5th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr.. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral when is it the intention of his Department to issue summer clothing te the letter-carriers of New South Wales?
– I shall inquire into the matter.
– Is the Prime Minister yet in a position to say what the Government, after consultation with Mr. Speaker, have decided to do in regard to the allowing of headlines in reprints of speeches from Hansard? Are ordinary members to have the same privileges in respect of reprints of speeches for which they pay as are enjoyed by a Minister who gets his speeches reprinted without payment?
– I decline to regard the matter in the light of what has been done in connexion with tha Treasurer’s speech. My honorable colleague has conformed to a time-honoured custom, and this question must be considered altogether apart from what was done in the reprinting of his Budget speech.
– His speech on the Loan Bill, not his Budget speech.
– Well, that measure formed part of the financial proposals of the Government. On the general question, the more I think of the matter, the more I am of opinion that Mr. Deakin’s original proposal, to refer it to the Printing Committee for report, is the best procedure. Probably during the next day orso I shall take action to that end.
– So far as the question concerns me, I may informthe
House that the Speaker has no control over the reprinting of speeches. Hip duty, in the matter of headlines, is confined to seeing that the resolution passed by Parliament is conformed with in Hansard. The reprinting of speeches is a matter coming within the Department of the Treasury.
– Will the Prime Minister make a statement to the House regarding the present position of Sydney? Has the quarantine embargo been removed ?
– My honorable friend is rubbing his hands with evident satisfaction, and I have been doing the same for the last twenty-four hours, because, I am glad to say, the embargo has been lifted.
– I noticed a statement the other day to the effect that the fines inflicted on coal mine proprietors, in connexion with the Vend prosecution, have been remitted. I wish to know if the statement is true, and, if so, the reason for the remission 1
– The fines have been remitted. The matter came before me about a month ago. Under an arrangement that was made between the late Attorney-General and some of the defendants in the suit, it was understood that if the case went against the Commonwealth on general grounds, the fines would be remitted.
– That is not my recollection.
– The papers in the case are in the Department of Trade and Customs, but I apprehend that there will be no difficulty in making them available to honorable members.
– Will the AttorneyGeneral place them on the table ?
– They are not in my possession, but I am assured that they will be placed on the table of the Library.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether it is a fact that, notwithstanding the announcement of the Government that, in future, all Commonwealth work will be carried out by contract, the whole of the work at the western end of the transcontinental railway is now being carried on with day labour ?
– That work is being carried on with day labour until other arrangements can be made, which I hope will be shortly.
– I ask the Prime Minister if the Government cannot, even at this late hour, dispense with the importation of more than one of the new ammunition waggons that have been ordered from the Old Country, and have the others manufactured locally to give work to our own people ? I point out. to him that one of these waggons will be sufficient to import for the sake, of having a pattern.
– I shall see that an answer is given to the question tomorrow.
Costof Motor Trips
– Can the Minister of External Affairs inform the House what the motor trips which are being made by the Administrator of the Northern Territory are costing ?
– I cannot give tha figures now, because the trip has not yet been completed ; but I may inform the House that when the purchase of a motorcar was under consideration, reports were furnished showing that it would enable the Administrator to do- in two or three days journeys that had previously occupied fifteen, and that it was considered, therefore, that there would be a large saving in travelling expenses where motor travel was. possible. As soon as I get the figures regarding the trips now being made, I shall be glad to let the honorable member have the information’ for which he asks.
– There are reports in circulation that competitive designs are to be called for the new Parliament Houses at the Federal Capital; and in view of recent statements in regard to the usefulness or otherwise of the Senate, does the Prime Minister propose to have two Houses of Parliament, or only one House, erected?
– I hope my honorable friend does not require a serious answer fo the question.
– Following on that answer, I desire to assure the Prime Minister that I am quite serious, and I should like to know-
– It is not in’ order to ask further questions following on an answer -given by a Minister.
– Having perused the balance-sheet showing the operations of the Department of the PostmasterGeneral, I ask the honorable gentleman whether it is his intention to issue a regulation requiring city and suburban subscribers to promise to make good the annual loss on their services which is required of country subscribers?
– I shall consider the matter.
– In view of the fact that the report on the Post and Telegraph Department shows that there was a loss of over £220,000 on the telephone service last year, does the PostmasterGeneral intend to increase the rates, which were described as exorbitant when they were introduced by the Fisher Government ? Will the Postmaster-General have accounts kept, showing whether there is a’ loss in the towns and in the country, and, where there is a loss in either place, will he increase the rates?
– As soon as I can- get a few days to spare I am. going into the matter very carefully in order to see if it is not possible to make up the deficit.
– Has the PostmasterGeneral taken into consideration the advisability of raising the ground rents for telephones in the city in order that more money may be made available for the extension of country lines ?
– The answer I gave to the last question will, I think, serve as an answer to the honorable member’s question.
– Seeing that a largenumber of new telephones are being erected throughout the city, will the PostmasterGeneral inform the House whether the woodwork and other parts of these instruments are constructed in Australia ?
– The telephones are, I think, all patented; at any rate Ericsson’s instruments are, and we have to buy them. I do not think that any of the instruments can be made in Australia. However, I shall make inquiries; and I may say that whenever it is possible to have articles made locally they are so made. In this policy I am loyally supported by the officers.
– In view of the admitted very great convenience in country districts of telephone communication, will the Postmaster-General give generous consideration to all applications for such communication from those districts?
– We are doing that at the present time. Every man on the staff is engaged in the work, and tenders have been called for a large number of extensions.
– Will the PostmasterGeneral take into consideration the advisability of erecting small wireless stations in various parts of the country, instead of proceeding further with line extensions?
– The chief of the Radio-telegraph Branch is working out a plan in order to ascertain whether small wireless stations can be advantageously dotted all over Australia. I myself think that such stations would lead to a considerable saving of expense.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers: -
Defence Act -
Regulations Amended (Provisional) - Universal Training - Statutory Rules, 1913, No. 293.
Military Forces - Financial and Allowance Regulations Amended (Provisional) - Statutory Rules 1913, Nos. 292, 294.
Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway Act -
Schedule 1 - Rate for Wool from Euro Bluff to Port Augusta.
Public Service Act -
Appointment of H. G. Burnet as Valuer, Class D, Professional Division, Land Tax Branch, South Australia.
Appointment of E. D. Gilchrist as Draughtsman, Class F, Professional Division, Lands and Surveys Branch.
Promotion of R. A. Shortland as Supervisor, 3rd Class, Mail Branch, New South Wales.
– With reference to the remarks of the honorable member for South Sydney, made on the 28th October, vide page 2596 of Hansard, in connexion with the preparation of plans in Melbourne for work at the Cockatoo Island Dockyard, I have now been furnished with the following information: -
The procedure with regard to plans is as follows : -
They are immediately traced as they are received from the Admiralty, and copies are forwarded to Sydney for action.
If they are received in greater quantities than can be dealt with quickly by the staff at the Navy Office, they are sent to Sydney to be traced, and are then returned to the Navy Office for checking, approval, and issue.
The originals are retained in the Navy Office.
– Has the Minister of Trade and Customs received a reply yet, or is he in a position to answer the question I asked a few days ago, in reference to the agreement made between the exPrime Minister and the Premier of Queensland? This important matter is causing considerable unrest in the north; and if the Minister of Trade and Customs has not yet received a reply, will he send out what the ex -Minister of Home Affairs calls a “ chaser “ ?
– No reply is yet to hand, and I shall make further inquiries.
– Has the Minister of Trade and Customs yet received any of the £150,000 due to the Commonwealth as sugar Excise from the sugar companies ; and, if not, can he state when is he likely to receive any ?
– None has yet been received.
– Will the Prime Minister be good enough to state whether’ he proposes to allow private members to discuss motions standing in their names, and, if so, whether he will be able to do so this year ?
– It all depends on the course of public business.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
Four per cent. on Capital.
London, 14th November.
At a meeting of the Scottish Australian Investment Company yesterday the chairman of directors said colonial taxation equalled 4 per cent, on the ordinary capital, and exceeded anything that could be termed reasonable “ ?
– The Commonwealth Statistician has furnished the’ following reply: -
With reference to the question asked in the House of Representatives by Mr. W. Maloney, it has not been possible to obtain all the facts of the case. The Scottish-Australian Investment Company does not operate in Victoria, and apparently has no representative in Melbourne. On application to the Sydney office, the manager there gave it as his belief that the figures quoted in the public press included the following : -
representing 1.9 per cent, on paid-up capital.
The amount of Federal land tax quoted differs markedly from that furnished in the memorandum of the Commissioner. The statement, moreover, is defective, since it takes no account of the State land tax in South Australia, or of the municipal rating in the States in which the company operates, or of the income tax in all the States except Queensland. In the absence of these items - for all of which the company is presumably liable - it is impossible to say whether the statement of the chairman of directors is justified.
I am sorry to say that the information is not altogether as complete as I should like it to be.
Quorn and Oodnadatta: Port Darwin and Pine Creek
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: - 1 and 2. The desired information is being obtained from the South Australian railway authorities.
We have information, but not as the honorable member has asked for it. For instance, the loss on the working of’ the Port Augusta-Oodnadatta railway for the two and a half years ending June, 1913, was £14,500. It is expected that, when the wharf is taken over by the Government, and the railway to the west is working, a profit of receipts over working expenses will be realized. The figures asked for by the honorable, member could be obtained only from the Railway Commissioners of South Australia.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : - 1 and 2. It is not correct that bores are being put down in Mangles Bay, Cockburn Sound. At the desire of Sir Maurice Fitzmaurice, however, test borings are being made at Case Point, between Mangles Bay and Woodman’s Point.
Standing Orders : Revision - Position of Mr. Speaker - “ May’s Parliamentary Practice “ - Suspension of Mr.mcGrath - New Hebrides - Northern Territory : Settlement : Tropical Diseases - Post and Telegraph Department: Postal, Telegraphic, and Telephonic Facilities in Country Districts : Post-offices : Salaries, Deputy PostmastersGeneral, Chief Clerk, Queensland : Letter -sorters’ Increments : Manufacture of Typewriters : Balancesheet : Telephone Rates : Debits under European Mail Contract - Gulf of Carpentaria : Settlement : Suggested New Territory - Glucose Industry - Defence Department : Expenditure : Naval Defence : Compulsory Training - The Estimates : Contingencies - Auditor-General’s Report - Sugar Companies : Payment of Excise Duty - Citizen Forces and Industrial Disputes : Conciliation and Arbitration - Fitzroy Dock Machinery - Small Arms Factory - The Senate : Bicameral System - Maternity Allowance.
In Committee of Supply:
– I move -
That a sum not exceeding£767,143 be granted to His Majesty for or towards defraying the services of the year ending 30th June, 1914.
This is the fifth Supply Bill that I have introduced this session, and with the preceding Bills, covers five and a half months of the year’s expenditure. Excluding the Treasurer’s Advance and Refunds, and including the amount covered by the present Bill, namely £757,143, the Supply granted in these five Bills is £4,259,307. I am sorry to say that the Customs and Excise revenue from 1st July to 21st November shows a decrease of £497,646
– A good job, too.
– But as the sugar Excise, which has lapsed, accounts for about £160,000, the decrease is really about £340,000. It was estimated that Customs and Excise’ revenue would show a decrease of £653,000 for the whole of the year.
– It will be £750,000 behind.
– I hope it will not. We shall receive about £150,000 due from sugar Excise. I hope, too, that the good harvest we are having all over Australia will have an effect on the revenue, and that, although we have commenced rather badly, we shall pull up as the year goes on.
– Has the change of Government anything to do with the reduction?
– I should hardly think so. The estimated increase in the Post Office revenue is, I am glad to say, being realized. Altogether I think that the prospects ahead of us are good, in so far as the revenue is concerned, and there is no reason to be other than sanguine that the year will end very much better than it has begun. In a few days we shall be discussing the Estimates-in-Chief, when there will be opportunity for dealing with all the items of expenditure, and I hope, therefore, that we shall not take very long over this Bill. I trust that honorable members will treat it, as Supply Bills have very often been treated - in my experience, to a large extent - as a formal matter. We require Supply by Friday, which is pay-day, so that there is every reason why I should urge as much expedition as honorable members can give to the passage of the Bill. I may also add that Christmas is near at hand, and that we are getting towards what we call the “going-home time,” especially those who have been away from home for many months. I think I can say for every one that we have had a very arduous session, and I hope the fixing of a going-home time will be facilitated. It is becoming very urgent with some of us. Therefore, I hope that this Bill will pass very quickly, and also that we shall be able to come to an amicable and satisfactory arrangement by which we can bring the business of the session to an end.
.- I think the time has now come when the Standing Orders Committee could very well revise our Standing Orders. I think they should be revised from time to time. The Constitution is necessarily revised from time to time; there are frequent discussions with” that end in view; and in the same way I think the rules and practice by which the House is governed should from time to time be revised by our Standing Orders Committee. I would draw particular attention to standing order No. 1. which says -
Ihe proceedings of the House of Representatives.
The Standing Orders Committee, I think, should be asked whether there is any need’ for that standing order to continue. Asa Parliament, we have been in existencefor over twelve years, and I consider thatthe House should be absolutely a law toitself in regard to all matters of procedure. There are many other reasonswhy this standing order should be excised, but I shall deal with only one at this sitting, because I quite agree with theTreasurer that we should hasten the passage of the Supply Bill to-day, and I donot intend to lengthen the debate upon it unnecessarily. The environment of theBritish House of Commons is quite- different from the environment of thisHouse, and it is possible that, in carrying out our standing order No. 1 to the very letter, and even in the spirit of theHouse of Commons practice, it may be used tyrannically, unjustly, and unfairly. It is within the range of- possibility, and even probability, that, in a Houseof seventy-five members, with two great parties in the country, the time maycome when the parties will be evenly divided on the floor of the House. It might even happen in the BritishHouse of Commons, with its 675 members, although the chances of the great parties in England being equally divided on the floor of the British House of Commons are not as great as they would be in a House of seventy-five members. We can very easily imagine that, on the floor of this House, the two sides may be evenly divided, and if ever that should happen, it might lead to almost an impasse. The Government might be blocked to some extent in the carrying out of what they deem to be the business of the country, “and, on the other hand, if anunscruplous Government were returned - we can imagine such a state of things - they might attempt to do something, or bring in some procedure of the House of Commons in order to remove some honorable member from the House so as to enable them to carry on business. A member of this House might very easily come, almost unknowingly, athwart some rule or procedure of the House of Commons. A member of this House might know every, rule and regulation a:nd standing-‘ order from No. 2 to 410. We- might all be able to understand every one of them, but unless a person is a student of political history, unless he spends a- good deal of time in so doing - and” amidst all the difficulties and turmoil of politics to-day it would be difficult for most of us to spare the time - he cannot expect to fully master the rules, practices, and procedure of the: House of Commons. A member might know every one of- the rules and procedure of the House, and do his best to conform to them, but unknowingly and unwittingly he might breaks some of the rules and procedure of the House of Commons, and the Government, having a majority, might possibly take’ advantage of the fact. It is not impossible to imagine that some member of this’ House might, go outside, and, at a public meeting, make some reflection on the Speaker of this House. A member of the House of Commons might do it. There have been two cases in recent times in which members of the House of Commons did go to public meetings and reflect upon the impartiality of the Speaker. One of these I happen to know something about. He was Mr. Conybeare, who represented in the House of Commons the constituency in which I was born. When member for Camborne he reflected at a public meeting on the Speaker of the House of Commons, and, under the rule? and procedure of the House, he was summoned to the House, and it was necessary for him to apologize, failing which he. would be suspended. I believe that he was actually suspended. More recently, during the Coronation time, while some of our members were in England, a Labour member of the House of Commons questioned the impartiality of the Speaker at a public meeting in London, and action was taken in his case in the House of Commons the next day. I can imagine that some member of this House might possibly go outside and reflect upon the impartiality of the Speaker. If that happened I think that, before we could deal with him absolutely on the same lines as are followed in the House of Commons we ought to take into consideration the position in which the Speaker of the House of Commons is placed, and his environment. I am indebted to a book in our Library, written by Mr. Edward Lummis, which deals with the Speaker’s chair for very interesting information about the Speaker of the British House of Commons. He says -
The Speaker of the House of Commons has in simple truth many of the attributes of Royalty. The Speaker lives in a Royal palace; he has his own court, his own civil list, and his own public household. His person is girt with much of the divinity that doth hedge a king.
I do not know that those statements apply to the Speaker of our House, and I do not think that the general idea in Australia is that we should attempt to fling around, even the ablest and most distinguished and impartial of our Speakers, the divinity that doth hedge a king. It is laid down as an essential in the House of Commons that the Speaker should dissociate himself absolutely from party politics. It is the invariable custom that he should not be opposed if he offers himself for re-election as Speaker, although there is nothing in the rules or Standing Orders of the British House of Commons to say that he shall not be so opposed. To show how strongly that custom has been observed, when Mr. Gully, a Liberal, was elected Speaker by eight or eleven votes, while a Liberal Government were in office on the retirement of Mr. Peel, it was said by the Conservatives and Liberal Unionists at the time that if return 3d to power after a general election they purposed running a candidate of their own party. They came back from the general elections with an overwhelming majority, yet they did hot remove Mr. Gully from the Speakership, and he was re-elected. Further, it is not the practice to oppose the Speaker when standing for re-election in his own constituency. Immediately a member has been made Speaker of the House of Commons, both parties agree not to oppose him. Mr. Harry Graham, in a very interesting book dealing with the House of Commons, says -
On 22nd July, 1813, at the prorogation of Parliament, Speaker Abbott, took it upon himself to deliver at the Bar of the House of Lon ls a lengthy party harangue on the subject of Catholic emancipation. This frank exposition of his private political views roused the indignation of the Commons, who took an early opportunity of expressing their disapproval of his conduct. Not even his friends could condone his action, and in April of the following year a resolution was moved in the House of Commons gravely censuring him for his behaviour on that occasion. For several hours he was forced to listen to criticisms and abuse from both sides of the*
House, and though, as a matter of policy, the resolution was not carried, the Commons, in the course of this debate, proved beyond doubt their determination to secure the impartiality of their Chairman.
That they succeeded in accomplishing their purpose may be gauged from the conduct and character of Abbott’s successors. So divorced from all political prejudice is the modern Speaker that he does not deem it consistent with his position to enter the portals ‘of any political club of which he may happen to be a member. Even at a general election he steers as widely clear of politics as possible. It is not, indeed, usual for his candidature to be opposed at such a time - though an exception was made as recently as 1895, when Speaker Gully was forced to contest Carlisle - and, though he may appeal in writing to his constituents, he is not supposed to touch, in his election address, upon any political questions.
The position is different in Australia. When the Speaker of the House of Commons leaves the Chair, it is considered derogatory to his dignity that he should reappear in the House as a private member. Provision is therefore made for his being raised to the peerage, and receiving a pension of £4,000 a year upon his retirement from that office. All this is done in England in order to remove the Speaker from the conflict or exigencies of party politics. In Australia, however, the Speaker, not only of this House, but of any Legislative Assembly, may be opposed when he seeks re-election to the Chair, and he may also be opposed when he seeks re-election to the Parliament. Speakers in this country have often been opposed. I suppose that no Parliament in Australia ever had a more gifted and distinguished Speaker- than this House had in the late Sir Frederick Holder, and I think that we owe a lot to the fact that we had such a gentleman in the Chair in the early history of the Commonwealth. But, notwithstanding his distinguished ability, he was opposed when he sought re-election to this House, and opposed, I admit, by a Labour candidate. Then again, at the last general election the honorable member for Kennedy, who at the time held office as Speaker of the House of Representatives, was opposed by a Liberal candidate. I need not read any of the details of the contest, but I have no doubt that my honorable friend, when fighting for his seat, dealt with all the planks in the platform of his party, and fought his opponent as strongly as he was able to do.
– And at the time he held office as Speaker?
– Yes; and I feel quite confident that at the next general election, whenever it takes place, the present Speaker will be opposed. Gentlemen holding office as Speaker in some of the Legislative Assemblies of the States have been defeated on an appeal to the constituencies. For instance, Mr. F. G. Mason, who was Speaker of the Victorian Legislative Assembly for a number of years, was defeated at a general election while holding that office, and the same fate befell Mr. Cowley, who was Speaker in the Queensland Legislative Assembly. The position of the Speaker of the House of Commons, it must be freely admitted, is absolutely different from that of the Speaker of any Legislative Assembly in this country. Honorable members who have held office as Speaker, in this House, I believe, have sometimes attended meetings of their respective parties. Without violating any confidence, I think I can say that the honorable member for Kennedy, when he held office as Speaker, occasionally attended a meeting of his party. I believe that I saw him at least on one occasion present at a meeting of his party.
– I saw him once.
– Quite so. Even the present Speaker, according to the newspapers, does the same thing. We cannot believe everything we see in the newspapers.
– Especially statements in the Age.
– I am not referring to any one newspaper. Newspapers sometimes make mistakes, and these misstatements may sometimes be unintentional. But it was recently reported in the press that the present Speaker of the House of Representatives attended a meeting of his party in Sydney, and expressed the hope that circumstances would tend to a double dissolution. I do not object to any Speaker attending a meeting of his party.
– I remind the honorable member of Notice of Motion No. 2 on the business-paper.
– That motion does not complain of Mr. Speaker having attended a meeting of his party. I offer no such objection, because the ex-Speaker, I know, attended meetings of his party.
– All previous Speakers have done so.
– But if occupants of the Chair in this House are to be dealt with as is the Speaker of the House of Commons, then I say that the% conditions which surround the Speaker should he the same in both cases.
– What, a pension of £4,000 a year?
– I hold that if we are going to deal with the Speaker of this House as the Speaker of the House of Commons would be dealt with, then we should have here the conditions that apply in the House of Commons in regard to the occupant of the Chair. Speaker Lowther was a member of the Conservative party before he was elected to his present position. At the present time a Liberal Ministry is in office in Great Britain. What would happen if Speaker Lowther were to attend a party meeting in England, and express the opinion that the Welsh Church Disestablishment Bill ought not to be carried, or that Sir Frederick Carson was perfectly justified in pursuing his present line of conduct? Would not the Prime Minister, Mr. Asquith, propose in the House of Commons next day that Mr. Speaker should be relieved of his responsibilities? But, according to a newspaper report, the Prime Minister of Australia stated at a meeting at Wangaratta that he would be able to fall back upon Mr. Speaker’s vote in the case of a very important division. I am not objecting to the use of such words by the Prime Minister.
– I am quite sure I did not use them in that sense.
– The honorable gentleman did not explain the sense in which he did use them. I have not before me a copy of the exact words used by him, but the Prime Minister has said that he has the casting vote of Mr. Speaker.
– I never said anything of the sort.
– Perhaps the honorable gentleman will tell us what he did say?
– I shall not.
– If the honorable gentleman will not do so, then I shall believe that he made the statement I have attributed to him. If it were possible for the Prime Minister to attend a pubHe meeting and say, “ I can depend upon the casting vote of Mr. Speaker,” no fuss would be made in this House. But if, in the House of Commons, parties were equally divided, and Mr. Asquith attended a public meeting, and said, “ There is a vote of censure pending, but we have the vote of Mr. Speaker to fall back upon,” I venture to say a perfect pandemonium would be witnessed on the following day. In my opinion, it is very necessary that we should have this standing order excised and that we should be a law unto ourselves. As cases crop up, we should deal with them. Simply because we have not the same environment, it is not wise that we should fall back upon the rules of any Parliament - even those of the Mother of Parliaments, with all its traditions and history, of which every person born in England is so proud. Those traditions, because they relate to a civilization which is hoary with age, are inapplicable to a Parliament which is throbbing with the first pulsations of life.
.- I desire to say a few words in reference to the New Hebrides. I hold in my hand a communication from Messrs. Kerr Bros., of New South Wales, who complain that no rebate of duty is allowed on the produce of British settlers in the New Hebrides unless it is forwarded by the steamers of Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company, which is the only Australian shipping company trading with the New Hebrides. Personally, I do not think any advantage is to be derived by Australia from endeavouring to encourage settlement in the New Hebrides by granting a rebate upon produce such as maize, which is grown by cheap labour, and which comes into competition with the produce of Australian farmers, who are taxed to pay the expenses incurred in endeavouring to settle the New Hebrides. I would like the Minister of Trade and Customs to take this matter into his consideration.
I am also in receipt of a letter from Messrs. Kerr Brothers, in reference to a debate which was originated in this House by the honorable member for Maribyrnong. It is a communication which was sent to the public press of New South Wales, which, I think, ought to appear- in Hansard, and to which, I think, a reply should be made. I presume that the persons who are affected by it will be able to reply to it. It reads as follows: -
Mr. Fenton (Victoria), on Wednesday last, moved the adjournment of the House of Representatives to ventilate conditions existing in
New Hebrides, and termed those conditions “ a disgrace to white men,” that women and children should be torn from their relations by recruiters and forced to work on plantations. . Now, I wish to say that, although no doubt Mr. Fenton in all good faith moved in this matter, the conditions alleged as existing are altogether distorted and unreliable. The Presbyterian Mission of New Hebrides persists in making glaring statements that do not in any reasonable way represent conditions existing. It goes without saying that in any circumstances there will be incidents of abuse in any country or condition of life, whether under the British flag or any other flag; but to say that an incident of abuse represents the condition of affairs in the place is absurd.
Because a person was murdered in Sydney, it cannot be put down to “ awful conditions “ generally in Australia.
The natives in New Hebrides are easy-going, indolent, and generally suffer from want of regular work. There is no such thing as poverty among them as we know it among white peoples. They live in their native way with very little effort, as prolific Nature is very kind to them, and they have their native foods in plenty.
Our Presbyterian Mission friends would make it appear that the natives are in an awful condition, that recruiters go round snaring them, taking them away from their homes, ill-using them, and doing everything inhuman it is possible to imagine. I say this is absolutely untrue. The native is a very independent gentleman nowadays, and only goes away for plantation work when it suits him, or he has got into trouble with his tribe.
Conditions of life on plantations are very good- indeed, as the appearance of the natives on any plantation will show. They live a better life, are healthier and better men, than while leading the indolent life they do in their tribes. As to treatment on the plantations, hours of work, rations, &c, they are fully protected by the conditions of engagement, and those conditions are strictly carried out.
The principal trouble that arises in recruiting is in regard to women. Their marriage obligations are hardly on the lines recognised by white people, as the woman changes husbands or the man changes wives, and there is some trouble ; perhaps the woman runs away with her new husband and they recruit to some handy recruiting vessel to get away from the trouble. Perhaps the missionary wants to marry a young girl to some old native who supports the mission. She objects, and runs away, recruits on some French recruiting ship, and then we hear some awful vara of kidnapping, taken away against her will, and so forth.
Under the terms of the Convention women were allowed to be recruited ; but, at the instance of the Presbyterian Mission, a King’s regulation was passed which prohibited British settlers recruiting women at all.
The French have carried out the terms of the Convention, whilst the British have practically had to give up recruiting, let their plantations lie idle, and look on. But why blame the Frenchman for all this? Here they blame the Frenchman, but in the islands nobody’s reputation is safe. British settlers are dragged to Vila on some trumped-up charge. What does it avail that they prove the charge false? As an instance, Mr. D. H. Kerr was summoned to Vila on a charge by a Presbyterian missionary, had to bring his witnesses to Vila, proved the charge false, but he lost a lot of valuable time, and altogether it cost him about £200..
What recourse have the British settlers against this sort of thing? This is simply an instance; there are others. I do not think there is a British settler, except a few ex-missionaries, or those under the wing of the Mission, who have not been brought to Vila on some trivial and trumped-up charge.
We are not suffering from Government control, but missionary rule. No one objects to the missionaries trying to raise the natives to a higher plane of life, but the Mission should not be allowed to rule the country. Of course, their statements carry a lot of weight here and in Great Britain, where the actual conditions are not known. The present British Commissioner does not pander to the Mission or any other body, but the trouble is beyond his control.
Australia undoubtedly should have control of these islands - they are a natural dependency - and they could be administered in a more rational way from here, where local conditions would more readily be known. But save us from missionary rule. The friction between the British and French is almost wholly created by the missionaries. There are incidents perpetrated at mission stations which would make “ white men” ashamed. It would be as reasonable to apply this to all missionaries as for them to apply remote incidents of abuse in recruiting as general conditions in the islands.
I am, &c., (Sgd.) Graham L. S. Kerr.
Sydnev 14th November, 1913.
The writer of that letter is a member of the firm of Kerr Brothers Limited, Sydney and New Hebrides. Their Sydney address is 375 George-street. Mr. Kerr’s view is entitled to be placed on the records with the other views which have been put before this. House. I wrote to Mr. Kerr to ask him whether any of the missionaries are engaged in trading in the New Hebrides, and £ received from him the following reply -
In regard to the question of Presbyterian missionaries engaging in trade in the New Hebrides, it is a well-known fact that some of them do, and it has been a public scandal for years. The Mission Synod have, I believe, at various times, brought the matter up, but apparently they are not able to control all their members.
– Are the missionaries competitors of Mr. Kerr ?
– Very likely. What does the honorable member make out of that?
– I just asked the question; that is all.
– I suppose that some of them are his competitors. Mr. Kerr has evidently been very fair. He says that some of the missionaries are engaged in trading, and the synod is unable to prevent them. The synod cannot be expected to control all its members. I should like to know whether the honorable member for Wimmera believes that missionaries should engage in trading.
– I am not passing any opinion on that.
– The honorable member’s question suggested that. What was the object- of his. question ? Does, the- honorable member believe in missionaries engaging in trading-?
– I merely asked for information.
– I have given an answer to the honorable member’s question, and he might answer mine. I do not think that missionaries ought to engage in trading in these islands. One can see that it might be very objectionable if they did. I remember reading in Mr. Alfred Russell Wallace’s book, .describing his travels in these islands and in Papua, that he came across two missionaries in Papua who were trying to convert the natives, and who were also engaged in buying their produce, and then selling it back to them at a higher rate. That was a purely commercial transaction, of course; but the natives could not see where the justice of it came in. I do not think that missionaries should engage in trade. The two occupations will not run together, since a- man cannot serve two masters. The honorable member for Wimmera, as a Biblical student, will know that you cannot serve God and Mammon. We ought to know to what extent the statements contained in Mr. Kerr’s letters are true, and it might be well for the Government to have an investigation of some kind into the matter. We do not hear about the New Hebrides question very frequently, though, no doubt, a considerable stir is made once or twice a year about it, and an agitation is started in favour of our taking over those islands.
– I think the honorable member will find that the new agitation will be continuous. There is nothing spasmodic about the new effort.
– Honorable members who are in favour of our taking over the New Hebrides, and consider that they should really come under our jurisdiction, because they are adjacent to the coast of Australia, should take a look at the map of Europe. If their contention is logical and in accord with common sense, they should contend that, because the British Isles are even nearer to Europe than the New Hebridesare to Australia, Europe should annex the British Isles. In view of the fact that we have so much to do on the mainland of Australia, I consider that we are spending money foolishly in our endeavours to promote settlement in the New Hebrides, but I do not intend to dwell upon the matter at greater length this afternoon. I suggest that the Minister of External Affairs might endeavour tohave some inquiry made as to the truth of the statements made by Kerr Brothers, and by other people, in connexion with the condition of affairs in the New Hebrides. One other matter with which I wish to deal briefly is that referred toby the honorable member for Barrier, who spoke of the practice of the Houseof Commons being adopted by the House of Representatives of Australia. I should not care to adopt the suggestion that we should abandon the House of Commons practice altogether.
– We could embody it in our Standing Orders, and then we should know where we are.
– I do not think it would be wise to abandon the practice of theHouse of Commons altogether, - until weproduce in Australia some parliamentary authority such as May. In this connexion, I suggest to the honorable member for Kennedy that there is great scope for him to write a book on the procedure of the House of Representatives.
– What did they do in Great Britain before May was issued?
– The practice of the House of Commons has been, of course, the practice of centuries. Their Standing Orders are the outcome of the experience of centuries. There is, in my opinion, a great deal of objection to our adopting the practice of the House of Commons, which has prevailed since the establishment of Federation. On this point I wish to direct attention to the fact that in’ this Chamber we are using two volumes of May - one the 10th edition, and the other the 11th edition. The 11th edition of May was compiled since the establishment of Federation, and many of the passages quoted from it by the Attorney-General a few days ago have nothing whatever to do with us, because the Constitution lays it down that the practice of the House of Commons prevailing at the time of the establishment of Federation is the practice to be adopted by us, where we have no Standing Orders of our own to guide us.
– If an honorable member may not say anything about the Speaker at a public meeting, because of the practice of the House of Commons, does the honorable member think it right that the Speaker should say anything outside of a party character? Does he not think that the rule should work both ways?
– The House of Commons is not in our position, and never will be.
– I agree with the honorable member for Hindmarsh that the House of Commons is not in our position, but I venture to think that he is » hot quite right when he says that it never will be. The condition of politics in the House of Commons has not reached the stage reached in this country. There was a time when it was the custom in Australia to regard the Speaker as outside parties altogether, and he was not opposed when he sought re-election. There was no thought, twenty years ago, of opposing a Speaker, no matter what party might be in power. But now, because, in the course of events, we have a Labour party in politics, a change has taken place, and all those old traditions have been cast to the winds. When a Labour Speaker was presiding in the Victorian Legislative Assembly, and the time came to elect a new ‘Speaker^ the party in power turned the Speaker out of the chair, because he was a member of the Labour party. I believe that the time will come in the Old Country when the Labour party will be so strong that it will cast aside the traditions regarding the Speaker as we have cast them aside in this country.
– Why should we be governed by the traditions of the House of Commons?
– During the twelve years that this Parliament has been in existence, we have had plenty of time to create precedents, and, in fact, certain practices have grown up here. In the asking of questions, great latitude should be allowed here, seeing that our House is composed of only seventy-five members. The membership of the House of .Commons is much larger ; indeed all the members cannot be accommodated at one time within the Chamber.
– The House of Commons has nearly 700 members.
– If each member asked a question, there would be a happy time.
– Under those circumstances, no business at all would be done. Here we should be guided, as far as possible, by our own practice, and should not depend on any other Legislature. We should refer to the practice of the House of Commons only to ascertain decisions upon cases such as had not previously arisen here. As a matter of fact, we have at the present” time abandoned all the practices and traditions of Parliament, and it would seem that for some years to come the only thing that will operate here will be the will of the majority. The party that has a majority will carry out its intentions, irrespective of parliamentary traditions or anythingelse.
.- -I wish to make some reference to a subject that was touched on by the honorable member for Capricornia, that is, the New Hebrides question. The honorable member for Maribyrnong is to be congratulated on having brought it before the House a few days ago. This. is the first opportunity that I have had since the discussion which he initiated of speaking on the subject. In my opinion, we should be given more information regarding the possibility of further negotiations between Great Britain and France respecting the New Hebrides. Past negotiations have been unfortunate for us, Australia having been allowed no voice in the settlement of the various agreements that have been come to between Great Britain and France. In 1906 a “convention was drawn up in England by representatives of the two Governments, and this is ah opportune time to glance at the correspondence which took place regarding it between the Commonwealth and Imperial authorities. The control of the New Hebrides is of more importance to us than might appear on the surface. Eminent naval authorities are of the opinion that in the course of time the Pacific will become, if not the theatre of a great war, at all events the ocean on which fleets of the world’s great nations will float, opposing one another, and the control of the islands of the Pacific will greatly affect the position of the rival powers, because of the use to which these island* can be put as coaling stations, and to give other assistance to war vessels. At the present time the New
Hebrides are under the joint protectorate of Great Britain and France, that having been arranged for without Australia having had a “.say “ in the’ matter, and the danger now is that another convention may be agreed to without Australia being consulted. The correspondence to which I have referred shows that the present protectorate was arranged for without reference to the Commonwealth. In 1905 Mr. Deakin, who was then Prime Minister, wrote to the Imperial authorities that it was of vital importance to Australia that no agreement regarding the control of the New Hebrides should be come to without the Commonwealth being given an opportunity to suggest terms, and to urge as emphatically as possible the advantages which would accrue from joining the islands to the Commonwealth. As early as the 13th March, 1903, Mr. Deakin had urged the final settlement of this question, but, writing again on the 29th August, 1905, he said that the Commonwealth Ministry - . while declaring its strong objection to the establishment of a Joint . Protectorate over the New Hebrides, felt bound to admit that it was the least objectionable of the alternatives then considered, if the only satisfactory settlement, its annexation to the Empire, must be abandoned.
He stated also -
A permanent Joint Protectorate, representative of both countries, founded upon conditions giving security for investment and settlement, preventing any preferences being granted to settlers of a particular nationality, and establishing a Government capable of protecting the natives, securing religious liberty, and fostering civilization in the group, would certainly be preferable to the state of affairs that now obtains. The harbors of the group, while open to commerce, would not, in that event, become the basis of hostile action in the Pacific. The permanence of the Protectorate need not imply that its minor terms must be unalterable. It would be most acceptable if the conditions upon which the Protectorate is to be established, or any amendment of them afterwards, in addition to receiving the approval of His Majesty’s Government and the Republic of France, were submitted for the consents of the Commonwealth and of New Zealand prior to their adoption by His Majesty’s Government. *
The sentiment of the people of the Commonwealth is so averse to anything resembling a sacrifice of the great Imperial possibilities of the New Hebrides that this inquiry is tentative only, in order to ascertain the prospects of such an arrangement, and afford an opportunity for its consideration in the event of no better alternative being open to us.
No reply was given to that despatch until 1906, when the following telegram was received from the Colonial Office: -
Referring to your despatch of 29th August, and (2) referring to your telegram, 5th December, Joint Anglo-French Commission has signed
Convention for submission to British and French Governments for settlement of questions in New Hebrides. Convention will not be confirmed until .His Majesty’s Government has had opportunity of considering views of your Ministers. Copy will be sent by next mail.-.
The copy referred to was sent, and the terms of the Convention were outlined. The Convention provided for a Court dealing, on the French side, with the French residents, and, on the British side, with the British residents of the islands. Mr. Deakin thereupon pointed out that separate tribunals for French and British were objectionable ; that there should be a common Court for the territory. He pointed out, further, that the Convention gave the employers of native labour too much power; that the conditions under which land was to be allotted would enable native land-owners to be exploited; and that it was possible that the conditions under which native labour might be employed might bring about something in the nature of slavery. Letters which have since reached members of this House show that Mr. Deakin’s fears have been justified, or, at least, afford ground for urging that there should be a thorough inquiry into the government of the islands, to ascertain how far the charges of injustice can be sustained. Although the Imperial Government invited suggestions regarding the Convention from the Commonwealth Government, the same despatch informed the Commonwealth Ministers that the agreement which had been drawn up would have to be rejected or accepted practically as it stood. The conferences between the representatives of Great Britain and France on the subject Of the Convention extended over eight or nine months, but no reference was made to the Commonwealth Government regarding them, nor was any information given of the meetings, except through the newspapers. Diplomatic considerations might have prevented the Imperial Government at the time, from making public what was transpiring, but there should have been official communications with the Commonwealth authorities while the representatives of the two nations were conferring. Better still, as suggested by Mr. Deakin, when Prime Minister, the Government should have been invited to send a delegate representing the Commonwealth and New Zealand, or the Commonwealth and the Dominion should each have been invited to send a member to the Conference in order that the views and sentiments of Australasia .might be represented, -seeing that at some time or other we shall inevitably have to exercise a kind of parental control over these territories. From the correspondence between New Zealand and the Colonial Office, and the Commonwealth and the Colonial Office, which was laid on the table in 1907, it can be seen that the whole of the negotiations were carried on without any . reference to the Commonwealth or the Dominion. We now hear rumours, filtering from exactly the same source as the information filtered respect-‘ ing the Conference in 1906, that there is a possibility, of some modification of the terms then agreed upon. The French residents of the New Hebrides have been making far greater strides than the British residents. According to a recent return, two-thirds of the freehold land are held .by the French, and only one«third by the British, while we know that subsidized steamers run between the New Hebrides and France under specially favorable trade conditions. My chief purpose is to ascertain, if possible, from the Minister whether there are any negotiations going on with respect to a modification of the present agreement, involving greater concession to the French residents without any cognisance on the part of the Federal Parliament. This is a matter of great importance to us. We know that the Joint Protectorate was instituted without the knowledge of the Commonwealth Government, and it would seem that we ought to be on our guard in regard to the future. A close perusal of the objections taken to the present Convention by Mr. Deakin will show that all the fears he expressed have, according to recent information, been fully justified. Apart altogether from the value of the territorial possessions of Australia, from a strategic point of view, we have also to pay some regard to the broad question of the proper treatment of the natives. I feel sure that the Minister of External Affairs is giving close attention to this matter ; and I hope that he will be able to procure an independent and direct report in regard to the administration of the law on the island, so as to show whether the very serious charges presented to the House last week have any justification. We ought to know at the earliest opportunity whether the Courts of Justice are working satisfactorily, and whether or not it would be wise to continue to allow French jurisdiction to control the French people, and English jurisdiction to control the British residents. It was pointed out by Mr. Deakin that the divided control would lead to serious complications, and he re’ferred to what is now one of the present troubles, namely, the power of the magistrate to remit penalties after these have been imposed by the properly constituted Courts. This power has been disclaimed, but, as I say, it was pointed out as a likely thing to occur if the Convention were ratified in its original -form. I hope the Minister will .be able to tell us how far the negotiations, if any, have advanced between France and Great Britain with a view to an amendment, and also whether there is any possibility of an early and independent report regarding the natives.
.- I do not know that I should have referred to the New Hebrides at the present juncture had it not been for the letter quoted by the honorable member for Capricornia. I received the same communication .myself, and I find that it has ‘been published in one of the Sydney newspapers. -I also notice that the Minister of External Affairs received a deputation a week ago in Adelaide, when very full representations were made to him from the mission and church stand-point in respect to the state of affairs in the New Hebrides, and I was more than pleased to read the very generous reply that the Minister gave to the deputation. I should not like to misinterpret any words of the honorable gentleman, but there are one or two sentences to which I should like to refer. I took the Minister to speak of a Mr. Kerr, and I do not know whether that is the same Mr. Kerr to whom reference has been made to-day.
– I did not mention him; I spoke “of a petition which. had been sent, professedly by British residents, to the French Commissioner, asking that the French should be given the islands.
– In any case, it is strange that that should be the same name as appears at the foot of the communica-tion received by honorable members. I have had several letters * from various quarters concerning this matter, and one as late as this morning. We are prepared, of course, to pay every ^attention to communications we receive from what we regard as responsible quarters, but we may not be inclined to accept all they say as representing exactly what has occurred, because the writers, of necessity, must get their information sometimes -secondhand. I have, however, received a communication which is official so far as it -concerns a particular denomination whichhas missionaries there. Strange to say, the letters received from people on the -islands practically corroborate many of the main statements made by the Rev. G. L. Paton, and, unless those letters are representative of the true state of affairs, I can hardly conceive of the missionaries of three important denominations appending “to the circular from which I read on the occasion their signatures. When I spoke previously on this matter, I contended that if there was one thing the British nation ought to -do it was to take care of the native -.races, and see that they get justice. I have in my hand a communication from Mr. J. I. Mudford, who is secretary to the Federal Foreign Missionary Committee of the Churches of Christ in Australia, and who happens to be a constituent of mine. He writes -
The following information may be of use to you in dealing with the New Hebrides question : -
Our Foreign Missionary Committee passed a resolution at its meeting on 17th inst. This resolution appeared in the Argus on Thursday, 20th inst. Unfortunately I have not a copy by me as I write. “ Mr. B. A. Chappell, our .missionary on the Isalnd of Maewo (New Hebrides), wrote on 16th September last, ‘ Am glad the resolutions carried at Paama are being taken up by the Federal Parliament. I do trust that conditions here will be changed for the better, so that the unfortunate natives and Britishers will receive justice.’ “
Mr. F. G. Filmer, under date 16th September. 1 013, with reference to the kidnapping case of 1st “November, 1912 (see Mr. Paton’s pamphlet, “ Slavery under British Flag,” pages 5 and 6), that the three natives concerned “have been -quietly returned” to Pentecost. “ No justice has been dealt out.” The three had “eight months’ slavery, during which time the only one who could speak English was knocked senseless several times., first by the brutal buccaneer of a Frenchman, who is over 6 feet, “and weighs about 16 stone, and then bv ten natives, to whom Tie was handed over for three days’ punishment for daring to tell the native advocate that he was stolen.”
I understand that the native advocate is a solicitor named Jacomb, who takes a great interest in the natives -
Under same date, Mr. Filmer writes-‘* Over «ix (6) years ago a Frenchman of this island brought an Ambrim man and his wife to Pentecost under engagement to work three years. At the end of that time they ran away here for protection; the Frenchman followed, and, seeing that I could do nothing, I obtained promises of better treatment for them, and then advised them to return with him. They went. The man was flogged, and then put aboard a vessel and sent away. About a week later it- was given out by the Frenchman that he had jumped overboard and been eaten by a shark. The woman has laboured on for three years and four months since then, until yesterday morning she again arrived here for help. The Frenchman followed and demanded her. I would not let him’ touch her, and so he went off in his boat for govermental aid. He has not yet returned, but will be too late when he does, for to-day I ran .the woman over to Ambrim in the launch, an’d gave her back to her own people.” (I tlo not know that this latter case will be of assistance. Mr. Filmer does not say whether the woman signed on at the expiry of the first three years. It does, however, seem to show that she must have been ill-treated.) “ A Frenchman cannot be touched by our officials,” Mr. F. continues, “and his own pre afraid to touch him, or he will head a petition for his removal, and away will go the French official who dares to interfere with the colonist.”
Mr. A. T. Waters, missionary on Island of Oha, writes under date 24th October, 1913 . - “ The French trader at Longana (Oba) was taken prisoner by the natives recently, and tied in the smouldering ruins of a big ‘ kamale ‘ (men’s quarters), which he had burned, till he paid *£20. They got tired of waiting for the Condominium, and took the law into their own hands. The heathen wanted to kill him. He has since sold out, and taken to the sea.” “ Two .months ago the French section of the Condominium Government sent the ‘ man-of war,’ and look to Vila our leading teacher, Peter Pentecost, and about twenty-five other men from the same district, as witnesses in a disputed land case, Natives v. The French Company. A number of these men are Christians, including several of our teachers and the ‘ Government head men.’ I am informed that the French Government is exploiting them for ‘free labour’ on the public works. One man was found dead in his cell. Mr. Jacomb, the lawyer, is looking after their interests in the ,case and keeping me informed.”
Mr. Waters gives information to show that, not only Frenchmen, but others, are implicated, in law breaking. “Another company of four men,” he says, “are going to. Vila on ‘this steamer as witnesses in a case of illegal recruiting of women, by a Britisher this time. He is really a Scandinavian, under the British flag.”
These are items that are coming to hand, and they seem to confirm the resolutions passed by the missionaries some time ago. I am not anxious that the Commonwealth should keep on shouldering great additional responsibilities, .but I agree with the honorable member for Wimmera that the geographical position of the New Hebrides is of great importance to Australia, as the islands are on the direct route from the Panama Canal to the Commonwealth, and I understand that they possess some very fine deep-water ports. I have gathered that it is very rare in the Pacific Islands to find harbors with sufficient depth of water to allow vessels of deep draught to enter them ; and the more I read and hear about the New Hebrides the more I conclude it is essential that we should take this question into serious consideration, especially in view of the importance of the islands to Australian commerce and defence, but also for the sake of the defence of the natives. I know that in the Minister of External Affairs we have an extremely sympathetic Minister, and that we could allow these matters to rest in his hands without our making these continual representations. I also know that it is necessary to be very careful how we. touch upon such questions as these, even in Parliament, because there may be some word said that, like a spark, may lead to a difference between Great Britain and France. I am sure no one in the House is anxious that such a thing should occur, because we all rejoice at the amicable relations existing between the two nations. I notice in the Supply Bill there is an item of £150 put down opposite the words “ New Hebrides,” and I. am curious to know why this sum is required. Does the Minister intend to make a visit to the New Hebrides?
– Order ! We have i;ot reached the Supply Bill.
– I do nob wish to discuss the particulars of the Bill ; I do not know that it would not be a good thing for the Minister to have a look round those islands. The reply given by the letter I have just read is supplementary to what has already been placed before honorable members. Some- may be inclined ‘to take the word of a missionary with a grain of salt - they are entitled to their opinions; but I consider that one needs to take the information coming from people carrying on trading operations in those islands with a very big pinch of salt. The honorable member for Capricornia seemed to balk at the idea of missionaries carrying on trading operations, but in this connexion it is likely that some confusion has arisen. At certain periods of the year people in Australia are called upon to donate in money and in kind for the people of the islands where missionary operations are carried on, and as each year the gifts so collected almost fill a vessel, it is quite likely that the distribution of these gifts sent from Australia, or the sale of them, may lead to the missionaries being accused of carrying on trading operations.
– Some of the missionaries in New Guinea have boats, and they trade from New Guinea to the mainland, and right down to Sydney. I think they are Presbyterian missionaries.
– In that case, it would be done with the cognisance of the missionary authorities.
– Oh yes; it is part of their work.
– We all know that missionary societies have had to purchase steamers, because no shipping company ran vessels between Australia and the islands where they were operating. Many denominations had to purchase steamers in order to convey supplies to the mission stations, and, no doubt, once a steamer was purchased and run out regularly to the islands,, it was hardly likely that it would leave off trading with the islands, even though private companies might subsequently commence trading there.
– There ought to be some independent investigation made into these charges.
– I have been looking over the minutes of the last Imperial - Conference, and I find that the Australian representatives were particularly emphatic in declaring that prior to Great Britain entering into treaty negotiations, or, at any rate, completing with another country the terms of any particular treaty or arrangement likely to affect the Dominions, the Governments of the particular Dominions concerned should be consulted.
– They did so in this case, but it was after the agreement of 1906 was made.
– I am not prepared to say that the best has been done for Australian interests in the arrangements made by the British Government concerning the New Hebrides. I do not think I am out of order in saying so. At the last Imperial Conference, Mr. Asquith and Mr. Harcourt intimated to the delegates assembled what course the British Government would take. Sir Joseph Ward,
Mr. Fisher, Mr. Batchelor, formerly Minister of External Affairs, and others, had made very strong representations, pointing out that the British Government sometimes entered into, and completed, treaty arrangements, and utterly ignored the Dominions, and claiming that as the Dominions were part and parcel of the Empire, they should be consulted before arrangements, where their interests were vitally concerned, were finally ratified. I know that the present Minister of External Affairs has made certain representations on this subject, and I hope - and believe that my hope is well founded - that he will not allow one rebuff to balk him in placing the true Australian view in regard to the New Hebrides before the British Government, though I do not imagine that he will receive any rebuff from the Colonial Office or any British Minister, or even the British Government. I hope he will particularly draw attention to the fact that the Condominium, and some of the Courts in the New Hebrides have fallen into disuse. Unfortunately, men are detained awaiting trial, and pending the arrival of a British or French warship to constitute the Court they are hired out as slaves. This treatment is not likely to lead the natives to respect the white race, because delayed justice is often even worse than the punishment actually meted out for the offence. We cannot ignore what is going on in the New Hebrides from the point of view of the protection of the natives, of the work of the missionaries, and of Australian trade with the islands, nor from the point of view of the important geographical position of the islands, lying as they do midway between the two great countries of Australia and America, and on the route to other countries, now that the Panama Canal is opened. I believe the Minister realizes that this is a very serious question to Australia, and one in which Australians must always take a very lively interest.
.- It has been my intention <;o say a word or two before the close of the session upon the very important subject of the Northern Territory, and I embrace this opportunity. Those who hail from South Australia know that the matter of the Northern Territory has been a question of great prominence in the Houses of Parliament in South Australia for many years past. Ever since 1864, when the Northern Territory was taken over by that State, the subject has been discussed over and over again. I look upon the Northern Territory as a white elephant to Australia. I go further, and say that it seems to me the Territory is not only a white elephant, but a Moloch, into whose throat we are continually shovelling wealth without getting any return. I have heard very long speeches, and very eloquent speeches, in the South AustraHan Parliament upon the subject of the Northern Territory, but whenever a speech was delivered, it always struck me as being full of meretriciousness. I think it is just about -time we faced the real position. We should not play the part of the ostrich, which foolish bird hides » its head in the sand, and, with its head so hidden, thinks that everything is lovely and- right. We should really be true to ourselves in reference to this part of the’ Commonwealth. I have heard glorious descriptions of the Northern Territory. I have heard references in the South Australian Parliament to this “ glorious inheritance “ of ours,” its “boundless resources,” and its “undeveloped possibilities;” but there is very little truth in many of these statements. I do not think there is any honorable member of the House, or any person with common-sense outside, who for one brief moment really thinks that these descriptions tell the truth in regard to the likelihood of the Northern Territory becoming a paying proposition within the life of even the youngest Australian living amongst us to-day. Honorable members may ask, “ Have you been there?” Some honorable -members have been there for a little while. I have not been there, but I have made it my business again and again to speak to people who have not only put in a day or two in the Northern Territory, not only been on a brief visit there, but who have lived there for a considerable number of years. A few days ago I spoke to a gentleman, an ex-Federal Minister, who has spent some time in the Northern Territory, and some of his friends have lived there for years. It is the opinion of every one of these men to whom I have spoken - and there are dozens of them - that this Territory is a white elephant, and that we should face the proposition in a different manner from the present. For two years I sat in the State Parliament of South Australia alongside the late Mr. Thomas Crush, the representative of the Northern Territory. He lived in the Territory, and he had nothing to say against it; he was passionately fond -of it, and he liked to live there ; but even he had to admit that he did not think for a moment it was likely to be a paying proposition within a reasonable time.
– Was he referring- to mining or agriculture?
– In his opinion, the only hope for the Territory - that is, the northern portion extending about 150 miles from Port Darwin - lay in the mining industry.
– And mining would not settle anybody there.
– Not permanently. We know mining matters are usually very erratic, and that one never knows when a mine will become worked out. A fortnight ago I made it my business to speak to an old friend of mine ‘in South Australia, who had spent twenty-one years in the Territory, who knew practically every inch of it, who had travelled over it from one end to the other. He also ridiculed the idea of the Government offering free farms, and giving the settlers an advance up to £800. He predicted that people might go there, remain until the money was expended, and thensuddenly come back again. The main objection, as far as the northern part of the Territory is concerned, is that white people cannot live there with comfort and decency. They cannot bring up their families with any hope of having strong, healthy, virile children. The climate does not agree at all with many of the children when they come to the age of puberty. The same old gentleman told me that when women come to the change of life, it is absolutely necessary for them to leave those climes and come southward in order to recuperate. It is of no use for us to try to settle the Territory with white peoplewhen there is no possibility of them bringing up their families there with any hope of their, growing up physically strong.
– What does the honorable member suggest?
– I am coming to that. It may be said that medical science will overcome that difficulty, but while it has already done a great deal with tropical diseases, it cannot overcome the difficulty which I have been alluding to.
I admit that adults who ‘go there cao work fairly well for years and years, and keep well so long as they work a reasonable number of hours, and do not overindulge in fermented or spirituous liquors, but I do not think white people can ever live there under the same conditions as in the southern portion of this continent. In India, a tropical country, which has been under British dominion for a long number of years, I do not suppose that there are a million white people in all, including the military. Any one who goes to Ceylon and other such places needs only to look at the few - white youngsters there to understand why white people do not live there in large numbers. Some honorable members opposite may ask, “ If the Territory does not suit white people, why not introduce coloured labour?” In 1882 a law or Ordinance was passed in South Australia which enabled people to bring in coloured labour under indenture, but no capitalist would venture his money in the Northern Territory, no matter what labour he could get, when he could invest his money in places like Java, which has a tropical soil, a thing which we have not got in the Territory, except in a few patches. What is the use of our establishing Government experimental farms ? It has been proved for thirty years that European grain will not thrive in the tropical part of the Territory, so that to sow it is simply a waste of money. It is criminal on our part to keep on shovelling our money down the maw of the Northern Territory. There is no fear of any Federal Government ever being at a loss to know what to do with their surplus, because they can always spend it in the Territory without getting any benefit from it. Coloured labour is out of the question, because the soil is not suitable, except in a very few instances. Then comes the question of defence. The first necessity in that regard would be to put people there who would be heart and soul with the British people. It is said that we must people the northern portions of the Territory for the sake of defence, but I agree with Mr. R. Barr Smith, a wealthy South Australian gentleman, who, some years ago, said that it would be better if we left the place in a state of nature, because then there would be no fear of the Japanese or any other foreign nation’ getting a footing in Australia, and com- ing to the southern parts as easily as they could if a railway and other facilities were provided. It is an impossibility to settle the northern portions of the Territory with white people. It is said that we might introduce southern Europeans, such as Italians or Spaniards. We cannot defend the country with a coloured population, and it would not do to have there the southern European nations, or even people of northern European stock, such as Scandinavians or Germans. From a defence stand-point, the majority of the people must be of British stock, although you may have a few northern . Europeans amongst them, but no -one can believe that we can . get a sufficient number of Britishers to settle there to form a body that could he truthfully called -a defence force. Why should we spend millions up there when there is so much room in the southern portions of this country, where people can live and thrive and do well for themselves and their descendants ?
– According to that argument we should not “build a railway there.
– That also ought to be taken into serious consideration.
– It should be considered very seriously indeed. I know that I am running contrary to the opinion of a number of people in my electorate, but that fact never enters into my calculations. I always advocate what I think is the right thing for the people of Australia. The Treasurer asks what is to be done. That is the point. As we have gone as far as we have, we cannot let the thing go. That is absolutely impossible. We must have facilities for transport even in the northern portion of the Territory, to enable the people who will be able in course of time to settle on that portion where white people can live, to send their produce to the seaboard, and have it transhipped. I believe there are possibilities in the Northern Territory apart even from mining. There are portions of the country where white people undoubtedly can live. I have been told again and again that within 150, or even 200, miles from Port Darwin, white people can live and bring up families. White people can live in the Macdonnell Range country, and, in fact, the further you get inland from Oodnadatta, the better the climate for them. Especially, as far as the country about the Ranges is concerned, the place looks very fertile indeed. It would, therefore, be better to populate and develop this country from the south instead of from the north down. The building of a railway to the Katharine River to tap the cattle country may be the means of inducing people to take up more pastoral areas there, because, from what I have seen of the cattle and horses coming from those parts, it certainly must be an ideal country in spots. I believe the tablelands are the best breeding grounds for horses in Australia, and, perhaps, in any part of the world, and they may be used for breeding remounts for our military.
– What industries does the honorable member propose to develop around the Macdonnell Ranges?
– I believe that even wheat can be grown there in the course of time, because there is a larger average rainfall at Alice Springs than there is at Pinnaroo or Loxton, in South Australia. It is absolutely futile to attempt to engage in ordinary European agriculture in the northern part of the Territory, say, from 150 to 200 miles from Port Darwin. I remember a man of the name of Otto Brandt, who came out from the Old Country many years ago. He was possessed of a fair amount of capital, and tried to grow everything under the sun in the Territory; but although he worked very hard indeed, he ended up by having to work on the roads. It is absolutely impossible to compete in tropical agriculture in the Northern Territory with a country like Java.
– What are you going to do with it?
– So far as the northern portion is concerned, I should simply provide there an outlet for the produce of the people who will be able to live further south, but I should not go in for experimental farming.
– Would you build those long railways from north to south and into Queensland ?
– The railway should be built from the south to the north first. So far as settling in the malarial part of the Territory is concerned, many South Australians went up there years ago, and returned invalided. I remember a strong young man who went there about ten years ago, and came back four years ago with fever and ague.
– Is it of any use to build expensive railways into a country that will not carry a population?
– There may be a settled population on the tablelands in the course of time. We know now what we are doing in this big question, and I repeat that it is criminal on our part,- and an injustice to our sons and to the generations to come, to keep on pouring millions into the throat of that white elephant - the Northern Territory.
.- The speech’ of the honorable member for Boothby opens up a very large problem, which should be very seriously considered.
– But it ought not to be discussed on a Supply Bill.
– I think that it may be . discussed with advantage at this stage. I rose, however, to deal not with the Northern Territory, but with a matter incidentally related to it, and particularly affecting Queensland. The honorable member for Boothby has anticipated me, but I do not agree with the views he has expressed. We have in the Northern Territory a bigger problem than many of us realize. Eor many centuries large numbers of natives have fished off take north coast of Australia, and it is certainly remarkable that none of them ever thought of permanently settling in the Northern Territory. The same class of natives did not hesitate to. settle ‘ on the coast of New Guinea, where they engaged in agriculture, and even made potteryware for their own use. There must be some reason for their failure to settle on the north coast of Australia, but what that reason is, I cannot say. Many of these native fishermen must have been wrecked from time to time during the monsoonal storms, and some must have made their way to the Australian coast. Then, again, one would think that they would have found it advantageous to settle on the north coast so as to be near their fishing-grounds, but, as I have said, they never did. lt is also peculiar that no big game is to be found in Northern Australia.
– Buffalo are fairly large game.
– But they were introduced. Some sixty or seventy years have elapsed since the first white settlement took place near Port Darwin; yet the population of the Northern Territory has not increased to any material extent.
– It has decreased.
– About the time of the building of the Pine Creek railway, it increased, but since then there has been a decrease in the population. It seems to me that if the Territory is to be developed, it will be necessary in the early stages of our work to encourage people to take up land for the raising of horses and cattle, and especially sheep. I believe that stock could be raised with profit on the 29,000 square miles of magnificent country within the Barklay Tablelands, as well as on other fine patches within the Territory. The Government should encourage the people to take up land there for sheep and cattle breeding.
– It would have to be taken up ‘ in large holdings ; it is only a grazing country.
– And taken up under the leasehold system. I wish now to bring under the notice of the PostmasterGeneral, as well as the Minister of External Affairs, the position in regard to postal, telegraphic, and telephonic facilities in the Gulf country. For many years there have been a number of mail services, as well as telegraph repeating stations in that part of Queensland, but an effort is now being made to run the Department on business lines, and changes are being made. It is well known that such stations and mail services do not and cannot be expected to pay, but they link up the people in that remote portion of Australia with civilization. The Floraville telegraph station, at which people for many miles around have transmitted and received telegrams has been abolished. There is no township there; the station is the only building, but the convenience has always been much appreciated. In the Gulf district there must be nearly 1,000,000 head of cattle, and large sales of stock take place from time to time; but the Department has closed the Floraville station, and supplied a telephone service, some distance away, which cannot be used with any privacy. The people of this district have’ been deprived of a service which they have enjoyed for some time. The same experience has befallen several other districts, the Department holding that it does not pay to retain these stations, while in the case of certain mail services they have asked the parties served to contribute very largely to the cost. I “recognise that those who take up laud in these outback places are certainly not philanthropists. They go there to try to better their positions. But we must not lose sight of the fact that they are making it possible for others to follow them, and making life easier in our large cities. They therefore deserve every possible consideration, and I sincerely hope that the Postal Department will restore these services, and not view the matter from a purely business stand-point. The Government should be prepared to supply mail and telegraph services wherever there is a reasonable number of people to be served. The Gulf country near the coast is one of the most fertile spots in Australia. It has a rainfall of from 40 to 50 inches per annum and for about 200 miles inland such a thing as a drought is unknown. Quite a number of perenially flowing streams run into the Gulf, and some day, no doubt, their waters will be used for irrigation schemes designed to promote agriculture.
– It is a part of Australia to which we ought to be generous.
– Quite so. We are spending millions of money in an effort to develop the Northern Territory with the primary object of protecting ourselves from invasion. As the honorable member for Boothby has pointed out, however, it is absurd to think that an enemy would attempt to land a force there. In my opinion, the Gulf of Carpentaria, which runs 400 miles south from Cape York, would be preferred. At the head of the Gulf the enemy would be within easy distance of a railway line running to the eastern coast.
– But they do not know the soundings of the Gulf.
– Vessels at the present time go down the Gulf to various ports. If Australia is ever invaded from the north, -Port Darwin will not be the scene of operations. A hostile force landed there would have to travel nearly 2,000 miles overland to reach Adelaide, and at least 900 miles to reach Camooweal, a small hamlet on the Queensland border, where it would be still 300 miles from a railway. From the point of view of a layman, an enemy would be foolish to attempt to invade Australia from that point. I am aware that naval men say that no fleet would attempt to go down the Gulf, because if it did, it might be “ bottled up “ by a defending fleet. But once the attacking fleet reached the head of the Gulf of Carpentaria it could land men at a point where they would have a better chance of reaching the eastern portion of Australia than they would have from any other northern port.
– Why should they go to the Gulf at all ?
– Why should we fear the landing of an invading force at Port Darwin?
– We know that that is only a tale.
– I am inclined to agree with the honorable member that an enemy would probably attack one of our larger cities on the coast rather than seek to land an invading force in the north. But if an attack were made from the north, I think that the invaders, instead of landing at Port Darwin, would be more likely to come down the Gulf, where they would be within comparatively easy distance of a railway running down the east coast.
– And where there would be something for them to live on.
– Quite so. The Gulf country is becoming depopulated. When the gold mines at Croydon were flourishing there was a much larger population in many of our Gulf ports than there is to-day. Population up there is steadily decreasing. I hold that the Government could very materially assist to keep population there by granting improved postal, telegraphic, and telephonic facilities. That part of Queensland, I regret to say, has been neglected by the State Government. Honorable members, on glancing at the map of Australia, will observe two very big indentations - the one being the Gulf of Carpentaria in the north, and the other Spencer Gulf in the south. These provide water communication for a greater portion of Australia than do any other ports in the Commonwealth. No pdrt serves a larger territory -than does the Gulf of Carpentaria, and it is remarkable that it should have been so long neglected. Something like 1,000.000 head of cattle and some millions of sheep are to be found there.
– The numbers are steadily increasing.
– They are. During a dry season in the south hundreds of thousands of cattle could be obtained from this part of Australia if there were reasonable means of transport. But at present they are cut off from us by a tract of country over which they cannot be travelled. Improved travelling facilities should be provided. The Department grants a mail subsidy ‘to a steamship company for delivering mails every three weeks to the Gulf ports, but passengers to Burketown have to travel for two days by a small boat, the Lily, under conditions which are scandalous. I hope that in the next mail contract care will be taken to insure the provision of better accommodation. The Treasurer asked the honorable member for Boothby what proposition he had to put before the Committee in regard to the development of the northern part of Australia. My suggestion is that negotiations should be entered into with the Queensland Government for the creation of a new territory comprising the Gulf country and portion of the Northern Territory served by Gulf ports. If we were to carve out a. new territory there, I do not hesitate to say that within ten years it would pay its own way.
– Why not create a new State?
– In the first place, we must constitute a new territory. It would scarcely be fair to afford it equal representation in the Senate.
– I do not suppose that Queensland would take the matter up.
– I . do not know whether it would or not. Queensland is doing nothing itself to develop the country. It is neglecting it in the most scandalous way. It is running railways from Cloncurry, within 160 or 180 miles of the Gulf, notwithstanding which, settlers have actually to carry their produce for a distance of 500 or 600 miles. To allow the Gulf country to be depopulated owing to its own criminal neglect, is a standing disgrace to the Queensland Government.
– What is it going to grow there?
– I do not say that anything can be grown there, outside of tropical products. I do not suggest that wheat can be grown.
– What can be grown in support of a population ?
– I do not pretend, for a moment, that the mining industry settles people on the land. Take, for example, a place like Croydon. It had a large population when the mining industry was in full swing, but to-day its population has diminished very considerably. The mining industry has not settled people there permanently. But the difficulty in settling a lot of this country is that there is no railway communication. If there were railway communication to the Gulf, all the ores of the big copper and iron mining centres that exist between Cloncurry and the Leichhardt would be treated at one of the Gulf ports, and that work would employ a large number of people. Some day, I suppose that a good deal of irrigation will be undertaken in these parts.
– That is the only hope.
– Then industries could be managed with success. At the present time, we import £250,000 or £260,000 worth of glucose every year. The glucose is made from maize. Owing to the fact that the wet season occurs in January, February, and March, maize can be grown there more prolifically than it can in any other part of Australia.
– I think that we import more glucose than that.
– I do not know. I understand, from a letter I have received, that the importation amounts to about £250,000 a year. I admit that the industry can be carried on in New South Wales.
– It is being started here.
– Owing to the cheapness with which maize can be grown there, the industry could be carried on successfully. However, I have no desire to pursue the subject further. This afternoon the honorable member for Barrier brought up a question in regard to standing order No. 1. I confess that I would like to see that standing order wiped out of existence. That has been my desire ever since the first Standing Orders Committee was constituted. I have always held the view that as we were establishing a new Parliament with new ideas, it would be well for us to create our own precedents and practice. Had that course been adopted a good many of the difficulties that we have experienced would have been overcome. We have upon the table of this House one work - I refer to May’s Parliamentary Practice - than which no more unsatisfactory publication can be found in any parliamentary institution. I admit the great ability of its author. My complaint is that first of all it lays down a certain procedure, which it says should be followed, and immediately afterwards it cites quite a number of exceptions to the rule. Thus, the man who is opposed to a certain course of action being followed is always able to cite a precedent. To me it is remarkable that whilst some of the State Parliaments of America are able to conduct their business with twenty-nine standing orders, we require 400 or more. That being so, -it is obvious that many matters must be left to the common sense of the person in control of the House, and surely we can adopt similar methods. I say, unhesitatingly, that four out of - every five irregularities which occur in this chamber have to be settled by the common sense of the Chairman of Committees, or of Mr. Speaker, rather than by our Standing Orders. That will always be the case. The officer in charge of the House will always be called upon to extricate it from the tangles into which it will inevitably get. No genius can prevent it- from getting into those tangles. I have no hesitation in saying that while we have Standing Orders similar to standing order No. 1 any honorable member will be able to find ample precedent to justify any action which he may care to take.
– Has it not been intended for years past that the Standing Orders should be revised?
– The Standing Orders have been revised several times, but no Government has been prepared to afford the necessary time to put a permanent set upon our table. Those under which we are working are merely temporary. In the early stages of this Parliament appeals were made by the late Sir Frederick Holder and others for a permanent set of Standing Orders, but, so far, no Government has afforded the necessary time for their preparation. In my judgment we should take the first opportunity of wiping out standing order No. 1.
.- In the first place I desire to draw attention to the fact that this Bill makes provision for the expenditure of £250,000 upon defence. In my stand upon- this matter I am very glad to know that- I have the support of one of the great morning newspapers of Victoria. Next year we must seriously take into consideration the manner in which we are drifting in the matter of military expenditure. The wealth of countries can we wiped out just as effectually by taxation as it can be by means of war. We are beginning to impose upon the people of the Commonwealth a burden out of all proportion to the national insurance effected. In my opinion our first and only line of defence should be of a naval character. Seeing that Australia is entirely surrounded by water, and that it is not within less than three weeks’ -or one month’s striking distance of the armies of any other country - I am referring to the time within which troops can be landed here after they have’ been mobilized - it is obvious that whilst we have a single torpedo boat or a few submarines, anything more than a mere raid is out of the question. I admit that we have to accept these Estimates for the present year. They , cannot be classed as belonging to the Liberal party at all. In fact, the Liberal party declines to accept any responsibility for such extraordinary Estimates. They are a relic of the misgovernment and of the reckless expenditure and mismanagement of our predecessors. No matter in what direction we look, we shall find traces of that wanton extravagance. No country in the world could endure it.
– Why is not the honorable member sincere in this matter ? Mr. CONROY. - Does the honorable member expect me to take a club ? This is a place for words. I leave the club to- the honorable member. If he has any objection to being addressed in this fashion, there is- no more to be said.
– Is the honorable- member talking about freedom again? A nice “gagger” ,
– Is the honorable member “ stone- walling “ the Supply Bill?
– Order ! I must request the cessation of these interjections.
– I do not complain that honorable members opposite do not understand many things, butI do complain that sometimes they do not listen in silence.
– The honorable member is a nice schoolmaster.
– He is a pearl.
– If I could lend the honorable member a little understanding, I would not mind; but it is impossible to effect a transference of that commodity. I can only hope that if he suffers he will suffer in silence. The deplorable feature in connexion with these Military Estimates is that the ex-Minister of Defence appears to have been unable to say “No.” Although he had the advice of Lord Kitchener, and although the military Estimates were not supposed to exceed £1,800,000 half-a-dozen years hence, he seems to have been unable to say “ No.” That is why, within the short space of a couple of years, the expenditure has exceeded the estimate of Lord Kitchener by more than £1,000,000.
– Did you, Mr. Chairman, ever hear more amazing ignorance than that last statement?
– Order ! The honorable member for Werriwa has the floor, and has a right to be heard without interruption. I request honorable members to cease their interjections.
– I can quite understand the honorable member for Maranoa considering that this is terrible when the facts are brought to his notice. The honorable member has sufficient intelligence to recognise that every penny spent upon military service that is not absolutely necessary for national defence is a waste of the means of the mass of the people. Honorable members opposite iu this matter have acted contrary to the spirit animating the Labour party in every other country in the world. I have been asked by the honorable member for Indi why I try to enlighten honorable members opposite, and when I consider the outbreak on their part, I am tempted to believe that it is indeed a hopeless task. But if one repeats a thing often enough, honorable members opposite may get some glimmer of an idea concerning it, although they may never acquire a full understanding of the matter.
– The honorable member is not an electric light.
– Order! If my calls for order are not taken more notice of I shall have to take other steps. The honorable member for Maranoa must not interrupt while I am trying to secure order.
– It would be better to keep the honorable member who is speaking quiet.
– I have already said that I will have to take further steps if honorable members force me to do so.
– Let me try to state the facts as simply as possible, so that honorable members opposite may be able to understand them . I have said that our military expenditure has increased beyond all reasonable bounds. Our party are committed to over £1,000,000 of expenditure more than even Lord Kitchener, who is a military man, considered necessary, merely because the late Minister of Defence in the Labour Government was unable to say “ No.”
– The honorable member will vote for every penny of it like a lamb led to the slaughter.’
– The honorable member for Maranoa must not interrupt in that persistent way.
– Of course, I shall have to support this expenditure just as every member of the Labour party will be bound to support it, unless he wishes to pass a vote of censure on- the late Minister of Defence. These commitments, having been made, must be carried out. It does not matter whether I disagree or agree with this expenditure, it will be necessary to pass these votes this year, but next year the Liberal party will be in a position to put forward their own Estimates, and to put an end to the wanton extravagance upon military affairs that has recently taken place. It must be remembered that the members of the present Government came into office only three days before the close of the financial year. They had only about two days in which to cut down the Estimates of expenditure before them, and at most they could not, in the time, cut off more than about one one-hundred-and-eighty-third of the whole expenditure.
– The honorable member is only one year out.
Mr.Poynton. - Whv does not the honorable member look the other way ?
– Turn round and talk to the gallery.
– The honorable member is talking to the gallery, if you ask me.
– I again request honorable members to take notice of my calls for order. I cannot afford to be defied in this fashion.
– Why do you not insist, upon the honorable member for Werriwa addressing the Chair ?
– The honorable member is addressing the Chair. If he were out of order I should callhim to order at once.
– I am sorry that I should have to again repeat my statements. I seem to have been unable to state the matter sufficiently clearly for honorable members opposite. I have in my time taught boys of seven or eight years of age, and have been able to make myself understood by them. Perhaps some honorable members opposite have not reached even their standard of intelligence, and it will therefore be difficult for me to use language which will make my meaning clear to them.
– Order ! The honorable member must not reflect upon honorable members.
– I wish to place upon record my objections to the military extravagance of the late Labour Government. No clearer proof of that extravagance can be required than is to be found in the Estimates which have been placed before this House. We, on this side, cannot take the blame because the expenditure had practically been settled by the late Minister of Defence. It cannot be considered the expenditure of the Liberal party, because the financial year had practically opened when they came into power. In spite of the pruning by the present Government, and I believe there was terrible pruning-
– The honorable member’s statement is as false as the Standing Orders will let me -call it.
– It was still impossible for the present Government to cut down the military expenditure as it should- have been cut down. I say that any party which continues this military extravagance should be swept away by the electors when it appears before them. Those who will contend that it is in the best interests of the country to allow this expenditure to go on must be unable to recognise where the true interests of the people really lie. I cannot repeat too often that the true defence of Australia is naval defence. While we have submarines and destroyers, no hostile power will ever dream ‘of putting transport ships on the water to bring a force here to attack us. The military spirit is in honorable members opposite up to the hilt. They do not care how they burden the people with taxation, provided their idea of imposing upon them military rule is carried out. In no other country of the world would they be termed a Labour party. In every other country they would be termed a High Tory party, because it is only the highest Tory, party that is in favour of wanton extravagance in military matters. The idea of Liberals throughout the world is to bring about amity between nations, and- to establish a reign of peace. The so-called Labour party opposite desire to carry out a game of bluff in military matters. While there has been a wave of popular feeling in favour of military extravagance certain commitments have been made.
– The honorable member would commit us to something.
– There is a wave of popular feeling on the subject, and it has required some resolution to oppose it as I have done during the last twelve months or two years. I am as strong a believer in proper preparations for the defence of the country as is any other citizen of the Commonwealth.
– The honorable member has -not the pluck to vote against £1 of the expenditure he condemns.
– Order !
– It is mere deception, and the honorable member desires to wilfully mislead the electors.
– Order! I am calling the honorable member for Adelaide to order.
– This is first time you have mentioned my name, sir.
– I directed my voice to the honorable member, and he took no notice of my call to order.
– The honorable member for Werriwa is making wilfully inaccurate statements.
– Order ! The honorable member for Adelaide, by immediately interjecting again, commits a breach of the Standing Orders, as he knows perfectly well.
– We have a body of men opposed to us who love military rule, and who are so much opposed to strikes that they wish to bring every man, whether he likes it or not, under an award of a Court, so that he -may be compelled to work as if he were a nigger slave. We know that military rule is the only thing fcr this class of people. That is why they take boys of from fourteen to eighteen years of age, and train them to a military life that they may be ready to shoot down their fathers if they refuse to work.
– Order ! Do I understand the honorable member to infer that certain members of the Committee have taken steps to cause boys to be trained to shoot their fathers ? The honorable member is distinctly out of order if that is what he says.
– I never had that meaning, and certainly did not intend to convey it. What I did intend to convey was that in other countries of the world, where there is military rule, one could understand the use of the military for shooting down strikers. In this country we have “boys of from fourteen to eighteen years of age being trained for military purposes, and if any of them are called out to prevent a strike, and are called upon to shoot, clearly we may have an instance of boys being called upon to shoot down their own fathers.
– If the honorable mem ber had an elementary knowledge of the Defence Act he would know that they cannot be ‘Called out.
– I was referring to the manner in which the so-called and selfstyled Labour party have approached this question. I have said that, instead of being a true Labour party, honorable members opposite represent a Tory party of the worst description. Their ideas would not receive the approval of any Labour party in the world. They would be approved only by the House of Lords.
I am quite sure that everv great earl, baron, and duke in’ the House of Lords would be delighted to pass commendation uponhonorable members opposite. It would appear as if they have been striving and working with the object of gaining the approval of such people. I say that our true defence is a naval defence, and that every penny expended upon defence should be expended in that way, beyond an amount sufficient to keep small bodies of men together to repel any passing raid. In these days of submarines, very fast torpedo boat destroyers, of aeroplanes, and wireless telegraphy, by the operation of which every single ship leaving any shore can be traced throughout a voyage, to talk in this light way of the necessity for expenditure upon Military Forces for Australia is to play a game of deceit among ourselves. Our training amounts to nothing. We require from our men only sixteen days’ training in each year. If, out of 360,000 men, we took one in twelve, and gave them three months’ training in each year, we should have a force of 30,000 solid? men at one-fifth of the present cost, thatmight be able to do something if mobilized, and would be the nucleus of a largerforce of citizen soldiers who might be called? upon- to take their share in the militarydefence of Australia. If the real idea of honorable members opposite is to train young fellows that they may fee transr ported elsewhere in case of war with othercountries
– You know well enough that that is not intended.
– What other reason isthere for trying to bring in every citizen,, seeing that there can be no possible landing of troops here while we have a system of naval defence? The honorable member must know that if an enemy comes the whole of our trade must go, and wewould not have the capital to carry on the war. Away would go £160,000,000 worth of trade, that is, £80,000,000 onour side-
– Why do you notaddress some of these remarks to thePrime, Minister ?
– The honorable member has asked me why I do not addressmyself to the Treasurer? I am surethat that right honorable gentleman is at one with me in regretting that the grossextravagance of the Labour Government, has swollen his Estimates to the extent, which is shown.
– Why did he not. cut them down?
– The Treasurer cut theEstimates down by nearly a million, else the country would not be able tocarry on. He had to cut down the Estimates very largely indeed.
– He is borrowing money for defence now.
– Honorable membersknow that while there is an increaseshown in these Estimates, yet every penny of that increase was caused by the misgovernment of the last two or three years. It was because the party on the other side did not understand where they were drifting that we have been put in thisposition.
– Will you move to reducethe Estimates?
– Order !
– However, I am getting away from the point which I wass making, and that was that if honorable members opposite had any consideration!. for the true interests of the country, if 4hey realty wished to establish a sound military force - one that would be useful -and valuable everywhere - they could, at least, have provided for a ballot, under which not more than one man “in every twelve would have been liable for military service. There are 360,000 odd men of military age, that as, persons over eighteen years of age. My honorable friends could have taken one man in every twelve, and have abolished the training of boys between fourteen and eighteen years of age, for that is not good for them. Every other country, even France, where- they train down to the age of fourteen years, has abolished conscription. In Germany, they do not call upon one-half of the men to come out, not only because- the expense of the training is so great, but because they recognise that, as. far as possible, the expenditure should, be kept down.
– If I propose a reduction in the Estimates, will you support me?
– There is no escaping - from the fact that the proposed expenditure on the Military Department for this year, at least, is due to the action- of the late Minister of Defence, who allowed all this extravagance to take- place.
– Will you support a reduction ?
– Order !
– When the Estimates for next year are submitted, I will gladly ssupport a reduction.
– You will not be here.
– I. know that if it were proposed to cut down these Estimates- by even £1 honorable members on the other side would raise a cry that somebody would be deprived of this, that,, and the ther. Not a day has passed here but I have heard niy honorable friends addressing to the ‘Treasurer remarks in which they sought further military exr penditure. I do not suppose that there is one honorable member on that side who in somte form or other has not asked for the expenditure of further sums oh military matters.
– I have not.
– Nor have’ I.
– Did not the honorable member make an application for further expenditure for a drill-hall?
– The honorable member is to be commended. I am glad that there is at least one just man amongst the Opposition. He has- my warm approval of his action. I trust that he will keep te that resolution during the rest of the year, and perhaps if he does, I may be able to get him to vote with me when I move that the military expenditure be cut down. As a navy is our primary line of defence, we may, possibly, have ‘ to take the opinions of naval experts, and see what can be done. I am one of those who believe that this- unit of onrs is too far away from’ the Fleet of the rest of the Empire to be of real value. I hold that the place of our unit is not out here. If we were quarrelling with a country in the East our first act wonld be to send our unit out of the way, so as to- enable it to combine with- the. units of the Empire, which would be hastening to our defence. To keep the unit out here would be to display want of sense and extravagance ; not a due preparation for war. I admit that people may be looking at these matters from the political point of view, but I prefer to treat them from the defence stand-point. Whether the Fleet, of the Empire be large or small, it ought to be a united Fleet, because only in that way could it be of real value in time of war. In that matter there . is no question amongst naval or military experts. Military experts have already told, you that only a certain sum was needed for defence. Yet we have members of the Labour party out-Heroding Herod by saying that so much more should be. contributed than was thought necessary by them.. Reduce your force, take a ballot selecting one man in every twelve, practically abolish your conscription, select the best men - those with a spirit of volunteering in them - make use of all of those, and then you will have a useful force.
– Order ! The honorable member is not now addressing the Chair, and I must request him to do so.
– In that case my honorable friends would, get a true, useful military force. Even then it would be a fairly large force, and one, I think, more than equal to any military necessity that is likely to happen in Australia. I know that a large number of persons are confusing this issue with the question of hygiene. They ask, “ Is not the drilling of the boys a fine thing?” All that drill could be given at sehool infinitely more cheaply, and it could. be given not at odd times and in the evenings, as it is now given to boys from fourteen to eighteen years of age, but during a large part of their school life, the boys could be taught to form fours and to do company drill through the schools, as has been done in the past with the cadet system. We could take a certain amount of money and spend it in that way, but the training would be cheaply done, and just as effectively for those hygienic purposes which some persons seem to so much desire. Then there is the matter of education. If we had to transfer the vote for educational purposes, perhaps, to assist some of the States with what we might call a semi-military education, well and good; there would be no more to be said. I have made these remarks about the defence expenditure, because the Labour party has abandoned what in other countries’ has been held to be the duty of a Labour party, and that is to keep a general censorship over military matters. We cannot trust even to the Opposition in a matter like this, and on our party will be thrown the responsibility of seeing that these Estimates are kept within proper bounds, of saying to the military heads, “ There is the annual sum that we -can afford, and you must do the best you can with it.” So feeble was the administration of the Labour party in defence matters, that although it was pointed out to the late Minister that every country in the world had a system of pensions for military men, yet that which is one of the cardinal principles we should adopt to enable the country to retain the best men for defence was absolutely departed from.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- There is a small reptile which is famed for its ability to change its colour. Running down the trunk of a tree it will be the colour of the bark of the tree. In less than the tenth part of a second - in the jump from the tree into the grass - it changes to the colour of grass. But that reptile is beaten in the race of changes by the honorable member for Werriwa. It does not take him a tenth part of a second to change his political opinions, to change his ideas to black or to white, as the second suits him. He had nothing to contribute to this debate, but purely for party purposes, and with the sole object of casting odium upon honorable members on this side, with whom at present he is not in political favour, he attempted some remarks on defence matters. There is no member of the House who knows less about finance than does the honorable member for Werriwa, and there is no honorable member who talks more about it.
– I said that the honorable member would not understand* me, no matter what I said.
– Order ! I did my best to obtain a hearing for the honorable member for Werriwa. I hope that he will recognise that the honorable member for Adelaide is also entitled to a hearing, and will not interject.
– There is no man in the House who knows less about matters military or naval than does the honorable’ member for Werriwa, and there is no honorable member who talks so much or so often about them as he does. Singularly enough, whenever he rises to discuss any question, there are interjections, because of the absurdity of his utterances, and invariably he says that he is unable to make honorable members understand him. That seems to me his everlasting tale. I am ‘ afraid that he did not even make his electors understand him, for had they understood him as we understand and know him in this Chamber, it is inconceivable that they would have ever so disgraced themselves as to send him here. That would have been outside of the possibilities of common sense. What have we had from the honorable gentleman this afternoon ? We have had a tirade intended to injure the ex -Minister of Defence, Senator Pearce, because he does not happen to be in the chamber to defend himself - a man who, during the last three years, accomplished work second to nothing that has ever been accomplished by a British Minister in a like period, despite the things he may not have done which he ought to have done. Work at which the strongest of men, with the greatest of mentality- and fineness of outlook, might have stood aghast, Senator Pearce accomplished in such a manner, despite the fact that here and there it may be open to objections, reasonable and good, as to earn for himself the due commendation of the whole of the thinking world. But, of course, he has not received commendation from the honorable member for Werriwa. ‘
– From the military world only.
– The objects of the honorable member were, first, to cast odium upon that honorable gentleman, and, second, to affix some blame to this side, with the view of covering up his own political delinquencies of the moment. His tirade against expenditure on defence goes to the wind in a moment when honorable members on this side point out that, in spite of all that the honorable member said, and the vehemence he used, and the peculiar periods he adopted, he has not the moral courage to vote against £1 of the proposed expenditure. I like a man who will stand by his opinions, and who, having expressed them in this chamber, has the courage to say to his constituents, “ I spoke against certain expenditure, and suited my actions to my words.” But could there be any greater contrast than that between the actions of the honorable member for Werriwa and his constant eruptions in this House ? Day after day he rises in some part of the chamber and rages against the Labour party. The words “gross” and “extravagant” are his chief stock-in-trade. Whenever a financial subject is brought up, he jumps as if touched by a live wire, and declaims against those who now sit in Opposition; but not once do we find this wordy, windy gentleman voting against proposals for expenditure made by his own party. He dare not vote against such proposals. He has the courage to put into Hansard tirades such as that in which he has just indulged, because he is aware that a large number of persons who do not know him as we do may accept his statements, but when the opportunity comes to put his words into action, when the enemy is in front and the guns are beginning to shoot, he is to be found behind the biggest stone that will cover him, and squeezes himself into the smallest compass that, a human being can be compressed into, lest he may be hurt. He would be justified in complaining if he would suit his actions to his words, but he has no intention of doing that. In matters of finance, the Treasurer can twist him round his finger. Whenever the Treasurer says, “ Vote Conroy,” Conroy votes. When the Prime Minister, referring to the vaccina tion business, said “Silence Conroy,” Conroy was as quiet as could be. The honorable member says nothing against his own side, because his fellow members would not put up with it. Therefore, he is forced to orate about what happened last year, and to omit all reference to what is happening now, and to what he could stop if he had the courage to vote as he speaks. He has only to vote against any proposal to which he objects, and it cannot be carried. He tells us that he is free, and he may be free, so far as the Werriwa division is concerned, but he is not free so far as the Fusion is concerned. Were he to revolt, the party would put the whip on the tender spot, and the roaring member for Werriwa would be silent at once. You, Mr. Chairman, would not allow me to characterize his statements as infamous, but to say that our defence system is such as to make it likely that the boys would be called out to shoot their fathers is an infamous statement. Could there be a more astounding, cruel and wicked assertion ? Am I not justified in speaking of a statement which would associate such a possibility with the party to which I belong as infamous? Did the honorable member know the mere alphabet of the Defence Act, he would know that boys cannot be called out to shoot their fathers or to suppress strikes. As a member of the. Fusion party, the honorable member for Werriwa is doing his best to foment strikes, and is opposing every effort that we, as a Labour party, make to secure industrial peace. He is of the party that stabs the industrial community, forcing it to rise in revolt to secure ordinary human conditions. It is the conditions which he, because of his political views, upholds, that force men into industrial struggles, which the workers deplore, and would avoid if they could. I shall not occupy the time of the Committee by dealing in detail with the honorable member’s remarks, but it seemed necessary to say a few words to show how deplorably hollow were the utterances of the honorable member. His statements regarding the defence system will hot bear a moment’s examination, and I do not know any other member of the House who would give utterance to them. They show that the honorable member for Werriwa has not read the Act.
– The Labour party would double our military expenditure if it could.
– The honorable member asserted that the present Estimates are the Estimates of the Labour party. Could there be a more inaccurate . statement ? .
– I referred to the Defence Estimates.
– Neither a line nor a letter of the Estimates can be charged to the Labour party. The honorable member knows that the Standing Orders do not permit me to say that he is deliberately inaccurate, but he knows that his statement is inaccurate.
– The honorable member for Adelaide must not attempt to evade the Standing Orders.
– I am sorry if I have done so. I am not allowed to say that the honorable member for Werriwa, in speaking of the Estimates as the Estimates of the Labour party, made a misstatement, but I say that it was a misstatement which stamps him as so utterly unfit to be in public life that one is aghast at the thought of him remaining here any longer. Not a figure of these Estimates is to be charged to the Labour party. The Prime Minister has said that the Estimates are those of the Labour party, because he would say anything for party purposes, but the Treasurer, thank Heaven, is above that.; he has not said it. The present Ministry is wholly and solely responsible for the Estimates now before us. It could have reduced them, or increased them, as it thought fit.
– I ask that the honorable member withdraw his -statement that the Prime Minister would say anything, whether true or untrue, for party purposes.
– For the moment my attention was taken away from the remarks of the honorable member for Adelaide, but if he has made any reflection on the Prime Minister I ask him to withdraw it.
– I said that the Prime Minister would say anything for party purposes, and if exception is taken to that statement, I withdraw it in compliance with our procedure. The party to which I belong has no responsibility for the Estimates. As a matter of fact, the defence proposals for this year are larger than those for last year, and the difference is not attributable to commitments. Had the present Ministry desired it could havecut down the Estimates by £1,000,000, and if it proposed . such a reduction we, on this side, would not oppose it.. Let the honorable member for Werriwa, if heis sincere, persuade the Ministry that he supports to reduce the Estimates. Instead of trying to throw odium on theLabour party, he should plead with his Ministry to treat the Estimates as he desires them to be treated. So far as theLoan Bill is concerned, the Labour party would have reduced the proposals that it contains had we been allowed, but wewere “ gagged. “ It is my hope that in another place these proposals will be reduced, so far as -defence is concerned, and if they send back the Bill to ns with anamendment, the honorable member for Werriwa will be put to the test. We shall’ see then whether he has again changed his colour, or whether he will vote as hespeaks.
– The Labour party would double the expenditure if it came intopower.
– That is a violent assertion, like others that the honorablemember has made. What authority has he for it ?
– The previous conduct of the party.
– Has the honorablemember changed his colour again:? Hashe made another jump from the grass to the tree ? Not only can he speak of thepast, . but he can also prophesy. However, I shall not pursue the subject further. I merely desire to put into Hansard’ a few words which will follow his, so that those who read that publication, and donot know the honorable member for Werriwa, may not he misled by what he hassaid.
– In compliance with the suggestions of the honorable members for Wimmera and Maribyrnong, I wish to say a few words to allay anxiety regarding the position of the NewHebrides business I did not know that that matter was to be brought under notice this afternoon ; but, while honorable members were speaking, I jotted down a few heads, to which I shall now makeshort references. I may, in the first place, assure the Committee that the Governments concerned are, in my opinion. fairly seized of the essential facts for dension. The representations which have been exhaustively made by such bodies as the Associated Churches, which met on the 13th June last, at Paama, and forwarded resolutions, not only to me, but to other honorable members, have been eommunicated to the Imperial Government; as has also the report of a deputation which subsequently waited on me. There will be sent, too, by next mail, the report of a representative deputation which met me in Adelaide on the 17th of this month. Its members comprised representatives of the Church of England, of the Presbyterian Mission, and of the Church of Christ, who have had a zealous and disinterested connexion with the New Hebrides for a period extending over sixty-four years.
Mr.Fenton. - The Marist Brothers are also carrying out mission work in the New Hebrides.
– In expressing appreciation of the good work done by the missionaries as a reason why Ministers and others should put themselves out, if necessary, to meet them - though there was no putting out in my case - I referred to the disinterested and modest work done on the French side by the Marist Brothers and the Sisters of St. Clare.
– Without any hope of reward in this world.
– It is well for us all that there are people of this class permeating their influence through society. Perhaps I might here give a few of the facts with which we have to deal. There are forty islands, and I may take Vila as the central position, seeing that it is the seat of Government. Vila is distant about 1,140 miles from Sydney, and 1,300 miles from Auckland ; and I find that the population of the forty islands consists of 64,500 natives, and 844 Europeans. I am now giving statistics which I have personally collected; and, though they are not exactly those of the French authorities, they are approximately the same. Of the European population, 556 are French, and 288 British, and that, to some extent, may throw light on the question of recruiting. We hear more of recruiting on the French part than on the British, apart altogether from the question of whether the conditions of the Convention have been broken. I notice that, on the British side, the recruits inden tured under the Convention in 1910 totalled 429, while on the French side the number was 1,173, or just about in proportion to the two populations. In 1908 there was a more marked difference, the French figure being 2,262, and the British 594. I should also mention, since the question of the future of the islands may or may not in the near future be raised, that Fiji, the nearest British Possession, is about 500 miles to the East, and the Solomon Islands about 500 miles to the north-west. We should not omit consideration of New Caledonia, which in size is much beyond any of the group of the forty islands, and the resources of which are different. New Caledonia has mining resources which have been fairly tested, and such resources are not to be found in the New Hebrides. On the other hand, looked at from the point of view of strategy - and the question must be raised sooner or later in connexion with the islands - we, as Australians, must have a direct interest in these islands as affecting our connexion with the Empire. I use the word “ direct,” because, while we share the interests of the Empire, whose fate is ours, we have a direct connexion with the international policy of the New Hebrides. In New Caledonia, there are, 1 believe, no harbors worth talking of, while we understand, from the work of Florence Grimshaw, that, in the New Hebrides, there are three splendid harbors. New Caledonia has an area of 7,600 square miles, as against 5,800 square miles in the New Hebrides. New Caledonia is situated 1,058 miles from Sydney, and 758 miles from Brisbane. The population is about 50,000, of whom 28,000 are kanakas, while, from the last report, I think there are 3,500 Japanese in the mines.
– More than that.
– Those are the last figures I could obtain; and I think there was an excess stated by some deputation. I cannot say. that the figures are strictly accurate. These are what I may call the islands which come within the purview of discussion in . connexion with the New Hebrides. Let me now put the position shortly in regard to this Government. In 1887, the Naval Commission was appointed by the Governments of France and Great Britain to maintain order throughout the group. This Commission was connected, not with the internal government, but, generally, with the maintenance of order throughout the group. About 1905, it was felt that perhaps the Naval Commission could not do everything that was required, and that it was necessary a Commission should be appointed to deal with the question of land titles, in which both British and French subjects are interested. The French Government asked that the scope of the Commission should be extended so as to cover the consideration of what measures should be taken, under the acknowledged defect of the absence of jurisdiction, in relation to the natives in the islands. It seems that, to a large extent it was on the suggestion of the French Government that the next arrangement in the form of a Condominium -which applies to the islands now was entered into. The Condominium was entered into about November, 1907, and its general principle, as set forth in the preamble, is that the New Hebrides, Banks Islands, and Torres Islands should form a region of joint influence, in which the subjects and citizens of Great Britain and France respectively shall enjoy equal rights of residence and personal protection and trade, each of the said two Powers retaining jurisdiction over its own subjects and citizens, and neither exercising a separate control over the group, and that the subjects and citizens of other Powers shall enjoy the same rights, and should be subject to the same obligations, as British subjects or French citizens. Honorable members will see that it is emphasized that neither Power is to exercise exclusive control over the group; that still remains within the control of the Naval Commission, whose appointment was confirmed by Article 6 of the Convention. In other words, its duty was to maintain order throughout the group. Within the group there is the Joint Court presided over by a Spanish Judge, Count de Buena Esperanza; a French Judge, M. Jean Colonna; and an English Judge, Mr. Roseby. The language may be either French or English, but that generally used is French. I believe that sometimes great difficulty is caused by the fact that there has to be double translation; in fact, parties to a particular suit often have to have the evidence which may be given in French translated into English, or the other way about.
– Is there not difficulty in obtaining this translation?
– There must be some difficulty, in view of the shades of meaning always affected in translating.
– I mean, is there not difficulty in obtaining even a moderate translation of what transpires ?
– I do not say that there is any difficulty in the way of reluctance to give the translation, but there must be incidental difficulty, where, perhaps, a French Judge may not be as conversant with the English language as is the English Judge. I know the President of the Court can speak English, and when I have had the pleasure of conversing with him in my broken French, we, with the help of the Spanish Consul, managed to get through a two hours’ conference. But, apart from the fact that we cannot always be as explicit as we ought to be, for even in this House there is some difficulty in bringing about an apprehension of the facts of a case - clearness is affected - through a double translation. I am stating these dry facts because they are essential to the’ understanding of the case as presented by the deputations, and because they may be useful for reference. The jurisdiction of this Joint Court extends, in civil suits, including commercial cases, over all suits respecting land in the group, and over suits of every kind between natives and nonnatives; secondly, in police and criminal cases, over every offence or crime committed by natives against non-natives; and, thirdly, generally over the particular offences constituted by the present Convention, in the regulations, for the purpose of carrying it out. Honorable members will observe that the Court has no jurisdiction in criminal cases against non-native respondents, except where the case is one arising out of the terms of the Convention itself. These offences are very few; but where an act of violence, for instance, is committed by a Frenchman or an Englishman against a native, the Court has no jurisdiction; it is the National Court of the defendant that has to entertain the charge’ against him. It is from this fact that the greatest trouble seems to arise.
– There are two separate laws in the same territory?
– As a matter of fact, the French are tried by their own Courts in criminal cases, except such cases as directly arise from the terms of the Convention. These latter cases are generally not criminal, but have to do with offences to which a penalty only attaches, connected, as regards labour, with the terms of indentures entered into with the natives. If, in the course of kidnapping, a murder occurs, then the jurisdiction is not in the Joint Court, but in the Court of the defendant charged - that is, the French or English Court, as the case may be. In the Court the law applies in civil cases, including commercial cases. For land disputes, the principles, as laid down by the present Convention, apply, and, for other disputes, the law of the country to which the non-native party belongs, or the legal system applicable to him . In police and criminal cases, the law is that applicable to the non-native party injured; that is, in all cases of a criminal character it is the law of the English or French- party charged that is applicable. In the case of other offences, the principles that apply are those laid down by the present Convention, or the regulations framed for the purpose of carrying it out.- Besides the Joint Court, there are the National Courts to which I referred, and which practically have the greater part of the criminal jurisdiction. The weakness in the working of this system seems to be that the Joint Court has practically no power to enforce its own decisions. It can fine from 4s. to £20 for breaches of the Convention, and can, I believe, imprison up to three months; but the fines are utterly inadequate to some of the breaches. I need scarcely say that to indenture a number of females without the permission of the husband, as the Convention prescribes, or without the permission of the head of the house in the case of a widow or single woman, is a serious crime in view of the moral questions that arise, and for such offences a comparatively small fine is quite inadequate. Besides, the remission of penalties is placed, not in the hands of the Executive, as we understand the Executive, because there is really none in the group, but in the hands of the Resident Commissioner of the defendant ; that is, the French Resident Commissioner’ has power to remit penalties imposed on French residents by the Court, and the English Resident Commissioner has the same power in the case of - English defendants. It is said by ‘ deputations that the French ‘
Court remits penalties, and that in some trials the charges are not at all proportionate to the offences. For instance, in the kidnapping case, in which a man was shot, it was said that the charge which should have been considered one of manslaughter was merely assault, and the man was let off as a first offender. These are some of the allegations put before me.
– Are you referring to the native who tried to escape, and was shot while in the water?
– Yes. I cannot take everything for Gospel that is said to me by deputations. A Minister has to secure other sources of information in order to criticise and examine matters. He must be guided by people’s characters, by their services to duty, and by their sacrifices in their callings, and so forth. It is my duty in submitting representations to the Home Government, with the view to their being forwarded to the French Government, so far as it is reasonably possible, to sift these statements, and to see that they are sufficiently tested as to their accuracy; but beyond that, from official sources alone, I believe there are several matters sufficiently established to be capable of being brought before both Governments. I need not go into all the weaknesses of the Convention. There are several flaws in it. For instance, there is the provision against the supply of firearms to the natives, but Miss Grimshaw says, that notwithstanding this provision, the New Hebrides are practically an explosives magazine. Firearms seem to be very freely and wantonly used, not for crimes, but in a general way throughout the islands, and that may be due to the f .a0t that shot-guns are excepted, and shotguns are quite as effective as rifles in, times of peace. Then, again, there is a difficulty that the Naval Commission is not very frequent in its visitations to certain parts of the islands. I believe that the British man-of-war clears out in the hurricane season. Sometimes the French boat remains during the hurricane season, but as the vessels of both Powers must act jointly, an island must await a visit from both warships before the Commission can have jurisdiction, and in the meantime a man who may have been arrested is kept and treated as if convicted. There was one case where a man at Vila was kept for eleven months before trial, which is very harsh procedure against a native. Seeing that we are of the white race, and interested in the welfare of these coloured races with which we come into such close relationship, this must strike us as exceedingly harsh treatment. I shall not detail all the weaknesses of the Convention. There were some pointed out in 1905 by the then PrimeMinister, Mr. Deakin, in a communication sent to the Imperial Government. We have also recently communicated with the Imperial Government, drawing their attention to the fact that the established weaknesses - I am using the word “ established “ authoritatively, not only on. what has been said, but on sources that are official - were foreshadowed in a communication of 1905, after the terms of the Convention has been accepted, and it was too late for effective criticism. It was stated in one despatch -
But it will be seen that under Article LVI. the Joint Court is to inflict penalties and to assess damages for breaches of the regulations in order to insure reasonable uniformity in the’ punish- . ment of offences.
Mr. Deakin, in one communication, went on to- point out in the correspondence to which the honorable member for Wimmera has referred, on the question of the different laws that apply for different offences in the islands -
What is desired by us is the establishment of uniform conditions so as to secure perfect equality of treatment of all persons, French or English, an equal degree of cognisance of their wrong doings, and an impartial allotment of punishment where such is merited. It is felt that this will be almost impossible to be maintained under the system of separate tribunals administering separate systems of law which will in no way be bound by each other’s decisions. It is. easy to conceive how serious difficulties may arise through the peoples, of two nations living under sets of laws which in important features, or in administration, may produce or permit undesirable discriminations.
In the face of the fact that the declaration of 1905 forehadowed some of the weaknesses which have been established, I trust and feel we. shall be consulted, as we ought to be, before any final determination is come to in this matter.
– In the same despatch the Prime Minister said that he threw the responsibility of the Convention wholly on the British Government.
– I cannot recall the exact words, but that is the sentiment of the despatch, I think. We have at times called attention to the desirableness of the Colonies directly and approximately affected, being consulted, if possible, by the Imperial Government, before a serious decision is come to. I remember drawing up a memorandum to that effect in connexion with the Declaration of London, and the present Leader of the Opposition was a party to a resolution carried at the Imperial Conference of 1911, directed to that very same end. The liquor question in the New Hebrides is another matter that seriously affects the maintenance of order. It is said that liquor is sold freely to the natives, although it is enjoined by the terms of the Convention that that shall not be done; and, showing the inequality of the punishment, owing to the distance from the seat of jurisdiction, in one case a man was fined £8 for illegally selling liquor - very often these fines are not collected - and the costs incurred were £80, whereas had he been tried at Vila, instead of where he was, the costs would have been about £2. That holds in a good many cases, I understand, throughout the exercise of jurisdiction.
– Then there is the question of the employment of native labour.
– Incidentally, trouble arises in that direction. I have given the figures about the native labour. There are complaints that the terms of the Convention as regards recruiting are not observed; that men are not fairly treated; that women are recruited forcibly in many cases, without the consent of their husbands; and in other cases without the consent of the tribe, where there is no husband.
– What about children under age?
– There is an age prescribed, and it is said that, at times, children are recruited. I have seen official documents in which complaints are made, though a little more qualified, perhaps, than the statements presented to me on the subject from other sources.’ I have endeavoured to get at the French views as well as the English. In the matter of land claims, an important feature is that, as soon as the Court is fully constituted again - the President of the Joint Court is now in Europe, and his presence there may help - the hearings of claims will be commenced. They have not been taken so far, because, first of all, a number of regulations had to be made which, the President of the Joint Court told me a couple of months ago, had only just been approved of by file two Governments;, also, a period of twelve months is allowed for caveats to be entered against claims. However, these hearings will soon come off. But till 1910, the French were alive to their interests, and their Topographical and Survey Department were engaged in the appraisement of claims. The total number on behalf of the Societie Francaise, which I believe is the leading claimant in these islands, covered 1,900,000 acres, whereas the total British claims amounted to 350,000 acres.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I have just about concluded what I wished to say; but I do desire to quote one despatch.
– Is it the pleasure of the Committee that the Minister of External Affairs have leave to continue his remarks?
– This despatch is not confidential, and I may refer to it. It is in reference to the petition alleged to have been sent by some British residents of the New Hebrides, asking the Resident Commissioner of France to advocate the cession to France. This petition was sent Home, and considered by the Imperial Government, on a despatch sent by, I think Mr. Mahaffy. That was the occasion of the despatch, dated 29th August, 1913, from Mr. Harcourt to Lord Denman, our Governor-General, of which I shall give this extract -
I shall, be glad if yon will assure your Ministers’ that His Majesty’s Government are not considering, any proposal for allowing the New Hebrides to become a French possession.
In conclusion, all I can say is that we have endeavoured to interpret the sense of Australia in this matter. That feeling was reflected in 1905, and ‘ I believe the Imperial Government will not ignore us when any vital arrangement is established, deciding the future control of the New Hebrides.
.- I am surprised that the Government have come down with another Supply Bill. On the occasion of the last Supply Bill, I understood the Treasurer to say that it would be the last for the session; but to-day we are confronted with another, and, later on, probably we shall have still another. The Treasurer finds great pleasure in bringing forward these Supply Bills, and in spending money. He imagines he can get it easily and spend it easily. There is one item to which I wish to draw attention. I feel that the Postal Department is being starved for want of funds. I feel it is under-capitalized, and, I believe, that is one reason, why it is not paying. Until the Government capitalize the Postal Department, and bring it up to date,, they will never get a proper result from the Department. I know the Postmaster-General is in great difficulty. I notice that he has to answer more questions than any other member of the Cabinet, and this will continue until the Treasurer agrees to supply him with an additional £1,000,000, in order “that the Department may be brought up to date. The Treasurer has many millions he is playing with, and an extra million will be nothing to him. The PostmasterGeneral cannot get sufficient to carry out many of the works he has in hand ; and if he cannot get the money to complete these works, he will have a continuation of the troubles that already exist in his Department. The Postmaster-General will be pleased to admit that the Brisbane Post Office is the most up to date in the Commonwealth. That is not because that post-office has greater facilities, or because there is a greater supply of money for its use than in other cases,, but because there is in. Brisbane a Deputy PostmasterGeneral who is the most, competent officer in the whole of the Postal Department. It is due to this officer that the post-offices throughout Queensland are more up to date ; that, the telephone system in Queensland is more- satisfactory ; and that the whole service is in a more satisfactory condition than will be found in any other State of the Commonwealth. This is a matter which should receive consideration. I suppose this officer is one of the most miserably paid civil servants in the Commonwealth in comparison with the workhe has done. Though he has been in Queensland for very few years, he has brought the service up to date; but he is not paid a salary commensurate with the work he is performing, and I think it is due to him that the PostmasterGeneral should ask for an increase in his Estimates for the purpose of increasing the salaries of the Deputy PostmastersGeneral throughout the Commonwealth. I wish to draw special attention to this matter, because, when residents of Queensland travel to other places, and have to use telephones, or post-offices, or anything else in connexion with the Postal Department, they find that they are not as uptodate as they are in Queensland. That is one reason why I think the PostmasterGeneral should give some attention to the increase of salaries promised by the late Government. They should honour the commitments left behind by their predecessors. These were thoroughly justified, and it was the duty of the Government to give them consideration when bringing forward their Estimates. So far, they have not done so ; and post-offices all over the Commonwealth require more attention than the Government apparently intend to give them. The Central Office in Melbourne is in a perfectly disgraceful condition. The office where the public write their telegrams is hardly fit for anybody to go into, and the conditions under which the attendants have to work there are simply deplorable. I hope the PostmasterGeneral will bring this Department up to date, and in a manner that will do the Government credit. Many post-offices require attention in my own State, and we have been hammering away at the Department for a considerable time without, up to the present, getting any satisfaction. In South Brisbane, which is growing very rapidly, there is hardly a place worth calling a post-office at all. Old-age pensions are paid there, and the pensioners have to travel considerable distances. There is no accommodation for the purpose, the work being done in a little office about 6 feet by 6 feet. The pensioners crowd in there every fortnight, and many of them have to wait three or four hours before they receive their money. This place in particular should receive some consideration. Big works have been established in the neighbourhood, and, quite recently, many factories have started there. This is the only office in which their people can do any business. I trust the Treasurer will increase the PostmasterGeneral’s Estimates by at least another £1,000,000. Nothing under that amount will bring the post-offices of the Commonwealth up to date, and, until they are brought up to date, we shall not get the results that we should get from them.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.45 p.m.
– I am pleased that the Postmaster-General is present, because I can express to him the great sympathy I have with him in the administration of his Department, which, I think, is the most difficult of all to manage.
– What is the honorable member after?
– The PostmasterGeneral is thoroughly acquainted with what I want, and. is most sympathetic, but he is not in a position to carry out the works he desires to carry out. The fault is the Treasurer’s, and not his. If supplied with the money, I am confident that the Postmaster-General will complete the work that is so much desired in Queensland.
– We have given him over £7,000,000.
– Then the honorable member will have to give him another £1,000,000. I would urge him to take into serious consideration the miserable state of the South Brisbane Post-office. Another part of the district which is thickly populated, and almost without postal facilities altogether, is Wynnum. I think there are about 1,200 houses there, and the postal accommodation is entirely inadequate. There are two or three little offices in the district, but none of them can really be classed as postoffices at all. The residents have already applied for a central office. That suburb is practically divided into three divisions - Wynnum, Wynnum South, and Manly, and the people are absolutely in need of more up-to-date postal accommodation. I know the Postmaster-General does not know a great deal about the Department in Queensland, personally, but he has a most competent deputy, who is doing his best to bring the post-office up-to-date, but is suffering, like the PostmasterGeneral himself, from want of funds. Even if we are losing a fair amount of money in connexion with the Postal Department, we must recognise the great service that it is to the people of the State, and should seriously consider capitalizing it in a different manner from the present.
– What does the honorable member suggest?
– The Government should place on the Estimates a larger amount of money to bring the Department up to date. They will then get an increased revenue by reaping the proper result of the work that can be done by the Department throughout the Commonwealth.
– Borrow a million.
– Certainly. Any honorable member who has occupied the position of Postmaster-General will readily recognise that something must be done to bring the Department up to date. The Minister is continually worried by people from every part of Australia to do work that it is absolutely necessary should be done, but I know that the revenue earned by the Department is not sufficient to enable him to make any reasonable start to carry out the work in anything like a business fashion. Something in the nature of the suggestion of the honorable member for Eden-Monaro, who has had experience in connexion with the Department, should be adopted. When the Estimates are considered I hope the honorable member will lead the way in pressing the Government to increase the amount set down. I think the Queensland office has been more successful, and that a greater amount of revenue has been derived from the working of it, than in the case of any other office in Australia. The revenue in eight years has just doubled. In 1905 the revenue from the Postal Department in Queensland was £330,000. At the end of the last financial year it had increased to £662,000. Much of this result can, I think, be attributed to the Deputy Postmaster-General in Brisbane, who is thoroughly alive to his work, and any Postmaster-General who has recently held office will readily recognise that he is one of the most competent officers in the Department. I understand that he was due for an increase in salary before the late Government went out of power.
– He ought to have had it.
– He would be enjoying it to-day if the late Government had not been defeated.
– Why did they not give it to him when they were there?
– They proposed to give it to him this year. The late PostmasterGeneral wrote a minute recommending an increase, but the present Government have not granted it. This officer is justly entitled to it, having done more in connexion with postal work in Queensland than any other man who has been there. He has enabled the Postal Department to be brought up to date and placed on a thoroughly sound basis. Greater revenue is being derived to-day than would have been the case had another man been in his place.
– I wish the Postmaster-General would send him down to New South Wales.
– He would make a big difference there, and if he were in the central office he would find himself relieved of much of his hard work. . The Chief Clerk in Brisbane is, I understand, classed as a second-class officer, and is receiving only £500 per annum, whereas, in Sydney and Melbourne, men holding similar positions are classed as first-class officers, and are receiving £700 per annum. I do not think that there should be that difference. The business done in the Brisbane General Post Office is almost as large as that done in either the Sydney or the Melbourne General Post Office.
– I do not say that it is as large, but it is increasing so rapidly that it will not be long before it is. The Postmaster-General, I think, will admit that postal business in Queensland has largely increased, and that that increase is due entirely to the good work done by his Deputy in that State. He will admit that the Deputy PostmasterGeneral of Queensland is a most competent officer, and I hope that he will bring him into line with the other Deputies in the matter of salary. I trust that he will also increase the salary of the Chief Clerk, whose remuneration is very much below that of officers holding similar positions in New South Wales and Victoria. The disparity between the salary of the Deputy Postmaster-General of Queensland and those received by the Deputy Postmasters-General of New South Wales and Victoria is not as great as is the disparity between the salary of the Chief Clerk of the General Post . Office, Brisbane, and those of the Chief Clerks in Melbourne and Sydney. Some of the heads of Departments are already down for increases, and I hope that the PostmasterGeneral will carry out the suggestion of his advisers in this connexion. The letter-sorters in the Brisbane General Post Office are much dissatisfied with the system under which any one of their number who is due for an increase has to appear before an Advisory Board consisting of other letter-sorters in the Department, which, if it is not wholly satisfied that he should receive an increase - perhaps for some reason not connected with his office - may recommend that it be not granted. They are under the impression that undue influence may be brought to bear to prevent them getting an increase when they should receive one. The Board is not working satisfactorily.
– Why? Because it has not granted an increment in every case ?
– That is not the reason. The honorable member for Barrier knows very well that the system is not very satisfactory.
– The men asked for this Board, and got it, and now they want something else.
– The honorable member has probably, during his lifetime, obtained things for which he has asked, and has been dissatisfied when he has got them. I think the Postmaster-General, if he consults his experts, will be able to find a more satisfactory method of dealing with this matter. About two years ago a postal officer in Brisbane suggested to the authorities that, in view of the number of typewriting machines used in the Department, tenders should be invited for the manufacture of the machines required by it. That suggestion was never recognised; but I understand that, since it was made, the Department has let a contract for the manufacture of typewriters, and that the change is likely to prove a very profitable one. The officer who made the suggestion should receive the credit to which he is entitled, and should be granted an honorarium for having made such a valuable proposition. The Postal Department in” every State appears to be seething with discontent. This is largely due to the poor pay received by many officers. I hope that the Postmaster-General will give some attention to my representations. I know that he is always prepared to consider any reasonable suggestion made to him, and X am confident that, if he can induce the Treasurer to agree to a considerable increase in the Postal Estimates, and will adopt the suggestions I have made, his Department will be improved, and that more satisfactory results will be obtained from it.
.- I feel sure that the speech just made by the honorable member for Oxley has struck a sympathetic chord in the breast of the PostmasterGeneral, and, whilst he is in a sympathetic mood, I hope that he will give attention to some other matters of considerable importance to his Department to which I propose to refer. We have to recognise, I suppose, that shortage of funds is his greatest difficulty in carrying out a number of important worksin connexion with his Department, and especially in regard to the construction, of telephone lines in country districts. It has been impressed upon this House time and again that the value of telephone lines in the development of country districts cannot be overrated. Let us consider, for a moment, the procedure adopted in connexion with the erection, of telephone lines, and; having done that,. I shall make a suggestion which, I think, the Postmaster-General might very well convert into a departmental practice. When application is made for the construction of a telephone line in a country district, a report is called for by the Department, and an inspector comes along and deals with the matter from what he considers to be a departmental point of view. The requirements and the convenience of the public seem to be regarded as matters of secondary importance. I do not attach any blame to the officer,, but he undoubtedly approaches the matter from a purely departmental standpoint. Having made an inspection, he proceeds to estimate the revenue likely tobe received from the line on the basis of the departmental rates generally in vogue.. The Department then makes an estimate,, and, I understand, considers the construction of the line on the basis of a 10 per cent, revenue, extending over a period of eight years. The departmental estimate,, however, very often - and I am referring to cases where it does - shows that the linecannot possibly be constructed, as the residents desire, as a profitable undertaking. A proposal is then made by the Department that the residents of the district should either enter into a guaranteeto bear a proportion of the loss, or that, they should make a contribution in money or the equivalent in materials or labour.. These limitations are often very onerous and obnoxious to country residents. They feel that the departmental estimate; of revenue is not a fair one, and that the? question has not been approached from a proper stand-point. The Departmentoften will not take into consideration any profit to be gained by the lines already constructed, from the construction of thenew line. In other cases, where a lineasked for is a cross-country one, anc! would relieve very considerably the pressure on the main line, that consideration is not taken into account. Furthermore, the estimate of Tevenue is always based on the fixed charges in force in connexion with the use of telephones. Country residents feel that these estimates are on a conservative basis. ‘ I would suggest that where country residents desire the construction of a line, and their estimate of the revenue likely to be derived from it does not agree with that made by the Department, the line should be constructed, subject to special charges being made for its use. If rates in excess of those usually levied are charged in connexion with that line, they must necessarily give an increased revenue.
– But would the line get the same custom ?
– If the line would prove a public convenience, and its construction is urged on that ground, then the business that would be done would be a purely local business. That being so, the people to be served would undoubtedly be prepared to pay special rates to secure the convenience. Applicants for a telephone line always start out with the statement that it will pay. If they believe it will pay, then they can have no objection to the imposition of special rates, on the understanding that, if a profit is shown, the rates shall be reduced from time to time, until they come down to the normal charges made by the Department. If that course were adopted, we should ultimately have such a line working under normal conditions. If, on the other hand, the special rates required to be maintained, then, I feel sure that the people served by the line would be prepared to pay those special rates in return for the convenience so obtained.
– It has been the general experience in other matters that, a convenience having been obtained on the understanding that a special rate shall be charged, an agitation is- at once raised for a reduction.
– I know that is so. But if it could be shown that a line was not paying, and would not pay under ordinary conditions, there could be no reason whatever for reducing the special rate. If the Department is properly administered, then an agitation for the reduction of special rates, in these circumstances, could have no foundation. If, on the other hand, the working of the line showsthat the departmental estimate is entirely wrong, and that special rates should not be imposed, the rates should be reduced. On the other hand, if the contention of the local residents proved to beinaccurate, no claim could be made for the reduction of the special rates to the ordinary rates. At the present time I have in my mind a case in which the Department is asking the local residents tosubscribe a very large sum towards the construction of a particular line. Thedepartmental estimate of the -cost of that line is one-third more than that of the residents. As evidencing how incorrect is the departmental estimate, I may mention that one resident is prepared to construct a line of greater length from theproposed terminal point to his own place of business, and he assures me that the revenue payable by him in respect of his own suggested line will more than exceed’ the departmental estimate throughout. If he is right, I say unhesitatingly that theresidents in question should not be deprived of that line. On the other hand, if they are wrong they can have no objection to paying the special rate to insure its construction. I would especially commend this proposal to the PostmasterGeneral. Ample power is given under section 97 of the Post and Telegraph Act to frame a regulation to provide for such cases. If people back up their opinions by agreeing to pay these rates, there will be a very considerable extension of the telephonic services in thecountry districts, and there will also be a means of determining’ whether the estimates of the Department or those of thelocal residents are right in regard to the construction of these lines. There is just one other matter to which I desire to refer, namely, contract post-offices. In the case of a large number of these offices the contractors are being paid very small sums - amounts altogether out of proportion to the value of the work done. That, however, is not the worst feature of the position. When a new contract is let, theremuneration in some cases is still further reduced. In certain instances a reduction has been made even where thevolume of the mail matter has increased. I know of one instance in which there hasbeen a slight reduction in payment, notwithstanding that the mail service has- been increased from a tri-weekly to a daily one.
– The contractor has to do a certain amount of work.
– I know that, and I suppose that the scale of remuneration is based upon some general principle. But it does seem a curious thing that what was considered less than an adequate remuneration for a fair amount of work should now be regarded as an adequate remuneration for double the amount of work. Either the old system was radically wrong, or the new system is one of sweating. I would suggest to the Postmaster-General that he should carefully revise the allowances payable to these contractors, especially in country districts.
– I wish to say a word or two to the PostmasterGeneral regarding the balance-sheet for his Department which was issued last Friday, and printed copies of which, I understand, are to be distributed.
– Copies of it have been distributed.
– I inquired about ten minutes ago, and I was informed that copies of it are to be distributed. I learn from the balance-sheet in question that on the Postal Department there was a loss of £407,000 last year.
-That includes interest on the properties.
– I am aware of that. We lost £220,000 upon telephones and £187,000 on telegraphs. If we are to make the Department pay, we should increase the telephone rates. I gather that the bulk of the money is being lost in New South Wales. The telephone ought to be regarded from a commercial standpoint.
– I am going to get a return showing the telephone receipts for the city and towns as against those for the country.
– If we can give greater facilities in either place, we have a right to do so. I have never approached any Postmaster-General with a view to securing a concession in the city, and I have never opposed the extension of telephonic facilities to the country. Our postal rates should be such that everybody can take advantage of them.
– That branch of the Department pays well.
Mr.TUDOR. - It does not. I see that it returns a profit of about £23,000 per annum. I gather that last year, although there was a loss on the Postal Branch of £85,000 in four of the States, there was a profit of £108,000 in two of the States, of which amount Victoria contributed £102,000. Though there was a profit for the Postal, Telegraphic, and Telephonic Branches in Victoria of £8,000 last year, there was a loss of £190,000 in New South Wales.
– Owing to small-pox.
-Then New South Wales ought to be vaccinated.
– Perhaps that loss was accounted for by the honorable member for Gwydir, who stated that he had the whole of his electorate equipped.
– I heard the late member for Indi make a similar statement. I am glad to hear from the PostmasterGeneral that he intends to have the accounts of the Department analyzed. I learn from the balance-sheet that the telephone trunk line between Sydney and Melbourne pays.
– There was a profit of £2,000 upon it last year.
– In addition to that, it is used for telegraphic work.
– Yet the Department said that it would not pay.
– I do not think so. In the first or second Parliament of the Commonwealth I urged that the merchants of Melbourne and Sydney should be compelled to give a guarantee against loss upon its working. The honorable member for Eden-Monaro was PostmasterGeneral at the time.
– Quite a number of honorable members opposite said that it would not pay.
– I was quite anxious to treat the merchants of Sydney and Melbourne in the same way as people in the country are treated. I do not say that the Postal Department, as a whole, should pay. I hold in my hand an interesting book, entitled The Financial Carnival, by the Hon. Joseph Cook, who, in dealing with the Postal Department, wrote “ How the Post Office does not pay.”
– Was that booklet sent free to the honorable member?
– I did not get it from the honorable member. It was given to me, and there is no- reason why we should not know what we say about each other. The Prime , Minister, when Leader of the Opposition, said -
Meantime, these facts emerge with regard to the Post Office : -
The ordinary outgo, therefore^ exceeds the income by -an amount in the region of halfamillion. But to this must be added new works and buildings, which mean Another £1, 152,275.
If honorable members will look at page 47 of the Budget-papers they will find that this year the estimated deficiency on the working of the Post and Telegraph Department, instead of being £444,000, is put down at £602,000.
– Those are the Treasurer’s figures, and they are all wrong.
– Does” the PostmasterGeneral say - that the speech which the Treasurer delivered, and which appears in Hansard, with cross headings throughout, and all the letters of the alphabet after the right honorable gentleman’s name, contains figures that are wrong?
– What the Treasury Department does is to take the cash receipts and expenditure only.
– I am anxious to deal with the matter on the same basis as that adopted by the present Prime Minister when he was on this side. I find that the deficiency of £444,000 on last year’s transactions, to which the honorable gentleman referred, will he increased to £602,000 this year. Last year the estimated expenditure on works and buildings was £1,152,000; this year the estimated . expenditure under the same head is £1,350,000; and, in addition to that, there is an estimated expenditure from loan of £595,000. This year the total estimated receipts of the Post and Telegraph Department ‘ are put down at £4,587,230, whilst the estimated expenditure is £7,134,378. The expenditure on the Post and Telegraph Department this year is estimated to exceed the revenue of the Department by £2,547,148, whereas last year it was only about £1,600,000. It is not unreasonable to assume that our telephonic and telegraphic facilities are not used -by more than 2 per cent, of the community, and it would appear that our rates for the use of. the facilities are not high enough. I do not say that the money- expended upon telegraphic and ‘telephonic communication is thrown away, because I trust that the expenditure will yet be reproductive; but when we are asked to spend on this Department £2,500,000 more than we shall receive from revenue, it is time we looked’ into the rates we are charging for the facilities afforded. ‘ In the booklet to which I have referred,” the present Prime’ Minister charges the late Government with conducting a “-financial carnival,” and going in for an “ orgy of extravagance “ ; but the honorable gentleman’s own Estimates presented this year show that the present Governmentare proposing an excess expenditure in connexion with this Department more than £900,000 greater than the excess with which the late Government were charged. If the Post and Telegraph Department is not paying, and only a small section of the com-‘ munity receives any advantage- from its operation, it is time we inquired into it: It is possible that the 2 per cent, who make use of the facilities afforded are getting them at much too cheap a rate, and certainly the other 98 per cent. - of the community should not be called upon’ to pay for the extra advantages which other people enjoy.
– It may be due to the management.
– If that be so, we should inquire into the management.
– The honorable gentleman would not ask the telephone users to pay- for the mismanagement of the Post and Telegraph Department?
– I would not; but the telephone rates charged here are extremely low when compared with the rates charged in other parts of the world.
– Surely the honorable gentleman would not charge the present Government with bad management?
– I am charging them with precisely the same thing that they charged the late Government with.
– On the last Government’s Estimates?
– These are not the last Government’s Estimates. ‘ I. can defy the present Minister of Trade and Customs to show that I sent in a line of an estimate of the anticipated revenue from the Trade and Customs Department. That
Department collects practically threefourths of the total revenue of the Commonwealth, and if I did not send in a single figure of estimated revenue from that Department,’ and I was in office until the- 25th June last, honorable members can well understand that no Estimates for the different Departments could have been: considered. It is clear, .therefore, that the Estimates now before honorable members are the Estimates of the present Government, and they must stand by them. The honorable - member for Werriwa aired his ignorance here this afternoon. He said that the present Government assumed office only three days before the close of the last .financial year,, and could, therefore, at most, have -only reduced the Estimates of the last Government by .one onehundredandtwentythird. The fact is that the Estimates now before us are the Estimates of -expenditure for this, year, -and not for last year, .and the present Government came into office five days before the termination of the last financial year, so they had ample time to’ prepare this year’s Estimates. I feel sure that the Treasurer is prepared to take full responsibility for -every figure in the present Estimates as “his own.
– He- must’ do so,- but they are based on the draft Estimates of the last Government.
– No; there were no draft Estimates by the last Government. There’ was not a figure sent in in the -shape of a draft Estimate, or in any other way from the Department which I had control of. There is one other matter to- which I should like to direct attention. We are told that we are hastening on to the end of the session-. The Budget will probably be rushed through without honorable -members having a proper opportunity to deal with it.
– Who-said that?
– I heard that rumour, and probably the honorable member for Eden-Monaro has also heard it, because there is no more competent underground political engineer in this chamber than is the honorable member. There is very little going on that the honorable member does not know.
– I cannot return the compliment after what the honorable gentleman has said here to-night.
– In the booklet to which 1 have already referred, I find that the present Prime Minister, when Leader’ of the Opposition, said - .
It is time that the people paid more attention to the financial carnival being run by Mr. Fisher. The control .of the finances is of- the slenderest and feeblest kind. There appears, indeed, to be no time to attend to the business side of the nation. -The Estimates -are pushed over to the last, and often rushed through, a department at a time. There can be no economy when the public accounts are left practically to look after themselves.
The honorable gentleman complained that the Estimates were pushed - over to the last, but what about the present Budget and the present Estimates? There will be two more “sittings this month, and there have never been more than ten sittings .of this Parliament in December, so that there will be very little time in which to deal with financial questions this session. I can remember that in the last three sessions the present Treasurer had two set questions which he put to members of the late Government.
– Was the first: “ When will the Sugar Excise be paid?”
– I shall come to that later on. I admit that that is my biweekly question this session, and I shall continue to ask it until some of the sugar companies disgorge what is part of the . revenue of the people of Australia. I am dealing now with the Treasurer’s ‘ questions. When the right honorable gentleman was in Opposition, he used to ask in July, August, and sometimes in September: “When is the Treasurer going to introduce the Budget?” That question came from the right honorable, gentleman as regularly as a record from a gramophone: After September the right -honorable gentleman used to ask, “ When are we going to have the Auditor-General’s report?” I asked the right honorable gentleman that question last Friday. The present’ Attorney-General and the present Prime Minister were accustomed to denounce the late Government” because the AuditorGeneral’s report was not laid on the table of this House soon enough. They used to say, “ Let us have it before the Estimates are’ discussed.”
– I never asked for that.
– Then I will withdraw what I said about the right’ honorable gentleman as far as the Auditor-General’s report is concerned, and will attribute the question to. the - honorable member ‘for Flinders -and to- the Prime Minister.
-We are all consumed with the same curiosity:
-Yes,. when we.are.’over here. I can remember also that the’ matter of contingencies used to constantly worry the present Attorney-General. We are now within a fortnight or three weeks of the close pf the session, and I suppose that in that time the Budget debate will be concluded and the Estimates passed’, and yet the ‘ Auditor-General’s report- will not.be presented. When are we going to get it?
– Soon, I hope.
– On the 19th August this year, when speaking on the noconfidence motion, 1 raised the question as to whether the present Government had not committed a financial blunder in allowing the sugar companies to take out of bond sugar on which Excise duty should have been paid. At the time I had only a reply from the Minister, of Trade and Customs to guide me as to how far the blunder had gone. The honorable gentleman followed me on the 19th August”, which- is over three months ago, and he said, that the Government had sent out telegrams that day.
– I understood that they were sent on the 2nd August.
– It does not matter whether they we’re despatched then or not. The real point is that the Government had to bring in amending legislation, and the Minister of Trade and Customs said that honorable members would find that these men who had been denounced would prove’ to be patriots. ‘
– They cannot help themselves. They have to pay now, because it is a matter of law.
– The honorable member for Kooyong says that these companies will he compelled to pay, hut I think the Treasurer would like to have the money.
– Hear, hear!
– I thought so. Some of them will never pay. That is my opinion; and it is a good Job that we have it on record that the Colonial Sugar Refining Company owe the Government over £100,000. Mr. Knox or Mr. Kater, of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, at a meeting in Sydney, said that when they found that the Government had made . a blunder in regard to this £100,000, they immediately communicated “ with the . Customs Department; so that they. might’ put themselves right.
-They sent a cheque ?
-No : but, of. course, they said they, would forward a cheque. Today, I asked’ the Minister whether a cheque had been’, received-,: and I was told that not1d. ‘.of the-‘ £158,000 had been paid over.
– What is the Attorney-General doing? . He ought: toget it in.
– Waa that robbed from us?
– I do not ‘say that it was robbed; but it was the financial incapacity of the present Government which allowed the sugar-refiners to ‘ get money to which they had ‘no right. I candidly admit that I would not give 19s: far ‘every £1 that the Commonwealth will get from them. I do not think that it will get all the money. The Colonial Sugar. Refining Company said -that, they -were going to pay up; but why. do they not? Seeing that a law was passed about a month ago, why does’ not the Attorney-General take action to secure the money? I am told that the Government will act in good time. Apparently, they can hand, back cheques to . the. rich coal companies which were concerned in the Vend, case, but cannot collect the cheques from the other fellows. In: dealing , with the Post. Office, I omitted to mention one point According to the balance-sheet, the Department i» debited with certain money with which I think it should not be debited. Under our oversea mail contract, we”- have to pay an extra sum for’ compliance with certain conditions’ which were laid down for. the carriage of butter, fruit, and meat. That is not, I think, a proper charge to makeagainst the Department. There are other debits.
– What does it matter, seeing that the money comes out of the same taxpayers’ pockets?
– If we desire to get a correct balance-sheet, it is not right to charge the amount against the Post and’ Telegraph Department. If we are to encourage commerce, let the payment for such services as I have indicated be charged to the Trade and Customs Department, and not to the Postal Department.
– I do not see any difference.
– I do.
– It is a matter of book-keeping.
– It will be just as easy to debit the amount to another Department as to the Postal Department. The honorable member for Kennedy mentioned this afternoon that the Commonwealth is compelled to ran a service down the Gulf of Carpentaria, and that the Postal ‘Department is debited with a certain amount in respect of that service. We have the people of Tasmania asking for an improved passenger- service, although they make the excuse that they want an improved mail service.they want other steamers put on for the purpose of carrying passengers, and the additional, subsidy will he debited to the Postal -Department.- During the election -campaign, the. honorable member for Gippsland made a statement, to which I. have referred once or twice, and I understand that he takes exception to my remarks.
– Once or twice?
– Or oftener. I shall refer to the statement as often as I like.
– Whether the report is right or wrong.
– It happens to be right, for . I have absolute proof now. On Saturday last, I waB down at the place where the honorable member made the statement, and I can get half-a-dozen men to make a statutory declaration that he said that- £3,000,000 had been spent by the Labour Government, and that no one knew where the money had gone ; and that a . Church . of England minister at that particular meeting which the honorable member addressed during the election campaign said it was robbery. I think that every member of the House, including the honorable member for Gippsland, will admit that each Department has to account for every Id. which it expends. Whether money is extravagantly spent or not is another matter, but every penny ‘of every vote must be accounted for. Yet we have the wild statement made that £3,000,000 was spent under the head’ of” Contingencies,” and not one penny of that amount was accounted for. In this year’s Estimates the amount for . “ Contingencies ‘.’ will be over- £3,500,000. Dealing with the contingencies for the Postal Department, the Prime Minister, when he was leading the Oppo sition, made this statement on page 28 of The Financial Carnival -
Take, as an instance of its necessity, the huge increases in items such as “ Contingencies,” which, in thelost Office alone,has risen from £450,000 ten years ago to £1,090,000 to-day.
The honorable gentleman was referring to the expenditure last year. The amount has gone up this year to £1,238,000, . showing an increase of £148,000. Referring to new Departments, the honorable gentleman said -
There is, for instance, a new Department, called the Prime Minister’s Department, and a sum of £50,000 is set down for the cost thereof.
This year, nnder his own control,’- the cost of the Department is to be £83,000 according to the Estimates. If the expenditure of £50,000 on the Department last year was gross extravagance, surely the expenditure of £83,000 on.it this year will be . more gross ! If it was extravagance to spend £1,090,000 on contingencies for the Post Office last year, and ‘it was doubtful -where the money went to, ‘ although I know it was not doubtful at all, surely it is worse to spend . this year £1,258,000 on contingencies for the same Department?
– That all depends upon the circumstances of the case.
– They are on exactly the ‘ same lines to-day.
– We have to pay for them’ this year. You did not have them so far advanced last year.
– Contingencies are not works and buildings.
– Order I The honorable member’s time has expired.
Dr. MALONEY (Melbourne) [8.471.- I intend to devote most of my remarks to a speech- which was made by the honorable member for Boothby, and in which he took up a position regarding the settlement, of the Northern Territory that is entertained by most persons outside who have not given some study to- the subject. Twenty years ago every remark he made would possibly have been supported by scientific men, hut to-day, with the record of science triumphing over diseases in the tropics, I can look forward with a heart full of hope to the early and permanent settlement . of the Territory. The tropics produce a vast amount of food that is needed by the centres of population. The peoples of the world are increasing so fast that they will have to push into the territories even in the tropics. The difficulty hitherto, has been that the tropics generally, have been inhabited by a large population who are willing to accept remuneration at a very low rate. When white persons attempt to settle down in the tropics they have first to meet certain diseases. Dr. Breinl, Director of the Institute for Tropical Diseases at Townsville, is one of the highest authorities in the world. In three lectures he gave here recently he showed very clearly that the tropics of Australia have many advantages with which the tropics in other parts of the world cannot possibly compete. First of all, he stated that where the men may have a chance to succeed, the women have not, for reasons which cause them at certain times to spend a period of the year in a cooler climate. As honorable members understand, that can only apply to persons possessed of means. But one great point is that the women folk in the tropics, ou account of the cheap labour, do not do as much work as health would need them to do. Our aboriginals cannot possibly assist in the daily routine of the household duties. But in our tropics we have this advantage, that we have to face only disease and heat. I intend to quote a few words from a synopsis of the lecture which Dr. Breinl delivered in Melbourne last Monday night. His three lectures were free to every one, but I am sorry to say they were not as well attended as they should have been. He said -
The influence of high temperature on the animal organism has been studied by many workers, both by observations carried on in the tropics and under artificially produced conditions. The results of these experiments are by no means conclusive, but they appear to point lo the fact that no essential difference obtains between the methods employed by the human organism in regulating its temperature and carrying on its functional activities under tropical conditions, from those which obtain in a temperate climate.
Of the organs of the body the blood is suspected to suffer the most under the influence of a tropical climate. Observations have been made on the number of blood corpuscles and quantity of red coloring matter in the blood of acclimatized Europeans in the East Indies, and on that of American soldiers on service in the Philippines, and these showed that no appreciable change had taken place. Similar observations are being carried out in Townsville on the blood of school children, and so far these show that there is no appreciable difference between the blood of children of the second and third generation, as far as the number of corpuscles is concerned.
With all the incomplete experiments we have, there is decided proof that the power of resistance is likely to be less in the children of the second and third generation. I propose to quote a few figures from the lecture.
– Is a pamphlet to be issued in connexion with the lecture?
– The Minister of Trade and Customs took the chair on Monday night in the unavoidable absence of the Prime Minister, and when I asked Professor Allen if the lecture would be printed, he said he thought it would be. If there is any difficulty about the publication of the three valuable lectures, I hope that the Treasurer will open the purse strings of the Government, and see that the lectures are published for the benefit of scientists and others in Australia. The genius of France, as enunciated by the great de Lesseps, failed to cut the canal through the Isthmus of Darien, simply because the question was, Which would survive, the man or the mosquito ? Some 50,000 lives were lost there. The French built a magnificent hospital, but it merely ameliorated disease by providing the patients with the best-known treatment of the day. Then America, with that definiteness of purpose which she has shown more than, any other country in the accumulation of money, devoted her attention to the benefit of the human race ; and, taking control of the Canal, sent out some 1,800 men to destroy the mosquito. The mosquito was then recognised as the carrier of disease; but the three shadows that hovered over the building of the Canal when the French had the enterprise in hand - malaria, yellow fever, and typhoid - were met, conquered, and destroyed. Since 1904 the United States of America have employed 2,000 men regularly in the work of destroying mosquitoes. The army of mosquito destroyers went ahead, and the workers followed. In 1906 the deaths were only 821 ; in 1907, 424; and in 1908, 282; a reduction to one- third in three years. With regard to the yellow fever, I might mention that Havana was at one time a perfect death-trap, a large percentage of the whites who visited the place falling victims to the disease; while the black race had not become immune after a residence for some generations. Between 1852 and 1900, 35,952 lives were lost in Havana from yellow fever.
– Have not fever and ague superseded iti
– They are symptoms of malaria, of which there are naturally a few cases wherever there is stagnant water to which the mosquitoes can get. Between 1905 and 1909 there were only forty deaths from yellow fever, and in 1907 only one death. Since 1909 until the date of the printing of the work from which I derive my facts - a book by Sir Rupert Boyce, one of the greatest authorities in the world on the mosquito as the cause of disease - there have been no deaths from small-pox, yellow fever, or bubonic plague.. Let me make a short quotation from that work -
The plan of. campaign lay in rigorously prohibiting the keeping of stagnant water, and in screening, house to house inspection, and the infliction of fines if larvae were discovered’. As the result, yellow fever has been ‘ banished. Colonel Gorgas, under whose able direction these successful operations have been carried out, writes in his 1908 report that, “ It is now more than three years since a case of yellow fever has developed in the isthmus, the last case occuring in November, 1905. The health and sick rates will compare favorably with most parts of the United States.” Surely a most successful campaign.
That quotation shows that science now faces disease with opportunities that it never before possessed. In the splendid laboratory of Dr. Breinl there are bloodsucking insects so small that they can get through the finest mosquito netting. When I stayed in Tasmania with the honorable member for Bass, I learned that the orchardist looks on the butterfly and moth, no matter how beautiful the markings, as pests, dangerous to the fruit industry. Science similarly looks on every organism that can fly, and that sucks blood, as the carrier of disease, directly or indirectly. Therefore, I wish to impress it upon the Government that, to settle white men in the Northern Territory, it is our duty to build for them proper houses, as pest-proof as possible. We should provide such houses for the settlers who take there their wives and families to cultivate the rich lands on the banks of the rivers.
– Men and women pioneered Queensland without having houses provided for them.
– I have it on the authority of the honorable member that, if one places a good rump steak above his bed, mosquitoes will not trouble him, because they will be content to suck the blood from the fresh meat, until they reach practically the bursting point. I understand, too, that the steak can still be eaten for breakfast next morning. I pay my meed of praise to the ‘Presbyterians for their missionary efforts’ in the New Hebrides. Before asking a minister to go to the islands, they build for him a fine house, which is made as healthy as possible, because they wish their missionaries to take with them their wives and their children. I ask the Government to follow their splendid example, and to build houses on absolutely scientific principles for the settlers sent to the Northern Territory. These, houses need not. be large, but they should provide sufficient accommodation for a family. They should have a good water supply, and the settlers should be instructed to use kerosene .oil for the keeping down of mosquitoes. It is not necessary to use absolutely pure kerosene oil, which is rather expensive. A semirefined oil could be supplied by the Government at a moderate price, and its use would prevent mosquitoes from breeding. To give effect to my suggestions would do more to settle the Northern Territory than anything else I know of. To make another quotation from Dr. Breinl’s lecture -
The influence of parasitic disease on the white settler has been more thoroughly studied, and the study has shown that many conditions previously attributed to climate are really due to parasitic causes, which may be removed by suitable preventive measures. As instance of this may be mentioned, malaria and yellow fever. The influence on young children of such diseases as malaria and hook worm infection cannot be over-estimated. Their growth is. stunted both mentally and physically, and they present the typical aspects of a degenerate.
Dr. Breinl was most careful to give opinions, which could be weighed by other scientific men, but he was definite in the pronouncing of his belief that the Northern Territory can be made habitable by white men.
– And that families of white men can be reared there ?
– That is a corollary.
– White men are rearing families in Northern Queensland in the same latitude.
– The honorable member for Maranoa will bear me out in the statement that Queensland has a lower death-rate than any other State of the Commonwealth, although there are more kanakas there than in any other State, and the death-rate of the kanakas under the best conditions was ten times that of the white man. To conclude my quotations from. Dr. Breinl’s lecture -
Tropical Australia, enjoys a unique position in tropical lands, lt has a diversity of climate, ranging from the bracing atmosphere of a high tableland to the humid, hot conditions of the coastal districts. The almost total absence of a black population renders the dealing with disease an easy matter, so that we have actually only one factor which might prevent the successful colonization by a white working race - that of climate.
In America it was found very difficult to get the directions of the scientific department for the keeping down of yellow fever and malaria carried out by the black people.
Our knowledge of effect of climate is still fragmentary, and the facts and observations collected iti other tropical countries cannot be applied to Australia indiscriminately. Only careful and detailed research, carried out on the populated coastal districts of tropical Australia, where several generations have been reared, will indicate whether the great experiment of populating tropical Australia by a white working com- munity, can be accomplished.
The British race is insular in its prejudices. When I speak of the British race I recognise that -Saxon England was the result of a German conquest, and that many of our best qualities were brought over from the German fatherland. The Anglo-Saxons and Celts in hot climates hold fast to their liking for roast beef and plum pudding, wear the boxer hat in places where the pith helmet should replace it, often take alcohol in quantities too large for the climate, and wear clothing that is absolutely unsuitable, Turning now to another subject, some honorable members have, been getting in “ upper-cuts “ and “ nasty lefts “ on the unfortunate member for Werriwa, but my opinion is that the Naval Estimates will become a burden such as Australia cannot possibly carry, if the expenditure is to go on increasing as at present.
– But the honorable member favoured naval defence as against military defence.
– And I shall vote for naval defence so long as experts say that we can continue to carry it on. But if I can suggest a better way, it is for me to express myself as freely as the honorable member for Werriwa desired to. I regard Dreadnoughts and superDreadnoughts as in the same category as the armoured man of the Middle Ages, who, when he fell from his horse, required two or three other men to set him up again. We know that the destructive power now available is sufficient to make scrap-heaps of ships costing up to £2,000,000 each; and some of tie fine Dreadnoughts, we saw in Hobson’s Bay when the American Fleet -was here are now on the scrap-heap. I, for one, shall never say a disrespectful word of the Japanese, who have won their right to be called great; and it is their good qualities I fear if it ever should be our misfortune to face them. I asked the Treasurer how many aeroplanes, of an average value of £300, could be built for the £2,000,000 of money expended on our Naval Unit, and I was told about 6,000. Such a number of aeroplanes is not necessary, but, with a coast-line of 8,000 miles, increased to 11,000 miles by the indentations, I see no better guard than aeroplanes, fixed, say, 100 miles apart. Under such circumstances, no enemy would care to approach a port knowing that he was faced with aeroplanes, which, while carrying only two lives, would be capable of sinking a vessel worth two millions of money. We in Australia are in a position of defence; and scientists have -laid down the rule that fewer men are needed to defend than to attack. If my vote is given, it shall be to place a firm thumb on our naval expenditure, and to divert the money, if necessary, to carrying on defence by air. Even half the cost of the Naval Unit would provide a fullyequipped factory for the building of aeroplanes and dirigibles; and my suggestion is that the Government should establish fully-equipped factories from Germany, France, England, Scandinavia, and America, pay the men in each factory good wages, and give a bonus to that factory which produced the best weapon of offence and defence. By this means the racial potentialities of each factory would be stimulated, and An* tralia, at the expense of, say, £1,000,000, would have the finest defence force of aeroplanes and dirigibles in the world. I throw out that suggestion for what it is worth.
– I have just seen a very able article on this subject in Everybody’s Magazine.
– It is an able article. I do not wish the present Minister to - think I am pointing my finger against the late Government for the expense they incurred on defence, because I think that expenditure was perfectly justified. We are, however, establishing a great number of officers at large salaries, and I do not think that that plan can possibly be continued. In Switzerland, as I have previously pointed out, an army of 250,000 men can bc assembled in one place in Ihree days, and it has been urged by Cunliffe, in his book, that England could not possibly do the same in six weeks.
– We cannot compare Switzerland with Australia.
– I wish Australia were as advanced as Switzerland in many respects, for we should then have the referendum and the initiative, and the people would possess the controlling power. The salary of the Swiss General in Command in war time is £2 a day. whereas we have more officers at large salaries than we require.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The Government propose an expenditure of £264,000 on the Defence Department, and if there is one vote that is increasing it is this. It is time that we asked the Prime Minister and the Treasurer whether, by some means, this expenditure cannot be decreased, though I do not blame the present Government, who are simply carrying out a policy that has been laid down. We could, however, make some alteration in the present system of compulsory training. We could, for instance, instead of beginning with the boys of fourteen years, defer their training until they reached the age of sixteen; and, further, instead of keeping them at drill until they are twenty-five or twenty-six years af age, put them in the reserves when they are twenty-one, thus giving them five years of training.
– What is this I am listening to?
– I am making a practical suggestion for the cutting down of the Defence expenditure.
– I shall tell Billy Hughes about the honorable member !
– It is wasting the time of officers to employ them drilling boys fresh from school at fourteen years of age. When they reach the age of sixteen, the boys ha?e more sense and stability, and readily absorb the training.
– Senator Pearce will scarify the honorable member !
– I do not care about that; this question must be faced. The expenditure is growing, and if we keep on as at present-
– The honorable member saw the expenditure growing for three years, and never said a word.
– Here we have over £250,000 set down in this Supply Bill.
-It was more last month.
– We cannot afford this expenditure; and if we go on we shall soon have a greater army than that of Germany. In five years we shall have over 500,000 men trained for the field, and the German Army numbers only about 600,000.
– Every man in Geimany is trained.
– Only about 50 per cent.
– The population of Australia is only a Tittle over 4,000,000; and if we go ‘on as at present, the expenditure will, in five years, be over £10,000,000 on defence alone. Such an expenditure is not reasonable or practicable for such a small population.
– I hope we shall all face the’ question next session.
– I am prepared to face it on the platform now, because it is evident that the expense must break the system down. We, a young country, have set up a Navy, and every ship we build adds hundreds of men to those whom we have to keep feed, and clothe. Under the circumstances, the Commonwealth Government will have to go in for more direct taxation; and I do not think the people are prepared for that. I have looked through the list of officers in the Defence Department, and the number is enormous oi those drawing £500, £600, £800, and so on a year. I see that it is proposed to expend £175,000 on new machinery for the Fitzroy Dock. In my opinion, that expenditure is not necessary at the present time. At present, about 75 per cent, ot the machinery there is new and up to date, and the Warrego has been built and fitted with the machinery at present there. The other three destroyers are . building, and, therefore, we may take it that the machinery is quite capable of doing the work required. The hull of the Brisbane is in hand, and we understand that the vessel will be ready to launch in about seven months. It is not proposed, however, that the machinery shall be placed on the Brisbane at the Dock, because the contract has been let to a British firm. An expenditure of £175,000 on new machinery is not at all required at the present time I hope the Ministry will see that, while a few thousand pounds may be required for machinery, it is not necessary to spend the huge amount of £175,000 to bring the machinery at Fitzroy Dock up to date, because they had sufficient there to turn out the engines for the Warrego, and it will be sufficient to turn out the engines for the other destroyers, while it’ is not necessary to turn out any for the Brisbane, seeing that the engines for this cruiser are being imported. We do not know where we are going in regard to our great naval policy. I do not see any mention on the Estimates of new ships, and I believe that until the present Unit is complete we should stay our hands. I am somewhat disappointed at the work carried on at Lithgow Small Arms Factory. I have heard something about the matter, but I do not wish to make it public now, because I would rather the Minister would inquire into it.
– We have spent £280,000 on that factory, and it has turned out only 1,000 rifles.
– I believe that the British Government have started the manufacture of small arms in India, and they have spent more money than we have, but have not turned out any rifles so far. I do not mention this in justification for the small quantity of work turned out at Lithgow, but I think the Minister will find that there are a few loose screws that need tightening up, and that the supervision should be better. I have no wish to delay Supply, as the Bill, I understand, should go through to-night, but I hope the Government will bring in another policy in regard to trainees. Every youth we train we have to clothe, and we must provide area officers and drill halls, and this expenditure is only starting to grow.
– That is right; it is only starting.
– I regret to say that it is only starting, but that we have started on an elaborate system is no reason why we should continue it when it is found too expensive.
– Training the naval boys costs £500 to £600 a year each.
– That is too much.
– In cases, local halls could be secured instead of building drill halls.
– But the local bodies are not too good in that respect.
– Irrespective of what party sits on the Treasury bench, I hope that in the interests of the taxpayers, and to prevent any additional taxation, an effort will be made to bring before the House a new system of training’ our youths. It should be made a non-party question. I believe the House would assist any Government that would help to curtail the expenditure on the trainee system, while maintaining it in a state of efficiency. No one can tell now where our expenditure on the present basis is going to end. If we take the number of boys to be trained each year, we see that the cost will be enormous, and that we cannot keep pace with it. I urge, therefore, as a matter of justice, that the Government, before they bring down Estimates next year, will introduce a new system so as to save expense to the Commonwealth.
.- Earlier in the day, when I asked the Prime Minister a question without notice, he chose to consider it as frivolous, but I can assure him that I was quite serious. In view of the present position, so far as the relationship between the two Houses of the National Parliament is concerned, and in view of the attitude of the world generally toward Second Chambers, I think the Government should well consider whether it would not be wise, in sketching the designs of the Parliament House at Canberra, for provision to be made for one Chamber only.
– We could turn the Senate chamber into a ball-room.
– The honorable member’s proposal is a fantastic one.
– I do not think it is fantastic.
– Would you do without the Senate?
– I have no hesitation in declaring my attitude on the question. I would abolish the Second Chamber in any Legislature. Members of the Labour party should be the last to suggest the continuance of a practice we have denounced and deplored for years. We have always been in open hostility to the Legislative Councils of the States.
– That is not a fair comparison.
– Why destroy the only decent Second Chamber in Australia?
– The fact . that the Senate is for the time being favorable to the Labour party is no reason why an accident should disturb a settled principle adopted by that party.
– Hear, hear ! lt is an accident.
– The time will very quickly come when the position may be reversed. The present Opposition may soon be on the other side of this chamber, and at the same time the position of the Senate may be reversed.
– That would be a fatal accident.
– The present temporary accident does not conflict with the argument in regard to Second Chambers. Seeing that the bicameral system has outlived its usefulness, in spending public money in building the Capital at Canberra, we may save a few hundreds of thousands of pounds by neglecting to build a second chamber.
– How would it do to bring all the senators into this chamber ?
– The idea that we should have one House, and include the senators, meets with my strong approval. I think there is room in the National Parliament for the voices of the States to be heard.But I do not support the proposal because of the present position of affairs. I would be equally favorable to it if the present position were reversed. When the people of Australia were invited to join in this indissoluble Federation, one of the baits held out to secure votes was that the Legislative Councils of the States would be rendered unnecessary, and could well be abolished. It was also said that the number of members in the State Legislative Assemblies would be reduced. In neither respect has faith been kept with the people of Australia, and we propose to continue not only the two Houses in the States, but also the Second Chamber in the Commonwealth, for, as far as I can see, there is no intention of doingaway with the Senate. This is surprising to me, because of the attitude of the Prime Minister and many members of his party, who in their references to the Senate during the last few months have openly deplored the position. We can well understand their anxiety in the matter, and if there is a possibility of obviating any similar difficulty- in the future, it can best be met by all parties agreeing on the progressive, democratic, and proper policy of true government,, that is, to have one representative Chamber, and to confine legislation to thatalone.
– We cannot bringabout any such change without the consent of every State.
– I am well aware that what the Attorney-General says is correct. But I believe the trend of political thought to-day is to have one responsible Chamber. When kings found they could no longer rule by the assumption of the divine right they claimed, we had our Senates, or King’s Councils, and gradually these bodies have changed until we have to-day Houses of Representatives or Legislative Assemblies directly representative of the people. The Commonwealth Senate is also based on that idea, and that is about the only feature that recommends it as a Second Chamber ; but in my opinion that is not sufficient to justify our perpetuating the bicameral system, and spending unnecessary money . in providing two chambers at Canberra. Though the honorable member for Wilmot has suggested that we might use the second chamber as a ballroom when the Senate is abolished, I would rather save the money, because it would be far better for the government of Australia if we had one House only. I wish now to refer to a speech made by the Prime Minister at Parramatta last Saturday night. He was dealing with the suspension, or, as he stated it, the ejection, of Mr. McGrath, and said -
In this case we followed a precedent of the House of Commons. A man must not abuse the Speaker when he is acting fairly, whatever he might do when he is acting unfairly. Bias on a Speaker’s part, if it can be proven, is a good reason for criticism as strong as it can be made. But Mr. Johnson cannot violate his own party’s principles. He cannot be craven enough to betray his own constituents. Whenhe is forced tovote, how can he vote other than in the interests of the constituency that put him into Parliament? He is but a member, and he has that vote in accordance with his own conscience and judgment. We would be cravens if we did not protect him when he could not help himself. The duty of having a man put out of the House devolves on the Prime Minister. It was a painful duty, but in the same circumstances I would repeat it tomorrow.
The objection I have to this is that we did not follow the precedent of the House of . Commons, and that the precedent of the House of Commons cannot possibly govern us in the matter. I have no wish to repeat what was said this afternoon by the honorable member for Barrier, who pointed out that the Speaker in this House is in an entirely different . position from that occupied by the Speaker in the House of Commons.
– The dissimilarity he sought to show was more fanciful than real.
– The Speaker of the House of Commons is practically guaranteed immunity from election contests, so long as he preserves his impartiality. He is given every possible opportunity to be quite free from all party influences and party campaigns. In the extract I have read, the Prime Minister admits that our Speaker is not in that position, because he says that the Speaker has a direct duty to his constituents and to his party.
– He is in exactly the same position as the Speaker of the House of Commons, who also has to vote when the voting is equal; he has no choice in the matter.
– I admit that the Prime Minister is very skilful in debate.
– It is the whole point. He does it regularly.
– It would require a good deal of searching to ascertain the number of times on which the Speaker of the House of Commons has given a casting vote.
– But he does do it when the numbers are even. That is the point.
– Of course, he does it. The presiding officer of every constituted House, and the chairman of all kinds of bodies have casting votes. But that is not the point that is in dispute, and the Prime Minister has not called attention to the similarity or dissimilarity of the case here as compared with the House of Commons. The Speaker of the
House of Commons is well known to be entirely a non-party man.
– Mr. Lowther was a strong Conservative party man before he was elected.
– I admit it; but not the slightest sign has been given by the present Speaker of the House of Commons, or by any of his predecessors, except, perhaps, in isolated instances, of their party feelings dominating or influencing them.
– There is not the need, because there is not an equal House.
– The Prime Minister has pointed to the fact that the Speaker has a casting vote, and that’ he shows party feeling if he uses it. It is very seldom that the Speaker in the House of Commons has to give a casting vote. In every well-regulated Parliament no Government will carry on unless they have a working, majority. No Government in the Imperial Parliament would continue in office unless they had twenty or more of a working majority. There is no Parliament in the world, unless it is in Australia, where a party has carried on with a majority of one; but in this case the Government are carrying’ on without a single individual as a majority. The Prime Minister at Parramatta, on Saturday night, did not put the case in connexion with Mr. McGrath’s suspension either fairly or correctly. Mr. McGrath was not suspended because he took exception to the . Speaker’s conduct in this House; he was suspended purely and solely because he refused to apologize for having referred to the Speaker’s conduct publicly.
– Order ! The honorable member may not discuss a matter that has already been decided.
– The main feature in regard to Mr. McGrath’s suspension was omitted by the Prime Minister. I do not think it was correct for him to say that when the Speaker of this House is forced to vote, he can vote no other way than in the interests of the constituency he’ represents, and that he could not be craven enough to betray his own constituents. I have previously called attention to what I thought was the unfair reference by the Prime Minister to the Speakership.’ Before the House met; the Prime Minister’ repeatedly referred to the fact that the Government could only hope to carry on on the casting vote of the Speaker. I hold a very high opinion of the responsibilities and dignity of the Speakership.
– I am glad to hear that from the honorable member. The fact has not been apparent lately.
– I hardly need to state it, although I have had no hesitation lately in expressing my opinion of the conduct in this House, not only of the . Speaker and the Prime Minister, but of other honorable members generally. I have no objection, and. there can be no objection, to the Speaker being a party man, and taking care of the interests of his constituents , but I object to the Prime Minister suggesting that honorable members should be limited in the slightest degree, either in the House or outside it, in expressing their opinion of the conduct of affairs either by the Speaker or >by yourself, as Chairman of Committees, or by the Leader of the House. Mr. McGrath was suspended because he emphasized that very principle.
– He said it was not correct.
– I have already pointed out that the discussion of that matter is out of order.
– May, in his Parliamentary Practice, eleventh edition, states, on page 364: -
If the numbers in a division are equal, the Speaker (and, in Committee, the Chairman, see page 382), who otherwise never- votes, . must give the casting voice. In the performance of this duty, he is at liberty to vote like any other member, according to his conscience, without assigning a reason ; but, in order to avoid the least imputation upon his impartiality, it is usual for him, when practicable, to vote in such a manner as not to make the decision of the House final, and to explain his reasons, which are entered on the Journal.
An entirely different practice has been adopted in this House. When the House elected Mr. Johnson as Speaker, they knew he was a good party man. I give him credit for his consistency and loyalty to his party. I have not the slightest objection, and there is no other honorable member of the House who would do other than he is doing if he occupied the same position.
– Why call him a party man?
– What else is he?
– He is acting most impartially.
– I prefer to take the Prime Minister’s statement that the Speaker is acting according to his loyalty to his party and constituency.
– Order! The honorable member is quite out of order in discussing the position of. the Speaker.
– I have no objection to the Speaker doing what he likes inside the House, but the Prime Minister must surely be willing to allow us every latitude and liberty to discuss the procedure of the House oh the public platform.
– Hear, hear! I do not object at all.
– What did you put Mr. McGrath out for?
– That is the whole point. The honorable member for Ballarat has been ejected.
– I must again remind the honorable member that he is attempting to get past my ruling. I cannot allow him to discuss that matter at all.
– I am not trying to evade your ruling, but wish to suggest that, the Government having established their position in the matter, and the honorable member having been sufficiently punished, the Prime Minister might see his way clear to remove the suspension, and let the whole matter drop.
– It is entirely in his own hands.
– I do not think he wants it withdrawn.
– The Government have secured all they wished. They have punished the honorable member for Ballarat and disfranchised his electorate.
– Order ! The honorable member’s references to this incident are distinctly in the nature of traversing the matter again, and no honorable member is allowed to discuss a question that has already been decided in the House.
– I deplore with my whole heart some of the statements made by the honorable member for Werriwa to-day, particularly those regarding the use of the military for the settlement of industrial disputes. No one deplores more than I do, and I think we all deplore, the unfortunate necessity that compels us to spend an increasing amount of money every year on naval and military defence, and I wish I could see the possibility of its stopping, or could put a limit to it. Nothing could be more fraught with danger to Australia than the idea, on the part of any honorable member, that the Military Forces should be available at any time for the prevention or settlement of industrial disputes. We have established in Australia, directly and deliberately, a Court for that express purpose. The object of the Act is stated to be “ Conciliation and Arbitration for the Prevention and Settlement of Industrial Disputes.” With that policy I am in hearty agreement, but I cannot understand any honorable member suggesting the possibility of the military in Australia being asked to take part in the settlement of industrial disputes.
– I do not think that anybody has ever suggested that the military should be used in connexion with the settlement of industrial disputes.
– The AttorneyGeneral is well-qualified to weigh the exact meaning of words. It may not be literally correct to say that the military can “ settle “ industrial disputes, but to suggest that the military should ever be called upon to interfere with an industrial trouble is most dangerous. The Attorney-General the other evening accused us of being syndicalists, and said we were fast drifting into the old system of settling disputes by force. We absolutely deny that charge, and if the honorable member for Werriwa is to be taken as in any sense representing the opinion of any number of honorable members of the House, they must be the true syndicalists, because evidently their method of interfering in or settling industrial disputes is by the force of arms. To this course I am entirely opposed. I should have thought that at this time of the world’s history any attempt to interfere with industrial disputes by force of arms would be regretted and deplored. The experience of the last few years should be enough to warn honorable members of the serious possibilities of such an attitude. Only a few months ago we read of the unfortunate scenes which took place at Johannesburg. We are now beginning to get the facts of that case, and to learn why the military were called out to shoot down the strikers there. We have at present an exhibition of the same methods of dealing with strikers in New Zealand.
– And in Dublin.
– As well as in Dublin.
– Was not a motion of censure levelled at the late Government because we did not call out the military in connexion with the Brisbane strike?
– The honorable member must be something of a thoughtreader, because he has anticipated that which I was about to say. This question was discussed in the House when it was sought to censure the late Government because they refused to call out the military in connexion with the Brisbane strike.
– Absolutely incorrect. Honorable members opposite tried to jam that on to us; but they could not.
– I am sorry that I have not at hand a copy of Hansard containing the terms of the censure motion. It was sought to censure the late Government because we had not taken steps to preserve property, and to keep order in Brisbane during the tramway strike. I have been wondering since then what this Government are going to do. No one can imagine that it is possible to settle economic disputes in such a way. No one’ can imagine that we are going to create a better feeling by harbouring for a moment the idea that strikes may be interfered in by the armed military. When the honorable member for Werriwa referred to young men now in training being called upon to shoot down their fathers on strike-
– I called the honorable member for Werriwa to order when he referred to that matter, and he withdrew any improper significance that might have attached to his words.
– But he made the statement, sir.
– He distinctly withdrew it when I called his attention to what he had said.
– I am so convinced of the immense danger that threatens the Defence system when, such a suggestion is made, that I scarcely know how to express my detestation of it. That there should ever come a time when the Citizen Forces of Australia would be available for such a purpose, is a thought so utterly abhorrent to me, that I think every effort should be made, and every opportunity availed of, to object to such an idea being harboured in the minds of any honorable member.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I wish to refer to a case relating to the administration of the Maternity Allowance Act, which I brought under the notice of the Treasurer a few weeks ago, and in regard to which I think I should have had a sympathetic reply. I hope that, in the administration of the Act, there will be displayed a little more sympathy than is evidenced in this case. I propose to read the letter which I sent to the Treasurer, and which sets forth the facts. It is dated 9th October last, and is addressed to Sir John Forrest, M.P., G.C.M.G., Federal Treasurer, Melbourne. It reads - and I shall leave out the name of the woman concerned - as follows: -
Dear Sir John, - There is a case in my electorate coming within the administration of the Maternity Allowance Act which 1 think is a hardship, and in which I think an injustice has been done. It is in the case of Mrs.- , of Enmore.
During August (I have not the exact date by me), Mrs.- gave birth to a child, which lived about three hours only. An application was made for the maternity allowance, but was refused on the ground that the child was not “ viable.” The matter was brought under my notice bv a mutual friend, which caused me to make personal investigations. There was no doctor in attendance at the birth, and the nurse did nol give her whole attention to the case. Being very poor people, I understand the nurse comes in for a small fee and simply visits the patient in the same way as a doctor would do - at intervals. The mother and child were, therefore, without assistance for some hours immediately after birth, and during this period, it appears, the child died. The birth was premature; the nurse gave her opinion about six months; but the mother states that it was nearer seven, and I tnink the mother’s statement would be more accurate. The child was born alive, and was capable of living,and did live for about three hours. The mother states that she could have saved the child had she been able, without a risk to her own life, to give it the attention required. This she was unable to do. I am quite positive there were no undesirable circumstances, such as it is the policy of the Act to prevent, present in this case. I find that in the case of several of Mrs.- children they were born under the same circumstances, and ore now healthy children. It appears there is some medical reason for these early births. On the1st September I wrote to the nurse and asked the following questions : -
This woman, as I pointed out in my letter to the Treasurer, has several children, and every one of them was born in circumstances similar to those attending the birth of the child in question, so that there is absolutely no suggestion of anything of an improper kind in relation to it. In answer to my letter, I simply received from the Treasurer a formal covering note, with a reply from the Department in Sydney, which was exactly the same as that I had received previously. This shows that the case did not have the consideration of the Treasurer himself.
– I have no power.
– My right honorable friend has power to deal with a case of this kind.
– I have not.
– Let me give the right honorable gentleman an instance in point. The honorable member for Batman brought under the notice of the Prime Minister himself a case of a similar kind. He informs me that the circumstance of early birth was present in this instance, and had been present at other births in the same family, and that the Prime Minister saw that the allowance was paid.
– When was that?
– Quite recently.
– I do not think he did.I have not heard of the Prime Minister having interfered in any way in any matter concerning my Department.
– The honorable member for Batman is not present at the moment.
– It must have been the Commissioner, and not the Prime Minister, who took action.
– The honorable member for Batman told me that he submitted the case to the Prime Minister, bcaus’e he thought it might concern the general policy of the Administration, and that the money was- forthwith paid.
– I have no recollection of the case.
– Under the Act a discretionary power is vested in the Treasurer. I cannot ask the Deputy Commissioner in Sydney to reverse a decision which he has given.
– The Commissioner is supreme, and can reverse a decision given by the Deputy in Sydney.
– The Deputy Commissioner having given his decision, I cannot very well go to him and say, ‘ You have exercised your discretion in a certain direction; I should like you to exercise it in another way.”
– The honorable member can appeal to the Commissioner.
– But I have some voice in this House, whereas I have no power in regard to an official. I am prepared to go so far as to say that the stopping of this payment, because of mere technicalities, is an absolute injustice, In the circumstances,: I should be able to go to the Minister administering the Act, and to ask him to remedy that injustice.
– The Minister cannot order the Commissioner.
– If the Treasurer, having investigated the case, said to the
Commissioner, “ It- appears to me that it is merely because of technicalities that this payment has been stopped,” I am sure that the Commissioner would pay the allowance.
– The Treasurer will -look into the case.
– -What reply did the honorable member receive from me?
– Merely a formal letter forwarding . to me the reply that I had received from the Deputy Commissioner in Sydney.
– By whom is it signed ?
– By the Deputy Commissioner.
– Was it not signed by the Commissioner here?
– No. Apparently a report had been called for, and the’ reply of the Deputy Commissioner, was sent to the Treasurer, who forwarded it to’ me with a covering note.
– I understood that the officers here agreed with the decision of the Deputy Commissioner, but I shall inquire again. There is an appeal from the Deputy to the Commissioner.
– The right honorable member knows how. difficult it is for an honorable member to ask an officer, who has exercised- his decision under the Act, to reverse that decision.
– The Treasurer will see the Commissioner?
– I will look into the matter again. I understood from the Commissioner that the child was not a viable one.
– The child was hot only born alive, but lived, to the knowledge of the nurse, for an- hour and a half. It was alive when she left the case, and the mother says that it lived for three hours. It cannot be said that a child is not capable of living’ when it has actually lived for at least an’ hour and a half.
– I do not know. .
– There are other healthy children in the family who were born under precisely similar conditions.
– Parliament has vested the Commissioner, and not the Minister,, with power in regard to old-age pensions. The Minister cannot order the Commissioner.
– It is idle to quibble about the- technicalities of the-
Act. The Treasurer knows perfectly well that, if a flagrant injustice is brought under his notice, he has power to remedy it.
– I am not sure that an injustice has been done. On the honorable member’s own statement, I think it is very questionable. It appears to me that he is likely to be wrong. It is purely a medical question. Whether a child which lives only one and a half hours - and especially a seven-months’ child - is a viable child, is a matter for a doctor to determine..
– Some of the greatest men who have ever lived have been seven-months’ children. If an injustice has been done in the honorable gentleman’s Department, we have a right to hold him responsible for it. At any rate, I hope that he will look into the facts of the case. If a doctor had been available, of course, the certificate could have been forwarded, and it would not have been open to question. But the people are very poor, and after the child had died it would have been idle to call in a medical man. The fact is that the child was born alive, and lived for some time, and the dictionary meaning of the word “viable” is “born alive and capable of life.” I ask the Treasurer to look into’ the papers.
– I will do that.
– If the honorable gentleman expresses an opinion that a mere technicality has prevented justice being done, I am sure that the error will be rectified.
– I desire to reply to an interjection by the honorable member for Wilmot concerning the censure motion which was moved in this House by the Hon. Alfred Deakin, on 21st June, 1912. In the course of a speech extending over three and a half hours, no less than fifteen pages of Hansard are occupied by Mr. Deakin in referring to the Brisbane tramway strike. He concluded his remarks by moving -
That the following words be added to the Address : - “ And to inform Your Excellency that the Government merits the censure of the House and the country foa- its failure to realize its national and constitutional obligations, for flagrant neglect of its duty to secure industrial peace and good order, and to uphold the law within the Commonwealth ; for its maladministration of public affairs and public departments; for its gross partisan actions and ap pointments, and its reckless irresponsibility in the financial affairs of the Commonwealth.’’
– What does that say about sending the military to Brisbane?
– Honorable members who were in this Chamber at the time will recollect that the whole debate turned on the question of the correctness or otherwise of the conduct of the late Government in refusing to send the military to Brisbane.
– I say that it did not.
– Honorable members will recollect what took place on that occasion. I propose to read, in this connexion, tlie opinion expressed by Colonel Heard, of New Zealand, in regard to the position there. He says -
Many people do not realize the seriousness of the position when the military are called out. I have seen it in Ireland, and know what it meant. It is only at the last emergency that the military should be used. If soldiers and sailors come out they do not come out as police, as some people seem to think, simply tu look on. They come out as soldiers, with rifles, ball cartridges, and bayonets, and come out to shoot if called on by the civil POW* to do so.
My whole desire in raising this question is to endeavour to create in the minds of honorable members a horror of any such position arising in Australia. I should not Have mentioned the matter, but for the remarks of the honorable member for Werriwa. I believe that we are travelling towards a better state of affairs. I well remember that, during the debate on the censure motion, which took place in 1912, the then Ministerial supporters remarked with some surprise that the present Prime Minister made very slight reference to the Brisbane strike. But he said - as will be seen by reference to Hansard, page 149-
I was never more serious than I am in expressing the hope that both sides will vie with each other to keep Syndicalism out of Australia. We do not want it here. We have, I hope, in this sunny land of ours a more excellent way of dealing with these matters. What I fear is, however, that the people outside will become disgusted with the legislative tinkering of Labour Governments from time to time. As a matter of fact, if I am any judge of the situation, they are becoming disgusted. Their votes on every conceivable occasion show that they are. So far as honorable members opposite are concerned, the handwriting is already on the wall. They may smile, but the people of Australia, and their own supporters in particular, are turning from them in thousands, and it is important to note in what direction their faces are set. It becomes us to inquire very seriously into the question of industrial unrest. I subscribe entirely to the statement made by my leader that something ought to be done to encourage to the fullest extent . greater cooperation_ greater harmony and better and more intimate relationship - between the capitalists of Australia and their own workmen.
That is entirely in line with my own sentiments.
– Hear, hear!
– It is very difficult to take the honorable member seriously. If the Government desire to keep Syndicalism out of Australia they will abandon once and for all any intention to utilize force in any form in the settlement of industrial disputes. I admit that there is a good deal of industrial unrest in Australia. I admit that our methods of settling industrial disputes have not been very successful. They have not been successful simply because of lack of cooperation on the. part of the capitalists. Let me take the Brisbane Tramway strike as a case in point. That strike took place in 1912. Here we are at the end of 1913, and yet, owing to every legal device having been availed of by the Tramway Company, the question at issue has not yet been settled. Personally, I am anxious to encourage conciliation and arbitration in the settlement of industrial disputes. At the same time, I do not wonder that workmen are beginning to grow dissatisfied with arbitration on the grounds that it is too slow, too cumbersome, and too costly.
– What about Wages Boards?
– They are more unsatisfactory still. There is nothing more calculated to encourage Syndicalism in Australia than the difficulty of applying conciliation and. arbitration to industrial unrest. Its. application to our defence system is particularly abhorrent. The moment that any Government send out the military to interfere with an industrial dispute, we shall be faced with the difficulty to which the honorable member for Werriwa has referred. The moment any Government authorize the use of the Militia for any such purpose an agitation will commence in opposition to our citizen defence system, and one which can end only in Syndicalism. I wish to avoid that.
– Does not the honorable member hope that the workers will give the Government no cause for such action ?
– Yes. At the present time the Arbitration Court is exceedingly unsatisfactory in its operation. That is not the fault of the Court itself, but of the machinery which is available to it. Honorable members know that every attempt by the President of that tribunal to convene a conference - either friendly or compulsory - of the parties to any industrial dispute has been met with opposition from the employers. The workers have repeatedly shown their readiness to attend these conferences, and to go to arbitration and conciliation, but at every turn obstacles have been placed in their way by the employers. This means Syndicalism. It means that the workers will become tired of this slow legal method of settling industrial disputes. I hope that the Government will see their -way to declare themselves utterly opposed to the use of the military in connexion with industrial disputes, and that those on the other side will just as determinedly set themselves against any attempt to use the military for any such purpose. I am not one of those who believe in peace at any price, but I am whole-heartedly in favour of peace in connexion with industrial, as well as in connexion with international, matters. If we once allow the suggestion of the honorable member for Werriwa to he accepted as in any sense a reflection of the mind of honorable members of this Committee, we shall be creating difficulties for ourselves, inviting opposition to the Arbitration Court, and increasing the tendency towards Syndicalism. The Prime Minister has invited honorable members to oppose Syndicalism, and we on this side are. willing to join him in any effort in that direction, so far as Syndicalism means the use of force in any form to settle industrial matters. Honorable members on both sides should stand shoulder to shoulder in the endeavour to have industrial difficulties settled on reasonable, democratic, and responsible lines.
.- The Prime Minister seemed to question a statement of mine, made earlier in this debate, that he was reported to have said that he would be able to depend in certain circumstances upon the vote of the Speaker. I quote what appeared in the Sunday Times of 7th September, in what professes- to be an interview with the honorable member. It was after the no-confidence motion had . been defeated, and in the interview the matter referred to was the discussion of tire connexion of the Attorney-General with the Marconi Company.
– I thought the statement referred to was made at Wangaratta.
– I shall refer to that later. This is ‘what appears in the Sunday Times. The honorable gentleman is reported to have said -
What will happen then I caDnot say, except that we shall win again, probably by our usual majority of one.
– What is there wrong about that)
– That one is the Speaker. I am not objecting to the honorable gentleman having said that.
– It was not a positive statement anyhow, as the honorable gentleman can see for himself.
– With respect to what occurred ‘ at Wangaratta, the honorable gentleman is reported in the Argus of l2th September to have said -
In the House of Representatives it might be possible to scramble through with the. assistance of the Speaker and the Chairman of Committees. In these circumstances it did not look as if the present Parliament would be a very long one.
The honorable gentleman there said that in the House of Representatives it might be possible for the Government to. scramble through with the assistance of the Speaker and Chairman of Committees.
– I am much obliged to the honorable member for Barrier for answering a tissue of misstatements that my honorable friends opposite are repeating throughout this country. They have repeatedly made me say that I had. the Speaker’s vote in my pocket.
– Did I say that this afternoon?
– The honorable gentleman now says that all I ever said was a mere expression of opinion as to what would probably happen-
– The honorable gentleman should not stir it up again.
– It was only an expression of opinion as to what would probably happen in the case of an equal vote. I hope my honorable friends will no longer make the- statement to which I have referred, now that out of their own mouths they show that there is not the slightest justification for it.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Standing Orders suspended.
Resolution of Committee of Ways and Means covering resolution of Supply adopted.
That Sir John Forrest and Mr. W. H. Irvine do prepare and bring in a Bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented by Sir John Forrest, and passed through all its stages.
House adjourned at 10.35 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 26 November 1913, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1913/19131126_reps_5_72/>.