5th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took tha chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr. SPEAKER reported the receipt of a message from his Excellency the GovernerGeneral recommending an appropriation for the purposes of this Bill.
– Following on the clear and informative explanation given yesterday by the Minister of External Affairs in reference to the control of the New Hebrides, I ask the honorable gentleman if the Government is pressing on the Imperial Government the necessity of having the Commonwealth directly represented at any future Convention by which it is proposed to vary the terms of the present protectorate, or to frame new conditions and terms for the control of the islands!
– I can assure the honorable member that the expediency of the Commonwealth being not only consulted, but also, if possible, represented, was communicated by despatch to the Imperial Government about six weeks ago, and that the despatches that have passed between us and the Colonial Office have been based, not on mere conjecture, but on a full knowledge of the position communicated to us by the Imperial Government.
Locomotives - Small Contracts - Staff
– It was stated in Monday’s Argus that the Department of Home Affairs has accepted tenders for four engines, of which two are to be delivered at Kalgoorlie, and the other two at Port Augusta. The successful tenderer is an importing, not a manufacturing, firm, and I, therefore, ask the Honorary Minister whether the engines are to be manufactured in Australia, and, if so, what are the conditions in regard to subletting ?
– As honorable members will readily understand, in the organization of a big railway construction work like the line from Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta, it is necessary to look a considerable distance ahead with a view to providing adequate locomotive power for extended construction. The further the line is pushed from its base, the greater the number of locomotives and. the supply of rolling-stock required to maintain supplies for continuous construction. Some time ago it was recommended to me by the Engineer-in-Chief for Commonwealth Railways that it was essential to obtain more engines very quickly. I accordingly had all the manufacturers of locomotives in Australia approached, to ascertain whether they could manufacture the engines, and all, without a single exception, replied that they were not in a position to give a speedy delivery. I, therefore, decided to invite quotations for quick supply from oversea firms, and the American Baldwin Company, represented here by Newell and Co., made the most satisfactory offer. We accepted this offer, and at the same time called for tenders locally for the other locomotives that we require.
– Then the four engines to which I referred are to be imported !
– Yes. If they were not imported the work would have to stop.
– I ask the Honorary Minister at what date the Government turned down the tender of Walkers Limited, Maryborough, Queensland, for engines suitable for the Oodnadatta line!
– The engines just referred to by the honorable member for Yarra are for the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta line,
– Has Walkers Limited been given an opportunity to tender for the manufacture of the engines just referred to?
– The question is obviously one of which notice should be given, but, speaking off-hand, I am confident that Walkers Limited was invited, with other Australian manufacturers of locomotives, to give tenders, and that the firm replied that it was not in a position to accept a contract for speedy delivery.
– Has the Minister any objection to laying the correspondence on the table?
– I can let the honorable member see all the papers.
– There appeared recently in the Argus a statement, purporting to come from Perth, to the effect that a contract for clearing along the route of the transcontinental railway has been let by the Government, and sub-let by the contractor at inadequate rates, and that, further, the men employed are working on Sundays. I ask the Minister if he has inquired into the truth of these statements, and, if so, with what result?
– My honorable friend was good enough to inform me before lunch that he would ask the question. Directly I heard of the press statement referred to, I had inquiries made, and the following wire has been received from the Acting Supervising Engineer at the Kalgoorlie end of the line: -
Clearing contractor states he is doing clearing on day labour, same wages and hours as ourselves. He is paying for firewood by the cord. Similar arrangement as followed by cutting contractors on all wood tramways, and is paying is. more. Understand State Government obtains our sleepers on same system. One contractor tried day labour, and one man took ten days to cut 54 cords. If we abandon present system firewood will cost 50 per cent. more.
It is obvious that the newspaper statement is without foundation. In reply to a question that was asked yesterday about the carrying out of the work at the western end of the line with day labour, I desire to say that the work so far arranged on the small contract system is as follows: -
Clearing … 29 miles at ^25 per mile; cutting and stacking firewood, 100 cords at 15s. 6d. per cord ; side drains, at 4s. per lineal chain (quantity of work not specified) ; cuttings, gd. per cubic yard (quantity not specified) ; formation, 12s. to 16s. per lineal chain (quantity not specified) ; cleaning out well at Cardonia, per square foot (total quantity 25 feet) ; boring at Dingo Rock, at 5s. per foot ; rock lank sinking at Dingo Rock, 6s. per cubic yard for first 200 cubic yards, 3s. per cubic yard for next 150 cubic yards ; tank sinking at Jumania, 6s. per cubic yard (total quantity 50 cubic yards) ; erection of telegraph line by piecework also in hand.
– I ask the Honorary Minister if it is the intention of the Government, the policy of letting work by contract having been adopted, to maintain the staffs now at Melbourne, Port Augusta, and Kalgoorlie?
– We have adopted a system of piece-work or small contracts, and it is not the intention of the Government to maintain staffs in excess of the requirements. At the present juncture I am not in a position to say that the staff which we have is excessive, but the matter will be kept in view in connexion with any change of system.
– I wish to ask the Assistant Minister of Home Affairs whether it is the intention of the Government to use the new engines for ballasting purposes and general construction work on the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway?
– Yes. We shall use the engines we have already, as far as possible, on ballast work. These are small engines, which are unsuitable for tha heavy track-laying plant necessary in connexion with plate-laying.
– Will the Minister state whether, in connexion with the transcontinental railway, he is taking into consideration the advisableness of purchasing some of the Diesel oil engines, having regard to the saving which would be secured by their use in the matter of water ? I understand that an advance has been made in the use of such engines, and that they are now being employed in Switzerland.
– The question of using internal combustion engines in order to cut out the difficulties of bad water and comparative scarcity of water in the district was taken into consideration very shortly after the present Government succeeded to office.
– Not before?
– The proposal was considered and turned down by the late Administration. If the right honorable member wishes to have that put in, he can have it.
– That is incorrect.
– It is an absolute fact. I did not touch on the matter until the right honorable member mentioned it. I did not wish to deal with these controversial subjects, but as the right honorable member insisted upon a reply to his interjection he got it. We immediately got into touch with the Diesel Engine proposition, but were not able to arrange any contract for the supply of a locomotive of that type. We have got into touch with another firm, representing the Thomas internal combustion engine - a type of engine which the ex-Minister of Home Affairs, I think, had under consideration - and we have effected a contract with the company for the supply of a locomotive. If we can secure a satisfactory type of internal combustion engine the cost of working the transcontinental railway will be very seriously modified.
– The Honorary Minister promised the Leader of the Opposition that he would make available the papers relating to this matter. I should like to ask whether they are in the building; and, if so, will the honorable gentleman make them available as soon as possible, in view of his statement that the Government intend to import these engines instead of having them manufactured locally?
– I informed the Leader of the Opposition that he could see the papers at any time. I am not sure about the advisableness of making public, at present, all the papers; but the honorable member may see them whenever he likes, and satisfy himself that every care has been taken to see that we did not import these engines without absolute necessity to do so.
– You have turned down local engines before.
– That statement is without a shadow of foundation.
– Seeing that these railway engines, to which reference ‘ has been made, are to cost over £5,000 each, I wish to ask the Assistant Minister of Home Affairs whether they are the ordinary steam locomotive engines, or internal combustion engines?
– The engines in question are the ordinary steam locomotives known as the “ P “ class, New South Wales engines.
– They are costing £1,000 more than the others did.
– That is not so.
– In the absence of the Honorary Minister yesterday, I asked,, the Prime Minister if it was now too late to prevent the importation of the sixteen” ammunition waggons which the Defence Department proposes to bring out; and whether it. would not be possible for the Department simply to import one to be used as a pattern in manufacturing locally the remaining waggons.’ I wish to know whether any further information is available.
– These waggons are o? an entirely new type, and are required for defence purposes as early as possible. Each gun has attached to it three waggons; but the Department proposes to import only one for each gun. They are absolutely necessary for the development of the present defence system ; but it is proposed to manufacture locally from the type imported the remaining two waggons required for each gun. It is hoped that we shall be able to have manufactured within Australia all future supplies.
– On the 9th July, and again on 30th September, I put questions to the Minister of Trade and Customs in regard to reciprocal trade relations between Australia and Canada. The latest information given me was that the matter was under consideration. Will the Minister inform the House whether any progress is being made?
– I am not in a position at present to make any public statement concerning the matter.
– I was asked some questions yesterday in reference to the profit and loss on the telephone business of the Department in town and country districts, and I then promised to have extracted from the departmental balancesheet figures setting forth the position.
I propose now to put them before the House -
It will be seen, therefore, that the only exchanges which were worked at a loss, taking the Commonwealth as a whole (and excluding interest, depreciation, and Central Office administration), are the exchanges with less than fifty exclusive services.
On telephone exchange business there was a total loss of£173,811, made up as follows: -
I have all the items set out here, and, as I think the document will prove interesting, I move -
That the paper be printed.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I take it that what the Postmaster-General has just read will appear in Hansard; and I should be glad if the honorable gentleman would arrange for honorable members to have advance proofs as early as possible.
– Honorable members can have advance proofs as soon as they can be supplied by the Hansard Staff.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
Willhe lay on the table of the House all papers in connexion with the dismissal of Captain Hughes Onslow?
– The Minister of Defence is of opinion that no good purpose will be served by laying those papers on the table of the House.
Mr.Fisher. - Why?
– Of course, if honorable members insist on having the papers, we shall produce them, but we think that no good purpose can be served by their production.
– Surely the man is entitled to a trial?
– Does “the man “ desire those papers to be laid on the table?
– I say that he is- entitled to a trial.
– He has had a trial, and, I think, a very much more deliberate trial than the late Government gave Captain Hardy.
– That does not make the case any better - two wrongs do not make a right.
– Is there a “ wrong “ ?
– According to the Prime Minister, I suppose there is.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers : -
Telephone Exchanges - Working Accounts - Summarized under Groups according to PopulationAll States.
Ordered to be printed.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired -under, at -
Burnie, Tasmania - For Defence purposes.
Drouin, Victoria - For Defence purposes.
Hammond Island, Queensland - For Quarantine purposes.
Kalgoorlie, Western Australia - For Defence purposes.
Lithgow, New South Wales - For Defence purposes.
Pialligo, Canberra, and Goorooyarroo, partly in Federal Territory and partly in New South Wales - For Federal Capital purposes.
Tailem Bend, South Australia - For Postal purposes.
Minister of Defence : Representation of Department in the House - Defence Expenditure and Administration - Cadet Drills: Payment of Trainees by Employers - Defence Stores and Material: Government Clothing Factory: Small Arms Factory : Ammunition Waggons - Military ‘Regulations - Queensland Sugar Industry : Coloured Labour : Exemption Certificates - Naval board - Navigation Act : Director of Navigation - Naval Administration - Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway : Progress of Works : Importation of Locomotives - Beef Trust in Queensland - Alleged Contributions of Trusts to Party Funds.
Question - That Mr. Speaker do now leave the chair, and the House resolve itself into Committee of Supply - proposed.
.- We were told throughout the election campaign that if the present Government were returned to power they would give fair treatment to Australian industries; and members of the Labour party know how, in Victoria, all the candidates on our side were hounded down because it was said they were not true to the prin ciple of Protection. The Age denounced every candidate on the Labour side, but praised all the candidates on the other side, including that tried and true Protectionist, the present member for Flinders.
– Why raise the fiscal question ?
– Because the Government have broken away from their promises.
– The present Government have been in power as many months as the late Government were years.
– That does not happen to be correct. The late Government did re-open the Tariff on two occasions.
– They might just as well have left it alone.
– lt was not worth spitting on.
– No doubt those remarks will receive a lot of applause from the Government side.
Several honorable members interjecting,
– I must ask that the honorable member for Yarra be allowed to proceed with his speech without undue interruption.
– Apparently, this is the “ close season “ for the ejection of honorable members, for they seem to be at liberty to interject without any motion from the Prime Minister.
– I have just called honorable members to order.
– The present Government, in their Ministerial statement, promised that they would deal with any Tariff anomalies that might be discovered. There is no doubt that anomalies must arise from time to time; and the Age this morning tells us of one industry that is being absolutely strangled, and I want to know if the Government are going to deal with it. However, my object in rising is 6o call the attention of the country to the fact that the Department of Home Affairs has accepted tenders in connexion with the transcontinental railway for the supply of two locomotives at Kalgoorlie at £5,200 each, and two at Port Augusta at £4,844 each. These are imported engines, and I should like to know why there should be this difference in price.
– It is a question of freights.
– Then, I take it that it will cost the difference to take the engines from Perth to Kalgoorlie?
– They have to be set up in both places.
– Apparently, the freight from Perth to Kalgoorlie is to cost about £400 for each engine.
– Are the engines to be freighted from Perth to Kalgoorlie, or run from one place to the other?
– As the Western Australian line is a 3-ft. 6-in. gauge, and ours is a 4-ft. 8½-in. gauge, the engines” cannot be run from Perth to Kalgoorlie. The engines that are ordered are of a standard type; there are more of them built in Australia than of any other type. I wish we had the papers here, so that we could find out why these exorbitant prices are to be paid. They are higher than Victoria has paid to the same company for engines for the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge. The present Government are going beyond Australia for these engines, with the excuse that is always made by a Government anxious to strangle local industries, namely, that it is a matter of time.
– Would you rather have the line absolutely held up ?
– Why did not the last Government order these engines?
– I am anxious to seethe papers to ascertain why the present Government took this action. Of course, if the late Government did not take action soon enough, they are to be blamed, and if this Government did not take action soon after they came into office, when they found what was required owing to the representations of the. EngineerinChief, they should be prepared to bear their share of the responsibility. If the notification in the Argus had been merely the fact that tenders had been accepted without the mention of any name, it might have been passed over by most honorable members; if it had not been for the mention of Newell and Company I might have passed it over; but knowing the names of the majority of the large engineering firms in Australia, I was aware that Newell and Company had not made a single engine here. I verified this by looking at the directory. The position is that this firm is to get a higher price for importing these engines than is paid for those manufactured in Australia.
– It was the best we could do to get speedy delivery.
– I am anxious to see the papers. It was only through an oversight that I did not put the question on the notice-paper.
– It would have been fairer had you doneso.
– I grant it; but the papers must be easily available, and the honorable member, had he so desired, could have had them here by this time. They will probably be here later, and other honorable members will not suffer from my disadvantage. If the Minister is right, he will be able to score off me; if he is wrong, honorable members who follow me will be able to score off the present Government, as they are entitled to do.
– I guarantee to keep the matter going until the Minister gets the papers.
– The point I wish to raise now is whether the price to be paid includes the duty. I know the Commonwealth need not pay duty.
– You do not propose that the Government should pay duty to itself?
– No; I do not think it will do so. But if no duty is to be paid on these engines, that fact makes the price comparatively . much higher. Speaking from memory, I think the rate of duty on engines is (United Kingdom) 20 per cent, and (General Tariff) 25 per cent. So that these engines, if the duty is included in the price, will cost, roughly, £25,000 at Port Augusta and Perth.
– The Minister says that the local firms could not supply the engines in time:
– It is for that reason that I wish to see the papers. The Clyde Engineering Company had a contract for four engines. Whether they have delivered them or not I do not know - that is not the particular Department I controlled - but if this Department had informed all the engineering firms in Australia that they required four engines - two at Kalgoorlie and two at Port Augusta - within six months, or eight months, or any other period, I believe that they could have been supplied just as speedily as from beyond Australia. I do not think the Baldwin Company could have engines put together and landed here from the United States of America within four months of the present time. However, my trouble is that I do not know anything definite. I am precisely in the same position now as I was when dealing with the sugar question, uutil after the Minister of Trade and Customs had spoken and admitted that what I had said in connexion with the loss of revenue was accurate. To-day we know nothing definite, because the papers are not available, though they should have been here in a few minutes after they were asked for. The question I submit to the Minister is - whether the price is duty paid or in bond, because if the Minister is paying £4,844 for an engiue landed at Port Augusta this would mean that, at 25 per cent, general Tariff, these engines would come out at over £6,000 each.
– Where does the duty come in if the Government are not going to pay it ‘?
– I waut to know the amount they would cost if they were imported by a State Government. We must compare the price which we will pay with the price the Victorian Government have paid, including the duty, when they imported from the same firm. I believe that the Victorian DD engine is equally as good as the P class New South Wales engine mentioned by the honorable member. They are practically of the same type, and can do fair work, although not perhaps the rapid express work that is done from Melbourne to Adelaide or Melbourne to Albury. At any rate, the DD Victorian engine can do exactly the same class of work as this engiue, and we know that ithas been turned out of the Newport workshops at about £3,600 per engine. When the Commission appointed by this Parliament sat in 1902, Mr. Stinton, then manager of the Newport workshops, said in evidence that when it was desired by the Railway Department to obtain thirtynine engines the workshops gave an estimate of what thev could turn them out for. Comparing this price with the Phoenix Foundry price obtained on sworn evidence by a Commission appointed by the present Attorney-General when Premier of Victoria, and of which Mr. Fairbairn was a member, it was found that these engines could be turned out at Newport, after paying all charges, for about £1,200 less each than by the Phoenix Foundry.
Since then Victoria has built her engines at Newport, with the exception of a tender given to Thompson’s Limited, of Castlemaine, another to Walker’s Limited, of Queensland, another for forty engines to Baldwin’s, of Philadelphia, and another to Beyer Peacock, of Hardwick, near Manchester. Victoria had to pay 25 per cent, import duty on the American engines. I should like to compare the price which was paid by the Victorian Government with the price which the Commonwealth Government are paying now. I believe they are doing in this case what they have done in the case of sugar - throwing away the people’s money.
– You people threw the people’s money in the direction of the mill-owners.
– The honorable member talks a lot about things, but fails to vote for them. He is like the Age, which advocates reform wheu it knows that there is no possible chance of getting it. When there is a chance of getting it that paper is as dumb as an oyster. If the Fisher Government had sent out of Australia for four engines there would be leading articles in the paper to-morrow, and scare headings to special articles. The Age of course keeps one article set up, bringing it out about once a month, changing the heading and dragging in a few new figures, but using the same stock argument over and over again. I am seriously concerned about the action of the Government in not giving the Australian manufacturers the same opportunity that they have given to the importers.
– Does the honorable member deliberately say that we have not given the Australian manufacturers a chance ?
-I have not had an opportunity of seeing the papers, and until I see them and know the time given to the Australian manufacturers to turn out the engines and land them at Port Augusta and Kalgoorlie, comparing it with the time within which they are to be landed by the outside manufacturers, I shall not be able to judge. I do not know if any other honorable member happened to notice the paragraph, but no notification was given to the House that the Government were importing. I am not aware whether any honorable member on the other side knew that the Government were importing engines to the detriment of Australian manufacturers, Australian workmen, and the Australian people generally.
– It would be distinctly to the detriment of Australian workmen if we had to stop the construction of the line while waiting for engines.
– I will guarantee that the engines could be turned out cheaper at Newport, Victoria, Eveleigh, New South Wales, or Ipswich, Queensland.
– If that is so, why are the New South Wales Government importing about £500,000 worth of engines and rolling-stock ?
– Victoria did some importing last year, and had to pay more than the engines could have been turned out for at Newport even without the duty.
– It cost them £70,000 more.
– I believe that is the case. The Honorary Minister is dumb when I ask him whether the price quoted here is correct. We must assume that no allowance has been made for duty. I know it would only go from one pocket into the other, but we have the right to consider the amount of duty payable, so as to compare the price with what the States have paid when importing.
– You have frequently said that the people do not pay the duty.
– I have never said any such thing. Why does not the honorable member talk sense and surprise himself ? Is it possible to see these papers, to ascertain at what date the Government communicated with manufacturers, and within what time they stipulated that the engines were to be % ready] If the Government gave them only a couple of months it would not be sufficient, whereas we know that a large firm like Baldwin’s could turn them out much more quickly, especially if they get this exorbitant price of £4,844 landed at Port Augusta without duty. I do not know whether any other charges have to be paid.
– This snowball is being added to every minute.
– It will be added to before this business is finished, because I take it that the Government have deliberately broken away from the policy of which it was alleged during the election campaign they were in favour. It was stated that they were in favour of. encouraging Australian industries, but now they have shown that they are prepared to give a higher price to importers than to local manufacturers. Did they offer any Australian manufacturer £5,200 each to land engines at Kalgoorlie? Did they offer them £4,844 to be landed at Port Augusta, and the duty added in each case, or about £6,250 for each engine? We know that similar engines can be, and have been, turned out in Australia within’ the last two years at about £3, BOO each. I refer to the DD engine of Victoria.
– That is not the same type.
– I believe it is superior to the P class of New South Wales - although I admit I am not an engineer - and will do all the work that is being done by the present engine.
– Are engines from those works available ?
– I wish to know whether the Government gave the State workshops at Newport and Eveleigh, and the Thompson Engineering Company, an opportunity to supply these engines. What time was given for the delivery of the engines, and were the local firms and the State Governments offered a price equivalent to that at which the importers are going to supply ? I am desirous of knowing what excuse Ministers will make for their change of action. They have gone back on practically everything that was said during the electoral campaign in this State in favour of Ministerial candidates.
– I do not intend to follow up the matter which has just been dealt with by the honorable member for Yarra, although it is my opinion that the Australian Governments import too largely. I cannot say who is to blame for that. I do not attribute blame to any particular Government or set of officials. In this particular case, it seems to me that the officers of the Home Affairs Department should have known long ago that the engines referred to would be needed at a certain date. If they did not know it, they are not fit for “ their positions. If they knew it, and told the last Government that the engines were needed, and no action was taken, it is the fault of that Government that the engines have now to be imported. But immediately the new Government came into power, the officials should have brought under notice the urgent need for the engines, and the new Ministers should have seen that opportunity was given at once to local manufacturers to tender for their supply. Probably any Australian engineering firm, if paid a little extra to meet the cost of extending its establishment or employing its men overtime, could have got the engines manufactured sufficiently early. I am afraid this Ministry has fallen into the same fix as the Victorian Ministry. As years go on, and the railway traffic increases, the responsible officials should know what extra engines will be needed to cope with the increased production of the country. Certainly, they should not be out in their calculations to the extent of sixty or eighty engines, as they have been in the case of Victoria, whereby the people of this State have had to pay about £70,000 more than they would otherwise have had to pay. It is evident that the people of Australia will have to pay more for the locomotives now needed for the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta line than they ought to pay. But this is not a singular case. The same sort of thing takes place in the Defence Department. Either because of the neglect of officials, or because of the failure of the Government to provide the money asked for, orders are kept back so long that material, when wanted, is wanted in a hurry, and has either to be imported, or costs more than it would cost under ordinary circumstances. We are importing much more than we should import, either because the Government does not provide the money that is needed, or because the officials cannot see far enough ahead. I wish to say a few words regarding our position in defence matters. It is generally known that I have not been in favour of the excessive expenditure on defence that has been incurred, or to which we are committed. Certainly, if we are to spend money on defence, we should see that there is as little waste as possible. Under the present system there is an enormous waste. That waste will have to be reduced. Of course, in the running of any business some waste is inevitable, but the waste to which I refer is not of that nature, and should be stopped. Australia will have to take into serious consideration the possibility of reducing her defence expenditure both immediataly and for the future.
– Will .the honorable member indicate in what directions the reduction can be effected ?
– The chief reductions in expenditure must be looked for in the reduction of the establishment itself. Our Army must be up to date, and it would be useless to have one branch of the service without other branches. For instance, having infantry we must have artillery, mounted infantry, ambulance corps, commissariat, and engineers. These arms of the service are inter-dependent - one being impossible without the others. Further, munitions of war and stores have to be provided, and provision must be made for the quicker production of material in war time. But by the time the young fellows who have just passed into the National Guard reach the age of twentysix years, our Army will be far larger than is needed, and I think that a reduction in its strength could be effected with advantage. The larger the number to be trained, clothed, and equipped, the larger the expense of the system, and, under present arrangements, the strength of the forces must increase. The Australian Army will be enormous by the time that the young men of to-day who are twenty have reached the age of twenty-six years.
– Would the honorable member revise “Lord Kitchener’s scheme generally 1
– Were I to say “yes,” I should be charged with pitting my military knowledge against that of Lord Kitchener, which, of course, I do not do. But when Lord Kitchener submitted his scheme, he did not say, “ You must have this, and this ..only “ ; he meant that if we could not afford to finance the whole scheme, we should keep as near to it as possible, and that can easily be arranged. Indeed, the matter will have to be seriously considered within the next two years. We shall have to stop the training of many of those who have reached the age of twenty-one years, and establish Militia or Volunteer Corps, into which to draft men who have taken a liking to soldiering, and are willing to undergo training without compulsion. We do not want a standing army. We want to give the manhood of Australia some training in the handling and use of arms, but taking boys of twelve, and drilling them until fourteen, and then giving them a further training from fourteen to twentyone, should be quite enough for our purpose. To my mind, from 20,000 to 25,000 men fully armed would be a sufficiently large force for Australia.
– What would the honorable member do with the other trainees who had reached the age of twenty-one? Would he make them reserves?
– Having been trained, they would naturally constitute reserves, or they could be called reserves.
– My speech yesterday frightened everybody, and is bringing honorable members round to the commonsense point of view.
– The honorable member has a good conceit of himself.
– These views have not been expressed previously. I admit, of course, that the Age may be influencing honorable members.
– The Age is a friend of the honorable member for Werriwa and his party; it is not my friend. Something must be done to reduce expense. I do not desire to break down the compulsory training system. The present system is certainly comprehensive, but it is too expensive and costly for the population of the country. Furthermore, we need some authority to prevent waste and abuse in the Defence Department. The present Government, whether right or wrong, recognise that. They have seen the necessity for seriously reconsidering the position, and have stopped work at nearly all the Naval Bases recommended by Admiral Henderson. Apparently, Ministers think, rightly or wrongly, that money is being wasted there. But I would go further, and I do not think that I can be cavilled at for doing so. If, under the present arrangement of the Department, it is impossible to prevent abuses, if things are drifting into a state of chaos, and the offices are seething with discontent, and it is impossible to put an end to this state of affairs, some change should bs made. I do not charge either the present or the late Minister of Defence with inefficiency, but it is evident that in military, and in naval matters, too, the officials act largely according to their own sweet will, no matter what the Minister may desire. It is, therefore, necessary to make some change. There might be a Committee of the Cabinet to exercise control over this enormous spending De partment, or an outside Committee might be appointed to help the Government to prevent the officials from running the show, as they are doing now.
– Some change is certainly required.
– Yes. I do not wish to repeat what I have already said about the need for having “the Minister of Defence in this Chamber.
– He should be responsible to the spending House.
– Yes. If it is not possible to have the Minister of Defence in this Chamber, there should be here a Minister clothed with co-ordinate powers and responsibility. It is nob fair to hold any Honorary Minister responsible for things about which he knows nothing, and which he cannot control. The representative of the Minister of Defence in this House should be as completely in touch with matters relating to the Department as is the Minister himself, in order that he may answer questions put to him by honorable’ members. The position is, however, that we cannot get an immediate answer to an urgent question. This* is not because the Honorary Minister declines to supply an answer at once, but because he has not available at the moment the necessary information. He is not the responsible Minister, and dare not give information without first conferring with the Minister of Defence. I have the greatest admiration personally for the present Minister of> Defence, although I think that he is, politically, on the wrong track. He is a strong man, and I am convinced that it will take a strong mau to properly supervize the Defence Department. It is evident to me that, up to the present, the Department itself has beaten every Minister who has administered it, and that it will continue to do so until some better scheme of supervision is devised. I do not suggest that the Ministerial head of the Department, or even a Ministerial Committee, should have anything to do with the technical details necessary to the training of an efficient army and navy. Matters of technical training must be intrusted to the officers, but questions relating to defence stores, supply of uniforms, the treatment meted out to drill-shirkers and employes in the Department, as well as to the men in the Army and Navy, cannot be dealt with fairly by the officers themselves, seeing that, they desire to perpetuate the oldworld system under which a man in the Army or the Navy is regarded as part of one great machine, rather than as an individual.
– Such questions cannot he dealt with bv the House.
– I am aware of that. What I suggest is that there should be created some body to which every branch of the’ Service could go to have a grievance remedied. At the present time, if anything goes Wrong, for instance, with the Stores Branch, the Minister knows nothing about it.. A supplier of stores, or a man working in that branch, who desires the redress of some grievance, cannot readily reach the Minister. The officer immediately responsible, if he does not think that there should be any redress, takes good care that the person concerned does not reach the Ministerial head of the Department. A system of circumlocution is followed, under which it would take a man with a grievance twelve months to get before the Minister, and, long before that time has elapsed, he usually gets sick of the whole thing, and lets it drop. I received a letter from the Department yesterday, and, tin opening it, exclaimed with delight, “ Why, here is an answer within five weeks I “ On reading the letter, however, J found that I was mistaken. In some cases, twelve months have elapsed before questions which. I have submitted to the Department have been answered.
– And’ this after three years of Labour administration - and the Labour Administration inaugurated the whole system !
-The honorable member cannot divest himself of party feeling. I said at the outset that I was not dealing with this matter from a party stand-point, and, that being so, the honorable member’s interjection was quite beside the mark. Lot us consider for a moment the position in regard to the Commonwealth Saddle and Harness Factory.
– It is that kind of expenditure that has inflated the cost of
Lord Kitchener’s scheme.
– It is unnecessary at this stage to discuss the question of whether it was right or wrong to establish such factories. The Harness Factory comes into competition with private firms, who naturally think that the requirements of the Department should be obtained from outside. But I ask honorable members to sst aside for the time being all party considerations, and to view this matter from a proper stand-point, so that without any bias whatever we may come to an honest conclusion as to which is the better system. Having spent a lifetime in the clothing trade, I am able to speak with authority in regard to the work turned out by the Commonwealth Clothing Factory, and 1 do not hesitate to say that it has proved an unqualified success. It is quite true that certain contractors have manufactured clothing for less than the Government factory has done, but the quality of the goods produced by the Commonwealth factory is 100 per cent, better, so that the apparently dearer system must prove cheaper in the long run.
– What! One hundred per cent, better in quality? The report of the factory does not bear out that statement.
– Yes, 100 per cent, better in quality. When the present manager of the Clothing Factory was appointed, I did not think that he was fit for the job, and I said so. I am satisfied now, however, that he understands his work, and I am quite willing to admit that I was wrong. The output of the factory is immeasurably superior to anything of the kind ever produced in any private establishment in the world.
– The auditor’s report compares quality with quality and prices with prices.
– I may be unconsciously biased, because I favour Government factories; but I can honestly say that the clothing produced at the Commonwealth factory is turned out in a better condition “than that produced by any private contractor. The employes also receive better wages, and work under healthier conditions. I have gone to the trouble of comparing goods supplied by private firms with those supplied by the factory, and have found just as much difference between the goods supplied by different firms as there is between the output of the Government factory and that of private establishments. I do not say that all poods supplied by private firms were inferior. Reference has been made to certain garments that were manufactured by a private firm at a certain price. The position in regard to that matter is that a contractor undertook to supply certain garments, and to purchase from the Government the material required for them. When his tender was accepted, I expressed the opinion that it was too low, but he made a start with the work, and, after manufacturing a certain quantity of clothing, gave up the contract. The work was finished by the Government factory, and undoubtedly cost more. But what was the reason? The truth is that this contractor, adopting the cunning method followed by many men in such circumstances, made up the smaller sizes, in which less material was used than would be required for tlie larger-sized garments, and as soon as he had to supply the larger sizes he relinquished his contract. We do not wish to see that sort of thing perpetuated. The history of all the wars in which Great Britain has engaged proves conclusively that the material supplied by private contractors to the British Army and Navy has always been detrimental to their efficiency. We have all heard of the bayonets that bent as soon as they were used, of the boots that wore out in a week, of the clothing that dropped to pieces, and of the bad food supplied by contractors. An army cannot be efficiently maintained in the field unless it is well fed and well clothed ; and the fact that the British Army has succeeded, despite these disadvantages, is but a tribute to the skill of its officers, and the determination and tenacity of purpose of its men. Private contractors have done much to sap their efficiency. We hear almost every week of contractors in various countries being fined or imprisoned for frauds in connexion with army and navy contracts - for robbing the nation by supplying defective material. But let me get back to the Small Arms Factory, the success of which in list undoubtedly depend on its management. I have read in the press lately a good many statements in regard to its alleged inefficiency. Up to the present time, only about 500 rifles have been turned out at the Small Arms Factory, and this at enormous expenditure. This may not be good ; but it is better that we should pay for our experience, if it means that in time of need we shall be self-contained, so far as the supply of arms is concerned. The letter in to-day’s Argus points out that this factory could easily be run, from a commercial point of view, by a private firm. That is quite true, but commercialism does not always mean efficiency to a nation. In any case, the Government would be foolish to hand over the manufacture of our rifles to any private firm. There might be an arrangement made for the supply of arms in time of war, or impending war, and the contractors might be penalized for any breaches of their contract; but a money penalty would be a poor substitute for arms in the hour of need. Under all tlie circumstances, a Government Small Arms Factory is necessary to the people of Australia. If that factory, however, is not properly conducted, we shall, of course, have to take into consideration the advisability of removing the man who is responsible for its conduct. Every inquiry ought to be made in order to ascertain whether the shortcomings are the fault of the manager, or are due to lack of experience on the part of the employes, or any shortcomings in the machinery of the factory. The officials of the Defence Department have not attained that standard which is necessary, and there should be a thorough sifting of the whole position by a Committee. For instance, stores, from the defence point of view, are just as important as arms, whether large or small - stores, in short, are as the blood to the body. Then there is the question of the commissariat; and in this connexion it may be pointed out that, in the case of every camp of over a week, up to the present, except the last camp, there has been a breakdown.
– Do we not also require manufactories to manufacture all the food we require for the Defence Forces ?
– We require a proper Department to make proper arrangements for the supply of proper food.
– It is better to have good food than good clothes.
– The honorable member knows quite well that clothes and boots are an essential, though not quite so essential, perhaps, as food itself. I shall be told, no doubt, that the system contemplates all such matters as those to which I have called attention; but, if that be so, we can only regard the system as heaving broken down. The members of this House ought certainly to take into their earnest consideration the question whether some other method of administering the Defence Department should not be devised . I praise the Lord that the officials at the head of the central establishment on St. Kilda-road are civil servants, and not military or naval men. Indeed, that is the only saving grace of the Department at present. Those civil servants are loyal to their Minister, and do all that is possible to carry out their duties in an efficient manner. But we have a Military Board and a Naval Board, and while the military side seems to be still under some sort of control, the naval section appears to have managed to get away from the supervision of the central body, and to “ run the show on their own.” If a communication be sent to the Minister, he naturally hands it over to the Secretary of the Defence Department; and I guarantee that if it refers to any naval matter it will be months before an answer is received. Then, again, if anybody in the service of the Navy endeavours to reach the head of the Department, it appears to be utterly impossible to do so.
– All Government Departments are like that.
– I may say that I have made myself a nuisance in almost every Department - that I have been a real “ departmental trotter “ - and in every direction I get civility. In the Defence Department you may get tons of civility and graciousness, but I do not care too much for graciousness unless I see some results. I would much rather be told that I had no right to interfere than that they should graciously hear what I suggest, and have, at the same time, a firm determination to do otherwise. In the much-abused Postal Department, in the Customs, and all other Departments,- you can get civility, combined with consideration and finality, while in the Defence Department you get civility, and nothing else. I strongly urge the Government to consider during the recess the advisability of adopting some other method for the management of the Defence Department. I blame no Ministry or Government for the present position of affairs. But we have gained certain experience lately, and I am now making these suggestions, not to the Government as a Government, but to Ministers as managers of the Defence Department. If the system is too large for the present method of control, a Cabinet Committee, or some outside Committee, might be appointed to take the matter in hand. Another suggestion I desire to make is that next session we have in this House a Defence Minister with more responsibility than has the present representative of the Department. As I have said on former occasions, I do not blame the Honorary Minister, whoever he may be, for he is the victim of the system; but until some change of the kind is made, there will never be in this House that criticism and discussion necessary in the case of an enormous spending Department like that of Defence.
– I desire to supplement the remarks of the honorable member for Yarra in regard to the engines that have been obtained for the transcontinental railway. It would have been an easy matter to telephone for the papers that were necessary to give us all the information we desired, and this should have been done in a matter so important. This is not a party question by any means, because all honorable members for years past have been favorably disposed to the construction of this line. It remained for the late Government, however, to be the first to undertake any decisive operations, and follow up their words by deeds. It has been proved to the satisfaction of most keen critics that at the Newport Railway Workshops there can be built, by means of day labour, with our own workmen and a considerable portion of Australian material, engines at a cheaper rate than that at which they can be obtained from other parts of the world. The Honorary Minister said that the New South Wales P class engines were, in size and strength, equal to some of the largest on the Victorian railways. I am in a position to say that that information is not at all correct. The largest engines in Victoria, which are used for heavy goods and express traffic, are considerably heavier than any engine on the 4-ft. 8-in. gauge of the New South Wales railways. Those large engines, at Newport, cost to construct about £56 per ton, and, as the engines and tender weigh 78 tons, the total cost of building what are really the heaviest engines made south of the line is, in a State factory, under State Socialism, £4,368. Are we to pay to Baldwin and Company of the United
States of America £10,400 for the construction of two engines to be delivered at Kalgoorlie of a strength and size much less than the largest engines made in Victoria ? In other words, are we to pay nearly £1,000 more for an engine not nearly of the class of the biggest engines on the Victorian railways? The worst feature of this policy is that we are depriving our Australian workmen of this particular work. I know the reply that has been given already by the Honorary Minister, as it will be given by the AttorneyGeneral and other members of the Ministry, is that because these engines were required at an early date, we had to send away from Australia to have them made; but that excuse - I can characterize it as nothing else - is not satisfactory to me, at any rate. The Government professed to be very pronounced so far as Protectionist principles are concerned, and tine one dominant note in both parties during the last contest was that, wherever practicable, goods required for the Commonwealth Government for use in the Commonwealth should be obtained and manufactured in Australia, and the present step is a very serious departure from that policy. The Commonwealth Government are following the bad lead of Victoria in this respect. The taxpayers of Victoria are paying £68,000 for forty DD class engines for the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge more than the same engines would have cost if made in the Newport workshops; or, approximately, £1,700 more per engine is given to the American manufacturer. I” understand that when the DD class engines of Victoria are compared’ with the P class in New South Wales there is not much difference in regard to haulage ‘ power. It would seem that the present occupants of the Treasury bench do not give a fig for Australian industries, or Australian workmen. They are showing it in more ways than one. To-day the honorable member for Melbourne Ports has supplemented previous complaints about sending out of Australia for waggons required for military purposes. I agree with the honorable member for Melbourne Ports that if we require a new type of waggon it is necessary to import one- only, and then allow some of our local workmen to have the pattern and make the rest for us. In the constituency of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports we have already had waggons of a similar type manufactured, and it is understood that they have been’ turned out to the satisfaction of the officers of the Department. I hope the present Government will have some consideration for Australian workmen, and for Australian employers, too. It is not right under cover of the privileges of the House to say anything derogatory to a firm, but when a Melbourne firm tenders for the supply of engines that are ‘to be built by a big constructing firm in America it must be apparent that the firm is getting its commission,, so here again we have the middleman coming in, buying from the Baldwin Company in America engines which are not nearly of the strength of the A2 engines, the largest in use on the Victorian railways, not nearly so large, and not nearly so good for haulage purposes. Yet the Commonwealth Government, which is supposed to protect Australian employers and employes, sends away to the United States of America and pays £1,000 more per engine for engines not nearly so good as those that can be made locally. Again, in the case of the Victorian Government, the forty DD class engines to which I have referred could have been manufactured at a cost of £3,200 each in Victoria, but the Government sent away for them. Whatever the present Government do in legislative or administrative action, their supporters will have to bear the brunt of it in the country, and I know that some of them will have fairly knotty questions put to them, and because of actions of which the Ministers have been guilty. Apparently, with the present Administration, it is a case of government of contractors by the contractors for the contractors. Ministers are always looking after contractors. They have a deep anxiety on their account. Everywhere they are rushing into contracts and breaking up organized factories such as the Saddlery Factory, the Clothing Factory, and other factories we have, of course, leaving alone the Cordite Factory, because they know that cordite cannot be manufactured elsewhere. But I maintain it is just as competent for the Government to manufacture saddlery, clothing, and boots for the soldiers, as to manufacture the cordite which is to be placed in the cartridges the soldiers use if they go into action. The factories to which I have referred have been established on a good basis, each showing its own balance-sheet. The last balance-sheet from the Clothing Factory has shown that we have been able to turn out clothing at a much cheaper’ rate than that at which the contractors had previously been able to do it, and that the quality of the work was far and away superior to that of the contractors. Yet here we rush away to contractors - and foreign contractors at that - and pay £1,000 more for an engine than it could be manufactured for in Victoria, and all on the score that the work is required to be done hurriedly. This seems to be a standing excuse that some officers make. I do not accuse all officers, because I believe there are some loyal Australians at the head of our Government Departments, but there are some who seem to have a particular leaning toward men outside Australia. The Assistant Minister of Home Affairs tells us that he is advised by his officers that these engines are required at a fairly early data, °and that there were no engineering firms in Australia who were prepared te tender to supply them in the required time. That is the excuse that is always given, but it is not satisfactory to me, and it should not be satisfactory to the people of Australia.
– But if it is true, is it not a good excuse ?
– Then you would postpone indefinitely the building of the transcontinental railway?
– Had the late Government remained in office, and these engines were required, they would not have dreamed of sending out or Australia to have them manufactured.
– Then you mean that they would not have got them at-all.
– I believe they would have given local manufacturers an earlier opportunity of tendering. According to the Honorary Minister, the officers of the Department have said that it is necessary to have these engines in three mouths or three and a half months. But why did they not take action earlier? The present Ministry have been in office close on five months, and they must have known of this requirement, otherwise the officers controlling the transcontinental railway have been sadly blind to construction requirements. Perhaps they have been waiting for the verdict of tho Government as to whether they should engage in the ex penditure. Possibly the Government have been putting these officers off, in the same way as they have been putting others off. Whether it is from a burning desire to put so many Australians out of employment, or whether it is that they desire to save money during this financial year, so as to finish the year with a thumping surplus, the fact remains that the Government are nOt carrying on works in some directions, while they are spending money lavishly in others. The other day they brought out a wireless expert at a fee of £2,000. I have not had an opportunity of glancing at the papers in connexion with this matter, but I see that the expert has practically indorsed what the previous Government and their wireless expert did. I believe it has been found that the Balsillie wireless system is not an infringement on the Marconi system, and that it is so good, if press reports are to be believed, that the present Postmaster-General has already communicated with the British Government offering them the improved system that our man has brought out in Australia. Yet the present Government must bring out an expert, and pay him £2,000, and they must have a Federal Capital expert, and pay him a considerable sum, and they must have an expert for the Naval Bases, and pay him a considerable sum - I suppose £6,000 will not pay the whole of the expenses when the bill is finally totted up. In this direction the Government are spending money, but, apparently, they are saving it in other directions, but by depriving bread-winners of families of employment they had been enjoying under the previous Administration. Then, in this matter, we are sending out of Australia for four engines for the transcontinental railway construction. Had the officers of the Department been up-to-date and fully equipped in respect to their requirements, they would have given the order for these engines previously. They may have the excuse, and may be able to say that the Government delayed giving their decision as to whether these engines should be purchased or not; but, in any case, the Government of the day must bear all the blame for permitting the orders for railway engines to go beyond Australia, especially when the engines could be made more than £1,000 per engine cheaper in
Australia, and have given employment to Australian workmen, and led to the use of Australian material, thus doing what is conducive to the building up of a nation. If we are always to have in power a Government who, on the slightest provocation, send orders out of Australia, it will mean that thousands of our best engineers will be unemployed, while those in other countries will be well employed and receive Australian money for carrying out our work. To put it plainly, I hope the Government will come to their senses, and realize that we have people in Australia who can do the work just as well as foreigners, and I hope they will not allow their Free Trade proclivities to have so much weight with them. I can do no more in this matter. I do not know whether the press will take note of it, but I should say that the Protectionist press ought to say something for the pro- tection of Australian employers and Australian employes, and that we should not allow this amount of work to go out of Australia. Seeing that we are so heavily t axed in respect to defence, surely we require all the money we can gather into our pockets, and how can we expect to be a self-reliant people when a considerable portion of the work that can be done here better and cheaper than elsewhere is sent out of the country ?
However, I shall have a word to say with regard to the sugar business. I know that almost exclusively Queensland folk, with the exception of the honorable member for Yarra, have had a monopoly in dealing with this question, but I wish to speak in regard to the Sugar Cultivation Act passed by the Queensland Government. Certain regulations have been drawn up under that Act, and I shall read portion of section 3, which is as follows: -
Any person not otherwise entitled to exemption under the foregoing provisions of this regulation, whom by reason of -
The subsistence between the nation to which such person belongs and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland of a treaty conferring most favoured nation rights, or
such person’s long residence within Queensland or the Commonwealth, or
such person having a lawful wife or family residing within Queensland, or
any other circumstances satisfactory to the Secretary of Agriculture.
These regulations are supposed to guide the Queensland Government and the employers of labour on the sugar cane-fields as to how labour shall be employed, but sub-section d, I claim, means the opening of a door once more to allowing coloured alien labour to be employed on the sugar cane-fields of Queensland. Whether the Denham Government had this in mind in framing these regulations I do not know, but it seems to me that this will be the result. Let me quote from the Cairns Times of the8th November, 1913, which journal says -
Sub-section (d), in our opinion, is quite enough, without the others, to enable the Secretary of Agriculture to defy and override the most vital principle of the Act, and thus it makes an absolute farce of the measure. At time of writing (Wednesday, 5th), fifty-eight applications for exemption under the regulations have been received at the Cairns C.P.S. office, and ere long, no doubt, about 500 of the coloured aliens in this district will have made similar applications; ‘and it is quite possible that the Secretary for Agriculture may grant each and every one of those coloured aliens exemption certificates, and thus absolutely nullify the White Australia principle of the Act, which is, in fact, the soul of the measure, so to speak.
It is a very serious thing that the State Government have passed such a measure and such regulations as to make this kind of thing possible. All I can say as an out-and-out Protectionist is that I know the people of Australia are paying a considerable sum to make the sugar industry of Queensland a white industry, but if by the Queensland Act and regulations it is permissible for a considerable number of alien coloured labour to be employed, we shall have to revise our opinion and to consider whether the sugar industry should be granted the protection it now enjoys from the National Parliament. That is a fair question.
– It has had 50 per cent, protection.
– And that Protection was given to foster the White Australia policy. As a Protectionist, I shall seriously consider, if ever the question comes before the House, and if a considerable portion of coloured labour is still employed on the cane-fields of Queensland, whether it is worth while to protect the industry any further. It is about time the sugar-growers of Queensland took that matter into consideration. If they ask us, as a National Parliament, to protect them - and this Parliament has most generously come to their rescue - they should observe the one condition that has always been insisted on - that they shall employ white labour on the fields. I hope the Attorney-General will convey to the Minister of Trade and Customs the information that I have just quoted, so that serious inquiries may be made at once as to whether the whitelabour conditions of the sugar industry are being violated. I hope the sugargrowers will take warning from one who is prepared to fight to the last ditch for Protection as a national policy for all classes of the community. I am sure that the honorable member for Eden-Monaro will agree with me.
– I am beginning to think that some of my farmers on the South Coast ought to get the same consideration as these farmers in Queensland.
– I do not believe in setting one lot of farmers against another.
– According to the figures given in the Budget-papers, there has been an enormous reduction in black labour.
– Only a few years ago we were able to boast that we were producing enough, or nearly enough, whitegrown sugar in Australia to supply our own demands.
– We nearly did so for two seasons.
– That fact at once gave a complete answer to the black labour party. The Queensland Government have recently passed certain legislation governing the working conditions on the sugar-fields; but nobody knows better than the Attorney-General that, very often, the intention of Parliament can be frustrated by the way in which an Act is administered and regulations drawn up under it. According to the extract I have quoted, it simply devolves upon one officer of the Agricultural Department of Queensland to say whether or not coloured labour shall be employed on the fields.
– Have you any evidence that he has given permits to coloured people ?
– I have quoted information to show that applications have been made for permits, and I believe in sounding a warning note as soon as possible. The Commonwealth Government are under a pledge to the people to see that the Queensland Government carry out their part of the contract by making labour on the cane-fields white, and not black. If they do not see that this is done, many of us who have strong Protectionist leanings will have to vote in a very different way on the question when the sugar industry is next being considered.
– Will you vote that way <
– I say so- if a considerable proportion of coloured labour is employed in the industry.
– Where do you propose that that coloured labour shall go to? Would you have it employed in the dairying industry?
– I do not wish to pit one set of farmers against another. I am prepared to give Protection to all industries; but we are paying a big price to have the sugar industry white, and that condition must be observed. What is the advantage of protecting an industry that employs black labour in Australia against competition with black labour in other parts of the world? I tell the Queensland .members, and, through them, the Queensland sugargrowers, that they had better mind their p’s and q’s with regard to the employment of black labour, or they will find this Parliament turning them down when they next ask for consideration.
– It is cruel to say that.
– One is provoked to say it by the actions of certain people on the Queensland side. Even the honorable member for Moreton would not advocate the employment of black labour on the sugar-fields.
– I do not think you are justified in making that insinuation.
– I have seen certain statements made in the press, and I have based my remarks on them.
– What has the Attorney-General to say to this?
– I do not wish to be hard on him, but I believe he is what is termed a “fiscal atheist.”
Unless things are managed a little differently in the Defence Department, men who have been enthusiastically in favour of an Australian citizen soldiery and Navy will have to reconsider their expressed opinions. Many things. are happening now that are not conducive to the proper building up of the protectors of this country. Let me quote the following information that has been sent to me: -
A few facts - for your own study.
Commonwealth Military Regulation’ 28 reads -
Warrant officers, non-commissioned officers, and men of the permanent forces will salute all commissioned officers, whom they know to be such, whether dressed in uniform or not. . . Warrant officers, non-commissioned officers and men of the Citizen Forces in uniform will similarly salute all commissioned officers when in uniform.
This requires a permanent soldier (whether in uniform or not) to salute a citizen, or senior cadet, or junior cadet officer, whether that officer is in uniform or not.
The permanent soldier mav be met or called on at his own home by the officer, who, perhaps, in private life is an insurance agent or commercial traveller of some kind, who wishes to sell a sewing machine or other goods. The permanent soldier must salute the agent, stand at attention while he is being addressed, and answer “ sir “ to the agent when speaking to him.
This is ridiculous, but it is in accordance with the regulation, and, although it may be said that the regulation is not insisted on in such cases, if it is the regulation it has a right to be obeyed as well as any other, and the remedy is not to overlook it, but to alter it.
A permanent soldier should salute all” permanent officers, but he certainly should not salute other officers, except when they are in uniform ; nor should he be ordered- to salute children (junior cadet officers). Fancy a soldier with, say, 25 years’ permanent service, saluting a boy of seventeen or eighteen, and addressing him as *’ sir.” especially if the young fellow addressed happened to be visiting the other as an agent for sewing machines, or in some such capacity. To continue -
An amendment to the above regulation is needed, and would be more in accordance with common sense, and would not lower the value and idea of the salute, but would have the opposite effect.
These may appear small matters, but many of them, taken together, produce, like so many pin-pricks, an irritation which finally cannot be endured longer. The regulation is No. 28.
– Was it not framed by . the last Government?
– I do not know; but, while I am prepared to defend the members of that Government when wrongly attacked, I am also prepared to blame them for anything they have done which I think not to be right.
– We stand things from this Government that we would not have stood from the last Government.
– I am glad to have that admission. I believe that honorable members opposite are suffering many things, which, under other circumstances, they would not permit. I have here a letter from a father, who writes -
I also want to ask you if the lads are compelled to attend compulsory training and lose time from work to attend an all-day drill without pay? I wrote to the officer about it, and I am sending you his reply.
The reply was as follows: -
Sir, - In reply to your letter of the 21st instant,
I have to inform you that the Defence Act (section 134) provides that an employer shall not be required to pay an employee for any time when he is absent for the purpose of training.
Trainees are not paid for drills until they reach theage of eighteen years.
The letter came to me from a hardworking man, who is endeavouring to bring up a family as well as a father can. It is a hardship for parents who depend in part upon the wages of their boys to find that these have occasionally to lose a day’s work and pay to attend a drill. I say all honour to the thousands of Australian lads who have shown themselves ready to give up time to military training which would otherwise be devoted to sport, recreation, and pleasure. Our youths have done even better than I thought they would ; but it is unfair for the Defence Department to require drills which reduce the earnings of lads and their contributions to the family purse. In some cases, two or three boys in a family are thus called away from work now and again.
– What does the honorable member . suggest ?
– Lads whose earnings help to maintain their families should be shown some consideration. Some arrangement should be made to prevent them from losing work and wages.
– How many hours a year does any lad lose?
– As the representative of a working men’s constituency, the honorable member must know that the loss of a day’s pay is not easily made up. The few shillings that go into the mother’s lap at the week-end are found very useful for feeding and clothing, not only the lad who has earned the money, but also the younger members of the family.
– Half of them want wrapping up in cotton wool.
– I am not advocating cotton wool methods, but our lads will never be got to do what Tommy Atkins has done.
– They will be no good as soldiers if they do not.
– Our defence system is not framed on those lines.
– That is so; but if certain things are insisted on it will become nearly as bad for the boys as the British system.
-It is a pity that men will not put in a day or two a year at drilling for the sake of their country’s defence.
– I am speaking of lads.
– The lads of to-day will be the men of to-morrow.
– The lads to whom I refer are playing an important part in the maintenance of their homes, and every consideration should be extended to them.
-Every lad who is a member of a family helps to support it at some time of his life.
– There are thousands of homes in which the boys’ assistance is not material, but in many others it counts for a great deal. A lad just short of eighteen years was drafted into the Citizen Force in the training area that I represent, and has now served a little over two years of his time. He is a journeyman at his trade, but most of his work falls at the end of the week.If he wishes to earn money,he must work all Saturday, and until late on Saturday night. By doing this, he can earn about £2 5s. a week, which he takes home. That lad had to choose between losing; drill and sacrificing money, and in the interests of his home he accepted the former alternative. Consequently, at the end of the term, he was short in his drills, and the last that I heard of him was that he had been taken away from the place where he works, and was undergoing a detention of twenty-six days. If instances of this kind are goingto continue a large number of us who would like to support the defence system will be forced to become its bitter opponents. Some alteration of the law could easily be made to meet these cases, which are to be numbered in hundreds.
– Could not lads in such positions bo drilled on Wednesdays?
– This lad would be prepared to drillon Wednesdays, and I have asked the Minister whether he will frame a regulation to meet ail such cases, providing that drills may be undergone on ordinary week days, or at night, instead of on Saturdays, but I have had no positive answer. Some consideration should certainly be given to these cases. In conclusion, I hope that the Government will see that the machinery and engines that they need are procured from Australian workshops; that the work in the Queensland sugar-cane fields is done with white labour; and that regulations will be framed to meet the case of lads who have practically to play the part of the father in their homes, preventing them from being deprived of employment by attendance at drills, by the substitution for Saturday drills of drills on some other day of the week, or in the evening.
– The remarks of the honorable member for Maribyrnong regarding the working of the defence system deserve the serious consideration of Ministers. There are two sides to this very important question. Undoubtedly the drilling of our senior and junior cadets is already improving the physique of our lads, and the effect will be still more marked a little later. Apart altogether from its efficiency for the defence of the Commonwealth, the good results that are being obtained from our defence system in this direction must not be overlooked. It has been remarked, too, by critics that the young Australian shows a tendency to disregard restraint, and lacks discipline, and if there is anything that will correct these faults it is undoubtedly the training that is being given to our cadets. The scheme outlined by Lord Kitchener, as I understand it, had for its object the creation of a Defence Force in Australia to be equal in efficiency to the standing armies of Europe, and he thought that such a force could be brought into existence only by commencing the training of our lads at a very early age. There is no doubt that what we learn in our younger days retains a hold upon us for the restof our lives. It is easier for us to learn in our youth than in later years, and it is obvious that there is a great deal of truth in the view expressed by Lord Kitchener. We should, therefore, pause before indulging in any sweeping condemnation of a system which has a beneficial effect on the physique of the youth of the country, and must ultimately give us a Defence Force of real value. At the same time, I recognise that there is another side to this question. I do not think that the present Minister of Defence is as strong a Minister as we ought to have in that office. The strongest man in the Government of the day should have assigned to him the portfolio of Defence, because there is always a tendency on the part of naval and military authorities - and, in making this statement, I do not wish to be offensive - to think that they know everything relating to the service. That being so, unless we have at the . head of the Department a very strong man, who can from time to time show the officers how their regulations are operating on the civil life of the country, trouble must ensue. If the defence system should, at any time, break down, the responsibility for its failure must rest largely on the shoulders of the Government of the day, no matter to what party it belongs. This is not a party question. The honorable member for Maribyrnong has referred to the case of a cadet who failed to parade on Saturday afternoons because he had to work, and was punished for not attending drill. My recollection is that a similar case was brought before the House last session, and that the Minister of Defence of that day caused a regulation to be framed, under which boys so situated were not called upon to drill on Saturday afternoons, but could do their training on other days. Why has that regulation been ignored? Obviously it has been disregarded by an Area Officer or some other military man, who chooses to do what he pleases. If that sort of thing is allowed to continue, serious difficulties will arise. We must take care that it does not. I have no desire to be offensive, but we all know that both naval and military men think that they are the best judges of what should be done in regard to the Department, and that they have only to make a regulation, when all must obey. If you do not like the regulations, then “ you can do the other thing.”
– And what is “the other thing “ ?
– I suppose it would be insubordination.
– Followed by gaol.
– I do not say that, but they can act in a very offensive manner. That sort of thing will not do among Australian boys, nor will it satisfy Australian parents. ‘
– I do not think it will do much good anywhere.
– The honorable member is quite right. The Prime Minister, the other day, was asked a question with regard to the treatment of a cadet who is the only son of a widow. This lad is the sole support of his mother, who complained that he had to leave work to attend drill. Lord Kitchener, in his report, pointed out that there was no necessity to require boys so circumstanced to attend drill. The public outside may say that all must be treated alike, in order to maintain the efficiency of the system ; but Lord Kitchener, with his wide experience of military service in other countries, and his insight into the conditions of living iu Australia, having expressed that opinion, it is monstrous that the Commonwealth authorities cannot take the lead set by him. I make an earnest appeal to the Government to exercise strong supervision over the military authorities, and to see that the military regulations are administered with great tact. I am not going to threaten, because I do not believe in making threats, but unless more tact is shown in the administration of the system, I am afraid that difficulties will arise.- I am not reflecting upon the present Government in expressing these views. I hope, however, that the present Minister of Defence will show considerably more backbone iu the administration’ of his Department than he has hitherto displayed. He is responsible to Parliament and to the country for the expenditure on our defence system, and it is absolutely essential that Parliament, which votes the necessary supplies, should not lose control. Firmness must be displayed by the Ministerial head of the Department. I do not suggest that either he or the Parliament itself should interfere in matters of discipline relating to either the Army or the Navy. I hold the view that any Parliament that did so would make a great mistake. But it is absolutely necessary that we should know upon what lines the money voted for defence is being expended, and that we should keep a watchful eye upon the regulations framed from time to time. In this connexion I desire to call attention to the eminently unsatisfactory situation in regard to the Naval Board. The Board seems to be in very hot water, and neither honorable members nor the public outside appear to know the exact position in regard to it. Whether or not Admiral Creswell is still a member of the Board I am unable to say, but it seems to consist at present of the secretary, Mr. Manisty, and Engineer- Captain Clarkson. It is certainly very attenuated, and the sooner the present difficulty is adjusted the better. I do not know what are the intentions of the Government, but probably within the next two or three weeks Parliament will be prorogued. During the recess the Naval Board will be reconstructed. Months will elapse, therefore, before we shall be able to discuss the matter.
– Is the honorable member in the secrets of the Government?
– No, but I have a fairly good idea of what a Government situated as is the present Administration is likely to do. The Government is not at all grateful to the Opposition for the way in which we have dealt with its business, and I can quite understand that it will not be at all. anxious to be annoyed by us for longer than is absolutely ‘necessary. I assume, therefore, that the second session of this Parliament will not begin before August next. I think it very desirable that honorable members should have an early opportunity to discuss the personnel of the Naval Board”. This is not a party matter, and it must be carefully considered. The Board, a few weeks ago, consisted of Admiral Creswell, Engineer-Captain Clarkson, Captain Hughes Onslow, and Mr. Manisty. Admiral Creswell and Engineer-Captain Clarkson have resided in Australia so long that they ought to be Australian in sentiment, and, indeed, in everything else. Captain Hughes Onslow, I believe, is a very, able man. I am sure that he must be a man of considerable ability, otherwise the Admiralty would not have nominated him for a position on the Board. Mr. Manisty acted as secretary to Admiral Henderson when he visited Australia, and, no doubt, he has a very decided, although not an unfair, leaning towards the Admiralty view.
– They say that he is a very competent officer.
– I believe that he is. If only one-half of what is said of him is true, he must be the most competent member of the Board. It may be said that we have had on the Board two
Australian officers and two Admiralty men. Until our own officers are trained, it is necessary that we should depend upon the Admiralty for the nomination of distinguished officers to coach our own men, and to assist us in building up our Naval Unit. In process of time we shall haveAustralian naval officers thoroughly well trained and competent to occupy positions on the future Naval Boards. The Minister of Defence is also a member of this Board, and it is very necessary that the Government and Parliament should exercise strong control over it. We have to vote the money to maintain the Navy, and unless we are very careful we shall find the Naval Board running the whole Commonwealth. In the Old Country, the Admiralty Lords are practically the controlling authorities of the Royal Navy. The First Lord of the Admiralty occupies in the British Parliament the position that the Minister of Defence occupies in the Parliament of the Commonwealth, and it has been recognised that the House of Commons must lay down the policy to be pursued by the Admiralty. As the result of agitation on the part of the press, and the “ booming “ of’ certain men, the country was practically induced, however, to follow the Admiralty, instead of following the Government. We have to be very careful that our Naval Board does not run the Commonwealth.
– Does not run it into insolvency !
– There is too much common sense in the Commonwealth Parliament for that to occur. It is, however, essential that we should have a strong hold over the Naval Board, and should see that it is constituted in a workable manner in the best interests of the country. Of course, we are prepared to accept expert advice from the Naval Board, but the expenditure ought to be absolutely under the authority of Parliament. I wish to enter my protest this afternoon against what I take to be a contemplated action on the part of the Government. It is right that I should take the present opportunity because if I afterwards write to the Government on the matter they will no doubt very courteously reply that the matter I refer to has been settled. We know that rumour is a busy jade, and we do not believe everything written in the press. I have, however, during the last week or two, observed indication that, in the reconstructon of the Naval Board, which we may expect during the recess, Sir William Creswell is to he superseded, and appointed as superintending officer under the Navigation Act. I think this will happen, and, therefore, I desire to call attention to what it means. If, as I say, I were to write to the Government next February or March, and call the attention of the Prime Minister to the matter, I should be politely informed that the Government had decided to do so-and-so, and that that was an end of the matter. I am not going to say one word against Sir William Creswell, whom I have known for many years, and whom I believe’ to be an able and efficient officer, of long experience and training in the Royal Navy, and as one of the South Australian naval officers. But I object to naval men having to do with the mercantile marine, and I have expressed this opinion more than once. I am not going to say that if this appointment be made we shall have any occurrence of an outrageous character’ on the part of ship-masters or other officers in the mercantile marine on the Australian coast, but there is not any one of those men who will not feel that the wrong man has been placed in the position. I do not hold a brief for any person, but I think that the House is entitled to be very emphatic in this matter, and to take care to express its opinion before the event happens, because it is very difficult to supersede an officer after he has been once appointed. The House will not in any way be exceeding its rights if we indicate to the Government the desirability of weighing the suggestion I am making. Whoever is appointed should be a man connected with and knowing thoroughly the mercantile marine. It is highly desirable that he should have the confidence of those engaged in our coastal trade, in order that, as far as possible, there may be an absence of friction. Of course, we know that there must be friction to a certain extent; but we should take care not to leave any ground for complaint on the part of ship-masters or ship-owners. There is a very great difference between the training and every-day work of an ordinary Board of Trade ship-master, and the training and work of an officer in the Royal Navy. What would be said if, for instance, an able soldier like Major-General Kirkpatrick were to be appointed PostmasterGeneral? I do not suppose that that gentleman would care about the post, but some people might ask what reason there was for supposing that he would not do the duties very efficiently. MajorGeneral Kirkpatrick might, of course, make a very good Postmaster-General, but, at the same time, the chances are very much to the contrary. His splendid military training, and the position to which he has attained, only show that, while his opinions in one walk of life may be worth a great deal, they may be worth very little in another direction. Personally, 1 regard the rumours to which I have referred as feelers put out by the Government; and, if they are realized, the appointment will, in my humble judgment, prove very unsatisfactory. I have been very much dissatisfied with the administration of the Naval Board in another connexion. I am not going to criticise particular actions here and there, but merely refer to the general lines on which the Board has acted. Before the new defence scheme was brought into effect, each State had some sort of naval defence plan. C do not suggest that the defence then provided was the best, but it was the best that could be provided for the money. The men in the old naval brigades voluntarily undertook the work, and were quite willing to give up their Saturday afternoons to their training. In South Australia we had the Protector, manned by volunteers, during the China War, and they left a very satisfactory record of their work in connexion with the British expedition. What I wish to refer to particularly now is the treatment of applications for employment, and promotion by members of these old naval brigades, by the Naval Board. Such applications are always “ turned down,” and several instances have occurred in my own State. When I asked a question regarding one of these cases, the answer I got was that the most efficient and suitable person had been appointed. Such an answer is on a par with that of the doctor who, when he was asked what was the cause of the death of one of his patients, replied that he had died from want of breath, and it does not “ cut much ice.” When I find that men of the stamp to which I have referred never get any recognition at all from the Naval Board, to what conclusion can I come except that there is a prejudice against those men - a prejudice which I do not think either Parliament or the country desires to see exercised? I do not wish honorable members to understand me as saying that these men of the old naval brigades are as efficient and up-to-date as those who have recently come out from the Old Country, but I do say that many of those men are quite competent for any small office or promotion that may offer, and they should not be refused on the ground that they are not part of the new system. In the old days there was a possibility of the members’ of these brigades passing certain examinations, and not being overlooked; and I hope that such will be the case at present. I am not suggesting that these men should be picked in preference to the new men, but I hope that every application will be carefully considered. It would be most unfortunate if, in years to come, there should be a feeling that the men trained under the old system have bo claims to recognition. I am afraid, however, that there is such a. tendency, and it should be stopped. In one case, one of the old brigade applied for the position of a naval policeman, which is not that of an admiral or captain, and if men of the old brigades are not fit for such a position the fact certainly leaves a stigma on them. The official answer to which I have referred recalls to my mind the words of Professor Huxley many years ago, when, during a controversy with the late Mr. Gladstone, he said ‘that an official statement is only another name for a lie. I shall not go as far as Professor Huxley did, but I do say that I hope that, whatever the Naval Board may be to-day or to-morrow, it will see that it gives a fair deal to applicants. Our confidence in the naval system depends on the control exercised by the Naval Board; and, in the same way, our confidence in our defence system depends entirely on its control by the Military Board, and it is in ratio to their realization of the fact that they are dealing with a free people that Australians will admit that they are getting a fair deal, or, on the other hand, will become illdisposed towards these Boards should the people come to the conclusion that they are not acting fairly. I do not say that we shall ever reach a time when there will be nothing to grumble at in connexion with these Board’s, or that it will never be necessary for Parliament to worry concerning them. I think that, if there is a substantial grievance that has a tendency to grow into an injustice, it is essential that Parliament should have control over these Boards, and that the Government should keep a firm grip upon them. I do not quarrel with the Prime Minister when he says that he will not answer questions relating to discipline, because that is a matter with -which Parliament has no right to deal; but Parliament has the right to say to the Government that they must deal firmly with these Boards of control, in order to see that the policy outlined by Parliament is carried out, and that regulations are not piled up so as to become unduly onerous. I do not know that the Departments concerned now know all the regulations that are issued. I believe there can be too many regulations. At any rate, the Government should see that these regulations, when framed, are in accordance with the spirit and requirements of the people of this great continent.
– This afternoon the honorable member for Yarra and the honorable member for Maribyrnong referred to a contract given to Newell and Company, as agents for the Baldwin Company, in America, for the supply of four locomotives to provide the urgent locomotive necessities of the transcontinental railway construction; and, in reply to the statements made by those honorable members I wish to place on record, very briefly, the facts in connexion with the matter. I shall deal, first, with the statement made by the honorable member for Maribyrnong that these engines could have been bought here for £1,000 less than the price we are paying for the importation of these particular locomotives.
– I said they could be manufactured here.
– I propose to give the actual figures of the manufacture of Commonwealth requirements as a reply to the rhetorical fancies of the honorable gentleman. They show that, while the Clyde Engineering Company, which apparently, averaged the freights for the four engines, accepted a contract for the supply of four engines at; £6,105 each, the imported engines are costing us £4,844 at Port Augusta, or £5,260 at Kalgoorlie. I aminformed by the Railway Department that the difference, roughly, represents the freight charges, which are extremely heavy over long distance railway traction, and in connexion with such doublehandling as is necessitated by having to tranship, at Fremantle. It is only right to tay that, approximately, £100 should be deducted from each engine manufactured by the Clyde Engineering Company for the cost of assembling and erection, because that charge is separately shown in connexion with the tender recently accepted from Newell and Company.
Mr.Fenton. - That is above the £5,260.
– I do not attach any weight to this saving. I only give the figures as a mere statement of fact, in answer to the honorable member’s imaginary figures. The saving of money in this matter has not, in any shape, sense, or form, entered into the decision arrived at. In all such matters, the decision of the Government is to allot the work to Australian manufacturers employing Australian workmen, whenever we can possibly do so, and the difference of cost involved would not, for one moment, have stood in the way in the matter of ordering these locomotives locally, had we had the slightest opportunity of having any tenders for quick delivery.
– Then it is a question of time?
– Yes. The reason for the necessity for early delivery may be very briefly stated. We have at present on duty on the transcontinental railway three Q-class engines, old New South Wales engines that have been reconstructed and made serviceable enough for ballast-pit purposes. At both ends of the line, these locomotives are at present doing the work of starting out on the track-laying, but they are not suitable for that particular purpose - they are not heavy enough. I went into the question of locomotive necessities thoroughly soon after the failure of the Clyde engineering firm in Sydney to build to time their bogie waggon trucks. This was causing the Commonwealth a great amount of inconvenience and loss in connexion with railway constructions.
– Have they delivered any locomotives ?
– I shall deal with that later. The loss resulting to us from their unpunctuality in supplying a section of our requirements led me to look carefully into our locomotive requirements for the future, and I found, with regard to the number of locomotives required in connexion with the construction of this particular railway, that for every 50 miles of additional railway built, approximately one additional locomotive will be required to handle the construction traffic - that is, in connexion with the additional haulage over that section.
– Hear, hear!
– At the rate the tracklayer has already demonstrated itself capable of working at each end of the line, we find that we can safely average three-quarters of a mile of railway construction every day.
– How many miles have you done now ?
– At the Port Augusta end the track-layer is just at the 50-mile post to-day, and at the Kalgoorlie end the other track-layer is now in full operation.
– You ought to be able to do more than 1½ miles a day.
– I thought it was only prudent to decide this speed at which the plate-laying should proceed, in the light of all the circumstances surrounding the case, and that it was no use going on hot-headedly now, and perhaps getting a good advertisement for the Government by laying 2 or 3 miles a day, and then having to come to a sudden end through want of sleepers.
– How much ballasting can you do?
– We can ballast the line after we lay the track. However, I do not wish to make a lengthy statement about railway construction. I am merely giving an answer to the statements made this afternoon. If we do, as I say, 4½ miles a week at each end, or 18 to 20 miles a month, it . becomes obvious that we shall require a locomotive every two and a-half months at each end. Therefore, taking the distance we have already gone, and giving consideration to the three Q-class engines we have, it has been abundantly clear for some time past to our officers that by the end of April next the work will come practically to a stand-still unless we get additional locomotives.
My friends may reasonably ask, “When did this come to the notice of the Government?” The statement of the honorable member for Yarra, in that respect, was a very fair one. The honorable member for Darwin, the late Minister of Home Affairs, will remember that in May last he approved of the calling of tenders for eight additional locomotives of the -P class.
– Hear, hear !
– The Railway Department was then faced with the difficulty of getting drawings and specifications of those engines. They approached the New South Wales Railways Commissioners, who asked £210 for a set of the drawings. They then approached the Clyde Engineering Company, the only manufacturing firm in Australia who had these drawings, I understand; but the firm regretted that they were unable to supply them. Apparently they did not have a copy, or they did not have a full set.
– Are they the only people making 4-ft. 8J-in. gauge engines?
– Apparently of this type. It was then decided to get the drawings at the New South Wales Railways Commissioners’ price, and on the 12th June last, a recommendation was made to the Minister. On the 14th June, New South Wales was asked to supply these drawings. New South Wales eventually forwarded them with a voucher on 25th June, the very day that we came into office. Thus we actually started office on the day that the drawings were received, without having any time to put them out at all, and had we then called for tenders our experience with regard to the manufacture of these locomotives would not have justified us in believing that we should be able to get them locally made at the time that we should want them, that is to say, at the end of April. What actually happened was this: A month or two later I went into the question of locomotive supply myself, and tried to reason out the organization of railway construction. I felt that the next trouble would be with locomotives, just as we were then in the midst of trouble with bogie waggons. I had a conversation with Mr. Deane, who, as a result, wrote a minute bringing the matter for the first time under the notice of the new Government, on the 27th August. On the previous day I had issued verbal instructions to him to see that there was no hitch on the question of supplying locomotives. On the 27th August the Engineer-in-Chief recommended quotations, or “alternatively” approaching R. Towns and Company, who had been previously in communication with the preceding Government for the supply of locomotives on behalf of Baldwin’s, of the United States. I did not like going out of the Commonwealth for engines if it could possibly be avoided; and I therefore considered the matter carefully, and decided that we must give the local manufacturers a fair chance of supplying them before following the course recommended. On the 8th. September I ordered preliminary inquiries to be made from local manufacturers, and on the 10th September - showing that the Engineer-in-Chief was pretty quickly on to iti - these preliminary letters were sent out. They were all in the same terms, and if I read one it will be quite sufficient -
It is Ihe intention of this Department to call tenders for the supply of locomotives and tenders of the above type (four to be delivered at 1’ort Augusta, and four at Kalgoorlie).
Please state : -
If you are prepared to tender.
The number and dates of first and subsequent deliveries.
With regard to delivery it must be distinctly understood that the conditions of contract, more especially with regard to non-delivery within the time stated, will be strictly enforced.
The monetary penalty is calculated at the rate of ss. per cent, per day upon the value of the undelivered, locomotives and tenders.
An immediate reply will oblige.
That letter was sent to the Clyde Engineering Company, of Granville, Sydney; to Messrs. Barbat and Sons, Ipswich, Queensland; Messrs. Walker’s Limited, Maryborough, Queensland ; the Austral Otis Company, South Melbourne; and James Martin and Company, of Gawler, South Australia.
– Were Thompson’s, of Castlemaine, approached ? They are building forty engines for Victoria.
– I do not think so. That fact was probably an additional reason why they would not be able to supply any more for us
– It shows that they could do the work.
– All the manufacturers who were approached could supply locomotives so far as the actual mechanical power to construct them was concerned. They all in reply thanked us for having approached them in this way, and all had to decline undertaking the work. In no case did they state the time in which it could be done. All the replies are not in similar terms. The Clyde Company replied’ as follows-
Referring again to your letter of theroth instant, re eight “ P “ class locomotives, we have been looking into the matter thoroughly, and we are extremely sorry to say that it is extremely impossible for us at the present moment to undertake the contract. We arc so controlled by the want of boilermakers, that it is of the greatest difficulty in getting work out of the shop. If we could only get more men of that class, there is no doubt whatever we could have undertaken these locomotives.
I believe the position they took up was a fair one. because there has been an enormous demand upon locomotive development, especially in New South Wales, where the Government, which belongs to the same party as my honorable friends opposite, have recently allotted a tender for a considerable number of locomotives to be imported.
In view of the fact that the Australian manufacturers were not in a position to make an offer, I took immediate steps to secure competitive offers from foreign firms doing business in Australia. The following offers were received: - R. W. Cameron tendered on behalf of the American Locomotive Company of America for a total of £19,516, the engines to be shipped in four months; but this tender was not recommended by Mr. Deane, for technical reasons. Newell and Company, for the Baldwin Locomotive Works, America, put in two tenders, one for the American standard of engine, the other for the British standard of engine, the American to be shipped in nine weeks.
– One Beyer-Peacock engine will last out two of the Baldwin engines.
– We accepted the British standard engine of the Baldwin Locomotive Company, the four engines to be shipped in fifteen weeks. Adams and Company, representing Beyer, Peacock and Company, England, made an offer for about the same amount as the Baldwin Company, but the engines were only to be shipped in fifty-two weeks, so that they were just as much out of court as our local manufacturers in that regard. Robert Stephenson and Company, England, offered to deliver in twelve months, and the North British Locomotive Company, of Glasgow, offered delivery in eleven months. They were also obviously out of court on the question of time, so that, in the circumstances, the recommendation of the EngineerinChief for the delivery of locomotives by the Baldwin Locomotive Company to British specifications was approved. They are to be consigned, of course, to the Minister of Home Affairs, and come in free of duty, as is invariably the case with goods for use by the Commonwealth; but in this case no question of protection enters into the matter, as the local firms were not in a position to do the work. Newell and Company’s offer is for £5,260 for each engine, delivered at Kalgoorlie, and £4,844 delivered at Port Augusta, freight included. The estimated cost of erection is £100 in each instance. The Clyde engine is costing at the present time £6,105.
– They are constructing the biggest type of engine at the Newport workshops in Victoria for £4,300.
– I am giving the absolute facts. If my honorable friends want to indict the Government in this matter, I invite their attention to my minute to the Prime Minister, dated 23rd September, this year -
With a view to finding what Australian firms (if any) would be prepared to tender fqr expeditious supply, the following firms were approached, and stated their inability to tender : -
Austral Otis Company Limited, Melbourne. Clyde Engineering Company Limited, New South Wales.
Walkers Limited, Maryborough, Queensland.
S. Barbat and Sons Limited, Ipswich, Queensland, and
Jas. Martin and Company, Gawler, South Australia.
In view of the essentiality of early supply, it would appear from the above that these locomotives must be imported. I accordingly recommend that competitive offers be invited from the representatives of British and American firms.
On that fact becoming known, it was decided immediately to set about procuring the engines. The American Company’s offer was for delivery in fifteen weeks at the works in America. I did not think it satisfactory to accept delivery anywhere but where we wanted the engines, and certain negotiations were then entered into in this connexion,’ and with regard to penalties. I wanted the 5s. per cent, per diem penalty on the whole cost of the contract, and ultimately got it, agreeing at the same time to a bonus for early delivery. That is the whole history of the matter. We cannot be held in any way blameworthy for this work going out of Australia, but we do take credit for taking a step which will prevent Australian workmen being thrown out of employment on the transcontinental railway for want o f engines.
– What steps are you taking to get more engines?
-I am glad the honorable member has asked that question. The original proposition was for eight engines. ‘ I did not order eight outside Australia. I ordered four outside, and called immediate tenders for four to be supplied in Australia. Those tenders are due tomorrow. I think we ought to increase that order from four to, at any rate, eight, and perhaps more.
– You ought to make it a dozen.
– I propose to approach all the tenderers separately, asking each if he will reduce his own price, without any tenderer knowing anything about anybody else’s price, by virtue of getting a large order, say, for eight or twelve locomotives.
– What is the length of the railway?
– One thousand and sixtyone miles.
– Then, according to the Minister’s own calculation, twentyone engines will be needed.
– Yes, eventually; but we do not want to have a number lying idle. We must allow a margin, though not too great a margin. To have four engines only will not allow any margin at all. But by letting a contract for twelve, I think that we shall be able to make a saving, because one lot of patterns and moulds will serve.
– Could a further saving be made by allowing a longer time for the manufacture of the engines?
– We are prepared to extend the time as much as possible, . if reasonably early delivery can be given of a few of the engines. In that case, I do not think it will be necessary to import any more steam locomotives.
.- It should not be necessary for me to bring under your notice again, Mr. Speaker, the fact of the existence of the Beef Trust in Queensland, but I find that it is necessary. I have repeatedly asked questions on the subject of the Attorney-General and the Minister of Trade and Customs.
– And the AttorneyGeneral invited the honorable member to give to him what information he possessed.
– The information which has been given to him appears to have done no good. There is convincing information as to the existence of the trust, but the Government shows no desire to act.
– You will never get the present Administration to act against a trust.
– Ministers will be sorry if they do not act, because, undoubtedly, the trust has established itself in Queensland. The Minister of Trade and Customs promised to make an inquiry, and sufficient time has elapsed to enable him to make the results known ; but he is unable to say what the Government intends to do, and about a fortnight ago said that he was not prepared to make known the information he had acquired. Nearly all the newspapers of Queensland - including those that support him - have published articles on the Beef Trust, pointing out that it is making rapid progress in the State. On the Brisbane River the trust has works which it has connected with the main line by a double track. The track enters the works from one side, and leaves on the other, so that there may be no block in the traffic. About 1,000 men are employed at the works at the present time, but little respect is shown for their safety, and accidents are continually occurring, no more being thought of the loss of a man’s life than will be thought of the loss of a bullock’s life when slaughtering operations have begun. This, in itself, shows that the company is going to act in the same way as the Beef Trust in America* has acted. It has little respect for human life, and if a man is killed, nothing is thought of it. The Beef Trust is spending over £1,000,000 on its works on the Brisbane River, and proposes to commence operations in September next. The people of Queensland are very concerned about the establishment of the Beef Trust in the State, knowing the evils that it has wrought in other countries, and the difficulty of rooting it out. The Argentine Government proposes, I understand, to impose a duty of £3 or £4 a head on killings for export by any company which exceed 3,000 head of cattle a week, and if this Government intimated to the Beef Trust that something of the same kind would be doue here, it might not extend its operations so widely. It is feared that when the trust takes control of the Bibooka Meat Works, behind Cairns, the price of meat will increase rapidly, and already a big increase has taken place, many of the local butchers finding it necessary to sell their businesses, and give up altogether, because they are satisfied that the price of cattle will be increased to such an extent that they will be unable to compete against the trust in the purchase of fat stock. The works of the trust are so situated that, with the aid of the Queensland railway system, it will be able to drain to them the whole of the fat stock of the State, and that of the northern part of New South Wales. The meat works behind Cairns will be able to deal with all the cattle in the northern part of the State, right up to the Gulf country, and if the works are not as elaborate as may be thought necessary, they can be added to. The works at Alligator Creek will deal with the whole of the cattle in the north-western part of Queensland. There are one or two other meat works in that part of the State, but as in Argentina, the trust will offer such prices for cattle that all competitors will be driven out of the field. Armour and Company, and Swift and Company, in the Argentine, gave prices for cattle that the other companies could not compete against without losing £3 or £4 a head on the deal. The old-established companies were also undersold upon the Loudon market. By these methods, the trust would have taken entire possession of the Argentine had not the Government stepped in. There are ten or a dozen meat companies operating in Queensland, but before the Beef Trust has been operating for twelve months, I do not think it will have any competitor. Apparently, this Government is not very anxious for the suppression of the trust, but, like the Queensland Government, is ready to receive it with open arms. Mr. Denham has told the people of . Queensland that he is pleased that the trust has established itself in the State, and that he is giving it every assistance. Apparently, the Commonwealth Government adopts the same attitude towards it, and is going to allow this octopus to establish itself in Queensland to the detriment of the Australian people.
– That is a grossly inaccurate statement.
– It is not. The Minister has had every opportunity to make inquiries, and shows no desire to do so. Had he made inquiries, he could have obtained sufficient evidence to prove the existence of the trust.
– The honorable member seems to know a great deal about it.
– He seems to me to know nothing about it. I have listened attentively to his statements, but have gained no real information from them.
– The honorable member for Kooyong does not wish to be convinced. There is positive proof that the trust has bought two meat works, and that it is laying out works at Brisbane at which it will start, operations next year. That should convince honorable members that the trust has established itself in Queensland. The AttorneyGeneral asked for information, but treats it very lightly when placed before him.
– What, in a few words, is your information?
– That the trust has three meat works in Queensland.
– That is very criminal, is it not?
– The Attorney-General says that the trust is not there. I say that these works belong to Swift and Company, and that the trust is in a position to deal with the whole of the fat stock of Queensland, both sheep and cattle. All those in the trade fear the competition of the trust.
– The butchering trade has hitherto done well out of the grazier and the public.
– If the Australian grazier tolerates the Beef Trust, he will suffer as graziers have suffered in other parts of the world. Mr. Trout, a staunch Liberal supporter of- the Queensland Government, speaking in the last debate on the Address-in-Reply, expressed an opinion regarding the Beef Trust, which should convince the Government that the trust has established itself in Queensland.
– When does the honorable member say that the Brisbane works were first erected?
– They were begun some time this year.
– Before that.
– Not the buildings. The excavations may have been commenced towards the end of last year.
– Who is doing the work; what company!
– The Minister is thoroughly acquainted with the facts. It is only recently that the trust acquired these other works.
– When is the Minister going to get the £158,000 from the sugar people.
– He is just as energetic in regard to that as he is in regard to the Beef Trust. I understand that >the Government is anxious to get into recess; and 1 ask Ministers, therefore, if they intend to introduce legislation to dear with the trust, or will bring in such legislation when they are satisfied that it has established itself in Queensland. Apparently, they are not desirous of obtaining information which will prove the existence of the trust.
– Will the honorable member tell us of any breach of the law that has been committed ?
– We do not want the honorable member to be a detective.
– I cannot be expected to travel round the country to get this information, but what I have said should satisfy even the most ardent supporters of the Beef Trust that it has established itself in Queensland. It has acquired works which will enable it to drive every competitor out of the field there. The proprietors of other works fear the trust so greatly that many of them are desirous of going out of business.
-Is the trust buying now?
– It is making contracts at the present time for unborn calves, and paying £1 per head deposit for the option of refusing the stock when it comes to maturity.
– I do not think that those connected with the trust are such flats as that.
– Those who bring to bear on this question an open mind will admit that the evidence shows that contracts have been made for a period of years, so that when the young stock is fit for the market the trust will have no other competitor. It will give whatever price the grower may please to ask at the time, in order to secure complete control of the stock, and be able, in that way, to drive all its competitors out of the market. This system has been followed in other countries. It has been adopted in the Argentine, and, I understand, in the United States of America. Most of the meat handled by Swift and Company in Queensland, is intended, I believe, for export to America. At the present time meat is very scarce in the United States of America, many cattle-growers there having been driven out of the business by the action of the Beef Trust. Stock agents in Sydney can prove the statements I have made with regard to the contracts that are being entered into by this trust. Mr. Wallace, who is con.nected with one of the large stock agencies in Sydney, told me quite recently that these contracts were being made in New South Wales as well as in Queensland. Whatever may be the opinion of the honorable member for Maranoa, I am prepared to prove that what I have said in regard to these agreements is correct.
– They may tell you that it is.
-r-I am absolutely sure that it is.
– And I am sure that it ie not.
– Messrs. Swift and Company are not alone in their efforts to establish themselves in Queensland, and to obtain control of the meat market. In the Brisbane Courier of 18th inst., there appeared a paragraph stating that Messrs. Armour and Company, of Chicago, the world-famous meat packers, were collecting information, through agents, in regard to the meat trade there, and that they intended to commence operations in Queensland. Messrs. Armour and Company say that they intend to follow Swift and Company wherever they go. These two large meat companies, which have established themselves in the Argentine, and have practically driven every competitor out of the market there, are coming to Queensland with the same object in view. If the Government are’ going to allow these big firms to establish themselves here, Australians, in a little time, will not be able to obtain meat, except at practically prohibitive prices. Letters published in different newspapers from their American correspondents show that America is on the verge of something like a meat famine. We are told that the very poorest quality of beef is fetching is. 7d. per lb., and I understand that prime beef is expected to bring 5s. per lb. there during the coming winter.
– Why do not the Queensland Government do something?
– Because the Queensland Government received a big sum of money from these people to enable them to fight the referenda questions at the recent elections.
– Does the honorable member make that statement with knowledge?
– When Mr. Denham was being examined on oath in the Supreme Court of Queensland the other day, he would not give any information as to who had subscribed £4,000 towards their funds.
– And that is the reason Why the’ honorable member makes this statement ?
– It is not the only reason. Having regard to what the Beef Trust has done in America, and to the operations of trusts at election times in that country, we have every reason to conclude, from Mr. Denham’s refusal to give the names of those who subscribed the £4,000, that some people who are trying to curry favour with, the State Government subscribed the money for a purpose well known to many.
– Has the honorable member” any other evidence?
– I want no other evidence. Does the honorable member need any more ?
– Does the honorable member describe as evidence the information he’ has just given us?
– I do. People have been convicted on much lighter evidence in the Courts before to-day.
– We should like something in the nature of evidence.
– It would take a lot to convince the honorable member, but I and many people in Queensland are thoroughly convinced about this matter.
– On . the same evidence?
– Yes, and so is the Minister of Trade and Customs.
– A lot of people think that there is a man in the moon.
– The honorable member had better look out that he is not seen by him. These people are not merely satisfied to establish themselves in Australia, but propose to extend their operations all over New Zealand. They have intimated to the people of America that they will be in a position a short time hence to make large shipments of Australian and New Zealand meat to the United States. They do not intend to bother very much about the English market. They will supply American people with Australian meat to the great detriment of the people of the Commonwealth. Within a very short time the people of Australia will not be able to use much meat. The price of meat will be so high that but few people will be able to obtain it. The family of the average working man at the present time consumes from 10s. to 12s. worth of meat per week. A few years hence a working man will not be able to buy one day’s supply of meat for that amount. It is all very well for the Government to treat this matter lightly, but in the course of a few years they will deeply regret their inaction. It was the fear of the Beef Trust establishing itself in Queensland that led to the people of that State voting solidly for the Labour party, and in favour of the referenda questions, at the last general elections. The people of Queenland recognise the harm that this trust will do, and I am rather surprised that the Minister of Trade and Customs, as a representative of that State, has not taken the slightest notice of any information given to him in regard to the trust, and will not even tell us what the Government intend to do. If evidence is required as to the danger in which we stand in regard to the Beef Trust, it can be obtained from an interview which the High Commissioner recently gave to a newspaper representative. In- the course of that interview, he said that unless we were very careful it would not be long before the people of Australia would net be meat users.
– The interview was published in the Age on the 6th instant.
– Quite so. No doubt every member of the Government, and of their party, has read it. Sir George Reid was a member of the Liberal party, and has had some experience of the Beef Trust in England. He stated the other day that ‘as much as £8,000 a week was offered by the trust for a stall in the Smithfield Market, and he expressed the opinion that there was something more than a business deal behind that offer. The Government and their supporters must have known of the danger which threatens Australia owing to the way in which they have fostered and favoured trusts and monopolies. The Government, however, do not propose to take ally action. The Australian people will regret very seriously the defeat of the Labour party - probably on this account, and probably on this account alone.
– Hear, hear!
– The honorable member before long will applaud the efforts of the Labour party to rid Australia of this trust. The trust has already established itself behind Cairns in Northern Queensland. Before taking over the local company’s works in that neighbourhood it arranged for the provision of additional wharfage accommodation, and it is announced that it will take control of those works as well as the Alligator Creek works at the beginning of the year. Its operations will not be confined to Queenslaud. It will be able to control the supply of fat cattle in northern New South Wales - the portion of New South Wales used for fattening stock. We have good reason for believing that it has also purchased the meat works on the Clarence River, and that it proposes to extend the plant, and to deal most extensively in fat stock in New South Wales. The cattle king, Mr. Kidman, who supplies South Australia almost exclusively with fat stock from Queensland, will also be brought within the reach of the Beef Trust. It will prevent South Australia from obtaining anything like a reasonable supply of beef. The people of South Australia will not be able to get anything like the supplies they require, and for those which they do obtain they will have to pay enormous prices. I do not know whether the Government require any more information on the subject. The Minister of
Trade and Customs, as usual with him, is treating this matter lightly; but the time will come when he will feel grieved to think that he has not given some consideration to one of the most serious questions brought under our notice this session.
– Nothing will affect the Minister of Trade and Customs except to knock him out of the Ministry!
– That is not very far off, for we have practically arranged to defeat the Government before the session ends; we cannot tolerate a Ministry of this description. ‘ Joking apart, I am sure that the Minister of Trade and Customs will feel sorry for his present attitude. The operations of the Beef Trust in Queensland are more extensive than ordinary members of this House might imagine ; and absolute proofs of my statements can be found in the Cairns Times and the Townsville Times. The Beef Trust has made contracts with cattlegrowers of Queensland and New South Wales, and those contracts would not have been entered into if the works had not been secured. The Beef Trust is prepared to make further contracts, but’ the growers prefer to wait, in view of a big increase in prices immediately the works start operations. There is no doubt that for a year or so increased prices will be obtained, but when all competitors have been driven out of the market they will be called upon to pay the penalty. The Liberal Association of Queensland is appealing for funds for the purpose of organization in that State. The Premier of Queensland, when crossexamined in reference to the letter sent by the late candidate for Brisbane to him, asking for money for the Liberal Association, to be supplied out of a fund for which he and Mr. Macartney are trustees, admitted that there was such a fund, amounting to £4,000. The Premier said that he had already handed over £2,000 to the Liberal Association- of Queensland. This letter, which was sent along by the candidate for Brisbane, got lost in transit.
– It was stolen !
– That is decidedly untrue, and the honorable member knows it.
– The honorable member for Oxley must withdraw those words.
– I withdraw the words, and say that the statement of the- honorable member for Moreton is decidedly incorrect. I think that the honorable member for Moreton should be called upon to withdraw the words he used.
– The words used by the honorable member for Moreton were not out of order, but he was not in order in interjecting.
– The letter was not stolen, and the honorable member for Moreton knows that it was not stolen.
– I know that it was.
– The honorable member for Moreton must not interject.
– The honorable member for Moreton knows that the letter was not stoleu.
– The honorable member for Oxley has no right to say that, nor has lie any right to contradict the honorable member for Moreton.
– The honorable member for Moreton has no right to contradict me.
– I ask honorable members to cease these interjections and personal references. The honorable member for Oxley should, in accordance with the practice of the House, accept the denial of another honorable member.
– Is the honorable member for Moreton permitted to say that the letter was stolen?
– The honorable member for Moreton does not accuse the honorable member for Oxley of any knowledge of the letter having been stolen.
– The honorable member for Moreton is aware that I was connected with the newspaper in which this letter was published, and he is inferring that somebody connected with our office stole that letter. That is what I say he has no right to say.
– The honorable member for Moreton did not connect the honorable member for Oxley with the letter.
– I shall be able to reply to the honorable member for Moreton on a future occasion, and in plainer terms than I am permitted to use here. The letter was lost, and was handed to our office and published. Mr. Denham the other day admitted being trustee for the money, but when he was asked by whom the money was subscribed, he said he did not know, but that it was subscribed by some Liberal supporters. I have come to the conclusion that this large sum of money must have been subscribed by one or two companies - probably two companies - and I am prepared to say that it was either by the Beef Trust or the Sugar Company, or both. I know that the Minister of Trade and Customs could tell us more about this matter than, perhaps, any other member in the House.
– That is incorrect; I know absolutely nothing about the matter!
– At any rate, the honorable gentleman derived some benefit from the money, and he probably knows something about it.
– The honorable member makes reckless statements without the least foundation !
– I refer to this matter merely to show the attitude of the Liberal Government.
– And the honorable member shows an utter disregard of facts.
– These ideas are shared by people all over Queensland.
– And probably are generated by men like the honorable member!
– A man who is not as good as the Minister of Trade and Customs is not much good.
– I must ask honorable members not to interject these personal references.
– Those rumours are current all over Queensland.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.45 p.m.
.-I appeal to my friends now to let this matter go. We intend to proceed straight away with the Estimates, on which honorable members will have exactly the same opportunity of saying what they wish to say as they have upon this motion. There has now been two days’ discussion on general grievances, and there can be no further excuse that I can see for prolonging a discussion of this kind.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Consideration resumed from the 9th October (vide page 1971), of motion by Sir John Forrest -
That the first item in the Estimates under Division1 - The Parliament - namely, The President, ; £1,100 be agreed to.
.- In Tuesday’s Age the Prime Minister is reported to have said that, although the Government have been in power for a limited time only, they have saved £1,000,000. I would like to know where this saving has been effected, and I trust that, before this debate is finished, the Prime Minister will give us details of it. I have looked around to try to find out where savings have been made. There are some alleged savings. In the same speech the Prime Minister is reported to have 6aid that the Government had saved £126,000 in connexion with not procuring some rolling-stock that had been ordered by the previous Government. It is a peculiar line of reasoning. Before this money can be claimed to have been saved, we have to assume that the rolling-stock which would have been procured would be worth ‘ nothing. We cannot imagine such a ridiculous thing as that £126,000 could be saved on that transaction. I have previously stated very fully what led up to the superseding of the agreement that was entered into with the South Australian Government by the late Minister of External Affairs, the honorable member for Barrier. I have shown the extortionate rates, that were being charged by the South Australian Government at Port Augusta, and I have pointed out that the South Australian Commissioner of Railways . would not allow the Commonwealth to have a 4-ft. 8½-in. gauge roadway ou to the wharf, and that, consequently, the Commonwealth had to handle all their material twice; and, when we come to think that something like 200,000 tons of material had to be handled, and that the Commissioner of Railways in South Australia refused to allow us the right to construct a roadway on the wharf, it meant, as the Minister of External Affairs thoroughly knows, a very serious addition to the cost of. handling material for the East- West railway. It was that which led up to the late Minister of External Affairs giving notice to the South Australian Government of the termination of the agreement. I have already, referred to the fact that we were being charged 12s. per day for rolling-stock, whereas . private contractors were being charged 2s. 6d. per day.
– Hear, hear!
– I have also referred to the. fact that, although they had a- capacity of 12 to 15 tons, on the trucks; belonging to the Victorian Governmententering the State of South Australia! the charge is only 3s. per day, yet we werebeing charged 12s. per day for trucks of. a capacity of 5 to 8 tons. That led up tothe absolute necessity for the late Minister of External Affairs to give notice of. the termination of the agreement. Therehad to be twelve months’ notice given, and the honorable member for Barrier took advantage of that, and gave the necessary notice. It was because that notice was in existence that the present Minister of External Affairs was enabled to make a new agreement with the Commissioner of Railways in South Australia. I do not know the whole of the details of this agreement, but, from what the Minister has told me, I understand that it. is a very satisfactory one. At any rate, it. is a much-improved agreement to that which was in existence previously. Butthe order for rolling-stock to the valueof £126,000 was given by the late Government because neither the South Australian Government nor the Commissioner of Public Works in South Australia, nor ‘ the Commissioner of Railways, wouldtreat with the Labour Government. They took up a dog-in-the-manger attitude, and.’ would in no way meet the representatives of the Commonwealth to make a more suitable arrangement for the work atPort Augusta ; and, as the Government of South Australia refused to sell or loan the Commonwealth any rolling-stock, . itbecame absolutely necessary for theCommonwealth to be ready with their own rolling-stock on the 31st December of this year - the date of the termination of the agreement with SouthAustralia. This was to cost the £126,000- ‘ which . the Prime Minister referred to the other night as being one of the savings effected by his Government. I think it is very unfair for the Prime Minister to make these statements when he ought tobe in a position to know that there is -a very pronounced qualification to this statement. Even assuming that we had bought the rolling-stock at a cost of £126,000, we, at least, would have had the rolling-stock as an asset representing; the £126,000:
– When you had . bought it.
– And spent the money.
– How could that be a saving ? When the matter was referred to the ex-Minister of External Affairs some time ago, prior to the Prime Minister speaking, he ridiculed the idea of a saving having been made.
– I take it that the late Minister meant to spend the money.
– He did.
– Then it has not now been spent?
– But had it been spent, we would have the rolling-stock, and that rolling-stock would be worth the money.
– Of course it would. But what has that to do with it ?
– The bald statement is that £126,000 was saved, whereas, as a matter of fact, no such £126,000 was saved in that direction.
– At any rate, the money is in the pockets of the people.
– The Prime Minister should take the Committee into his confidence as to this £1,000,000 he has saved. It is about time we knew where it has been saved. I know of no saving of that character. There may be a saving here and there, which, no matter what Government is in power, may be effected, owing to more up-to-date knowledge, but I say emphatically that had it not been for the notice given by the honorable member for Barrier to terminate the agreement with the South Australian Government, the present Government would not have been able to make the arrangement now existing between the South Australian Government and the Commonwealth. Had the South Australian Government allowed us to control the wharf, as they have now done, it was all that we required, and really all that we asked for, and there would have been no necessity to enter into a temporary arrangement for rolling-stock.
– Why did not they allow it?
– Because of their antipathy to the Labour Government. They have done for the honorable gentleman what they would not do for the late Government. That is on record.
– Very well. Put it that way. Still, the money has been saved.
– Let me read what the Minister of External Affairs said about this saving. The member for Barrier said -
In view of the statement made by the Assistant Minister of Home Affairs, does not the Minister see that it is a fair thing the House should have the information as soon as possible?
The Minister of External Affairs replied -
I do not know what the Assistant Minister of Home Affairs has said. There is nothing for blame, praise, credit, or discredit to any side about the matter. It is, on the whole, a fair arrangement to enter into - in fact, honorable members know the terms of it - and as soon as I have the opportunity I shall place the agreement on the table.
This was in answer to a statement made by the Honorary Minister at some after- noon tea-fight that the Government had saved £126,000 in one transaction.
– The Honorary Minister is not responsible for what he says.
– But the Prime Minister has repeated it.
– And I am going to continue repeating it. I am only proving it is right.
– The Prime Minister is not doing himself credit if he repeats that statement without explaining the facts connected with it. Placed before any reasonable tribunal, it will be said that the statement of the Prime Minister conveys a very erroneous idea of what’ was done.
– The Minister of External Affairs says so.
– The Minister of External Affairs has never yet denied that if that arrangement had gone through we should have had to pay £126,000 more.
– Of ‘ course, we would have had to pay £126,000, but we would have had rolling-stock worth £126,000. I would point out to the Prime Minister that he would never have got the present agreement unless notice to terminate the other agreement had not been given.
– If we had the rollingstock, we would not have to pay freight, as we now have to do.
– I am glad to hear the honorable member’s explanation. It justifies ray statement.
– The honorable member is not doing himself or the Committee justice.
– No doubt, all the business capacity is on that side of the House.
– The honorable member cannot flatter himself much as to business principles.
– We would be vain, indeed, if we assumed any business knowledge, as long as the honorable member for Parkes is here. He is about the most conceited man in this Chamber. There is nothing that he does not think he knows everything about. We have not had the pleasure of hearing much of his knowledge recently because he has only been allowed to interject as he has to-night. There is no doubt about the existence of the Beef Trust, and the Government seem to me to be something like Nero, who fiddled while Rome burnt. Everywhere one goes one finds indications that this octopus is gradually spreading over Australia. It is only a matter of time when the whole of our export trade will be manipulated by these gentlemen. It will then be brought home to the farmers, whom the other side appear to think they represent, that thereis only one buyer for export stock in Australia. To-day, there are a number of buyers with a certain amount of competition between them.
– Who controls the export ?
– The Commonwealth, of course.
– The honorable member knows better.
– I find that the fanners want these men to come and develop our interior.
– I should like the honorable member to note what Sir George Reid says about this trust, the danger from which our friends are “poohphooing.’ In the Age of the 6th of this month, the following appears -
Tlie- High Commissioner for Australia, Sir George Reid, is under no illusions as to the effect of the operations of the Beef Trust, whether in America, the Argentine, London, or Australia. He views the possibility of the trust obtaining control in Australia with alarm, and he warns pastoralists of the need for the utmost caution in entertaining trust offers. In the course of an interview on Monday, Sir George Reid said, in reply to questions, “ The effect of all that I have learnt of the operations of the Beef Trust, which for the purpose of this question may be called the American Beef Trust, is that the danger from ii is increasing. The trust companies are quietly and steadily endeavouring to undermine all their competitors. To do this they often sell their meat below current quotations, incurring temporary losses cheerfully as long as they can beat the rival off the field. They are prepared to give any amount of money in order to secure tenancies of any of the stalls at Smithfield Meat Market in London. I cannot say of my personal knowledge, but I was told on good authority that one of the American companies offered to pay £8,000 for the weekly tenancy of a stall which would be considered a very small shop. This action obviously had a motive beyond ordinary business. “ The men most interested in the Australian trade as buyers from the pastoralists and exporters to Great Britain are very nervous concerning the .outlook in Australia, and in London. They say that a dead set is being made upon them. They are particularly nervous over the recent development of the Swifts in Australia. I can quite understand their anxiety. From all I could learn in the United States, speaking generally, the Beef Trust control of the trade began with the offer to cattle raisers of higher than ordinary prices. In this way the trust companies curried favour most effectually with the meat raisers. When, however, they had secured an enormous preponderance of control in the trade, the companies in the Beef Trust altered their policy entirely. There was no longer a generous treatment of the meat raiser. Quite the opposite. The meat raiser found not only lower prices, but the trust so fortified in the markets that even if the stock raiser tried to do business with rival firms it was almost impossible to do so. In a thousand and oneways the trust was found to have fortified itself against rivalry, and to have control of meat supplies right from the cattle market to the meat eater. The probability is that the same trade principles will be applied by the trust in Australia. The trust will be mure than liberal to the pastoralists, some of whom may have come to think that the Australian buyers have not given them all that they desired in the way of price. The pastoralists may be disposed to accept the opportunity of making more money. But, if the trust manages to knock out the Australian buyers, the pastoralists will find they will have to pay back in future lower prices every penny of the enhanced price obtained when the trust first came on the scene. These trusts are not out to benefit any but themselves. They are out to crush any one who competes with them, and once in command to get as much as they can. You may say that the motive of gain is common to men who are not in trusts. But there is a considerable difference between the legitimate competition of men in business and the supreme control of a trade in all its branches by a selfish trust like the Beef Trust. When a trust gives a favour you may be sure that you or some one else will have to pay for it - and a good deal added to.”
Turning to the Imperial aspect of the Beef Trust’s operations, Sir George Reid said : - “ From the Imperial, and from the naval and military points of view, the position is fi::! of interest. If the Empire were at n n time brought within reach of war, or in danger of war, these trusts will bc able to charge anything they like if they choose to do so for their own purposes. They would be able to levy what prices they chose to the Navy and Army for supplies, I think, therefore, it would be a calamity if they were allowed to become the sole meat authorities of the world. There is no despotism in the world worse than that of the trusts. Apparently the winning of millions in trade does not slacken the appetite for profits; it seems rather to increase the appetite for even greater profits. I don’t want to say that every monopoly is a curse. That would be an extreme thing to say, because occasionally monopolies may not be a curse. But, speaking of the American Beef Trust, there cannot be much hesitation, for you have the benefit of knowing its working in the United States - the home of trusts. “ If the pastoralists create a situation which leaves these trusts masters of the field, they will have to pay back all that they are ever likely to get out of them, more than they think they would get from Australian buyers - and still remain at the mercy of the trusts. It is a superficial thing to say that the moment the Beef Trust shows its claws the pastoralist will go to some one else and sell his cattle or sheep. Once the trust gets the power it seeks it has a thousand and one ways of keeping it, and controlling the supplies of meat from the plains of the ‘Never Never’ to the stalls at Smithfield Market. People must not imagine that the agents of these trusts confine their energies to getting the pastoralists’ meat. Their energies are just as much directed to -getting power at the markets’ end. If the pastoralist who broke with the trust got his meat to London, he would find that his battle was only beginning. He would find the trust ready to drop hundreds of thousands in order to hold the position. If the trust would spend a lot of money to secure control, it stands to reason it would spend great sums in maintaining. Anything like trust control of the food of the poorest of the people is very repulsive to one.”
That comes, not from a party man, but from a distinguished representative of the Commonwealth who has no axe to grind, and only the interests of the people as a whole to serve, yet the Government simply scoff and jeer about the danger and power of the trust. I should like to tell the honorable member for Wakefield that the State which is .going to feel this matter soonest and most severely is South Australia. The trust have already an arrangement with the Queensland Government by which they get a rebate of 25 per cent, on all tlie stock that they fetch down to their ports. The whole trend .at the present time is to obtain control of all the cattle-raising areas in the northern portion of Australia, and bring the stock to Brisbane to be handled by the other companies that they have there. They have paid a considerable price to buy other people out.
– In Canada, I saw lamb marked up at $3, or 12s. 6d., for tlie hindquarter. I saw the most wretched beef - what we” should look upon as almost unsaleable - marked up in Vancouver, where the trust has control, at from 26 to ‘30 cents per lb. - mere red meat with no fat on it. I found all through there that the price of meat was very high indeed. I also found that the trust had control of the meat that comes from New Zealand. The very ship in which the honorable member returned from Canada belongs to a. huge corporation, the Canadian-Pacific Railway Company, who back up all the other interests, and control the supplies. Their ships will travel partly loaded with meat sooner than fetch a larger supply which would affect the local market. The trust is controlling matters there, and will control them here. The very ship that I travelled on from Sydney to Liverpool, and the very rails on which I journeyed from Vancouver to Quebec, belonged to that huge trust, the Canadian-Pacific Railway, which is working in unison with the other trusts in America. Undoubtedly, these men are out to control the trade of Australia, and nothing will be easier for them when they have control than to practically dominate the export trade. .
– They do not control the trade in America. All the stuff is sold in the open market.
– I have not with me at present a copy of the report of the Royal Commission that sat some years ago in America, but I can tell the honorable member that the result of that inquiry was to show that practically one price waa offered right through the States for stock sent to market. If the stock-owner did not accept this, there was no alternative but to rail the stock back on the companies’ or . trusts’ railways, while if it was submitted for sale again, a lower price was offered. This happened at Chicago. We have an advantage in that regard in Australia because we own our own railways. In one short period.’ by the manipulation of the market, they reduced the price of stock throughout the whole of the main cattle sales by §8 per head. In America, they do not fatten their stock on the open meadow as we do. They have to grain-feed them for a period before topping off. Their banks are not run on the same basis as our banks are; they are riot associated banks, but individual banks. These men make arrangements with the banks for money to buy the corn or to “ top up.” The effect of this trust, which is looked upon by some honorable gentlemen as likely to be a grand thing for Australia-
– I am waiting patiently for you honorable gentlemen over there to make some suggestion. I have had none yet.
– The effect of this policy was that the wholesale price of stock was reduced by S dols. per head, while the effect on the rancher - the man whom we call the pastoralist - was ruin in thousands of cases. No less than forty of these individual banks went smash as the result of the great fall in the wholesale price of stock. One would have thought that the natural corollary would have been a correspondingly lower price to the users of meat. But Swift and Company - I think there were nine men in the Armour Trust - manipulated the whole of the retail trade, and, although the price of stock had fallen S dols. per head, the price of meat to the consumer had increased by from 25 to 40 per cent. The retail price of pigs, poultry, sheep, and cuttle went up, while the wholesale price fell to the extent I have mentioned.
– Has the trust done anything in Australia of which you can get hold?
– Are we to wait until the house is on fire before we take action ?
– No; but can we take action before?
– I believe honestly that under our existing laws we have no power to deal with the trust.
– Do not believe it.
– I ask the members of the Government not to mind the fact that during the election campaign they said on every platform that the trusts will not worry them. Only on Monday night the Prime Minister made that statement. Does he think that there is a sort of a halo round a trust? Does he think that these men, who have no principle when it comes to a question of “ cornering “ stock, are likely to be any more considerate of the Australian grower than they have been of the American grower?
– You are misrepresenting me.
– I want the AttorneyGeneral to look at this matter in a most serious way, and if he finds that the existing legislation is at all doubtful, to take the first opportunity of strengthening the position of the Government. Once the trust acquires power here, such as it has obtained in other places, all the evil effects will follow its operations. What is the main factor in the corruption in America, which is admitted on all sides? At the Canadian Club, in Toronto, I had the pleasure of listening to a lecture by Mr. McDonald, the proprietor of a newspaper with a very large circulation. He stated very emphatically that night that the great factor that is demoralizing, not only Canadian politics, but also American politics, is the huge combine or corporation. Once the Beef Trust, I repeat, gets power here, evil effects will follow, just as darkness follows light. I ask the Government to put aside all party questions, to forget the past, so to speak, although they claim that they have the necessary legislative power and all that kind of thing. I ask them not to be influenced by any feeling of shame, because, as it is always a source of strength for a man to acknowledge his weakness, so it is a source of strength for a Government to acknowledge that they overestimated the legislation they have to deal with trusts and combines. It would not be looked upon as an act of weakness for the Government to ask the House to pass the necessary legislation to enable them to protect the growers in various parts of Australia. The honorable member for Riverina, who is largely interested in the growing of stock, seems to be quite indifferent about what is going on.
– That is your, mistake.
– Does the honorable member think there is some danger?
– I do not think that I am going to grow stock for them to knock the price down. Do not you worry about the thing.
– He knows that the Commonwealth will control all the export trade.
– I would he very pleased to learn that the Commonwealth can prevent the trust from manipulating the export trade. That certainly will be a revelation to me.
– We think we can, really.
– In the whole of Australia there is only one place where, so far as I know, even the State controls the export trade, and that is South Australia. What has the State to do with the export trade from New Zealand other than to pass the necessary certificate? A few weeks ago men were out all over the State buying stock, and sending it through our Export Department, or through Woolcocks and Company. It will not take the Beef Trust long to become sufficiently strong to control the market, because their modus operandi is to pay a big price to get in and to squeeze the others out. A man has either to go in with them or to go under. Either he has to go into the “ swim “ on the terms of the trust, or he will be crushed out in the competition. The trust will spend their money to get a man out of the trade, and naturally they fall back on the other people to make up their losses, and a great deal more. I know of no power in the Constitution, or elsewhere, whereby we could prevent the trust from practically manipulating the export trade. Every time the Americans have put an Act into force, they have had a conflict with the trusts. I think it .has only been on one occasion that the Government have carried their point. The Oil Trust practically defied the Government for nine years, and, although they were fined many millions of dollars, they have not yet paid a penny. We are asked to show where the fire is burning before the Government will be interested enough to move. I shall not occupy any further time.
– Before you sit down, tell us what you think we ought to do.
– First, there should be a thorough inquiry as to whether the Beef Trust is here or nob. I was talking to Mr. Kidman; and there is no doubt that the Beef Trust is here.
– He is a pretty good trust in himself.
– He will do one of two things. Either he will sell out to the trust-
– He is in now with the Bovril Trust, and has been for some time.
– He is in the Bovril Trust now, but not in the wholesale trade.
– How long has he been in the Bovril Trust?
– About two years.
– And the late Government never took any steps to stop the trust.
– We did not know it.
– That cannot be right, surely !
– It is all very well for the Prime Minister to try to throw everything on to the late Government. Surely it is not too much to ask the Government to ascertain whether the trust is here, and whether the existing legislation is sufficient to cope with the difficulty. And, if they are satisfied that it is not sufficient, I am sure that the House will do its duty, because it will be much easier to prevent than to handle these men after they have acquired the control. I venture to prophesy that, in ten years from now, this question will be treated very differently from what it is now. This question will not affect the honorable member for Grampians in the sense in which it will affect a large number of the farmers and graziers. The large graziers will be the last to succumb, and they will succumb, as surely as I stand here to-night, before the power of this trust, unless this, or some other Government, has the necessary courage to face the situation and keep the trust in order. At the Sunday bun-fights, some remarks have been made about the great “stone-walling” and the waste of time in this Parliament. It is about time, I think, to put on record what was done here before The longest sitting we have had in this Parliament this session has been sixteen hours. I have here some figures taken- from the records of the House to show how the honorable gentlemen who now occupy the other side were indifferent about the consumption of time, and the blocking of public business, when they sat in Opposition.
– Do not forget the eighty-three Acts.
– For instance, on the 23rd, 24th, and 25th November, 1910, the then Opposition held up the House continuously for over 40 hours, and would not allow a bit of business to be done. On the 7th and 8th December, 1911, they held up the House for 35 hours and 34 minutes, and would allow nothing to be done. On the 11th and 12th July, 1912, they held up the House for 25 hours and 48 minutes. I remember well the occasion. After I had given a ruling, they deliberately arranged for two shifts, and for each member to speak for half-an-hour. They came here in relays, and for 25 hours they stood on this side of the chamber and disputed a ruling which is in force to-day, and is never questioned. Then on the 13th, 14th, and 15th November, 1912, they occupied fifty-three hours seventeen minutes in an attempt to hold up the business of the country. Yet they have the effrontery to talk about the waste of time that has occurred in this Parliament, the longest sitting of which has lasted only sixteen hours. I well recollect, on the occasion to which I have referred, that each honorable member opposite was required to do his shift. They worked on the butty-gang system. Each did his half-hour of talking, and then retired to have a sleep. You, sir, were assisting me on that occasion, but that circumstance did not relieve you from the obligation to put in your half-hour in connexion with that organized “ stonewall.”
– That campaign had the effect of putting honorable members opposite where they are.
– The honorable member is such a stickler for the Standing Orders that I would remind him that he is not in order in interjecting from the Treasury bench. It is true that, at the last election, honorable members opposite obtained a majority of one in this Chamber. But in the Senate they won only seven seats out of eighteen which they contested. Taking into account the strength of parties in the two branches of the Legislature, I find that the Labour party numbers 65 out of a total of 1.11. In the light of these figures. I fail to see of what honorable members opposite have to boast. But for the unfair criticism to which the late Government were subjected, the result would have been very different. Our party was accused ot having expended every penny upon which we could lay our hands. Yet we have had an acknowledgment in this Chamber that the Fisher Government left more than £2,500,000 for their successors to play ducks and drakes with. In South Australia honorable members opposite denounced our huge expenditure upon the Federal Capital site. Yet the Fisher Government spent £200,000 upon the Capital in three years, whereas the present Government propose to expend £285,000 in one year.
– They will have to spend a bit more, otherwise I will shake them up.
– It was alleged that the Fisher Government had expended millions of pounds upon the Capital site. Seeing that my honorable friends had 800 newspapers behind them, and that they only succeeded in obtaining a majority of one in this House, whilst they were routed in the Senate, they certainly have nothing to boast about.
– The honorable member does not compare the two Houses?
– If the honorable member were in a position to do so, he would be the first to point to the Senate and say, “ Look at what we have there.” Only a little while ago the Prime Minister gloried in the action of the Senate. In conclusion, I would again remind honorable members that, before many years, they will find all my predictions in regard to the Beef Trust absolutely verified.
– I desire to make a few remarks in regard to the great bugbear which has been brought forward by honorable members opposite. They do not seem to have the slightest confidence in the farmers of Australia.
– The honorable member has sold all his stock.
– The statement of the honorable member is not correct. He. knows that I am very deeply interested in stock at the present time, and that 1 am particularly interested in stock in to part of the country where he says every stcck-owner will be ruined.
– I was referring to Victorian stock.
– And I am referring to the particular part of Australia which, according to the honorable member, is going to be ruined. The farmers and stock-owners of Australia are apparently to be protected by honorable members opposite. They are the only persons who are interested in protecting them. Let me tell the honorable member for Grey that we are just as much alive to what is happening in Queensland as is anybody. But does he expect the Government to put before this House the result of their inquiries in regard to any trust or combine which may exist in Queensland ? Does he wish them to give away their case? I am quite satisfied that Ministers are looking into this matter, and that they will protect the stockowners of Queensland in a proper way. The honorable member for Oxley has informed us of a most outrageous circumstance. He said that the Beef Trust is practically giving the cows a maternity bonus.
– The honorable member does not know much about it if he says that what I have alleged does not exist.
– I think I know a little about the stock business in Queensland, and also in the northern part of New South Wales, where the cows are alleged to be receiving this bonus. I have not heard of any bonus being granted to the cowS in that locality. If the Beef Trust does commence to operate in the Commonwealth to the detriment of the people, what will be the position ? What has been the position in the past in regard to any other agricultural produce of the Commonwealth ? The honorable member for Grey has referred to a statement published by the High Commissioner, and has set it before us as a correct account of what is happening in London. But some of us recollect that, some twelve months ago, the High Commissioner also issued a report on the butter industry. In ‘t?hat report he pointed out that the industry was practically controlled by a combine in London, and that Australian producers did not get anything like the price that they had a right to expect for their butter. He further said that no Australian butter went into consumption, because it was all blended. I presume that he got the information from the same source as he has obtained his information regarding the Beef Trust.
– If his information is unreliable, why do not the Government withdraw him ?
– The High Commissioner is doing very well; but I do not admit that he is an expert on the beef or the butter trade. He has to seek his information from sources which are sometimes unreliable. In the report of which I speak, he stated that the butter industry of Australia was being practically ruined by the operation of certain firms-
– I do not think he put it quite in that way.
– He said that the price was fixed by the selling companies in London. When he discovered that his information was not correct, he owned up to it, as he had a perfect right to do. Though the honorable member for Grey may imagine that I am not interested in stock, or in anything else except being a member of Parliament, I may tell him that I am deeply interested in the butter trade. I have had as much experience of that trade in London as has any man who is not actively engaged in it. In regard to the bogy connected with the blending of Australian butter, I wish to say that Australian butter is sold on the London market as such, and that anybody can see it sold there. During the year thatI was in London, with only one or two exceptions, Australian butter was better than Danish butter.
– How does the honororable member account for the Danish article commanding a better price ?
– I account for it by the fact that Danish butter is always on the market, whereas Australian butter is not, and a certain number of people will always take a brand which can be purchased from day to day. In going through one of the large London warehouses, in which butter was stored, with the representative of a firm which was reported to have one of the largest blending establishments in that city, we came across what are called French rolls. The representative of the firm remarked, “You do not know what butter that is?” My companion tasted it, and replied, “ Oh yes I do,” and he then named the factory from which it came. That incident proves our butter to be a very superior article. Coming back to the subject of combines and trusts, let us consider what is happening in the farming community. In my own district, the farmers have combined and established co-operative factories, in which they make butter, which they afterwards sell, not only in Western Australia, but also on the London market. Moreover, thinking themselves badly treated by those engaged in the bacon trade, they have built a magnificent factory near Footscray, where they intend to convert their pigs into bacon. They have done this because they considered that they were not obtaining enough for their pigs in comparison with the selling price of bacon.
– Let the farmers get rid of the middleman, and they will be able to pay the rural workers’ award.
– It may be suggested that it is the big men in the Western District who have put money into this concern, but, as a matter of fact, it is the small farmers who are acting in co-operation for the protection of their interests.
– Just as the labourer protects his interest by joining a union, which you people condemn.
– I have never condemned unionism.
– I did not refer to the honorable member personally; I spoke of his party.
– Were I to brand the members of the Opposition with some of the statements made by individual members of the Labour party, it would be very unfair. In the past, the stockowners have protected themselves to a great extent, and they are prepared to continue to look after their own interests. So, too, are the farmers. When they find that trusts and combines are operating against them prejudicially, and to the detriment of the consumers, they will come to this Parliament and ask it to pass legislation on certain lines. We have had speech after speech about the Beef Trust from the other side, but not one member opposite has put his finger on the spot, and said, “ That is how you should deal with the matter.”
.- I should not refer to the saving of £126,000, which the Honorary Minister says this Government has made by not buying the rolling stock on the Port Augusta to Oodnadatta line, were it not for the dispute between the Prime Minis ter and the honorable member for Greyon the subject. I am sorry that the Minister of External Affairs is not present, because the matter concerns hisDepartment, and I wish to place the position as fairly as I can. If, after my statement, the Prime Minister persists in saying that this Government has saved £126,000, I shall offer no objection. The Commonwealth, as honorable members are aware, in talcing over the Northern Territory from South Australia, took over also the railway from ‘ Port Augusta to Oodnadatta, and thelate lamented Mr. Batchelor, as Minister of External Affairs, arranged with the South Australian Government that it should continue to manage the traffic on the line, the Commonwealth paying the cost of upkeep and interest on construction, which amounted to about £80,000 a year. This arrangement was made terminable on twelve months’ notice being given by either side, the notice to date from the 1st January in any year. Subsequently, when I had succeeded Mr. Batchelor in the office of Minister of External Affairs, I went to Adelaide, and there had an interview with Mr. Butler, the Minister of Public Works and Railways for South Australia. It would be unfair to him were I to say what took place at the conference between us, which was of private character, wo merely chatting together about various matters. Afterwards I met a number of members at Parliament House, Adelaide, who asked me what had taken place. I said that I would prefer to say nothing on the subject, but that Mr. Butler was at liberty, if he so desired, to make any public statement, either in the newspapers or in the House. Mr. Harry Jackson, a member of the South Australian Parliament, asked if I had any objection to him putting a question to Mr. Butler on the subject, to which I replied that, of course, he could do as he liked, and that, as a member of Parliament, he had a perfect right to ask any question, it being for Mr. Butler to say whether he would answer it. I was in the House the same afternoon when Mr. Harry Jackson put several questions to Mr. Butler, and, as the answers were made publicly, it is, of course, open to me to make use of them now. Honorable members will understand that while the agreement to which I have referred was to continue until twelve months’ notice had been given by either side of the intention to end it, either party could waive the condition in favour of the other. Mr. Butler, when questioned in the House, stated that on behalf of South Australia he had insisted on twelve months’ notice being given of any termination of the agreement. When asked why, he said that he had done so because it was hoped that during the twelve months South Australia would make a profit by running the line. That answer is to be found in the South Australian Hansard. The Fisher Administration, on determining to take over the running of the line, decided to buy rolling-stock for it, and I do not dispute the statement that the expenditure on that rolling-stock would have been £126,000.
– But the South Australian Government would not allow the Commonwealth to use the wharf at Port Augusta.
– I shall not enter into details of that kind, although tlie strengthen my case. I was going to say that our intention in buying certain rollingstock was to manage the traffic on the line. Tlie South Australian Government told us that if we took over the management of the line, it could not spare us any of its rolling-stock. Therefore, we were forced to purchase rollingstock for the equipment of the line. Whether the Commonwealth could run the line more cheaply than South Australia lias, of course, not been proved, nor can any one say that South Australia is running the line more cheaply than we could run it. Bub had we taken control of the running, we should have had to spend £126,000 to get up-to-date rolling-stock. Although the present Government has not put our intentions into effect, and has not spent £126,000 on rolling-stock, it cannot be said that it has therefore saved that sum. A mau who occupies as a tenant a house for which he pays a rent of £100 a year may think of buying that house for £2,000. If he bought it, he would, of course, cease to pay rent for it, though he would lose interest on his capital. But he could not say, supposing he declined to buy it, that in doing so he saved £2,000, because if he did not buy a house, he would still have to pay rent. The position in regard to the transaction that I speak of is an analogous one. The Commonwealth, not having taken control of the railway, and not having spent £126,000 on rolling-stock, has to continue to employ the South Australian Government to manage the line. As I have shown, Mr. Butler stated that he, on behalf of his State, had required twelve months’ notice from the Commonwealth of any termination of the arrangement, because he hoped that South Australia would thereby make a profit, and it is therefore likely that the State is still making a profit out of the arrangement at the expense of the Commonwealth. Therefore, it cannot fairly be claimed that this Ministry has made a saving of £126,000 by refusing to do what we intended to do. The Budget presented by the Treasurer, dealing, as it does, with the affairs of a continent, affecting some millions of people, and covering an expenditure of £27,000,000, is of very great interest. I do not propose, however, to deal with many of the issues raised by it. I propose rather to confine my remarks to two or three points. I may be pardoned, perhaps, for making special reference to the Northern Territory, and for dealing with some of its problems. I am anxious, as I have been throughout the session, to deal with the Northern Territory free from any party consideration, because I feel that it involves issues that are above all questions of party. I should be sorry to indulge in anything savouring of unjust criticism, or to say anything that would increase in the slightest degree the heavy burden which the Minister of External Affairs has to bear in the administration of the Northern Territory. But I think I should be somewhat unfaithful to my position as a member of this House, and that I certainly should not he. doing my duty to the party to which I belong, if I did not express my regret at the inactivity of the present Ministry in regard to the development of the Territory, and prove how unjust were the criticisms that were hurled at us while we were in office. I entirely dissociate the present Minister of [External Affairs for those criticisms, because not once during the three years that we were in office did he utter an unkind word in regard to the way in which we were dealing with the Territory. That remark, however, will not apply to every member of the present Ministry. I think I can easily show that the chief characteristic of the present Ministry, so far as the Northern Territory is concerned, has been masterly inactivity.
– That is what Mr. Prank Foster, the ex-member for New England, said about the honorable member.
– I am saying it about the present Ministry.
– Yes. The honorable member’s remark is a plagiarism.
– Perhaps it is. But if such a remark was made by Mr. Frank Foster the probabilities are that it was not original.
– There is no proof that it was made by him.
– Yes; it is on record in Hansard.
– I would like to see it.
– No. The honorable member would like to forget it.
– Not at all. It does not worry me very much what he or any one else has said about the matter. Whilst we were in office we were subjected to a good deal of criticism by the present Ministerial party in regard to the Northern Territory. As far back as November, 1910, when a .Bill providing for the transfer of the Territory was presented, the present Prime Minister asked when the Government proposed to pass a Bill providing for the administration of the Territory, and he complained that the Government had no definite plan for its settlement and development. When the present Leader of the Opposition made his last financial statement in this House, some twelve months ago, the present Treasurer, in referring to the Northern Territory, said -
I want to get something for the expenditure. I wish to know that the Government are going to do something with the Territory. Up to the present time I am not aware that they have done anything except to make some appointments. . . . The Government should have had a definite policy in regard to this immense territory. It is nearly two years since we took it over, but no progress has yet been made with its development. What is the use of providing a small sum for a railway survey to the Katherine River? . . . Boldness based on knowledge and experience is the only plan for developing a great country. We ought to have been at work already in regard to this matter.
I think we might reasonably ask what the present Government propose to do. Those who are familiar with the history of the Territory know that when we took it over we were confronted with many difficulties. For a number of years the Liberal party had talked of taking it over. They had said that it was necessary to do so: that the problem of developing the Territory was too big for
South Australia, and that it should be transferred to the Commonwealth. But it remained for the Labour party on succeeding to office to take over the Territory. When we did so we found that very little work had been done there for some years. The Government of South Australia, not knowing when the transfer would take place, had done, and rightly done, but very little. Had they expended large sums of money on certain lines of development they might have acted unfairly to the Commonwealth. It was quite possible that the policy pursued by them would not meet with the approval of the Federal Parliament, and, therefore, they did but little. All the spade work had to be done by the Labour Government. A number of officers who had been employed by the South Australian Government were naturally withdrawn from the Territory immediately after its transfer to the Commonwealth, and it remained for us to create certain Departments, and make certain appointments. Notwithstanding these difficulties with which we were confronted we were criticised . by honorable members opposite, who said we were doing very little. The present Prime Minister was continually chiding us, and newspapers throughout Australia were also attacking us, because we did not do more in the way of developmental work. I venture to assert, however, that the present Government has enjoyed advantages in regard to the Territory that we did not possess when we took it over. When it came into office the Departments necessary to its development had already been established, and officers had been appointed. Some of the men appointed by us may not have been, in the opinion of some honorable members, the best that could be chosen for the position. That, however, is a matter of opinion. The fact remains that the present Government have not done any work that we were not doing or did not contemplate. In his policy speech at Parramatta, the present Prime Minister said that if the Liberal party came into power they would proceed with the development of the Northern Territory on vigorous lines, the inference being that we were not doing so. If the present Government intended to carry out the promises made on the huntings, then it seems to me that the Treasurer should have foreshadowed in his Budget statement an active policy of development. The Estimates, however, do not provide for any work that we had not in hand or did not contemplate.
– The present Government shut down the Darwin “washhouse.”
– It has done nothing more. I think I have a right to ask what evidence there is in the Budget of any vigorous developmental policy being pursued by the Government? The Prime Minister and his party may not have full power in the matter of legislation, but the honorable gentleman could have placed on the Estimates whatever sums he thought necessary to provide for the proper development of the Territory, and the policy of the Government in this regard could have been announced in the Treasurer’s financial statement. Seeing, however, that the Government have done absolutely nothing that was not. being done before they took office, I think I may say that they belong to the class of politicians who are prepared to promise a good deal when in Opposition, but who, when in office, are not ready to perform much. If we judge the Government by what they have done in the Northern Territory, and by the promises they made when on the hustings in regard to the saving of interest on the big debt that we took over with the Territory, then it seems to me that we have a right to speak of them as being mere time-servers - as men who are prodigal in promise, but niggardly in action. The gravamen of my charge against the Government in respect of their inaction in the development of the Northern Territory is that they have not gone on more rapidly with the construction of the railway from Pine Creek to Katherine River.
– What will that railway do ?
– We have it on the authority of the Prime Minister that we cannot expect to develop the Territory without railways. That seems to me to be obvious. I am quite prepared to admit that no money has been voted, and no Bill has been passed, for the construction of the line I refer to. I go further, and say that, before we undertake heavy commitments for the construction of big railways, Parliament should have the fullest and freest opportunity to discuss such proposals. I admit that, if this railway were started previous to the passing of a Bill for the purpose, Par liament would be handicapped in the discussion of such a measure. I admit, also, that works of this kind should not be lightly undertaken, and, in ordinary circumstances, a Government that would enter upon the construction of such a railway without first consulting Parliament would be open to grave censure. But there are times when a Government should be prepared to carry its life in its hands.
– Does the honorable gentleman mean to say that the Government should have gone on with the construction of that railway without the consent of Parliament?
– I say they should, and I will give my reasons. I think that railway should have been pushed on with, because it is a time of emergency, and, in such times, Government should be prepared to take risks. Governments, like individuals, may purchase their livesas too great a cost to the country and themselves . We are all agreed that the Northern Territory cannot be developed without railways. Even the honorable member for Riverina will admit that.
– I do not think that 50 miles of railway will assist materially to develop a territory of 300,000,000 acres.
– I do not think so either; but we must make a start somewhere. The reason why I think the Government should have gone on with the railway is that, during the last Parliament, the late Leader of the Liberal party, Mr. Deakin, often twitted the Labour Government - not unfairly or unkindly - with not doing more in the Territory. The honorable gentleman spoke as one rising high above party considerations. He was anxious that the Government, no matter what party happened to be in power, should do something for the development of the Territory. I remember that, at a public meeting, he referred to the Northern Territory as the “ Achilles’ heel “ of Australia, inferring that that was our danger-point. Speaking not only for himself, but on behalf of the then Opposition, he said that he would be prepared to support the then Government in a vigorous development of the Territory. As the outcome of that, before the last Parliament closed, I read a statement in this House, giving expression not only to my own opinion, but speaking on behalf of the Labour Government. Amongst other things, I said -
No railway construction will proceed along any of these routes until Parliament has a full and complete opportunity of dealing with the question ; but, in view of the fact that the permanent survey is being carried out from Pine Creek to the Katherine, we do propose carrying on at once railway construction between those points, following the permanent survey that is now being made.
When I made that statement; there was not a single member of the House who objected to it, and some honorable members, and especially members representing South Australia, thought I was justified in that decision.
– Did the honorable gentleman mean to go on with the construction of that railway before he pre- sented a Bill for the purpose to Parliament?
– Then all I can say is’ that Parliament did not understand his statement in that way.
– I made the statement as clearly as I possibly could.
– The statement does not show that it was intended to proceed with the construction without the introduction of a Bill in the ordinary way.
– I think that it does. The statement was made two or three days before the close of the session, and I am not quite sure that the honorable member for . Franklin was present at the time. It will be noticed that I differentiated between that railway and other railway proposals to which I referred, and concerning which there was some difference of opinion. We had agreed, as a House, to extend the existing line from Pine Creek to the Katherine River. We had already submitted a proposal for the permanent survey of that line. Members of the then Opposition - and amongst them the leader, Mr. Deakin - asked us to do something more. Mr. Deakin- said that we should not wait, but should go on as fast as possible with the construction of that railway. The statement to which I have referred is recorded in Hansard, and I say that it was the intention of the late Government to go on with that railway. We called for tenders for its construction. They were received in the middle of June, but, as I understand the matter, the present Minister of External Affairs turned them down, on the ground that no Bill had been passed authorizing the construction of the railway. In ordinary circumstances, I should say that his action was justifiable; but I regard this as a case of emergency. I could have understood the action of the present Government if they had decided on some other route, or had come to the conclusion that a line should not be constructed from Pine Creek to the Katherine River. But in the Loan Bill submitted by the present Government they made provision for the borrowing of money for the construction of a line from Pine Creek to the Katherine River, and on the businesspaper of this House there is an Order of the Day in charge of the Minister of External Affairs for the second reading of a Bill to authorize the construction of a line from Pine Creek to the Katherine River. It seems to me that, in view of the approach of the rainy season in the Northern Territory, if the Government had accepted the tenders sent in for the construction of the line, assuming that they considered them suitable, they would have prevented a delay of twelve months in. the development of the Territory.
– Does the honorable gentleman seriously think that any Government would be justified in doing that without the authority of Parliament?
– I should like to have heard honorable members on the other side if such a thing had been attempted by the present Government.
– I think that Mr. Deakin may be. regarded as as sound a constitutional authority as is any member of this House, and I say that he asked us to do so.
– I certainly think he could not have meant that.
– The objection I have to the tenders being turned down is that it means a delay of twelve months in the construction of this line. I am not dealing with this matter from a party standpoint, and I’ say that if we could prevent a delay of twelve months in the development of the Northern Territory so much the better. No preparation has been made for the carrying out of the work, and honorable members will see in the report sent down by the Administrator that Mr. Day, the Chief Surveyor, points out that, even in the surveying of the line, his men will be greatly handicapped during the rainy season.
– Under section 83 of the Constitution, what the honorable gentleman suggests could not . have been done.
– If the Government had decided to go on with the construction of this line, there was nothing to prevent them submitting a measure authorizing its construction as one of the first proposals put before this Parliament.
– That is another matter altogether. But it could not be done, according to section 83 of the Constitution, without a special appropriation for the purpose.
– If a measure for the purpose had been submitted as one of the first proposals of the present Government, a very serious delay might have been avoided. Reference might have been made to my statement, which appears in Hansard, and was made, not only for myself, but on behalf of the late Government. We could scarcely have gone back upon that. Though such things occur in party politics, it would be a very difficult thing for any party to do. I am prepared to support the Minister of External Affairs as strongly as I can when he submits his Bill for the construction of the line from Pine Creek to the Katherine River. If the present Government felt that they were justified in first asking Parliament for authority to go on with this work, there was. nothing to prevent them submitting a proposal for the construction of the line as one of the first Government measures. But it seems to me that, in the opinion of the Government, it was more important to the country to know whether journalists should sign articles during an election campaign than that the Northern Territory should be developed. The Government were evidently of opinion that it was more important that the dust of a general election should be carried into sick rooms than that something should be done in the Territory. If a proposal for the construction of this line had been submitted by the Government, it would have received very large, if not unanimous, support from the Opposition, and a delay of twelve months in the development of the Territory would have been avoided. We are told that there is a very heavy debt hanging over the Territory, and we are out of pocket to the extent of about £500,000 a year for interest on that debt alone. It is realized that it is necessary that something should be done in the Territory. The late Government, perhaps, did not do all that they should have done.
– What would the honorable gentleman do now?
– I think we should proceed with that railway.
– Suppose we did; what would the honorable gentleman do then ?
– That would be something to go on with. It would mean the expenditure of about £500,000 in the Northern Territory. If there are some honorable members on the Government side opposed to this railway, and the Government are not assured of their majority, perhaps that is why this matter has been delayed.
– How do you propose to attract population when you have the railway built?
– I have not been in the Territory to any extent, but from the reports I have read I gather that there is a lot of good land there. I am not a pessimist in regard to the Northern Territory, and I say that if railways are built, there will be opportunity to develop it; but I do not think we can do so without railways. The Prime Minister stated that when we were in office we started in the wrong way, because, he said, we wished to put people on. an experimental farm . He also told us that the proper way was to build railways. I agree with the Prime Minister that it is necessary to build railways for the development of the Northern Territory ; and I hold the opinion that if the Government had accepted these tenders, and had made this railway one of their first proposals in this Parliament, the work of building the Katherine River to Pine Creek line would have been going on now.
– Do you really say that? Have you no shame left in you, to make a statement like that, when you have been blocking the Bill ever since we have had it on the notice-paper?
– You will say anything.
– If the Bill had been passed the very day it was introduced, the line would have been delayed for twelve months because of the rainy season which is now on. What I complain about is that the Government thought more of introducing a Bill dealing with some journalists signing articles than developing the Northern Territory.
– I will postpone this business this minute, if you will put that railway Bill through to-night.
– As far as I am concerned, I will support the Minister of Externa] Affairs all I know when the Bill is going through.
– You will support it by a most elegant and lengthy speech.
– You said you would get the Norfolk Island Bill through, did you not, and yet you stuck it up for four days.
– Order !
– Did I say that I would 1
– Ask the Minister of External Affairs.
– Order ! I cannot allow this dialogue.
– The Prime Minister is most unfair in making that statement. But, in regard to the Katherine River railway, even if the Bill passed to-night, we could do nothing in the matter of building the line, because the rainy season is now on. The Prime Minister knows this.
– Do yOu not think that stock routes should have been opened up, and water supplies provided as well as railways ?
– I have no objection to that. I think that is part of the policy. I believe that there is something on the Estimates for providing water supplies. I think I am right in saying that a contract has been let.
– Was anything done during your term of office?
– Yes, contracts were let. There was something done last year, and I believe there is something being done this year. The main thing, however, is to push on with the building of the railways as fast as possible; and I have a perfect right to say that I regret that, instead of bringing down the Bill for building this line, the Electoral Bill and the Government Preference Prohibition Bill were introduced. It would have been better if we had dealt with that railway. Of course, the Government are entitled to introduce their business in their own way, but the Opposition have an equal right to say that they regret the action that has been taken.
– You regret what you have been responsible for?
– When the present Prime Minister was in Opposition, the Labour Government were accused of having a good deal to do with the social unrest in the community. I would like to know whether there has been no social unrest since the present Ministry have been in office, and whether everything has been quiet, whether there has been contentment equal to stagnation in the community. Have there been any wars or rumours of war in the industrial world ?
– There have been no big troubles in Australia, though there has been any amount of political unrest.
– I take it there has been no industrial unrest. I do not depreciate social or industrial unrest. A certain amount of it is good for a country.
– It is a mighty good thing for the agitator.
– We might have a contentment equal to stagnation, so I do not obje’ct to a certain amount of unrest, because I think that discontent means progress and advancement. During a debate on a censure motion moved in the last Parliament, we heard a good deal about copartnery from the honorable member for Parramatta, the present Prime Minister. Copartnery was to settle the great problems of to-day. It was to be the solution of all industrial difficulties we were beset by. I must confess that I do not see much about copartnery in the financial statement of the Government, or in their policy, which has been announced by the Treasurer.
– You cannot enforce copartnery by law.
– I quite agree with the honorable member, but I do not think it is the solution. The honorable member should look up the speech delivered by his leader during last Parliament on the censure motion moved against the late Government because they had not agreed to send troops to Brisbane to put down the strike there. His solution then for social unrest was copartnery.
– I believe in it, but it cannot be enforced by law.
– We could not then be blamed for not bringing about copartnery, and there is nothing about it in the present policy. I see that the maternity allowance is to be in no way interfered with. I cannot say that I am surprised.
– You are disappointed.
– No; I am not disappointed. Every one should know what the present Prime Minister said when the Maternity Allowance Bill was going through the House. He said -
Have we not passed a Bill authorizing payment of £5 to every rich woman who has a baby ? The poor working man is being taxed to the ground in order to throw money into the laps of rich women ! Surely a greater joke was never perpetrated in this country ?
– The last thing I saw was that some of this money was finding its way to the churches.
-First, the right honorable gentleman objected because the money went into bangles, and now he objects because it is going ‘ into the churches. The point is, however, that if we passed something in the House which an honorable member considered was a joke, and was taxing the poor man down to the ground in order to throw money into the laps of rich women, when that honorable member, soon after, became Prime Minister, we would expect him, if lie really held this view, to try to have the matter altered.
– I suppose you think we should get it through the present Senate.
– The Prime Minister can please himself, but when a man in Opposition says that a Bill passed by the House is one of the greatest jokes perpetrated in the House, and even goes so far as to say that it means taxing the poor to the ground in order that some money may be thrown into the laps of the rich women, one would think that when he has the power to alter it, he would, at least, make an attempt to do so. Though he might not succeed in getting the alteration through two Houses, the least he could do, it seems to me, would be to make the attempt. During the general election, one of the heaviest charges hurled against the Labour party was that it was responsible for the high cost of living. That charge was hurled against us from every Liberal platform. It was said that our legislation had made the cost of living higher, and that we had caused the necessities of life to be dearer. I suppose most honorable members will admit that the price of commodities and the necessaries of life sometimes depends upon forces quite outside of anything within the power of any political party. There are some natural forces> more powerful than any human effort. No political party, Liberal or Labour, is able to baffle Nature, or overthrow the decrees of Providence. We may have two or three seasons of drought in succession, and this would make the commodities and necessities of life dearer. We might have prosperous seasons in which wealth might be pouring into tlie country, and when wealth might be better distributed, so that the purchasing power of every man might be greater, and then the commodities and necessities of life might become dearer, and the cost of living higher. I take it there is another way in which we, as a Parliament, have power to increase the cost of living, and that is by excessive taxation. I admit that if a Government taxes people unjustly, and squanders money unwisely, the cost of living may be increased. I expect that was the accusation that was hurled against us during the last election, but it seems to me that the Budget presented by the Treasurer is a long denial of that propaganda of mendacity that was entered into by the Liberals during the last election. No taxes have been remitted, and services that have been instituted are still to be carried on, so that either the Liberal party, during the last general election, placed false issues before the people, or else, in the hour of victory, they are false to the promises they made upon the hustings. Considering the Budget as a whole, whilst there are some things in it with which we do not quite agree, what strikes one most is the number of things that were 07ice denounced by the present Ministerial party. We find in the Budget the land tax, which the Treasurer once called a forced levy on 14,000 people. Nevertheless, it is still there. The maternity bonus is still there, although the present Prime Minister called it a huge joke, and also said it meant grinding the people into the ground with taxation. I suppose that, for all that, it will be continued. The Commonwealth notes are still being issued, although I heard the honorable member for Calare say in this House that one reason why there was a stringency of money was because the Commonwealth Bank was issuing its own notes. If this is having such a bad effect, ought not the Government to remove it?
– Our trouble is that we cannot remove your obstruction.
– The honorable member can do so. He has the “gag.” He used it when he wanted to do so. He has been able to remove one member most unfairly and unjustly from this House.
– The honorable member will withdraw that remark.
– Do not you do anything of the sort.
– At present I will withdraw anything.
– The honorable member for Ballarat has been unjustly put out of the House. The honorable member for Barrier has said nothing that he should withdraw.
– I cannot allow the honorable member to make such a remark.
– I have already withdrawn it. Now that that member has been removed, and the Government have a majority of one, if not two, an attempt might surely be made in this House, whatever else might happen in another place, to remove those things which, according to the Ministerial party, brought such calamities upon the people during the past three years. No duties have been removed. We were told by the present Prime Minister that we had added to the cost of living by our extravagance, and had increased taxation, yet the Estimates of the present Government exceed by some millions ours for the last year. I know the present Prime Minister, when on this side, rather sneered at the then Prime Minister for having a motor car for his official use, but I have seen the present Prime Minister riding in the. same car, as if to the manner born. I can quite understand that he would sneer at one who has been a miner using a motor car on becoming a Prime Minister, yet, when he holds the position, he thinks it quite right. We may congratulate ourselves upon a Budget of £27,000,000, and also on the fact that it has caused no consternation in this country. No one has cried out about ruination, nor have I yet heard of any squatter or farmer leaving the country because of the size of the Budget, taking’ his lands and cottages with him in his overcoat pocket. Gentlemen of that kind are still prepared to remain in this country. We have reason to be thankful for the good seasons we have had, but, as Australians, we have a right to be proud of the resources that enable us to have such a Budget. I can congratulate the present Treasurer on its magnitude, and we are entitled, as an Opposition, to congratulate ourselves on the fact that, although we have been removed from office, so much of our policy dominates the financial statement of the present Ministry. Although we were defeated on the hustings, they are carrying out our programme, and we have every reason to be proud that so many of our principles appear, full of life and activity, in the Budget now submitted.
– I should like to congratulate the honorable member for Barrier on the fact that he is almost as leisurely in Opposition criticism as he was at one time in Ministerial office. We have heard a good deal from him about what it was necessary for the Government to do in the Northern Territory and elsewhere, but he wants us to do in a few months what he failed to achieve during years of office. I do not want to criticise his administration in the spirit of the criticisms that it has taken him about an hour to pour upon our heads, but I should like briefly to refer to the criticism of one of the supporters of his Administration in the last Parliament. He had then been two and a-half years in office. The critic was one of his own colleagues in the Labour party, whom the honorable member for Adelaide declared in the New England electorate, at the last election, was a very loyal and valued supporter of the Labour movement; yet, when moving the adjournment of the House to protest against what was being done in the Northern Territory, he said, as recorded in Ilansard on 25th October, 1912-
It is with some regret I take this step, but I am forced to do so by the action of the Minister of External Affairs himself. I have been approaching the Minister on this matter for some time, and, although I have given him ample opportunity to fix the whole business up, he has refused to do so.
This Labour critic, Mr. Frank Foster, M.P., then went on to say -
I submit this letter, which comes with the stamp of the Amalgamated Workers Association of the. Northern Territory, for what it is worth.
This letter was not a Liberal concoction. It came straight out of the camp of my honorable friends opposite. Yet it says, regarding the results of the administration, of the honorable member, who now realizes that the Northern Territory is a clanger point instead of the bed of roses upon which he had been reclining for about three years -
At a general meeting of the members of this Association, held here on the 2nd instant, the following resolution was unanimously carried, protesting against the employment of Asiatics in the various Government Departments of the Northern Territory, viz. : -
Domestics employed at Government House, employes in Railway Department and Hospital, also ; a Chinaman employed in printing the Government Gazelle.. Kindly do your utmost to rectify this anomaly.
We : are writing for co-operatiori from Broken Hill Trades Hall Council, also writing the Minister of External Affairs.
Alf.h. Hilder, .
The Committee which has just listened to all these criticisms as to the activity that ought to have actuated us in our three or four months of office will be really amazed to find, that one of the honorable member’s ex-colleagues in the Labour party formed so valuable a conclusion as to the fruits of the honorable member’s administration after two and a-half years of experience.
I desire to put on record the facts as I see them, regarding the Oodnadatta railway. The honorable member spoke as if no saving was made by our making an arrangement with the State of South Australia to operate that service for us, but when honorable members hear the facts, and realize the conditions, they will see that a saving of £ 12G,000 has been effected by a very businesslike and simple arrangement. Although the Port Augusta wharf and the Oodnadatta to Port Augusta railway were taken over under the Northern Territory Agreement, which was concluded by Mr. Deakin when Prime Mnister, and passed into law by honorable members opposite during their term of office, they promptly proposed to lease out the wharf, although they must have known they were going to build a transcontinental railway very shortly. By so doing they exposed the Commonwealth in the construction of the transcontinental railway to the cost of the double handling of all the goods that they landed on that wharf. As soon as the railway started, the Commonwealth railway officials drew the attention of this statesman to the muddle into which they were thrown, and strongly urged him to get control of that wharf at all costs. Obviously if you have to handle several hundred thousand tons of material you must have your own trucks of your own gauge going down to your own wharf, and taking those goods straight up to the rail head. If they have to be landed from the slings into small carriages on the 3-ft. 6-in. gauge, and then transferred a mile or two outside the town on to other trucks on another gauge for transmission to the rail head, you will have a break there which is going to be as inconvenient as it is expensive. For that reason these gentlemen were asked to get out of the mess they had got themselves into by leasing out the wharf. How did they propose to do that? It was not by coming to a common-sense business arrangement with the State which would have enabled us to keep the wharf, while allowing the State at our cost to operate the Oodnadatta railway. They proposed to get out of their own muddle by operating both the railway and the wharf. Now, let us see exactly what the proposition meant. The Oodnadatta-Port Augusta railway is built on the 3-ft. 6-in. gauge. As honorable members know, South Australia has two gauges operating, one of 5 ft. 3 in., and the other of 3 ft. 6 in. This particular line is a part of the 3-ft. 6-in. system,It is a part of that system which is busily used for a portion of . the year only. I think I am right in saying that occasionally, when the cattle and the stock are going down, they have as many as six trains a week going over the line. But for the rest of the year - for a period varying from six to nine months - there is only one passenger train a fortnight going over the line to Oodnadatta. In other words, a good deal of rolling-stock is wanted during the busy season, and practically none for the rest of the year. What can South Australia do ? It has the whole control of its 3-ft. 6-in. system; it can throw its rolling-stock into that place at the time the line is busy. It can take its rolling-stock away from the balance of this system, and so without purchasing new stock simply arrange its stock and move it as the freight requirements demand. It can itself quite cheaply, comparatively speaking, operate this line.
– Not only its rolling-stock, but its staff of men.
– Exactly. The State has at its command the whole resources of the Quorn office and its 3-ft. 6-in. system. What would it mean if we started to take over this line which is used only for some months of the year to any appreciable extent? It would mean that we would have to stock up for the whole of the year with our own material to its full requirements. Not only material, but men, resources, and every single thing must be stocked for the whole year, although we would only require this aid for a short period. We were faced with that problem when we got into office. One of the first papers I saw was a paper calling for tenders for the supply of rollingstock at a cost of £126,000 to operate the line. What the present Government did, I submit, was prefectly right. We said that the State Government and the Federal Government are alike, acting as the trustees of the Australian people; and where, by co-operation and harmonious working together, the State and the Federation can effect economies, it is the duty of both parties to come together. Acting upon that principle, we approached South Australia, and pointed out- that the requirements of Commonwealth construction necessitated our getting the control of the Port Augusta wharf to save double handling of our own goods consigned to the rail head. We went further than that. We said that’ the necessities of economy required that the State, at our cost, should work the railway for us with its additional resources that do not have to be added to for particular periods. That is the whole thing in a nutshell. The State fell in with us. We had only to approach the State reasonably, not with the suspicion which was indicated in every word which the honorable member uttered about Mr.’ Butler-
– Were the .Liberal Government of South Australia prepared to extend that spirit of co-operation to the Labour Government of the Commonwealth ?
– I have not the slightest doubt in the world that the State Government would gladly have done so.
– And I have not the slightest doubt that they would never have dreamed of doing so.
– It is this gross suspicion that stops honorable gentlemen from doing their simple duty in that way. Had they approached the Government of the
State, I have not the slightest doubt in the world, since they have asked the question, that the State Government would have immediately realized the .mutual advantage of some such proposition as that, and would have done exactly what the Liberal Government have done. It never struck them so to do. I honestly believe that they overlooked the straight way out of the difficulty, just as they were blind to the danger of handing over the control of the Port Augusta wharf when they handed out the lease just before they started to build the railway.
There is another point which makes it still clearer that the purchase of the £126,000 worth of rolling-stock would have been sheer waste. By the time we have the transcontinental railway completed we hope to have a general movement going on throughout Australia for conversion to a uniform gauge. Could we, in common reason, hang back from our own duty to convert the Oodnadatta line in company with the conversion which we would .be asking South Australia and the other States to undertake 1 And the moment that we convert this 3-ft. 6-in. line- to the 4-ft. 8i-in. gauge to set an example to Australia, that moment the £126,000 worth of rolling-stock would become useless for Commonwealth purposes.
– By the time you get to a 4-ft. 8i-in. gauge there will not be much of it left.
– The honorable gentleman is a pessimist. I hope that the unification of the Australian gauges is a matter within the range of practical politics to-day.
– To my mind, it is in the clouds.
– How much is the Commonwealth going to contribute towards the’” conversion ?
– Here is an honorable gentleman, before even a conference is field, anxious to find out what everybody desires to know.
– Never mind; answer the question.
– I am only saying that the line will have to be converted as soon as we can reasonably do so, and that means as soon as the transcontinental railway is completed. That being so, it would have been an act of simple lunacy to buy expensive rolling-stock to run the line in the meanwhile. Further, in view of its special nature, and of the fact that it is only, in any business sense, used for half the year, the proper authority to run the line is not the Commonwealth, but the State of South Australia, which can Jit the line in with its 3-ft. 6-in. system, which it operates, generally speaking, throughout its western area.
– How much a year are you paying tlie State?
– We will pay on an actuarial basis the actual losses sustained by the State in running the line. The State is merely acting as our trustees, and the trustees of the Australian public. Of course, in the interests of our clients - the. Austraiian people^- we will examine to see that those losses are the real losses sustained by the railway, and no more. We have every confidence that no attempt to show any more will be made by the State, which has met us so frankly, freely, and fairly.
– Is not the State going to charge the Com mon wealth interest on the ‘cost of the rolling-stock which is to be used?
– All the legitimate charges on the rolling-stock to be used will be shown by the State, but that rolling-stock will only be in use on our line to any appreciable extent, as I thought I had explained, between three and six months, while, for the balance of the year, it will be working for the State on other portions of its system. When this subject was first introduced by the honorable member for Grey, I did not take the trouble to refer to this matter, but when an ex-Minister of the Crown placed the position aa he did in the earlier portion of his speech, I thought it was my duty to the House and to the country to show conclusively the exact reasons why it can justly be claimed that £126,000 lias been saved by this Government making this common-sense arrangement.
.- Since I spoke I have had an opportunity of going through the papers supplied to me by the Honorary Minister in connexion with the matter I raised this afternoon. 1 candidly admit that, on a careful study of the papers, I do not think he has done justice to himself. I had occasion to look up’ the letters. I presume that, as the honorable gentleman, read the reply from the Clyde Engineering Company, I will be justified in reading the reply from Walker’s Limited, as it is said that they turned the matter down. Perhaps it may be well to briefly review the history of the case for the benefit of those who were not here this afternoon. The Honorary Minister put it in chronological form - if I may be allowed to use the expression - that, after waiting for two months and doing nothing, he suddenly woke up on the 25th August and found that it was necessary to do something in connexion with the transcontinental railway, if tlie Commonwealth was to build it.
– I did not say that.
– No; the honorable gentleman, of course, did not put it that way. He said that, although he went there on the 25th June, Mr. Deane, on the 27th August, drew his attention to the fact that it was necessary to have locomotives if the work was to be done.
– I did not say that.
– The honorable gentleman did not say that?
– No. Everybody knows that it is necessary to have locomotives if the work is to be done.
– Of course, that goes without saying. The Minister said that, after being there two months, there was nothing done until the 27th August, and then he woke up the office, and, on the 8th September-
– I did not say that nothing was done, either.
– Apparently, by the papers, nothing was done.
– Nonsense !
– According to the papers, this wonderful business-like Ministry did nothing in connexion with this matter for two months. The Treasurer was so anxious to get on with the construction of the transcontinental railway that they did nothing, although it was agreed by the previous Minister of Home Affairs that tenders should be called for these engines in Australia. Contracts were let, I believe, in February of this year. Some of the engines were to have been delivered in October, and others in the present month. I do not know whether the Clyde Engineering Company have been able to deliver any engines up to date or not, but, according to the papers, on the 27th August Mr. Deane communicated with the Minister. He said it was advisable, not to call- for tenders from any Australian firms, but, in view of the urgency of the matter then - after having done nothing while the present
Minister was there for over two months - to approach the importers, mentioning several names.
– That is not all that he said .
– Of course, Mr, Deane said much more.
– It is not all the recommendation, either. There was an alternative recommendation in that paper. I think it is only fair to the officer to say that.
– On the 27th August, Mr. Deane addressed this minute to the Secretary to the Department of Home Affairs -
EIGHT ADDITIONAL “ P “ CLASS LOCOMOTIVES.
With reference to the attached papers (yr. R. 13.1714), I beg to say that in connexion with the eight extra steam locomotives, with tenders, which are required for the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway, I had proceeded with the preparation of the specification and plans so as to be in a position to call for tenders, as instructed by the late Minister in his minute of the 3rd May, 1913- Much time has elapsed since then, but the delay is entirely owing to the difficulty I had in obtaining a certified copy of the specification and plans from the New South Wales Railway Department. I mentioned this matter to the Minister yesterday, as he was anxious that whatever was done, the early delivery of these locomotives should be secured.
To call for tenders in the usual way means the expenditure of more time than is absolutely necessary. Time would be saved i f quotations were asked for as on the previous occasion, and it is presumed that if it i3 given out that British and American tenderers will receive due consideration the same firms will tender as before.
A still quicker delivery could be secured if negotiations were started at once with Messrs. R. Towns and Company, the Sydney representatives of the Baldwin Locomotive Works, to supply these engines at the same terms, and on the same conditions, as they previously tendered. I believe an arrangement could be made by which at least four of the locomotives could be shipped by the Baldwin Locomotive Works in four months’ time.
I shall be glad to know what the Minister desires .me to do. No further time can be lost; and if the Minister so wishes, I can open up negotiations with Messrs. R. Towns and Company, or can send letters round to the same firms who tendered before, asking for quotations at an early date.
The Minister read the reply of the Clyde Engineering Works.
– What happened immediately after that? The honorable member is stopping at the Engineer-in-Chief’s recommendation as though I indorsed it. which I did not. I insisted upon local firms being, approached.
– The Minister did exactly what Mr. Deane told him to do.
– The ex-Speaker knows that that is not f>o.
– The Minister did say that he would communicate with certain firms, and there is on this file a letter from the Prime Minister in which he states that he approves of that being done with expedition. Prom the 25th June, when the Ministry came into office, until the 27th August, nothing was done, apart from the preparation of some plans. Then the Government woke up to the necessity for communicating with certain firms who do this particular class of work. They forwarded communications to five of them. Incidentally, I may mention that one firm in Victoria, to which I have referred on the public platform, speaking of the profits which, according to their own prospectus, they were making - I refer to Thompson’s, of Castlemaine - and which holds a contract for the supply of forty locomotives to the order of the Victorian Government, did not receive this communication at all.
– My instructions were that local firms should be approached.
– Among the firms which were approached was that of Barbat, of Ipswich. I venture to say that more work is done at Thompson’s in one day than is done at Barbat’s in a week. Would it not have been better for the Government to have notified, through the press, that they required these engines? But, instead of doing that, after having been asleep for two months, they decided to communicate with various firms.
– Does the honorable member suggest that the Engineer-in-Chief recommended the matter to me as an urgent one two months before I took action ?
– No. But, while the Minister occupies his present position, he must accept full responsibility. From the 25th June to the 27th August nothing was done, although his predecessor had left on record a notification that a certain course of action was to be taken. On the 28th April, the Engineer-in-Chief recommended the Secretary to call for tenders for eight “P” class engines. On the 23rd August, tenders were called. I propose to quote the reply of Walker’s Limited.
– I think it would be better if the honorable member put on record all the replies.
– I desire to place upon record the reply of Walker’s Limited, because I believe that it clearly sets out the position of Australian manufacturers. The very terms of the tender penalized Australian industries. The reply of Walker’s Limited reads -
Maryborough, 19th September, 1913.
The Engineer-in-Chief for Commonwealth
We beg to acknowledge receipt of your letters of 10th and 12th instant, advising that you intend calling tenders for the supply of eight locomotives and tenders for the Port AugustaKalgoorlie railway.
We appreciate your having placed the matter before us, and we have given very careful consideration to your request that we advise you whether we are prepared to tender for these locomotives.
We have with very considerable regret to advise you that we have decided not to tender in this present instance; we were expecting that tenders for at least twenty locomotives would be asked for, but the number required is so small that the cost of patterns, templates, and other preliminary expenses would be relatively very large per locomotive ; further, the number is too small to warrant our upsetting the regular monthly deliveries of four locomotives we expect to commence making within the next few months in connexion with our contracts for locomotives for South Australia.
The heavy monetary penalty which we read at 5s. per centum per day, and your strong insistence thereon, is also a deterrent in view of the fact that delivery is largely dependent on so many outside factors which we cannot control.
I have carefully gone through these papers, and I find that the Gazette notice appeared on the 4th October, and that tenders were to close on the 5 th November. The period for the receipt of tenders was subsequently extended until the 28th November, which happens to be tomorrow. Yet tenders have already been accepted. The advertisement relating to this matter reads -
Melbourne, 22nd October, 1913.
It is hereby notified that the closing day for the supply and delivery of four “ P “ type locomotives, referred to in the Commonwealth Gazette, No. 66, on the 4th October, has been extended to the 5th November.
– That relates to a different contract altogether. The tenders will close to-morrow for the supply of four “ P “ type locomotives.
– When was the tender which has been accepted advertised ? Was it not on the 2nd October ?
– I do not think that the honorable member has followed the papers. Two things were done. In the first place, tenders were invited for the supply of four “ P “ class engines. Those tenders are returnable to-morrow. In the other cass, negotiations were entered into with the representatives of oversea firms who had on previous occasions tendered for the supply of four engines, the delivery of which will take place next April. I hope to increase the number to at least eight, and probably to twelve.
– The firm which is successful in securing that contract will have to make their patterns and templates for the four engines, just as they would have to do if they accepted a contract for the supply of 400 engines.
– That is the reason for increasing the order.
– No tender has yet been called for the supply of . more than four engines. The tenders can be so conditioned as practically to shut out Australian manufacturers. The penalties can be made so heavy as to play into the hands of importers; and that is what the Government are doing, as is clearly shown by these papers. Did not the Assistant Minister of Home Affairs this afternoon lead us to believe that these engines could be obtained in nine weeks ‘?
– I did not.
– They are to be delivered in twenty-six weeks.
– Order! It is usual to allow a Minister some latitude when a matter is being discussed in which he has a direct interest.
– I hope not.
– It is usual to allow him to make an interjection by way of elucidation, but I cannot permit ‘any attempt at argument.
– Let me quote from a_ letter written by the Engineer-in-Chief to “ the Secretary to the Department on the 16th October. He says -
The quotations submitted are for four locomotives of American and British manufacture.
The lowest is that of Messrs. R. W. Cameron and Company for American locomotives manufactured by the American Locomotive Company of New York, the estimated cost being£19,516. This type of locomotive is not in accordance with our specifications, and cannot therefore be recommended.
This also applies to the lower tender of Messrs. Newell and Company for locomotives manufactured by the Baldwin Locomotive Works, America, the price being ^19,775-
The third lowest tender is that of Messrs. W. Adams and Company for locomotives of British manufacture, the price being £20,420. The delivery offered is shipment in fifty-two weeks, which, of course, cannot be entertained.
The fourth lowest is the alternative tender submitted by Messrs. Newell and Company for locomotives manufactured by the Baldwin Company, America, to our British standard specifications, the estimated total cost for the four being ,£20,608. The delivery offered is “ complete at works in fifteen weeks.”
These locomotives are suitable, and if Messrs. Newell and Company will enter into the necessary bond to deliver them (subject to the conditions of contract as to penalty) on our works within twenty-six weeks from date of order, I recommend that their tender be accepted. This will allow them eleven weeks in which to convey the locomotives from their works to outs.
It was practically by an accident that it was discovered that the engines were being imported.
– Does the honorable member call the reading of a Gazette notice an accidental discovery?
– Had the late Government done this, the alleged Protectionist press would have published leading articles denouncing us, and pointing out that the excuses of the Minister are wide of the mark. It would have been shown that the Government waited for two months before doing anything; that, instead of attending to railway matters, Ministers were devoting their time to going through the office files, in the hope of discovering things that would tell against their predecessors, or were touring the country doing propaganda work.
– Or attending teaparties.
– Does the honorable member think that any firm in Australia could supply the engines in six months ?
– I doubt it.
– Thompson’s, of Castlemaine, could do so.
– It must not be forgotten that the largest engineering works in Australia that are making locomotives are Government workshops. The Newport Workshops make only locomotives for the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge, and, consequently, have no patterns for 4-ft. 8J-in. gauge engines. Walker’s Limited are making 3-ft. 6-in. gauge engines. Most persons are aware that it takes longer to turn out the first engine of a series than to make any subsequent one, because patterns must first be provided.
– The Clyde works are actually building some engines for us.
– They are building four, under a contract let by the last Government. The engines which the Baldwin Company are going to supply will cost over £5,000 each, and the Clyde engines are to cost only £6,100. Had duty to be paid on the imported engines, which would have had to be done if they were being imported by a State Government, that would increase their cost by £1,250 each. That fact must be remembered in making any comparison.
– Yes; but no duty has to be paid on them.
– If the fact that the Commonwealth Government do not pay duty on importations is to be used as an argument for importation, we shall have everything required for the Post Office and other Departments imported; but, bad as I think the present Governmentare, I am of opinion that they would not do that.
– Why did not the last Government order what engines were needed ?
– We ordered four, which were manufactured in Australia, to be delivered somewhere about the present time.
– Now they do nothing but grumble.
– The Prime Minister says that he has scored in this matter; but had the last Government done what this Government have done, they would have been denounced for having broken their pledges to the people regarding Protection. This Government have done that. They are extending to outside manufacturers privileges that they are not prepared to give to the local manufacturers. There are other matters with which I desire to deal, but perhaps at this late hour the Prime Minister will be prepared to report progress.
– Very well.
Bill returned from the Senate without request.
House adjourned at 10.43 P-m-
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 27 November 1913, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1913/19131127_reps_5_72/>.