5th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– Before entering upon the business ofthe day, I should like, with the permission of the House, to refer to the terrible catastrophe that has befallen the miners of Senghenywd, in Wales.
– Notwithstanding the application of all the resources of modern science to the removal of dangers in mining operations, we have not yet succeeded in preventing the occurrence of disasters which profoundly impress the whole world, stirring in all mankind the elemental feelings of grief and compassion, and profoundly moving men of all races and of all conditions of life. It seems beyond the possibility of doubt that between 400 and 500 brave men have met their death by reason of this colliery explosion. These happenings are the more horrifying to those who have had experience of them; it is only those who have been near to them who realize their horror. I am sure that I voice the feelings of every honorable member, and of the country, in offering heartfelt sympathy to the relatives of those who are thevictims of this disaster, and in expressing the deep grief that its occurrence has caused us. I am sure, too, that I echo the feelings of honorable members in expressing the hope that a kind Providence will soften the blow to the widows and orphans, and make up to them, so far as may be possible in this world, what they have lost by the death of their breadwinners, their fathers and brothers. On behalf of the Parliament, I wish to express to all whom these words may reach - my right honorable friend the Leader of the Opposition will second my effort - the great grief which is felt by the Parliament and the people of Australia at this untoward happening, and the hope that we may see an end to these occurrences as speedily as possible. The GovernorGeneral has this morning despatched the following cablegram to the Secretary of State for the Colonies: -
On behalf of the Government and people of the Commonwealth of Australia, I shall be glad if you will kindly convey to the relatives of the sufferers through the terrible colliery disaster at Senghenywd an expression of our sincere sympathy. We deeply deplore the loss of these valuable lives, and earnestly hope that the rescue operations now in progress will be attended with success.
I am sure that we all hope that that may be so.
.- The Prime Minister truly speaks for the whole Parliament, and, indeed, for the whole people of Australia, in expressing sympathy with the bereaved and suffering whose relatives are the victims of the appalling disaster which has just occurred in the valley of Senghenywd. It is my privilege to have been there quite recently, and I know that in the valleys and mountains of Wales disasters are frequent, but this that we now deplore is, I think, the most appalling mining accident that has taken place in the United Kingdom. We, i community composed of men and women of English, Irish, Scotch, and Welsh birth or descent, are more nearly akin to those who are suffering than are the people of any other nation. The Prime Minister, like myself, spent part of his youth and early manhood in mining operations, and, no doubt, when he read the first news of the explosion, felt, as I did, that the consequences would be severe. That the disaster has occurred we all regret, but nothing that we can say or do can alter what has taken place. I join with the Prime Minister in the hope that the wit of man may devise some means for better protecting the lives of miners. I join with the honorable gentleman, too, in the prayer that in Him who alone can soften the blow to the bereaved widows and the orphans they may have a comforter and friend to solace and support them in their hours of grief. I cordially join in this expression of sympathy.
Mr. SPEAKER reported the receipt of a message from His Excellency the GovernorGeneral recommending an appropriation for the purposes of an amendment of this Bill.
– I ask the Minister of External Affairs, in regard to the proposal to medically examine in Great Britain persons intending to emigrate to Australia, whether, in the event of the examination revealing constitutional defects which may be permanent, those in whom they are found will be prevented from coming.
– At intervals during the last few days I have been considering the regulations, which will soon be published, when the conditions of admission to this country will be made known. The regulations must, of course, comply with the policy of the Act passed last session, and in framing them we have had to bear in mind the distinction between the application of principles of eugenics and the precautionary measures that are necessary under the conditions of ordinary immigration.
– I desire to ask the PostmasterGeneral a question with reference to the case of the Postal Electricians Union verms the Postmaster-General and the Public Service Commissioner. Inasmuch as Mr. Justice Higgins has recently given a determination in which the requests of the Postal Electricians Union have been acceded to, and further, inasmuch as the award extends back to the 12th September of this year, will the honorable gentleman see that the moneys are paid to the men at once, and the decision of the Judge observed ?
– Instructions were sent to Sydney the day before yesterday that these moneys should be paid. Last evening I received a telegram from the secretary of the union, and I replied that I had already sent a telegram authorizing the payment of the money as from the 12th September.
– Last session I asked the then Postmaster-General if lie would consider the matter of making public telephones at railway stations available for trunk-line calls. He promised to look into the matter, and I believe that some decision has been come to in the Department. I desire to know what has been done.
– The Department has been experimenting to see how this suggestion can be carried out, but the difficulty in connexion with the sending of telephone messages on trunk lines from railway stations is the collection of the fees. The stationmasters are not officers of the Department, and it is difficult for them to keep a record of the fees, and there is no check. But the Department is experimenting to see how far the idea can be carried out. Experiments are being carried on in Queensland.
– Will the PostmasterGeneral take into consideration the regulation which provides for the payment of £1 the first year to persons who undertake the establishment of postoffices in the country, with a view to a larger amount being paid?
– I think that my honorable friend is labouring under a misapprehension. In distant places sometimes a receiving bag is sent along with a mail, and the person who receives the bag gets half-a-dozen letters for himself and his neighbours, and we allow £1 a year for the receiving bag.’ That is the substance of the regulation.
– It is done more to make the person an official than for anything else.
– The object is that the persons shall be responsible to the Department. It is an advantage to themselves to have a receiving bag. So far as I understand the working of the Department, it is not a question of the opening of a post-office, but only a question of giving £1 a. year for this service. :f
– Is the PostmasterGeneral bringing out a wireless expert to supervise the work that has been carried out so far by the wireless expert engaged by a former Government? Has he any reason to apprehend that the work which is being done by the Federal wireless expert is not of the most efficient character, and is it the intention of the Government to bring out experts to supervise other work done by the experts employed by a former Government?
– An action for a very large sum of money has been brought by the Marconi Company against the Commonwealth, and in order to defend that action it is necessary for us to have expert evidence. A gentleman, who has been recommended to the Government by the Admiralty as one of the greatest experts in the world, has been brought out by us for the purpose of examining our system and advising us. as to whether we have committed any infringement of the Marconi patents.
– Will the Prime Minister be good enough to supply the House with particulars as to how he arrived at the calculation that during three years the Labour party had compelled the taxpayer to pay £7 lis. more in taxes per family per annum ?
– So far as I recollect, the honorable member will find all these details in the Treasurer’s Budget. I think that my right honorable friend estimated the amount at £ 10s. 4d. more than three years ago.
– Seeing that in today’s newspapers it is reported that there are no new cases of alleged small-pox in Sydney, will the Prime Minister now take into his consideration the advisability of removing the ban that has rested on that city so long ?
– I admit frankly that I expected that question from the honorable member. I am afraid that it is too early to do what he suggests. I hope that the better order of things may continue. Nobody is more delighted at the better and cheering prospect than I am.
– I wish to ask the Minister of Home Affairs if it is a fact that only 1,000 feet of marble has been ordered from New South Wales for the
Federal Offices in London, whereas some 10,000 feet of marble has been ordered from Victoria?
– I should like my honorable friend to give notice of the question, so that I may ascertain the exact quantities which have been ordered.
– Does the Ministerknow that there are vast proved fields ofthe best marble round Bathurst and Orange, whereas the fields in Victoria are not proved at all?
-I understand that the fields in New South Wales are very promising in quality, but I do not admit that the fields in Victoria are not of a similar nature.
– Order ! For the information of honorable memberswho might not have been present when I made an intimation previously, I wish to state that the object of asking questions is to seek information, and not to give it. Therefore, the making of statements in asking questions is not in order.
– I wish to ask the Acting Minister of Home Affairs from what part of Australia the beautiful piece of marble in the Queen’s Hall came ?
– The honorable member pointed rather vaguely behind him, and did not sufficiently particularize to enable me to give an answer off-hand.
– While he was speaking yesterday, the honorable member for Brisbane wanted to know what was happening at the Treasury building. I did not quite understand my honorable friend, and lest there might be a misapprehension, I desire to make an explanation. The company that sold the cement to the Department are removing the steps and putting good stepsin the place of them .
-Are they putting in concrete steps ?
– The company are fixing up the steps. There will be no loss. We purchased the cement from a good local company. These things will happen sometimes, whether we like it or not.
– And the present work is not costing anything extra?
– Is it a fact that the Minister of Home Affairs has cancelled the order for a Diesel oil engine for the transcontinental railway ?
– No order hasbeen lodged with regard to a Diesel oil engine. We have been endeavouring to make some arrangement for the supply of oneengine of that type, as we believe that it is of a nature which might be very valuablefor transcontinental purposes, but as to order has been lodged no order can have been cancelled.
– Has the PostmasterGeneral seen the statement in this morning’s newspapers that the roof of the Middle Park post-office collapsed yesterday. If so, will the honorable gentleman state whether the building is owned or rented by the Commonwealth, and whether it was built by contract or by day labour ?
– The only information I have regarding the occurrence is that which I gathered from this morning’s newspapers. I shall make inquiries, and endeavour to answer the honorable member’s question later on.
– Will the Treasurer state whether or not it is a fact that he intends to call a conference of State Premiers to deal with the question of State debts, and, if so, whether he has obtained permission from Messrs. Watt and Holman to do so?
– The matter is being considered.
– Is the Minister of Trade and Customs in a position yet to state whether the Government propose to bring down legislation to give effect to the recommendation of the Royal Commission - a proposal which the Ministerial party advocated, I think, during the election campaign - for the payment of an extra bounty of 2s. per ton on all cane harvested under the bounty conditions during the 1912 season ?
– Why does the right honorable member look at me?
– Because the honorable gentleman is said to have advocated it.
– I did not.
– The matter will be considered.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Will he give the reasons which actuate him in refusing to lay upon the table a copy of the instructions issued by the Government to Sir Maurice Fitzmaurice?
– The statement is not accurate. There has been no such refusal.
Mr. KELLY laid upon the table the following papers: -
Lands Acquisition Act -
Land acquired under, at -
Boomi, New South Wales - For Postal purposes.
Bulli, New South Wales - For Defence purposes.
Toowoomba, Queensland - For Defence purposes.
Tuggerariong, Federal Territory - For Federal Capital purposes.
– I move -
That the Postal Department should be placed under a Board of Management on the lines laid down in the report of the Royal Commission on Postal Services.
I feel that this isa motion of vast importance, deserving the very closest consideration of honorable members. It is a well-known fact that for a long time the great postal service of Australia has given at least very unsatisfactory results to the public, the Department itself, and to members of this Parliament. The Postal Department is the most important of all the Departments of State with the administration of which this Legislature is charged. According to this year’s Estimates, its expenditure in one year amounts to over £7,000,000, or to nearly £5,000,000 apart from the works that have to be carried out for it. Having regard to this enormous expenditure, and the responsibility it entails, it seems to me that the time has arrived when this Parliament should review the whole position. In order to give some indication of the importance of this subject, I propose to put before honorable members a brief history of the service. The Postal Department directly touches more people, and affects the lives of more units in the community than does any other Department of State; yet, both under the State régime, as well as since it has been under Federal control, it seems to have been regarded as a kind of outcast. In preFederation days the least important Minister was always placed in charge of it, and there was no attempt to lay down anything like a clear-cut system of administration. The methods of the Department in those days were not of such a business character as to do credit to its work. When it took over the administration of the Postal Department the Federal Parliament found itself face to face with a very arduous task. Six widely divergent systems had to be assimilated, and in orderthat this might be successfully accomplished, it was necessary that there should be brought to bear upon the work, not only the best organizing skill and the greatest financial talent, but the keenest possible foresight. The initial mistake made in connexion with the transfer of the service was that no effort was made by the Federal Parliament to bring those six widely divergent systems into line. The whole thing was left absolutely to chance, and matters were allowed to rectify themselves as best they could. Year after year was allowed to pass without any serious effort to arrive at a solution of the organization and financial difficulties or the system of initiating and paying for works required for the Department. As a result, this Parliament was involved in responsibilities in connexion with it which it has never, so far, been able to fulfil. Owing to the ineptitude of State management and the lack of foresight displayed by the Federal authorities, the Post and Telegraph Department throughout the Commonwealth, and especially in New South Wales, was in a state of chaos and collapse. In 1907, as a member of this House, I was closely observant of the working of the Department, and was brought into intimate relationship with the General Post Office in Sydney quite accidentally through having taken over the work of the honorable member for West Sydney while he was away on public business. What I learned at that time convinced me that the thorough investigation into its affairs which should have taken place in the early days of Federation could no longer be delayed if the discontent, inefficiency, and stagnation of the Department were to be brought to an end. After long and strenuous efforts I moved in this House for the appointment of a Royal Commission to investigate the affairs of this great Public Service. The members of the then Opposition, for purposes of their own, supported my motion. I thank them for doing so, because they enabled me to secure the inquiry which was so much needed. When the Commission was being formed, strange to say, not one of the members on the Opposition side who voted for its .appointment was prepared to take a seat on it. Nearly every member of the then Opposition, of any importance, was approached by the then Prime Minister to accept a position on the Commission, but not one would comply with the request. It was only by some form of deception that an unattached member of the Opposition, in the person of Mr. Wilks, the then member for Dalley, was persuaded to accept a position as a member of the Commission, He was the only member of a party that voted en bloc for the inquiry who took a seat on the Commission. Even the present Prime Minister was approached, and though he had always professed to take a deep interest in the postal services of Australia, he found an excuse, which, to my mind, was inadequate, for his refusal to accept the position offered him. I believe that the present Postmaster-General has in mind some proposal to alter the existing system of control in the Post and Telegraph Department. The work of the members of the Postal Commission was arduous and unsatisfactory. Its composition was not what I should have liked, as the instigator of it. Trouble arose within the Commission, and we had absolutely to discard some of the members of it in order to get at the facts which we desired to bring before the public. The Commission eventually presented a report, in which they made 175 recommendations for reforms which they believed to be essential for the immediate salvation of the Department and the rectification of anomalies and disabilities which had hitherto been characteristic of it. I may say that I believe the report provided a welcome addition to the information required for the improvement of conditions in the Department. There is no doubt in my mind that it has furnished a chart which -has enabled succeeding PostmastersGeneral to steer clear of the breakers which threatened the downfall and collapse of the whole institution. Succeeding Ministers have from time to time adopted a very large number of the minor recommendations of the Committee. I make bold to say that no other Commission has ever sat in any part of the British Dominions which has dealt with a more important problem or presented a report which has had such far-reaching effects or recommendations that have been more generally adopted. Out of 175 recommendations made by the Commission, I may say that 130 have been practically adopted and, given effect to by Parliament, the Public Service Commissioner, or the Department. The minor recommendations of the Commission have been given effect to stall off disaster, but the cardinal recommendation has not yet been adopted, and it is with respect to such that I am moving this afternoon. I should have moved in this direction before, but. I wished first to allow the PostmasterGeneral for the time being to remedy, as far as possible, the minor disabilities affecting the organization of the service and producing discontent and inefficiency. This having been done so far as I could reasonably expect, I now move the adoption of what I consider to be the main recommendation of the Postal Commission. Since the postal services of the States came under the control .of the Federation, we have had no fewer than twelve Postmasters-General - that is, in a little over twelve years. No PostmasterGeneral, T do not care how clever or efficient he may be, or what experience he may have had in business or otherwise, can, while attending to the administration ‘ of that great Department, master and solve the problems that require to be dealt with in connexion with it.
– That is a good argument in favour of an elective Ministry.
– I am not now discussing the question of elective Ministries. One of the troubles of the great Post and Telegraph Department of the Commonwealth has been due to the many changes in the administrative head. Each succeeding Postmaster-General, as he took office, has tried to do his best to grapple with the conditions he has found existing in the Department, but each has failed to comprehend a tithe of the responsibilities of his office. I do not say that it is right, but every Minister, as he has succeeded to the office, has looked upon himself as a new broom, and has tried to sweep something away. He has naturally found anomalies there, and as soon as he discovered them he endeavoured to cure them. But, in doing so, he was merely flicking away a little of the dust which has accumulated during years of mismanagement and red-tape, and his efforts could have no effect upon the major reforms which are necessary to place the Department upon a solid basis. I know that the Public Service Commissioner ‘has had to abandon all the opinions which he formerly “held regarding this Department, and to negative nearly every proposition that he himself laid down with a view to insuring better organization and complete efficiency in it. Up till 1905, the effect of his scheme was to utterly disorganize the whole service by breeding discontent throughout it. He was the last witness who was examined by the Postal Commission, and he was thus afforded an opportunity of presenting his case in the best possible way. During the course of his examination he affirmed that everything was well in the postal service, that the wages paid were adequate, and that the hours of employment were reasonable. Yet, even while the report of the Commission was being formulated, he began to reverse the action of this huge machine, so that to-day there remains scarcely a vestige of the policy which he had laid down year after year in respect of tks Postal Department. He practically annulled the whole of the system which he claimed to have built up. To-day the Department is being strangled. The Postmaster-General, the Deputy PostmastersGeneral, and the heads of the Department are powerless. Why? Because in that Department a position has been set up which would not be tolerated for five minutes in any business concern. There, we have . an illustration of power alienated from responsibility. The officers who are responsible for the efficiency of that service have no power to promote or dismiss any officer, who may merit advancement or dismissal, as the case nay be. The Public Service Commissioner is vested with sole power in that connexion. The officers who are in charge of this great Department, and who know the capacity of each person under them, have no authority to say that this man shall be promoted because of the service which he renders to the Commonwealth, and that that man shall be relegated to a subordinate position because he does not render effective service. The Public Service Commissioner has admitted that the system which he devised was worth nothing when subjected to the crucial test of experience.
– Has not the Public Service Commissioner a system of examination?
– Yes. But the test test to which any officer can be subjected is the performance of his official duties. In 1906, we could not get any money voted towards the initiation of postal reform. The Department had been starved for years, and had been made the cat’spaw of the Treasurer of the day. If any Treasurer found that it was necessary to curtail the Estimates he knocked ofl’ all the additional money sought by the Postal Department, irrespective of whether his action crippled the service or not. However, there is no need for n~b to go into details, which are clearly set ont in the report of the Postal Commission. I desire to deal with the big principle of the management and control of the Department rather than with the details of administration. What has the system produced ? A system must be judged by its results. What were the results of the administration and control of the Public Service Commissioner which we discovered ? Any one who cares to read the evidence taken by the Royal Commission will find that one result stood out above all others: that was, that the system had produced a standard of men far below what should be the standard of officers controlling a big Department such as the Postal Department. No matter where we investigated - even if it was among the Deputy Postmasters-General - we discovered at once a lack of initiative, lack of discernment, lack of organizing ability, and lack of power to enforce discipline. In fact, among the Deputy PostmastersGeneral we discovered a body of men who were, under the regulations and by-laws, practically evading their responsibilities, and casting the blame on to the central office in Melbourne. Fancy one man controlling a big Department like this, that is spending nearly £4,000,000 annually on wages and salaries alone, and that amount increasing by leaps and bounds every year. Each Minister feels it incumbent on him to alter the conditions so as to comply with the changes taking place outside the service in regard to the cost of living. The Public Service Commissioner has this same cry in his recent reports. He says that he is altering and increasing the Public Service staff and expenditure to the tune of thousands, both in numbers of nien and in pounds sterling.
– Is not the increase of work largely responsible for that ?
– Yes; but while every year we are sanctioning this great expenditure^ - nearly £7,000,000 this year, being five and a quarter millions directly out of revenue, and nearly £2,000,000 for new works to be provided out of loan funds - all this money is to be controlled, managed, spent, ‘and economized by the officer who is iii ‘‘charge of the central branch, at a salary of £1,000 a year. He is the man with his finger on the button, controlling this big Department. I have nothing to say against him personally ; he is the result of a system; but he is in charge of every branch of the service, postal, telegraphic, telephonic, and cable - all the intricacies of these various Departments rest on the shoulders of one man. What are his qualifications for this important post? It is well known that he was a clerical officer, and that only. He had never served at the instrument used by the operator ; he had never worked- in the engineer’s room, and he knew nothing about the practical work of inspecting or managing post-offices; yet he was brought to Melbourne under the aegis of the previous secretary as his understudy, and in that way he has been put in charge of this great Department. I venture to say that no private individual having to spend that large amount of money, and having to take responsibility for such a Department, would ever dream, if it was his own business or one he was controlling, of paying a man £800 or £1,000 a year to manage it for him. What would private people do with the Post-Office if it was handed over to them to-morrow, with all its ramifications ? Would they expect a general manager - even if a general manager would suffice - at a salary of £1,000 a year, to control the expenditure of £5,000,000.
– They would give him a salary more like that the manager of the Commonwealth Bank receives.
– I do not say that the salary of the. present officer is not that which his services entitle him to get, but I say that there is in the Department a system operating from the top right down through the service in such a way that there is a lack of standard, and a lack of ability and experience. That is what the Postal Commission found. We found that the standard was too low. It was set low at the top, and, naturally, it crushed others down as it got towards the bottom. Under the system which the Public Service Commissioner alleged to be one that would give the best results to the community, we found with rare exceptions - and very often those exceptions were not allowed to rise - officers in positions who were in no way up to the standard required of men called upon to take the responsibilities they had to master. I can give one concrete example. A Deputy Postmaster-General was required for Western Australia. Since the Royal Commission reported, the Public Service Commissioner has retraced his steps to some extent. According to the Public Service Commissioner’s ideal scheme, which is that no man in the Public Service shall get into a “higher position unless he is qualified, we would naturally expect to find the man on the higher rung of the ladder more highly qualified than the man on the rung below. What was the result of filling the vacancy in Western Australia? Previously, a chief clerk in a State nearly always secured an appointment as Deputy PostmasterGeneral; at any rate, chief clerks were looked upon as the understudies of the Deputy Postmasters- General, and if the system of the Public Service Commissioner was a right one, a chief clerk should have been qualified to fill the vacant position in Western Australia. The Royal Commission had declared that the men who should get these positions were not necessarily the men next in seniority, but those best qualified to fill them, and when a Deputy Postmaster- General was needed for Western Australia, one would naturally expect the,- Public Service Commissioner to fill the post from among the chief clerks. But, apparently, the chief clerks in the States, with the exception of the chief clerk in New South Wales, were not qualified to do what the Public Service Commissioner said they were qualified to do by having classified them as chief clerks. The chief clerk in
New South Wales was not open to take the appointment, but in regard to the other chief clerks, although each of them had been put in his position as allegedly qualified to act as understudy to a Deputy Postmaster-General, not one of them was considered capable of filling the position of Deputy Postmaster-General in Western Australia. The six engineers of the States were next in rotation in the service, but, in the opinion of the Public Service Commissioner, there was not one of them capable of filling the position. The six telegraph managers came next, but none of them was considered capable of filling the position. The six head accountants came next, but none of them was considered capable of filling the position. The six mail superintendents were in the same position. Prom these thirty-six men on the different rungs of the ladder, who occupied their posts allegedly because they were qualified under the classification of the Public Service Commissioner, he did not secure one man to fill this post in Western Australia Under the new regime, he had to go down to an assistant mail superintendent drawing £310 a year - I think it was - before he could find a man that he considered qualified, and possessing the necessary initiative . and capacity to undertake the control of the Postal Department in one of the States. There never was more convincing or stronger proof of the absolute futility or total failure of the system of the Public Service Commissioner than was exposed in that one action of denouncing all the superior officers - his own appointments - as unfit, and selecting an inferior officer to fill the posiv tion. I could quote case after case that came under my observation. There were supposed to be six accountants, one for each State. Now there is lm branch of any business of more importance than the proper keeping of its accounts. If the finances of a business are not properly managed, it is not of much use to look after its other departments. There were six accountants, one for each State, who were supposed to be capable of advising the PostmasterGeneral as to the financial position of their respective States, but we found that only one of these officers, the accountant in charge in New South Wales, had any certified qualifications,. How did the others gain their positions? Their promotion was due to one of the worst features of the Public Service methods.
– Under the present system of examination, what the honorable member speaks of could not happen.
– There were more examinations and stiffer examinations at the time I speak of than there are today; the Public Service Commissioner has moderated his zeal for examinations since the Postal Commission exposed the fallacy of a system of excessive examination. This is a feature of the administration of the Public Service which is absolutely inexcusable. A man is put in charge of a branch of the Department, and, possessing aptitude for his work, he organizes it to the best advantage, getting the best results for the public,, and doing the best for those under him; but a vacancy occurs, and Jig’- being next on the list for promotion,’ he is transferred to another branch, whose work is foreign to him and beyond his experience and qualifications, while the branch that, he has put into a state of efficiency is handed over to the control of some one else who knows nothing about it. Thus all along the line we have round pegs fitted into square holes.
Colonel Ryrie. - But the officers must be given the promotion that falls due to them.
– In big private businesses, men specialize according to their aptitude, and those at the head do not try to make financiers out of organizers, or mistake organizing ability for financial knowledge.
Colonel Ryrie. - But if the officers had to remain in particular grooves, none of them would ever rise to become a Deputy Postmaster-General .
– It is not every man who is fitted to rise to the top; not every man possesses the necessary qualifications. Accountancy is a profession in itself. To become a good accountant, a man must give great attention and study to the science of accountancy, and, while saturating himself in ‘ the special matters pertaining to his profession, he has no time to grapple with problems relating to telephony, telegraphy, mail transmission, and other things. Of the six accountants to whom I have referred, five had no certified professional qualifications, and two of them, as the evidence shows’, knew nothing about the affairs of their Departments. They placed before the Commission false statements, which we proved to be the work of subordinates and others, and fathered these statements; but, when examined on them, they could not explain the smallest detail nor the financial operations of which they had charge. Can a service prosper when it has unqualified men in control of its finance? The Public Service Commissioner, when asked whether in his opinion there was any man in the service of the PostmasterGeneral qualified to take over its management at an adequate salary, said, “ No, there is no man in the Postal Service big enough to take over its management.” Yet we have a man at the Central Office to-day who is trying to manage it. The officer who was then Public Service Inspector for New South Wales, and is now the Commonwealth Land Tax Commissioner, when asked the same question, replied to the same effect. And, having examined every important officer in the service - my questions being framed as the result of hours of study and careful preparation, with a view to the elucidation of essential facts - I say unhesitatingly that there is not a man in the Postal Service who is within leagues of possessing the qualifications necessary to take charge of this big Department. When I asked the Public Service Commissioner why there were in certain positions men whom he considered not fitted for them, his answer was invariably that they were the best men offering.
– That is an effective re-
– It is a condemnation of the system that, after the years of preparation and of opportunity for extracting the best and improving the better, there are not sufficiently able men offering. The Public Service Commissioner admitted, in regard to officer after officer, that he was not the man that he would like for the position; that he did not possess the qualifications, but that he was the best offering. That was the reply that the Public Service Commissioner made repeatedly when questioned concerning the character and status of various officers.
– Have not young men come in since the Postal Commission made its investigation 7
– I am not dealing with that matter. The young men who have since entered the service have not yet come up into the light, or, at all events, very few of them have done so. Another evil of the present regime is that men have been driven out of the Postal Department because they excelled in ability those who were over them. Their lives were made intolerable until they left. No encouragement is given to the virile young mind to spread itself, and to master the details of the work of the Department. If you have a low standard of efficiency among the officers who are on top, that standard will be preserved all the way down, and the standard of the Postal Service of Australia is at least 30 per cent, below par. Any Postmaster-General who tries to govern it without a radical and thorough reorganization and the adoption of a new system will find himself unable to grapple with the mismanagement and unbusinesslike methods that prevail, and will leave office in despair, if not, in disgust. The financial administration of the Department is a scandal.
– Why does not the honorable member get the honorable member for Darwin to give him a hand in this matter?
– The honorable member for Darwin, with all his ability, cannot comprehend this question. He has had quite enough to do in managing another Department, and he has now and again to stand up to defend it, and make some justification for his management of it. I ask the honorable member for Balaclava if any private concern, even of much smaller proportions than the Postal Department, could stagger along for years without any of its employes or those at it3 head knowing whether it was paying ‘( But no officer of the Postal Department, and neither the Postmaster- General nor the Treasurer, knows whether it is paying. Since the Department was taken over by the Commonwealth there has been no arrangement of its finances which will enable its Permanent Head to ascertain its actual financial position.
– I think we shall be able to make a statement by the end of this year.
– I should like to see such a statement. It has been promised ever since the Royal Commission made its inquiry. A public accountant was appointed before the Commission reported, because what its report would be was obvious, and he occupied about twelve months in the examination of the accounts of the Department. He was then called elsewhere, and the work was left in the hands of another accountant. The state of the Department’s finances can be imagined from the fact that these experts have been applying themselves for three years to an examination of the accounts of the Department, and is not yet able to present a complete report to the Minister regarding them . We do not know whether the Telegraph Branch of the Department pays, though it was ascertained by the Royal Commission that, at the time of its investigation, it cost more than£1 to earn £1. We do not know whether the Telephone Branch is paying or losing with the present schedule of rates. I hope that the accountant may be able to tell us the truth in regard to these matters. Whilst the Minister and his predecessor have been lavish in their liberality towards the staff in the General Post Office, who, I must admit, have not been too grateful for the benefits bestowed upon them, whilst those honorable gentlemen have been lavish in giving concessions - the Postmaster- General is lavish still in trying to appease the appetites of these 16,000 permanent employes - have they kept an eye, as any business man would, on the other side of the ledger? Have they been in a position to say, whilst they have been handing out with benevolent sympathy the money of the State to appease these claims from time to time, that the expenditure was balanced by the revenue and the earning capacity of the various branches of the service ? No. Ministers have been groping in the dark in this service ever since it was taken over by the Commonwealth. So far as finance is concerned, neither the Treasurer, nor the Postmaster-General, nor the permanent head of the Department, has ever cared, or, if they cared, they could not have known, why they were acting, or whether they should act in this, that, or the other way, except by the public clamour or popular demand which was made. That is not a proper position. It is not a position which can be allowed to continue. We have nothing to guide us in this matter; no balancesheet showing the exact state of affairs in the Postal Service. I do not believe that we shall ever get a balance-sheet giving us the history of the Department. The officers cannot produce it.
– From this date onwards, it will be done.
– I understand that an attempt is being made to lay a foundation on which to build a system.
– That is right, and that is all we can do.
– It is pitiable to think that, for twelve years under the Commonwealth and previously under State control, there has been no proper system of keeping the accounts, of allocating the expenditure, or of ascertaining the earning capacity of any service, or the justification for an expenditure on the service. There has been no business-like method in vogue since the Department came under the control of the Commonwealth.
– But the late Chief Accountant laid down a system on which to work the Department in order that that information may be ascertained.
– Yes ; but his successor will never discover what has happened in the past. He is simply trying to lay down a system for the future.
– It is the best that we can do in the circumstances.
– The members of the Royal Commission realized that, in spite of all the research they made to gather data, it was impossible to discover the actual position for the years gone by. I am pleased to know that a basis is to be laid down. I hope that in the future we shall know from time to time whether the telephones are paying, also whetherthe telegraphs are paying, and, further, whether the country services are returning sufficient revenue to cover the outlay. Hitherto, we have never had any information on those points. Country members are just as much in the dark as are other persons. They look at the general income of the Department and the general expenditure, and bring before Parliament their claims for increased accommodation and additional services. If they knew what the country services were returning to the revenue they would have a far better case to submit, but everything has been in the dark in this great Department. From the beginning,I have taken up this question of reform in a non-party spirit. The movement is too big to admit of party considerations. A big national problem, involving a stupendous expenditure, and dealing with great responsibilities and large constituencies is too big to be dragged down into the mire of party politics. That is why I have always regarded the question from a non-party stand-point. With regard to country services, I want the PostmasterGeneral to remember the way in which his officers assess those services. They estimate the revenue of a particular service in a district, and the granting or the refusing of the request depends upon that individual service. In my view, that is a false method of estimating the rights of the people in a district. When the Postmaster-General is provided with a balance-sheet showing the financial position in the different branches of the Department in the various States he should take a postal division in a State - the popular or paying centres, as well ns the unpopular or non-paying centres - and ascertain the return from the whole of that division, not from individual services, and the granting pf a request for a concession in that electorate should be governed, not by the returns from individual centres, but by the collective revenue from the whole of that postal district. When the Minister adopts that method he will relieve himself of this continual dinning by honorable members with applications for new services. He will have at his command data which will enable him to say, “ Yes, the district is entitled to a concession irrespective of whether this sectional service will pay or not. The general revenue from this centre is more than enough to meet the expenditure involved in granting the proposed service.” I venture to say that if they were assessed on a proper basis’ it would be found that the losing services to-day are not the country services. I guarantee that a thorough investigation would disclose that the loss occurs in the large centres where the people get so many telegraphic and telephonic services at low rates. The wants of these people are attended to with the most minute attention, whilst every concession that is required for country districts has to be drawn out of the Minister with a corkscrew.
– You must have a good-sized corkscrew, then.
– You must know that the people in a city do not get all that they want.
– I do not say that they do, but they get marvellous services : for the money they pay.
– The Department fixes the rates.
– I know that. I am not blaming the people in the cities, but pointing out the two positions. It is for the Minister and the Parliament to decide that point later. The results of the organization and working of this Department are of a character that is not calculated to give confidence to the members of this House. Let me now state why I support the institution of a board of management for the Post Office. I find that in every phase of administration - and the proof is there in black and white - the Department has woefully failed to give the results it should. That is the only way in which one can judge whether a change is necessary in a great Department of State. I look upon the Public Service Commissioner, with the Arbitration Court in existence, as an absolute excrescence on the face of our administration. He is like the fifth wheel of a coach : he only hampers the progress of the coach, instead of assisting it, if it had a proper driver on the box. Even the other day when a certain case came before the Minister, the Commissioner must interfere and try to re- classify the electricians in order to bring them into the ideal system which he is always trying to promulgate in this Department. The Arbitration Court, apparently, could not decide the matters in dispute definitely, and the Commissioner had to step in and put the finishing touch upon things. He has always done that, no matter what reform we have brought in. He has always tried to justify himself, because, if he did not, there would be nothing to warrant his official existence. He has to do that sort of thing.
– When we increased the amount for the small servants he issued a by-law right away cutting it down.
– Exactly. Let any honorable member take up the Commissioner’s reports, and he will find- that every report has been an attempt to justify his office. The reports have been most irksome and irritating to the Administration and the Department. In a service under proper management there is no room for a Commissioner. A board of management which took over the responsibility of running the Post and Telegraph Department, and giving the proper results, would not tolerate for- two minutes the alienation of power from responsibility. No Board would tolerate the intervention of the Commissioner as tothe staff they are to choose for the conduct of the business for which they are responsible. Imagine me being put in charge of a big contract and told that I have to carry out the contract within a certain estimate, and carry it out faithfully according to the plans and specifications, but am not to select my men, as another man will make the selection. I would throw the contract down at once, and say to the authorities : “ The contract is not worth the paper on which it is written. If I am tobe charged with the responsibility, then I must have the power to control and select my staff, so that I can give that result which my employer has a right to expect from me.”
– The Parliament is responsible for that, you know. It created the position.
– I do not care anything about that. Parliament has done, and will continue to do things which are wrong, but it is not going to.be so stupid as not to undo bad work when it finds out how it has operated. In the early days of the Commonwealth honorable members were told that the present was the proper system for managing the public Departments. They were asked to give the system a fair trial, and not to judge it too early. It would never have been judged at all but for the Royal Commission which investigated the working of a great Department so closely as to discover missing links, so to speak. Now that the system is exposed as a sham, a make-believe, a hindrance both to the Department and the service, Parliament cannot for a moment be relieved of its responsibility.
– You must admit that there have been a great many advantages to members of Parliament in the fact that there is a Commissioner to decide these matters.
– You would not revert to the former position of public officers going to honorable members and asking them to intervene.
– Decidedly not; but I would have a more perfect system. I would absolutely alienate the service from political control, and relieve honorable members from the irritation that arises from day to day through public officers seeking their assistance to bring before Parliament matters which would otherwise be dealt with by an effective board of management. At present, honorable members are irritated with applications to bring complaints before Parliament in a piece-meal fashion, which they may or may not understand, although they are always anxious to assist those who appear to be unable to help themselves. We propose to have a board of management, not a Commission. I have been trying to show, as briefly as I could, the failure of the present system. We think that there is work for a board consisting of three men - one to take charge of the financing and organizing of this great service, and to be the chairman; another to take charge of telegraphic, telephonic, wireless, and cable matters, and to be responsible to the chairman; and anotherto take charge of postal matters, and to be also responsible to the chairman. Our idea is that the chairman of the board should be responsible to the Postmaster-General, who, in turn, should be directly responsible to Parliament. The Royal Commission urged with some force that the Treasurer should not be allowed to, according to the needs of the Government, interfere with the even running of a great department of this kind to the injury of the service and the discredit of this Parliament.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I ask leave, sir, to continue for a quarter of an hour.
– Is it the pleasure of the House that the honorable member’s time be extended by a quarter of an hour?
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear!
– I thank honorable members for the concession they have extended to me. The question is such a large one that I do not think any man could deal with it comprehensively within an hour. It is unnecessary for me to give in detail our proposals with regard to the appointment of a hoard of management, since in the report of the Postal Commission they are fully explained, and the functions which we would allot to it are set forth at length. We came to the conclusion that the chairman of the board should receive at least £2,000 a year.
– What distinction does the honorable member draw between a board of management and a board of commissioners ?
– Everything depends on the lines which the Government propose to follow in regard to the appointment of commissioners. The members of the Postal Commission objected to a system of commissionership. When the Government proposals are submitted, I shall point out in what respect the functions of a hoard of management, as recommended by us, would differ from those of commissioners acting on the lines followed by the Railways Commissioners of the States. We believed that by the appointment of a board of management the Ministerial head of the Department and the Parliament would not be divorced, as they would be under a system of commissionership, from that responsibility which should attach to them. At page 19 of our report, we stated -
Your Commissioners are strongly of the opinion, from the evidence given and from personal inspection of the various branches of the Department, that the Board of Management recommended would effect great savings within a short period, in addition to the large savings which should result from the removal of staff matters from the control of the Commonwealth Public Service Commissioner. Evidence was given to the effect that the position of Chairman of the Board of Management would be worth a salary of at least , £2,000 per annum. Your Commissioners are not prepared to recommend the amount of salary necessary, but consider that, in order to secure suitable members for the Board of Management, it is imperative that attractive salaries be provided, as the service requires the highest standard of administrative ability procurable.
At page 23, honorable members will find set out in paragraphs a to i of clause 65 the advantages which, in our opinion, would result from the appointment of a board of management. Each member of the board would be charged with the administration of the three important sections of the service. Their appointment would result in the reorganization of the Department, and improvement in the standard of the officers, and in an incentive being offered to the men in the service to give to the Department the best that was in them. Such a board would do away with the discontent which arises from a superior man having to work side by side with an inferior officer who is receiving better pay. One of the great disabilities suffered under the Public Service Act is that, no matter how inefficient an officer of the Postal Department may become - no matter how hopeless he may be in the position which he holds - neither the Minister nor the Public Service Commissioner can remove him. We have not dozens, but scores, of these men in the service in each State. They reached the apex of their ability long ago, but by virtue of their accruing rights as transferred officers, they are entitled to remain in the service. The Commonwealth has been burdened with them. The Public Service Commissioner cannot single them out, and remove them.
– How would the board of management deal with them ?
– Our proposal was that the provisions of the Public Service Act, which practically exempts them from dismissal, should be repealed. We would give the board of management power to dismiss any man who, in their judgment, was not equal to the work expected of him. When men in the Public Service know that they cannot be dismissed, there is nothing left for some of them to work for. There is nothing to spur their ambition when they know that they can get all that is possible out of the service without any effort. Is it reasonable that men, once they enter the service, should be there for all time, and that no matter what they may do, unless, for example, they become dipsomaniacs, they cannot be removed? It is because of this that so few men try to emulate those who are really worthy of the service. Many men say, “ We are all right; they cannot put us out.” The thing that is killing day labour to-day, to some extent, is that men are trading upon their influence with politicians to prevent those in authority from discharging them and unloading them from a service which ought to be, not only a credit, but a blessing to the workers of this country. The then Acting Deputy PostmasterGeneral in Victoria had to admit, when before the Commission, that there were, in his Department, men receiving £400 a year although they were doing work which was worth not more than £210 per annum. If work belonging to a higher grade were allotted to them, they could not be relied upon, so that they had to be given work which men receiving only £210 per annum were performing. Such a stateof affairs must naturally breed discontent and cultivate inefficiency.
I speak as one who has had some experience’ in the employment of labour - as one who has got the best out of men, nob by bullying them, but by merely showing a proper appreciation of their services. Men will always respond to such treatment, whether it be in the Public Service or outside it. Under the present system, however, there is no encouragement or incentive for men in this Department) to try to rise in the service, nor is there any fear’ on their part that they may lose their jobs if they do not give to the service the best that is in them. This is one of the big obstacles in the way of efficiency, and it can never be removed under the present Act and the existing administration of the Public Service. Until it is removed, there will not be that efficiency which should exist in this great Department of State, nor shall we, as the custodians of the interests of the people, be able to do credit to ourselves or to the people who sent us here. This is a subject to the study of which I have given much attention; in fact, I may say that during the last four years I have devoted to its consideration every hour that I could spare. It is a big question bristling with difficulties, and every phase of it requires to be carefully scrutinized. I sympathize with an hon.orable member when he is appointed PostmasterGeneral, because I know how hopeless it is for him to attempt to grapple, even in a minor way, with the disabilities which exist under the present conditions. We have spent millions on the Postal Department during the last few years, but we have not secured efficiency. They tell me to-day that the very evils that the Postal Commission temporarily relieved by means of palliatives are again growing apace,, and. that, to borrow a phrase patented by the AttorneyGeneral, the Department, has; becomeabsolutely ““leg-roped.” Officers of the Department are so “ leg-roped “ that they cannot make that progress which should be possible to. them, nor can they render to the country the service which is its due-. I. hope that the House will carry this motion, recognising in its wisdom that the time has come when these old methods, which have been weighed in the balance, and found wan-ting, should be no. longer tolerated. The expenditure; of this: Department reaches £7,000,000 per annum, and, since we are charged with the responsibility for that expenditure, we ought, in the light of the evidence before us, to take steps at once to remove the existing disabilities. We should alter the system, modify it in some directions, methodize it in others, and so bring about efficiency. If we do that, then the work which has been done by the Postal Commission in laying bare the ineptitude of past Governments and Parliaments, and in unravelling the intricacies of the service, will have borne good fruit, and the action of the Parliament will redound to its lasting credit. In this way alone shall we be able to do justice, and, if we set ourselves to the task, and accomplish it, we shall win the respect of the people as a body of politicians who have had the courage to substitute for that which is wrong a system which will introduce a new era in the management and administration of this great service of the Commonwealth.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Agar. Wynne) adjourned.
Quarantine Area: Sydney
Debate resumed from 18th September, (ride page 1348), on motion by Mr.. Webster-
That - witu a. view to putting an end to thesuffering, sacrifice of human life, and the commercial, industrial, and domestic stagnation in the Stale of New South Wales, resulting from the proclamation and administration of the laws, governing small-pox epidemics - this House is of the opinion that the proclamation should be cancelled, and that isolation, combined, with sanitary reform, the true enemy of small-pox, should besubstituted for the present injurious, methods.
.- There is; nothing more trying, or disheartening to an. honorable member than tofeel that, in discussing a matter of great importance in this Chamber, he. mightalmost as well be speaking to a dead wall. I feel that, in supporting this- motion, many honorable members will have nosympathy whatever w’ith what I have to say, and will take no notice of authoritiesquoted in condemnation of what, to speak mildly, I will describe as the error of judgment made in this connexion by the present Government. I should like, if possible, to. have a vote taken on the motion this afternoon, because the time hascertainly arrived when something on. the lines suggested by it should be. done.. I ask the Government to tell honorablemembers why some steps have not, so far, been taken to remove the embargo placed upon the city of Sydney by the proclamation issued in connexion with the outbreak of disease in that city. When the proclamation was issued on the 5th July last, as one who knows something of Sydney and the 15-mile area quarantined under the proclamation, I warned the Government that they were taking a step for which there was no justification or necessity. I warned them that the authorities best able to judge the nature of the complaint which was raging at that time in Sydney declared that there was no necessity to take any steps in addition to those which they were prepared to take themselves. But all my appeals to the Government had no effect. One of my honorable friends suggests that if I resume my seat a.t this stage the House would probably come to a vote on the motion; but I feel sure that those who support it appeal to deaf ears, and that honorable members will not agree to come to a vote this afternoon. Honorable members representing other parts of Australia have no conception of the injustice that is being done under the proclamation to Sydney and to the Commonwealth. I am satisfied that they would readily support the motion if I could get .them to understand the harm that is being done to Australia by the placing of this unjustifiable embargo on Sydney. Quarantine has, before now, been proclaimed in other parts of the world. The yellow flag has often been raised elsewhere; but the action of the Government in this instance could scarcely have been more extreme if, before the proclamation was issued, carts were going round the streets of Sydney preceded by a bell-man, asking the people to bring out their dead. No stricter regulations could have been applied to cope with an outbreak of cholera at Bombay, or of malignant small-pox at Hamburg. We can imagine what our friends of the outside world must think of the condition of affairs in Sydney, when they learn of the issue of the quarantine proclamation. The yellow flag hoisted over a city is an indication of a neglect of sanitary precautions, and that the citizens have failed to obey the law of cleanliness, which, we know, is next to godliness. But, in connexion with the issue of their proclamation, the Government have totally disregarded the facts. Since the proclamation was issued there have been, on an average, 450 trains a week leaving Sydney for places beyond the 15-mile area which has been placed under quarantine. Something like 200,000 people leave Sydney every week for other parts of New South Wales. Honorable members must understand that New South Wales is a very large State. Within the last fortnight, Eight Hours Day was celebrated in Sydney, there was an important race meeting at Randwick, and there were the celebrations attending the arrival of the Australian Fleet. In order to attend these celebrations ncra than 250,000 people came from beyond the 15-mile area into that area, and left it again. In these circumstances, nothing whatever can justify the continuance of the quarantine. Our coastal shipping has conveyed thousands of visitors from north and south to and from Sydney, yet we do not hear that these movements of the people have resulted in the spread of small-pox to parts of the Commonwealth outside the quarantined area. The Board of Health authorities of New South Wales have informed the Federal Government that the variety of small-pox which is prevalent in Sydney did not necessitate the quarantining of the area in question, but the Government will nob relieve Sydney of the quarantine in spite of. all that has been said. The Prime Minister has addressed a message to the Premier of New South Wales asking him to pass a compulsory vaccination law through the State Legislature. The honorable gentleman was a member if the State Parliament for a number of years, and a Minister of the Crown in that State, but he never, during that period, asked the Parliament to pass a compulsory vaccination law. The people should hav3 been asked whether they were in favour of compulsory vaccination before any attempt was made to pass such a law. I venture to say that the experience which the people have had of vaccination during the time Sydney has been under the quarantine embargo has done more to cause people to doubt the wisdom of a compulsory vaccination law than anything that’ has appeared in letters, pamphlets, or the press, or any utterances of medical men on the subject. It has been proved beyond a doubt that vaccination lymph cannot always be regarded as pure. In some cases, where persons have been vaccinated on the arm, the mark left has been no bigger than would be left by the bite of a mosquito. and in other cases, if the arm were large enough, there would be as many marks as would cover a dinner plate. In spite of all this, the Prime Minister has tried to force the passing of a compulsory vaccination law through the State Parliament of New South Wales. I say that he had no right to interfere in such a matter. The question of compulsory vaccination should be decided on its merits, and the question of quarantining the 15-mile area in Sydney should also have been decided on its merits. I regret to think that there should be honorable members on the other side comingfrom my own State who are so bound by their allegiance to party, and so tied to the Government, that they are unwilling to do anything to relieve those who have been so cruelly and unjustifiably punished by the issue of the quarantine proclamation. What course is one to pursue in the circumstances to secure relief for the people who have been subjected to such treatment without ground or reason ? Honorable members opposite cannot rise above party, and demand that the Prime Minister shall exercise his power to remove this embargo. The Lord Mayorand aldermen of the city of Sydney, and the suburban mayors and aldermen, as well as the Sydney Board of Health, are all agreed that there is no justification for its continuance. All the authorities, medical and otherwise, are agreed that in this matter the Federal Government are pursuing a course that is injurious to the people residing within the quarantined area. Everything justifies me in asking honorable members, in the circumstances, to come to a vote on this question, and show that they are in sympathy with their down-trodden brethren who have been so cruelly treated in this matter by the Government of the Commonwealth.
– As it is impossible to come to a division on the motion at once, I ask leave to withdraw it.
Leave given; motion withdrawn.
That the Order of the Day be discharged.
I move -
Federal Parliament enacting a law for the Commonwealth that would remove the many injustices caused by the differences existing in Divorce Law in the various States.
As my motion deals with the most solemn contract of life, and concerns the State in its most sensitive and vulnerable part, namely, the family, I submit it with a sense of great responsibility. I think that honorable members will agree that Australia should lead the van in Sociology. We should not allow Britain to pass us. We should lead the advance under the British flag in all legislation affecting the happiness and welfare of the community. That social legislation is amongst the most important matters which can engagethe attention of Parliament nobody will deny. The possession of wealth is no bar to marital unhappiness. One divorce law should operate throughout Australia. On the Imperial Commission, which recently inquired into this matter, were men of the very highest attainments - men who practically represented the brains of the Empire. Further, every person of distinction, whether in the realm of art, science, or literature, was examined by that body. Its conclusions, therefore, are certainly entitled to the greatest consideration and weight. I submit that no law should be so hard as to lead to its common disregard. No law should be so lax as to lessen our regard for the sanctity of marriage. The primary conclusions arrived at by the Imperial Commission have greatly widened the grounds upon which a divorce may be obtained in England. Up to the present time, infidelity, especially if combined with cruelty, has been the principal ground for divorce. I propose briefly to quote the recommendations of the Commission.
– Is the honorable member about to quote from the majority report ?
– Yes. I will deal with the minority report later. Under Part XV., I find that the Commission recommend -
That the law should be amended so as to permit of divorces being obtained on the following grounds : -
Desertion for three years and upwards.
Incurable insanity after five years’ confinement.
Habitual drunkenness, found incurable after three years from first order of separation.
Imprisonment under commuted death sentence.
Whilst the Biblical law, which is recognised by all religions, is that the basis of the marriage compact is “ for better or worse,” all thinkers must agree that it is too Draconian, and that it does not recognise the facts of modern life. Marriage is a religious ceremony and a sacrament. It is also a civil contract. All civilized States require that marriage, being the basis of the laws of inheritance and succession, should be a civil contract. Each minister who performs a marriage service is endowed by the State, and is, in reality, a State official. The parties are at liberty to have their religious ceremony in addition. In Part XIV. of their report, the Commission recommend -
The law should be amended so as to place the two sexes on an equal footing as regards the ground on which a divorce may be obtained.
That portion of the majority report was indorsed by the minority report, which was signed by His Grace the Lord Archbishop of York, Sir W. R. Anson, Bart., and Sir Lewis T. Debdin. Seeing that in Australia we have the largest number of enfranchised women in the world - they total more than 1,200,000 - I doubt if any honorable member will deny that, as regards the grounds on which a divorce may be obtained, the woman should have equal rights with the man. Then, nearly every Judge who has tried divorce cases has spoken strongly and firmly on the question of domicile. Amongst these were Mr. Justice Isaacs and Mr. Justice Cussen. The latter has spoken very emphatically of the difficulties of domicile in divorce law, especially where a husband has left Victoria for South Australia, leaving his wife in Victoria helpless to obtain a divorce there. The existing law, based upon the British law, is that a wife’s domicile follows that of her husband. Wherever the domicile of the husband is she is bound by his act, so that her rights may be wholly nullified by his leaving the State in which she resides, unless she follows him to that in which he becomes permanently settled. One Australian law would sweep away the six different laws operating in the States, and would not merely cure for ever the difficulty of domicile, but would confer many benefits on all married citizens. One common system of law would lessen the ex pense of divorce proceedings, and would substitute certainty for the uncertainty which obtains under the six different systems of law which operate in the States. On this question of domicile, I find that the Imperial Commission, under Part XVI. of their report, recommends -
The Divorce Act of New South Wales, which was introduced by the Lieutenant Governor, Sir Alfred Stephen, and that of Victoria, which was passed at the instance of the late Treasurer of this State, Mr. Shiels, are on an equality in respect of many matters, and are akin to the law of Scotland, which stands pre-eminent in its fair and just treatment of women and children. South Australia, I regret to say, is somewhat backward in this matter, but I do trust that we shall have one law enacted for Australia. If the Government cannot bring forward a Bill, I hope that such a measure will have their sympathy.
– The honorable member contends that the grounds for divorce throughout Australia should be those which have been adopted in Victoria?
– They should be those which have been adopted in Victoria and New South Wales, with the additions which are set out in the report of the Imperial Commission. The advantage of having one law would, I repeat, lessen expense, and would do for us what the great code of Napoleon did for Prance. We all know that it promoted harmony in that country more than did any other system of law. When the New South Wales Parliament passed the Bill which was introduced lay Sir Alfred Stephen, the Colonial Office was not as fair in its treatment of the various dependencies of the Empire as it is to-day. The Minister of Trade and Customs will probably recollect that great man who spoke from these benches - I refer to the late J udge Higinbotham - and who referred to “ the man Rogers in the Colonial Office.” We all know that Lord Knutsford, who was then Secretary of State for the Colonies, forwarded a communication in which he stated that he would not advise Queen Victoria to assent to the Bill in question unless the other Australian Parliaments passed a similar measure. His statement was therefore equivalent to a blank refusal to advise the Queen to assent to it. How could we expect the Parliaments of the six States to pass a similar Act? But it is within the power of this Parliament to make a uniform law for the whole of Australia. Anybody who reads the dignified protest entered against the action of Lord Knutsford by the Legislative Assembly and Legislative Council of New South Wales, will agree that he deserved the firm treatment which he then received. One quotation made by Mr. Shiels struck me forcibly. It was a quotation from a speech by Senator de Pressense, the eminent Christian apologist, who wrote the ablest reply -to Renan’s attack on Christianity. Speaking in favour of divorce in the French Senate, in 1882, he delivered, perhaps, the finest speech for divorce ever uttered, and thus assisted in the return of that portion of the Code Napoleon which was eliminated when the Bourbons came into power. Mr. Shiels stated that he could produce in favour of the Bill and its provisions the names qf the most eminent men . in the constitutional history of Australia. He mentioned twenty-five newspapers that had warmly approved of the Bill, including the Argus, the Age, the Herald, the Leader, and the leading papers of Ballarat, Sandhurst (now Bendigo), and Geelong, the Melbourne Daily Telegraph being the only exception, the only paper that objected to it. Among the Judiciary he mentioned Sir James Hannen, the
President of Probate and Divorce, and Mr. Justice Windeyer, of New South Wales, and the Chief Justices of South Australia and Queeusland ; also Sir William Stawell, as representing the vast majority of the Judges of Australia. Among others, he mentioned the Premier of Victoria at the time, Mr. James Service; also Sir James McCulloch, Mr. Francis, Lieutenant-Governor Sir Alfred Stephen, the author of a Divorce Bill in New South Wales, Sir John Robertson, Sir Henry Parkes, and the Right Hon. W. B. Dalley, that devoted son of the Roman Catholic Church, who himself introduced a Divorce Bill. He mentioned the Attorney-General of South Australia, Sir J ohn Downer, also the author of a Divorce Bill, and the Hon. C. C. Kingston, and Dr. Cockburn, of South Australia. Among the magistracy of Victoria, he mentioned Dr. Lloyd, who stated definitely at the time, ‘ ‘ Divorce is at present impossible to the poor.” It is not Christian to refuse woman what man can get. All the religious bodies, without dissent, approved of a provision, to which the then Attorney-General of Victoria, Sir Henry Wrixon, objected, that the woman should have the right to secure a divorce for certain causes equally with the man. I think every honorable member in this House will agree that justice should be dispensed equally to the cottage and the hamlet as to the mansion and the villa of the rich. To show how difficult the law of divorce was at one time, I shall quote from the British Encyclopaedia the remarks of a famous Judge, whose irony did more to bring about an amendment of the divorce law in England than any other speech ever made -
The prisoner’s wife had deserted him with her paramour, and he married again during her lifetime. He was indicted for bigamy, and convicted ; and Mr. Justice Maule sentenced him in the following words : - “ Prisoner at the Bar : You. have, been convicted of the offence of bigamy, that is to say, of marrying a woman while you had a wife still alive, though it is true that she has deserted you and is living in adultery with another man. You have, therefore, committed a crime against the lavs of your country, and you have also acted under a very serious misapprehension of the course which you ought to have pursued. You should have gone to the Ecclesiastical Court and there obtained against your wife a decree a menss et toro. You should then have brought an action in the Courts of Common Law anr! recovered, as no doubt you would have recovered, damages against your wife’s paramour. Armed with these decrees, you should have approached the Legislature and obtained an Act of Parliament which would have rendered you free and legally competent to marry the person whom you have taken on yourself to marry with no such sanction. It is quite true that these proceedings would have cost you many hundreds of pounds . . .
I believe it would be about £1,800 - whereas you probably have not as many pence. But the law knows no distinction between rich and poor. The sentence of the Court upon you, therefore, is that you be imprisoned for one day, which period has already been exceeded, as you have been in custody since the commencement of the assizes.
– What was the date of that ?
– It was iu the early ‘ fifties. The irony of this Judge’s remarks did more to alter the iniquities of the law that held sway in England than any other speech, and a meed of praise is due to Judge Maule for the good he did. I do not propose to speak at any length, because I am merely trying to sow a few seeds with the object of inducing the Government to bring in a Bill. If they do so, the measure will be hailed with approval by the legal profession. I am generally hitting-up the legal profession, but I must pay them this praise, that they recognise the iniquity of the difficulty of proving domicile under our absurd system of six different State divorce laws. They will heartily welcome simplicity, so that the citizens of the Commonwealth may secure justice, and especially the women, who are less able to earn money to pay fees. That they would welcome the Bill is evident from the splendid remarks of Mr. Justice Isaacs and Mr. Justice Cussen, and many other Judges in the various States. The Women’s Political Association -are striving strongly to obtain equal rights for men and women. They also seek to have provision made that the innocent party shall have the care of the children. They seek the removal of some of the effete injustice by which, in regard to the marriage and divorce laws, man dominates the other sex, and I feel sure that honorable members will support them in their desire. I have long maintained, from a study of the Code Napoleon, that it is only fair at times to place the right of the child before that of the parents. No child has ever asked the parent to come into the world. No child can come into the world unless the parents meet. The child is the future unit of the State, and no future unit of the State should be injured at the whim of a parent. I strongly urge the adoption of the provision some of the South American republics have already enacted, that all chil dren, upon the death of their parents, should equally share the parents’ goods. Wherever the arms of Napoleon conquered, followed by the Civil Code in his name, the law is better for the man, the woman, and the child. In Germany, Italy, Switzerland, aud France, no husband can leave his wife and children without a penny. But in England the common law has been most unjust to the woman and the child; and the common law of America, and in my own. State of Victoria, is based on that of England - save where the efforts of Mr. Prendergast and his party have made provision that in an insurance policy there shall be a reservation for the benefit of the widow and children. Unless a child has committed some serious felony against the State, no law should disinherit it. Mr. Alfred Russel Wallace, the compeer, and almost the equal, of Darwin in his ideas, and greater even than Darwin in his ideas in regard to land nationalization, suggested that, to remove the poverty and inequalities of life, the State itself should be the heir of all those who die within its domains, and that all, including those who are properly educated and fitted for trades and professions, should receive a portion to give them a start in life. I can hardly expect, even in advanced Australia, to see a law like that enacted. God has recognised no difference between child and child; He has never inflicted a stigma that sense can detect, and no law of man should deprive a child of his rights. The duties of a parent to a child are greater than the duties of a child to a parent. That was enunciated by that most just law that Napoleon implanted on France, and that has swayed and helped other countries - particularly Germany, Holland, Italy, and Switzerland - in legislation on these matters. I urge strongly on the present Government to bring in this Bill. If they have some idea that it might be opposed from this side, why not have a little private conference among honorable members to see if an agreement cannot be arrived at. But, whether this session shall see it enacted or not, 1 hope Australia will soon lead the world in regard to this question, as it has done on other questions concerning the social life of her inhabitants. I know that every honorable member viewing marriage cither as a civil contract or as a sacrament of. the Church, will give the subject full and just consideration in the light of modern times, when science and everything has so greatly advanced, andfrom the knowledge that the truest form of religion can only be taught at the mother’s knee, and by the example of the home. In the homes of misery and wretchedness honorable members may picture, they will see that the children have less chance in life, and they will come to see that the State should take a greater share in the care of the units that are to become future citizens, just as the State, at all events in Australia, recognises no difference between citizen and citizen, all having the highest plane of franchise - one which no other continent holds to-day. I hope the Government will see their way clear to adopt the course I have suggested. We should come to an agreement to pass a Bill that will not cause protracted debate, or, shall I say, factious opposition; because we shall take a step in advance, even if the Bill only removes the present injustice of having to prove domicile. If it should provide that all citizens shall be equal, and that there shall be one law dominant in Australia, it will be a great advantage to the Commonwealth and a lesson to the world. And I feel sure that the Ministry which introduces the Bill, and the Ministry who bring it down, and the House which carries it, will never regret their action, seeing that they will have done infinite good to the community of which they are citizens.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Greene) adjourned.
CASE OF Mr. HORAN.
.- I move -
That all papers in connexion with the removal of Mr. Thomas Horan from the position of presiding officer at Woonona, in connexion with the Federal election 1910, be laid on the table of the House.
Mr. Thomas Horan was appointed by the Returning Officer of Wollongong to act as Presiding Officer at Woonona, in the Illawarra division, and was afterwards informed that the appointment had been cancelled because he was a political partisan. He made some fuss about this at the time, but did not succeed in getting himself re-appointed, and after the election obtained no satisfaction from his efforts to ascertain why he was charged with partisanship. I understand that there is in the possession of the Department correspondence which would clear up the matter, and this I desire to have produced. Every person connected with an election is more or less a partisan, favouring one party or the other to some extent, and during the elections of 1910 many persons acted in official positions who had taken part in active canvassing against me. Apparently, they were thought to be of the right political colour. One of these men went so far as to say that to put me into Parliament would be to elect the Pope of Rome, and he was charged with the bringing in of a ballot-box from a place 7 miles out, without any one to accompany him. If political partisans are not to be appointed, the rule must be applied to both sides, but if it is applied strictly, there will be no one to conduct the elections. Mr. Horan feels very sore about the way in which he was treated. He is a public servant, and during the campaign took no active part. It was only on election day that I learned that his appointment had been cancelled. Until thenI did not know which side he took in politics.
.- There is no objection to the production of the papers, but it would be more convenient to lay them on the table of the Library than to lay them on the table of the House, and I shall take the former course in regard to them if it will suit the honorable member.
– I am not particular.
– Then I suggest that the honorable member accept my assurance that the papers will be produced, and withdraw the motion.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
.- I move -
That the industry of ostrich farming should be stimulated by the Government -
by the employment of an expert to report upon the steps necessary to make the industry profitable ; and
by negotiations with the South African Government with a view to the introduction of high-class birds into the Commonwealth.
I am not disposed to think that ostrich farming is an industry which will grow to very large proportions in Australia, though it may become of considerable importance to the Commonwealth. The value of the feathers imported into Australia in 1911 was £3,987, and the importation of 1912 was valued at £6,143.
We could, therefore, very easily supply our own requirements, and we ought also to be able to export feathers. By the kindness and courtesy of the Government Statistician, I have been supplied with figures which indicate the value of ostrich farming to the people of South Africa. In 1909, the value of the feathers exported from that country was £2,091,280, and the value of the exportation had increased by 1911 to £2,253,140. Not only is the volume of the South African trade increasing, but the “value of the feathers produced is also increasing, this being due to the gradual improvement of the strains that have been bred. Somaliland produces a relatively small quantity of feathers, and the average value of those feathers is only £1 ls. 4d. per pound, whereas the average value of the South African feathers is £2 13s. per pound. It is, of course, just as cheap to feed birds producing feathers of the highest quality as it is to feed inferior birds. Our American friends have discovered that ostrich farming is an industry worthy of serious consideration, and that fact shows it to be worthy of our serious consideration, too. Of course, the industry is not entirely unknown in Australia, having been entered upon to some extent by New South Wales. Mr. Nielsen, who was sent by the New South Wales Government to the United States of America to report on various subjects, in an article which he contributed to the New South Wales Agricultural Gazette, of the 2nd May, 1913, says -
Among the most interesting of the new industries that have become popular, as well as payable, in the United States, is that of ostrich farming. Not only has this industry been established in close proximity to many of the big cities of Southern California and Arizona, but, in the latter State, large ranches have been purchased and converted from cattle country to the use of feeding these valuable, featherproducing birds. Wherever I had an opportunity of doing so, I visited these ostrich ranches, and secured some information that may be of some value to our people in Australia.
Further on in the article he says -
While at Phoenix, Arizona, I took the opportunity afforded to visit several of these farms or ranches. One of those I visited, conducted by some Dutch farmers, is in use mostly as a stud farm for breeding stock for sale ; while another is the largest farm in America, carrying over 5,000 Birds in various stages, from chickenhood to maturity. This ranch is owned by a New York company, and pays immense dividends on the capital invested. The number of hands required to run a large ranch such as this is not much greater than the requirement for a small farm, especially if it is arranged on the principle - as all the large ones are - that the birds feed themselves. Those I am now speaking ‘of are all on irrigated land, or land that may be irrigated in part.
The Americans are too keen in matters of business to take up an industry that is not likely to be profitable, and ostrich farming may become a big subsidiary industry in Australia. Our climatic conditions are well adapted to it. Referring to this aspect of the matter, Mr. Nielsen says -
From my observations in America, I can say that a large area of our irrigated lands might profitably be used for ostrich rearing.
I put stress upon the words “ irrigated lands,” because the impression exists that the industry can be profitably conducted in our far-back, Never-never country. That is a wrong impression. The most valuable birds require good feeding, and it is profitable to rear them on scientific principles. Lucerne grown on irrigated land is the food chiefly given. That being so, and in view of the fact that we largely encourage the use of water on our lands for irrigation purposes, the proposal becomes even more important from our point of view. This gentleman continues -
From my observations in America I should say that a large area of our irrigated lands might profitably be used for ostrich raising; but the farms should be situated in such a way that the irrigated land adjoins the dry area that would be used for the run paddocks, in order that hand-feeding of the birds might be eliminated.
That is simply an illustration showing his opinion, after having investigated the industry in America, that it may be profitably pursued here. In the September issue of the same publication there is an account of a recent visit of inspection to the ostrich farm established by Captain J. E. Cairnes at Nardoo, 17 miles from Coonamble. On page 789, the writer says -
It is roughly estimated that land will support three times as many sheep as ostriches. This country is considered capable of carrying a sheep to 2 acres. On 600 acres a hundred ostriches can be maintained without difficulty, running on natural pasture alone. But to grow fodders for the birds will certainly enhance the return, not only by increasing the carrying capacity of the land, but also by giving a better quality of feathers. The better the feeding, the better the quality of the crop. Lucerne does very well on the dark loam, under irrigation with bore water. This fodder is rich in protein, and its advantages for the production of feathers are indicated by theory and supported by practical experience.
– He has to feed ostriches, but not sheep.
– That may be a fair comment, but I think that the industry will become profitable to people who have irrigable lands. That is part of my argument, and my honorable friend’s interjection by no means weakens my point. Let me give further evidence as to the relative value of an ostrich. On page 791 I find the following statement; -
An ostrich will give three cuts of feathers in two years - a crop every eight or nine months; but the time can be hastened by liberal and nutritious feeding. It is not advisable, however, to hasten crops. Some South African farmers only pluck once a year. A good crop from a good bird will be fifty quill feathers, besides tops and tails. “Tops” are the three rows next the quills. In the feather-room the crop is graded for sale. The large snow-white feathers bring the best price - £25 to ,£30 per pound. Black feathers are less valuable. Drabs from the hens can be dyed a very pale pink, but they cannot be made pure white.
That extract goes to show that the industry is one in which a considerable amount of money is involved, and I submit that that fact is worthy of consideration. The first suggestion in my motion is that we should encourage the industry by means of a bounty. Protection is the settled policy of this country. We have pursued that policy with a deliberate intention of giving encouragement to industries, more particularly to new industries, and part of our policy at present is the stimulation of industries by means of bounties. It will be seen that I am not proposing any innovation, but am simply suggesting to the Government, for their favorable consideration, the inclusion of another item in the list of bounties.
– What becomes of your anti-Socialism ?
– This is a question of establishing industries, and not a question of Socialism . Since I became a member of the House a Bounties Bill has been passed into law, and last year we paid away bounties amounting to £45,996.
– Not including the bounty on sugar?
– No. It might do the honorable member for Capricornia good to know how much we have been prepared to subsidize Queensland in the matter of sugar. Out of the total amount paid away in bounties last year, only £2,515 was paid in respect to articles the produce of land, while £43,481 was paid as bounties in respect of industries. In view of the Budget statement, which goes to show how greatly land-produced articles are increasing in proportion to our manufactures, the more we can encourage the production of articles from the land the better it will be for the community. In adding ostrich feathers to the list of those articles, the production of which is worthy of being encouraged by a bounty, we shall be taking a right and proper course, I submit. I will now pass on to the question of employing an expert to report upon the steps necessary to make the industry profitable. It is unquestionably true that the value of the industry will be determined by what is produced. Australia has become the great wool-producing country of the world, and largely it has taken foremost rank because of the great care which has been exercised in the production of the highest classes of wool. The wool industry is of great value to us. The ostrich industry could be made a good supplement to the wool industry, but we shall never succeed in that aim until we produce the right class of article. On the item of feathers the Tariff Commission made an inquiry into this matter. According to report No. 26, there were three persons who gave evidence. Mr. John Miller, of Chapelstreet, Prahran, and Mr. A. Le Blanc, of Drummond-street, Carlton, were questioned regarding the quality of Australian ostrich feathers, but both agreed that these were not equal to South African feathers. The Australian feathers, they said, were characterized by four times as much quill, and very much less plume. Nevertheless, they were all utilized in the production of plumes. Against that evidence we have the statement of a gentleman, who is unnamed, and who is classified as an ostrich fanner in New South Wales. He made the same mistake as a great many farmers are apt to make in regard to things which they produce, and that is the error of supposing that they have reached the acme of perfection. He says -
An ostrich farmer, not named, in New South Wales gave evidence in support of an increased duty on ostrich feathers. He advocated a duty similar to the Victorian duty previous to Federation, which he understood was about 334 per cent. The quality of the feathers produced on his farm was superior to those from South Africa. There were large areas of country in Australia suitable for ostrich farming.
We know that that is not so, and, because the quality is not such as to make the industry a success, therefore, if we are going into the m jitter at all, there is need to secure the best advice we can as to how to improve the flocks, what course is likely to produce the best results, and so on. In ;this matter, South Africa has taken the lead, and established a big industry; America is following in its wake, and is fast establishing an industry of importance. With our unlimited areas and our energetic people we have demonstrated ‘ how much we can do ‘ in the way of breeding up different classes of stock. We have succeeded on those lines, and surely we can succeed in the breeding of ostriches. A very great deal can be done to hasten an industry by going to the very foundation root and engaging some person who is conversant with all the details of the business, and therefore able to give sound advice. Therefore, I have suggested in my motion that an expert ‘should be engaged to stimulate the industry and encourage it in every possible way. The last portion of my motion deals with what is a matter of great importance,, and that is that we should treat with South Africa in order to procure stock from there. At the present time we cannot import from that country either an ostrich bird or an egg, because the exportation of one or the other is a penal offence. The South Africans are conserving their own interests by not allowing persons in other countries to receive any advantage from their experience and knowledge of ostrich farming. But we have good reason to suggest that the Government of South Africa should treat with us in this matter, since their people are receiving all the advantage of our [experience of sheep. Large numbers of Australian sheep are taken to South Africa, and its pastoralists are’ getting the advantage of all our experience and knowledge in that direction. While they are allowed to obtain that ad” vantage without let or hindrance, and often by encouragement, I think that the Government of South Africa should be prepared to reciprocate, and allow us to get some advantage from the knowledge which their people have gained of ostrich farming. Regarding’ the value of stud birds in South Africa, £80 has been, and is, frequently paid for a high class- bird. £1 ,000 would be refused for the best male birds for the stud.
– Would you put a duty on ostriches coming [into this country!
– I am not dealing with the question of imposing a duty, but with the question of establishing an industry.
– Yes; but where are you going to get the birds or the eggs from ?
– I have suggested that, inasmuch as the people of South Africa are getting the full advantage of our knowledge and experience of sheep farming, their Government should reciprocate and make a treaty with us, whereby we could get advantage of their knowledge of ostrich farming. If this industry is worth prosecuting at all, it is worth starting in the best way. If £1,000 is a fair price to give for a high class bird, we should, if we want to establish the industry, have that high class bird here, if it can possibly be obtained. The value of the sheep exported from Australia to South Africa in 1912 was £49,683. Within the last three months a thousand guineas was paid for a Tasmanian ram - “ Magician.”
– £16,000 was paid for a bull the other day.
– This ram was purchased to go to South Africa. I think we are justified in asking the Government to consider this proposal. The industry will be of considerable value to the landholders of the Commonwealth, and must be worth encouraging, since it has been worth encouraging in other parts of the world.
– Will it give much employment 1
– It is idle for honorable members opposite to sneer and laugh at this proposition. We cannot claim to have greater wisdom than have people in other parts of the world, nor are we less keen than they are to make money. If it has been found worth while in other countries to foster this industry, it must be worth our while to do so. Notwithstanding what may be said by the Opposition, this question is undoubtedly one of importance. Great results often spring from small beginnings, and this industry, begun in a small way, may yet reach great dimensions in Australia. I have become interested in this question because of the belief that the industry is one in which many people would be prepared to embark; but until we give it a start upon right lines, we cannot hope to secure success. It is no use to say that we have started the industry on right lines. Experts who gave evidence before the Tariff Commission described the feathers produced in Australia as not being up to the required standard. If you produce something that is not of the requisite standard, you might as well cease operations at once. But if we proceed upon a sounder line of policy, and produce an article that will find for itself a place in the markets of the world, we shall be able eventually, not only to supply our own demands in this respect, but to become large exporters. It is worthy of notice that, not only is the demand for ostrich feathers very largely increasing, but that prices are also increasing. The people will have what they want, and if they want ostrich feathers, and we can produce them here, why should we not encourage the industry*
– The honorable member has not told us how we are to get the ostriches.
– I have already suggested that a reciprocal treaty should be entered into with South Africa, under which we might derive the advantage of the experience South Africa has had in ostrich farming in return for the advantage which the people of that part of the Empire have gained from our experience in the production of sheep and wool. I hope that the motion will be carried.
.- I have very much pleasure in welcoming the honorable member for Echuca as an advocate of Socialistic legislation. I should like to know, however, what has become of his anti-Socialism. He and many members of his party, at the last general election, declared their undying hostility to Socialistic legislation of every kind ; but we now find that the honorable member has changed his mind. Socialism is only the act of helping individuals to do what they cannot do for themselves.
– That is a new definition, Tout a good one.
– I think it an appropriate one. The honorable member for Echuca has abandoned his cry of antiSocialism, and is now asking for a Socialistic bounty to help the ostrich farmers to carry on their business. It is interesting to call to mind the fact that such members of the honorable member’s party as Senator Clemons, the honorable member for Perth, Mr. G. W. Fuller, and Mr. G. W. Wamsley, as members of the Tariff
Commission, were in favour of ostrich feathers being allowed to enter this country at a low rate of duty.
– Hear, hear.
– Here is another Liberal in favour of such a Free Trade proposition. What is to become of ostrich farming in Australia if the ideas of the honorable member for Robertson are to be carried out?
– How many hands does the industry employ?
– No doubt, a considerable number will secure employment in the industry if it be encouraged. The honorable member, perhaps, is not aware that there are already in Australia one or two ostrich farms.
– Yes; I have visited one or two.
– There is one in NewSouth Wales, the owner of which, Mr. Barraclough, gave evidence before the Tariff Commission in support of a,n increased duty on ostrich feathers, and declared that the feathers produced on his farm were superior to those produced in South Africa. I believe that the statement is correct. We often hear honorable members opposite talking about the Empire and the unity that prevails throughout it. But what measure of unity exists between South Africa and Australia, so far as this particular industry is concerned ? The South Africans will not allow us to import ostriches from their country, and it is said that advertisements sometimes appear in the South African newspapers inviting Australians who want their letters to apply at the gaols for them.
– And also advertisements that “ No Australians need apply”
– And that no Australian need apply for a situation that is advertised. On a previous occasion I mentioned that the export of ostriches from South Africa was punishable by very heavy penalties, and in some cases, I think, by imprisonment. The people cf that country desire to have a monopoly in ostrich farming, and when we inquire into the real altruism of all this talk of Empire, we find that there is about it but little sincerity. Apparently some people are just working the Empire business for what they can get out of it.
– Will the honorable member connect his remarks with the question before the char?
– I connect them by pointing out that South Africans will not allow ostriches to be exported to Australia, so that the talk of the Liberal party about the unity of the Empire is to that extent so much, rubbish. I sympathize with honorable members who burn the midnight (jil in preparing speeches to support motions of which they have given notice, and who, when they come here, are met with either gloom or frivolous mirthfulness. Efforts to secure the passing of legislation introduced by private members, and tt» put forward new ideas, meet with but a, poor reception.
– Has the Minister spoken in favour of this motion?
– Not yet, but when I resume my seat no doubt he will show his consistency by intimating that the Government are prepared, as soon as possible, to grant a Socialistic bounty to encourage ostrich farming. I support this motion for the reason that we want local industries wherever we can establish ‘ them. When a proposition of this kind is submitted by a Free Trader like the honorable member for Echuca he can rely on the support of the Protectionists of the House. We all like to see our lady friends well dressed, and if this industry is encouraged they will be able to get ostrich feathers at something like a reasonable price. At the present time many ladies are unable to buy hats adorned with ostrich i feathers, for the reason that the prices are too high. We require a local production.
– What did the Protectionist section of the Tariff Commission recommend ?
– Tlie Protectionist section consisted of High Tariffists and moderate Protectionists, so that we had to arrive at a compromise. We recommended -
Artificial flowers, trimmings, ad vol., 25 per cent. (An increase of 10 per cent.)
Artificial flowers, n.e.i.j ad vol., 30 per cent. (An increase of 10 per Icem.)
Feathers, dressed, ad lal. 30 per cent. (An increase of 5 per cent.)
Feathers, .undressed, tj per cent. (No increase.)
There was there a little scientific Protection proposed, because we wished to have undressed feathers imported at a lower rate of duty. I congratulate the honor able member for Echuca upon having brought forward this motion. We ought to be continually alive to the wisdom of multiplying the number of Australian industries. If any honorable member can see an opportunity to establish a new industry in any form, it is his duty to bring the matter forward for our consideration. Although some honorable members may see something amusing in this motion, and may regard Thursday afternoon as one upon which no serious business is likely to be done, I am satisfied that if the Government will take up the proposal of the honorable member for Echuca they will find that it will be supported in this House. I do not expect that the South African Government will make any concession to us in this matter. I feel that it will be a very difficult job for Australians who propose to go into this industry to get birds from South Africa. It is possible that, with the advantage of a bounty, Mr. Barraclough, of New South Wales-, may be able to give better attention to the birds he has, and so lead to the improvement of the ostriches we have already in Australia. Dealing with the objection of South Africa to supply us with ostriches, I may say that I think we should be perfectly justified in adopting a policy of retaliation. Some time ago a prominent member of the South African public service visited Australia with a view to securing a number of prize sheep. I think I brought the matter before the House, and it was regarded as rather a joke that I should ask the Government to take steps to punish this man; but I see no reason why we should not treat visitors from South Africa, who come here to get our prize sheep, as Australians would be treated in South Africa if they went there to obtain ostriches.
– Surely the honorable member would not think of proposing an export duty on sheep?
– I should be prepared to say that, until South Africa removed from her statute-book the law which prohibits the exportation of ostriches, we should refuse to allow her to obtain sheep from Australia, except under a very high penalty.
– She could get them from other countries.
– I think we should be perfectly justified in adopting a retaliatory attitude.
– We should only be hurting ourselves, because South Africa could get our sheep through other countries.
– That is so; she might do that. In Australia we have a very fine industry in the breeding of sheep, and South Africans, having country similar to our own iu many respects, hope to establish th» industry there. We are supplying them with prize sheep, and, no doubt, they will be very keen competitors of ours in the wool industry before many years have passed away. I hope that the Government will make representations to the South African Government iu the direction indicated by the honorable member for Echuca. If they refuse’ to make any concessions in this matter, we shall be able to estimate the value of all the talk we hear about the harmony prevailing amongst the different portions of the British Empire.
.- I agree entirely with the object of the motion submitted by the honorable member for Echuca. The Officer Brothers, as honorable members may be aware, started an ostrich farm on the Murray River twenty-five or thirty years ago. They have continued breeding ostriches there ever since, and have established the industry.
Colonel Ryrie. - How many have they now ?
– The number has been reduced to some extent, but I think they have about thirty birds on one farm at present. The industry has been started also in New South Wales.
– There is an ostrich farm also in Queensland.
– I understand that what is chiefly required is the introduction of new ostrich blood into Australia. If that could be arranged, I have no doubt that there are people in the Com.monwealth who have sufficient enterprise to go into the iudustry, and it would progress extensively. The birds we now have in Australia have been inbreeding for many years, and the industry is not progressing because of the need for the introduction of new blood. New South Wales, three or four years ago, made a big effort to introduce some birds, r.ot from South Africa, where their exportation is absolutely prohibited, but from Egypt. I think it would be quite possible to get birds from Egypt at the pre sent time by sending people to that country for the purpose. I discussed the matter with Mr. Potts, the Principal of the Hawkesbury College, and one of the ablest men in connexion with agriculture that we have in Australia. He was partly instrumental in providing the means by which New South Wales obtained ostriches in Egypt. I believe that those who obtained them went out into the Soudan to get them. The honorable member for Echuca has given a great deal of information respecting the value of the industry. We know that it is one of the most important industries of South Africa. Its value to that country is indicated by the fact that the exportation of the birds or. eggs is prohibited by law. There is a great portion of South Africa that is suitable for the breeding of ostriches, and in Australia we are fortunate in possessing, in almost every State, country suitable for the establishment and development of this industry. I hope that Ministers will take a note of the debate on this motion, anc will make inquiries first of all by communication with the Government of New South Wales to ascertain the best means to be adopted in order to bring ostriches from Egypt to Australia.
– How many have been brought from Egypt?
– I think between thirty and forty. In the last batch there were about a dozen.
– They are not regarded as being up to the required standard.
– According to Mr. Potts, the standard of the birds introduced from Egypt is not a bad one, and the really important thing for the industry here is the introduction of new blood into the ostriches which we have already in Australia.
– We want better birds than we have.
– We need the introduction .of new blood to improve the breed of the birds we have. The matter is one which can be best handled by. the Federal Government. It is easy to understand that those engage’d in the initial stages of the industry in Australia at present may not be in a sufficiently good financial position to be able to introduce the new strains necessary to improve the breed of the birds we have already. I know that there are great possibilities in the development of the industry. That has been proved by the returns from the ostrich farm established on the Murray River. The best evidence of the success of the industry thereis that it isstill being continued. It has been shown that, perhaps, a better return can be obtained from the breeding of ostriches than can be obtained from the running of sheep on similar country.
– Does the honorable member say thatostriches will pay better than sheep ?
Mr.Fenton. - Is there any great cruelty practised in carrying on the industry?
– So far as I know, there is none. Ihave visited the ostrich farm on the Murray to which I have referred, and I can saythat the birds are treated with the greatest consideration and care.
– Is there not cruelty associated with the plucking of the feathers ?
– The Officer Brothers are surrounded by neighbours, and there have been no complaints on that score. There is noevidence of cruelty in the conduct of the industry, and I can say that thebirds are very tame, and the men in charge of them walk up close to them without danger. I do not think that any cruelty is practised upon them. I believe that the industry is one which is worthyof encouragement, and that the Commonwealth ought to take into consideration the desirableness of introducing birds of a new strain.
– Why not establish a Commonwealth stud farm ?
– If we did that, we should eliminate allthat competition which is absolutely necessary to the progress and development of such an industry. I do hope that the Government will open up communication with New South Wales with aview to ascertaining the best method to employ to secure ostriches of high quality. The question of opening up negotiations with South Africa on the basis of a reciprocal trade treaty might well be undertaken by the Minister of Trade and Customs.
– They have already refused to meet us.
-I do not think that that is a reason why further representations should not be made. I believe, too, that it might be possible for us to do some thing with the United States. The report of Mr. Neilsen shows that in one part of those States there are 5,000 of these birds. It will be seen, therefore, that there must be large farms there upon which it might be possible for us to draw, thus giving to this industry, which is capable of being developed to large proportions, a much desired stimulus.
– I think that the honorable member who submitted this motion deserves to be complimented for having worked it up so well. He would have us believe that it relates to a very important matter. Our only trouble appears to be that we do not know where to obtain the birds. As a matter of fact, there are already scattered throughout Australia quite anumber of ostriches, and the real trouble arises, not from the fewness of the birds, but from their poor quality. I take it that what the honorable member aims at is that we should import ostriches of high quality, with a view to improving the strain. But the point which appeals to me is that at the present time we are growing as good wool as is produced in any part of the world, and the land which would be required to breed ostriches can be more advantageously used in keeping sheep. The question is whether we intend to grow wool or feathers. Personally, I would rather be a stock raiser than a poultry farmer. We are asked to put this industry on a better footing, but to-day the ostrich farmers in Australia can find a market for all the feathers they can produce. In every case the demand far exceeds the supply, and I fail to see why the Government should be called upon to subsidize this industry. If we wish to improve it, the only thing we can do in justice to ourselves and with advantage to it, is to obtain from South Africa one or two of their really high-class birds. It has been suggested that, because they will not allow us to bring their poultry here, we should not allow our sheep to go there. A more ridiculous proposition was never suggested. If South Africa could not obtain our sheep direct, it would get them all the same.
– That idea emanated from the honorable member for Echuca.
– No. It came from the Opposition. But the honorable member for Echuca proposes to make this industry a tax on other industries which are native to the soil. Honorable members do not seem to recognise that there is a possibility of the industry becoming extremely important to Australia. Already it is self-supporting. Those who are interested in it can sell more feathers than they can produce. But good country is required upon which to run ostriches and to produce a high-class feather - unless one goes in for irrigation and hand-feeds them. Under this motion we should abandon the handling of the natural products of the country in favour of an imported article, which does not fit in so well with our conditions. Unless these birds are carefully tended and fed, they will not produce a feather which can compete in the markets of the world. That being so, why should we ask an industry which can compete in the markets of the world to carry this industry on its back ? That is my objection to the motion.
– A hundred years ago there were no sheep here.
– Exactly. But they have proved that they are suited to our conditions, and sheep will provide more employment per acre than will ostriches.
– How many sheep go to the acre generally ?
– That is a strange question to come from an honorable member who pretends to represent a country electorate. It is impossible to arrive at any definite acreage throughout Australia. Almost every district will carry a different number of sheep per acre. But where one sheep is carried to 3 acres, probably 30 acres will be required to run an- ostrich.
– We have seventy ostriches on 3 acres.
– But those birds are fed, as are the hens in a coop. One can carry stud sheep in a back yard if one hand-feeds them, just as he feeds poultry. This industry should not be bolstered up at the expense of industries which have proved the mainstay of Australia.
.- I listened to the speech from the honorable member for Echuca with a great deal of pleasure, notwithstanding that he took offence at an interjection of mine which, I can assure him, was merely intended to help him. The honorable member who has just resumed his seat, in his usual splenitic way, because I ventured to ask how many sheep were generally carried to the acre, replied, “ Here is a man who pretends to represent a country district.” If the honorable member can pretend to represent his constituency as well as I represent mine-
– That is not my aim. I do not “ pretend,” as the honorable member does.
– Order I The honorable member has cast a reflection upon another honorable member which he must withdraw.
– I merely stated that the honorable member pretended to represent a country constituency, and that I do not pretend as he does. However, I withdraw the expression.
– The honorable member aggravated his offence by endeavouring to father his own statement on me, which is characteristic of the man who made it.
– Order ! The honorable member must withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw it. It is not characteristic, but I thought that it was. In spite of the cocksure authority who has just resumed his seat, and who argued that, because we have so many animals which have become acclimatized, we ought not to introduce any more, I venture to say that that is a purely conservative notion. There are many centres in Australia where the ostrich would thrive, and where people would attempt to develop ostrich farms if they could get the birds at a reasonable figure. It is not an evidence of the unity of the Empire when one Dominion sets up a barrier between it and another Dominion, and prevents the latter from acquiring that which may be necessary for its development. At the same time, I do not think that the honorable member for Echuca has adopted the right course. The proper plan for him to have followed was to induce the Minister of External Affairs to communicate with the Government of South Africa, emphasizing the desirableness, from an Empire standpoint, of removing the irritating restrictions to trade which exist lo-day.
– What about the responsibility of the South African Government ?
– The quickest way of getting an understanding would be to point out to the Imperial authorities the source of this opposition, and the obstacle to Australia acquiring these birds for the purposes of trade and commerce. But there is a greater reason why we should do something in the direction of getting a home supply of ostrich feathers. Today, great objection is raised to ladies adorning their hats with the plumage of beautiful birds thatare becoming all too rare. The sacrifice of bird life for the gratification of fashion and pride is one of the most lamentablefeatures of modern society. Isay that there is nothing prettier than an ostrich feather properly curled and treated, and that one should be quite satisfied with an ostrich feather rather than take a part in decimating the beautifully-plu magedbirds - of which we have too few in Australia - which are now being wantonly sacrificed to meet the greed of fashion and social conditions. In this direction, something should be done to encourage the growth of ostrich feathers in our own country, so that they can be secured at a reasonable figure, thus undermining the craze on the part of the weaker sex for plumage, a craze that I suppose will never be satisfied. The honorable member forRobertson says that it takes 30 acres to support one ostrich, and that it all depends on the class of country as to how many sheep it will carry.
– I said it takes 3 acres to feed a sheep, and 30 acres to feed an ostrich.
– It depends on the character of the country whether 30 acres will keep one ostrich.
– The point is that country that will carry one sheep to 3 acres will carry one ostrich to 30 acres.
– Not necessarily. The ostrich does not eat the same food the sheep will live on, andcountry that may support an ostrich may not support a sheep. At SouthHead, feathers have been produced for years. I believe they are superior to any introduced from abroad, and they are produced on a small area of about 3 or 4 acres of sandy country.
– Then they must be handfed. Ostriches can be; kept in a back yard as long as they are fed.
-Ostriches cannot be kept in a back yard. They must have the country that enables them to seek the shelter they so much enjoy in the sandy parts of South Africa.
– Whatabout emus ? I have seen them in back yards.
– You can keep emus anywhere, but they do not grow feathers. Very good prices are secured for the feathers produced at South Head.
– Then the man running them does not need a bounty.
– I admit that. He is like a Protectionist who has all the market to himself. Having a Tariff protecting his industry, he secures a monopoly, and does not require a further Tariff to prevent competition. That is the position of Mr. Barraclough, who runs this farm at South Head. I am anxious to hear the honorable member for Wilmot on this question.
Debate (on motion of Mr. Groom) adjourned.
Sitting suspended from 6.25 to 7.45 p.m.
Tobacco Cultivation Bounty for White Growers - Land Tax : Appeals against Assessments - Parliament: Payment to Members : Circulation of “ Hansard “ - Commonwealth Bank : Permanent Officers : Administration : Questions in Parliament - Government Printing - “ Commonwealth Gazette “ - Old-age Pensions - Revision of Electoral Rolls - Meat Trust, Queensland - Outbreak of Small-pox: Vaccination - Savings Banks on Warships - Polling Day.
Question - That Mr. Speaker do now leave the chair, and the House resolve itself into Committee of Supply - proposed.
– A number of tobacco-growers in the southeastern part of the Maranoa electorate, who are trying to compete against Chinese labour, have written to the Minister of Trade and Customs on several occasions asking for assistance, but his replies have always been evasive, as is usual when the head of a Department does not want to do anything. They desire that the Government shall place a bounty on whitegrown tobacco. I wish to know if the Cabinet has decided that white growers of tobacco shall be helped in this or in some other way. At Texas, and on the other side of the border in New South Wales, there is a large area suitable for the cultivation of the tobacco plant, and numerous white persons are engaged there in the tobacco-growing industry, there being a tobacco factory at Texas. But they complain that they cannot compete against cheap coloured labour, that they need protection against this labour, or a bounty on their production. We know that the members of the present Administration have professed all sorts of fiscal faiths, some being fiscal atheists, others Protectionists, others Free Traders, and others Revenue Tariffists, but the Government, as a whole, has asserted its intention of protecting industry, wages, liberty, and progress, and has, in fact, assumed the guardianship of everything that is good. I wish, therefore, to know what its policy is in this matter. Are the white growers of tobacco to be handed over to the tender mercies of the Inter-State Commission, or is an industry that is languishing to be assisted either by the giving of a bounty for white-grown tobacco or the increasing of the Excise on coloured-grown tobacco ?
– Have not most of the coloured people gone away?
– A number of Chinese are employed in and around Texas growing tobacco, and that number is likely to increase, because those who are being driven out of the sugar industry must get work somehow, and will turn to tobacco growing. Surely the Treasurer does not desire that men of his own kith and kin should be displaced to make room for coloured men. The tobacco industry needs careful nursing.Unless tobacco is cultivated continuously from daylight to dark, the crop is likely to be a failure.
– The crop may be destroyed in one night by an attack of blue mould.
– That has happened repeatedly. After all the labour that has been spent on it, a crop is often destroyed just on the eve of the harvesting. I do not ask for an excessive bounty, but something should be done to encourage the white growers of tobacco in the Texas and Inglewood districts, and to make tobaccogrowing a white, instead of a coloured, industry.
– I rise to draw attention to the administration of the Land Tax Act of 1910. The Act has now been in operation for some three years, and the landholders have become reconciled to it, they pay readily, and recognise that it has come to stay. The Commissioner for Land Tax is empowered by the Act to have valuations made at any time, and assessments made as the result of a check valuation by the Crown can be dated back. Hitherto landowners have been assessed in accordance with valuations submitted by themselves; but this year assessments are being based on valuations made by the Commissioner, and the payment of the difference between the Commissioner’s assessment and thru, of the land-owner has been demanded, and in many instances has been paid, for back years. Of course, objections have been lodged against the Commissioner’s valuation, and I am informed that all the Victorian appeals have been dealt with by the Commissioner, that none or at any rate very few are now pending in this State; but in New South Wales there are 700 appeals, or thereabouts, to be dealt with. The landowners of that State urge that the Government should appoint a High Court Judge, a Supreme Court Judge, or a District Court Judge to deal with these appeals, as provided by the Act; but they cannot learn when a Court is to be constituted, and do not know when they will get the refunds to which they may be entitled.
I understand that a special Court has been set up for appeals from the northern rivers of New South Wales, Mr. Justice Hamilton having been appointed. If the hearing of the other appeals is to be left to the District Court Judges of New South Wales at the ordinary sittings of their Courts, two or three years will elapse before all of them have been finally disposed of, and, as a consequence, the land -owners will be deprived of the use of their money for an unreasonable time.
I ask the Treasurer, he being the Minister in charge of the Land Tax Department, to cause representations to be made to the New South Wales Government to appoint a special Judge to deal with these appeals at the earliest practicable date. It is a reasonable request that the appeals shall be heard as expeditiously as possible, and that any refunds to which the land-holders are entitled shall be made immediately after the appeals have been dealt with. The special reason why the land-holders are revolting against this position is that in many instances, and in the case of six or eight appeals that I have in my hand, the check valuations of the Crown are as much as 90 per cent. higher than those on which the tax has been collected during the past two or three years.
I am not going into the question of whether the owners’ valuations were below the mark, as that is a matter for a legal tribunal to decide. Seeing that repeated requests have been made to the Department without anything having been done, and, further, seeing that the Crown is holding these large sums, I think that the time is ripe for a special effort to be made to deal with the appeals. In Victoria, practically the whole of the appeals have been settled personally, by conciliation, I might say with Mr. McKay, to the satisfaction of the Crown and the land-holders.
– Why could he not go to New South Wales?
– Perhaps that is a very good proposition, which may be entertained by the Minister. Without saying anything derogatory to the officers iti New South Wales who administer the Act, it does seem rather an anomalous position that, while we have 700 appeals pending there, all appeals in Victoria have been cleared up without invoking the expensive machinery of an Appeal Court. The honorable member for Indi has just pointed out to me that in Victoria no appeals have been dealt with. We know that there are one or two appeals pending, and that there is a case before the “High Court from Queensland also. At the same time, the questions at issue there may, or may not, arise so far as New South Wales is concerned. Surely it is time to set the ball rolling to have these appeals grappled with, and, even if they cannot all be settled on account of cases which are pending, surely it is time to have the Judges appointed, and, if the landholders are entitled to a refund, to let them get the money back into their hands.
.- One of my grievances is a matter which I hope the Treasurer will take into consideration. I trust that he is in a more generous frame of mind this evening than he was when I approached him some weeks ago. I pointed out to him then, in the hope that I might enlist his sympathy, that a very bad practice has been adopted by Commonwealth Ministries in deducting from six to ten weeks’ salary from the members of this House at a very inconvenient time. I make no apology to anybody for bringing this matter up to-night. The general public of Aus tralia are under the impression that we receive £600 per annum. They, as a rule, have no idea of the amount that is deducted from that sum by the work we have to carry on as politicians, by the travelling we have to do, and by the deduction which is made before every election. Politics nowadays are very different from what they were a quarter of a century ago, when Parliament was the close preserve, so to speak, of the rich man. The necessity for making laws to meet the growing wants of the general public and the requirements of civilization demand that the closest attention shall be given to the business of Parliament and to politics by their representatives. The man who today neglects his parliamentary duties is a failure as a politician, and if a business man comes into this House” and looks after his politics, his business is likely to be a failure, and generally is. It is only men like my honorable friend from the Grampians who, if he will excuse me for being a little personal, has a business with very wide ramifications, and probably quite a number of expert men to attend to matters, who can afford to give so much time to politics. The average man must give the closest attention to his duties if he is to be a good representative.
– What about the AttorneyGeneral ?
– 1 am quite sure that that honorable gentleman finds that the demands which are made upon him as a politician interfere greatly with his earnings as a barrister-at-law. I would appeal to the Attorney-General and to the Minister of Trade and Customs that it is not because the member of Parliament has a “bee in his bonnet,” generally speaking - an idea that he can best justify his existence by serving the public - that he should receive an inadequate salary. The people should not take advantage of, shall I say, the vanity of members of Parliament.
– Enthusiasm is a better word.
– The people should not take advantage of the patriotic enthusiasm of members of Parliament to pay them an inadequate salary.
– Hear, hear!
– That is a most heartfelt cheer which I get, but it is a little embarrassing, because I have almost forgotten what I intended to say.
– You were talking about bees.
– The public, I am sure, do not wish to take advantage of what many business men think is absolute madness on the part of politicians, to pay them an inadequate salary. I am confident that men in the business world who are acquainted with members of Parliament, think that they are absolutely fools to devote the whole of their time to the affairs of the country, when they might be doing very much better for themselves outside. I do not believe that the public, if they understood the duties of a member of Parliament, if they knew the state of the banking account of a member of Parliament, would for a moment-
– They never have a banking account.
– Sometimes it is a banking account on the *wrong side. Let us glance at the history of those men who have devoted the most of their time to politics. Take Sir Henry Parkes and Sir George Dibbs, in New South Wales, Sir Graham Berry, in this State, and several other men. As a rule, the man who gives his time wholly to politics winds up with a very small banking account- The lines of the Treasurer, perhaps, have been cast in happier places. He shakes his head.
– He is reading.
– The right honorable gentleman had one ear on me and one eye on the book. I read the other day that he had been in politics for thirty years, and in office for twenty years. Having observed his capacity in this House, no doubt his personality and. intelligence explain how he has been able to be in office twenty long years out of thirty. 1 can quite understand now why he sometimes becomes restless when we ask him to explain a matter. He does. not think that he wants too much of his own way, but in my opinion he does sometimes. He has been on the Treasury bench so long that he believes he can govern the country without assistance from anybody else. The’ other day be did not see eye to eye with me on this grievance. When I pointed out that at the time our salary was deducted, that is about eight or ten weeks before polling day, we were still doing our parliamentary work - answering cor respondence and receiving deputations - he said his experience was that we were mostly engaged in trying to get back into Parliament.
– That is pretty true, too.
– Hear, hear! He was quite right.
– Yes; but both things could be true while we were struggling to our utmost to get back here. We never like to be defeated; we show a certain amount of vanity in that, I admit. But I put it to the Treasurer that he ought to bring this House into line with the Queensland Parliament, and with the Senate, too.
– Hear, hear! It ought to be done, and the salary made £1,000 a year.
– Why did you miss the opportunity ?
– There is one thing for which, I think, we can be thankful to the honorable member for Darwin. In this matter he has always had the courage of his convictions. I remember the time when he was invited to Government House, and wrote to the GovernorGeneral saying that really his salary would not permit him to appear there. I remember, too, that the honorable member wrote to the Speaker, and asked for permission to erect a tent in the parliamentary grounds, so that he might live there, not being able to afford to put up at the Hotel Australia.
– Hear, hear! I want to live within my means.
– The honorable member received a lot of adverse criticism in places, on account of the position he took up then; but, nevertheless, his advocacy had a lot to do with compelling the Government of the day to increase the salary of a member to something like an adequate amount.
– Yes; but it is not enough.
– I recognise, of course, that the honorable member for Gwydir and the honorable member for Herbert assisted in the movement.
– Yes; but I got a pledge from Mr. Deakin before he went to England, or you would not have had the increase.
– The public are under the impression . that we receive £600 a year.
– The Prime Minister is coming in to hear you.
– I believe that my remarks, if the Prime Minister had heard them, would have touched a sympathetic chord in his breast.
– Is this a discussion on the Estimates?
– This is a grievance. I shall not make what might be described by some of the opponents of my proposal as an ad misericordiam appeal. If the money is not paid, I shall put up with it. But I am taking the risk of whatever criticism may result from an appeal to the Prime Minister and Treasurer to bring this Parliament into line with that of Queensland, a member of which is paid until he is defeated.
– Hear, hear !
– A heartfelt response like that just made by the honorable member for Darwin, who is supposed to have a good rent-roll, shows that my appeal is a sound one. We are deprived of about ten weeks’ salary at a time when we are most in need of it - at a time when we are going amongst the electors and spending money. We may talk about the limitation of the expenses of a candidate for the House of Representatives, but the £100 which he is allowed to expend covers only the cost of electoral rolls, the rent of halls, the payment of scrutineers, and so forth. It has nothing whatever to do with incidentals or reasonable personal travelling expenses.
– Call them what you like, they are there.
– They are; and I am sure that the public would not complain if the Treasurer placed on the Estimates an item to pay us the six or eight weeks’ salary which was deducted.
– A new senator is in a worse position. He has to wait until the 1st July.
– But he knows that when he becomes an old senator he will be paid from the 1st July in the year of his election to the 30th June in the year in which he retires. I hope that the Treasurer will admit that this is a just claim. Leaving this matter, I desire to address myself to another grievance. I have no wish to interfere in the slightest degree with the Governor of the Commonwealth Bank, but a few days ago, when I asked the Treasurer to request him to furnish the country with a list of the permanent officers of the bank - just as we have a list of the members of the Public Service - I received the reply that the Governor considered such information was private and confidential, and did not feel disposed to disclose it.
– The bank officials are not under the Public Service Act.
– I am aware of that; but may I ask honorable members to consider for a moment the reason for publishing in the Gazette a list of permanent officers in the Commonwealth Public Service - a list numbering at least 16,000 ? Taking at random a name from that list, I find here that of “ N. Anderson.” The date of his birth is given, and it is stated that he was a clerk in the State Service, and was first appointed on the 8U. January, 1875. It is also set forth that he is in the Clerical Division; that the date of his appointment to the Commonwealth Service, under transfer, is the 1st March, 1901 ; that he is now a senior clerk, and that his salary, including rent, is £500 per annum. These and other particulars are set out. I take it that such information is given for the protection of public servants, as well as for the use of the general public. When a member of the Public Service is promoted, one has only to look at this list to ascertain his history, and what his progress has been in the Service. Any officer in the Service may make a comparison, and if he thinks that an injustice has been done to him by the promotion of this man, he can bring his case before the Public Service Commissioner, and, if need be, before the Minister. There is a marked difference between a request to the Governor of the bank to supply information similar to that published in respect of public servants and an attempt to interfere with him in regard to the loan of moneys. It would be a thoroughly bad thing if any member of the Parliament, because he could not obtain from the Commonwealth Bank an overdraft on insufficient ‘security, could interfere with the Governor, and threaten to bring about his discharge; but the public of Australia ought to know whether the Governor is paying his officials, the standard rates of wages.
– A board of directors from this House ought to be constituted.
– When I raised this question on a previous occasion, honorable members opposite said that the late Government had made the Governor an autocrat. The late Government, how-‘ ever, could not do everything. Indeed, it did not have very much time to thinkof every detail, seeing that it passed eighty-three Acts in three years. It had to establish a Commonwealth Bank in the face of the keenest opposition offered by members of the present Ministerial party, knowing that if action were not taken at once it might not be possible to take it later on. If our party had not’ succeeded in establishing the bank during its term of office, we can see that it would not have been established this year. Action had to be taken at the time, and if there is any defect in our legislation it can be remedied. It is true that the Governor of the bank demanded that he should be placed beyond the possibility of interference of any kind, political or otherwise; but if he does not see his way clear to furnish us with a list of the officers of the bank, I think honorable members will recognise that it will be necessary, at the end of his seven years’ term of office, to make such alterations in the regulations that the nest Governor will have to do so.
– Why not make an alteration now 1
– The Parliament can’ do what it pleases.
– You will not be satisfied until there is political influence.’
– The honorable member says that I will not be satisfied until 1 have arranged for political influence in connexion with the Commonwealth Bank. He has no right whatever to make that remark, and I ask that it be withdrawn.
– If the remark is considered by the honorable member as a reflection, I ask the honorable member for Hunter to withdraw it.
– If the honorable member thinks I made any reflection upon him, I shall willingly withdraw the remark.
– I object to such an insinuation when I am acting, as I believe, in the interests of the country. When I spoke of the matter the other day, an honorable member on this side of the House called out, “ You ought to go over to the other side.”
– Hear, hear!
– There are some people who think a man ought to be a party hack, and the honorable member for Hindmarsh is one of those.
– The honorable member must withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw it.
– It is good to see a rebellion in the camp.
– During my twenty years of political life I have had to stand up more than once against reflections such as that which came from the honorable member, and I am prepared to do so again, in what I believe to be the interests of the general public. I am not a party hack, and never have been. In no speech that I have made can any argument be found suggesting that I am anything but a friend to the Commonwealth Bank, and I cannot understand these insinuations coming from honorable members upon this side of the House. I made a suggestion regarding the bank which might well have been adopted, with advantage to the bank and the country. It was that the State Governments should be allowed to have a representative on an advisory board in connexion with it. I believe there would not be the friction there is to-day between the Commonwealth and the States if that suggestion had been adopted. I believe also that the bank would have got the accounts of the different State Governments, and those accounts, with the friendly support of the State Governments, would certainly have made the loss on the bank very much less than it is to-day.
– If the State Governments gave the bank their business, it would be a huge success.
– Because an honorable member makes an observation that is deemed to be a criticism of the views held by other members of his party, he is apparently to be considered a traitor to the party. The remarks which have been made by some honorable members can bear no other interpretation.
– The honorable member is taking them too seriously.
– Whether honorable members think I take them too seriously or not, I object to such remarks. I shall be excused if I say that remarks of that kind, coming from an honorable member’s own colleague, make the life of a member of Parliament very much less agreeable than it would otherwise be.
– Order ! The expressions having been withdrawn, the honorable member should not refer to them again.
– They are a luxury, and the honorable member is stewing in them.
– The honorable member for Hindmarsh has succeeded in getting into this Parliament by persuading certain people that he can represent them, and we will let the matter rest there. I should like, however, to conclude my references to it by saying that no honorable member has ever found me guilty of making any reflection upon the personal integrity or aims of a member of the party to which I belong. There is one other matter to which I should like to refer, and that is the condition of affairs in connexion with the Government Printing Office. I think it is time that the Commonwealth Government had their own printing office. We have purchased a great deal of machinery which has been used partly for our own printing, and partly for the work of the State Government. It is true that we get something by way of compensation. We get the use of an office rent free. But I think the system is bad financially. I believe we have purchased £60,000 worth of printing machinery for the Government Printing Office, in this State, and it is said that it is not now worth £16,000. We should certainly have our own printing office. I wish also to say that the Commonwealth Gazette should be supplied to the general public at a very much cheaper rate than £2 per annum, which is the subscription at present charged.
– It would take more than that to make them read it.
– I do not know if there is anything in the Commonwealth Gazette that appeals to the legal fraternity, but there are many advertisements of Government contracts in it, which are of very great interest to the business community. A number of people in business in a small way might be induced to tender for Government works if they were only aware of the contracts that are open to tender. They are not in a position to pay £2 per annum for the Commonwealth Gazette, and I suggest to the Treasurer that he should make the publication as nearly as possible free. People will not be likely to take it merely in order to hamper themselves with waste paper. Those who will take it will be prepared to read it, and they should be provided with it at the lowest price possible.
.- Following up the remarks made by the honorable member for Capricornia in regard to the Commonwealth Bank, I should like to give expression to a few thoughts which have occurred to me on the matter. Under the Commonwealth Bank Act, the Governor of the institution is an absolute autocrat. I am prepared to give the late Government credit for having done the best they could in establishing the bank in the way they did. I think that they went further than they would have done in placing the Governor in the position of an autocrat, had they not been afraid that they would be charged with establishing a bank that was open to political influence. The questions which have been asked in this House on the subject indicate that honorable members generally are agreed that there should be some advisory board appointed to assist the Governor of the Commonwealth Bank. The first idea that occurred to me in this connexion was that such a board should be constituted of the Treasurer of the Commonwealth and the Treasurers of the different States, of course, with the Governor of the bank. On thinking that over, it was clear that on a board so constituted the States would have a preponderating influence, and that would not be likely to be acceptable to this House. As another solution of the difficulty, we might create a Finance Committee composed of representatives of both sides in this Parliament, who, with the Treasurer, or Prime Minister, or both, would form a board to advise the Governor of the bank on financial matters. It is unfair to the Governor himself to charge him with the full responsibilities of the management of the institution, without the guidance and direction which the manager of every other financial institution in existence is given the benefit of.
– I am afraid such a committee of advice would be considered too political for such a bank.
– Perhaps it would.
– The Governor of the bank has a deputy.
– That is so; but the Governor of the bank and his deputy are bankers, pure and simple, who have been trained all their lives in financial institutions.
– Did the honorable member ever know a banker who was “ pure and simple”?
– There are plenty of them pure, but there is none of them simple. It would be a source of strength to the bank if an advisory board were appointed to give the Governor the benefit of advice in dealing with matters which he has had no experience of . This institution is one in connexion with which issues of vast importance will arise in dealing with loans and underwriting generally. Many of these will be matters of ordinary experience to the Governor of the bank, but it would be well if he had the benefit of the advice of men who have had a broader outlook upon the affairs of the country. I add my voice to that of the honorable member for Capricornia in suggesting that the Government might well take into consideration the establishment of some board of advice in connexion with the Commonwealth Bank. Members generally will admit the advisability of the appointment of such a board, not for the purpose of interfering with financial advances, or in any way exercising political influence, but to advise the Governor in connexion with matters of business which may not have come within his ken, I have to mention another matter to which I should like the Government to give some consideration. I have been making inquiry into the case of an oldage pensioner, who comes under subsection 2, paragraph d, of section 25 of the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act, which reads -
In the case of husband and wife, except where they are living apart pursuant to any decree, judgment, order, or deed of separation, the net capital value of the accumulated property of each shall be deemed to be half thetotal net capital value of the accumulated property of both.
This is a case of a man living apart from his wife. The wife owns property, which she will not share with him.
– I have a case the other way about. The man held the property, and would not live with his wife, and she got the pension after three years.
– In this case the wife holds the property. The man is absolutely crippled with rheumatism, and is unable to earn a penny. The wife owns property of the value of £428, less £43, and the husband’s share of the pension is, consequently, reduced by 6s. per week. He is, in the circumstances, given a pension of only 4s. per week to support him. The wife will not consent to a judicial separation, and will not help him in any way whatever.
– Can the husband not get a judicial separation?
– No, because in the first place he has not means, and the wife will not give him any assistance to get it. I am asking for an amendment of the law, and I commend this case to the consideration of the Treasurer. If the Treasurer has the power which is possessed by the Treasurer of Victoria, to grant gratuities in cases of this kind out of his advance, I would commend the case to his consideration. At the same time, I would urge that the law in that particular should be so amended that cases of this character can be met. Men who are left in the position which I have described should not be dependent upon the charity of others. I trust that the Treasurer will see whether he can amend the Act in the direction which I have indicated.
.- The honorable member who has just resumed his seat has touched upon some matters connected with the Commonwealth Bank. I desire to enter my strong protest against the deliberate attempt that has been made to belittle that institution. An effort has been made to do everything that is possible to injure it. When the Bill authorizing its establishment was under consideration, honorable members opposite charged the late Government with a desire to introduce political influence into its management. The speeches which were delivered by them all expressed one idea, which was intended to make the people believe that the Fisher Ministry desired political influence to be the controlling influence in the management of that institution. The bank was established in the face of the most bitter opposition. Every difficulty that could be placed in its way was placed there by the State Treasurers, as well as by many honorable members opposite. We all know that an institution of this kind must necessarily come into competition with the older established private banks in this country. When the latter realized that the business of the Commonwealth was to be withdrawn from them, they naturally put obstacles in the way of its success. One would expect fierce competition between these private institutions and the Commonwealth Bank, and I have no fault to find with that. But when the Commonwealth Bank is being used for political purposes, it is about time that some honorable member here spoke a few words on its behalf. I feel ashamed at the paltry questions which have been asked in this House in regard to that institution. I venture to say that if similar questions were put in relation to our private banks, none of them would stand very long, and a financial panic would ensue. I know what was done in the case of one bank, which is now one of the strongest private banks in Australia - I refer to the Queensland National Bank. I had a lot of fighting in order to obtain an inquiry into the conduct of that institution. At that time, the honorable member for Capricornia was editor of the Worker, and was assisting me by writing articles in that newspaper in favour of the course which I advocated. We believed that that institution Was in a rotten condition at the time, and so it was. I am glad to say, however, that it has since recovered, and is now in a thoroughly sound condition. I object strongly to the questions which have been put in this Chamber concerning the Commonwealth Bank. Only the other day, one honorable member desired to know whether it is a fact that that bank is charging the farmers 6 per cent. for the loans made to them. Does he not know that nearly every private bank is charging them, not 6, but 7, 8, and even 10 per cent. on the money which is loaned to them?
– The question was asked by way of interjection.
– That is so. If these sort of questions are continued, I intend to rake up all the information I can in regard to our private banks.
– Why should the farmer pay 6 per cent. to the Commonwealth Bank if other persons are getting loans at 4 per cent. ?
– If the security is good, and persons’ can get money at 4 per cent. from the Commonwealth Bank, I do not object. But what was the insinuation contained in the honorable member’s question ? It was that the Commonwealth Bank was charging 6 per cent. interest on loans to farmers, when money could be obtained at a cheaper rate from other banks.
– Was not the statement made that the Commonwealth Bank would lend money to farmers at low rates of interest ?
– I do not know whether it was or not. That does not concern me. The institution has now been established, and I believe that with honest treatment it will become the most stable institution that we have in this country, and one which will be the means of preventing a recurrence of the financial crisis which occurred in 1893, when the whole of the private banks of this country went to the wall. Where were their directors and managers on that occasion ? Had they not failed in every branch of their business to pull those institutions through successfully ? Honorable members opposite are doing all in their power to injure this institution. If they are sincere in their statements, why do they not bring down a Bill to repeal the Act under which the Commonwealth Bank was created ? They have no right to injure that institution by belittling it in every possible way. The honorable member for Henty has suggested that this bank should be taken from the control of its present autocrat.
-The honorable member suggested the establishment of a Board. With what object?
– To advise the Governor of the bank.
– What are the functions of the directors of our private banking institutions? Are they there to advise ? I could give a little of the history of some of these institutions if I chose. The honorable member for Henty has suggested that a board of directors, in the persons of the six State Treasurers and the Federal Treasurer, should be appointed to advise the Governor of the Commonwealth Bank. Would not that proposal drag this institution into the mire of politics? Under such conditions the bank would not stand twelve months. What would be the result of such a procedure? In every State Parliament,and in this Parliament, members would want to know this, that, and the other about the working of the institution.
– Be fair. I discarded that suggestion myself.
– I admit that. I do not know whether it is necessary to appoint a board of directors to assist the Governor of the Commonwealth Bank.
But if it be necessary, let us appoint outsiders, who are free from political influence. We must realize that if we drag the Commonwealth Bank into the mire of politics it will receive a very severe shock.
– May I recall the fact that our State Savings Bank Boards are composed of men most of whom have been politicians ?
– The Savings Banks of the States stand on an entirely different footing, and while the honorable member’s suggestion might be adopted in connexion with them, it is not practicable in connexion with the Commonwealth Bank. I have no hesitation in saying that the question which was asked the other day regarding the latter institution was inspired by its opponents. If honorable members opposite believe that this bank should be wiped out, by all means let them try to wipe it out. I wish now to refer to the answer which was given by the Honorary Minister to a question which I asked him regarding the purification of the electoral rolls. I inquired if it was the intention of the Department to give the people some opportunity of seeing a list of the names on the rolls to which objections had been lodged. Hitherto our electoral rolls have been compiled only once in every three years. Consequently, an elector, looking at the rolls to-day, might learn that his name appeared upon them, and thus imagine that his right to vote at the next elections was secure. In the case of shearers, however, the position is that, after they had left a shearing shed for which they were enrolled, and shifted perhaps a couple of hundred miles, objection might be lodged to their names appearing on the rolls by the station manager, on the ground that they did not live there. Letters would then be sent to them at the shed where they had been enrolled, and these would be returned to the Electoral Office with an intimation that the addressees were not known. Thereupon their names would be removed from the rolls notwithstanding that they might not have left the electoral division for which they had been enrolled. The trouble is that, if men are moving about from day to day looking for employment, they cannot help themselves. If the Government are going to disfranchise these men, let them say so openly, because that is what they are going to do. To show the mistake they are making, I may say that my advice - and it is an advice that will be circulated broadcast - is that every man, to make sure of his name being on the roll, should make a fresh application whenever he changes his address. The result of that will be that, instead of there being a few names extra on the rolls, there will be tens of thousands, and additional hands will be needed in the electoral offices to cope with the increase. As people cannot know whether their names are on the rolls, they have a perfect right to make an application to make sure of it.
– And thus they get on twice.
– Even if a man does get on twice, or if he gets on ten times, at all events his name is on the roll, so he will have the opportunity of recording his vote - not ten times, but once. I remember, in the days of plural voting, when one man in Queensland was supposed to have sixty votes.
– We do not wish the names to be on twice.
-I am at one with the right honorable gentleman in that, hut when men cannot find out if they are on the roll, we cannot blame them for putting in fresh applications to try to secure votes. If we have a residential provision similar to that in Queensland, it will mean disfranchising tens of thousands in Queensland alone. Under the Queensland law we had new rolls compiled each year, and the result was that a number of names were objected to; but all names objected to were published in the nearest newspaper - sometimes there would be four or five columns of names published - and if a man objected to did not happen to see his name in the paper, some of his friends, or some one else, was almost sure to direct his attention to it, and he would immediately take action in regard to the omission. In this way there was opportunity to get on the roll again. We do not do that in the Commonwealth. We merely send the police round every three years to compile a roll, but they must miss thousands of votes, and there is no method of ascertaining whether a person’s name has been put on the roll or not, and the person, to avoid any doubt about it, puts in a fresh claim. That is why a greater number of electors appears on the printed rolls than there should be. If the Commonwealth would adopt the course of having the rolls published every year, the electors would be able to know exactly where they stand in relation to having their names enrolled. At present, the rolls are compiled once every three years, and just prior to an election, when there is no time for purification, and the officers are unable to make the necessary inquiries to say whether any names ought not to appear on the roll, and whether names of persons entitled to vote are omitted. I think it should be the duty of the Electoral Officers to see that every adult in the community is enrolled.
– What you mean is that there should be a constant policing of the roll?
– I think it is the only way we can get over it.
– I do not see any daylight through it but that.
– There are hundreds of men moving from shed to shed, and from mining centre to mining centre, who do not know whether their names have been knocked off the roll or not. They have no means of ascertaining. If a man inspects the roll his name may appear upon it all right; but the roll is probably three years old, and he gets no further forward. It is claimed that, in these circumstances, a man should write to the Registrar; but nothing more absurd could be imagined. Fancy a man writing from Camooweal to Charters Towers. He may be 300 miles away when the reply is forwarded to Camooweal. I asked the Honorary Minister the other day if he would cause an official roll, made up to the end of any fixed month, to be distributed, or even one of the old rolls marked with the names struck off. If these were placed at receiving offices, where men call for their letters, or at other public places, we would get over some of the difficulty.
– I do not think that would overcome it.
– And I do not think so either, but it would, to some extent, relieve it. I suggest that, if we are to go on with this collecting of objections, and striking names off, we are in duty bound to see that the names struck off the rolls are published in local newspapers, because in that way we will give greater publicity to the fact, and give full opportunity to people to get back on the rolls.
– Hear, hear ! It is a fair suggestion.
– The inspectors we are providing are for that purpose.
– But will the inspectors cause the names to be published in newspapers? I know it will cost money; we cannot get away from that.
– I think the intention is that these inspectors wilt thoroughly organize the whole thing, and keep the rolls up to date.
– They will not be infallible, any more than the police.
– There will be only one inspector for each electorate.
– One inspector could not get round my electorate in twelve months.
– The publication in newspapers in your electorate would not do much good.
– Yes, it would. The Evening Telegraph, of Charters Towers, and their weekly paper cover an enormous area. The Mining Register, also of Charters Towers, has a big circulation, and the Worker publishes 25,000 or 26,000 copies, which go out every week, together with other papers scattered over the district. The electors would have ample opportunity, through these papers, of seeing whether their names were on the rolls or not.
– You would need to publish the names in a paper in each division of the State.
– Of course, and it would cost money. In Queensland the Government used to go to that expense: but when we took over this matter, and had to deal with the whole of Australia, we thought it would involve an enormous expense to advertise these names throughout Australia, as was done in the various States. But, even then, the cost to the Commonwealth would be less than it was to individual States. If the States think it necessary to have pure rolls, and to take every opportunity of seeing that they are kept pure, as well as to give every opportunity to people who are entitled to vote to get on the rolls, surely the Commonwealth should be in a position to do the same thing.
– We could arrange to have the Commonwealth and State rolls the same.
– Unfortunately, the State and Commonwealth franchises differ. For instance, the franchise for the Lower House inVictoria is different.
If there is a by-election, it is possible for a man who owns property in an electorate other than that in which he lives to vote in that electorate, although he had previously voted in the electorate where he lives. If I live in East Melbourne, and have property in Richmond, I may record my vote at a general election in East Melbourne, but at a by-election I may have my name placed on the roll for Richmond, and vote in that electorate. In that way, I should really vote at two elections during the term of one Parliament. In Queensland, they do not allow the inmates of benevolent institutions to vote; whereas the Commonwealth allows the whole of the people to vote. So there is a difference in the franchise there.
– It is the same in New South Wales.
– It would save expense all round, and give us pure rolls, if the States would come into line, give their people exactly the same franchise as the Federal electors have, and organize their electorates so as to fit them in to the boundaries of the Commonwealth electorates. That would cheapen the cost of compiling rolls, and the cost of printing, and I believe it would be the means of saving tens of thousands of pounds to the States and the Commonwealth. We would have purer and better rolls, and every adult entitled to vote would have it. Though we have given opportunities to the various newspapers of the Commonwealth to have reports of the debates which take place in this Parliament distributed by telegraph at a very cheap rate, I regret that it is not availed of to the fullest possible extent. The Melbourne press publish a couple of columns of the doings of the Federal Parliament; but in the Sydney papers we find that the reports are much shorter than those which appear in the Melbourne papers. In Brisbane they are narrowed down to perhaps a quarter of a column, whilst in the provinces they are reduced to a couple of lines, if anything appears at all. Whatever may be our feelings towards one another, whatever be the bitterness displayed in debate at times, it cannot be forgotten that we constitute the National Parliament, which makes the laws that govern the nation : and if the proceedings of the National Parliament are disregarded, and the publication of the reports of them practically boycotted, it will be a dangerous thing for the Commonwealth. Every facility should be given for making known our doings to the whole people. The better dissemination of the reports could be provided for by increasing the number of copies of Hansard allowed to each member to send throughout the country. Each member is now given thirty-five copies, but could distribute a hundred. Distribution by a member has this advantage : that he takes care to see that the copies are sent to those who will read them, who, in turn, pass them on to other readers. I should like the Treasurer to give the Committee the assurance that, if Mr. Speaker desires to increase the number of copies allowed to a member for distribution, he will place no obstacle in the way. The cost of what I propose would be very little. Hansard is a valuable publication,the production of which entails an expenditure of some thousands of pounds; but at the present time it cannot be obtained in a great number of places, where, if it could be found, it would be read.
– The sessional subscription is very small - only 2s. 6d.
– Yes; and there are a number of subscribers. But the publication is not so popular as it should be. There are many who would read it if they could get it, even if they could buy it at the post-office.
.- I wish to say a few words about the Commonwealth Bank. If that institution is such a sensitive plant that, to answer questions asked concerning it in this Chamber would do it injury, it will not last long, certainly not longer than the Governor’s term of office. The questions that have been asked are fair questions. Before the election, the statement was made definitely by members of the Opposition that the bank was instituted mainly to give loans to farmers for long periods at low rates of interest. The members of the Opposition wooed the farmers with promises of cheap money to be advanced by the bank.
– Who did that?
– My predecessor, for one.
– He is not here to answer.
– That is not my fault. It is your policy.
– The honorable member is the only one to blame for it.
– I am here because those who sent him here asked me to come in his stead. If I had known as much about the flood of talk as I do now, I do not think that I should have accepted the invitation. The only information regarding advances contained in the bank’s balance-sheet is the statement that bills discounted, loans and advances to customers, and other sums due to the bank, amount to £458,000. When, at the same time, we read of the bank underwriting a big loan for the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works, it is fair to ask, “ Where do the farmers come in ? “ As to the threats about disclosing what the private banks have done, if there is anything wrong, let it be disclosed. I suggest to the honorable member for Kennedy that he should tell us all that he knows. The private banks have lived through vilification, abuse, and misrepresentation. Even since I entered this House, the statement has been made that 25 per cent. is a good enough backing for the Australian notes issue, because that is what the private banks hold against the sums for which they are liable at call. I contradicted the statement in my first speech, and I do so again now. Ever since 1903 the percentage of coin, bullion, and Australian notes held by the private banks against their liabilities at call has ranged from 49 per cent. to 53 per cent., and, before there were Australian notes the private banks had 5,000,000 sovereigns where they now have 5,000,000 notes.
– What is the difference?
– You can always get 20s. for a sovereign, but you may not be able to get as much for the notes if you present them in a hurry.
– Sometimes you could get only 5s. fora private bank note.
– There are in Melbourne notes of private banks for which you could not get anything.
– Quite so. If the Commonwealth Bank did what honorable members opposite said it was going to do, and that is, to make long loans to the farmers-
– They never said so.
– They did.
– Read some of the speeches.
– I heard the statements with my own ears. If the Commonwealth Bank were to make fixed loans it would not be able to pay 20s. in the £1 on demand, and our Australian notes might not be worth much either. Honorable members opposite told the farmers that the Commonwealth Bank would make loans for long periods at low rates of interest. The honorable member for Kennedy has reminded us that private banks have not always been able to pay 20s. in the £1. That is quite true, because from want of experience, or perhaps from expediency, they did, in the first case, do exactly what honorable gentlemen opposite said the Commonwealth Bank would do, and that is, make long loans on land at low rates of interest. The Commonwealth Bank cannot make such loans, nor do private banks now, for they found out that it was not banking.I think it is a fair thing for us to find out by inquiries whether or not the Commonwealth Bank is doing what the electors were promised. There are several things about that bank which are not satisfactory, and it is a fair thing for us to make inquiries about them. One thing is the balance-sheet. The first balance-sheet, which showed a loss of £14,000, was not published in the Commonwealth Gazette until after the elections, whereas it should have been published promptly. The last balance-sheet was not published as promptly as it might have been. The quarterly statements, which are to be supplied to the Treasurer, should be average quarterly statements.
– Would you expect any bank at its initiation to come out on the right side?
– No ; but it ought to issue balance-sheets just as promptly as other banks do. The point is that the balance-sheets are necessary for public information, because, unless they are available for the banking magazines and the press, for public information, we cannot ascertain the true financial position of the bank. Another thing which I would like to suggest is that, as the Commonwealth Bank is a Government institution, under the head of deposits in the balance-sheet we should know how much of the deposits represents Government money, and how much is from private depositors. Our honorable friends opposite have asked us why we do not, abolish the Commonwealth Bank. That reminds me of a story of one of our Australian troopers when he was in South Africa. While he was giving his horse a drink, several English officers rode up and told him. in a rather unmannerly way, to get out of the road. He said he would when the “ neddy” had had a drink. The chief officer said, “ Do you know to whom you are speaking?” Our Australian brother said, “I do not. ‘ ‘ The chief officer said, “I am the general officer commanding the division in this district.” “Are you?” said our Australian friend, ‘ you have a good job ; stick to it. ‘ ‘ Mr. Miller has his good job for seven years, and the foundation stone has been laid of a £200,000 bank. Our honorable friends opposite took very fine care that when we did come into power - they did not expect that - we should not abolish the bank. I for one would. As regards honorable gentlemen opposite, it seems to me that no matter what business or other experience a man may have had, he must say nothing about their methods of finance, or the Commonwealth Bank. In fact, in this House an honorable member on this side must not dare to discuss anything they have done. Naturally, we cannot accept that view. If our honorable friends were very successful in the ordinary walks of life, one would be more inclined to feel that they were justified in their attitude.
– A man who is born with a silver spoon in his mouth generally gets on very well.
– We were not all born with a silver spoon in our mouths.
– You were.
– And there are some mouths in which even a silver spoon would not look well.
– I have a golden top. I do not know what is the colour of yours.
– At shearing time I used to employ a man who was well known as an orator and a Socialist. He used to lecture on paper currency, on the Labour platform, and the things which are dear to the hearts of our honorable friends. Up at the shed one morning I asked a man with whom I was earmarking some sheep, “Did you hear the lecture last night ?” He said, “ No ; why do you say that ?” I said, “ Campbell is a very fluent man; he can speak as well as any Labour man I have ever heard.” The man said, “Look here, if he knows so much, why does he sleep under a blanky bridge?”
.- I have a little grievance to bring before the Government, and I think it is one that deserves very serious consideration. In my early remarks in this Chamber I mentioned that the Beef Trust was in existence in Queensland.
– The American Beef Trust ?
– Yes. When I speak of the Beef Trust, of course our honorable friends opposite understand that £ mean the American Beef Trust. At that time I had not the evidence to bring before the House which I now have. Tonight I have ample evidence to prove that the Beef Trust is thoroughly established and firmly rooted in Queensland.
– Look at the Government we had.
– Yes. It has been established under the Queensland Government.
– Make no mistake about that. The Beef Trust was established under the previous Administration.
– The honorable member happens to be saying something which is not true.
– It is quite true.
– The American Beef Trust has been in Queensland for about two years. It is building one of the largest establishments in Australia. It would be able to treat the whole of the cattle in Queensland, provided that it could rail them into the works on the Brisbane River, but rather than do that it has bought two works in the northern portion of the State. It has bought the Alligator Creek works and the works behind Cairns. When we find that it is building a large establishment on the banks of the Brisbane River–
– It taps the biggest portion of the cattle country by doing that, too.
– The Beef Trust has bought the best meat works in the northern portions of Queensland. It has bought the meat works behind Cairns for the purpose of treating the whole of the cattle in the northern portion of the State. The Alligator Creek works will enable the trust to treat the whole of the cattle in the western portion of the State and the Northern Territory. But the works which the trust is building on the Brisbane River will give it the opportunity of treating the whole of the cattle in the southern portion of Queensland. But, apart from building works and establishing itself all over Queensland, the trust is buying stations. It is a wellknown fact throughout Queensland that the Beef Trust has arranged with Mr. Sidney Kidman, the “ Cattle King,” to get his supply of cattle, and prevent them from going to Adelaide.
– It has agents in New South Wales, too.
– Yes ; and it is generally understood that the Beef Trust has bought the Ramournie Meat Works, on the Clarence River. If that is not sufficient evidence to satisfy the Liberal Government that the Beef Trust has been established in Queensland, I do not know what would be.
– And they say that the Beef Trust can be dealt with under the present Constitution.
– Yes; and I am anxious to see what action the Government are likely to take in that regard.
– That is a fair question.
– It is a fair question, because, in a year or two, we shall have a meat famine in Australia, unless the present Government are agreeable to take some action to prevent the Beef Trust from carrying on its enormous works, and compelling people topay a price for meat which they will not be able to afford.
– It will not pay the stockowners very much later on.
– It is not only the small householder, but the man who has 50,000 or 60,000 head of cattle, and probably sends 5,000 or 6,000 to market every year, who has to fear this trust. During the first two or three years of its existence it will doubtless pay very good prices, but as soon as it secures control of the meat trade of Australia it will pay what it pleases. It is quite possible for it to secure control of the meat trade of Australia. By establishing these meat works in Queensland, it will be able to cut off the supply of cattle from the Adelaide market, and the people of that city will probably look to Victoria for their supply. New South Wales will also lose much of its meat supply. Many of the cattle now going to the Homebush market will be bought by this Beef Trust, and sent up to Queensland. At the present time many Queensland cattle are sent to the Homebush market; but the meat works acquired by the trust are in full working order, and the cattle now being sent to the Homebush market will probably go to those works. Until it is thoroughly established, the trust will pay stock-owners better prices than they could secure by sending their cattle from Queensland to Homebush; but thereafter they will suffer. It will be able to control the whole of the Enoggera markets, at Brisbane, and will compel people to pay up to1s. per lb. for beef, or, in fact, as much as it is compelling the people of the United States to pay at the present time.
– How can the honorable member prove that the trust is in Queensland?
– I have absolute proof.
– The honorable member for Robertson himself said it was there.
– I know, from what I hear, that it is there; but I cannot prove it.
– The Queensland newspapers have published the fact that the trust has bought the North Queensland works to which I have referred. It has bought out the Alligator Creek works, because they are best suited to its purpose. They are on the railway line between Bowen and Townsville, and, as they are only 18 miles from the last-named town, they are, therefore, very close to a port at which tramp steamers can put in and take their output to the meat markets of the world. It is time the Government took action. The Attorney-General said that if evidence could be supplied regarding the existence of any trust or combine in Australia he would be prepared to deal with it. I submit that we have ample evidence that the Beef Trust is already in Queensland. The Government should make inquiries to satisfy themselves on the point, and should take immediate action to try to put an end to the operations of the trust in Australia. The meat works to which I have referred are not the only oneswhich it is likely to buy. There are four other works in the northern portion of Queensland, namely, the Ross River, the Burdekin River, the Torrens Creek, and Meringindan works.
– They are owned by the Q.M.E.
– The trust could soon buy them out ; but, by means of the works it has already secured, it hopes to cripple these other meat works. I understand that it paid a big price for the Alligator meat works. It has an enormous supply of capital. Money is no object with it, and it will get in wherever it wants to. By establishing itself in Queensland, it will be able to capture the meat trade and increase the price of meat all over the Commonwealth. I hope the Government will give this matter their immediate consideration. The people of Queensland regard the invasion of the State by the trust as a very serious matter, and as long as I am here I intend to keep the question before the House. It is my duty to look after the interests of those who sent me here, and I must take notice of what is being done to prevent their getting cheap meat. During the recent campaign we urged the people to answer the referenda questions in the affirmative, so that the Federal Parliament should have power to deal with trusts and combines, and I think it was the existence of the American Beef Trust that led to our securing in Queeusland the big majority vote in favour of the powers we sought.
– The people had evidence of the need of it.
– Yes. They have a. great fear of this trust, and I hope , that the Government will deal with it without delay.
.- Following his usual practice, the honorable member for Riverina has remained in the House for a few minutes, and after castigating honorable members on this side, has quietly retired. The honorable member seems to regard himself as an authority on finance, and is -anxious to bring about the humiliation of the Labour party in connexion with the establishment of the Commonwealth Bank. Instead of telling us openly what is in his mind, he speaks of a statement which, he says, has been made by an individual member with regard to the object for which the bank was established. He suggests that that honorable member spoke with the authority of the late Government, and that their idea in establishing the Commonwealth Bank was mainly that farmers should be able to secure long-dated loans. No such proposal has ever been made by our party or by the Fisher Government, who were the authors of the Bill. The honorable member seems to be going merely on hearsay. He evidently did not hear the honorable member in question make the statement to which he has referred, but with the effrontery that is characteristic of his class, he decries not only the Government that established the Commonwealth Bank, but the workers of Australia. He seeks to ridicule and humiliate the workers, because, unlike him, they were not born in luxury. Is it any credit to a man, who happens to have been born of parents who had already secured a very large grip of the wealth of this country, in the shape of its land, that he decries the worker who has not had, and will never have, the opportunities which his forefathers enjoyed ?
– The honorable member for Corangamite would not make such a statement as he did.
– No. It is degrading that a man, because he happens to be the possessor of wealth, should boast of his superiority, and look down upon the toilers whose labours made the wealth which he enjoys. The honorable member’s forefathers built the fortune which he enjoys out of the toil of the men who looked after their flocks and shore their wool.
– His bank account is swollen by the amount taken from the workers.
– Undoubtedly. The honorable member’s claim to a knowledge of finance is based upon his ability to get more out of the toil of the worker than in any other way.
– His ability to breed some of the finest stock in the country.
– There are many men who have the ability to breed as fine stock as are bred by the honorable member for Riverina if they had the money with which to do it. The honorable member’s family has in the past acquired many thousands of acres of the land of this country, and if I had time to look into their history from the time the first member of the family secured his selection, I have no doubt I should find, as is the case in connexion with the aggregation of nearly all the large estates in this country, that it reflects no credit on the honorable member or his ancestors.
– That is a pretty mean thing to say, anyhow.
– No one knows better than does the honorable member for Robertson how these large estates have been built up in different parts of New South Wales and the other States.
– They have not been built up by mean minds of that order, anyhow.
– They have been built up, not by mean minds, but by mean actions. It is not to the credit of a man who could well afford to be magnanimous to those who have helped to build up his fortune to speak of finding conditions in this House which he did not expect to find, and which he regrets having taken the risk to discover. All I can say is that there is no need for the honorable member to stay here. He does not require the allowance which is paid to a member of this House. It is not necessary that he should be here, because of any benefit which the House will derive from his presence. He will not do much by the efforts he has made so far to add to the dignity of the House, or its wisdom, and there is no reason why he should not leave it if he is not satisfied with it. I wish now to say a word or two upon the question of vaccination. I have been longing for an opportunity to do more than ask a question onthis subject. I feel very keenly the injustice done by the embargo at present placed on the metropolitan area of Sydney. I say there is no justification or reason for it. Will any person who knows anything of epidemics of smallpox in any other country say that such a means of dealing with the disease would have been adopted elsewhere as theembargo which is now irritating the people of Sydney?
– They have small-pox all the time in London, Glasgow, and other large cities in the Old Country.
– In many countries the disease is endemic, but what would the people of those countries think of a proposal to quarantine an area with a radius of 15 miles from the centre ofone of their large cities?
– There is no country free from small-pox in the world today where the authorities do not strive to keep it out.
– There is no country in the world where the authorities pretend to try to keep it out, and while doing so propagate the verydisease they are professing to suppress. The Prime Minister says that the Government are trying to prevent the spread of small pox, but the only way in which the disease can be suppressed is by isolating the patients and contacts at once.
– Then, why do they not do it over there?
– Because of the interference of the Federal proclamation.
– Because of the undermining of the State administration by the idiotic proclamation put into effect by a Government which, hitherto, have had no say in the affairs of a State.
– That is a most unjust thing to say.
– The way to prevent the spread of small-pox is to isolate the patients and contacts as soon as a case is discovered. Many people who are undoubted judges of small-pox claim that the disease prevalent in Sydney is not small-pox, but a mild form of cow-pox, which has been propagated by the idiotic vaccination which has been carried out in that city, through the scare raised by the medical profession, supplemented by the action of the Federal Government and the press. Had the Federal Government not proclaimed that quarantine area, I venture to say that all the efforts of the Sydney press, and the medical profession, would never have succeeded in forcing thousands of people to submit to the repulsive and repellent operation of vaccination, which has been proved to be more injurious than the disease which it was intended to prevent. Under the system which has been adopted, when a case of small-pox is discovered, although there may be nine or ten contacts living in the same house, and the authorities do not know how long they have been in contact with the patient, they simply vaccinate the contacts, and let them go. Many of them may have already contracted the disease.
– That is rough on the honorable member’s pals in the State.
– It is rough on the Federal Government, who, while professing to quarantine an area-
– The honorable member is showing now what the State authorities might, but will not, do.
– The Prime Minister cannot shuffle his responsibility on to the shoulders of the State Government
– I do not wish to do so.
– If the Government had never declared the quarantine area, they would have been in a position to blame the State Government, if they had not effectively quarantined the districts in which the disease occurred. The Federal Government stepped in, and quarantined the 15-mile area, in which there are about 750,000 people. They interfered with the right of the State authorities to deal with the outbreak, and have propagated and distributed a disease that would otherwise have been suppressed. The contacts are allowed to go abroad spreading the disease, and for months and months people who have not the disease have been made liable to it. Hundreds of business people in Sydney have been brought practically to the verge of ruin. The quarantining of the area is costing the people of Sydney £1,000,000 per week. What has been the experience of the medical man whose advice the Government have followed ? Has he had a wide experience of this disease ? Is he a man of ripe years, who has studied the history of the disease in other countries? He is a young man who has been accidentally chosen to take charge of the quarantine affairs of the Commonwealth. In his enthusiasm to prove his worth, he has overstepped the bounds of reason and discretion, and done that which no other medical officer in any other country in the world has ever done.
– The Government should have given him some advice.
– The Government shelter themselves behind this officer. They exclaim, “ We have done what our medical officer advised us to do.” I have no desire to do Dr. Cumpston an injury, but I say that it is the exception rather than the rule for a young man of under forty years of age to be sufficiently ripe in experience to entitle him to assume control of the public health in an emergency of this character. I regard Dr. Cumpston as a germologist. He has studied germ life, but, as a matter of fact, was not a great success even in that branch of science. Nevertheless, his advice has been accepted by the Government, and, as a result, 700,000 persons in Sydney have been placed in danger of contracting this disease, and many business men have been brought to the verge of ruin. Is it not singular that during this epidemic there has not been a solitary death from small-pox? As a matter of fact, there is not one serious case. I venture to say that if the patients who contracted the disease during the first month of the outbreak, and the contacts, had been isolated, it would not have attacked more than a hundred people. But the cow-pox has been carried into the homes of hundreds in New South - Wales.
– And a good many deaths have resulted from heart failure.
– There is no doubt that there are many persons in the grave to-day who would have been living if they had not been practically compelled to undergo vaccination. Only to-day I heard of a case of the same sort in Melbourne. A young, robust woman was forced to undergo vaccination by her employer some two months ago. To-day she is a walking ghost infected with the worst form of tuberculosis, and is destined to go to an early grave. The Government have committed one of the worst possible crimes by forcing many of our citizens to submit to the most repulsive and injurious operation known to modern science. They have taken a wrong step, and have not the courage to undo it. It is very significant that the Sydney Morning Herald, which in the early days of the epidemic was loudest in its support of the action of the Government, and which day after day was proclaiming that a case of small-pox had occurred in a household of eight, seven of whose members were vaccinated, whilst the patient was unvaccinated, and such-like scare paragraphs, only a week ago published a subleader regretting the absurd quarantine regulations which were operating in the area around the city. It stated that it had continually asserted that the Commonwealth Government had adopted a most ineffective method of localizing and controlling the disease, and was treating the State in a very unfair way by jeopardizing the health of thousands of its inhabitants. This is the newspaper which did more to force the people of New South Wales to submit to the obnoxious operation of vaccination than did any other. Only a little while ago the Prime Minister distributed some photographs of small-pOx patients amongst honorable members, with a view to impressing them with the idea that the Government had taken the right course in quarantining Sydney. I have in my possession a number of portraits of persons who submitted to vaccination, and who died under the most agonizing conditions from the diseases thus transmitted to their system;. I venture to say that a description of these oases would wring tears from the heart of the most callous individual. I handed the photographs to the Prime Minister, so that he might form an opinion as to whether he was justified in compelling the inhabitants of Sydney to incur such risks in an effort to avoid the modified form of cow-pox which has been prevalent in that city. But evidently the honorable gentleman did not look at them. If he did look at them, he must have a heart of stone if he can still persist in maintaining this stupid embargo. We have been told that vaccination renders one immune from small-pox. It does nothing of the kind. Let mo point to the Philippine Islands, where America waged a war some years ago. The soldiers of the American army there were taken the greatest care of by their generals. Knowing that smallpox was endemic in those islands, every man in the army was vaccinated regularly, in some cases once every six weeks. What was the result? Although every man was vaccinated at least once, some twice, and others three times, 780 cases of confluent small-pox occurred amongst the soldiers, and 278 of them died of the disease. In other words, 32 per cent, of the patients died - a larger percentage than has been known to die of small-pox in the case of unvaccinated persons. Yet they tell us vaccination makes one immune from small-pox, and practically immune from any danger of contagion. I could quote case after case of what vaccination is doing. Dr. Jenner, the man who first scientifically applied it, was made a hero because of the service he rendered to the medical profession - because of the money lie brought to the exchequer of the medical profession. I say that, knowing the responsibility of the statement, and knowing it is true that many medical men unwittingly or wilfully support the idea of vaccination from the stand-point of material gain. Some public vaccinators in the Old Country have made as much as £7,000 a year by public vaccination. It is not what, they get from performing the operation that constitutes the income derivable by them. I. knew a gentleman in Sydney who was running a factory. He thought it necessary in the interests of his business to urge his employes to get vaccinated. Every one was doing it, the papers were urging it, and the medical profession were proclaiming it, so he had himself vaccinated as an example to his employes. It cost him a guinea, but he was in bed for ten weeks. Although a strong, powerful man he was rendered weak and helpless, and he had to pay heavy fees day after day to get rid of the disease conveyed to him by the doctor who performed the operation.
– He will never be the same man again.
– Another gentleman got such a bad form of blood-poisoning that he had to remain wrapped up in wadding from his feet to his waist for a number of weeks, and had to pay heavy fees to specialists to come and try to rid him of the blood poisoning, which is the very essence of vaccination. These are two cases that have occurred to my knowledge. I know of numbers of others. I knew people who would be alive to-day had it not been for the effects of vaccination during the late scare in Sydney. Loss of wealth and sacrifice of business are nothing compared with the sacrifice of human life. A mau may recover his wealth and business, but he cannot call back the life that has been practically sacrificed, at the behest of this Government on the advice of a junior medical man, by forcing these people to undergo an operation which is held by the medical people and scientists to be the source of the greatest danger to life known to the medical profession. Dr. Jenner said that vaccination would cure for life. That is no longer true. Then the doctors discovered that vaccination with four good marks prevented small-pox for life. That was not true. They found it did .not. They next discovered that vaccination properly done mitigated small-pox. The people have found it does not. Afterwards the doctors discovered that vaccination would prevent small-pox if efficiently and successfully performed. The people find that it does not. The doctors discovered later that effective vaccination in infancy, and successful re-vaccination at the age of fourteen prevented death from small-pox- it did not prevent them getting small-pox - but the people found from experience it was otherwise. The doctors found it was a means of communicating serious and loathsome diseases, such as skin disease, scrofula, syphilis, and leprosy, to the human form.
– And cancer.
– Arid tuberculosis. The people had already made the same discovery. Then the doctors discovered that arm-to-arm vaccination had lost its protective virtue, and they recommended vaccination from the calf, and, in India, from the buffalo and the donkey. They shift their ground from year to year. As they find one delusion will not hold the public any longer, they manufacture another lymph prepared from another source to continue the delusion.
– How is it that out of all the people who have contracted small-pox in Sydney, only two have been vaccinated ?
– I am not in a position to say whether that is so or not.
– The doctors say it.
– Yes, the doctors. They have not stated in the certificates of death of those dying during this epidemic - not from old age, but healthy people prior to vaccination - that vaccination, if not the direct cause of death, was the indirect cause of it. When they are so far from conveying that information to the community, and reporting in death certificates, not only the immediate cause of death, but the primary cause, can the honorable member expect me to believe what they say ? They give certificates that are not in accordance with the actual facts in order to keep back from the public the danger of vaccination.
– What I have mentioned is a difficult fact to get over.
– I do not accept these reports in the press from day to day. They are more than press statements; they are statements from an interested profession trying to bulldoze the country into compulsory vaccination. In a desperate effort to reinstate a mischievous and discredited theory, the doctors are recommending glycerinated vaccine virus. What is virus but a deadly poison 1 Is it a reasonable thing to ask a man to poison himself when he has the greatest of all blessings - good health ? Is it reasonable to ask a father who has a child he admires to submit that child, that abounds in the blessings of good health, to be poisoned? Is it reasonable for a Government by any process to seek to ‘compel people to run the risk of contracting the diseases that are ever on the path of those vaccinated ? The doctors recommend glycerinated vaccine virus. The people declare that this is only a new imposture, and they are perfectly correct. The doctors have discovered that the small-pox panic is a golden shower to them in the shape of vaccination fees and medical attendance upon the vaccinated sufferers. That is the secret of the vaccination scare that has taken hold of the metropolitan area of Sydney, and accounts for the atrocious action that has been taken. The doctors discovered that, in order to keep up vaccination, the articles of the vaccine creed must be continually changed. The doctors are not threatening to inoculate against hydrophobia, consumption, and diphtheria, by means of vaccine germs, anti-toxins, and viruses, all of which are disease products. Is it not strange that they have not attempted compulsory vaccination for tuberculosis and diphtheria ? The medical profession dare not propose that every person shall be inoculated with anti-toxin of diphtheria to prevent that disease spreading, because the public would not permit it. It is the vanity of the common people that causes vaccination against small-pox to be allowed. The medical profession play on the public fear of disfiguration of the face. It is the fear of being pitted that allows the vaccination anachronism to survive. I rejoiced more than I have done for a long time past when I read that the attempt to introduce a semi-compulsory vaccination system in New South Wales had been foiled by the local Parliament. This Federal Government cannot claim to be free from responsibility for that attempt. They told the State Government, in effect,, that when they introduced legislation to provide for compulsory vaccination, and isolation, which they already had the power to insist on-
– No !
– They exercised that power in 1883.
– Then why did the State Ministers ask for it in the Bill ? Are they fooling the people?
– It was asked for in the Bill because conditions have changed since 1883, and because they wished to simplify matters.
– If the State Government have this power, why do they not use it?
– Because the Federal Government have taken away the responsibility of the State Government by their idiotic effort to establish quarantine, which practically protects no one. This Government tried, by indirect effort, to force compulsory vaccination on the great State of New South Wales.
– And saved the rest of Australia.
– From what?
– From the scourge of small-pox.
– Small-pox which has never carried off one victim !
– 1 would rather be dead than be disfigured as that disease disfigures.
– The honorable member finds it difficult to pass now, and the difficulty would be increased if he were pitted. 1 pity the man or woman who is attacked by this disease; but 1 pity still more those who have tuberculosis introduced into the system. That is ten times worse. I pity still more those who have been inoculated with cancer, which is proved to have occurred in scores and hundreds of cases. They suffer more from the cruel malady that is introduced into their constitutions, and that carries them to the grave, than do those who are pitted by what is a modified cow-pox. I pity those who have been affected with scrofula, erysipelas, and that most abominable disease syphilis, which has been introduced time and again in this country and in other countries where vaccination is more generally practised. If I were asked which I would prefer, to have my child pitted with small-pox, or run the risk of being attacked with an incurable disease, I would choose small-pox rather than allow the introduction into the .system of germs which could never be got rid of, and which would almost certainly bring about death. The doctors found that the people would not submit to vaccination without coercion .by fines, seizure of goods and imprisonment. It is a nice thing that, because a man will not submit to be inoculated with a disease, he is to te seized and cast into prison, as in the Old Country in cases where men have been too poor to pay fines imposed for refusing to allow their children to be subjected to vaccination. The people find that, small-pox is to be got rid of, not by mixing cow-pox with the blood, but by making the homes healthy. The cure of small-pox is sanitation and healthiness; its enemy is not isolation or quarantine, but the cleanliness of the home and the healthiness of the people. Smallpox is a dirt disease. The more dirt and filth there is, the more virulent the disease, and the less the dirt and filth, the less serious the disease. Where sanitary conditions are what they ought to be, small-pox has no home, and vaccination, with its hideous consequences, has no claim to be urged on the people in any shape or form.
– This is not a very good advertisement of Sydney.
– Melbourne, in some quarters, is in no better position.
– Then why is there no small-pox here?
– Because you have not had the bad luck to have a gentleman landed on your shores, and allowed by the authorities to distribute the disease free from molestation.
– Then it is not a dirt disease ?
– The doctors say that it is a very mild form of small-pox, but my personal opinion is that it is a modified form of cow-pox from which the people are suffering. I think that I arn right in assuming that the reason of this trouble is twofold. First, the doctors, whenever there is a case of small-pox reported in any country, raise a professional placard, urging the people to submit to vaccination. Every epidemic which has occurred in British Dominions has been the basis of the outcry of the medical profession that people should be compelled to submit to vaccination.
– Because it is easier to force the multitude to submit to an operation of this kind than it is to interfere with vested interests - to improve sanitation and reduce the number of people who are crowded together in unhealthy tenements.
– Is that why you submitted to vaccination ?
– No. I submitted to vaccination in order to be here to try to defend the people of Australia, which the honorable member did not do. He submitted to vaccination because he was afraid of the disease.
– I am not prepared, like the honorable member, to place my lay views in opposition to expert views.
– There is not an honorable member of this House who has even a particle of the presumption with which the honorable member has been inoculated from some source.
– Thank God, it was not from the same source as that of the honorable member.
– I would not like it to be, because then the honorable member might be different, and there would be one good man, at any rate, on the other side.
– And it would not be you.
– The honorable member for Hume is not in order in carrying on a dialogue with the honorable member for Gwydir.
– The honorable member cannot help it, sir. It is an old game, to which he was accustomed in the Legislative Council of New South Wales. They were very glad to get rid’ of him there, and people elsewhere will be glad to get rid of him before long.
– The honorable member never had an opportunity of being in that respectable House.
– God forbid! I would not care to adorn the Chamber of Conservatism in which the honorable member was so happy, and which he got out of because there was no pay.
– Order !
– Let me read a quotation -
The doctors must be compelled to make the same discovery. Any medical theory which sets aside the laws of health, and teaches that spreading of natural or artificial disease can be advantageous to the community, is misleading, mischievous, and opposed to common sense ; and any teacher, whatever his assumption of authority, title, or degree, who inculcates such doctrine, is a perverter of common sense, and an enemy of the human race. The first duty of
parent is to protect his offspring, and to resist every attack upon their health at any and every tost, no matter from what quarter it may come. How long will English feelings of justice and right permit us to submit to have our children’s blood poisoned in order that the claim of medical infallibility may be saved and medical domination may be upheld?
There is the declaration of the manifest effect of this process known as vaccination of the human kind.
– What is the honorable member quoting from?
– I am quoting from a public health tract on vaccination and sanitation, which is published by the greatest authority on this subject in the world.
– Who signs it?
– The National AntiVaccination League, 27 Southamptonstreet, Strand, W.C. It is well that the honorable member can laugh at the suffering he has created among the people of this country. It is only characteristic of his race that he can afford to smile while some people are underground and others are suffering the effects of what he has largely contributed to produce. The authority which the honorable member professes to ridicule with his laughter, so-called, is engaged in trying to protect the life and the health of the people without pay; not like the medical profession who are trying to enrich themselves at the expense of the health of the people. The members of this league are making their researches, and trying, under great difficulties, to unearth the real effects of this disease, purely as a matter of patriotism to their race. When the honorable member smiles, and tries to ridicule men who would do more in one hour for the welfare of the people than he would do if he lived fifty lives, he only shows how he regards the responsibilities of a man who is elected to fill his position. Here are a few facts for the benefit of the people who are suffering : Vaccination, among other evil results, causes abscesses, blood-poisoning, boils, convulsion^ consumption, eczema, eruptions, erysipelas, and syphilis. Four hundred doctors, when asked to state their experience of the diseases that emanated from or culminated on vaccination, replied that there were sixty-three distinct forms of disease of a serious character conveyed to the human form by the process of vaccination.
– Did they say that in regard to the Australian virus ?
– If the honorable member knew what virus meant he would not talk so glibly about it -
In India, the West Indies, South America, South Africa, and the Sandwich Islands, vaccination is a prolific cause of leprosy, the most loathsome, incurable, and repulsive disease which affects the human race.
Would not any man rather die than become the victim of leprosy, if he had a choice ? It has been commonly conveyed by vaccination in the countries I have just mentioned -
One witness has given evidence before the Royal Commission on vaccination of 6,233 cases of serious injury, and S42 deaths, due to vaccination, with chapter and verse.
Chapter and verse for this can be seen in the third report of the minutes of evidence of the Commission of 1890. In the next place -
Vaccination weakens the constitution and renders it more liable to take other diseases. Vaccination deteriorates the public health. The death rate has greatly dimished, both in Switzerland and in Leicester, since .compulsion has been abandoned, and vaccination nearly discontinued.
The death rate of young children in Leicester, England, in 1868-7.2, when practically all were vaccinated, was 1.07 per thousand. In 1888 and 1889, after vaccination was practically abolished, the death rate was reduced to 3.6 per thousand - a reduction of about 60 per cent. We have the further statement in this pamphlet that -
Vaccination lakes the hard-earned money out of the pockets of the people. . . .
Vaccination does not prevent small-pox.
Vaccination does not mitigate small-pox.
In all outbreaks of small-pox, the first to suffer are generally those who have been protected by vaccination.
Vaccination, therefore, is a sin against nature, and compulsory vaccination is a crime against humanity.
I emphatically indorse that opinion as one who has given much time and study to tlie problem. In my infancy I was nearly sacrificed to the compulsory vaccination system in the Old Land, and I have heard my mother speak of the care she had to exercise in order to try to undo the effects of vaccination. We have the further statement that -
Every parent should protect his defenceless offspring against the poison of the vaccinator’s lancet as bravely as he would against the poison of an adder or the attack of a wild beast. It is only by determined resistance that this wicked and mischievous legislation can be got rid of.
I am delighted that the Legislature of New South Wales was sufficiently humane, sympathetic, and up to date as to refuse to pass a Compulsory Vaccination Bill. I hope that the Minister of Trade and Customs, who carries on his shoulders the responsibility for the action taken by the Government in regard to the great city of Sydney, will see that the proclama- tion is withdrawn as soon as possible. There should not be an hour’s delay more than is necessary in removing an embargo which is doing great injury to many people in .Sydney who have done nothing to deserve such punishment. I believe that the Prime Minister may be anxious about the matter, and I appeal to him to come to the rescue of the people of Sydney. ‘ I am satisfied that if a Royal Commission were appointed, and those who have been victimized were invited to give evidence before it, no Federal Government, and no law, would again impose such an embargo upon tlie people as has been laid upon the citizens of Sydney during the last four months. That would be the position once the effect of the action taken by this Government was clearly understood.
.- In conversation with a member of the crew of the Warrego, I was informed by him that lie deposited £10 in the Savings Bank branch of the Commonwealth Bank at Thursday .Island, and that a charge of 5s. was made to transmit the money from Thursday Island to Sydney. He was also asked to pay some charge whew; he drew tlie money out of the bank. He paid in gold, and was treated in thisway. I would suggest to the Treasurer, or whoever is responsible for meeting difficulties of this kind., that there should be introduced, in connexion with the Australian Navy, the system that pre-, vails in the British Navy, under which, a branch of the Savings Bank is established on each vessel, so that members of the crew may bank their savings without cost, and with the knowledge that it will be perfectly safe. I am quite sure that I need not labour, the matter.. The crews of the different boats would appreciate an arrangement ofthat kind, and it should not entail much, expense. A’ good deal has been said onthe subject of the purging of the electoral rolls during the last few months, and inthis connexion I should like to mention a little of my own experience. I regret that I have not had an opportunity to deal with the matter on the motion that is on the business-paper for a commission’ of inquiry. On the 3rd June last I received a letter from a gentleman who resides at Rathdownie. He informed me that he had been a resident of the place for the last thirty years, had voted at all the elections that had taken place during that time, and was on the Commonwealth roll since the inception of Federation. But when he went to vote on the 31st May last, he was informed that his name had been erased from the roll, and that he could not vote. Just prior to the election I received a letter from a lady, who informed me that her name had been on the roll for the last ten years. Her husband’s name was also on the roll. When she made inquiries as to her number on the roll for the purpose of voting on 31st May last, she was told that her name had been erased from the roll.
– There are many cases of the kind all over Australia.
– On the election day I met quite a number of persons whose names had been struck off the roll. One lady told me that she had lived in Ipswich for a considerable time, and had been out of the town only for a threeweeks’ holiday during that time, and yet her name was struck off the roll. I wish to know whether the Assistant Minister of Home Affairs will look into these cases to see what action the late Government took in the matter of removing names from the electoral rolls. I remind honorable members that names were struck off the rolls during the term of office of the late Government, without any notice of objection being sent to the electors at all. I knew that this sort of thing had been going on, and I investigated most of the cases that came under my notice, and in the majority of them found that a legitimate explanation was given for the removal of the names. What I wish to direct special attention, to is that it is very unfair that the Opposition should create such a howl at the present time about the removal of names from the rolls in a manner that is fair and above board, since notice of objection is sent to the electors whose names it is proposed to remove, when during the term of office of the late Government, it appears that three names were removed from electoral rolls without any notice of objection being sent to the electors at all.
I wish to make a statement in reply to some remarks which were made by the honorable member for Brisbane last week with reference to myself.
– I think we should have a quorum to listen to this. [Quorum formed.]
– I waited during the last three hours, hoping that the honorable member for Brisbane would be in his place, and I regret to have to make this statement in the absence of the honorable member. He told the House that possibly some of the Ministerialists had forgotten that it was an honorable member on the Ministerial side of the House who advocated having the polling day on Sunday.
– That was playing it low down.
– I challenge any one who reads the speech made by the honorable member for South Sydney, and the interjections I made during that speech, to say that they gave the impression that I made any such proposal. My objection to the holding of elections on Saturday is that it entails an amount of work on the Sunday, which I deprecate. In addition to that, I am not one of those individuals who believe only in their own rights. There is an important section of the community who think as much of their Sabbath as we, who do not belong to that section, do of ours. Judging by our experience of them, I may say that they show that they think even more of their Sabbath than quite a number of us do of ours. Their religious feelings are deserving of more consideration.
– Order ! I remind the honorable member that he is at pre. sent anticipating a debate on a matter on the business-paper.
– I wished to make an explanation of my position in reply to the remarks of the honorable member for Brisbane.
– The honorable member will be in order in making a personal explanation, but not in going further, and anticipating what he can say in discussing the amending Electoral Bill.
– I repudiate any assertion by the honorable member for Brisbane that I advocated the holding of elections on the Sabbath Day.
.- I think it is to be regretted that honorable members should make references to the Commonwealth Bank in this House which will in no way assist that institution. Whatever view we may hold in regard to the establishment of that bank, now that it is in existence we should realize that it is an institution which belongs to the people of the Commonwealth, and depends very much for its future welfare on the sympathy extended towards it and its management. It has been said this evening that the bank should have advanced money for long periods at a low rate of interest. It will be admitted even by honorable members who have placed that view before us that that would not be good banking business. No private bank to-day acts on similar lines. We can only expect a bank to be a success if it is conducted on business lines. In order to prevent the exercise of political influence in connexion with the institution, this House decided that the Governor of the Commonwealth Bank should have a free hand. I venture to say that if by questions and references made from time to time in this House, we convey to the public an impression that the bank is not doing as well as we would like, we shall hamper the operations of the Governor considerably, and do much to interfere with the success of the institution. The public are always very sensitive on questions of finance, and once an impression gets abroad that a financial institution is not doing as well as was expected, a lack of confidence in it is created, with, the result that people who have money to deposit will look elsewhere for a bank in which to deposit it. As far as the bank is concerned, I think it has done fairly well. There is not an honorable member who expected it to pay during the first few years of its existence.
– What has the bank done ?
– I think it has done remarkably well to get the amount of money it has on deposit. Everybody knows that, during the first year of its existence, we cannot fairly expect to get the same return from it that we shall get later. When the Bill authorizing its creation was being debated here, the Treasurer himself stated that we would require at least £1,000,000 capital to establish the institution.
– I do not remember saying that.
– I remember the Treasurer saying it. The bank has been in operation only about twelve months, and, in view of the very satisfactory statement which has been made by the Governor of it, I hope that in future we shall not hear so much carping criticism in regard to it as we have heard in the past. The honorable member for Riverina stated that the institution has not the backing that it should have, and he then proceeded to discuss the note issue as if it were connected with the bank. The note issue is quite * separate thing. He claimed that a higher gold * reserve than 25 per cent, was necessary, and stated that the time would arrive when people would get only 15s. for their Commonwealth notes. Surely he does not forget that the credit of the Commonwealth is behind these notes.
– The credit of the nation was behind the French Bank.
– It is strange that the gentlemen who make these statements never utter a word about the private banks, which were unable to meet their liabilities in 1893. I hope that honorable members, in dealing with this question, will do justice to an institution which is the property of the Commonwealth. I trust that they will give the Governor of the Commonwealth Bank, and the people of this country, a fair run for the money which has been invested in that concern. The honorable member for Capricornia stated that the employes of the bank should be placed on the same plane as other public servants. He urged that by so doing we would know exactly who were employed, and the salaries which they received. He stated that the’ employes would also have the right of appealing to the Public Service Commissioner from time to time for the redress of any grievances under which they might labour. .What is our experience of public servants and the Public Service Commissioner ? Every now and again we have complaints by our public servants that they cannot get justice from the Public Service Commissioner, and that increments due to them are being withheld. Honorable members cannot do much with the Public Service Commissioner for our public servants. If the employes of the Commonwealth Bank are placed under the control of the Public Service Commissioner, I venture to say that we shall get very near to political influence. If the employes of the bank have grievances there is nothing to prevent them combining and seeking the redress of those grievances at the hands of the Arbitration Court. We all know that the Governor of the hank has secured the services of some of the most capable men in the Commonwealth. Most of these gentlemen held positions in State institutions. They are getting better salaries in the Commonwealth Bank, and enjoy- better positions than they did under the States. No honorable member has yet heard any complaint from them. In these circumstances, we ought to give that institution a fair run. Let us make as few references to it as possible, and then if it fails the Governnor of it must accept responsiblity. It is wrong for honorable members to be constantly taking exception to the way in which the institution is being worked. I think we have a most capable man in the Governor of the bank, and if we leave him alone it will be an institution of which the people will be proud in the years to come. I am sorry I am refused leave to resume my speech on another occasion. Reference has been made by the honorable member for Oxley to a very important question - the danger likely to overtake the people of Australia by the Beef Trust establishing itself in Queensland. The honorable member for Robertson also says the Beef Trust is in Queensland, and from what the honorable member for Oxley has placed before us, I think there can be very little doubt about it. The result of it must be disastrous to the people of Australia.
– I believe that they are here, but we need proof of it.
– The honorable member has pointed out two concerns that they have bought up. What further proof is required. It has been pointed out by honorable members from time to time that we have sufficient power to deal with these combinations that are a menace to the people. If so, it behoves the Government to take immediate action to frustrate the efforts of this gigantic concern from America to rob the people of Australia.- I find an article in the Sydney Morning Herald of the 22nd June dealing with the Beef Trust, and it lends some support to the contention set up by the honorable member for Oxley. This article says -
The question now is what will the next move of the American Beef Trust be, in view of the new Tariff allowing the free importation of meat into the United Slates? Tt is no secret that representatives of the great packing-houses of Amenca have been negotiating in Australia and New Zealand for some time past, and, if they have not secured a footing so far, there is no telling what may happen in the future. Some of those engaged in the trade, here expect to see some developments following quickly on the passing of the new Tariff Bill. “I would not be at all surprised,” said one of those gentlemen to a Herald representative, “ if, just when the American market is thrown open to Australia, the Beef Trust makes a big move to euchre us. We know what money can do, and there is no end of money behind the trust. Of course the Beef Trust will not figure in the move as such ; some one else will do the work for it. That is what we have to watch.”
It clearly points out that the removal of the Tariff in America will enable these people to try to capture the Australian trade. The article says further on -
I venture to say from my three years’ experience that nothing is impossible for the Meat Trust. lt. has millions at its back, and to absorb the big Queensland wilks and other Sydney meat concerns would not present any difficulty. This would form the kev of admission, and would control Flemington Yards, at Melbourne, and Homebush, N.S.W. ; then the growers would be the lambs, as the p’rice would be fixed by this organization, and they wouldhave to take what was offered by the combine.
The Meat Trust controls the pastoral industry to-day ot U.S.A., and with such power might easily acquire control in Australia and New Zealand.
It concludes by saying -
I feel sure that the Australian people outside the meat trade do not realize the power of this combine ; but looking at the situation entirely with Australian eyes, I have a firm conviction that if the trust gets a foothold in Australia; or New Zealand, then in less than ten years it will control, not only the meat trade, but the entire food supplies, and spell ruin to every wool and cattle-grower in the Commonwealth
– It is about time to ring off.
-If the Prime Minister is prepared to adjourn I shall stop.
– We are seeking information on that subject, if the honorable member can give it.
– If it is the desire of the House to adjourn, I can give the information at another time.
– We have been waiting to adjourn since you got up to speak.
– I could not get the adjournment.
– Because of one of your own party.
– If people on pastoral areas think that the establishment of this Beef Trust in Australia will benefit them by the higher prices they may get for their cattle and sheep, I may say that experience shows us that all may go well for the time, but after a while, when these people get the fullest control, they will dictate the prices, and there will be no such thing as taking beefto market and getting a price at the fall of the hammer. They will fix everything to suit themselves, and when that time arrives the man who grows the beef will suffer, the consumer will suffer, and the general public also.
– We shall be glad to get any definite statement as to their operations.
– Why should not the Attorney-General’s Department get it?
– These people are here as sure as we are here.
– In view of the statement of the honorable member for Oxley about buying up certain firms in Queensland, the better way. Would be to have an inquiry made. There is nothing to prevent the Government inquiring. They can get first-hand information.
– The Minister of Trade and Customs has been inquiring very closely into this matter for some time, and we shall be glad of any additional information we can get.
– I am glad to hear it. I am sure the Attorney-General realizes how important this question is in relation to the welfare of the people of Australia, and I agree withhim that any honorable member with definite information should place it at the disposal of the Government. I am acting on the article I have quoted, and the information given by the honorable member for Oxley, corroborated by the honorable member for Robertson.
– Do you know who wrote the article?
– It is an article written in America. We shall probably have another opportunity of dealing with this important matter, and I ask leave to continue my remarks at a future date.
– There is no necessity; this is the grievance-day debate.
– Something must be done with the motion before the Chair to permit of direction being given to the Committee of Supply to sit again.
Question resolved in the negative.
That the House will to-morrow resolve itself into the said Committee.
– I move-
That this House do now adjourn.
I remind my honorable friends opposite that they have now been talking for a solid week.
– The honorable member’s followers have been talking too, man for man.
– That is a grossly unfair remark to make. A solid week has gone without a single item of the Works Estimates being passed.
.- With all respect to the Prime Minister, I say that he is in error. Two items of the Works Estimates have been pawed, to my knowledge, so that the error is one of 100 per cent. - the usual inaccuracy of the Government. The discussion that we have had has been useful, and reminiscent of times that I well remember, when the honorable member for Parramatta was desisted by the honorable members for Lang and Wentworth, and we spent aweek dealing with the Works Estimates.
– Five days is the longest period they have taken to pass, and generally they have been passed in one or two days.
-When on one occasion I forced the Works Estimates through in two days by having an allnight sitting, some of my friends refrained from speaking to me for twelve months. The present Ministerialists, when in Opposition, filled in the time talking against the Government, rather thanin discussing general principles arising out of theconsideration of the Estimates.
– There is no passing eighty-three Bills nowadays.
– The Government seem quite content not to pass any Bills, except some in which they are particularly interested. There is no intention on this side to delay business in any way.
– The right honorable member should not talk like that. He knows better.
-Is there any honour left in the Prime Minister ?Does he expect me to believe that there is am attempt to tie up business?
– I think that there is.
– It would be quite easy, if we so desired, to tie up business.
– It is tied up.
– If so, it is because of the incompetence of the Government.
– I wish, in reply to what the Leader of the Opposition has said, to remind the House of these simple facts, which can be verified by reference to Hansard. The Works Estimates for 1910-11 were passed in one all-night sitting, with a remaining stage for which a day was taken. Those for 1911-12 were passed through all stages in one sitting; and those for 1912-13 were discussed for five days in Committee, and the remaining stage occupied another day. Comment is unnecessary.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.19p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 16 October 1913, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1913/19131016_reps_5_71/>.