5th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
-I desire to make a personal explanation. A statement which I made here yesterday has been traversed by the Age very unfairly. An article published in that newspaper this morning says, quoting its report of our proceedings on Friday, which appeared in Saturday’s issue, that I had no right to accuse the newspaper of gross misrepresentation in connexion with that report. The article says that the only statement in that report was that “ Mr. Boyd discussed the matter,” and adds, “ He did discuss the matter.” But in complaining yesterday of the misrepresentation of the Age, I referred, not to that statement in the newspaper’s report of the proceedings of this House, but to the comment, in another column, that “ Messrs. Boyd and Bamford were on their feet demanding pensions for members.” To-day’s article makes no reference to that comment, the only statement referred to being that contained in the report of Friday’s proceedings of this House, to which I take no exception. I do, however, take exception to the statement that I demanded pensions for members. The newspaper has not accepted in good faith the explanation that I made yesterday, and has taken the trouble to quote verbatim my speech of Friday. It is perfectly clear that my argument was in favour of giving members time to attend to their own private business, so that pensions would not be necessary. The Age article has a heading charging me with running away, and with seeking to escape responsibility. I have never run way from anything nor any one, not even from the Age. That newspaper did its best to prevent my election to this House, but did not, and will never, succeed. When I have given expression to any opinion, I am prepared to stand by it as far as my ability will permit. Today’s article seeks to add to the injury which the Age tried to do tome on Saturday. If there is anyfairness left in those who conduct that newspaper, I hope that they will take notice of this explanation.
– As my name has been brought into this matter by the honorable member for Hentyand by the Age, 1 think that I have the right to say something about it. I take exception to the Age giving so much prominence to the views of the honorable memberfor Henty regarding pensions to members, and so little to my own views.
– I also have a personal explanation to make. I noticed in the Tory paper - the Argus - a day or two. ago, the statement that I had advocated pensions for members of the Parliament. I do not know whether there should be pensions provided, or what you would callthem, but I am for something formmembers of Parliament, and I take the whole responsibility for the opinion to myself individually; I do not put any of it upon the party.
– I direct the attention of the House to some of the statements which have been made as personal explanations which are not personal explanations. Honorable members, in making such statements in that way, are merely setting the Standing Orders atnaught.
– I promised, the other day, to obtain returns regarding the production of tobacco in Australia, and the possibilities of tobacco-growing in Papua. The Department of External Affairs, to which I applied for information concerning Papua, points out that on pages 40, 76, and 79 of the Handbook for 1912 there are statements concerning tobaccogrowing in the Territory. The following extracts from the annual reports for 1911 and 1912 are subjoined: - 1911. Although tobacco has been grown successfully at the Government experimental stations it was not until this year that its cultivation has been undertaken on a commercial scale. On the Laloki River a company planted 15 acres and harvested 14 or 15 tons of goodlooking cigar tobacco. When this is cured and f ermented a sample will be sent to experts for a report. 1912. About 20 acres are under tobacco cultivation, and on one estate some very marketable cigars and tobacco have been manufactured.
I see no reason why the industry should not expand considerably, as it has been proved that we have soils, andclimate suitablefor itssuccessful cultivation.
The other information is tabulated, and, being in the nature of a return, I lay it on the table, and move that it be printed.
Ordered to be printed.
– The honorable member for Maribyrnong asked me yesterday whether there is any law or regulation requiring the preparation and publication of an annual report by the Registrar of the Arbitration Court. There is no regulation under the Act requiring such a report to be made, but it escaped my notice when the question was asked that instructions were issued some time ago, in the Attorney-General’s Department, for the preparation of such a report. The report will be convenient and useful to have, and I expect that it will be available before very long.
Insertion of Headlines
– I ask the Prime Minister whether he has received from the Printing Committee, or from any other Committee to whom he has remitted the consideration of the privileges of the House, a report to the effect that a member who is a Minister has privileges in the reprinting of his speeches from Hansard other than those possessed by ordinary members. The question is, can a Minister insert headlines in the reprints of a speech from Hansard, while members, are prevented from doing sol
– I doubt my power to remit this matter to the Printing Committee. This is entirely a matter for the House.
– The Treasurer, in the exercise of his Ministerial power, controlling the printing office, has inserted headlines in the reprint of a speech made by him.’
– The House decided four years ago not to permit the insertion of headlines.
– The Treasurer has disregarded that decision.
– Only the House can abrogate that decision.
– It ought to do so. All the Prime Minister need do is to move with that object, and we shall support him.
– The Treasurer has disregarded the determination of the House.
– I do not think so. The only course open to me, so far as I can see; is to move that this question of head-lines be referred to the Printing Committee.
– Why not move that the old rule stand t
– Why does not the Leader of the Opposition behave himself ? He had better stop this scolding.
– Order ! Do I understand that the Prime Minister desires leave to make a statement?
– I do.
– It is strange that we never heard anything of this matter until the Opposition wanted to circulate throughout the length and breadth of Australia 60,000 copies of a speech on preference to unionists. For four years the whole matter has remained dormant ; no one has asked for the privilege
– The Treasurer has exercised it without having the .right to do so.
– The Treasurer has done this year what has been done every year before.
– Will the right honorable member be satisfied if the Treasurer recalls the reprint of his speech on the Loan Bill and pays for iti
– I do not place the question of payment first.
– It is not the Treasurer that the Leader of the Opposition is after. What he wants is to get 60,000 copies of his own speech circulated all over the country, and to get them printed at a cheap rate.’
– That is not correct.
– That is what the right honorable gentleman wants, but he is not candid enough to tell the House so.
– That is a wilful misrepresentation. The Treasurer knows that we are going to pay for the reprints in question, and that the only question at issue relates to the introduction of subheadings.
– The Parliamentary Gardens, perhaps, would be the best place in which to settle this question.
– I really think that the Treasurer and the ex-Treasurer will have to go into the gardens and settle this matter between themselves. The restoration of the old privilege in its completeness cannot be permitted. Human nature, it seems, will not stand that kind of thing. It is a reflection upon the House that I should have to make such an observation, but it seems that the House will persist in abusing its privileges. In this respect, I dare say that we are just the same as ordinary human nature outside, and that that is why so many of our problems are coming up constantly for solution. We are showing that we are typical of human nature outside, and that we cannot be intrusted with too many privileges because of the way we abuse them. Here is another instance of that. Four years after the decision of the House to take away this privilege there is a demand for its re-institution. I hope that the Printing Committee will bring down some proposal for the censorship of these head-lines. I make the suggestion now, in order to save time when the report of the Committee is presented. I do not want a general discussion to be then opened up. I hope that the Committee will offer such a solution as we can accept without debate.
– There should be no discrimination.
– I am ignoring such observations, and the grounds on which this request is based, in making my proposal that the matter be referred to the Printing Committee, because the Government does not admit that there is any differentiation. ‘ It does not admit that anything unusual has taken place. It is only as to the general utility of a provision of this kind that I am speaking, and in regard to which I am taking this action. It is just as well that the aspect of the matter to which the honorable member has referred should be set aside. I hope that we are going to restore this privilege to ourselves, for a time, but it must rest on a basis different from that on which it existed before, and it is in the hope that the Committee will find a way out that I formally move, by leave -
That the matter of head lines to members’ speeches reprinted from Hansard be referred to the Printing Committee for consideration and report.
.- The statement made by the Prime Min ister, that we take exception to the action of the Treasurer in publishing, free of cost, a reprint of the Hansard report of his speech on the Loan Bill, and to its free distribution, is incorrect. If the Prime Minister has paid any attention to my remarks he would have known, if he has ordinary, intelligence, that such a statement is not correct.
– Of course, I have no ordinary intelligence; that goes without saying.
– The honorable gentleman is not lacking in intelligence. That to which we have taken exception is, that the Treasurer, in publishing a reprint of the Hansard report of his speech in introducing the Loan Bill, has exercised a privilege which, according to a resolution carried by this House, is not enjoyed by any honorable member. The Treasurer alone can control the Government Printer, and any resolution passed by this House in regard to that officer can be abrogated by the Treasurer directing him in his official capacity to disregard it. The Treasurer has done that in his own case, and admits that he has. He introduced cross headings into the reprint of the Hansard report of his Loan Bill speech,* and although the Prime Minister says that that was part of the Budget speech, it is not necessary to debate such a contention.
– It is a most extraordinary one.
– I shall not stop to debate it. The Budget speech is that made by the Treasurer in setting forth the financial position of the Commonwealth, and a Loan Bill has no more to do with it than has any Bill relating to the privileges of the House. I should not object to what the Treasurer has done if the Government had taken the manly and straightforward course of saying that the privilege of introducing cross headings into reprints of Hansard reports of meirbers’ speeches shall not be enjoyed by a Minister unless it is enjoyed by every other honorable member. The publication of Hansard does not rest upon an Executive act. That is one little fact which apparently the Prime Minister does not know. Han-sard is published by order of this Parliament. The Executive, no doubt, have control of the expenditure, and may direct how Hansard shall be published, but in respect of that publication no privilege is given to a Minister that may not be enjoyed by any other member of this Parliament.
– I am quite content to abide by that, if the House thinks it should be the rule.
– But I am in favour of headlines.
– The honorable member is getting on to another matter. I do not desire any favour, or to have the rule altered for me.
– Why did the Treasurer break the rules?
– I did not. .
– As I say, I am favorable to sub-headings in speeches.
– That is another matter, is itnot?
– It is the whole matter.
– The right honorable member should not say I have done wrong, in order to get a privilege for himself.
– I have never said the Treasurer, did wrong; I only say that he is the head of the Treasury, and, acting, as. he has done, he should take the House into his confidence, and give every honorable member the same privilege.
– I do. not desire any more privileges than are. enjoyed by any other honorable member. I should not have exercised this privilege had I thought any exception would be taken to it.
– But the Treasurer now says that I am taking this action because honorable members on this side wish to have a number of speeches republished cheaply.
– There is no doubt, about that.
– That is not a statement of fact.
-I think it is.
– It is a reflection on honorable members. It is not true - it is not a fact. There is not a word of truth in the suggestion.
– Honorable members opposite gave that very reason in their letter.
– Order ! I must ask the Treasurer to cease these interjections.
– I beg your pardon, Mr. Speaker.
– This is not a matter for heat and anger, especially at this time of the year. I merely wish to say that the statement the Treasurer now makes is not correct - that there is not a shadow of justification for the suggestion that we desire anything from the Printing Office except at the absolute value put on. it by the Government Printer. If it is any information to honorable members opposite, I may say that I have never had a speech of mine reprinted in any form, so that I can speak all the more freely. I believe sub-headings are helpful in a speech when it is reprinted.
– Will the right honorable member allow me to clear upone point? I have no desire to misrepresent the right honorable gentleman. Does hesay that it is not true that honorable members opposite wish to circulate their speeches in reference to preference to unionists - that that is not why they desire this privilege?
– I do not say so. I say that there is no shadow of truth in the statement that we desire to have our’ speeches republished free as suggested by the Treasurer. We are prepared to pay the Printer on his own estimate, and all we ask is the same privilege as that exercised by the Treasurer to insert subheads. What is there wrong in that request? The privilege has been exercised by the Treasurer; and why should otherhonorable members not exercise it?
– If I did wrong, why should the right honorable memberdesire to do wrong
– Apparently, it is no use pursuingthe subject further. I brush aside the question whether or not the Treasurer paid f or the republication off his speeches. This was done, I believe, in the case of the Loan Bill speech at the expense of. the Commonwealth, and that was quite justified, because it put the speech in handy form for honorable members and. others. What I ask is that the privilege of inserting subheadings may be allowed to honorablemembers if they pay. the extra cost. Honorable members have asked for and received from the Government Printer an estimate showing the cost of the subheadings; but the Treasurer, with the Prime Minister behind him, contends, that we should not have the privilege. I shall always protest against a member, because he happens to be a Minister, enjoying rights that are. not possessed by ordinary members.
– I can only say that a letter was addressed, I think, to the Printer, asking for 60,000 copies, or some such number.
– Anything from 20,000 up to 60,000.
– The reason given for the request was that the Treasurer inserted head-lines in his Budget and Loan Bill speeches. That might be a very good reason for moving that the Treasurer had exceeded the rule of the House, and that he should not do so again; but, because the Treasurer has done something he ought not to have done, in the opinion of the right honorable gentleman, that is no reason why others should be allowed to do the same, and thus perpetuate the wrong-doing. I can assure honorable members that in giving instructions for head-lines to be placed in the two speeches referred to, I thought I had the right to do so - that, as it was a Treasury matter, paid for by the Treasury, and not by Parliament, I was at liberty to take that action. It would make no difference if I paid for the work myself, because, if an error was made, it would be equally wrong by whomsoever it was paid for. The cost of reprinting 700 copies of the Budget speech was £4 15s. 2d., and for 500 copies of the Loan Bill speech, £1 12s. 6d. I am sure that I do not desire to have any privileges not enjoyed by other honorable members; but I now understand that some honorable members think that I have taken advantage of my position to do that which I ought not to have done, and 1 shall certainly not do the same again. I understand that the Prime Minister proposes to refer this matter to the Printing Committee, who will, of course, deal with it on its merits, altogether apart from this incident. So far as I am concerned, if I have the opportunity and desire again to reprint the Budget or Loan Bill speeches, I shall have them set up and printed elsewhere than in the Government Printing Office, and thenno one will be able to complain. What was done with the reprinted speeches? They were largely issued to honorable members and to other public men in the country,and there are quite a number left in the Treasury, some of which honorable members can have if they so desire. I do not think I have sent out 100 copies to persons who may be considered as nonofficial. Iresent the suggestion that I have taken privileges for myself that I am not prepared to extend to others; I should scorn to do anything of the sort. The honorable member for Wide Bay seems to make almost a personal matter of this.
– Oh, no. .
– The right honorable member seems to base his desire and request for a privilege on his opinion, with which I do not agree, that I have misunderstood the resolution of the House. I hope we shall hear no more about the matter.
– Why not ask the Committee to report to-day ?
– The Committee will see to that matter.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– The honorable member for South Sydney yesterday asked some questions relating to the printing of the note issue, and I have had the following information supplied to me : -
Mr. Harrison, notes printer, reached Australia in October, 1912. He began to print notes in Mav, 1913, the time previously spent in Australia being occupied in obtaining machinery, supervising its erection, and making other arrangements. In February he began to make the plates for printing. To date he has printed about 1,213,000 notes. The notes printer estimates that the notes will cost £1 6s.8d. for each 1,000. This is about £1 less than the cost of notes which the Treasury has imported.
– An advertisement appeared in the Gazette six weeks ago, calling for applications for the position of special magistrate in connexion with the Pensions Office. Has anything been done in connexion with the appointment?
– Nothing has been done. I made inquiries about a week ago, and I was informed by the officers that they did not propose to make any recommendation in regard to the appointment, because they thought they would be able to manage for a time without such an official.
– Is it true, as reported, that it is the intention of the Minister of External Affairs to visit the New Hebrides during the recess, and afterwards proceed to London, with a view to impressing on the Imperial authorities the necessity for Australia taking over those islands? Has the Minister in view Australia controlling the islands in the interests of the 50,000 or 60,000 natives supposed to be residing there?
– This is a rather interesting item of news, and comes somewhat as a surprise to me. I shall give the matter consideration.
– Yesterday the Leader of the Opposition wrote to me, saying that he desired that I should place on the table of the House a complete list of all the travelling expenses he was paid while he was Minister of the Crown. I have much pleasure in laying the return upon the table.
Ordered to be printed.
– I am sorry to have to intimate to the House that there is yet another little Bill to which the Government must ask honorable members to agree. We expect to take over the lighthouses early next year, but we find that under the Public Service Act we have no power to transfer the 110 State officers who will be required to be transferred to the Commonwealth service. I propose to bring down a short Bill to-morrow to give us that power, and makes these officers eligible for our work just as they were in the service of their States. We had power to take over as tranferred officers those who were in the employ of a State at the beginning of Federation, but there is no such power in regard to those who have joined the service of a State since the beginning of Federation.
– Is this power necessary to preserve their rights as State employes ?
– I understand it goes further and validates the transfer of some officers already in our service.
– You may employ whom you please, but whether you can preserve their rights is another matter.
-I desire to lay on the table the report of the Joint Library Committee for 1913.
Ordered to be printed.
– Yesterday the honorable member for Melbourne asked me a question about the payment of fees to immigration agents. I think he mentioned that these agents received £1 per head and 5 per cent. on passage money. I have looked into the files, and I have ascertained that New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, and Western Australia pay a commission of £1 per head to the agents who secure selected immigrants, and that New South Wales and Victoria pay a commission of 10s. per head to agents for booking passages for nominated immigrants, but I can find no reference to the fact of 5 per cent. being paid. Possibly it may be paid in connexion with some of the shipping companies. I shall make further inquiries.
– Seeing that about twothirds of the printing done in the Government Printing Office is on behalf of the Commonwealth Parliament and Commonwealth Departments, will the Treasurer see that awards made by an Arbitration Court or decisions of Wages Boards are applied to those employes who are doing Commonwealth printing in the Government Printing Office? I understand that there are men there who are not receiving the wages fixed by decisions of Wages Boards.
– They are not actually our servants.
– But I understand the Treasurer can make representations. Will he do so?
– I shall look into the matter to see what power we have, but I do not know that we have any.
– They are our employes to all intents and purposes.
– The other day, in discussing the Estimates, the honorable member for Barrier raised the question of the pay of casual employés in the Public Service. He was anxious that the rates prescribed by arbitration awards for outside employes should be adhered to inside the Public Service. This is the report the Public Service Commissioner has furnished on that subject -
With reference to the inquiry made as to the policy followed in the Commonwealth Public Service in regard to the payment of wages to temporary employes, I have the honour to inform you that the rates of pay to persons temporarily employed are determined upon the following principles : -
Where the ruling rate of pay as fixed by Wages Boards or other industrial authorities, in employment outside the Public Service, is higher than the rate paid to permanent officers of the Public Service performing similar work, the outside ruling rate is paid.
Where the ruling rate of pay in employment outside the Public Service is lower than the rate paid to permanent officers of the Public Service, temporary employés are paid at the same rate as permanent officers.
That is to say, the Public Service Commissioner only discriminates in an upward, and. not in a downward, direction.
– Can the Minister of Trade and Customs give us any idea as to the cost of putting New South Wales in quarantine during the recent alleged small-pox epidemic, and can he tell us whether the State Government are to pay part of the cost, or whether the Commonwealth are to pay the whole of it?
– The total cost to 11th December, 1913, which has been debited to New South Wales, is £5,422 13s. 9d. The Commonwealth placed its quarantine station at the disposal of the State of New South Wales, and, of course, New South Wales pays the expense of isolating her own patients. Quite independently of any regulation we issued, these patients would need to be housed somewhere by the State. We put our quarantine station at the disposal of the. State, and the State will pay the cost of the maintenance of her patients at that quarantine station.
– Will the New South Wales Government be charged any of the ordinary upkeep expenses for the quarantine station, or any of the ordinary salaries, or will they be charged merely the extraordinary expenditure occasioned during the outbreak, just as Victoria was charged when use was made of our quarantine station recently?
– The ordinary expense of our own office and staff, and necessary repairs and maintenance, will be borne by the Commonwealth. We also pay the ordinary salaries ourselves. We are, I think, debiting them with the cost of provisions, all the extraordinary costs, and additional medical help, or anything of that kind where it is required, but the ordinary maintenance of the staff will be borne by the Commonwealth.
– Are the 2,000 sheep which turned up the other day at Anthony’s Lagoon going to one of the farms, or is it true that it is proposed to re-form the old abandoned Elsey station? If so, are they fencing it, or what prevision are they making for the sheep, and will the ewes reach there before they lamb ?
– The sheep are at present at Anthony’s Lagoon. I believe they had been shorn before they started. They cannot get beyond Anthony’s Lagoon at present, because there is no food between that and Mataranka Station, at Bitter Springs, to which they are to be sent, about 70 miles distant. At present they are simply waiting for the ratu to fall and the feed to come up.
– With regard to the awards of the Federal Arbitration Court issued in pamphlet form,would the AttorneyGeneral consider the advisableness of publishing them in a bound volume, which would be much more convenient to honorable members?
– I am under the impression that they are so published. I think they are available in the Library. Does the honorable member want to know whether honorable members can get copies ?
– I shall have inquiries made in that matter.
– I wish to ask the Treasurer what has been done regarding the building of the Commonwealth Bank in Sydney? Is the Treasurer aware that a very large sum of money is lying idle there; and if we have any control of the proposed expenditure on that site, does he propose to have any money spent in establishing the bank in country centres as well as in the large cities ?
– The honorable member ought to know that we have no control over the Governor of the Bank in regard to these matters. As a matter of fact,. I am informed by the Governor that he has accepted a tender for the construction of a building in Sydney on land that has been acquired for him by the Commonwealth Government. I think it is to cost about £160,000. The matter came before me for my information. I minuted the file as having been seen, but added that as I had not been consulted in regard to the approval of the purchase of the land, which, I believe, was made by my predecessors, or in regard to the building, both of which I disapproved of, being entered upon at the present time, I had nothing to say about it.
– Is it within the power of the House to obtain from the Inter-State Commission progress reports of their work, so that we may be informed as to what they are actually doing ?
– My own impression is that it is not within our power. The Commission has separate powers, and I do not think this House can control their actions in any way. They have been placed high and dry above parliamentary interference of any kind, by the Act passed in the last Parliament.
– Will you give us a Tariff report early next session ?
– I will consider that amongst other matters when we get into recess.
– In regard to the statement made by the Treasurer last night that the Commonwealth Bank is charging the Commonwealth Government £8,000 a year in exchanges, although the private banks used to charge nothing, will the Treasurer, in view of that fact, give the private banks the Commonwealth deposits unless the Commonwealth Bank does the business free of charge?
– When the arrangement was made by my predecessor, I do not think it was at first understood that it would cost so much. The Governor of ‘the Bank was under the impression that he would be able to give better terms than the other banks, but the Commonwealth Bank has not, as yet, many centres, and the result is that we have to pay considerably more to transfer money to different centres than previously, when we paid nothing. The Governor of the Bank says, however, that we get advantages in other ways.
– The honorable member for South Sydney last night asked me a question in regard to tha administration of old-age pensions and the reasons for the increase. I have now thefollowing information : -
The cost of administration of old-age pensions is necessarily increased with every addition to the number of pensioners. That is so because we pay the Post Office12s. 6d. for every100 pensioners, and the clerical work involved in checking and recording the payments is correspondingly greater. On the basis of the Estimates this year the administration will cost £116s.9d. for every £100 of pensions paid. Last year the cost was £118s.8d. for every £100 pensions paid.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence - upon notice -
When may the House expect to receive the balance-sheet of the Saddlery Factory up to the 30th June last?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is: -
The delay in completing the statements to the satisfaction of the officers of the AuditorGeneral’s Department is due to the fact that certain details of expenditure on buildings have not yet been received. The actual factory figures have been ready for some time. The Department concerned has been asked to expedite the matter.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers : -
Infant Mortality. - Report by Dr. Mary Booth, who, in conjunction with Dr. W. P. Norris, represented the Commonwealth at the EnglishSpeaking Conference on Infant Mortality.
Ordered to be printed.
Public Service Act -
Promotion of W. C. Thomas as Clerk, 4th Class, Note Issue Branch.
Post and Telegraph Act -
Regulations Amended -
Statutory Rules 1913, Nos. 259, 262, 284, 286, 288, 290. (Provisional)- Statutory Rules 1913, Nos. 274, 285, 291.
Wireless Telegraphy Act.- Regulation Amended (Provisional) - Statutory Rules 1913, No. 287
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 15th December, vide page 4386).
Department of External Affairs
Division 33 (Administrative), £18,760
.- I think I am justified in asking the Minister of External Affairs to make a statement regarding the Northern Territory, and what the Government propose regarding its development. When the Prime Minister was Deputy Leader of the Opposition, and I was Minister of External Affairs, he was continually at me to give the House some scheme for the development of the Territory. I remember the late honorable member for Fawkner, as a member of the Opposition, saying that it was up to us, as a Party, to go on with a bold and comprehensive scheme in that direction. The Minister must admit that he has not been harassed in any way by the Opposition; but, on the contrary, has been treated with all courtesy and fairness, and has not been worried even by the asking of questions. He has had a fair opportunity to consider what should be done for the development of the Territory. I think, therefore, that I may ask for a word or two from him as to why the Pine Creek to Katherine River Railway Bill was not introduced earlier. The Bill went through this House very quickly, but it is a pity that the Minister did not take the opportunity to make a. statement on the subject. My contention, is: that the late submission of the Bill will mean a delay of twelve months in the carrying out of the work, because of the stoppage of operations during the rainy season. When I was Minister, I was informed that money and time could be saved by doing some of the construction work while the permanent survey was going on. We purposed doing that, and had we remained in power the Bill “would have been one of the first measures submitted. Neither here nor elsewhere did the Bill meet with any opposition, though of the seven gallant Ministerialists in the Senate only the three paid Ministers attended to support it. Another matter on which I wish information relates to the land laws of the Territory. When I was Minister, I submitted regulations governing land tenure, and promised that the land laws of the Territory should subsequently be submitted in the form of a Bill. The then Opposition complained most bitterly that a Bill had not been introduced. The regulations were submitted to the Land Board, so that suggestions might be made for their betterment. It may be that the Minister has received such suggestions.
– There is a compilation of various Acts, , which I have had to go through carefully, and I have not yet finished the task.
– In view of the criticism hurled against me, I ask why this Government has not yet submitted a Bill dealing with land tenure in the Territory? During the electoral campaign, the present Prime Minister asserted that the Northern Territory could not be developed except under freehold tenure; and the honorable member for Riverina and other honorable members have since repeated that opinion.
– I have not advocated freehold tenure, except for agricultural areas.
– The honorable member, I admit, was not dealing with the large pastoral areas. In the last Parliament, even the members of the then Opposition stated that they were not in favour of the alienation of large pastoral areas in freehold.
– We applied the freehold principle on a small scale in the Norfolk Island Bill,
– The Government carried that Bill through this House, and now we are on the point of going into recess I wish to know why they have not provided for the application of the freehold principle to the Northern Territory. I understand from the Age that, because of the results of the New South Wales election, there is no likelihood of a double dissolution being forced at the present time, and that there will be a recess of six months. The Minister can do a great deal, by regulation, but he must have the consent of Parliament to any alteration of the land tenure. Yet, although the Liberal party says that the Northern Territory cannot be developed under the leasehold system, the Government, notwithstanding the power of its numbers,, and with the “gag” and Mr. Speaker to help if necessary, has done nothing to substitute freehold for leasehold.
– The Opposition talked so much for’ the first four months of the session that we could do nothing.
– The Government Preference Prohibition Bill was passed through this House in a few minutes by the application of the “gag”; I am not allowed to refer to what has happened in another place. I should like, also, to ask the Minister -what action is being taken in regard to the mining laws of the Northern Territory? Mining must play a very important part in the development of the Territory. Some honorable members opposite tell us that cattle-raising and cotton cultivation are going to do a great deal for it, but the opening up of a good mine would attract more population than would the efforts of a hundred pastoralists. There were pastoralists in “Western Australia many years ago, but practically no one on this side of the continent heard of that State until the goldfields were discovered there. Then, again, Broken Hill has done more for South Australia than have hundreds of its pastoralists. That one town was at one time contributing a third of the railway revenue of South Australia. And so, I say, that if we are to develop the Territory, we must encourage mining. Before I left office I had a Mining Bill on the stocks, and sent it to the Northern Territory iu order that I might obtain there the best possible advice on the subject. I admit that it was by no means complete when the late Government retired, but the present Minister has been in office for some months, and, no doubt, this question has been before him.
– “-There was no Bill drafted.
– The work was being done.
– Materials for such a Bill were being collected in the Northern Territory, but they reached us only a few weeks ago, and it would take a man a month to look through them.
– If the honorable gentleman’s statement is correct, then I am justified in saying that delay has taken place in the Territory. “We were endeavouring to knock the Bill into shape, and in doing so had the valuable services of Mr. Stanley Hunt, a Victorian Mining Inspector. That was. some six months ago, and it is to be regretted that at least a new mining regulation has not yet been issued. The Minister can do by regulation just as much as an Act of Parlia ment would accomplish in this direction, and if he had brought down a Land Bill this session we could not have expected more for the present than a mining regulation. .
– Has any discovery been made in the Northern Territory which makes the honorable member think that it is rich in mineral wealth?
– There can be no doubt , that there are rich mineral deposits there, and I regret that the mining Estimates for the Northern Territory have been cut down. Dr. Jensen, the Government Geologist, and a very capable man - although honorable members opposite may be inclined to question that statement, in view of the fact that he once issued a pamphlet in favour of the Labour party - believes that the prospects are good. According to the newspapers there has been a discovery of tin in the Territory.
Colonel Ryrie. - How much did the late Government make out of the Zapperpan mine which they bought ?
– Before making such a statement, the honorable member should be sure of his facts. We did not buy it ; we took it over as a transferred property.
Colonel Ryrie. - Did not the late Government give over £3,000 for it? Mr. THOMAS.- South Australia may have done so, and we took over the Territory, together with its debts and its assets. That being so, it cannot be said that we bought this mine any more than that we bought a wharf or a railway. We took over the Territory and its debts, and the mine was handed over to us as one of its assets.
Colonel Ryrie. - And the cost of the mine was included.
– That had nothing to do with the late Government.
Colonel Ryrie. - It is only a quibble to say that the late Government did not buy the mine, seeing that they took it over and paid for it.
– If the honorable member chooses to put the matter in that way I shall not object, but I think it is unfair. I regret that the mining Estimates for the Northern Territory are less than I had proposed, because I think we should assist in developing the mining industry up there.
Mr.Mcwilliams. - Has the honorable member ever heard of any good results being secured by Government prospectors?
– We have as much right to help the mining industry by subsidies as we have to assist agriculturists by establishing an Agricultural Bureau. Dr. Woolnough, who was connected with the Sydney University, and waschosen by my predecessor, Mr. Batchelor, to visit the Territory with Dr. Gilruth and Professor Spencer, signed a report in which he expressed the opinion that what is known as the Union line of reef should be tested. He recommended that the Government should put down a couple of shafts, and Dr. Jensen has practically made the same recommendation. Mr. Oliver, a practical miner holding very high testimonials, was sent by us to assist the geologist, and I understand that he also thinks that something should be done in that direction. It was my intention to follow their advice, and to test the reef by putting down shafts. That, the honorable member for Franklin will admit, is very different from a proposal to send out prospecting parties. When I held office as Minister of External Affairs I was not keenly in favour of indiscriminate prospecting, but when the Government geologist and officers of his Department make such a recommendation as that to which I have just alluded, we have something definite before us. Honorable members opposite may say that such matters ought to be left to private enterprise, but I believe that we ought to make an elfort to prove the reef in the way recommended. If, as the result of such an effort, the reef were proved to be valuable we should have more people going there in half a day than would be attracted to the Territory by a hundred pastoralists in twenty years. I understand that a very fair tin-field has been discovered.
– I had a letter yesterday saying that there are over 70 men on the field.
– But unless a battery is erected they will not be able to remain.
– We are going to get a battery. I am having the specifications and details prepared.
– I am very glad to hear it. It is a little bit of State Socialism of which I approve.
– A little bit of State folly.
– The honorable member may call it a “ State folly,” but it is a piece of State Socialism that I heartily support.
– Would the honorable member extend his theory of free railways to the railways between the south and the north of the Territory?
– We are not now dealing with the question of free railways, but I am in favour of carrying the policy to its logical conclusion. Whatdoes the Minister propose to do with the Commissioners who were appointed by the late Government to obtain information as to railway routes, and so forth, in the Northern Territory? When I was Minister of External Affairs I was asked many questions, especially by the present Minister of Trade and Customs, as to when this Committee was to be appointed; and I think I was fortunate in securing the services of the gentlemen I did. So far as I know, they are not what can be called violent Liberal men; and that I take it is some qualification in the eyes of honorable members opposite.
– If we get the services of good men we da not care where they come from.
– Always providing that they do not happen to be Labour men. Many charges were hurled against the late Government; but it cannot be said that in this instance we appointed any of our special friends or supporters. The Commissioners have been recalled; and I should like to know from the Minister whether they are to be sent back again, or what is the intention of the Government? I shall be sorry if the Commission is disbanded.
– I think we ought to have a progress report from them.
– What were the Commissioners before they were appointed?
– Two of them were surveyors, and one, Mr. Lindsay, had been on exploring expeditions through the Territory two or three times. The third member of the Commission was Mr. Clarke, who at one time was a member of this House, and on the Liberal side. I did not hear any protest or complaint as to the personnel of the Commission ; but it is for the Government to administer the Departments, and they may think it unnecessary for the Commission to proceed further. As I say, I should be sorry if their work ceases, because the more information we have about this great Territory the better. The report of the Administrator states that the work of settling the Northern Territory will be hampered unless we resume land. This seems somewhat ridiculous in the case of a Territory of some 500,000 square miles, but such is the report of the Administrator, in view of any closer settlement that may be contemplated. If the idea of the honorable member for Wimmera is carried out in the direction of irrigation farms and so forth, it will certainly be necessary to resume land. “I have had the advantage of personal conversation with the Administrator, and I think I am correct in stating that he is very strong on this point. The present Minister may not agree with him; but, if he does, I should like to know whether any provision is to hu made for resumption. Further, I should like to hear a word or two from the Minister in regard to the freezing works, so that we may know whether any definite arrangement has been made with a private company, or whether it is the intention of the Government to carry on the works themselves.
.- The Minister of External Affairs has not been very long in office, and it would be unreasonable to expect the expenditure of this Department to be cut down this year. I hope, however, that by next year the expenditure, not only in this Department, but in others, will be reduced very considerably. The “bold, comprehensive” policy of- the late Government, referred to by the honorable member for Barrier in regard to the Northern Territory, would appear to have been the appointment of some 180 officials.
– The late Government were charged with not having a “ bold and comprehensive “ policy, and I am looking for such a policy from the present Government.
– Before we can have a proper policy for the Territory certain things are necessary to be done. In the meantime, I think that most of the officials of the Education Department - unless, like the manager of the bank, they have been appointed for a stated period - might be discharged, and only one or two teachers retained for the schools.
– Why not use the teachers to instruct the aboriginal children ?
– The honorable member for Brisbane has told us that theaboriginals are very simple folk, really only in the stone age, and so to offer them, education would be, I think, “ casting pearls before swine.”
– We were only in the stoneage ourselves about 2,000 years ago !
– And I was going to suggest that the honorable member had not yet emerged’ from it. The Public Works Department in the Territory might, I think, be abolished. The proposal to spend £19,000 on houses for Government employes at Port Darwin raisesthe whole question whether that is theright place to fix the capital of the Territory. The whole Agricultural Department also, I think, might be done away with. The first requirement is a classification of the lands, and the ‘ issue of maps, so that we may know exactly what the Territory is like. As to resumptions, I may say that. I havea small £5,000 interest in a pastoral property there, and if it will aid in the development of the Territory, I am quiteready to give it up in the interests of the Commonwealth. The map I hold in my hand does not show the whole of the Territory, but I think it does show the lands which are under lease; aud it seems to me that there is any quantity of land for an energetic officer to work on, without interfering with the possessions of the -few people who are there already. After the lands have been classified, and maps issued, there, should, before any railways are constructed, be conservation of water for both mining and pastoral pursuits. From men who have been over the Territory, I know that there are good mineral shows there, but at .present they are practically inaccessible and useless for want of water ; and it is a great disappointment to me that there is scarcely any provision made iti the ‘.Estimates in’ this connexion. There is a vote of £20.060 for mining generally, and this includes boring plants for water supply £4,000, while further on there is £3,000 for well-sinking and water conservation. It is here that we require a bold and comprehensive policy, with an expenditure of £20,000 or £30,000,. ‘ Even if the railway were made from Pine Creek to Katherine River, stock could not get to it, and, so far as it is necessary to permit stock to get to the present terminus, dams over the two rivers would give the communication. The £3,000 set down for water supply would practically put down only three bores. There are hundreds and thousands of acres of open plains without any timber on the Barklay Tablelands, where the water is 300 feet deep, and it costs from £750 to £1,000 to put down a bore
– What is the supply ?
– The supply is good enough, but the trouble is to lift it.
– What is the quality of the water?
– It is fair stock water. This is a factor to be taken into consideration when deciding what size the holdings shall be. The steamer Stuart was bought by the late Government in order to give better communication with Port .Darwin, but as most of the boats trading to Port Darwin have coloured crews, the place may be left almost devoid of communication, owing to .the provisions of the Navigation Act. A vote of £18,000 is proposed for the upkeep of the steamer, but I think its services might well be dispensed with.
– What does the vessel do– carry mails ?
-I know that the vessel carried some wool from the Barklay Tablelands, but did not fulfil the contract; and I think that the Minister is in receipt of a lawyer’s letter in connexion therewith.
– I have not seen it-
– Then the Treasurer must have it. It seems that for the steamship service for passengers and cargo between Port Adelaide and Port Darwin, including lighter dues, the cost is £3,000; and I think this steamer Stuart might well be done away with.
– Has the honorable member ever been te- the Territory?
– It is a pity, because it would alter the honorable member’s views and prevent him making that mistake.
– What mistake?
– About the steamer.
– The steamer cannot have much to do if it can go to Bourketown to take wool - it cannot be very necessary to the residents of Port Darwin. Getting back to the Agricul tural Department, these Estimates provide for nearly £3,000 for wages, £19,000 for contingencies, £7,000 for live stock,, and £5,000 for farm implements. Most honorable members would like to know what live stock is there. It is very hard to get sheep to thrive on the Barklay Tableland. I have not been there, but I find out from the company in which I am interested that they cannot lamb or shear in the wet season, and that when the wet season stops the lambing and shearing has to be done almost at the same time- because of the grass seeds. They have to shear with the lambs at the feet of the ewes. There is hardly time to shear before the lambing, and after the lambing the grass seeds cause endless trouble, interfering with the shearing, and causing great mortality among the lambs. On this lease there have been sheep since 1884 and we bought 5,000 or 6,000 the other day, yet there are only 50,000 sheep there now in place of the 200,000 that should be there, showing that there is something wrong either in the management or in the country. I do not know what is the exact cause of the trouble. It is said that the sheep need salt; but no one on the Barklay Tableland can afford to pay £10 a ton for the carriage of salt. However, cattle do well there, and I recommend the Minister to look to cattle and mining to settle the Northern Territory. The honorable member for Barrier referred to miners opening up Broken Hill; but no miners ventured there until the pastoralists had paved the way for them. The same applies to nearly every other mining field in Australia. As regards immigration, £50,000 is little enough. Some honorable members have said that we have Australians to send to the Northern Territory, but I think not, because we are breeding in the cities a town population. The honorable member for West Sydney said that their craving for the bustle and excitement of the town is like the drunkard’s taste for alcohol. Anyhow, whether the honorable member is right or wrong, the fact of the matter is that we cannot get the town-bred people away from the “ pubs “ and the picture shows, and that they will not go to the Northern Territory. I think we should try to get white people, Germans, Danes, and Scandinavians.
– Hear, hear! Cheap; labour !
– Not cheap labour. We require white people who will assimilate with Australians. I do not wish to get people from the middle of Europe. I would get them from the same stock that we have sprung from, people speaking practically the same language as ourselves, and having the same religion, and the same ideals of civilization. I do not think we can get people for the Northern Territory unless we get them from those countries. We have not only the Northern Territory to settle. The NorthWest of Western Australia is just as destitute of people; the same remark applies to the North of Queensland, while between Adelaide and Albany, on the overland railway route, there is hardly a soul settled. The Minister must give a man a long enough lease to make it worth his while to go to the Northern Territory, effect his improvements, and secure a return for them.
– What period do you suggest t
– The length of a lease depends on the class of country, and how long it will take to put on the improvements. Some of our Labour friends took up a large area of country on the proposed railway line, and several of their leases are now being offered for sale, but cannot be sold because the tenure is too short. Some were offered to myself, but I saw that I could not possibly put on the improvements and get my money back before the leases would fall in.
– What is the length of lease ?
– I think they expire in 1924. I hope the expenditure generally will be reduced by the Ministry during the recess. I said that the Labour party were guilty of extravagance. I honestly believed it.
– Why is the expenditure greater this year under your Government ?
– If the honorable member had any business experience he would know that he could not go into a much smaller concern than one spending £22,000,000 and say at once, “ This ought to be cut down,” or “ That ought to be cut down.”’ He must approach the matter with discretion. Ascertaining where the extravagances are takes some time. Such a thing as buying 2,000 ewes, and sending them -to a climate absolutely unsuitable for them is an idiotic expenditure.
– That is only a small item.
– I remind my honorable friend that small items make big ones. That is another maxim he would find out if he were in business. I hope that the Minister, after he has been in his Department for some time, will see his way to cut down this expenditure by almost one-half.
– I am anxious to get through with these Estimates as quickly- as possible, but it is due to honorable members that there should be a reference on my part to some of the points made. I could say much more if the time would allow me, and owing to the importance of the subject, I wish opportunity had arisen - but it has not. Last night something was said about the growth of expenditure. I have endeavoured to work out a few figures to show how we really stand since the transfer of the Northern Territory to the Commonwealth. We had a very big problem to deal with, one of the most exceptional that has fallen to the lot of any Government, and one which must be approached with a very deep sense of responsibility. At the time of the transfer the actual net loss was £242,000 per year, including the annual cost of the Port Augusta to Oodnadatta railway. I have full details, worked out by myself, as to the position since the transfer, but I think I need only roughly refer to them. The actual loss at the 30th June last was £390,000, or an increase of £148,000 since the transfer. Taking into account the railway to Oodnadatta, the Commonwealth having as part of the transfer assumed the liability on the railway, this loss was about £86,000 per year, but -I hope it will shortly become a more productive line.
– Is there any better rolling-stock on it than there used to be?
– I am afraid that if I go into details more than is necessary I shall take up a great deal of time. Some honorable members have referred to the increase of officialdom in the Northern Territory. It would be a deplorable state pf affairs if we were to have an over-manning of officials for a population of about 1,900 Europeans, with no consequent development to justify it. I have the total number of employes. On the 1st July last, the permanent officials numbered 120, and the temporary employés, 361, making a total of 481 persons in the employ of the Commonwealth, out of a total European population of 1,931, or a total population, other than aboriginals, of 3,459.
– Some of them were engaged surveying the railway.
– If I give the actual figures it will save a good deal of conjecture. At the time of the transfer the cost of fifty-sixpermanent hands was £16,295.
– There would be permanent hands controlling the Territory who would be living in Adelaide. Would you include them ?
– I have an exhaustive return. I am not such a neophyte as to claim that I could digest such a mass of information on the spur of the moment, nor must I presume to be one like Minerva, springing from the brain of Jupiter, who can, on the spur of the moment, revolutionize the universe. What I am trying to do is to get the details together. The figures I have given, which are only a few of those which, I might refer to, are based upon a comparison of the same class of officials in both cases. I mentioned there were at the time of transfer 56, and I have given the number at present. The cost of these is £43,070. The cost of the daily labour employes on the one date was £10,000, and on the other £11,000. The sum total would be £26,295 on the 1st January, 1911, and £49,087 on the 30th June, 1913. The honorable member for Hume referred last night to the two experimentalists who had been engaged, and said they ought to be shifted to the Macdonnell Ranges, that they were competent men, and that the salaries were adjusted to their duties. As a matter of fact, they are only employed to make certain examinations. The deductions are made by the expert, Mr. Clarke, who gets a salary of about £640 a year. I find that he has published a book on agriculture, which is the standard book in the University of Sydney. We must, therefore, assume that he is a competent man, and it is he, and not the two experimentalists, who is responsible for the recommendations made. There are two experimental farms, the Batchelor and the Daly, and there is a third one at Mataranka, which is rather for the purposes of cattle, situated about 70 miles from the Katherine, but at present it is not developed. There are some buildings being put up on it, but the Batchelor and the Daly are getting a little under way. The area at the Batchelor is 3,230 acres, and at the Daly 2,600 acres. The total cost to 26th November was £28,534. A great deal of that is, of course, for plant and stock. Much of the £18,000 that appears on the Estimates for stock and plant will be nonrecurring. A similar sum was spent last year, but this year the estimate contains items for plant that, assuming success - of which I have some doubt - will be nonrecurring.
– Plant will not last for ever.
– No doubt; but it will not perish from year to year. I have not been able to ascertain the actual annual cost of the farms; I should think, speaking roughly, that the Daly and the Batchelor cost about £7,000 a year, so that at present we may take it that the total annual outlay on the three farms is something like £10,000 a year.
– Judging by results, are they worth the money?
– A report which has reached me from the Director of Agriculture speaks rather encouragingly of the possibilities of the Batchelor, and to some extent of the Daly. At the Batchelor there are 285 acres cleared and fenced, and 154 acres ring-barked. Ninety acres out of the 154 is devoted to experimentation, because the object of these farms was to make experiments in the production of certain classes of fodder, particularly for cattle. I am told that sorghum and lucerne are a pronounced success. I have not been able to test that statement thoroughly yet, but I am told that it is so. There are difficulties, because these experiments, except at the Mataranka farm, are carried on with a rainfall of 60 inches. The reason I referred to the Batchelor as being, perhaps, the better of the two farms for experimental purposes is that, I believe, the conditions there are typical of many millions of acres of country within a fair radius of Darwin. If it can be established that certain products can be successfully produced at these farms, it will be an encouragement to those who settle within the line of rainfall to follow those lines of production. I have a doubt as to the success of these farms, and if, on further inquiry, I find that we are not justified in continuing them as they are, or in continuing the three, I shall have no hesitation in making a recommendation that something should be done, and then what would be useless expenditure for the purposes in view could be stopped or curtailed.
– Is there any estimate of the quantity of lucerne, &c., that can be grown?
– I do not remember an estimate. The farms have been established only about twelve months. The men were sent up at the wrong time. They had to waste three or four months. This is practically the result of the first year’s test, and in some circumstances it is a most difficult one, because they had to get under way and prepare for settlement. I do not want to say that there has been what some assume - a failure of the farms for the purposes for which they were established. There were certain grasses there that were found to be poisonous, and one of the difficulties has been in determining how to deal with them. Reference has been made to the question of immigration. The £50,000 this year is for immigration, as well as for advertising. The request from Sir George Reid was for £34,000, leaving immigration out of account altogether. There has been established in England a medical department for the purposes of inquiry as regards the condition of immigrants in England and Europe. I thought it might be hard to charge the cost of medical examination, 5s. per immigrant, to the people who were coming, and after going into the matter carefully, it has been decided that part of the charge is to be paid out of the immigration vote, and that practically makes up most of the difference between the £34,000 and the £50,000; but the chief outlay for immigration will be in connexion with the Northern Territory. Until we recast our policy, there is no idea of the Commonwealth taking upon itself the responsibilities of the States.
– Have you had any report from the man who was sent to Patagonia in regard to the Welshmen there?
– I had a telegram from Mr. Williams, from London, who was sent to Patagonia to try to divert some of the Welsh there to the Northern Territory. He says there were some families on the way, and some would be here in July. As far as I can understand the cablegram they have a capital in some cases of £6,000, while one is set down at £30,000. At the end of the week I have to ‘meet the agent of a firm that has been to the Northern Territory, and they propose to discuss the introduction of 100 settlers there, some with capital and some with moderate means.
– Are they immigrants?
– They have not come yet, but in consequence of inquiries made, through Mr. Williams and others in America, and in Europe, it would seem that there is a possibility of serviceable immigration setting in to the Northern Territory. A question has been asked about the oil fields of Papua. There are three bores put down there. The lowest is about 345 feet. At, I think, 324 feet good oil was struck, but you must get down something like 1,000 feet before commercial results can be properly tested. We have one of *the best experts there making an examination, preparing a geological map, looking out for the best and roost convenient harbor, and giving general estimates and advice as to the best lines of development. He has associated with him Mr. Grebin, the departmental expert, whom I recently engaged for a fixed period of a year, subject to renewal, and we are encouraged to think that there are great prospects in connexion with the oil discoveries of Papua.
– Can the Minister give the Committee an idea of the policy of the Government in regard to immigration ?
– The policy arranged provided . for advertising. A great deal has been done in London in advertising Australia for purposes of immigration. Whether any change is to be made in the allocation of duties, State and Commonwealth, may depend on the next Conference of Premiers, when the matter may be discussed. In the meantime, we are ‘doing the best we can with our limited resources. With regard to immigration generally our policy is advertising our resources on the Continent, and extending our agencies on the Continent also.
– Is it the intention of the Commonwealth Government to retain all the rights and work the oil wells in Papua themselves ?
– At present it is. Until we know where we are, we shall follow the policy adopted by the late Government. The honorable member for Barrier referred to the delay in the construction of the railway. I do not think it will make any difference whether the Bill was passed three months ago or last week, because no matter how you build the railway you cannot commence until April of next year. The plans are being prepared, and I think work will be commenced as soon as the dry season sets in again. As regards the construction of freezing works, I have been approached by three first class companies. I was considering one yesterday that I think will be brought to success, and, if so, it will result in the erection of these works, I think, at Darwin, although some prefer the Katherine. The final success depends on the construction of the line to the Katherine, and the fact that the House showed itself willing to agree to that line yesterday facilitated my negotiations with one of the best companies that I could possibly get for the erection of the works.
– Will they get a monopoly of it?
– No. The conditions under which the work will be carried on are very carefully drawn up. With regard to the question of mining, about £3,000,000 worth of minerals has been raised in the Territory. The rough element of a mining Ordinance or Bill reached the office some weeks ago, but it is utterly impossible to sit down and draft a mining Bill right in the middle of the session, and there was no strict urgency for it. What we are doing is to try to encourage prospecting and development. A battery is going to be sent up to the new Mahranbo.i field, at Beswick Creek. The specifications sent down were not sufficient for the purpose of tenders, and they are now sending down detailed specifications. I hope, as we have sixty or seventy men on the field, that their operations will be helped by the placing of a battery there.
– Is it proposed to develop the Union reef?
– I have obtained £1,500 from the Treasury to develop that reef, which covers 5 or 6 mines. The idea is to sink a shaft, and then drive about 200 feet to test the line of reef at levels which hitherto have not been tested, and which, according to reports that I have read, deserve more efficacious treatment. The honorablemember for Fawkner has referred to the Stuart. I think that was, on some estimates of value, rather a poor bargain. It cost about £10,000, or taking in the fittings and installation of wireless and other things, about £16,000 odd.
– Who recommended that purchase? Was it the Administrator ?
Mr.GLYNN.- We have to deal with accomplished facts. It is no good going back to make inquiries as to who is to blame. I want to see what can be best done for the future. There were contracts expiring for mail contracts between Borroloola and Darwin and (Wyndham and Darwhi. These contracts were costing about £2,500 a year, and the money was saved when the Stuart was employed to do the work. The honorable member for Riverina has referred to the fact that some wool has been taken from Borroloola by this steamer. It was thought that it would help to make the steamer pay to employ her in this work, and that if the wool were consigned) directly to Europe by the Administrator it might help to draw attention to the Territory. About £600 was paid recently for the carriage of wool by the steamer. Whether this may be called a commercial enterprise or not, it seems to me that we must try to make the vessel pay. At present she costs about £700 a month. I have not a correct balance-sheet yet, so that I do not know the actual cost. Whether the steamer was worth the £10,000 that was paid for her is a matter about which’ I have grave doubts. I do not know whether the necessary caution was exercised in connexion With her purchase.
– What about the Commissioners ?
– They were asked to report at once purely to help in the framing of a policy. The conclusion to which I came was that, although we had a good Commission, the members of which endeavoured under difficult circumstances to do good work, we should not, with the pressing problems of the Territory before us, wait for a final report, which, if the full itinerary were followed, could not be presented before March, 1915. I do not suggest that the Commissioners were delaying matters in any way, but as there was only part of the itinerary that they had before them that covered country really unexplored - that lying from the Katherine westwards and back eastwards to Newcastle Waters, a distance of about 24.8 miles, over which a line of railway might possibly be taken instead of over the twenty-mile shorter route through Daly Waters - I thought that it was not worth while to ask them to complete their itinerary, and thus deprive myself in the meanwhile of the information that they had gained. It was because of no derogation from the estimate of their capacity that they were asked to report, perhaps prematurely, having regard to the time previously allowed for their work.
– ls their report a progress report?
– No j a final report.
– Then the work of the Commission is practically finished.
– Yes. I did not think that we were justified in asking them to go over the country between Newcastle Waters and Camooweal - a distance of 360 miles - because that country has been explored and surveyed by Messrs. Laurence and Chalmers; nor in asking them to go to the Macdonnell Ranges, a distance of 337 miles, over country adequately explored in 1889 by Mr. Graham Stewart, and subsequently by Messrs. Laurence and Chalmers, so that I have, with other details in the Department, about it all the information necessary to guide Ministerial decision.
– The maintenance and insurance of the Stuart, launches, and coal hulk cost £18,000 a year.
– I can obtain the details, if necessary, for the honorable member. We have three vessels, the Leichhardt, the Gregory, and the Stuart, and there are also some launches.
.- It is assumed that the Estimates are swollen this year because Ministers have not had enough time to go through them with a view to curtailment. I, like other members who have spoken, think that we are spending far too much money in artificial attempts to develop the Northern Territory. Probably we are seeking to develop it a century before its time, and it seems to me that <what we are doing is like trying to grow a hot-house plant at the North Pole. The more vulnerable parts of Australia are Northern Queensland and Western Australia, and in both States there are huge areas of undeveloped land. The money on the Estimates for immigration would be better spent in bringing immigrants to States that are partly developed, but have large areas of land yet to settle, than in trying to force closer settlement in the Northern Territory. Every penny spent in the Northern Territory on a closer settlement policy will be practically thrown away, unless we can give those who go there facilities for sending their produce to other markets, or settle such a huge population in the Territory as to provide local markets. The Estimates show a peculiar state of affairs. Of the 1,931 white persons in the Territory, 481 are public servants, there being a public servant to every three other men there. The total cost of the Territory, excluding interest, amounts to £116 for every white man there. The salaries of the officials total £49,000, and sundries about £177,900. Their travelling expenses come to £44 per head per annum for every official provided for on the Estimates, or £7,635 altogether; postage costs £8 10s. per head for every man provided for on the Estimates; and writing paper, office material, books, and printing, £22 per head. I agree with the honorable member for Riverina that it is the small amounts that make the big totals, and I am certain that there is immense scope for saving in these matters. We are providing £13,238 for the maintenance of the police and the gaols. The maintenance of prisoners costs £200, and, allowing 8s. a week for each prisoner, that sum is sufficient to maintain ten prisoners all the year round. To keep these ten prisoners in custody we spend over £13,000 a year. There are fifty-one police and five warders, or one warder to every two prisoners. It costs £316 to provide uniforms, although in the Northern Territory, where white duck and drill suits are sufficient, the cost of clothing should be much less than in the cooler parts of the continent. The figures show that there should be a close supervision of all these matters. I think that a scrutiny of the items -would show that a consider-, able saving could be made.
.- I did not intend to speak about the Northern Territory to-day, because the time at our disposal is not sufficient to enable one to do so properly. If members were to use the recess in visiting the outlying portions of the Commonwealth, they could do better work here, and would not make the ridiculous statements that we have heard this morning. As to the mining in the Territory, I have received letters during the last few days from miners who are at work there. Unlike the honorable member for Riverina, I do not hold land in the Territory, nor am I interested in any company running sheep there; but I approach the consideration of these Estimates with a desire to assist the Minister in developing the Territory and promoting settlement. There are, undoubtedly, many opportunities for settlement there. The honorable member for Riverina was severe in his criticism of the items relating to education, and expressed the opinion that they should be cut down. That, after all, is but an old Conservative idea. Apparently the honorable member does not think that children in the Territory should have an opportunity to be educated. One of the first questions likely to” be put by married people who contemplated settling in it would relate to the opportunities which exist there for schooling their children. These Estimates involve serious problems, and I regret that we have not more time to discuss them. I heard with regret remarks made by honorable members opposite as to the officials in the Territory. I would ask them how we are going to obtain information necessary to assist us in the work of development unless we have officials to make investigations for our guidance. Something must certainly be- done to develop arid people the Territory, and we were told, when Federation was being advocated, that the Commonwealth would be able to deal with it in a way which was not possible to any individual State. The late Ministry were the first to take definite steps to do something for the Territory, but we find honorable members who should be prepared to speak encouragingly of our efforts taking up a hostile attitude. I have to thank the present Minister of External Affairs for having listened to my representations in regard to the necessity for a State battery. When the parliamentary party visited the Territory some time ago, it was pointed out to us that it was absolutely necessary that, Government batteries should be provided if the miners were not to be disheartened. I ask the Minister not to forget the tin mining propositions that are being opened up. I am informed that the State battery at Mahranboi tin-field will be a great help. A splendid tin load, I am given to understand, has been discovered at Hidden Valley. At present, however, the concentrates have to be bagged and carried to the Horseshoe Creek Battery. The tailings become the property of the battery owner, and if some of the concentrates get mixed up with them the owners have no redress. I hope that the Minister will set up a battery at Hidden Valley. I am advised that the erection of a State battery on the Mahranboi tinfield is likely to attract a number of tho best class of immigrants to the country. No one can deny that the miner has played an important part in the development of Australia, and we should do what we can to develop the mining industry in the Northern Territory. I sincerely trust that the Minister will not be influenced by the criticism of the items relating to education, in which the honorable member for Riverina indulged. If we wish to “encourage settlement up there we roust be able to show that reasonable facilities exist for the education of children, and I am satisfied that the people of Australia, if appealed to, would not object to any expenditure in that direction. As to the question of communication, I think that a ready means of communication by water, as well as by railway, must be provided. The parliamentary party that visited the Territory was convinced that improved water communication was necessary; and whether too much has been paid for the Government steamer or not, the fact remains that good water communication is necessary.
– Let us get the Estimates of this Department through before lunch time.
– I am surprised at the way in which it- is sought to rush .business through this Chamber. During the last election campaign various charges were made against the Labour party, and now, when we have an opportunity to call upon the Ministerial party to support their allegations, we are asked to remain quiet and to allow the Estimates to pass without discussion. Many honorable members do not seem to realize their responsibility to the people in this regard. The Estimates ought to have been introduced earlier in the session, and we should not be expected, in the course of a few hours, to deal with an expenditure of many millions of pounds. I repeat that the problem of the Northern Territory is one of the most serious that we have to face, and that honorable members should assist the Minister as much as possible, instead of putting obstacles in his way. I am sorry that the Minister has turned down the proposal to erect refrigerating works, because State works would prevent a monopoly. With suitable refrigerating works up there we should be able to ship frozen meat direct from Port Darwin to the East - to Manila and elsewhere where there are markets for our frozen products, and where prices can be obtained in excess of those offering in other parts of the world. I believe that some of the lines .laid down by the late Ministry for the development of the Territory could be (followed with profit to the country by the present Government, and that if they be vigorously pursued, the result must be beneficial, not only to” the Territory itself, but to the whole Commonwealth.
.- How does the Minister of External Affairs expect to get the Estimates passed by half-past 6 to-night if he is going to take up so much time in dealing with the Northern Territory? For my own part, I do not think it is possible for the session to close this week. The absurdity of what is called responsible government is illustrated by the fact that we are asked to agree, within twenty-four hours, to expenditure covering something like £13,000,000. There are many items’ concerning which” I desire information. For instance, why should we spend £5,000 for the development of the export trade in meat to the Continent of Europe ? That is a proposal made by the anti-Socialist party. We cannot emphasize too frequently the point that the so-called anti-Socialist party are ready to dip their hands deeply into the public purse in the interests of trusts and combines, and particularly in the interests of the Beef
Trust. Should there not be some mental re-adjustment on the part of the Minister? Why should we be asked to vote £5,000 to assist meat exporters in placing their goods in Prance and Germany and to put up the price of beef to the local consumers ?
– This money is not to be paid to the exporters.
– It is to be devoted to the development of the export trade.
– On the Continent of Europe.
– The money will be spent through the High Commissioner’s office. We have no balance-sheet. I do not suggest that there is, anything irregular, but no particulars are given. A year or two ago the High Commissioner went on the Continent with the object of opening up markets for our meat in Paris, Berlin, and other large Continental cities. Is there any reason why the so-called anti-Socialist party opposite should propose to spend this money to enable exporters to place meat in Paris and Berlin? The honorable member for Lilley, in his newspaper, as well as from public platforms, declaims against Socialism and will have nothing to do with Socialism, yet he will support this vote of £5,000 to help the Beef Combine.
– -For his own crowd.
– Quite so. When there is any proposal to- spend money to help people to do that which they cannot do for themselves - to help our crowd, the masses of the people, the wage-earners, and those who never straighten their backs when they are working in the trenches without some member of the party opposite saying, “ You are neglecting your work ‘ ‘ - Government supporters loudly protest.
– Oh !
– The honorable member does not like to be touched on the raw.
– What has the honorable member had to do in the way of bending his back?
– I worked for seventeen years in the printing trade, and for many years assisted to print the Western Advocate, of Orange, on an Albion press. Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.15 p.m.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Division 34 (High Commissioner’s Office), £24,461
.- I should like to draw attention to the extraordinary position that honorable members occupy opposite as antiSocialists. I do not think that they know what “ Socialism “ means, and I should like to give them a good working definition, namely, that, if Government money is spent to assist people to do what those people cannot do for themselves, that is Socialism. It is proposed to expend £5,000 for the development of the Australian export trade on the Continent of Europe; and this means a proposal to assist Mr. Kidman and others to get their meat into France and Germany. If honorable members opposite were anti-Socialists, as they say they are, they would tell Mr. Kidman and others to undertake this expenditure for themselves. Honorable members opposite are Socialists of a hybrid type.
– Of a common-sense type.
– According to the honorable member for Wilmot, it is commonsense to take Government money, not to assist the poor unfortunate man who toils monotonously in the trenches, but to assist Mr. Kidman and the honorable member for Riverina.
– I do not desire any assistance, and, so far as I am concerned, this item may be scratched out.
– Like the Treasurer, the honorable member for Riverina desires to have ho privileges. Honorable members opposite who profess to be antiSocialists are going to take the revenue contributed’ by the man in the trenches, who has to put a piece of flannel over his back to prevent his contracting diseases incidental to his calling, and give it to others who are already well off. If the Labour party ask for any assistance for the man in the trenches we are condemned in violent language of the Prime Minister’s “pot-house” variety.
– Was it not the Labour party who first placed this item in the Estimates 1
– The Labour party profess to be Socialists, and desire to help the people.
– We put that item in because we are Socialists.
– And if honorable members opposite are anti-Socialists they ought to strike the item out.
– Surely the- honorable member does not object to converts 1
– But we must point out the inconsistencies of honorable members opposite. Fancy that monument of individualism, the Attorney-General - who has said, in effect, that there is no desire to bring a race of people into Australia who will be always leaning against the post, and that it is deplorable that we should pay old-age pensions, because they “ sap the moral fibre “ of the community - voting for this item of £5,000 ! I dare say that in the Estimates we could find a thousand such items by which moneyis taken from the general taxpayer to help men like Mr. Kidman, who may be already a millionaire. The time has arrived when we should pay heed to the Ar/e, which this morning, in a leader in reference to the New South Wales elections, says that neither a double nor a single dissolution would alter the state of affairs. I mention this to show that, however we may talk and discuss the vast expenditure proposed in these Estimates, we shall not be able to do much, because the Government and their supporters are unwilling to reduce them even a penny. The sooner we have a system of elective Ministries the better. Then the Minister of External Affairs would be elected by the whole House, and would simply place his Estimates before us, and accept amendments without taking offence or without any talk of the Government resigning, while we, at the same time, would get a true expression of the wishes of the people of Australia. There is a certain amount of futility iri criticising the Estimates this afternoon, and, therefore, I shall say no more on the present item.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Division 35 (Papua), £78,125, agreed to.
Division 36 (Northern Territory), £362,001.
.- I should like to take this opportunity to reply to some criticism of the honorable member for Riverina, and also to a leading article in a metropolitan paper of a few days ago, in reference to the education administration in the Northern Territory. The article in the newspaper was the outcome of an answer given by the Minister of External . Affairs to a question put by an honorable member. The answer of the- Minister was full and complete, but the newspaper deliberately left out a portion of it, and then wrote an article on the subject. The part that was left out by the newspaper stated that the official referred to was to take charge of the secondary education in the Northern Territory, and would also act as an inspector of schools. The appointment of this superior teacher and inspector was made by me, and that is why I take some little interest in the matter. When I was in the Northern Territory a deputation of parents waited on me, and asked that six scholarships of £100 each might be granted to enable their children to go to schools in the southern parts of Australia. If the scholarship extended for three years, this would mean £1,800, and I told the deputation that I was not prepared to go so far, but that I would obtain the services of a firstclass teacher, so that, not only the six children, who had been referred to, would have the advantages of a secondary education, but also every child in the district. It is only just to parents who are prepared to go to the Northern Territory that proper educational facilities should be provided. We have been told by several honorable members that the Northern Territory presents a very difficult problem, and that we are not likely to get people to go there from the southern parts of Australia. I venture to say that a certain , class of desirable settlers will be absolutely debarred, unless their children can receive a proper education.
– The . people at Alice Springs have been pressing for educational facilities.
– A woman who has two children, and whose husband is in the Territory, told me that it depended entirely on the advantages presented in this respect whether or not she joined her husband ; and I think the questions she asked on the subject were fair and legitimate. I regret that an honorable member should suggest the reduction of the education vote.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Division 37 (Port Augusta Railway), £100.300; Division 38 (Mail Service to Pacific Islands), £21,350, agreed to.
Division 39 (Miscellaneous), £71,533.
.- I should like to know whether the Minister has said anything to the Committee in con nexion with the immigration vote, to the effect that there will be none of it spent except in connexion with the Northern Territory.
– Not unless there is a complete change of policy.
– We can give no such undertaking.
– I have a right to ask the question. If there is to be any alteration of the present policy, in view of the fact that the vote is increased by 150 per cent., we ought to know what are the intentions of the Government.
– This vote is inadequate for a general policy of the Government taking charge and paying for immigration. It is intended chiefly for advertising, and to pay health fees, and so on, in connexion with the Northern Territory.
– The £50,000 is intended for any purpose for which we see an opening in this direction.
– I should be delighted to knock the item out of the Estimates.
– While the honorable member is on his feet, will he tell us what his policy is 1
– I said last night that no one could take exception to letting people overseas know the exact position of Australia, but if the Government are going to do other than has been done so far, honorable members have the right to know what they propose to do.
– The answer given by the Minister of External Affairs was quite satisfactory, but the Prime Minister has given another answer.
– It is not another answer. We cannot do much out of £50,000, when £30,000 was to be spent on advertising. At any rate, we cannot do anything until there is a conference with State Premiers.
– I object to money being spent on bringing people here under false representations, as the States have done. They have brought in people as country workers, when many of them are really not country workers. They have not lived outside the large cities of Great Britain. If this money is to be spent for the purpose of letting people overseas know the exact position of Australia, and if they think they can do better here than in their own country, no one can object.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (ParramattaPrime Minister and Minister of Home
Affairs) [2.46]. - At the risk of delaying the Estimates I wish to say that the £50,000 put down is to be expended whenever and wherever the Government can see a way of usefully spending it for immigration purposes. I do not wish honorable members to vote upon this matter under any misapprehension. I heard the other day of a state of things in New South Wales which, if true, to say the least of it, is not creditable. As the position was put to me I understand there is a number of men in New South Wales who have come out to that State under the belief that they could nominate passages for their wives and families; but the State Government have now stopped this nominated passages system, and these men say that unless they get some relief they will have to go home again to their wives and families. I do not know whether the Constitution permits us to do anything in a case like this, but if it does I certainly think we should take up the duty of the State Government and bring out these wives and children to their husbands and fathers.
– Is that information authentic ?
– It is quite correct. The fact is that these men have not sufficient to pay the money required for assisted passages by the State law.
– These men say they cannot keep two homes going, and they cannot get their wives and families here. I shall go into this matter seriously, and if the Constitution will permit us to do anything like this for any State in a piece-meal way I shall not hesitate to use some of this money to bring these wives and families out. We require the money in case any other openings should crop up, where we may usefully serve the interests of the country in a similar way, and we ask the Committee to vote the money for that purpose. This proposed expenditure on .immigration is not exclusively for the Northern Territory.
.- I am pleased the Prime Minister nas made a statement with regard to the expenditure of this £50,000. I oppose the Commonwealth Parliament spending any money with a view to further assisting the States to bring out immigrants. I have no objection to the Prime Minister utilizing the money to help the men in New South Wales’ who have been brought out here under certain promises, and whose wives and families are compelled to remain in the Old Country, because the State Government have not fulfilled their promises to the men. However, I have strong objection to this Parliament spending any more money in advertising the advantages of people coming to Australia, because a large number of people have come te all the States because of promises held out to them by the representatives of the States, and those promises have not been kept. People have been brought out to Victoria ostensibly to go to country districts, but when they have arrived they have found that there was not employment in the country for them, or that the employment offering was not under conditions that justified their going into the country. Any morning now we can see in the Age advertisements for married couples at 20s. to 25s. a week - or 12s, 6d. per week each. Is it any wonder we cannot induce some of these people to go to the country?
– I suppose it is really 25s. and board and lodging?
– Yes. When the Victorian Liberal Government initiated their system of immigration the Trades Hall Council, of which I was an executive officer, took strong exception to the manner in which it was being carried out. The employers of Victoria were complaining that many manufacturing industries were being injured, because they had work to do, and there were not sufficient artisans to do the work, and at the same time the Age was complaining that, because the Commonwealth Labour Government had not carried any effective Tariff to protect Australian industries, the latter were languishing. A conference was held between the Victorian Government, the Chamber of Manufactures, and the Trades Hall Council. I was a delegate from the Trades Hall Council-. Mr. Whitehead and Mr. Watt represented’ the Victorian Government. The question was put to Mr. Whitehead, “ What about unskilled labour generally? “ Mr. Whitehead said, “ The supply of labour is sufficient for requirements. This applies, not only to the city, but also to the country. We have sufficient labourers here for the requirements of the State providing we can get the labourers to leave the city and go to the country.” I said to Mr. Whitehead, “ You say there are a large number of men enrolled here for employment in the. city, and they refuse to go to the country.” Upon Mr. Whitehead saying this was the case I said that surely there was a reason for it. Mr. Whitehead said, “ I do not know the reason, but the fact remains that they will not go.” I thereupon asked him what wages were paid, and what inducements were offered to these men to go to the country, and he informed me that labourers were required to go to the country at 7s. a day without keep. At this time the minimum rate of wage in the United Labourers Union in the city was 9s. a day, and under a determination of the Wages Board labourers in foundries were getting 8s. a day; yet Mr. Whitehead expected these men to leave their wives and children in the city and go into the country for 7s. a day and keep themselves, or 15s. to 25s. a week with board and lodging, leaving them the balance on which to maintain their wives and children in the cities. Seeing that the Commonwealth has no power over the settlement of people on the land, we are not justified in advertising the advantages of Australia, unless the State Governments are willing to make provision for the people who come here to be settled on the land when they arrive. The Commonwealth Parliament is not justified in assisting the State Governments to further delude people into coming here and joining the army of unemployed. A few months ago, Mr. Watt, when Premier of Victoria, said that there were no unemployed, and that every man who desired employment in Victoria could get it. By way of answer, an army of some thousands of unemployed waited as a deputation upon Mr. Watt. Whereupon Mr. Watt declared that the deputation was not organized to assist men to obtain work, but was simply brought to him by the Labour party for political purposes. However, the fact remains that these unemployed are still in our midst, and though it is said that there is work for every man who desires it, two members of my own family, during the last five months, have been out of employment for -a longer period than they had been in the previous six years. ‘The same thing applies to nearly every organization affiliated with the Trades Hall in Melbourne. Large numbers of artisans are out of employment, yet the Government, with their agents in every part of the world, are en- deavouring to induce people to come here, and practically shoulder our own people out of work. The Liberal Government in Victoria had an understanding with the Chamber of Manufactures and the Employers Federation. Immediately an immigrant ship arrives, the men go to Mr. Ashby, secretary to the Employers Federation, and he gives them cards of introduction to employers. The result of this has been that private employers have put off their own men to make room for new arrivals. It is the same in regard to Government work in Victoria. In the Newport workshops a large number of men have been thrown out of employment, and their positions have been filled by new arrivals. I have no objection to any man or woman coming here to better their conditions. I always say that a great deal of credit is due to the man or woman who has the pluck .or spirit to take on a journey of 13,000 miles to better their conditions in another country. Good luck to those who come here and do so ! No Parliament in Australia is. justified in encouraging or conducting a system of immigration when they know the people they are bringing here are only putting their own citizens out of employment when preference is given to the new -arrivals. In -the circumstances, I am personally opposed to the Government spending any money on advertising. I was opposed to the last Labour Government spending money on advertising the resources of this country, when the Federal Parliament or Government ‘has no power, for any practical purpose, to say how the immigrants shall be disposed of when they come here - whether they shall be found employment as artisans or settlers upon the land. In the circumstances, I oppose the item of £50,000 on the Estimates.
.- I am somewhat surprised at the statements of speakers who have recently spoken in connexion with the amount of £50/000 which, I presume, is to aid immigration. We own the Northern Territory, and control it wholly and solely. It is a -great, empty country, and I have not heard one word from the Opposition so far in regard to the immense staff we have up there absolutely doing nothing. It is a staff equal to controlling 100,000 people. If we are to keep that country absolutely, empty, as it is to-day, I trust the Minister will withdraw at least half of the vote for the staff.
– There is no objection in regard to the expenditure in relation to the Northern Territory. The Prime Minister went further.
– The honorable member was speaking as if the Commonwealth owned no country whatever on which to settle people. We must either settle people in the Territory or give it up, and £50,000 is a very small amount after all. We have a little over one person to the square mile in Australia. Are we supposed to hold Australia under those conditions, and at the same time speak against advertising to induce immigrants to come here? It seems to me to be absolute folly. I trust that the Minister, during the recess, will look thoroughly into his Northern Territory expenditure, and if he can by any means induce settlers to go there in order to justify the great expenditure which we are incurring, I shall be only too pleased; but I agree with previous speakers that the main thing we have to do in the Territory is to provide railways and water supply; we shall then have to depend on the pastoralists to develop the country. It has been the case in Australia, so far, that the pastoralist has done the pioneering. I believe it was men connected with the pastoral industry that discovered Broken Hill. It was a shepherd who discovered Moonta. In most cases the pastoralist is the pioneer, and it will be the same in the Northern Territory. I am sorry that we cannot reduce the amount on the Estimates for the Territory, because at present I cannot see that the money is being well expended, but I trust that during the recess the Minister will see if he cannot bring about a better state of affairs.
– I fail to see the object of having such a large item as this on the Estimates for the Northern Territory. If it is being used for advertising, certainly £50,000 will go a great way in that direction. If it is part of the vote for immigration, unless the Federal Government intend to go in for a more vigorous policy than has hitherto been pursued, it appears to me that the money spent by the Federal Government must, in the very nature of things, be a downright waste. If there is any object to be gained by immigration it will be for the primary purpose of getting the land settled, and by every possible means to induce those immigrating to this country to settle on the land. It is obvious that the Government which has the control of the land must deal with immigration. It may look very well to have a flourish of trumpets about the cordial relationship between the State and Federal authorities, but we know the State authorities are very jealous about the Federal Government taking any matter up. I have not the slightest doubt that the State authorities would be perfectly willing to let the Federal Government bear all the expense, even if we voted half-a-million of money, so long as they could have the privilege of settling the immigrants when they arrive. Apart from the question of dual control, it is obvious that the Government, which has the control of the lands., should have the responsibility with regard to immigration. Unless there is an alteration in the relationship between the States and the Commonwealth, all that will happen will be -that we shall find the money and the States will practically utilize it in any direction they like. I am not prepared to be a party to such a system, and I do not think the Committee is likely to be a party to it. We are told repeatedly that there is any quantity of land in Australia that is capable of being taken up and settled. That may be true. There ought to be, if one looks at the map, but what are the facts? In my own State, whenever any land is put up for allotment there are far more applicants than land available. We hear complaints from the other side that persons who .are desirous of securing land have a difficulty in getting it. That’ can easily be seen from the fact that there are more applicants than there is land to be allotted. There ought to be a great deal more land available for settlement than there is now. Mr. Will Crooks, when he was here, said that we had not dealt fairly with the immigration question at all. In the first place, there ought to be depots in England for the purpose of selecting men that are suitable, and there ought to be depots in Australia for these people to come to, where satisfactory arrangements could be made as to their future career. There is a great deal in what Mr. Crooks said. The question of immigration is used too much for party purposes, and the practical view of the case is lost sight of. I have no fault to find with the immigrants who come to this country. Many honorable members came to this country themselves years ago. Men have to get colonized, and the colonizing takes some time. There is no doubt that when the men come to this country they have a great deal to learn. The average Australian workman.-will do as much in a day as the English workman does in two. This quickness has to be acquired. All these matters must be taken into consideration, and you cannot get out of the difficulty simply by going about the country talking for party purposes about large votes for immigration. The immigration question has to be looked at in a practical way. The sooner we realize that we have no land to settle people on except the Northern Territory the better. It is foolish to talk about immigration to the Northern Territory until we have opened up the Territory with railways. That fact has been recognised in America, Canada, and South America. It is the A B C of settlement, and we must recognise it here. It is of no use to go in for a large expenditureof public money in the Territory unless we are in a position to deal with the question of the settlement of the Territory in the manner in which it is being dealt with in other parts of the world at the present time. I am not going to find fault with the Minister in charge of the Estimates, but the sum he is asking the Committee to agree to seems to be unreasonable for purely immigration purposes. If it includes advertising and other matters, that may furnish a satisfactory explanation.
.- I do not think any one will object if this £50,000 is spent in developing or assisting to settle the Northern Territory. It is not a question of immigration. The last Parliament was willing, and, I believe, this is willing, to spend money to develop that great Territory, but I want to confirm the statements made by the honorable member for Fawkner in regard to the situation in Melbourne. I know from personal inquiry and knowledge that immigrants are displacing our own people. There is no sense in putting on an immigrant, however good a man he may be, if he is a single man,’ to displace a married man, but that sort of thing is occurring in Melbourne under State control.
I should like to ask the Minister, for whom we all feel the greatest respect and confidence, if he will make exhaustive inquiries before spending any money to assist the States in this matter. No one would object to a man bringing his family out, if possible, and I can hardly conceive of the New South Wales Government permitting such a situation to continue as was mentioned by the Minister. I think, if their attention is called to the matter, they will readily help the wives and families to come out. There may be some good reason or explanation for what has happened. If the Minister will make inquiries, he will find that at present the action of the States in connexion with immigration is doing harm to Australia. Immense numbers of immigrants are returning disappointed, and others cannot get a job. I have met some of these. One came with a letter from a friend in England. He was a first-class tradesman, but could not get a job for seven weeks, although we know that, as a general rule, tradesmen have been very busy. The Employers Federation especially feels bound to find work, if possible, for those who come here, and work is found in many cases by displacing Australians. One has only to see the reports of the Labour Bureau in Melbourne to know that there is no demand in the country. From my connexion with a large organization, I know the circumstances of many of these immigrants. Many of them go to the country, to work in pastoral” pursuits, of which they have no knowledge. The workers of Australia -have no prejudice against the immigrants as a whole, because these are generally unionists and Labour supporters, and, therefore, increase the strength of ‘the Labour party; but we have evidence everywhere of the inability of the immigrants to find employment, and I know that letters are being written to friends in the Old Country complaining of the deception that has been practised. This is a serious thing for Australia.
– The artificial conditions created by the Labour party are restricting enterprise.
– The honorable member belongs to those who think that men should look only for work. Too many men have been content to do that in the past, without concerning themselves much about the payment attaching, to the em- ployment, but nowadays things are altering in that respect. The best advertisement that Australia can get will come from the letters of those who are satisfied with the country, and write to invite their friends to join them here; but I know that many are writing to warn others from coming. These letters must, of course, neutralize the effect of our expenditure on advertising in the Old Country. Under the present condition of things we are not justified in spending money in bringing out immigrants, and if we had a run of bad seasons, as in the past, the sufferings of the unemployed would be cruel. Almost the first deputation that waited on the Prime Minister was from unemployed in the city of Melbourne. It was a genuine deputation, and many of those forming it had been displaced by immigrants. Some immi- f rants have returned to the Old Country because of their disappointment. Until the States do more to. provide for those who come here by giving them openings for settling on the land, we shall have no justification for spending money in advertising Australia, much less on other immigration work. It is, of course, the duty of the Commonwealth to protect the community from the dangers surrounding the introduction of diseased persons. America, years ago, found it necessary to have representatives at various ports to prevent undesirables from entering the country. I do not object to that, but beyond that we need not expend money on immigration. The States are doing quite enough. Some of their methods are misleading They give commissions to agents, who do not care, as long as they get their £1 per head, what class of ‘persons they send out. The examination of intending immigrants will remedy that to some extent. The men coming here at present are of a good class, and there ought to be plenty of room for them, but, as every one knows, whenever land is balloted for, there are many more Australian applicants than can get land. Recently some men possessing capital came from America to Victoria, but they found that they could not get the land that they had been led to suppose was available, and they returned. I have known what it is to be hard up, and no , honorable member who has had that knowledge will do anything to produce unemployment. I am sure that the Minister in charge of the Department would not be in favour of anything that would injure Australia, but the carelessness of the States in bringing out immigrants by ship-loads, and turning them adrift in a strange land, without employment, is injuring the country. The States, before encouraging immigration, should provide land for the immigrants. But it is wage-earners that they wish to import, to swamp the labour market, hoping that when there are two or three for every job offering, the men will be more servile, and, perhaps, may accept lower wages. I do not object to the expenditure of money to bring men to the Northern Territory, but I object to any expenditure which will tend to swamp the labour markets of the States.
.- The Minister of External Affairs told us that it was not intended to use this money directly for bringing immigrants to this country.
– There would in any case be scarcely any available for that purpose.
– The Minister has told us that most of the money will be spent in bringing persons to the Northern Territory, and in advertising, but the Prime Minister has shown the true colours of the party by saying that this Government is going to be the seventh Australian Government to assist immigration. Evidently the desire is to bring labourers here under false pretences, with a view to swelling the ranks of the unemployed in Australia. Evidently this Government intends to join the State Governments in deluding persons abroad about the conditions here. I wish to read, so that it may go into Hansard, a circular sent out by John E. Ridgeway Limited, Shipping and Colonizing Experts, to intending immigrants. There is so much business of this kind that we now. have “colonizing experts.” Experts in lies, to lead people to come to Australia ! These agents do not care what becomes of the unfortunates whom they delude, so long as their commission of £1 per head is paid. The letter is as follows - 125 Strand, London W.C.,
July 16, 1913.
In reply to your letter, we have been authorized by the Government of Victoria (Australia) to select a limited number of men, under 45 years of age, who have had farming experience here, and who desire to take up farm work in Victoria. The lowest ordinary fare is j£i8, but approved applicants will be taken out for £9, of which £i will be returned on arrival. The difference between the ordinary fare and the reduced fare has not to be repaid or to be worked off in any shape or form. Wives and children over 12 years of age may be taken at the same rates, and children under 12 years of age at half rates. Further, where necessary, the Government may lend up to about one-half the fare (at the rate of £e, per adult), such loan to be repaid after arrival, at the rate of £1 per month. The wages paid to experienced farm hands run from £1 to 30s. per week and board and lodgings. Married couples, ^78 to ^104 per annum, and board, &c. Next sailing August 14th.
The climate is a magnificent one ; there are no hard winters, and outdoor work therefore goes on all the year round. There are unsurpassed opportunities for men with ambition to have a farm of their own, owing to the liberal aid granted by the Government to agriculturists. J,and may be had, and the payments spread over a long term of years; the Government erect houses also on similar terms, and grant loans towards improvements. Only a limited number can be taken on the terms named above, and as all steamers fill up some time ahead of sailing date, applications should be sent in at once, with doctor’s certificate of good health on the forms enclosed, and at least two original references as to farm experience from employers. The steamers leave at intervals of about two weeks, and applications are being taken now for all sailings up to October.
We shall be happy to furnish you with any further information if you desire it.
That is a copy of a letter which was sent to four foreigners in London. I shall not say what is their nationality. It is sufficient to mention that they are not Britishers. They cannot speak English very well ; but they told the advertising agents that they had worked on farms for three years, when, as a matter of fact, not one of them had ever been on a farm. Their statement was accepted by these agents, who foisted them on to the Victorian Immigration Department, and they were brought out here as farm labourers, although the truth is that they are mechanics, and good mechanics, too. On arrival in Victoria they spent from two hours to two days on farms, and then left, not only because the work was uncongenial, but because ‘ the wages were unsatisfactory. They are to-day swelling the ranks of the unemployed in Melbourne, and would be starving but for those who have taken pity on them. They interviewed their consul, who gave them a letter to a large employer of labour in my electorate. The letter began -
This letter will be handed to you by-
I shall not mention the names nf the men - of whom I spoke to you on the telephone. and so forth. The men working for the firm in question are employed for only two-thirds of the year; yet there can be no doubt that over the telephone it was arranged that these four men should be put on and replace Australian workers, who, even at present, are out of work for one- third of the year.. If this is a square deal on the part of a Government, then I do not know what is. Does the Minister intend 10 perpetuate this sort of thing ?
– We have nothing to do with it. If the honorable member cares to look at our cablegrams and despatches, he will see that we are taking the greatest care to avoid any deception.
– In the State Parliament those who take exception to this form of - immigration receive similar assurances. They are told that the AgentGeneral takes every precaution to see that there shall be no dealing in human flesh and blood by immigration experts. What is going to happen if we continue to bring out immigrants and displace mechanics already here, who for one-third of the year are out of work? I am surprised at the action of the present Government. If it were true that there is plenty of good land available on easy terms, and if only farm hands were brought out, the position would be different. But we know that dozens of men who have taken up closer settlement areas have failed. I admit that many of them would fail at anything, but mechanics who go on the land without any -farming experience must necessarily be doomed to failure.
– The first asset is knowledge of farming.
– Certainly. Why should the authorities accept without inquiry the mere statement of a man that he has had experience in farming? The four men to whom I have referred left England in September last, and after being out of work for some time, are now going to displace four Australians already working only during a part of the year. I know that we have not the numbers to enable us to defeat the intention of the Government to carry out what I can only describe as a dastardly proposal. I can describe in no other way a proposal to assist the State Governments, who allow their agents to tell any lies they please to people in the Old Country about the opportunities offering in Australia.
– It was the proud boast of the Labour party before the last election that their policy was mainly responsible for the increase of population. The honorable member for West Sydney made that statement.
– The honorable member is getting away from the point. All that we contended was that, whilst the Labour party were in power in the Federal Parliament, the conditions of the wage-earning section of the community were improved. That is an absolute fact. The conditions were so improved that large employers of labour sought to import workers and throw a lot of men out of work, so that they would be able to bring them to heel when they desired to do so. Does the honorable member think that the despots of the Harbor Trust, if they had not known that many men were walking about the streets, out of work, would have dared to fight their employés as they did on the question of unionism versus non-unionism ? An attempt is being made, with the object of “downing “ the workers, to fill the country with men seeking employment, not in the agricultural districts, but in our overcrowded cities.
– Then the Labour party in New South Wales must be “ up to their neck in it,” so to speak.
– The New South Wales Government sent Home representatives who would make sure that too many mechanics were not imported. I have no desire, however, to defend that Government when they do wrong, and they have done much that is wrong. Like honorable members opposite, they are Little Australians ; they are State-righters, and I have no use for them. I had hoped that the Minister would carry out the promise that he gave us, but the Prime Minister has said otherwise.
– He is the”boss.”
– He evidently has a backbone, and I am afraid that the Minister of External Affairs would say to him, “ Yes, Mr. Cook, I did not say what you said, but you are the boss, andI have to agree with you.” We know that the Prime Minister will be backed up by the Attorney-General in an effort to swamp Australia with men to throw others out of employment. I do not say that the Minister of External Affairs has willingly deceived us, but the explanation he gave us was deceptive, since the Prime Minister has told us something different.
– There is no difference between the two statements.
– The Prime Minister has said emphatically that he will spend this money in whatever direction he likes. The assertion is that of a strong man. Our numbers will’ not enable us to do much, but I hope that another place will give this proposal a short shrift. I hope that they will show the Government that they have not the power to still further oppose the wage-earners in the industrial section of the community, and that they will refuse to vote £50,000 for the purpose oi advertising and immigration, when the proposed vote is designed really to still further stagnate the Australian labour market.
.- The gravamen of the argument of the Opposition seems to be that we on this side of the House are Conservatives, because we believe in immigration. I wish to measure their corn by their own bushel, and to do so I shall refer them to recent doings in New South Wales. Only six months ago the present Labour Premier of New South Wales proudly boasted that during the preceding twelve months hu Government had been instrumental in bringing more immigrants to Australia than had any previous Administration. Mr. Holman availed himself of an opportunity to visit the Old Country a little while ago, and whilst there he proved a most active immigration agent. His wife accompanied him, and his sisterinlaw, or cousin, or some other relative-
– I cannot allow the honorable member to go into all these details.
– At all events, I think the Government are perfectly justified in the attitude they are taking up. We are not small Australians, but believe in filling up our empty spaces with white immigrants, who are bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh. As to starving the workers of the country, if we compare the working conditions in Australia with those in Canada, it will be found that where there is a vigorous policy of immigration, the wages and conditions are rather better.
– They work for only six months in the year in Canada.
– Never mind that.
– It makes all the difference.
– Only the other day, when I happened to be in a country district in New South Wales, I was told of a very fine stack builder, who was going to leave Australia for Canada, because the wages are better in the Dominion. As I have said, in every country in the world where there is a vigorous policy of immigration, the wages and conditions of the working class are the best. I do not favour bringing immigrants where they are not wanted, but there is no doubt that they are wanted in our country districts. I happen to know something of these questions, and it is only the ignorance of honorable members opposite that causes them to talk as they do. I own and cultivate land, and I can say that the primary industries of this country have been throttled for want of labour. Honorable members opposite ought to take a few lessons in political economy. When a man comes to this country and works on the land, he is not only a producer, but likewise a distributor; because if he earns £100 or £80 a year, he certainly spends £70, and -thus provides employment in other channels, not only in the country, but in the cities. But for the producers honorable members opposite would not be getting their £600 a year, because it is on the producers we have to absolutely depend. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports told us something of the immigration advertisements that appear in the Old Country, and decoy unthinking immigrants to Australia to be fooled. There’ were, however, advertisements scattered far and wide throughout the British Isles by the late Government, through their Minister of External Affairs. Here is one of the advertisements -
For _ the hard-working, steady farm worker who aims at becoming a freehold farmer on his own account, the most remote farms, where the only expenditure is on the few clothes ‘and little luxuries like tobacco, are the finest places imaginable.
The honorable member for Darling and others opposite talk about sweating on the part of the Liberals, but what I am reading now are advertisements issued under the authority of the Labour Government to induce people to come here to compete, I suppose, with Australian workmen. Here is another advertisement -
A man who gets £i a week, with occasional additions for harvesting, &c, will, before the end of many years, be able to save sufficient to make a fair start on his own account. The practical experience such men acquire is one of their’ most important assets.
The other day, when I was in the country, I saw eight or nine immigrants working who were paid 30s. a week and their food. Honorable members opposite go on the platform and preach the gospel of a White Australia; but how can we have a White Australia unless we fill our empty spaces with white people? -I appeal to honorable members opposite to drop their little differences, and go in for a wide, vigorous, patriotic policy, which shall tend to build up this great Australia of ours.
.- Honorable members, I am sure, have been very highly entertained by the honorable member for Calare. Turning from immigration for the moment, I should like the Minister of External Affairs to give us some information regarding the two items totalling nearly £4,000 in connexion with the New Hebrides. There are honorable members who say that It is right to bring people out here and place them on the land; and I should like to refer to the disgraceful manner in which “the Victorian Government, at all events, treat immigrants to this State. Just before leaving my home this morning, I received a letter from a man who is at present in Melbourne, but who was for two years on the Swan Hill irrigation settlement. He there expended considerable energy and money in improving his block, but he became so disgusted with the treatment he received from the Victorian Govern^ ment, that, notwithstanding the earnest pleadings of the Government agent, he has determined to have nothing more to do -with the settlement, and he is now competing with others in the city. I am almost prepared to guarantee that from 35 to 50 per cent, of the men on the irrigation blocks have either left or are leaving. Why is this? These men were brought out here under false pretences.
—Are they all immigrants ?
– - I am speaking of immigrants only; and I receive similar letters almost every week. On certain promises made to them, these men have brought their wives and families to Australia, and have done all they know to establish themselves on the land ; but now they have to leave with practically nothing.
– I do not think that the policy of the State Government of Victoria is under consideration now.
– It is proposed to vote a certain sum of money for immigration purposes, and the Prime Minister has thrown down the apple of discord in an otherwise peaceful assembly by declaring that he will not bind himself in any way as to the expenditure of the money. The honorable gentleman instanced the New South Wales Government, who have induced men to come to Australia, leaving those dependent on them in the Old Country, and he said, if he could do so constitutionally, he would’ spend some of the money in bringing those people out to join their husbands and fathers. I do not say there is anything wrong in such an idea; but the Prime Minister referred to the action of the New- South Wales Government, and I am now simply showing what the Victorian Government have done. I have no desire, as a public man, to say anything derogatory of the State in which I live, or of Australia generally; but for the protection of the people already here, and particularly for the protection of those who may come, it is right that we should raise our voices in the National Parliament. No doubt the wrong class of immigrant has been selected in many cases, and we cannot be too careful in our administration. The late Government did a wise thing in sending Home Dr. Norris, a noted medical man, who had charge of quarantine, in order to insure that immigrants suffering from tuberculosis and other diseases may not be sent out. Dr. Arthur, who is a member of the New South Wales Parliament, has, on several occasions, communicated with the press of Sydney to the effect that a large number of people in an unfit state of health have come out as immigrants, and that some of them have found their way into the charitable institutions of the State. His suggestion was that the New South Wales Government ought to devote a certain sum to insuring that those undesirable people shall not find their way to Australia. We are all prepared to accept virile, industrious people of the white races; but we must protect our community, whether farming or otherwise, against an influx of undesirables. All these facts show the imperfect methods of our immigration administration; and I certainly did not like the bombastic tone of the Prime Minister when he, as it were, said, “ These are the Estimates, and we shall make what use we like of the money voted.” Such a declaration might indicate to his followers that he is a strong man prepared to make a stand; and the honorable gentleman knows that he is quite safe in issuing a challenge of the kind here, seeing that, owing to unfortunate happenings, we oh this side are short of our full number.
– Still there happens to be another place.
– That is true. I noticed the other day that that eminent statesman, Lord Rosebery, said that, in .proportion to the population, Great Britain was 500,000 babies short; so it would seem that at Home there is some difficulty in this regard. Some have come to Australia of whom we are proud; they make very fine citizens, and we welcome that class of immigrant; but if there is to be indiscriminate expenditure of money in bringing out any class of people, then we, as the National Parliament, are not taking the proper steps to protect the people already in Australia and those who are coming here.
– Do you not know that we have to finish these Estimates, by 6.30 o’clock?
– But the Prime Minister has broken the compact. He came in and said he did not care whether the Estimates were delayed or not.
– I trust there will be instructions issued from the External Affairs Department to the medical men who examine immigrants to see that the very strictest investigation is made in respect to their health. So far as I can see, there are very few men left in Great Britain suitable to go on our land. The members of the British Parliamentary party made no secret of the fact that Great Britain did not desire to lose a single agricultural labourer or farmer; yet those are the men we want; they are the backbone of a country. I hope another place will go to the ‘ length of amending these Estimates to make them more palatable to some honorable members in this Chamber.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department of Defence.
Division 40 (Central Administration), £111,493.
.- I am glad to feel that any honorable member who votes on the amendment I propose to move can do so knowing that he does not turn out the Ministry if the amendment is agreed to, because this is a non-party question. I propose to move -
That Division No. 40 be reduced by the sum of £1 as a direction to the Government that this Committee desires the reduction of the Military and Naval Defence vote by the sum of£500,000.
The Treasurer has stated that he proposes to spend £5,736,000 on defence this year.
– Outrageous !
– I made a speech a month ago for which I was severely punished; as a matter of fact, I was turned out of the Chamber. Several pages of Hansard have since been occupied with a number of arguments, and facts to back up those arguments, in order to prove that we have been going too fast in the matter of defence expenditure. It is wise to train our people to be physically strong and to shoot, but, while we have been training our boys to drill, some have been in the rank’s for two years and have not fired a rifle on more than three occasions. There is nothing much in learning to form fours for hours at a time. I do not suppose the Boers knew how to form fours, but they could shoot. Nearly every time a head popped up from behind a stone it found a bullet.
– They did not shoot you.
– What do you mean by that objectionable remark, you miserable worm ?
– I thought you said you were there.
– How can I be expected to argue this matter quietly ? If you will make objectionable remarks, you must expect me to say something in reply.
– Order ! The honorable member must address the Chair.
– Will you protect me?
– I have heard nothing.
– Very well then, we shall pass away from it on account of the festive season. We are expending a lot of energyin teaching boys to drill, but they are not learning to shoot, though learning how to handle a rifle ‘when the time comes is better than learning how to walk straight. An expenditure of £5,736,000 on defence - naval and military - is far too much for a country with a population of only 5,000,000. It means that we are spending, per head, right away up to the expenditure of the military nations which are armed to the teeth because they expect trouble. There are only three countries ahead of us - Great Britain, Germany, and France.
– We are ahead of Germany.
– I had forgotten. We are spending £1 3s. 6d. per head of the population. We should give the Government an indication that though we are in favour of a sane system of naval and military expenditure, we are in favour of a restraining hand being put on that expenditure.
– You are climbing down since the elections.
– Order !
– For years, in season and out of season, I have urged that we should be reasonable in the matter of naval and military expenditure, because it is dragging thousands away from the production of wealth, making them nonproducers, and means the spending of a lot of money that could be spent more usefully, and to better advantage, in other directions. British statesmen recognise that there is too much’ money being spent in this way, and it is being recognised all over the civilized world that there are huge vested interests concerned in this naval and military expenditure. There are perhaps thousands of shareholders in Krupp’s, Vickers, Maxim’s, and Armstrong’s who are making enormous dividends through these large expenditures in defence, and I venture to say there are people specially engaged to write articles for the papers trying to create war scares in order that the various Governments will continue spending these enormous sums. Whilst we, in Australia, should take our legitimate share in preparing to defend Australia, and in assisting to guard the Empire, still we should not spend all the millions we propose to spend this year. There are 3,000 millions of capital invested in all parts of the world ; and as the Army and Navy of Great Britain are maintained to compel the various countries to pay interest and dividends on the investments of British capital, seeing that we, in Australia, pay interest and profit regularly upon the £260,000,000 invested in Government; works, and upon the millions of privately-invested wealth, and that there is no attempt at repudiation, such as has been the case with some of the countries of America, the British capitalist ought to police the seas in his own interests in order to see that the goods that go from us to the Old World, to pay our interest, are protected from pirates, or any foreign enemy. As an indication that the amount set down in these Estimates for defence should be cut down by half-a-million. I move -
That the proposed vote be reduced by £i.
– I am surprised to learn from members of the Opposition that, to a certain extent, they have turned their coats. When the defence scheme came into existence I was away from Australia, but on returning with a free mind on this subject, I learned that it was the unanimous wish of the Labour party that the schemes of Lord Kitchener and Admiral Henderson should be carried through.
– But they are costing more than was thought.
– The opinion of a great many people was that the Labour party had swallowed these two schemes without knowing what the cost would be. 1
– Do not believe a word of it.
– If the honorable member understood what the cost was to be I think he kept his knowledge pretty well hidden from the electors.
– I t ook up the position during the elections that the people of Australia, having allowed the late Government to adopt these schemes, they must pay the piper. We have no right to ask any one to give his time to this compulsory training scheme unless we find sufficient money. The question is whether the money that we are now voting is being properly spent. That is the most important thing. We know perfectly well that there must be a great amount of waste going on at present. We have only just got the first lot of men drafted into the Citizen Forces. If the expenditure is going to proceed at the same rate as at present, then before these men leave the Citizen Forces it will be. over £10,000,000. Are we going to adopt the Kitchener scheme or the scheme adopted by the last Ministry, which meant having, in time, a standing army of between 600,000 and 700,000 men 1 At present we are getting far too many men into the Citizen Forces. We had something like 120,000 drafted in this year ; we shall have more next year, and the number will increase every year. When the compulsory system was introduced into Australia, every person in the Old Country said that we had gone in for conscription. It is nothing of the kind. The most amusing feature of the position is that men and boys throughout the Commonwealth have taken to compulsory training like ducks take to water. It is impossible to stop the boys from joining the Cadet Forces. It is found throughout the Commonwealth that boys who do not pass the medical examination go to the medical officer in tears to know how they are to retain their positions. Many of them go in for physical training to increase their chest development. The lads are only too anxious to serve,’ and I think the cadet system is the very best training. It is not going to cost us such an enormous amount, but when the time comes for these boys to be drafted into the Citizen Forces, we shall have to put some restriction on the number. That is the most important point, because it is the Citizen Forces that will cost us the money. We are practically just setting out on this scheme. The cost of training these men is growing very largely. Proposals have been brought forward which the other side would have carried into force if they had been in power at the present time, and thus have continued the naval programme at a greater rate than was ever anticipated.
– Do not think everybody was unanimous on this side.
– It is not often that we have the secrets of the Labour Caucus let out. But the honorable member has told us the action he took there with regard to naval defence. He admitted that he had practically to vote against his conscience because the majority of the Caucus decided that there was to be a naval programme.
– I have always been against it.
– All the same, I believe that the honorable member voted in favour of it. We have to consider whether we should increase the areas.
That is what the military authorities want to do. Every day they are trying to bring new places into the areas, in order to get more and more into the ranks. We have any number of areas at the present time, and any number of lads to train. It is injudicious to go on extending the scheme. We ought to go back to something like reasonable arrangements for training the men. We should reduce their time up to a certain point; have them trained up to the age of twenty-one, and then require them to do about one camp a year. That would do for many years. It would give everything that is required for the defence of Australia, without involving the expenditure of a great amount of money. All those honorable members who have advocated this defence scheme, and, to a great extent, the local bodies that have advocated it, are now growling about the expense. We have no right to do so. We have to see that those whom we compel to train for the defence of Australia are properly equipped. We have to see - and this is a most important point - that where they are asked to train there shall be halls in which to train them, and that they shall not be driven out into the street to train with vehicles passing over them or their rifles, if they are stacked in the street. That is not a fair proposition. I think the area from which the trainees are brought is something like 5 miles at the present time, and 5 miles in the country is a bit too far. The distance should be decreased to about 3 miles, and sufficient encouragement given to the light horse to carry on their training outside. I want to refer to the two colleges which have been established. It is unpopular to say anything against them at present. We are told about the wonderful work they are doing for Australia. They are going to turn out a wonderful lot of trained men, and so forth; but we have, to consider, what is the cost at the present time. I presume the figures given to us are correct regarding the expenditure on the Royal Military College, and I cannot see how we are going to take any of these items out of it, although military experts, inform me that a lot of this expenditure is not for maintenance at alii The total expenditure is £49,000 for the coming year, it was £38,313 for last, year, and they spent £39,749. It is pretty well ari open secret, I understand, that the head of the. Military College does not consider that that is anything like enough, and he would like half as .much again if he could get it. If you take from the £49,000 the amount of, approximately, £4,000 which is paid by New Zealand, it leaves us paying £45,000 per year for ninety-five trainees, or £470 each.- I think the Naval College is run in the same way, but the expense is not quite so great. It runsto about £415 per head. I agree that that is the only possible way in which we are going to get officers, but we can get them without the enormous expense that is now being incurred. There are fifty-eight cadets at the Naval College, and there are sixty -three people to look after them. That is heavy expenditure upon supervision. In the Military College there are fifty-one to look after ninety-five. Of course, I admit that I have included, everybody, such as sergeant-majors, and so forth; but what honorable members have to consider is this: Some people think that the men. turned out by these colleges are going to be the finished article. I do not think anything of the kind. I think it will be found that, no matter how good their training has been in the college, they will, have a great deal to learn after they comeout. They will have to learn to understand men. That cannot be done unlessthey are going to be sent away to some other country, where they have the troops in training, and where they will always, be -under a superior officer to educate them up to the necessary standard, and. show them exactly how men should be handled. If we put the amount down at £400 per year for each cadet, he will, have cost us something like £1,200 when, he is turned out. Every officer that is turned- out from that college will, have cost the Commonwealth something like £2,000: That is a fair estimateThere will be admittedly some failures,, because there is a good deal for men to learn after they leave the Military College, and a good deal, to learn, also, in handling nien. I will conclude my remarks with a story told by a young subaltern who joined an Irish regimentwhich I knew very well indeed. The language of the officers of that regiment was just about as- pure as pure could be, and the young subaltern, after he had’ heard his superior officers using this language on parade, began to do the samething when he had a- certain number of men to control. His Colonel tapped him on the shoulder and said, “ Don’t do that; you must not swear at- the men in that way.” The subaltern replied, “ Every officer does it,” and the Colonel replied, “ No, you have never found an officer in this regiment doing anything of the kind. I have never heard any of our officers swearing at men. We swear all round them. That is the difference.”
– I wonder if I can obviate the necessity fora long debate over this, matter. I hope,if honorable members are satisfied with what I have to say, they will forego their speeches. The Government recognise to the full the towering character of the defence expenditure. That is the outstanding feature of the situation. Whilst it is true that Lord Kitchener in his scheme laid it down that at the normal and at the full’ it was to cost £1,800,000, there appears to have been many things unaccounted for, and also that estimates have been made upon faulty data. It is quite clear nowadays that, even if Lord . Kitchener were here and saw the scheme taking shape and crystallizing, it would be recognised that his- estimate was only rough and approximate1, and could not by any possibility be strictly adhered to:
-If we had followed his scheme, we might not have been far’ out.
– Quite so; but let us be clear as to what his scheme is. It is’ generally supposed that Kitchener’s scheme contemplated an army of 80,000 fighting men. That is so, but there is also to be taken into account the 80,000 cadets who are being trained for the Citizen Army. Thus, we have to provide for the clothing and training of 160,000 persons. At the present time there are 80,000 senior cadets in training, and the Estimates provide for a citizen force of 54,000, in addition to which there is a permanent establishment of 3,000. Thus we have 137,000 in all to provide for.
– With 80,000 cadets, there must be nearly 160,000 in the guard, “because a boy is a cadet from fourteen to eighteen . years of age, and as a young man is in the guard from eighteen to twenty-six years of age. As a man serves in the cadets for only four years, and in the guard for eight years, the guard must be twice as numerous as the cadets.
– That is true, except for a wastage of 5, 6, or 7 per cent, from various causes, which must be allowed for. In addition to the fighting force of 80,000, a large number of noncombatants will be needed, to feed, and otherwise attend upon, the fighting men.
– Camp followers.
– It is only a soldier who dare use an expression of that kind; but there is this extra provision to be reckoned with.
The question arises: Can Australia finance the cost of this defence scheme? These Estimates are swollen by proposals for expenditure which are nonrecurring.For instance, the field equipment, when once obtained, will be there for a long time. Military carts, ammunition waggons) and big guns’ will not have to he provided yearly.
– Money must he spent on these things until the full force has. been equipped.
– Some of this expenditure will not recur next year. The adoption of the Imperial standard puts an additional obligation on us. The Imperial Army uses military carts of a particular kind, ammunition waggons of a special pattern, and big guns and other equipment which we have to secure to standardize our equipment. This is costing a great deal of money; but much of the expenditure is capital expenditure, and will not recur. The carts, for instance, will probably last twenty years or more.
– There will, be maintenance:.
– That, I under- ‘ stand, will be slight, because the vehicles are; very solidlybuilt.
Mr.Charlton.- The normal1 expenditure must increase as the force’ increases.
– It will increase a little, but that increase can be set against the saving in capital expenditure to which I refer. My impression is that the full scheme at the normal- will not cost quite as much as we are spending this year. The expenditure this year is probably the heaviest that we shall have, although the scheme is not yet being carried out to its full extent. I compliment the honorable member who moved the amendment on the manner in which he has acted. He might easily have moved a larger reduction, and thus might have embarrassed the Government. I understand that he desires the amendment to be regarded as a direction to the Government to reduce these Estimates by £500,000. That is a very large order to execute within six months, and I cannot promise that a full £500,000 will be saved. But Ministers think that they can see their way to reduce the Estimates very materially during the next six months, without embarrassing the scheme in the. slightest degree. We cannot undertake to make any modifications in the scheme as laid down. If you constantly rip up a scheme of this kind, altering the periods of training, and making other changes, you can never hope for an effective fighting force.
– You can adapt developments.
– We cannot agree to the modification of the scheme in such particulars as the periods of training ; but we think that we see our way to substantially reduce its cost this year. Indeed, we must do so. My honorable friends opposite have already cut off £300,000.
– I have not heard of that.
– I think that the honorable member helped to do it, in Caucus.
– We are not supposed to know what happens in another place.
– The other place to which I refer is not the Senate, but a room upstairs, where the Caucus discusses its business behind locked doors. We must accept the reduction of our expenditure by £300,000, brought about by the amendment of the Loan Bill, and we think that we can make savings which will go far towards that. At any rate, I promise the Committee that we shall try hard to meet its desire for the curtailment of our expenditure on the Defence Forces. At the same time, I do not promise to make the slightest modification in the scheme as a scheme. My promise is merely to reduce our financial obligation to more reasonable proportions. The moment the House rises, we propose to apply ourselves to this task, and I have every hope that we shall succeed in making a substantial reduction in the defence expenditure for the current year.
.- My remarks will be brief, and I do not think that they will be popular. The tendency in Australia at the present moment is to depreciate, and perhaps defeat, the purpose and aim of our scheme of defence. It was shown before the last election, when the cry was raised that our defence expenditure was excessive and unnecessary, and that the cost of providing a land and sea defence sufficient to protect the country, should it suffer the fate of every other country, and be attacked by a foreign foe, was a burden heavier than Australia could bear. The Prime Minister was one of the chief leaders of that movement.
– I absolutely deny that.
– No cry is more popular than that of economy.
– The cry of economy did not succeed very well in New South Wales at the last general election.
– In New South Wales it was not such a subtle cry. There the demand was made openly, and, therefore, could be met. But how is it possible to meet a statement such as that made by the Prime Minister that, “ We are going to give you as good a service for less money.”
– We think we can.
– Why do not the Government do so ?
– We are going to try to do so.
– Then instead of making a statement at this stage, after an intimation has been given that an attempt will be made to reduce the vote, why did not the Government set out in the Budget statement how they proposed to make savings.
– Does the right honorable member seriously think we could do that in two months?
– But the Government have been in office for nearly six months.
– I am speaking of when we submitted these Estimates, and I say that we have not yet had time to make these savings.
– The cry was continued right up to the day of election, and if the present Government had any knowledge of the facts when they raised it, they must have known what they intended to do. The people of Australia are spending something like £20,000,000 per annum on liquid refreshments.
Colonel Ryrie. - That is a good name for it.
– They are spending that amount annually on refreshments, apart altogether from food supplies. And yet we are asked to believe that this young and prosperous country, prolific in resources, cannot find the money necessary to provide for its defence. Such a statement is ridiculous. If we, in the National Parliament, merely because of a cry of economy, which seems to enjoy a little popularity at the present time, interfere with the efficiency of either our land or sea defences, we shall make one of the gravest blunders that has ever been committed by any Legislature. I urge the Government to be cautious how they break into the scheme that has been introduced. I ask honorable members not to look at the matter from the point of view of to-day, or to consider any question of embarrassing the Government, but to look ahead, and to determine that efiiciency shall be the first consideration. A saving of £500,000 would be very desirable if it could be made without impairing the efficiency of our defence system, but the statesmen of a country must look first to its safety rather than to the saving of a fewpounds. Honorable members are free to express their opinions as they please. This is not a party matter, and I shall never help to make it one. I shall always say what I believe to be in the best interests of the country, whether it be popular or not. I am not in favour of spendthrift expenditure in respect of defence, and while I admit that some money may have been wasted in initiating what is undoubtedly a great scheme, I believe that, on the whole, we have obtained good results for our expenditure. No country has been able to show within such a short period of its initiation such an efficient sea and laud defence scheme as that to which we can point. Whatever ideas of economy the Government may have, I hope that they will take care to do nothing that will cripple the system, or impair in any way its efficiency.
– We have not the slightest intention of doing anything of the kind.
– It is impossible for the Committee to deal with the Defence Estimates, which cover sixty-five pages, ‘ in less than an hour, as we are expected to do, and T therefore think it would simplify matters if we allowed the whole of the items to go without discussion, and took a division on the total proposed vote. If that course be agreed to, I shall move that the total be reduced by £500,000.
– What! In addition to the £300,000 already struck out by another place ?
– This Committee has nothing whatever to do with what has happened in connexion with the Loan Bill in another place.
– But the Government have.
– Honorable members, in common with the public generally, must have been surprised at the extent to which the Defence Estimates have grown, and under our system of continuous training the cost must go on increasing. If we had time to deal with the items seriatim, we could readily make many reductions, but I think it would be better to follow the course I have suggested, and reduce the total of the proposed vote by a lump sum. The Prime Minister has reiterated to-day what, to do him justice, I must admit, he has always said, and what Mr. Deakin before him declared, that the question of defence is not a party one. We have just- listened to the ablest support that the extravagance of the Defence Department is likely to secure, and it has come from the Leader of the Opposition, who spoke in all seriousness.
– He was not supporting extravagance.
– No; but he supported the present expenditure. We all recognise that this is not, and cannot be, a party question. But unless we intimate to the naval and military authorities that the expenditure is to be cut down, it will continue to grow, andwe shall find it still more difficult later on to reduce it. I have given this matter very considerable attention. I opposed the first defence scheme brought downby Sir Thomas Ewing, because of the growing expenditure which I felt it would involve. I also opposed the schemesubmitted by Senator Pearce, and that brought down by the present Prime Minister, for the same reason. I am more than ever convinced that no one in this House is able to give to this question anything like the attention it deserves daring the limited time at our disposal. We must, therefore, give a very deliberate instruction to the leaders on both sides, and, through them, to the military advisers of the Crown in Australia, that this expenditure shall be reduced. I would confine the expenditure on the military side to a certain percentage of the revenue of Australia.
– And no more.
– And no more. If we deal with the Estimates in the way I have suggested, I shall move that the total vote for defence be reduced by £500,000.
.- I agree with those honorable members who desire that the military expenditure shall be kept down as much as possible, but I realize, also, that we are endeavouring to carry out a defence scheme in connexion with which we are committed to certain expenditure. The honorable member who has just resumed his seat has intimated his intention of moving a reduction of £500,000. I agree with him that the time at our disposal will not permit us to deal with the items seriatim ; but. having regard to the late hour of the session, and to the fact that we cannot properly discuss the Estimates within the short time at our disposal, I think that the Prime Minister has given us a very fair assurance. He has assured us that the Government will endeavour to cut down the defence expenditure very considerably, and I take it that, wherever he can see an opportunity to reduce it, he will do so. I do not think any Government could go beyond that. To carry an amendment reducing the proposed vote by £500,000, without indicating the items that should be cut down, would be to throw uponthe Government a responsibility that might compel them to interfere with the scheme that we have in operation.
– Who should bear the responsibility?
– It should be borne by the Parliament. This is not a party question. The question of defence should be above all party considerations, and this Parliament should take the responsibility of dealing with it. It is not fair to make a lump sum reduction of £500,000 in these Estimates unless we can show in what direction unnecessary expenditure is being incurred. We have laid down a certain scheme of defence, and if, as a result of experience, it does not prove acceptable, we shall be able to take action. But if we reduce the Estimates by £500,000, then it will be for the Government to determine where the pruning shall take place. A good deal has been said about our citizen forces, and I maintain that it is most unfair to compel youths to go into camp - to give up their employment, where they are receiving perhaps 9s. a day - and give them only 4s. a day whilst they are in camp. Many of these youths are the sole support of widowed mothers. We must not lose sight of the fact that if we make a lump sum reduction of £500,000 we may compel the Government to cut down the meagre allowance which our trainees now receive while in camp. I have always held that whilst the defence expenditure should be kept down as much as possible, we are not doing justice to the young men whom we compel to go into camp when we pay them only half what they receive while following their ordinary employment. We ought to pay them what they receive at their every-day work. Why should we compel a youth to go into camp, and penalize him by reducing his earning power ? If we are going to compel the youths of this country to serve it, then we ought to recognise that the country is rich enough to pay them for their services, and that it should not require them to suffer any pecuniary loss. I am very much afraid, however, that if the proposed lump sum reduction be made we shall compel the Government to cut down the expenditure in that direction. There may be other directions in which reductions can be made, and the Prime Minister has assured us that if we pass these Estimates he will avail himself of every opportunity to cut down expenditure. What fairer offer could be made? If we accept it, and twelve months hence find that the Prime Minister has not fulfilled it, we shall then be able to take action for ourselves. But to reduce the Estimates by the proposed sum is to place a great responsibility on the Government, and so interfere with the scheme as possibly to open the road to disaster. When once Parliament begins to tinker with the scheme, there is a likelihood that it will be altogether defeated. The Prime Minister stated that he thought most of this expenditure would not be recurring; but the Citizen Forces will be ever-increasing for eight years. There are 17,000 cadets going into the Citizen Forces each year, and at the very lowest there will be ninety-six hours’ drill per year, six hours constituting a full day. This means sixteen days at 4s., or £3 4s. per head, to say nothing of clothing and boots; thus for 17,000 men we have an expenditure of £54,500. Would any honorable member claim that these drills should be made compulsory, and the men deprived of their 4s. per day? No one is stronger than I am in regard to cutting down the defence expenditure if it can be shown clearly where that can be done; but to vote a lump sum off, without disclosing any plan, is an unsatisfactory way of dealing with an important question. While holding these views, I think that our system of defence should receive very careful attention from those in control. We are told that the scheme is getting very popular, and that the young fellows are rushing in to take part m it ; but, at the same time, there is a general element of dissatisfaction in connexion with the training itself. If the Government could do something to obviate the necessity for Saturday drills they would be doing a good service. After all, the lads have a right to their football and cricket; and if some plan could be devised whereby the drills could be attended, and the Saturday afternoons left free, the system would prove more acceptable.
– There are too many cadets now, and they cannot be kept out.
– What is the good of talking about not being able to keep them out, when, under the law, they are compelled to come in? There are many cases, however, in which sons may be the sole support of their widowed mothers, and I think that the Minister should, to a large extent, use his power and discretion in regard to these. The Prime Minister has said that he will do all he can to see that the expenditure is reduced, and that is as far, I think, as we can expect him to go. I am not in favour of a bald proposal such as that now submitted, and I hope the Committee will not make the mistake of carrying it.
.- The Prime Minister has stated that the £300,000 that was excised from the Loan Bill in another place will have to be used as part of the defence expenditure.
– It has nothing to do with defence expenditure - it is loan money.
– The money has to be found somewhere.
– It has nothing to do with the annual expenditure.
– The money has to be found, has it not?
– And it seems clear that the cutting out of this £300,000 from the Loan Bill means a reduction to that extent of the defence expenditure for twelve months.
– It is the first proposed expenditure out of loan money on defence in Australia.
– I presume that if the expenditure on the Liverpool manoeuvre area, and so forth, is to take place, the money will have to be found out of revenue; and that means that the defence expenditure will be reduced to that extent. In addition, the Prime Minister states that he expects to make savings on the Kitchener scheme; and we anticipate that those savings will not be of a paltry character. It will not require very substantial savings to bring down the expenditure by another £200,000; and thus we have a sum equivalent to the proposed reduction in the Estimates. I believe strongly that we are expending too much on Australian defence, and that has been my belief for some considerable time. Of course, we find it difficult to do anything of a substantial character in the way of a reduction this year; but I hope that next year we shall be able to do so. My own opinion is that the Henderson naval defence scheme might be postponed for a year or two.
– Well, well !
– That scheme has a twenty years’ tenure, and the postponement I suggest would make very little difference to the Commonwealth.
– For what reason would the honorable member postpone it?
– Simply because I think that the defence expenditure is growing out of all proportion to the increase in population. There is only one possible means by which Australians can be enabled to bear this burden, which is rapidly assuming colossal proportions, and that is by increasing the population, so that the taxation may be spread over a larger number of taxpayers.
– We have no defence at all unless it is efficient defence.
– I do not say that it is possible to keep the defence expenditure exactly in proportion with the increase of population, but the difference has become so great that it is time for the people of Australia, if they wish the scheme to be a success, to say that theremust be some reduction. The expenditure on the Henderson scheme is £3,600,000 per annum, and on the Kitchener scheme something like £3,000,000; and, with the additions which must occur, I am afraid that the schemes may break down of their own weight. If we mount up the expenditure in the absence of any corresponding increase in the population, we are only paving the way to disaster. I realize that it is difficult to cut great pieces out of the expenditure and expect the Government, during the next six months, to make the necessary savings, without, in all probability, destroying the design and architecture of the scheme. The Prime Minister has promised a reduction which we hope will be equivalent to that proposed by the honorable member for Franklin, and I think that the honorable gentleman’s explanation may be accepted as satisfactory.
– While I desire to see the defence vote reduced, I am afraid I cannot vote with the honorable member for Franklin.
– Honorable members bark, but they will not bite !
– I do not altogether blame the honorable member for making that remark, because I have barked, and I am afraid to bite in case the “ other fellow “ bites back. There is no doubt that Parliament is responsible for the present position. We have only to go back for about three years to find the time when one was afraid to offer any objection to the expenditure; but I am pleased that honorable members are now coming round to another view. The Prime Minister, who is representing the Minister of Defence, has promised to look into the matter; and that is about all we can hope for now. I differ from the Prime Minister when he says that this expenditure will not be recurring, and he cetera to certain items such as ammunition waggons, equipment, and so forth. Either the officials are equipping the Forces for their present strength, which, of course, will mean recurring expenditure, or they are purchasing more than is necessary for the present strength, and more than they ought to purchase. My own idea is that they are equipping the Forces not very much ahead of requirements. For instance, in the purchase of gun-carriages they are looking two years ahead, and there is no doubt that next year they will have to look another two years ahead. So it will go on till 1920, when we reach the high-water mark of. our expenditure, with the exception of such increase as may be due to the increase of population. It is when we consider these facts that I wish I could vote for the proposal of the honorable member for Franklin. It is of no use any Minister trying to make us believe that the expenditure will be reduced in the near or distant future, because we know very well that it cannot be reduced under the present system. I have on a previous occasion in this House suggested that some saving might be made by training the boys only until they are twenty -one, and by not arming or clothing the cadets until they are sixteen years of age, but simply devoting the time spent on them to training and drilling. If we enrol all the recruits that are available up to 1920, we shall have a force of well over 300,000; and, though I may be wrong, I think that is more than we can afford. For instance, in these Estimates we have such items as-
Clothing Citizen Forces and Senior Cadets, £350,000
Universal Cadet training, , £52,700.
Camps of training, £88,500.
General contingencies, £58,000.
These contingencies will continue to increase every year as the force increases. We cannot get away from that. With the increase in population our present system will mean increased expenditure of the same character as it is to-day. Undoubtedly the zenith will be reached in 1920, and I am sorry to say that what the Prime Minister thinks will not be recurring expenditure must recur. I do not agree with the stand taken up by the Leader of the Opposition. His opinion is that it is necessary for the people of Australia to prepare for defence, no matter what it costs-
– We have changed our old system. We are now relying on our own defence; previously we relied on the Mother Country.
– The right honorable gentleman is consistent in the attitude he is taking up to-day. As the exPrime Minister he has to shoulder responsibility, with the late Ministers, for the present enormous expenditure, and he is consistent in maintaining that we are justified in this expenditure, and that it is just as necessary to-day as it was previously. Of course, I disagree with him as to that necessity. I am certain it will not be necessary to have such a large army in Australia as the present system prepares for. If we are not willing to stop training at the age of twenty- one, we might reduce the number annually coming into the ranks. The eldest son of a widow, or, if we like, all sons of widows, could be left out. We could also raise the physical standard and train only the best material. However, we must reduce the number to be trained ; otherwise, if the number goes on increasing, it will bring into existence a large army of commissioned and noncommissioned officers as instructors. I am not satisfied with what has taken place so far in regard to the apparent shortage in the Ordnance Stores. The Prime Minister was good enough to lay on the table of the Library a report from the Acting Auditor-General, and from that report we can see what has been done up to the present; but I consider that in the time at his disposal it was impossible for the Acting Auditor-General to prepare a full statement, and lay before the House the true position. He assumes, in his report, that it has been ascertained that certain apparent shortages do not exist, and he says that the apparent shortages were brought about through inaccurate stocktaking; but I maintain it was impossible for him, in the short time at his disposal, to say that the stocktaking was inaccurate. Whose word has he taken ? Has the stock been checked by the staff of the Auditor-General, or by the staff superintended by the official who took the stock previously ? The report of the 30th June is somewhat the same as that brought down the other day, and laid on the table of the Library, and I am sorry to say that the officials in the Ordnance Department must be condemned, and strongly - condemned. I do not care about charging the Secretary of Def once with remissness, but he, or some official beneath him, has been remiss in not taking notice of the report of the 30th June, submitted to the Department by the Acting AuditorGeneral. I cannot understand why no notice was taken of it by the Secretary of Defence. It must have been kept away from his notice.
– It could not have been kept away from the Secretary of Defence.
– One would think not; but the Auditor-General had reported certain irregularities, and there was no immediate results One would think that the immediate result would be to get into the stores . at once, and see where the deficiencies were and why they existed. The AuditorGeneral is absent, and I- am quite willing to believe that the officer acting for him and the staff at his disposal are able to perform the duties of the Department. I do not know his powers or his duties, but I think he is blamable if, after his report went forward, he did nothing in the matter. I do not know whether he should not have pursued the. matter further once he found out there were irregularities, and brought the Secretary of the Defence Department to book ; but matters went on as usual, until an accident showed what was taking place. A man was recently imported from England to organize the Ordnance Department. He is not a mechanic, and his knowledge of ordnance machinery is nil, so that he must have been brought out particularly to organize in the matter of stores, and I cannot understand how he did not discover these irregularities; at any rate, if he made a report upon them, I have not seen it. If he did not discover them, he does not appear to be fit for the duty for which he was brought out here. I feel satisfied that the Treasury officials will see this matter through; but, in my opinion, the proper way to deal with the Ordnance Department is to take away the task of inquiry from the officials who have it in hand, and give it to some independent authority, who can ascertain the true position of affairs. Any one associated with stores knows that there can be enormous leakages. It has been shown in publications in other countries that stores to the extent of 50 per cent, have been lost through peculation. We should be guided by the experience of others, and see that we do not have such losses in Australia. We brought out a man to organize the Ordnance Stores; that work has not been done. We have men to supervise these stores; that work has not been done properly. We have an Auditor-General who made his report upon these stores, but nothing has been the outcome of it. If this thing can take place in one Department, it is very evident it may take place in the stores of other Departments. Therefore, I urge upon the Prime Minister that it is essential, in the interests of economy, to appoint some board to go into the whole matter immediately, in order that we may see that our Ordnance Stores are not depleted; to see if we have what we have paid for ; and to see that we are not living in a fool’s paradise. When Napoleon III. was ready, as he thought, to go te war with Germany, he found that his stores were deficient, that his ammunition consisted of dummies, and that the equipment he thought he had was not there. We shall be in a bad position if we are in a similar plight. Not only shall we suffer the loss of money, but the efficiency of our forces will be impaired. The whole matter should be inquired into by an independent and outside body.
.- I hope there will be no reduction of expenditure in connexion with an admirable Socialistic enterprise in my electorate known as the Commonwealth Harness and Saddlery Factory. Honorable members on the Ministerial benches have frequently inquired for a balance-sheet in connexion with that factory.
– We are still waiting for it.
– I have it here in my hand, and I shall read, for the benefit of honorable members, the report of the manager of the factory.
– Up to what date?
– The honorable member for Wimmera regards with a good deal of suspicion, if not prejudice, any enterprise of this kind. I have noticed that since this report has come’ out there has not been the same agitation exhibited on the other side of the Chamber in regard to a balance-sheet and the particulars of the cost of manufacture in this factory as was previously manifested. It is only right that the facts should be put before the public and recorded in Hansard. I hope there will be no reduction of expenditure in the shape of the dismissal of men at that factory. I have heard with great regret that since the new Administration took office the number of hands at the Commonwealth Harness and Saddlery Factory has been greatly reduced. To me it looked somewhat suspicious, in view of the fact that the Ministry is known to be not entirely sympathetic in this matter. The report is dated 29th July, 1912.
– That is eighteen months ago.
– But the honorable member says that we have no report and no balance-sheet. Does he want one every month ?
– Every year.
– I hope the present Government will see that we get it in due time. This is for the last year, and it is very promising, as far as it goes. It says -
The management and office staff as at 30th June, 1912, is shown in Table III.
I have referred to this comparison between the manufacture of various articles at the factory and the cost under contract prices let to private persons about the same time. Summarizing it we get a very satisfactory result; as in five cases the private contract price is less, and in twenty-two cases the contract price is in excess of the Commonwealth Harness Factory price, and only in one case are they equal. I propose to put in these figures, because I think they are instructive. In the great majority of cases the Commonwealth Harness Factory’s cost ia less than that from private contractors. The figures are as follow : -
When these comparisons came out, the press commented’ very favorably upon the lesser cost of the Harness Factory work.
– I do not think it is quite in order to read the whole of a document which is already an official document.
– It is sufficient ito say that when these facts were published Messrs. Holden and Frost, the well-known private contractors in connexion with this business in South Australia, wrote to the Sydney Bulletin and endeavoured to prove that, in some material particulars, the cost was actually greater in the Harness Factory than it was in the case of private contractors. In reply to that the manager of the Harness Factory submitted a further report. I will not read it further than to say that so far as Holden and Frost made out any case at all, they made it by reason of the fact that they ignored the important condition that, in some cases, Australian metal fittings were insisted upon, and in other cases it was optional whether Australian or British were used, but that, in every case where the Australian metal fittings were insisted upon, and a comparison of like and like was made, the cost in connexion with the Commonwealth Harness Factory was still found to be considerably less. The factory also submitted their report, which is dated 18th October, 1913, and contains any further information which honorable members may desire.
– I suppose you recognise! that they are both practically on trial for their lives-.
– That cannot be said’. Honorable1 members opposite for the past twelve months have lost no opportunity of making it appear that the Commonwealth Harness1 Factory, and the Commonwealth Clothing Factory, and other State enterprises were buttressed up by the Government all the time, merely for the purpose of experimenting in Socialism. It is my pleasing duty to be able to say that, whether these are an experiment in Socialism or not, they have turned’ out te’ be economical, and ‘in the highest degree efficient. Any one who visits the’ factory to which I have referred will find that it is excellent, both in its management and its workmanship.. It is- very pleasing to1 be able to record the fact that, under State management, this work is being turned out cheaper and better than can be done by private enterprise. The same thing applies to the Commonwealth Clothing Factory. There are other State enterprises, such as the Small Arms Factory, which have been subjected to a good deal of criticism; but where the other side of the picture can be shown it should be shown. That is why I have drawn attention to the report of the Harness Factory, and had the figures published.
Amendment agreed to.
Reduced vote agreed to.
Divisions 41 to 52 (Administrative), £164,361; divisions 53 to 66 (Naval Forces), £869,404; divisions 67 to 80 (Military Forces), £1,680,457, agreed to.
Department of Trade and Customs.
Divisions 81 to 92, £469,575, agreed to.
Departmentof Home Affairs.
Divisions 93 to 101, £459,349.
.- A little while ago the Assistant Minister of Home Affairs was asked why the sum of 7d. per day had been deducted from the wages of a caretaker, and he replied that it had been done because the Public Service Commissioner was unable, under the Act, to pay a temporary employé more than a permanent employe doing the same work was receiving. I raised the matter again as one affecting, not an individual, but a principle, and stated that under the Fisher Administration temporary and casual employés had been paid the union rates of wages, even though these might be somewhat higher than the permanent rates, it being taken into consideration that the temporary and casual employes did not enjoy the privileges enjoyed by the permanent employes. I pointed out that if this were not done preference would be given to non-unionists. To-day, I understand from an answer read by the Prime Minister that the Public Service Commissioner says that temporary and casual employes receive the union rates of wages
– That is where those rates are higher than the wages received by permanent employes doing the same work, but where they are lower, they are evened up to the permanent scale.
– Yes. That is quite a different answer.
– There seems to be a discrepancy somewhere, and I shall have the matter looked into.
– I am satisfied with the last answer, and I take it that it indicates the policy of this Government.
– It will be adhered to.
– It embodies the policy adopted by the Fisher Government. Apparently, while this Government thinks it proper to follow the policy of the Fisher Government, and pay trade union rates of wages, or the rates awarded by Wages Boards, to every temporary employe and casual labourer, whether a trade unionist or not, Ministers will not give preference to the trade unionists who have brought about these conditions.
. -I wish to bring before the Committee a matter relating to the conduct of the election in May last.
– Could not the honorable member bring it before the Department, an’d thus save time ?
– The Prime Minister will see that it is a matter which should be referred to publicly. I shall be very brief. Apparently, candidates for this Parliament are permitted to send in returns showing that they have not spent a single penny on electoral expenses. That has been done in Queensland. Some action should be taken by the Government to procure correct returns. We should not tolerate the system that is indicated by some of the returns that have been sent in. From the returns of the People’s Progressive party, the Liberal party in Queensland, no expenses at all were incurred in connexion with some of the candidates, everything being set down to the account of the referenda campaign. I do not. think that those returns are fair, and if the Government intends toamend the. Electoral Act, it should so amend it that every association, union, and body connected with an election will be required, to furnish a report of its expenditure during the campaign, and to limit theexpenditure to a certain sum.
– That is the law now.
– Then it is being defied. There are several other matters to which I would like to direct attention, but in view of the arrangement that has been made, I shall be generous enough not to do so.
Proposed votes agreed to.
Divisions 102 to 111, £4,834,757.
.- I hope that before these Estimates are passed the Postmaster-General will make a statement of the position in regard to the litigation between the Commonwealth and the Marconi Company about wireless rights. I hope, too, that he will make some statement regarding the telephone rates. No Postmaster-General has been more abused than I was when I filled that office, and brought about the present system of charging for calls. I pointed out at the time that the rates which I was imposing were lower than those in any other country in which wages were anything like as high as those paid in Australia. The Chambers of Commerce said that my rates were extravagantly high, and the Brisbane Courier said that they were being imposed because it was the desireof the Labour Government to increase taxation as much as possible. But I find from the report which the Minister has laid on the table that there is a loss on the present charges, for which I am sorry, because I would like it to be possible to reduce the charges. I trust that next session I shall have an opportunity to go into the matter at some length.
– Will there be a double dissolution?
– After the events of Saturday last, the double dissolution is “ off.” I hope that it will not be long before we have a single dissolution. I have always held that telephone subscribers in our big cities should pay more than they do for the services rendered them. If it can be shown that there is waste in the Department then the Postmaster-General will be justified in trying to effect economies. He will have six months in which to go into this matter before we meet again, and if, at the end of that time, he cannot show that the loss on the service is due to waste, then he will be expected to increase the telephone rates in respect of our city exchanges. In Australia, at the present time, a telephone service of 2,000 calls, including ground rent of £4, costs £8 2s. 4d.; in London, £13 6s. 8d.; in the provinces of England, £9 12s. ; and in Germany, £9 10s.
– There is not much difference.
– But look at the difference in wages. The girls in the telephone branch of the Department, after three years’ service, receive £110 per annum - and that is not1d. too much, whereas I do not think that in Germany the operators receive 15s. per week. I presented to the House a report in which all the figures are set forth. If honorable members desire that our telephone operators shall be paid the same wages as are paid in Germany, then, of course, the telephone service can be supplied at the same rate.
– What is the cost of living in Germany ?
– I gather from the honorable member’s interjection that honorable members opposite do not desire that the wages prevailing in connexion with the German service shall prevail here. In New York, 2,000 calls cost £21 16s. There we have private enterprise. In Chicago, the cost is £16 16s. ; Philadelphia, £24 15s.; St. Louis, £21 15s.; and Baltimore, £20 10s. If the PostmasterGeneral can show us when we meet next year that the difference between’ working the service at a loss, and securing a return that will cover all expenses, without making a profit, is to be accounted for by lack of economy, and that he can make good the difference by doing away with waste, then we shall be able to say that we have in our telephone service one of the greatest and grandest triumphs for State ownership to be found in the. whole world.
– To increase the rates would be retrogression.
– I contend that the telephone service ought to pay, and that if it cannot be made to pay under the present rates, that those rates should be increased.
– I wish to ask the PostmasterGeneral whether he intends to erect a very necessary telephone line at King Island, in the Darwin electorate, which is the blue ribbon of Australia. I also wish to know whether, during the recess, he proposes to visit Chicago with a view to inquiring into the management of the Chicago Post Office, and ascertaining whether it is not possible to bring to this country a genuine postal man, who understands how to run a Postal Department on up-to-date scientific lines.
– We have such men here.
– I know that it is claimed that we have in Australia better men than are to be found in any other part of the world, but their business methods do not support that claim.
– There is no need to go to America for a man.
– Then bring one from England.
– We have the men here.
– Then they have ‘not been trained properly. If they had been the Postal Department would not be the failure that it is.
– Our telephone service is the cheapest in the world.
– Cheap services are never worth anything. What we want are not cheap, but valuable services. The value of a thing is to be determined by that which it produces. The Chicago Post Office stands at the head of the Post Offices of the world, and the London Post Office comes next. Mr. Murdoch, an architect in the Department of Home Affairs, put £3,000 worth of annual rental into the Commonwealth building in London. I sent him to Chicago and New York.
– He is an Australian.
– O’MALLEY.- Yes; but he was trained in Edinburgh and London. I got him to go to New York, where Mr. Thomson, of the Thomson-Starrett Company, the sky-scraper building people, explained their system in an hour. He brought it back with him to Australia, and it is now in the Department of Home Affairs. We must not think .that we know everything. If we do know everything, let us go out as missionaries and teach the world ; if we do not, let us go where we may learn the’ most scientific, economic, and efficient methods.
.- I regret that, owing to an’ arrangement made between the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition to pass the Estimates before dinner, -we are debarred from criticising the Estimates of the Postmaster-General as I should like to criticise them. I know something about the Postal Department, and believe that its administration is rotten to the core.
– I should not say that.
– I say that it is, but I do not wish my remarks to apply to the Postmaster-General, who is both courteous and courageous, and is trying, to do a good deal for us. Radical changes, however, are necessary. Honorable members talk of the Department not paying, and I ask them how can it pay when in some of the suburban offices we have ten, fifteen, and twenty men doing nothing, and while the erection of telephone and telegraph lines costs twice as much as it should do? The officers administering the Department are responsible for this. We should have from the PostmasterGeneral a statement as to whether this state of affairs is to continue, or whether the Department is. to be conducted on reasonable common-sense lines. If it is to be controlled by a Commission, is that Commission to consist of men who have already made such a mess of it? A small Royal Commission would show in1 three days, without any expense, that the way in which the Department is conducted is- outrageous. I can point to arrangements in regard to telephones, not only in my own electorate, but all over Australia, that are a disgrace to the country. I am unable to enter upon a criticism of the Department, owing to- the arrangement that ha’s been made.
– The honorable member has already said’ a good deal about it.
– I do not blame the Postmaster-General. He is not responsible, but rather the men who preceded him. As an exPostmasterGeneral, I am prepared to take my share of the blame. Whilst the honorable gentleman has done a good deal, much remainsto be done. We want a thorough clearing out of the Department, and the Honorable Agar Wynne is the man to do it.
– Then give him more money for his Department.
– He ought to have more money. I regard the D*partment as a big factor in the education of the people and opening up the country, and it should not Tse run merely with a desire to make it pay. I had proposed to make a bitter attack on some of the officers of the Department, but have come to the conclusion that it would be unfair to attack in this House men who cannot defend themselves, especially as the Postmaster-General has not been long enough in office to be able to speak for them. If the Department will nearly pay its way under the present system, then it should pay well if it were properly administered.
– The Department, except for the telephone service, does pay.
– The telephone service should pay, and would pay if common-sense ideas were introduced, as they would be if it were in the hands of a private company, although I should oppose the private ownership of telegraphs and telephones.
– If the rates were increased in respect of city exchanges it would pay.
– There is no necessity to increase the rates anywhere. There was an outcry against penny postage-
– This is rather cheap claptrap.
– The honorable member is a good judge of clap-trap.
– Penny postage reduced the revenue of the Department.
– It is easy to gibe at such a reform. It is strange that honorable members opposite should contend that a service is not paying when’ the people are given under it an additional convenience without being called upon to pay more for it. We ought to do more of that sort of thing. Every honorable member knows that the Postal Department is in a state of turmoil and confusion, and that it is badly administered, mismanaged, and handled. in every way. The Minister ought to make a change, and the Department should be raked fore and aft. We ought to employ the best brains to manage this Department. I am in favour of a Commission, but not in favour of placing the control in the hands of men who have already made a mess of it. Let us have men who, without fear or favour, will give due consideration to the requirements of the country districts. In the country a motor service is put on one side in favour of horses, because horses are cheaper; and the only wonder is that bullocks are not employed because they are cheaper than horses.
– Let us have goats !
– We should not have to go far to find them. I give the controlling officers an intimation that, when Parliament meets again, I shall go in detail into the question. and indulge in some pretty straight talk. There is confusion worse confounded in the Department, and we are all disgusted, so are many of the officials themselves, and the general public. In view of the understanding that has been arrived at to conclude the consideration of the Estimates before dinner, I shall not inaugurate any angry debate, but I appeal to the Postmaster-General to realize that we look to him to give a fair deal to the country districts. If a country telephone is asked for, the departmental estimate is generally over £30 or £40 a mile, and, under the circumstances, no telephone is supplied. The Postmaster-General has constructed a telephone to his own place at a cost of about one-quarter the estimate of the Department, and this only shows that the departmental estimates are too high.
.- I had some remarks to make in connexion with the Estimates for the Home Affairs Department, which should have proved of some interest to honorable members, referring, as they did, to the compilation of the rolls.
– We are now discussing the Estimates of the Department of the Postmaster-General.
– I should like permission to refer to this matter, because it is very important.
– I have no power to give permission.
– What I desire to say is really connected with the Postal Department, and, therefore, it may be admissible. My opinion is that the Electoral Office should be associated with the Post Office, because, in many instances, and, probably, in all, the letter-carriers and the postmasters in the remoter parts of the Commonwealth are in a better position than are the police to see that the name of every eligible man and woman is enrolled. If this suggestion were adopted, we should get much better results, and certainly less dissatisfaction, during elections. The honorable member for Eden-Monaro has complained about the Post Office not being up to date, but I can only say that if the PostmasterGeneral, who has the respect of every member in the House, is provided with the necessary funds, the reforms weall desire would, no doubt, be carried. At any rate, I think I can assure the Postmaster-General that he will receive* the assistance of honorable members on both sides. During the last five months the Department has shown a profit on its operations, but that profit would scarcely be adequate to meet the demands, and the Government ought to be prepared and willing, by means of a loan, if necessary, to render the Postmaster-General the necessary financial support.
Proposed votes agreed to.
That the following resolution be reported to the House : - That, including the several sums already voted in this present session of Parliament for such services, there be grunted to His Majesty to defray the charges for the year 1913-14, for the several services hereunder specified, sums not exceeding in each case the following amounts, viz. : - .
Standing Orders suspended, and resolution adopted.
In Committee of Ways and Means:
Motion (by Mr. Joseph Cook) proposed -
That towards making good the Supply granted to His Majesty for the services of the year 1913-14, a sum not exceeding Five million four hundred and seventy-five thousand five hundred and forty-five pounds be granted out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
– Will the PostmasterGeneral kindly make a statement as to the present position in regard to wireless telegraphy ?
– An action has been proceeding against the Department for some time by the Marconi Company, in connexion with the wireless system used by the Department, which is an invention by Mr. Balsillie, our Chief Officer. It was found very difficult to obtain experts in this country able to give the Government an opinion. The Government felt that if their position was wrong they were quite willing to make amends. They knew that Parliament did not desire any company or any person to be unfairly treated, or that the patent rights of anybody should be infringed. The Government decided to ask the High Commissioner in England to send out the best expert he could obtain. Mr. Swinbourne came in response to that request, and he examined our system, and his advice and report are favorable to us. On that report we are relying.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolution reported and adopted.
That Sir John Forrest and Mr. W. H. Irvine do prepare and bring in a Bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented (by Mr. Joseph Cook) and read a first time.
Motion (by Mr. Joseph Cook) proposed -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
.- In view of the information given by the Postmaster-General as to the position in regard to wireless telegraphy, and in view of the report of the expert, I hope that, if the Government win the case, they will take into very serious consideration the desirability of offering a very handsome donation to Mr. Balsillie, because it is to that gentleman, and to him alone, that we are indebted for the wireless telegraphy system throughout Australia at the present time.
– The Government will treat Mr. Balsillie with justice.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.
In Committee (Consideration of Senate’s amendments) :
– I propose, with the permission of the House, to withdraw the Committee of Public Accounts Bill, and thus set aside the amendments which the Senate have made in it. We find this the best method of procedure in the circumstances, as it is perfectly obvious on the face of it that the Senate have gone further than they themselves intended. For instance, in sending the Bill up to the Senate we adhered to the precedents set us in the States. In every case in the States, Committees of Public Accounts” are selected by the popular House. The reason for that is obvious. . The popular Houses in the States initiate and control the expenditure of money. However, Iam free to admit there is a distinction between our Senate and the Upper Houses of the States - our Senate has coordinate powers with the House of Representatives in some things; also there is a fundamentally different basis of representation, which differentiates the Senate from the Upper Houses of the States. Accordingly, the Senate on this Bill, as they had a perfect right to do, proceeded to lay claim to representation on the proposed Committee of Public Accounts. Further, they suggested an increase in the number of members of the Committee; but the very verbiage they have adopted in’ trying to achieve that object amounts to an interference with the privileges of the House of Representatives. The language they have employed is to the effect that no Committee of the kind shall be appointed by the House of Representatives unless there is also representation of the Senate upon that Committee. Undoubtedly such a claim would take away from the House of Representatives the right to appoint their own Committees for any specific purposes. Clearly, therefore, the Senate have gone beyond their original intention. Such changes have been made by the Senate in this Bill, and they have such far-reaching consequences, that the Government think we shall achieve the object which the Senate and we alike have in view - that of instituting a Joint Standing Committee of Public Accounts, - by withdrawing the Bill, and substituting another which carries out that intention.
– Do you say that they cannot amend or initiate legislation of, this kind 1
– I say nothing of the kind. I simply say that in asserting their rights the Senate have taken away the right of the House of Representatives to appoint Committees of their own - a right which the Senate are exer cising themselves in some respects at the present time. We say that is not their intention, but that it is the verbiage of the amendment which has that effect. We think we will be carrying out their idea, as well as our own, by a new measure. We desire to make this Committee of Public Accounts a standing Committee, embracing members of the Senate and of the House of Representatives, without surrendering our right to appoint other Committees of the kind if we think fit, leaving to the Senate also the right to appoint Committees of their own if they so think fit. That is the course we should adopt, and we do it in the new Bill.
Motion (by Mr. Joseph Cook) proposed -
That the Bill be laid aside.
.- I confess that I am not as clear as some honorable members seem to be about the attitude taken up by the Prime Minister. The Senate’s amendment simply says that the proposed Committee shall consist of nine members, three to be appointed by the Senate, and six by the House of Representatives.
– Reading those words with the words left in the clause of the Bill, it means that no Committee of the kind shall be appointed by the House of Representatives except upon the conditions named.
– If it is complained that .the amendment as sent down is embarrassing, and that the matter can be better dealt with in a new Bill, I have no objection; but I have some difficulty in grasping what the word “ verbiage “ as used by the Prime Minister really imports. If the Government intend to accept the suggestion of the Senate, I have no objection to the course they are adopting.
– The original Bill was not a measure to enable a Committee of Public Accounts to be appointed. The power of this House to appoint such a Committee already existed. Either House can appoint any Committee it chooses. The only object of the Bill was to say, with regard to the Committee of the House of Representatives appointed for the purpose of investigating public accounts that two things should happen - that the Committee when appointed could hold its sittings when Parliament would not be sitting, and that it should have the power to take evidence on oath. Thus we invested a Committee that we had the power to appoint with peculiar rights and peculiar powers. That was the only object of the Bill. The Senate’s first amendment reads as follows -
Page t, clause 3, lines 6 and y, leave out “ appointed by the House of Representatives shall hold office as such Committee,” insert “ shall consist of nine members, three to be appointed by the Senate and six by the House of Representatives. “
The object of that is that there shall be a Joint Parliamentary Standing Committee of Public Accounts. With that proposal the Government have no quarrel, but the way in which they introduce their proposal would make the clause of the Bill read in this way -
Every Committee of Public Accounts shall consist of nine members, three to be appointed by the Senate and six to be appointed by the House of Representatives. ,
It needs no explanation to show honorable members that this is a distinct curtailment of the powers of this House to appoint any Committee it chooses to deal with public accounts, or anything else. Such, I think, was never intended by the Senate. Therefore, another Bill has been drafted which will enable a Joint Parliamentary Committee of Public Accounts to be created, which is what a majority of the members of the Senate desire, and with which we see no reason to quarrel. The second amendment, made by the Senate, is also a striking innovation, and one to which I think the House of Representatives would not consent. They propose to omit the words “ any standing order or Act,” and insert in lieu the words “ this Act and the Regulations made thereunder,” and then they propose to add the following new clause -
I feel sure that if the full effect of that amendment had been noticed by the members of another place they would not have agreed to it. The general rule with re- gard to Committees appointed by either House, or with regard to Joint Committees is that they are Committees of Parliament, and that their powers, functions, and conduct are regulated by Standing Orders. Each House retains, through ite own Standing Orders, the regulation and control of its own Committees. The amendment seeks to vest that power in the Governor-General. I do not think the Senate would agree with any proposal that either House should assent to its Committees’ operations being regulated by the Governor-General. It would be a dangerous and unnecessary departure from the practice that has always obtained in regard to Committees of Parliament, namely, that the House appointing a Committee should govern its procedure by Standing Orders. I do not know whether I am at liberty to outline the mode in which we propose to deal with this matter.
-.- The honorable member may make a brief general reference to it. ‘
– We propose to submit a new Bill for an Act to provide a Joint Parliamentary Committee of Public Accounts, consisting of seven members, who shall be appointed according to the practice of Parliament dealing with the appointment’ of members to serve on Joint Committees. These are laid down in the Standing Orders of both Houses. Certain messages are sent from one House to the other. The number suggested is seven, but that matter is open for debate. The Bill also sets out more clearly the duties of this new Joint Standing Committee. When the first Bill was before this House many honorable members suggested that the duties of this Standing Committee should be set out in the measure, but the answer to that was that the Bill was merely to vest in the Committee of Public Accounts certain rights mentioned, leaving Parliament under its Standing Orders to control the conduct of the Committee. The general object of the Bill we propose to introduce is to appoint a Joint Parliamentary Committee of Public Accounts, and to outline the character of the duties of the Committee, investing it also with the right to sit when the Houses are not sitting, and to take evidence on oath.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill laid aside.
Motion (by Mr. W. H. Irvine) agreed to-
That leave be given to bring in a Bill for an Act to provide for a Joint Parliamentary Committee of Public Accounts.
Bill presented, read a first and second time, and considered in Committee, pro formâ..
In Committee (Considerationof Senate’s amendments) :
Clause 6 -
The Executive Council of Norfolk Island, as existing at the commencement of this Act, shall continue in existence, but may be altered or abolished by Ordinance made in pursuance of this Act.
Senate’s Amendment. - Leave out “ as existing at the commencement of this Act, shall continue in existence, but may be altered or abolished by Ordinance made in pursuance of this Act “ ; insert “ shall consist of seven members to be elected by the adult population of the Island.”
– I am afraid that the Senate’s amendment was passed under a misapprehension. The Executive Council of Norfolk Island is not a legislative body at all. It haspractically only administrative functions. It is unlike the Legislative Council of Papua, which has legislative power, subject to the provisions of the Papua Act as to the reservation and disallowance of its legislation. The Norfolk IslandCouncil’s functions are to take care of the management of the public roads, commons., and public reserves, and the construction of public works that may be intrusted to it by the Government, which has power to revoke any authority given . They are really like a road board, to manage, within such conditfons as may be prescribed by the Governor of New South Wales, the actual construction, repair, and management of the roads. They have power to pass by-laws, but only for the purpose of carrying out their administrative functions. It would, therefore, be somewhat anomalous to ask that such a body should be elected on adult suffrage by the men and women of the island. As a matter of fact, at present that body consists of seven persons. The President and four others are appointed by the Governor of New South Wales, two are elected by the elders of the island, the elders being males of twenty-five years and upwards, so that the elective principle to some extent obtains there. I believe it is really a survival of an arrangement that, in another form, held prior to giving the control and management to theGovernor of New South Wales. I suggest that we should not put this amendment into an Acceptance Bill, which is merely a Bill to accept the management of Norfolk Island from the Imperial Government. They will place it under us by Order-in-Council, and, necessarily, this Bill ought to be followed by some Act or Ordinance providing for ite effective government. Any changes in this direction could be made when we grant a Constitution to the island. I think about £1,600 a year ofthe total expenditureof the island, which is under £3,000, is provided by the Government of New South Wales. Of course, we shall have to increase the expenditure with the development of some hopeful policy, but this is not the stage at which we should frame the outlinesof a system of government that would be suited to whatever policy we may lay down for the development of the island.
– It was done in the Papua Act.
– In that case you have practically framed a full Constitution. It is not proposed to provide that in this Bill. If an end were put to the present Executive, no provision is made for a successor, and no method of election has been framed. It has to be done with some deliberation. I think honorable members may trust us to look at this question from the point of view of democratic Australia, and they can see that an Acceptance Bill, which has really been settled in consultation with the Governor of New South Wales, is not the proper place to frame, with that deliberation and exhaustiveness with which we ought to do the work, a Constitution for the island. On these grounds, I move -
That the amendment be disagreed to.
.-I confess that I am rather with the Minister in this matter. He has put the case fairly. This provision should rather be in a Bill dealing with the Constitution of Norfolk Island.
.- While we are taking over the island, we are also taking over full and complete powers to make whatever Ordinances are necessary to govern and maintain it. That being so, why could we not, if the amendments were agreed to, carry on the government of the island ?
– It puts an end to the existing government.
-The taking over of the Territory would not put an end to the existing form of government. The Minister has power to make any alteration that he thinks fit by Ordinance. In the circumstances, I suggest that the amendment should be agreed to.
Motion agreed to.
Amendment disagreed to.
Clause 10 -
The Governor-General, or any person authorized by him, may, in accordance with law, make grants or other dispositions of Crown lands in Norfolk Island.
Senate’s Amendments. - Leave out “grants or other.” Add to clause - “ Provided always that no Crown lands in Norfolk Island shall be sold or disposed of for any estate in freehold except in pursuance of some contract entered into before the commencement of this Act.”
– I move -
That the amendments be disagreed to.
The amendments deal with the leasing principle. I ask the Committee not to accept them. Out of the total acreage of the island, 8,528 acres, there are 1,311 acres unused - that is, not dealt with either by leasing or alienation. There are 850 acres leased, which, of course, may fall in, and may be sold or leased; but the actual fact and substance of the matter is comparatively small so far as one may regard it as raising the question of leasehold as against freehold. I ask that the existing system be left untouched. As this is an Acceptance Bill, let this matter not be dealt with in it. The Bill has been considered by both sides - the transferrer of the island and ourselves, who propose to accept it - and in its present state it has been approved. Besides that, I find from the list of holdings in Norfolk Island that the apportionment of the land is practically the same now as it was when the original allotment was made about forty or fifty years ago. The land is held in very small holdings of about 4 acres up to 53 or 59. I saw in the list one alienation of, I think, over 250 acres, but the average would be nearer 25 or 30 than 50 acres, which nobody can regard as an excessive holding with a population of 900 odd. A list of the holdings, which I have be fore me, shows the acreage to be 46 acres, 52 acres, 40 acres, 27 acres, 12 acres, and so on, there being apparently no holding of more than 50 or 55 acres. Some thirty or forty years ago the Melanesian Mission obtained a grant of 1,000 acres, but Norfolk Island is the centre of its efforts in the Pacific. Under the circumstances, I ask the Committee to leave the land system of the island as it is, and should the question be raised subsequently by any Ordinance or regulation, the opposing merits of the leasehold and freehold systems can be discussed and settled. Should the evils of land monopoly arise hereafter, there is no reason why an effective remedy should not be found for them by the imposition of an adequate land tax, or some action of that kind.
– Has the Minister authority from his Government to advocate the imposition of an adequate land tax?
– That matter is not now under consideration, but I think that I would have authority, if it were necessary, to impose an adequate land tax to prevent the abuses of land monopoly from arising. The point is that, of the unalienated land, about 850 acres is leased in blocks of 25 acres or less, the remaining 1,137 acres, not freehold, not being used at all. As the matter is urgent, I ask the Committee not to accept the amendments.
.- I hope that the Committee will accept the amendments. We have disagreed to one of the Senate’s amendments, so that we might, as a compromise, accept these. The Minister has stated that only a small area remains unalienated, and that seems to me to make all the more reason why we should prevent this alienation. The honorable gentleman says that he does not desire to have the provision of the Senate inserted in an Acceptance Bill, and that the matter can be dealt with by regulation afterwards. I take it, however, that, under the Bill, Norfolk Island will be governed by regulations, whereby a Minister can give effect to his own views, without having them sanctioned by Parliament Considering the opposition that has been offered to the Senate’s amendments, it seems hardly likely that a regulation would be framed by the present Government to prevent further alienation. It is unnecessary now to discuss at length the freehold and leasehold systems of tenure. We had a lengthy dis cussion on the subject when the measure was in Committee here, and I do not suppose that any number of speeches would effect any change of opinion on either side. But seeing that the area unalienated is so small, and that the passing of the Bill is a matter of urgency, the Government might well accept the amendments, because, in the Senate, there is a very large majority in favour of them. A similar provision was inserted in the measure providing for the taking over of Papua and the Northern Territory. Why should we make a difference in regard to Norfolk Island?
– Evidently the honorable member is not anxious to have Norfolk Island taken over by the Commonwealth.
– I am as anxious for it as is the honorable member.
– Then why insist on the amendments?
– I have as much right to say that this provision should be in the Bill as the Government has to say that it should not.
.- If there is one thing to which I object more than to another, it is the doing by regulation what ought to be done by Parliament itself. If we are going to have government by regulation, the time may come when a strong Administration will make things very uncomfortable. We are always met with objections such as now are being . urged by the Ministry : that the Bill is urgent, and a provision of the kind proposed should not be inserted in an Acceptance Bill. I know the opinions of the Minister of External Affairs on the subject of land tenure, and no doubt, if he were to be always in office, things might very well be left us they stand ; but we do not know how longhe will be there. It is said that the area unalienated is small, and that, the country being poor, no one is likely to want to take it up. Why, then, object to this provision ? We know that the Government is opposing the amendment on a question of principle. During the recent electoral campaign, a great deal of noise was made by honorable members opposite in asserting that the alienation of land in freehold was essential to the effective settlement of the Northern Territory. Why do not honorable members say now that they are opposing tne amendment because of their belief in the principle of freeholds ? If we on this side were to allow the amendment to be disagreed to, we should have honorable members opposite telling the people, “ These men who say that they believein the leasehold principle allowed the freehold principle to be adopted in regard to Norfolk Island.” I shall not discuss the subject of tenure, because we had a long discussion on it recently, and the Opposition were defeated, but I maintain that we should have another division on the question to-night. The majority in another place has as much right to its opinions as we have to ours. A provision similar to that which the Senate wishes to insert was put into both the Northern Territory and Papua Acts, many of the honorable members opposite offering no strenuous objection to it. Why, then, this change of front? If the provision was a good one for Papua and the Northern Territory, why is it not a good one for Norfolk Island? If the maximum holding on Norfolk Island, apart from the grant to the Melanesian Mission, is 50 acres, such a holding on an island where there is only 8,000 acres of land, and a population of 900 persons, is in the nature of a monopoly. Apparently, even there land monopoly is gradually being brought about, and will operate ultimately to the detriment of the people of the island. Some years ago, the average holding was 4 or 5 acres in extent; the average holding now seems to be from 45 to 50 acres.
– The land was not cut up into such small blocks originally. There has been, if anything, a tendency to subdivide.
– Then the Government should prevent the remaining Crown lands from getting into the hands of individuals. They should reserve them for the benefit of the whole of the people.
.- The Government are familiar with the feelings of our party in this matter, and must know that it will be utterly impossible for the Bill to pass unless this amendment be agreed to. I think that they might as well accept the inevitable. The Minister of External Affairs has given us more reason for accepting the amendment than for rejecting it. The fact that only a small area can come under this provision is an additional reason why we should agree to it. The Minister must recognise that he is trying to force upon honorable members of our party something that we cannot possibly accept. I suppose that the supporters of the Government are forcing their hands; but, having regard to the position that will arise if the amendment be rejected, they might well, in the interests of all concerned, accept it. We cannot do better than follow the example of Lloyd-George.
– He does not believe in leasing.
– The people of England are beginning to recognise that the people themselves must control the land, otherwise there can be no hope of reform. No hardship will be inflicted by accepting this amendment, and the feeling of the people of Australia generally is, I am sure, that wherever opportunities offer the Crown should retain the fee-simple in land. I wish to see Norfolk Island placed under the control of the Commonwealth, but if this amendment be not accepted, I am afraid that the Bill will be laid aside.
Question - That the Senate’s amendments in clause 10 be disagreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 5
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendments disagreed to.
Resolutions reported; report adopted.
Motion (by Mr. Glynn) agreed to-
That Mr. W. H. Irvine, Mr. Groom, and the mover be appointed a Committee to draw up reasons for the House of Representatives disagreeing to the amendments.
Mr. GLYNN, on behalf of the Committee, brought up the following reasons, which were read and adopted : -
No.1. Because it is inexpedient to provide for the election of the Executive Council, a body of limited administrative and no strictly legislative powers, by the adult population of Norfolk Island, and any change in the method of appointment of the members of the Council should be made as part of the provisions of a measure for better government of the Island passed under the powers conferred by this Act.
Nos.2 and 3. Because it is inexpedient bv this Bill to alter the present land system which has been found suited to Norfolk Island, and under which lands may be granted for an estate of freehold or may be leased, and no evils that legislation cannot remedy can arise.
Bill returned from the Senate with a message intimating that it did not insist upon an amendment to which the House of Representatives had disagreed, but insisted upon the remaining amendments.
That the message be taken into consideration in Committee forthwith.
– I move -
That the amendments be agreed to.
I am sorry that the Senate has taken this course; but the Bill is too important, in the interests of the country, to set aside. The only way in which the difficulty can be met is by introducing a Bill, which I propose doing to-morrow morning, to provide £300,000 for the purchase of land for defence purposes, and to make this a charge on the Consolidated Revenue. It is very inconvenient to do that at the present time, but there is no other method, unless we refuse to meet our engagements. I hope there will be no difficulty in passing the Bill that I shall introduce.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolution reported; report adopted.
Debate resumed from 12th December (vide page 4249), on motion by Mr. Joseph Cook -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
.- When this Bill was introduced by the Prime Minister quite a lively interest was taken in the proceedings. It is proposed by the Bill to appoint a Public Works Committee of nine members to investigate all proposals for expenditure exceeding £25,000. I have not had an opportunity of reading the speech delivered by the Prime Minister when he moved the second reading, but I think it may relieve some honorable members when I express the opinion that I do not think effect can be given to the measure this session.
– I think it can.
– I do not think that any action can be taken until the GovernorGeneral has assented to the Bill as an Act. If we are to come back after the Governor-General has given his assent to elect the Committee in the way proposed here, I misunderstand the attitude of the Government as communicated to the House by the Prime Minister. There would be no utility in appointing a Committee this session, because it would have practically nothing to do, seeing that none of the works contemplated in the legislation passed up to now will, for any practical purposes, come within its purview. Therefore all that would be left to the Committee to consider would be some subsidiary matters remitted by the Government. I do not think that that is the intention and purpose of a measure such as this. It is not a bad thing that the appointment should remain over until Parliament meets again, because time will then have been afforded for mature consideration . Some honorable members may regret that this should be the case; but the Government are the authors of the Bill. They have proposed that a Committee shall be appointed under statutory powers that they do not at present possess, and, therefore, in my opinion, the position is hopeless. Whatever the merits of such a body may be, I venture to say that the only result of its appointment will be long delay in the carrying out of necessary public works of the Commonwealth. I do not contend that the Committee may not save some money on some works; but if the Committee had to be appointed to investigate the works authorized this session, none of them would be carried out during next year, or, perhaps, during the following year.
– Will not the reports of the Committee be in the interests of Australia ?
– Yes; but there are certain public works, that are urgent, and any delay in carrying them out would probably cost more than the investigation of the Committee could save. The transcontinental railway, for instance, means an expenditure of millions, and any delay in the construction of the work would mean the waste of the money already spent. With this Committee, . as with other Committees and Commissions, the tendency will be not to unduly hurry matters - and I am not reflecting on such bodies in saying this, because such delay is incidental to all investigatory tribunals of the kind. In regard to the number of members, this Committee is slightly different from the Public Works Committees of the States. In Victoria, I understand, the Railways Standing Committee consisted of thirteen members.
– That used to be so, but now the number is six.
– Six, in my opinion, is the more satisfactory number. A Committee of thirteen must be most unwieldly, apart from any risks attached to that number. I remember that when a coloured American cyclist was over here he chose number thirteen because nobody else would have it, and he said that he found that his wheels went round just as fast as they would have done with any other number on his back. At any rate, nine is the number proposed in the Bill for the Public Works Committee.
– Too many.
– I think it is too many, and that, perhaps, six -would be sufficient. Personally, I do not think that it makes any difference whether the number of members be odd or even. If there be a chairman who can briefly and concisely sum up the evidence, it really does not matter whether or not he is given a casting vote; and he would be a daring man who would say that five of a Committee were right and that four were wrong. It is the character of the evidence and of the majority and minority reports that will guide the House, for it must be remembered that, after all, the Committee can only report. In New South Wales, I find, the Public Works Committee consists of seven members, who, provided there are more nominations than vacancies, are elected in the House by ballot. It is not proposed in the Bill to elect the members of the Commonwealth Committee by ballot, but in the same way as the Committees of the House are elected. I do not know that either is the better method ; there must be a common-sense understanding that all parties and all opinions in the House shall be represented.
– In New South Wales each party selects its representatives, and these are elected by the whole House.
– That is also the Victorian system.
– I take it that each party, in meeting, select members, and that these, by common agreement, are unanimously accepted by the House. This is somewhat like the old practice in some Parliaments of selecting the Speaker - all is arranged before the matter comes before the House.
– That is intended to be done.
– When we are dealing with a matter of this kind in which certain interests are involved, and certain little difficulties have to be overcome before we come into the House to elect the Committee, it is just as well to know what the Government have in ‘their minds in regard to it. It is proposed in this Bill that every work, the cost of which is greater than £25,000, shall be remitted to this Committee.
– Except defence works.
– I shall deal with that later on. I ask the Government and members of the Ministerial party to consider what they are proposing to do. In his Budget speech the Treasurer spoke of the urgency of public works, and said that unless the Government were given the money at once, and the works were carried out at once, there would be unemployed. What will become of the unemployed if we appoint a Committee of this kind to deal with every public work proposed to cost over £25,000 ? All of the public expenditure in the Commonwealth will be practically stopped, and probably for the whole of a session. How can it be avoided ? Nearly every important work undertaken by the Commonwealth will cost more than £25,000. I feel sure that we cannot initiate this proposal in the way suggested with satisfaction to any one.
– The House is always superior to any Committee.
– We expect a lead from the Government. They have laid it down definitely in this measure that they shall be restricted from doing anything until the proposed Committee have reported. They even go further, and say that a recommendation of this Committee shall be a direction to them to bring in a Bill. Does this not infringe that sacred right of responsible government about which we have heard so much from the AttorneyGeneral ?
– I am inclined to think it goes a long way in that direction.
– I am sure the AttorneyGeneral must have grave doubts in making it imperative in a Bill of this kind that a Minister shall bring in a financial measure by a direction that may arise out of a recommendation from the proposed Committee. This hits at the very principle of responsible government. The Bill before us may be brought in for the purpose of conciliating honorable members, but no Government worth its salt would remain in office a day if it thought that a work that was recommended for construction should not be carried’ out. It . would make way for another Government.
– If the Government could not honestly recommend Parliament to approve of the recommendation of the Committee.
– The proposal is the most revolutionary that I have ever read of in any Parliament in Australia, or elsewhere.
– It has been in existence for a quarter of a century in New South Wales.
– Surely, we are not to take the Parliament of New South Wales as an example.
– Theoretically, I am inclined to agree with the honorable member, but this provision is taken from the New South Wales and Victorian Acts. Personally, I have always objected to it, but it has never done very much harm.
– The point is that a Committee appointed by both Souses may make a recommendation, and it is mandatory on the Government to bring down a Bill to give effect to that recommendation.
– That is not the case in New South Wales.
– I have known the Government in New South Wales to refuse to bring in a Bill for a measure which has been recommended by the Public Works Committee.
– That supports the view taken by the Leader of the Opposition.
– In this case it is mandatory on the Government to bring in the necessary Bill.
– That provision is capable of alteration.
– If there is any honorable member in the House who stands for what is called the old constitutional principle of responsible government, especially in financial matters, it is the AttorneyGeneral.
– I object to this provision, but it has always been quite harmless.
– It rather reflects on the Government if a provision that is admitted to be dangerous is put in because it may be perfectly harmless.
– The Government will not be called upon to introduce a Bill until the House confirms the desirability of carrying out the work. If the House does not give the confirmation there is no obligation on the part of the Government to introduce the Bill.
– Are the Government in any other matter compelled to carry out a resolution of the House?
– Yes; or resign.
– Will the honorable member name one case of an abstract motion upon which the Government are compelled to act ? The only motions upon which the Government are compelled to take action are motions of want of confidence or censure motions. It is delightful to hear such a high constitutional authority as the honorable member for Parkes setting up the view of the responsibility of the Government to a decision of the House. We may get a gathering of honorable members who will vote for something, although there may not be one of them individually responsible for the effect of carrying it. The Ministry, as a whole, may vote against a proposal, yet it is mandatory on them to bring down a Bill to carry it out.
– I think that sub-clause 6 of clause 15 does not say so.
– The Attorney-General reads it as I read it; he thinks it proposes to do what I say it does; but if it is not the intention of the House to put the matter in that way, we can correct the error in Committee.
– The House has first to resolve that the work shall be carried out
– Exactly ; but on whose motion ?
– On the motion of the Minister.
– Not necessarily. It may be on the motion of a private member.
– The House may adopt three courses; it may approve, disapprove, or remit the matter for further consideration.
– It is nothing new that the House is not limited as to what it may do, but what is new, strange, and out of place is that the House on an abstract motion can make it mandatory on a Ministry to adopt a certain course whether they agree with, it or not, and whether it involves the finances of the country or not.
– Suppose the Committee recommend that a certain work shall be undertaken, and the Minister submits the work to the House under sub-clause 6 of clause 15, he can tell the House that he does not wish the motion to be carried., Would not that be constitutional?
– Of course it would be, and being an abstract motion, in that case the Ministry need not take any notice of the result, but under the provisions of the Bill it is mandatory on the Minister to introduce a Bill to carry out the work. He must proceed as he is directed, and introduce the Bill. There is an interesting little matter about a payment to the chairman.
– Is not that a matter for the Committee?
– I think it might as well be stated now, so that we may see where we are.
– There is nothing to that effect in the Bill ; there is a blank in the clause.
– I see that, but I understood the Attorney-General to say that under the Constitution it was impossible for any member of Parliament to receive any fees except expenses.
– When did I say that*
– I understood the honorable member to say it previously. Have we the power under our Constitution to provide that honorable members of this House may receive fees in addition to their salaries?
– Yes; unless the payment is for services rendered to the Commonwealth.
– Will not this be service rendered to the Commonwealth?
– No. That is the whole question. I was inclined to think bo when I first saw it.
– I think that the honorable member dropped an interjection that left an impression on my mind that in no circumstances whatever could honorable members receive fees. I took notice of the interjection. It struck me that if that were the case, it would be very difficult for an honorable member of either House to perform any service at all for the Commonwealth outside his parliamentary duties. If the Attorney-General has seen fit to vary that view, I have nothing more to say on the point.
– My first impression was that the term “ services rendered to the Commonwealth “ was very wide, but I have been looking into the matter more carefully.
– I am not complaining on that point. I can see good reasons, from my point of view, to encourage experienced public men to render services to the Commonwealth, and, if they do so, they should be able to receive some remuneration for the services they do render, over and above their expenses.
– Take the case of the Speaker’ and Chairman of Committees.
– They are officers of the House. That, I should think as a layman, is quite a different matter. The work in this case is practically the work of a public servant, and if honorable members received remuneration for doing chat. I think it would come very near to accepting an office of profit under the Crown. However, that is a legal question which must rest with the AttorneyGeneral. The New South Wales Act provides specifically that the position shall not be considered an office of profit under the Crown. The question is whether we can do by an Act of Parliament anything to set aside the provisions of the Constitution.
– Certainly not.
– Then, of course, the whole question comes back to the limitations in the Constitution. Now that the House is more calm, I would direct the Prime Minister’s attention to the fact that a complaint which is made arises from the delay in the delivery, first of the Budget speech, and secondly of the Auditor-General’s report. By the proposed amendment of the Audit Act, I venture to say that there will be further audit restrictions in this matter. Any public works will form part of the annual financial statement delivered by the Treasurer. It is impossible for the Budget statement to be made prior to the middle or end of August. That means that the remission of these works, particularly of works included in the Budget, will cause the delay that I have spoken of, and I’ know of no way of getting over that difficulty.
– It does not cause delay in the States.
– It will mean that one Parliament will have to outline the works programme for, say, five years; but I am not against that. If there has been one distinct feature of the Commonwealth, it has been short, jerky periods of activity and long periods of idleness. For seven or eight years the Commonwealth did not undertake the duty that really devolved upon it of constructing and maintaining its public works, and when the time came in 1909, 1910-11-12 and 1913 for this to be done, the public were perfectly shocked at the amount th’at had to be expended.
– They were very bad times in the first few years.
– Times began to improve from 1904 to 1908, and during those years the public works, such as the Post Office, were impoverished.
– We had the Braddon “blot” in the Constitution also.
– We handed over to the States a much larger sum of money than they had a right to expect. It was a want of foresight, a want of grasp, and timidness that caused our public works, especially our postal services, to fall into decay. I strongly favour a programme covering five or even ten years. I can quite understand both parties being agreed on a public works policy on reasonably safe lines, and if a Committee of this kind can foreshadow such a policy, it will do a very valuable work; but any attempt to appoint such a Committee to deal with_matters of immediate urgency will absolutely fail. For that reason I see no immediate urgency for the appointment of a Committee this session. If it is appointed next session, it will do good work if it can- come into effective operation by the end of the incoming year.
– It might be able to make valuable inquiries during the recess into projected public works.
– Matters already dealt with are rightly excluded. If not, they would have to be stopped on coming before the Committee. Therefore, the works for which money is appropriated up to the end of the present financial year ought not to be interfered with unless the Committee were specially asked to examine into certain affairs that were not new. Why this urgency? A little contemplation in the matter will do no harm. After the recess we shall have reflected on all the possibilities of the Committee, and have an opportunity of considering who are likely to be the best men to carry out the duties. The Bill cannot be operative until the Governor-General gives his assent. It will not go through the House before to-morrow. Are we to come back on Friday or Saturday to appoint the Committee?
– Cannot you leave the appointments to be made by the Executive, the Prime Minister agreeing with you as to who are to come from your side?
– I shall do nothing of the kind.
– What objection have you to it?
– There is no urgency for the measure; and as the honorable member for Parkes is so eager-
– I am not eager. I tell the honorable member at once that I am not a candidate.
– The honorable member need not point his finger at me, be- cause I am not a candidate, either. This is not a time of the session to bring in a measure of this kind. Pass the Bill, if you wish, but make the appointments when Parliament meets again. That would be a sensible, sane, and proper way to do things.
I see no reason to oppose the second reading of the Bill, because, in principle, I believe it will do good. I firmly believe that it will delay public works, but the good effect that will be derived from it will be the outlining of a policy for years to come, and not so much in regard to immediate requirements. I cannot see how a Committee can investigate public works prescribed from year to year. If we appoint the right Committee, they will be able to look ahead in respect of great public works extending over a number of years. The works of the Northern Territory would require the whole recess of the most experienced men for investigation.
The Government have omitted from the Bill the important matter of defence, and I search in vain for a reason why defence works were left out. There is a general superstition that defence works must not be examined or discussed lest foreign powers may become acquainted with them; but there is not a gun, fortification, or place of vantage anywhere in Australia that every foreign power does not know everything about. Indeed, many blind men are better informed about them than are some of our own people who are in public positions. Se that as it may, defence works should be examined in the same way as any other public works. I am not speaking of ships, because, unhappily, we have not at present the equipment to build our ships, but if they were built here they should be included also. I would include practically all defence works, even the erection of factories and barracks, or the making of entrenchments, or any works of any magnitude of the character here outlined. When speaking of defence, I would make the reservation that if the Minister declared certain defence works urgent, they should be excluded on the word of the Executive, whatever their cost might be, from the investigation of the Committee; but when a Committee is to be appointed to deal with great public works, involving the expenditure of millions, it seems futile to exclude from examination the Department which is practically expending the largest proportion of the money.
– What did you suggest as a reservation ?
– I would make no reservation regarding the kind of works which might be submitted for investigation by the Committee, but I would leave with the Executive full and ample power to exclude any defence work that it might be thought advisable to exclude. The Executive would then have to answer to Parliament, and would have no difficulty in doing so satisfactorily, if its reasons were good and sufficient. But for that reservation, I say that the defence works, as well as other works, should go before the Committee.
I understand that £2,000 is to be set apart for the expenses of the Committee, but could any proposal be more ridiculous. The Committee is to consist of nine members, who will have to travel to all portions of this continent, and will have to give up practically all their time to investigations when Parliament is not in session. Furthermore, the works into which they will inquire will be works costing millions. I am not a candidate for a position on the Committee, and therefore speak freely on this matter. If you can get men who will assiduously do the work of the Committee, twice the expenditure will not be too much. We do not want to have on the Committee men who will assemble for a few moments, and call that a meeting, as is often done. The Government should see that it is worth the while of picked men to be on the Committee. Should those who are chosen neglect their duties, Parliament will, I hope, take steps to strike them off the Committee. I have no personal experience of the working of a Committee of this kind; the first Labour Ministry in Queensland, of which I was a member, obtained office in 1899 by dispossessing a Government in connexion with a proposal to appoint a Public Works Committee for that State. I have read of a similar Committee in a neighbouring State, whose members sometimes meet for a few minute3, and then adjourn, calling the meeting a sitting. We do not desire nonsensical procedure of that kind. The members of the Committee will have to neglect their private business entirely during the recess to attend to the work of the Committee, and whatever the public may say, they should be properly remunerated for their services. It is the public service that we want, and if the right men are obtained, the expense will be a mere bagatelle in comparison with the value of the service rendered. But as the Committee is to be appointed under the proposed Bill, I feel that it is impossible to look forward to its appointment during the present session.
.- In discussing this matter, I am in accord with the Leader of the Opposition on some points and differ from him on others. Like him, I am not a candidate for a place on the Committee, and can therefore speak freely. But, unlike him, I have had experience of the working of a body of the kind proposed to be established. For a number of years, I have been acquainted with the working of the Victorian Railways Standing Committee, and I say, without fear of contradiction, that it is one of the best Committees ever appointed by a Victorian Parliament. It is strictly a non-party Committee. Originally, it consisted of thirteen members, but now there are only six, of whom four are chosen by the Assembly, and two by the Council. So jealousy is the principle of equal party representation regarded that when our present Attorney-General was returned with a following of sixty at the time of the Kyabram movement, and the Labour party numbered only nineteen, each party, notwithstanding the difference in numbers, elected two representatives, the eleven Corner men having no special representation. I do not object to having a Committee of seven, if the Government thinks that best, but a Committee similarly chosen on a party basis would work splendidly here. The two parties in the Senate would each have a representative, and the two parties in this House would have two representatives each, without regard to their numerical strength. In considering this matter, we should not pay any attention to the present position of parties, because the political situation is constantly changing. It will be found that the Victorian Railways Standing Committee arrives at its reports practically without any divisions. When a man is appointed to the Committee, no matter what his party, the evidence submitted affects his mind in the same way as it affects the mind of another member belonging to another political party.
– The Victorian experience is that party differences disappear.
– Yes; the reports being based on the evidence submitted. There need be no fear that the Committee’s decisions will be party decisions. The members of the Committee will be influenced by the evidence put before them, and though they will not sink their political differences, they will reserve them for the discussions in Parliament. I hope that honorable members will insist on the equal representation of parties in the Committee, irrespective of the party strength of the moment. If that is done, we shall be better satisfied with the Committee’s work than if parties are represented according to their numerical strength in Parliament, which would make the opinions of the Committee unstable, and unworthy of acceptance. The Committee will not enter upon its investigations upon party lines. What it will consider will be whether the proposed works are necessary, whether they will pay, and whether the best proposals are being put. forward. The Committee’s reports will direct those in Parliament who have not the time to closely investigate matters for themselves. The appointment of the Committee will not diminish Ministerial responsibility. That has been made clear. I agree with the Leader of the Opposition that there should be a reservation in regard to defence matters, but that i£ is not wise to exclude defence matters altogether. If defence matters were excluded, almost any public work could be withheld from investigation. A proposed railway might be regarded as a defence work upon the ground that it might be used for the transport of troops. A factory for the making pf army equipment might also be considered as a defence work. If all works of that kind were excluded, it would be a waste of time to appoint the Committee.
– There might be a proposal to construct a dock.
– Yes; that is a work which should be referred to the Committee, whose duty it would be to say exactly where the dock should be placed.
– Admiral Henderson might have decided that a particular kind of dock was required.
– If a responsible Minister placed a view of that kind before Parliament, he would obtain unanimous support. If the Executive said that any particular proposal was of such importance to the defence of Australia that it should not be submitted to the Committee, I am sure that it would receive the support of Parliament in taking up that attitude. I have not read Admiral Henderson’s report.
– Either this is a parliamentary or an Executive proposal; it cannot be both. The honorable member is suggesting that the Executive should exercise its discretion as to what defence matters shall be submitted for the consideration of the Committee.
– If the Minister representing the Minister of Defence said that any particular defence work was so important that the Government had determined that it should not be submitted to the Committee - and if good reasons for this attitude were given to the House - I am satisfied that the Government would convince their supporters, and very likely the Opposition, that they were taking up a right stand.
– Then this is not left to the Executive.
– It is, to a certain extent, because the Executive is controlled by the House. If the Executive were overruled in an important matter of this kind, clearly it would lose the confidence of the House. I have no intention of being a member of this Committee, but if I were, and it brought up a report advocating that a dock should be built at a certain place, and the Government, of which I was a supporter, said that, for certain strategic reasons submitted to them by Admiral Henderson, the dock should not be built there, then I should at once waive my opinion in the matter.
– Admiral Henderson, it is to be presumed, in such a matter would have given his reasons to the Committee.
– The Committee would exist for the purpose of obtaining such reasons. I hold that full Ministerial responsibility is preserved by the Bill. Before any work can be considered by the Committee, it must be referred to it by the Ministry. After a proposal has been submitted, it must inquire and ‘ make a report, and the report having been presented, there is cast upon the Minister the duty of submitting to the House a motion relating to it. That motion might be that the House should not approve of the recommendation. The decision of the Committee will not necessarily bind the Minister. That is a point that I would impress upon the AttorneyGeneral. Even after a report has been presented, the freedom of the Ministry will remain unimpaired. Those who strongly advocate the creation of this Committee hold that it will give a lot of valuable information to honorable members who have not time to study such matters for themselves.
– I quite agree with the honorable member, except as to clause 17, which purports to impose a statutory duty upon the Minister.
– If the House decided that a work should be carried out, and the Government did not approve of that work, then we all know what must happen.
– The ordinary constitutional procedure is that, where the House decides upon something to which the Government object, the Government resign. But clause 17 practically prohibits that being done, because it says that the Minister must go on. It is practically of no consequence, however, because it is nugatory.
– Members of a Ministry, having been accustomed to power, want uncontrolled power if they can get it. That is a human tendency.
– In one sense, every Government obeys the House, and obeys it by saying, “ We shall do what you propose,” or “We shall be obliged to resign.” But clause 17 purports to impose upon the Minister the statutory requirement that he must go on - that he must obey.
– If the House decided that a certain thing should be done, why should not the Minister do it?
– If we are to do away with responsible government, then I agree with the honorable member.
– The question is, whether the House or the Executive is to be supreme.
– The House is always supreme.
– The House is supreme.
– Both honorable members agree that the House is always supreme. That being, so, they should not object to the clause in question.
– It is inconsistent with responsible government that the House should be capable of giving statutory instructions to the Administration of the day. A Government may resign, but it cannot be compelled to obey. The honorable member need not trouble about the clause, however, because I repeat that it is nugatory.
– Perhaps so. A few amendments are necessary, but, speaking in the light of the experience I have had of a State Act, I am quite satisfied that this Bill will prove to be in the best interests of Australia. I strongly urge that it should also cover the reference to defence works to the Committee. Our defence expenditure is increasing rapidly, and honorable members on both sides are becoming appalled by its growth. Some steps will have to be taken to keep within due bounds, while at the same time carrying out the policy to which we are pledged, the expenditure which is being incurred.
– What is the extent of the public works expenditure of Victoria f Would it amount to £750,000 per annum ?
– Including railway construction, it would. That raises the question whether the limitation of £25,000 is reasonable in the case of Commonwealth works. Under the Victorian Act the limitation is £20,000. Any expenditure totalling less than £20,000 can be undertaken, independently of the Committee. I am reminded of an interesting little episode that took place some time ago in the Victorian Parliament. The present Attorney-General was then in the Victorian Legislative Assembly, and delivered a strong phillipic against a proposal by the Government to expend £19,000 on a tram line, which, if completed, would mean a considerably increased expenditure. What was done by the Government of the day was to propose that a start should be made by constructing the line from the terminal point, and that it should end practically nowhere. The intervening section between the existing railway line and the point at which the new line ceased was left to be filled by a subsequent Government at a further cost of £20,000.
– No power on earth could prevent that being done, no matter what the limitation was.
– That is the sort of thing that might crop up. This Bill proposes to get over the difficulty by declaring that no public work which, in its entirety, shall cost more than a certain sum shall be undertaken without a reference to the Committee. The State work to which I alluded was the Brighton-St. Kilda tramway.
– An excellent work.
– It was. My honorable friend, the Attorney-General, delivered a -speech which practically killed the Bill providing for the building of one section of it in the way I have mentioned, but I whipped the House, and it was ultimately carried. It provided for the construction of the tramway from the terminus at Brighton to the Village Belle Hotel. The gap between the Village Belle Hotel, and the St. Kilda railway station was left to be filled in later. It was built subsequently, and the tramway has proved a paying proposition. This House should know exactly what is being spent, and we want some method of controlling the Executive, which is frequently governed by the officers who submit the Estimates to them.
– It is generally the other way about. The Executive is generally more progressive than is Parliament itself.
– That can be taken with a grain of salt.
– The other point which 1 should like the honorable member to consider is that the annual expenditure of the Commonwealth on public works may amount to £3,000,000 or £4,000,000. How is a Committee going to deal with such works extending over the whole of this vast continent?
– It is an experiment, and we are going to try it.
– We have to experiment before we can be on absolutely safe lines, and I think it is better, on the whole, to start with the limitation for which the Bill provides as to the works which may “be carried out without reference to the Committee.
.- I think that there has been an exaggerated view as to the value of this proposal to the Commonwealth. It is true that the State Public Works Committees have done a great deal of good, but that is because most of the proposals referred to them relate to the construction of railway lines in connexion with which there is frequently a conflict of opinion between the residents of the district to be served as to the best route to be followed. The Standing Committee takes evidence as to each of the suggested routes, and recommends which should be followed. The State Parliament concerned is in that way enabled to form an opinion on evidence which would not otherwise be forthcoming. But the Commonwealth has, comparatively, little railway construction work, and if we leave out defence undertakings there will not be many works for the Committee to deal with. Under clause 15 the Minister must have full information - plans and estimates - regarding any proposal that he submits to the Parliament, and if Parliament so decides, the question of carrying out the work is to be referred to the Committee. Our greatest expenditure is in connexion with defence, and it is notorious that defence officials propose works without any regard, to their cost. We need to have a check upon many proposals of the kind. I agree with the Leader of the Opposition that we should amend the clause which excludes the reference of defence works to the Committee. It may be thought preferable not to send some of such works to the Committee for report. All the rest should be left to the Committee if the works are to exceed £25,000, or even £20,000, because these are the questions that more than anything else the House needs information on. In regard to some of the other fairly large works, I do not think that the Committee could obtain much more information than could the Department. My suggestion is that this Bill should stand over until next session, because it cannot possibly be put into operation sooner. I do not know whether it is proposed that this Bill shall be passed to-night or to-morrow, and the Committee be appointed at once; but even if that were to be so, there would be nothing for the Committee to do until the next session, perhaps six months hence.
– Everything is standing over or standing aside !
– Several clauses, if the idea is to include defence works, will have to be recast.
– They are playing skittles in another place !
– What with?
– It seems an extraordinary proposal to limit the expenses of the Committee, and, further, the fees are not fixed by the Bill. I suggest to the Attorney-General that iti will have to be made pretty clear what constitutes a sitting, or we shall have what has occurred elsewhere, namely, the Committee sitting in the morning and in the afternoon and charging for two sittings,. The proposal to limit the expenditure to £2,000 a year means that the more work the Committee are called upon to do the less they will receive in proportion. I do not think that it is fair at this stage of the session to expect the House to give the attention it should to the establishment of a new principle of this kind. We seem to be adding enormously to the cost of governing Australia, and it must be remembered that the £2,000 will not represent the total expenditure on the Committee. I know of some Public Works Committees whose reports have been useless, apart from railways; and it is in regard to conflicting railway proposals that bodies of the kind have proved of most service. I am not prepared to vote against the measure, but I think that it ought to be allowed to stand over, seeing that the beginning of a session is the best time to appoint such a body.
– This is a Bill which the House ought to have no hesitation in passing. “ The honorable member for Henty has given a credential to the Victorian Committee, and I can give an equally strong credential from the New South Wales point of view. The Public Works Committee in New South Wales has proved a great blessing.
– The honorable member was one of the authors of the Bill which constituted that body, was he not?
– I altered the Bill a little by increasing the fees of the members of the Committee, but the author was Sir Henry Parkes.
– The honorable member’s Bill made some substantial alterations.
– It made some alterations in regard to sub-committees. I should not have attempted to amend the Act in the direction I did, had I not been convinced that it was an excellent measure, and had saved much public expenditure on useless and non-paying railways, while bringing into relief evidence in the support of lines distinctly desirable at the time. The expressions which have fallen from the Leader of the Opposition are, I think, quite unnecessary, for I did noi hear one argument from him that is not capable of being answered. The question whether the Committee should be limited to non-military or non-defence works is a very difficult one. Although it is quite possible that there may be some forms of defence works which might very easily be inquired into by such a body, one has to remember that we might be spending very large sums on, say, submarines, and it would be obviously unwise that, through a Committee of the sort, we should publish evidence of the locality, nature, and conditions of works’ of that kind for the edification of possible enemies in any part of the world. Therefore, whatever amendment is made in the Bill in Committee, we have to carefully distinguish between defence work3 which can easily be inquired into, and the facts of which can be published without any danger, and works in regard to which such a course would be obviously undesirable. I quite agree ‘ with the Leader of the Opposition that to limit the expenditure on fees to members of the Committee is absurd. As the honorable member said, many millions of expenditure may be reviewed by the Committee, and the members ought to be paid substantially. To say that the aggregate expenditure over the whole year shall be limited to £2,000 for fees, travelling, shorthand writers, and secretary, may be practically to paralyze the Committee’s operations, and deprive it of much of its usefulness. I had very grave doubts about the constitutional powers of Parliament to pay money for services of this kind, other than in the way of expenses, to members of Parliament. However, if members are content to take the risk, and possibly jeopardize the safety of their seats, by accepting an office of this sort under the Crown, that is their responsibility.
– It is not an office under the Crown; Mr. Speaker is not an officer under the Crown.
- Mr. Speaker stands in a very different relation. However, I shall not deal with that point, and if the Attorney-General can satisfy honorable members on the matter, well and good. I agree with the honorable member for Henty that a great many abuses have occurred in the different States by leaving Governments to carry out works which were just under the minimum, with the intention ultimately of continuing them iu a series of instalments, and so getting carried out undertakings which ought legally to come under the supervision of the Committee. But I think the House may be safely left to look after its own interests in this regard. There will always be members, when a work is submitted, who will inquire from the Minister whether it is only an instalment, and, if so, why an instalment is being carried out instead of the whole work. With regard to the position in which the Government is placed, as expressed by the Leader of the Opposition, I see no great difficulty. The Bill provides that the Government shall come to the House with a proposal for a public work, and that the proposal shall then pass on to the Committee with the obligation and duty to inquire into it. When, therefore, the Committee reports on the work, the House has it entirely in its power to reject or accept it, or send it back for reconsideration. We must assume that, as the Government have brought down the work and sent it to the Committee, the so-called statutory obligation to introduce a Bill is one that cannot be very objectionable. The fear . of the Leader of the Opposition, and, I think, of the Attorney-General, as to the independence of the Government in the matter is, I submit, unfounded. It is quite obvious that, if the House resolves that a certain thing shall be done in accordance with the report of the Committee, the Government have no alternative but to do it;, and this applies to every question that can be brought up. The House has it in its power to say to the Government, “ If you do not carry out the wishes of the majority we can at any time submit a motion of censure “ ; and the Government must do as the House wishes, or resign. More detailed criticism may be advantageously reserved for the Committee stage.
.- I have listened with a good deal of attention to the discussion, and I am of opinion that much useful work may be done by a Committee such as that proposed - more work, indeed, than the Government appear to contemplate. In New South Wales the Public Works Committee not only inquires into railway proposals, but also investigates proposals for the erection of public buildings, and has even decided the very material to be used in the latter. There was at one time a tendency on the part of the Government and Government officials, on the score of cheapness, to use cement and brick in preference to stone; but the Committee, after making inquiries, decided that stone was the more suitable. The result of adopting the recommenda-tion of the New South Wales Committee has been that in places where stone is available for building purposes the class of buildings erected is more in accordance with national ideals, and the buildings are a better asset for the people. We shall have to build many important buildings at Canberra, and a Committee of Public Works may not agree to some of the recommendations of departmental officers. The methods of building are continually changing. Things are done to-day that were laughed at ten or fifteen years ago. We have gained a lot of information through the San Francisco earthquake, and the new ideas of construction resulting from that earthquake have been adopted throughout the world. At Canberra, we shall probably have to build a library. Such a building should be vermin-proof and dust-proof, and the lighting should be such that the sun will not have a dangerous effect on the books and pictures. It is hardly possible for departmental officers to be aware of all that takes place in connexion with buildings in other parts of the world, and I know of no better way of getting uptodate information than by means of a Committee such as is proposed in the Bill. Some honorable members have dealt with the proposal to exclude defence works from the purview of this Committee. I understand that it is proposed to build a costly wharf at Cockatoo Island; but I think it necessary that an inquiry should be held into the departmental methods of building that wharf. .A great many changes have taken place in wharf construction. Plank decking has been abolished, and concrete floors are now used, and it has been ascertained that piles coated with concrete have a much longer life. All this information was elicited in New South Wales from persons giving evidence before the Committee in that State. I think it would be a great mistake if military buildings are not included in the references to the Committee. The matter of building a torpedo magazine or a place for the storage of explosives might he kept secret, but it is all moonshine to talk about concealing the locality of a fort or the specifications for a gun. I think £2,000 would be quite enough to cover the fees to be paid to the members of this proposed Committee. The officers employed by the Committee would be under the control of the Public Service Commissioner, and I do not think honorable members need worry about the cost in that direction. I am satisfied there will be plenty of honorable members who will be prepared to act on the Committee, and render what assistance they can. They will be flooded with information, which they can transfer to other honorable members. I do not think there will be any likelihood of the delay prognosticated by the Leader of the Opposition. Even if we pass the Bill this session, we need not elect the Committee until the beginning of next session, when we appoint our Sessional Committees, because the works that will be referred to it will be those submitted to Parliament next session, and after the result of the State elections in New South Wales, I am satisfied we shall not meet until June. I am prepared to assist the House to pass the Bill, allowing the appointment of the Committee to wait until next session.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.
Clause 3 - (1.) As soon as conveniently practicable after the commencement of this Act, and thereafter at the commencement of the first session of every Parliament, a Joint Committee of nine members of Parliament, to be called the Parliamentary Standing, Committee on Public Works (in this Act referred to as “the Committee”), shall be appointed according to the practice of the Parliament with reference to the appointment of members, to serve on Joint Select Committees of both Houses of the Parliament. (2.) Three of the members of the. Committee shall be members of and appointed by the Senate and. six of the members of the Committee shall be members of and appointed by the House of Representatives. (3.) No Minister of State shall be a member of the Committee. (4.) The members of the Committee shall hold office as a Joint Committee for the duration of the Parliament for the time being, but shall cease to hold office as soon as the House of Representatives expires by dissolution or effluxion of time; and shall have and may exercise such powers and authorities, perform such duties, and be liable to such obligations as are by this Act vested in or imposed upon the Committee.
– I think the proposed Committee should consist, not of the nine members proposed in this clause, but six. We could then arrive at an understanding that each party shall: have three representatives upon it.
– Do you not see the difference between the size of the Commonwealth’ and the size of Victoria?
– The size of the Parliament of the Commonwealth is not greater than that of the Parliaments of some of the States.
– But the intelligence is greater.
– We are unanimous on that point, but New South Wales has a larger Parliament than the Commonwealth. However, I am only throwing this out as a suggestion - that we lay down the principle that each party shall elect three men, two from each side of the House of Representatives and one from each side of the Senate.
– I hope the Committee will not accept the suggestion of the honorable member. It is made under a complete misconception of the difference between the work a Public Works Committee does in a State of the size of Victoria and that which a similar Committee would do for the Commonwealth. In Victoria, with a Committee of six members, a quorum could always be obtained to go to the most extreme part of the State; but in the Commonwealth, with its immense distances, where the Committee, with a membership of six, would have thousands of miles to travel, it might he found very difficult for a quorum to travel, say, to* the Northern Territory. In order to get a’ quorum to whose recommendations. Parliament would attach weight, we must have a larger body than six.
.- If six is too low a number, we might make the Committee ten. There would be two members from each side of the Senate, and three members from each side of the House of Representatives, each party having equal representation. It would thus be a non-party Committee.
– Victoria does not provide for party nomination..
– But it is the practice. I am urging that we should adopt that practice. To have an odd number would mean that we shall have a scramble for party representation.
– Then let us make the number eight.
– That will not help us.
– I agree with a great deal of what the honorable member for Henty has said. I cordially agree with his statement of the way this legislation is worked in Victoria, but I do not think the question depends on whether you have an even or an odd number. In no Act of Parliament can you provide that a Committee of this sort is to be elected, portion of it by one party and portion by another. That is a matter that can be dealt with only by an understanding. It is the intention that the Committee shall be fairly equally divided, but that is entirely a matter of the practice that should be adopted. I agree with the honorable member for Henty, that it would be very desirable to have equal numbers as near as possible from each side of the House. I do not suppose the Prime Minister would object to having even numbers, but we cannot fix it in an Act of Parliament. There are advantages in having an odd number, because you want to come to a decision, although the decisions are very rarely come to on party lines. I do not remember a single ease in which the decision of the Railways Standing Committee in Victoria has been arrived at on party lines. You may have even numbers if you provide that the chairman shall have a casting vote, and I do not suppose there will be any objection to that. Butthe mere fact of making an even number does not assure what the honorable member wants. That can only be done by a reasonable understanding in the House.
– Would you move to omit the word “nine” so that the desire I have expressed may be accomplished.
– Make it “eight.”
Amendment (by Mr. Joseph Cook) proposed -
That the word “ nine,” in sub-clause1, be lef t out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “eight.”
.- I am not sure that the method by which this Committee is to be appointed as laid down here will be the best. It is provided that -
A Joint Committee of nine members shall be appointed according to the practice of the Parliament with reference to the appointment of members to serve on Joint Select Committees of both Houses of the Parliament.
Unless there is a clear understanding between the parties in this matter, of course nothing can be done. The Prime Minister has not made any statement regarding what view he holds as to the suggestion of the honorable member for Henty.
– My view, in one word, is to make an arrangement with the right honorable gentleman for him to select his members, we selecting ours.
– Would there be five from the House of Representatives and three from the Senate!
– Along party lines, and then it does not matter how many one House has and how many the other:
– There are two Houses, and the other House is quite as militant and capable of looking after its interests as we are.
– We. could omit the word “ three,” and substitute the word “ two.”
– Under the provisions of this Bill it would not be possible for the Committee to be appointed until next session.
Mr. BRUCE SMITH (Parkes) [10.521. - The clause provides that members shall be appointed by the House of Representatives. I understood the Prime Minister just now to make a suggestion to the Leader of the Opposition that he should name the members of his party whom he wished to appoint, when the Prime Minister would name those of his own party.
Mr. McWilliams (Franklin) [10.53]. - Under the clause as it stands the Committee could not be appointed until after the House had met next year, after the arrangement has been made that each party should elect its own members. The suggestion has been made that a clause should be inserted allowing the GovernorGeneral in Council to appoint a Committee as soon as the Act is passed, and in appointing he might appoint those that have been selected by their respective parties, just as a Royal Commission is appointed. Then the Committee could have a meeting, and could, if necessary, get to work and have everything necessary ready by the time the House met and works were referred to it.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Mr. Joseph Cook) agreed to -
That the word “three,” in sub-clause 2, be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “two.”
Amendment (by Mr. Boyd) agreed to-
That after sub-clause 3 the following words be inserted : - “ No President of the Senate Speaker of the House of Representatives or Chairman of Committees of either House of Parliament shall be a member of the Committee.”
– The question arises here as to whether we should constitute this Committee now or later. The right honorable gentleman did not give us much encouragement just now. What I had in my mind was to put a proviso at the end of this clause. I am not so sure that we could not manage the thing now, before the session closes, provided we get the Bill through with anything like celerity in the other House. If the Senate undertook to put the Bill through when we sent it up from here we might easily get the Governor-General’s assent tomorrow morning, in which case we could make the appointments without any difficulty. Another alternative would be to put a proviso at the end of the clause that, notwithstanding anything this Act contains, if no Joint Committee of Public Works shall be appointed before the close of the present session of Parliament, the Governor-General in Council may appoint the first Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works in lieu of the same being appointed according to the practice of Parliament:
– Would not that come close to being an office of profit under the Crown if the Committee were appointed by the Governor-General?
– I do not know.
– What is the urgency of the matter ?
– We might as well finish the job while we are at it.
– It deceives nobody.
– Will the honorable member be a little more plain ?
– There is nothing that the Committee can do.
– The honorable member is throwing out innuendoes all night.
– There is nothing for the Committee to do.
– The honorable member ought to speak plainly, or hold his tongue. If he knows that anything is being covered up, let him say what it is, or hold his tongue.
– There is nothing to do. What do you want the Committee appointed now for?
– If the Bill is passed it will be authority for us to go on and prepare work before the next session.
– How can we begin even preparatory work until we have statutory authority ?
.- An amendment like that suggested by the Prime Minister should have been prepared and circulated. As the Bill is drafted, no action can be taken for the appointment of a Committee until the Governor-General’s assent has been obtained.
– I hope that we may get the Bill through to-morrow.
– What the Prime Minister now suggests is that the measure shall be fundamentally altered by taking from Parliament the right to elect the first Committee, and making the Committee’s appointment an Executive act. I do not know what urgency there is to justify this. In my opinion, we cannot this session proceed to the selection of members as they should be selected, and it will be sufficient to elect the Committee at the beginning of next session, which was originally contemplated when the Bill was introduced. I shall not go into the constitutional point suggested by the honorable member for Bendigo, that a member appointed to the Committee, in the manner suggested might come close to holding an office of profit under the Crown. There is no need for undue haste.
– I shall not press the amendment, but shall take the chance of getting the Bill through to-morrow at a reasonable time. There seems to be something in the constitutional point raised by the honorable member for Bendigo. At any rate, we need not take any risks, seeing that with a little celerity we can do what we wish in another way.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 4 agreed to.
Clause 5 - (1.) Any member of the Committee may resign his seat on the Committee by writing under his hand addressed to the Governor-General. (2.) The seat of any member of the Com mittee shall also be deemed to have become vacant-
.- The clause provides for the resignation of a member of the Committee by writing addressed to the Governor-General.
– That is the law both in New South Wales and Victoria.
– I know that it is, but, in my opinion, it would be better to provide that a senator may resign by writing to the President of the Senate, and a member of the House of Representatives by writing to the Speaker. I therefore move -
That the word “ Governor-General “ be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ President of the Senate if he be a Senator, or to the Speaker of the House of Representatives if he be a member of the House of Representatives.”
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Mr. Fisher) agreed to -
That the words “ or (b) if he becomes a Minister of State “ be left out.
– The clause speaks of the seat of a member becoming vacant if he ceases to be a member of the Senate or of the House of Representatives. Will this operate immediately ?
– I should like it to be otherwise. A member might have some communication to make to the Committee.
– He can do nothing once his seat has become vacant.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 6 agreed to.
Clause 7 (Quorum).
– If we make five a quorum, how will it be possible to have two sectional Committees? In my opinion, the quorum should be four.
– The quorum of a sectional Committee will be three. The clause provides for a quorum of the full Committee.
– In the State Act it is provided that a quorum shall not consist ex clusively of members of either branch of the Legislature. Should we not have a similar provision?
– It would be impracticable.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 8 and 9 agreed to.
Clause 10 (Power to sit during recess and in open court).
– When the Committee is considering a draft report, it should, I think, have power to sit in private.
– It will have that power.
– Clause 24 allows the Committee to take evidence in private. It will, therefore, have power to consider its reports in private.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 11 to 13 agreed to.
Clause 14 - (1.) The Committee shall, subject to the provisions of this Act, consider and report upon every public work (except any work already authorized by Parliament or which is authorized during the present session and except works for the naval or military defence of the Commonwealth) to be executed after the passing of this Act (and whether such work is a continuation, completion, repair, re-construction, extension, or new work) in all cases where the estimated cost of completing the work exceeds Twenty-five thousand pounds . . .
.- This clause requires an important amendment. The words “ and except works for the naval or military defence of the Commonwealth “ should be left out. I have not prepared an amendment to meet the suggestion of the honorable member for Wide Bay, but I think that the AttorneyGeneral should do so.
.- I think we should add a clause at the end of the Bill reserving to the Executive the right to withhold from the consideration of the Committee, by Executive minute, any work relating to defence.
– By Order in Council.
– Yes, that would do. That is a reserve power which would not be abused by the Executive, and which would give ample security for the protection of the country. If all defence works were withheld from the Committee, there would not be a great many matters left to it.
.- I think that the suggestion may well be accepted, and that it can be carried out by amending this clause. I move -
That after the word “Commonwealth,” line 7, the words “ exempted bv Order in Council from the operation of the Act “ be inserted.
The clause, instead of exempting all defence work from the operations of the Act, would, if thus amended, bring in all such works except those in respect of which the Government of the day took the responsibility of obtaining an Order in Council to exempt them.
– I think that the. Executive should have unlimited power.
.- I am sorry that power is not given to the Committee to advise in regard to works already in progress. The transcontinental railway works, for instance, are in a state of chaos. Neither the Minister of Home Affairs nor any one else in the House knows what is going on there, and I think that this Committee might very well have power to inquire, by means of a sub-committee, if necessary, what is being done.
– And hang up the work in the meantime?
– Certainly not. There is no reason why the Committee should not make inquiries while the work is being proceeded with. It is being carried on in an extravagant way, and is costing more than it should.
– I think that we can get at anything of that kind through the Public Accounts Committee.
– I am not reflecting on the Parliament or the Department, but I wish to place’ on record my view that the Commonwealth is spending far more than is necessary on that railway.
.- It seems to me that all defence works should be referred to the Committee.
– Some might be of a confidential character.
– The only question operating in my mind is as to whether it would not be better for the Parliament to direct the Committee to make investigations in respect of certain naval works.
– The Government must take the responsibility.
– Under this amendment some of the larger defence works might be exempted.
– But the Government would have to take the responsibility.
– Will this amendment limit the power of the Committee?
– No; it extends it.
– It leaves to the Executive the power to withhold from the Committee any defence works which it may think desirable not to refer to it in the interests of the country.
– And, unless certain works are reserved by Order in Council, all defence works are to be referred to the Committee.
– My only fear is that the Executive of the day might withhold from the Committee too many works which ought really to be inquired into.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 15 (Conditions precedent to commencing public works).
– A similar amendment will be necessary in this clause.
.- The general trend of this clause is to prevent the Committee dealing with works already authorized. It is a sufficient answer” to the Prime Minister, who objected to my contention that there is no necessity for the immediate appointment of the Committee.
. - I should like to ask the Prime Minister whether he does not think that the limitation that only works the completion of which will cost more than £25,000 shall be referred to the Committee is too high ? The amendment to which we have just agreed will extend the inquiries of the Committee to many defence works, but the erection of woollen mills and other factories, the cost of which may not amount to £25,000, could not be dealt with by it.
– The limitation in the State Acts is £20,000, and I hope that’ we shall have more public works than has any one State. This is not a law of the Medes and Persians, and if the Committee becomes idle we can always reduce the limitation.
Clause consequentially amended, and agreed to.
Clause 16 (Circumstances under which negatived proposals may be re-submitted).
.- I doubt whether this clause is a good one; whether it is wise to provide that a rejected work cannot be re-submitted to the House of Representatives within twelve- months - unless the Governor-General, by writing under his hand, addressed to the Committee, declares that in his opinion, and in view of the public interest, it is desirable that any such proposal should be re-submitted to the House of Representatives.
– A similar provision is contained in the State Acts.
– New circumstances might arise rendering it desirable to resubmit a proposed work within twelve months of its rejection. The House should have power to re-open a negatived proposal within twelve months if it so desired. Surely it should not have to await a letter from the GovernorGeneral - which means, practically, a letter from the Government of the day - resub.mitting the matter to the Committee ?
– Is that not right?
– I am not complaining of it; but, since the House is to be allimportant in questions relating to the appointment of the Committee, surely it should be able, by resolution, to re-open any negatived proposal?
– I think that the object of the provision in the Victorian Act is to prevent the Committee wasting too much time on any one proposition, since there were so many questions to be considered.
– Quite so; but such a possibility would be greater with a State Committee than in the case of a Commonwealth Committee. It is rather mysterious why a proposal should be made that the Government alone may re-submit any proposed work.
– It is only the Government that can propose any expenditure.
– But clause 17 will practically take that power out of the hands of the Government.
– I am going to ask the Committee to negative that clause.
– I hold that the House should have power, in the light of further evidence, to re-open a negatived proposal, and to remit it to the Committee. This particular clause will limit the power to the Government, and I think the House ought to retain it. The Bill is supposed to give larger powers to the House of Representatives than to the Senate, but this clause takes those larger powers away.
.- There appears to me to be an omission in this clause, which, evidently, has been copied from the State Acts, in forgetfulness that it is necessary to suit the needs of the Commonwealth. The clause provides that if a resolution of the House declares that it is not necessary to carry out a proposed work, any work identical in character cannot be submitted again for a certain period. I suggest that that provision should be limited to the same State or locality.
– A work is not substantially identical unless it is in the same locality.
– But what if a Military College were proposed for Geelong, and a second recommendation were made that the college should be at Sydney-
– That would not be substantially an identical work.
– If that is the legal interpretation, it is all right.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 17 negatived.
Clause 18 agreed to.
Clause 19 -
If any witness, upon whom a summons under this Act has been served, fails to appear. . . .
.- I think there ought to be an amendment to provide that the witness may be permitted to submit some reasonable excuse for nonappearance.^
– I do not think that is necessary, because there is always discretion in the matter.
.- It ought, I think, to be provided that a witness shall be tendered his reasonable expenses.
– That is provided for in clause 28.
– Clause 28 applies to the time after the witness has appeared; but before any penalty can be imposed for non-appearance, a witness ought to be tendered his expenses. We ought not to ask people to declare their poverty when they are summoned to give evidence.
– When a juror is summoned, he is not tendered his expenses.
– But a witness in a civil case :is always paid his conduct money.
Amendment (by Mr. Joseph Cook) agreed to -
That after the word “ served “ the words “after the tender of prescribed expenses” bf inserted.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 20 (Penalty for disobedience of summons).
.- I do not wish to raise the question of the right of the Commonwealth to examine witnesses of this kind, but I should like to know whether our powers under this Bill are not as limited as the powers of a Royal Commission? We all remember the case of Mir. Knox, of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, who declined to answer certain questions put to him by a Royal Commission. The Constitution of the Commonwealth is more limited than are the Constitutions of the States in this respect, and I should like to know what our powers really are. It may be necessary to ask questions that some people are not inclined to answer. We ought to know whether the decision of the Privy Council and of the High Court, limiting the power of Royal Commissions, will limit the powers of the proposed Committee.
– We have not yet had an opportunity to read the recent decision of the Privy Council, which is the final arbiter in the matter, but argument has been heard, and there is some indication of the judgment.’ So far as I know, there is no limitation to the power to ask questions’ ‘in regard to any matter which is relevant to the subject with which the Committee is dealing - it is a question of relevancy. The only question is whether the subject is relevant to the matter properly within the jurisdiction of the Committee, and then the clause as to the punishment of witnesses applies.
– Supposing a witness is asked what profits he earns on a particular piece of land which it is proposed to resume, and he declines to answer?
– It is impossible for me to say now whether such a question would be relevant or not; the point has to be decided in each particular case. Without answering -any hypothetical questions, I can assure my honorable friends that if there is any particular matter into which the Committee has the right to inquire, and the question is relevant to that issue, it can be asked, and the witness may be punished if he does hot answer.
. - Some honorable members do not seem to realize the object of the Leader of the Opposition. I . am unacquainted with the powers enjoyed by a Committee of the House; but unless the proposed Committee can secure answers to reasonable questions, what power have they over witnesses? We can compel the attendance, but what is the use of that if the witnesses can sit quietly and refuse to answer questions.
– We have the experience of two States, and no difficulty has been encountered.
– There has been no experience in the Commonwealth, and all the decisions are against the Prime Minister’s position.
– Look at clause 23.
– Clause 23 contains the qualifying words, “ Without just cause,” and these utterly defy definition, and leave a loop-hope for a witness to protect himself from punishment.
.- Could not some clause be inserted similar to the provision, in regard to the taking of evidence before a Royal Commission ?
– This is the same power.
– Had we not better leave the Bill as it is? We can always come back for further power.
.- This is the only opportunity we shall have to examine into this matter, and I think it ought to be thoroughly explained. I, as a layman, deny that, as regards the right to examine witnesses and do various matters, the same power exists in the Commonwealth Constitution as exists in the State Constitution. It is of no use to hoodwink the public by saying that we can do so-and-so, the same as the State Governments are able to do, because it has been proved again and again that, by reason of limitations, we cannot. I think, however, that, for all practical purposes, we may be able to do so. This is a legal question of the first importance, which ought to be explained.
– I can assure honorable members that if this Committee are seized of some question which they are competent to inquire into under their general powers, then any question which is asked the witness is obliged to answer, and the expression “ without just cause “ is not vague at all. “ Reasonable excuse ‘ ‘ is certainly a vague term ; but “ without just cause “ means without the legal right to refuse to answer, which can only arise when the question is not relevant, or where there is some ground of legally constituted privilege. These are the only two grounds on which a man can refuse to answer.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 21 to 33 agreed to.
Clause 34 (Sectional Committees may be appointed).
.- I wish to direct the attention of the AttorneyGeneral to sub-clause 2, which provides that every sectional Committee shall have and may exercise certain powers, and con-‘ cludes with these words “ and shall sit in open Court.” I should like to know how far that is consistent with clause 24, which provides that, under certain circumstances, either the Committee or a sectional Committee may sit in private, and the evidence taken shall not be disclosed or published without the consent of the person entitled to the non-disclosure. In clause 34 it is mandatory that the Committee or sectional Committee shall sit in open Court. May I suggest that sub-clause 2 be amended by adding the words “ subject to clause 24 “?
– Clause 10 is open to the same objection,
– There is no difficulty about this matter. It is a very common provision, indeed. There is a general provision that the Committee itself and sectional Committees shall sit in open Court.
– This is the first Bill of the kind that has ever gone through Parliament in this way.
– There is a general provision which applies to many kinds of Courts and tribunals that they shall sit in open Court, and a special provision stating that when they are dealing with a particular class of matters they shall hear them in private. The special provision is always taken as an exception to the general provision, and will be given effect to. It is avery common mode of legislation.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 35 and 36 agreed to.
The members of every Committee shall each receive, by way of remuneration for their services as such members, a fee for each attendance at a summoned meeting of the Committee at which a quorum was present, or of a Sectional Committee, according to the following scale : -
The Chairman, or member presiding at any meeting in his absence, for each sitting;
Every other member, for each sitting.
– This is the clause of the Bill. I propose that the chairman shall receive £2, and every other member 30s., for each sitting, and £1 a day for expenses when travelling, plus coach fares where the Committee have to pay them .
– I presume plus vehicular communication of every kind?
– Yes. That is, I think, a fair proposal, and accordingly I move -
That after the word “ absence,” in paragraph a, the words “Two pounds” be inserted.
– I notice that the words “a fee for each attendance “ are used. Is the word “ fee “ a correct one to use?
– It will be quite constitutional?
– I may tell honorable members that there is no substance in the use of the word “ fee “ more than in the use of the word “ reward “ or “ payment.”
– It has a good professional sound about it.
– Like guineas, it has a pleasing sound. The provision in the Constitution is that an honorable member shall not accept a fee or an honorarium for services rendered to the Commonwealth .
– Yes, but there are other words.
– Or accept a place of profit under the Crown.
– There are other words in relation to the Public Service.
– I may as well read section 45 of the Constitution to honorable members, so that they may perceive the risk they are running -
If a senator or member of the House of Representatives -
Directly or indirectly takes or agrees to take any fee or honorarium for services rendered to the Commonwealth, or for services rendered in the Parliament to any person or State, his place shall thereupon become vacant.
In regard to the words “for services rendered in the Parliament’ to any person or State,” I do not think that there is the slightest doubt that they have not any relation to this matter. The only question is whether these are services rendered to the Commonwealth. I have looked into the matter very carefully in connexion with the whole history of the various statutory provisions of which this forms one, and I have come to the conclusion that there is practically no risk attached to it. I think the words “ services rendered to the Commonwealth “ mean services rendered to the Commonwealth through the Executive power of the Commonwealth; that is to say, they must be services rendered to the Crown. Otherwise, there would be no power for Parliament to make any payments to the Speaker or Chairman of Committees. I feel pretty confident that this provision would not run counter to the Constitution.
– What would constitute a sitting of the Committee?
– That is a different matter. It is a. practical question. The Committee might sit for an hour or for five minutes, and that would constitute a sitting, but if any Committee adopted such procedure Parliament would know how to deal with it. If we are to invest the Committee with the important power with which we intrust it, we must intrust honorable members comprising that Committee with some degree of honour as to the discretion in which they exercise that power.
.- The words of the Attorney-General have raised some doubt in my mind. The statement that he feels pretty confident about this point is not enough. The matter is a serious one, because the members of this proposed Committee, whowill receive the fees to be inserted, are liable to a penalty of £100 a day for every day they sit under this disqualification, in addition to which they will lose their seats. Honorable members, therefore, before accepting the positions which are open to them, would like to see this matter made clear. The AttorneyGeneral is, as a rule, a gentleman of very decided and definite opinions, not like the learned Judge in England, who said, “ I may be wrong, but I never have any doubts.” I think there is some doubt as to the interpretation of sections 44 and 45 of the Constitution. The former deals with the holding of an office of profit under the Crown. There is no disability here under that section. Members appointed as members of the proposed Committee would be in precisely the same position as the Speaker and Chairman of Committees. Their position would be an office under Parliament, and not under the Crown.
– The Crown does not appoint them.
– That is why I interjected when the Prime Minister was speaking with regard to the proposal to allow the Governor-General to appoint the members of the Committee. When we come to section 45 of the Constitution, which says, “ Directly or indirectly takes or agrees to take any fee or honorarium for services rendered to the Commonwealth,” we must ask whether the services as set out in this Bill are “ services rendered to the Commonwealth.”
– I think not.
– The Attorney-General has referred to the Speaker and the Chairman of Committees as not being included under these words, but their positions are well defined as not being offices of profit under the Crown, and that is why they accept payment. They are officers of Parliament. The position of members of the proposed Committee is a. new circumstance altogether. I am not at all certain that the view of the Attorney-General is not right, but I conceived it my duty to point out that there was some doubt about it, a doubt which, I think, should be solved. I would like an answer very definitely upon the point whether these are services rendered to the Commonwealth ?
. In my opinion, they are not services rendered to the Commonwealth, but it is difficult for any one to express an absolutelyrigid view, and say, “ Yes “ or “ No “ on a matter which is new as regards our Constitution. These words are not used so far as I know in any State Constitution. The words “office of profit under the Crown “ are very common, and they have been defined over and over again by judicial decisions, so that a lawyer can express a definite opinion in regard to them ; but the words ‘ ‘ services rendered to the Commonwealth “ are entirely new. The conclusion which I have arrived at and which I believe to be correct, is that we cannot take them in the general acceptation as meaning some one who does something which is useful to the Commonwealth. A man who explores the Antarctic Pole may be said in one sense to render a service to the Commonwealth; the man who opens up new territory renders a service to the Commonwealth; the man who invents a new military engine or a new gun for the benefit of the Commonwealth may be said to render most valuable service to the Commonwealth; but none of these things are services such as to prevent Parliament recognising them by making a free gift. In my opinion, therefore, the words “ services rendered to the Commonwealth “ do not mean services for which some one derives benefit, or work done for the benefit of the Commonwealth. What I think the words mean is that a man who has rendered these services is in the position of a servant of the Crown or the Commonwealth. Members of the proposed Committee would not be in the position of servants of the Crown any more than the Speaker or Chairman of Committees are servants of the Crown. They will be servants of Parliament. Therefore, I have come to the conclusion, as clearly as a lawyer can come to a conclusion on new words of this kind which have not yet been subjected to judicial decision, that the words, “ services rendered to the Commonwealth,” will not disqualify honorable members who are elected to the proposed Committee and accept the proposed fees.
Mr.Fenton.- Will a message from the Governor-General be necessary before we can pay the fees ?
– There must always be an appropriation for expenditure out of public revenue, but every appropriation from public revenue is not for services to the Crown. Many appropriations are of a quite different nature.
– If the speech of the AttorneyGeneral is intended to soothe the minds of those honorable members who may be candidates for positions on the proposed Committee, it is admirably adapted for the purpose ; but I cannot forget that ten minutes ago the Attorney-General used very careful phraseology in expressing his more doubtful opinion. I am bound to say that I agree with the phraseology he then employed, and I share the doubt of the honorable member for Bendigo upon this point. In New South Wales an attempt has been made, I admit it is not a very learned attempt - to lessen the dangers of this matter by inserting this provision -
Nothing in this division of the Act shall be taken to constitute the fees of any member of the said Committee an office of profit, so as to render such member incapable of sitting as a member . . . or to make void the election of such member.
I recognise we cannot cut down the Constitution by an Act of this Parliament, but such a provision may lessen the danger, seeing that it is passed by Parliament. At all events the provision, in recognising that any member taking these fees would not cease to be a member of the House, would save him from one danger by an expression of the opinion of Parliament. There is no doubt that this provision will not affect the constitutional question. The danger is, as the honorable member for Bendigo has pointed out, that the penaltes provided for under section 46 of the Constitution offer a very substantial inducement to meddlesome people outside to put an honorable member appointed to one of these positions to great expense in meeting the cost of legal proceedings which the meddlesome person might initiate.
– What is the use of frightening honorable members any more ?
– I am not trying to frighten any one. This provision has stood in the New South Wales Act for twenty-five years, and no attempt has been made to charge any member of the New South Wales Public Works Committee with holding an office of profit under the Crown. Such a clause, however little it might impinge upon the Constitution, would at least indicate the desire and intention of the Legislature itself that the position should not be looked upon as one of profit under the Crown.
– I think we will chance it without the amendment.
– Why not put in such a clause? It will not affect the constitutional question, but it may be held to bind the hands of this House and of every member of it. Without such a provision some honorable members may be a little timid about accepting a position on this Committee.
– The honorable member need not worry.
– If the honorable member for Melbourne Ports says that I need not worry I shall not further trouble about the matter, but I thought the insertion of such a clause was worthy of the consideration of the Committee.
Mr.FENTON (Maribyrnong) [12.7 a. m.]. - If there is a slight element of doubt in the matter, perhaps it would be better if the Attorney-General slept upon it.
– There is not a shadow of a doubt.
Mr.FENTON. - I am afraid that I cannot accept the Prime Minister as a constitutional lawyer. I ask the AttorneyGeneral to further consider the matter.
– I have considered it very fully.
Mr.FENTON. - Then I leave it at that.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Mr. Joseph Cook) agreed to -
That after the word “ member,” in paragraph b, the words “ One pound ten shillings “ be inserted.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 38 agreed to.
In addition to the sum payable to every member of the Committee as a fee for attendance each member shall be paid a further sum of per diem on account of expenses incurred by him in and in the course of travelling, whether by land or water, whenever such expenses have been incurred bond fide in the performance of his duties as a member of the Committee, while outside the Melbourne metropolitan area.
Amendment (by Mr. Joseph Cook) agreed to -
That after the word “ of,” line 3, the words “ One pound “ be inserted.
Amendment (by Mr. W. H. Irvine) proposed -
That the words “while outside the Melbourne metropolitan area “ be left out.
– Will this mean that a member of the Committee will be paid £1 expenses while acting within the metropolitan area ?
– No, because he will not be travelling. It might apply to members coming from the other States.
– I understand that what is intended is that a resident of Melbourne while sitting hereon the Committee will not be entitled to travelling expenses.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Mr. Joseph Cook) agreed to -
That after the word “Committee,” line8, the words “ and such sums as may be necessary to pay the cost of conveyance on land of each member by any means other than by rail.”
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 40- (1.) Notwithstanding the preceding provisions of this Part, the total amount chargeable on and payable out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund under this Part shall not, during any financial year, exceed Two thousand pounds.
– In some of the secondreading speeches on this Bill it was stated that the £2, 000 referred to in this clause was intended only to cover the fees of members, but it seems to me that it covers all that can be taken out of the Consolidated Revenue for the purposes of this Bill. The travelling expenses in twelve months of a Committee of nine, with a secretary and shorthand writers, will come to over £1,000, and it will be found that there will be only a few hundreds to be distributed amongst the nine members of the Committee.
– Let us give it a trial.
– The financial position will prevent the Committee having a fair trial, and I should like to move to have the amount increased.
– We cannot do that. We should require a fresh message.
– The clause has been very carelessly framed. If motors are to be used in carrying nine members of the Committee about from place to place the greater part of the £2,000 will soon be expended in travelling.
– £2,000 is fixed as the total amount to be provided.
– That is so. Does the Prime Minister think there will be much left out of the total expenditure for fees after the travelling expenses are paid? I do not think so.
– £2,000 is too small a sum, because it has already been proved in New South Wales that £2,000 is an altogether too limited amount for the requirements of the Committee. It stands to reason that a Public Works Committee to cover the whole Commonwealth would run into much more expense than one for a State.
Clause agreed to.
– It will be an advantage if the names of members of the Committee are published in the Government Gazette. We might include a sub-clause to that effect.
– They will appear in the Hansard wrapper.
– Important as Hansard is, there are certain Executive acts connected with the Bill, and the names ought to appear officially, so that people will know who they are. I move -
That the following new clause be inserted : -
The names of the members of the Public Works Committee shall be published in the Government Gazette.
Proposed new clause agreed to.
Schedule and title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments.
Standing Orders suspended; and Bill passed through its remaining stages.
– I am glad to have the opportunity even at this late hour of moving -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
It amends the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act. It is to be brought into operation on 1st January next. Provision is made in this year’s Estimates to meet the cost of this Bill for the half-year. There was a small anomaly in the Act of 1912, which, at the same time, was well intentioned and did a great deal of good to the old-age pensioners. Still, it sometimes acted in a way that was not intended. It is proposed to amend that now, because it was found after that Act was passed that the new provisions relating to the pensioners’ homes resulted in a decrease in the rates of a few pensions. It only affected a few, but still, it was a matter of importance to them, and I thought that as we intended amending the Act, we could amend it in the direction that was really intended. The object of the Act passed last year was to give benefits, and not to take them away, and only in a few cases was that done. In the computation of a pension under the old law, for example, a claimant having a home worth £30, and having £70 in the bank, could get a full pension, because the law provided for the reduction of £1 for every complete £10 by which the property exceeded £100. He got the full benefit of this clause, whether the home was worth £100 or not. Under the Act of last year, his home does not count against him at all; it is intended to be an advantage, but he gets an exemption of £50 only in respect of £70 in the bank. Thus there remains the sum of £20, which affects his pension, and the deduction in respect to that is £2. Therefore, under the Act of last year, a man is entitled to only £24 per annum instead of £26. That Act was intended to liberalize the pensions law, and it is thought that a few individuals should notbe made to suffer by a law benefiting a great many. The amending Act had the effect of reducing the pension in a very small number of cases in which homes were valued at £40 or less, and where the pensioner had either property or money as well. There were not more than a hundred of those cases in the whole of the Commonwealth, and the amount involved is probably not more than £250 per annum. Clause 4 is practically the same as the section which is to be repealed. Sometimes it is found that a claimant is infirm in mind or body, and has no friends who are able to look after him. It has always been held that such a claimant is unfit to be intrusted with a pension, and accordingly an arrangement has been made for his admission to a benevolent asylum. It occasionally happens, too, that a claimant slightly addicted to drink is dealt with under this section. The Department, however,, hap no power to compel a claimant to enter a benevolent asylum. It is necessary to redraft the section, so as to make it conform to the new provision relating to inmates of benevolent asylums. The object of clause 5 is to enable pensions till the end of the fortnight in which death occurs, to be paid to the relatives of pensioners who die during the currency of any fortnight.
– That will lead to difficulties.
– I do not think so. At the present time, if a man dies in the middle of a fortnight, his pension ceases. We provide that it shall be paid up till the end of the fortnight in which death occurs.
– To whom is it to be paid ?
– To his widow, or next of kin. No doubt, there will be some difficulty experienced. There are two classes of pensioners concerned. The first class were paid at the end of the fortnight, and the second class were paid at the beginning of the fortnight.
– They were all paid in advance.
– If that be so, it is exactly what this Bill provides.
– The Treasurer will have all kinds of bush lawyers making claims on him.
– My officers inform me that the Bill is all right. Clause 6 is intended to enable the Commissioner to make payments without requiring the production of wills or letters of administration in the case of deceased pensioners. It will be a boon to many. It is in accordance with the provisions that exist in relation to Savings Bank deposits. Clause 7 is intended to remove hospitals from the operation of section 45 of the Act, for reasons which I will explain later on. These Old-age Pension Acts are somewhat difficult to follow closely, and consequently I desire to be very precise in explaining the various clauses of the Bill. At present, when a pensioner becomes an inmate of a hospital, his pension is suspended until he is discharged. If, on his discharge, he has been in the hospital for twenty-eight days or less, he receives payment for the full period of his detention there. In other words, if he has been in the hospital for more than twenty-eight days, on his discharge he receives payment for twenty-eight days, but his pension for the period in excess of twenty-eight days is forfeited. The Treasury really benefits by the pensioner’s illness if it lasts more than four weeks, while the hospital which has to bear the whole of the expense receives nothing in return. We propose that in future the Treasury shall not so benefit. Under clause 8 it is intended that when a pensioner enters a hospital his pension for the first twenty-eight days, or less, shall accumulate, and shall be paid to him on his discharge.
– Will the 8s. per week be given to the institution?
– Not for the twenty-eight days. The whole of his pension will be paid to him. As a pensioner will require special comforts during his convalescence, we cannot turn him out of a hospital without a penny. Under the present practice, if a pensioner remains in a hospital for twentyeight days the institution gets nothing. If, however, he stays there for more than twenty-eight days, under this Bill the pension for the excess period will be paid to the hospital to the extent of four fifths, and to the pensioner to the extent of one-fifth. The reason why I express the proportion in fractions is that all pensioners are not paid at the same rate. Some receive 10s. per week, and others less. It is not desirable that, in case of illness, a pensioner should be deprived of the whole of his pension. This clause will be of benefit to the hospitals when a pensioner is an inmate of one of these institutions for more than twenty-eight days. In that case, the hospital will get 8s. per week, and the pensioner 2s. per week. At present, no person can obtain a pension if he is an inmate of a benevolent asylum. Here, again, the Treasury benefits through the misfortune of deserving persons. We hope that clause 9 will enable pensioners to become paying guests of these institutions instead of being the recipients of State charity. Thus, a pensioner entering a benevolent asylum will, with his pension, be able to pay his way.
– Will the institution get 8s. per week and the pensioner 2s. per week?
– If he enters the institution as a pensioner. But if a man who has never had a pension enters a benevolent asylum, and while there applies for, and gets, a pension, his pension for a period not exceeding twentyeight days will be paid wholly to himself, though it will not be paid until his discharge.
– If he dies there, the Commonwealth will keep it.
– I do not think so. Benevolent asylums, inmates of which apply for and get pensions, will not be paid anything for the first twentyeight days after those inmates receive their pensions. The pension will not be paid unless and until the pensioner is discharged, with the hope of giving him something whenhe comes out. The payment of a maximum of £2 when he comes out will enable him to face the world with some confidence. If a person already in receipt of a pension enters a benevolent asylum, he will for the first twenty-eight days, be entitled to receive only one-fifth of his pension, because it will be necessary to pay the asylum four-fifths of the pension for his keep from the day of his admittance. The pensioners will be in a better position than they are in at present, because they will be receiving onefifth of their full pension, or up to 2s. a week, while in an asylum.
– Can a man in a benevolent asylum apply for a pension now?
– Yes; but he may have some little difficulty in getting it. If four-fifths of the pension were not paid to the asylum from the day of the admittance of the pensioner, there might be delay in securing his admittance. Now, if a pensioner thinks that he will be more comfortable in an asylum, or receive better attention there, he can enter it with confidence, giving 8s. of his pension to the institution for looking after him and keeping 2s. for himself.
– Does that provision apply to all institutions?
– To those who are supported wholly or partly with public funds. As, to private institutions, the pensioners must make their own arrangements. At present, when a man enters a benevolent asylum, the Department practically cancels his pension, and pays 8s. a week to the asylum. A magistrate generally sees the pensioners, and says, “You are sick. You must go into an asylum.” If an inmate who was a pensioner leaves the asylum, he does not receive payment for twenty-eight days, or any other period of his stay there. If he had the right to receive such a payment, it would be an inducement for him to leave the asylum and then go back again, repeating the proceeding as frequently as possible. The pensioner who goes into a hospital is to be treated more liberally than the pensioner who goes into a benevolent asylum. For any period not exceeding twenty-eight days, a hospital pensioner is entitled, when he comes out of the institution, to the wholeof his pension; but, as I have said, when a pensioner enters a benevolent asylum, four-fifths of his pension goes to the institution, and he retains only one-fifth. The claims in the two cases are not the same. A sick pensioner expects soon to be discharged from a hospital, and requires special comforts.
– Pensioners are nearly all sent into asylums by order of a Court.
– Will not a pensioner draw a pension for twenty-eight days when he ceases to be an inmate of an asylum ?
– Except in respect to the first twenty-eight days of a claimant who has not previously drawn a pension, we propose that the benevolent asylums shall receive four-fifths of the pensions of every inmate, the remaining one-fifth to be payable to the pensioners. Clause 9 provides that the one-fifth due to the pensioner may be paid to the hospital or benevolent asylum for the sole benefit of the pensioner. This means that the institution will receive the money in safe keeping for the pensioner, and will act as a sort of savings bank. The money will enable the pensioner to purchase many little comforts which he is at present denied. Discipline and the state of his health may demand in a few cases the expenditure of the one-fifth, but, as a general rule, the pensioner will be free to spend the money in any way he chooses. The additional expenditure entailed by the Bill will be £140,000 a year, and as the provisions of the measure are to take effect from the 1st January next, we have provided £70,000 on the Estimates. We all, perhaps, think that we should like to do more for the old-age pensioners, and it is, perhaps, as well that honorable members should know exactly what the Commonwealth is now doing for them under the existing law. Pensioners in receipt of the full pension of £26 per annum may have all or any of the following : -
Pensioners may enjoy any of these privileges, and still draw the full pension of £26 per annum . , As a further illustration of the Liberal provisions of the existing Act, I would point out that a pensioner earning 10s. per week, with board and lodging, is allowed to draw a pension of 5s. per week, his board and lodging being valued, under the Act, at only 5s. a- week. In a report issued on the 5th instant, the Commonwealth Statistician says that -
Id its invalid and old-age pension scheme, Australia makes more liberal pension provision than any other country in the world.
– Will the Treasurer state what section enables a pensioner to have his own house and yet receive the full pension ?
– It is in the Act of 1912, which was passed by the late Government.
– The right honorable member proposes to still further liberalize that Act?
– Yes, but there can be no doubt that the Act of 1912 was a great benefit to many people.
– This Bill is not going to liberalize it.
– It means the distribution of an additional £140,000 a year. It may not be pleasant to contemplate, but it is my duty to place before honorable members the fact that already about one in fifty of the population receives an old-age or an invalid pension. About one-third of the men in Australia over sixty-five years of age receive oldage pensions, and about one-third of the women over the age of sixty years also receive old-age pensions. On the 30th June last there were 82,943 old-age pensioners, and 13,739 invalid pensioners, a total of 96,682, and the estimated expenditure this year for old-age and invalid pensions will reach the enormous sum of £2,620,000.
– The Treasurer said yesterday that there were 100,000 pensioners.
– I was then speaking of the old-age and invalid’ pensioners. It is not pleasing to think that in this young country so many have been unsuccessful in life. One would hardly imagine that in these early years of our history one-third of the male population of Australia over sixty-five years of age, and one-third of the female population over sixty years of age have been unsuccessful in life. It is sad to hear of these cases, and we can only do our best to make the declining years of these old people as comfortable as possible. This Bill is conceived in generosity and sympathy for the aged poor, and the Government hope that it will be viewed by all sides of the House in that light. We shall be able to give only a very limited time to its consideration, and I hope that honorable members will recognise this, and help me to pass it without delay.
. This is largely a Committee measure, but I should like, at this stage, to say that I indorse the statement of the Treasurer that the amendment which we made in the principal Act last session gave rise to only a few anomalies. I do not think that they represented more than one to every 2,000 pensioners.
– There were only about 100 cases.
– And the anomalies represented a very small amount. In some cases they amounted to only ls., and in others to a few pence.
– They do not represent £250 altogether.
– I do not know what course the Treasurer has adopted, but when I was in office I gave orders that no pensioner was to be paid less than he would receive but for these anomalies, pending further legislation to deal with them .
– I did not know that.
– I want all my doings to be known.
– The right honorable member paid these small balances, 1 . suppose, out of the Treasurer’s Advance account ?
– Yes. The anomalies in question could not be foreseen ; they could be discovered only in the administration of the Act, and their re-adjustment involved only a few pounds. I understood the Treasurer to say in his Budget speech that this referred to State hospitals only.
– That is so; that is, hospitals supported partially or wholly from public funds, and I included benevolent institutions.
– Therefore, private benevolent institutions and private hospitals do not come within the measure.
– They may do so; pensioners can go to private institutions if they like.
– May I ask whether the Government and the Treasurer have considered the matter of the increase of payment to pensioners. I am not pressing the matter now.
– We are not able to do anything now.
– I am unable to understand why the Treasurer has introduced this controversial question again in regard to the payment of a fortnight’s pension when a pensioner dies. In my time the Department always assumed that the pension was paid in advance.
– It was not so at the beginning.
– It was legally declared to be so, and it is a right thing to do. In the early stages it was my privilege to have something to do with the administration of the Act, and one of the greatest troubles we had was in connexion with the payment of moneys due to deceased pensioners. Every kind of busybody came and made claim for the £1 or 30a., and the actual cost of adjusting these claims was greater than the amounts involved.’ The amendment proposed by the Treasurer is drawn in such a way as to protect the Treasury as far as practicable, because it says that the money shall be paid to the person whom the Commissioner thinks is most’ entitled to it. That is a rough-and-ready method; but whether it will get over the trouble I do not know.
– The payment will be made without requiring the production of wills or letters of administration.
– Iwas under the impression that all the pensioners were paid in advance; and, certainly that is the only practicable and safe way.
– All the later, but not the early, pensions are paid in advance,
– At any rate, I should like to know why, in the case of a deceased pensioner, the payment is at the end of a fortnight, seeing (hat the pensions are weekly?
– The pensions are paid fortnightly in advance in some cases, though not in all.
– That is, all the claims since the last amending Act are paid in advance.
– The pensioners do not think so.
– It appears that the Act is administeredon two different systems.
– We shall get over that by paying them all up to the end of the fortnight, even if the death occurs in the middle of the fortnight.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Finlayson) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Joseph Cook) agreed to.
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until 11 o’clock this day (Wednesday).
House adjourned at 1.5 a.m. (Wednesday).
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 16 December 1913, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1913/19131216_reps_5_72/>.