5th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– In view of a statement made recently by the Prime Minister, to the effect that the Fisher Government failed in its duty in not introducing a sufficiently high Tariff to protect Aus tralia against the importations of foreign manufacturers, I ask the honorable gentleman if he is urging the Inter-State Commission to hurry up with its report?
– I do not feel equal to that question just now.
– I ask the Minister of External Affairs whether he has read the following statement in the report of the High Commissioner -
I strongly suggest that I be authorized to pl ace -
– The honorable member is not in order in reading the report.
– Then let me say that the High Commissioner has practically requested the Government to allow him to appoint a Commissioner to inquire into the ramifications of the butter trade in England, so far as it affects Australian exportation, and also to inquire as to the substitutes for butter imported into England which compete against Australian butter. Is the Minister prepared to allow the High Commissioner to take such action in the interests of Australian producers?
– There are several matters that I shall have an opportunity to discuss with the High Commissioner during his stay, and this will be one of them. Some of these matters arise out of statements in his reports, others out of statements and communications that have passed between us. I am sure that Sir George Reid will afford every opportunity to the producers of Australia to put before him any matters to which they wish to direct his. attention.
– I desire to. make a personal explanation. During the discussion of the Estimates the other evening, when the issue of day labour against contract arose, I quoted from memory a paragraph from a judgment of Mr. Justice Heydon; to the effect that in a case that he was determining, it had been demonstrated that the rate at which men were working upon piecework was in some cases twelve times, and in other cases twenty times, as fast as the rate at which they worked under day-labour conditions. In order to justify my statement, I have looked up the judgment. I find that the report of the case is headed, “ Twenty times as fast. The bonus-workers’ speed. Mr. Justice Heydon surprised.” The Judge said -
This is one of the remarkable features of this case -
– Does the honorable member claim to have been misreported ?
– Yes, because my statement was obviously disbelieved, being received with expressions of doubt. I wish now, if I am allowed, to justify it to honorable members by reading the judgment.
– I cannot allow the honorable member to do as he proposes on a personal explanation.
– I merely wished to justify myself out of the mouth of the Judge.
– I ask the Assistant Minister of Home Affairs whether a statement attributed to him in the public press to-day is correct. It is stated that the name of a certainlady - Miss Annie Irvine - was left off the roll because of an insufficient address. I ask the Minister whether he is aware that on the roll for the Balaclava Division there are the names of Annie Irvine, Hughenden-road, St. Kilda, Christina Irvine, Hughenden-road, St. Kilda, Elsie Isabel Irvine, Hughenden-road, St. Kilda, and Margaret Irvine, Hughendenroad, St. Kilda. Is the Minister further aware that there are only nine houses in Hughenden-road? These being the facts, is the statement which has been publicly made, that Miss Annie Irvine’ s address was insufficient, and that, therefore, her name was struck off the roll, correct ? Did the Minister, in making that statement, intend to mislead the public, or was it made negligently?
– I have not made the statement that the name of this lady has been left off the roll. The only newspaper statement on the subject attributed to me that I have seen this morning is that appearing in the Age, and it is correct. An objection against the enrolment of Miss Annie Irvine was lodged because referenda papers addressed to her at the address given on her claim card were returned through the
Dead Letter Office undelivered, and inquiries subsequently instituted by the police were to the effect that she was not known in the locality. As a matter of fact, at the time that the application was lodged the proper postal address of this lady was Oakleigh Hall, Alma-road, St. Kilda.
– Nothing of the kind.
– That is my information. I am informed that the address was subsequently altered to Hughendenroad, and that so soon as the postal address was altered, the notification of objection found Miss Irvine. If Miss Irvine had answered that notification, there would have been no risk whatever of her name being removed from the roll.
– Is the Minister aware that the objection lodged against the enrolment of Miss Annie Irvine was addressed to Miss Annie Irvine, Hughendenroad, East St. Kilda, the address on the roll, and the same address as that of other members of the family?
– Was that delivered ?
– I thought I had made the facts perfectly clear. The objection was necessarily addressed with the address given on the claim card, and if an answer had been sent in the normal way, there would have been no occasion for the right honorable gentleman to bring the matter before the Federal Parliament.
The other day, the honorable member for Kennedy asked a question with regard to the difficulty of replying to notices of objection in sparsely-settled districts, where it might be impossible to answer the notice of objection within twenty days. The Chief Electoral Officer has supplied the following information: -
Section 72 of the Electoral Act provides that on the receipt of the answer of the person objected to, or after the expiration of twenty days from theposting of the notice, the Divisional Returning Officer shall determine the objection, and if it appearsthat the person objected to is not qualified or entitled tobe enrolled on the roll, shall strike out his name.
In practice, Returning Officers do not necessarily act immediately on the expiration of twenty days, and it may be taken that no Returning Officer would refuse to act on information which might reach him at a later date indicating that an objection was . not well founded.
Yesterday, the honorable member for Gwydir asked whether the Electoral Department had received objections to names appearing on the roll without the deposit of 5s. provided by law. The Chief Electoral Officer reports -
Where an objection is lodged Dy an Electoral Officer, the law does not require that he shall lodge a deposit of five shillings, but where an objection is lodged by any person other than an Officer, the deposit must be lodged with the Divisional Returning Officer. I am not aware of any case in which the law has not been observed by the Officers concerned.
– Yesterday, I brought under the notice of the Assistant Minister of Home Affairs a slight industrial trouble that may develop at Port Augusta. Can the Minister give me any further information as to the state of affairs at Port Augusta in this regard ?
– The honorable member brought under my attention a telegram which he had received from Port Augusta to the effect that men employed wharf labouring there were being paid less than 12s. a day. I informed the honorable member that our schedule rate for such labour was 12s. a day, and that I would institute telegraphic inquiries to find out what base there was for the telegram which the honorable member had received. I hope that, some time during the course of this afternoon, I shall be in a position to further inform the honorable member on the matter.
– In view of the statement made yesterday, and appearing in the papers, coming from the Assistant Minister of Home Affairs that he had saved £126,000 in connexion with the Port Augusta to Oodnadatta railway, will the Minister of External Affairs tell me whether that railway is being controlled, and the policy concerning it dictated, by the Department of Home Affairs or the Department of External Affairs?
– The railway is under the jurisdiction of the Department of External Affairs. The contract in relation to the working of the railway was entered into with the Minister of External Affairs.
– Can the Assistant Minister of Home Affairs tell us whether an appointment of an engineer to take charge of the transcontinental railway in Western Australia has been made?
– Applications have been received, but no decision has been arrived at as to which applicant will be successful. It is hoped that a decision’ will be arrived at within a very few days.
– The other day, I mentioned the contract that was let to a Williamstown firm to’ supply bogietrucks for the Western Australian end of the transcontinental railway. Is the Assistant Minister of Home Affairs now in a position to inform the House as to when the first trucks will be delivered at Kalgoorlie, and as to the rate at which the trucks will be delivered until the contract is completed?
– When the honorable member asked me the question without notice tile other day, I asked him if he would be kind enough to place his question on the notice-paper. I am in a position to inform the honorable member of the facts of this contract at any time, and can do so later this afternoon; but, not expecting that he was going to ask the question again without notice, I have not with me now the accurate information asked for.
– Will the Minister of Trade and Customs inform the House whether any of the Excise duty, which would have been payable on sugar had not the Excise Act been repealed, has been paid into the Treasury since the repeal of the Act?
– No; the necessary authority to collect the Excise awaits the passage of the Bill by another place.
– Following up the question which I put to the Minister of Trade and Customs, I should like tomention that during a recent debate it was inferentially declared from the Government side of the House that the Excise which would have been payable if the Excise Tariff (Sugar) Act had not been repealed, would be paid on demand. I desire to ask the Minister whether a demand has been made on those who> were liable to pay Excise ; and, if so, what reply has been received ?
– I am not aware that any honorable member stated that duty would be payable until the Bill now before Parliament was passed. If such a statement was made it must have been due to a misapprehension. I certainly did not make it.
– The other day, I asked the Assistant Minister of Home Affairs if he would inform me whether the Government were going to enforce the rule of demanding from local rifle clubs a proportionate contribution towards the establishment of rifle butts. The Honorary Minister said he would reply if I gave him time to do so.
– As this matter affects the Department of the Minister of Defence, I ask the honorable member to place his question on the notice-paper. An answer will be forthcoming tomorrow.
– I ask the Minister of External Affairs, Is care being taken that the cotton-seed supplied for the development of the cotton industry in the Northern Territory is of good quality, because I have information that seed has been sent from a district where no cotton has been ginned during the last two years ?
– My attention has not been drawn to what the honorable member has just mentioned; but, if he gives * une particulars, I shall have inquiry made.
– In connexion with the contract system, I ask the Assistant Minister of Home Affairs whether he has caused inquiries to be made into the allegations of the honorable member for Parkes concerning contracts let by the honorable member for Wide Bay; and, secondly, whether he will cause inquiry to be made into the robbery of the people of New South Wales under the contracts in which the honorable member for Parkes was engaged as counsel?
– Order ! The last portion of that question is not in order.
– I have not yet made the inquiries to which the honorable member refers.
– In view of the fact that the major portion of the alleged new cases of small-pox arise in distinct districts, where overcrowding is a characteristic, will the Minister of Trade and Customs urge on the New South Wales Government the necessity for isolating not only the patients, but the contacts in these districts, so as to enable the Federal Government to lift the embargo that is now placed upon the city of Sydney and suburbs?
– The honorable member will realize that we cannot compel the State Government to take any action of any kind.
– But you can suggest
– The honorable member made representations before on exactly the same lines, and I may inform him that his representations were sent on to the authorities concerned.
– With what result?
– We have had no reply yet.
– On Friday last I brought under notice the unfortunate death of a lady while in quarantine. Yesterday the Minister of Trade and Customs said he would make inquiries, and on receipt of the papers dealing with the matter, put them before honorable members. If the honorable gentleman has received the papers, will he lay them on the table of the House?
– After the honorable member had moved the adjournment of the House yesterday, in order to discuss this question, part of the papers reached me, and I read them, so that they are now in the records of the House. The report with regard to the removal of the patient to the Quarantine Station by State officers is not yet to hand. I have here the papers so far received, and shall be pleased to lay them upon the table of the Library.
– I wish te ask the Minister of Trade and Customs whether he thinks it fair to lay on the table of the Library only a part, and not the whole, of the papers relating to this matter t
– Honorable members yesterday afternoon expressed a desire for information, and a charge of want of honesty on the part of a public official having been made, it was only fair that
I should present immediately to the House the papers that had come to hand, so that the official statement might go out with the charge made. I agree with the honorable member that it is much better that the complete papers should be presented, but in the circumstances it was necessary that I should lay before the House at once the information to hand.
– Is the Prime Minister aware that the great racing carnival in Victoria will commence nine or ten days hence, and that thousands of people will be precluded from visiting this State by reason of the quarantine proclamation which is still in operation in New South Wales?
– Order ! The honorable member is how giving information instead of asking for it.
– I am going to ask a question. With the knowledge of the facts I have stated, will the Prime Minister relieve those people of their disabilities by lifting the quarantine at an early date?
– I have informed honorable members, I should think, twenty times, that the quarantine cannot be lifted just at present.
” ALL-RED “ CABLE ROUTE.
– In regard to the question of a State-owned Atlantic cable, I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether he will take advantage of the presence in Melbourne of the High Commissioner to consult with him as to whether anything can be clone in the Home Country to bring about the existence of an All-Red cable route between Australia and the Mother Country?
– As I have had for many years the greatest possible sympathy with the project in question, I shall be very happy to do what the honorable member proposes.
– Last week I gave notice of a question as to the cost incurred by the Postmaster-General’s Department in defending the proceedings brought in the Conciliation and Arbitration Court by the Postal Electricians Union. The honorable gentleman then promised to let me have the information as soon as possible.
I desire to know whether he is prepared now to give it?
– I have not the information at hand, and as there is a case now before the Court, I think it is just as well that we should wait until it has been disposed of before we look too carefully into the matter.
– Prior to leaving office, I called for tenders for, I think, fourteen automatic exchanges in the vicinity of Sydney. I should like the PostmasterGeneral to state whether any tender has been accepted.
– I can only speak from memory, but I believe that the acceptance of tenders was delayed for two or three months, and that fresh tenders were invited, with the result that a tender for one automatic exchange has been accepted. I shall find out and inform the honorable member later on what the position actually is.
– Will the Minister of External Affairs state in what way the Assistant Minister of Home Affairs has saved the Commonwealth, as alleged, £126,000 in regard to the Oodnadatta to Port Augusta railway?
– I am sure that there must be some misapprehension. The technical fact is that the agreement was made with the Department of External Affairs, and that the loss upon the working of the railway has to be debited to that Department The Department of Home Affairs, however, has a direct interest in the matter, since the wharf, which is part of the railway property, will be used by it. Naturally,therefore, the two Departments are looking at what is being done. I think a misunderstanding must have arisen as to something said by my honorable colleague. Perhaps what is meant is that, assuming the agreement was entered into, the expenditure of, I think, £125,000 on rolling-stock to work the line would be unnecessary. There naturally would be no necessity to provide rolling-stock if the working of the line was left to the State.
– Hear, hear!
– I did not hear what my honorable colleague said on the occasion referred to.
– Is it not within the knowledge of the Minister of External Affairs that the reason why notice was given to the South Australian Government that the Commonwealth proposed to take over the control of the Oodnadatta to Port Augusta railway was that the State authorities, or the South Australian Railways Commissioner, in particular, refused to allow the Commonwealth authorities to go on the wharf with their 4-ft. 81/2-in. roadway, and that owing to the extortionate charges which were made by the South Australian Government-
– Is this a question?
– And that it was for these reasons that the ex-Minister of External Affairs had to give notice that the Government would determine the agreement between South Australia and the Commonwealth with regard to the railway ?
– The question is too comprehensive to permit of a categorical “ yes “ or “ no.” If the honorable member will give notice of it, I shall supply him with an answer.
– In view of the debate on the Northern Territory which took place early this morning, during the consideration of the Works and Buildings Estimates, does the Minister of External Affairs propose to give us this afternoon further information with regard to the proposed expenditure in the Territory ?
– When the proper moment arrives, and I am asked for such information, I shall be glad to furnish it. I said yesterday that when the Railway Bills were being introduced, or during the consideration of the general Estimates, a more suitable occasion might offer to give such information than presented itself at 2 o’clock this morning.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister to give us a piece of information for which a number of friends and myself are anxious, so that some personal anxiety may be relieved. Can the honorable gentleman inform us when we are likely to go into recess?
– I think that is the most pertinent question asked to-day; but I regret extremely that I am unable to answer it.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
What amount doeshe estimate will be expended during the year ending 30th June,1914, in connexion with the establishment of the Naval Base at Port Stephens?
– Four thousand pounds is provided, of which, however, it is not anticipated that more than £3,000 will be spent.
Importations and Duty
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
asked the Honorary Minister, upon notice -
Whether the Minister will have posters printed and placed in a conspicuous place at the registrars’ offices intimating that the latest correct rolls can be inspected at registrars’ offices?
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice -
Whether, under section 51, sub-section xxi., Commonwealth Constitution, the Federal Parliament has not the power to pass a law penalizing persons or companies that in any way prohibit their employes from marrying.
– This raises one of those interesting problems with which the Constitution bristles; but I hope my honorable friend will relieve me from the obligation of attempting to answer constitutional conundrums until the occasion arises.
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
What, respectively, are the qualifications, medical schools graduated from, and public appointments at any time held, as regards Dr. Cumpston, Dr. Reid, and Dr. Paton?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
Bachelor of Medicine, Melbourne University.
Bachelor of Surgery, MelbourneUniversity.
Doctor of Medicine, Melbourne University.
Diploma of Public Health, Royal Colleges of Physicians and Surgeons, England.
Inspector of Meat and other Foods, Royal Sanitary Institute, England.
Resident Medical Officer, Melbourne Hospital.
Resident Medical Officer, Parkside Asylum, Adelaide.
Resident Medical Officer, Western Hospital for Infectious Diseases, London.
Bacteriological Investigation, Lister Institute, London.
Medical Officer, Health Department, Western Australia.
Quarantine Officer, Western Australia.
Command Sanitary Officer, Head-quarters Staff, Commonwealth Military Forces, Western Australia.
Royal Commission, Miners’ Phthisis, Western Australia.
Chief Quarantine Officer, Victoria.
Chief Quarantine Officer, Queensland.
Director of Quarantine.
In addition to the qualifications specified in the reply to the question, the experience hereunder may be detailed : -
A tour to Philippine Islands, Hong Kong, and Japan, during which plague, small-pox, and other Asiatic diseases were specially studied. A stay of several weeks in Bombay for the express purpose of continuing the study of small-pox, plague, leprosy, and cholera. This study was pursued at the Government Research Institute at Bombay and in the surrounding districts. Also a tour of the principal European countries for the purpose of studying the European systems of controlling epidemic diseases and of quarantine.
Dr. Paton is not an Officer of the Commonwealth Service, and the particulars asked for regarding him are not available.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
In England voluntary classes are formed and managed by departmental officers. The students pay a. small fee, and the Government subsidizes the movement.
asked the Postmaster-
General, upon notice -
– The Commonwealth Public Service Commissioner has furnished the following information: -
Australia, and inquiries are being made into the qualifications of the small percentage of the applicants who give any evidence of possessing the required experience. Until these inquiries are completed it cannot be stated whether a sufficient number is available to fill existing vacancies in Western Australia.
asked the Honorary Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
3.Four cases -
Argus - £6; costs, £6.
Manly Daily - £2 ; costs, £2 8s.
Casterton Times - 10s. ; costs, £22s.
Sunday Times - £2; costs, £1 3s.
Bundaberg Mail - Case dismissed.
Daily Standard - Case dismissed.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
At the commencement of the present financial year he was again requested to attend for medical examination, but on refusing to do so was, in August, fined or one month’s imprisonment. Having declined to pav the fine he had served the month’s imprisonment, with light labour, before the warrant for his release was executed.
asked theHonorary Minister, upon notice -
Whether rolls for Victorian Divisions are being printed at the Government Printing Office; and, if so, have the names for such rolls been collected bv the police. If not, on what basis were the rolls compiled?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is -
There has been no collection of names by the police. A reprint of the rolls, embodying all alterations in accordance with the Act since the latest print, is being made to meet public and official convenience.
asked the Honorary Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
asked the Honorary Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers : -
Defence Act - Military Forces -
Regulation Amended (Provisional) - Statutory Rules1913, No. 266.
Financial and Allowance Regulations Amended (Provisional) - Statutory Rules 1913,Nos. 264. 265.
Public Service Act -
Department of Home Affairs -
Promotion of I. V. H. O’Loughlin as Clerk, 4th Class, Accounts Branch, Federal Territory.
Postmaster-General’s Department, New South Wales -
Appointment of J. Smith as Draughtsman, Class E, Electrical Engineer’s Branch, Sydney.
Promotions as Postmaster, Grade 2, 2nd Class, of -
Promotion of J. E. Stewart as Clerk, 4th Class, Inspection Branch, Grafton.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
I appeal to the House to pass the measure as soon as possible.
– Will the Treasurer tell us why the administrative staffs of Cockatoo Island and Garden Island have been increased so enormously ?
– The Department of the Treasury does what it can to keep down expenditure, but it has not the framing of the Estimates. The right honorable member will obtain the information from the Minister in whose Department these matters lie.
– Has not the Treasurer scrutinized the items?
– I scrutinize totals more than details. The rule is - it may be useful to the honorable member some day - to scrutinize proposals, and compare them with past expenditure, and, in cases where the amounts are thought to be excessive, or if there is not sufficient revenue to provide for them, to refer the proposals back to the Departments concerned, and to ask them to cut down their Estimates.
– That rule wants altering.
– I do not see what other rule we could have. It would not be right for the Treasurer to unduly interfere with the detailed administration of other Departments. This Bill is nearly always introduced somewhat late in the financial year, but on this occasion it is later than usual. Until we obtain parliamentary sanction for new appropriations, we cannot proceed with the works for which the money is needed.
– We expected better things of this Administration.
– The change of Government is the principal reason for the delay that has occurred. Four months of the financial year have now passed. In the interests of the labour market alone, the works that are provided for in the Bill should be commenced as early as possible, and it will be of advantage to the whole community to have them commenced. They are. all necessary works for which the people are crying out, and the longer the passing of the Bill is delayed, the less time will remain for the expenditure of the money within the financial year. The Senate is now sitting, and, I believe, is ready to deal with the Bill promptly. I therefore ask honorable members to assist me in getting the Bill transmitted to the other Chamber as soon as possible.
.- I agree with the Treasurer that it is important and desirable that the Bill should be passed as soon as possible, but I do not agree with him as to the reasons for the delay in its introduction. The preparation of the Estimates was well advanced before the right honorable gentleman took office, and he has always boasted nf his ability to facilitate the production of a Budget. On this occasion his promises have been better than his fulfilment, which is not quite unusual with him. When he was in Opposition we heard a great deal about the delay of the last Administration in bringing forward the Budget, although no one knew better than he that it is almost impossible to get the accounts necessary to enable the Treasurer to present them as they should be presented, within a month or two after the end of the financial year.
– It was worse this year than ever before.
– The Treasurer and every other member should know the reason. When he was last in office, the Departments had practically nothing to do. The development of Commonwealth enterprise has occurred within the last three years. It is assumed that the Commonwealth Government began its national career with the inauguration of Federation, but that is not so. For some years’ it was merely an agency for the collection of revenue, and its distribution among the States. It was only after 1910 that the Commonwealth began to undertake national works, and to study national interests. Therefore, it was during the regime of the late Government that the difficulty of organizing a Department for spending money to bring public works up to date, and to deal in a national way with national matters, arose. When accounts were not brought before Parliamentuntil a month or two of the financial year had elapsed, those who were then in Opposition were very pleased. They did not confine their criticism of us to speeches in Parliament, but went into the country, and in every way convenient to themselves misrepresented, for political purposes, the delay that had occurred, attributing it to negligence, saying that it was wilful, and in some cases suggesting corruption.
– I do not think that I ever did that.
– I do not know that the right honorable gentleman did, but some of his colleagues, who were not likely to be challenged in the same way as he would have been challenged, were not so scrupulous. I congratulate the Commonwealth on the manner in which public works have been carried out during the last two years The Prime Minister has suggested here and elsewhere that there has been an enormous waste of public money. Those who think that ought to put their views in concrete form.
– In what way?
– Appoint a committee.
– Why appoint a committee? The Treasurer is in possession of all the information that any committee could get. He has command of all the permanent officials of the Commonwealth. There is no information that could be obtained by a committee that could not be got from the departmental heads. If the officers arenot capable of giving information that is desired, they should not occupy their positions. If, as has been alleged by the Prime Minister and his colleagues, they are in possession of certain facts, the time has arrived for making those facts public. I, for one, do not desire that anything should be screened. I hope that everything will be shown in the light of day.
It is the bounden duty of the. Government, when bringing in Estimates, to prove the charges of incapacity made against the previous Administration. When the Treasurer was moving the second reading of the Bill, I asked him whether he had any information regarding the increase in the administrative staffs of Garden Island and Cockatoo Island.
– The whole question of Cockatoo Island will have to come up. A Bill will be needed to authorize the purchase when the terms are settled.
– The Prime Minister has delegated his duties in the Home Affairs Department very largely to the Honorary Minister, but I think this is a proper occasion on which to draw attention to the serious fact that, although severe criticism was urged against the previous Administration for extravagance in regard to works on Cockatoo Island and Garden Island, started during their last year of office, the number of officers and the administrative expenses on these islands have largely increased.
– This matter should be dealt with on the general Estimates.
– I am dealing with the works provided for on page 7 of the Bill. I presume honorable members will agree with me when I say that we cannot carry out works without an administrative staff.
– Quite so, but the two have been severed by Parliament. Provision for the staff is on the general Estimates, and provision for the works is on the. Works Estimates.
– The works expenditure should be debited with the expense of administration pro rata, and this is an occasion on which I can deal with the matter of administrative cost. In 1912-13, under the previous Government, the administrative staff on Cockatoo Island was 21, and the expenditure on this staff was £6,416, including £415 for 1 officerincharge at Newcastle. Under the Cook Government Estimates for 1913-14, the establishment is raised from 21 to 45, and the expenditure on the staff from £6,416 to £14,006.
– Tell me what you are quoting from, so that I can follow you ?
– We have gathered from the Estimates, as best we could, the total administrative staffs on the two islands, and the expenditure on those staffs. When I have finished, I shall hand the honorable member the document from which I am quoting. It shows that, so far from there being an excessive expenditure by the previous Government, the present Government have doubled the staff, and doubled the administrative expenditure, since they have been in office.
– YOU had no ships here.
– The Admiralty staff have all gone, and we have had to get one of our own..
– Ministers are not short of explanations, but it is well to hear the facts.
– On what page of the Estimates will I find those figures ?
– The right honorable gentleman cannot find them on any page. It would be a simple matter to deal with if all the information had been put 01 1 a single page of the Estimates, as one would have expected.
– How these Treasurers know each other!
– No one can say that I ever gave information in an indirect way. I have never been charged with that, whatever my faults may be.
– No; you gave no information at all.
– Those who were in the last Parliament can well remember when tha then honorable member for Mernda and. other financial geniuses, like the honorable member for Richmond, discovered in the Auditor-General’s report what they considered was an error or blunder on my part as Treasurer, though it was the Auditor-General who had made the mistake; bub, instead of showing ordinary courtesy, such as honorable members show to each other, they were roving about for a week saying, with the greatest confidence and jubilation, “ We will let you know what we have got.” Then when they ultimately came down and shot their bolt, without giving the Treasury the slightest hint of what they had, and without my knowing anything about what it was, I said that the accounts were correct so far as the Australian notes reserve was concerned, making the statement without seeing a public officer; and the Auditor-General afterwards had to admit that it was an error of his. own.
– I did not open my lips on the subject.
– I can well remember the honorable member saying, “ You wait - you wait to see what is coming;” and when the statement came, and. was exploded, he left the chamber. I mention this for a reason. Many candidates standing for election, and many newspapers, instead of recognising that the Auditor-General had over and over again apologized for the error, presented the case to the public as it was given to the House by the late honorable member for Mernda, and did not mention that it was a mistake on the part of the AuditorGeneral, and not on the part of the Treasurer.
– They have never had the decency to acknowledge that.
– They have not withdrawn their statement, nor acknowledged their mistake. I showed the greatest courtesy and consideration to the AuditorGeneral ‘ at the time, and suffered a slight on the Government rather than discuss an officer of Parliament who should not be the butt of parties in the House.
– I would not discuss that if I were you; you will get nothing out of it.
– If there is anything in it’ I hope the honorable member will raise the question. I challenge the Government to do so. The Prime Minister insinuates that- he knows something. I say, “ Let him come - come early and come often.” The figures in regard to Garden Island are even more interesting than those relating: to Cockatoo Island. Under the Imperial Government the staff in 1912-13 was - Victualling and clothing, 6, costing £2,418; shipbuilding, repairs, &c, 29, costing £8,925 ; naval armament, 5, costing £1,568; total administrative staff, 40; total expenditure on administrative staff, £12,911. The Estimates for 1913- 14 show that under the present Government the Garden Island staff for the Naval Depot and dockyard, naval ordnance and victualling, totals 71, and that the expenditure on this administrative staff is £15,311. These figures show an increase in the year nf from 40 to 71 in staff, and from £12,911 to £15,311 in expenditure. I have good reason for holding the opinion that both these establishments are overmanned in regard to the administrative staff.
– Then let us cut them down.
– I hesitate about cutting down a matter dealing with defence. No one knows better than the honorable member for Eden-Monaro that if there is an increase of highly-paid officers in the administrative staff to that extent, the Treasurer would be the first to challenge it, and know the -reason of it, and that the Minister of Home Affairs, and the Minister of Defence particularly, should have the full details ready to give to Parliament. It is not the business of an Opposition to be constantly asking for details of new expenditure. The Minister in charge, when introducing a new policy or proposing an increase of expenditure on the .administrative staff, should make an explanation without being asked to do so. But when the Treasurer is interrogated regarding this matter, he says that he has no information to give.
– I said that the Ministers in charge of the Estimates in question would give the information.
– And he said he knew nothing about the matter.
– I may reasonably ask the Treasurer to request his colleagues to give us some information with regard to this matter.
– If the right honorable member will tell us precisely what he wants we will give it to him.
– I wish to hear what the Government have to say in justification of the large increase in the staffs on these two islands, and the increase in the administrative expenditure. That expenditure, in ray opinion,, is excessive..
– How and where is it excessive ?
– I shall tell the honorable gentleman as soon as the Government -
– The right honorable member’s statement is either founded on knowledge, or it is not. If it is not, he has no right to make it. If it is, he should tell the Committee on what he bases his opinion.
– I find, on going through the Estimates, that the staff on Cockatoo Island has been increased in number from 21 to 45, and the expenditure from £6,416 to £14,006.
– Over 100 per cent, in each case.
-I do not say that, The staff on Garden Island has been increased from 40 to 71, and the expenditure from £12,911, to £15,311, “ Why do not the Government make a statement in regard to this matter?
– Because the facts are set out in the Estimates for the right honorable member to see.
– But what did the Prime Minister and the Treasurer say a little while ago with regard to the excessive expenditure on administrative and other matters on these two islands?
– Nothing whatever.
– I think not, but the country rang with their denunciations of extravagant expenditure on the part pf the late’ Government.
– There was no expenditure on these islands last year, or practically none. How, then, could it be described as excessive?
– The honorable gentleman said that the expenditure on the part of the Fisher Government was too high. Will he deny that he said the small man did not get enough, and that the highlysalaried officers were receiving too much ? No previous Government has ever increased the number of highly-paid officers on a staff as the present Government have done, having regard to the work to be carried out- -
– We are just beginning this expenditure. :
– The Leader of the Opposition has either not read the Estimates, or is trying to bluff the Committee.
– The Prime- Minister and the Treasurer say that they are only beginning this expenditure.
– As regards Garden Island.
– That is not the point. Both the Prime Minister and the Treasurer have interjected that they are inaugurating a new system. The late Government inaugurated twenty things. .
– We are taking over their liabilities and paying for them,, and the right honorable member does not like it.
– I hold that the late Government kept down the expenditure in a careful and business-like way, whereas, in these cases, as the honorable member for South Sydney interjected a few minutes a.go, the expenditure has been increased by our successors by 100 . per cent. There is, probably, underlying these proposals by the Government a policy which, I think, is not an Australian one. There is in these Estimates evidence that would lead one reasonably to the conclusion that an attempt is being made by subterfuge to set aside the Henderson scheme of naval defence by concentrating the whole staff in and about Sydney.
– And Melbourne.
– This is an Australian question, and the citizens of New South Wales are Australian people. Look for a moment at the magnitude of the expenditure on the higher-paid administrative officers. Expenditure has been lavished on one centre, while outposts, where works which are necessary to the defence of Australia should be carried out, are being absolutely neglected. I recognise that Sydney must be, for all time, the centre of naval defence *for Australia; but Admiral Henderson said that, in addition to the establishment of a Naval Base there, a first class Naval Base must be provided on the Western Australian coast for the protection of Australia. The policy of this Government is, apparently, to abandon everything in the West, and to go in for a “policy of concentration in the East.
– That is not true in any particular. The right honorable member ought to be ashamed of himself.
– The expenditure outside of Sydney, which is the best protected part of Australia, is being kept down. There is no suggestion by the Government that the works on these islands should be held up pending an examination by an expert to determine whether they should be carried out.
– There is no justification for the right honorable gentleman’s statement. This House has been told that an investigation is to be made at Sydney. The right honorable member does not appear to know what is going on.
– He knows all right.
– If he does, he is a humbug.
– The honorable gentleman has evidently thought of stating that an investigation is to be made at Sydney.
– The House has been told that there will be an investigation.
– I shall accept the Prime Minister’s statement.
– The right honorable member will lose his reputation if he goes on like this.
– That would be an occasion for merriment on the part of the Prime Minister and the Treasurer. Perhaps the right honorable member will allow me, however, to finish one sentence without an interruption. If the Prime Minister were subjected to half the interruptions to which I have had to submit, he would say, “ Am I not to be heard?” I would remind honorable members that in Sydney, although an investigation, we are told, is to be made, this expenditure is being doubled, whereas other proposed works, in Western Australia more particularly, have been stopped pending investigation and report by an expert. The works- in several other parts of Australia have been practically held up; but, so far as Sydney is concerned, money is placed on the Estimates to provide for them. Our ships will be concentrated there, and will be victualled and repaired - and effectively victualled and repaired - no doubt, at Sydney. I am not complaining of this. Sydney, by reason of its geographical position and its waterways, should be given everything that it can legitimately claim, but I object to parochial interests swaying the determination of the Government upon the national question of defence, more especially when such interests come into conflict with the scheme adopted by both parties as a national one.
– Where have we acted contrary to the Henderson scheme?
– I challenge the Treasurer to justify his action in stopping expenditure on certain works within his own State which are essential to the protection of Australia.
– That is unfair, and untrue, too.
– The Treasurer must withdraw that statement.
– I thought th« statement was untrue; but I withdraw the remark.
– I am not reflecting on the Treasurer’s honour. I am dealing with what is a purely political matter.
– The right honor- ‘ able member said that we were acting contrary to Admiral Henderson’s recommendations. I say that that is not so.
– The Government, by stopping the works at Cockburn Sound pending investigation and report by an expert, are delaying a scheme which Admiral Henderson considered to be urgent.
– Did he not recommend expert inquiry ?
– He recommended that expert information should be obtained, and that has been procured. Borings have been made-
– Who was the expert appointed by the late Government?
– There are expert reports available.
– Who was the man
– I call upon the Treasurer to cease these constant interruptions.
– Expert members of the firm of Sir John Coode and Company have reported on the very waterways which are now to be reported upon by a member of that firm at the instance of the present Government. Other experts have also dealt with the matter. The late Government appointed experts to take borings and soundings at the proposed subNaval Base in Western Australia, and the reports of those experts have been absolutely borne out. I am not in a position to give details to the Treasurer, and it is not necessary that I should do so at this stage. The Estimates indicate that there is only one place in Australia to which full consideration is given at the present time; and, although that place is an important centre, it is not entitled to the concentration of the Fleet Unit.
– Where is that?
– I should like to draw the attention of the Prime Minister to a reported statement by the Minister of Defence, that he has left the administration of the Australian Unit to RearAdmiral Patey.
– What has this to do with the Estimates?
– The Estimates have to do with the construction and the administration of the Fleet.
– With the construction, but not with the administration.
– If the right honorable member wishes to raise a point of order, I shall take no exception.
– The right honorable member would not be able to speak if I did so.
– In saying that, the right honorable member is reflecting on the Chair.
– I cannot understand what these remarks have to do with the Estimates, which deal merely with works.
– The Estimates provide for wharfage, and the victualling and equipment of the vessels, and, what is equally essential, the means by which the ships shall be enabled to come into port to make them useful at all. According to the published statement of the Minister of Defence, it has been left to the Admiral of the Fleet to take the ships where he pleases, and do with them what he pleases. If that is the policy of the Government, it ought to have been stated here by the Prime Minister. If the Naval Board or the Government have not the power to send the vessels where they please, and to send stores where they may be picked up, how will the Naval Board be able to know what the Admiral is going to do with the ships, or where he is going to satisfy his requirements ? Unless the power is in tlie hands of the Government, working through the Naval Board, there will be two authorities, and the authority that will have control of the Fleet, will be outside the ambit of tlie Government and Parliament. This is the Government who say they are the authors of an Australian owned, manned, and controlled Fleet.
– They prate about “ responsible government “ !
– Responsible government ! Having had the pleasure of meeting the Admiral, and of speaking to other Admirals regarding his ability and capacity, my opinion is that the Admiral will not accept any such responsibility, and, if he declines, he will be a wise man. We have it announced as their policy that the Government are going to shift the responsibility for the management of the Fleet on to the shoulders of tlie Admiral; and, if anything should go wrong, I would say, from what I know of the Government, that they will not hesitate to shake themselves clear of that responsibility. Such an attitude is absolutely wrong, false in principle, and dangerous to the control of the Unit; and I hope the Prime Minister will take the earliest opportunity to dissociate himself and his Government from this statement by theMinister of Defence.
– The Prime Minister indorses it.
– I did not see that he had done so.
– Have the Government the power to hand the responsibility over to the Admiral?
– We are working under a form of responsible government, and if Ministers give to His Majesty’s representative advice which may betray the Commonwealth, they must take the responsibility. We have to attack the Government, because the Admiral is under their direct authority, and must take his orders from them; it is the Government who have to. make the explanation. The reported statement of the Minister of Defence is subversive of the principle of responsible government, and ought to be corrected by the head of the Government without delay, because, if that is the policy, we shall not have an Australian owned, manned, and controlled Fleet. We shall not know where the Fleet will be taken, or what will be done with it; we shall only have the assurance that the distinguished sailor who has been sent out to command our Fleet will do his best in the interests of His Majesty and of the Commonwealth. That does not in any way, however, minimize the blundering stupidity of the statement made in regard to policy. The two matters to which I have referred are of the first order. The one is the handing over the control of the Fleet to the Admiral without Governmental responsibility, and the other the excessive expenditure and concentration of the Fleet in one portion of the Commonwealth, with tacit neglect and delay in carrying out the scheme of Admiral Henderson in other portions of the Commonwealth; and there should be an immediate explanation.
– I have much pleasure, indeed, in responding to the appeal of the Leader of the Opposition to make some reply to his statements, most of which are not founded on fact, but. are the result of some illusion or hallucination on his part. There is no basis of fact whatever for most of the statements contained in the right honorable gentleman’s address. Just why he should select these matters on which to castigate the
Government passes the comprehension of anybody but that of honorable members opposite, who are bitter and recalcitrant.
– Oh, chuck it !
– I hope I am going to be allowed to proceed, seeing: that I have been asked for an explanation.
– Is this an explanation?
– Did the honorable member hear the honorable member for Kalgoorlie say “Chuck it”?
– Yes; and no wonder, when the honorable gentleman is going on like this.
– The Prime Minister used the word “ hog- wash “ the other day.
– I have several times called the House to order, and I hope I shall not have to do so again during the course of the Prime Minister’s speech. I remind honorable members that, when the Speaker calls for order, it is highly disorderly to immediately interject, and to converse, or pass remarks across the chamber. I hope this will not be continued.
– I will do my best to answer the Leader of the Opposition, and to put my view of the case, if I am permitted to do so. I shall begin where the right honorable gentleman began, namely, with the Auditor-General. I have made several statements on this matter, and I desire to give my authority for making them. My first statement was that, during the three years of the right honorable gentleman’s Administration, we never could get the Auditor-General’s report on the table in time to be of the slightest use to Parliament. The dates are sufficient to establish the truth of “that statement.
– Is the report in now?
-It is not; the House has not adjourned yet. In two of those years the report was not presented to this House, but was published inthe Commonwealth Gazette, because the House had risen, and at a time when the House was almost ready to meet again. In one case the report was presented in March of the following year, and in the other case in April. In the third year, we pressed the right honorable member for an earlier delivery of the statement; and I say that he tried to mislead the House concerning his attitude to the Auditor-General.
– The Prime Minister as not in order in saying that an honor-‘ able member tried to mislead the House.
– Then I shall withdraw those words, and say that the effect of what the right honorable member said was to mislead the House. In this connexion I am going to quote from Hansard, and honorable members can -draw their own inferences. The following is an extract from the Mansard report of the 18th December: -
– Can the Prime Minister tell the House when the final statement of the public accounts was submitted to the AuditorGeneral this year? We have just been told that the Auditor-General’s report will be laid on -the table on Friday.
– That is what the AuditorGeneral tells me.
– That will be too late to be of any use this year.
– I quite recognise that Friday will be too late to enable us to consider the Auditor-General’s report in conjunction with the Estimates, but it is the earliest possible time I can gel the Auditor-General to send it in.
This would clearly lead the House to believe that the trouble was with the AuditorGeneral, and not with the then Treasurer. Any one reading or listening to that answer would conclude that the Auditor-General had the Treasurer’s accounts, and that the Treasurer was endeavouring to get the Auditor-General to send in his statement. The report proceeds -
– Could arrangements not be made for the report to be submitted earlier in future ?
– Even if it meant a great deal more expense, it would be a good thing if the Auditor-General’s report were in the hands of honorable members in mid-session, say, about September. That is what we ought to aim at ; but no one knows better than the honorable member for Parramatta that the adjustment of the postal accounts, owing to the transition, has rendered it difficult for the report to be submitted earlier during the past two . or three years.
– I desire to ask the Treasurer when the Auditor-General’s report will be submitted in Parliament.
– I asked the Auditor-General -some three months ago, when the question of the presentation of his report was raised, to furnish it as early as possible. He has informed me that he hopes to present it on Friday morning.
Again, this would lead the House to believe that the Auditor-General had had the Treasurer’s accounts three months before the close of the session. The AuditorGeneral’s .report -was furnished on the
Friday morning, and this is what the Auditor-General said in it-
The Right Honorable the Treasurer’s statement of accounts for the year 1911-12 was received by me complete this day, the 20th of December, 1912.
That amounts to a total misleading of this House. The Auditor-General tells the House that he only received the right honorable member’s Statement of accounts on the day on which they were presented to this Parliament duly audited. Therefore for the right honorable member to lead the House to believe that he was waiting for the Auditor-General, and pressing him three months before, was to lead it in a wrong direction.
– To what year does the Prime Minister refer?
– To last year. That disposes of the first point. The facts support my statement. They amount to this, that, while the right honorable member was leading the House to believe that his accounts were in, and that he was waiting for and pressing the AuditorGeneral, his accounts were nob with that official.
– Every account was in, and handed to the Auditor-General immediately it was received.
– Who denies that ? It has nothing to do with the matter. I did hot raise this subject to-day, but I have given the facts. If the right honorable member will provoke statements of this kind concerning himself, the responsibility is his, not mine. Am I to sit quiet under attacks like iris, when the fault is with him, not with me I The facts show clearly that, when he was telling the House that he was pressing the Auditor-General to present these accounts, he had not given the accounts to the AuditorGeneral.
– The Auditor-General was pressing him.
– Yes; quite the contrary to what he represented to be the case. Now let us deal with his charges concerning the docks and the naval establishments.
– What about the note reserve? The Prime Minister wishes to shuffle out of that.
– Shuffle out of what?
– The charge that wb did not keep a sufficient reserve against the notes issued.
– I have never made that charge, and have, therefore, nothing to answer in regard to it. Concerning the docks, what we have complained of is that, in taking over the Fitzroy Dock, the right honorable member was guilty of a breach of good faith towards the House. He told the honorable member for Dalley, and he also told me, that the matter would be submitted to the House before a decision was arrived at. He told us that within two or three days of the prorogation. Almost immediately afterwards he ignored his promise, and completed the arrangements for taking over the dock, thus incurring a liability of £850,000 without consulting Parliament.
– A very good bargain.
– Yes, but a breach of faith.
– Let the Prime Minister quote the words that I used.
– This is the Hansard report of what took place on the 11th December last -
– Has any arrangement been entered into between the Government and the Government of New South Wales for the taking over of the Fitzroy Dock, and, if so, has provision been made for preserving the status of the superintendent of the dock and his associated officers?
– No arrangement has been made for the taking over of the dock. Certain communications, verbal and other, have passed ; that is the whole length to which the matter has gone.
– Inasmuch as the session is coming to a close, will the Prime Minister see that no steps are taken during the recess which will in any way tell against the interests of the officers of the Fitzroy Dock?
– If the Fitzroy Dock were sold to the Commonwealth, I have no doubt that the vendors would look after the interests of those who are their servants at present.
– Does the Government contemplate taking over the dock?
– I do not know. We might take over a State if it were desirous of being taken over. A dock would te a useful thing for the Commonwealth, from a naval point of view, and also from other points of view. lt is not bevond the bounds of possibility that the Commonwealth may at some time take over this establishment.
– In view of the statement just made by the Prime Minister, I ask him whether, before completing arrangements for the taking over of the Fitzroy or any other dock, he will allow the House to express an opinion on the project?
– I have no doubt at all that the Parliament of the Commonwealth will have to determine a matter of this importance.
But the moment Parliament rose, the negotiations for the taking over of the dock were completed, and an obligation amounting to £850,000 was. incurred without reference to Parliament. As to the dock, the complaint against this Government is now that it is overstaffed and overmanned. That is the charge which my right honorable friend makes to-day.
– That the administrative staff is in excess.
– The reply is very simple, and it is to this effect: that the taking over of the Fitzroy Dock involved the taking over of the State officials who were employed there. It was about that matter that the honorable member for Dalley was most concerned. These officials have been taken into the employment of the Commonwealth. Is that an extravagance ? If so, it is an extravagance that was recommended and determined on by Senator Pearce.
– Not so.
– I say yes. Senator Pearce arranged the details for the transfer of the dock, and arranged for the transfer of the State officials connected with it. So much for that charge of extravagance.
– What about the difference between twenty-one officials employed at the time of the transfer and forty-five now employed ?
– Who says that there is that difference?
– There are almost as many officers there to-day as there are men.
– Have any of them been appointed since the present Government took office?
– I do not know when they were appointed, but they are there.
– I am informed by the Minister of Defence that whoever appointed them, they were recommended by Senator Pearce before he left office. We have stepped into the shoes of the last Administration, and done what they arranged to have done. These facts are ugly, because they demolish the silly rhodomontade with which the right honorable member has been regaling the Committee.
– Is that in order?
– Exception having been taken to the Prime Minister’s words, I ask him to withdraw them.
– I have not taken exception to the Prime Minister’s remarks, because they are so like him.
– Exception has been taken to them by the honorable member for Kalgoorlie.
– I withdraw the words objected to. The honorable member, who is so sensitive about my language, has three times this afternoon told me to “ chuck it “; I am sorry if I have invaded his domain. My information is that every one of these officers was recommended by Senator Pearce.
– They were all there when this Government took office.
– Yes. If there is extravagance and overmanning, and if that fact supports the suspicion that an un-Australian policy is being pursued, it is the responsibility of my right honorable friend and his colleagues, not ours. With regard to Garden Island, the same explanation applies. We have not appointed the officials there on our own initiative; we have merely honoured the obligations of our predecessors. That seems to be our fault. In this case we have taken over Imperial officers. The staffing of Garden Island is exactly what was proposed by Senator Pearce. If charges of this kind are to continue to be made, we- shall have to repudiate everything done by our predecessors, and go on our own. Then, perhaps, we shall escape the criticism of the Leader of the Opposition. We took over the officers recommended by his Administration. So far as I know, we have appointed none on our own initiative.
– That is a qualification.
– That is the information that I have obtained from the man in the best position to know, the Minister of Defence.
– He could not be in any doubt.
– My right honorable friend evidently knows nothing about the matter. That is why he made so intelligent a speech
– We shall see later on.
– Take the captain in charge, whose salary is £1,000 a year. It was arranged by Senator Pearce that he should be taken over. The taking over of the manager of the Fitzroy Dock at £2,000 a year was also recommended by the Navy Board and Senator Pearce. They thought that they would like to have Mr. Cutler away from the dock, and arranged to send him to London on a salary of £1,000 a year.
These are not the doings of the present Government. We have taken the arrangements over bodily from our predecessors. Now my right honorable friend is condemning everything, and trying to put the blame on to our shoulders.
– What .is the Prime Minister’s authority for saying that they were sending this officer to London ?
– The honorable member need not try to cast doubt on my statement. It was arranged that this officer should go to London on a salary of £1,000 a year, to represent the Government there
– On the recommendation of Senator Pearce?
– Yes, for the purchase of material, and such things.
– A very good man, too.
– The right honorable member is singing a different tune now. In a few moments we shall have him saying that everything that was done was the best that could be done in the circumstances, but we have just heard from him a wholesale condemnation of it.
– You have a larger staff than perhaps any in the United Kingdom.
– What a reflection on the heaven-born administration of Senator Pearce, who arranged for the taking over of this staff.
– This was not the arrangement of Senator Pearce.
– I say that it was. The responsibility lies with the right honorable member and his colleagues. The taking over of these officials was not done on our initiative. We have accepted the legacy of our predecessors, and it is the first time that I have known the members of an outgoing Government to condemn the members of an incoming Government for accepting and honoring their obligations, which seems to have been our crime in this case.
– You are not spending any money on the Naval Bases.
– I venture to say there is no change of policy even there. We have never attempted to change the policy. All we have done-
– Is to stop the works.
– All we have done is, again, to take over the policy shaped by our predecessors in office in this particular.
– And do nothing with it.
– I know we cannot satisfy honorable members.
– Are you quite sure about these being recommendations of Senator Pearce?
– We have not had time even to alter them.
– I think the Prime Minister is in doubt about that.
– There is no doubt as to it. Is it not time for honorable members to stop this sort of drivelling? They are on the horns of a dilemma with the leader of the last Government denouncing his own administration. They should take their gruelling, and make the best farce they can. It is not our trouble; it is theirs; it is their policy, and their determination, and their shaping. All wehave done is to try to carry but what was left for us by our predecessors in the spirit now promulgated from the house-tops,that in this matterof defence there should beno party.
– What about the Admiral ?
– The honorable member has discovered another mare’s nest. So far as I understand, Senator Millen has said that he will consult Admiral Patey in all matters relating to the efficiency of the Navy and its control in Australian waters - the disposition of the Fleet and its governance. What else could he do? Is the Minister going to direct the Admiral what to do, and where to go to train his men, and as to what trainingthe men shall get? That is all fixed in the Naval Act ; it is the law of the land which Admiral Patey will have to observe. Whatever policy has been laid down will be faithfully adhered to. Of course, the final responsibility rests on the civil authorities.
– The statement in the press is very clear.
– There is no statement in the press contrary to what I am saying.
– I shall find you the statement published in the press.
– I shall be glad if the honorable member will do so, so that we can put the matter right. Of course, the Navy and the Army must be under the control of the Government of the day. That should go without saying in connexion with a responsible Parliament. For what reason have we secured the services of Admiral Patey, if not to consult him and take advantage of his expert knowledge, which we, as laymen, do not possess? He is here to take the responsibility for the training of the men and the manipulating of the ships, in order to put them in the best possible position to defend Australia, and, if necessary, to take their share in Imperial defence.
– Can the Admiral move his ships to any part of Australia without the knowledge of the Government?
– I have never said so, nor has any one else.
– The newspaper says so.
– I do not think so. Any responsible Government must have final control and final responsibility for the Army and the Navy.
– And the Admiral must be directed from port to port.
– The honorable member is laying down a theory that we are to say to the Admiral that we think it better, in the interests of thediscipline and efficiency of the service, that he should go here instead of there. The suggestion is absurd, especially coming from a responsible individual like the honorable member. It simply amazes me.
– Can I put the honorable member right by a personal explanation?
– A personal explanation cannot be made in the middle of another honorable member’s speech.
– Perhaps the Prime Minister will read the press report to which I have referred.
– I shall be pleased to do. so. The report says - “ The Admiral,” said Senator Millen, “ is responsible for the effective training of the fleet, and it is for him to say what the future disposition of the ships shall be, and how best he can carry out the task which has been entrusted to him. He has indicated quite plainlyhis emphatic desire to get to work at once, and if he thinks it right to avoid any further festivities I shall not stand in his way. It is for him to decide.”
What is wrong with that?
– Read on further.
– The paragraph goes on to say -
Senator Millen had an interview with RearAdmiral Patey on Saturday, and it is understood thatthis subject was discussed. The programme as drawn up by the Admiral provided that the fleet should proceed toPortLincoln about the middle of November (when the leave of the men will have expired), and afterwards to Hobart. As, however, Melbourne will be passed on the way to Port Lincoln, it is believed that the Admiral has had under consideration an alteration of the programme so as to include a brief visit to Melbourne.
I wonder what is wrong with that?
– It is not for the Admiral to decide where the Fleet is to go.
– I am afraid the honorable member has been misreading the whole thing. Admiral Patey has been brought out to train the Navy, and make the Fleet efficient, and, as a layman, I bow to his superior technical knowledge on such matters.
– Is it for the Admiral to say what the future disposition of the ships shall be ?
– Yes. Does the honorable member suggest that Mr. Winston Churchill determines the naval disposition of the ships in the North Sea and in the Mediterranean ?
– Certainly; by wireless every day.
– By wireless from whom?
– From the Admiralty.
– Does Mr. Winston Churchill frame the defence scheme?
– I do not know.
– Certainly he does not.
– Imaginean Admiral in the North Sea acting on his own initiative!
– The honorable member is mixing up things which are distinct. He is mixing up the fact that Senator Millen determined-
– To pass it over to the Admiral.
– What nonsense ! The responsibility is on Senator Millen.
– He tries to shuffle it on to the Admiral.
– He says so.
– It is altogether too ridiculous !
-I cannot say that I admire the attitude of the Prime Minister. He becomes very angry because he meets with some little interruption, and sits down. It is not the first time this session he has done that. I wonder sometimes whether he is not an actor.
– Order ! The honorable member cannot discuss that. The Prime Minister is entitled to resume his seat when he chooses.
– I sat down because I had no more to say.
– I think we can discuss grievances on this Bill, and it is one of my grievances that the Prime Minister gets so angry when he is given a little dose of the medicine he used to administer from this side. The attitude I take up on the question of naval expenditure in the Bill before us is my personal attitude. I take the greatest possible exception to the policy adopted by the Treasurer. I look in vain in this Supply Bill for certain expenditure. The former Government laid down the policy of avoiding borrowing for the purpose of furnishing services, and I look in vain in this Supply Bill for items : such as the purchase of land for defence purposes, the construction of conduits for laying wires underground, the erection of London offices, and expenditure in connexion with the Northern Territory on the construction of the railway from Pine Creek to the Katherine River. In view of the fact that we took over the Northern Territory for deience purposes, I expected to find that the £400,000 for this railway would appear in the revenue Estimates, seeing that the money should be spent out of the revenue we shall receive. I think that the sum of £1,400,000 for the construction of the railway from Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta should also find a place in the works to be paid for out of revenue.
– These matters were matters of policy on your side as well.
– The former Government took up the position that we should pay for defence out of revenue, and I take up the attitude that a railway such as the Kalgoorlie-Port Augusta line, which is to be built for defence purposes mainly, and which cannot pay for years, should be built out of revenue. The Treasurer has an ingenious system of finance, for which he should take out a patent. He proposes to spend money for defence out of revenue, but he will borrow for the items I havementioned, for the constructionof works, to furnish the money to pay for them. I take strong exception to that method, and I take great exception to the money that he proposes to spend ondefence.
There are vast increases on the amounts proposed by the former Government, and I ask what reply have honorable members on the Ministerial side to a leaflet circulated by the Queensland People’s Progressive League, otherwise the Liberal League ? This circular is headed “Labour Socialistic Extravagance,” “The Fisher Government cannot pay its way,” and it includes -
Vote No on the Referenda proposals,and insure sober finance.
The sober finance we are obtaining from honorable members opposite, whose organization, no doubt, paid for the printing of these leaflets, is a proposal to expend on defence, this year, £5,746,853, as compared with an expenditure of £4,079,590 in 1911-12, and £4,331,498 in 1912-13. In 1912-13, according to the Treasurer, £166,600 was expended in respect of the naval subsidy, and that item does not appear in the figures for this year. The increase in the estimated defence expenditure this year, as compared with that of last year, is £1,415,355.
I propose to prove that we are going too fast, particularly in the matter of naval expenditure. Certain people take the view that the awakening of China is fraught with danger to Australia, and that we are also in danger from Japan. I believe, however, that we have no reason to anticipate danger from Japan. In the first place that country, I read, is overburdened with debt. Authorities tell us that an attacking force must be five times as strong as a defending force. That was about the position in the case of the South African War. The Boer forces consisted of about 50,000 soldiers, and Great Britain had to send out 250,000 to defeat them. That war cost the Old Country £211,000,000. Is Japan in a position to send an attacking force of 250,000 men to Australia, or to find £211,000,000 to provide for the cost of an Australian invasion ?
Then, again, I would ask whether it is likely that the civilized races of the earth would allow Japan to take hold of Australia. Have not Germany, France, and the United States of America, as well as Great Britain and other nations, interests in Australia which they would hasten to protect the moment they were threatened ? I propose to show why we have no right to incur this large expenditure in respect of naval defence. Capitalists - most of them in London - consisting not only of Anglo-Saxons and Celts, but of people of all nationalities who have settled in England, have interests in Australia, as well as in other parts of the world, and they should be called upon to pay the money necessary to maintain the Navy if they want it.
We have no right to call upon the people of Australia to meet an annual defence expenditure amounting to 23s. 6d. per head of the population, or, estimating four persons to a family, £414s. per family per annum. In these days, when the cost of living is extremely high, is it right that we should impose such taxation ? I ask honorable members opposite to consider how their action in supporting this expenditure corresponds with their declaration during the election campaign that, if returned, they would reduce the cost of living. They certainly will not reduce it by imposing, in respect of defence, taxation amounting to £414s. per annum per family. The following table shows how defence expenditure has increased in Australia during the last twelve years: -
In 1912-13 the expenditure was £5,438,364, less a revenue of £45,000, or a total of £5,393,364, whilst for 1913-14 the estimated expenditure is £5,746,853, less a revenue of £115,000, leaving a balance of £5,631,853.
– What is the expenditure per capita this year and last year?
– It is estimated at 23s. 6d. per head this year, and the expenditure was about the same per head of the population last year. The fact that the population of Australia has increased during the last twelve months will account for what would seem otherwise to be a discrepancy in the figures.
Our defence expenditure per head of the population during the last twelve years has increased from 4s. 6d. to 23s. 6d. per annum. No Government has a right to impose such a burden on a people so far removed as we are from the centres of militarism, and unlikely to come into conflict with any nation for many years. I have another table which shows that we are spending upon defence more per head of our population than are many European countries, which may reasonably expect attack at any moment. The figures are as follow : -
Australia is third on the list. We spend 10s. per head more than does Spain, three times as much per head as AustriaHungary, more than three times as much per head as does Russia, many shillings per head more than do Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Holland, and five times as much per head as does Japan. And we are asked to pay this money because London capitalists, who have investments in all parts of the world, desire that a big navy should be maintained, to protect their interests, as they believe, and wish that part of the burden shall be passed on to the people of Australia on the ground that we ought to do something for the Empire. I have already mentioned what the pioneers of Australia have done for the Empire. I am referring to those who settled here in the early days, and not to those of whom it was written -
True patriots all ; for be it understood
We left our country for our country’sgood, although, poor fellows, many of them were sent out here for the most trivial offences.
– Many of them became estimable citizens.
– Men were transported for shooting or catching a rabbit.
– They are always doing that sort of thing.
– The right honorable gentleman should wear the white flower of a blameless life.
– Do not say that.
– We know that Disraeli said of Gladstone that he had not a redeeming vice, but, perhaps, that would not be true of the Treasurer. The right honorable member certainly has the vice of refusing to give information. He has been so long in politics, and has occupied high office so often, that he absolutely objects to any interference. It seems to me that when we approach the right honorable gentleman we should bow profoundly at every third step.
I am sorry I have been diverted from what I regard as a very serious subject. The capitalists of London, arid other great cities, have got the major portion of the world absolutely deluded. In their opinion it is necessary to have a huge Navy in order to protect their large investments of money abroad. We remember a few years ago, when Venezuela proposed to repudiate her public debt, Great Britain and Germany combined to enforce payment; but I believe the United States Government, under the Monroe doctrine, interfered, andthe matter was settled without going to war.
There is no doubt, however, that’ the huge Navy kept up by Great Britain is there in order to protect the interests of the capitalists. What do the capitalists care for the people, to whom they look to fight their battles in time of war? What do they care for the 21,000 families at present having but one room apiece in the city of Dublin? What do they care for the 10,000,000 or . 12,000,000 unfortunates in the Old Country who are on the verge of starvation?
I have figures which I propose to put into Hansard to show the amount of money that the British capitalists have invested abroad. Those figures were given in a very interesting paper read by Mr. George Paish before the Royal Statistical Society, with Lord George Hamilton in the chair, on 20th December, 1910; and the sum is enormous, the grand total being no less than £3,191,000,000. The figures are as follow : -
In the case of Asia, for instance, what is the British Navy for but to see that the interest is paid on the loans, the,pro.fits on investments, and to keep the people of India and other place “ in order “ ?
Capitalists talk about patriotism, but they expect it to be all on the one side. They have no patriotism whatever; they are internationalists, and invest their money where they can get the biggest rate of interest. They are gulling the_ people of the various nations into the belief tha,t they ought to be patriotic, and the people are bled all the time. The figures continue -
We see that £53,705,000 has been lent to Japan by capitalists, some of whom are the rulers of England. Japan is supposed to be a possible enemy of the Old Country; and yet British capitalists have lent her money to be used in some cases in building warships. It is rather singular that while the British capitalists lend Japan money to build warships, those warships are built- in England. What a monstrous state of affairs !
Are the people of Australia to be gulled for all time by army and navy contractors, and other people interested in creating the idea that there is likely to be war? A recent1 number of the Socialist Review contains an article about the great Krupp works in Germany, which turn out huge guns and all the munitions of war, and in which some of the Royal family of the country are interested. It is said that quite a number of important officers in the Army and Navy are interested in that concern; further, it is said that some of the rulers of England are interested in the various ammunition works and warshipbuilding firms in the Old Country. It was mentioned the other day by the editor of the Economist .that war scares are got up by army and navy contractors. It is declared, for instance, that Germany is building two ships, and that, therefore, Great Britain must build four; and the two-keels-to-one policy was held until quite recently, when a ten to sixteen standard was agreed to.
It is true that Germany agreed to this standard, ‘ but I have an idea that she was willing to do so because she has in her mind another method of warfare altogether, as represented by dirigible balloons and airships. The moment there is any diminution in the amount of money England is spending in war material, the managers of these great concerns raise a scare; they have letters written to the newspapers pointing out the danger there is from Germany, while, of course, at the same time, those similarly interested in Germany talk about danger from Great Britain. The people of the world, generally speaking, have got to bear the huge burden of taxation that this policy entails. It is wrong; and I hope that the Labour party will do their best to prevent this growing expenditure on the Navy. No doubt the capitalists in London have their Mafeking nights when trouble is on, and display flags and medals, some of the latter, no doubt, like that shown by the honorable member for
Robertson the other day, being made in Japan. I believe that some of the coronation medals which were worn in London were made in Germany.
All these facts show how little patriotism there is in the capitalist; and their attitude is supported by the press. If, for instance, a reporter were to report the speech I arn now making, it would be cut out by the editor ; and I am sure that I shall not be given thirty lines to-morrow. ‘
Mr. George Paish’s paper, before referred to, shows that British capitalists are investing in countries outside the Empire almost pound for pound of their investments within the Empire. They know no country; and we ought to be alive to their schemes. If the people in Great Britain had votes as we have, I do not believe that her rulers, prompted by the capitalists, would be permitted to continue their present ways. Is it right that we in this country, who are, generally speaking, a hard-working community, should pay 23s. 6d. per head, or five times as much as is paid in Japan, on defence? The Labour Government spent some £4,000,000 on -defence, but I believe our party would have altered the policy of spending money on warships, which -will be obsolete in ten, or at the most twenty, years. Our policy, as outlined by the present Leader of the Opposition, provided for a line of Commonwealth steam-ships.
– Did not the honorable member agree to Admiral Henderson’s scheme ?
– I did not. I was agreeable that there should be the nucleus of an Australian Navy,’ because we need vessels to police our coasts. We decided that we should have a Commonwealth line of steam-ships, and were going to follow the example that the Admiralty have set by arming merchantmen. Many merchant vessels have been equipped with a 4.7 gun, and we should have followed a similar policy.
If we are going to spend a lot of money on naval defence, we should spend more on providing aerial ships of war.
In regard to the establishment of a Commonwealth line of steamers, let me read the opinion of the Honorable George Graham, the Victorian Minister of Agriculture, who is on the other side in politics. When under examination by the Fruit Commission, he gave this evidence -
My reason for saying that the Commonwealth will never be able to do any. good until it establishes a Commonwealth line of steamers is this : We bring all our produce down to the seaboard by train ; it is dumped down at the seaboard, and we are left entirely at the mercy of the shipping ring afterwards, no mutter what it is we are sending away. I gave evidence before the Butter Commission and emphasized that point very strongly, and I have not changed my mind since. I feel certain that the only solution of the difficulty is a Commonwealth line of steamers, and I say if we can run our railways we ‘ can run a line of steamers. By that means we can carry our mails, our passengers, and our perishable products, and at the same time train young Australians in navigation and sea life. I do not care what Government is in power. In this regard we shall not do any good until the Commonwealth Government has the power to establish a line of steamers of its own.
Had the Labour party remained in power, it would have tried to combine two objects - the benefiting of the trade and commerce of the country and the making of provision for defence. I have stated that British capitalists are willing to lend money to Japan - our possible enemy - and also to build warships for that country. In support of that statement, let me read the following cablegram, which, was published in the Melbourne Argus of 21st May, 1912-
Japan’s new Dreadnought battle cruiser Kango has been launched at Barrow-in-Furness, from the yards of Messrs. Vickers, Son, and Maxim. She was laid down in January, 1911, and will be completed in 1913, at a total cost of £2,500,000. The Kango will displace 27,500 tons, and her engines will be of 70,000 horse-power. It is expected that she will attain a speed of 28 knots. She will be equipped with- 14-in. guns.
Then follows this foot-note -
A special vote was passed by the Japanese Parliament to enable the Kango to be equipped with 14-in: guns, and in a similar manner provision was made for mounting the Kaso, another Dreadnought battle-cruiser row building with 15-in. guns. When completed the Kango will carry the largest guns of any warship in the world. Germany is building ships to carry weapons of equal size ; the United States is constructing battleships capable of being mounted with 16-in. guns; and only a few days ago an 18-in. gun for the British Navy was hinted at. The record to-day is held bv H.M.S. Orion, with her 13.5-in. guns.
In Britains ship-building yards, British capitalists are building warships for our possible enemy - Japan - and we in this country, to provide for our defence, are going to spend, during the financial year 1913-14, what we spent last year, namely, 23s. 6d. per head of population, or more than five times as much as is spent by many countries in Europe. If that is not ridiculous, I do not know what is. Where is the economy that the Government talk of? Where is the return to sober finance and responsible administration? I ask the honorable member for Gippsland what he thinks of this.
– It is the proper thing to do.
– Last night, when I suggested the expenditure of money on airships, some honorable members laughed at the idea.
– We are starting an aviation corps.
– Yes ; but I ‘do not think that enough attention is being given to aerial preparations for defence. If honorable members will refer to the reviews, they will see what is being done elsewhere in this matter. I had the good fortune to witness, at Hendon, in the Old Country, a most remarkable performance by Mr. Graham White, showing what could be done in the way of dropping bombs within a given space. The outline of the deck of a warship was marked on a lawn, and the aviator from his aeroplane dropped bags of sand on to this space, going very close to what was equivalent to a bull’s eye. Of course, these bags were not dropped from a very great height, but, since then, in the war in Tripoli, and in the Balkans, aerial vessels have been successfully used for the dropping of bombs, and will play an important part in all future wars. I have here an article on the subject, written by two experts, which appeared in the Australian Review of Reviews for April, 1913. It is headed- “The Next War in the Air,” the writers being T. R. Macmechen and Carl Dienstbach. They say -
All European military experts know that the next great war - for which the grand amphitheatre is now being prepared - will be fought under new conditions, and that the nation which commands supremacy in the air will have an advantage that can hardly be overcome. The problems of the next war will be greatly multiplied if the Powers engaging: in it are fairly matched in the air. If they are not, the war will be over before it is well begun.
No nation without an air navy can hope for success against an enemy with powerful fleets of dreadnought airships and of cruisers and torpedo craft in the form of aeroplanes, having a speed of So, 90, and even 100 miles an hour, because it will find it impossible to mobilize its army.
It is too much to expect of men that they will stand helpless while death and destruction is rained down upon them’ from an impregnable fortress floating in the air. Any sea navy which the otherwise unprepared Power may have will be all but useless. Only a few hours will be required for airships to make a desperate attack upon any naval base. Weather, unless desperately bad, will not hinder the attack, for the reason that the modern airship is now sufficiently powerful to make detours and come with the wind to the point of naval mobilization.
England has been quick to recognise the threatened danger. The new British cruisers are to bc fitted with heavily-armoured and curved upper decks, and with steel .umbrella-like coverings for funnels. The cruisers will also carry guns that can be elevated to an angle of 80 degrees, and that will have an effective range of 9,000 yards. At a distance of 4^ miles one of these guns can send a 31-lb. shrapnel shell to a height of 13,000 feet. Thus the men in the hostile airships and aeroplanes will find the air filled with danger to themselves. . . .
While France long placed its main reliance in the aeroplane, it now realizes that the greatest danger will not come from that quarter. France has recognised that aerial war will be a naval war in the air, and is lending full encouragement to the airship. By the end of the year 1913 fourteen semi-rigid dirigibles, as large as the earlier Zeppelins, will be in the service in connexion with the French army. There is now in construction in a factory near Paris, a war airship of the Zeppelin type. The French aerial war budget for 1911 was £250,000; for 1912 it was £800,00; and for 1913 it is estimated at £1,700,000. «
On the German side of the frontier’ the work of preparing for the threatened conflict is even more ominous. Four Zeppelin-built giant air Dreadnoughts, armed and munitioned as if war were a thing of to-day, keep almost constantly in the air, training their crews in the science of navigation, and also in markmanship The naval Z. is stationed at Wilhelmshaven, om the North Sea; the ZI. is at Koenigsberg, on the Russian frontier; the ZIII. is at Metz; and the ZII. is at Cologne - each ready to raid across the French border at a moment’s notice.
They go on to describe what is taking place at the present time, and a picture is given of the Franco-German frontier, to show how two rival nations are preparing for a future battle in the air. The French airship stations are shown,, and, on the other side of the frontier, the German Zeppelin and aeroplane stations.
I wish to emphasize the folly of this Government in proposing to spend so much more money on vessels, which, it is admitted on all hands, will be on the scrap heap within ten years. It would be better to spend some of the money on technical education, subsidizing the technical schools in the big cities, and establishing others in the country, for the training of our children. This would enable parents who now have to send their children to work at an early age, to keep them at school a little longer. It is this extrava- gant and foolish expenditure that makes it necessary for working people to send out their boys and girls at a tender age. when they should still be at school, being educated to equip them for the battle of life. It makes one’s heart bleed to see the little fellows that now have to go out to help to fill the family purse. This child labour is rendered necessary, because of the enormous expenditure on defence.
Every one will admit that Edison knows what he is talking about. His is testimony we welcome, bub it is coming all too slow. Some years ago, Sir Hiram Maxim said that the end of war was not far off, because when the people living in palaces recognised that airships could drop bombs in palace courtyards, or on palace roofs, they would wish to stop war. Edison says -
There are too many newspapers and schools in present-day civilization to allow the antiquated methods of over-ambitious men hiding their selfish aims behind a loud cry for the glory of their country to force ruin on the people. Anyhow, the war game has been spoiled for good by the perfection of the aeroplane. I have been told that the fact that France was able to enrol 1,200 airmen in one day for the aeroplane branch of the army has tempered in no mean way the position taken by Emperor William in the Moroccan situation. Think of the effect of a fleet of a thousand aeroplanes ! And they can get 5,000 of these aeroplanes for the cost of one Dreadnought. All the great destructive possibilities of the aeroplane are dwarfed by the moral effect on the population, the fear of indiscriminate annihilation.
Again he says -
Aerial navigation will end war. Universal peace will be assured as soon as it is realized that the airship which carries a man could carry 150 lbs. of nitro-glycerine just as well, and 30,000 airships thus equipped could annihilate the assembled navies of the world. No sharpshooting, however efficient, would be proof against such an attack. With the passing of poverty, disease, and war, the cause of intellectual advancement will receive an impetus which will carry everything before it. The man of the future will be an intellectual giant. Human passions and failings can hardly be eradicated entirely, but they will be better controlled. Physically and morally, science will make the world over. And the best part of this great triumph will be witnessed, I believe, within he next fifty years.
But what are we doing towards it when we are spending these huge sums? We are only encouraging people in the Old Country to go in for this enormous expenditure. I wish to state my position in regard to defence. I think we should train our boys, but I think we should have a (conscience provision in the Act permitting people with conscientious objections to training their boys to shoot, to have them exempted.
Colonel Ryrie. - They cannot have conscientious objections
– I think so. There are many people who are glad that their sons are being trained. I think it is doing my boy good, and I am glad to see that he goes to his drill without complaining, but I agree with an article that appeared in the Age the other morning, which says that there should be a great deal more tact used by the officers intrusted with the task of training the boys. Some of them’ have no idea of what authority is, or of how it should be exercised. They treat the boys as so much dirt. Some of the notices sent, out to the cadets are couched in language that should not be used. Where is the necessity to use language such . as this I saw in one circular -
To Cadet G. C. Higgs, - You are warned to attend at the Elsternwick Drill-room.
Colonel Ryrie. - That is the usual form of those notices.
– But it is wrong. Do we wish to raise up in Australia a lot of servile young men ? I hope the day will ‘ never come when the Australian citizen will have to bow his head before authority, as has to be done in some parts of the world under military systems. Why should not the boys be treated courteously and addressed in a proper manner ? If the officer commands respect from the boy, why should not the boy receive respect from the officer? The boy is compelled to salute the officer.
– Only when the officer is in uniform .
– The boy salutes the uniform.
– One Saturday recently I heard of an officer addressing some boys about discipline. .He said, “ If I told you to rush and put your heads through that glass window, you have a right to do it. Of course, I am not going to order you to do such a silly thing, but that is discipline - if I order you to do it, you ought to do it.” I consider that absolute nonsense.
I think the boys should get their Saturday afternoons, and that the drilling should be done on days other than Saturday and Sunday. I also think that the employers should pay the boys. There should be no deduction from the lads’ pay for the time they spend in drilling for the safety of the country. I shall vote against this increased expenditure on naval defence wherever I can. I take a risk in doing so. I am not saying that boastfully, but there is a certain risk. The powerful daily press in this country have worked up a feeling of so-called loyalty to the Empire.
– And the ammunition manufacturers have worked it up.
– And it amounts to this : That we must go iu for a huge expenditure. As these papers go into a hundred thousand homes every morning there is an element of risk in taking up the attitude I do in regard to this naval expenditure. However, I am prepared to take the risk. I think it is my duty to do so. I am prepared to fight the question in my constituency. If my electors say that I have no right to make a speech such as I am making, they will, no doubt, put me out next time I go before them, but I do not think they will do so. I believe that I can explain to them the position as I have explained it to the House, and that they will send me back again.
The article in the Age dealing with compulsory service, to which I have already referred, says -
Another feature of compulsory service which causes a good deal of grumbling is the deficiency in tact shown by certain area officers in carrying out the duties of their commands.
I mention this to show that in all probability there is a good deal in what I have said concerning the officers when journalists who move about among the mcn make these remarks.
In conclusion, let me say that the expenditure in this Bill is a shameless abandonment of the public expressions of honorable members on the Ministerial side of the House. They are fools and blind, or they are ignoble knaves. They are miserable sycophants crawling to people in high places, or they are rogues and tricksters, who have got into office by false pretences. Worse than that, I say that they are hollow, insincere, lying hypocrites.
Colonel Ryrie. - I direct your attention, Mr. Speaker, to the language of the honorable member.
– The honorable member is not in order in using language of that kind, applying to honorable members of the House, and I ask him to withdraw those words.
– The reason I say theyare hollow, insincere, lying hypocritesis
– Order !
– Because they go about preaching peace on Sundays-
– Order ! Order!
– And trying all they cam on other days to provoke war by indulging in this extravagant expenditure.
Colonel Ryrie. - You miserable bodysnatcher !
– Order ! The honorable member for Capricornia will withdraw his expressions.
– I am very sorry; I decline to withdraw them.
– I am sorry the honorable member takes up that attitude. He knows it is perfectly inconsistent with our practice to use language of that kind, and also that, under the Standing Orders, he is required to withdraw remarks when> directed so to do by the Speaker. I ask him to conform to the practice by withdrawing and apologizing to the House.
– I have every respect for you, sir, but I decline to withdraw the statements with regard to’ the Government.
– The honorable member sees that he places me in a very unpleasant position in taking up that attitude. He forces me to take action which I am most reluctant to take. I ask the honorable member to reconsider the matter. I am sure his better sense will prevail.
– With great respect, I decline to withdraw my remarks.
– Then I have nooption under the Standing Orders but to name the honorable member for disregarding the authority of the Chair and disobeying its instruction. However, before calling on the Prime Minister to take the usual course, I wish to give the honorable member a further opportunity of retracting.
– I regard the conduct of the Government as shameless.
– Order ! The honorable member is only aggravating the offence, and not complying with the direction of the Speaker. I ask him to unreservedly withdraw the remarks he used.
– I decline.
– Then I have no option but to call on the Prime Minister to take action.
– I have not heard what has taken place, but I hope the honorable member will relieve me of the unpleasant duty of taking certain action, which I otherwise must. I ask the honorable member to do what he knows he should do.
– No; I decline.
– Whatever the honorable member’s personal feelings may be, the discipline of the House has to be maintained. I appeal to the honorable member to subscribe to the rules of the House.
– May I intervene with a further appeal to the honorable member? It is most distasteful to me to have to call upon the Prime Minister to take this course of action ; but the honour and dignity of the House are at stake, and, in view of these considerations, I ask the honorable member to withdraw the remark.
– I view this matter very seriously, Mr. Speaker. It is out of no disrespect to you that I have taken up this stand, but I wish to emphasize my protest against the action of the Government in imposing an unnecessary burden upon the people of Australia.
– That is not the matter to which exception is taken. Objection is taken to expressions used by the honorable member, and reflecting upon other members of the House. Will the honorable member withdraw it?
– I decline, sir.
– Then there is no other course open to me than to submit the motion customary in such circumstances. I regret very much that I have to do so. I move -
That the honorable member for Capricornia be suspended from the service of the House.
Question - put. The House divided -
Ayes … … … 43
Noes … … … 8
Majority … … 35
– The honorable member for Oxley cannot cross the chamber after the tellers have been appointed.
– I was not aware that the Standing Orders so provided, Mr. Speaker.
– I am sorry if the honorable member has made a mistake, but I must carry out the Standing Orders.
– Sit where you are.
– Order ! The honorable member cannot sit there.
– On a point of order, sir, I think you omitted to give the direction that the “ Ayes “ shall pass to the right and the “ Noes “ to the left.
– No; I gave that direction before the appointment of the tellers.
– Quite a dozen of us passed over at the same time that the honorable member for Oxley did.
– Several honorable members crossed over while I was stating the question, and before the tellers were actually appointed; but the honorable member for Oxley crossed the chamber after the tellers were appointed. The honorable member will be able to make an explanation after the division is over, if he so desires, in order to set himself right.
– I wish to draw your attention, Mr. Speaker, to the remark made by the honorable member for North Sydney, that the honorable member for Capricornia was a miserable bodysnatcher. I ask that those words be withdrawn.
– After the division is over, and before the business is resumed, I propose to call the attention of the honorable member for North Sydney to the words which he used, and to require him to withdraw them. The result of the division is “Ayes,” 43; “ Noes,” 8. The question is therefore resolved in the affirmative. I regret very much thatI have now to inform the honorable member for Capricornia that he is suspended from the service of the House for the remainder of the sitting.
Motion agreed to.
The honorable member for Capricornia withdrew from the chamber.
– I have now to direct the attention of the honorable member for North Sydney to words which he addressed to the honorable member for Capricornia which were unparliamentary and very offensive, and which I direct him to withdraw and-
– He ought to apologize as well.
– It is disorderly to interrupt the Speaker. I had already asked the honorable member for North Sydney to withdraw the remark when I was interrupted, and I must ask him also to apologize.
Colonel Ryrie. - With all due respect to you, Mr. Speaker, I decline to withdraw the remark.
– Order ! I am very sorry, indeed, that we should engage in proceedings which are of a most unseemly character, and which certainly do nob reflect credit on the dignity of the House or the reputation of honorable members. It is very difficult for the Speaker to preserve order and carry out the Standing Orders of the House, which I would remind honorable members are not his Standing Orders, unless he has the sympathetic co-operation of honorable members on both sides of the House. Without the support of honorable members, the Speaker is absolutely powerless. In carrying out the orders of the House, he is only doing his duty. There is no personal feeling whatever, so far as he is concerned, and he has a right to expect from honorable members every support in his effort to carry out the practice and rules of the House. The honorable member for North Sydney must know that it is distinctly contrary to the Standing Orders and the practice of Parliament to persist in refusing to withdraw and apologize when called upon by the Chair, after having used offensive language to another honorable member, and I appeal to him to reconsider the matter.
Colonel RYRIE.- I withdraw the remark, and apologize.
Sitting suspended from 6.27 to 7.45 p.m.
.- One cannot but be surprised at the action of the Government, and at the incident that occurred before dinner arising out of the criticism of the honorable member for Capricornia of the expenditure of this Department, and of the professions of the Government in regard to the general finances.
– The incident arose out of the disregard of the Standing Orders by the honorable member for Capricornia.
– I do not know anything as to the disregard of the Standing Orders, but the remarks of the honorable member for Capricornia were at least in accordance with truth; and if speaking the truth is contrary to the Standing Orders, it is time they were amended, because here we are privileged to speak the truth and, if necessary, to say what we feel.
– The honorable member must not proceed on those lines, but must discuss the second reading of this Bill.
– Do you, Mr. Speaker, maintain that. I cannot speak the truth in this House?
– The honorable member knows full well that I said no such thing, and he must not argue with the Chair. I ask him to address himself to the question before the House.
– The question of expenditure is involved in the Bill, and I am dealing with the method adopted by the Government, by their professions before the electorates, to deceive the people of the country.
– The honorable member is out of order. To say that the Government have adopted a method to deceive the electors of the country is not in accordance with parliamentary practice.
– It is remarkable if the Government, and honorable members opposite, may not be reminded of the promises they made when before the electors in regard to the very expenditure we are now considering. It seems to me that if we are not here for the purpose of showing to the people the facts underlying the action of the Government, our position is untenable.
– I do not seek to prevent the honorable member from doing that. All .1 do is. to call his attention to the fact that he must not use expressions casting reflections on, or imputing improper motives to, other honorable members.
– I can only say that the action of the Government in regard to these Estimates, from beginning to end, is quite sufficient to excite any member in his desire to obtain that information which is necessary to guide him as to the vote he must give. This is the Government who professed to be a Government of economy, and who were going to introduce a new era of what they call true representative government. The Government and their supporters obtained their present position by telling the people they were going, not on the lines of the Labour party, but on lines which they have mapped out for themselves, and which would prove to the country that they were able to restore economical and representative government. How are they doing it? Look at the increase of expenditure now proposed. Well might the honorable member for Capricornia refer to them in the terms in which he did - terms which, to my mind, were not too extravagant. The Government and their supporters raved about the reckless expenditure of the Labour party; and yet, in their first year of office, they increase the expenditure by an amount bordering on £5,000,000, and do things for which they would have denounced the Labour party from the .housetops. This afternoon the Prime Minister, I believe, alleged that the late Minister of Defence was responsible for the large number of additional appointments at Garden Island and Cockatoo Island. That statement is not in accordance with fact. The late Minister of Defence did not indorse the proposal to increase the staff from forty to seventy on Garden Island, nor did he indorse the increase of expenditure from nearly £5,000 to nearly £14,000, as in one year the present Government have done. The Naval Board submitted those names to the late Minister of Defence, but, like a wise man, he refused to make the appointments, on the ground that it would be more advisable to wait the appointment of a general manager at Cockatoo Island before selecting the staff. No Government, who were careful of the interests of the people, would ever dream of adding to the list of employes in such a way when the appointment of a manager was in contemplation. Surely the first step is to appoint the manager, who is to be responsible for the work, and then allow him to select his own staff ? But the present Government have put the cart before the horse, and appointed a number of officers who may prove to be of the greatest trouble to whoever may become manager. With all deference to the rules of the House, the action of the Government is not contrary to the language in which the honorable member for Capricornia stigmatized it before dinner. The Prime Minister stood on the floor of the House, and charged the late Minister of Defence with something that he never did, and which the Prime Minister, and. the present Minister of Defence, must know he never did. To come here and say what is not true-
– Order !
– I say lie said what is not true.
– The honorable member must withdraw that expression.
– I cannot.
– The honorable member knows the rules of Parliament.
– I say it is not true.
– Will the honorable member resume his seat? I point out to the honorable member that he is distinctly out of order - and nobody knows it better than the honorable member himself - in using expressions of that kind. I ask the honorable member, in accordance with the rules of the House, to withdraw the words.
– I cannot withdraw what I hold to be true.
– I call the attention of the House to the situation that is developing. It is not in keeping with the dignity of the House, or the reputation of honorable members, that they should persistently defy their own Standing Orders. Those Standing Orders are framed to be carried oat by the Speaker, and every honorable member is expected to observe them. I regretted very much to have to take a certain action before dinner, but it was forced on me, and I do not wish to have to take it again. I appeal to the good sense of the honorable member to do what is right in the matter.
Colonel Eyrie. - On a question of privilege
– There can be no question of privilege while a matter of this kind is pending. Does the honorable member for Gwydir withdraw what hs said?
– The statement made by the Prime Minister is not true, and I cannot help it.
– The honorable member has repeated his offence, and forces me to take a course of action which 1 have already said is most repugnant to me; but, if he persists, I have, under the Standing Orders, no option. I give him a further opportunity, and hope that, after reflection, he will withdraw the statement that lie made. Sometimes things are said in the heat of the moment, when feeling runs high, which the good sense of the member offending induces him to retract. We are not school children, but men legislating in the interests of the country, and we should, at least, prove our capability to observe and abide by our own rules of debate and conduct in the House. I trust that the appeal that I make to the honorable member will not fall on deaf ears. Does the honorable member withdraw his statement?
– Shall we throw the Standing Orders under the table, or not?
– The Chairman of Committees should hold his tongue at a time like this.
– I wish to exercise as much forbearance as possible, and to meet honorable members as far as I can, preferring to err, if I do err, on the side of leniency in the discharge of my duty ; but, occupying the position that I do, I must see that effect is given to the Standing Orders. If I did not, the business of the House could not be carried on. I ask the honorable member for Gwydir, now that he has had’ time to reflect on the matter, to withdraw his statement.
– - I am very sorry that -.the forms of .the House debar me, or ap pear to debar me, from merely stating what is a fact.
– Put it in parliamentary language.
– I do not wish to repeat what I said, but if I am to refer in plain English to the statement of the Prime Minister, there is only one word that I can apply to it. I do not know any other word that I can substitute for that word.
– Does the honorable member withdraw his statement? If he persists in his attitude, I have no option but to have recourse to the standing order which compels me to name him for disregarding the authority of the Chair.
– I appeal to my honorable friend not to disregard the Standing Orders. He can say what he has to say in quite strong enough language, without offending against the rules of debate. I hope that, for his own sake, for the sake of all of us, and for the sake of his family, he will not discredit himself, for that is what he is doing. I appeal to him as an old friend to withdraw from the position that he has taken up, and not to compel us to discharge what is an unpleasant duty, and which we are very reluctant to perform.
– I recognise the sympathy, but I cannot withdraw what I have said.
– Is there any member on tlie Opposition side who would influence the honorable member for Gwydir ?
– If the Prime Minister would withdraw his statement.
– Do not mix things up.
– If the honorable member for Gwydir will not withdraw the words that Mr. Speaker has asked him to withdraw, I have no alternative but to move -
That the honorable member for Gwydir be suspended from the service of the House. Motion agreed to.
– I very much regret that I must inform the honorable member for Gwydir that the decision of the House is that he be suspended from its service. He will be suspended for the remainder of the sitting.
– Apologize now.
– Before the honorable member for Gwydir leaves the chamber, I shall, I think, conform to the wishes of honorable members generally if I give him a still further opportunity to withdraw what he said.
The honorable member for Gwydir withdrew from the chamber.
Colonel Ryrie. - On a question of privilege, and merely for my own guidance, I ask calmly and dispassionately why a distinction is made by you, Mr. Speaker, between my case and that of the honorable members for Capricornia and “Gwydir? The honorable member for Capricornia made use of an expression which, I think, was very much stronger than that which I used, and I believe that his offence was greater than mine. He was called upon to withdraw what he said, and we know the result. Likewise, the honorable member for Gwydir was called upon to withdraw his statement. But I was asked, not merely to withdraw what I said, but also to apologize to the House. I wish to know why I was treated differently from two other honorable members who had offended’ similarly. They were not called upon to apologize, but I was.
– I am not quite sure that the honorable member has stated the facts correctly, but, assuming that he has done so, I can only say that, if I did not ask the honorable member for Capricornia to apologize for, as well as to withdraw his epithets, it was an oversight on my part; but a withdrawal always implies an apology. That is generally understood. The honorable member for Capricornia persisted in defying the authority of the Chair, and left me no other course than to name him. The honorable member for. North Sydney eventually conformed to the direction of the Chair.
,- I hope that in what I am about to say, I shall not bring myself into conflict with the rules of the House, nor with you, Mr. Speaker. The honorable member for Capricornia was most profuse and most interesting in the matter that he placed before the Chamber, but I cannot follow the lines that he followed ; and, while I claim that there is no better party man in the House than myself, I am, in regard to the matter on which I wish to speak, somewhat at variance with my leader, the right honorable member for Wide Bay. It has been said that with me Cockatoo Island Dock is what King Charles’ head was to Mr. Dick; that I cannot keep it out of my speeches; but when expenditure involving large sums is concerned, those who know most about it should express their views in such terms as they can, even though they may seem to gobeyond what some other honorable members may regard as reasonable limits. I say at once that I care not where the fault lies, whether with the last or with the present Administration, extravagance is, to my personal knowledge, occurring in connexion with the administration of the Fitzroy Dock. The sum of £40,000 is provided for the administration of that establishment. Now, I visit the dock, often, and when I go there I see almost as many managers and foremen as workmen. This is a development of the past two and a half years. It is astonishing to me to see how money is being spent in. paying men who seem to do little or nothing. The majority of these persons are not those who have been associated with* the establishment for years, but are newcomers. What their abilities and qualifications are God only knows; I do not. They are “there, and the men who have been connected with the establishment for years are being slowly displaced. The general manager is, of course, necessary,, and if the Government can keep the gentleman who is there at the present time, it will be a good thing for the Commonwealth. I refer to Mr. Cutler, who is now acting as manager. Evidently the Government have not yet been able to get a more able man for the position. Speaking from personal knowledge of, and association with, Mr. Cutler, I say that no more energetic and capable engineer than he was ever on CockatooIsland. He made the place.
– Are not the Government going to send, him to England?
– That is what I wish toknow. For lack of a decision on the part of the last Administration, and of this, Mr. Cutler, a man of unquestionable ability, has been kept in suspense, not knowing what will happen to him. Theresult is that the development of this establishment, which is one of the principal, parts of our defence scheme, is being kept back, because no one knows what is tohappen in connexion with the administration of the place. Surely that shows, the existence of something rotten ia the state of Denmark. It is about time some Minister applied himself in an effective way to making a statement in connexion with this establishment. You are crying out for defence, and right in the centre of the defence system here is this matter of maladministration, this failure to frame any definite scheme to deal with the subject. I find provision on the Estimates for a shipyard manager. That -may be necessary, but I question it very rauch. I do not know why a shipyard manager should be there. I see a dockyard master provided for, and a constructor overseer. As a matter of fact, the one mau who takes on the duty of constructor overseer should really be the shipyard manager, and thus we have nearly £1,500 spent annually to duplicate work which should be done by one man. This seems very wrong. I say not one word against the gentlemen who are holding these positions, but I really cannot understand how the Administration can duplicate positions, and pay this enormous sum of money for work to be done by two persons that really should be done by one. Provision is also made for an engineer overseer with two assistants, and their salaries total over £1,000 for work that has hitherto been done at a much less expenditure. I find that officers who have hitherto per formed all the duties that are now supposed to attach to these overseers are still retained, and yet these additional people are brought in. This seems to me gross extravagance. I think both the present and the last Administration are equally guilty in this regard, and the sooner some reform is effected in this matter the better it will be for our Defence Department. The expenditure is creeping up every day. The Government have already stated in their Budget that there must be an increasing expenditure this year, which is more than likely to continue for many years to come. We must be cautious, and safeguard in every possible way the expenditure on defence. I have been always bitterly opposed to the idea of building up a fleet unit in this country, and it was only when I felt that tlie pressure of the times forced the necessity upon us that I gave my assent to it, but in every possible way I shall raise my voice in this House against extravagant expenditure. I believe that it is taking place in our midst to-day. I feel that there is growing up here that despotism of navalism and militarism that always seems in every nation to get possession of the people, and override tlie general interests of the community in the interests of its own personal desires and requirements, and, shall I say, that frenzy of warfare that seems to come upon it. Today, when we are taking upon ourselves this burden, not only as a young, independent Australian people, but as a part of the Empire, comparatively small in numbers, but yet feeling ourselves to be sharers in the great Imperial ideal, we must take the greatest care not to impose upon the backs of our working classes a burden too hard to bear. Through mistaken efforts on our part, we may make the burden so heavy that the inevitable reaction will come. I desire, when we possibly can, to co-operate with tlie people of the Old Country, and to see the stock from which we have sprung grow and develop and maintain the position they have gained to-day, but I see dangers ahead if burdens are heaped upon their backs by excessive taxation arising out of extravagant expenditure. There is the greatest need for careful attention to these matters, and for reforms to be made where possible. A day or two ago I asked that certain regulations in regard to military matters should be framed and embodied in book form, so that we, as members of the House, might know precisely where we stood in connexion with our defence system. We do not know this today. We have our Defence Acts embodied in such books as are issued to us, but there is not one man in this House who knows what the regulations are, and almost every day every member is challenged with questions by his constituents regarding the treatment of our youths. This is most objectionable. It seems to me that instead of the Minister of Defence controlling his Department, the Department is controlling him. It is issuing regulations without his knowledge, and enforcing upon this country many things that, if tested by the A.ct itself, would, I believe, prove to be illegal. Nevertheless, they are there, and we cannot see them. We get them on little slips of paper; we know nothing at all about the regulations, and, while seeking to build up an esprit de corps in our country in defence matters, wo have no means by which we can safeguard our youths, who are becoming the basis of that system, from any wrong-doing that may emanate from the brains of officers who really do not. know themselves what the regulations are. Reforms are very essential in this direction. I put certain questions on the notice-paper quite recently. I will not say what they are, but I will say that there is room for an investigation into our naval service. We are building up our Navy, but, from the information that has come to me, I am very much afraid that at no distant date we shall have to take into careful consideration the interests of the crews, and control the . officers who are upon these vessels. I know that men who are untrained in thought, and who speak, perhaps, with prejudice, feeling that an injury has been done to them which has, perhaps not been done, will sometimes come to a member of the House and put before him statements that may, on investigation, prove to be not as correct as they at first seem. I do not know how information belonging to the House gets into the press before members themselves receive it, but this certainly happens. As late as Friday last I put certain questions on the notice-paper of the House, and by Saturday the matter was in the hands of the press before it was in the hands of members of the House.
– The reply?
– The matter was not even before the House, but the press knew all about it. I think that is most undesirable. If matters come before the House, those who should first know the particulars are the members of the House, and no one else. If information is to be given from the Departments in this fashion, we do not know where we shall end. I was very pleased that a particular letter which I have here emphasizes, from a Melbourne point of view, ‘the position that I put forward from Sydney. Whether the statements are correct or not I cannot say. I shall wait for the Minister’s answer in reply to the question which I have put. At all events, I am pleased that I have something from Melbourne in the nature of corroboration of the statements that reached me in Sydney.
.- Last evening the Treasurer, and also the Prime Minister, stated that, on this Appropriation Bill there would be opportunity to deal with some oi the questions on which we were endeavouring to elicit information. I am glad the opportunity has presented itself, because, since last evening, there has been more information avail able to honorable members in regard to the Defence Estimates.
– There would need to be.
– I quite agree. It is to be regretted that Estimates are often brought down in which a large aggregate sum is voted without our knowing to what the money is to be devoted. Very often members may vote money for one purpose, only to discover afterwards that they were entirely opposed to the object of that expenditure. All honorable members must realize that defence expenditure will go on increasing now that we have established compulsory military training, and a Navy of our own; but, at the same time, it is absolutely necessary for us to see that there is no unnecessary expenditure. What is necessary should be undertaken, but beyond that no money should be spent. The discussion to-day has disclosed that wasteful expenditure is going on. The Prime Minister takes up the position that it is on account of commitments left to him by the previous Administration, but I say that, irrespective of whether that is so or not, it was the duty of the Prime Minister to use the pruning knife if he found any expenditure extravagant. The responsibility is on the Government who bring down Estimates to see that no unnecessary expenditure takes place. I do not claim that the late Minister of Defence was not responsible. Certainly he was not responsible for the additional expenditure provided on these Estimates for Cockatoo Island and Garden Island.
– The late Government bought the island; we did not.
– That is so. The late Minister of Defence will be able to make his own defence in another place. I am more concerned in the expenditure we are now asked to vote. I think it will be admitted that the Commonwealth secured a good bargain in taking over Cockatoo Island. No one appears to take up the position that it is not a good bargain. In fact, Admiral Henderson reported in favour of Cockatoo Island, being in our hands in order to dock warships.
– They are fine boilers that the late Government bought.
– Before we are many months older I think we shall hear quite sufficient in regard to the boilers to satisfy the public that the statements made recently in regard to these boilers were made for political purposes only, and that there was not a scintilla of truth in them. It will be shown clearly from the evidence taken before a tribunal, evidence that cannot be claimed to be partisan, evidence from experts, that these boilers were admirably suited for the purpose for which they were used, and that they had passed all tests. However, I do not wish to enter into that field. There is a Committee dealing with these boilers, and the whole matter is sub judice. While Admiral Henderson approved of Cockatoo Island Dock being taken over by the Commonwealth, he also disapproved of the Commonwealth, when that time arrived, still continuing to spend large sums of money on Garden Island. Admiral Henderson has been the guide for both sides of the House in regard to the Navy, and that being so, surely there should be some explanation as to why the expenditure in regard to Garden Island is being increased, notwithstanding the fact that we have acquired Cockatoo Island.
– Who is responsible ?
– Those administering the affairs of the country to-day should shoulder the responsibility. It is as well to quote Admiral Henderson’s report, and have it on record, because, last evening, the Prime Minister said that the report was not against additional expenditure on Garden Island. Admiral Henderson says, in paragraph 29 of his report -
The personnel (185 ranks and ratings) now allowed and borne in the complement of H.M.S. Penguin for working the Dockyard Establishment at Garden Island are provided by the Mother Navy. It is considered that this number of ranks and ratings should be retained in their existing positions until such time as the Dockyard Establishment at Cockatoo Island is taken over by the Commonwealth as a naval dockyard, when a revision of the complement will be necessary. It is considered that it should then be practicable to reduce the complement of Garden island to a very small number.
He points out clearly that Garden Island was being utilized by the Imperial Government for the purpose of making minor repairs to warships in these waters, and his recommendation that the Commonwealth should take over Cockatoo Island Dock was for the purpose of having a more effective dock to deal with the big warships coming .here. He says that immediately the Commonwealth secured control of Cockatoo Island there should be a reduction of the staff on Garden Island Otherwise it must mean duplicating the work, having two docks to do the same work. Though Cockatoo Island is quite sufficient for all requirements, we are apparently to continue expenditure on Garden Island. Last year we had forty salaried men on Garden Island, but the number has been increased this year to seventy-one, making an additional thirtyone salaried men to be paid out of this year’s Estimates, notwithstanding that we also have Cockatoo Island Dock.
– We have only taken over the dock this year.
– In view of the statements made from time to time by honorable members on the Ministerial side, how do they reconcile this large increase of officers on Garden Island after we have taken over the Cockatoo Island Dock? Certain figures were given this afternoon by the Leader of the Opposition. Last year the expenditure on Garden Island was: - Victualling and clothing, £2,418; ship-building, repairs, &c., £8,925; and naval armaments, £1,568; making a total of £12,911, which was spent last year, when we did not have Cockatoo Island Dock.
– For what period of the year was that?
– For the whole of the year.
– We did not have Garden Island all the year.
– The Imperial Government had it. I am quoting their costs.
– Where did you get them ?
– The right honorable gentleman will not take on himself the responsibility of denying the figures. The total expenditure last year on Garden Island was £12,911.
– Where did you get those figures? It is very important.
– I endeavoured to get this information last evening on the Estimates, but I could not. I had to get the figures myself. This year we are to spend £15,311 on Garden Island, while we have increased the number of officers from forty, to seventy-one. If we take the cost for ship-building and repairs, which can now be performed at Cockatoo Island, we find there was £8,925 spent last year. Deducting- this from the total of £15,311, it leaves a balance of £6,386, “Then take the naval armaments. We are not going to make them at Garden Island. That work will be done at Cockatoo Island. If we further subtract £1,568, the amount spent in this direction last year, it leaves £4,818 for victualling and clothing to correspond with last year’s expenditure in this direction; yet we are going to spend £15,311. This is the economy honorable members prate -about so much in the country. They are -actually duplicating work. The Prime Minister last evening, after a lengthy debate, seeing the absurdity of building a home for a manger on Garden Island, reduced the item by £2,000, and promised not to build the house this year, but, notwithstanding that reduction, there is this heavy expenditure to be incurred on administration. Are we justified in increasing the expenditure on the Navy unnecessarily? Can any one claim this is necessary expenditure, seeing that we are now going to carry on work at Cockatoo Island Dock ? I have heard that it is the intention of the Government to keep 100 members of the Navy permanently on Garden Island. I leave it to the Treasurer to deny that. I would like some information from him on the point. Why are these men to be put there ? The Government are not justified in increasing the expenditure on Garden Island after taking over Cockatoo Island. While we are increasing expenditure on Garden Island we are also increasing the cost so far as Cockatoo Island is concerned. The number of officials there has been increased from twenty-one to forty-five, whilst the cost has increased from £6,416 to £14,006. In other words, twenty-four additional officers have been appointed this year to Cockatoo Island. I do not say that there may not be necessity for an increased staff at Cockatoo Island, but I do contend that if an increase is necessary in that case, it cannot be necessary to have additional men on Garden Island. Admiral Henderson distinctly pointed out that the Imperial authorities were compelled to hold Garden Island only because they had no other place at which to dock their vessels. But although we have expended a large sum in acquiring Cockatoo Island, and are asked to vote a large sum to place machinery in position there, the Government are continuing the other establishment. We ought to have some information regarding this matter. If it is ab solutely necessary to do what the Government propose, then I shall willingly vote for it, but if it is not necessary, then a wasteful expenditure is proposed, and it is my duty, and that of every honorable member, to vote against it. The Treasurer does not appear to know much about the matter. If he could make out a good case for the maintenance of Garden* Island, and for an increased expenditure upon it, we should be justified in supporting him, but until we know what justification there is for the proposed increase of expenditure there, we cannot be expected to allow these matters to go without challenge. I desire now to refer to another matter which was brought up this evening. I refer to the statement that the Admiral was to have full control of the disposition of the Fleet. The Prime Minister, in the. first place, stated that “ as far as he knew “ it was not correct, but subsequently gave his word that it was incorrect. It was claimed here this afternoon that the Admiral was to have full control of the disposition of the warships. If that be so, a great mistake is being made’: I know that the Prime Minister himself ultimately said that it would not be so, and I hope that it will not, because once we permit the Admiral to determine what shall be the disposition of our vessels, the power of this Parliament in the matter will have disappeared. The Prime Minister said, with a laugh, this afternoon, ‘ ‘ The idea of talking about Parliament directing the movements of the Fleet ! Does the British Government do anything of the kind with the British Navy ? Does not every British admiral decide where the vessels of his fleet shall manoeuvre?” As a matter of fact, no British admiral does anything of the kind. The Admiralty gives orders as to the movements of the vessels of the British Navy. It directs an admiral to proceed with his fleet to a certain point, and he has to do so. When he reaches there he may do as he pleases, but he cannot decide for himself whether or not his vessels shall go there. What would be the position of our finances if we permitted this sort of thing in connexion with our Navy? We should soon be asked to vote huge sums for stores and fuel. We shall have coaling stations at different points along the coast. But. the Admiral, if he had the power to decide without question where a vessel of the Fleet should go, might make it necessary for us to charter steamers to carry coal for its use, and so pile up our naval expenditure. On the other hand, if the Government have the right to direct where a ship shall go, then the Admiral will be able to pick up coal at the depot, and so save money. This is an important question. If, at the initiation of the
Australian Navy, we permit the power to control it to pass out of the hands of the Parliament or the Government of the day, we shall never recover our position. The Army and Navy will run the show, and we shall simply have to pay. As representatives of the people we ought to have something to say in regard to the management of our Navy. I do not wish to interfere with the Admiral, but the Government of the day should always have vested in it the power to control the movements of the vessels of the Fleet.
– So it has.
– There is a doubt about the matter.
– Not at all. It is the A B C of responsible government that Ministers shall have control.
– The Prime Minister said so this afternoon.
– The Prime Minister said, in the first place, that, so far as he knew, the Government would have control, and later he said he would give his word that it would be so ; but we have the statement made by the Minister of Defence, and quoted this afternoon, that the Admiral of the Fleet would have the right to determine the disposition of the warships.
– The very same report showed that the Minister of Defence was in consultation with the Admiral as to the next movement of the vessels of the Fleet.
– And the final sentence in the report was to the effect that the disposition of the vessels of the Fleet should be left with the Admiral. I am informed that the Minister of Defence repeated that statement in the Senate this afternoon. This question is above all party considerations.
– What is the point the honorable member is trying to drive at?
– We ought to know whether the Government of the day are to have control of our Navy, or whether that control is to be handed over to the Admiral.
– This is too puerile. The Government are supreme. All property owned by the Government is under their control.
– I am surprised at that interjection in view of the statement in print by the Minister of Defence, and the reiteration of that statement in the Senate this afternoon. The right honorable gentleman, who admits that he knows nothing about these Estimates, now says that my statement is puerile.
– I would remind the honorable member that it is not customary to refer to what is occurring in another place.
– I admit that, sir, but I was pleased to learn that the Minister of Defence had really indorsed the statement made this afternoon by the Leader of the Opposition. I appeal to honorable members to allow party feeling to remain in abeyance for the moment, and to say whether it is not right that we should have our position clearly defined in the initial stages of our naval policy. As the Treasurer says, Parliament should be supreme, but it is quite possible for a mistake to be made. We ought not to wait until a mistake has been made, and then find fault with those responsible for it. Now is the time to take action.
– There is no danger.
– I am pleased to hear it. We often hear it said that there is no danger of this or that happening; yet it does happen.
– The honorable member might just as well say that we have no control over the Military.
– I make no such assertion. I should not have referred to this matter but for the statement made by the Minister of Defence.
– I have no doubt about the position myself.
– The right honorable member holds a view different from that taken by the Minister of Defence.
– I do not know what the Minister of Defence has said.
– The Treasurer evidently does not know what his colleagues have said. Our trouble is that we cannot obtain the information we desire. Wo ave urged to pass this Bill, and so to add to our expenditure, with the result that we may discover, about twelve months hence, that we have voted money for something of which we do not approve.
– That we have taken a plunge in the dark.
– Quite so. We need more light on this subject. We want to know what is going to be done.
– Why should the expenditure on Garden Island be greater than it was last year, in view of Admiral Henderson’s report that it should be reduced as soon as we took over Cockatoo Island? He pointed out that the Imperial Government used Garden Island only to effect minor repairs to warships while in these waters, and that, if we obtained control of Cockatoo Island, all repairs could be done there, so that the cost of Garden Island would be considerably reduced. We find, however, that it is to be increased.
– Does the honorable member think that some of the men there ought to be discharged ?
– I think that all necessary officers should be appointed. We should have an efficient service, but should not vote for unnecessary expenditure or the duplication of work. If we are to have these two establishments maintained, will there not be a duplication of work?
– We are only starting.
– The Government are starting by increasing the expenditure on Garden Island, after taking over a dock which is suitable for all our requirements. Where shall we land ourselves? Is this the boasted economy about which we have heard so much during the last six months?
– This is your staff, not ours.
– That is not so. I have never known a Government, on taking office, try to shield itself as this Government has done, by saying, when attacked by the Opposition, “ This is your commitment,” or “ This was done by the Opposition when in office.” Does the right honorable member forget that he and his party told the electors that we had been guilty of extravagance, and that, if they were placed in office, they would introduce the pruning knife ?
– The late Government had a good “go in.”
– We are considering just now the “ go in “ of the present Treasurer. He has been in office only four months, and yet he has increased expenditure all round. He admits that he knows nothing about these Estimates, but when he was before the people he said that if returned to power he would reduce the expenditure.
– Who was it said that ?
– The right honorable gentleman knows a good deal more than I do about what he has said. We are not concerned with what the expenditure has been, because that money has gone; we are concerned with the votes we are now asked to pass. Suppose we admit: - though I do not admit it - that the money in the past was not wisely expended, surely the present Government are not justified in increasing the waste. I find that the total defence expenditure last year was £4,381,000, whereas the proposed expenditure this year is £5,746,000, or anincrease, taking the odd figures into account, of, approximately, £1,500,000. There is no reason why we should vote all this additional expenditure without explanation. My mission is not to find fault with legitimate expenditure, and if the Government can show any justification for any part of it, I am prepared to support them; but it appears to me that, in place of making out a case, they take up the position that this expenditure consists of commitments that were left by the previous Government. That is a very unfair position totake up, because those who complain of expenditure should, if placed in power, endeavour to cut it down, or show that such a step is impossible.
– The honorable member is very active this year compared with last year !
-Even since I have been a representative I have taken up the position of asking for the fullest information in regard to expenditure, and if I found any waste I should vote against it, irrespective of whether I sat behind the Government or not.
– Does the honorable member not think that we had better get along? It cannot take so long for him to explain his position.
– I must ask the Treasurer not to continue his interjections.
– I believe I should have finished long ago but for the interjections of the right honorable gentleman, and every time he interjects he shows his want of knowledge of his own Estimates. It seems strange that a private member should have to delve for information that ought to be given by the Government, and if the right honorable gentleman had been prepared to state fully the intentions of the Government, and to justify the additional expenditure, there would have been very little debate, and the !bill would have been passed.
– Oh, no.
– The Treasurer cannot accuse me of blocking business in any way. I only rise on such occasions as this when I feel I am justified in asking for information, and my trouble is I cannot get it.
– Give notice!.
– Even -when I do give notice I cannot get information. Last Thursday I asked for some information in regard to the amount of money to be expended on the submarine base at Port Stephens, and the Treasurer told me lie would’ endeavour to answer my question by the following Tuesday when he had consulted the Minister of Defence. Yet, at the same time, his Estimates were on the table, and the probability is that he anticipated that by the Tuesday they would have been disposed of. Even on the Tuesday the information was not forthcoming, though I did get it to-day. Strange to say, I was informed by the Prime Minister that the expenditure would probably be £2,000, whereas the Honorary Minister, who represents the Minister of Defence, said it would be £3,000 or £4:000. I suppose that if we keep on for another day or two we shall find the expenditure at £6,000. It is the lack of information that causes honorable members to take up time. Admiral Henderson stated in his report that th> first submarine base should be established at Port Stephens prior to tlie arrival of the submarines. Are the Government going to give effect to that recommendation ? Does the honorable member think that £3,000 or £4,000 will be sufficient to construct this base? We know that the submarines are expected by the end of another year ; and if something is not done, we shall have no place to berth them. At the same time, we are increasing the expenditure at Garden Island by over half of what it was last year, and thisquite unnecessarily. As a representative, I cannot permit this money to be voted in the absence of fuller information without raising my protest; and the right honorable gentleman would be doing a service to honorable members if he would rise and explain. However, perhaps it would be hardly fair to ask him to do so considering that he knows nothing about the- matter. The question of defence isall important, and one in regard to which party feeling should be sunk. In Australia to-day, there are only a little over 4,500,000 people, and yet our Defence expenditure is over £6,000,000, and must grow. How the people are going to bear this burden, is a question that presents itself to us. If, from the inception, it keeps on - increasing unnecessarily, taxation must increase, and possibly give rise to a strong feeling of opposition to the whole defence system. Every one is- prepared to pay what is just and fair, because we realize it is necessary that we should be in a position to defend ourselves, and, if necessary, help the Mother Country. We have, however, to be careful, and we are not justified in voting money without knowing whether it is justifiable to do so. I would not be doing my duty to my constituents if I did not raise my voice in protest.
– How many of your constituents live at Port Stephens ?
– There must be very, few, but the question is not the number of constituents who live there, but the number of people who reside in Australia, and have to find the money. This is no parochial matter, but a big national problem, which should be considered on its merits. I do not wish, in twelve months’ time, to find myself in the position that I have voted thousandsof pounds for some purpose that may prove useless, because I should not dare to attempt to justify myself in the eyes of my constituents, or the people of thecountry.
– Give us a chance to explain.
– I am prepared to give the right honorable gentleman every chance if that can be done without closing the debate.
– I can give the information without closing the debate.
– Then I am prepared to give the Honorary Minister the opportunity. This matter is of more importance to me than any other that could be discussed; and it is only because of the paucity of information that I have risen. Admiral Henderson’s report has been repeatedly quoted by honorable members -on both sides, and is regarded as .a guide for all of us; and we should have some information as to where that gentleman has been wrong in his estimate. If Admiral Henderson said we should not expend much money on Garden Island, why is the Government increasing the expenditure there, especially when the greater part of the money last year was used in making the necessary repairs to the warboats, and the Government say they are going to do this work at Cockatoo Island. I cannot see, for the life of me, why they should increase the expenditure at Garden Island. Is it’ correct that the Government intend to keep 100 privates on this particular island ?
– They are for the purpose of social functions.
– I do’ not know whether that is so or not, but I do not believe in the people of the country paying for those social functions. My opinion is that the men in the Navy ought to be engaged .on the boats, because they are paid for that purpose. If those 100 men are to be retained on the island simply to look after the officers ..who are there, it is an arrangement that the Government are not justified in making. With regard to the expenditure to be incurred on Garden Island, I wish to know why there has been jan increase in the number of officers, and whether the work that was formerly done there in the way of repairing vessels is to be continued. If it is not, will the £8,000 spent last year be needed? I should like the Minister to give the fullest information as to the intentions of the Government in regard to both Cockatoo and Garden Islands.
.- The first point dealt with by the honorable member for Hunter is the alleged increase of staff at the Garden Island establishment. Let me say, at the outset, that there has been no such increase as he seems to .have been led to believe. If he will take the Estimatesiuchief, he will see, on page 99, the officers who belong to that establishment. The transfer to the .Common wealth of all the officers there provided for, with the exception of the Assistant Victualling Store officer, who was in service there, and had to be taken over, was approved by Senator Pearce, and all of them are being paid according to a scale of which he approved-. The proof, of my statement is in the departmental papers, which are available for the inspection of those honorable members who care to look through them.
– Are the papers indorsed by Senator Pearce?
– Yes; to all the recommendations are attached his initials, “ G. P. P.”
– That is good enough.
– What are the contents of the papers ?
– The honorable member may peruse them for .himself, and if the statement that I am now ‘making is not correct, he will then be in a position to demonstrate that I have not .been frank and candid with the House. The: honorable member for Hunter may .have been led into .error ;by the statement in the Estimates .regarding certain police officers who were not employed, at Garden Island while the ^establishment , was .under , the jurisdiction of the Admiralty, for the simp’le reason that the Admiralty usedmarines to perform the duties for which the police have now been appointed. We have no -marines :in the Australian Navy ;. although they are an integral part -of the British Navy the Royal Australian Navy does not consider them necessary. Senator Pearce authorized the appointment of these police officers, and we have appointed them to take the place of marines. That’, is the beginning and the end of the increase of staff.
There have been certain increases of. pay to various men on Garden Island, but they were all authorized by Senator Pearce, and were made to bring the pay of the men there up to the Australian minimum rates. If the honorable’ member for Hunter objects to that, we cannot help it; but I do hot think that” he does object to it. I invite him to peruse these papers when I resume my seat. If he does so, he will- see that .every word that I :am uttering is borne out. by the facts.
With regard to the Cockatoo Island, establishment, we have taken over the State staff. The provision made for the officers at Cockatoo Island is’ detailed on page 104 of the general Estimates. With the exception of the general manager, all these officers have been working at the dock during the last year. The general manager’s position was created by Senator Pearce, and the salary set forth in the Estimates was fixed by him.
– The present manager gets only £1,000, but provision is made for a general manager at £2,000.
– The position of general manager is an office that was created by Senator Pearce.
– And is not filled yet.
– No. It was decided by Senator Pearce that that, office should carry the salary of £2,000 a year. The present Administration cannot be charged with having originated that salary. We believe the salary fixed to be necessary, and assume full responsibility for it; but we must not be charged with the creation of this highly paid office. There is shown in the Estimates the salaries of certain men who are not permanent officers of the Commonwealth; but it was merely the desire to be candid that led to those salaries being included. These officers have been working at Cockatoo Island under a three years’ engagement. They are Australian officers, who have, been serving at the island in connexion with the shipbuilding that has been going on there for Commonwealth purposes, and their salaries are being debited in this part of the Estimates in order to properly show the cost of each section of our Naval establishment.
– What is the increase in officers during this year?
– A very considerable one, because we have taken over the State officers who were employed on Cockatoo Island.
– But what new officers have been appointed?
– None. There is the new office of general manager, which, in a sense, has not yet been filled, though I understand that the person .who is to fill it is to arrive very shortly; but no new officers have been appointed. So far as the officers taken over from the service of tlie State are concerned, their salaries have not been raised. In addition, there are certain men whose salaries appear on the Estimates who are working under a three years’ engagement. They are - G. W. Barr, shipyard manager, £800;
– Senator Pearce did not increase the officers at Cockatoo Island as we find them there to-day.
– I am astounded that the honorable member should have the temerity to make that statement in full view of the papers. As I think he would like that weight to attach to his words which should attach to every statement made by an honorable member in this Chamber, I invite him to peruse the papers.
– I have the word of Senator Pearce.
– The men were appointed by the State Government, and were taken over by the Commonwealth ^Government.
– That is the truth of the situation.
– The facts are as honorable members have stated them. ‘ Here is a memorandum entitled, “ Recommendations re taking over the temporary staff of H. M. Naval establishments at Sydney, 1st July, 1913.” It is addressed to the Naval Secretary, and was minuted by Senator Pearce on 31st May last. It says -
After consultation with the responsible officers at Sydney, and after making personal inquiries into the actual work performed by the hired clerical staff in His Majesty’s Naval Establishments at Sydney, I recommend that the present staff be taken over on ist July next, and appointed to the positions and at the rates shown in enclosed statement. There are no permanent clerical officers employed in His Majesty’s Naval Establishments in Sydney; the hired clerical staff do practically all the clerical work, and they are, in my opinion, underpaid excepting the juniors. Hitherto they have been paid at similar rates to those paid in England, notwithstanding it is recognised that the cost of living is much higher in Australia.
That accounts for part of the increase to which the honorable member for Hunter has very properly directed the attention of the House -
Representations have been made on several occasions to the Admiralty by the captain in charge of Garden Island, with the view to obtaining increased rates of pay for the hired clerical staff, but without success. Enclosed statements show the nature of the duties performed by each officer of the hired clerical staff. With regard to the fitters, boiler-makers, storemen, labourers, &c., employed at daily rates of pay, many of whom have served continuously from10 to 20 years, are recommended to be taken over on1st July as temporary employes at their existing rates of pay, provided such are not less than Union rates, and in the case of labourers, that they be paid the Commonwealth rate, at 9s. perday.
The question of permanent appointment of those with, say, over five years’ continuous service to bc considered at later date on the same conditions as recommended by me in the case of similar classes of labourat Cockatoo Island, who are also being transferred on1st July.
Mr. Manisty minutes the proposal ;
After discussion with D. N. A., I concur fully, and recommend the proposals for Minister’s approval.
That is concurred in by a gentleman whose signature is as difficult to read as I understand my own to be, and then follows” Approved, G. F. P. 31.5.13.”
– That paper concerns the men who have been working on Garden Island, under the British Government.
– Yes; with the exception of the police, who have taken the place of the marines, there are no new officers on Garden Island. I have explained that there are no marines in the Australian Naval Forces. So far as Garden Island is concerned, this Government cannot be charged with more than having given effect to the very proper arrangements made in this connexion by Senator Pearce.
– Admiral Henderson suggested that the cost of the Garden Island establishment could be reduced considerably after the taking over of Cockatoo Island, but you are increasing the cost.
– We are not increasing the cost of the Garden Island establishment, except by paying Australian rates of wages to men who have now entered the Commonwealth service, who were formerly receiving less than those rates.
-Surely the Minister does not contend that the same number of officers will be necessary now that Cockatoo Island has been taken over. The increases to which he refers come to ?2,700 more than was paid by the Imperial Government.
– The shipbuilding and repairs are another matter altogether. There is actually a very considerable increase in the wages’ expenditure. I have brought here, so that the honorable member’s mind may be set at rest, because I am satisfied he is strongly of opinion that Senator Pearce is to be thoroughly and implicitly trusted in these matters, the papers which show the authorizations of the late Minister.
– Have you the late Minister’s authority in those papers for the extra expenditure in the way of new officers at Cockatoo Island ?
– There are no new officers at Cockatoo Island. Senator Pearce engaged the special men that have been referred to, and I fancy it is possible that, by merely counting up the Estimates and considering that those officers would nob be shown as they were only under a temporary engagement, Senator Pearce made a mistake in that regard; but they were appointed for three years, and we are showing them on the Estimates because they are highly paid. That is the matter in a nutshell. I hope my honorable friends are satisfied with the explanation, and will facilitate the passage of the Estimates, as the matter is one of considerable urgency.
.- The honorable member has gone a long way to explain the Estimates in relation to Cockatoo Island and Garden Island. I do not know much about that matter, and it is not my intention to say much upon it; but I very much regret that a good deal of this discussion has taken place owing to the action of the Minister himself yesterday in not giving the information which had been asked for ; the Minister who is now in charge of the Estimates appeared to know very little, and gave the House no information concerning them at all. If there is one thing that we ought to be particular about it is the voting of large sums of money.
– The Minister of the Department gives the details.
– The Treasurer should have a certain knowledge of the Estimates, and if the honorable member who is in charge of this particular Department is always out of the chamber, and is not going to give the House the necessary information, we must have the Estimates discussed until such time as the Government are prepared to give us that information, lt is just as well for them bo realize this fact. If there is one tiling more than another that should be jealously guarded in this House, it is the right of honorable members to watch the Estimates as they are going through.
– We have taken longer this time than before. Mr. MCDONALD.- If that is so, it only goes to show that the right honorable, member, when he was on this side of the House, did not do his duty. Nearly all the discussion that has taken place at the present time is on new expenditure, which did not appear on the Estimates last year. We are now called upon to vote this large increase, and the Minister tells us that, although all this money is to be voted for Cockatoo Island, there is to be no increase iu the staff. We maintain that there- has been an increase. If the Honorary Minister is correct in saying that there has been no increase, how comes it that the Estimates have increased from £6,000 to £14,000 for the administrative staff? That is one of the things that the honorable member ought to have explained while on his feet.
– My honorable friend forgets that it is absolutely essential that the expenditure in the Imperial Estimates with regard to ship repairing, and that sort of- thing, shall still be carried on at Garden Island, where they have the sheer-legs. That is the only place we have got.
– It was the general impression that once Cockatoo Island was taken over a good deal of the work done at Garden Island would be done at Cockatoo Island, and that thus a considerable amount of expenditure would be saved.
– It cannot be done.
– We can quite understand the honorable member’s anxiety, but he must realize that one of the highest authorities that we could get, to whom many thousands of pounds were paid to report upon these matters, said that it could be done. Personally, I know nothing about it.
– The actual police pay is about £4,000 in the Imperial service. The marines’ pay was borne on the ships’ books, and not debited to this naval work at all.
– I did not rise particularly to speak on these naval matters, but wished to refer to a statement made by the Prime Minister this afternoon. I very much regret that he should have taken up the stand he did, because it led ultimately to a scene, which we all very much regret. The Prime Minister has a way of making statements ‘from time to time in the most irresponsible way, without any knowledge whatever, and without investigation. In making his attack upon the Leader of the Opposition this afternoon he went back to the old statement in the Auditor-General’s report, that the accounts came to him so late in the year that it was not possible for him to. get his report ready before Parliament prorogued. The Prime Minister “used that statement from the Auditor-General’s, report on the platform from, one end of the country to the other for political purposes, and I regret that the Auditor-General should be dragged into party politics. If there is one man who ought to be kept out of the sphere of party politics it is the Auditor-General, yet the honorable gentleman has never lost an opportunity of dragging up the statement about the time when his report is presented to the House, regardless of the fact that for many years the report has come along at abou a similar time. The Prime Minister stated in many places that the public accounts of this country had not been properly audited, but when I accused him of making that statement he denied it. I produced the paper, and then, of course, he wriggled out of it by saying that the Auditor-General said that, owing to the late hour at which the accounts came along, it was not possible for him to get his report presented to Parliament before the prorogation. While the AuditorGeneral took up that stand, however, he did not say that the reports were not correctly audited. As a matter of fact, the Prime Minister cast a very strong reflection upon the Auditor-General - that of not having properly audited the accounts. What are the facts in this case ? The first report of the Auditor-General for the period ended 30th June, 1901, was not presented to Parliament until 25th May, 19.03, or one year and eleven months after the end of the financial year. In 190.4 it was not presented to Parliament until 14th December, or a day before Parliament rose. In 1905 the report was presented on the 15th December, and in 1906 it was presented on the 25th September, or the earliest in its history. In 1907 the report reached us on the 13th December, the last day that Parliament sat. In 1908 it was presented on the 10th December. During all those years, with the exception of a very brief period, the. Labour party was not in office at all, so that it was idle for the Prime Minister to try to justify the charge that he made against the late Government, that the accounts could not be properly audited, owing to the fact that they were not handed to the Auditor-General in time. If the honorable member desired to; be fair, and to give an honest interpretation of what had taken place in this House, he would have, told the House that the report would come along about the usual, time. The. honorable member for Gippsland, went about the country telling the people- that there were millions of money, unaccounted, for,, and,, that when the, Auditor-General came along, the Treasurer and several other members of the Ministry locked the doors, and would not let him in. The thing was so utterly absurd that I wonder the audience- did not laugh at him. We are in rather a remarkable position in this House at present. The Government have no majority, ‘ and no one can point to any other country where a similar state of affairs exists. The Prime Minister said that if they could not carry out their policy, they, as self-respecting men, would not sit on the Treasury bench. I ask the Government what they have done to. carry out their policy, and what solitary measure, containing part of their policy, they have .passed through tlie House, and sent to the other Chamber.
– Who is responsible ?
– I take it that we are responsible, but when we find a mt of men who will sit there and allow themselves to be insulted in every possible way–
– By whom?
– By the very fact that they sit there without power, and have to do our bidding. We had- an exhibition of this last night, when the
Prime Minister- had to do exactly what he was told. No set. of self-respecting men could possibly sit there in the circumstances. I remember the Treasurer, on one occasion here, telling us that- for two years he had to sib in office eating dirt at the dictation of the Labour party.
– That is an unfair statement. The honorable member is dirty to make it.
– I must ask the Treasurer to withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw it, but I was very much irritated by an incorrect assertion.
– When the honorable member makes such statements he. must occasionally have them brought up. against him.
– I never made it, and the honorable member cannot show, it to me.
– If I cannot show it in Hansard, then it was cut out by the honorable member.
– It was not cutout by me. Why not turn it up ?
– If I cannot turn it up in Hansard I can turn it up in- the press. If the session is to end in the ordinary way by December, there is no possibility of our doing anything but passing Estimates.
– Is that not good work?
– It may be good work, but this is the Government who-: were going to do so much, who never lost an opportunity of disparaging the party in power prior to the elections, and who talked of the wild extravagance of the past Administration. Yet. they come down with Estimates to the extent of £27,000,000. I do not object to this expenditure if the money is required for the development of the country. Any Government afraid to find the money necessary for the development- of the continent are unworthy of office, and I am not cavilling at the fact that there is an inflated expenditure of nearly £5,000,000 in excess of last year’s, but I do find fault with those who say that what was a crime on the part of the late Ministry is a virtue on the part of tlie present Government. The press through all parts of Australia, and honorable members who are now in accord with this increased expenditure, claimed that the* late Government’s expenditure of about. £22.000,000 was the wildest extravagance practically bordering on corruption. The honorable members for Gippsland, Indi, and Wannon, and others who denounced what they termed the wild expenditure of the late Government, have not the moral courage to denounce the present Administration, yet if it was wild expenditure to spent £22,000,000, surely to spend £27,000,000 is also wild expenditure. Honorable members should have the courage of the statements they have so frequently made. I do not object to the expenditure so long as it is for the beneficial development of Australia. The position taken up to-night by the honorable member for Capricornia is an important one. We shall need to be careful in regard to our expenditure on the Navy. There is nothing to cavil at in regard to universal training, but it seems to be difficult to put any limit on naval expenditure, so that we should guard to the fullest extent any expenditure in connexion with the development of our Navy. It is all very nice to wave flags and beat drums, and do all those sort of things. At the same time it will land us in difficulty if we are not careful.
– We will get into a much greater difficulty if we do not have the Flag.
– We want the flag made in Australia, and not in Japan.
– The honorable member for Robertson produced a little thing that was sold in Sydney on the day that the Australian Fleet came into Sydney Harbor. On that day little bannerettes, made in Japan, were being sold.
– They were stuck in the plum puddings at the State banquet.
– I believe the Liberal Association were selling these things to augment their funds. It shows how far their loyalty goes. Even at the great banquet held to welcome the officers of the Fleet, I believe there were little flags, made in Japan, ornamenting the table. The words were on the flags, so that there could be no excuse for it. A lot of the loyalty we hear about is spokenwith the tongue in the cheek. We have a large expenditure in this Bill in connexion with the Northern Territory. I do not say that we had to take over the Northern Territory for our own protection, because immediately we start to develop that portion of Australia the danger increases. Nevertheless, South Australia had held the Territory for many years, and it became necessary for the Commonwealth to take it over. We have done so, and that involves a large expenditure, and a necessary expenditure, I believe, to develop it. It is most difficult to say whether the money being spent is being wisely spent; we certainly have in the Northern Territory one of the biggest problems Australia has to deal with. In declaring that we are to hold Australia for the white races of the world, we have assumed a burden that has brought forth problems, not only far reaching in their extent, but also demanding the utmost enthusiasm and energy from every member of the community. I believe that the development of the Northern Territory will not be brought about on the lines now being adopted. I consider that we should resume the long leases on the Barklay Tableland, and set about building a railway to the Gulf of Carpentaria; or, if we do not do it, we should get the Queensland Government to do it. In this way I believe the Barklay Tableland can be successfully developed inside two or three years.
– It needs water.
– Water can be had anywhere there at 400 or 500 feet. There is an inexhaustible supply.
– What is the cost of getting it?
– If a 6-in. or 4-in. bore is put down, pumping cannot exhaust the water.
– What size holdings would you suggest?
– If the tableland were cut up into 20,000-acre blocks, the whole of it would be taken up inside of two or three years. I can remember fifteen or twenty years ago, when we were told that no man could make a living in the Flinders district on less than 100,000 acres, but I have lived to see that land cut up into holdings of 20,000 acres, and even 10,000 acres, and 5,000 acres.
– Do you think a man could make a living on 5,000 acres up in that Territory ?
– No; but I am telling the honorable member what has been done in the Flinders district’. About six months ago, a block of 10,000 acres was sold. The man who held it had completed his five years’ settlement on it. I forget how many sheep he had, but he sold the block for £6,000, though he had only been on it for five years. I know other men who have started on 10,000-acre blocks, and who are wealthy men to-day. I maintain that this tableland can be cut up into 20,000-acre blocks. It is of uo use saying a living cannot be made on these blocks. Men are not only making a living out of them, but they are making small fortunes. There are on the Barklay Tableland high pebbly downs, well sheltered.
– There are millions of acres without any timber.
– Some of the finest land in Queensland has not a stick of timber on it, and yet the wool from those districts commands the best prices obtainable.
– How can they fence a 20,000-acre block in that class of country ?
– I know places where they cart the fencing material 80 and 100 miles, but there is ample timber on the Barklay Tableland. There is ample opportunity, not only for fencing, but for making small holdings pay. But no attempt seems to be made in that direction. We could still go on with the development of that part of the Northern Territory, as well as the part nearer Port Darwin, but the desire seems to be to hang round. .Port Darwin. Probably it is because the railway is there, and there is a settled town. I have no .objection to developing that part near Port Darwin. Probably the people already there know more about it than I do, but I believe that the Barklay Tableland could be successfully developed and made to carry sheep. The trouble is that there are large leases given by the South Australian Government, and there has been no attempt to redeem them.
– There is still unoccupied land there available.
– There is not so much capable of carrying sheep so successfully as on the Barklay Tableland. Men who have crossed and re-crossed that district have told .me there is every possibility of its carrying large numbers of sheep, and in that direction an attempt could be made at the present time.
– To do that it would be necessary to build a railway to Burketown, which is the nearest port.
– Borroloola is nearer, but it is in the Northern Territory. The difficulty in regard to many of these Gulf ports - Burketown, Normanton, Gulftown, and Borroloola - is in regard to the mouths of the rivers. The only evidence we can get in regard to these difficulties would be from experts who are well-versed in the building of harbors. I am not prepared to say whether Burketown, or Normanton in tlie Gulf, or Point Parker, or Borroloola, in the Northern Territory, are the best ports, but undoubtedly we could settle a large number of people for all time on the Barklay tablelands, and I hope that the Government will put some energy into the work. I desire now to refer to the trouble experienced by the Library Committee in securing sufficient room to house our books and documents.. We have had the use of this building since the inauguration of Federation, and seeing that the finances of the Commonwealth are very buoyant, I think it would be a graceful recognition of the generosity of the Victorian Parliament and the people of the State to complete the north wing. I understand that an estimate of the cost has been framed, and that plans are already in existence. It would cost about £60,000 or £70,000 to complete the north wing of this building, and by doing so we should provide ample accommodation to meet the requirements of the Library. We have had the free use of this building for twelve or thirteen years, and are likely to be here for another eight or ten years.
– We ought to be in the Federal Capital three years hence.
– Even in that case we should have had the free use of this building for sixteen years, and I think it is up to the Commonwealth Parliament to do something to show its appreciation of the generosity of the people of this State. The north wing could be completed in twelve or eighteen months, and I hope that the Government will take my proposal into serious consideration.
– I am rather suspicious of the cheers of the Opposition. I rise to express my dissatisfaction at the way these Estimates have been placed before the House. At 2 o’clock this morning I felt constrained to enter my protest against the Estimates- for the Northern Territory, which are the most extraordinary we have ever had hefore us. We have had to drag information from the Government, and I am strongly of opinion that much of the time taken up by this debate would have been saved :if Ministers had come forward in the first place with the particulars we desired. I agree with what the honorable member for Kennedy has said in regard to the ^Northern Territory, but I would point out that he has saddled the wrong horse. He seems to forget that the late Government laid down the lines for the development’ of the Northern Territory which are being followed in these Estimates.
– This is where the honorable member is putting the vaseline on his candid criticism.
– The honorable member does not like what I say, bub I would remind the House that the late Government’s idea of developing the Territory was not to open up the land by the building of railways, ‘but to appoint up there a staff of some 200 or 300 pu’b’lic servants, many of them being . officers of high grade.
– Why not say a thou-‘ sand?
– I know that the honorable member has a very elastic way of dealing with figures.
– The Minister of External . Affairs has said that there is not one officer in the Territory who should not be there.
– The honorable member thinks that the proper way to develop the Territory is to send up there a lot of experts as well a!s a large staff 6f highly-paid public servants, to spend £30,000 or £40,000 in building residences for them, and to erect steam laundries as the late ‘Government did.
– They did not.
– They proposed to do so, ‘but we would not allow them. Honorable members of the Opposition have .protested again and again against the additional appointments made at Garden Island and Cockatoo Island, and the whole discussion has appeared to hinge round the question of who made the appointments. The Opposition condemned them until they found that the ex-Minister of Defence had made them .
– He did not.
– I do not care who made them, or how many men. are employed in these establishments, as long as they are necessary. The Opposition became very quiet when they learned that Senator Pearce was responsible for these appointments.
– He was not.
– The Minister put the papers on the table and said the ex-Minister had made the appointments.
– He was incorrect.
– After all, what does it matter who made them, as long as they are necessary? I desire to ask the Minister of External Affairs what he has done in the Northern Territory? He has been in office for four months, yet, when he is asked to give an explanation in regard to his Estimates, he tells us that he will do so when next year.’s Estimates are before us.
– I did not say that. I spoke of this year’s Estimates.
– That was the statement made by the Prime Minister, and -his colleagues must stand by him.
– The Prime Minister led me off the track a little by alluding to next, year’s Estimates, .but I meant to refer to the Estimates for this year.
– The consideration of next year’s Estimates may be a long way off, seeing that the Opposition are determined that no business shall be done, and we want to know at once what policy is being pursued by the Government in regard ‘to the NorthernTerritory. Ministers, however, after being three or four months in office, bring down these Estimates, offer us no information in regard to them, and, when we protest against the proposed expenditure in the Northern Territory, realizing, as most of us do, that it is but the foundation of a much larger expenditure, we are told to wait for information on the subject. If we did the right thing, I think that we would strike out a lot of the items in the Estimates, and make Ministers responsible for the proposals they put before us in regard to the expenditure of the people’s money. Unfortunately, however, the party bell is rung, and as soon as that is done we know fairly well how every honorable member will vote. I feel disposed to ask the Treasurer where he expects, to get the money necessary to provide for all these undertakings. It is all very well for the honorable member for Kennedy to- propose an expenditure of £50,000 or £60,000 in completing the north wing of this building, but whilst I recognise that the people of Victoria have treated us well in giving us the free use of Parliament House, I cannot lose sight of the fact that the people would have- to find the money to carry out such a proposal. As a country representative, I am told again and again that money cannot be found even to provide for short telephone and telegraph lines, or to build small post-offices. It is the duty of the Government to explain, not only the expenditure they now propose, but what it will lead to, and where they are going to find the money. I feel that I am tied up here, and that I ought to vote against a number of the items in the Schedule; but I would rather vote with the Minister of External Affairs for a proposal in which I do not believe than give a vote which would put the Socialists into office. The trouble with honorable members opposite is that our party is in office. I enter an emphatic protest against the way in which the Estimates have been put before us. It was only after a lot of cavilling and much waste of time that we secured information which we had sought from the outset. Ministers can blame themselves for the waste of time that has taken place. The Treasurer was asked for information, but did not give it to us till we threatened an all-night sitting. At the same time, I freely admit that the Prime Minister made last night a candid statement which disarmed a lot of the criticism which would have come from this corner, or, at all events, from myself. During my twenty years of political life I have never known an Opposition to cavil, as the Opposition in this House have done, at certain expenditure, and then to become as silent as the grave on finding that it relates to their own appointments and their own commitments.
– That is not so.
– The commitments made by the late Government have to be honoured by the present Administration, unless we are to go in for a policy of repudiation. What we ought to consider is not who made the appointments, but whether the appointments are necessary.
– The honorable member passed them all last night.
– And when I protested last night, the Trea-surer asked me to leave tlie matter over until. the next day. Generally speaking, I arn very dissatisfied, and. feel much disposed to give my vote against the Treasurer. It is all very well to. point to the Minister of External Affairs, but we all like him so very much that we do not care to criticise him; and, in any case, he gets enough unkind treatment from the Treasurer himself. I have a protest to enter against the Department of the Postmaster-General, who, I am sorry to see, is not present. There are thirty or forty small telephone and post offices being held up in my district.
– The honorable member explained that last night.
– If I did go on to explain that matter, I might take some time, and the Treasurer would not like that. The Treasurer ought to tell us whether he has any system for the ex:penditure of this money. If this sort of thing goes on, it will necessitate extra taxation, including, no doubt, an income tax, and against that nobody would call out louder than the Treasurer himself.
– The Post Office is costing now £2,600,000 more than it earns.
– And 66 per cent, of that expenditure is in the cities.
– Does the Treasurer contend that the Post Office, which opens up the country, and is the great civilizer, ought to be made to pay ?
– The honorable member will admit that £7,000,000 is a good round sum.
– Yes; but the Treasurer can throw millions around like apples. “What is a million ? “ I am not asking for a .million, but merely that some funds shall be placed at the disposal of the Postmaster-General to permit of the provision of small post offices in country districts. If the Treasurer does not provide that money, he is in for trouble. I am not making threats, but I am not going to stand this sort of thing. The Treasurer may feel very snug where he is, but it is quite time that we honors able members in the Corner, who keep him in his position, should raise a solemn protest against the treatment the country districts receive.
– Is there a Country party iu the Corner?
– I dare say there is, and there is no doubt that, generally, not much sympathy is shown with country people here. Honorable members may laugh at the country people now, but they do not laugh at them at election time. I appeal for some consideration for the country districts. Is the Treasurer satisfied that the expenditure shall go on in this slipshod way in the Northern Territory, at the Capital, and at Jervis Bay, with no. responsibility and no check ? We must not forget, however, that this system was initiated by the late Government ; but it is for the present Government to show a better example. I know that I went about the country charging the late Government with extravagance, and with working on a bad system, and many honorable members on the front Government bench did the same tiling. It is now time that those charges were proved, and it would not be hard to prove them in many cases. As a matter of fact, in twenty-four hours I could prove that money was grossly wasted and squandered in many places by the late Administration; and the present Government ought to make the facts public. We ought not to indulge in generalities, but ram the charges home.
– Prove one.
– The Government ought to be able to prove one very easily; at any rate, I could prove more than one. If the Government will appoint a small Royal Commission to make inquiries into the administration of Jervis Bay, I will undertake to prove waste and extravagance, and that the system is rotten to the core. For a £10 note, a Royal Commission of three members could do the work, and I suggest that two should be taken from the Government side, and one from the Opposition side, with no expenses or fees of any kind.
– What! Ask men to work for nothing ?
– Honorable members may choose to treat this subject in a light vein, but the people who have to find the money do not so treat it. If money is wasted at Jervis Bay and the other places I have mentioned, it may be wasted all over the country. I do not blame Ministers,”because they cannot look after everything personally, but it is the system that is wrong, and requires mending. The Treasurer may be very jovial now that he is assured of getting his Estimates through, but he is not doing his duty to the people of the country. I am tired of hearing charges flung round, and the Government should make an effort to prove them, because people are beginning to think there is nothing in those charges. Many statements have been made, but up to the present nothing has been proved, although I feel satisfied that much could be proved ; if I did not think so, I would not say what I am now saying. I do not lay the blame at the door of the late Ministers, but I blame the system. The Treasurer raised a lot of trouble over the sleepers for the transcontinental railway; but with him all is right so long as the money is spent in the West. Why does he not take a national view, as I do, in connexion with the Federal Capital?
.- I wish, in a friendly way, to make a suggestion or two to the Government, with a view to saving expense at Cockatoo Island, where there are over 1,200 men employed building our cruisers and torpedo boats. When the Commonwealth took over the island they took over all the staff of the State Government, including the general manager, but that gentleman is now only in an acting capacity; and where there is not a permanency of tenure a man cannot be expected to take the same interest in his work. The Honorary Minister told us of a large number of experts who had been brought out by the State Government, and who are on the temporary list, some for three years, and others for two; and we cannot hope for the best results under such circumstances. I regret very much that the present manager, who was in his present position for ten or twelve years under the State, is only temporarily employed. He has brought the place up to its present position, and it is unfair to suggest that he is not qualified to carry out the construction of ships. If the expenses of construction are increasing, that is due to the administration of the Naval Board.. I do not blame the Minister or the late Minister, but, as a fact, the plans of the ships are kept, not in Sydney, but with the Naval Board, in Melbourne. If any detailed information is required, or any dispute arises about the construction, a gentleman has to be sent from
Melbourne to see the plans, from which sketches are taken, the plans themselves being retained at the Seat of Government. Any ordinary common-sense person would imagine that the place for the plans would be on the spot where the vessels were being constructed.
– It is an Admiralty regulation.
– We are not here to be guided by the Admiralty in Great Britain, and I think an alteration in this connexion would save expense. The Minister ought to insist on the plans, and the draughtsmen, if necessary, being -located where the shipbuilding goes on. As to Garden Island, it would be a great mistake to have another set of engineers and supervisors to do the repair work. The British Government have used Garden Island for repairs, Cockatoo Island being in the hands of the State Government for their shipbuilding and repairing. On the Estimates there is a large sum of money for the installation of machinery of the latest type for Cockatoo Island, and there is no need to bring in a separate staff for repairs at Garden Island. In shipbuilding, centralization ought to be aimed at, and I hope that the Minister, instead of creating a separate staff, and building a house for the manager at Garden Island, will see that one part of Cockatoo Island is ‘ set aside for repairs. In any case, all our ships are new, and no repairs ought to be necessary for a long time.
– Garden Island is a store and victualling place.
– It ought to be kept as a store, and not mixed up with the engineering work. I hope that the Bill will go through without delay, because it provides for necessary expenditure. I rose merely ‘to point out the need for supervising the recommendations of the Navy Board. The history of every part el the world shows that naval and military men have no sense of proportion in matters of finance. They are not responsible to the people as are members of Parliament, and they make recommendations, leaving it to others to find the money. If we act on democratic lines, we shall see that Parliament retains its responsibility, making the Minister responsible to it, and allowing no extravagance. Once the public think that tho Navy is extravagantly managed, it will become unpopular, and it will then ‘11 difficult to maintain it at a proper degree of efficiency. I trust that all proposals for naval expenditure will be properly controlled by the Minister. It would lie a good thing if we had some smart business men on the Navy Board to look after the interests of the public. Th-ire would be safety in that arrangement. 1 hope that there is some misunderstanding regarding the attitude of the Prime Minister and of the Minister of Defence as to the control of the Navy. I hope that the latter has wrongly put the position, and that on no consideration will he hand over to the Admiral the right to say where the ships shall go, where they shall coal, and so forth. As an official, the Admiral should be always under tho control of the Minister of Defence for the time being, and the Parliament will hold the’ Minister responsible. It would be a backward step to give the control of the Navy to the Admiral, or to the Navy Board. I trust that the Minister will keep a close eye upon proposals for expenditure, both Naval and Military. I believe that there have been leakages, but that must happen whenever a new system is inaugurated. I hope, however, that when Ministers get into recess they will see_ that the extravagance, if any, is cur tailed.
, - I wish to refer to a statement made by the honorable member for Moreton. If there is one man in the House who I thought would not take advantage of another, it is he, and I am very sorry that I should be one of the few to come under his ban. I have read his speech carefully from beginning to end, and I cannot see why he should have referred to something that occurred four years ago. Since then. I have been before my constituents on two occasions, and it was then, if at any time, that the matter should have been dealt with. I ask honorable members on both sides if I have ever been against the Naval or Military Defence policy of the Government. I have been one of the most sincere adherents of that policy all along, although, if there are two constituencies in the Commonwealth whose electors are against it, they are the Maranoa and the Kennedy constituencies.
– Because their people are anti-jingo. It would have been more popular to denounce than to defend the Naval and Military policy of the Commonwealth in those constituencies. But even at this early hour in the establishmentof our Defence policy, I am beginning to fear that we may have made a mistake. There is a jingoistic spirit in Australia that was never here before, and we may be creating a naval aridmilitary caste, for whichmany of us may ultimately be sorry.
– The people can easily alter that.
– We have the experience of the past to guide us, and know what naval arid military gentlemen are in regard to expenditure. Our expenditure ismounting upbyleaps and bounds, and the Government are providing for works and buildings out of loan money, so that they may have sufficient revenue to pay for Defence. They introduced a Naval Loan Bill,but foundthat it was unpopular throughout Australia. They know now that the country will not allow borrowingforDefence, andtherefore they propose to borrow for works expenditure, Using therevenue for Defence. If the honorable member for Moreton thinks that his remarks tended to injure me in my constituency,he is mistaken. Instead of doing me harm, they will do me good. He said that I wasone of the few who voted againstthe Defencepolicy introduced by the present Prime Minister when Minister ofDefence. Why was he not fair? Atthattime the chamber was in anelectricalstate, one memberstopping another from speaking,andthe Minister of Defence of the dayoverleapt himself. He moved that the question be now put, and found that he had made a “bloomer.”Hethen asked leave to withdraw the motion. My vote was given, not againsttheDefence policy then being proposed, but as a protest against the way in which the business of theday was being put through. I would dothe same thing again to-morrow. If we had put a little more devil into the proceedings at the time, things would have been different, and had my advice been taken, there would have been something stronger to chronicle in Hansard. The question was -
That thisHouse approves thenew scheme of naval defence adopted at therecent Imperial Conference, and isof opinion that immediate steps should be taken to provide the proposed Australian Unit of the Eastern Fleet of the Empire.
There were thirty-nine “Ayes”and nine “Noes,” amajority of thirty in favour ofthe proposal, the “Noes” be ing the honorable members forKalgoorlie, Melbourne Ports, Darwin, Barrier, Yarra, Gwydir, Melbourne, Kennedy, and myself. I am not ashamed of that view. My constituents do not hold strong views with regard to a defence policy, and I was makingan emphatic protest against the way the Minister was putting his business through. To show honorable members what took place at that time, I may mention that the honorable member for Gwydir moved-
That the Minister of Defence be not further heard.
Thereupon the present Prime Minister said -
Are you bound, sir, to accept these motions? I donot think so.
– Order ! The question is, “That the honorable the Minister benotfurther heard.”
When the question was put the voting was - Ayes, 3;Noes, 36. The Ayes were Messrs. J. H. Catts, J.Hutchinson, and W. Webster. After that division the presentPrime Minister moved -
That the question be now put.
Adivision being called for, and honorable members proceeding to divide-
Mr.Joseph Cook.-i withdraw the motion.
– Ifind that under the standing order I have torule themotion of the Minister of Defence out oforder as the original question had notbeen proposed from the Chair.
Mr.Page. - After what has occurred I will move the closure on the honorable member if no one else does.
– I move the motion.I shall decline to proceed in the circumstances.
On the motion, “ That the question be now put,” the voting was - Ayes, 32; Noes, 18. I find that I voted amongst the Noes. The original question was put, and a division was called for. Mr. Speaker nominated the honorable member for Bourke and the honorable member for Nepean tellers for the Ayes, and the honorable member for Darwin, and the honorable member for Melbourne Ports tellers for the Noes. As honorable members who were then in the House will recollect, the honorable member for Melbourne Ports refused to act as a teller. I voted amongst the Noes on that occasion also, the voting being thirty-nine to nine. I do not know why the honorable member for Moreton has brought up this matter to-day. I cannot see what motive he has, or what he was to get out of it. I do not know that I have ever done anything dirty to the honorable member.I have always regarded him as a personal friend, and I cannot understand why ho should have taken this action. I have a word or two to say with regard to the matter mentioned by the honorable member for Kennedy. With regard to the Barklay Tableland, it is quite true that there are thousands of acres available. When I first went to Queensland, there was nothing out there but cattle ranches, and the cattle were pretty wild at that. The late James Tyson took up a place from the Saltern Creek Pastoral Company. He fenced it, and put a large number of sheep on it. He put down bores at shallow depths. That sounds all right, but it requires money to do that sort of thing. Bores cannot be put down on the Barklay Tableland for 20s. a foot. The honorable member for Kennedy mentioned 5,000 acres.
– I said that along the Flinders there are holdings of 5,000 acres.
– I know places in Queensland where men are starving on 5,000 acres. They are in the hands of the banks and financial institutions. An area of 5,000 acres is of no use to a man going in for sheep. Any one who tries it is a lunatic. The honorable member said that there are people making money on 10,000 acres in parts of the country said to be useless twenty years ago. Of course you will find “mugs” buying stations, just as you will find them buying horses. They think that all that you have to do is to put your money into a sheep station, and that a fortune will grow like turnips. When they have been ‘at it a little while, they learn that experience and good management are required. Twentythousandacre blocks on the Barklay Tableland would be of no more use than 20 acres would be in Victoria. If bores are to be put down in that country people want to have more than 20,000 acres. The veriest tyro in station management knows that on such a holding you cannot carry enough stock even to pay for transit. The nearest port of shipment to the Barklay Tableland is Burketown. To build a railway from Burketown to the tableland you would have to go through Queensland territory. Queensland is naturally jealous of her own trade, and would not allow the Commonwealth to build a line from the tableland to Burketown. I believe that those areas which are good for settlement should be settled at the earliest opportunity, and that we .should prove to the world what the tableland is. It is reported to be good sheep country, but. there are not going to be the fortunes in it that many people think. I have dropped nearly £1,000 in it as a member of a company that thought that it was going to make a lob of money out of sheep raising. We all dropped our “ little bit,” and were quite satisfied to get out of the venture as lightly as we did. Another thing with regard to Barklay Tableland is that it will be necessary to have sheep driven there, and that cannot be done in that part of the country during a drought. It cannot be done in the Kennedy and Maranoa electorates when they are suffering from drought.
– The last sheep that went out died on the road.
– Big mobs of sheep have often perished going out to these farback stations, but if they can get out there, and there is a good season, how can they get the clip away ? A man with 50,000 acres cannot wait until the weather ‘ breaks, because he has not the capital behind him. It means that any one going to start the sheep industry there without’ a bank behind him - and a good bank at that - is doomed to failure from the commencement. I would like the Minister . of External Affairs to tell us how much he is paying per foot for the experimental bores, whether any water has been struck, and whether it is artesian or sub-artesian .
– It is sub-artesian. We could not accept some contracts, because the tenders were too high. We are now securing a plant to do the work ourselves. I do not know the prices.
– I know there have been hand-bores put down.
Mr- Austin Chapman. - I do not believe they are doing anything in that wa’ now.
– The Government are go ing to do something in the way of experimenting. The Minister has told me h< intends to go in for boring. I have noi the faith in the Northern Territory that some members have, because I know the disadvantages.
– Is there any chance of doing any business to-night?
– What else am I doing? However, I shall not say any more on that subject. I wish to make a reference to the great Protectionist - party on the other side of the chamber. Surely in this great Australia of ours we can make a few flags. It did grieve me when I saw the flags of welcome that were sold in the streets of Sydney on the day of the arrival of our Fleet. It made me feel a bit queer to see “ Made in Japan “ on a corner of those flags. Our Australian youngsters, bursting with enthusiasm to cheer and do something to show their exuberance of spirits on that great day, had little Union Jacks, made in Japan, in their hands.
– That must have grated on your Protectionist feelings.
– It did grate on my patriotism. Had they been made in England, I would not have minded so much. Instead of it being a home-coming for the Fleet, the occasion was more like a funeral. I never witnessed anything worse from a jubilation point of view. The bands were playing as if at a funeral ; the vessels went silently up the harbor, and we followed in their wake. Without taking us round the Fleet, they landed us just where we started. It was a funeral, I am sorry to say, though the people were just bursting with enthusiasm. “On the previous day an order was issued that no sirens or whistles were to be blown, and no jubilation was to be shown, because a few children would be singing in one of the boats. I think the Government muddled that business. Instead of taking us down the harbor, they could have chartered a full-rigged ship and manned it with Australian Naval Cadets, and they could have had Australian girls on the decks welcoming the warships with the good old English hurrahs. That would have been something towards a welcome.
– You have shaken all the faith they may have had about your policy.
– The honorable member does not know me. I go a great deal further than any of the honorable members opposite. I am not afraid to say I am an Imperialist to the backbone. I cannot forget the country that gave me birth and infant nurture, and if my aid is needed in the hour of trouble I will be found, not at the rear, but in the front. If honorable members had had the same feeling as I had on the day of the arrival of the Fleet, it would not have been a funeral; it would have been an ova tion. All I rose to clear up was the misunderstanding between myself and the honorable member for Moreton.
– Will the Treasurer give us the adjournment?
– No. We want the second reading and the Committee stage to-night. We must have these Estimates through, because everything is being stopped pending their passage.
– You will not get the third reading.
– We cannot expect it unless you give it.
– I am sorry at this late hour to take up the time of the House, but the exuberance of New South Wales members to show the great bargain the Commonwealth had secured in Cockatoo Island and Garden Island took up so much time that I was unable to catch the eye of the Speaker before this. The Government, in these Estimates, are following on the lines of the late Government, but, beyond Cockatoo Island and Garden Island, they have made no provision to be self-contained so far as armaments are concerned. Apparently they intend to rely on Cockatoo Island, and to a lesser degree on Garden Island, where there is a fairly good workshop. I have to admit that the works at Cockatoo Island are splendid. As to whether they were worth the money paid for them, of course I cannot claim to be a judge. It is with a good deal of diffidence that I express a doubt as to whether we are really getting value for our money.
– Do not worry! We are.
– If that assertion were made by a disinterested member I should be disposed to accept it, but since it comes from a New South Welshman I must take it with a grain of salt, because we know that all their geese over there are swans. An endeavour is being made to make Australia self-contained as far as possible in the matter of the requirements of the Army and Navy, and if that effort is to be successful we shall have to provide, not only for the manufacture of small arms and cordite, but for the nucleus of an arsenal in which heavy guns and ammunition can be manufactured. I had hoped that the present Government would take a step in that direction, but I find that they are content to traverse the path which other Administrations have followed. We are im porting tools and parts for our heavy guns at a cost of many thousands of pounds, although they can be manufactured here. It is dangerous to continue this practice.
– It was found “impossible to get made locally a blade for the propeller of the Powerful.
– It is a shame that such should be the position. Even a novice, looking at one of our up-to-date big guns, can see that it is a piece of high mechanism, and that it would not take much to put the mechanism out of order. We have in Victoria a rather good Ordnance Department, which, I believe, is capable of making many of the parts and tools that have been imported, and by means of an expenditure of £40,000, or £50,000, we could be made less dependent upon Cockatoo Island than we are at present. I know that it will be said that I am taking a provincial view of the position .when I urge that in some part of Victoria there should be established the nucleus of an arsenal in which all that is required in connexion with our heavy guns could be manufactured. In setting out to construct the arsenal we should make provision for an extension.
– Would the honorable member make provision for two arsenals - one in Sydney, and one in Melbourne ?
– I do not wish to raise that question. If I were to suggest that we should have one in Melbourne every representative of New South Wales would be up in arms, and would declare that I was making an attack on the “Ma” State. We are spending something like £60,000 per annum on the Ordnance Department, and we have, in Major Hardy, an inspector of ordnance machinery who, although I have disagreed with many of his actions, is undoubtedly a highly-trained specialist. He was one of the best mechanics in the Newport workshops, where he worked many years ago prior to his appointment by the Victorian Government as an artificer in the Defence Department. He has under him in the different States a fairly good staff of highly-trained engineers, capable of making all that we are now importing in this direction. We have in the Ordnance Department the nucleus of an arsenal, and it is only fair that we should make use of it instead of having to depend wholly on Cockatoo Island. Great as may be the ability of those in charge of the Cockatoo Island works, I think that they have been given too much to do, and that it was because of this that certain experiments they undertook were not up to expectations.
– They certainly started to make the big’ boat there liefore they were ready.
– They have been asked to do more than they are capable of doing at present.
– Where did the honorable member get that information?
– Do we not know that they are behind in the work of constructing one of the vessels of the Fleet which they undertook, and. that the casting of certain gun mountings, which they should have been capable of doing, was not a success. Those mountings, if not thrown on the scrap heap, are next door to it.
– Did the honorable member ever try to get the Labour Government to start some of these industries 1
– On more than one occasion I expressed my disapproval of what the ex-Minister of Defence was doing, and I went so far as to complain, as I complain to-day, that the Minister of Defence was a member of another place. I have always said that that office should be alloted to an honorable member of this House. I always thought it was unfair to attack the honorable member for Adelaide when he represented the Minister of Defence in this House, and I hold the same opinion in regard to the Honorary Minister now. The honorable member for Parkes seemed to think I was making an attack on the Honorary Minister, but that is not so, because I always thought, as I say, that it was unreasonable to attack his predecessor. The Prime Minister is really the only honorable member opposite who has had any intimate association with the Defence Department, and he knows that during his term of office there were many reports submitted with a view to having the articles to which I have referred constructed in Australia, but if anything of the kind was suggested, it was wiped out at once by the naval and military advisers. As a matter of fact, these men, and not the Minister, rule the Defence Department. For instance, in the QuartermasterGeneral’s Branch there was at one time at the head LieutenantColonel Legge, whom I believe to be a highly capable man, and he made many departures in the direction of having material manufactured here. I had certain papers laid on the table of the Library -showing that suggestions had been made by other officers to similar effect, but nothing was ever done. Rightly or wrongly, Ministers of Defence h.ave to depend on the advice of their expert advisers; and one Minister tol’d me that he must do so or assert himself as a layman, which-, under the circumstances, he did not care to do. The members of the Military Board and Naval Board may be very capable men individually, but when they are collected’ together as a Board it is almost impossible to get them to do anything of a. progressive character, and this is not good for Australia. We are led to believe that there are rumours of war in Europe, and the British Government are- building vessels to a greater extent than even a wealthy nation like the British can afford. Only the other day a British Minister, to his credit, endeavoured to bring about a change in this connexion, and he did this without cringing or crawling to foreign Powers. If there is any possibility of war during the next few years we ought to .be prepared, and to do that we ought to be self-contained so far as armaments are concerned. There is nothing to stop our commencing with small field-pieces, or in re-casing , and strengthening heavier guns, which, I understand, is required after a certain number of projectiles have been discharged. Further, guns become obsolate in a very few years, but it is possible by altering the mechanism to bring them up to. date, and something might be done in preparing for work of that character. The position demands that something in this connexion should be attempted, and in the different States at present there are artificers who would form a nucleus for such an establishment. I hope our friends from Sydney will not think we are endeavouring to take something from them, but it is not a tar-seeing policy to rely on one manufacturing place for such commodities. I do not wish to raise a scare, but it is as veil that honorable members should know chat a, vessel armed with up-to-date heavy guns could stand off in the open sea and shell any- portion of Sydney, including Cockatoo Island.
– How are we to overcome that difficulty?
– I say that it is to be overcome hy establishing our arsenal and shipbuilding works at some place less accessible to an enemy. I have no desire to raise provincial feeling when I say that such a place can be found at Westernport or Port Phillip, and to come closer home to the interests of my own electorate, I think the works could be better established at Port Phillip than at Westernport.
– We should first have to put a new bottom in the harbor and the Yarra.
– Honorable members can now hear Cockatoo Island speaking. I feel sure that Mr. Speaker has never discerned it, but it is a fact, nevertheless, that representatives from Sydney are unable- to believe that anything can be done as well elsewhere. The moment one attempts to put any other place on the same plane as Sydney they cling together like long-lost brothers, irrespective of party. I understand that the same feeling is noticeable as between Sydney representatives and country representatives of New South Wales. This is a digression, but I was induced to make it by the aspersion cast by the honorable member for East Sydney upon the depth of water in Port Phillip. I do not intend to delay honorable members longer, but I am determined to hammer away at this phase of the question until we have an arsenal established which will be independent of Cockatoo Island, and which, when that place fails us, may be used in the interests of Australia.
.- I should not have spoken on this Bill were it not for the fact that I have been charged with misrepresenting the honorable member for Maranoa by a quotation which I made the other night from Hansard. I was pointing out that the members of the Labour party, on the defence policy, speak with a double voice. In the country they claim that they are responsible for the defence policy of Australia, but they have not been responsible for it here. The honorable member for Maranoa brought himself into the limelight by taking exception to what I said on the occasion referred to. The honorable member for Yarra did the proper thing by getting up, after I had spoken, to explain his attitude in the matter: I regret that .both honorable members did not make their explanations four years ago, instead of waiting until now to make them. I told the honorable member for Maranoa when I spoke that I should be very sorry to misrepresent him. I am sorry now that the honorable member did not accept my assurance. T had no intention of misrepresenting him personally, or of doing him any injury in his electorate. I am aware that it is not possible to injure him in his electorate, but I take exception to being accused of misrepresenting the honorable member. When the honorable members for Maranoa -and Yarra say that they wished to protest against the action of the Government of the day, I say that they had already protested in the division on the motion that the question be now put. I challenge any one who investigates the- matter without bias to come to any conclusion other than that at which I arrived with regard to that division.
– The honorable member will not accept the explanation of the honorable member for Maranoa.
– I have said that I regret that the honorable member- did not make his ‘explanation four years- ago instead of now. The motion before the House at that time was -
That the House approves the new scheme of naval defence adopted at the recent Imperial Conference, and is of opinion that immediate steps should be taken to provide the proposed Australian Unit, of the Eastern Fleet of the Empire. “When the question was put upon that motion and the House divided, the “Ayes.” numbered thirty-nine and the “ Noes “ nine. The minority consisted of Messrs. C. E. Frazer, J. Mathews, King. O’Malley, j”. Page, J. Thomas, F. G… Tudor, W. Webster, W. R. N. Maloney, and. C. McDonald. I venture to say that anyone reading the report, in Hansard must come to- the conclusion that those who voted in the minority on that occasion voted against the naval policy of the then Government, and against the Fleet Unit then proposed.
– At the worst, it was- a vote against an abstract motion, the financial consequences of which the then Ministry had’ not considered.
– And which the then Minister of Defence declined, to explain.
– The honorable gentleman tried- to explain, but the Opposition moved the gag upon him three times while he was making his speech, and he then moved, “ That the question be now put.” That was the time for the protests of honorable members. The report will be found at page 6259 of Hansard for 1909.
– I voted against that motion also.
– Yes, the honorable member entered his protest against that motion. I was pointing out when referring to this matter that some members of the Labour party could not take credit for having initiated the present naval policy of the Commonwealth. I had no desire to hurt the feelings of the honorable member for Maranoa. I have the utmost friendship for the honorable member, and am pleased to say that, apart from politics, we are able to agree remarkably well. I think that we have some cause to be alarmed about’ the growing, expenditure on defence. It is not merely creeping up> but is advancing at an alarming rate. In 1909-10 the expenditure was £1,534,881; in 1910-11 it had jumped up to £3,008,705; in 191.1-12 it was £4,080,039. In 19!l2-13 the estimated expenditure was £5,438,364, and this year we have an estimate which is an increase upon that amount. It appears to me that the expenditure is growing so rapidly that it is time we went rather slower than we are doing in the matter of defence. I do not wonder at the honorable member for Maranoa and other honorable members objecting to this large expenditure. The unfortunate point is that they are responsible for it. During the Labour Government’s term of office, the expenditure upon defence increased from £1,000,000 to £5,000,000 per annum. This year the increase is not much more than it was last year.
– Which statement is correct? Did the- Labour Government initiate the naval policy, or did the Fusion Government ?
– The Labour party, when they thought the policy was popular in the country, claimed credit for having introduced1 it.. They would be- just as ready to. repudiate it if it were not popular. It was the remarks of the honorable member for Capricornia which prompted me to rise and point out the inconsistency of the Labour party.
– The honorable member is doing an absent member an injustice. The honorable member for Capricornia has always taken up a consistent attitude upon this question.
– I have no desire to do the honorable member an injustice; but he is one of the party which has claimed credit for having initiated our naval policy. I hope that the time has passed when there will be any parties in this House upon the question of defence. There are some other items of expenditure in respect of which we have a perfect right to know the intentions of . the Government. Upon last year’s Estimates for new works and buildings there was an item of £8,000 for the establishment of Woollen Mills at Geelong. The honorable member for Adelaide, who was then representing the Minister of Defence, was questioned very closely as to what was the policy of the Government in regard to’ that work. He told us that he could hardly be expected to say how many bricks would be in the factory, or how many machines -would be installed there. The Prime Minister has told us that these mills would cost £117,000 when completed. Upon the Estimates now before us there is an item of £85,000 to complete the work which was initiated by the last Administration. I do not object to that now, the works, having been started, must be completed; but I do think, in regard to large expenditures which are anticipated, that the House has a right to know exactly what is the policy of the Government.
– I think that we ought to have a quorum. [Quorum formed.]
Mr. TUDOR (Yarra) I’ll. 33]. - The honorable member for Moreton has seen fit to again misrepresent certain incidents which occurred in 1909.
– We always do when we defend ourselves.
– I am going to defend both myself and an absent man. The honorable member had an opportunity of replying when the honorable member for Maranoa was present.
– I rose to do so, and the honorable member knows it.
– I was not aware of it. I was absent from the Chamber at the time. The honorable member has stated that the Labour party speak with two voices upon the question of naval defence. I say they do not. The facts are that, in 1909, the honorable member for Parramatta, who was then Minister of Defence, brought down to this House an abstract motion, which he attempted to explain. In the course of his explanation, some members of the Labour party were smarting under the use of the “gag,” which had been applied to them time after time, and one of those members moved to “gag” the present Prime Minister; but every member of the Labour party, except three, voted against the application of the “ gag.” In view of the statements made by the honorable member for Moreton, is it not significant that the nine members of the Labour party whom he mentioned are still members of this House? Since then the honorable member for Melbourne has managed to be elected on two occasions by very large majorities, on the last occasion, I think with the largest majority obtained in the whole Commonwealth. I managed to get returned, too, and I think that my majority was the second largest in the Commonwealth. At any rate, our constituents are quite satisfied. What did the honorable member for Parramatta do? He brought down an abstract proposition. He said that the ways and means were to be considered in connexion’ with the Naval proposals. He did not attempt to explain them. It was proposed by the honorable member for Gwydir that he be no further heard.
– That was not right.
– It was- not right, and every member of our party, except two others besides the mover, voted to hear the honorable member for Parramatta. We voted on three occasions to hear him. We were anxious to hear him, but he, as petulant then as he is to-day, moved that the question be now put, objecting to give any information about the proposals. I objected to the use of the “gag” then.
– He was stopped twice.
– He was stopped three times, I think.
– I should be very sorry to be either as petulant or as perky as the honorable member is.
– The honorable member was no better at the time, and his language was no better than it was once this session when he said he would not say “another bloomin word.” The honorable gentleman, who speaks of other people being perky, should, I suppose, be a judge of what is right.
– He also used the word “ hogwash.”
– Did the honorable member for Parramatta say that, too? I would not be surprised if he did.
– I have never said “ chuck it “ yet.
– I do not know that I did.
– I wish you would.
– I had no intention of getting up until the honorable member for Moreton again raised this question. I make the same explanation now as I have made all through. I would do the same thing again. If a Minister gets up here, and proposes that we accept a Naval proposal, or enter into an agreement, surely we are entitled to some information ? When the honorable member for Parramatta knew that all the members of the House except three were in favour of hearing him, surely he had no Tight to practically closure himself and every other member!
– What was he to do when they would not hear him three times ?
– The House was anxious to hear him.
– But they stopped him.
– They did not; they could not stop him when all the members of the House were anxious to hear him. But he was not anxious to speak.
– Let us get home.
– The honorable member did not say that when the honorable member for Moreton was attacking us.
– I was not here.
– My honorable friend was quite agreeable that the honorable member for Moreton should get up, and that his words should go out without a reply, but I am not.
– He did it in a very quiet way.
– So am I. I am not anxious to draw any honorable member on the other side, but when the honorable member for Moreton attacks me, am I to sit down like a number of honorable members on the other side, and not say a word? I am trying to make my position clear.
– Look at the clock.
– I did not say a word on this proposal yesterday.
-I am not complaining.
– The Treasurer is complaining.
– It was not your shift yesterday.
– On this side there are no shifts, as there were in the last Parliament, when we had the Estimates for the Northern Territory held up for fortyeight solid hours - two days and two nights.
– Very effectually.
– Yes, but we broke it down.
– You would have been on this side if you had not done that.
– I doubt that. It is only a dead heat, at any rate - thirtyseven all, and my honorable friends have a lot to boast of, have they not, considering that they have the whole press of Australia barking and yelping for them every day, and when anything we say is not reported. The honorable member for Moreton no doubt will be reported, but anything said on this side will not be published. The honorable member said that we spoke with two voices on this question. He said that the expenditure on defence had gone up from £1,000,000 to £5,000,000. It would have gone up in that proportion no matter what Ministry was in power, if we are to have a safe system of defence. We should have a proper system, or none at all. As I said on many platforms, it surely was a mistake to have a naval policy which only provided for some vessels that could not move, and a tug had to be used to drag one of the warships about. I refer to the Cerberus at Melbourne, which I suppose was part of our Fleet. The honorable member for Moreton said that we only took the matter up when it was popular. Was that the reason why the first Fisher Government did not take up the Dreadnought cry? Was that cry popular throughout Australia ?
– You took it up afterwards.
– We did not. I know that a number of our honorable friends “ went about,” and because they could not give anything else they gave three cheers for the proposal because it was cheap. They used to get badges, “ made in Japan,” I suppose, and to yell “Rule
Britannia “ and other things in favour of the Dreadnought proposal. I rose to point out again the attitude I took up on that occasion, and I will take it up again if any Minister objects to give information concerning proposals before the House which will entail a heavy expenditure. It was known that the naval proposal, if adopted, would run the country into an expenditure of millions. We were expected to pass the proposal without asking for information, and as the Minister of Defence - the present Prime Minister - refused to give any information-
– That is not correct at .all.
– It is correct to say that the honorable member moved the application of the closure, which not only prevented him from giving the information, but-
– .That is correct enough.
– But also prevented any other honorable -member from speaking on the .proposal. The vote I gave then I would .be pleased to give on any other similar occasion.
.- I ask the Treasurer if he will consent to the adjournment of the debate?’
– No; there is too much pressure on me to provide money for the works which the Bill sanctions.
– I endeavoured this afternoon to address myself to the remarks made by the Prime Minister regarding Cockatoo Island and Garden Island. He said that the increased cost of the naval establishment at these places was due to recommendations of the late Minister of Defence. At Cockatoo Island the number of persons employed has increased from twenty-one to forty-five, and, according to the Prime Minister, Senator Pearce recommended the increase. I take this opportunity to say that, having heard that statement, I asked Senator Pearce whether it was true, and he absolutely repudiated it.
– That does not make it the less true.
– Does the Prime Minister contend that the late Minister of Defence told me a falsehood ?
– I say that I told the truth.
– The late Minister of Defence says that the Prime Minister did not, and I take his word. I have been acquainted with him for seventeen’ years,, but have never known him to tell a falsehood. Not only has the number of men employed at Cockatoo Island been in>creased from twenty -one to forty-five, but the expenditure has been increased’ from- £6,416 to £14,006.
– It has all been; explained.
– It may have been explained to the satisfaction of the Treasurer, but the statement of the PrimeMinister, that the increase is due to therecommendation of Senator Pearce, hasnot “been withdrawn.
– The Honorary Minister offered to .let any one see the papers.
– He should have laidthem ou the table of the House or cif the library. At Garden Island, under the jurisdiction of the Imperial Government, there were forty (employes-, ‘costing £12,911 per annum; ;but this year we are making provision for seventy-one employes, costing £15,311. When the PrimeMinister tries to shuffle on to the shoulders of another responsibility that belongs to him, when he challenges theword of the late Minister of Defence, and? questions statements made by the Leaderof the Opposition, it -is time to make reference to the matter, and to give him an opportunity to say definitely that theword of these men cannot be taken, or that he is mistaken.
– I think that he was misled by the Minister of Defence.
– He certainly looked round anxiously, when making his .statement, to see if the Minister of Defence was present; but the absence of any oneto provide him with facts is not a seriousbar to making any statement, which afterwards he is prepared to brazen out, whether right or wrong. If he would allow the second reading to be taken tomorrow, I would be prepared to stop speaking now; but if he will not agree to that, I ask that a quorum be formed.
– There was a general understanding that the second reading; would be taken to-night.
– There was no understanding. [Quorum formed.] Honorable members can go home if opportunity is> allowed to-morrow to discuss this matter.
– You ought to be ashamed to ask it. You are a public mau and should try to do your duty.
– Is that parliamentary language, Mr. Speaker?
– If the honorable member takes exception to the remarks, I ask the Treasurer to withdraw them.
– I withdraw them; I am only too glad to get on with the business.
– If the Prime Minister is ;so anxious to go on with business .at this particular hour let him put tlie “gag “on. I am sorry we were so generous last (night in allowing the Estimates to go through. I forfeited my .right to discuss many items of ‘this excessive expenditure on new works and buildings, and yet I get no .gratitude from the Government. ‘Their chief capacity is for hanging on to office like a ring-tailed opossum to a ‘limb.
– Is that in order, Mr,. Speaker?
– If it is not in order I withdraw it.
– Interjections across the chamber invite retorts and create disorder. Honorable members should cease from making disorderly interjections.
– The Prime Minister ought to definitely say whether the late Minister of Defence is telling the truth in connexion with the manning of the establishments in Sydney. I am prepared to say that I think Senator Pearce is right.
– Why not leave it at that ?
– I cannot, when the honorable member questions the veracity of a late colleague of mine.
– I have questioned nobody’s veracity. I was under the impression that the honorable member questioned my veracity.
– I am frank enough to say that I accept the word of Senator Pearce, but I do not propose to pursue tlie matter any further. There is an item of £7,500 towards the construction of office accommodation at Victoria Barracks, Melbourne, and a foot-note in the Estimates shows that the total estimated cost, including division No. 52, is £25,000. Seeing that we are about to construct a Federal City, which will probably cost £3,000,000, is it not fair that we should have some information in regard to expenditure of this description ? Are we to have this additional accommodation at Victoria Barracks ? However, it seems “impossible to extract information from the Minister, so I ask for a quorum to be formed. [Quorum formed]. I am trying to elicit from the Prime Minister what it is intended to do with this £25,000.
– I cannot tell you. Is that not’ frank ?
– Does the Prime Minister think that is satisfactory ?
– It is to me.
– The Prime Minister, apparently, objects to. any one asking questions ,in regard to (this rather extravagant expenditure.
– Hear, hear ! A very sensible remark to make.
– I have seen a good many Appropriation -Bills passed during the last ten years, but have .never before known a Prime Minister to be unable to say how a proposed vote of £25,000 was to be expended. The situation, I believe, is unparalleled.
– The ex-Prime Minister never gave us information “concerning anything.
– He was always prepared to give full particulars concerning any item. Com.plaint has been made about the delay in passing this measure, but I would remind honorable members that the New Works and -Buildings Estimates in respect of the Postal Department alone last year were held up for twenty-eight hours. The present Prime Minister was then Leader of the Opposition, and the honorable member for Richmond was doing his best to make things particularly disagreeable for us. When the Prime Minister is asked now how it is proposed to expend £25,000 on the Victoria Barracks, he says he knows nothing about it. I am not surprised. The honorable gentleman comes into this House with a bogus assumption of wrath, and talks of an alleged waste of time.
– ls the honorable member in order in saying that the Prime Minister takes up a bogus attitude in this House?
– I did not understand the honorable member to make that remark, but if he did I ask him to withdraw, it.
– I said that the Prime Minister assumed a bogus indignation, but I shall withdraw the remark. I think we ought to have a quorum. [Quorum formed.] On page 8 of this Bill we have an item of £7,500 towards the cost of providing office accommodation at Victoria Barracks, Melbourne, whilst we have an exactly similar item at page 13.
– Strictly speaking, the honorable member is not entitled at this stage to debate an item.
– Let the honorable member raise a point of order.
– It is laid down in May, page 471, that on a motion for the second reading of a Bill, it is not regular to discuss in detail its several clauses, and it is pointed out that this principle has been enforced on other stages of a Bill.
– This is a Supply Bill.
– The honorable member does not say so !
– One would think that the Prime Minister had been in Barnum’s circus. He is better fitted for a circus than for the position he now holds.
– Is that remark in order?
– I ask the honorable member to withdraw the expression, but would remind honorable members that disorderly replies are invited by disorderly interjections.
– I withdraw the remark, but I do not want to have a grinning jackanapes facing me all the time.
– Order ! The honorable member must withdraw that remark.
– I ask that he be called upon to apologize.
– I withdraw and apologize. I shall leave this question of the Victoria Barracks in its present unsatisfactory position, the Prime Minister being unable to say how this £25,000 of the taxpayers’ money is to be expended, or why it is to be expended. There are in the schedule some items of the most extreme importance, and we shall not have another opportunity to discuss them. The information regarding the items is the most meagre I have known since I have been in Parliament. Here is one of £30,000 for the provision, in connexion with the Military College at Can berra, of quarters for officers, stables, rabbit-proof fencing, and so forth.
– I rise to a point of order. Is it not time, Mr. Speaker, that you prevented this gentleman from evading your ruling so persistently as he is doing ?
– I have not noticed that the honorable member is evading my ruling. I was waiting to see to what the honorable member was going to refer, although he will not be in order in reading items from the schedule, I have already laid it down that he is in order in making a general reference to the principles of the Bill, but not in discussing details.
– I have not the slightest intention to evade the Speaker’s ruling for one moment, but on a Supply Bill I am entitled to mention any vote that is to be expended in a particular direction. I do not propose to debate the merits of particular items, but we have a proposal to expend £30,000 in practically providing officers’ residences and stables for their horses, and I wished to know the accommodation to be provided. The proportions to which Defence expenditure is going is alarming to the last degree, and it is due to the House that the Minister in charge should make a statement regarding this item. I am not going to debate these matters without having honorable members here to listen, and I ask for a quorum. [Quorum formed.] Another question raised this afternoon was as to who is to shoulder the responsibilities for the movements of the Fleet. The statement made by the Minister of Defence, which was deftly shelved by the Prime Minister, seems to show distinctly that the Government are not prepared to exercise the control they should over the Fleet. The Minister of Defence is reported to have said that the Admiral is responsible for the efficient training of the Fleet, and that it is for him to say what the future disposition of the Fleet shall be. I do not agree with that idea, because, in my opinion, the civil authority is responsible, and not Admiral Patey. He may be the most estimable and competent man associated with the control of His Majesty’s ships of war, and, presumably, he is acompetent person, seeing that the Admiralty recommended him; but the policy laid down by the Minister is absolutely foreign to the inclinations of the Australian people. We have never taken the attitude that tlie Army or Navy, or the officers of either, should control the civil authority, but that the Litter should indicate how and where the military and naval resources of the country are to be used. The Prime Minister, however, sees no difficulty in such a policy, but I think, and the Leader of the Opposition takes the same view, that ‘ it is an interference with the civil authority which should not be permitted. I do not intend to pursue either military or naval matters any further, but there are a couple of other matters in which I am particularly interested. One is the Perth Post Office. The Postmaster-General has, apparently, gone home. A valuable piece of land has been acquired iu Perth for the purpose of erecting a post-office and other public buildings. The present post-office at Perth is probably the most congested of any in Australia. It is in an inconvenient position, and the space available is entirely insufficient for dealing with the ever-increasing volume of mail matter to be handled there. It was indicated that the plans of the new building were ready prior to the last election, and that the work could be proceeded with at a very early date. Nothing bas been done up to now. I want to say that this is a matter which directly concerns the Treasurer. The sooner we can get on with the building of the new postoffice at Perth the better, as, in a couple of years from now, it will be absolutely impossible to cope with the congestion of mail matter in the existing building. It will take a couple of years to erect the new building after a start is made. The total expenditure on the work proposed for this year is £12,000, and that is ».n altogether insufficient and insignificant amount. If the Treasurer had been alive to the needs of Perth in this matter he would have placed, not £12,000, but et least £50,000 on the Works Estimates for this purpose. It is a matter which concerns the right honorable gentleman just as much as it concerns me. It does not now appear to concern anybody very much, and we should at least have twentyfive honorable members listening to what is to be said on this subject. [Quorum formed.’] I intend to leave the Perth Post Office now to the tender mercies of the Treasurer. I hope the right honorable gentleman will have pleasure, when he goes back to Western Australia, in telling the people that, in connexion with an undertaking which will cost about” £100,000, he has provided only £12,000 on the Works Estimates for this year.
– I do not want the honorable member’s help. I have done without it before, and can do without it again. I would rather have his hatred than his good-will at any time.
– The right honorable gentleman was not glad to have me at the last election.
– I did not want the honorable member, and I knocked him out, anyhow.
– The right honorable gentleman had the busiest time of his life.
– It does not matter. I won in a canter, after all.
– Order ! These personalities are out of order, and must close.
– I wish to speak Cor a few moments on the question of wireless telegraphy. I quite approve of the action of the Government in bringing out Mr. Swinburne to report on the system which is employed by the Commonwealth Government at the present time, and the system assigned to them by Mr. Balsillie. I do not intend to go into details in dealing with the subject. The Commonwealth Government have a responsibility in connexion with wireless telegraphy to construct a station at Port Darwin, which will be the Australian link of the Imperial chain. The station will, in all probability, cost something like £50,000. It will be a most important link in tlie chain if the idea of those who attended the late Imperial Conference is to be given effect. The progress made in connexion with this station should have been stated by the Treasurer when delivering his Budget speech, but it was not. At the present time, we have simply to obtain expressions of opinion from the man in the street regarding the position of this most important station. Neither the Prime Minister nor the Treasurer will vouchsafe any information concerning it. We are asked to vote this money absolutely in the dark. Notwithstanding the assurance given by the Prime Minister last evening, the Government take up the position that they have a majority to-night. They have put two members of our party out of the House.
– We are sure that
We will get the Estimates through tonight.
– The honorable member may rest assured that the Bill will not be advanced beyond its secondreading stage. The expenditure which is proposed under the heading of “ Wireless Telegraphy “ is of special importance to the people of Australia. I take particular interest in this matter, for the reason that I inaugurated the system whch has been adopted in the Commonwealth. So far, it has. proved a decided success. We have decided to build a high-power station at Port Darwin; the money for the purpose is to be voted, and yet not a word of information is forthcoming as to how it is to be expended. If the Government intend to yield to the claim of the Marconi Company, that the latter own everything above the earth, I say that, before any payment is made to that company, they will hear from me on the matter. I absolutely dispute that everything above the earth belongs to the MarconiCompany. I believe that the patent which has been assigned to the Commonwealth through the medium of the Postmaster-General is perfectly valid. The high-power station at Darwin is a very important one, and one that is necessary to complete the link in the Imperial chain of wireless communication. It ought to be constructed with all possible expedition, and when we are about to construct it we ought not to introduce any system other than that which is already in operation here. I stand by the Commonwealth patent, and I am prepared to support the Government in defending it. If that patent be valid, we are on sound ground, but if it be not valid, let us pay for the rights within Australia, and put an end to litigation. I wish now to refer to the matter of the machinery and plant which are used for stamp printing. I find that a considerable expenditure was incurred upon stamp printing last year.
– I must ask the honorable member not to deal with the details of the Bill.
– I intended to make only a general reference to this matter.
– The honorable member should do that without quoting the item.
– There appears to be still anotherexpenditure contemplated in regard to the production of stamps. I wish to say that I am particularly dissatisfied with the paper upon which the stamp containing a reproduction of the kangaroo was printed, as well as its perforations and gumming. When we are expending money upon a new stamp, it would not be a bad idea if we obtained the services of a new man to produce it. I feel compelled to say that, because the Australian stamp was never decently treated in the stamp -printing office. If the machinery was deficient, the officer had a right to inform me of the fact. I never received a notification to that effect, and I believe that the defects which I have enumerated were a formidable factor in bringing the stamp into disrepute.
– I never found any fault with the stamp on the grounds which the honorable member has mentioned, but I have heard lots of people complain of it.
– I come now to the subject of the Naval Bases. The people of Western Australia are very dissatisfied with the amount of work which is being undertaken at Cockburn Sound. It is true that the Government have appointed an expert - Sir Maurice Fitzmaurice - to come out and report on the whole question of naval dockyards and naval equipment, including sites. Judging from the conversations I have had with the late Minister of Defence, there does not appear to me to be any doubt that, so far as Cockburn Sound is concerned, the right position has been chosen. The shore works have been practically suspended. How long that is going to continue I do not know, but I hope that it will not be long. The people of Western Australia are very suspicious indeed as to the bona fides of the present Government in connexion with making Cockburn Sound one of the Naval Bases. On the shore there is work which could easily occupy a number of men. for some years, so that the ships may ultimately find a suitable base. Our ships are now in Australian waters, but, with the exception of Cockatoo Island, about which also there has been a dispute, so far as the present Government are concerned, not the slightest provision has been made for the ships. Again, this afternoon the honorable member for Hunter pointed out that the submarines will be here towards the end of next year, but no provision has been made for them’, although Port Stephens was indicated as the site where the first depot ought to be provided. The Prime Minister assured us last night that there was a sum of £2,000 on the Estimates in order to provide ‘a submarine depot. The men engaged by the late Minister of Defence to .do the work on shore in connexion with ‘Cockburn Sound - ;and I believe that the same thing applies to Westernport - have been dismissed, and the work is at a standstill. We invited Admiral Henderson to come out and advise us, but the present ‘Government apparently take up this .attitude: “What does he know about the matter? ‘We will get somebody else out to advise us.” In the meantime, the work is ‘Stopped ; the ships are here, and may require to be docked, but there is no provision for that purpose. That is ,a most unsatisfactory state of affairs. It appears to me that it is carrying ,out the disposition to be hostile to the Australian Fleet which was displayed here when it was described as a “mosquito fleet.” One of tlie most prominent men on the other side made that statement when the proposal for the Australian Navy was submitted by the Fisher Administration. Apparently their attitude, both at Westernport and at Cockburn Sound, is a continuation of the policy of being opposed to the existence of au Australian Fleet, and to making provision for it. Their attitude is to do anything in order to make a failure of the proposal that was submitted and carried through by the Labour Government.
Mr. ROBERTS (Adelaide) T12.48 a.m.]. - There is one little matter above all others which, in my opinion, it seems necessary to .emphasize. During this debate there have been references made to the initiation of the naval policy, and efforts -have been made to-day, as they were also made during the election campaign, to create the impression first that Labour members were not in any way responsible for the introduction of the naval policy, that they were, in fact, some of them opposed to it, and that the credit, if there be any credit, should be given to the honorable gentlemen of the Fusion. I am not ,at all particular as to who receives the credit for the initiation of the naval or military policy of the Commonwealth, which I sincerely hope will not ever be .a party question. I am concerned, however, about the ordinary facts of the matter. I am concerned as to whether members of the House shall beput before the electors in a reasonable and proper light. I am concerned when efforts are made to cloud the issue and, in certain circumstances, to take credit for the initiation of a policy, while, when itis supposed that the expenditure in relation thereto is not popular, it isalleged that the policy is that .of the other party. For instance, thePrime Minister, assisted by the honorable member for Moreton, this eveninghas alleged that to him belongs thatcredit, and he referred in a pointed manner to the resolution that was carried here on the 24th November, 1909, which, according to him, started the naval policy of the Commonwealth. When, however, we find that exception is taken to the expenditure, which is increasing, which,, in the total, is to be increased this -financial year by £4,100,000 over and above that of last year; when we find that that is somewhat distasteful to the Commonwealth, and that a little objection is being taken here and there; when we find that honorable members on the Ministerial side -desire some excuse for tlie huge expenditure, of which they are unanimously approving on this occasion, then they make -references -to what they -call the commitments of the past Administration. And if any exception be taken to the expenditure on defence, the reply is at once cheerfully given, “ We cannot help ourselves; the Labour Administration committed ,us to it.” Now, there is an obligation .on honorable gentlemen to be reasonably fair even to an opponent. There i3 an obligation to be consistent. There is an obligation to deal honorably and properly with the different constituencies. Surely .my honorable friends .do not propose to make a game of politics, and ito .tell the elector one thing with a view to tickling his ears and securing his support, and then to act in a precisely different direction when they have secured election. For if that be the case, Parliament can scarcely claim to be a reflex of public opinion. It cau scarcely claim to be a place where the views -of the electors are to be given effect to. It can scarcely claim the confidence of tlie electors in such circumstances. W,e have here a striking illustration of how unfair the conduct of honorable members was at election time, and, apparently, is to remain in respect to the naval policy. Honorable gentlemen on the other side cannot have at one and the same time the credit of initiating that policy and relieve themselves of the unpopularity and the distastefulness of the expenditure in regard to the initiation of that policy. .If they want the credit in the first instance, let them take the blame, if blame there be; in the second instance, personally, I do not mind if they do, but they ought not to blow hot and blow cold. They cannot with impunity claim credit in one direction and refuse debit in the other. Let me, however, for a moment refer to the particular question brought up by the honorable member for Moreton. Because nine out of twentyseven Labour members then occupying seats here voted against the resolution of the Fusion Ministry in 1909, which related to a naval policy, it is now alleged that the Labour party were opposed to “that particular policy. Before an allegation of so sweeping and general a character should be made, .a reasonable view of the situation might be taken, and the whole facts placed carefully before the electors. The motion submitted by the then Minister of Defence, the present Prime Minister, on the submission of which he bases his claim to have initiated the naval policy of the Commonwealth, is to be found in volume LIV., page 6251, of Hansard. It was moved on the. 24th November, 1909, and was in these terms -
That this House approves the new scheme of naval defence adopted at the recent Imperial Conference, and is of opinion that immediate steps should be taken to provide the proposed Australian Unit of the Eastern Fleet of the Empire.
The honorable gentleman then said -
The Government asks the approval of the House for a scheme of naval defence formulated at the recent Imperial Conference, and submits the proposal in the simplest form, leaving questions of Ways and Means for further consideration.
– When ?
-=-At some future time.
The responsible Minister submitted an abstract motion, and frankly admitted that neither he nor his colleagues, nor their supporters had given the subject of Ways and Means any consideration whatever. That alone would have justified, honorable members in voting against it. To put the facts plainly before the constituencies, it should be told that a mere abstract motion was moved, committing the country to a huge expenditure, consideration to which had not been given by the Ministry, and the amount of which was not known. Parliament was asked to commit the country to a policy, the cost of which Ministers had not considered, and which they said would be considered at some future time. Would any honorable member commit himself to any proposal without a reasonable knowledge of what it would cost, and how the money was to be provided ? Would the honorable member for Wannon buy 5,000 sheep on such terms? In 1909 it was a case of “ open your mouth and shut your eyes; do not question in any way’ what we propose, because we know nothing about it ourselves.” Yet the naval policy was so acceptable, quite apart from details, to many honorable members, that it was carried by a very large majority.
– Including the honorable member’s leader.
– And myself. We showed by our votes that we sincerely desired the initiation of a naval policy, which disproves the recent utterances of the Prime Minister and the honorable member for Moreton. A little later the then Minister of Defence moved the closure, refusing to give information, and refusing to allow any honorable member to say a word for or against the proposal. That fact should be made known to the community before it is attempted to create the impression that we on this side desired to prevent the initiation of a naval policy. If, for’ proposing the motion that was carried, honorable members opposite claim credit for the initiation of this policy, well and good, but now that some degree of unpopularity attaches to it, they should not be so pusillanimous as to blame the Opposition, saying, “ We cannot help ourselves; these are the commitments of the Opposition.” They should say, “ We initiated the policy and intend to continue it, and therefore fully approve of the expenditure that has taken place, and the further expenditure that is proposed.” To do that would be to show some manliness. But we have had members opposite approving of the expenditure of millions of pounds, and seeking to get behind the word “ commitment,” alleging that they cannot help themselves. If they desired, they could check expenditure in any direction they like. They could reduce either naval or military expenditure. Old-age pensions and the maternity allowance are statutory commitments from which they cannot escape, but there are huge sums in the Works Estimates and in the General Estimates which they could reduce if they had the will.
– Will the honorable member support us?
– My honorable friend should put us to the test. I have seen no indication of a desire to do that. We were successful yesterday in reducing an item for expenditure on Garden Island from £3,000 to £1,000. The honorable member for Eden-Monaro, after threatening in very blunt terms to move the reduction of certain items, particularly in regard to the Northern Territory, failed to give colour to his threats. If the honorable member for Corio feels that this expenditure is too heavy, and that he should, in some measure, retrieve the situation prior to the elections, it is open to him to move amendments and call for a division. Then the honorable member will have on record, not a mere objection or such an emphatic verbal protest as that so ludricrously indulged in by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro, but something from which honorable members cannot escape, and indicating what their opinions are.
– We have you on one division already, so far as a reduction is concerned.
– Unless honorable members divide the House, they must take the responsibility of approving of this expenditure of £27,200,000. I certainly voted for the expenditure on the Federal Capital site, and the honorable member for Wannon voted against it. The division is on record to show his constituents that the honorable member was sincere in his attempts to reduce the expenditure. I regarded the Federal compact as a matter of honour between the several States. I venture to say that if a referendum of -the people of South Australia were taken on the Federal Capital expenditure as a separate item, a large majority would not approve of it; but I recognise that there was a compact entered into, and that, after a lapse of ten years, it is reasonable to start giving effect to it. I am afraid it will be some years before members will occupy Parliament House at Canberra, and, except for the frightfully insanitary condition of the chamber we now occupy, I venture to’ say honor able members are not sadly displeased at the prospect of Parliament remaining in Melbourne. I am justified in drawing attention to the absence of information supplied by the Ministry. I do not care about making comparisons, but I think it is safe to say that no other Ministry has submitted Estimates with such little information in respect to the different items, or with so little desire to give information. In a few months honorable members will be facing their constituents, quite apart from any election, and they may be invited to give some explanation of the expenditure they are now approving; but I venture to say no honorable member on the Government side can explain in a reasonable manner the expenditure they are now approving by their votes. If Ministers at head-quarters, with all the papers before them, and all the information given them by their experts, cannot explain the expenditure in the House, and have to frankly admit their ignorance, how can honorable members explain it?
– This is the way you are helping me, as you promised to do.
– The right honorable member is not fair in alleging that I promised him anything.
– You said you would see what you could do.
– I said I would try to find out what honorable members of the Opposition wished to do. I endeavoured to do so. I found that honorable members wished to speak. Then we must take into consideration that the peculiar conduct of the Prime Minister, aided, to some extent, by the irascibility of the right honorable member for Swan, has led to some of the remarks made during the debate. The inability of any private member to explain these Estimates to the electors might be excused, except that as representatives of the people we ought to demand information regarding them. Honorable members sitting behind the Ministry not only remain quiet, but appear to indorse the attitude of the Government in refusing to give the information which is sought. They seem in some cases to take pleasure in the knowledge that the Ministry are battling through’ without giving the information that we seek, and without having a knowledge of the items in the schedule.
– That statement is inconsistent with the statement made by the honorable member in regard to the honorable member for Eden-Monaro.
– The honorable member for Eden-Monaro said that these Estimates were a public scandal, and that he had never heard of Estimates being brought forward as these had been. Such remarks from a Ministerial supporter were somewhat pointed, but the Government “took them smiling.” What cared they that one of their supporters chose to speak in this way? They knew full well, I suppose, that he was merely “barking,” and would take good care not to bite. They did not give him the information, and he has not got it yet, but he intends to support the Ministry. My experience in State and Federal politics does not extend over many years, but never previously have I known a Ministry to be so ignorant of the proposals submitted by them to Parliament as this Ministry are in the present instance. More particularly ought this point to- be emphasized since finance was the one thing on which, they prided themselves, when before the electors, and about which they made innumerable allegations in respect- of the Fisher Government. They led the people to believe that there was a total, absence of business capacity on our part, and that it rested entirely with them. They were going to establish a system of “ sound “ finance, we were told, and certainly they made, at the time, a great deal of “ sound.” They were going, they said, to reestablish responsible government, particularly in the matter of finance. How are they re-establishing it? When we draw attention to the increase in expenditure, they tamely say, “ We are committed to it.” Is that a re-establishment of anything in the way of responsible government, even assuming for the moment that- there was a call for its reestablishment? Is that an indication that the policy of the late Government was unsound? The Government have to admit that, despite their much vaunted ability in- this direction, they do not propose to make, one alteration. In no particular do we find them making the slightest move to alter, improve, or amend that which we did. The situation is one of the most distressing that has occurred in Australian politics. We find honorable members opposite, who were never tired of prating about- their great business ability, and that, they alone could savethe country from financial ruin, doing nothing now that they have complete- control. The Government can do what they will in the matter of finance,, because they have behind them a quiet and cheerful support. Their supporters are prepared to take anything they offer - to feed out of the Ministerial hand, and all that was said at preelection time may go for nought. It was, iu fact, so much electioneering clap-trap, for which there was not a scintilla of justification - a mere appeal to prejudice and the selfish side of human nature. Now that they have- secured political power, they show conclusively they are unable to do the things that ought, to be done, and for the safe and sure reason that it is not necessary to do them. They found, as they knew when before the electors, that there was really nothing the matter with the financial situation, and they have no settled plan or scheme. They were unable to point to any particular instance of extravagance, and their utterances were of the most general character. When repeatedly asked by honorable members on this side to give some specific instance of extravagance, the inevitable result was a shuffle. We know how easily a percentage of the electors- can be frightened by reference to the expenditure of millions of money, but honorable members opposite have signally and shamefully failed to give any specific cases of extravagance. And now that they are in power, there is not ohe item of Labour expenditure to which they can take exception. As a matter of fact, in all except the maternity allowance, they were as fully committed to the expenditure as we on the Labour side. They declaimed in certain circles against the land tax, but they do not propose to repeal it. They alleged that we were taking money from the States, and so obtaining large sums to meet our expenditure; and this is another instance of their remarkable inconsistency. There was no money taken from the States, the fact being that we merely gave statutory effect to the unanimous agreement which, the Fusion of 1909 had entered into with the States. With an audacity that defies, description, these gentlemen during the election asserted, as I say, that we had secured many millions by depriving the States of their (revenue. Yet they have not made any alteration, and do not propose to give more money to the States. The agreement as to the 25s. per head has to stand, and the present Government are to continue to expend the millions. They declaimed against the “colossal expenditure of the Labour Government on defence, but there is no indication in these Estimates of any reduction. On the contrary, there are many instances in which the Government, of their own volition, deliberately propose to increase the expenditure. Could we have a more amazing or more shocking change of front than that shown by honorable members opposite in relation to finance ? The honorable member for Gippsland, for instance, was one who was loud in his utterances on this point, if the newspapers in his electorate are to “be- believed. I do not know tlie (political leanings of those newspapers, “but, according to the honorable member’s statements, they seem to have done him a great injustice. I do not know why I should be brought into the matter, but quite a number of people in Gippsland seem to think that I have a personal interest in it, for they keep sending me newspapers with marked reports of speeches bY the honorable member when seeking election as to the great expenditure indulged in by the Fisher Administration. The honorable member has given us his explanation, but I am not going into the details, because”, apart from that explanation, there is enough to prove that Labour finance was his trump card - the whip which he used to lash the electors to boiling point. He secured his election by declaring that if he were returned this vast expenditure would be curtailed; but what action has he taken during the discussion on the Estimates to have any reduction made, and thus substantiate the great stand he took when before the electors. Whilst the expenditure of £23,100,000 last year called forth the denunciations of the honorable member, the proposal of the present Government is to spend £27,200,000 during the current financial year, or no less than £4,100,000 more than the expenditure of last year. Does the honorable member recognise the enormity of this, in view of his electioneering utterances? Some of his electors may call’ his attention to the expenditure pro posed for this year, and to the fact that he is indorsing it cheerfully, makes no Request for an explanation of it, and is meekly assisting Ministers to put through votes which they admit themselves they do not understand.
– I got the information for which I sought, and I am satisfied that the expenditure proposed cannot be reduced without doing grave injustice to the workers of Australia.
– I. feel grateful to the honorable member for his generosity to the workers. I hope that his explanation will be satisfactory to his constituents. If it takes £27,200,000 to do justice to the workers this year, does not the honorable member see that he must have been wrong when he so bitterly declaimed against the expenditure of £23,100,000 in the interests of the workers last year? Has their number increased so suddenly, and to such an extent, that this year it is necessary that £4,100,000 more than was expended last year should be spent in their interests ? The honorable member’s reason for supporting this expenditure is puerile.
– The honorable gentleman should keep- his word.
– I can make some allowance for the Treasurer. He is, no doubt, somewhat indisposed because of the reasonable criticism which has been offered to the Government proposals, but he does not do himself justice when he suggests that I do not keep my word. That is a wickedly incorrect statement for tlie right honorable gentleman to make. It does not follow that, because he is rich in worldly goods, he has any greater sense of honour than has any other member of the House.
– Order ! The honorable member should discuss the Bill.
– I shall not pursue that matter, bub the right honorable gentleman’s suggestion that I have broken my word was personally offensive. When this Bill is passed, Ministers will have the right to commence the expenditure of £3,266,000. At the close of the financial year, and not before, we shall know whether the money has been expended, and whether the Government are justified in the Estimates they have submitted. Judging by the fact that they are quite unable to give us any information upon the items of the schedule-, if my predictions be correct, the financial position ten or twelve months hence will be deplorable, and the eyes of the electors will be more fully opened to the fact that, so far as the finances of the Commonwealth are concerned, they were gulled during the recent elections. I have made only general references on the second reading of the Bill, but I felt it necessary tp place on record the fact that we are asked to consent to the expenditure of £3,266,000, that Ministers are trying to get this Bill through with as little discussion as possible, have admitted that they know little or nothing about many of the items in the schedule, have refrained from giving information desired by honorable members, and that the expenditure they propose proves conclusively that the major portion of their utterances during the recent election in relation to finance were unworthy, uncalled for, and unjustifiable. Now that they have complete control, and are in a position to give effect to their policy, they propose to increase the expenditure over that incurred last year by some millions of pounds. I do sincerely hope that the highest anticipations of those who support this expenditure will be amply realized. I trust that the money will be expended in a direction which will meet with the approval of the electors, and that, though the outlook appears very black, the result will be to some extent acceptable to the general community.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
Clauses 1 to 3 agreed to.
– Is the Treasurer now in a position to supply us with any information regarding the exceptional expenditure which it is proposed to incur on the Victoria Barracks?
– On a point of order, I submit that under our Standing Orders an amendment cannot be moved in regard to items in this Schedule. The Schedule must be put as a whole.
– I think that the honorable member was in order as far as his reference went.
– Does the Treasurer take up the attitude that I am not in a position to question an item in this Schedule?
– The honorable member cannot move an amendment to it.
– The honorable gentleman need not think that he is now controlling the Parliament of Western Australia. I want to know what is to be done with the £25,000, which it is proposed to expend upon the Victoria Barracks ?
– The time when the honorable member should have asked for this information was when we were dealing with the Estimates. It is unusual to ask these questions at this stage. However, I am prepared to supply the information which he seeks. It is proposed to establish a Navy Office at the Victoria Barracks instead of having a separate building in another part of the city. Accommodation will thus be provided at the barracks for both Military and Naval Offices.
– And we shall thus save the rent which we are now paying for the Naval Offices.
– This item is included for that purpose. I am very much in favour of the whole of the naval and military authorities being under one roof. Such a condition will tend to economy, and the Minister will be able to see the chief naval and military officers without being obliged to travel to different parts of the city.
Schedule agreed to.
Preamble and title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
– The little storm which we have experienced has been succeeded by a calm, and I hope that any little feeling wliich we may have exhibited has now passed away. May I appeal to my two honorable friends opposite to give us the third reading of the Bill to-night, so that the Senate may be able to deal with it? To-day is to be devoted to private members’ business, and it would be a great convenience if I were allowed to move the third reading of the Bill now in order that the Senate may get it without delay.
– I object.
House adjourned at1.54 a.m. (Thursday).
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 22 October 1913, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1913/19131022_reps_5_71/>.