later. The report says in a later paragraph
Mr. Propst’ing suggested that the Customs and Excise revenue of Tasmania and Victoria should be pooled, and that Tasmania be paid a net sum equivalent to ?2. is. (id. per head, based on a population- of 180,000 foi 1903, some contingencies, however, being specified. Nothing came of this suggestion-
When a State requires some assistance it is nob often that it cares- to so bend in diguity as to come along and say, “ We are absolutely in a very bad financial state, and we need assistance from the National Government”; but any Treasurer could take a hint of the kind Mr. Propsting made. This report proceeds -
Nothing came of this suggestion, and the claim was revived by Captain- Evans, the succeeding Tasmanian Premier, who discussed the question with Sir John Forrest, Acting Prime Minister.
If the- Treasurer will cast hi* mind back a little, he may bring to mind the conversation he had with Captain Evans. The report proceeds -
The Prime Minister (Mr. Deakin),, on his return from England in 1907, and Sir John Forrest held, according to Captain Evans (see Q. 447), that any Customs leakage loss was not -a Commonwealth financial responsibility, but one which ought to be accented by the two Stales which were- chiefly gaining by the Tasmanian trade, viz., New South Wales and Victoria.
It seems from this that after elaborate evidence was placed before the Treasurer, in Mr. Deakin’s absence at the Imperial Conference, the right honorable gentleman came to the conclusion that Tasmania was not entitled to any consideration so far as the Customs leakage loss was concerned, and that the State should go to Victoria and New South Wales, who were chiefly benefiting by the trade they were transacting with her, for the assistance she required. In fact, the right honorable gentleman deliberately turned down the Tasmanian appeal; he showed callous indifference to the needs of Tasmania. The State should have received assistance many years earlier, but it was not until- a Labour Government came into power that the Commonwealth came to her aid. There has been a slight lapse of memory on the part of many Tasmanians, but when they come to read the report of this debate they will realize that the first Government to render the State financial assistance was the Fisher Administration. It provided for a grant of ?500,000, with a first payment of ?95,000:. The present Administration is providing as a first payment only ?5,000, leaving it to another generation almost to pay the larger instalments. This Ministry has not taken a very big financial burden on its shoulders in connexion with the payments to Tasmania. But what we should do is to assist the States in our years of prosperity, when the Treasury is overflowing, as it is now, largely because of the successful management of affairs by the Fisher Government. The present Government received a legacy from its predecessor such as no other Government in any part- of the world has received. When the honorable member for Melbourne was speaking in glowing terms of the wonderful resources of “ the tight little island,” the honorable member for Wimmera interjected, ‘ ‘ Tasmania is a good country, but need’s money.” We, on this side, wish to give Tasmania a little more than the Treasurer proposes to give. When in Tasmania some time ago, I met a large number of electors there, and one of the questions put to me was why, seeing that the Royal Commission recommended a grant of ?900,000, did the Fisher Government provide for a grant of only ?500,000? My reply was that that grant was not the end of the matter, and that if at any time the State would come forward and show that her claims had not been fully satisfied, or produce evidence that a larger sum was needed, I, for one, would be only too glad to assist in getting a larger grant. Of course, in saying that, I was expressing my individual opinion. This Government is doing only what I believe the Fisher Government would have done had it remained in power ; but the Fisher Government would have been more liberal
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
’.- congratulate the Treasurer in having had the courage to give effect to a pledge entitling Tasmania to another ?400,000. The Fisher Government had good intentions, but when it proposed the grant of ?500,000 it had not too much money, and had to act accordingly.
– There was a surplus of ?2,000,000.
– That money came in afterwards. My only complaint is that the Treasurer is making the first instalment of the proposed grant too small. Tlie little State of Tasmania came into the Union without claiming any special treatment, and for many years suffered immense loss. In the country from which I caine, States which found themselves embarrassed had not to declare themselves paupers; they had not to beg of the Federation for assistance. The Treasurers helped them indirectly, without letting the world know. When the population of those States increased, and prosperity set in, they again assumed the position of substantial integral portions of the Union on an honorary basis.
– In America any senator can propose an appropriation.
– Necessitous States never have to ask for an appropriation. The American people recognise that part of a nation cannot be bankrupt without it affecting the credit of the whole nation. That was not recognised before the war, because then America was only a half-Union country, some persons thinking it a Confederation, and others a Federation. The submission of the case by the South to the arbitrament of war settled the question, and made a great Union. Ever since, the States have stood by each other ; all for each and each for all. If the Treasurer could make the first instalment of the proposed grant £40,000, that would provide interest for a loan of £1,000,000 for great developmental works.
– Why did not the honorable member help me last year, when I moved in respect to this matter 1
– Last year, I was only one of ten; the members of an Administration must stand together. Of course, Tasmania must take what it can get, but if the first instalment were made larger, the State could enter upon many enterprises that would produce revenue. If it were able to borrow at a reasonable rate for the construction of reproductive works, it would have a larger revenue- to expend.
– Tasmania is quite satisfied with what we are doing.
– Perhaps she is, but I have the right to express my views, and I have had some experience in finance. My remarks are not due to any enmity towards the Treasurer. I am not trying to drive poisoned arrows into his cranium. But I have a proposition to make. I am more of a business man than I am of a politician. I do not know much about politics, and I want to know less. But I know a little about business. If the first instalment were increased, the Commonwealth would be committed to the later instalments. But if the first payment is only £5,000, a subsequent Government, or even this Government, may decline to go on with the grant. If you get a deposit of only a few shillings in regard to a contract, you may find the contractor dropping his work, and it is the same with this matter. I have brought the subject before the Treasurer already, this being no new idea with me. If we cannot get £40,000 for the first instalment, we might perhaps get £30,000. This would enable Tasmania to go into the market and borrow sufficient to build a railway to Balfour, and to extend the line from Flowerdale into the interior. It will not be denied that Tasmania has suffered financially. Are we to understand that the Royal Commission, with the honorable member for Bass as Chairman, and with all grades, and degrees, and kinds of Christians that composed it, made a unanimous recommendation which it did not want to have carried into effect? Its report was the first unanimous report from a Royal Commission that has ever been laid before this House, and it recommended a grant of £900,000. I have always been in favour of that recommendation being complied with. If I had been Treasurer I would have paid the money in the morning, and there would have been no talk about the matter. Let the little State get the money in such a way that we shall know it is there for all time. I have no ill-feeling in the matter. If the Treasurer cannot, or will not, give way, we hope that he will think over our suggestion. Even if he should decide to give only £25,000, at any rate, let him give that which will mean a commitment of £400,000.
.- I intend to support the Government in this matter, because one cannot look a gift horse in the mouth and ask how old the horse is, as long as he will carry one. The proposal of the Government means that the Tasmanian Government are to get from the Commonwealth £90,000 a year until a total sum of £900,000 is paid. That is a nice little nest-egg for the State to have coming in every year. I think it is justly entitled to the money, because its representatives on both sides of the Chamber have convinced me that, as regards trading concerns, the State is only a suburb of Melbourne. These “drummers” from Melbourne-
– Why should you refer in such a disparaging manner to commercial men ?
– What else are they? They “ drum “ the State from one end to the other. Tasmania is in this position, that it cannot hold its own like the other States can do. These “ drummers” have to go to other States because the competition is so keen; but in Tasmania that is not the case. It is very easy for the “drummers” to get across Bass Strait, and now the Postmaster-General has promised a daily service with Tasmania it will be still harder for the State to hold its own against the Flinders-lane people.
– And the people of Yorkstreet, Sydney, because they do a big business with Tasmania.
– Both Sydney and Melbourne are taking trade away from Tasmania. We cannot shut our eyes to that fact. If we take the trade away, I say (hat the rest of the Commonwealth should come to the aid of Tasmania, and make up what it is losing.
– You do not blame Flinders-lane people for doing business, do you?
– No; but I do not think that we should allow the Tasmanians to be crushed out of existence by Victorian or New South Wales people.
– The best way to avoid that is to give them a good amount in the initial years.
– I think that the best way to save Tasmania from being crushed is to make that State a province of Victoria.
– No fear !
– Its population is only a third of that of Melbourne.
– Order !
– We must be fair; and the Government have arranged the amount of the payments to be made. It is not a question of paying £5,000 in the first year, £15,000 in the second year, and £25,000 in the third year.
– It is, and because of this Bill.
– So far as this Bill is concerned, that is absolutely correct.
– They are trading on the good- will of the last Government.
– We are not going to be so small, are we?
– We want to give a bigger sum.
– We are not going to be so small because the Government have brought forward this proposal, are we ? I said, in the first place, that Tasmania should have got the £900,000; in fact, I do not think it is enough. If these factories were in good going order in Tasmania, instead of in Victoria and New South Wales, where they are doing a big business, they would have to pay income tax, and the wages of the employes would be paid in Tasmania.
– And land tax, too.
– They would have to pay all taxation, no matter ‘from what source it might come. Tasmania would get the benefit of the manufacturers paying the taxes, the benefit of the people consuming the different goods which were manufactured there, and the benefit of the people spending the wages earned in the State. What benefit does it get out of the wages that are earned in New South Wales or Victoria ? That is the only way in which we could equalize things. I do not see anything in the Bill to cavil at. In fact, I am very pleased indeed that the Government have done something in this direction. I, in common with honorable members on each side of the House, would have liked to see the annual payments made larger, but, as I said before, the Government are only equalizing the payments so that Tasmania shall get £90,000 a year.
– Make it £100,000 or £120,000; that would be better.
– I am sure that the Tasmanian Government will not grumble, however much honorable members may make the sum.
– I think that the payment should be made in such proportions as to fully agree with the recommendation of the Royal Commission.
– Small and all as the amounts are which are to be given by the present Government,’ do not honorable members think that they would be smaller ii we carried what some honorable members suggest, and that is to make the larger payments to-day, which, at present, are arranged to be made in ten years? If we were to. adopt that suggestion, the Government might throw the Bill under the table, and so in trying to grasp a shadow we would lose the substance,
– They do not dare to do that.
– It would be the easiest thing in the world for the Government to do it, and to throw upon us the onus of having compelled them to put the Bill on one side. If honorable members from Tasmania will take my advice, they will vote for this proposal in toto - take the £90,000 a year for certain - instead of grasping at a shadow in the hope of getting something larger. There is the position as it appears to me. Of course, the Government have made their commitments, just the same as other Governments have made theirs.
– No provision is made in the Estimates for even’ £5,000.
– That need not be.
– We know that, but it is proof that this is a sudden idea.
– I do not think that.
– There is no provision in the Estimates for a penny.
– That does not matter. It does not prove that the Government have not had this thing in their mind’s eye.
– Does it not prove that the Government are not sincere?
– Let us take the worst possible view, and that is that the Government are making this proposal for political purposes. Could we not be accused of doing the same thing last session when we voted £500,000 for Tasmania ? Do my honorable friends mean to say that we did not do that for political purposes? No, perish the thought! Let us be fair; let us treat the thing squarely. We did not give Tasmania that £500,000 without any thought that we were going to get a quid pro quo.
– That is nonsense.
– That is all very well for the honorable member; that is the ideal we would expect from the honorable member for Parkes. Suppose that we are the meanest party on the face of the earth, and are doing this thing for political purposes, is not Tasmania going to gain ? That is the only thing which concerns me. Tasmania, as the honorable member for Melbourne said, is one of the fairest States in the Union, but she is the most severely handicapped one. My vote will go in the direction of accepting what the
Government are willing to give. I will not look a gift horse in the mouth. If the Government are prepared to give £400,000 to Tasmania, I, for one, intend to vote -in favour of that proposal, especially when the Government have planned it so that Tasmania is to get £90,000 a year from the Commonwealth for a certain period.
.- I desire to congratulate the Government upon bringing down this proposal, and, on behalf of Tasmania, to thank them for complying with the recommendation of the Royal Commission which was appointed to inquire into its financial position since Federation. As a representative of that State, I resent the action of any honorable member in classifying it as a necessitous State.
– That was the appeal.
– It was not the appeal altogether. The recommendation was made, not on the ground of Tasmania being a necessitous State, but because of Tasmania having lost a certain sum annually since the inception of Federation, by the operation of Federal laws.
– And you proved that up to the hilt. . -
– Certainly. I hope that Tasmania will not be referred to again as a necessitous State, or as accepting this money as a charity dole.
– The proof of the pie is in the eating of it. You are going to eat this money, at any rate.
– Tasmania is entitled to every penny of it.
– As a necessitous State, yes.
– No, as a matter of justice from one State to another, under a Federation.
– I know that you would take a lot more for Tasmania if you could get it.
The CHAIRM AN.- Order !
– The Treasurer was a member of the Select Committee that commenced the inquiry into the position of Tasmania, and afterwards of the Royal Commission, but through having to go to London he resigned his seat on the Commission. I feel sure that had he participated in the inquiry, and had the pleasure of examining witnesses, he would have fallen in with the other members of the Commission, and become a willing signatory to the recommendation.
– Do you say that it was a pleasure to examine some of the witnesses I
– Yes it was, and especially to the honorable member, who had many a joyful hour.
– Anyhow we had the inopimeter system explained to us.
– Yes, thoroughly. I congratulate the Government upon their proposal to give Tasmania £900,000, but I wish to point out that they are not entirely carrying out the recommendations of the Commission. If they will do that, as T desire they should, it will make a difference to Tasmania straight away. The Commission recommended that the £900,000 should be paid during the following ten years. We recommended, for instance, that in the year 1911-12 tlie State should get £120,000, but the Fisher Administration awarded only £95,000. Now the present Government are in power, and our award was that the State should receive £115,000 this year, but instead of that it is to get only £90,000. £85,000 under the Act passed by the Fisher Government, and £5,000 from the present Government. As Chairman of the Royal Commission, I would ask the Government to carry out our recommendation in its entirety by paying this money in the instalments which we suggested. If Tasmania is entitled to this grant, as she certainly is, in my opinion, she has a right to receive it .as. soon as possible. If the Treasurer will promise to carry out our recommendations in this regard, I shall sit down at once, and make no reference to the unkind things said about me and my party at the last general election. The Tasmanian press then denounced me in the most scandalous way for being associated with the Labour party, and allowing Tasmania, as they said, to go to the dogs. They tried to take from me the little kudos due to me for my action in securing the appointment of the Commission. They made malicious and treacherous statements concerning our party, even going so far as to criticise the way in which the ex-Speaker and the exChairman of Committees controlled the business of the Chamber. They asserted that I had jockeyed the honorable member for Wilmot out of the credit of being the first to place on the business-paper a notice of motion regarding Tasmania’s financial position. But I say now, in front of the honorable member, that until the present session he never had on the business-paper a notice of motion with regard to this matter.
– I have never said that I had.
– But the honorable member saw the press scandalising rae, and was not man enough to contradict their statements.
– I did; I gave the honorable member fair play throughout the campaign.
– During the recent campaign the Labour Government and its supporters were classed with robbers and thieves for their action in regard to Tasmania. -Notwithstanding that the then Prime Minister, the honorable member for Wide Bay, stated from the public platform that if he saw that Tasmania was in need of more money he would bring in a Bill to grant the full amount recommended by the Commission, members of the State Ministry were mean enough to denounce our party as robbers and thieves, who were doing an injustice to Tasmania. I am here to praise the Government for the action they are now’ taking) but I am here also to defend my party from malicious attacks such as those to which it was subjected during the last election. I shall reserve until the second-reading stage the further remarks that I desire to make in regard to this matter, and shall conclude by congratulating the Government on their proposal to grant Tasmania the balance of the amount which the Royal Commission recommended she should receive.
.- I should not have spoken but for the remarks made by the honorable member who has just resumed his seat. The honorable member suggested that I allowed the statement to go forth that he had jockeyed me out of the honour of being the first to introduce a motion regarding a Commonwealth grant to Tasmania.
– When we leach the second-reading stage I shall give the honorable member all that was said.
– The Prime Minister will not allow many hours to be given to the consideration of the motion for the second reading.
– What the honorable member for Bass states in regard to the press criticism to which he was subjected may be quite true, but on many occasions during the last election campaign I explained to my audiences what was the actual position in regard to this matter. I never laid claim to having placed on the business-paper a notice of motion with respect to a grant to Tasmania.
– Hear, hear. I am quite satisfied with that statement.
– Indeed, I rarely alluded to the matter unless it cropped up in the course of one of my meetings. I certainly never attempted to rob the honorable member of the credit which is his due, and I am quite willing now to give him every credit for the way in which he handled the Commission.
– I object to the statement made by the Treasurer that the Prime Minister will not allow many hours to be devoted to the consideration of the motion for the second reading of this Bill. It was not a proper statement to make.
– It is time to say something, seeing that the whole afternoon has been unnecessarily taken up in this way.
– Are the Government going to “gag” us? If they talk like that, we will give them a chance.
– Then you will not get the Bill.
– The Treasurer is solely responsible for what has taken place this afternoon. He had an opportunity to give the Committee the information for which we asked, but he failed to do so. We know quite well that the Treasurer and his colleagues are capable of deception in every form, and I wish to learn whether this is merely a political move on their part? Is this Bill being introduced merely with the object of advertising in Tasmania a desire on the part of this Government to spoon-feed that State to an even greater extent than the late Government did? I objected to the grant of £500,000 proposed by the Fisher Government, not because I did not want Tasmania to get justice, but because, after carefully considering the report of the Royal Commission, I thought it was clearly proved that, during the ten years following the establishment of Federation, the island State, at the very most, had not lost more than £120,000 by reason of Customs leakages.
– Owing to the way in which the business was transacted in connexion with the Inter-State certificate system, no one could say what was the actual loss.
– Then Tasmania was really getting her deserts, because it was a Tasmanian genius who was responsible for the “Braddon blot” under which it was almost impossible, save at very great cost, to adopt such a bookkeeping system as would enable us to keep a proper check over Inter-State transfers. Whilst Tasmania has undoubtedly lost something as the result of Federation’, no one can say that her losses have amounted to £900,000.
– According to the Royal Commission, the most she could claim in respect of Customs leakages was £10,000 a year, or £70,000 in all.
– The Royal Commission was very friendly to Tasmania, and I wonder that it did not recommend a grant of £9,000,000 instead of £900,000.
– So far as I am concerned, there is no justification for saying that the Commission was very friendly to Tasmania. I simply did what I believed to be justice.
– To my mind, the honorable member was very friendly towards Tasmania.
– Has the honorable member read the evidence which was taken by the Commission?
– No; but I read the report.
– Do not imagine that the honorable member for Adelaide started out upon the inquiry with a feeling too friendly towards Tasmania.
– I do not know about that, but the report shows that the Commission recommended a grant of £900,000, not to make good Customs leakages, but because Tasmania was a necessitous State. Later on, the Premier of Tasmania had not the manliness to appeal to this Parliament for assistance to Tasmania as a necessitous State, but in a roundabout way applied for something which he seemed to think Tasmania had a right to receive. He applied for a grant which he thought, apparently, he could obtain from the Fisher Government, backed up by the three representatives of Tasmania on this side of the House, who, if they had had the chance, would have robbed the rest of Australia, not of £500,000, but of £5,000,000, in order to give it to Tasmania. The cry of the horse-leech’s daughter for more, more, more, was nothing as compared with the demands of these three honorable members.
– What three?
– The honorable member for Bass and the honorable member for Denison were bad enough, but the long-haired brother would have been even worse if he had had a chance.- We all know that Tasmania has no more right to be regarded as a separate State of the Commonwealth than has my constituency. I doubt whether the population of Tasmania is as great as that of my electorate alone ; yet she has five representatives in this House and six in another place. The State ought to have been tacked on to Victoria; but when the suggestion was made twenty-five years ago, the Conservatives who ruled Victoria were looked upon by the crusted old Tories who controlled affairs in Tasmania as dynamitards. The trouble with Tasmania is that, ever since she obtained responsible government, she has been owned and controlled by the greatest Tories that the English system could produce in any community. A few families ruled the State for years. They had their direct representatives in the State Parliament, and by legislation of the most Conservative character they blocked the progress of the country. There is hardly an acre of bad land in Tasmania ; her agricultural resources are very great, and her mineral possibilities are enormous ; but the reason why they have not been developed, and she is obliged to come here and ask for a further grant from the Commonwealth, is that she has been ruled by Tories since she has enjoyed responsible government. I am not one of those who belittle their opponents, and I credit the present Federal Government with being fairly long-sighted. They know that the day of the Tory in the State Parliament is almost past. The writing is on the wall. The past elections have shown that in a State in which, seven or eight years ago, there was not a single representative of Labour in the local Parliament, there are to-day fourteen Labour representatives out of a total of thirty. The Government can see that, in the very near future, the Tory party must pass, and a Labour Government assume control. When a Labour Government do come into power in that State, they will not ask the Commonwealth to assist them, but will decide that they should pay their own way, as do the other States of Australia.. The Government propose to .give Tasmania as little as they can while they are in power, leaving the larger amounts to be paid when they have been supplanted by the party on this side.
– The honorable member should be fair, and admit that the Government propose a payment of £90,000 every year.
– The honorable member knows that Tasmania needs the money now, and not in ten years’ time; and if the Government desired to assist Tasmania, and not merely to secure a political advertisement for themselves, they would propose a different method of paying the grant. What are they trying to do ?
– We are trying to do business, and honorable members opposite will not let us. That is quite obvious.
– I like to hear the Prime Minister on these questions. If there is one member of this House who, more than another, can claim to be an adept at carrying out that which he charges us with doing, it is the honorable gentleman. But I will leave one of his fellow members from New South Wales to deal with him. I find that honorable members from that State can deal with one another better than a Victorian can deal with them.
– IE is a systematic “stone-wall”; there is no doubt about that.
– The honorable member for Wimmera was one of the members of the Tasmanian Customs Leakage Commission who was willing to believe anything.
– That is neither fair nor correct, as the honorable member gave the closest attention to the question.
– Any one who has read the report of the Commission must know that the recommendation was made, not because of the loss suffered by Tasmania through Customs leakage, but because she was in a necessitous condition.
– The honorable member admits that he has not read the evidence. What, therefore, is the value of his criticism ?
– I have read the report, and I know that the members of the Commission were capable of drawing up a report according to the evidence submitted to them. I know, further, that their report showed that it was not Customs leakage, but the needs of a necessitous State, that accounted for their recommendation. I have heard so much from representatives of Tasmania on my own side in this House that I am satisfied that representatives of that State have no concern for the rest of Australia when the interests of their own State are under consideration.
– The honorable member is not a bad Victorian.
– Victoria is the State which has received least from the Commonwealth. Every other State has received something - sugar, the Federal Capital, or a railway - but Victoria has never received anything.
– Yet the Federal Parliament has been meeting here all the time.
– I am tired of having to recognise that Victorians are the only Australians in the Commonwealth. The representatives of the other States seem to me to look upon Australia as something good to bleed, and they bleed the Commonwealth in every direction whenever they can. I am getting tired of it. There are three points to be considered in connexion with this matter. First of all, the Treasurer should give us some information concerning the Bill at this stage. The Prime Minister has said that this is not the stage at which the “information for ‘ which we ask is usually given. I am not an old Parliamentarian, but I know enough of parliamentary usage to be certain that this procedure was established for a definite reason. The practice of the past must have proved the necessity for it, and I «an conceive of no other reason than that it affords an opportunity to explain why the proposed Bill should be introduced.
– Every honorable member who has spoken so far has said that he is going to support the Bill.
– I have not said so.
– Of what advantage would it be to Victoria to crush Tasmania 1
– None whatever; but the people of Australia should tell the people of Tasmania to get rid of their Tory Government, and put a Government into power that will be able ito properly manage the affairs of the
State. The Treasurer is aware that crusted old Tories, like himself, have, so far, had the well-being of Tasmania in their hands. Honorable members on the Government benches have howled against the terrible increase of wages, and we know that in Tasmania the lowest wages ruling in any part of the Commonwealth are paid. That is why the country has never been developed.
– We pay our miners far better than does Victoria. Let the honorable member ask the honorable member for Ballarat.
– It is only during the last few years that unionism has wrested something like fair wages from the Tories of Tasmania. During the last few years, the Victorian miners who went over to that State formed the Miners Association, and wrested their rights from the Tories of the State. There is scarcely any trade or calling in which the wages paid in Tasmania are not less by shillings per day than those paid on the mainland. Yet, with all their cheap labour, they have never been able to develop the resources of the State, because Tory Governments have controlled its affairs.
– Look at the trade Victoria does with Tasmania.
– I quite understand that the honorable member for Denison is like the rest of the representatives of Tasmania. I believe that they are blind to the position which obtains in that State.
– They do not take a national view of things.
– Honorable members upon this side of the chamber, knowing the great fight which Democracy has had on the other side of the Strait, ought to recognise that Tasmania would not have required this grant if she had been properly governed in the past.
– Why does not the honorable member convert his own State ? Tasmania sends more Labour representatives to this Parliament than does Victoria.
– The honorable member is now attempting to give me a slap in the eye. The position in Victoria to-day is not what it ought to be, because this State has also been ruled by Conservative Governments ever since the inception of responsible government. We have never had a Labour Ministry in Victoria.
– And never will have.
– When I look around and see the Tories upon the opposite side of the chamber-
– What they say over here is that they cannot stand any more “stone-wallers” like-
– The Prime Minister knows perfectly well that the Government are not treating this Committee properly. If a substantial grant were made to Tasmania at the present time, it would be of more use to that State than it will be hereafter. I repeat that Tasmania has not had proper government in the past, otherwise she would not be in need of this financial assistance. It is just as well, for the people of that State to set their own house in order, and then they will not require to approach this Parliament for a financial grant to a necessitous State.
.- I wish to know whether the Treasurer proposes to give us any information in regard to this proposal. When I left the chamber for a little while in order to recover my breath, I naturally thought that before I returned the right honorable gentleman would have relented. I fear, however, that he knows very little about this question.
– He does not.
– I should like to know whether the Treasurer has changed his front during my absence? He is now seeking leave to introduce a Bill which certainly will not involve the Commonwealth in a very heavy expenditure during the current financial year. Had he brought forward a measure to authorize a grant to Tasmania of an additional £400,000, and to pay £100,000 out of it this year, honorable members upon this side of the chamber would not have uttered a word.
– The honorable member himself voted against a proposal to pay Tasmania £70,000 last year.
– I did not oppose the main grant. The honorable member ought to appreciate the support which I extended to. him on that occasion. Yet this is the thanks I get.
– I beg the honorable member’s pardon.
– If the Treasurer is prepared to accept an amendment to pay Tasmania £100,000 during the first year, honorable members upon this side of the chamber will, I feel sure, support it, with a view to securing justice to that State. We have in power a Government whohave been handed a surplus of £2,600,000,. and they propose to grant to Tasmania a sum of £400,000, not this year, nor next year, nor the year afterwards. They intend to leave us to pay the major portion of the grant when we come back to power.
– They know that they will not be in office very long;
– And that is why they offer Tasmania a paltry sum of £5,000 during the present financial year. I am surprised that the Attorney-General,, with his breadth of mind and keen sympathies, should vote for a Bill of this description. If the Government wish toprove their sincerity in this matter, they will vote a substantial sum to Tasmania straight away. They are endeavouring: to convince the people of Australia that they lean towards “the weaker States. This Bill is merely another political dodge. I do not say that it constitutes corruption, but it certainly goes so close to it that one can scarcely distinguish between the two things. Many honorable members opposite did not entertain too kindly a feeling towards the proposal of the Fisher Government to grant Tasmania a sum of £500,000. They bitterly opposed that proposition. Yet they are dumb now. They are Caucus-ridden. They have been deprived of their independence and rights.
– They are paralyzed.
– They are almost crystallized. If the Treasurer is tired, and wants an adjournment, we are prepared to meet him.
– While the honorable member gets his second breath ?
– I certainly did not expect to see the honorable member occupying a seat in this House, and content merely to interject. I anticipated that he would master a Bill of this character. There is no honorable member who has more sympathy with Tasmania than I have.
– But the honorable member voted against this Parliament paying Tasmania £70,000 last year.
– Not at all.
– I have it here in Hansard.
– It is a mistake. This is not the first time that the Treasurer has attempted to throw dust in the eyes of honorable members.
– What I said is absolutely true.
– On the last occasion when he attempted to nail mc down, he knows that he was in the wrong. Yet he never apologized. As far as I can see, there is nothing in this copy of Mansard which has been handed to me that requires any answer. This is an old game of the Treasurer when he is in a difficult position. He looks up Ilansard, but even then he cannot read it. The .division to which he refers had nothing whatever to do with the main principle at stake.
– The honorable member had better put Hansard away. Do not quote it.
– I would not be allowed to do so by the Chairman.
– Did the honorable member see the reply the Government gave to Senator Bakhap only a few weeks ago?
– On the 13th August last, Senator Bakhap, in another place, asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister -
If it is the intention of the Government to take into consideration at an early date the matter of giving full effect to the financial recommendations embodied in the report of the Royal Commission - Mr. Jensen, M.H.R., Chairman - appointed to inquire into the incidence of Commonwealth Customs taxation as affecting the Stale of Tasmania?
And Senator Millen, the Minister of Defence, replied -
The Government is not prepared to review this arrangement, which has still eight years to run.
– The acid has been put on since then.
– At that date, they had no intention of giving a penny, and not even of reviewing the matter.
– I have been twitted with having changed my opinion in three years, which is not correct; but how about a Government that changes its policy in six weeks? What has brought about the change? Has the honorable member for Franklin been putting the acid on the Government, and telling Ministers that his vote depends on this £400,000 ?
– The honorable member for Bass had a motion on the notice-paper which would have been carried.
– If Ministers were consistent statesmen, they would not go back on their Minister of Defence in six weeks.
– The question was asked on notice, so the Cabinet must have considered it.
– It was not Senator Milieu’s reply. On a matter involving a big expenditure, it must have been the reply of the Treasurer. Now we find the honorable member for Franklin smiling at the power which he exercises over the Government.
– But we have a majority of six on this Bill, seeing that we shall get the support of three Tasmanians who sit in Opposition.
– The honorable member need not trouble about the majority for this Bill. I shall vote for it; but in Committee I shall move to double the amount. Seeing that I can get- no answer from the Treasurer, who sits like something on a pedestal too high for honorable members to appeal to him for an explanation as to why he gave Senator Millen instructions to give that reply to Senator Bakhap, I would like to know from the Attorney-General what has happened since the 13th August to bring about this change of opinion. The answer given by Senator Millen conveys more than appears on the surface. This change of front shows that the Government are determined to hang on to the flesh-pots of office at the sacrifice of any principle, or any decision. They cannot expect us to swallow it without protest. If they carry on like this, their supporters will have a great deal to answer for. Whether the Treasurer cares to reply or not, or whether the Attorney-General sits with a placid and self-satisfied air, matters little; individual members of the Ministerial party, when they get on the platform, and the electors put the acid on them and ask why they have supported a Government that changes its mind in six weeks, what can they say? All they can say is, “ We do not know why the Government did it, but you sent us in to support that Government whether they did right or wrong, and we have done what you told us to do, and have carried these measures, believing we were carrying out your behest.” What confidence can we place in the measures placed before the House by a Government prepared to say one thing today and another thing to-morrow ? Is it fair to ask honorable members to take a blank cheque from a Government that do not know their own mind ? Is it fair, as a matter of common, decent dealing ? Was the Postmaster-General a party to giving this reply to Senator Bakhap ? I hear not a word from him. The Treasurer says he put something in the Budget relating to this matter, but we cannot mix up the Budget with this question. The two things do not run on the same lines.
– There is nothing in the Estimates; they have not even made provision for the £5,000. Apparently, they had not considered the matter when they were drawing up the Estimates.
– What a great point 1
– It is a strong point. Why did not the Treasurer put this in the Estimates ?
– Probably he was afraid you would learn all about it.
– So we have it from the Postmaster-General that the ‘Government did not wish us to know anything about this matter. I shall lose confidence in the Postmaster-General if he attempts to tell me Ministers are trying to fool honorable members while they are introducing serious legislation. Is the honorable member for Franklin instrumental in causing the Government to change their views on this important question ‘I
– The credit must belong to representatives of Tasmania on the Opposition side - to those who fought for the first £500,000. Apparently, in order to escape trouble in the future, Ministers thought they could cause these honorable members to relent somewhat in their opposition if they satisfied une report of the Royal Commission to the full. It is pleasing to know that Senator Kakhap got that admission from Senator Millen. Some do not realize what they are doing in asking questions of Ministers. Could Senator Millen dream that the Government would go back on him ?
– I desire to correct, in the few minutes that are left to me, a wrong impression that may have been created by something that occurred before the dinner adjournment. The honorable member for Franklin referred to an amendment that he moved when the Bill of the last Government was in Committee, increasing the grant to Tasmania by £70,000. I voted for the grant proposed by the Government, namely, £500,000; but I did not vote for his amendment, because I understood that it was merely a political manoeuvre, and I was not to be caught. I claim credit for not being trapped by that amendment, just as I claim credit for giving relief to Tasmania by voting for the original proposition of the Fisher Government. I hope that when the Treasurer is in charge of another Bill he will take honorable members into his confidence, and tell us what it contains, instead of compelling us to find out, as best we can, for ourselves. The right honorable gentleman is always magnanimous, except when he is introducing a Bill; and if, at such times, he showed a little courteous condescension, and gave us a little information, his work would be much easier. The Government, I understand, propose to give to Tasmania this year a paltry £5,000 ; but no provision is made for the expenditure on the Estimates, so what guarantee have we that the money will be paid? I have already pointed out* that the Minister of Defence, in another place, told Senator Bakhap that it was not intended to increase the grant to Tasmania, because the arrangement made by the Fisher Government had eight years to run. When a Government are so lost to all sense of what is right and just that they will, within six weeks, go back on a statement, and declare black to be white, and white to be no colour at all, it cannot be expected that honorable members will readily accept their promises. Those who have big responsibilities on their shoulders should not perform their duties in the slip-shod way which the Treasurer follows in introducing measures. I trust that this will be the last time that I shall have to speak on the subject. Honorable members opposite envy my freedom in this respect. They are like dumb-stricken brutes, unable to speak. They are muzzled.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolution reported and adopted.
That Sir John Forrest and Mr. W. H. Irvine do prepare and bring in a Bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented by Sir John Forrest, and read a first time.
In Committee (Consideration of GovernorGeneral’s message) :
– I move -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of moneys be made for the purposes of a Bill for an Act to authorize the raising and expending of the sum of£3,080,000 for certain purposes.
The motion is preliminary to the introduction of a Loan Bill, which will be presented and read a first time as soon as this stage has been passed, and during the second reading and Committee stages there will be ample opportunity to discuss the proposals contained in the measure. I explained the measure, and gave the items of the schedule in my Budget speech, and it appears in Hansard. But, as it seems to be the desire of honorable members that I should reiterate what I have already said, and add something more about the Bill at this stage, I am prepared to do so. When delivering my Budget speech, I said that the Commonwealth expenditure had grown so large that it was no longer possible to pay for all public works out of revenue, and that it would be necessary to meet part of the expenditure from loan funds. The works to be provided for in this way are all of a permanent character, and such as are properly chargeable to loan funds. Those who have been members of State Parliaments will have had experience of measures of this kind. The first work that is to be provided for in this way is the railway from Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta, for which it is proposed to borrow £1,400,000. I have been informed that about £1,500,000 will be required for that railway during the present financial year, and as there is a balance from last year in hand, we shall have sufficient authorization for the current year.
– How far will the railway be taken with this expenditure?
– The honorable member is aware that the estimated cost of the whole line is about £4,000,000, and I should say that this authorization should complete about 350 miles. We propose to borrow another £400,000 for the construction of a railway in the Northern Territory, from Pine Creek to the Katherine River. The survey of a route for the line was sanctioned by the last Parliament, and in making arrangements for the construction of the railway this Government is carrying out an undertaking practically approved by the last Parliament. I believe that the length of the line will be about 60 miles, and its construction will probably cost not more than £5,000 a mile.
– That line ought to be built for £4,000 a mile.
– Suppose that the cost will be £4,000 a mile, that amount will take the railway 100 miles, at any rate.
– Is it intended to use steel or powellized sleepers?
– I have heard that it is intended to use steel sleepers, but the Minister of Home Affairs will be able to give information on that point.
– The railways are all under one Department.
– I think that the working railways are in the control of the Northern Territory Administration, which is under the External Affairs Department. The next item is one for the construction of a railway of about twenty miles in length from Port Moresby, in Papua, to Astrolabe, and the erection of wharfs at’ Port Moresby and Samarai. It is believed that a railway between those two points will greatly assist agricultural development, as well as the copper mines which exist in the district to be served.
– On what gauge is it to be constructed?
– I should think that it will be built on a narrow gauge, because it will traverse an isolated country, and can never be connected with any other railway system. I do not know the width of the gauge which is to be adopted, but I should say that it will probably be 3 ft. 6 in.
– Has a survey for the railway been made yet?
– Not so far as. I am aware.
– Surely you are not going to build a railway without making a survey?
– We could not, of course, build the line until we made a survey.
– You will not want this money, then ?
– Yes, we will. Tins is an appropriation only for the purpose of the railway, and the money will be raised and spent as it is required. We could not enter into ah arrangement to build the line unless we had a vote authorizing us to make a survey and generally to prepare to carry out the work. That is the ordinary way. Before the Government can build a railway or any other great public work, it must get parliamentary sanction for the expenditure before it undertakes the work itself, otherwise it might undertake a work for which there was no money legally available, or commence a work of which Parliament might not approve afterwards.
– A survey may prove that tlie proposed railway cannot be built.
– That cannot be the case. We have had reports on this proposal. It was considered by the previous as well as the present Government. When we took office it was. ready for action. We are taking action now. We are informed that the construction of the line is necessary, and that it will do great good in opening up the country. Therefore, we are making provision so that Parliament can approve of our commencing operations and carrying out the work. The next item is one of £170,000 for the purchase of land for postal and telegraphic purposes.
– Will not honorable members be satisfied with this general statement ?
– All this information will be given in detail when we get to the second-reading stage of. the Bill. The Postmaster-General will tell honorable members about the proposed expenditure on land for post-offices, and the proposed expenditure on conduits for laying wires underground. The Honorary Minister will explain the expenditure on defence generally, and on machinery and machine shops, and the construction of wharfs at Cockatoo Island, at a cost of £175,000; and the Minister of Home Affairs will indicate the expenditure on railways, while the expenditure in regard to the London Offices will be explained by the Minister of External Affairs. I do not think it is expected of me, at this stage, to go into details of all these matters. I am quite willing, indeed anxious, to give any information I possess; but I really think that that is not necessary at this time, as I am merely asking for leave to introduce the measure. If honorable members think that these works are such as will conduce to the prosperity and advancement of the country, I ask them to give me leave to introduce the Bill, and on its second reading I shall give all details, and in Committee still further details.
– Is a sinking fund provided ?
– “Under the Inscribed Stock Act, a £ per cent, sinking fund is provided for in respect of all loans raised by the Commonwealth Government. I do not think that I need say any more at this stage.
.- We are asked to approve of a motion, that being the preliminary step towards approving of the Government borrowing to the extent of £3,080,000. The loan mania is still strong in the Fusion breast. When previously in office honorable members opposite attempted to borrow £3,500,000 for the purpose of building a Fleet; but that policy, they found Out, was not tenable, and, with that .peculiar ability which, I believe, characterizes certain American politicians, and which is indicated in the couplet -
A marciful Providunce fashioned us holler O’ purpose thet we might our principles swaller they receded from that position. On this occasion they do not propose to borrow for fleet-building purposes. As a matter of fact, it is difficult to find out whether they intend to make any additions to our Fleet, either by borrowing or in any other way, although I remember the Prime Minister’s statement, when before the electors, in respect of additions to the Fleet. At that time he possibly felt it necessary to say something as a counterpoint to what was said by the party on this side of the House. But, so far as the Fleet is concerned, I have not yet been able to discover whether it is the intention of the Government to proceed with additions, or merely to complete the first unit now in hand, and then have a period of calm.
– That is hardlyraised in this measure, is it?
– It is not quite raised in this measure, hut the question of loans, as indicated previously when the honorable gentleman was in office, is raised in that we find that the Government propose to borrow for other than Fleet purposes. I merely instance this in order to show that the germ of borrowing is still running in a most lively way through the honorable gentleman’s arteries, and apparently breaks out in various directions.
– We are looking for the germ you laid down.
– I do not suggest” that, because of the opposition which may come from the honorable member for Werriwa, they should be vaccinated in any way in order to kill this germ. Nevertheless, it has broken out afresh. We find that the Government propose to borrow for certain purposes. The Prime Minister will not object to my making it clear that honorable members opposite, with their Ministry, propose to spend every penny which they estimate to receive during the current year. That amounts to £21,462,000. Honorable gentlemen on the other side practically contested the elections on the point of economy. Their complaints and their allegations respecting the expenditure indulged in by the previous Administration were loud and long, and the ear of the public was tickled, as also were a very large number of persons frightened, by the references to colossal expenditure. “ Torrential,” for instance, was the word used by the Attorney-General to describe the expenditure. The Prime Minister said we had indulged in “a financial carnival.” Being himself a political coryphee, that would appeal naturally to him. And the Treasurer used a different word entirely. He said that we had indulged in “a financial debauch.” Those were the three principal words with which the public were alarmed, and with which it is reasonable to believe honorable gentlemen frightened a number of electors into voting otherwise than they might have done. On this occasion, the Government propose to spend every penny they conceive will be brought in- £21,462,000. Not satisfied with that’ situation, honorable gentlemen opposite - and this indicates the hollowness a.nd the sham of their utterances at the general elections - propose to expend the comfortable little nest-egg we left them amounting to no less than £2,652,000. That is in addition to the money which they estimate they will receive.
– How many little debts did you leave in the way of commitments which have to be met?
– For instance, we did not leave the additional debt to which the Treasurer committed us this afternoon - £400,000. I can name a lot if the honorable member desires me to do so.
– Can you not get all this in on the Budget ?
– On the Budget, I intend to deal in detail with matters of this description ; but these are just general references for the special edification of the Prime Minister, who was most prolific in his allegations respecting expenditure on this side, and who was particularly acute - I might almost say cunning - in his innuendoes concerning the expenditure by the previous Administration. He left much to the imagination and to the fears of the electors. Whilst on several occasions we were able to catch him making reasonably definite statements, and to prove conclusively that they were inaccurate, the honorable gentleman was fairly ready in denying the accuracy of reports of his speeches which appeared in his own party newspapers. In addition to spending every penny that they estimate to receive, as well as the surplus of £2,652,000 which we left them, these honorable members, who sought the suffrages of the people on statements that they were going to put a safe check upon, and to reduce, the expenditure of the Commonwealth, now propose to borrow a further sum of £3,080,000. If an expenditure of £22,000,000 in round figures was, as they allege, either “ torrential,” a “ financial carnival,” or a “ financial debauch,” on our part, how shall we characterize this proposed expenditure of £27,000,000 by the present Administration?
– We must honour our predecessors’ promises.
– They would not pay them.
– The honorable member for Parkes insinuates that it is essential that all these expenditures should be undertaken, and the honorable member for Indi, who is a past master in the art of misrepresentation, suggests that if our predecessors had made commitments, we would not meet them if we were in office. Both statements are incorrect.
– The Labour party would meet them with more taxation.
– The honorable member is again in error. We sought the suffrages of the people on the clear statement that we did not intend to increase taxation.
– I think not.
– The honorable member for Wide Bay said he intended to propose higher Protection, and if that does not mean increased taxation, I should like to know what does.
– We went to the country with the clear and distinct statement that we did not propose to impose any fresh taxation.
– I challenge the statement put in that way.
– Does the Prime Minister say that we intended to impose more taxation ?
– I have not said that.
– Higher duties were distinctly promised.
– While the irresponsible member for Parkes will make statements as to our imposing fresh taxation, the Prime Minister will not. I should like to ask the Prime Minister whether he supports the honorable member for Parkes in the contention that a revision of the Tariff would mean extra taxation ? If that is so, my retort is that honorable members opposite, the honorable member for Werriwa alone excepted, are equally committed. Are we to understand that if the present Ministry brings in a proposal for the revision of the Tariff their supporters will not be behind them ? .
– Yes, distinctly; if it is a revision upwards.
– And will the honorable member for Parkes take up the same stand ?
– I am not going to be catechized.
– Honorable members opposite object to be catechized in this House, where there are men who understand something of politics, but when they are in their electorates they do not hesitate to make all kinds of assertions, knowing full well that the average elector, while having an ordinary knowledge of politics, has not sufficient time to acquaint himself with details as we can do, and that, consequently, he is not able to contradict the awful statements that are made by certain people.
– I am out for a reduction of taxation from whichever side I can get it.
– I know that the honorable member takes up that stand, and I believe that he will adhere to it, even if it places the present Ministry in the awkward position of being in a minority.
– No doubt.
– If a situation should arise in which the honorable member’s vote is necessary to keep the Government in office, then, I think, he will vote to keep them in power. We were informed by the party organs supporting honorable members opposite that the result of the last general election was a triumph for Protection. If Protection is to depend upon the votes of the honorable member for Parkes and the honorable member for Werriwa, then, judging by their interjections this evening, the so-called triumph must go by the board.
– Order !
– I frankly admit, sir, that I was drawn a little off the track by the interjections which you so generously permitted.
– I shall join with any party to reduce the taxation on the people.
– I have just been reminded that I have generously permitted interruptions. I hope that honorable members will recognise that my duty under the Standing Orders is not to allow these interruptions to continue. I shall be sorry to take any extreme step; but, in view of my duty, of which the honorable member for Adelaide has just reminded me, I shall have no alternative if these interjections continue.
– My reference to the situation, sir, was not intended to suggest that you were not properly discharging your duties. The Government and their supporters are spending every penny they can lay their hands on, as well as the surplus left them by the late Administration, and, in addition, they would go a-borowing right gaily.
– We have been in office only three months.
– If within three months the Government propose to spend everything they can lay their hands on, and to borrow every penny they can, what, in the name of fortune, will they do if the electors allow them to remain in office for three years ? I fear that the country will be reduced to a state of financial chaos which, whilst alarming, will not be without its redeeming feature. It will lay bare the awful incapacity of the present Ministry. The hollowness of their cries to the electors will be exposed, and they will stand before the people as financial shams of the most horrible kind. First of all, the Treasurer proposes to borrow £1,400,000 for the purposes of the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta railway.
– It is better to borrow than steal.
– Then I congratulate the honorable member on being the supporter of a Ministry which has evidently modified his policy into one of borrowing. I frankly admit that I approve of borrowing for the construction of this railway, but I do not know whether it is that fatuousness which is characteristic of Conservatism when in office that makes the Ministry think that it can possibly expend £1,400,000 on the railway during the present financial year.
– We ought to be able to do so.
– Then the Government will have to build 300 miles of railway before the close of the year, although during the three months that they have been in office not 1 mile has been constructed.
– The Fisher Go,vernment spent £750,000 on this railway last year.
– On material, I suppose, which we left for the present Government.
– Beyond all doubt, this amount cannot be expended within the financial year, three months of which have already expired. Why, then, does the right honorable member propose to borrow it? Do the Government desire to show the electors more plainly than ever that every statement they made during the last election campaign, in reference to the finances, was misleading? We are asked to permit the Government to borrow money which they cannot expend within the period named. Then we have a proposal to borrow £400,000 for the Northern Territory railway, and also £60,000 for the Port Moresby railway. Does the honorable member who asked a question just now in regard to commitments suggest that we committed the present Government to the last-named expenditure ?
– Practically, yes.
– I come now to two or three other items which, for the first time in the history of the Commonwealth, are included under the heading of “Loans.” We have, first of all, an item with regard to the purchase of land for post and telegraph purposes. Perhapsthe Treasurer feels that he is justified in. making this proposal, in view of the fact that the late Government purchased the Post-office site in Perth out of loan money. We did so, however, because it was clear that the purchase of that site would return 5 per cent, interest on the outlay.
– And the land in the Federal Territory, as well as the site for the High Commissioner’s office, waspurchased out of loan money.
– I am not touching those items. I am dealing only with three of these proposals. Apparently, the Ministry is about to introduce the policy of borrowing to buy all land required for post and telegraph purposes, since, during thi a year, they propose to expend out of loan moneys £170,000 in that direction. Those honorable members who are in the good graces of the Government, and who desire the purchase of allotments in their electorates - allotments on which some future Ministry may erect post-offices - should go quickly to the -Treasurer, because, if this Bill passes, he will have £170,000 with which to purchase land all over the country for such purposes, and which he hopes, possibly, will have a placating effect. Unless the Ministry can demonstrate clearly that the purchase of these lands out of loan account will give a clear return in the shape of interest over and above the ordinary rates, after providing for a sinking fund which will mean the redemption of the loan within a specified time, I regret that they should set out upon what is practically a new policy - that they should place the Commonwealth under an indebtedness in respect of loans of which all previous Governments have been able to steer clear.
– The late Government did not follow out the honorable member’s idea in dealing with the Federal Capital lands.
– I am not now dealing with the Federal Territory, but I can quite understand that the honorable member can get no other idea into his head. I leave him to the tender mercies of the honorable member for Wimmera. That honorable member will find that the present Government proposeto spend £285,000 on the Federal Capital, as against an expenditure of £137,000 by the previous Government, and in supporting them he will, no doubt, find his opportunity to make . good to the electors, his pledge to stop further expenditure in. that direction. I quite fail to understand his present mental condition when I find him sitting behind a Government proposing to increase expenditure upon the Federal Capital, and I shall fail also to understand the condition of mind of his electors if they do not protest against his action. There is another proposal to purchase land for defence purposes from borrowed money.
– The last straw.
– The honorable gentleman’s Government authorized £100,000 of that expenditure for the Liverpool Manoeuvre Area.
– And £350,000 for land in connexion with the Cockatoo Island Dock.
– They are all mere jelly fish on that side.
– I trust that honorable members on my own side will not make these gelatinous references, because they hurt. They go right home to what is left of the Fusion vertebra, and may do injury. At the electionsin 1910 we succeeded in preventing the borrowing of money for defence purposes, but the present Treasurer proposes now to indulge his desire in that direction.
– What is the item in the Budget? Is it £7,000,000?
– The Prime Minister is asking me to say what is meant by some item in the Budget of his own Treasurer. I am at a loss to understand, what it means, and I may be pardoned for not understanding it when members of the Ministry who framed the Estimates do not understand it.
– The Treasurer said that his officers were more likely to be correct than I was.
– I think so still.
– I am afraid that the officials of the Treasury have been greatly Btrained in their efforts to make the right honorable gentleman understand the Estimates, or to bring within reasonable limits his desire to borrow and spend.
– What for?
– To be quite frank with the Treasurer, I do not know why he desires to spend so much money. When we spent £22,000,000, that was said to be a “ financial debauch,” and I ask the Treasurer to find for me a suitable word to characterize the proposed expenditure of £27,000,000 by the present Government. Another item of loan expenditure is £425,000 for the construction of conduits and the laying of wires underground.
– That is the business the Government are apt at - the laying of wires underground.
– The amount appears to be small for so virtuous a purpose.
– The honorable member for Parkes considers underground engineering’ virtuous, and perhaps it does appeal to the honorable member in that way. The Government propose tospend only £425,000 in connexion with this item. I take no exception whatever to the construction of conduits and the laying of wires, but I do take exception to the expenditure being met from loan money when the cost of similar work undertaken by previous Governments has been met from revenue. During the last three years, the expenditure from revenue in this way met all reasonable requirements.
– What does the honorable gentleman want to strike out of the Estimates - anything in particular ?
– I shall tell the honorable gentleman when the Estimates are under discussion. The Government propose an entirely new policy, which must ultimately involve a considerable increase in the indebtedness of the Commonwealth; and, in characteristic fashion, they propose to pass it on to posterity. We seldom find them meeting their political obligations in the ordinary sense; and they are now doing their best to relieve themselves of the necessity of meeting their financial obligations. They propose to commit for all time succeeding Ministries, and the people of the Commonwealth, to indebtedness, and they make no provision whatever for the repayment of these loans.
– Order 1 The honorable member’s time has expired.
– Then I propose to take advantage of my right to speak a second time. We shall have to- continue paying interest on these loans, and if this policy of constructing works out of borrowed money is persisted in, the interest charge will eventually become larger than the amount which would now be necessary to carry out the works. The Treasurer has asked me what I would strike out of the Estimates. The honorable gentleman lias, no doubt, read a very lame leading article which appeared in the Argus yesterday on the subject.
– I am. sorry to intervene with a point of order, but I foresee that possibilities may arise under the procedure which has been adopted which may give us some trouble. In the circumstances; 1 should be very glad if the honorable member for Adelaide would withdraw his request to continue now with his second speech, because I do not think that it is in accordance with the Standing Orders that an honorable member should speak more than once without the intervention of a speech by some other honorable member.
– There is no doubt that the rule in the past has been not to allow an honorable member to make his second speech in Committee immediately following his first, unless no other member of the Committee desires to speak. I, perhaps, made a mistake is not asking the honorable member for Adelaide to resume his seat in order that I might discover whether any other member of the Committee desired to speak. I feel sure that, in the circumstances, the honorable member for Adelaide will withdraw if some other member of the Committee wishes to speak.
– I will save the situation by saying that I regret that the resolution has been brought in in the way in which it has been.
.- I shall not detain honorable members much longer. The Treasurer asked me what item I would strike out of the Estimates of expenditure. Personally, I say that I object emphatically to the proposed alteration of the policy which has been pursued for the last twelve or thirteen years of constructing works and making purchases of land from revenue. In the Argus of yesterday, honorable members on this side were asked if they objected to the colossal expenditure proposed by the Fusion Go vernment, to mention the particular items to which they objected. That was precisely the stand we took a few months ago when before the electors. We were being charged with extravagant expenditure. No details were given, but millions were spoken of, and the public mind was considerably disturbed. At the time, we asked the Argus, and every honorable member opposite, to tell the electors which line of expenditure undertaken, or proposed to be undertaken, by the late Government they objected to. They were absolutely unable to reply. The Budget which has just been introduced indicates clearly that, not only were the members of the present Government not opposed ‘to any one lies of expenditure proposed or undertaken by the late Government, but they have added to the lines of expenditure, and also to the total amount. It ill-becomes any member of the Ministry, or any of their press organs in the circumstances, to ask us which line of expenditure included in the present Government’s Estimates we would strike out. It is for the Government and their supporters to “make good” to the electors. If their promises aud pledges are so unstable, and they think so lightly of what they said to secure office that they will break their promises ruthlessly at the first opportunity, it is for them to explain. I do not know the form the proposed Bill will take. If it is of an open character, permitting the Treasurer to borrow either from the Note Fund, the Trust Funds, or’ from some outside source, the right honorable gentleman must expect opposition from this side; but if, on the other hand, it confines the Government to borrowing from the Note Fund, or from the Commonwealth Trust Funds, it is possible that there will not be any serious exception taken to such borrowing, unless it be that honorable members take exception to the new form of policy, namely, constructing out of loans certain works that were previously constructed nut of revenue. I think the right honorable gentleman hinted in his Budget speech that if the Note Fund and Trust Funds were not sufficient to meet the loan of £3,080,000, he would go elsewhere, and, so far as I am personally concerned, he must look for the most strenuous opposition if he proposes to go elsewhere. On the other hand, a condition that would confine him to borrowing from our own resources would be most wise, for he could borrow with much greater advantage.
– Our resources are not altogether unlimited.
– I am aware of that, but at the same time, while the Treasurer proposes to spend nearly £6,000,000 more than he will receive in the shape of revenue, which means a very heavy expenditure, he is, by his actions or his proposals, restricting the possibility of borrowing from certain funds, which borrowing can be done in a more, safe way.
– Your Government proposed to spend from £3,000,000 to £4,000,000 more than you had revenue for.
– The £2,000,000 to £3,000,000 that we proposed to expend last year in excess of the revenue that we estimated to receive was precisely the amount that we had saved tha year previously.
– Plus loans.
– With the exception of the loans from the Note Fund, the money was borrowed from Trust Funds, which we had built up during our three years’ term of office. On this occasion, tlie Government propose to spend £6,000,000 more than they estimate to receive, not from any surplus that they themselves put by, but from our surplus. And yet, by some curious mental process, they alleged during the last election that wo were guilty of extravagant expenditure. To borrow from those two funds is safer than to go elsewhere. ‘ It can be done at a more reasonable rate, while still allowing the fund to earn reasonable and fair interest, and permitting of provision for a redemption fund. It is safer to borrow from one’s own savings than from other persons. .
– You invested £3,000,000 of it up till 1916.
– I know the previous Administration invested the money, . but does the right honorable member suggest that we ought not to have invested it, apart altogether from the question of whether anybody succeeded us in office or not? What did he expect us to do with the money?
– How are we to get hold of it if it is invested ?
– Did the right honorable member expect us to keep the money idle, or throw it in the gutter, or follow his example by spending it merely for spending’s sake? Our method of financing was such that we were able to save some millions of pounds more than we spent, and invest it at reasonable rates of interest. We helped certain private banks, and certain State Governments, to tide over their difficulties, thus showing conclusively that the allegation of honorable gentlemen opposite, that we were going in for a policy inimical to the welfare of the Commonwealth, was quite erroneous. Some of the loans that we made to the State Governments were for long periods, and some were short dated ; they were at fair rates of interest, and “free from all brokerage and other charges that would have had to be paid if the loans had been drawn from other sources. Certain of that money will become available during the next twelve months, and to the extent that it is available I have no doubt it will be spent, because the right honorable gentleman’s Budget proves that he will spend every penny that he can lay his hands on. 1 can see no cause for taking exception to borrowing from those two funds, but I do trust that the honorable member doss not propose to initiate a new policy of borrowing from outside sources. The elections of 1910 proved conclusively, among other things, that the majority of the people of Aus*tralia do not approve of the Commonwealth borrowing from outside sources. The proposal then was to borrow for building a fleet. That was disapproved of by the people, and there was also general dissatisfaction with that form of borrowing. I would suggest to the right honorable member that, as his policy was turned down so emphatically on that occasion by the electors, it would be unwise of him to attempt to again force it on the country, especially in view of the smallness of the majority commanded by the Government.
– As the speech to which we have just listened will go all over Adelaide to-morrow, I should like to send out just a little antidote with it. I know the tricks of the trade commanded by the honorable member, and want to correct all the tali statements that he has been making. We are accused of proposing to spend this year £6,000,000 more than we expect to receive in revenue. That is substantially so, if loan moneys be added to. the other totals of our expenditure.
But may I remind my honorable friend that last year the Government to which he belonged also proposed to spend many millions more than they had revenue to cover 1 I want to set those two sums side by side, just to show the extent of our so-called extravagance, and the way in which, according to my honorable friend’s statements, the expenditure is piled up. I find that last year they appropriated, as we are proposing to appropriate now, £22,683,541. In addition to that, although they appropriated much more, they actually spent out of loan moneys £1,339.000. They also purchased a dock in Sydney which cost £850,000. Those sums make a total of £24,872,000. Our total appropriations for this year are £27,246,000, or £2,374,000 more. The increase in expenditure during the last three years has averaged about 33^ per cent., whereas the total increase for this year is only 8 or 9 per cent.
.- It was quite refreshing to hear the Prime Minister’s statement.
– Just one little fact; that is all.
– We shall have one or two from the other side. The Government propose to spend £4,000,000 or £5,000,000 more than was spent last year, according to their own figures. They cannot deny this; yet we heard all over the country during the recent election campaign that there was going to be economical administration. I believe the present Attorney-General stated, at the St. Kilda Town Hall, that the administration was going to be more economical, and that his party were going to cut things down; yet what do we find now ? This is the third occasion on which the present Treasurer has been associated with a Loan Bill in this Parliament. In the first Budget submitted to this Parliament in 1901 by Sir George Turner, when the present Treasurer was Minister of Home Affairs-
– No, I was Minister of Defence ; but I think I -was away in England.
– The honorable member was here. In that Budget it was proposed to borrow £500,000 to pay for works. Most honorable members might search Hansard in vain for the record of the test division on that proposal, which was taken on the question of a boat harbor for Newcastle.
– Sir George Turner proposed that we should also borrow to make up an old-age pension fund.
– The party opposite have proposed to borrow for many things. The second occasion was when the present Treasurer, as Treasurer of the Fusion Government, passed a Bill through this Parliament to borrow £3,500,000 to construct the present Australian Fleet, which the late. Government had repealed, the whole of which has now been paid for out of revenue.
– Thanks to the abolition of the Braddon section.
– I think that it was the honorable member who at Avoca made the famous statement that he would strike off the roll every one who was not a ratepayer. The honorable member said that we had involved the Commonwealth in an expenditure of about £150,000,000.
– I was referring to Commonwealth commitments.
– The honorable member is not particular as to a few millions. His exact statement was that we had mortgaged our resources twenty years ahead. If that was true of us, what are the present Government doing? They have an accumulated surplus of £2,600.000, which we did not spend. They are going to borrow this year £3,080,000, and this is the third occasion on which the Treasurer has been associated with a Loan Bill.
– Do you think there is anything to be ashamed of in that ?
– For certain things, yes. The first proposal was to borrow for works that have since been constructed for the whole of the twelve years out of revenue.
– Where are we to get the revenue from ? Would you impose further taxation ?
– I do not think the Treasurer will propose any additional taxation. An article dealing with the honorable gentleman’s Budget in the Age of Friday last spoke of one of his proposals as verging on insanity, but added that one gratifying feature to the taxpayer was that he did not propose any additional taxation. He does not, but lie is leaving the bill for posterity to pay. I think it was the honorable member for
Maranoa who said he was going on a “ financial drunk.” It is a case of “ Fill up the Loan Bills again.” I am anxious to hear what can be said by some of those honorable members who have been denouncing the late Labour Government for extravagant expenditure.
– The honorable member would rather tax the people.
– I would sooner pay as I
– Did not Victoria build railways out of loan moneys ?
– I do not take exception to the railways. I take no exception to the first three and the last two items, but I do take exception to the items picked out by the honorable member for Adelaide, such, for example, as £170,000 for the purchase of land for post and telegraph purposes. The Treasurer tells us that this money is all ear-marked, so that it is of no use for honorable members to rush to him for extra post-offices for their electorates. Personally, I want none.
– I suppose you were filled up during the term of the last Government.
– I have not had a new post-office in my electorate for twelve years. It is only fair that I should make that statement. There has not been a new post-office erected in the Yarra electorate during the past twelve years, except one which was on the State Estimates for about five years before we federated, and at the present time buildings are being rented for postal purposes.
– Probably, that electorate had more than its share at the beginning.
– It had nothing like the number of post-offices that are provided in other divisions. When the right honorable gentleman was Minister of Home Affairs in a previous Government, he did not find me rushing round to him with requests for post-offices in my electorate.
– Who built the post-office in Swan-street, Richmond?
– Provision for that appeared on the Victorian Estimates for about five years prior to Federation . I see that a sum of £170,000 is to be allocated to the purchase of land for post and telegraph purposes. The Treasurer has informed us that the whole of the sites have already been chosen. I do not believe that that is a right principle to follow.
I presume that the present season is one of the most prosperous we have ever experienced. Yet, the Government propose to spend, this year, £2,600,000 of an accumulated surplus, and an additional £3,080,000, which is to be obtained from loan moneys. As I remarked the other evening at a social gathering, if a man’s income is only £20 a year and he spends £27, he knows where he will eventually land himself. No less a sum than £895,000 is to be spent out of loan moneys upon works which have hitherto been paid for out of revenue. I hold that the system of paying for public works out of revenue is the right one to adopt.
– The State Parliaments do not follow that practice.
– I do not say that everything which the State Parliaments do is correct. It is far better for us to pay for these works out of revenue than to pile up big loans.
– I do not think so.
– I feel sure that there are some honorable members opposite who are reluctant to see the Commonwealth enter the money market as the seventh borrower. The Treasurer has stated that many millions of pounds have been loaned by the Commonwealth up to 1926. As a matter of fact, the Government will have available next year, at varying dates, namely, on the 1st April, 15th April, 13th June, and 21st June, no less a sum than £2,190,000. In addition to that, between March and September, 1914, they will get another £400,000. A sum of £2,590,000 will be available within twelve months, much of it during the early part of next year. I regret exceedingly that some of these items are to appear in a Loan Bill. I hope that the matter will be reconsidered, and that, as far as possible, we shall pay for public works out of revenue.
.- I am very grateful to the Treasurer for the condescension which he exhibited in introducing this proposal. It shows that, after all, he is amenable to reason and capable of appreciating what is due to honorable members. The right honorable gentleman endeavoured to elucidate, as far as he was capable of doing so, the items involved in the proposed loan expenditure. He gyrated from his own speech to the Budget-papers, and from the Budget-papers to his own speech, in an endeavour to explain what is meant by this proposal to commit the Commonwealth to a loan policy. Only a few months ago, the Government were telling the electors that the Labour party were driving this country to insolvency. Those’ who knew it, and those who did not, took up the allegation as a parrot-cry.’ They repeated it like a lot of cockatoos. The Prime Minister, knowing the tricks of the trade, tried that little trick upon the people in an endeavour to throw dust into their eyes.
– How many times is the honorable member going to speak tonight?
– While this country requires my assistance.
– Let us have fair play.
– Was there any fair play about the Prime Minister when he was on the stump at the last elections ? Was there anything to justify his calumniation of the Labour party? Was there anything to indicate that he was honest and truthful in his statements regarding the financial position of the Commonwealth? Certainly not. Yet he now says that we will not give him fair play because we will not permit him to turn turtle without letting the public know of it.
– The honorable member might be fair enough to allow the Budget to be discussed.
– There are so many new members in this Chamber who dare not speak that, it is necessary for those who are under no such restriction to watch over the interests of the people of this country.
– It requires more courage to remain quiet.
– It is not a matter of courage, but of suppressed rage.
– Order 1 I am unable to connect the remarks of the honorable member with the proposal before the Chair.
– When the honorable member for Henty laments that he is unable to speak, my sympathy goes out to him. If he only knew how I sympathize with him in his absolute helplessness upon a Bill of this character - a Bill upon which he could talk with effect–
– Order ! In referring to another honorable member in that way on this resolution the honorable member is distinctly out of order.
– I am merely expressing my regret that the supporters of the Government are not allowed to speak upon such an important proposition.
– I do not think that has anything to do with the resolution.
– I take it that it is a most serious position-
– It is an incorrect statement, too.
– I hope that the Treasurer will not lose his temper.
– No; but do not make misstatements of that sort.
– I never do.
– The honorable member is getting humorous now.
– The honorable member cannot be humorous. Nobody regrets more than I do that the Government are about to embark upon -a policy of wholesale borrowing. “ Hitherto, this Parliament has been held in esteem by the ‘ people of Australia because it has refused to resort to a borrowing policy. The States have borrowed to cover deficits whenever they have occurred, and to carry out legitimate public works. The danger of such a policy is that it affords an opportunity to a Treasurer to evade his responsibilities.
– Is the honorable member aware that last year his Government spent £2,200,000 of loan money?
– Yes; and it “was spent in establishing the Australian Military Forces and the naval power of this country.
– Did they borrow for the Navy?
– The honorable member has said that they practically borrowed the money to buy the Cockatoo Island dock. The money was borrowed in connexion with Defence.
– The point is from whom the money was borrowed.
– We are borrowing it from the same source.
– Honorable members are taking advantage of the legislation of the Labour party, or they would be in the position of having to borrow in the open market. To-day, fortunately for them, owing to the administration of the Labour party during the last three years, they are able to take advantage of our foresight and keen discernment, and borrow money we got without paying interest. I do not object to money being borrowed for railways, because railways are an asset with a certain life. Any asset with a life that can be reasonably measured may be a just proposition to borrow money on, and can be managed so as to redeem the money borrowed out of the profits earned. In fact, it is impossible for us to build railways out of revenue, and I have not a word to say against the proposal to borrow money for railways. On the other hand, the proposal to borrow £895,000 for the three items mentioned by the honorable member for Yarra is a big departure from the previous policy. In the past, these works have always been carried out from revenue, but even if we admit, for the sake of argument, that there is some justification for borrowing money for these works, it is the duty of the Treasurer to show that they are of a character that will lead to the redemption of the money borrowed during their life. Take the item for the purchase of land for post and telegraph purposes. When the Labour party are in power, land naturally rises in value, but there is strong doubt as to whether land will not decrease in value while the Fusion party are in power. There is another item of £425,000 for the construction of conduits and laying telephone wires underground. Why lay the wires underground ? Has the Treasurer looked into the life of these wires underground? He has not told us whether they are single wires, live wires, copper wires, or brass wires, and he has not condescended to tell us what will be the life of these wires. Has the honorable member inquired as to what sinking fund will be necessary to redeem the money borrowed for these works?
– I am informed that these conduits will last for fifty years.
– They may do that, but in half that time they will not be adequate to carry the increased business. They will need to be torn up. Gas-pipes and water-pipes laid by municipalities were expected to last twenty-five years, but in ten years many have had to be torn up because of the inability of the pipes to carry sufficient gas or water.
– I desire to draw attention to the state of the Committee. [Quorum formed.]
– It is good to see honorable members in the Chamber attending to the business of the country.
– None of your side will stop to listen to you.
– I do not wish them to do so; it is to honorable members on the Ministerial side I wish to speak.
– The honorable member is not in order.
– There is no warrant for borrowing money to build conduits, because the Government cannot estimate their life. I venture to say that the officers of the Postal Department cannot do it, judging by their ability in the past to estimate the necessities of the Department. They have been notorious for not being able to see far enough ahead. Time and again they have made mistakes in not preparing for the growth and expansion of the postal service, and they have the Department tangled up in such a way that it has brought, not only confusion, ‘ but heartburning to every PostmasterGeneral. We are warranted in borrowing money for any work the life of which can be fixed, because then we can establish a sinking fund to redeem the loan, but if we cannot fix the life of a work, and, therefore, cannot assess the sinking fund necessary to redeem the loan, we are treading on treacherous ground in borrowing, and we are allowing the Government to steer a course never yet steered by any previous Government, a course that is likely to lead them on to the rocks. We should know something from the Treasurer as to the nature of these conduits; we should know what we are to borrow this money for; also whether it is to be well borrowed or well spent, and whether we are to get the money back again. We are not told how much is to be borrowed for conduits, and how much for wires. This Government, which was going to reduce expenditure, has increased it from £22,000,000 to £27,000,000.
– They are all commitments of the Labour Government.
– The honorable member, who went about the country carping as to the extravagant expenditure of the Labour Government, is now prepared to support a Government which increases the expenditure by £5,000,000 in one year. I cannot understand how he can look his fellow men in the face after telling these stories, which were like those also told by the honorable member for Gippsland in his wild ravings before the electors during the last campaign. I strongly object to the spending of borrowed money on works of this kind. I ask the Treasurer whether money borrowed for Post Office works is to be charged to a general loan account, or to a separate account ?
– He has not considered that.
– It should be considered. The Department of the PostmasterGeneral should be, in the main, self-supporting. Money spent in carrying on its services should be debited to the Department, and the earnings of those services should be used to balance the expenditure.
– Why should the Department be made self-supporting?
– The telegraphic and telephonic services are carried on mostly for the benefit of the business people of the community, who profit greatly by them, and they should be made selfsupporting. To suggest anything else is to suggest what is detrimental to the interests of the country, though the honorable member may be under the delusion that his constituents can be benefited at the expense of the community generally.
– The honorable member asks the party opposite to present a business balance-sheet of its operations.
– I am showing how a Department should be run as a business concern. Is the Treasurer going to debit against the Department the cost of the conduits for which he is borrowing, or will the cost be charged to loan account generally ? The Labour party has from the beginning set its face against borrowing, and I wonder, if the Treasurer feels it necessary to borrow this year, when he has at his disposal a surplus of £2,620,000 left by the last Government, what he will do next year.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I do not know that I should have said anything at this stage had it not been for the exceptional eagerness shown by the Attorney-General to defend the borrowing of money from other sources than the ordinary Trust Funds, an eagerness that was shown by his persistent questioning of the honorable member for Adelaide. The Treasurer said, in effect, “It is all very well to talk about borrowing from the Trust Funds, but I cannot lay my hands on the money, because it has already been invested.” The Budget-papers, however, show how the money has been invested, and when the payments fall due.
– Do not anticipate the speech of the ex-Treasurer.
– We are almost within two months of the end of the calendar year, yet within two months and two weeks, £1,350,000 will come into the hands of the Treasurer from Trust Funds for expenditure. Then early in 1914. there will come into his hands a sum of £1,125,000. This is money that was well invested by the late Treasurer with State Governments. Therefore, within about six months from that particular source alone the Treasurer will become the possessor of money to the extent of £2,475,000, and within twelve months - that is by the 30th June, 1914 - there will mature other sums, making a total of £3,800,000. There are only, I repeat, about eight months of this financial year to go. .We are not now talking about money which we intend to expend within a period of twelve months. I admit that some of the money has already been spent.
– We have already spent over £1,000,000 on the overland railway.
– I am not going to say that that money has not been spent. But within the remaining eight months of the present financial year the Treasurer will have coming into his hands £3,800,000. Yet he is wondering where he is going to get the; money to carry out the works authorized by the Loan Bill to the amount of £3,080,000. I take it that, with the exception of the Note Issue Fund, there will also be a considerable amount of interest accruing from our splendid investments.
– The peculiar feature is that although that information is contained in the Budget-papers, yet the Treasurer does not know it.
– I cannot conceive of that. The Treasurer is complaining that he will not have the money.
– The statements I made in my Budget speech are absolutely right. If you like to twist them, very well; but there they are.
– The right honorable gentleman is unfair.
– What are you talking about?
Mr.FENTON. - For the Treasurer’s special edification I shall read the figures from his own Budget-papers.
– You want to tell me what, perhaps, I have said already in my Budget speech. I do not wish to hear it again.
– This evening the right honorable gentleman has been complaining, “ Where am I to lay my hands on the money to carry out these works?” and he has made that the sole reason, apparently, why he has to resort to this plan of going outside the Trust Funds. We do not want that to take place. By the method of borrowing from the Trust Funds the late Government saved all borrowing charges. We have not had to go to our uncle in London, or to the local market where it costs every borrower a considerable sum. Why are the Treasurer and the Attorney-General so anxious at the present time to go outside and borrow money from their friends the financiers in this or any other part of the world ? Have they any particular purpose to serve when there will come into their hands, not only in small sums, but in big sums, and within a period of eight and a half months, no less than £3,800,000 of Trust Funds money. I have dealt with the sums that will come in during the present financial year. But if the figures are only analyzed, it will be found that, early in the next financial year, considerable sums will come in. That shows the wonderful prudence, ability, and capacity of the late Ministry in husbanding the resources of the Commonwealth, and especially in carefully safeguarding its financial interests. I wish to quote t he figures, if you, sir, will permit me to do so. On the 17th September, of this year, £100,000 came into the’ Treasurer’s hands; in October, £100,000; in November, £100,000; and in December, £100,000. On the 5th March, of next year, that is in less than six months from this date, £840,000 of loans maturing will come into the Treasurer’s hands; in December of this year, £750,000 will come into his hands; on the 5th March of next year, £150,000; and in November and December, of the present year, £200,000 more. Seeing that the Budget figures disclose that all this money will be available - and it is more than will he wanted within a period of eight months - why are the Treasurer and the Attorney-General so anxious to go out side the Trust Funds in order to procure money to carry out these worts? I trust that it will not he done. I think that we have had enough experience of taking that course. We talk about the passing on to posterity of some of the burdens of the Commonwealth. We are the posterity of those who preceded us. I do not complain about the very fine work carried out by the pioneers of this country, but one of the biggest burdens which the people of Australia are carrying is the nearly £12,000,000 of interest that has to be sent abroad every year. We want to prevent the sending of vast sums out of the country for that purpose.
– It is nothing like £12,000,000. We have borrowed a lot of money in this country.
– In this country we have borrowed between £80,000,000 and £90,000,000 out of a total borrowing of £290,000,000, and the balance has been borrowed from outside. Up to now, we have paid for our borrowed money £300,000,000 in interest.
– That is nothing.
– I am afraid that the right honorable gentleman is on “ the borrow, boom, and burst policy “ again, but we want to avoid that.
– Borrowing has made this country what it is.
– To. an extent, that is so. But that is no reason why, when we have the money in our exchequer, we should run outside our own country to borrow.
– Who is going to do that?
– The right honorable gentleman has been hinting at that this evening. I wish to ascertain, before he actually pledges himself, what is intended to be done. There will have to be an assurance given in this Loan Bill as to where the money is to be obtained.
– I have said so here.
– How is it that the AttorneyGeneral seems to be so anxious to go outside our own Trust Funds to borrow? Every twenty-six years, at our present rate, we are making up our National Debt once again. We are paying out £285,000,000 in interest every twenty-six years. Yet we have in office a Government who seem inclined to rush outside the Trust Funds in order to borrow money from their financial friends outside Australia.
– Not at all.
– I trust that it will not be so.
– Why do you not read page 1792 of Hansard, and see what I propose ?
– Why was so much anxiety displayed by the Treasurer and the Attorney-General this afternoon? The right honorable gentleman says he has not the money.
– We want the money.
– According to this evening’s Herald, the right honorable gentleman has delivered eleven Budget speeches in Western Australia, and three in the Commonwealth Parliament. When he is revelling in millions he ought to be content.
– Why do you not read the Hansard report of what I said?
– The right honorable gentleman said just now that he would have a difficulty in getting hold of the money just when he required it.
– That is true.
– Does the right honorable gentleman expect, in the remaining eight months of this financial year, to get rid of the whole of the £27,000,000 which he has outlined in his Budget speech ?
– I do not know.
– Does the right honorable gentleman expect to do so? I do not think so for one moment.
– When it is wanted we shall have some difficulty in getting the money in, because it will not be there; but, even so, I hope it will be possible to arrange.
– The right honorable gentleman admits in his Budget speech, “ I am in the happy position of having inherited a surplus of £2,600,000 from the previous Government.” He says, “I anticipate a revenue of nearly £22,000,000, making a total, with the surplus, of £24,000,000, and, on top of that- the biggest revenue that any Treasurer has had the right to handle in Australia in one year- I must borrow £3,080,000.”
– The sum of £6,000,000 goes to the States.
– Practically the same amount went to the States last year. I find that the Treasurer, in the concluding paragraph of his Budget statement in regard to loan proposals, said -
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.
I have pointed out certain transactions in regard to loan moneys to which there is no reference in the Budget-papers. The £3,800,000 coming in this year should tide the Treasurer over this expenditure of £3,080,000, and I trust that he will not go outside our own funds to provide for necessary works.
.– I enter my protest against this proposal, for the reason that I am opposed entirely to the borrowing of money for Governmental purposes. The time has arrived when we ought to be able to carry on these works without borrowing.
– I think .the time has. arrived when we ought to have a quorum.[Quorum formed.]
– These Governmental undertakings can be provided for either by borrowing or taxation. By borrowing, we place a perpetual charge upon future generations. It is idle- to say, so - far as this loan is concerned, that it will be redeemed within a certain time. I do ‘ not think the Treasurer has indicated that a sinking fund is to be provided. ‘ Most of the States, with the exception of Western Australia, have failed to provide- any sinking funds worth talking about for the redemption of their loans. As a homely illustration, let me point out that, if we borrow £1,000,000 at 3 per cent, for fifty years, at the end of that period we’, shall have paid £1,500,000 in interest, and will still owe the amount originally borrowed. We shall then have to go on the market to borrow £1,000,000 in order to pay off the first loan. Such a system must come to an end sooner or later. If we go on borrowing large sums from abroad instead of endeavouring to raise the money locally, we shall place upon the people a burden that they will be unable to bear. Only a few years ago the value of our imports exceeded the value of our ex= ‘ ports by nearly £25,000,000, and the. pre- - sent Prime Minister then pointed out that - the time was fast approaching when steps would have to be taken to prevent such a large sum of money annually leaving the country. Having regard to, the present’- state of the London money market, T do not suppose we shall be able to obtain this money for less than 4 per cent.; so that, with respect to this loan, we shall have an annual interest bill of £120,000.
– We can borrow this money from our Trust Funds.
– Will the Treasurer say definitely that the Government intend to borrow this money from the Trust Funds ?
– He said so at the beginning.
– We will take it from the Trust Funds.
– The honorable member, in his Budget speech, said the Government might have to go outside to obtain this money.
– I said that we hoped we should be able to take it out of Trust Funds.
– If we raise this money abroad and have to pay 4 per cent, for it, we shall have an interest bill of £120,000 a year to meet. In other words, if men, after providing for their maintenance, could earn sufficient to set apart -£100 a year for the use of the nation, it would mean that 1,200 men would have to toil all the year round to produce an amount sufficient to pay interest on this loan. Already the people of Australia are paying, in respect of the national debt, an interest bill amounting to nearly £12,000,000 a year. About £80,000,000 of the national debt has been borrowed within the Commonwealth.
– I am glad that, within the last few years, a larger proportion of our public loans has been raised locally.
– Is not that a bad sign?
– I think it a good sign.
– Would it not have been far better to spend the money in developing Australia than to have it locked up in Government securities?
– Does the honorable member think that this money, when raised, is merely locked up in the Treasury? Is it not spent in developing the country 1
– It is locked up in a lot of unproductive works.
– The interest on that £92,000,000 is being spent in the country, and not abroad. I said that there are two methods of obtaining the money required to meet Government expenditure. One is by borrowing, and the other by taxation. I think that if £1,000,000 or £2,000,000 is required, we should tax the people by that amount. Then when it is paid there will be an end of it.
– Suppose we wanted £20,000,000 ?
– why £20,000,000?
Why not £250,000,000? The honorable member forgets that we will seldom spend in any one year more than £1,000,000 or £1,500,000.
– It will cost about £1,000,000 for the up-keep of the Navy.
– Does the honorable member mean ‘ to say that we should maintain the Navy out of borrowed money?
– Borrowed money should be expended only upon permanent reproductive works, and on such works we should never spend more than about £1,500,000 in any one year. The honorable member will find that on the great Transcontinental Railway, which is estimated to cost over £4,000,000, the Treasurer estimates that he will require for this year only about £1,500,000, and that is all that will be provided for in the Loan Bill which is now to be introduced. I have no very great objection to this Loan Bill, as we now have the assurance of the Treasurer that the money required is to be taken out of our own Trust Funds.
– The Treasurer said so in his Budget speech.
– No, the right honorable gentleman did not. The matter was left in doubt by the Budget speech, but there is now no doubt about it, as the Treasurer has given us his distinct assurance that the money will be taken from the Trust Funds. If that be so, there will be no very strong objection to the loan from this side, whatever objection we may have to the details of expenditure proposed. If it were proposed to borrow the money abroad, I should take very strong exception to it, because I think it is quite time we adopted a better method of finance than that which has been adopted in the past. All parties in the States in the past desired to carry on what they called “a progressive works policy,” and in carrying out such a policy they spent huge sums of borrowed money. While the money was being spent everything was booming, and they all thought how prosperous they were. But a time came when they had to pay back the borrowed money, and difficulties at once arose. They are faced to-day with the fact that the rate of interest has gone up from 3 to 3½ and 4 per cent., and they have placed themselves in the hands of the money-lenders at the other end of the world, because they have made no provision to meet their obligations as their loans fall due. That is a humiliating position for the States to occupy, and I am afraid that thatstate of affairs will continue for some time longer. It must be remembered that on the passing of this Loan. Bill there will be another borrower on the market, and we shall have seven borrowers in Australia instead of six. We know the complications which take place because of the number of States desiring to borrow. Only a little time ago we had a lamentable exhibition of the haste of the various State’ Treasurers to get money on the London market. Four States- New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, and Western Australia - had loans falling due, and required a certain amount of money to meet them. The amounts required by New South Wales and Victoria were very large. The different States sent the State Treasurers or other Ministers to London to negotiate their loans. What was the result 1 Queensland came upon the scene. Her Treasurer whipped into the London market while the representatives of the other States were on their way to the Old Country, and secured a loan of £2,000,000, the whole of which he did not want, because he lent, or offered to lend, a certain portion of it to the other States as soon as he got it. His action placed the representatives of the other States at the mercy of the money-lenders, and some of them have been unable to complete their loans up to the present time. That is a state of affairs which should not exist. I should regret it very much if we had to go upon the London money market in competition with the different States, and I repeat that the objection to the proposed loan is greatly minimized by the assurance of the Treasurer that the money will be taken from the Trust Funds. The Treasurer said that he Government had not the money they required, and that is what led to the impression that they intended to go outside to borrow. I remind honorable mem-, bers that the Government have been left with a handsome surplus of £2,600,000, and there is an amount of about £7,000,000 included in short-dated loans, the greater portion of which will fall due in the’ next sixteen or eighteen months.: In the circumstances, the present Treasurer should be the last to complain, because he must recognise that all the money he is likely to require to carry on the great works to which the Commonwealth is committed will be available. In the next four months about £2,400,000 will be falling due, and in the next eight months about £4,000,000. Then, within the next sixteen or seventeen months, I understand that nearly £7,000,000 will be available.
– What is the amount?
– It is £3,800,000.
– That is in this financial year.
– No, there will be £2,590,000 falling due on 30th September, 1914, and then there will be further sums lent to the States amounting to £1,310,000.
– In any case large sums of money wil be available to the Treasurer at short notice. I trust that the right honorable gentleman in dealing with the loan proposals will not go outside the Trust Funds for the money he requires. He said -
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. I am glad the honorable member is going to confine himself purely to our ownTrust Funds. I trust that the time will never come when the Government will have to go on to the London market to obtain money. That would only add to the difficulties we have had in the past in relation to loan matters. It would not be calculated to assist the credit of the States or the Commonwealth for them to come into competition with each other for large sums of money from time to time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolution reported and adopted.
That Sir John Forrest and Mr.W. H. Irvine do prepare and bring in a Bill to carry out the foregoing resolution
Bill presented by Sir John Forrest, and read a first time.
In Committee (Consideration of GovernorGeneral’s message)
Motion (by Sir John Forrest) agreed to-
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of a Bill for an Act relating to sections 7 and 8 of the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act1912 relating to claims made for invalid and old-age pensions by persons who are unfit to be intrusted with pensions, relating to payment of invalid and old-age pensions in respect of periods during which pensioners are inmates of benevolent asylums or hospitals, and relating to payments on the decease of invalid and old-age pensioners
Resolution reported and adopted
That Sir John Forrest and Mr W H Irvine do prepare and bring in a Bill to carry out the foregoing resolution
Bill read a third time
House adjourned at 10 15 p m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 8 October 1913, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1913/19131008_reps_5_71/>.