5th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– I desire to read the following letter to the House: -
White Hart Hotel,
The Hod. the Speaker,
House of Representatives.
Mrs. C. E. Frazer desires to express her Weft appreciation of the resolution of sympathy passed by the House of Representativeson the occasion of the death’ of her husband, and to convey her sincere thanks to the Speaker and members of the House of Representatives for the kindness they have shown her in her recent bereavement.
– Some days ago I informed the Minister of Trade and Customsthat it had been reported in the press that there had been a case of small -pox at Thornleigh. Has the honorable gentleman any information on the subject?
– I have received a communication from the Public Health Department, Sydney, in which the writer says -
I am directed to inform you that a case of small-pox has not occurred at Thornleigh, and it is not known how the press came into possession of incorrect information.
– At a meeting held in
Melbourne last night to discuss the New Hebrides question, the statement was made by a gentleman who, I understand, is personally acquainted with the conditions existing in the- islands that the death-rate among the natives employed on the French plantations there is 40 per cent, per annum. I ask the Minister of External Affairs to ascertain, if possible, whether the statement is correct, and if he finds it to be so, will he make representations on the subject to the Imperial authorities, and, through them, to the French Government?
– I have not seen or heard of the statement referred to, but I had recently before me, in the report presented to the Colonial Office, official figures relating to the mortality on the New Hebrides plantations. The figures were for a period ending 1911, but I do not think that they showed the mortality to be as great as 40 per cent. In some parts of the islands there has been lately a heavy mortality from measles. I shall make the inquiry asked for, and I give the House the assurance that every aspect of the New Hebrides question which affects Australia is receiving the closest attention.
– I believe that it was understood that temporary census clerks who served for twelve months would, at the end of that period, be given three weeks’ extra pay in lieu of leave of absence. Will the Prime Minister see that that is done 1 I have been informed that the pay has not yet been given.
– The matter has not come before me, but I am prepared to look into it.
Prices - Importation - Culture in Papua.
– I ask the Minister for Trade and Customs whether he has a statement to make regarding the letter sent out by a certain tobacco company to various growers of tobacco leaf in Australia ?
– Yesterday afternoon several members representing the tobaccogrowing districts joined me in an interview with Messrs A. D. Hart and Wilkins, representing the British Australian Tobacco Company. We discussed with them the letter to which the honorable member refers, and as a result of the interview they assured me that it is not the intention of the manufacturers to refuse to pay .fair prices for fair quality leaf; that there is a fair prospect for the industry in the future; but that there is not sufficient good quality leaf at present produced. I was informed that there is only room for a gradual expansion in the industry, and that much of the local leaf is inferior, due to causes arising from the nature of the soil, climatic conditions, selection of seed, and preparation of leaf, but that attention paid to these matters would produce better results in quality. I have obtained several reports from our own officials, which I am forwarding through the Prime Minister to the Agricultural Departments of the States, to get the opinions of their experts on the subjects dealt with, and I hope to make a fuller statement to the House later.
– Oan the Minister, before the Estimates are discussed, inform the House what quantity of Australiangrown leaf is used by our local manufacturers to-day, and what quantity was used ten years ago ; and can he also obtain the same information regarding imported leaf? I think he will find that there is a big discrepancy.
– I shall endeavour to get that information. The quantity of unmanufactured tobacco imported in 1910 was 13,586,845 lbs., the importation of 1911 being 14,900,520 lbs.; and of 1912, 15,035,532 lbs. I am informed that the increase is due to the fact that they are now storing tobacco here instead of in the United States, as formerly.
– As good tobacco can be grown in Australia as in any part of the world.
– In places where the climatic conditions and soil are suitable, leaf of very good quality can be grown.
– Will the Minister consider the advisableness of obtaining from Papua, through the Minister of External Affairs, a report on the possibilities of tobacco culture there? There are exceptional facilities for growing tobacco leaf successfully in Papua.
– I shall do that.
– The Prime Minister, when he stated last night the programme for the remainder of the session, made no reference to the Public Debts Bill, which stands sixth on the business-paper. Is that important measure to be discussed this session ? If not, what action does the honorable gentleman propose to take during the recess regarding the transfer of the public debts?
– It is not proposed to discuss the measure this session. We should like to have a further talk with the States on the debts question.
– Will there be a conference with the State Ministers?
– If possible.
– Last night, in stating the business for the remainder of the session, I omitted to mention that we desire to put through a small Bill providing for the increasing of the payments to old-age pensioners who are inmates of charitable institutions. I hope that my honorable friends opposite will not think this a breach of the agreement arrived at last night.
– Do you intend to increase the pensions?
– I am afraid that that matter must stand over for the present.
– Is the Treasurer aware that some of the State officials of Tasmania, who act for the Commonwealth as Registrars for the payment of old -age and invalid pensions, have to work until 10, 11, and 12 at night to do what is required of them; and that the money which we pay to get the work done goes, not to the officers who do the work, but to the consolidated revenue of the State?
– I am not aware of the circumstances mentioned. I believe that some of the States refuse to allow their officers to accept anything from the Commonwealth, and apply the Commonwealth payments to their own purposes. That seems to me not very generous. I shall make inquiries into the matter.
Wages - Distribution of British Newspapers - Erection of Telephone Lines - Newspaper Prohibition
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral whether he will kindly arrange for the payment of the postal and telegraph employes on or before Christmas Eve.
– I think that there is no doubt that they will be paid on or before that date.
– Will the PostmasterGeneral inquire whether British newspapers could not be distributed in Australia under the “ printed matter “ rates. If that could be done, then it seems to me it would achieve the object which the honorable gentleman had in view in connexion with a clause in the Postal Rates Bill which we had under consideration yesterday.
– There is no difficulty in that regard at the present time. Newspaper agents like Messrs. Gordon and Gotch distribute by hand most of the British newspapers coming here, and those requiring to be sent inland are put through the post under the rates relating to printed matter. The trouble is, that the present system does not allow Australian newspapers to be distributed in Great Britain in the same way.
– Will the PostmasterGeneral state whether any steps have been taken to have ‘telephone lines erected under the contract system ?
– We are erecting such lines both by day labour and under contract. All our men are being employed as far as possible, and tenders are also being called and accepted in many cases.
– I desire to ask the Postmaster-General whether it is true that the Department refuses to carry certain newspapers through the post. The particular publication I have in mind in putting this question is Reynold’s Newspaper.
– The matter has not previously been brought under my notice, but I shall inquire into it.
– As a matter of personal explanation, I desire to bring under the notice of the House a quotation from the report of a speech delivered by the honorable member for Gwydir on the 26th November last at Glen Innes, and published in the local newspaper on 28th ultimo. I am sorry that the honorable member is not present. According to this report, the honorable member, who was supporting the candidature of a member of the Labour party for the representation of the district in the State Parliament said -
I have not seen much of Mr. Abbott ; he dues not often come to the House, and when he does come he does not stay long. He is all right in the Police Court badgering some unfortunate ; but, judging by his first speech in Parliament, he should attend more and learn that the Federal House is not a Police Court.
I have always endeavoured to take up a fair attitude in this House, and I hope that I shall always do so; but in justice to myself I should like to draw the attention of the honorable member for Gwydir to the records of tho House, which show that up to the 26th ultimo, the date on which he delivered this speech, “he had attended forty-eight sittings of the House during the session, whilst I had attended forty-six. The records show further that up to the 10th instant I had attended fifty sittings of this House, whilst the honorable member for Gwydir had attended forty-nine. I am pleased that the honorable member has now come into the House. I make this statement in justice to myself and to my electors.
An Honorable Member. - Of course-
– If the Gwydir galah will keep* quiet-
– I never spoke; what are you talking about?
– 1 would point out that the peculiar constitution of the House and the exigencies of the situation made it absolutely essential that, on every one of the days that I was in attendance, I should not leave even for. a moment the precincts of the House. I quite admit that the flood of oratory on the part of the honorable member for Gwydir rendered it impossible for me to stay in the chamber the whole day long.
– The honorable member is now going beyond a personal explanation.
– I shall endeavour to keep on the right track; but I must say that I have been led away from the course I should follow by the honorable member for Gwydir. Like other honorable members, I have found it absolutely essential on many occasions to leave the chamber itself in order to attend to correspondence from my constituents and to other matters affecting my electorate, and very often I have done so while the honorable member for Gwydir has been addressing the Chamber, but I havealways been within the precincts of the House.
– Has the Prime Minister’s attention been called to a report in the newspapers this morning that the leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Assembly of Western Australia has been suspended for using what is considered in that State to be unparliamentary language?
asked the Minister of External Affairs, upon notice -
How many applications have been received for leases under the Northern Territory Land Ordinance -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are - si. (a) Nil.
359 for Cultivation Farms; 274 tor Mixed Farming and Grazing Blocks; making a total of 633.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
What amount was paid last year in rent or. compensation for the land used by the Defence Department for manoeuvre or camp purposes?
– £1,226 13s. 5d.
Bill returned from the Senate with the message that the Senate insists upon its amendment.
That the message be taken into consideration forthwith.
– I move -
That the Bill be laid aside.
I do not feel able to permit the Senate to tear up our financial proposals in the way they are doing.
– Is this a financial measure ?
– It is in its very essence, and the Senate has taken out of it its most useful provision. The Opposition there may do as they please, as they are all powerful, but I am not under any obligation to accept such an amendment, and I therefore move, formally, that the Bill be laid aside.
.- The Prime Minister has a right to say what he proposes to do, but I think there were too many first personal pronouns in his statement. The Senate has a right to do what it thinks proper.
– I said that.
Question resolved- in the affirmative.
Mr. SPEAKER reported the receipt of a message from His Excellency the Governor-General recommending that an appropriation be made for the purposes of this Bill.
That the message be taken into consideration forthwith.
In Committee :
Motion (by Mr. Joseph Cook) proposed -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue bemade for the purposes of a Bill for an Act to provide for the establishment of , a Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works and for other purposes.
.- The Bill to which this message relates has just been circulated, and I understand the Prime Minister proposes to proceed at once with its consideration. I presume that he does not intend to do more to-day than move that it be read a second time.
– I thought that we might run it through and get on with the Estimates.
– I should like the debate on the second reading of the Bill to be adjourned after the Prime Minister has made his speech. The Bill has just been circulated, and it is impossible for one to be able at a moment’s notice to become seized of all the facts relating to a measure of such far-reaching importance.
– Very well.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolution reported and adopted.
– In moving -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
I do not think I need take up much of the time of the House.
– I hope that the Prime Minister will deal with the whole subject.
– What subject?
– Make it clear to the House what the Government propose to do. .
– I shall do my best.
Tis not in mortals to command success,
But we’ll do more, Sempronius,
We’ll deserve it.
This Bill is founded largely on the Public Works Committee Acts of the States of Victoria and New South Wales. I think it is patent to every one at this time of day that the methods of conducting our Public Workspolicy are crude, inefficient, and altogether inadequate for the purpose of securing the taxpayers against loss and waste. We are spending in public works every year from £3,000,000 to £4,000,000; and Parliament, I am afraid, is not so well informed as it ought to be regarding the expenditure of this money and the projection of the various public works. Every one knows that we pass Bills through this Chamber, sometimes, in circumstances which, do not permit of full and detailed investigation of the projects to which they relate; and, consequently, I fear that Parliament occasionally knows very little of the actual details of the expenditure of large sums of public money. It is in order to remedy that defect, as well as to insure a more efficient spending of the money, and the wiser disposition of our public works policy, that this Committee Is proposed. Experience, both in Victoria and New South “Wales, abundantly justifies this proposal. I do not hesitate to say that, in the State of Kew South “Wales, a similar Committee has saved the country millions of money.
– And the same in Victoria.
– I suppose I am safe in saying that similar results have been the outcome of the Victorian Committee. There arises, first of all, the question whether a Committee composed of members of Parliament is the test court of inquiry into these huge public undertakings - whether outside experts, permanently appointed as a board, would not conduct the inquiries more efficiently, and with a greater degree of knowledge and intelligence. From my experience - and it is a pretty large one - I think that a board of experts would not do this work as well as a Committee of this House would.
– “We are all experts here.
– That is not so; but members have a wide knowledge of human nature. They have that invaluable quality called common sense, and a sense of responsibility for their actions which enables them to make inquiries into all such matters with an open mind, and, perhaps, with a detached view of things which does not pertain to the mind trained to special courses. Moreover, I should like to point out that all the available expert ability that such a Committee would care to call to their aid is at their disposal, and the members may, therefore, inform themselves concerning all the projects submitted, and be in a position to pass judgment in a way that, perhaps, an expert, biased by his training and immersed in details of the undertakings to which he has given his life’s work, may not do. I am not so sure that outside unbiased judgment, even relating to technical matters, is often the best that we can obtain. That is an argument that goes as far as it may; but, further, I say that in connexion with public works and public undertakings, the responsibility of this Parliament should be preserved inviolate. That is the point, I think, which ought to decide this matter. No outside body should have to do with projects in a responsible way which relate to the initiation of the spending of the public funds of the country. The determination of what, where, to what extent, and in what shape our public functions shall be initiated and utilized must always, it seems to me, rest with those who have charge of the purse of the country, and have the responsibility, finally, for the spending of the money. In other wor.ds, I think that this* proposal preserves the power of Parliament over the whole province of public expenditure. This appears to me to be the vital thing in deciding whether this shall be a Committee of members inside the House, or a Committee of experts outside the House. There is just another point that should be mentioned here. Ought a Minister - ought a Government - to delegate this Ministerial function - for after all it is a Ministerial function and Ministerial responsibility - to any body of men either in Parliament or outside ? The reply to that is a very easy one - the Government will not delegate their responsibility, which is preserved at every stage. The Bill will provide that the Minister himself must express his views concerning the proposals in submitting them for the consideration of the Committee. Further, the Minister must take full responsibility for the initiation of the proposals, and for the provision of plans and specifications, and all data collectable within his sphere of responsibility, for submission to the Committee. More than that, after the inquiry has been made, and the information supplied to Parliament, a further responsibility, that is made statutory in the Bill, rests on the Minister, . and makes it mandatory on him to submit the proposals for the final consideration of Parliament within a given period after the inquiry has been conducted. It seems to me that there is nothing here inconsistent with the full responsibility of the Minister or with the financial responsibility which the Government and the House have to undertake.
– Supposing the Committee “ turns down “ a proposal, can the Minister still present it to Parliament?
– Parliament “turns down” the proposal, not the Committee.
– If the Committee reports against a proposal, have the Government still the right to submit it to Parliament ?
– Parliament takes full responsibility, but if the Minister and the House “’ turn down “ a proposal, as a result of the rejection of it by the Committee-
– Will the House have an opportunity to deal with a proposal even if the Committee report against it? Mr. JOSEPH COOK.- The House does not delegate any of its rights to the Committee or any other body.
– The point is that no body can bring a proposal to this Parliament except the Ministry.
– That is the point on which I am trying to insist. Ministerial responsibility is preserved fully and entirely.
– That is different from the procedure in New South Wales. There, if the Committee reports against a proposal, that proposal cannot be submitted for twelve months.
– The honorable member has got hold of the wrong idea. If a proposal is “turned down “ by the Committee in New South Wales, that proposal cannot be re-submitted to the Committee for twelve months.
– This Bill proposes to reserve the power to submit a proposal to Parliament at any time, even if the Committee do “turn down” that proposal.
– I think the provision to which I have been referring is a very useful one.
– But what I have indicated is the proposal in the Bill ? It provides that the Governor-General may at any time submit a proposal, notwithstanding that it has been rejected by the Committee.
– But these are two distinct points. We are talking now about a re-inquiry into a work which the Committee have “ turned down.” There is a provision in this and all other Bills of the kind that, once the Committee have “ turned down “ a proposal, the Com mittee cannot be asked to re-inquire intothat proposal for a period of twelvemonths. The point is that, whatever the Committee reports, this Parliament issupreme and master of its own proceedings.
– After the Committee hasreported against a proposal will the Ministers have the power to immediately present that proposal to Parliament, and carry it, without re-submitting it to the Committee 1
– Practically that could be done through the Governor-General.
– Clause 16 of the Bill provides -
If the resolution of the House of Representatives declares that it is not expedient to carry out any proposed work, no proposal for a public work in substance identical with that work shall be submitted to the House of Representatives until after the expiration of one year from the date of the resolution.
T take it, however, that this House is supreme, and, notwithstanding any report of the Committee, could decide to proceed with the work if it thought fit. The function of the Committee is to be the eyesand ears of Parliament.
– Why not read the rest of clause 16 ?
– We shall deal with that when we come to it. The Committee will collect information in a responsible way, and the House will deal with their recommendations as it sees fit - that is the great, point I wish to make in connexion with the Bill. For the rest, I think I need not go into details.
– The Committee has no. restrictive powers at all over the Ministry as I read clause 16.
– No; the Committee goes out as really a scout to obtain information for the Government.
– Not for the Government,, but for the country.
– To inform Parliament, so that Parliament may assume its responsibility with an enlightened mind and judgment. The constitution of this body will require some little consideration in Committee. I candidly think I have made a mistake in regard to the number which I haveplaced at nine, three of whom are to befrom the Senate.
– I suppose that the PrimeMinister would give more satisfaction if lie composed the Committee of the whole of Parliament - that is the sentiment I find about !
– It seems to me the Committee must be composed of even numbers, because the Chairman will have -a casting vote.
– How is it proposed to elect the members of the Committee - by a straight-out vote, or tlie Hare-Spence system ?
– That is provided for in clause 3, and it is the same method as that by which we appoint Select Committees. It is quite clear, I think, that this Committee must be a little larger than the Public Works Committee of a State. It will have to travel over a great deal more ground, and, as sectional Committees will be required, it would be difficult, with a small number, to set up these Committees in the requisite strength to insure the work being carried on continuously. While a committee of six or seven may be all right for a State, eight or nine, I think, would Joe more like the proportion for a wide continent such as Australia.
– Will the Committee sit while Parliament is sitting ?
– Yes, but I take it only with the consent of Parliament. I think the rule in the States is that the Committee does not sit while Parliament is sitting. In New South Wales it sits in the mornings before the House meets. My recollection is that it also sits in the afternoon, with the consent of Parliament, but I do not know that that is a very good rule.
– If this Committee sat in the afternoon would its members receive only the one payment for the morning and afternoon sittings?
– I am not quite clear on that point. I think the payment is so much per sitting. Both Victoria and New South Wales very wisely limit the amount which may be paid to members during any one year. I think the limit in Victoria is £1,200, and in New South Wales £2,000.
– It was nearly doubled in New South Wales last year.
– At any rate, that is the total amount fixed by law that may be spent in any one year in payment of allowances or expenses to the whole of the members of the Committee.
– The honorable member does not realize how much the members of the New South Wales Works Com:mittee have received.
– I am only stating what is in the New South Wales Act, but 1 shall be quite prepared to hear that since the honorable member’s friends came into power over there they have set such provisions aside. At any rate, £2,000 is the total amount allowed for the members of the Committee in New South Wales. There is provision both in New South Wales and Victoria that, if there are more sittings than would allow for the amount set out in the Act as payment for services, that amount is to be proportionately reduced so as to bring the total payments within the amount specified.
– What is meant by “ other purposes “ 1
– I do not know. I presume it means other purposes incidental to the inquiry, but here I am up against a difficulty. I am not clear whether, under our Constitution, we can pay our members at all.. There is a great and wide divergency of opinion on this serious constitutional point. The Minister of External Affairs, on my right, says he thinks it is all right, and’ I suppose the honorable member for Bendigo would say that perhaps it is all right. However, I have left the matter blank, and we shall have to fill it in when the Bill gets into Committee, but there is no doubt that whether we can pay members a fee or not we can pay them expenses. The Committee has power to divide itself up into sectional Committees so as to facilitate their work, and all the necessary machinery is provided.
– Will the Bill apply to works costing over £25,000 in the Northern Territory and Papua as well? Tf it will, it will mean delay.
– It will apply to any big public work. The honorable member is raising an important point, and I do not deny that the Bill may create some difficulty. It is an experiment, and it has to be seen whether provisions that . work so admirably in the States will work as satisfactorily over this wider field. My own impression is that they will. I believe the common sense of the Committee, and of the House generally, will triumph over all difficulties caused by the scale and range of things in the Commonwealth. Although there may be difficulties in going to the Northern Territory and elsewhere, I do not think those difficulties will be greater for the Committee than they are now for Ministers. “Whatever the Ministry can do regarding the Northern Territory, or Papua, this Committee, with its even greater facilities for inquiry, can do.
– I do not know why you have left out the military crowd. They want watching more than anything.
– We must include defence. Those are the “ roosters “ we want to watch.
– Why is defence omitted ?
– I am, in that respect, following precedent. A good deal of the defence works are connected with questions of strategy.
– If you want to experiment, experiment with defence.
– Honorable members themselves must take the responsibility for that new departure. Defence has been specifically excluded from all such inquiries in both these large States.
– Does the question of strategy apply to the erection of buildings?
– They may be part of the entire strategic scheme, and it may be difficult to separate them. However, I shall be glad to hear any argument on that question in Committee; but at present my judgment is that the defence of the country should be excluded from the ordinary public works.
– Do you mean the purchase of war materials only, or, say, the erection of new buildings at Canberra?
– I mean the construction of works in connexion with our Naval Bases, and all that kind of thing.
– What is it proposed to expend on Naval Bases?
– I cannot tell the honorable member ; but that work will mean many million pounds before we are through with it. We have an inquiry going forward now by the best expert we could obtain in the Old Country regarding these very matters.
– Only in a portion of Australia. You declined to let him go to
Queensland to inspect the manoeuvre area and naval training area at Wide Bay, which is one of the best areas in the Commonwealth.
– Did we? If the honorable member can show any good reason why the expert should go to Queensland, there will be no difficulty in the way. Let him make out his case, and he shall have the expert. We do not want to prevent him from going anywhere where he can do useful work for us; but he is a very expensive man, and we do not want to send him about unnecessarily. This is the first time I have heard of this. I thought he was going to Queensland.
– Only to Brisbane.
– If the honorable member can make out a good case why he should go farther north than Brisbane, he shall go there. The question of the public works of the Defence Department has to be considered in the light of the strategical requirements of the Army and Navy; and that consideration, I think, differentiates those works from ordinary works of utility which have relation to the Civil Service and the ordinary business of the country.
– Would woollen mills come under the heading of “ defence “ ?
– That is a very pertinent inquiry.
– Or a harness factory?
– All I can say is, that as to factories already established the Committee will not operate.
– Supposing we want to put up another one?
– In that case the Committee should have a function.
– What if we decided to have a new hoot factory to make boots for the military?
– I think that matter should come under the review of the Committee. We shall have to modify the measure later on, to meet those objections.
– Would a small-arms factory be included?
– We have taken our Socialism so far now that one does not know where to draw the line in these things. We must try, in Committee, to frame a series of definitions which will enable us to cover this more civil side of the Defence Department.
– Why not exclude all works except buildings?
– I shall not at all object. Meanwhile, I submit the Bill to the House, believing that it has a useful function to serve in regard to these huge expenditures of public money, and that it will make our services and decisions in Parliament more enlightened and informed when we come to face that responsibility for tha spending of the people’s money which is one of our chiefest functions in the Federal Parliament.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Fisher) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 21st November, (vide page 3430), on motion by Mr. Joseph Cook -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
.- I address myself to the second reading of this Bill with considerable pleasure, because the departure projected in it is one that I think the Commonwealth is perfectly justified in taking. I do not agree with some honorable members who have already spoken that it will be an economic measure. To be effective, a Commonwealth Bureau of Agriculture must necessarily be a costly Department.
– Hear, hear.
– We are the last continent in the world to come into the competition in the demand for population, and in order to obtain a satisfactory population we must hold out certain inducements to immigrants to come here and fill up our empty spaces. In establishing our bureau we shall be well advised if we take advantage of the experience of other countries, and I point with great satisfaction to the useful and important work done by the Agricultural Bureau of the United States of America. No finer results have been achieved anywhere than by that bureau. For many years to come our only source of wealth by way of exportable surplus will be wool, wheat, meat, and butter, and any difficulties we have can only be removed by having a greater increase in the exportable surplus of our primary productions. Since 1904 our imports and exports have been gradually coming together, until last year the exports only exceeded the imports by 1.2 per cent.
– The value of the excess was £837,490.
– The sooner the margin is greater the better off we shall be. According to the 1912 Tear Book issued by the Department of Agriculture in the United States of America, every million dollars spent upon the Department is returned in the shape of ten million dollars’ worth of wealth produced through the increased production of the land due to following the advice given by the experts of that Department. To be a little more definite as to the work done in America, I shall read from the historical sketch of the Department of Agriculture in the United States for the year 1907, which says -
In 1879 there were 35 bushels of corn raised for every person in the country, and in 1889 only 34 bushels ; but the production per acre increased from 28.1 bushels in 1879 to 29-5 ‘n «88o,.
And in relation to corn, the largest product of the United States, this was 23 bushels in 1839 and 44 bushels in 1899. I am pleased to notice that, under the provisions of the Bill before us, there are certain matters which the Commonwealth can investigate for the benefit of coming generations. First of all, the proposed bureau will deal with the acquisition and diffusion of information connected with agriculture and so forth. To do this we must have eminently qualified laboratory professors or experts who know precisely what they are talking about, and we shall have to pay these men very substantial salaries in order to obtain their services. The States have- made several mistakes through haggling over dollars in the matter of giving increases to their experts. Sone year agc New South Wales had the services of Dr. Cobb, one of the finest bacteriologists in the world, but the United States very soon found out his reputation, and got hold of him, because New South Wales was not prepared to go to the expense of the dollars America was prepared to pay. Another illustration is to be found in Victoria. The State has the services of Mr. Elwood Mead, one of the finest irrigation experts in the world. He has made wonderful alterations in the irrigation schemes in existence in Victoria, but his position is now in jeopardy, owing to advanced offers being made to him from another country. I have not heard whether he has decided to remain here, or whether Victoria is to lose his eminent services. If we are to succeed in the direction we hope to attain, that of attracting the people looking for land in a new country, we shall have to pay well to get the services of these experts. As to our relationship with the States, I can see no evidence of any antagonism between the States’ Departments and our proposed bureau. Mr. Valder, Under-Secretary for Agriculture m New South Wales, has told me that he can see no reason why there should be any friction between an agricultural bureau, under the Federal auspices, and the Agricultural Departments of the States. He considers that the two could work hand in hand, that the experience of the State Departments will probably be of benefit to the Federal bureau, and that ultimately Australia will be able to take its place in the councils of the world in this regard.
– That is the attitude of the Victorian Director of Agriculture.
– Where does your antiSocialism come in 1
– When dealing with a proposal so broad as the one before us, I hope we are not going to intrude party considerations. If the honorable member would think for a moment, he would discover the difference between a public utility and a Socialistic project. They are as wide apart as the Poles. However, I do not wish to be drawn to one side on a matter of this kind.
– This proposal is on the same footing as universities and schools, which we all support.
– There are quite a number of matters that the Commonwealth can investigate by appointing eminent laboratory and other experts, such matters as animal pathology, field research, the introduction of new crops, new plants, and new methods.
– Dry farming.
– Yes. Dry farming comes under the heading of new methods.
– Is not the State of Victoria already doing that work ?
– I am not at all antagonistic to what the State is doing, but I hope to be able to show that there is a large portion of Australia for which no
State has endeavoured to make better provision.
– Will not this Bill mean, the creation of more Government officials ?
– It will, and thebureau will be a costly Department, but as the result of the money spent therewill be the production of much morewealth than we have at the present time. In the United States, for every million, a similar Department has cost in the way of agricultural instruction, the result ha* been ten million dollars’ worth of wealth produced. This is one Department in which we can see a direct return ahead of us for the money we shall spend. We could follow the lines oi the United States Agricultural Bureau, and divide* the work into several divisions, each, under control of a noted expert. In the. first place, we should have a good laboratory in which eminent men can make in:vestigations into such things as infectious. and contagious diseases of all sorts, pleuro pneumonia in cattle, tetanus,. Texas fever, tuberculosis, and other important diseases that ought to be investigated by the very highest authorities, if we wish to be as successful in our production as we hope to be.
– As an anti-Socialist, whydo you not do that out of your own pocket)
– That is the nation’s business.
– Evidently the honorable member for Capricornia does not. realize that we are now dealing with anational matter, and not with one thatshould be approached from an individual point of view. To invite the individual to deal with the national aspect of affairs would land us into such troublethat the honorable member would go- bald in a week. In the initial stages of the work of this proposed Bureau of Agriculture, I see no reason why we should be at all antagonistic to the States. I hope we shall never be antagonistic towards them, and I trust that we shall utilize their work as part and parcel of a great scheme. The State Departmentsare doing a lot of work that might well be published in the Federal reports for the benefit of the whole of Australia. TheDepartments in New South Wales, Victoria, and Western Australia are doinggood, work, each for its own State, but the results ought to be made available ta the whole Commonwealth. A few months ago Western Australia took from New South Wales the finest wheat experimentalist we had. He was the senior pupil of the late Mr. Farrar, and New South Wales could ill afford to lose him, but Western Australia offered him more than he was getting in New South Wales, and, naturally, he went where his services were better recognised. As the controlling genius of the laboratory, I would suggest the appointment of a gentleman possessing a veterinary science degree, or of one holding a double degree, that is, a medical degree, and a degree in veterinary science. In most European countries the men at the head of affairs -possess double degrees. Sir John McFadyean, a double.degree man, is an eminent authority, particularly on bacteriology and pathology, in Great Britain, and Sir Stewart Stock is Chief Veterinary Officer and head of the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries there. In South Africa, Dr. Thale is the bacteriologist. In America, Dr. Mohler is the Chief Pathologist of the Bureau of Animal Industry, and in India Professor Holmes is the Imperial Bacteriologist. In Australia we have an eminent bacteriologist in Dr. Gilruth, the Administrator of the Northern Territory, and another in Dr. Dodds of the Sydney University. A name of wide-world reputation in bacteriology is Professor Bang of Denmark, who is the discoverer of the cause of epizootic abortion in cattle, which is at the present moment a matter of considerable importance to us. Tt is necessary that there should be a gentleman possessing a veterinary degree at the head of affairs, because the British Medical Association objects to an individual who has not had special training in medical jurisprudence entering the field of bacteriological investigation. A doctor of veterinary science must diagnose wholly from symptoms, and thus acquires a more intimate knowledge of the causes of many of the troubles which affect the lower creation than the ordinary medical man obtains of the causes of human disease. I say that with the greatest respect for the medical profession, and in justice to the eminent veterinary surgeons who have so wide a knowledge of the bacteria and micro-organisms affecting animal life. Coming to m -other matter, I have before me a map prepared by the Commonwealth
Meteorologist, which shows that one-third of the area of Australia has a rainfall of less than 10 inches. It does not follow that that country cannot be settled, and should be abandoned as if it were a Sahara. It should be a function of the Agricultural Bureau to experiment with a view to ascertaining the methods to be employed to make good use of these dry areas. The Department should endeavour to find out also what constituents are lacked by the soil, and how they can be best supplied, and should generally ascertain the possibilities of the country for agricultural and pastoral occupation. Magnificent crops may be obtained with a rainfall of only 10 inches a year, provided that the rain falls in the growing season between May and October. Indeed, I would sooner have a rainfall of 10 inches between those months than one of 40 inches between October and March. In the Northern Territory, we have a Government farm on which £19,000 has been spent to date. The rainfall in the locality is 40 to 50 inches per annum, but according to the Government Meteorologist, no rain is to be expected in May, June, July, August, and September. Consequently, agriculture in the ordinary sense of the word is not possible there. What are needed are experiments to ascertain the possibilities of intense culture, or of crops, possibly even of wheat, which may be sown at times of the year differing from the times of sowing in the more favored and cooler parts of the continent. The dry area to which I referred, if proved by careful experiments to be capable of settlement, would give room for a huge population that would help us to hold for ourselves what is probably the best country under the sun. The chemist has within the last few years revolutionized our knowledge of agriculture, and I look forward hopefully to a considerable alteration of our methods. There are in the soil two kinds of micro-organisms, which are hostile to each other. There are bacteria, which are beneficial, and protozoa, which are harmful, and the discovery of methods which will keep the protozoa in check and cause the bacteria to thrive will greatly increase the yields of the soil. Experiments have been made which go to show that, land which has been gradually getting weaker and weaker, or “ sick,” to use the word of the farmer, can be brought back to almost pristine vigour. It has been found that by subjecting soil to a heat of from 56 to 100 degrees centigrade the protozoa in it is killed, but that the bacteria can withstand a heat of 150 degrees centigrade, even though it may be forced back into the spore state.
Honorable members interjecting-
– I am trying to deal with this question from a broad point of view ; and if my remarks are having no educational effect upon honorable members opposite, who are always telling us that they are the friends of the farmer, I am sorry for them. My object is to show some of the difficulties that have to be faced in connexion with the greatest industry in Australia. The men on the land are responsible for the only exports of surplus production that we have; and honorable members opposite, who pose as the friends of the agriculturists, should be anxious to help them in every way. If we could have agricultural experts of eminent reputation engaged in connexion with the bureau to carry out experiments such as are being conducted in other parts of the world, the whole country would be benefited. If the new agricultural theories developed by agricultural chemists can be effectively brought to bear in many of the older settled districts, where we have to resort to what is known as the rotation of crops and fallow-, ing, then our older ground will return a yield twofold greater than it is returning to-day, and the result must be a great increase in the wealth of Australia. Anything in that direction would be costly, no doubt, but the money would be well spent. I feel quite satisfied that the results which have been obtained in this direction in the United States of America would also be obtained in this great Commonwealth. We might have experts engaged also in connexion with the important subject of the afforestation of many parts of Australia. At present a wicked, wanton waste is going on. Some of the finest timbers in the world are being ruthlessly destroyed. This waste is largely due to the ignorance of the individuals concerned, and perhaps, also, to the fact that although these timbers are of commercial value, there are no facilities at hand to encourage agriculturists to prove this great source of wealth, with th*e- result that they are simply burnt off.
– Have we any power to deal with that matter?
– We might deal with it by suggestion; and, by working hand in hand with the State Departments, we could ascertain whether those Departments could not bring influence to bear on the State Governments in this direction., Then, again, we have a number of noxious weeds which require to be investigated. Prickly pear is one of these As far as I have been able to ascertain, it is of very little commercial value. I conducted some experiments, at one time, to ascertain whether it could not be used, after being boiled, or as ensilage, for feeding dairy cattle, but the results were not satisfactory. There are also a number of stock-poisoning plants in different parts of Australia that need to be dealt with. We could have the opinions of the authorities promulgated in those useful publications known as bulletins, and now issued in connexion with the United! States of America Bureau of Agriculture. In such bulletins we could give the latest information concerning the efforts of scientific men to solve all these problems. These bulletins must result in better work. In conclusion, I want to point out that a bureau similar to that which we propose to establish in the Commonwealth is in existence in Canada, and isdoing good work. I have before me a report by the Live Stock Commissioners of the Dominion; and looking through it I find that ‘ they act upon the suggestion I have made in regard to the employment of veterinarians at the head of the different Departments. In nearly every case where bacteriological investigation has to be made, we find that a gentleman holding veterinary degrees isin charge. The result has been a grand success, and the reports of these Commissioners have been most encouraging. I hold that it will not be necessary, in connexion with our bureau, to commence experiments de novo. If we are wise we should go on with our experiments where others have left off. Let us take advantage of their experience, cheerfully acknowledging the sources which we have drawn upon, and I feel satisfied that as a result of the establishment of this bureau our wealth will be largely increased; that we shall be able to discover methods of dealing with portions of Australia that at present look somewhat hopeless, and of dealing with them in such a way as to attract to them the surplus populations of other parts of the world.
– I am sorry that the Prime Minister did not allow this measure to stand over until next session, because it has certainly been brought forward without due consideration. It is quite incomplete, and should not have been introduced until the Prime Minister had consulted the Premiers of the States, and had a conference with the directors of the State Agricultural Departments with a view of ascertaining how far the Commonwealth might take over work that is now being done by the individual States.
I cannot refrain from expressing my continued surprise at the action of the great anti-Socialist party opposite, which is every day abandoning its professions, and adopting socialistic and even communistic experiments.
– Does the honorable member think it would be logical to abolish our universities and public schools ? It is all a question of education.
– Had my honorable friend been acquainted with the Labour movement for the last twenty years he would know that we have claimed all along that all expenditure of public money in the interests of education is of a socialistic, and in some cases, of a communistic character. Where a community is taxed to find funds for free education, that, in my opinion, is a bit of Communism. The honorable member for Hume thinks that there is a difference between a socialistic experiment and a public utility carried on by a Government or a municipality. What we try to impress on the Liberals and anti-Socialists is that the expenditure of Government or municipal funds to carry on services which they do not carry on for themselves is of a socialistic character. I regard this proposal to establish a Bureau of Agriculture as being very much in the nature of Communism- a step, of course, greatly beyond Socialism, under which people have to pay for services rendered. Our honorable friends opposite who declaim against us, and declare from every public platform that we are Socialists, while they are anti-Socialists, are going to dip their hands into the public purse to take out thousands, and, perhaps, some hundreds of thousands, to assist one or two sections of the community, and principally the farmers and pastoralists.
– But the proposal is a good one.
– Rightly carried out it is, but my honorable friends opposite insist upon abusing the Labour party throughout the Commonwealth because we ask for a little Socialism or Communism for the man who is on the lowest rung of the ladder. When we asked for pensions for the aged poor we were called Socialists. g
– It was said that we were “sapping their independence.”
– Yes j- some honorable members opposite were always in favour of old-age pensions, but others have always opposed the system, and tolerate it only because they dare not say from a public platform that they would vote to abolish it.
I do not think we can sufficiently impress upon the Liberals and the public generally what Socialism and Communism really are ; how far they enter into the lives of the people at the present time, and how we ought to extend Communism and Socialism in the interests of civilization.
I am agreeable to this proposal provided the Prime Minister will consult the States. Honorable members opposite say that we have been extravagant as a party, but what about their financial methods? What have the honorable member for Robertson and the honorable member for Riverina, who take an interest in financial matters, to say of this proposal on the part of the Government? The Prime Minister says, “We propose to establish a Bureau of Agriculture.”
– Will it not “ sap the independence ‘ ‘ of the farmers ?
– I shall come to that. The Prime Minister said -
We want a Bureau of Agriculture. It seems to me that we have great opportunities to effect a lot of fine work. I think we ought to have a small body of competent investigators.
When I put a question to him as to what the cost would be, I think he said that my question was frivolous. I ‘ asked him whether he had prepared any estimate of the cost that would be involved in the establishment of the proposed Bureau of Agriculture. The reply of the Prime Minister was, “ That is the last of those frivolous questions that I shall answer.” I asked that that statement should be withdrawn as objectionable, and the Prime Minister withdrew it, though he added that the question I had asked was objectionable to him. And no doubt the question was objectionable, seeing that the Prime Minister knew nothing whatever as to what the cost would be.
To his great surprise, from which he has not yet recovered, the honorable gentleman became Prime Minister. He never had any constructive policy when he was in Opposition abusing the Labour Government in the language of the pot-house.
– Order !
– I have never been in the pot-house, and I wonder how the Prime Minister obtained his knowledge as to the kind of language used there.
– Order !
– However, the honorable gentleman got into office; and I suppose, prompted by the Minister of Trade and Customs, who, as a private member, had made a speech in favour of an Agricultural Bureau, he hurriedly introduced this measure. Some weeks ago the Prime Minister, in answer to a question by myself, said he would lay on the table the sketch which had been prepared of tlie duties to be carried out by the experts, but it has not yet appeared, and I suppose that really it is not ready. Probably the Minister of Trade and Customs, when he speaks, will give us his view of the scope and character of the proposed bureau. Before I leave the subject of the great Liberal anti-Socialist party, I think I ought to indicate an amendment, of which I had intended to give notice but for the fact that I thought the Bill had been dropped. That amendment proposed to make the preamble of the Bill read thus -
Whereas the so-called Liberal or Fusion party have abandoned their alleged policy of antiSocialism, and have wisely determined to spend a portion of the people’s money, known as the Consolidated Revenue, in assisting farmers, dairymen, horticulturists, viticulturists, stockowners and others in an unmistakable Socialistic and Communistic manner, be it therefore enacted.
I have here an enormous quantity of literature which I have collected, thanks to the kindness of various State Minis ters of Agriculture and their officers - literature showing what the States are already doing in assisting those engaged in laud pursuits. The Prime Minister, when he assumed office, said . that it would be his aim to bring about harmony between the States, and we know his method and the results. He began by abusing Mr. Holman, the Premier of New South Wales, in very violent language regarding the small-pox business.
– I cannot connect these remarks with the Bill.
– I shall try to connect them by showing that the Prime Minister, in introducing the Bill in the way that he did, was not in any way endeavouring to bring about harmony, between the States. Two or three years ago the farmers themselves, in conference at Sydney or Brisbane, carried a resolution against the establishment of a Federal Bureau.
– The honorable member is confusing the farmers with the fruitgrowers.
– I am not, and I resent that remark. Really there is some cause for some of the language quoted in the Senate, for Parliament seems to be the place where people indulge in fibs to an inordinate extent.
– The honorable member must not make Reflections of that nature on Parliament.
– I withdraw the words, but honorable members will admit that we flirt too frequently with the truth. The Prime Minister had been with his back to the wall for so many years that he never thought that he would be in office again; and, therefore, he had no policy, and had to rush in with this Bill before it was ready. When introducing the measure he had no idea of what was to be the scope of the Federal Bureau. He said -
It has always appeared to me that -what we most need in Australia is a small select body of the best original investigators we can get. I am afraid’ that we have never gone to the top of the tree in engaging the kind of ability that we want in these matters.
This was immediately after referring to the fact that one Commonwealth officer was receiving £1,000 a year -
Altogether, a great realm of exploration lies open to us, and we have to persevere until we find a solution for many of our difficulties.
The honorable gentleman went on to refer to the diseases of apples, and to the prickly pear, and said -
If we got a man to deal with one of these troubles and solve it for us, he would be worth ^50,000 a year to this country.
For years in Queensland there was a standing reward of £10,000 for any method by which land could be cleared of the prickly pear at a cost of £1 per acre, and no one was ever able to claim it. The Prime Minister had in his mind a small body of experts who were to go into a laboratory and conduct certain experiments; and he seems to have been quite unaware of what had been done by the States. In Queensland, Victoria, and New South Wales there are agricultural bureaux at the present carrying out all’ the experiments which it is supposed are to be carried out under this Bill.
– Not at all.
– What have those State bureaux done?
– The honorable member for Riverina is a pastoralist, and, perhaps, has not given the attention he might to the agricultural industry. As I say, I have an enormous mass of literature here which I cannot hope to deal with in the limited time at the disposal of honorable members. We ought to be dealing with the Estimates instead of this Bill, which is being rushed through without proper consideration.
I have a long and very interesting letter, of many typewritten pages, from the secretary of the Victorian Agricultural Department, in which he informs me that Victoria has experimental farms, a chemists’ branch, a science branch, a field branch, and a horticultural branch, with farmers’ classes and lectures. The object of the agricultural division under the State is briefly to assist in raising the standard of cultivation and production in every part of the State where agriculture is carried on, by the means of demonstration plots and experimental farms, regular courses of lectures, and by the distribution of pamphlets, bulletins, and so forth, bearing directly on the work of the farmer. Plant diseases, and soil, and manurial problems are also a marked feature of the work.
– Does the letter say anything about the Wyuna experimental farm on which was lost £10,000 or £15,000 ?
– Listen to the honorable member for Riverina, who is a supporter of the Bill before us ! He points out that the State of Victoria, in assisting the farmer by means of this farm, has sunk from £10,000 to £15,000.
– Because the Liberal Government put a man there who knew nothing about farming..
– I am not, as I have explained before, a Unificationist, and I draw special attention to the remark of the honorable member for Riverina. That gentleman, by supporting this Bill, proposes to supersede the State in such efforts; but if the State of Victoria, which has a comparatively small area, has lost £10,000 or £15,000, how much is the Commonwealth likely to lose in experiments, with the heads of the bureau, probably, in Melbourne, and farms and other experimental stations in the other States, say, for example, in the Northern Territory.
I emphasize this to show the necessity for postponing the carrying of this Bill until such time as the Prime Minister or his representatives have consulted with the State Premiers and the representatives of the State Agricultural Departments, to see to what extent it would be better to leave certain duties in the hands of the States, and to what extent the Federal Government ought to take over the work. Otherwise, there is going to be foolish and extravagant expenditure of public money in duplicating the work.’
I can show honorable members numbers of bulletins issued in the various States on all kinds of subjects. In Victoria, they have a central Research Farm at Werribee, situated about 19 miles from Melbourne; the Rutherglen Experimental Farm and Viticultural College, in the North-eastern District; the Wyuna Irrigation Farm in the Goulburn Valley; and an Experimental Farm at Bamawm, in the Goulburn Valley. It is stated that “ the general object of these farms is to carry out exhaustive experiments and demonstrations to show the varieties of the different crops best suited to each of the several districts, the manurial requirements of the various soils; the cultural and tillage methods most likely to give best results, and the methods of crop rotation which will give the best financial results “ - just what one honorable member was asking the Federal Government to do. “ Hundreds of permanent experimental plots have been laid out at these experimental farms, and the intelligent settler who visits these plots may read from the results of the plots those practices which are likely to give him the best financial results. Expert officers, skilled in the various branches of production, are attached to these various farms, and give personal advice on all agricultural matters free. The results of the researches and experiments are published as they accrue in the monthly journal of the Department, and so are made available to all farmers in the State.”
What is the Prime Minister going to do about that? Is he going to spend public money in duplicating that work without consulting the State Premiers and the State Ministers of Agriculture as to how far Federal interference is called for?
– When the Bill is passed, arrangements can be made.
– Could we not come to an understanding before we pass the Bill?
– It is agreed now that there is a fairly large field of scientific research work that can be undertaken by the Commonwealth. There is no trouble about that.
– This Bill only shows the slip-shod method of legislation of which we have the right to complain. Honorable members who went throughout the Commonwealth talking about the extravagance of the Labour Government, ought surely to come down to this House with a proper scheme of finance, instead of a Bill which may cost, we do not know how much.
– Have’ the State Departments ever cured any one disease to which our stock were liable?
– We know that in Queensland they have discovered certain cures. One man discovered a formula for treating ticks - a matter affecting the pastoralists particularly. The Government of Queensland spent public money in assisting the stock-owners to get rid of the ticks, or to keep them down. The State Governments of Australia have assisted pastoralists to an enormous degree, and if a balance-sheet were published showing the amount of Government money that had been spent in that way the public would be astounded. Almost millions of money have been spent by the Governments of the States in giving the stock-owners wire netting and rabbitproof fences, at very great cost, to fence their runs when, in some cases, there were no rabbits within hundreds of miles.
– They paid it all back.
– They have not paid it all back in Queensland, by any means. The State Governments of Australia, and of Queensland in particular, have given the pastoralists long leases of huge areas at 5s. per square mile - the leases running in some cases to forty-two years. They let the pastoralists in Queensland have land at½d. an acre, where they charged the farmer 3d. per acre for similar quality land, so that pastoralists like the honorable member for Riverina should never say anything about the parsimony of the States.
– Where can that land be got?
– If the honorable member will write to the Bureau of Intelligence in Brisbane, and ask for the latest Crown Lands Directory, he will find that he will be able to get land in Queensland from small agricultural farms of 150 acres up to farms of 1,280 acres, or get up to 2,500 acres of prickly-pear country, and up to hundreds of square miles of country further back from the railway line.
– A Bill like this was included in your Government’s programme.
– It might have been. We are always willing to assist the farmers.
– And now the practical test comes.
– We shall assist the farmers by protecting them and the general public from the duplication of the expenditure on many of these services. Why should the Federal Government issue, through its Bureau, pamphlets on cotton-growing for the Queensland Government? There are pamphlets already’ printed on cotton-growing. I have here a large number of pamphlets that have been issued, and these are only about a quarter of the total number.
Here is Western Australia issuing a bulletin on “milk and cream: its care from the cow to the consumer,” by the chief of the dairy division. Are the
Federal Government going to issue a similar pamphlet to the farmers?
Here is another on the examination of Western* Australian poison plants. The honorable member for Riverina asked what the States had done to protect stock. That pamphlet supplies the answer. Here is another pamphlet from Western Australia from the horticultural and viticultural division in relation to lemon-curing. There is another on “ hints to stockbreeders, together with diseases common in stock, for the use of breeders of all kind of farm animals,” issued by the Department of Western Australian Agriculture. There is another on ‘ ‘ orchard irrigation and drainage.”
Now we come to Queensland, which issues a very large list of pamphlets, beautifully printed, and containing ‘a great deal of information. Here is a pamphlet on “poultry-farming,” issued by the Department of Agriculture and Stock. There is another on citrus culture. There is no place in Australia where .citrus fruits can be produced so well as in that country. To show what we are doing to assist the farmer, here is a book on elementary lessons on the chemistry of the farm, dairy, and household, to be obtained free. My antiSocialist friends on the other side can get these pamphlets free on application to the Queensland Department. There is a pamphlet on lamb-raising, which is described as an undeveloped industry in Queensland, and no doubt, considering the territory that we have, it is. Here is a lecture on the drug cure of tick fever. Here is a pamphlet concerning the very matter the honorable member for Hume spoke about - in reference to diseases in sheep, and another with reference to contagious abortion in cows. Here is another to assist the exporters of our products. I am not too keen about that matter, because, unhappily, the more we assist the exporters to send away our produce, the higher becomes the price for the consumers here. We assist them to send their butter and meat to London, and the combine charge the people here a higher price than they ought to charge.
– There would be none of us here if we did not export.
-j-Let me tell the honorable member that in the ten years we exported about £60,000,000 worth of agricultural produce, but we consumed locally about £273,000,000 worth, so that if there were no other countries in the. world we could still get along here.
Here is a pamphlet on cotton-growing in Queensland, so that we have done a great deal in our State to assist all kinds of producers.
– Clause 46 of this Bill enables an arrangement to be made with the Government of any State for the supply and distribution of information, so that there will be no duplication.
– The, Government might first have inquired of the States whether they were prepared to join with them. Yet they pose before the public as being people who object to Unification. I would point out that the resolution objecting to the proposal to establish a Federal Bureau of Agriculture, passed by the Conference of Farmers, was the direct outcome of the agitation of the so-called Liberal or State Rights party and their opposition to many of the functions now carried on by the Commonwealth .
Queensland has also published a pamphlet on cotton plantations, and on dips and sprays for cattle and horses. It is remarkable how much we spend in assisting the pastoralist and farmer, and how little the pastoralists and farmers, as a body, realize it.
I quite agree that we ought to assist both pastoralists and farmers, but, in my opinion, it is about time we also commenced to assist the poor people in the community. What are we doing for sailors, wharf labourers, miners, and those poor fellows who work in the trenches in the streets, about whom cultured men, like the honorable member for Parkes, and others, complain, and say “ They are all idlers,” if they should happen to straighten their backs during their work? What are we doing for these men ?
– The more production is increased the better it is for them.
– That may be so in a properly organised community, but not in one where combines or trusts can increase the cost of living. I admit that if we make two blades of grass or two potatoes grow where one grew before, it is better for the community, providing we can get the goods to the consumers, and I hope that later on we shall assist the farmers to dispose of their produce by municipal, or possibly State, agents.
Another pamphlet issued by the Queensland Government gives instructions to dairymen. The State Government have also gone into the matter of assisting the pastoralist by information and expert advice to enable him to secure the* best class of horses for stock-breeding purposes. They also publish a pamphlet on broom millet, and they supply the Dairy Produce Acts free of charge. They publish a pamphlet on the cultivation of potatoes in Queensland, and a pamphlet concerning sisal fibre growing. In fact, they do a great deal in Queensland to assist farmers by a series of beautiful pamphlets; such a one as “an abridged text-book on plant life and botany for Queensland students.” Where are the pamphlets to assist boot operatives? Is anything done to assist boot operatives?
– Yes; there is the Working Men’s College.
– And a 40 per cent, duty.
– While we give the boot operative protection against foreign competition we also give the farmer assistance at the Customs House, in the shape of import duties on butter, cheese, and bacon.
– The duties are of no use to us.
– But the honorable member would not abolish the duties unless he is a Free Trader.
– I am a Free Trader.
– Queensland also publishes pamphlets on the cultivation of fruit, rubber, and maize.
– You are a champion “ stonewaller.”
– I am quite serious about this matter. I am only sorry that I have not time to deal with it at proper length. There is very important and generous work done by the State of New South Wales to assist farmers and producers, and if honorable members would like details about this assistance they can obtain them from a pamphlet issued by direction of the late Honorable Donald McDonald, Minister of Agriculture in New South Wales, showing the State assistance rendered to agricultural settlement in that State. A balance-sheet is given in that pamphlet showing the very large amount of money which has been spent in assisting” the farmers. Those anti-Socialists who* object to the Government using money for any industrial purpose, because they say it destroys a man’s independence, and think that every individual should do things: for himself, only . apply this doctrine tosuch men as boot operatives, miners, or” sailors. If boot operatives should ask for Government money to assist them, these honorable members would say, “ No. If you get this assistance you lose your independence, and your moral fibre is destroyed. We breed up a race of men who will need to lean up against a wall or a post all their lives.”
We should distribute our favours with something like an even hand. I shall not use that vulgarism about greasing a certain fat animal, because I do not wish to imitate the Prime Minister, but when we are spending money to assist the millionaire pastoralists in Australia, surely we should not baulk when we are asked for Government aid for the unemployed. The PrimeMinister the other day made -use of thecommunistic sentiment, “ Each for all and all for each.” I want him not tobaulk if we should ask that assistance be given to the unemployed.
– What is your attitude towards the Bill ?
– The Prime Minister has brought down the Bill in a hurry. It will create dissension among the States. The honorable gentleman is abandoning his State rights opinion. However, what I was anxious to ask when he interrupted me was - If we pass the Bill what are we going to do for the unemployed ? The Government propose to expend anything up to £100,000 on a Bureau of Agriculture to assist pastoralists who, generally speaking, are fairly well to do, and to assist farmers, many of whom, unfortunately, are not too well off. ‘
– The Bill is intended to help them to a better financial position.
– Yes; but see the blundering method that Ministers have adopted. A sensible business-like body of men would have called a conference of State Premiers, and would have asked these Premiers to bring with them the heads of their Departments f>i Agriculture. They would have asked what suggestions could be put forward whereby duplication could be avoided. If we appoint an expert to deal with diseases in stock, is he to spend Federal money in issuing pamphlets dealing with this matter when nearly all the States are already issuing pamphlets upon the same subject? Can any Minister defend that kind of folly ? My complaint is not against the idea of having a Federal Bureau of Agriculture, but it is against the clumsy methods of the Government who claimed that if they got into office they would curtail expenditure, and that there would be a return to responsible Government and sound finance. This is their sound finance: The States issue hundreds of pamphlets on hundreds of different subjects concerning farmers and pastoralists, and a Federal Bureau of Agriculture is to be superimposed upon the States and to spend thousands of pounds upon the same work. Surely that is an unbusiness-like proposition. Honorable members would not run their private business in that way. At any rate, I do not think the honorable member for Riverina would.
Sitting suspended from 1.0 to 2.15 p.m.
– The New South “Wales Agricultural Department, according to a pamphlet issued with authority, giving its history, was established in 1890, when the Hon. Sydney Smith was appointed by Executive minute Minister for Mines and Agriculture. A Director was appointed to organise the new Department, and it was administered by the first Minister for three years, as a separate entity. A comprehensive scheme of agricultural education was approved by the Government, the Hawkesbury Agricultural College was started, and four experimental farms were established, and sites for others were chosen in districts whose climatic conditions differed. A scientific staff was got together. It consisted of a chemist, a plant pathologist, a botanist, an entomologist, a viticulturist, and a fruit expert ; and an officer was appointed to give instruction in dairying, with the aid of a travelling dairy. The Agricultural Gazette was instituted, and was distributed free each month to about 500 persons connected with rural pursuits. Several experts, such as those I have mentioned, will be required by the Commonwealth Department, if the institution is likely to be of benefit to Australia. In 1893, the year of the great bank smashes, it became necessary for the Government to retrench, and the Department was coupled with the Mines Department. But it was soon found that it did not make the same progress under those conditions as when dealt with by a Minister holding a separate portfolio, and after representations had frequently been made by the classes interested - anti-Socialists, no doubt - the office of Minister for Agriculture was created by a special Act of Parliament, and the Department was, in January, 1908, placed on an independent footing.
In the Department now there is a ‘chemist’s branch, in which various chemical investigations relating to agriculture are carried on, as well as analyses of soil, fodders, wheat and flour, butter and milk, &c.
There is a dairying branch, in which there is a dairy expert, and instructors in dairying, with a staff of inspectors and graders in connexion with the Commerce Act.
There is a fruit expert, who, with the aid of assistants and inspectors, administers the Fruit Pests Act, and superintends operations at various orchards.
There is a sheep and a- wool expert, a wheat experimentalist, and a Government entomologist. The duty of the entomologist and his assistants is to investigate the life history of the various insects and pests which affect fruit growing, and to discover methods of keeping noxious insects and organisms in check.
There is a viticultural expert, a stock branch, a bureau of micro-biology, a seeds department - the seeds being sometimes sold and sometimes given away - and a Government botanist, together with a number of other experts.
I have not time to refer to the various experimental farms, but I draw attention to the following balance-sheet. My anti-Socialist friends who object to the unemployed man getting assistance from the State, on the score that his moral fibre may thereby be destroyed, do not object to the expenditure of large sums of money for other socialistic work. The expenditure and revenue of the Department for the financial year ended 30th June, 1910, was as follows: -
That debit balance, a sum of £87,218 of Government money, was spent in New South Wales in 1909-10 to assist the pastoralists and farmers of that State.
In conclusion, there may be some difficulty in obtaining experts to fill positions in the Commonwealth Agricultural Bureau, and I would like to know whether it is intended that Australians shall be chosen.
– We should get the best brains from wherever they can be obtained.
– Yes; and we should pay tlie best salaries, because, if we do not, those whom we should employ will feel that they can do better by entering into business for themselves. I have it on good authority that the lands of Australia differ from those of other countries, and that men who may be well qualified to say what should be done with land in the United States of America or the Argentine, or some other place, may not understand Australian conditions.
The State experts have been .conducting experiments here for years, and due consideration must be given to that fact, and to their claims for appointment in the Federal Bureau, should it be established.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Falkiner) adjourned.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 5th December, vide page 3870) :
Division 1 (The Senate), £7,192
– I wish to bring under the notice of the Prime Minister the important fact, which, perhaps, has escaped his notice, that provision is made on the Estimates of the Parliament of the Dominion of Canada for typists and shorthand writers to assist members in attending to their correspondence. A friend of mine of whom I inquired, “ How are you getting on as a member of the New South Wales Parliament,” replied, “ I am not a member of Parliament, I am simply a correspondence hack.” We ought to be something more than that. It cannot be denied that members have to deal with a very large volume of correspondence, and that it is largely added to whenever a new department is taken over. For instance, when we took over the old-age pensions system our correspondence was enormously increased.
– What does the honorable member suggest?
– That the Government should place at the disposal of honorable members - and especially of members of this House, because it is to the district representatives that most of the electors go - the assistance of typists and shorthand writers to enable them to deal with their correspondence, which has been steadily increasing. Since we are so influenced by precedent and example, I refer the Prime Minister to the amount which is spent in this direction by the Canadian Parliament. A commencement might be made with the employment of two or three typists and shorthand writers, and if their services were found to be insufficient more could be obtained. People who occasionally visit our galleries and see us here think that we have nothing to do. That idea is entirely erroneous. The records of Parliament show that a great many members have come and gone, and many of them have left us because of the onerous character of the work of a member of this Parliament - work that is more difficult than is that of a member of a State House. We have not only to travel long distances - and travelling is extremely disastrous to the health of members - but our work is of a most exacting nature. I am sure that if the Government would assist honorable members in the way I have suggested to attend to their correspondence and to discharge this part of their duty as it ought to be done, the public would offer no objection.
.- I wish to endorse the view expressed by the honorable member for Capricornia. I brought the matter under the notice of the Treasurer some time ago.
– The Labour party were in office for three years. Why did they not provide these typists ?
– The fact that we failed to do so does not justify the withholding of this assistance from members. I suggest that two typists should be employed in the Ministerial room and two in the Opposition room. An honorable member should not have to spend most of his time in doing mere clerical work.
– I ask honorable members to allow this matter to go for the present. I promise them that it shall be looked into with a view to seeing whether something cannot be done.
– The whole trouble could be obviated by raising our allowance to £750 a year.
.- I have already suggested in this House that an arrangement should be made to enable members of the Federal Parliament to travel free by the tramways in all our capital cities, just as we now have the use of the railways of the States.
– Why should we?
Mr.FINLAYSON . - For a very good reason. Representatives of the other States can speak with feeling as to the time occupied in visiting the various Commonwealth offices on business. Those who visit Sydney appreciate the advantage of the free use of the State tramway system, and I do not think it is unreasonable to ask that this concession should be extended in respect of the tramway system of the other capital cities. It would not involve any heavy expenditure, because we already enjoy the privilege in Sydney, and in the case of three other State capitals - Brisbane, Adelaide, and Hobart - few honorable members have occasion to go there. This convenience would be greatly appreciated, since it would enable us to go about our business more freely. I also think that an unfair deduction is made from the allowances of honorable members from the date of dissolution of a Parliament until the date of election.
– That is a matter of law. Raise it when an Electoral Bill is before us.
– I shall leave it for the present. Another suggestion which I have to make is that we should have in the Federal Library a record of members of this Parliament on the lines of a parliamentary Who’s Who. This record should give the place and date of birth, and the parliamentary career of every member.
– Would the honorable member confine it to the parliamentary career of members?
– Certainly. I would make it a purely parliamentary Who’s Who. Some of us, for instance, are anxious to know something of the parliamentary records of members who have occupied seats in this Parliament and have gone, but we have no ready means of obtaining particulars. The record I suggest could be compiled at small cost.
– Who is to tabulate it?
– The Librarian. It would be both valuable and interesting.
– What does the honorable member mean by “ parliamentary record “ ?
– We have already in the Library the photographs of every member of the first Parliament. It would be interesting to have, in addition, a record of the place of birth of every member, the date of his entry into Parliament, when he became a Minister, when he left office, why he left, and when he died. If the Prime Minister will allow this suggestion to get into his thinking box for a little while, I am sure he will approve of it.
.- The suggestion just made by the honorable member for Brisbane is a good one. Those of us who were in the first Parliament have the signatures of every member of that Parliament, and we also have their photographs in the Library. Since then there have been many changes.
– Of those who sit in this present Parliament only twenty-six were members of the first Federal Parliament.
– Is this not a matter for the Library Committee?
– This is the only opportunity we have to raise the question.
– Let the Library Committee consider it.
– If it were referred to the Library Committee I should be satisfied. What we want is a parliamentary Who’s Who.
– In other words, we want to immortalize ourselves?
– No; but I think that we should have some record of all who have been in this Parliament from its inception, with a sketch of their career.
– I shall see what can be done.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Division 2 (House of Representatives),. £9 809
.- I should like to make a suggestion to the Prime Minister for consideration in view of the next session. The recent sad events in this Parliament House must have suggested to those who have had any long parliamentary experience that four sitting days a week are too much. I know that it is very difficult for a Government, no matter what shade of politics, to get measures through; but if members are expected to sit four days a week, I am afraid that, instead of intelligent consideration of the measures brought before us, we shall have illinformed discussion without finality. In my opinion, three days a week are ample, more particularly in the case of the Federal Parliament. Honorable members who live in New South Wales, South Australia, or even in the country districts of Victoria are all anxious to return to their home at the week-end, and it is desirable that they should have time to do so, in view of the fact that many, in attending here, are drawn away from their own private business.
– I promise the honorable member that I shall consider tin* suggestion very seriously. Personally, i. look on it favorably.
– I do not thinkthere is one State Parliament in Australia which sits more than three days » week, except, perhaps, towards the end oi the session; and I trust that something will be done in the direction I have suggested.
– I indorse the remarks of the honorable member for Kennedy in reference to our sitting three days instead of four days a week. If we look at the records of the various State Parliaments we see that, with their three days a week, they do just as much work as does this Parliament. The State Parliament in Victoria claims to have put through, last session, eighty-three Bills, and the previous Federal Parliament laid claim to having passed a similar number during the life of the Parliament. Members of Parliament have other duties and business to perform and look after, as well as legislating. Outside bodies generally hold their meetings on days that Parliament does not sit; but members from New South Wales, Tasmania, and South Australia do not reach their homes until the Saturday night, and have to leave again for Melbourne on the Monday, so that they have no opportunity of attending to local affairs in their constituency, not to mention their own private business. If we go on as we are doing, it seems to me that there will be a pension suggested for members of Parliament.
– There ought to be one now.
– The honorable member means a funeral allowance !
– The public records show that men who have given their whole life to the public have been left in necessitous circumstances at the end of their political career. A man who was Premier and Speaker in Victoria “died in debt, not because he was extravagant, but because, in the position he held, he was not able to pay his way. Another exSpeaker of the same State was paid a pension because, after his years of public duty, he was left stranded. It is not to be supposed that men must abandon the whole of their private business when they become members of Parliament. A certain programme is put before the country by each successive Government, and Parliament makes up its mind to get through the business of the session, whether the sitting days be three or four a week. I am quite satisfied, in my own mind, that, in view of the atmosphere of this chamber, we sit too long “for the health of honorable members. No doubt a proposal to sit only three days would be met with the objection that on the Thursday InterState members would depart for their homes’; but that was the objection raised in regard to the country members of the State Parliament. If members do clear out, the Government have a grand opportunity to bring in their Estimates, and get on with the business.
.- I indorse what has been said by the honorable member for Henty in regard to old-age pensions for members of Parliament. It is not to the credit of the country that men who have served faithfully should, when retired either compulsorily or voluntarily, be placed in a necessitous position. There is one exmember of the House, whom I shall not name - a good party man, a good fighter and debater, and most attentive to his duties here - who now occupies a position in the Public Service which is creditable to neither the Parliament nor the country. There are others, too, who might be mentioned in an even worse position. It is not reasonable that a man should have to take the position of a clerk in a very subordinate class, after having occupied a seat in Parliament for a considerable time. Unless a member happens to live in Melbourne or the immediate vicinity, his business, should he have one, must suffer, for he cannot attend to both it and his parliamentary duties. If he be a medical man or a lawyer, he loses touch with his clients, and, after a few years, finds it most difficult to establish a new practice. The present position is all very well for those honorable members who are of independent means, but” it is very different for those in less fortunate circumstances, who, on retiring from
Parliament, may find themselves compelled to go around with a basket of peanuts, or something of that kind. Here are 111 men, representing nearly 5,000,000 people; and I am sure that the latter would willingly pay pensions on a reasonable scale to those who have served them well, and who, in their old age, find themselves poorly off. I, for instance, am in the “ sear and yellow leaf,” and I know that, although I was earning as good a living relatively before I entered Parliament as I am now, I could not go back to my own business; and I am afraid that my age would disqualify me for any public employment. My suggestion is that there should be a graduated scale of pensions according to the number df Parliaments in which a man has served, with a maximum of, say, five Parliaments, . and then a pension granted sufficient to enable him to live decently and comfortably for the rest of his life. I know that the Prime Minister is not now likely to suffer that pecuniary embarrassment common to most of us, but were he in a similar position to ourselves, and had he been defeated at the 1910 election, he would have had to seek some employment. Knowing the honorable gentleman’s spending capacity, I do not think he will be able to save very much during his parliamentary life, and very few of us can, especially those who are rearing and educating a family. I hope that the Government will give serious attention to the suggestion which has been made.
, - In my opinion, Parliament unfits a man for any other kind of business. I was brought up a banker, but I would not like to run a bank now. When a man has been from eight to twelve years or so in parliament, he has. lost the energy, cunning, snap, and subtlety so necessary in private business.
– On one occasion the honorable member said he required £1,000,000 a year to run the Commonwealth.
– Another £100 or £150 a year ought to be added to the members’ salaries, but retained by the Commonwealth and invested in a pension fund. Of course, those who did not require any pension would not draw it. I admit that the late Government had not the courage to bring forward a proposal of the kind; but, if there were a pension, members would not, as they now sometimes do, feel their hearts broken. There is nothing in the world so sad as to see a man who has served his country turned on the streets to starve.
– May I remark that sufficient suggestions have already been thrown out to sink a ship?
– Never mind, we shall finance this quietly after a time. I shall show the Prime Minister how to do it. We had a lawyer in America called Holman. He represented Wabash, in Indiana. He was in the “United States Congress for forty odd years, and at the end of that time, when a young man defeated him, he said to the “people, “ Had I served my wife and family half as faithfully as I served my country, I should not be turned out now to starve.” Whenever there was a proposal for an appropriation to build a railway, or do anything to assist a railway company, Holman used to object, and he was called the watchdog of the “United States Treasury; but when he was defeated, at the age of seventy, the people forgot all about the millions that he had saved them.
.- I observe that the salary of the Clerk of the House of Representatives has be.en raised from £900 to £1,000. I have no objection to this, because I think we have in him a very able and capable man; but I notice that the secretaries of three very big Departments - Defence, Home Affairs, and External Affairs - are receiving only £900 a year each. I think they occupy positions of equal responsibility, calling for equal ability, and perhaps the Prime Minister could give me some reason why they are receiving less than the Clerk does.
.- Whilst a number of increases have been given in various” directions, the Head Gardener of Parliament House grounds, who occupies what might almost be termed a professional position, is left year after year at the miserable salary of £168. While we are looking after officers in superior positions, we ought, also, to look after those in less elevated places.
– I hope honorable members will understand that if I do not refer to all these matters I am making a note of them, and will go over them carefully afterwards. The heads of Departments mentioned by the honorable member for Barrier have all had very large increases since the Clerk had any at all, and the question of their increase, in any case, seems to have little or no relation to the increase in the Clerk’s salary. It is hopeless to try to even up all these officers.
– I do not say that because one man gets £1,000 another ought to get the same, but these are three big Departments.
– Then, frankly, there is no reason that I can allege why these men should be getting £900 while the Clerk gets £1,000, except the fact that the Clerk has been on his £900 mark for a much longer time than any of these have been on their £900 marks. I have no doubt that all these anomalies will be rectified in time.
.- I wish to ask the Prime Minister if the various officers whose salaries appear in the items under discussion are classified under the Public Service Commissioner’s classification, and if there is a minimum and maximum salary to which they rise in ordinary grades?
– No; Parliament controls its own officers.
.- I do not want to be always quarrelling with the artist who. designed our coatofarms, but I remember remarking, when it was first brought out, that the kangaroo and emu appeared to me to be up the wattle tree. It is a very inartistic design. It contains a bad kangaroo and miserable emu, and I*do not know that even the wattle is a very true representation. It could easily be made a much more appropriate coat-of-arms. I notice that there is a tendency to use imported paper in preference to giving orders to our local paper manufacturers. In two of the States at least there are paper factories doing very important work, and I think the Prime Minister himself performed the opening ceremony of a large manufacturing establishment a few Saturdays ago. I do not say that they go in for manufacturing the class of paper I have in my hand; perhaps it is the rougher class of paper that they turn out, but there are paper manufactories in the Commonwealth which can turn out paper sufficiently good for any man in this House to write upon, and I trust that they will not be overlooked. Ever since I have been in the House, I have had a suspicion that a considerable quantity of the paper which we, who are supposed to encourage local industry, use here, is imported paper. Without making a charge against any particular official, I can Bay that there are officials who seem to have a considerable liking for the imported article in preference to the local article, and some members of the House have had to make very strenuous efforts to thwart their desires. We must give our own manufacturers a show, and I trust that those who seem to hanker after the imported article will be brought into conformity with Australian ideas.
.- On last year’s Estimates I made a criticism of the note-paper. 1 find that each Department orders its own note-paper just as it pleases, with the result that the price of these papers ranges, so I am told, from about 9s. to over 40s. per lb. There seems to be plenty of room for standardization in that matter. I already have a report in my office on the question, and hope to look, not only into the aspect presented by the honorable member for Maribyrnong, but also into the question of whether we cannot save a substantial amount on the item of notepaper alone.
Division 3 (Parliamentary Reporting Staff), £8,042
.- I shall be glad of some explanation of why the travelling expenses of the parliamentary staff were £60 last year as against an estimate of £25, and why as much as £100 is appropriated for the same purpose this year ?
– The expense arises in connexion with Commissions travelling on public business, while a large part of the extra amount is also due to- the travelling expenses of an additional member of the staff who was brought from Western Australia. Although £25 was voted last year, £60 was spent, and I am afraid that even more will have to be spent this year.
.- I should have no objection to the expenditure of this money on the Parliamentary Reporting Staff if I thought that the circulation of Hansard reached to the extent that I desire it to reach. Will the Prime Minister take into consideration some method of altering the parliamentary system of reporting, so as to adopt a similar practice’ to that followed in South Australia, where the parliamentary debates are published by arrangement with the daily press? This would greatly enhance the value of the reports, and lead to a wider knowledge of political affairs in the Commonwealth, with corresponding benefits to the people and to members.
– The suggestion of the honorable member for Gippsland would be all right if we had a reporting staff in each State, but, unfortunately, the Melbourne papers would have the whole contract, and they do not circulate all over Australia.
– We can get over that difficulty.
– The miners on the west coast of Tasmania read the little local sheet, and do not get the Melbourne papers. . I must protest against using their money to run a one-State show.
Mr. TUDOR (Yarra) “3.12]. - I trust that no such steps will ever be taken by this Parliament as practically to hand over the business of reporting our debates to any press organ by a subsidy arrangement. A far better way would be to popularize Hansard. We could have a daily Hansard in connexion with the Government Gazette, and print our own advertisements in that publication. We spend a good deal in advertising in the daily and weekly papers now. I protest against the handing over of the task of reporting our debates to the press. I do not say that they would print what they like, because I presume they would have to publish full reports, but I prefer to have our own Hansard, under the direct control of Parliament.
.- I do not think a sufficient number of copies of Hansard get into circulation. It is becoming a very expensive item to some honorable members to supply copies of Hansard to their constituents, and I really think a greater number of copies should be given to each member. It would not be very costly, and it would be giving extra information to the public which they are desirous of getting. After all, the people of this country are entitled to know exactly what the honorable members of the House are doing, and they cannot get that information from the newspapers of the day.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Division 4 (The Library), £7,425
.- With regard to the collection of Australian historical records, a type-written notice appears in the corridors to-day. and I presume in the rooms of all parties, that the volume is now available for honorable members on application to the Librarian. This notice ought to be sent to honorable members individually, as some of them otherwise may not see it, although, of course, it is no trouble to those who do see it to apply to the Librarian for a copy of this very valuable historical document.
.- I strongly advise every honorable member to make application for this volume. It is one of the most interesting publications that I have perused.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Division 5 (Refreshment Booms), £1,192; division 6 (Water Power for Parliament House),- £200; division 7 (Electric Lighting Repairs, dec), £1,491; division 8 (Queen’s Hall), £493; division 9 (Parliament Gardens), £524:, agreed to.
Division 10 (Miscellaneous), £1,504.
– Under this division I wish to draw attention once more to the bad ventilation of this chamber.
– I do not think it is half as bad as is made out.
– I do. The atmosphere may not hurt the Prime Minister, but it affects those who stick closely to their work in the chamber. The conditions are particularly bad when the galleries are crowded. My voice is not the same as it formerly was, and my constitution is not what it was. The building must be nearly fifty years old, and though, no doubt, from an architectural point of view it is all right, from a ventilation point of view it is all wrong. The bad atmosphere in the chamber is largely responsible for the way in which business is sometimes conducted. I trust some notice will be taken of my protest, and that there will be an improvement.
– I think this is one of the best-ventilated chambers in the world.
– I would like to ask the Prime Minister whether it is not possible to in crease the salary paid to the lift attendant. He draws £110 per annum, and that is not very much in these high-cost times.
– I shall look into it.
– I would like the Prime Minister to consider the advisability of having a short recess in the middle of next session. Members representing Queensland, Western Australia, and, in ‘some instances, New South Wales constituencies, under present circumstances, are cut adrift from their homes, their constituencies, and their businesses for over five months, and. it would be a concession to them to get away for two or three weeks. Ministers might also be glad to avail themselves of the break in order to overtake the work in their Departments.
Proposed vote agreed to.
PRIME Minister’s Department.
Division 11 (Prime Minister), £42,003.
.- A few days ago the honorable member for Grey asked the Assistant Minister of Home Affairs whether a caretaker in his Department had had his salary lowered by 7d. a day; and, though the Minister at first said that this was not the case, on a subsequent day he admitted having un. intentionally made a mistake, and said that he found the reduction had been made because the Public Service Commissioner claimed that under the Public Service Act no temporary hand could receive more in salary than a permanent officer doing the same work. I am not anxious to raise the question of the reduction of this individual salary. I wish to raise a matter of principle. We are entitled to know the intentions of the Government in regard to the payment of temporary hands. The late Government framed a regulation that temporary or casual hands employed by Government Departments must receive the union rate- of wages, or wages fixed by an arbitration award, and I am sure that the Prime Minister, unless he has very considerably altered his views, will be prepared to admit that; any one employed by a Department casually should receive the wages fixed by an arbitration award, or the union rate of wages. However, the Public Service Commissioner pointed out that there was a provision in the Public Service Act providing that a temporary hand must not receive more than a permanent hand doing the same work. We claimed that the concessions granted to the permanent hands should also be taken into consideration, just as a Judge in an Arbitration Court, when dealing with wages, always takes into consideration the fact whether a man is likely to get permanent work or merely casual work. For instance, when wharf labourers appear before an Arbitration Court they make a strong point of the fact that they should receive a higher rate per hour because they cannot secure continuous employment. If a wharf labourer were paid the same wage per hour as an ordinary labourer gets, he would have very little at the end of a week; in fact, although wharf labourers are paid per hour considerably more than a number of labourers in other industries are paid per hour, the weekly average earned by wharf labourers is not more than £2 per week. In the same way we pointed out to the Public Service Commissioner that it was a fair and legitimate thing that, in fixing the wages for casual and temporary hands, the concessions granted to permanent hands should be taken into consideration, and we laid it down that if any person employed by the Government enjoyed all the concessions, in the shape of leave granted to the permanent hands, he had no right to ask anything more for similar work than the permanent hand received, but that if he did not get these concessions it was not a fair thing that he should get exactly the same pav. I am anxious to learn what is the policy of the present Government in the matter.
– Our policy is merely to carry out the Act at present, seeing that we cannot alter it.
– If the Ministry take that stand, they will not be able to employ trade unionists. It will practically mean, not only that they are going to say that they will not give preference, to unionists, but also that they are going to give, absolute preference to non-unionists.
– We do not desire tr. do that.
– Let me explain the position. In connexion with Government work a number of carpenters are employed temporarily. There are also per manent carpenters employed in some of the Departments, who are not necessarily paid the union rate of wage. Having entered the service a number of years ago they will remain in Government employ until they are sixty-five years of age. Each year they will enjoy three weeks’ holiday, and they will be allowed six months’ holiday after twenty years’ service. The Public Service Commissioner takes these things into consideration in fixing their salaries. The carpenters outside the Public Service appeal to the Arbitration Court, and get their salaries fixed, not on the basis of permanent work, and not with consideration to the three weeks’ annual holiday or the six months’ long-service leave. In these circumstances, it is more than probable that their wages will be 6d., 9d., or ls. per day more than those received by carpenters permanently employed in the Department. That is why I say that if it is the intention of the Government to carry out the idea of the Public Service Commissioner, they will not be able to employ trade union carpenters, unless they pay them union or current rates of wages, or the wages fixed under an arbitration award.
– We must carry out the law.
– For three years the Fisher Administration did what I think this Government should do, notwithstanding the Public Service Act.
– The reply given to the question referred to related to a particular case. Are there any more in the same category?
– The question related to a particular individual, the reply being that, under the Public Service Act, a temporary employe could not receive more than a permanent employe.
– Is this man still in the Service?
– If he has been there long, why is he a temporary employe ?
– Temporary and casual employes are on a different footing from permanent employes. However long they may have been in the Service, they may be dismisse’d at a moment’s notice, while permanent men can only be suspended, and may appeal to a Board. I do not wish to raise the case of a particular individual; it is the principle with which I am concerned. A carpenter who is not being paid the union rate of wage cannot remain a member of his union. The last Government got over the difficulty, with the consent of the Public Service Commissioner, by not giving to casual and temporary men the holidays and other concessions enjoyed by the permanent men, and allowing them extra pay, which made tip the Wages Board award. If this Government cannot do that, they are carrying non-preference to unionists to its logical conclusion - that is, preference to non-unionists. They may reduce the wages of office cleaners by 7d. a day, but they cannot act in the same way towards carpenters, because the latter belong to a strong union
– I can only promise that I shall look into this matter.
– Every person, whether a unionist or a non-unionist, should have an equal chance of getting employment in the Public Service.
– In the light of what the honorable member has said, I shall have the whole matter reviewed.
– I do not think that I am unreasonable in asking for an answer on Monday or Tuesday, or, at any rate, before the Estimates have been passed.
– I do not know about that. Surely the honorable member will take the Word of a Minister. I am going away to-night in order to vote at Parramatta to-morrow.
– The Prime Minister must admit the importance of this matter to us. It may be that in the individual case that has been referred to the last Minister of Home Affairs paid the man 9s. a day on his own authority. The Opposition does not ask that the temporary and casual employes of the Government shall be paid at the whim of a Minister, but we say that such men should be paid the rates awarded by the Wages Boards applying to their trade or union rates. If such rates are not recognised there is preference to non-unionists.
– I trust that next session the Prime Minister will introduce a Bill to alter the basis of the ‘Commissioner’s authority and power, and to abolish the present system of classification. The Public Service at present consists of three divisions - professional, clerical, and general. At the Federal Capital we found that those in the professional division would not associate with the clericals, and that the latter would not associate with those in the general division. The result of this classification is that we have a snobbreeding class institution. We ought to have in the Public Service only one class. Where you find in a Department a man of real ability, then you ought to promote him regardless of whether or not he is able to read Greek, Latin, or Sanscrit; whether he can say how long Napoleon prayed before “going down the Italian side of the Alps, or how long Hannibal was in Rome before he was defeated. Coming to the point raised by the honorable member for Barrier, I wish to say that I gave these cleaners 9s. per day because I claim that, having regard to the cost of living, no one can live on less than such a wage. I gave them that wage, not because they were in a union - I do not think that there is a cleaners’ union - but because I regarded the rate as a standard one. These poor cleaners have since had their wages reduced by 7d. per day. What meanness ! The permanent man in the Public Service has a position for life - as long as water runs and grass grows. He has every sympathy behind him, and every one encourages and loves him. He is in a close class corporation, but the casual employe, at the end of nine months’ service, gets the royal order of the boot. I hope that the Prime Minister will take this matter into consideration, and bring down next year a Bill for the complete amendment of the Public Service Act.
.- I hope that the Prime Minister will give us some explanation of this matter. I do not think that he is going to try to get behind the award.
– I am going to look closely into the matter. I recognise the force of what has been said.
– We can take it that we have the Prime Minister’s assurance that he is not going to get behind the award ?
– I am going to see, as far as I can, that no injustice is done to these men.
– If any injustice is done, it will debar some of the best mechanics from offering for the Commonwealth Service. I am satisfied, however, with the Prime Minister’s assurance that he will see that no injustice is done.
.- In support of what the honorable member for Barrier has said, I would draw the Prime Minister’s attention to the fact that Judge Heydon, in the New South Wales Arbitration Court, on several occasions has made an increase, as high as 25 per cent., in the wages of what are termed casual employes in different trades. What a Judge in a Court of that description is prepared to give to those employed in any form of industry, the Commissioner of the Commonwealth Public Service should be prepared to give to casual employes.
.- I have before me a political pamphlet entitled The Financial Carnival, which was written by the present Prime Minister. One may well say, “ Oh, that mine enemy would write a book.” At page 28 of this pamphlet, we have this statement -
There is, for instance, a new Department created, called “ The Prime Minister’s Department,” and the sum of £50,000 is set down for the cost thereof. Last year the amount voted, for the first time, was the modest sum. of £24,000. This year there is a jump to £50,000.
That statement is made in respect of the financial year 1912-13.
– We never wanted that Department.
– It is wanted, perhaps, just as much as is a Public Works Committee. We now find the author of this very pamphlet increasing last year’s Estimates of the Prime Minister’s Department from £50,800 in 1912-13, to £83,458, an increase of £33,000, or about 66 per cent. This is the proposal of the economical Prime Minister, the writer of The Financial Carnival.
– The Department was never wanted.
– I believe that some such Department is necessary - that there is work to be done by it that could not be done_ better in any other Department. I would also draw attention to the items of “Contingencies,” and “Miscellaneous.” Those who have been in this Parliament for some time know very well why the amount voted under these headings must necessarily be greater in some years than in others. We find, for instance, that this year £15,500 is set down in connexion with the visit of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, and £5,000 as a grant towards the relief of the Antarctic expedition under Dr. Maw son. Those two items alone account for £20,000 of the increase in the Prime Minister’s Department. Any one could go on a public platform, however, and point to the bald fact that the Estimates for the Prime Minister’s Department this year showed an increase of nearly £33,000. He could make that bald reference to the increase, just as the present Prime Minister did in his pamphlet, without giving any explanation, and the public would be misled. Honorable members know that there is an explanation for this increased vote this year, just as there was an explanation for last year’s increase - although it was not given in this pamphlet; but the public do not. When honorable members talk about the great increase of expenditure under the heading of “Contingencies,” and “Miscellaneous,” without giving any explanation of the reasons for those increases, the people must be misled. As long as Parliament exists, there must be such items of expenditure - items that cannot be given individually, but must be grouped under these general headings. I have no fault to find with the increase in the Estimates of this Department, but I do find fault with the misrepresentation that is indulged in for mere party purposes, and I condemn those who seek in such a way to mislead the people.
.- Last year’s Estimates included an appropriation of £200 for gratuities to officers who, during the preceding twelve months, had offered valuable and practical suggestions leading to the introduction of useful reforms, and to greater economy and efficiency. This year, there is no proposed vote in respect of that item.
– The vote last year was not used.
– It might very well be allowed to stand.
– If it was not used, how comes it that the other day a small sum was paid tinder this heading to an officer in the Postal Department?
– That would be paid under the Estimates of another Department.
– It is a good thing to invite the rank and file to offer suggestions, which ought to be considered by the heads of Departments and Ministers. Many of the greatest inventions have come from men who have been practical workers.
.- Does the omission of any provision for
Ministerial expenses indicate that Ministers are not going to accept any from now on ? Last year, under this head, £250 was provided, and £212 expended.
– We have already said that we do not intend to take any expenses.
– Does that apply to the Honorary Ministers?
– No; they are provided for in the Estimates.
– I should like some explanation of the item of £500 for the maintenance of motor cars, seeing that there was no allowance for 1912-13.
– That is a transfer from the Department of Home Affairs, and not a new item.
– Are the Government trying to build up the Prime Minister’s Department by transferring a little work to it from other Departments ?
– The car is used in connexion with the Prime Minister’s Department, and is, therefore, charged to that Department.
– I agree with the honorable member for Franklin that there was never any need for a Prime Minister’s Department, which is a mere excrescence on the administrative system. The Estimates do not indicate any very serious duties or functions; and all that the Departnient seems to do is to increase the expenditure.
– This Department was instituted by the late Government.
– That has nothing to do with me ; I am here to discuss the present Estimates, and not what was done years ago. During the recess the Prime Minister might review the position and see whether this growing Department is really necessary. With the inauguration of a Public Works Committee at considerable expense, the Departments will be relieved to a large extent, and thus made free to undertake the work now performed by the Prime Minister’s Department. If, however, the Departments are to be relieved of work, and the expenditure increased, where is the economical financing we were promised? I never did agree with the institution of the Prime Minister’s Department; and the sooner it is merged in the other Departments the better.
– I am going to look into the matter when I have time.
– What is the Prime Minister going to do in regard to the loss on the telegraphs and telephones ?
– The honorable member knows my proposal.
– I shall discuss the matter on the Estimates for the PostOffice.
.- This is an opportune time to suggest that additional Ministers should be appointed. Seven might be ample at the inception of Federation, but the work has since grown by 100 per cent., and the same number is by no means sufficient now. Further, the work will increase as the Commonwealth takes over fresh utilities; and unless more Ministers be provided for, any man who takes office runs the chance of being killed by overwork. The Honorary Ministers ought certainly be replaced by paid Ministers in order that the work of administration may be adequately done.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Division 12 (Executive Council), £163 ; division 13 (Audit Office), £24,011; and division 14 (Public Service Commissioner), £17,281, agreed to.
Motion (by Mr. Joseph Cook) agreed to-
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until Monday next, at 3 p.m.
Sir JOHN FORREST laid upon the table the following paper : -
Inscribed Stock Act - Dealings and transactions,’ year ending 30th June, 1913.
Report - Speech by Mr. Webster.
Motion (by Mr. Joseph Cook) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– I understand that the Prime Minister has received the report of the AuditorGeneral. Will the honorable gentleman lay it on the table of the Library?
– I shall be very glad to do as the honorable member requests, but I am sorry to say that I have not the report with me now.
– I rise to say a word in connexion with observations made by the honorable member for
New England to-day under cover of a personal explanation. I did not hear the first part of the honorable member’s remarks, and I therefore could, not very well reply to them at the time, but I understood that he referred to some statement which I had made in connexion with the elections in New South Wales. He tried to be funny and sarcastic in what he said, and I believe he complained that in an address I made at Glen Innes I had referred to him as having failed to realize that this was a National Parliament, and as treating his duties here very much as he would if he were an advocate appearing in a Police Court. He also made some remark about my observing that he was not very often in the House. What I wanted to say, -and did say on that occasion, was that his attendances at the House were not as frequent as they might be, and that his attention to his duties in the House was still less frequent. The honorable member compared his attendances here with mine, but he omitted to state that I was in quarantine for about three weeks in the early part of the session, and lost my attendance at every sitting during that time, owing to my protest against the Government’s vaccination proposals.
– That is a good excuse to get out of it.
– It is a legitimate excuse. What I said at the time against the administration of the Government in that matter has been proved correct up to the hilt. I made the remarks to which the honorable member took exception as a set-off against the wilfully untruthful statements the honorable member had been making on the platform.
– Order ! The honorable member must not use that expression.
– I shall call them statements that were deliberately incorrect.
– On a point of order, is the honorable member allowed, under cover of a personal explanation, to make an attack in such unparliamentary language on another honorable member ?
– The honorable member, in speaking on the motion for the adjournment of the House, is entitled to go further than he could if he were making a personal explanation in the ordinary course of business. At the same time, I must ask the honorable member to refrain from using language personally offensive to other honorable members.
– The honorable member for New England was not at all careful about any remarks he made, or any innuendoes he tried to put forward, in his supposedly clever way. He does not know the difference between making a personal explanation and speaking on the adjournment of the House, which again shows that the cleverness on which he prides himself does not exist. He was making statements during the State election that were not correct, and, in order to remove any effect that they might have, I took occasion to refer to him in a good deal milder language than he was using. If he gets on a platform and alleges that a State Government have been wasting £4,000,000 on Socialistic experiments, when the real facts show- that the amount spent was £290,000, we must, come to the conclusion that he is uterly irresponsible, and has little or no regard for facts. I felt it necessary, not only to contradict his assertions by putting the facts before the people, but also to show them the irresponsible authority from whom the assertions emanated. I certainly had a right to do so in fighting for my party and their interests in the manner I thought best. Of course, the honorable member squeals when he receives a little bit of a punch, but he does not mind getting on a platform in the country and attacking men who are not there to defend themselves, regardless of the obligations imposed upon him by the responsible position he holds. I do not want to be bad friends with the honorable member, but I must say that I believe he gets a newspaper, which is alleged to be considerably subsidized by him, to publish every word he speaks here, and that he religiously sends along to it every little question that he asks. I suppose he has been looking for another paragraph by making a personal explanation this morning, and that this will appear, word for word, in the Guard ian - whoever takes any notice of it. He is quite welcome to any advertisement he gets out of it. The honorable member will be very careful in future, I think, in making electioneering speeches, not to treat the public as if they were a lot of gulls who will believe any statement that he might make, irrespective of its correctness or otherwise.
– The honorable member for Gwydir has adopted rather an offensive tone-
– What did the honorable member do this morning?
– The Gwydir galah cannot keep quiet.
– As a matter of taste, that remark is very offensive, but we will put it down to the honorable member’s ignorance.
– Without any desire on my part, this matter has taken rather a personal turn. I quoted from a newspaper, and could have quoted a number of newspapers, word for word, and have also taken the trouble to find out whether the statements could be verified, but the honorable member has not been able to show in one particular where that newspaper report is incorrect. That being so, I must assume that the statement I read here is absolutely correct, and that the honorable member used the words attributed to him.
– I do not deny the words. Unfortunately, they are true.
– That admission will shorten the remarks I have to make. It strikes me, as a new member, that there is a certain code of honour which should apply in politics as well as out of them; and people, in making statements publicly, are in duty bound to get as near to the truth as they possibly can. The question is whether the honorable member was justified in making the statement he did; whether I, as a new member, have taken no interest in the proceedings of the House, and have really not represented the electors of New England since I was returned. I can safely say that since I have been here I have not taken up much of the time of the Hansard reporters. But I have heard such a flood of eloquence from honorable members on the other side of the chamber, including the honorable member for Gwydir, that little opportunity was presented to me to make myself heard. I have endeavoured to attend to my duties here; I have shown that the statements made by the honorable member for Gwydir in my electorate were absolutely without foundation, and were really spoken for political purposes, and to further political ends, and now that the honorable member admits that he was correctly reported in the press, I think I have satisfied my electorate that during the last six months I have endeavoured to do my duty by them in this House.
– I wish to place on the table of the Library papers in connexion with the Ordnance Stores. The report I have is from the Auditor-General, and it shows that the deficiency is not so serious as it would appear. With reference to the question submitted by the honorable member for Melbourne, as to the municipal ratings in the Australian capitals and ratings for similar services in London, Dublin, and Edinburgh, I think it is advisable to place before honorable members a copy of a further communication from the Government Statistician, explanatory of the replies which have already been furnished. Mr. Knibbs writes -
It was explained in the covering memorandum, sent with the statement forwarded to the Treasury on the 27th November for reply to questions asked by Dr. Maloney, that comparisons drawn from the figures were subject to the limitation that they did not refer to the same matters, inasmuch as in some of the cities services which were carried on by the municipalities themselves were in others intrusted to various boards, such as Water and Sewerage Boards, &c. The ratings as given were those specified in the local government portion of the various State Statistical Registers, and referred to city corporations.
The most serious thing in giving the return to Parliament was the omission of the following remarks, viz. : - “ The details given refer to city corporations alone. Any comparisons made of them are, of course, subject to the disability that they do not all relate to the same items, i.e., services which in some cases are performed by the municipalities are in others looked after by special boards, e.g., water and sewerage, &c. ‘ Whoever handed you the matter for reply should have incorporated those qualifying remarks, and to leave them out was, in my judgment, a mistake.
One of the principal difficulties in the way of preparing a strictly comparable return of thic nature lies in the fact that differently constituted bodies control the rating for various purposes and different States and countries, and, in addition, the rates are levied on different bases. Thus, for example, in the case of Melbourne, the City Council imposes a rate of is. in the £1 for the construction and maintenance of roads, streets, bridges, culverts, &c, and a rate of 3d. in the £1 for public lighting, while the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works, a federation of metropolitan municipalities, imposes a rate of is. 8d. in the £1 in respect of water supply and sewerage, in addition to meter rentals and excess water charges.
In Perth, on the other-hand, the City Council levies a general rate of is. 66. and a loan rate of gd., whilst the rates in respect of water supply, sewerage, and storm water are levied by a Government Department - the Water Supply, Sewerage, and Drainage Department - and are consequently not municipal rates at all. A further complication arises from the fact that in some cases the rates are levied on an assessed annual value, and in others on an unimproved capital value, the Sydney City Council employing the two systems in conjunction.
A further point may be mentioned, viz., that the general rate varies considerably, even in contiguous municipalities. Thus, whilst in the city of Melbourne the general and lighting rates aggregate only1s. 3d. in the £1, in someof the neighbouring municipalities the corresponding rates are quite as great.
.- Is it not extraordinary for a Minister to place on the table of this House documents which are intended to be laid on the table of the Library? Once they are here they are the property of the House.
– The papers in connexion with the Ordnance Stores are to be laid on the table of the Library.
– I am not particular where they are laid. I was merely pointing out the extraordinary procedure of placing papers on the table of the House when they are really not intended to remain here.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 4.14 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 12 December 1913, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1913/19131212_reps_5_72/>.