5th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– In view of the very tragic events that have happened lately, the Opposition, I feel sure, is in no way anxious to prolong the session unnecessarily. Will the Prime Minister, therefore, kindly take an early opportunity to make a statement concerning the work th at he desires to have done before the prorogation? It is usual to do that at this stage of the session.
– I gladly respond to my honorable friend’s suggestion. The notice-paper is a very slender one.
– Some persons would call the Treasurer and myself slender.
– I used the word; not in a relative, but in the most absolute sense in which it can be used. There is little business on the notice-paper that is of a contentious character, and I suggest that everything depends on the. Opposition. If members opposite are prepared to deal with this business, or to indicate any items to which they have a decided objection, we shall meet them if we can. But may Iremind them that we have done scarcely anything yet this session. Moreover, I should like to know what is to happen in another place. There are one or two important measures there. The Loan Bill, for instance, is a very important measure, and the delay in passing it is keeping back the construction of public works. I should like to know what the decision of the Senate in regard to that measure is to be. So far as we are concerned, there should be no difficulty in clearing matters up.
– We cannot inquire into what they are doing in another place.
– That is a profound and strict constitutional principle; but I fancy that my honorable friends have some subterranean channel of communication by which they can ascertain all they wish to know concerning the intentions of the members of another place. I hope that they will enter into the spirit prompting the question of the honorable member for Barrier. If they do, I promise that the session will not be unduly prolonged.
– I - I ask the Prime Minister if he will be able to give a day or two for the discussion of private members’ business before the session closes?
– Two days.
– I - I need only about twenty minutes for my Bill.
– Will the Prime Minister, in replying, state also whether the Government intends to ask the House to fix extra sitting days?
– In all probability, we shall ask for extra sitting days next week. I should, first of all, like to get the Estimates passed, because until they have been dealt with we cannot shape finally the business of the session. Having been passed by this House, the Appropriation Bill embodying the Estimates must go to the other Chamber, whose members each year demand more and more time for the consideration of financial proposals. If my honorable friends will help us to get the Estimates through, we shall be able to shape things finally. In all probability, the House will be asked to sit on one or two extra days next week.
– It is understood that the Government has made a request for the holding of an Imperial Conference. Apart from the subject of defence, there may be other items of business of a very important nature brought before the Conference, which may be. called together after Parliament has been prorogued. I, therefore, ask the Prime Minister if he will, before the session ends, make a statement of the items that may be considered at any conference, so that the House may be placed in full possession of the intentions of the Ministry?
– The honorable member’s request is a very unusual one.
– It is usual to inform the House of the matters to be brought before an Imperial Conference.
– A conference has not yet been arranged for.
– I have never heard of such a thing being done as the honorable member for Maribyrnong asks me to do.
– It was done by the last Ministry.
– I think not. Moreover, no conference has been arranged for.
– A conference may be arranged for after the prorogation.
Mr.JOSEPH COOK.- In that case, we shall have to do the best we can.
– Some time ago, Mr. Speaker, you directed, after your attention had been drawn to the matter of the ventilation of the chamber, that the windows at each end should be opened. That was done for about two days, and then neglected. I wish to know whether you have given a second instruction reversing the first.
– I have given no instruction for the closing of the windows. Only a few moments ago one of the attendants inquired whether certain doors should be left open to allow a current of air to pass through the chamber, and I told him that I thought it would be better to keep them open. But when there is a hot wind blowing, as there is this morning, it is necessary to keep the windows closed to prevent the air of the chamber from being overheated. I may mention that early in the session I had a consultation with the Chief Director of Works, the Victorian Government Architect, and also the departmental engineer, and arranged that each day an inspection should be made of the apparatus which withdraws foul air from the chamber, to see that all is in working order. If honorable members desire the windows to be opened, I shall give a direction accordingly, but with the north wind that is blowing, I am afraid that the conditions would then be less agreeable than they are now.
Supply to Hospitals
-A few weeks ago I asked the Prime Minister a question regarding the supplying of radium to hospitals, and I wish again to draw his attention to the matter. I ask, in view of recent complaints from some of our prominent hospital authorities concerning the shortage of radium, and the honorable gentleman’s promise that he would make inquiries, to ascertain whether the Commonwealth could assist in obtaining radium for the hospitals, whether anything has been done?
– I confess that the matter has escaped my notice, and that I have made no inquiry. Certainly, I have heard no complaints.
– Some have appeared in the press.
– None have reached me. I shall make inquiries.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The Commonwealth Statistician has furnished the following information in reply to the honorable member’s questions: -
Sydney. - December, 1911. - General rate, 21d. in £1 on assessed annual value;1d.on unimproved capital value.
Melbourne. - General rate, is. in the £1 ; lighting. 3d.
Brisbane. - General rate, 4d. in the £1 ; loan rates,1d. to 3d. in various wards; special rates,1d. ; sanitary rates, 24s. per service per annum.
Adelaide. - Total rate of 2s. in the £1, made up of general1s., lighting 3d., sanitary 6d., police 2d., parks½d., other½d.
Perth. - General rate, is. 6d. ; loan rate,9d. ; total rate, 2s. 3d.
Hobart.- Rates not available. Total rate about 3s. 4d. in the £1.
London. -Poor rate of 4s.9½d. in the £1 ; general rate of is. 8½d. in the £1.
Edinburgh. - Poor law rates - Owners, 311-16d. ; occupiers, 3 15-16d. Education rates - Owners, 611-16d. ; occupiers, 7d. Burgh rates - Owners,1s.0½d., occupiers, 2s.10½d.
Obsolete Vessels - H.M.A.S. “ Warrego
asked the - Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence. upon notice-
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
asked the Minister of
Home Affairs, upon notice -
– Returns of expenditure have been filed by Liberal and other organizations with the Commonwealth Electoral Officer for the State of Queensland, under the provisions of ‘ section 172a of the Commonwealth Electoral Act, and section 35 of the Referendum (Constitution Alteration) , Act. These returns are available for public inspection on payment of the prescribed fee of1s. in respect of each return.
asked the Minister of External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’ s questionsare -
asked the Minister of External Affairs, upon notice -
Is he in receipt of any authentic information as to whether it is true, as alleged, that the waterside workers of Japan, out of sympathy with the New Zealand waterside workers, have declined to load Japanese coal for New Zealand?
MINISTERS laid upon the table the fol lowing papers: -
Audit Act - Transfers of Amounts approved by His Excellency the Governor-General in Council (dated 3rd December, 1913).
Customs Act - Proclamation prohibiting exportation of aboriginal anthropological specimens.
Public Service Act -
Central Staff - Lighthouse Branch -
Appointments of L. J. Bolger and . F. W.
Hood as District Officers, Professional Division, Class C.
Appointments of H. A. Jackson and I. A. Ridgway as District Engineers, Profes sional Division, Class C.
Landing Branch, South Australia -
Promotions of F. I. Hansen and W. S. Goudie as Examining Officers, 4th Class.
Finance 1912-13 - The Treasurer’s Statement of Receipts and Expenditure during the year ended 30th June, 1913, accompanied by the report of the Auditor-General.
Ordered to be printed.
In Committee of Supply: Consideration resumed from 2nd December(vide page 3664), of motion by Sir John forrest -
That the first item in the Estimates under Division 1 - The Parliament, namely, the President, £1,100, be agreed to.
– I feel it exceedingly difficult to resume my remarks this morning. I would like to say a great deal, but I feel I dare not pursue the line of thought in my mind, because the very kind actions of the Prime Minister and his colleagues, and members of the Government benches, have made it very hard indeed for a member of the Opposition to do justice to his constituency. However, in the interests of the people, we must subordinate personal feeling in order to try to do that for which we are sent here. There is one matter to which I wish to refer, and that is the telephone balance-sheet recently issued by the Postal Department. It is gratifying to find that at last we axe able to have such a statement before us, and judging it in the limited time we have had to peruse it, I am of opinion that the Accountant’s Branch in the Postal. Department has done very well in. connexion with this balance-sheet. I do not intend to deal with the matter at any great length, be cause I am hopeful that the ex-Minister, who may be in receipt of information it is not possible for me to get, will see his way clear later on to go into this question thoroughly, and lay before the people of Australia his ideas on the state of things existing. I realize the great difficulty of the PostmasterGeneral in dealing with this important branch of the great Department over which he has control. It requires most careful handling; otherwise, those people who are using the telephones may be dealt with harshly. If we increase the telephone rates to any great extent the increase is bound to be borne by those whom some people least expect to bear the burden. We all know that in the mercantile world all charges in business are taken into consideration and passed on to the consumers, and the telephone rates are not excluded; but a high telephone rate would press heavily on small business people, who find the telephone a ‘great convenience, but whose businesses are not large enough to enable them to pass on the cost as a big merchant can do. I think the Postmaster-General might see his way clear to give the Electrical Engineer more power and responsibility. This officer could even be made personally responsible to the Minister. At any rate, I hope that he will be given a free hand, and that the Public Service Commissioner will not be continually interfering with him. But if he be given the power to organize his branch, and get together a first-class staff to carry out the work, I venture to say great savings will be made in the cost of construction. There seems to bo a great anomaly between the cost of construction in Melbourne and that in Sydney, but any one with engineering knowledge will agree that Sydney, from an engineering point of view, is one of the most difficult cities in any part of the world in which to install an up-to-date telephone system. If conduits are required, or ifthe Department has to run telephone, tunnels to carry a number of cables, it has been necessary to tunnel through solid rock, which has made the work very costly indeed. Another factor is that Australia, above all places, suffered very much under the rigime of State Governments. Even after we entered into Federation it was almost impossible for the Postmaster-General, and the telegraphic branch in particular, to get sufficient money to carry out work as it should be carried out, and until the last few years everything done was of a temporary nature, simply putting up and pulling down, and so on, which made the service costly indeed. However, I have every confidence in our- Chief Electrical Engineer. Twenty years ago I went away from Tasmania to seek knowledge in this line of work, and it was to Brisbane I went, because, under Mr. Hesketh, the Brisbane system was the most up-to-date in Australia. In fact, Mr. Hesketh led in telephone construction in the Commonwealth, and I feel sure that in his present position he will so regulate the service and arrange his staff that no one will be able to say that there is any waste going on. If honorable members will compare what they are getting in Australia, and what they are paying, with the service that is given, and the payment made, in other parts of the world, I venture to say that they will find that we have in Australia the cheapest telephone service in any part of the world, and, taking into consideration the proportion of population, that the people per head are well served indeed, particularly in the suburban and country districts. Notwithstanding the numerous complaints that we hear, I think that the Commonwealth is. well served. I shall not deal further with this question, but I hope that tlie honorable member for Barrier will go into it deeply, in order that we may be able to meet the contention of those outside, who say that a better service would be provided by private enterprise. My experience in the Old World teaches me that private enterprise would not give us anything like such a good service at the same cost. I wish now to refer briefly to the purchase of Baldwin engines for use in the construction of the transcontinental railway. Honorable members opposite are never tired of toasting “ The King “ - and all honour to the King, I say - and talking of their great loyalty. But when the Government have an opportunity to show their practical loyalty to the Empire by purchasing, either in Australia or Great Britain, the engines required for the Commonwealth, we find them going to tlie United States for them. I think that the Baldwin engines are inferior to the splendid type of locomotives con. structed in Great Britain by such firms as Messrs. Beyer, Peacock and Company. If I remember rightly, tlie Minister’s- explanation was that tlie engines required on the construction works could not be obtained in time from Great Britain. Surely, any one of the great workshops in the Old Country could turn out not one or two, but a score of engines in the course of a few weeks, if an order were placed with it. The Minister’s excuse is a very lame one. Every effort should have been made, in the first place, to secure in Australia the engines that were required. I have yet to learn that new engines can be used advantageously on construction work. I have never heard of their being used in that connexion. Every one knows that it is impossible to give engines so employed the attention they require. The railway from Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta traverses a large tract of sandy country, and if sand gets into the bearings of these engines, it must quickly wear them away. It is impossible’- to keep engines used on railway construction works as clean’ as the ordinary traffic engines are kept. Then, again, if a heavy engine, attached’ to a big load, were used on a new line, and driven at a high rate, it would quickly push the road to pieces. The Minister tells us that it is absolutely necessary to get’ these new engines to draw the required loads, although the grades on the line are not more than about 1 in 80. I hold that he should have made every effort to obtain from New South Wales the engines required in the construction of the line. The. Railway Department of New South Wales must have quite a number of second-hand engines suitable for the purpose. A member of the State Government, in explaining recently the increased expenditure on the railways of the State, said that the Department had been strengthening culverts and bridges, and reconstructing many lines, so as to permit of the use of heavier engines. It seems to me, therefore, that it must have quite a number of lighter engines available. If the Minister of Home Affairs had pursued the policy, laid down by his predecessor, and had arranged for the use of second-hand engines, he would have done well. As soon as the line was completed, he could “ scrap “ them, if necessary, and the best class of engines for the running service could then be obtained. The oil engines, of which we hear so much, may prove to be superior to the ordinary coal engines for the running service, and in that event, the present Government will have been responsible for a huge waste of money, because the Minister says that for every 50 miles of line constructed, they will have to get a new engine. For many years, the goods traffic on the transcontinental railway will be very light. Baldwin goods engines are not suitable for a fast service. What would the Treas’urer think if he saw an engine not capable of travelling more than 30 miles an hour coupled on to a passenger train on this line. Our desire is that the line shall be pro- Stable, and in order to make it profitable, we must make it acceptable to the travelling public by employing the most up-to-date rolling-stock. I hope that the Treasurer will assert his influence with his colleagues, and that he will insist upon the necessary engines being obtained, if possible in Australia, or, at all events, within the Empire. British engines will last twice as long as the Baldwin engines. I invite honorable members to read the debate which took place in the State Parliament in regard to the introduction of Baldwin engines into New South Wales. I regret very much that honorable members opposite, who have bitterly criticised the late Government’s administration Of the Northern Territory, have utterly failed to bring forward any suggestion for dealing with that vast tract of country. It is all very well to criticise, hut honorable members are merely wasting time if they indulge in criticism alone, and do not come forward with any practical sugges-tion. The development of the Territory is a big problem, and is made the more perplexing by reason of the many diverse opinions which we have heard in regard to it. Before entering this House, I read with pleasure the excellent series of articles published in the Aye in regard to the Territory, and I still have them’ by me. Writers like Mr. Moore Robinson, Dr. Gregory, Professor Baldwin Spencer and others that have written on this great Territory all seem to give different opinions of it, and one gets so mixed that it is hard to say’ what is the best thing for its development, but it is a burden that we must bear. . We must either do something with it or hand it over to someone else to develop. I regret exceedingly that the honorable member for Corangamite or the honorable member for Riverina has not up to the present time seen his way clear to speak on the motion before the Committee. I was looking forward to valuable information from those gentlemen as regards utilizing the Territory for grazing purposes. As we take the land from the meat producer, we should certainly have to find other land for him to go on and pursue his occupation. We must have meat in our country, for Australia, I hope, is going to be second to none in the world as a meat-producing nation. As we acquire for closer settlement stations that are at present used for grazing purposes, we might assist those who go in for that industry to push out further back into this country, which, it is said, cannot be developed at the present time. I do not know anything about squatting or cattleraising, but it struck me that we might send out parties looking for water, and if bores were put down and a good supply were struck at various places it would enable the cattle breeders to go further back. If the land is leased to them . as I understand has been done in Queensland, we shall then be developing this great Territory and making it more valuable, because I am told on good authority that inferior land can be converted into fairly good agricultural land by continually feeding sheep on it, stirring it up and manuring it. In that way we should be able to make the land fit for the closer settlement which might come later when we have many millions of people in this great Territory.
– There is any amount of good land that has not been touched. The question is how to get the produce to market.
– What is the good of sending small settlers into the interior of Australia when we have land that could be made available in the southern States? If settlers cannot get it under present conditions, the sooner the State Government which controls the land rises to the occasion and makes it available the better it will be for the State.
– Unfortunately, there is more land available throughout Australia than there are people to use it.
– If the land is available in Victoria, how is it that the State is not retaining its population ?
– We are increasing it.
– This is the second time that the honorable member has. made that erroneous statement. Victoria is doing nothing of the sort. As Knibbs shows in Bulletin No. 19, Victoria brought out over 6,000 immigrants during the first seven months of 1913, and yet the excess of emigration over immigration for the same period was 275.
– Victoria cannot keep them. The land is too dear, and they are going to places where land is cheaper.
– I admit that Victoria is more closely settled.
– Victoria is bringing out immigrants for the benefit of other States. They can go there and get cheaper land.
– Honorable members representing Victoria cannot seriously tell me that their State is overpopulated, or that its land is nearly as closely occupied as .it should be. If the conditions are made worth while, the settler will not break up his home and go away back into Queensland, for instance, knowing the conditions that exist there. Paney farmers going away back to Chinchilla, where some friends of mine have gone, because they could not get a place upon which to lay their heads here. It is a disgrace to the Government of Victoria. When I hear all this crowing about what the Liberal Government have done and are doing in bringing people out to settle, I ask where they are settling them ? They are settling them in New Zealand or New South Wales, and the people of Victoria are paying for .them.
– And your party in the State are complaining that the Liberal party are bringing too many out.
– Let me again very seriously remind honorable members of the undesirableness pf the habit that is growing up in this Chamber - that is, that when an honorable member makes a statement to “which another honorable member objects, objection is at once expressed by interjection. The Standing Orders provide for a reply in the ordinary set form by way of speech, and not by way of interjection. I must, therefore, again very earnestly ask honorable’ members to refrain from interjections, and if they wish to reply to do1 so in the ordinary way allowed by the Standing Orders.
– In Harden district, N,ew South Wales, there were, over 100 applicants for one block of land. I understand that a railway man has been fortunate enough to secure it, and proposes to settle on it. In the face of those figures honorable members tell us that there is plenty of land available, and that we want people in. Australia. I read in a newspaper last night that the Government are complaining very bitterly about certain legislation not being passed, because they have to suspend operations in the Old Country, it being their intention to increase the expenditure from £20,000 to £50,000, I presume, for the purposes of advertising Australia. I desire to see Australia advertised, and people coming here, but before they do so let us make it possible for them to get on the land immediately they arrive.
– Without any experience?
– Of course, we want experienced men; that is our trouble. They are bringing out inexperienced people- from London or other cities. We want- men who are able to go on the land at once; but, as one gentleman said who had been out to Australia, “ The people of Australia want the very same men and women that we wish to retain in the Old Country.” They realize there that the workers on the land are the producers of the’ wealth, after all is said and done, and that that country which settles- them on the land near markets, instead of pushing them away back to struggle under such conditions as exist in Gippsland and parts of my own State, is1 the country that must go ahead. It is heart-breaking’ to find how some people have to struggle to make a home for themselves in the back blocks when land should be made available for them within, easy distance of a market.
– The honorable member should stick to the question of telephones and leave the land alone.
– No doubt it would be to the interest of the honorable member if I did so, because be has a fair share of the laud of this country, and it is the men on this side of the House who have made him pay something like a fair and reasonable share of the taxation of Australia. That is what seems to be worrying honorable members on the other side. Fourteen thousand people have to pay £1,400,000 a year under a land tax which the party opposite would remove to-morrow if they had the power - they have it in this House, but not in the other - and the courage - and it would require a good deal of courage to do it. For the first time in the history of any country or Parliament a tax is being placed on a section of the people who never paid before. The return from land is averaged at about 5 per cent., and Australia has taken the lead in imposing a tax of 1 per cent. ; and it is. this tax that is troubling the majority of honorable members opposite. The honorable member for Indi looks as though he would like to interject, but we know the promises which he made on the hustings and which he finds he has not the power to carry out here.. The honorable member has not the courage to rise on the floor of the House and state his opinions before honorable members; but, like little Jack Horner, he sits in his corner and interjects - and in that corner I shall leave him. I have read the Budget speech most carefully, and I have listened just as carefully to the speeches of responsible Ministers, and I. cannot see any indication of one measure that can have the effect of reducing the cost of living. Such a reduction, as we know, was promised by the present Government and their supporters during the elections, but they have been in power now for about six months, and the cost of living is just as high as ever.
– Do not the Government Statist’s figures, published this morning, indicate that there has been a reduction ?
– I do not agree with the honorable member, because, in my opinion, the purchasing power of the people has been restricted, as is’ shown by that barometer, the Customs revenue. The seasons are now just as good as ever they were, but we find the importer afraid, to import, simply because he can see that the purchasing power of the workers is being restricted. The result we see- in a decreased revenue from the Customs, and yet all this takes place un der the regime of a Government who were going to reduce the cost of living and increase prosperity generally. Has the present Government done anything at all to develop and build up this great country? On the contrary, stagnation reigns supreme. We have had one or two “tupennyha’penny” Bills brought forward with the declared object of bringing about a double dissolution and an appeal to the country. That, is the sort of excuse with- which the present Government and their supporters seek to blind the public to the fact that the developmental policy of the late Government is not being carried on. However, I do not think that the people are> to be fooled in this way. I challenge anyhonorable member opposite to show how the present Government have, by administration. saved the £1,00,0,000 of which the Prime Minister has spoken.
– The Government are saving it by putting people out of work 1
– That is not saving. A man who is out of work has to be kept by the man who is in work. Such a saving cannot fail to react on the Government because, when ‘ men are out of work, they have time to vote, and when they have time to vote I know, how their votes will go. I hope the day is not far distant when all this childish talk will be stopped, and the people pf the country given credit for more intelligence. Just fancy the twaddle that Senator McColl trotted out the other day for the delectation of the ‘ deep-thinking electors of Australia 1 In the Budget before us we have provision made for a number of the measures that the Labour party desired to see put into operation; and, further, we find that the present Government propose to expend an additional £4,000,000. This is a very strangeBudget for a Government who were: going to make such great - savings. Of course, we are told by the Prime Minister and others that the present Government, are committed to this increased expenditure by, the measures of the late Government. But are we to understand that the present Government are a mere kinetophone of the late Government? The attitude of the Government seems to be that but for the action of the late Government, they would have reduced the huge expenditure on the .Navy,, the building of the:
Transcontinental Railway, the Federal Capital, and other projects; but that, to my mind, is a very lame sort of excuse, and one which the people are not likely to swallow. What we require from any Government in power is a strongly progressive policy for the development of this country. Without the expenditure of any great sums this land should “be made so attractive as to induce the white races of the Old World to come here and become good citizens and wealth producers.
– Tell us a little about the shrinkage in the bank deposits !
– I am glad to hear that interjection. What does this shrinkage mean ? It means that the people, instead of depositing their money in the banks, are investing it in building and other . developmental . work, and, .further, that investments are being made in other parts of the world where the rates of interest are rising. Lord Milner, the other day, told us that in the money world there is now a strike for higher interest. The developmental work that is going on in all countries is beyond the expectation of the most sanguine people of the Old World as well as” of the new, and there are still applications for more money to be so invested. Of course this work is not immediately reproductive, but, at the same time, as we see in the Argentine, there is a great demand for capital. Unfortunately for the world, France is going in for a huge loan, not for the development of the country, but to provide more ships for the Navy, and a larger supply of the munitions of war. Millions of money are being spent for this horrible purpose. China wants £62,000,000, and Japan wants money also. Then we have had the recent Balkan War, which has ended so disastrously for the countries engaged in it. Yet a brainy legislator asks why are the bank deposits decreasing? When industry is stifled and production ceases, money accumulates in the banks, because there is no use for it; it is the progress of the world that at the present time prevents the accumulation of money in the banks. I should like to hear, before the debate closes, a statement from a responsible Minister as to the savings that have been made by this Government. The only saving that I know of has been made by reducing the wages of certain office-cleaners by. 7d. . per day. They have so much less a day to spend, and the business people in Victoria get 7d. a day less from them. But is that a saving that any one- should be proud of? I should like to .have an explanation regarding the alleged saving of £1,000,000. I should like, too, to hear that there is to be a diminution of our terrible defence expenditure, the burden of which is now almost heavier than we can bear. A population of less than 5,000,000 is spending now nearly £6,000,000 a year on defence, part of the money going, to pay for ships which in eight years will be obsolete, and in sixteen will be on the scrap-heap. .Tons of money in all countries have been poured out without careful supervision of expenditure. Defence costs us huge sums, because of certain articles which appear in the newspapers! How do we ,know tha.t the great factories which manufacture the munitions of war do not control certain newspapers, and to insure the sale of their goods, influence the publication of various articles ? Scares are continually created, and afford excuse for further expenditure on defence. I hope that the time will come when some restriction will be placed on cur defence expenditure. I have- nothing to say against the training of our- young men. Our Judges are saying that the day of the “ the push “ has gone by. That is because the latent energy of our young men is now being directed into channels which will enable it to be employed to their physical advantage, and to the benefit of the community. Good work is being done in’ the training of our young men, and I hope that the effort will be made to secure as instructors the best men available. Such men should be so well paid that it will not be their ambition to give up the work for better-paid employment. In conclusion, I express the wish that the Ministerial supporters will let us know what is stored in their minds. I sit in this chamber for hours, not that I like remaining in an atmosphere like that which fills it this morning, but in. the effort to gain knowledge which will enable me to vote intelligently on public questions, and to form opinions of use to those whom I represent. I ask honorable members opposite to .throw off the fetters by which they have been bound so long, and to remain no longer as silent as the sheep cf the honorable member for Riverina. . .
– When we get up to speak, you tell us that sheep are the only things that we know anything about.
– We are glad to listen to honorable members, and have been sorry that those who make such brave speeches on the hustings, complaining of the caucus system of the Labour party, and extolling the freedom of the Liberal party, are how remaining silent at the direction of some one on the Ministerial benches. The other day we saw the honorable member for Echuca, when about to’ cross the floor at division time, pulled back by his coat tails, and we received no explanation of his vote. I ask honorable members not to remain further silent, but to do what is right in their own interests, in the interests of their constituencies, and in the interests of Australia.
.- After tlie unfortunate happenings of the past few days, I, like other members, am very anxious to finish the business of the session, and, therefore, I shall not speak at inordinate length. But I feel it my- duty to’ my constituents, and to the country, to say a word or two on some important matters. I desire to refer, first, to the sugar regulations. When the Commonwealth sugar legislation was repealed, it was agreed between the ex-Prime Minister and the Premier of Queensland,- that an arrangement made between them should be put into effect most strictly, and observed, not merely in the letter, but also in the spirit. I regret that it is not being observed, either in the letter or in the spirit, and we have just reason to ‘complain of the laches of the Queensland Government in this respect. It was a condition of the agreement that coloured aliens should no longer be employed in the sugar industry. Under the Commonwealth sugar legislation, cane grown with black labour could not receive bounty, this Parliament determining, eleven years ago, that coloured labour should not be employed in the cane-fields. Therefore, there was no injustice in requiring the abolition of coloured labour in the agreement’ made- (-between the Governments of the Commonwealth and Queensland. But quite -a number of permits are being applied for to enable coloured persons to be employed in tlie cane-fields, and in the mills. Hitherto, the Commonwealth has not been able to prevent the employment of coloured labour in the mills. When Mr. Kingston was in. charge of. the earliest legislation dealing with the sugar industry, and was asked to introduce provisions which would prevent the employment of coloured labour in the mills as well as in the fields, he said that that could not be done, because the bounty was to be given only for tlie production of cane, and that we- could not control subsequent operations affecting the cane. But the employment of coloured labour in the mills, and on the tramlines, was prohibited in the agreement to which I have referred. Yet, notwithstanding the loudmouthed loyalty to the White Australia policy of many persons in the north, and especially of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, coloured labour is being employed almost wholly on the tramways of the company, and in the mills from 50 to 60 per cent, of those employed are coloured. Permits are now being applied for to cover coloured persons previously employed, and possibly others. It is rumoured that 500 such permits have been applied ‘for in the Cairns district, and quite a number in the Mackay district, and the Premier of Queensland has admitted that sixty-four applications for permits have been received from one district. Whether they have been granted or not, we do not know. The Sugar Cultivation Act imposes conditions which would seem to maintain the agreement between the Commonwealth and Queensland, but regulations subsequently framed put the granting of permits at the discretion of the Minister of Agriculture.’ With a Minister like the present one, who is not wholly in favour of the White Australia policy, anything may be expected. I admit that the Commonwealth Government is powerless in the matter, but it can press upon the Queensland Government the justice of honorably giving effect to the agreement in the letter and in the spirit. During my electoral campaign, I forecasted that the repeal of the Commonwealth sugar legislation would bring back aliens into the cane-fields, and coloured labour is being largely employed in agricultural work’. In the Atherton district, where’ from 30,000 to 40,000 tons of maize is produced annually, the farmers are Chinese, and the maize is harvested by Chinese and Hindoos. At Tolga railway station, on the Cairns-Herberton railway, I saw fifty Hindoos being detrained, to be employed at. corn pulling. The agricultural land in the district is all leased to Chinese. I told my audiences on various occasions in the sugar districts that the same thing would apply to the sugar cane:fields, that the land would be leased to the aliens, and that the wages, conditions, or anything else laid down by the Wages Boards would be nullified. I said that the land could be leased to aliens, and the result would be that as the alien would grow sugar cane more cheaply than the white man, the price of cane .would be so reduced to the alien level that no white man could compete, and’ white labour would be entirely driven out of the canefields of Queensland. What I ventured to forecast is apparently becoming true, and although the leasing of the land to aliens in the sugar districts has not yet come into operation, it is almost a certainty that it will.
– Have any permits been given to employ coloured labour ?
– I cannot say. I can only say that permits have been applied for. Whether they have been granted, I am unable to say, but I would point out that, having a Minister who is not wholly in sympathy with the White Australia policy, we can imagine what is likely to happen. At any tate, with the leasing of land to aliens it is a foregone conclusion that the white labour will be driven’ out of the industry.’ Ten or twelve years ago, when the Act dealing with this question was passed in this Parliament, there was not more than 15 per cent, of the cane grown by white labour, whereas last year about 93 per cent, was grown by white labour, which goes to show that our policy has had the effect of settling,- what I am safe in asserting, is a virile, industrious, “energetic, and sober population in .North Queensland, doing justice to themselves And to the policy which put them there, and benefiting the whole community. But I fear this policy is going to be entirely upset by what is being done by the Queensland Government.
– Is it not the fault of. the arrangement made by the Fisher Government with the Queensland Government ?
– I think not.
– In what respect has the arrangement not been carried out?
– Two proposals were submitted to Mr. Denham before the Commonwealth Bills were tabled, and the second proposal, providing that no coloured labour should be employed, and that the wages should be such as were fixed by a Wages Board or any other properly constituted tribunal, was accepted by Mr. Denham; so that, if these permits are being granted, he is departing from the arrangement made between the two Governments. Had this arrangement not been made the repeal Bills would not have been introduced.
– Has not the arrangement made been carried out so far as this Government is concerned ?
– Yes, but I am not complaining about this Government. I complain of a breach of faith on the part of the Queensland Government, and I am asking whether some arrangement cannot be devised whereby a case might be put before the Queensland Government,- not from an individual stand-point as I am putting it, but from the Government stand-point. I ask that the Government should press on the Queensland Government the necessity for fulfilling their part of the contract.
– Before we could bring pressure to bear on the Queensland Government there should be some reason for believing that they are not adhering to their contract.
– On several occasions I have asked the. Minister of Trade and Customs to procure me the information-, and the very fact that he promised the information, and it has been so long delayed, is- in itself suspicious,, and bears an aspect that is not favorable to the intentions of the Government. Under the Queensland Act all those engaged in the industry are entitled to take part in the selection of members of Wages Boards. There are a number of aliens still- in the industry, but who should be out of the industry under the terms of the agreement between our Government and the Queensland Government. It is for them that permits are being sought, and no doubt these permits will be granted on the ground that they -were in the industry at the time of the passage of the legislation, and therefore are entitled to remain in it. With these coloured people entitled to vote for the members of Wages Boards, we can imagine what sort of a Wages Board will be constituted. Certainly the wages laid down will not be those laid down in the agreement. It was clearly understood that they should be those which were recommended by the Royal Commission, that is, 8s. a day for forty-eight hours a week, and it was to that agreement that Mr. Denham gave his adherence.
-Until Wages Boards were established.
– Exactly ; but one can imagine the consequences of the Wages Board being established under what I may term theægis of the coloured alien, if he is allowed, as he will be, under permit to vote. 1 have asked theMinister of Trade and Customs’ if he will obtain the information in regard to the question of permits, and what was being done by the Queensland Government in the matter, and the Minister promised to give me the information. Hitherto he has always complied with my request and obtained the information that I have’ asked for, but on this occasion the information is not forthcoming, and that, as I have said, is in itself suspicious. I regret having to adopt this attitude. It is not creditable to the Government of my own State that we should have to come here and speak aswe are doing in regard to this question. I am sorry indeed to hear the honorable members for Maribyrnong and Denison speaking in the tone they have adopted; that is, in regard to the Customs duty upon sugar. They are both strong Protectionists.
– What is one to do under the conditions?
– There is not the slightest indication that the Queensland Govern- ment are likely to go back on their agreement.
– Will the Minister deny that the coloured aliens employed prior to the repeal of the Acts are still employed? Was it not an implied condition of theagreement that they should be no longer employed ? The Minister is silent on the point. Reverting to the question of the Customs dutythe honor able member for Denison takes up the attitude that cheaper sugar would be better for Tasmania and the jam industry. I admit that it may be so - at any rate it is arguable - but as the honorable member is a good Protectionist, I regret very much to hear him adopt that attitude, knowing as he does what the import duty on sugar has done for the sugar industry, and has accomplished in the way of settling people on the coast of Queensland. The honorable member for Maribyrnong takes, up the same attitude, but he is speaking from the State stand-point. This is one of those unfortunate parochial matters that will crop up. But I am afraid that it will be so until Unification is accomplished.
– Wha What? Unification? No Unification for us!
– Until we have these paltry State boundaries eliminated, and we speak not as Tasmanians or Victorians, but as Australians
– I object to the honorable member using my name in order to advance his Unification ideas.
– The honorable member is the lonely pelican in the wilderness.
– The speeches of the honorable members for Denison and Maribyrnong. will cause much regret in my electorate when it is found that two such staunch Protectionists have gone back on their faith in this direction. It will cause a great deal of sorrowand surprise.
– I do not see how it should cause surprise with the black cloud now hanging over the industry.
– That cloud is only in the honorable member’s imagination.
– The honorable member for Maribyrnong may feel that he is justified, but when the duties come before this Chamber again, I hope he will reconsider the matter, and see some reason for voting as he previously did for a high duty upon sugar. I think the duty should be higher. It should not be lessthan£7.
– You have a lot of hope of getting it on black-grown: sugar.
– I admit the danger, and honorable members, I admit, may feel themselves justified in taking up the attitude they have adopted.
– The Minister of Trade and Customs made it one of the principal planks in his platform that we should have white-grown sugar.
– Quite a number of honorable members on the Government benches would be willing to support the honorable members for Dension and Maribyrnong in their attitude. When the Honorary Minister was speaking, during the late campaign, he said that if he had his way, the duties would be taken off’’ sugar’. He’1 told . the people, “ If Cook is returned to power you will get your sugar for Id. per lb., but if the Labour party come back you will have to pay ls. for it.”
– He was an irresponsible free-lance then.
– Those are some of the tarradiddles honorable members tell when on the platform, but their tale is different when they come to the House. No doubt the Minister of Trade and ‘Customs is not in the slightest ‘degree interested*’ in sugar except as a Queenslander. None of it is grown in his electorate, and he looks upon the question with perfect indifference.
– Not indifference.
– I doubt very much whether the honorable member takes that vital interest iu sugar as a Queensland product that he should take.
– If the honorable member puts it that way, then I can say I take more interest in it than the honorable member do&s.
– Does the Minister believe in sugar being white-grown or blackgrown ?
– I have always supported the while-grown industry.
– Then will the Minister make every endeavour to compel the Queensland Government to keep their part of the agreement, not only the letter but the spirit of it.
– I am quite sure they are_ doing it now.
– I am not at all sure that they are. These people who continually mouth their loyalty to the policy of a White Australia are the very people who desire to depart from it and return to coloured labour. I should like to learn .whether the bounty payable on cane delivered for manufacture between the 1st May and the 25th July last has yet been paid by the Government.
– Not yet.
– Notwithstanding that this Parliament passed, two or three months ago, a Bill providing for its payment.
– It will be paid very shortly.
– I am glad to have that assurance, for ,the failure of the Government to pay the bounty has given rise to much uneasiness. When a Government with ample funds at its disposal fails to make a payment that is due, there immediately arises the suspicion that the money is not going to be paid!. I congratulate the Minister of Trade and Customs on having obtained from the Colonial Sugar Refining Company the £100,000 in respect to what may be described as the arrears of Excise of which he . spoke a day or two ago. X was not at all sanguine about the matter; Reading between the lines of the report of an address delivered only last week by the chairman of directors of the company, it seemed to me that it was not intended to pay this Excise.
– I am afraid there musthave been some misapprehension on the part of the honorable member.
– That, at all events, was the conclusion at which I arrived.
– Th’e money would -not have been paid if attention had not been drawn to the matter by the Opposition.
– The company intended to pay from the first.
– Before attention was called to it?
– Order !
– On a previous occasion when certain aspersions were cast upon the Government, and by innuendo it was suggested that some people held ‘‘the ; opinion, that the Government were getting in some way or other a quid -pro quo for their action in remitting this Excise, I said that I did not believe anything of the. kind, and that I should be’ sorry to sit in the House withmen who would stoop to such a thing.
– It was a grossly unfair suggestion to make. There was not the slightest foundation for it.
– I disagreed with the view then expressed.
– If such an impudent insinuation was made, why should the honorable member go .to the trouble of repeating it’ in order to refute it»
– I congratulate the Government on having come out of the matter with a clean sheet. I have no desire to discuss the sugar question any further, but wish to bring under the notice of the Committee the position in regard to the transcontinental railway. From the time that I was eighteen years of age, I have been engaged off and on upon railway works, and believe that I am the only man in this chamber, if not in the Parliament, who has a practical knowledge of the subject. I recently asked for a return showing the number of persons employed in connexion with the construction of the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta railway, and the return, which has been supplied to me, is of a most astonishing character. To ,a man who has had practical experience of railway construction work it is a complete “staggerer.” There, are no engineering difficulties associated with the construction of this line. The country to ‘be traversed is quite flat, and the survey having, been made and the level pegs put in, any ordinary, intelligent navvy could build the line. There are .no deep cuttings to be made, and although here and there a small waterway “has to be crossed, there are no big bridges to be constructed. If a tunnel were wanted on the line it would have to be built, for there are no hills to’ be pierced. We find, however, from this return, that on the Melbourne staff alone there are sixty-one men. The ex-Minister of Home Affairs is looking at me in a way that suggests that he thinks I am making a wild statement. I assure him that I am not. Here is the return. I asked for the position, salary, and duties of every man in the office, and the particulars have been supplied, although the return is not as complete as it might be.
– Did the honorable member ask when these men entered the service? . .
– I did not think it was necessary to do so. It is sufficient for me that they* ave employed.
– If the late Govern- ment engaged them and they were not necessary, then the present Government should have dismissed them.
– That is tlie point I was about - to make.’: What pf their economical administration ? Not merely were the whole of these men employed on the date of this return, namely 30th September last, but additional hands have been engaged. There are 61 men in the Melbourne office, 26 at Port Augusta, and 17 at Kalgoorlie, or a total of 104 on the staff. I asked also for a return showing the number of men engaged) apart from the staff, on the construction work, and have been provided with a statement showing that, there are 620 so employed at Port Augusta, and 240 at Kalgoorlie, or a total of 860.
– B - But a staff was necessary to prepare the plans, and so forth.
– What- plans for a line of this description? The figures I have given show that there is one man on the staff for every eight men employed on construction work. I venture to say that such a thing was never heard of before in the history of railway- construction in Australia. In reply to the honorable member for Darwin, I would point out that although, as I have said, there are no engineering difficulties associated with the construction of this railway, there are’ twenty-seven permanent draughtsmen and six temporary draughtsmen in the Melbourne office.
– The There are no permanent men.
– The return refers to six “ temporary “ draughtsmen, distinguishing between them and the ‘ remaining draughtsmen in the Melbourne .office. In addition, there are draughtsmen employed at Port Augusta and Kalgoorlie. What, in the name of heaven, do they want these draughtsmen for? I do not know, and I do not suppose that any one else does. It is further set forth in the return that one officer is engaged in “ general drafting duties in connexion with architectural works.” Imagine architectural works in connexion with the shanties to be erected as stations!
– T - There will be no shanties.
– Are there to be no railway stations?
– There will be railway stations, but they will be of such a character that what is known as a “ hammer and chisel carpenter” could build them without any architectural drawings. I propose to embody this return in Hansard, for I want the people to see how the country’s money is being wasted. The management of this great work is, to say the least, deplorable. With a good manager in charge of it, the Government could save at least £500,000. The Minister of Home Affairs knows nothing about railway construction, and the same may be said of the Assistant Minister. The Treasurer has carried out big works in Western Australia - works for which ho deserves every credit - and I ask him what he thinks of a system under which there is one staff officer employed to every eight men engaged on construction work?
– I should say that there were too many on the staff.
– I agree with the right honorable member.
– Surely this is not Liberal administration .
– It is not economic administration. Mr. Henry Deane, Engineer-in-Chief, who receives a salary of £1,800 per annum, is the first officer named in this return.
– He should be the first to be sacked.
– Then come the names of Mr. Hobler, Deputy EngineerinChief, with £750 per annum;” Mr. Poynton, Chief Transport Officer, £500 per annum; Mr. Monro, Chief Clerk, £425 per annum; and Mr. Gwynneth, Assistant Engineer, who receives £400 per annum. Mr. Gwynneth is well worth his money. I consider him to be one of the best men in Australia for this work.
– Do not say that.
– I say that he is a good man. I do not desire to be severe on
Mr. Deane; he is but the creature of his environment. I understand that he has always been a Government employe. That means that, so far as he was concerned, it did not matter whether a work on which he was engaged cost more or less than the estimate. He has always had a Government behind him to foot the bill. A contractor’s engineer, however, occupies an entirely different position. When tenders are invited for the construction of a line, he rides over the route and makes his estimate. Upon that estimate his principals tender. He knows that if the estimate is too high, his principals will not get the job, and that they will consider that he is of no use to them ; while, on the other hand, if his estimate is too low, with the result that his principals lose money, his services will be dispensed with.
– The honorable member believes in the contract system?
– I believe in the employment of a man who has had experience as a contractor’s engineer, because he has had more experience than a man who has been employed solely in the Government service. If his principals obtain a contract based upon his estimate, he knows that he must so manage the work as to bring them a profit.
– How does the honorable member account for the fact that in all railway construction now the contractor is “out of it”?
– I do not know that there is much contract work now.
– There is none in Victoria, and thelines are cheaper.
– I am now speaking of the man who has had experience of working for a contractor, and who must be in a better position to judge than is the man who has always had the Treasury behind him. I suppose I need not read the whole of this return in order to have it published in Hansard ?
– The honorable member has indicated what he desires to appear in Hansard, and I think it is a matter which rests with the Committee. Is it the desire of the Committee that the honorable member shall have leave to put this return in?
Honorable Members. - Hear; hear!
This return is deserving of the Prime Minister’s most careful investigation. As a railway man, I say that it is an absolute scandal that there should be so many men employed on the staff.
– Tell the Prime Minister about the one boss to every eight men!
– The Treasurer heard me make the statement, but I may tell the Prime Minister, who is now present, that such is the fact. This return is furnished by the Department of Home Affairs, ‘ and really it does not cover the whole of the staff. If ever a Royal Commission were justified, it would ‘ be in the present instance. At Yorkie’s Crossing, a little way out of Port Augusta, a bridge was built, about 100 feet long, at a cost of£3,000; or £30 a foot. It is only quite recently, however, that the rails have been laid across the bridge. At the same time the material was being carried to the head of the road and the fact is that a bank was built in order to afford the means of transit, so that there was really no need at all for the bridge. Of course, those , concerned were bound to “ save their face,” and to lay the lines across the bridge.
– Who is in charge of the work there ?
– The Chief Engineer.
– The Prime Minister and the Honorary Minister ought surely to take notice of a thing like that!
– I am glad that the Prime Minister has got possession of the return I presented; and, certainly, a Government which came into power to carry out the policy of economy should look into a matterof the kind. Neither of the Ministers concerned is a practical man, and necessarily they have to be guided by their officers. A little while ago the Honorary Minister interjected that plans were being prepared for rollingstock. The report of the EngineerinChief, however, for eighteen months, shows that there are already 437 trucks on the road, and, therefore, I do not see why all these draughtsmen should, be employed preparing plans for further rolling-stock. There is any amount of rolling-stock, except engines.
– They are constructing trucks now at Williamstown.
– P - Preparations have to be made for the whole distance of the line.
– I do not care to disclose all that has been done, because it would reflect more severely on the management than I should like; therefore
– I do not see why the honorable member should refrain.
– Give us all !
– The late Government bought three locomotives, which, I believe, are thirty years old, and are continually breaking down.
– And the Government are being advised to buy some more broken-down . engines.
– No more secondhand engines should be purchased, but only the very best.
– I - I have not heard of those engines breaking down.
– Those particularengines were bought for ballast-pit purposes, but, pending the supply of other engines, they have been put on for track work.
– Other engines might have been supplied just as easily.
– W - We got those engines for a “ song.”
– As I say, I am not blaming Ministers, past or present, because they are bound to take the advice of their officers. However, the Honorary Minister will not deny that the engines of which I have spoken are no good.
– I certainly deny that; they are very useful engines for ballastpit purposes.
– Of course, if the ballast-pit is only a mile or two from the- line, they may be very useful.
– Has the honorable member, in his experience, ever known new engines to be used in construction work ?
– I never have in my life ; the work would knock a new engine all to pieces.
– The engines used in construction work are always capable of doing that work, whether they are new or second-hand.
– That is another matter.
– The engines of which I am speaking are not capable of doing the work, and never were.
– They are capable of doing the work for which they were purchased.
– That is, for carrying from the ballast-pit?
– Yes, that is what they were proposed for ; it is a question of the load factor.
– I - I have seen express train locomotives break down.
– The biggest loads possible are desired from the ballast-pit.
– Evidently there are too many engineers here !
– In the list of officers, as contrasted with the number of men employed, the honorable member has, I understand, included all the stenographers, typists, and so on.
– So long as it is known that many of these are 8s.-a-day men it is all right.
– If the Honorary Minister looks he will see that a distinction is made; some officers have been put down as temporary, thus inferring that the others are permanent.
– T - There are no permanent men.
– That is so.
-Does the Honorary Minister think that it is an economical policy to have one staff officer over every eight men employed in the construction work?
– That statement is not correct - it is not an accurate statement of the position.
– Why, in the name of heaven, do the Government require this great staff? What are the members of the staff doing? I should here like to give a little personal experience. The last job that I was on, before I became a member of this House, was a railway one. Two shire councils and a municipality had guaranteed the necessary money, which they had borrowed from the Government, to build 44 miles of railway, and tenders were invited. So far as my memory serves me, the lowest tender was £97,000, and as this was regarded as too high, the three local authorities decided to build the line by day work. This was done; and on the construction of that 44 miles of line, the officers engaged were a supervising engineer, and also
– It must have been a very easy and light line to cost only £2,000 a mile.
– It was not so easy as the transcontinental line, judging by what I am told and by what I know.
– It must have been much more easy in one respect; wehave to work for quick transit, if at all, and consequently, the curves and gradients have to be of the very best.
– As I was saying, the staff on this line consisted of a supervising engineer - who was a Government officer, and only occasionally travelled up and down to see that the money borrowed was judiciously spent - an engineer on the job, an accountant, a timekeeper, a storekeeper, andthree inspectors; so that eight men carried out the work.
– How many men were employed?
– I suppose that sometimes we had from 500 to 600 men employed.
– W - Where were the plans prepared?
– The survey . was made by the Government.
– Ah Ah !
– But the survey for the transcontinental line was made previously, and is not accounted for in the return.
– It was only a flying survey that was made at first.
– The permanent survey of the transcontinental line means absolutely nothing.
– The permanent survey is proceeding all the time.
– That is not included in the return, but only the office staff . As I was saying, eight of us built this railway in Queensland on the daylabour system, and we did it for £17,000 below the lowest tender. The specifications provided for 720 yards of ballast to the mile, and we put in 1,000 yards; we put in more waterways than were stipulated, and all. the sidings, which would have been an extra in the contract; and We also built whatever stations were necessary.
– Apparently, the preparation of the plans and all the office arrangements were free of cost.
– I know what the preparation of the plans means. I was in the drafting office ocasionally in the case of the Cairns railway, which, I believe, is the most difficult line in Australia. The whole of the drafting for that line was done by not more than twenty men at the head office.
– What was the length of the Cairns line ?
– Only about 16 miles in the second section, and it cost about £800,000. Of course, it is possible that more men may be required on the transcontinental line than on the other lines I have mentioned, but there is certainly no justification for the great number employed.
– What men does the honorable member suggest should be cut out ?
– That would be an invidious task for me, and it is a matter for the Administration. I know what I should do.
– T - They will be cut out gradually later on
– I do not think so, because more men are being put on now.
– There. The traffic manager was put on a little while ago, though I cannot see why, since there are only about 40 odd miles of line constructed.
– Does he live in Melbourne ?
– No, I think he is on the work. Some time agoI asked for a return regarding the Castle excavator, and it seems to me that most of the information which has been furnished is misleading. One statement is, on the face of it, misleading, that relating to “ excavation in cutting.” The Honorary Min ister knows that the machine cannot do any cutting, being designed for formation Work, not for cutting. The machine- has a plough at each side, and could not work from side to side in the way that would be necessary to make a cutting. A photo which I have here makes that plain. .
– Who purchased the machine ?
– W - We did not purchase it.
– The Government advanced £2,750, which was to be deducted from the earnings until the whole sum had been paid, but as the machine is incapable of doing anything of a satisfactory character, the money must be lost.
– The machine is capable of shallow cutting. It can excavate, just as it can form.
– A cutting is at least 3 feet deep; the machine could not make a cutting.
– Its ploughs cut the surface, and it can make a cutting by moving backwards and forwards. I saw it working.
– It is stated that the excavation in cutting costs 60 per cent. less when done by the machine than if done by hand labour. I do not know the grounds of that comparison, but I do not think that any machine of this character could make such a saving. It might do thework a little more cheaply, but I doubt it. It is stated, too, that the excavation in side cutting costs 50 per cent. less when done by the machine than if done by hand labour. But it would be extraordinary to employ such a machine in a side cutting, which might be 6 feet wide, or 12 feet or 20 feet wide. A side cutting is an excavation from which material is taken to form a bank. There is no statement regarding the cost of repairs, these being done by the contractor. Altogether, I doubt the accuracy of the statements furnished. For this I do not blame the Minister personally, but I blame the Department. I hope that the honorable ‘ gentleman will thoroughly inquire into the work that is being done, especially at the Port Augusta end. We know what has been happening at the other end. I have no desire to say muchabout that, but if what has been going on at the Port Augusta end has been going on at the Kalgoorlie end too, any action of the Government has been perfectly justified.
The office staff there seems cumbrous to an extraordinary degree, and wholly unjustifiable and unnecessary. As I have already stated, a Government engineer having the Treasury behind him can always cover up his mistakes, but a contractor’s engineer is between two fires. If his preliminary estimate of cost is too high his employer’s tender must be unsuccessful; and if it is too low, his employer must lose - and contractors have no use for men who prevent them from getting contracts, or who cause them to lose money.
– The honorable member says that he disapproves of the contract system.
– What I am saying is that the private engineer gains experience which makes him invaluable as a manager. I have spoken of my own. experience in regard to day work, and the present Minister of Railways in Queensland fully indorses the day-labour system, the Government of the State having for some years past carried out its railway construction with day labour.. In conclusion, let me say again that the administration in connexion with the construction of this railway is of such a character as to require strict and immediate inquiry.
.- The statements of the honorable members for Denison and Herbert regarding some points of railway construction are utterly at variance. Probably the truth is to . be found between the two extremes.
– They used to reconcile things incaucus, but now that they are in Opposition that is not found necessary.
– We should like to hear another Ministerialist follow the honorable member for Gippsland. Perhaps he would be in disagreement with the honorable member.
– I am tired of the daily gibe that we on this side are afraid to, or are not allowed to, speak.
– The honorable member is not afraid to speak in his own electorate.
– I am not afraid to speak here. I say that I have never been cautioned in any way not to speak on any subject. There are, however, so many speakers on the opposite side that we, who are anxious for business to be pushed on with, naturally remain silent. The honorable member for Denison ridi culed the purchase of new engines for construction work, but he should know, as the honorable member for Herbert said, that it is not intended to use new engines for construction work. But 4 or 5 miles behind the work that is going on there should be a completed line.
– I have seen nearly 200 miles of new line left unballasted.
– Probably the honorable member has seen some wonderful things.
– Would the honorable member for Gippsland use new engines for ballasting purposes ?
– I have always maintained that work should be finished to within a short distance of the construction point. Every contractor who knows his business has the line or channel or fence completed to a point as near as possible to the construction point. The engines referred to should have been ordered by the preceding Government when the first sod of the line was turned. The Government should have ordered the engines and rolling-stock for the conveyance of ballast and other material towards the construction point.
– The Minister said that the engines would be used for ballasting.
– They will be used to haul material along the line to the construction point, and It is necessary to have powerful new engines for that work, to prevent any stoppage of operations. Those who have had to do with machinery know that worn-out machinery is very dangerous.
– I did not suggest the use of worn-out engines.
– As the honorable member for Herbert pointed out, the engines referred to by the honorable member were discarded years ago, and were continually breaking down. As to the objection that the plant which the Government is purchasing will later be of no use, I would point out that, if the Northern Territory is to be developed, thousands ofmiles will have to be constructed in the Territory itself, and to connect it with other parts of Australia. The staff now employed in connexion with the transcontinental railway will gain valuable experience, and will be fully equipped to go on with works in the
Northern Territory, particularly with a line from Oodnadatta northwards, which will be of great benefit.
– W - We shall have a staff prepared for the work.
– Exactly ; and from my experience of contract work and other things, the staff does not appear to be too large for the work required of it.
– A - A lot of them are typists preparing news for Parliament.
– The complaints raised by many honorable members are not on matters of policy, and have precious little to do with the Budget. A great deal has been made out of the argument that it is nonsense to talk of asking people to go into the interior of Australia while there are: huge areas that might be made available for them close to the cities; but give me my life over again, and I would do just the same as my people did - go out into the back country where a man can make his way more, readily and more quickly than if he stays about the centres of population.
– H - Hear hear; there is too much attraction about the cities.
– It is the cursed attraction of communities that is blocking the progress of the Commonwealth and preventing young men and young women going out into the back country and obstructing the development of the country as it must be developed if we are to defend it.
– What does the back country do to attract them? It pays them miserable wages.
– It is not a question of wages; it is a question of whether a man is to be a working man all his life in centres of population working for wages, or whether he is to go out into the back country, and in the course of ten, fifteen, or twenty years be able to build up a home and a fortune for himself, as thousands of Australians have done.
– H - Hear, hear! He must struggle to succeed.
– The ex-Minister takes care that he does not struggle. He sends others todo the struggling.
– I have recollections of the ex-Minister in SouthAustralia, where he had to struggle. The honor able member for Denison spoke of settlers going from Victoria to the other States. I can see no objection to it.
– The Victorians made Queensland.
– Exactly ; that is what I was coming to.
– They were driven out of their own State.
– Victoria sent men and money to Queensland.
– It was men more than money that Victoria sent. From the statistical returns we see that Victoria, though.it has about one-fifth of the area of New South Wales, has within a trifle of the population of that great State. Victoria is what may be called the closelysettled portion of Australia, I can readily understand why the young men and women of Victoria are going to the other States, where there are greater possibilities. An endeavour is being made in Gippsland to establish the beet sugar industry, a congenial occupation yielding a good profit, but our young men and young women will not undertake the work of intense culture with one horse and a cultivator; they prefer to go into the back-blocks where they can get larger areas and ride around on five-furrow ploughs. It is the settler from the Old Country and from the Continent who has been used to nothing but a single horse and cultivator who makes our best settler in the closersettled areas. Last year 37,000 settlers came into Victoria from the Old Country and the Continent.
– Settlers !
– Yes: they are all settlers; they settle down in Australia; they are citizens, and I am here to represent citizens.
– I thought you meant that they were producers - persons settled on the land.
– The honorable members knows that there is only one producer for every five or six citizens. A man may come here and start a small factory. Is he not to be called a settler ? He is a settler in Australia.
– You are a word-twister.
– While I am most anxious to see a great agricultural community, and while I maintain that agriculture is the only industry that will permanently benefit the Commonwealth, there must be five or six followers, so to speak, of the leader of continental development. The passage of Victorians to Queensland or New South Wales is not objectionable. Men of Victoria are men of wider agricultural ideas, and they go .away to take up new country, while the settler from overseas comes to Victoria and takes up the closer settlement work to which he is accustomed.
– It is costly to Victoria.
– It may be, but I hope we are all Australians. Parochial ideas are of’ no use in this House, where we deal with the continent, and not with a State. The honorable member for Denison spoke of the cost of living, and asked what had been done to reduce it.
– Hear, hear! What have the Government done to fulfil their promises ?
– The honorable member does not believe that the cost of living rose from what it was fifty years ago to what it is to-day in one night? It was a gradual process; and just as it took time to put up the cost of living, so will it take time to reduce it.
– Do you blame the late Government V
– Yes, to some extent.
– What is your remedy?
– If the. honorable member had read this morning’s Age and followed the published’ statistics closely, he would have seen that the cost of living is falling. I do not wish to quote the whole of the article appearing in this morning’s Age, but a portion of it reads -
Mr. Knibbs stated yesterday that the cost of living index number for 30 of the more important towns in the Commonwealth fell from 1,012 in the second quarter of the year to 99S in the quarter under review, compared with 1,000 for the whole of the year 1912. This amounted to a fall of 1.4 per cent, since the preceding quarter.
The decline in cost of living during the quartet under review was all the more significant when it was remembered that during the corresponding period of last year (the second and third quarters of 1912) the index number rose from 98S to 1,037, an increase of no less than 5 per cent. In other words, the index number (99S) for the current quarter was 3.8 per cent, less than that (1,037) for the corresponding quarter last year. Since past* experience had shown that the cost of living generally declined during the last quarter of the year, it was not unlikely that the final figures for the whole of the current year would show that the phenomenal increase of 1912’ had been converted into a decrease during 1913.
By following this article and the. statistics closely, we see a clear indication that there is a downward tendency in the cost of living.
– You know that Mr. Knibbs says that he is unable to get authentic information.
– He gives the best available.
– Will you say that rents are falling?’
– Rents are practically at a standstill, but they are not the only item in the cost of living. Groceries have come down 2.7 per cent., which is a. distinct advantage to the workers.
– Do you say that that is due to your Government’s administration ?
– I .do not claim that, but I do ‘say that it is due to the re-established confidence that the result of the last’ election brought about. The honorable member made reference to the wages of office-cleaners being reduced by 7d. a day, and asked if that was the saving the Government had effected. : Mr. Laird Smith. - It is not much to you, but.it is to the unfortunate officecleaner.
– It is jost as much to me as it is to the honorable member. I am just as anxious as he is that the highest possible wages should be paid. The. Minister has told us, however, that this reduction was not made by the Government. It was not the work of the Government.
– It is-. The exMinister of Home Affairs took the responsibility of employing the cleaners.
– B - But there is a clause providing for it.
– The honorable member for Denison must know very well, if he is able to grapple with the large ideas of life, that a “ Minister does not know who cleans his office. What does the honorable member know of the cleaners employed in this House?- practically nothing at all.
– I - It was the Public Service Commissioner, and not the Government, who made the reduction in question.
– I do not know whether it was the Public Service Commissioner or not.
– I would advise the ex-Minister nf Home Affairs to go over to the other side.
– Wages cannot always be going up. A limit must he reached. The time will come when a reduction must be made, yet the individual suffering the reduction may be no worse off”. I shall not now discuss the economic phase of the subject. These are details, about which the House can know very little, and as a National Parliament, we need not concern ourselves very much about them. The Public Service Commissioner is not likely to wilfully do an injustice to any one. He would -not reduce any salary, if he believed that it ought not to be reduced. My experience is that he repeatedly grants increases where he thinks- they should be made. Coming to the question of the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta railway, the honorable member for Herbert sought to make a great deal of capital out of the number of men employed on the staff. The honorable member seems to think that on- a Government entering into office it should discharge .half the men whom its predecessors thought it necessary to employ on any staff. My contention is that what is wanted, above all things, is continuity of effort. If the late Government thought it necessary to employ 104 staff officers in connexion with the transcontinental railway, the present Government” must consider carefully whether a staff .of that numerical strength is ‘ required, before it starts to prune it down. The Government has been in office only a few months, and has1 not had time to deal with all such questions. I have been greatly interested in the balance-sheet presented by the Postmaster-General, showing the profit and loss on the services of his Department. Ever since its presentation, there has been an outcry on the part of certain honorable members for increased telephone rates. It has been urged that the rate should be increased, or that changes of some kind should be made, in order to make the service profitable. I take the view that it is not always necessary to increase charges, or to impose further taxation, to make any public service pay. Economies practised in the purchase of plant- and stores may be all that is necessary. I agree with the PostmasterGeneral that unless it is absolutely neces sary to do so, the telephone rates should not be increased. The Supply and Tender Board, which the Government proposes to create, will play an important part in enabling the Department to show a profit. A question in which I, and those whom I represent, are deeply interested, is that of a uniform railway gauge. It is of special importance to those who are anxious that the whole of the States should be linked up by railways of uniform gauge, so that our produce can be sent from one end of Australia to the other without having to be handled more than once. There is no item on the Estimates relating to this promised reform; but I hope that at an early date the Government will arrange for a conference with the States to discuss it, and that effect will be given to the valuable report presented by the conference of State engineers who re’cently considered the subject. We should have- more than one’ track to each of the State capitals. For defence purposes alone, this is very necessary. Those who represent the eastern portion of Victoria are particularly anxious that there should be another railway to Sydney, running, say, vid Orbost and the Federal Capital. Such a line’ would give two routes to Canberra and to Sydney, and would prove a valuable asset from the stand-point of defence. I hope that in next.year’s Estimates some provision will be made for a start in the direction of providing for a uniform gauge. The development of the Northern Territory is a matter of great concern to the people generally, and ‘particularly to those engaged in agricultural pursuits. There appears to be a wide-spread opinion that the transcontinental line, to open up that vast Territory, should be constructed from south to north, instead of from north to south. Every mile of track laid down from north to south will simply bring an enemy so much nearer to us, and give it an advantage until the whole line is completed. Defence is a matter of the first importance, and from that standpoint alone, if from no other, I think that a start should be made from the south. If that were done; then every mile of line laid down would carry our troops a mile north, instead of bringing nearer to us the enemy attacking us. The only other question to which I desire to refer at this stage is the publication of the records of this
House. I believe that we should have a complete record of the work of the Parliament; but I think it can be secured without the enormous expenditure at present going on in this direction. Something very much better than Hansard can be devised. In South Australia, for instance, the Government subsidize some of the great daily newspapers to publish a condensed report of the proceedings of the State Parliament, and I understand that the system has worked magnificently.
– The subsidized report is a fairly full one.
– Quite so; but it is not nearly so full as are our Hansard reports. The debates of this Parliament should be made available for the education of the public, and all that we do and say here should be put before the people in a form in which the information can be readily assimilated. Very few people read Hansard; but if two or three of our daily papers were subsidized to publish an official report of our proceedings, the public generally would obtain a better idea of what wewere doing. We should have a higher standard of public education for the whole community, and every one would be benefited.
Sitting suspended from1 to 2.30 p.m.
.- I do not propose to detain the Committee very long, but there area few little matters that I desire to bring under the notice of Ministers. I am not altogether surprised at the fact that the Estimates exceed by something like £5,000,000 the Estimates of last year, because,in a new country like this, there are many importantworks which demand attention and require money.Iam not in any way opposed to the voting of money, provided it be judiciously spent. I hope that before the recess we shall see an amendment of the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act, so that there may be embraced many deserving people who are at present not entitled by law to monetary assistance. I understand that the Government are inclined to. liberalize the Act, and it that be so I am sure that they will find honorable members on this side ready to assist them in every way. The present pension of 10s., though considerably more than theamount to which the oldpeople were entitled, under State administration, is really a miserable pittance in view of the present high cost of living. I think we may rely on the Government to do what is required in this connexion, though no doubt many of their supporters will nob be in favour of an increase in pension expenditure. We find, however, that there are members like the honorable member for Eden-Monaro who, I understand, was instrumental in passing the original Act, who are in favour of an amendment in. the direction indicated; and I hope that we shall see this necessary legislation passed into law before the House rises. It is,I understand, proposedthat the pension shall be increased by 2s. 6d. per week, and that persons who at present do not come under the Act shall be provided for. In my own electorate there is a hard case to which I think the attention of honorable members might well be drawn. There is a married man who earns £2 8s. a week, but. as he is suffering severely from asthma, most of his earnings go for medical attendance. His wife was some time ago unfortunate enough to lose one of her legs, but, because her husband is able, under greatdifficulties, to earn £2 8s. a week, she finds that she is not eligible for an invalid pension, though she is utterly incapable of doing any work.
– I remind the honorable member that there is a Bill on the notice-paper dealing with invalid and old-age pensions, and that it is not usual on the Estimates to enter in any considerable detail into a question that is the subject of a Bill.
– Do I understand you to rule, Mr. Chairman, that because there is a Bill on the notice-paper it is not competent for an honorable member to discuss any item in the Estimates ? The amount that it is proposed to vote for invalid and old-age pensions appears on the Estimates; and it has been held in the House of Commons, for considerably over a century, that, on the question of granting Supply to His Majesty, the whole of the items within Supply are open to debate. Otherwise it would only be necessary for any honorable member to put a motion on the notice-paper in order to stop discussion on any given subject when the Estimates were before us. This ruling has been given before in the House, and never has any honorable member been deprived of the right to discuss any item on the Estimates simply because there /happens to be a motion on the paper dealing with that subject.
– The honorable member for Franklin is quite right, in a general way; but the honorable member for Oxley was discussing a Bill that is before the House.
– I do not think that I was discussing the Bill.
– I understood the honorable member to refer particularly to the measure that is before the House at the present time, and he proceeded to enter .into a discussion regarding it. It is competent for any member to discuss any subject that may be included Within the Estimates, but a particular Bill does not come into that category, and, therefore, I think that my ruling is quite correct. I remind honorable members of standing order 274, which runs as follows : -
No member shall digress from the subjectmatter of any question under discussion, nor anticipate the discussion of any other subject which appears on the notice-paper.
Honorable members will see that while a considerable amount of latitude is permissible in discussing the Budget, it is hardly correct to discuss a particular measure which is on the notice-paper.
– It is not my intention to discuss the merits of the Bill, but merely to refer incidentally to the case of the unfortunate people in my electorate I understood that I had the privilege of citing, a case which might be brought within’, the provisions of the amending Bill.
– So long as the honorable member does not discuss the proposed measure in detail, he will be in order.
– I did not understand that I was discussing the measure in detail; a’t any rate, it was not my intention to do so. I refer to the case of this man and woman, because I think it will prove of considerable interest to honorable members, who doubtless must themselves have come across people who ought to be brought within the compass of any amending measure. There may not be a great: many cases of the kind, but where they do occur they are very hard cases, and I hope that some provision will be made to meet, them when the Bill is brought before us. There are a great many people who would not accept old-age or invalid- pensions if they were not absolutely compelled to do so. Amongst the pensioners are many who have held the highest positions in the land - many who have been at one time successful business men, and are well connected - and I should like to see some provision made for the payment of pensions without submitting the applicants to the humiliating examination that is now necessary. My own opinion is that in a very few years every woman at sixty, and every man a£ sixty-five, will become” entitled to a pension. Of course, whether every person in the community draws that pension or not is purely a matter of personal inclination ; but I know there are people to-day who would gladly accept pensions if it were not for the humiliation that must be experienced in applying for it. I know that in Queensland, the officer in charge says that he has very great difficult)’ in following up cases in which pensions ought to be paid ; and I think that Australia is wealthy enough to provide for all her old people. I am quite certain that if a referendum were .taken, there would be an overwhelming majority in favour of paying pensions to every man and woman on reaching a statutory age.
– People will agree to anything that does not cost them anything.
– But the Treasurer has plenty of money.
– I think we are doing very well.
– We wish the Government to’ do a little better.
– I do not think the honorable member can have counted the cost. What difference in the expenditure would it make ?
– I have not gone into that matter.
– The honorable member ought’ to have gone into it.
– The Treasurer has evidently , given the matter some consideration, and- would, I think, be inclined to act on the suggestion” I have made.
– I would not give the pension to any one who does not need it.
– Probably a great many people would not draw the pension. At any rate, I think the Treasurer will agree that there are many people who would rather suffer the pinch of poverty thai) undergo the humiliation of the: examination.
– I think there are very few.
– At any rate, there are a few.
– Of all the men of sixty-five years of age in Australia, half of them draw pensions.
– Then tlie additional cost would not be very much, and the suggestion’ I make is worth considering.
– It would . cost £2,000,000 or £3,000,000 more.
– I should also like to bring under the notice of the Government the position of our fellow citizens who are afflicted with blindness. There are about 3,000 blind persons, in Australia. Many of them receive pensions, but. if they are working in institutions and earning, say, 15s. a week, their pensions are reduced to 5s. a week, and the present arrangement tells against those who are thrifty and industrious.” The pensions given to those who are not in institutions are at the. full rate. I think that the blind are as much entitled to pensions as are the aged. They are almost incapable of supporting themselves, and in many cases require attendance. In some instances they are miners who have lost their sight by explosions in mines, and many others have become blind’ through accidents on railway work, or in other occupations, in which they have been aiding the development of the country. It is not too much to ask that all blind persons over the age of sixteen years be provided withpensions. At the age of sixteen, a man is practically an adult, and costs as much to clothe and feed. The expense of what I propose would not be very much, and members on this side would give every assistance to a measure that would bring it about. At present, many blind persons are in a miserable situation. We often see them begging in the streets, and sometimes they are driven to go round selling tea and other commodities. The Commonwealth is wealthy enough to be able to pay at least 10s. per week to each blind citizen; and if the Treasurer will introduce a Bill to provide for that being done, we, on this side, ‘ will assist him in saving the money in other directions, should that be necessary. I gather that during the first five months of the present financial year the operations of the Post Office have shown a profit . of £126,488. The last Government, which brought the Post Office up to its present state, must be given some credit for this. There seems now to be a prospect of. the Department; paying its way, which is all we require* of it, if at the same time sufficient new offices can be provided, and the old offices kept in a proper state of repair, and altered from time to time to cope with any increase of business. -I should like tlie Postmaster-General to, obtain from the Treasurer, or get in some other way, enough money to put all our post-offices into a proper state. The Deputy Postmasters-General, top, should be given more power. With proper offices the Department would earn’ more revenue, and we should not be confronted, . year after year, with deficits. A large amount is needed for a new post-office in Melbourne, the present building being in a deplorable condition, and a disgrace to the Department. If you go there, to lodge a telegram, you will find the clerks working in a space which is not sufficient for one-fourth of their present number. They are consequently irritable, and not capable- of discharging their duties in a thoroughly business-like manner. Something should be done to provide them with better accommodation, and to give the public more facilities for transacting its business within a reasonable time. Now you may have to wait some time to get an opportunity to write a telegram, and on going to the counter to present it you may find that the press there is three or four deep. At the money-order office, the stamp office, and the letterdelivery office, the conditions are similar. We continually hear complaints about the telephone . service, but it is probable that the conditions under which “the telephone attendants work are as bad as those which I have described, and that, therefore, the attendance is not. as satisfactory as it might be. Both in Melbourne and in Sydney things are bad, but the Sydney office- is larger than the Melbourne office, and the inconvenience.there is not quite so great. I hope that the Treasurer, when asked by the PostmasterGeneral for money to put these matters right, will not keep him. waiting for it. If the money is wisely expended, it will give a return in the in* creased revenue which will be earned by the Department. All the offices in Australia should be put into a proper state. I desire, also, to draw attention to the fact that the business community does not contribute one-fiftieth of the amount which the services given to it by the Post Office cost. The patent medicine vendors, for instance, pay comparatively little for postage, although they send so much through the post, making the Post Office practically a branch of their business. Probably, the dealing with patent medicine advertisements occupies 20 per cent, of the working time of the officials.
– Does the honorable member suggest an increase in rates?
– Yes. These advertisements give the postal officials a great amount of work.
– Some of the advertising should be prohibited.
– At any rate, the advertiser should pay ordinary letter rates. If the ‘patent medicines that are for sale are worth advertising, it should be worth while to pay full postal rates for the advertisements sent through the post. Usually, the advertising matter is posted at the busy time of the day, with the result that ordinary letters sometimes lose the mail. Many persons complain that letters which they have posted to catch a certain mail have been late in reaching their destination, and, in my opinion,, this is often because of the extra heavy work put on the officials by the posting of an immense amount of advertising matter. These advertisers pre able, with the aid of the Post Office, to get a lot of money from the people of Australia, and they should pay ordinary rates for the services that are a;iven to them. Probably, if ordinary rates vere charged, there would be less advertising matter posted, and, if that happened, many of the complaints of overwork which are made by postal officials would cease. The Postmaster-General’s Department is one of the most difficult to adminster in the Commonwealth, and I incline to agree with the honorable member for Denison that the Deputy Postmasters-General should be given greater power, but it is of no use to do this unless we are prepared to pay them salaries in keeping with the increased responsibilities.
– T - The Tasmanian one receives too much now.
– The Deputy PostmastersGeneral of the Commonwealth are the most underpaid officials in the whole service. The Deputy Postmasters-General in Melbourne, Sydney, and Brisbane should receive not less than £1,000 per annum. If they are not entitled to that salary, they are not fit for their positions. The ex-Postmaster-General left a minute behind him to the effect that he intended to raise the salaries of these officers. That is one of the commitments of the late Government which the present Government have so far refused to carry out. I trust to hear, before Parliament is prorogued, that the Government have changed their minds on this question. These men are very hard worked. Much has been done in Brisbane towards bringing the office up to date since Mr. Templeton came there. . He has done all that a capable man can do, and is thoroughly entitled to an increase. I have no doubt that the deputies in the other States would show themselves equally capable if they had the same conditions. He certainly has had the good fortune to have his offices brought up to date - probably to a much greater extent than is the case in either Sydney or Melbourne. When a man has to work under conditions that will not permit him to carry out work which he is anxious to carry out, in all probability he will be considered unfit for his position, although in many instances the fault may not be his. Knowing that it is possible to make the Department support itself, to provide it with better officers, and to give the officers much better conditions, I think the Government should give some consideration to capitalizing it in a proper, up-to-date manner. In almost every other country in the world the Postal Department pays its way, and we do not want to be behindhand in Australia. We cannot expect our Department to pay its way unless it is put on a thoroughly sound footing. I am sure the Minister of Trade and Customs would be sadly disappointed if I did not again refer to the Beef Trust. Since I last spoke on the matter, I have been greatly pleased to learn that the Minister has been making searching inquiries into its operations. I am always prepared to give credit where credit is due, and credit is certainly due to him on this occasion. I intend to give him all the assistance in my power, and have here a little further information which may he useful to him.
– If it is going to be of any use, why, at the same time, disclose it to the Beef Trust?
– I want to let them know what we know. I propose to prove that the trust are established in practically every civilized country of any importance. They are operating in the five principal stock-producing countries, with the intention of cornering the meat market of the world. I think I have enough extracts here to prove that they will not rest until they have done so. They have been spying out the land in Australia for the last three or four years. The first State in which they tried to establish themselves was Victoria, but I understand that the Victorian Government gave them plainly to understand that it would be of little use for them to do so, that they would not be tolerated, and that legislation would be immediately introduced to prevent their operations here. During the last session of the Victorian Parliament, Mr. McWhae moved the adjournment of the Legislative Council to draw attention to their doings, and a long discussion took place, which, I think, had something to do with frightening them out of the State. I understand from people who are in a position to judge that they are not prepared to take the risk of establishing themselves here without first obtaining the sympathy of the Government. That was one of the. reasons why they went to the northern State. There they found a sympathetic Government, which offered no opposition to the establishment of their works. They then tried to gain a footing in New South Wales, and were given to understand that they would get very short shrift there. I have not this information on very reliable authority, but a person who tells me that he is in a position to know, asserts that they have the refusal of an estate on the Hunter River, on which they will be able to erect works if they care to take the risk of doing so. I understand that the option will expire shortly, so that we shall soon know. It is rumoured in the northern portion of New South Wales that they made overtures to buy the Ramornie Meat Works, but I believe that the local people increased the price to such an extent that the company are hesitating about making the deal. However, we have sufficient evidence that they have the other works I mentioned in Queensland, and propose immediately to start operations there. It is their intention to ship every pound of beef which they prepare to America, because of the high price of meat there. They have an open market for American meat in England, and will continue to supply it. They cannot produce sufficient beef now at their existing works in the Argentine and in America to meet England’s demand. They have made competition in England very keen, and naturally they want a great deal more meat. They have driven many competitors out of the market in the Argentine, and I understand have seriously interfered with the success of many meat works in Canada. I have, however, no reliable information from Canada about their operations there, although I have most reliable information regarding their operations in the Argentine, and about what the National Government of that country propose to do to cope with the evil.
– T - They have re- .duced the cattle by 20,000,000 in America.
– They have practically driven all cattle-growers out of the market in America. It is not that the consumption of meat has decreased in any way, but there are no competitors in the market for fat stock, and, consequently, there is not the same number of cattle grown that there was a few years ago. That will be the trouble wherever these people establish themselves, and this is why the Argentine Government propose to take most drastic steps in the near future to deal with them. The two principal companies in the Argentine at. present export 75 per cent, of the meat handled in that country, and during the first twelve days of May, of this year, they exported three times as much meat as all the other companies put together. Mr. John Cook went to the Argentine and established the La Plate works. He remained there for twelve months, but when the trust went to the Argentine they did the very thing that they are trying to do in Australia.
– Is the honorable member getting all this information from our local exporters, who are keeping down the prices?
– I have this information from a very reliable source, and if the trust become as strong and powerful here as they are in the Argentine, the honorable member will recollect the discussion in this House in the attempt to prevent their coming into existence. We have only to follow the history of the Beef Trust anywhere to understand the evils that come to the stock-raiser and to the consumer through its operations.
Mr.Falkiner. - Tell us about the local trust.
– I leave that to the honorable member. He has more time to look after it than I have. I was speaking about the La Plate works, in the Argentine. Mr. Cook went over there, and assisted in bringing them into being. Many of the shares in the company were held by South Africans; and after the Boer War, when there was depression in South Africa, and the finances were in a deplorable condition, many of these people required money, and they availed themselves of the opportunity to sell these works. Mr. Cook strenuously opposed the sale. He had not sufficient faith in the Argentine Government that they would protect the industry - the works had been established in the interests of the producers as well as of the consumers - and he wished to continue them for the purpose of keeping out this trust, but he was unsuccessful in his opposition, and the works were sold to Swift and Company. That was six years ago. Armour and Company are also in the Argentine. In six years the two companies have almost captured the trade of the country.
Mr.King O’Malley. - They are all one company.
– But they work separately.
Mr.King O’Malley. - Only for show purposes.
– There are in the Argentine eleven meat works, including those controlled by the Beef Trust, but quite recently two or three have had to suspend operations because they were not in a position to compete with the trust. The latter was compelling them to pay prices for cattle at which they could not continue to exist, as it meant losing £3 or £4 per head. The different companies approached the
Argentine Government, and the Government decided that it would bring in legislation which would prevent the Beef Trustoperating in the manner it did. This legislation was to the effect that after a company killed 4,000 head of cattle and 30,000 head of sheep there would be a tax imposed on every additional killing, provided the local consumption was supplied in any decent sort of way. We might give consideration to similar legislation in our present conditions, if the Government are thoroughly sincere in trying to protect the producer and consumer of meat in Australia.
– W - We want more protection.
– I hope we shall get more protection. We all know that when the Beef Company proposed to launch out in Queensland all the members of the company were clerks in the office of Thynne and Macartney. Those clerks really constituted the Beef Trust of Queensland. Mr. Thynne and Mr. Malkow, the manager of the trust in Australia, in giving evidence before the Meat Commission in Queensland last year or early this year - I forget when it wassaid that there was no American capital in the company, but that it was all Canadian and British capital, yet two or three weeks later, in Sydney, Mr. Malkow admitted that the Australian Beef Company in Queensland was Swift and Company. I bring this under the notice of honorable members, so that they may see that this company in Queensland, although registered with local directors, who were working in a solicitor’s office, had machinery arriving for it marked Swift and Company. I do not know whether they deny being the American Beef Trust, but in the very early stages of their career in Queensland these people are trying to make the community believe that they are not a Beef Trust, though I think we have learned sufficient of them to show that it is the American Beef Trust that is being established in Queensland. A squatter of the Barcaldine district, returning from America, is reported, in the Barcaldino Observer, to have given it as his opinion that the American Beef Trust has practically ruined the industry in America. He said it was impossible for the working man to get meat, and that if one went to an ordinary hotel, and had any sort of meat, it would cost him something like 5s. for a decent meal. He also said that steak averaged about 3s. 9d. a lb. “We all know that the ordinary price of the poorest quality of meat that can be bought by the working classes in America is ls. 7d. per lb. Very little can be bought under that price. Cattle-raising in America has decreased to such an extent that many people who were making a decent living out of* it a few years ago have decided to give it up altogether. This Beef Trust has spread itself all over the world. It is in America.; it is in the Argentine; it 2b in Canada ; we know it is in Australia, and we find that it has taken up country in South Africa for the purpose of establishing works in that country. They deny that they are making for the one goal, that is, to corner the meat of the world, but they will be able to dictate what every man in the world shall pay for his meat, or whether he shall have any meat at all. Many people will not be able to use meat, while others will have to look upon it as a luxury, and all this will be brought about in a few years. As the world gets older its population increases, and meat is getting scarcer. The cattle-grower is going out of business because his market is so small, though in Australia, I am glad to say, we have sufficient competition in the market to enable these people, not only to make a decent living, but also to accumulate a little money. The man on the land has, during the last few years, been most successful, and he is entitled to a fair share of prosperity, because, in previous years, he has had a very hard time. Everything on tlie land is not milk and honey.
– I agree with you. Where I used to pav 4s. or 5s. a dozen for wheat bags, I have to pay 8s. Id. today.
– My own people are interested in cattle-growing, and that is why I have interested myself in this matter. I wish to see their interests protected. If we allow the Beef Trust to come into existence in Australia, as it has in America and the Argentine, we shall not in a few years have a market for our cattle. It will simply be what these people like to offer for our fat stock that we will have to take, and if we are not prepared to accept their prices we shall have to allow the cattle to die off on the farm. This has occurred in
America; it will occur in the Argentine, if the Government there are not successful in bringing about the legislation that I have spoken of; it is occurring in Canada, and it will occur in Australia. These people are soundly established in England. They are making overtures to the different people in the trade there; but if we accept the advice of the High Commissioner, Sir George Reid, we shall have little to fear as regards the results of the Beef Trust’s operations there. I am afraid, however, the Government are likely to be dilatory in acting, and possibly they will give these companies sufficient time to get a fair run, and then it will cost us a lot of money to put them out again.
– They - They will never put them out.
– Apparently they are so satisfied that they will not be shifted that they are going to a very heavy expense.
– Y - You cannot put Americans out once they get in.
– No; look at yourself.
– These people are in the Smithfield market. Sir George Reid has told us that they have offered £8,000 a week to rent a small stall in those markets, and he gives it as his opinion that there is more than ordinary business behind this transaction. We know that they were negotiating to rent some premises where two butchering businesses had been carried on belonging to the London County Council. They were offering a very great increase in rent. We know that the members of the London County Council were not desirous of letting the premises to these people, and that it was said that it would be only a matter of time when the London people would not know what they would have to pay for their meat. Every member of that Council spoke against letting the property to the Beef Trust, but it was finally agreed to let the premises to them. A newspaper, commenting on this lease, remarked that it would be interesting to compare the speeches of the different members of that Council in their opposition to the letting of the shops with their action in finally agreeing to the transaction without a division being taken. However, it is proof positive that these people are spreading themselves over the best markets in the world. We have them here to-day in our best cattlegrowing country. Queensland is no doubt the greatest cattle-growing State of the Commonwealth, and it is probably one of the greatest countries for its size for cattle production. These people can get a plentiful supply there. They have made provision for treating 120,000 head a year at the Brisbane works. They can treat 110 head of cattle per day at Alligator Creek, and they propose to supplement their present plant, and no doubt will be able to treat a considerably greater number. They also propose to treat a number of cattle at Cairns. Before they purchased the works at Biboora, the late proprietors had to make fresh agreements with the Harbor Board for additional wharfage. They have now the additional wharfage, and will be able to loadany boat that comes into Australian waters. All these things prove conclusively that we have every reason to fear their operations. I am absolutely satisfied, and I think the Minister of Trade and Customs will know, from the information he has gathered, that the Beef Trust is here. The Government should take action to check its growth and its operations in Australia. Once it is established here, great difficulty will be experienced, and much expense incurred, in trying to rid the country of it.
– What does the honorable member suggest?
– I suggest that we should do something in the direction now contemplated by the Argentine. It is proposed there that when a company has slaughtered 4,000 head of cattle and 30,000 head of sheep, it should pay a heavy tax in respect of any additional killing.
– That would make meat dear there.
– It is already dear. The Beef Trust handles 75 per cent. of the trade already, and ships away every pound of its meat.
– But such a tax as that mentioned by the honorable member would not prevent the Beef Trust from erecting additional works.
– The Argentine Government proposes to go even further. It proposes so to legislate as to deal with the export of all meat whether it be by one company or ten companies. The Commonwealth Government will have to con sider the advisableness of introducing some such scheme if the Constitution is to remain as it is. Had the Labour party’s referenda proposals been carried, we should have been able, perhaps, to prevent the trust from establishing itself here. It must feel satisfied, however, that it will not be interfered with to any great extent in Australia, otherwise it would not have incurred so much expense as it has already done. I think it necessary to remind the Government every week of the existence of this trust, lest they should forget about it. I do not intend to allow the matter to drop. The Government ought to appoint immediately a Royal Commission to inquire into the operations of the Beef Trust.
– But the honorable member says that the Minister is inquiring at the present time.
– He will find it difficult to get the necessary information. The cost of a Royal Commission would not be great, and it would be money well spent. The people of Australia would be well pleased if the Prime Minister took action in this direction. Only by the appointment of a Royal Commission can we hope to obtain all the information necessary to enable the Government to cope with the trust.
– While we know a good deal about it, the late Government was in the same position.
– The Labour party wished to carry their referenda proposals in order thatthey might be able to deal with such trusts.
– We think that we can deal with this trust without any of the referenda proposals.
– I should be pleased to hear in what direction the Government propose to take action. I shall certainly help them to deal with the trust.
– That settles it.
– The honorable member treats this matter as a joke, just as many honorable members on this side regard him as a joke. He will probably be succeeded before long by a man who will avail himself of his position in this House to do more for the benefit of the people of Australia than he is doing. This is a serious matter, although honorable members opposite joke about it in a most childish way, and the time is not far distant when they will regret their present attitude. I hope that the Prime Minister, if he fails to get without delay the required information, will appoint a Royal Commission to collect evidence, which is available, showing that the trust is already in existence here, and that its operations must have a most detrimental effect upon our cattle-growers.
– We know that the trust is here, and the Labour party knew of its existence also before to-day. We do not need a Commission to tell us that.
– I know that the Prime Minister is making inquiries.
– Moreover, the Labour party encouraged the trust a little.
– In what way? The late Government knew of the presence of these people, and the ex-Minister of Trade and Customs has spoken against them more than once. Had the referenda been carried, we should have dealt immediately with them. .
– What would the Labour party have done?
– W - We should have put them all in gaol.
– I think that the honorable gentleman has a shrewd suspicion of what we would have done. I shall await with considerable interest action on the part of the Government. I have given them certain information, and hope next week to give them more. I am going to keep this question very much alive, and I trust that, before the end of the present session, we shall have from the Government some clear indication that they propose to deal with this octopus which is now spreading its tentacles all over Australia.
– I have followed the debate today with a considerable degree of interest, and particularly the remarks made by the honorable member for Denison, as to the way in which he would deal with immigrants. I do not profess to know much of the conditions obtaining in Victoria, but I think that it would be absolutely suicidal to adopt his suggestion, and to straightway place on the land “new chums “ coming to this part of the world. They may have some English experience of farm life, and a certain amount of capital, but it is absolutely necessary that they should acquire some knowledge of local conditions. It has been recognised in New South Wales for some years that farmers and farm labourers from the Old Country, notwithstanding their knowledgeand experience of English conditions, are absolutely lost when they first arrive here, and that it takes them three or four years, to become accustomed to local conditions - to become acclimatized, and to adapt themselves to their new environment.. Whilst we welcome them to Australia, we realize that the wisest course to pursue is to induce them, in the first instance, to turn their hand to some second or third class agricultural work until they begin, so to speak, to “ learn the ropes.” Then, and only then, can they be rightly advised to take up land with the idea of making; permanent homes for themselves, and winning success. I would remind the honorable member for Denison that the failureswe have had in Australia, so far as our agricultural immigrants are concerned, have been due to the fact that men have been wrongly advised to take up land immediately upon their arrival here, with the result that, because of their ignorance of local conditions, their capital has soon, been lost, and that they have returned, to the Old Country not prepared to say a. word in favour of Australia. The honorable member for Herbert, in dealing with the construction of the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta railway, put before the Committee some very interesting figures. I have* had an opportunity to peruse the report made by Mr. Deane as to the progress of the work up to the 30th June last, and. must confess that matters that appeal to the honorable member as extraordinary are viewed by me in the same light. The honorable member spoke of the heavy costalready incurred in the construction of this railway, and referred to the large number of administrative officers em- ployed in connexion with the work, [e pointed out that there was one staff officer to every eight or nine men engaged on construction work, and it seemed to me that the whole trend of his argument conclusively showed that those great national undertakings, by which we hop6 to open up our back country, and to bringabout decentralization in the direction, that we all favour, can be carried out better by contract rather than by day labour.. The criticism of the Postal Department, in which the honorable member for Oxley and the honorable member for Denison. indulged, certainly appealed to me, inasmuch as it showed that honorable members opposite admit that the administration of the Department by the late Government was not all that could be desired. It is recognised on every hand, and particularly by new members, who have had an opportunity to probe into this matter during the last six months, that there has not been that material improvement - that improvement along busi ness lines - that we so much desire. But now that we know that, the Opposition agree with us that there is much room for improvement, I hope that the Government will have their loyal co-operation when they proceed with their Bill to place the Department under the control of permanent Commissioners, who will be quite free from political control. By the appointment of such a board, I feel confident that many of the present shortcomings of the Department will be absolutely removed. It is idle for us to toy with this question. Until we -place this hig service under the control of independent Commissioners, we shall not secure that decentralization in connexion with postal, telegraphic, and telephonic matters which is so urgently required, and chaos will continue to prevail. The honorable member for Oxley, and the honorable member for Herbert, have referred to the Beef Trust, and it seems to be recognised on all hands that that trust is with us. Assuming that to be so, I feel sure that the Minister of Trade and Customs will be alive to his responsibilities. He has been approached by honorable members on both sides of the’ Committee, and he knows there is a feeling on the part of honorable members that the question should be investigated thoroughly, so that the people may be told clearly and definitely whether there is a menace, or likely to be a menace, from any combination of the kind. However, as I am to be followed by an honorable member who can deal with that subject much better than I can, I shall turn my attention in Another direction. The tobacco industry is, to a certain extent, we understand, controlled by a trust. During the last four or five years, on the different alluvial river frontages of New South Wales, tobacco has been grown to a very considerable extent, and, in order that the industry might he rendered prosperous, the land-owners and farmers have found it necessary to instal expensive irrigation and other most modern plant and appliances. When they entered upon this undertaking some few years ago, every promise was given to them that the price for the leaf would be a remunerative one. Mr. Nevill, the Tobacco Expert of Queensland, has stated at different times that the leaf grown in that State on the Macintyre River is equal to the best Virginian; and this, coming from a gentleman of long American experience, must carry a certain amount of weight. Further, in the Manila and Tamworth districts hundreds of acres have been placed under tobacco, and the growers, as I say, were given to understand that they would obtain decent prices. At the end of this year, however, the buyers who came along candidly told the growers that, so far as Australian leaf was concerned, they had supplies four years ahead of requirements. In the same breath the farmers are told by the buyers that if they are wise they will cease tobacco cultivation, and put in corn or some other crop. Under the circumstances, it seems to me that there must be some cause at work to prevent the growers getting .the prices to which they are entitled. I am not in a position to say what that cause is, and it is quite possible that there is an over-supply or that the leaf is not equal to the buyers’ requirements. If the leaf produced here is of a second or third grade, then I think it is time that there was a conference held of the best authorities in Australia on tobacco-growing. We, as a Parliament, should take some steps to inquire into the cause of this lapse of the industry.
– That will be done sender the Agricultural Bureau Bill.
– That Bill is rather mythical at present. If our friends opposite would assist us in passing tho Agricultural Bureau Bill there is no doubt that the question I have referred to would be dealt with by the Government, instead of its being left as at present to the States. We know that a great many portions of Australia are not suitable for tobacco growing. The peculiarities of climate and soil have to be considered, and to-day there are people who have launched thousands of pounds, and who are now “kicking against the pricks.” We should do all we can to. assist the Minister of Trade and Customs and the agricultural experts of the various States, to grapple with the question, so that the growers may know why it is that a market cannot be found. It ought to be ascertained whether the process of manufacture is what it should be - whether it is right to dry the tobacco in open barns, where, it is said, different oils exude and are lost, or whether the kilndrying system should not be adopted. These are all matters for scientists, and individual growers cannot be expected to turn themselves into scientists in a moment, especially in view of the fact that they have been engaged in this industry for only four or five years. I hope that the Minister of Trade and Customs will take note of what I have said, and that in a short time some information of an authoritative character will be laid before the growers.
– I find, on referring to the Adelaide Advertiser of a recent date, that the honorable member for Oxley is reported to have said that meat was sold in America at from1s. 7d. to 5s. per lb. About two years ago the honorable member for Cowper, my brother from Queensland, and myself, were in America, and we took a trip to Chicago to see how cattle were dealt with there. We found the meat trade managed in a very much better manner than it is dealt with in Australia, and there is no doubt that we have a good deal to learn from our American cousins. We were privileged to visit Armour’s works, and were shown every detail of the working by a special guide. Sheep, cattle, and hogs that come in from long distances are fed, well-watered, and looked after, and are sold much in the same manner as we sell in the Adelaide market. The buyers and sellers come together, and make a bargain for the sale at so much per pound live weight. We hear a lot about trusts in America, but we found there that nobody trusted anybody else. I remember seeing one old farmer who was trying to sell a very nice line of young bullocks for several hours. I asked him whether he thought he would get his price, and he said there was no doubt he would a little later on. This he did, and the cattle were taken on to a weighbridge and sold at so much perpound live weight. The weight is taken down by a
Government official, the farmer, and an agent, so that there is no possible chance of fraud.
– Do they cart the cattleround one at a time ?
– They weighed about twenty-five at once, and I am sure honorable members will agree that this is a much better way of selling cattle than that adopted in Australia. At Armour’s there is a Government inspector at each end of the building, and no meat with any kind of disease could possibly pass through without detection.
– Unless you “squared”” them beforehand !
– I do not think that these inspectors could be “squared.”
– Did the honorable member see any “ squaring “ ?
– No ; and “ squaring “ is not carried on in America to the extent that we are led to believe. I may say that a record of all the animals sold during the day is placed on a board outside the market, showing the weights and prices. The honorable member for Oxley has said that Armour and Company are coming to Australia; and my only wonder, when I was there, was that they had not come to Australia years ago. I do not think there will be any rise in the price of meatif they do come. At Armour’s there are employed 1,000 clerks and 5,000 other hands in the various departments, and 15,000 hogs, 3,500 cattle, and 10,000 sheep can be dealt with every day in this one factory alone. So far from there being a trust, we could have bought all the cattle on the market when we were there. All the American people desire is money, and they do not care where it comes from. . To give honorable members an idea of the vastness of the market, I may say that there was sold in one day 80,000 pigs, 60,000 cattle, and 70,000 sheep, and a market is held every day except Saturday and Sunday. The rule of the market is to sell all by live weight, and cattle brought7½ dollars per 100 lbs., and sheep 7 cents per lb. I was very pleased, indeed, to see the way in which this business was conducted in Chicago.
– The honorable member can see business conducted in that way down at Geelong.
– We have a lot to learn from our American cousins. I was amused to hear the honorable member for Oxley speak of meat at1s. 7d. a lb.; the highest price I heard of when in America was1s. a lb. for lamb in Vancouver. There is a great opening for lamb in the Vancouver market, but it will not fetch1s. 7d. a lb.
– What about beef and mutton?
– I saw nothing over1s. a lb., and very little over 9d. a lb. The honorable member for Oxley spoke of 5s. for a porter-house steak. We paid 5s. once, and got a steak large enough to feed three persons. Even here in Australia, we pay 4s. for a meal on the express. Instead of running down America, we should do well to copy that country in many things. Should the company which has been referred to establish itself in Australia, it will, if it adopts American methods, put meat on the market in a much better condition than meat is now put on our market.
– The honorable member for Oxley said that in America the working man cannot get meat.
– I have given facts and figures which I collected on the spot, and have no interest in saying anything that is not correct. It would be easy to verify what I said. Turning to another subject, let me say that we are making a huge mistake in regard to the Northern Territory. South Australia never grumbled at having to pay heavy taxation to keep the Territory for the white race, but this Commonwealth is repeating the mistake of South Australia in trying to develop the Territory from Port Darwin. It was said the other day that before spending money on the Territory we should have a comprehensive report upon it. Let me inform the Committee that South Australia got twenty-seven reports on the Territory, all of which are available, and I hope that this Government will have the information in them collated and made accessible to the members of this Parliament. One of these reports was obtained in connexion with a proposal for a land grant railway. The policy of the State was against such railways, and the line therefore was not constructed.
– Was an offer made for its construction ?
– Yes ; and it was declined. Another informative report is a work called Territoria. From that work it can be learned that the Territory is 560 miles wide and 900 miles long, and has a coast-line of 1,240 miles, its area being 523,620 square miles, or 335,116,800 acres. The Territory is thus two and a half times the size of France, four and a half times the size of Britain, and onefifth larger than New South Wales and: Victoria. It is idle to say that in that vast stretch of country there is no fine land. There are 6,300 square miles, with a rainfall of less than 10 inches; 213,430 square miles, with a rainfall of from 10 to 20 inches; 96,790 square miles, with a rainfall of from 20 to 30 inches; 120,600 square miles, with a rainfall of from 30 to 40 inches; and 86,500 square miles, with a rainfall of over 40 inches.
– What about the soil?
– This report says that there are 80,000,000 acres with a rainfall of from 15 to 40 inches, on which wheat can be grown, and that the country will carry 16,000,000 sheep. But it cannot be developed without a railway. The district to which I refer has an elevation of from 400 to 1,500 feet above sea level, and is capable of producing, on an estimate of 10 bushels an acre, nine times as much wheat as is now grown in Australia. This production would enable us to supply the markets of India, China, and Japan.
– But does not the rain come wholly in the summer time?
– No; in the Macdonnell Range country it comes when it is needed. I gather from the same report that there is an area of about 136,000 square miles, or 87,000,000 acres, which, if half stocked at the rate of sixty sheep to the mile, would carry 4,100,000 sheep, and, allowing an average yield of wool of 6 lbs. per sheep, would give an annual production of 24,600,000 lbs. of wool. As to cattle, there were, at the end of 1907, on the Victoria Downs Station, 76,540 head, and the increase branded was 17,298. At Wave Hill, the cattle numbered 55,000 head, and the increase was 15,000. At Ord River there was an increase of 4,261 head; at Brunette Downs, 7,000 head; at Alexandria, 4,230 head; and at Auvergne,. 2,300 head. What we have to do is to get people to go to the Territory. There are many persons in South Australia who have sufficient money to start their sons in the Territory, but who want to see the country first. With a proper tenure and railway communication, the land of the Territory would soon be taken up. In this Chamber, there are men with capital to invest and sons to put on the land, but they cannot be blamed for not sending their sons to the Northern Territory while there is no railway connecting it with other parts of Australia. For forty years, the attempts to settle the Pinnaroo country were unsuccessful, and that country would never have been settled had not a railway been made through it. No country can be settled without a railway.
– What route should the line follow?
– It should go straight from Oodnadatta to Pine Creek. A more easterly route would entail the expenditure of thousands of pounds on bridges to cross the innumerable broken rivers and creeks; but the direct route presents few engineering difficulties, and from it branch lines could be pushed out east and west. Were this Canada, or the United States of America, the through line would have been made a generation ago. The honorable member for Riverina will agree with me that those who take up country in the Territory should have land enough to run at least 20,000 sheep. Instead of paying rent to the Government, they should be required to spend so much on improvements, such as fencing, ring-barking, and water conservation, to be approved. Then, when the leases fell in, the land would have an increased value. I would give those who went to the Territory the right to buy a certain area of land, and I would not be too strict in the matter of payments. But I would require every land-owner there to reside on his land, or to keep on it as his substitute a British subject. The way in which the affairs of the Northern Territory are being dealt with now is ridiculous. I have been astounded to read the number of officials there, and the salaries paid to them. We should be up and doing. If it is difficult to find the necessary money, why not stop such works as the building of the Federal Capital?
– T - The Federal Capital will be Australia’s best asset.
– We should spend our money in opening up the land, and the Northern Territory can be made of great benefit to Australia generally. The honorable member said the other day, “ Let us all pull together on one strong rope in the interests of Australia “ ; but all through this session we have had firing across the chamber, a member not being: considered smart unless he could coins nasty names to fling at his opponent.. That is not a proper occupation for a. politician. His duty should be to give his best brains and industry in the services of his country; but under present: conditions he cannot possibly do it. Some alteration will have to be made by the people .
– E - Elective Ministries.
-I have always been in favour of that principle, which, I think, would work well. I believe that honorable members would vote, if they had the opportunity, for the best men in the House, irrespective of the side to which they belonged. I certainly should ; and I hope, before many years are over, to see the principle carried into effect.
.- I desire to discuss the protective policy and the defence policy of this country.. I am aProtectionist because I think that Protection is the only policy that will make for the development of the country, render it populous, and provide immediate markets for our primary producers. There are two methods of Protection - the imposition of Customs duties, and direct preference by Government to certain industries. The present Government have, I am afraid, sadly neglected both. The first thing that has been done by a Government which was sent in here to encourage local industries has been to refer the whole matter to an Inter-State Commission, which has as yet made no report. I believe that body is at present in the transition period, and that things are going to be done, but that, as yet, nothing has been done. One of the great reasons for the support given to the party opposite during the last election was that they were a party of Protection, who were going to rectify all Tariff anomalies, and save hosts of perishing industries from utter inanition. That has not as yet. been done. All that has been done hasbeen to hand the thing over to a Tariff” Commission, which is one of the aspects of the Inter-State Commission, and this practically amounts to shelving the matter for a time. The life-buoy has not been thrown out to any of ourperishing industries. If they perish, they perish
That is one direction in which the Government have failed to do what they were sent in to do, if the press which supported them is to be believed. As regards the question of direct encouragement to industries by Government preference, we have very soon learnt what the present Government have not done. We have also seen what they have done by way of preference to foreign industries. Their action in sending abroad for railway locomotives has been already debated. We have in Australia a number of firms who manufacture locomotives.
– Do you not think the previous Government should have put those orders in hand ?
– I think they ought to have done so; but I object to the cry being continually raised about what a former Government have not done when a matter is being advocated in this House. Several honorable members seem to think that to point out the failure of a previous Government furnishes some excuse for the failure of the existing Government to do what they ought to do. If the Liberal Government ought to do a thing, and fail to do it, their failure is not justified by the fact that the Labour Government failed to do it before them.
– The failure of your Government to take action did not allow them time. That is the position.
– It has been clearly demonstrated that when the present Government came into office, they knew of the need for locomotives. The EngineerinChief had reported as to the necessity for them ; and yet nothing was done for several months. Orders could have been given to Australian manufacturers, who could have been given time to complete the work, even if it meant waiting for two or three months longer.
– The local manufacturers declined to undertake the work.
– Some manufacturers had no opportunity of declining or accepting. One large manufacturer in Queensland replied that he was unable go undertake the work owing to the smallness of the order, and the new gauge of 4 ft. 8-½ in., and the rather onerous conditions as to penalties. If the order had been given earlier, and his firm had been given the opportunity to provide the necessary preliminaries for manufacture, the work might have been done.
– If some manufacturers were not consulted, we ought to know their names.
– One manufacturer not consulted was the famous Thompson and Company Proprietary Limited, Castlemaine. They have a world-wide fame, manufacturing machinery of the highest class, which has given universal satisfaction. A year or so ago they obtained a contract for forty engines for the Victorian Government. In order to carry this work out satisfactorily, they sent their managing director to England and America, to obtain the latest information in this highly technical branch of engineering, and they have equipped their shops in most elaborate fashion, in order to cope with the order. If the Government had only looked into the question of their probable requirements, they could have had ample time to draw up their specifications, make all proper inquiries from local manufacturers, and have the engines manufactured in Australia. There is no excuse for their inaction, except that they woke up at a late period to their responsibilities. While I deprecate the fact that Thompson’s, of Castlemaine, which happens to be in my own electorate, were overlooked, I would point out also that there are other firms all over Australia who could have done the work, and were not given a proper opportunity to do it. I have no doubt, as the correspondence shows, that letters were sent to them at a late hour, and conditions were laid down which made it impossible for them to construct the engines in the time.
– Whose fault was that?
– It was the fault of the Government, in not having looked into the matter earlier. During the last election I had a very grievous burden to bear with my electors because the late Government had overlooked certain foundries - Thompson’s foundry, in particular - in the matter of the construction of certain high-speed engines for the power plant at the Federal Capital. The late Minister of Home Affairs may know why the order, in that case, was sent abroad. I understand that there were reasons in that case, but I was assured that they could have been manufactured by Thompson’s or other foundries, and. I had to explain away the matter as best 1 could. The figures, I think, showed that the extra cost of constructing these high-speed engines in Australia amounted to between 50 and 100 per cent. ; but, in spite of that fact, the incident counted greatly against us. Now that we have this action of the present Government to balance the matter, I hope the good people of those localities where foundries exist will take note of the fact. Here is a Liberal and Protectionist Government, sent in to give every encouragement to Australian industries, importing locomotives, which could easily be constructed in Australia, because locomotives of the highest quality and efficiency have already been made here. It was not a matter of the difficult construction of high-speed engines, which was new to Australia. Where the excuse of the Government is I do not know, and, for that reason, I submit that they have failed in their high Protectionist duty in this regard.
– Is this a high Protectionist Government?
– I am speaking, to some extent, sarcastically, because the Government came in under thegis of one of the greatest Protectionist organs in the community.
– Did not the Age say that it was a Protectionist triumph?
– The Age declared it to be a Protectionist triumph on the very same day that the Argus declared it to be a Free Trade victory. The Age has been a Protectionist organ in this country for many years. It did one of the greatest works the press has ever done in establishing the Protectionist policy in this country, and when I see the Age behind a Government and a political party, and praising it as Protectionist, I have to believe, to some extent, that the party which it supports is true to Protection. It is for this reason that I am attempting to show this high Protectionist Government wherein it has failed in its plain Protectionist duty. It has failed by not rectifying Tariff anomalies by the introduction of higher Customs duties, and has grievously failed by not giving to local industries that preference which it had in its power to give. I turn from protection against the invasion of articles produced by cheap foreign labour to projection against invasion by foreigners themselves; and on this matterI have again to express the obligation of the people of Australia to the Age for putting so clearly before them the danger in which we are at present in the matter of defence.
– H - Hear, hear? The military “rooster” will kill us.
– No doubt the military gentlemen to whom the honorable member refers in such felicitous terms will kill us if we do not keep a careful watch on the matter. The whole subject is reduced to this - what is the need of Australia in the matter of defence, and what can Australia afford in the matter of defence ? If we approach the subject from these two points of view we must inevitably come to the conclusion that neither the need of Australia today nor its financial capacity justifies the condition in which defence stands. It is a matter of the depth of the pocket and of the need of the community. Without labouring the matter unduly, let us examine what our need is in the mat ter of defence.
– We require a strong Navy.
– Weare an isolated community, and we need a Navy of a certain amount of strength to protect trade routes; and, more than that, perhaps, and bound up in it, we require to prevent the success of any chance-raider that happens to come here. As I say, we are an isolated community, away from the storm centres of war; yet we are attempting to build up a Navy and an Army greater in proportion to our population than the armies and navies of nations situated in the midst of the storm centre. The matter may be put as it was put in the early days of America, when they had a population about as great as ours is now. The policy they adopted was, “ We want our trade routes protected, but we require no armada.” The position of Australia is exactly the position the United States of America had to face. They were a young community, and a small community, and a growing community, intrusted with a country of vast possibilities, and vast resources, but they did not go mad on the question of defence : they cut their coat according to their cloth ; they fitted their shins for the protection of trade routes, and trained their men for the purpose of local protection. Yet their position was far more serious than ours is to-day, becausethey weresurroundedby political complications that do not exist with us. So far as our need is concerned, therefore, we are out of the track of the tornadoes which devastate, or may devastate, the older world, though we stand in danger, no doubt, of some chanceraider descending on our shores, and destroying our shipping; or, perhaps, we have to contemplate the horrible possibility of some of our capitals being largely devastated; but that danger does not require for its antidote anything but a Navy - a powerful Navy, though small in size. There is, no doubt, we need a Navy of some description, but we must pause when we contemplate the possibility that lies before us in respect to our naval defence. The Navy, so far, is not over-swollen like, perhaps, the other arm of defence bids fair to be, and if no more is spent per annum than is spent now, no one is likely to quarrel with the expenditure on the Fleet. But what we have to aim at is, not so much Australia attempting to provide for itself a Navy which will be adequate to meet attack of any kind, or any possibility, remote or otherwise, which might affect it; our aim should be, not to provide for ourselves a complete Navy, but to act in co-operation with other Pacific powers, be they of the Imperial Dominions or not, in order that Australia, New Zealand, and Canada, and, perhaps the United States, could combine together to protect the Pacific from any danger of any inrush of war. That is our direct and plain duty, but here we seem to be attempting to provide for the peace of the Pacific ourselves. But we cannot do it; our need does not demand it, and our fortunes do not warrant it.
– Do you say that you would not go on with Admiral Henderson’s scheme?
– Not to the complete extent now set down. I would modify it to a very great degree. I think the scheme is too huge altogether for us to bear. The burden is too great for us, and the result will plainly Ire-
– B - Bankruptcy.
– In seven or eight’ years we shall be bearing a burden of defence that no other country in the world has ever attempted. For defence we are now bearing the burden of 24s. per head of the population, whereas Great Britain is paying 31s. 9d. per head, while in Germany, one of the greatest military countries in the world, a country that is putting forth enormous efforts both in land and sea defence, the cost is 18s. 9d. per head. In France it is 27s. 5d.; in the United States, 12s. 10d.; in Russia, 6s. 7d.; in Japan, 4s. 6d.; and in Canada, 3s. Id.
– When the scheme is complete it will involve us in £2 per head.
– The honorable member has anticipated what I was going to say. If Admiral Henderson’s scheme is carried out, and if Lord Kitchener’s scheme is completed with the accretions now made to it, by the end of 1920 we shall be paying 40s. per head of the population - a burden which no other country in the world .has ever been asked to bear or has ever dreamt of bearing. Canada, which is situated next to the United States, involving a more dangerous position in some respects than we occupy, is paying 3s. Id. per head of the population for the whole of its defence, whereas Australia is paying 24s. now, with the inevitable burden, if nothing is done to stop it, of £2 per head in a very few years. We cannot do it; and it will be a crime to attempt it. A great number of honorable members agree with me in the matter of the Navy; and there is no great need to ‘.’flog a willing horse,” so to speak. The country is not in the danger of attack by other countries that this scheme we are hastening to carry out would make it appear to be. Our great danger is in leaving our country unoccupied. We require to spend our millions, not in providing defence against an aggression which probably will never eventuate, but in providing the meansof developing the country by railways and otherwise, which will be a much more effective arm of defence than aggregations of ships or the gathering together of myriads of men. Filling up the country by means of settlement will be the most effective means of defence, and if we could divert in that direction the millions which are now being poured out, and which, in the future, will be poured out to a greater extent, Australia will have to thank the party which has the courage to do that sort of thing more than the party that will put on the people a burden which, I believe, is too great to be borne.
– The honorable member’s views involve a policy of immigration .
– As to immigration, my views favour th© opening up of the country so that it will be so attractive to the people that they will not need to be dragooned into or paid to come here, and will come here of their own free will. I believe in a sane policy of immigration, if it can be properly carried out. The Commonwealth to-day has not the proper power to carry it out. It can only be carried out in conjunction with a land policy, and, as honorable members know, the Commonwealth has no control over settlement or land in any degree, except through the method of taxing.
– There is plenty of land available in the States if the Commonwealth will bring out the proper class of people.
– I believe the Commonwealth has attempted to do what it can in that direction. Under the last Government, the Commonwealth appointed medical inspectors in London, who did something to prevent the coming out here of a class of immigrants unfit to come here, but who had been coming to Australia under the immigration policies of the States. However, I wish to deal now with the question . of land defence, and to show honorable members the extent to which it is growing, and the necessity for doing something to limit the expenditure in that regard. Generally speaking, apart from the particular needs of Lord Kitchener’s scheme, there is no doubt that much could be done by a rigid economy in the matter of defence. There is no doubt money has been spent, and is being spent now, unnecessarily, and I think the root of the matter -is that the administration of defence must largely . depend upon the advice of the officers of the Military Forces. Many things have been done upon the advice of the officers, the “ gilt-spurred roosters,” as some people are pleased to call them. Their advice is apt to be taken by the Minister. We should have set before us the ideal of a purely citizen soldiery, citizen in its administration, with only the very minimum of professional regulation and interference. With such an ideal before us we might have achieved our object with far more economy. The influence of the military officers in this regard is, and must be, paramount. They are experts, and have, a tendency to overawe the Min ister of Defence for the time being, who, in almost every case, is a layman. There must be a disposition on his part to defer unduly to the advice of his military officers, who are bound up, to a large extent, by the chains of tradition.
– A - And extravagance.
– To a large extent they are bound by the chains of tradition and extravagant administration. They find it hard to curtail expenditure. They come along to the Minister, and say, “ This must be done ; the experts have recommended it, and it ought to be carried out,” with the result that the Minister of the day, unless he goes into the matter more thoroughly than most Ministers have time to do, or sets himself against military domination, probably yields to their representations. In this way the defence expenditure is increased. I hope that the Minister of Defence, from time to time, no matter to what party he belongs, will always take up a strong stand; that he will oppose, to the best of his ability, any attempt at domination by a military caste, and that he will cut down to the very lowest all the frills and furbelows with which military men have bedecked themselves from time immemorial. I trust that the citizen ideal will be kept constantly before us. If that be done, we shall be able to secure what we require without the enormous expenditure which now marks our defence scheme. The defect of the present scheme is that it is too rigid. Whatever may be our liabilities in other directions - whatever need there may be for other expenditure - we shall have to provide these millions for defence purposes as long as the present scheme is adhered to. We have a scheme . under which boys must commence to train on reaching the age of fourteen years, and continue in the Citizen Forces for a certain number of years, so that, as time goes on, the expenditure must increase. As the Treasurer has said, every new- quota coming into the Citizen Forces costs the country each year an additional £200,000.
– But they go out on reaching the age of twenty-six.
– But our expenditure on military defence will have “reached nearly £4,000,000 a year before the first quota passes out of the ranks of the
Citizen .Forces into the reserves. Lord Kitchener estimated that under his scheme the cost of our land Forces in the year 1920 would be a little over £1,800,000 a year. At t!he present time we are expending about £2,000,000 a year, and when the first quota of our Citizen Forces passes into the reserves - in the year 1920 - this expenditure will amount to £3,665,000 a year, apart altogether from the money expended in erecting drill-halls and providing for other new works. We have a large sum on this year’s Estimates for new works, and I am sorry to say that, in the Loan Bill, the Government have thought it necessary to provide for an expenditure of £300,000 on defence. I do not think it is necessary to borrow for defence purposes.
– Why did the Labour Government commit us to the expenditure?
– All the talk we hear about “ commitments “ counts for nothing. The defence expenditure can be cut down if the Government desire to reduce it. The Government propose to borrow £300,000 to meet expenditure which should be paid for out of revenue. They could have avoided the necessity for borrowing by cutting down the present expenditure.
– Why pay for land out of revenue? The land required for defence purposes, and to be provided for out of loan account, will not be a recurring expenditure.
– I believe, with many others, that land that is not required for reproductive purposes should be paid for out of revenue. That is a basic principle, which it would take too long to argue to the satisfaction of the honorable member.
– But the land acquired for defence purposes remains an asset.
– Although it remains an asset, it is not used for reproductive purposes. No return is obtained from it, and it should, therefore, be paid for out of revenue. As I have said, in 1920 our expenditure on the land Forces alone will amount to £3,665,000 per annum. In addition to that, we shall probably have to find over £1,000,000 for new defence works. That being so, there can be no doubt that unless the present scheme is curtailed the Government, in that year, will have to find £5,000,000 for the land Forces of Australia. Such an expenditure cannot be contemplated. Some change must be made.
– What will be the approximate naval and military expenditure in 1920?
– So far as I can ascertain, it will be in the neighbourhood of £10,0*00,000.
– And the honorable member’s proposal is that the naval and military expenditure should be provided for out of the proceeds of direct taxation ?
– My proposal is that our defence expenditure should be provided for out of revenue; but I have not advocated, and shall never advocate, the provision of £10,000,000 out of revenue for defence purposes.
– Then the honorable member and his party will have to revise their platform.
– My contention is that, having regard to Australia’s situation and her needs, £10,000,000 per annum should not be expended on defence. I am sure that the Prime Minister, who, as head of the Government, has to find the money to carry on this service-
– I was just inquiring whether this criticism was really coming from the other side, or from one of our own party.
– I hope that the honorable gentleman has been subjected to similar criticism from his own side. I shall have the greatest pleasure in joining with any recalcitrant members of his party who want to curtail the defence expenditure.
– It fills me with hope. I am beginning to think that, having regard to the way in which you are criticising defence, you are giving up all hope of getting over here again.
– Whatever my criticism of defence, or other expenditure, may be, the honorable gentleman can dismiss from his mind any thought of my ever crossing over to his side of the House. His pleasant demeanour attracts me, but I must resist him.
– But this was the Labour party’s trump card.
– We are told to resist a certain gentleman and “ he will flee from you.” I have to resist the honorable gentleman in the same way. The point of my argument is that the present scheme is too rigid. There is no flexibility or elasticity about it. I am sure that the Prime Minister will agree that there must be some elasticity about the finances. From time to time immediate needs arise, and the Treasurer must have the means to provide for them without borrowing for the purpose. The trouble with the present defence scheme is that it is so founded that we cannot cut it down as we want to do, unless we change its basis. We must have a scheme that is more elastic. Without having arrived at any definite conclusion in regard to the matter, I would point to what another Dominion has done in respect of defence, as showing its clear appreciation of the need of elasticity, and of the necessity for limiting the demand upon its finances. The South African Union Government has introduced a Defence Bill based upon a scheme which was deliberately intended to be flexible, so that, should the financial necessity arise, the military expenditure could be curtailed. In the official memorandum that was issued explaining the provisions of that Bill, the position is stated in the clearest way. Kitchener’s scheme is based upon the idea of training the whole population, with exemptions so small as to be negligible.
– I hardly think that that is Kitchener’s scheme; I believe it is SenatorPearce’s scheme.
– It is the present scheme, which is based on that prepared by Kitchener.
– I am not quite sure, but I think that Kitchener provided for a certain establishment.
– I shall deal with that point. In this official memorandum, it is stated that -
To train the whole population for military purposes would create a greater force than the country would require to defend it, would impose too heavy a financial burden on the country, and would probably not lead to efficiency.
I believe that the operation of our present scheme will result in the training of a force of soldiery greater than is necessary to defend Australia in the circumstances in which it is likely to be placed. Lord Kitchener’s scheme, I understand, intended that there should be 80,000 men between the ages of eighteen and twentysix years available in the Defence Forces in 1920.
– What is the number now?
– I do not know.
– In 1920, it is contemplated that there will be a fighting force of 140,000.
– If that be so, I submit that such a force is much greater than is necessary, and that the 80,000 anticipated by Lord Kitchener would be ample for all the needs of the country. We have no need to provide a standing army. We have need for a trained force of citizen soldiery which will be ready to turn out to repel any chance invasion. I doubt whether if, under present circumstances, even if we trained the whole of our men, we could repel an invasion in force. I think, however, that we need have no fear of such an invasion, even from an Asiatic country; but we should, as I say, be ready to repel any chance invasion, and for this purpose 80,000 men would be sufficient. What is the need, then, for going on with this expensive training of scores of thousands of men more than are necessary? I believe in the physical and military training of the youth of the country, and I regard it as one of the finest things that ever happened here that the youth can be rescued from the state of laxity, or, if I may use a vulgar word, the state of slouch, into which otherwise they might have drifted. The question; however, is what can we afford. We may be able to carry on the physical training of the youth, as I believe we can, without any great expense, but it is another matter altogether to talk of putting 120,000 men into a condition of full efficiency. There must be some selective means adopted to bring about a reduction in the number of men to be trained for our Army. In South Africa, this has been done, though in a way with which I do not altogether agree. The method there adopted may, however, contain some germs of instruction for us. There the idea is to train annually only such a number of citizensas may reasonably be required for defence purposes, and the Government, from time to time, fix the number in accordance with the probable requirements, and the financial resources of the Union. That is a logical scheme. This is a matter that ought to be in the hands of the Government; and that is not the case here, because our scheme is like a snowball- gathering expenditure as it goes. Unless the Government change the basis of the scheme, they cannot materially reduce the expenditure, and, in South Africa, the two points considered are the number of men required and the money the country can afford. If we train a force that is greater than the necessity demands, the expenditure, of course, correspondingly increases. The Government may be trusted to carefully go into the matter, and see what the exigencies of the country demand. In South Africa, as I say, their scheme is not altogether in accordance with my views, for there is no compulsory service until a man reaches the age of twenty-one . In populous areas, boys between the ages of thirteen and seventeen may be trained if their parents consent ; and this, of course, is to a large extent diametrically opposite to our compulsory training. Next, citizens between the age of seventeen and twenty-one may enlist, if they choose; and in this way that martial spirit, which, I believe, exists in the breast of mankind, particularly at that time of life, may have its vent. However, all men of twenty-one years of age must register, though not all of them are called upon to serve, and those who are called upon to serve are chosen by ballot. This is a method which is adopted in all countries where compulsory service is the law. In Germany, I understand, if they attempted to train all men who were qualified for compulsory service, a bigger burden would be created than the country could bear, because they would have, perhaps, 4,000,000 men training at one time. The method of choosing by ballot is, in my opinion, a very good one, the whole object of the scheme being to cut down the number of the soldiery to the requirements of the country, and in accordance with what the country can afford. The next point - and it is a very useful one, which the lessons of the Boer War bring home to us - is that all those who are not selected by ballot for training in the ranks, or who do not volunteer, must enrol in a rifle association. This, in my judgment, is the best scheme of defence that we can have. Of course, we require a certain number of men to provide the nucleus or skeleton of an Array; and this they have in South Africa in the men who are selected by ballot. If we had some such scheme here, with an Army of 80,000 chosen by ballot, and the rest com pelled to undergo training in rifle shooting, it would, I think, be a good thing. This would provide an Army quite suitable to the conditions of the country - such an Army as the Boers found amply sufficient to keep the might of the British Empire at bay for years. Such a scheme would not be anything like so expensive as that under which we now labour; and it is a scheme that is logical in every way. In addition to joining a rifle association, each man must undergo a prescribed course of training in the use of the rifle - the mere joining of the association is not enough.
– The policy of our Military Board has been to crush out the rifle clubs.
– I am afraid that that has been so. In addition to joining the rifle club, and undergoing a training in the use of the rifle, each man who has not been selected by ballot has to pay the sum of £1 a year for twenty-four years as a contribution to the military defence. I should like to refer for a moment to the question of exemptions, which has already caused much friction and trouble. More than once in this House we have had the cases cited of men who are the sole support of their parents or parent, and who have been compelled to lose their wages while engaged in compulsory drill. In the South African scheme, there is a series of exemptions, which, in the main, must commend themselves to every honorable member who is not altogether carried away by zeal for military defence or display. For instance, it is provided that a citizen’s course of educational studies must not be interfered with by his military training. Further, the nature and extent of his domestic obligations are taken into account; and this, of course, would cover the cases of those who are the sole support of their parents. Further, there is considered the condition of the man’s industrial, professional, or business vocation; and this, I think, will appeal to some honorable members opposite. I know that in Victoria articled clerks have to serve additional periods in consideration of the time occupied in their military service.
– Does the honorable member think that unfair ?
– Certainly I do.
– People have to leave other vocations; and I do not think that articled clerks are entitled to any privilege.
– I think they are; some special consideration should be given to a man who is compelled to serve his country.
– I suppose the honorable member would apply his suggestion all round ?
– Certainly. In Victoria, an articled clerk must serve a certain number of years, and yet the few days or weeks that he is away from the office on defence duties is taken into account, and he has to serve extended articles.
– How much time does that represent in Victoria ?
– Three years. I do not know what the additional time is.
– Sixteen days a year.
– It is not the extent that is complained of so much as the absurdity of the requirement. There are other grounds of exemption, for instance, bond fide religious tenets. The absence of such an exemption here has caused a lot of trouble, in connexion with our defence scheme. In one case in which I had the honour to appear, a man claimed that his religious belief precluded him from bearing arms, and from taking any part in military service. The evidence of his belief was strong and complete; but the High Court “ decided that there was not ground for exemption from service - that an objection to warfare was not a ground of exemption. In South Africa, bond fide religious tenets may form a ground of exemption.
– What is the test?
– I do not know.
– The door for escape from military service might be left open if that exemption were provided for.
– Perhaps so. There would, of course, have to be some test of bona fides; but the point I wish to make is that it is not necessary to compel these objectors to serve; that we can get a sufficient number, of men without them. Another ground of exemption is distance of training places from place of residence, and physical deformity forms another and obviously good ground for exemption. Adopting such modifications, we could have a defence scheme which we could afford, and which would provide a suffi ciently large army, properly equipped and trained, with auxiliary riflemen, who* would not have to submit to the “ Major Ramrod and Colonel Pipeclay “ control. In this way Australia could meet her defence needs. Having pointed to directions in which there is now overexpenditure, let me mention what I think instances of undue expenditure, which generally means the asking for a little more expenditure in one’s own electorate. When the defence scheme was being considered by Parliament,, the Prime Minister thought that the area officer, who ispaid £150 a year, should receive £300, and advocated the employment of officers, of more experience and higher rank than those who are now doing the work. The area officers’ now employed, are not expected to devote the whole of their time to their military work.
– In practice they are compelled to do so.
– Some of them are men who make from £500 to £1,000 a year in ordinary occupations, giving only their spare time to military work.
– I am still strongly of opinion that the area officer is underpaid; but next year we shall have the first batch of young officers from the Military College.
– I understand that the present arrangement is temporary, and that the young officers who are being trained at Duntroon are expected to take up this work, though it remains to be seen whether they will do it satisfactorily. They, I understand, will receive a higher remuneration than that now paid to the area officers. My suggestion would be to combine two areas, and to put them under one officer, giving him £300 a year, and requiring him to devote the whole of his time to his military duties. I think it wrong that these men should be able to give their time to private affairs.
– The work requires every minute of their time.
– Yes; but the present remuneration is inadequate. With a remuneration of £300 a year, there are many enthusiasts who would take up the work.
– At present it is done’, not by the Area Officers, but by the sergeantmajors.
– No doubt the sergeantmajors have to carry the burden of the work.
– And their pay has not been reasonably increased. In some cases they are getting less than they were receiving nine or ten years ago.
– That should not be. They are the men who do the real work, to a very great degree, and on whom the actual burden of training rests, and they should be properly remunerated. As a class, the sergeant-majors form, perhaps, the finest body of men in the Army. It is they who do the heavy work of instruction, and they should be better paid.
– They have no prospects outside their profession.
– Another matter to which I wish to direct attention is that at present no provision is made for the conveyance of trainees to the places at which they are required to drill. The Bendigo Senior Cadets have to drill on Saturday afternoons at a place 4 miles from the city. The lads leave off work at 1 o’clock, or thereabouts, and then have to hurry home, change into their uniforms, and be on the drill-ground at half-past 2 o’clock. As no conveyance is provided, they must walk both ways. No doubt the Minister, when he has the opportunity, will remove that grievance. But there are too many incidents of the same kind, and this matter is agitating the people of Bendigo considerably. In many cases these cadets have to support their families. The Chewton cadets have a similar grievance. They, as a rule, are employed in Castlemaine, and, after leaving work, have to walk 3 miles to Chewton to their homes, and return to Castlemaine to drill. That is a state of affairs that should be rectified; I do not know who is to blame for it. If the defence scheme is to work smoothly, these grievances must be redressed. They are of very great moment to those whom they affect, and the continual aggregation of small causes of irritation is creating considerable discontent. I have come to think that our defence scheme is too big, and more than we can afford. What is needed is some process of selection. The military training that the boys are getting is of immense value from the point of view of morals and discipline, but there should be some selection, to prevent the cost of defence becoming too burdensome. To turn to another matter. It was intended that the defence scheme should be thoroughly democratic, but there is grow ing up a distinction between school cadets and what might be called industrial cadets. In the public and other schools the cadets are able to do their drill practically during school hours, and are not under the same disabilities as those who have to do their drill at nights under the street lamps. There is, therefore, a distinct cleavage growing up in this regard between the boy who has to go to work at fourteen and the public school boy, the latter having a tendency to look rather askance at the poor person who has to drill at night in the streets. This matter will have to be rectified. I would suggest that for all youths Saturday should be kept open for drill.
– Is that not unfair to the employer »
– I do not think so, because the employers should be the greatest gainers from the defence scheme, which, if effective, must defend the wealth of the community. At present practically the whole burden of doing military work rests upon the employe, and surely the employer can find it in his heart to allow his youths to get off on Saturday morning to do their drill. That ought to be part of the premium which he has to pay for this war insurance. If this scheme goes on we may have to pay a premium of £10,000,000 for a war risk, which is absurd. An insurance company would be delighted to get a premium to that extent for a risk of such a small extent.. The employer might well, in a spirit of self-sacrifice, without docking any pay, make the concession I have mentioned.^ It should be really a benefit to him to have trained soldiery to protect his business, and he should be prepared to pay for it. If the Saturday morning cannot be given freely, the work might be re-arranged, so as to allow the employe to put in a little extra time during the week, in order to get his Saturday mornings off. At present we have a rather anomalous and vexatious set of circumstances. The Saturday afternoon sports in which our youths delight to engage are very much curtailed, and I am sure the drilling could be done at nights and on Saturday mornings. As a new member, I have been struck, like the honorable member for Corio, with the wide range of debate allowed on the Budget. I know the theory is that the discussion of Supply allows the ventilation of grievances, bat
I think we should arrive at some more business-like method of dealing with our finances. We should put the matter on a business basis, and try to deal with our clients, the people of Australia, in the most economical, the most expeditious, and the best way. I do not say that the present methods are wrong; I simply say that I cannot understand them. They have come down to us through the centuries, and although they may seem to be productive of delay and friction, they may in the long run be the best, but to new members, at any rate, they seem cumbrous. It may be that we have not .sufficient wisdom to understand them; but, at any rate, the honorable member for Corio and myself seem to be rather at the present stage of our parliamentary existence in the position of Alice in Wonderland, seeing the strange sights and hearing the strange things that were seen and heard by that fabulous maiden.
.- A Budget of £27,000,000, whether one is a large or a small taxpayer, is- enough to give any one a good deal of concern. The amount of money on the Estimates may not all be spent, as was the case last year. I believe that the PostmasterGeneral’s Department and the Naval defence automatic increase account in a large measure for the growth of the Estimates this year. Honorable members opposite have asked why the Government have not cut them down. As one having some buisness experience, being the manager of a firm of considerable size, I know that no body of men can come into a business concern with an expenditure of £24,000,000 and at short notice, say what should be cut down straight away. It would take considerable time for the Minister responsible for each Department to say where the expenditure could be curtailed. I think the Treasurer has over-estimated his revenue, and that that is where we shall eventually find that we are a few millions short. We know that the banks have had to cut down private expenditure by refusing advances, while public expenditure of loan money, in some of the other States, which have been very extravagant, will also have to be curtailed, and I think the Customs may show a very severe shrinkage this year. The Treasurer quoted certain figures showing the increase in wool, cattle, sheep, and agriculture over a certain period, but *t think they were misleading, because, during the last three years, there has been a tendency in pastoral and agricultural pursuits not to expand as they have hitherto done. The reason for that is the restriction in our credit. We have heard that Senator Pearce’s administration of the Defence Department was so good that he was little short of a heavenborn administrator, and it is now most refreshing to hear the criticisms from the other side to the effect that the defence scheme is getting altogether out of hand, and that the Minister is apparently only a tool in the hands of the uniformed gentlemen underneath him. I do not think that that should be so. There is no necessity for it, because the Minister of Defence, who is responsible for the expenditure of the Department, should tell the Naval Board, and those underneath the Naval Board, that they have so much money to spend, and that they can go only a certain length. He should not let them spend at random. No one has yet told us why Lord Kitchener’s defence scheme, which was to cost £1,800,000, is going to cost double that sum. I am quite prepared to pay my share of taxation for the defence of this country, and to contribute towards the £1,800,000 estimated by Lord Kitchener, provided that we get efficiency, and it has not yet been shown that there is anything wrong in his estimate. We have drifted seemingly into a way of spending money without any regard to economy. Amongst other things, I think the defence scheme will have to be cut down, because I do not believe that under the naval part of it we shall ever have 15,000 men to man the ships. I understand that is the number required, and I do not think we have them. Another expense that we might well get rid of is that of drilling boys that are altogether too small. When we had the cadet “ march-past “ past Parliament House, before the British Parliamentary party, people remarked what a magnificent sight it was, but it seemed to me that there were a lot of boys there who were hardly old enough to be weaned. We might well raise the age at which boys are drilled. The expenditure in the Postal Department is enormous, and yet we are told that it will be necessary to make 2,600 additions to the staff throughout the Commonwealth. I think the Postal Department should be put under business men. I quite agree with the honorable member for Oxley that at present it is used as an advertising medium by a large number of city people, who do not pay sufficient for the services rendered. I know, as one who gets a large mail for a big station, that the mail-bag is simply over-loaded with stuff addressed to men who do not exist. Certain people get hold of the old electoral lists, and address matter to all those whose names appear on them. The whole of the rates and regulations require to be revised on a proper business method. I think the men now in the Department have got into a rut, and that a little fresh blood would be beneficial.
– It is Parliament that fixes the rates.
– Then, the sooner we get at it the better. Despite the way in which expenses have gone up in the last few years, there are postmasters and postmistresses in New South Wales carrying out their duties in buildings which are a disgrace to the Department. If there were one or two of them together, they would probably go on strike, but, being isolated, they must put up with it. One or two honorable members have talked about the land tax. They have said that there was no honorable member on the Government side who was game enough to repeal the land tax. I have never advocated the repeal of that tax. I have said that honorable members opposite had, in that tax, given expression to the principle of the limitation of large estates, which was the only sound principle they had. However, I am not in favour of the land tax as brought down by them, because it has proved to be a class measure, and, in many instances, has failed to be as vindictive as they wished it to be. As a matter of fact, it has failed in trying to tax shareholders incompanies, and, in another direction, it makes no allowance for the earned increment in land. There is an earned increment in land. I take it the object of Parliament was to tax the community-created value, and that it was not intended to tax a man for his own work; but, according to the Federal Land Tax Commissioner, Mr. Justice Isaacs, in his decision on the Race-course case, strikes a vital blow at the value that the improvements have added to the land over and above their cost. It is a mistake that can be rectified by an alteration in section 48. Throughout the Act there is no definition of the value of improvementsbeyond that of the added value, which is the value improvements have given to the land, irrespective of their cost; but section 48 provides that where the land is taken by the Crown through under -valuation the owner shall be allowed his unimproved value, plus 10 per cent. and the fair value ofimprovements. That is the only section of the Act which deals with the valuation of improvements, and the words are “ the fair value.” But the fair value of an improvement, as it exists, may not be the value that it has added to the land. There is now another case before the High Court in which the principles of land valuation may be more clearly defined, but if the Court, acting on the strict wording of the Act, does not give us the real value which improvements have added to the land, I think it would be fair for Parliament to amend the Act in order to do so. It is not asking for more than was fully intended, judging from the debates on the Land Tax Bill as it went through this House.
– What about the absentee tax ?
– The absentee tax affects very few people, but it has been the means of sending a large amount of money out of Australia. The man who comes into the ownership of land, through no fault of his own, by the failure of the holder to pay him interest on the money borrowed from him, is not going to take the risk, so that a large amount of capital has been withdrawn. But I shall come to that later.
– What does Mr. Teece say about it?
- Mr. Teece and others to whom honorable members have referred speak of Government loans, and not private banking, but I shall come to that later. We can curtail defence expenditure, but the Northern Territory is one of the biggest problems we have. I have a small interest up there. Honorable members talk about getting one’s money back, but I have been waiting three years to get even interest on my money, to say nothing of getting it back. Concurrently with building railways in the Northern Territory we should open up stock routes with ample water supplies. The honorable member for Barrier said the other day that the late Government had done something in this direction. I believe they let two tenders for bores, but neither work was put in hand. At present, the people in the Northern Territory cannot get their stock away because of the absence of these facilities. The cattle that we hear about going overland have to follow the rivers and the coast. It is said that the Territory is fit for wheat and sheep, and all that sort of thing, but it is very doubtful what the country is fit for. Water supplies are the first essential, and railways also. Our friends opposite say, “ Why do you not put your fingers on one thing where we have been extravagant? “ Up in the Northern Territory there are any number of officials, but no one else. This is what a letter to The Worker says on the 25th September last -
– Do you read The Worker?
– Yes ; I always try to be fair. I read both views on everything.
– The honorable member cannot understand that.
– Is this one of your own contributions that you are going to read ?
– An agitator once came along to bring about a strike, but through reading The Worker I was able to intercept him on the road. The letter says -
The only people doing any good are the officials, of which Darwin is a perfect nest. They draw fine fat salaries, and do little for them. Unionism is pretty well dead up here at present.
That is bad.
– It pleases you.
– No, it does not worry me. Then he goes on to say-
– It is a letter you are reading, is it not?
– Yes, it is a letter signed “ Unionist,” and says -
Mining is at present dull ; great prospects are talked about, but up to date have not eventuated. Much public money has been wasted on the Northern Territory, and is being wasted. The place is over-burdened with officials, and retrenchment in this line is urgently required.
– Did the writer say that he was after a position there?
– No; he says that he left the place.
– What would the honorable member do with the Northern Territory?
– I would endeavour to get the pastoralists to pioneer it, like the rest of Australia, with cattle first and with sheep afterwards, and then have the plough follow. Where it is suitable for smaller settlements, alongside the railways, I would cut up the land in small holdings and give the freehold.. All the settlement will have to start on the rivers and gradually extend out. Another aspect of our finance which has kept Australia back is this : Since the advent of the Labour party, whether it is justified or whether it is not, there is a great deal of money now going into Government stock instead of into private developmental work, and this is an absolute drawback to Australia. I think Sir John Forrest mentioned in his Budget that it amounts to £92,000,000. Of course, some of it is trust money, which has to be invested in approved securities, but a great many people - and I know a large number of them - prefer to put their money into Government stock, and take 3¾ per cent, or 4 per cent, on it, rather than develop new territory. We could hardly expect a man to go to the Northern Territory, fence his holding, build a homestead and woolshed, put down water supplies, and pay to have stock taken there, when the honorable member for Darling tells the men who shear the sheep that they are the producers of all wealth, and that everything that is produced belongs to them, and that they should keep on fighting until they get it. I think that is one of the reasons why people prefer to have their money in securities from which they can get it out.
– You will not get much security out of it if the workers will not work.
– And the workers will not get much work unless the men with brains and with money show them where they can put their labour into a profitable channel.
– You have the land.
– I have heard it said at nearly every election meeting that I have addressed that if you have the land you do not want anything else, but I have met a great number of people with land who wish to borrow money. I have a letter from a man who tells me that he has been a principal organizer for the unionists in the Riverina, and that he was advocating10d. an hour and ten hours a’ day for harvesters. He writes me a long letter saying that he opposed me bitterly, and all that sort of thing, but now he hoped I would be pleased to advance him money to buy an orchard. Several other men on the land . have told me that the land is no good to them, especially when they have a leasehold tenure, without horses and machinery to work it. I know from our own experience that, when we were comparatively hard up, we had to wait for the wool clip before we could put in any more ringbarking or water improvements, and how very tedious that process was through our not having capital. The honorable member for Maribyrnong made a most remarkable statement the other day. It makes one wonder if he is serious - I was going to say, “ all there.” He told us- and I think he meant itin all good faith - that the Commonwealth Bank, that poor poddycalf of the Labour party, has actually reduced the rate of interest in Australia. The amount advanced by the banks of Australia last year was £123,000,000. The amount advanced this year is £117,000,000, and I think that the sum advanced by the Commonwealth Bank to reduce the rate of interest on all this money is something like £450,000. That is the finance of the honorable member !
– That is your finance.
– No ; these are Government figures that I am quoting. Here is another thing which keeps us back. In one State there is a progressive income tax which does not tend to bring capital here, and in that State the Federal land tax is not to be deducted as an outgoing. The taxpayer is charged 1s. 2d. income tax in the £1 on the amount he pays as Federal land tax. These are the things that are detrimental to Australia, and that is why I think the Liberal party is the best party to be in power and to run the country.
– It is only his opinion.
– That is all, and it is worth nothing. I quite realize that if I had been a shearers’ cook and a member of the Australian Workers
Union, and had been elected to this Parliament, I would be competent to deliver an opinion on any subject under the sun, but because I happen to be the unfortunate owner of the sheep, and responsible for the business and the employment of this man, every time I get up to speak I am told that I know nothing. I might know something about merino sheep.
– We do not necessarily say that.
– The honorable member was not too complimentary this afternoon. He said that I was laughing at the Beef Trust, but I was not; I was laughing at my particular thought at that moment and his long speech. I was thinking of that verse in Ecclesiastes which says -
A fool also is full of words.
The honorable member for Yarra a few days ago made a very bitter attack upon Mr. McKay, of the Sunshine Harvester Works. I do not admit for one moment that he at any time failed to pay fair rates of wages; but I wish to remind the Committee that there is another side to this story. Mr. McKay started his Sunshine factory in the year that our firm commenced to grow wheat in the Riverina, and in that year he turned out eighteen machines. We had a number of tenant farmers, who bought nine of those machines. They were unable, however, to pay him for them, or to pay all the rent, and we had to carry them along. I venture to assert that Mr. McKay’s employes, however poorly paid that year, got more out of his business than he did himself. I happened to come down in the train with him a few nights ago, and I learned that his business has progressed to such an extent that his firm has at the present time orders from the Argentine for nearly £1,000,000 worth of Australian-made machines.
– That is quite a crime in these days.
– So large an output, must be of benefit to the men receiving wages. Coming to the honorable member for Oxley, I can assure him that we on this side are fully alive to the dangers that may arise from the Beef Trust, and even if I do smile when he is talking,. I may remind him of Byron’s words, that, although the eye may glisten, it is where the tear appears. I can assure honorable members that I have not invested my money in an interest in a cattle station in the Northern Territory to raise stock for Swift and Company for less than they are worth.
– But supposing the honorable member had no other market for his stock?.
– A man cannot be arrested for thieving until he picks your pocket; and, so far, the Beef Trust has done nothing wrong in Australia. We cannot take action against it before it does. It may do nothing in restraint of trade.
– It is only garrotting us before proceeding to pick our pockets.
– It may be disappointed if it does so. There are other matters to which I had intended to refer, but I shall reserve them for a future occasion.
.- A few days after the Treasurer delivered his Budget speech, there appeared in the press paragraphs detailing his political career, and remarking on the number of times that he had delivered a Budget speech. I do not remember the particulars, but I am prepared to say that the Budget statement which he delivered this year, and with which he is identified, will stand out as one of the most peculiar and interesting put before any Parliament with which he has been connected. It must be rather awkward for members of the Government, and for the right honorable gentleman more particularly, to have to father such a Budget, in view of the public statements made by them during the last election campaign. It is evident that neither the Prime Minister, the Treasurer, nor their colleagues anticipated being called upon to stand by the statements they then made, otherwise they would not have uttered them. But by a peculiar combination of circumstances, they find themselves not only compelled to forget the statements they then made, but to accept a standard of expenditure which they characterized as wilful and wasteful extravagance. Not only have they to identify themselves with that expenditure which they declared to be wasteful and extravagant, but they have to admit that it is not sufficient for their own purposes. I have here a report of a statement made by the Treasurer on 27th May last - four days before the poll was taken - in which he is reported to have said that -
The system they were following in finance was disastrous. £18,000,000 had gone into the. Federal Treasury during the last two years,, most of which should have gone into the State coffers. . . The Federal Government was not giving the money back to the States, but was throwing it away in all directions.
The right honorable gentleman stands condemned by his own words. He is identified with a policy of finance that he has characterized as disastrous and as a throwing away of money in all directions. If those words were true when he uttered them, they are far more true today, because the right honorable gentleman has not only accepted the rough Estimates of the late Government - and every one knows that the draft Estimates are always excessive - but has added to them. We are now faced with a Budget that commits us to the maximum expenditure yet incurred by the Commonwealth.
– The honorable member was told that the Estimates of the late Government were reduced by £1,000,000. That, of course, does not matter.
– Here are the actual figures. The revenue for 1912-13 was £21,899,413, and the estimated revenue for 1913-14 is £21,462,000. Then, again, the actual expenditure for 1912-13 was £21,507,863,. whereas the estimated expenditure for this year is £24,115,223, less Trust Funds amounting to £2,653,223. The Government have also brought down a Loan Bill providing for an expenditure of £3,080,000, or a total expenditure of £27,195,223. The excess of the estimated expenditure over the estimated revenue is £5,733,223; in other words, in 1912-13 we had an expenditure of £21,507,863, whereas the Treasurer estimates to expend this year £27,195,223. This is proposed by the right honorable gentleman who says that we are following a system of finance that is disastrous, and that we were throwing away money in all directions.
– Hear, hear!
– To a certain extent, I believe that we are throwing away money. I intend, as we gothrough the Estimates, to call attention to quite a number of mistakes. I have already drawn the attention of the Treasurer to a mistake of £600,000, and this afternoon I discovered a further mistake of £50,000. If honorable members had time to go carefully through the Estimates, I am sure they would discover mistakes amounting to hundreds of thousands of pounds. Already our system of finance, apparently, has broken down. The figures put before us by the Treasurer in the Estimates are not reliable.
– That is a serious statement.
– It is; but I am prepared to point out to the Treasurer ihe mistake of £50,000 to which I have referred.
– Where does it occur ?
– I refer the right honorable member to page 69 of the Estimates relating to the Department of Defence. At the bottom of the page he will find a total of £5,581,853. Just above that item he will see items of £300,000 and £175,000, the total of which is given as £425,000. That is clearly an error of £50,000, since the total should be £475,000. The mistake, however, is carried forward into the total of £5,581,853, which should really be £5,631,853.
– In my copy of the Estimates, the total is given correctly as £475,000, and not as £425,000.
– The two copies cannot be different.
– They are. I have two copies of the Estimates here. In one the total given is £425,000, and in the other as £475,000.
– That only makes, confvision worse confounded.
– It is only a printer’s error.
– It is not. It is a clerical error. The two totals are wrong.
– Why did not the honorable member call attention to it before ?
– I only discovered this mistake this afternoon. During the discussion on the Public Accounts Bill, I drew attention to an error of £600,000 in the Estimates relating to the Department of Home Affairs. It seems to me that the Treasurer is quite right in saying that the system is disastrous.
– A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. A wrong figure may have been printed; but there is no mistake in the Budget itself.
– The Treasurer must recognise that it is difficult for honorable members to discuss Estimates when two different sets of figures relating to the same item are given.
– Stick to the Budget, and everything will be right.
– Are not the figures in the Estimates those of the right honorable member?
– The Budget is right.
– There are errors in my copy of the Budget. It is worthy of notice that several of the Departments show an increase of expenditure, while only two show a decrease. The Prime Minister’s Department shows an increase of £23,390; the Treasury, an increase of £673,281 ; the Attorney-General’s Department, an increase of £14,794; the Department of External Affairs, an increase of £140,894; the Defence Department, an increase of £387,868; the Department of Home Affairs, an increase of £25,393; and the Postal Department, an increase of £405,521. All these are increases in departmental expenditure, and they represent an increase of £1,671,141, as compared with last year’s expenditure. The Department of the Parliament, on the other hand, shows a decrease of £39,018; and the Department of Trade and Customs a decrease of’ £116,254, which is due, perhaps, to the abolition of the sugar Excise duty, and the consequent cost of collection. This represents a net increase of £1,515,869; and this we have from a Government who were going to give us a reasonable expenditure, and a proper system of finance.
– Does the honorable member not recognise that probably threefourths of that represents statutory increases over which the Government have no control?
– That cannot possibly be so.
– But it is so.
– I cannot see that statutory increases, or the ordinary increments due to the Public Service, account for the additional expenditure.
– I do not mean increments due to the public servants, but statutory increases.
– I do not quite know what the honorable member means, but it is very certain that the expenses of the Government, departmentally, are going up. I do not say that the increased expenditure is unnecessary, and I am not complaining of it. I cannot understand the attitude of honorable members who hold up their hands in holy horror at the alarming rate of the increase in the expenditure, because it must increase, and must go on increasing. Personally, I see no hope of any decreased expenditure; but extravagance is not measured by the amount expended - it is measured entirely by the money available, and the way in which we spend it. I believe that the Commonwealth Government are not extravagant, taking the mere figures. As a matter of fact, I believe that year by year, as we take over the burden of responsibilities which are bound to devolve on us, the expenditure must increase, but I hope that our revenue will proportionately increase. There is one Department in which every honorable member feels an interest, not because we are opposed to the expenditure as such, but because we dread the possibility of further increases with no corresponding advantage. The defence of Australia must appeal to the deepest patriotism in the heart of every honorable member; but, as we go deeper and deeper into the mire of military and naval armament, we must have misgivings as to the future. The bigger nations of the world are standing aghast at this growing expenditure on armaments. Each nation is wondering what is to be the end, and the more so when we know, as we have been informed lately, that the contractors for the supply of guns and so forth, are themselves the biggest instigators of war scares, and of every desire expressed through the press and on the platform for extended armaments. No one can imagine for a moment that those nations would commit themselves to this enormous increase in expenditure were it not for the war scares which are carefully engineered by interested parties. The Boer War is an instance that will not readily be forgotten. Now we have the unfortunate trouble in the Balkans - a purely commercial war promoted to secure certain advantages, principally in Asia Minor. There is also another war in Mexico, which we are told is due to rival commercial companies who are seeking to exploit the oil resources of the country. What attitude are we going to take? We cannot allow ourselves to be drawn into these commercial wars, and be loaded with burdens of taxation, when the wars are simply due to the greed of traders and trading companies. I wish, with other honorable members, to raise my voice against allowing the Military and Naval Departments to dictate to us what should be done in the matter of defence. I have heard honorable members to-day express the opinion that we should specify some limit to the naval and military expenditure.
– It is the only way in which we can ever hope to check the increase in expenditure.
– I believe that is one way which would prove salutary and successful. This is expenditure that cannot be recommended on the highest grounds. If we were a sane and civilized people weshould see that such expenditure is unproductive and unnecessary in the highest degree - a waste of money - and that what is now spent in defence could be much better spent in the development of the country. In 1912-13 the net expenditure on defence was £4,265,971, and the estimate this year, by a Government who were determined to put the finances on a sound basis, is £5,581,853, or an increase in this Department alone of £1,315,882.
– Does the honorable member think that any Government could have reduced that expenditure?
– I am not so much concerned as to that; what I say is that it is time this House stepped in and said, “ This is too much.”
– If it had been any other Government, the estimate would have probably been more. Give the Government time!
– The honorable member is always guessing, and this guess can only arise from the thought in his mind that if we allow ourselves to be dominated by the naval and military officers, the amount will probably increase - that we shall simply place the civil power under the domination of the military authorities.
– The military authorities had a good run when Senator Pearce was in power.
– I cannot pretend to enter on a criticism of Senator Pearce’s administration. Personally, I think that Senator Pearce was, to a large extent, under the domination of his officers, and unnecessarily so; but I believe that the present Minister is more under that domination. If one may judge from late events, the present Minister of Defence can simply be made to do anything.
– Is it not rather too soon to judge him?
– The opinion of military experts in the Old Country, who can be trusted, is quite contrary to that expressed by the honorable member for Wilmot in reference to Senator Pearce. If any. Minister of Defence has received encomiums, it is Senator Pearce.
– Senator Pearce was eulogized by the officers because he carried out the officers’ schemes!
- Senator Pearce was eulogized by His Excellency the GovernorGeneral at the Fleet reception banquet in Sydney, in a way that could not be otherwise than complimentary to, not only Senator Pearce himself, but to all associated with him. However, I am not concerned about that phase of the question. The Minister of Defence has a very difficult task in restraining the military and naval officers ,in their expenditure; and the expenditure, in my opinion, is proceeding on wrong lines altogether. The honorable member for Parkes to-day asked a question in regard to the use of ships, obsolete so far as the Imperial Navy is concerned, but still reckoned to be eminently suitable for coastal defence. If our defence system is of any value at all, the very thing we require is coastal defence, and the ships so employed ought to be really useful to us.
– The defence of Australia may lie thousands of miles away.
– Certainly. But the honorable member, if he had read the question to which I refer, would have noticed that these ships are not only considered as eminently suitable for coastal defence, but, in remote parts of the Empire, as suitable for the protection of commerce at some distance. The necessity for strength of armament is not »o great in the Pacific as it is in the Atlantic, and vessels regarded as useless in the latter might prove a good defence in the former. This is one direction in which we might save thousands of pounds each year.
– I think that the Japanese war rather challenges that theory !
– What I say is that we cannot take what is necessary in the European world as any criterion of what is necessary here. We do not need a fully-equipped, up-to-date Navy in Australian waters, but for many years can do with second class ships. It would be better to have more ships of the second class pattern than undertake the heavy expenditure involved in a completely up-to-date Fleet. I do not suggest that we should have vessels that are’ unsuitable or ineffective; but I consider that by the use of second class vessels for tlie training of our men - and this must be our main .work for many years to come - we could save many thousands a year. I have a complaint to make about the vessels that are now used on the coast for the training of the Australian Navy. Those vessels are absolutely unsuitable for the purpose. I can say from my own knowledge that the Gayundah in the Queensland waters has neither the accommodation nor equipment for the training of naval cadets or the militia. I have several times drawn the attention of the Minister of Defence to the inadequacy of this vessel, but nothing has been done. I think that if the Minister were to take the trouble to inquire into the matter he would find that there are certain obsolete vessels in the British Navy of the Pyramus type that would be eminently suitable for this purpose. We do not require the best ships, nor do we desire to have the worst; but at present the ships used for the training here are so utterly unsuitable that our men are not given a reasonable chance. There is another matter to which I desire to call attention. Some years ago the present naval depot on the Brisbane River was found to be quite inadequate. It was cramped in area, in an unsuitable position, and inferior in equipment, and a sum of £3,000 was placed on the Estimates in order to provide a new drill shed. Negotiations followed, and, after some time, a satisfactory arrangement was come to with the State Government for the transfer of a piece of land on the river, and I understand that now the land is available. I urge the Minister to see that this matter is pushed to an issue, because I know that the naval officers are anxious that the work should be completed at an early date.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.
– There is one item of expenditure which shows a considerable increase to which I give my unqualified approval; it relates to the High Court, and includes the Court of Conciliation and Arbitration. The increase in salaries amounts to something like £5,000, and the increase for the Court generally is £3,601; the total of all the increases coming to £8,727. I approve of these increases, because they open up the possibility of effective measures of conciliation and arbitration for the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes. I have called attention to the possibilities of war which threaten us, and make defence necessary; but serious as these are they pale into insignificance when contrasted with the possibilities of industrial war. I hate war with my whole soul, industrial as well as international war. War is largely brought about by interested parties, and seems to have chosen a new sphere of action, the industrial sphere, though still waged by interested parties. Australia is not alone in having its industrial development interfered with by these struggles. Much of the industrial unrest at the present time is due ‘to the lack of effective machinery for the settlement of disputes. We in this country have set an example to the world, and have followed the right lines, but our machinery has, so far, been unable to cope with the demands that have been made on it. The appointment of additional Justices to the High Court may tend to relieve the pressure, but we have a good deal further to go before securing the end in view. In the first place, the approach to the Court of Conciliation and Arbitration is so guarded that those who have disputes are practically prevented from coming to the Court. In the next place, the procedure is so costly as to deter many from seeking the redress of grievances at the hands of the Court, and in the third place the enormous and seemingly unnecessary and interminable delays in the determination of cases deter would-be suitors from invoking the aid of the Court. It is over two years now since the famous tramway case was first submitted to the Court, and it is still unsettled. It is to come on again next February, and I overheard a legal gentleman say recently that it seemed to come on every February. We cannot hope to preserve industrial peace in the community with machinery such as this, and I appeal to -the Government to take their courage in both hands, and make some improvement.
– What would the honorable member do to stop the present Sydney strike?
– It is an easy matter to stop strikes. The Irishman was right when he said that it is best to stop before you start. If steps were to be taken to stop strikes, then strikes wouldtohave any existence. I think that the Court of Conciliation and Arbitration has a real purpose to fulfil in the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes.
– The object of the new unionism is to destroy arbitration altogether. What are the New Zealand unionists doing at the present moment?
– There is a movement which is somewhat opposed to the methods of arbitration, and those who are opposed to arbitration seem to be increasing in number, but that is because the methods for the settlement of disputes are so paltry and ineffective.
– That is not the case in New Zealand.
– It is the case there. The methods of arbitration are slow and costly. The Attorney-General, better than perhaps any other man in the community, understands the difficulties in the way of approaching the Court, and possibly no man is better able to suggest a method of getting rid of them. Why should not the approach to the Arbitration Court be as easy as possible? The machinery for friendly and for compulsory conferences has failed, because the compulsion ends with the convening of the conferences.
– In some cases the conferences have been beneficial.
– Only where both parties have been willing to arrive at an agreement. When either party refuses to come to an agreement the conference is useless. What is wanted is a conference with compulsion behind it.
– Would you make the determinations arrived at binding on the unions ?
– It is not possible to imagine that any law which this Parliament would pass would not be binding on the citizens of Australia.
– Supposing that thousands resisted?
– I am glad that the honorable member puts forward merely a supposition. As a matter of fact, neither workers nor employers wish to be at war. They are both desirous of preserving their freedom to work. Men do not go out on strike for amusement.
– They do in the case of sympathetic strikes.
– A sympathetic strike is not an amusement, but the most serious of strikes, because the men taking part in it do so at the risk of their homes, their comfort, and their livelihood, without being forced to strike by any handicap which they themselves suffer, and purely out of sympathy with others who may be suffering. It is because I am intensely desirous of stopping strikes, and of making sympathetic strikes quite unnecessary that I suggest that we should make the Conciliation Court effective and useful.
– What- force can you bring to ‘bear to compel?
– I am one of those old-fashioned individuals who believe that force is not an effective weapon, and that a conference of a friendly character, where there is a willingness to admit the desire on each side to do the fair thing, is more likely to secure peace than the forcing of one party to accept a verdict which is opposed to its wishes, and, perhaps, to what is thought to be its interests.
– Will the honorable member’s theories stop the Sydney strike ?
– It is because of the difficulty of getting into the Conciliation and Arbitration Court that the workers in some countries are adopting methods of force. Personally, I am inclined to sympathize with them; at any rate, I am not ready to blame them. They have always been accustomed to the exercise of force by the other side. The heavy hand has always been laid on them, and it has been for them to take or leave what is offered. It is only since the workers have organized that they have been able to make their power felt without recourse to the Courts.
– The Sydney strikers have no personal grievance.
– No grievance in handling “scab” stuff? The honorable member does not understand the principles of’ unionism.
– It is not “ scab “ stuff.
– Surely the honorable member does not regard those who are registered under the Arbitration Act of New Zealand as “ scabs “ ?
– Of course they are. They are the- Employers’ Federation Union.
– The following report, which appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald lately, indicates the attitude of honorable members opposite on these matters -
Speaking at Singleton in support of the candidature pf Mr. James Fallick, a pathetic story of the Brisbane strike was told by Mr. W. M. Fleming, M.P. During the Federal elections, he said, one of the Liberal candidates got into a train at a’ little wayside station in Queensland, and, as is very often done, got into the van with the guard. The night officer of the station came along and said the Labour candidate asked could he also go into the van. “ No,” said the guard, “ you must find room in one of the carriages.” After the train started, the Liberal candidate asked the guard why he would not allow the Labour candidate in. Was he afraid they would fight? According to the guard’s reply, that had nothing to do with it ; but the guard told how the Brisbane strike affected him. “ My little girl was ill,” he said, “and we rang up for a doctor; but he replied that the strikers had a condon round his house, which was picketed, and it was as much as his life was worth to try to come. My little girl died, and no Labour candidate will ride in my car again.”
One wonders that a member laying claim to ordinary intelligence should make public statements of that kind. The facts of the Brisbane strike give the lie direct to the story. I am not concerned with that now, but I am concerned with the fact that a member of this House has gone out of his way to make untrue statements, which can only have the effect of making people misunderstand the motives of those engaged in the Brisbane strike, and of making the settlement of strikes more difficult. Mr. Deakin, when Leader of the Opposition, moved a motion of censure upon the Fisher Administration for its attitude towards the Brisbane strikers, and in the course of his speech spoke of plugs of dynamite being found close to the tramway rails, and of how narrowly damage to property and loss of life was averted. In the Sydney Morning Herald of the 21st instant there is a telegram from Auckland regarding an incident of the New Zealand strike. It had previously been reported that gelignite had been used, and the attempt was made to show that the strikers had no regard for life and property. Then this appeared in the Herald -
The old man who told the story of finding gelignite on the railway line near Greenlane Station was convicted of laying- gelignite at Greenlane Station with intent to do grievous harm, and committed for sentence. The story of the narrow escape of the southern express thus proves a hoax.
– What is the honorable member trying to prove?
– I am proving, and it is a very easy thing to prove, that the reports that are generally current during strikes regarding the roughness of workers and their disregard of life and property are time and again found to be false; yet they are continually repeated by honorable members on the other side as being evidence that the workers have no regard for higher things, and have no desire to live in peaceful relationship with their employers. I saw by this morning’s paper that the postal employes in London are in a very dissatisfied . and unsettled state, and it was reported in connexion with this matter that two typewriting machines had fallen from the top story down several stairs, and had been very much damaged. The inference was straight away drawn that the workers were responsible. In fact, everything that happens during a strike is put down to the workers.
– Including the dynamite prosecutions in America?
– I am sorry I have not the papers here, because they prove that the men who carried out those dynamite outrages, which were most reprehensible, most undesirable, and quite unnecessary, were in the pay of the employers.
– Nothing of the kind.
– The information is available. The men themselves told how much they got for the job. I have seen the statement repeatedly in the American magazines, and copied in our own papers. It is because I am anxious that that kind of action should stop, and that nothing in the nature of force should be employed, that I desire that our Court of Conciliation should be made what it is meant to be - a useful and effective machine.
– Come and sit over on this side, then.
– No, because 1 consider that those on that side are encouraging syndicalism by the attitude they are adopting towards political unionism. I accuse them of being the true syndicalists; we are unionists, out to secure justice by constitutional methods. It is because they will not give us a proper conciliation and arbitration scheme, and refuse us power to use the political machine, that the workers are being forced into syndicalist methods. I do not approve of syndicalism in the slightest. I do not believe in the gospel of force. I am opposed to the settlement of disputes by force ; in fact, such a thing is ‘an anomaly in terms, as there can be no true settlement where force is used.
– Where was the honorable member in the Brisbane strike ?
– He kept out of the way.
– It is amusing to hear that statement from the bovine member for Moreton. If there. was any man in Brisbane who was always there during that strike it was myself. I was neither afraid nor ashamed to be there, but was delighted to be associated with such men as were engaged in the strike, men who were willing to sacrifice their own personal interests for the good of those who were suffering, bludgeoned, and ill-treated. There is a case in point. Over 400 of these men were discharged from their employment, deliberately locked out, and I think illegally kept out of their work, and they are not back at work yet, although the Court has repeatedly given an award in their favour. I should be glad if the Attorney-General would see what he can do to make this Court of Conciliation what it ought to be. We should then not have such a thing as the Brisbane strike or the extension of the New Zealand strike. It is nearly two years since the Brisbane strike took place, and the Court every time it has given a decision has said that the men were absolutely justified in their contention, and entitled to an award, and yet nothing has been done. It is because I desire the highest development of the industries of this country on peaceful lines that I hope the Conciliation Court will be made effective and useful, so as Eb prevent the necessity for any form df syndicalism.
Some time ago, Mr. Watt, Premier of Victoria, returned from a visit to England, and is reported in the Sydney Morning Herald to have said, on arrival at Fremantle -
I spent some time in investigating the problems surrounding the marketing of Australian perishable products, and I have arrived at the conclusion that it would be wise for the Governments of Australia to unite in promoting one or two experimental shipping services, so that our producers may be placed in more direct contact with the huge populations in and tributary to such cities as Liverpool, Manchester, Hull, Bristol, and Glasgow. The bulk of our trade is done with London, but the port of London is antiquated, and the charges for distributing are very high. The more Australia develops the larger must be its exports of foodstuffs, and if we are to meet our international rivals on fair competitive terms we must get nearer to the consuming millions of Great Britain and Europe. The business of pioneering and guarding oversea markets should be undertaken by the Government of the Commonwealth ; but I shall have some proposals to lay before the whole of the Administrations of Australia for the decentralization of our growing trade. My inquiries lead me to believe that a large potential demand for our meat and fruit exists in several countries of continental Europe.
I do not know that he has yet communicated these suggestions to the Commonwealth Government, but I think the Government are rather dilatory in opening up negotiations in one particular direction. For two years we Have, unfortunately, lost heavily in our trade with Canada, through- the loss of the Vancouver mail service. This trade, which we had been gradually building up, particularly at the Queensland end, is now gone, and New Zealand, through what I think was a piece of rather sharp practice, secured the mail service, perhaps rather to her disadvantage financially, but certainly to her very great advantage commercially. That trade was likely to develop into a very big thing, and we had every reason to believe that it would be mutually beneficial to Canada and Australia. I notice that Mr. Arthur Kidman, after a visit to Canada, said before the Sydney Chamber of Commerce that -
New Zealand has had the trade handed over to her practically ready made, on account of the great advantages she enjoys over the Australian Commonwealth. One of the advantages of the reciprocal Tariff relations between the two Dominions to be emphasized is the admission of New Zealand products at £d. per pound less duty than that charged on products shipped from Australia. Another point urged in New Zealand’s favour is that she has first call on the cargo space of Vancouver steamers, a position brought about by her payment of a mail subsidy. Under the present conditions it is alleged that Australia has to take New Zealand’s “leavings” - if there be any.
On 9th July I asked the Minister of Trade and Customs what was being done in regard to the reciprocal Tariff arrangements that were then under way. Mr. Foster, the Canadian Minister of Commerce, had visited Australia on the invitation of the late Government, and there was every intention to fix up a reciprocal Tariff. The Minister replied that no decision had yet been arrived at. On 30th September I repeated my question, receiving the answer that the matter was still under consideration. On 27th November I again asked the question, and was told that the Minister was not in a position to make a public statement. I am beginning to wonder when we are likely to get a settlement of this important matter. There are other shipping companies which are willing to come to an arrangement with the Commonwealth Government. A reasonable subsidy of anything from £20,000 to £40,000 would secure a Canadian-Australian service which would link up, not only Queensland and New South Wales, as under the old contract, with Canada, but also include Melbourne and Tasmania, and even visit Adelaide at times.
– Would that be in addition to the existing service to New Zealand ?
– Yes, quite exclusive of it. I am entirely opposed to any arrangement which would include New Zealand in this service. We in Queensland, and especially in Brisbane, found the Vancouver mail service most useful, but now all our goods have to go to Sydney, and be re-shipped there, and the ships that take the produce from us only come across from Auckland as a mere matter of convenience. I see no reason why we should consider New Zealand in this matter, or wait for her. What is the cause of the delay in fixing up a reciprocal Tariff with Canada? Canada has time and again expressed her desire for some such arrangement. The late Government were very anxious to put the matter through, and I believe the present Government are equally willing, hut during six solid months all the information I can get is that the Minister is not in a position to make a public statement. While the grass is growing the horse is starving, and this is an outlet for our trade that warrants immediate attention. Mr. Watt suggests in the published statement that I have read that there are opportunities for the extension of our Australian perishable products trade on the Continent, and particularly in Great Britain, where at present we may not be in touch. In company with three honorable members of this House, and two senators, I had the opportunity, as a member of the Royal Commission on the Fruit Industry, to travel around Australia, and investigate the trade in that direction. We were convinced that we have not yet touched the possibilities of fruit development in this continent, but the hindrance at present arises entirely from lack of initiative and opportunity in the exploitation and discovery of oversea markets. There is an unfortunate lack of information and satisfactory knowledge in regard to our present markets, and particularly the London market. There was an unanimous consensus of opinion among the members of the Fruit Commission that the position of affairs on the London market is absolutely unsatisfactory. Mr. Watt refers to the Port of London authorities in words of condemnation, though we now have a gentleman who has come out to. Australia from the Port of London authorities to tell us that their methods are uptodate, and that the way in which they handle cargoes is second to none in the world.
– Why worry about the Watt Government; they are defeated.
- Mr. Watt made that statement When he was Premier of Victoria, and if he is defeated now, I suppose he still hangs on to some of his opinions. Though he may change some to get back again, I do not think he will change his opinion in this direction. Both the majority and the minority report of the Fruit Commission recommend the Government to take immediate action in regard to inquiries abroad concerning such items as the booking of refrigerating space, the allotment of refrigerating space, agency charges, unsatisfactory methods of sale, the method of the London account sales, the methods of distribution in London, the methods of refrigerating, and so on. I particularly urge the fourth recommendation in the majority report, which is supported and corroborated by the minority report -
That inquiry be made abroad into the charges and practice of selling and distributing agents, methods of sale, handling, storage, and display of Australian fruit.
We are losing magnificent opportunities for development in this one trade alone, because of lack of proper methods of discovering markets in Europe. I do not know that I am saying too much, but I heard the High Commissioner say a few days ago, when he was in Melbourne, that he had repeatedly asked for an expert in produce to be placed on his staff in London, but that hitherto it had not been done. If there is one department where the Government might seriously consider the need for giving the High Commissioner assistance, it is in the department of perishable products. The expense of maintaining an expert in produce in the High Commisisoner’s office would be of incalculable benefit to the primary producers of this country. There are markets in Europe” practically unknown to Australian exporters; there are hundreds of thousands of people in big centres of Europe who could be turned into regular and satisfactory customers for Australian products, and if the Government are really anxious, as they say they are, and as I am willing to admit they are, to some extent, to develop Australia on the best lines, and encourage the producers and the farmers- they profess to have so much special consideration for - which to us is, of course, a rather amusing claim - they would immediately take up this very important matter. While we know that they profess themselves to be unfavorable to the establishment of a Commonwealth line of steam-ships, it is somewhat remarkable that not only Mr. Watt suggests that we should experiment with a steam-ship service, but that those who have had any experience and actual knowledge realize that there is a magnificent opportunity to assist the primary producers of this country by providing them with Commonwealth steamers to transfer their products from this end of the world to the other. That brings me to a matter that is of some importance in regard to the fruit industry. On pages 14 and 22 of the report of the Fruit Commission, we find a reference to a uniform railway gauge. During the progress of this debate; several honorable members have urged the need for a uniform railway gauge for various reasons. I wish to add one more argument in favour of it. The majority report of the Fruit Commission says -
The Inter-State trade is seriously hampered and restricted by the absence of a uniform gauge and refrigerated cars.
While the minority report says-
Quick Inter-State trains with proper trucks would greatly stimulate the industry.
From my personal knowledge of the possibilities of fruit in Australia, I should say that we could immediately treble, if ‘ not quadruple, the fruit trade, if we had a uniform railway gauge. The amount of business lost arising from the crude, faulty, and unsatisfactory methods on the steam-ships now carrying fruit up and down the coast leads me to believe that it would be comparatively easy with a uniform gauge of railway to preserve the fruit trade, and confer a benefit, not only on the producers, but on the consumers also.
– Would not the freights be a serious matter?
– As a matter of fact, it pays to send fruit by rail in certain instances. It is more expensive, but the time saved, and the condition of the fruit when it arrives, pay over and over again for the extra expense entailed on railway freightage, most of which expense is due to the transhipment at the border. If fruit could be put on a train’; arid run right through without transhipment, the expense would be so much less, and the difference in freight between rail and steamer would be insignificant, while there would be great advantages gained, not only to the producer, but also to the consumer, through the quick transport of the goods.
– I think the evidence was unanimously in favour of that.
– Yes, I have said that both sections of the Commission were absolutely unanimous on that point. The matter of a uniform gauge touches our national life at so many points that one wonders it has not been taken up seriously by the Government. There have been conferences of Railway Commissioners and railway engineers. There has been no lack of talk about the matter, and there has been no lack of certainty about the necessity for a uniform railway gauge. There was a conference held in Melbourne in 1912, and another one in 1913, according to page 99 of the schedule just issued by the Department of Home Affairs. At these conferences, consisting of the Engineers-in-Chief of the States arid our own Commonwealth Engineer-in-Chief, it was decided that it was desirable that a uniform gauge for Australia should be established at the earliest possible date. The cost of a 5-ft. 3-in. gauge and of a 4-ft. 8£-in. gauge was quoted, and as the estimates were greatly in favour of the 4-ft. 8^-ia. gauge the engineers recommended that it should be adopted as a standard for Australia. If that is the opinion of experts in the matter what is the cause of the delay. These Estimates and the Budget statement show that no action is being taken in the matter. We talk about warships and about Military Forces, but what is the good of it all if the Military Forces are to be isolated from each other, if it is to take sixty days to transfer men from Victoria to. Brisbane? If the absence of a uniform railway gauge is going to lead to. interminable delays and all sorts of difficulties confronting our military machine, why has attention not been paid to this important matter ? Apart altogether from trade and defence, it seems to me that if we are wishful to build up a national sentiment in Australia, and break down the Inter-State prejudices that are so foolish and so subversive of national sentiment, we should establish a uniform gauge, which, at any rate, will be one link, and a strong one, in bringing the people into closer touch. I. am sorry the Postmaster-General is not present, because there are one or two things in his Department which are rather urgent. There is the matter of overtime. I understand the difficulty lies in the distribution of authority. While honorable members may discuss the reasons for and against the efficiency of the Post Office, think it is inevitable that there should be a lack of efficiency and satisfaction so long as we have dual control by the PostmasterGeneral on the one hand, and the Public Service Commissioner on the other. The Postmaster-General and his deputies are held responsible for the efficiency of the workers of the Department, and yet they have no control over the men who are to be depended on to bring about that efficiency. Here is a case in point. The Public Service Commissioner has laid down certain rules in regard to overtime, but in each State the Deputy PostmasterGeneral has also a say in the matter. The consequence is that between the two stools the poor employe” suffers - he falls to the ground. These men have to calculate their overtime on a monthly average. They are not allowed overtime until they have worked fifteen minutes over the ordinary hours. But instead of that time being calculated each week, it is averaged over the whole month. If in one week there is heavy overtime, and in the next three weeks the overtime is light, it is averaged for the month, and the employe is not entitled to any overtime pay whatever. This system is eminently unfair. Overtime is allowed only where it exceeds one hour per week, or four and a half hours .per month, which is equal to about” 7s. 6d. on £168 a year. If it were calculated on a weekly basis in respect of the week in which the overtime was actually put in, that amount would be paid, but by spreading the overtime over the month the average per week is made so low that the men really get no payment at all. I have no sympathy with those men who have put in a claim for as small a sum as ls. for overtime. In one case, I believe, a claim for 4d. was made. But when the Public Service Commissioner exercises his right to such an extent as to average down their overtime for. the month so that they can get nothing for it, although they may have worked a considerable amount of overtime during one week, we cannot expect the employes to forego any little right they may have. If the Public Service Commissioner takes advantage of every technicality, who is. going to blame the postal employe for claiming all the overtime to which he is entitled? It is unfortunate that there should be any overtime, but I suppose it is necessary occasionally, and when overtime «is worked ft should be paid for in cash and on a reasonable basis. The Postmaster- General has a clear duty in relation to the overtime worked in the Postal Department. He ought to consider the interests of his employes, and to preserve them from any handicap such as the Public Service Commissioner is now placing upon them in the direction I have men- tioned. Then, again, when employes work on holidays they are allowed days off in lieu thereof. An ordinary working ‘Saturday is one of three hours forty minutes. But if an employe takes a Saturday off in return for working on a holiday, that Saturday is counted, not as a half-holiday, but as a full day of seven hours twenty minutes. If the employes are entitled to regard Saturday as only a half-day when they are working, it should be calculated as a half-day when they take Saturday off. It is not reasonable for the Public Service Commissioner to rob them in this way. This is one of the difficulties associated with the dual control of which I have complained. I regret that the Government did not include in their programme for the session a Bill to amend the Public Service Act. The late Government had intended to propose a very drastic amendment of that Act. Such an amendment is long overdue. If the Prime Minister intends, as he says, to try to make the Public Service effective, and to remove from it that extravagance to which he has referred - and I think there is too much ground for the complaint - he should bring in, next session, a Bill to amend the Public Service Act, so that public servants shall know exactly to whom they are responsible, and that the Departments shall be placed upon the basis of responsibility. The law should be so amended as to render it impossible for the Departments to shelter themselves behind each other, or to dodge their responsibility by getting behind the Public Service Commissioner on the one hand, or the head of a particular Department on the other.
I desire now to refer to a matter that does not concern my own constituency, but which has been brought before me, and to which I have called the attention of the honorable member for the electorate concerned, so that I am not interfering with his prerogative. I refer to the fact that a post-office has been placed om licensed premises in Ravensworth, in the East Maitland district of New South Wales, notwithstanding the protests of local residents. It is most discreditable that any Commonwealth office should be established on licensed premises. I am sure that the good sense of the people as a whole, apart altogether from what their views may be on the liquor traffic, will not allow them to approve of a postal service being conducted on premises where drink is sold. This office,. I understand, is conducted as a wine shop.
– The honorable member would not mind a soft-drink place being used for the purpose, so that, after all, it is only a matter of degree.
– The honorable member would not mind one of his children entering a soft-drinks shop, but I think he would regard a wine shop as an unfit place for men, women, or children to visit in order to conduct Commonwealth business. The Commonwealth hitherto has taken a firm attitude in this regard, and the Postmaster-General should meet the wishes of the residents of Ravensworth, and find other premises for the local post-office.
The honorable member for Oxley has been paying special attention to the operations of the Beef Trust, and the honorable member for Riverina was inclined this afternoon to be somewhat satirical and rather jovial in his view of the matter. He suggested, that the pastoralists were carefully watching the trust, and that action would be taken as soon as it did anything wrong. Action would then be too late. The Opposition ask that neither this nor any other trust shall be allowed to do anything that would compel us to take action.
– Would the honorable member take action against the trust before it bad done anything illegal?
– What would the honorable member do?
– I shall tell the honorable member after I have read the following extract from the Brisbane Courier of the 20th ultimo -
It was recently announced in the Courier that * firm of Australian merchants, acting as agents for Messrs. Armour and Co., of Chicago, the world-famous meat packers, were collecting information on behalf of their principals concerning the meat export possibilities of Queensland. The Courier now learns that it is definitely understood that -Messrs. Armour intend actively engaging in business as meat exporters from Australia. Mr. Hoskisson, who is a member of the firm of Armour and Co., arrived in Melbourne from England by the mail steamer which brought Sir George Reid to these shores, and is now in New Zealand, but is expected to visit Queensland in the course of a few weeks. It is confidently asserted that his visit will result in the early establishment of large meatworks in this State. “ Wherever Swifts go we go,” he remarked in Melbourne during his stay there.
That is a clear and emphatic statement that, not only Messrs. Swift and Company, but Messrs. Armour and Company, intend to establish themselves here. Then, again, I would direct attention to the following extract from the Toronto Globe of the 24th October last -
Swift and- Armour, the chief principals in the American Beef Trust, are extending their operations in many sections of the world. In the first place, they have recently secured an important position in the Smithfield Meat Market, London. Co-operative with this they are gradually assuming control of the meat output of Argentine Republic, where they, in addition to controlling several of the largest concerns, have lately leased the plant of the Frigorifico Argentino Company, with the option of buying it later.
It is rumored also that the Smithfield and Argentino Company is going over to the American ranks. The trust has gone to Australia, and by the purchase of two packing plants, one at Townsville and the other near Cairns, is rapidly securing control of the trade on the Island Continent.
In addition to this, the trust is becoming interested in the new ranching scheme in South Africa.
James Nelson and Sons, the great independent packers in Glasgow, have decided to pass the payment of their interim preferred dividend, because, it is alleged, they have suffered severely through competition’ with the trust. With the grip the trust has on the meat trade in the States and Canada, it looks as if the time is not distant when the meat supply of the world will be entirely in their hands.
It seems rather peculiar that honorable members on this side should be so anxious to protect the pastoral industry. Politically, at all events, there is no inducement for us to protect the pastoralists. As a general rule, they are our political opponents. They provide money to fight us, and oppose us at every turn; yet we are evincing a desire to protect them,whilst honorable members opposite are somewhat sarcastic in their comments regarding the whole matter. But underlying our desire to protect the pastoral industry, there is a great desire on our part to protect the meat consumers of Australia. The pastoralists, no doubt, will be able to protect themselves for some time, but people who have to provide meat as an almost daily article of diet know too well that as soon as the Beef Trust obtains a grip of the pastoral industry in Australia, there will be serious domestic difficulties in regard to the supply of meat. It is because we are anxious to protect the homes of the people against the predatory operations of the Beef Trust that we are constantly raising this warning cry. In reply to the question put to me as to what I should do, I would say, in the first instance, that we need a Commonwealth company law, It is because of weak company law in America, particularly in one or two States - and New Jersey may be specially mentioned in this connexion- that the Beef Trust and other trusts have been able to gain a footing there. But for that weak company law and the diverse company laws of each State, the trusts could not have obtained a grip of America. By reason of our six differing State company laws, and our six different methods of controlling industries and businesses, we are inviting companies of a predatory character to establish themselves here. We know that the New South Wales Government were able, in some way, to prevent the Beef Trust beginning operations in that State.
– And the honorable member for Oxley said that the Liberal Government in Victoria also prevented it starting here. How did it do so?
– I do not know. Queensland practically invited the Meat Trust to establish itself there. The Premier of Queensland has repeatedly expressed his pleasure that Messrs. Swift and Company and Messrs, Armour and Company have gone to that State, and he, like honorable members opposite, says, “ Once they do anything wrong, we will go. for them.” If we were to pass a comprehensive company law that would apply over the whole Commonwealth, and take the place of the six differing State laws operating only within the boundaries of each individual State, we should make a good beginning.
– From the honorable member’s own admission, there is no chance of the Beef Trust starting in Victoria or New South Wales.
– It has been stopped there, but how I do not know. It is possible that the company law may be so stringent as not to be inviting, and, of course, such a combination looks for a place where there is the least possible handicap and the greatest possible advantage. Evidently, for some reason or other, neither Victoria nor New South Wales offered suitable facilities, and, therefore, the business went to Queensland. But from Queensland the trust can operate in New South Wales and Victoria, and will be able to do so until we have a company law that will be as wide in its jurisdiction as the trust is in its operations; This is why we suggest that the people should give this Parliament power to make an adequate company law, for, until that is done, the trust will go gaily on its way. In time the words we speak now will be quoted as warnings, but it will be then too late. We may be able to remedy the harm to some extent; but prevention is better than cure. If there is any argument in what I said in regard to the settlement of industrial disputes, there is a greater argument in the case of the trusts, and we ought not to wait until the damage is done. We shall be wise if we go to the support of the States, and help them against what I believe to be a very real and grave danger that is threatening the people of Australia.’
– The financial position is one that demands our attention. I admit candidly that it came as a shock to me to find that the proposed expenditure was so large. Of course, I know exactly the position of the Government. Owing to the late date of the elections, and to the fact that Parliament met within such a short time, there was not that opportunity afforded to give the Departments that thorough overhaul which I think they require, and which, in the best interests of Australia, will have to be undertaken in the very near future. The present Prime Minister, when in Opposition, made a statement which so clearly meets the case that it is worth quoting. The honorable gentleman said -
If our revenues should decline, as it is confidently predicted by competent judges they must, what are’ we to do with these huge expenditures? Cut them down, says some tyro. The reply is that this most interesting operation is not so easy as it looks. In its very nature, expenditure tends always to become’ permanent. It has a way of entrenching itself and making itself very quickly into a vested interest which is exceedingly difficult to uproot.
That was the statement of the present Prime Ministerwhen he was leading the campaign last year, and I think that there is not a member of the House who will not admit that it is absolutely correct.
– When did the Prime Minister say that?
– He said it in a series of articles which were published under his name in the Daily Telegraph, of Sydney. We find, as the Prime Minister said, that vested interests have become entrenched, and my difficulty is that, by voting the proposed huge expenditure, we shall still further entrench them, and thus make it harder to face the situation in the future. There are two questions which this House has to face immediately - defence and the development of the Northern Territory. In regard to defence, it was exceedingly pleasing to me to hear honorable members opposite expressing the view that I expressed two years ago, when I said that unless the question’ of expenditure on defence was tackled at once, and drastically, the whole system would break down of its own weight. There is no doubt in my mind that the leaders of both parties, Liberal and Labour, became intoxicated on this question of defence. The history of this matter is short. Sir Thomas Ewing, when Minister of Defence, introduced an exceedingly expensive system. When Sir Thomas went out of office, Senator Pearce, who succeeded him, went one better. Then Senator Pearce went out, and the present Prime Minister became Minister of Defence, and he went two better. Then the present Prime Minister went out, and Senator Pearce came in again, and went three better. Now Senator Millen has taken Senator Pearce’s place and has gone four better. After hearing expressions of opinion from honorable members, I ask them how far they are prepared to put their feelings into operation. I can state my position very shortly. I am prepared to suppprt a reduction of the defence vote by ?500,000 to start with. A statement made by the Minister of Defence in another place today is very apropos.Certain commitments were made, and the money has to be raised to meet them. The Permanent Forces have been increased more than 100 per cent. beyond the recommendations of Lord Kitchener. The following is an extract from the proceedings in another place -
Senator MILLEN. Certain commitments are made, and the money had to be raised to meet them. The permanent forces had been increased more than100 per cent, beyond the recommendation of Lord Kitchener.
Senator Pearce. Get rid of them if you do hot approve of them.
Senator MILLEN. Give me time and I will do it. Lord Kitchener’s recommendations were for a citizen force, and I am of opinion that the permanent forces should be kept down to the minimum.
I have said in two previous sessions of this Parliament that no country in the world has adopted so expensive a system of defence as that to which Australia is committed. As. the Treasurer has pointed out, and as the honorable member for Bendigo said this afternoon, these commitments will be continuous and constantly increasing automatically, because as the trainees move up, the expenditure must go on. It has not yet, I think, been thoroughly realized by the House what the naval expenditure means. Authorities, which are so well known as not to need quoting, have shown that the life of a warship is about eight years if she never fires a shot in anger. Under our present scheme, long before the unit is.complete, the ships now being brought out will bescrapped; and so the expenditure will go on indefinitely. We have now reached a time, when this House will have to, cry “Stop!”
– . -Hear, hear!
– It was the honorable member’s Government who did it.
– A - And we made a mistake.
– I am glad to hear the ex-Minister of Home Affairs say that the late Government made a mistake in this matter.
– We We have all done so.
– It is only a few months ago that the leaders of the Liberal party and the leaders of the Labour party came to high words as to which should take the credit of this scheme. Now, however, when the question of payment arises, I think that, whatever a few members on both sides may say, there is a large majority of us, and quite an overwhelming majority of the people, who say that this enormous expenditure will have to be checked, or thewhole system must collapse. I have taken out just, one or two of the small expenditures to which we are committedunder this scheme.
– i - if we spent the money on closer settlement it would do more good.
– If we devoted ?1,000,000 of the money to settling white people in Australia we should have a very much better system of defence.
– Are they cheering that on the other side?
– Let us compare the expenditure on defence with the expenditure on new works in the Post and
Telegraph Department, including telephones. The total expenditure on post and telegraphs and telephones, not including transferred properties, since Federation, is £7,694,459, while in the same time we spent £9,576,747 on defence; that is, we have spent over £2,000,000 more on defence than on the whole postal, telegraph, and telephone system of Australia.
– In what time is that?
– Since Federation.
– There must be some mistake.
– I have taken the figures from the Budget.
– The expenditure on defence for some years was only about £750,000, while that on the Post Office was £3,000,000 or £4,000,000.
– If we include the transferred properties, it means that we have spent £13,920,796 on the Post and Telegraph Department, and £13,229,273 on defence.
– Those figures must be wrong. The expenditure for the Post Office this year is £5,000,000.
– But the Post Office is, to some extent, self-supporting, whereas for our defence expenditure we get no return.
– Then the honorable member is speaking of the margin.
– I am speaking of the expenditure on works. Let me give some figures to show how difficult it is for the House to deal with these matters piecemeal. The other day I was informed by the Minister of Defence that the total cost of the Small-arms Factory to date was £288,750, and that it had turned out 1,000 rifles and £7,000 worth of ammunition. Therefore, the rifles have cost £280 apiece. But, knowing the excuses that would be made, I ascertained the total cost of the factory since the day that it commenced to turn out rifles.
– Apart from the capital cost ?
– Yes. I found that the actual cost of producing the rifles was over £80,000, or more than £80 apiece, and these guns can be bought for £4 apiece. The Department has to import rifles.
– What reason was given for the smallness of the output? Did not the Minister say that the necessary hands could not be obtained; that the factory was training men, and that the demand for the services of trained men was so great that the men who were trained could not be retained.
– My reply to that is “ Skittles.” If there had been the slightest business aptitude in the Department, care would have been taken to see that hands were available, and that the small quantity of steel necessary for the rifles was procurable. Then, take the figures for the Military College. It has cost £313,000 up to date to educate 112 cadets. I do not hold the present Government responsible for these expenditures, because they were incurred by the last Administration, and the present Government finds itself in the position of either having to continue, or to shut down the works. The Cordite Factory, up to the 30th June of last year, had cost £95,330, and its annual cost is £42,126. I have not been able to discover what its turn-out has been. The Clothing Factory, up to 30th June, 1912, had cost £22,000, and its annual cost is £24,000. The Harness Factory, up to 30th June, 1912, had cost £11,146, its annual cost being £16,682; and the Woollen Mills last year cost £31,854, and this year £115,800, or £147,000 altogether.
– What is the value of the output of the Clothing and Harness Factories ?
– I have not been able to ascertain. When in Opposition, I thought that I could obtain information of this kind were I a Ministerial supporter, but I find now that it is not obtainable, and I do not think that even the Ministers can get it.
– You cannot get information from the Defence Department.
– Why? Because of the vested interests which are created. Every official wishes to make his Department as important as possible, and the more extensive its operations, and the more men he employs, the higher his status. If the House does not reduce the Estimates this year, it will find it more difficult to do so next year, when there will be further increases.
– Would any selfrespecting Ministry allow its Estimates to be cut down by one-half?
– Before the machine gripped this House, three years ago, Estimates were frequently amended. I have been appalled by the increase of Commonwealth expenditure. In 1907-8, our expenditure was £6,160,000, or £1 9s. 7d. per head; in 1908-9, it was £6,420,000, or £1 10s. 4d. per head; in 1909-10, the last year of the Braddon section, it was £7,449,500, or £1 14s. 8d. In 1910-11, when the real spendthrift policy of the Commonwealth was entered upon, and £3,000,000, which under the Braddon section would have gone to the States, remained in the coffers of the Commonwealth - our expenditure rose to £13,158,500, or £2 19s. 6d. per head; so that it nearly doubled itself in twelve months. In 1911-12, it increased to £14,724,000, or £3 4s. 6d. per bead; and in 1912-13, it was £15,388,000, or £3 5s. per head. The proposed expenditure for this year is £17,800,000, or £3 14s. 1d. per head. Comparing the proposed expenditure for this year with the expenditure for 1906-7, there is an increase of £12,812,000. The financial outlook of the Commonwealth is far from satisfactory. This Government inherited a surplus of £2,000,000, and, if the Treasurer’s Estimates are borne out, will spend this year that amount, and the whole of the revenue of the year in addition.
– We cut down the Estimates by £2,000,000.
– I am sorry that another £1,000,000 was not taken off them. We should show the Ministry that it is our opinion that they should tell their military advisers that the defence expenditure must be reduced. The military and naval authorities should be told that they are expected to make proper provision for defence for a certain sum.
– The honorable member forgets that this year there are 17,000 additional trainees, and that the law will have to be amended before our defence expenditure can be reduced.
– There are many ways in which it can be reduced. If the Small-arms Factory is only a costly toy, the quicker it is abolished the better; but the moment one makes a definite suggestion, he is told, “ Oh, this is necessary, and that is necessary.”
– The honorable member talks about retrenchment, but he will not vote for it.
– I am prepared, when the Estimates are under consideration, to support a proposal to reduce the defence expenditure by £500,000. How many members sitting opposite are game to follow me ?
– I - I will follow you.
– We shall see how many will do the same. The expenditure on the Military College is absurd on the figures I have given. The expenditure on the Naval College is absurd. We are piling up an enormous expenditure, and for the few cadets we have in training there is not a military system in the world that has ever incurred such an expenditure, and no people in the world could stand the strain that you are asking the people of Australia to stand. There is only one country in the world that is paying more per head for defence than the people of Australia. I am voicing now the very views thatIexpressed when I sat on the otherside of the House. I pointed out then that Australia was second only to England in defence expenditure per head; but there is this difference : that the whole cost of the Army and Navy of England is paid for out of the wealth of the people - out of the income tax, with its high exemption - and that, if England wants a battleshipless than1d. in the £1 on the income tax will give it to her. But whilst the wealth of England is paying for defence, it is the poverty of Australia as well as its wealth that is paying for our defence, because the great bulk of the money comes out of the Customs revenue, and the Customs taxation falls more heavily on the poorer classes than it does on the rich. I hear one honorable member mention the Federal land tax. That tax is a marvellous thing. When I was campaigning last year, one man would say that the Federal land tax was a splendid thing, because it would pay the old-age pensions. Another said it was a good thing because it would pay for defence. The Federal land tax cannot pay for more than its face value. It is bringing in, roughly, about one and one-third millions, while the Defence Vote is five and a third millions, and where does the other four millions odd come from but out of the Customs revenue and the general revenue of Australia ? No people in the world are taxed so heavily for their DefenceForce in proportion to what they get from it as are the people of Australia. Another sink into which the Commonwealth is pouring its money and getting no return is the Northern Territory. The total cost of the Northern Territory to Australia to date is £7,868,995. The purchase money was, roughly, about £3,000,000, but honorable members must not forget what the honorable member for Capricornia and myself took all night to impress on the House when this wretched, rotten bargain was being made by this Parliaments- that South Australia never paid a shilling for the Territory. Every shilling of interest, as it fell due, was added on to the total cost of her next loan. She borrowed to pay interest and capital, and when the Commonwealth took the Territory over it took over the whole of the accrued interest from the first day South Australia took over the Territory.
– You have the best territory in the world there.
– The best territory in the world, which is carrying a population of 3,475 people after a settlement of over a century ! In 1901, when Federation began, the population was 4,000, and it dwindled down to 3,248 in 1911. Those figures include everybody but the aborigines - whites, Chinese, Indians, and half breeds.
– I do not think the white population has dwindled. It is the Chinese who are going away.
– If you took the officials out of the Territory, the white population would have dwindled considerably. The total debt of the people of the Territory other than aborigines, including Chinese and half-castes, is £1,947 per head. It is proposed on the Estimates to spend £721,556 on the Territory this year, or over £200 per head of the population - white, Chinese, and piebald. It has been said that the Territory is isolated. The Territory was settled 100 years ago, first at Melville Island, then at Port Essington, and then at Port Darwin. The South Australian Government tried to settle it, taking miners from Victoria at £4 10s. per week when the current rate of wages in Victoria for miners was, roughly, £2 a week.
They entered into a contract for a regular line of steamers, which were to run between Ports McArthur, Darwin, Victoria, &c, and Sumatra, Batavia, Singapore, and other ports in the East. They gave a company a subsidy of £5,000 a. year, conditional on their carrying cattle and other goods at reasonable rates. In the ten years from 1880 to 1890, 863 vessels palled at Port Darwin, with a total tonnage of 845,000, carrying 16,650 passengers, and, of course, the outward passenger traffic would be about the same. South Australia constructed a railway to Pine Creek from Port Darwin, a distance of 150 odd miles. She let it under contract to Millar Brothers, who were unable to carry it out with white labour. They made a second contract with the South
Australian Government, and carried out the work by Chinese labour. That railway is running, I think, about two trips a. fortnight. Ifone turns up the records before that railway was built, he will find that it was to do what the proposed railway is to do- to cross the barren country to enable the stock to be brought in.From all I have been able to read, the mistake the Commonwealth is making is in repeating exactly the blunder of South Australia and the Imperial Government, by trying to settle the Territory from the Tropical end. When the Transfer Bill was going through, my great objection to it was on this account, the proposal being first laid down by Mr. Deakin, who proposed to take the Territory over, and then by the late Mr. Batehelor, who, I think, carried out. the negotiations as Minister for the purchase. You have, in the Macdonnell Ranges at least, a country in which we know that white people can live. Instead of providing this money for the railway now, if theGovernment took a portion of it and formed a community settlement in the Macdonnell Ranges, they would get very much more for it. I shall not vote for the railway from Pine Creek to Katherine River unless it is referred to a Committee that can give this House very much more information than has been given to it so far. There was at one time a large white mining population in the Territory. Where is it to-day? There was a large Chinese population there when the railway was built, and working in the mines. Where are they to-day? We have spent nearly £8,000,000 in addition to all that was spent by the Imperial Government, and in addition to whatever little was spent by the New South Wales Government. South Australia spent nearly £8,000,000, which we have taken over, and yet we have practically no population in the Northern Territory to-day, except officials.
-The honorable member knows very well that we had no alternative but to take everthe Northern Territory.
– Where was the necessity for the purchase ? I saw a report the other day in the press, in which the Premier of Western Australia is credited with saying that he would give to the Commonwealth the whole of. the north-west ofWestern Australia if we would take it for nothing.
– O - Of course he would, because it is of no use.
– The honorable member has no authority for saying that. It is very good country.
– Last year, when the then Minister of External Affairs, Mr. Thomas, introduced his Estimates, I said that the whole history of the German policy of colonization could not equal the officialdom of the Northern Territory. I have taken from the present Estimates a list of salaries paid in the Northern Territory. I shall read them -
Administrator, salary, £1,750; allowance, £500; travelling expenses, £500. Private secretary. £350; messenger, £146’; secretary, £450; accountant, £440 ; ‘ pay clerk, £240 ; ‘ clerk, £240; clerk, £216; clerk, £126; cadet, £76; administrative expenses, £500.; Director of Agriculture, £650”; Economic Entomologist, £450 ; ‘ manager, demonstration farm, Batchelor, £350 ; Daly River,’ £350 ; manager, stock experimental station, £350; experimentalists, £400; clerk, , £264; Medical Officer,’ Darwin, £565; Medical Officer, Playford, £500; nurses, &c. (total), £2,585; Chief Health Officer, £600; Chief Health Officer, Aboriginals, £500; Sanitary Inspector, £264; Judge, £1,000; Chief Veterinary Officer, £550; Veterinary Officer, £400 ; Director of Lands, £800 ; land inspectors, £600 ; secretary to Director, £275 ; clerk, £216 ; clerk, £96; Chief Surveyor, £650; surveyor, £468 ; Chief Draughtsman, £438; surveyors, £3,600; draughtsman, £336 ; draughtsman, £216 ; assistants, £2,880; clerk, £456; clerk, £186; Director of Mines and Government Geologist, £750; Inspector of Mines, £500; Chief Warden and Surveyor, » £475 ; Assistant Geologist, £336 ; manager, crushing plant, Macdonnell Range, £392; assayer, £150; warden, £300; clerk, £264 ; clerk, £186; cadet, £76.
Here is some information I got to-day -
Inspector and head teacher, £1,625 ; teachers at Darwin, £350 and £250; teacher at Pine Creek, £140; teacher at Brock’sCreek, £130; teacher at Daly River, £40; and monitor, £15.
At the Port Darwin school there are seventy-six scholars.
-White or coloured ?
-All sorts, I believe. At Pine Creek there are seventeen scholars, at Brock’s Creek six, and at Daly River fifteen. There were 150 scholars when the late Minister gave the information, but since then it has come down to a little over 110, fpr whom we have an inspector of schools, a head teacher and additional teacher, two other teachers, a monitor, and a sewing mistress. In the name of common sense, why dp we need an inspector of schools for this handful of children ? The whole system of Northern Territory administration seems to put one man there and have two men to see. that he is doing his work. I have not nearly finished this listof officers. We have also-
Superintendent, Buildings, £450; Chief Draughtsman, £336 ; assistant, £480; Clerk of Works, £240; storekeeper and’ computist, £240 ; clerk’ and timekeeper, £200; Superintendent and Resident Engineer, £650 ; assistant engineer, £450 ; District Locomotive Superintendent, £338; draughtsman, £300; stationmaster, £312; secretary and accountant, £300; senior clerk, £216; clerk, £186; stationmaster, P.C., £93.
Nowlisten to this -
Riding ganger, foremen, temporary clerks, drivers, chauffeurs, guards, porters, and others, £11,000.
All these unenumerated employes receive £11,000 for a population, white and coloured, of under 4,000.
– And a territory of 500,000 square miles.
– And a country that is twenty times larger than Tasmania; some of the schools are hundredsof miles apart.
– What on earth has that to do with it? Where is the population confined to? There is not an “ologist”or an “ alogist “ to be found in the dictionary but has been shoved up there at £450 to £750, with travelling expenses. I would wipe the whole thing out, and start afresh.
– The population is nearly all around Port Darwin.
– Of course it is. I know the position in which Ministers find themselves. Every one of these items is inherited, and the least we say about some of these appointments the better. Take the position of Mr. Ryland.
– There is not a more capable man in Australia.
– Of course, and why did Mr. Ryland get the position ?
– He got it from the Labour Government, and it is’ a pity we did not have a few more sympathetic men there.
– Order !
– If the honorable member can find one “ ologist,” or “ alogist,” or director that sympathizes with his party that they did not put there, let us hear of it. Let us take Mr. Ryland’s fitness for the position.
– He is a friend of mine. Will the honorable member read what Charles Edward Russell, an independent critic, has said about Mr. Ryland?
– The appointment of Mr. Ryland was one of the greatest political jobs that has been perpetrated by any Government in Australia. What was his appointment and authority?
– Is he not satisfactory?
– What were his credentials ?
– He was a politician, like you.
– The only credential he had that was ever put before the House was-
– That he was a very decent man personally.
– Be fair. Do not try to get round it. Be fair and stick to your statement.
– If the honorable member would only retire from the chamber I can finish my statement.
– Well, he is a friend of mine, and he is an honorable man.
– I say nothing against Mr. Ryland in that regard.
– He is so, and I shall tell him what you say about him.
– Order ! The honorable member must not keep on interjecting.
– The honorable member for Wakefield interjected, and I wanted protection.
– It is very disorderly to interject when the Chairman is trying to preserve order and addressing the Committee.
– I say nothing about Mr. Ryland’s personal attributes, but I say that his appointment was one of the greatest political jobs that have ever been perpetrated by any Government in Australia. The only credential mentioned in the House, as far as I can see, was that Mr. Ryland was a defeated Labour candidate in Queensland, and held the same views on land tenure as the then Minister of External Affairs, Mr. Thomas. That honorable gentleman said distinctly that it was necessary, when Ministers were embarking on a leasehold policy, that they should have officers in the Northern Territory sympathetic with the policy of the public.
– Quite right, too. Do you call that political jobbery?
– Yes, I do, because, if that is the policy to pursue, the present Government should dismiss all these officers, and put in men holding their views.
– Why do they not do so?
– Because I. hope no Liberal Government will descend to the very worst phase of politics that has disgraced America - the policy of spoils to the victors.
– But purely for political purposes you are stabbing a man in the back, and a man who cannot defend himself.
– The honorable member has not acquired that demeanour which is becoming to honorable members of the House.
– Well, you be fair.
– I have always tried to be fair, and I have always tried to voice my opinions. I say that this list that I have read is one that no honorable member of this Committee can justify. It is a list of appointments of directors, “alogists,” and entymologists almost by the score, and I have given the salaries they received. What do we get for these appointments?
– Are you going to move a reduction in the vote?
– I would like to see the whole of the Northern Territory thoroughly re-organized, and I repeat that we have adopted the worst system.
– It seems to me that you want the whole of these Estimates cut out.
– We will have to cut out the Tasmanian grant.
– That statement is quite up to the standard which the honorable member generally attains in the House when he speaks, but it is a standard that I hope will not be emulated by other honorable members. Whenever the Bill for the grant to Tasmania comes forward, if the honorable member thinks it is not right, let him be a man and vote against it. If any honorable member of the Opposition thinks that this act of justice should not be granted to Tasmania, let him be a man and say so, and not, like the honorable member, by a covert threat endeavour to prevent another honorable member advocating his views on any particular question.
– H - How can we . get settlement in the Northern Territory without this expenditure?
– We will never settle it through officialdom. The South Australian Government tried it, and the Federal Government have tried it. We have flooded the country with highly-paid . officials, and we are getting no population there.
– Would you settle population there first without preparation?
– If the honorable member seeks my opinion as to what I should do in the Northern Territory, I tell him that I would try a community settlement. I would give a grant of land, and I would not quarrel as to whether it be given in freehold or on a leasehold. I would devote to the development of the Territory a lot of the money now being spent on officers who will never encourage its settlement. I would give the best country I could find, either on leasehold or freehold, to people who were prepared to settle there. I would, if necessary, assist them to erect houses and to fence in their land. In that way I would make a thorough test of what the Territory was capable of producing.
– That was the policy of the Labour Government. Come over here.
– The sole policy of the late Government, so far as the Northern Territory is concerned, was to throw into it every officer they could possibly appoint, and to pay them absurdly high salaries. They made no honest at tempt to settle the Territory. The time has come when our whole policy in regard to the Northern Territory must be revised.
– How would the honorable member revise it?
– I would sweep away at least three-fourths of the officials at present employed there, and spend the money now devoted to officialdom in developing the country. I would also make a full investigation of the country between Oodnadatta and the Macdonnell Ranges. I believe that the proper policy to adopt in settling the Territory is to start from the south rather than from the north. All the reports I have been able to read show me that the country to be traversed by the railway now proposed is absolutely barren. The exMinister of External Affairs, in introducing the Pine Creek to Katherine River Railway Survey Bill, admitted this, and the same admission has been made, I think, by the present Minister. He stated that the railway from Pine Creek to the Katherine River, which it is proposed to construct, is designed, not to settle that country over which it will traverse, but to enable stock raised further south to be carried to Port Darwin. I admit that I do not know enough about the country to be able to express an opinion upon it.
– Why describe it as absolutely barren when such a statement is far fromthe truth ?
– The present Minister of External Affairs, as well as the ex-Minister, has so described this part of the Territory, and that authority is good enough for me: Unless we determine boldly to cut down at once our expenditure on defence and upon the Northern Territory, we shall find ourselves before long in endless difficulties. The inheritance which has come down to the present Government from their predecessors will have become before long a veritable damnnsa hæreditas. It will continue to grow like a snowball, and every thousand pounds that we are spending now will make it more difficult for us later on to retrace our steps. I come now to a question which affects honorable members generally, and is of the very gravest importance. I refer to the conditions under which the telephone service is extended in country districts.
The Postmaster-General, I believe, is doing his best to grapple with the difficulty, but in the last report of the Postal Department honorable members will find a statement of policy against which we have been protesting ever since I have been a member of this Parliament. I refer to the principle, or want of principle, shown in connexion with the telephone service in country districts. There were but few of us at first who raised this protest, but there is now, I believe, an enormous majority in this Parliament in opposition to the departmental system in this regard. In the last report of the Department, which has just been laid upon the table, Mr. Oxenham states that-
The telephone service affects a limited number of the population, and, more so than any Other branch of the Department’s business, may be said to partake of the nature of a commercial enterprise, so that its revenue should be sufficient to cover working expenses, including provision for depreciation, while returning a fair percentage on the capital invested.
That hasbeen the policy of the Department ever since I have been in this Parliament, and it is one that should not be tolerated any longer. The Department has never recognised the enormous difference between the use of the telephone in the city, where it is practically a luxury, and in the back-blocks, whereit is absolutely essential to settlement. Until the Department can make a wide and broad distinction between those two branches of the telephone service we shall have always to fight the samedead-end of officialdom against which we have been fighting since the establishment of Federation. It matters not whether we have had in office the Deakin party, the Cook party, orthe Labour party, we have always had this great dead-end of officialdom in connexion with the Postal Department. The statement that I have just taken from the last report issued shows that the Department has utterly failed to realize the responsibility which rests upon it in this regard.
– Does not the honorable member think that the Department has done remarkably well during the last two or three years?
– I do not. The policy adopted by it in regard to the telephone system in back-country districts is one that ought not to exist in the Commonwealth. Is it right that when people go into the back-blocks - when they are doing that which we all so much desire - they should be called upon to guarantee the Department against any loss from the construction , of a telephone line which is an absolute necessity, and the provision pf which may be a question of life and death? There are people living in putback districts, miles away from a postoffice, and getting a mail only at rare intervals ; yet when they apply for a telephone service, which is an absolute necessity, they are compelled to guarantee the Department against any loss if an inspector reports that the revenue will not be sufficient to meet interest on the cost. These people who are least able tp afford it are compelled to pay.
– Where would the honorable member get the money to permit of the change which he advocates?
-If it were really necessary - and I do not think it. would be - I would , make those who are using the telephone as a luxury contribute.
– Could we differentiate under the Constitution in the way suggested by the honorable member?
– Yes, it is now being done. We have in connexion with the telephone service one of the most absurd systems that could be imagined. We can, for instance, send a telegram from one end of Australia to the other for a fixed fee; but if the very samp wire is used for telephone purposes, then the further you go from centres of population, the more you have to pay for your message. We differentiate now between town and country, and the differentiation is against those whom it should be our policy to assist. I speak of the men who go into the back-blocks of Australia.
– And keep the cities going.
– Undoubtedly. These people go where it is very difficult to obtain even some of the necessities of life, and where the luxuries of life are absolutely beyond their reach. They do the pioneering work, and, as the honorable member for Kennedy said the other night, make it easier for others to follow. Why should the Department differentiate in the way I have mentioned in regard to the use of a telephone any more than it should differentiate in regard to the sending of telegraphic messages? I know places where wires are used sometimes for telephonic and sometimes for telegraphic messages. If you go into a township where one of these wires is used for telegraphic purposes you are charged the standard rate for your message; but if you go into the next township, where it is used as a telephone line, the telephone system is brought into operation, and the further you go away from centres of population the more you have to pay.
– There are a good many non-paying telephone lines in the honorable member’s electorate.
– From my stand-point, there is not one non-paying telephone line there. The honorable member cannot get rid of his old officialdom. It has become part of his very system, and it is so with many departmental officers.
– The honorable member has practically a spider’s web of telephone lines in his electorate.
– I have not one that the honorable member would like to see removed.
– Hear, hear !
– I thank the different Postmasters-General, who have from time to time extended the telephone service in my electorate ; but sufficient has not yet been done in that direction. A great work remains to be done in extending the telephone system in the backblocks of Australia. I ask the Post- . master-General to takeup this big reform, to take his courage in both hands, and to say, boldly, that, wherever a telephone line is a necessity, it shall be’ supplied without any guarantee being required, and without any stipulation to the effect that the further you go back into the bush the more you shall have to pay for it. I have taken up more time than I had intended to Occupy, and have only to say, in conclusion, that I think that the way in which the expenditure of the Commonwealth is increasing is a matter of the gravest importance, and that, whilst the Estimates are under consideration, honorable members should have the courage to make any reduction that can be shown to be desirable. In my opinion, no one will be better pleased than the Treasurer will be if we can succeed in reducing the Estimates by a few hundred thousand pounds.
– As a city member, I am just about tired of hearing country members insist on the necessity there is for a com bination amongst them in order to assert the rights of country constituents. There is not a city member in the House who is not prepared to vote for the extension of every facility’ and convenience to the country districts. It appears, however, that country representatives can say what they like without fear, though if a city man ventures to say anything about the country his words are used for party purposes, and the cry is raised of the city versus country. That is the sort of thing I dislike, especially when every opportunity is taken to make it appear that the Labour representative is not a friend of the farmer. The other day I saw a cartoon in a newspaper where the hired man at the farm was reading his newspaper in the evening. The farmer was evidently disturbed at this recreation on the part of the man, and, although he admitted that the latter did the work of two, he expressed the opinion that any one who had enough energy to read the newspaper at night could not have done enough during the day. Now, if such a picture as that appeared in a Labour newspaper, it would be sent all over Australia as evidence that the Labour party is against the man on the land; and we hear too much to that effect in this House. I can only say that when any proposal is brought down to extend facilities and conveniences to the country, it will be carried by the assistance of the city members. The honorable member for Franklin had a good deal to say about extravagance in the Northern Territory; but this, of course, was a mere party attack on the late Government, who are responsible for the present policy in that part of Australia. The honorable member read out a long list of officials, and I admit that the salaries paid to those men are good ; but if the late Government had endeavoured to develop the Territory without ascertaining its mineral resources, agricultural and grazing possibilities, and the facts relating to the pest of white ants, and so forth, their conduct would have been used as a charge against them. The idea of the honorable member for Franklin seems to be that settlers should be permitted to go to the Northern Territory and ruin themselves in ascertaining these facts, leaving those who follow to reap the benefit of their work. It was understood by every honorable member that money would have to be poured into the Northern Territory for years to come ; but the expenditure was faced because it was recognised that, undeveloped, the Territory was a menace to Australia in more ways than one. Whether the late Government adopted the right policy in starting the development from the north, or whether they should have proceeded at once with the construction of the railway from Oodnadatta, I. have not sufficient knowledge to say; but, no matter what course the late Government adopted, they would have been condemned by honorable members opposite. It is the way of party warfare to charge the other side with all the misdeeds and take all the credit for good to one’s self. As to the list read out by the honorable member for Franklin, there was not one appointment made that was not necessary. I cannot, of course, say from my own knowledge whether the Territory has been underofficered or efficiently officered, but both the late Mr. Batchelor and the honorable member for Barrier took what they considered the best course, after consultation with those who had the necessary knowledge. In the case of the Geologist, for instance, I do net know whether he has yet earned his money; but we know that a tin-field has been discovered, and that it only requires a good gold-field to be found to cause the Territory to develop at a much quicker rate than it would with the slower introduction of the more stable pastoral and agricultural industries: It is very amusing to hear the charges made with regard to political appointments in the Territory. If one of the men appointed happens to. be a defeated Labour candidate, that is sufficient to condemn him, no matter what his qualifications may be. As a matter of fact, there is one man - a Mr. Francis - who was appointed by the Labour party, and who is almost fiendish in his opposition to the Labour movement. Indeed, he goes out of his way, day after day, to abuse the Labour party; but he knows that he is secure in his position, because the Labour party always like to give men absolute liberty in their expression of political opinion. There have, I may say, been dozens of such appointments. We have had some complaint about the industries of Australia not being considered by Ministers and officials; and some time ago I said that highly paid men, who cannot calculate when certain necessaries will be required, are not fit for their positions. For instance, it must have been known that certain railway engines would be required; but, as a matter of fact, they had to be imported. I appeal to the Prime Minister, as Minister of Home Affairs, to see that the officials of the Railway Branch, and, indeed, in the other Departments, make preparations, if necessary, years ahead for the calling of tenders, so that local manufacturers may. have an opportunity of preparing to supply what is required. Even a layman can calculate, at the present rate of progress, when the transcontinental line will be finished; and the officials ought certainly to be able to know when the trains will commence to run. Under the circumstances, they ought to be considering now the. matter of calling for tenders for rolling-stock a year or two ahead, so that, as I have said, local manufacturers may have that opportunity which is their due. Of course, if the Ministry are careless or indifferent as to the manufacture of goods in Australia, they will not bother about the matter; but I do not charge even a terrible Free Trader like the Prime Minister with being altogether callous in this respect. A majority of members on the Government side consider that industries are not needed in ‘ Australia ; that agricultural production is enough.
– What is there to support that statement?
– I admit that the honorable member himself gave some good Protectionist votes when the Tariff was last under consideration.
– This Government appointed the Inter-State Commission to report on the Tariff.
– A very good way of shelving the subject of Tariff revision; but as the Inter-State1 Commission is composed of two Free Traders _and a Customs official, the only hope of the Protectionists is in . the Customs official. However, I do not wish to deal with that subject now. The officials should have been ready to call for tenders in time to permit of local manufacture, and I trust that the bungle that has occurred will not be repeated. They should look ahead.
– We cannot please you, anyway. Because we have looked ahead in regard to the supply of trucks, we are asked, “ What are you going to do with these 400 trucks that you have ordered ? “
– Well, you did not look ahead sufficiently in regard to the four engines that are being imported.
– T - The Minister has to depend on his officials.
– I do not blame the Ministers personally, but the mistake must not be repeated. If the local manufacturers are given sufficient notice, they will make provision for the manufacture of what is needed, and, if they are not given the opportunities that they should have, I trust that the Protectionists will not again take it “ lying down.” I agree with the honorable member for Franklin that the Small Arms Factory has not done much up to the present time. That, I think, is due to mismanagement.
– The results are very disappointing.
– We imported an expert manager at £1,250 a year, a submanager at £500 a year, and others, and up to the present only 1,000 rifles have been turned out. It may be necessary to consider whether the present managers should not be replaced by others who will give us more for our money. It may be said that the workmen are at fault. I know one man who, having been employed in one of the British small arms factories for fifteen or sixteen years, was dismissed from our factory on the score of incompetency. It is strange that, with his record, he has been found incompetent for an establishment which has proved its incompetency by the smallness of its output. I hope that the Government will ascertain who is to blame for the small production of the factory. We are asked how is it possible to reduce the cost of defence. The other evening I suggested that a considerable saving could be effected by ending compulsory training when the trainees had reached the age of twentyone years. Physical training between the ages of twelve and fourteen, and military training between the ages of fourteen and twenty-one, that is during the period of life when human beings are most impressionable, should produce men of sufficient efficiency for a citizen army, and, in addition, we could have a volunteer or militia force composed of tho’se who were willing lo undergo further military service. . It is the training and the permanent establishments that cost the money. In Melbourne there is a huge central establishment, composed of highly-paid officers, naval and military. We have also highly-paid Boards, with their secretaries and officials, who may be necessary under a comprehensive system, but who certainly cost us a considerable sum of money. In addition, we have a Department in each State, with a big staff. As the number of trainees increases, so will these establishments increase. The more lads there are to train the more Area Officers will be required. We have been told that these officers do not receive a sufficient remuneration. In my judgment, it was never intended that they should derive a living from the performance of their duties, because they do not devote the whole of their time to them. It is true that many Area Officers give more time to the discharge of their duties than they are required to do, because they are enthusiasts in the work. But, in ray opinion, the brunt of the work falls upon the sergeant-majors. I repeat that, as the number of trainees increases, so will the number of these officers increase until they become as thick as bees. Only a little while ago, the demand for sergeant- majors was so great that we had to import forty or fifty of them from India. In connexion with our Navy, too, we shall have to establish depots, in which the lads may be trained. We have also to maintain Military and Naval Colleges. The honorable member for Franklin has affirmed that it costs so many thousands of pounds to produce one officer, and we know perfectly well that an army or navy without efficient officers is useless. We embarked upon our defence scheme after getting all the information that we possibly could upon the matter. We have now reached the stage when we recognise that it is imperative that the Government shall take into their serious consideration a revised scheme which will be sufficient to meet our needs without being so costly. To my mind, the reduction of the age of training would be a step in the right direction, inasmuch as it would reduce the dimensions of the training staff, and diminish the cost of the scheme. Of course, it is inevitable that our biggest expenditure will be in connexion with our Navy.. To me, it is evident that we cannot proceed on the lines that we intended to proceed, and establish the enormous Fleet which was recommended by Admiral Henderson. In the Argus and Age of 1st and 2nd December, a cablegram appeared recording the fact that in the Old
Country five quartermasters in the British Army had been tried for bribery and corruption. The outcome of that inquiry has been that the war authorities have discovered that they can save £60,000 a year on meat alone by purchasing direct from the stock-owners instead of through the middleman. In England, it has hitherto been the practice to purchase everything that is required for the Army under contract. Men enter into contracts who know nothing whatever about the commodity in regard to which they contract. . In that way, they make enormous profits to the detriment of the British Army and the British Navy, which are supplied with materials that do not come up to the standard. The quartermasters to whom I have referred had been indulging in a little peculation, and . they have been imprisoned for so doing. Some questions were asked to-day in another place. It appears that there was, in December last, a stock-taking in the Queen’s-bridge Ordnance Stores, in my electorate, from which the whole of the stores are distributed, not only to Victoria, but to almost the whole of Australia, especially uniforms, belts, &c. The stock-sheets, which” are now on the table of the Library, show a great deficiency. The following questions were asked in another place today:
These were the replies-
– Do they submit the report to those men before they submit it to Parliament?
– What is the amount of the deficiency?
– I do not know the value, but I shall read the items. Nothing has been done since last December to correct the deficiencies.
– Has the deficiency taken place since the last audit?.
– It was exposed at the last stock-taking in December last.
– It has never come before me. I shall make inquiries.
– The following are some of the deficiencies: -
Neither the late Minister nor the present Minister knew anything about these deficiencies.
– The late Minister should have known.
– If his officers kept it from him, how could he know? The officers who have to look after it have kept it from the Minister. Some officer must have known it for twelve months, because the stock-sheets are drawn out and sent into the Department; yet even now the Minister cannot furnish a report upon these deficiencies in his Department. I would like this matter to be considered while Parliament is sitting. The Defence Department generally put these matters off with the excuse that until Parliament has risen they cannot be gone into. I do not say that the late Minister of Defence, or the present Minister, are not able enough to consider the matter without the aid of Parliament, but I believe it is just as well that it should be considered when Parliament is sitting.
– Where did you get this information?
– I am taking this information from the stock-sheets now in the Library as the result of action taken in another place. I say that this deficiency exists, and, though it was known, nothing has been done in the matter. . It simply shows that these things can take place in the Department without coming to the knowledge of the Minister.
– I notice from the documents in the Library that there are pencil marks showing that certain items have been “ recounted and found correct.”
– The documents still show that there are deficiencies, and if certain items were recounted and found correct, why was it necessary ‘ for the Auditor-General to ask the officers for an explanation? The question was asked in the Senate last week, and to-day the Minister has refused to lay on the table the report of the AuditorGeneral on the matter. The answer says, in effect, that the report submitted by the Auditor-General not having been dealt with - that shows it must have been submitted, but not dealt with - they think it unadvisable to place the report on the Library table until the officers have had a chance to explain it away. I have attacked the Defence Department on more than one occasion, and particularly the Stores Department, in regard to this matter. I do not like it, hut it is impossible to get a true return. When appointing officers to the Stores Department examinations are held, hut after the examinations the appointments are not given to the first, second, or third, but are given to whom the Department likes.. That has been done repeatedly. There was an examination- held for thirty hands. As soon as the examination had been held, and the thirty men were appointed, some of the discontented candidates, who knew that some of the men who were said to have passed were arrant numbskulls, and could not have passed, asked for the production of the examination papers, in order to ascertain the facts. The reply they received was that the papers had been destroyed. All sorts of excuses were offered for their destruction. No doubt the officers put their own friends in, and, lest the fact should afterwards be found out, the examination papers were destroyed. The officer chiefly concerned admits that he was at fault. Nevertheless, the men appointed as the result of a bogus examination are still in their positions. When these things go on, and no redress can be obtained from this branch of the Defence Department, the matter must be brought forward in the House, and I hope that now these charges have been made the Ministry will see to the matter at once, so that we can obtain an explanation before the session closes. I do not charge the present Ministry, nor do I charge the late Ministry, with doing anything culpable so far as this matter is concerned.
– There may be no culpability.
– I charge the officers of the Department, however, and I am satisfied from a perusal of the stocksheets that the officers knew these deficiencies were there, and did not take the action that they should have taken.
– Very possibly some of the officers could give out these things, and put them on the sheet.
– There has been peculiar work going on there, no doubt. Six thousand khaki shirts could not go astray. I trust the Ministry will take this matter into consideration, and see that something is done before the session closes.
– In moving -
That the House do now adjourn,
I should like to express my pleasure that the Auditor-General’s report has at last found its way here.
– We are all glad.
– I am certainly glad, for, notwithstanding all that has been said from the other side, the report is here on the 4th December, instead of, as last year, on the 20th December.
– Like the Prime Minister, I am pleased that the report of the Auditor-General has been laid on the table.
– You do not look like it.
– But the honorable member will see, just as other honorable members will see, that, after all, the difference of a few days does not justify the charges which the honorable gentleman made. It will be remembered that he made some very sweeping charges in relation to the late Government and their management of the accounts, owing to a statement which the AuditorGeneral placed in his report. We are very pleased to know that the report on the accounts for the last financial year has made its appearance, although it has come only sixteen days earlier than did the report for the previous year.
– To-day, when the honorable member for Herbert was speaking, he made some remarks with reference to a statement it was alleged that I made during the last elections. I understand that he referred to the question of sugar, and stated that I had, on every platform, said that if the Liberal party got into power-
– Order! The honorable member is now referring to a previous debate.
– It is a personal explanation that I wish to- make. The statements of . the honorable member for Herbert with regard to the statement alleged to have been made by me during the recent elections are absolutely without foundation.
.- I should like to say to my honorable friend who has just indulged in a little criticism, in consequence of the. severe criticism that we then passed on the then Treasurer and the officials, that the report of the Auditor-General was presented last year many months earlier than was the case in the two previous years, so that we have beaten by nearly three weeks their greatest spurt.
– At one time, when Mr. Deakin was in office, the report was presented eighteen months after the close of the year. How are you going to get over that difficulty ?
– Oh, no. Under the enlightened control of the present Treasurer, we are making some improvement, and I hope sincerely that next year there will be greater improvement still. I shall not be satisfied until that is so. My own impression is that the report ought to be here in September, or at the latest in October - in ample time to be of use to this Parliament. I congratulate my right honorable friend on its earlier appearance this year.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.14 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 4 December 1913, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1913/19131204_reps_5_72/>.