5th Parliament · 2nd Session
The House met at 2.30 p.m., pursuant to the proclamation of His Excellency the Governor-General.
The Clerk read the proclamation.
Mr. Speaker took the chair, and read prayers.
The Usher of the Black Bod, being announced, was admitted, and delivered the message that His Excellency the GovernorGeneral desired the attendance of honorable members in the Senate chamber.
Mr. SPEAKER and honorable members attended accordingly, and having returned -
Mr. SPEAKER informed the House that he had received returns to the writs issued for the election of members to serve in the House of Representatives for the electoral division of Kalgoorlie, in the place of the Honorable Charles Edward Frazer, deceased, indorsed with a certificate of the election of the Honorable Hugh Mahon, and for the electoral division of Adelaide in the place of the Honorable Ernest Alfred Roberts, deceased, indorsed with a certificate of the election of George Edwin Yates, Esquire.
Mr. Mahon and Mr. Yates made and subscribed the oath of allegiance as members for the electoral districts of Kalgoorlie and Adelaide respectively.
Mr. SPEAKER, pursuant to standing order No. 25, laid upon the table his warrant nominating Mr. Atkinson, Mr. Bamford, Mr. Charlton, Dr. Maloney, and Mr. John Thomson to act as Temporary Chairmen -of Committees when requested so to do by the Chairman of Committees.
Motion (by Mr. Joseph Cook) agreed to-
That leave bo given to bring in a Bill for an Act relating to parliamentarywitnesses.
Bill presented and read a first time.
Mr. BAMFORD presented a petition from certain residents of Woodlark Island, praying that a radio-telegraph station may be established at the island.
Petition received and read.
– I ask the Prime Minister, as Minister of Home Affairs, whether he will be good enough to have the file relating to the contract between the Government and Mr. Teesdale Smith laid on the table of the Library.
– In anticipation of the request, I was having the papers copied this morning, hoping to lay them on the table to-day. The fullest information will be placed before honorable members at the earliest possible moment.
– As this is a matter of urgency, I ask the Prime Minister if he will have the file of papers laid on the table of the Library, that being the ordinary course to pursue. He is still the responsible Minister for Home Affairs.
– If the honorable member will give notice of the question, I shall answer it to-morrow.
– I wish to ask the Treasurer whether he does not think that it would be possible for him to devote to the payment of pensions to widows and orphans some of the public money now being wasted onthe military mania ?
– I am not prepared at the present moment to give the honorable member an undertaking in regard to that matter.
Colonel RYRIE. - Has the Minister of Trade and Customs given consideration to the important question of the removal of the Quarantine Station from Manly, and, if so, will he intimate what is his intention in regard to it?
– In reply to the honorable member I desire to say that I discussed with the State authorites some time ago the question raised by him. I then suggested to Mr. Holman, the Premier of New South Wales, that he should set his officers to work to discover, if possible, in the vicinity of Sydney, an area of land which, while being suitable for oversea quarantine, would enable us to remove the station from the present site, and, at the same time, to set up a thoroughly equipped quarantine establishment for both Federal and State purposes, in some equally advantageous situation. Nothing has yet been done in regard to the matter, but Mr. Holman promised me that he would cause an investigation to be made at the earliest possible moment.
Supply of Powellised Sleepers
– Will the Prime Minister state whether it is a fact that his Government are negotiating with the Government of Western Australia for the supply of 500,000 powellised karri sleepers, and, if so, will he lay on the table of the House a copy of the proposed contract or agreement?
– It is a fact that negotiations have been proceeding between the Commonwealth Government and the Premier of Western Australia in regard to a renewal of the contract. A proposal has been made to Mr. Scaddan, but a reply has not yet been received.
– Can the Minister of Trade and Customs inform the House when we are likely to receive from the Inter-State Commission an interim report in respect to the revision of the Tariff?
– I am not yet in a position to give any definite date.
Cost of Quarantine
– I desire to ask the Min ister of Trade and Customs whether there has been rendered to the Government of New South Wales an account in respect of the upkeep of the Quarantine Station,
Sydney, during its occupation by smallpox patients in connexion with the recent outbreak, and, if so, whether any payment has been made?
– Accounts have been rendered regularly to the State of New South Wales from a date shortly after the first occupation of the station by the patients in question, but no payment has yet been made. We did not receive any communication from the State Government suggesting even a doubt as to their liability to pay until about the middle of March last. Negotiations are still proceeding, the position of the Commonwealth Government being that we require to be reimbursed the full amount paid on behalf of the State.
– Has the Minister of Trade and Customs read a report which appeared in the Argus of 2nd inst. in regard to evidence given before the InterState Commission respecting the importation of wattle bark ? If so, will the honorable gentleman state what . action he proposes to take?
– Together with other evidence placed before the Inter-State Commission, that relating to the importation of wattle bark, particularly from South Africa, has naturally received our attention. We have received various communications on the subject, which is now being investigated by the Commission; but since it is still sub judice it is impossible for me at this stage to say that any definite action will be taken.
– I desire to know, Mr. Speaker, whether you have seen a report of the Prime Minister’s statement that legislation was passed through this House last session only by straining the Standing Orders, and putting them to uses to which they were never put before; and, further, whether such remarks are not a gross reflection on yourself, and whether you will require the Prime Minister to apologize.
– I remind the honorable member that notice has already been given of a question bearing on this matter. So far as it relates to myself, I have seen references published in the papers to such a report, but I am not in a position to say whether or not it is correct, or what was in the Prime Minister’s mind at the time. I do not propose to take any further notice unless the matter is brought before the House in a more definite way.
– Is it a fact, as reported in the Argus of to-day, that leases in the Northern Territory are for the future to be subject to the Federal land tax?
– I have made no announcement to that effect, and I do not know where the inspiration of the paragraph came from.
– Will the Prime Minister tell the House what legislation he proposes to introduce to meet the cost of living, which, he states, has been towering up of recent years?
– I am hoping that the general policy and administration of this Government will in time have a very sensible effect on this very serious and pressing problem. I am the more justified in making that statement from having seen figures supplied recently by Mr. Knibbs, which show that, since this Government took office, the effective wage of the workers has begun to steadily increase.
-Is it a fact that the Adamstown rifle range, covering the whole of the Northern District, has not had a target or any extra provision made, notwithstanding the establishment of the Citizen Defence Forces, and that it is not possible for the members of the Forces to get musketry exercise?
– I shall bring the question under the notice of my colleague; but, as I have myself approved of work in connexion with the Adamstown rifle range, I assume that my honorable friend’s information is incorrect.
– I desire to direct the attention of the Minister of Trade and Customs to a paragraph in the newspapers of this morning to the effect that small-pox has broken out in Sydney. What steps does the honorable gentleman, as chief of the Department, propose to take in the direction of protecting Queensland from this dire scourge?
– Last year I laid on the table of the House a report of the InterState Conference, dealing with this whole question, and the conditions under which the Commonwealth would be required to assist in the event of any future outbreak, or any increase in the intensity of the present outbreak.
– It is pretty intense, any way 1
– Honorable members will see the conditions laid down in that report. If there is any further information required, I shall be pleased to supply it.
– Has the attention of the Treasurer been directed to a statement made before the Royal Commission on electoral matters by the Chief Electoral Officer of Queensland, to the effect that that State is receiving £135,000 more under the per capita arrangement with the States than it is entitled to. Will the Treasurer make full inquiry as to whether the statement to which I have referred is true or otherwise ?
– This matter has not come under my notice, and this is the first occasion on which I have heard of it. I shall be obliged if the honorable member will put his question on the notice-paper, so that I may have a definite reply prepared.
– Is the Prime Minister aware that work at the Kalgoorlie end of the transcontinental railway has been suspended for over five weeks, and that valuable plant there is lying idle. Does the honorable gentleman propose to enter into negotiations, so that work may be resumed with the least possible delay?
– I am aware that there has been a cessation of work at the western end of the railway, and I deeply regret the fact. I am not aware that anything the Government have done has caused this cessation of work. All I know is that the work is there for the men to go to, and that those who are engaged in pick and shovel work are striking against the wage of 12s. 6d. a day. I desire to add that the Government have substantially raised the wages of the men over and above those they were receiving during the time of our predecessors. We desire to deal with the men fairly, and, on the other hand, I think they ought to be prepared to deal fairly with the Government. I do not think that, in the circumstances, they were justified in dropping their tools, and leaving their work before the matter could be investigated.
– There have been more strikes than ever since this Government came into power.
– It is a fact that there is a number of disputes in connexion with Government works, and that those disputes are continuing, notwithstanding that the Government have made conditions easier and better in every instance than they were in the time of our predecessors.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether the rumour in the newspapers that we are to have a new electoral roll, is correct. If so, is it intended to postpone any future election until the new rolls are completed?
– The honorable member touches a sore point, and I suggest to him that he does not trouble about the next election. It is a fact that we are trying our very best to clear up this roll muddle. Our rolls are in a shocking condition to-day, and I am afraid the present machinery will not clear them up and keep them clean.
– How do you know they are in a shocking condition? Is it not a great reflection on your officers?
– I do not think so. I think it is a reflection on our defective machinery. However, I do not wish to go into the matter now. Suffice it to say that we are trying to remedy these defects, and honorable members on both sides of the Chamber, irrespective of party, should be interested in a movement of that kind.
– Is it the intention of the Government to re-impose the quarantine embargo in New South Wales with a view to limiting the spread of small-pox ?
– Does the honorable member desire me to do so?
– No. I simply asked the question.
– No such intention has ever been intimated by any member of the Ministry, and there is no such intention. The information we have is that the State Government is still continuing to do what they have been doing from the beginning, that is, endeavouring to grapple with the outbreak in the city of Sydney.
– Is it the intention of the Prime Minister to transfer the Electoral Department to control by the Postal Department? By doing so, does he not think the Commonwealth will be more satisfactorily served in regard to the compiling of rolls?
– I know of no intention to transfer the Electoral Department to the Post Office. I think the Post Office is already sufficiently loaded without adding to it functions” of that kind.
– A statement has appeared in the press that it is intended to have a police canvass in connexion with the electoral rolls. Will the Prime Minister say whether that is correct; and will all those whom the police find to be off the rolls at the present time be prosecuted in accordance with the present law for not being enrolled ?
– If the honorable member will give notice of the question, I shall get him particulars by tomorrow.
– Is it not true the men employed on the railway work in Western Australia struck against11s. 6d. a day, and not 12s. 4d. ? Is not the Prime Minister aware that the work of constructing the line is being carried on in a dry region, where men undergo considerable hardships, where there is no doctor, and no nurses or hospitals within 70 miles 1 In the circumstances, does not the Prime Minister think that it is fair for the men to receive wages at least equal to those being paid by private contractors on the same work?
– It is interesting to hear the implied tribute to the private contractor contained in the honorable member’s question. According to the honorable member now, the private contractor is a man who pays better wages than the men could otherwise get. Privatecontractor control would appear to be an excellent thing.
– Private contractors can rob the Commonwealth better than any one else.
– I am not aware that any one is robbing the Commonwealth just now.
– That last contract of yours looks pretty shady, anyhow.
– If it is shady, I hope the honorable member will soon have an opportunity to demonstrate that fact to the House. I warn the honorable member, andI warn his leader, that he will not find it so easy to establish the shadiness of it here as upon public platforms.
– Why should not the Government pay a wage equal to that paid by the private contractor?
– The honorable member knows why; he knows that this private contractor has instituted a system of task work.
– That is not correct.
– We have increased the wages of the men very considerably.
– By 5s. per week..
– At the Port Augusta end, we have increased the wages by 6s. a week. Altogether, I think we have done a fair thing by these men. I admit the hardships they suffer. I admit all the disadvantages of distance and: isolation, and that is all being expressed in the price we pay, as well as in the matters we take to them in the shape of comforts of various kinds. Honorable members would be a little surprised if they knew all the things we are trying to do in looking after the welfare of these men. The matter of providing the doctor is under consideration.
– Unfortunately, we cannot find out what you are doing.
– I suggest to the honorable member that he puts this question on the notice-paper, and I shall supply the details to-morrow.
– I ask the Assistant Minister of Home Affairs whether it is a fact that there are now about 1,000 fewer men employed at the Federal Capital than when the present Government took office, and why the work is being discontinued in the way it is?
– It is not a fact that there are 1,000, or anything like 1,000, fewer men employed at the Federal Capital than when the present Government took office. The fact is that the Military College, which has already cost £177,000, and has nothing whatever to do with the establishment of the Federal City, has now been completed, and the men engaged upon the construction of the College have gone off their labour. The present stage of the Capital City construction is, as my predecessor will understand, in the engineering period, and at the last date on which I took the figures for the information of the honorable member for West Sydney there were more men employed on engineering works in the Federal Territory than there were when the present Government took office.
– Can the Minister of
Trade and Customs say what has become of the Navigation Act, what progress he has made with the regulations, and when he expects the Act to come into operation?
– I. have reason to believe that a Navigation Act is still on the statute-book. Since we have been in office, the regulations have been pressed forward and furthered. An advertisement has already been inserted in the newspapers for the appointment of a Director of Navigation, and the matter of staffing the Central Office has received attention. The Act cannot be proclaimed until the regulations have been properly drafted and submitted to the consideration of the authorities contemplated by the Act itself. At this stage, I can give no idea as to the date on which the Act can be proclaimed.
– Will the Prime Minister, at the earliest possible opportunity, present to honorable members a verbatim report of the recent Conference of State Premiers and the Federal Government? Can it not be done almost immediately ?
– I doubt it. The matter is in the hands of the State Premiers. The moment the report is available, I will furnish it to honorable members.
– When is it expected that the seventy-five Divisional Returning Officers will be appointed throughout Australia ?
– At the earliest moment that the appointments can be got ready. The Public Service Commissioner is busily engaged upon the matter at the present time, and the sooner it is done the better we shall be pleased.
– Would it be possible to have five of these Returning Officers in Tasmania, by reducing, say, the number in the States, so that one man would run a city like Adelaide and two men a city like Melbourne, or a city like Sydney ? In that way, there could be five men in the State of Tasmania, and only seventy would be wanted in all.
– I understand that the conditions in Tasmania are very much simplified owing to the conterminous character of the boundaries of the State and Federalelectorates. In addition, they already have one roll for Tasmania. I wish we could have the same conditions applying all over Australia. It would simplify matters very much. We submitted the whole question to the late Premiers’ Conference, but I think they did not deal with it favorably. I cannot promise to take any of the seventy-five of these officers away in order to give Tasmania five. If Tasmania is to get five on her own account, it will mean the appointment of five more than are at present contemplated, and our advices are that it is not necessary to do this in Tasmania.
– Can the Prime Minister state whether it is not a fact that much of the information supplied to the electoral officials which enables them to take action against people who are not enrolled is supplied by post-office officials ?
– I am not aware of the fact. If the honorable member will put his question on the notice- paper, I shall make inquiries.
– Does the Prime Minister purpose appointing these Returning
Officers before this House has had an opportunity to vote the money ? .
-I think so. We regard the matter as somewhat urgent.
– You spend £30,000 a year more ?
– I am afraid that is nothing to what my honorable friend used to spend without the authority of Parliament.
– We had a majority in both Houses.
– Then, suppose we act as if we had.
– In contemplating the appointment of these Returning Officers, did the Government make a calculation as to the cost; if so, will the ‘Prime Minister inform the House of the estimated cost of the services of these officers ?
– Estimates were, I believe,presented, and my recollection is that the cost has been worked out. It is estimated that when the whole business is carried through the cost will not be sensibly increased. I have not the details with me, but, if the honorable member will give notice of his question, I shall get them for him.
– Will the Prime Minister lay on the table all correspondence between the Federal Government and the Tasmanian Government in respect to the appointment of. these Divisional Returning Officers?
-I shall be glad to do so.
– Has the Minister of Trade and Customs, or havethe Government, done anything to assist the tobaccogrowers of Australia against the victimization of the Tobacco Trust that was in operation when the last session ended?
– I think it is hardly fair to characterize what happened as victimization. Questions were raised as to whether a certain letter had been sent out. A conference was held with some of the manufacturers, and information was given. Inquiries were made from the different States, but the replies that we received did not indicate victimization. If the honorable member would like to see them, I shall make them available to him or to the House generally. There was certainly nothing done which would justify the Government in instituting proceedings for a breach of any existing law.
– Is it the policy of the Government to increase the duties on foreign-grown tobacco and decrease the Excise on Australian-grown, so as to give the Australian growers a chance to live against the combine?
– The present scheme of duties does give protection to Australiangrown tobacco.
– It is not doing so.
– The intention of the duty was to encourage the use in Australia of Australian-grown tobacco, and’ my personal feeling is that as Australian - grown tobacco of a good quality can be grown we should expect the manufacturers to give it every consideration, and use it in the manufacture of an Australian product.
– They are not doing so.
– That is another point.. The honorable member is asking with regard to a question of policy. With regard to the other point, I must be fair, and say, as a Minister, that there are differences of opinion upon the question. As regards the general quality of all the Australian leaf that has been produced, evidence shows that parts of Australia can grow a magnificent quality of leaf, and, in fact, are growing it. The scheme of the duties undoubtedly was imposed by Parliament with a view to the encouragement of the Australian-grown leaf and its utilization in Australian manufactures. The question of whether the existing duty is or is not satisfactory is a matter that could be inquired into by the Inter-State Commission.
– I have been informed that the crockery used in Government House, Darwin,. Northern Territory, cost the Government more than the same commodity supplied to the Federal Government House, Melbourne. Can the Minister of External Affairs say whether that is correct?
– I confess I do not know what the cost of the crockery has been at Government House, Melbourne. I do not think any orders have been given by the present Government for crockery to be supplied to the Territory. Some bills have come in for goods supplied to the order of a previous Government, and I know nothing more of the cost of crockery than is disclosed by these bills.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister of Defence state whether the present or any previous Government have done anything beyond sending for a report in connexion with the standardization of horses required for Defence purposes? The light-horse industry is on a low footing in Australia, and if something were done in this regard it would bring about an improvement.
– I shall bring this very important question under the attention of the Minister of Defence.
– I wish to know from the Prime Minister whether the Returning Officers who are to be appointed will be appointed by him, or by some other Minister, or by the Government; or are the appointments to be altogether independent of the Government?
– The officers appointed are being taken into the Public Service by exactly the same method as is followed in regard to other appointments to the Service. The appointments are being made by the Public Service Commissioner.
– Is it the object of the Government to provide a number of Liberals with billets?
– That is a dirty insinuation, and one worthy of the honorable member. This Government has made no appointments to the Public Service. The honorable member must look nearer home for that kind of thing.
– How many Labour men are to be appointed ?
– I wish to know from the Minister of Home Affairs if the Military College, which has cost £177,000, is good enough for the students, and how many students can be accommodated in it?
– Thefirst question is one for the Defence Department. It is feasible that anything that the Depart ment of Home Affairs might construct would not be good enough for the Department of Defence. I shall have inquiries made to ascertain whether the Defence Department is satisfied with what we have done for it. I am not aware if the college has yet its full complement of cadets. I understand that a fresh batch of cadets is joining now.
– How many can be accommodated there?
– I believe 147, but I am not sure. I shall obtain full particulars, and let honorable members have the information to-morrow.
– I wish to know from the Minister of Trade and Customs when it is intended to bring the Lighthouse Act into operation so that the light dues may be collected by the Commonwealth instead of by the States?
– During the few months we have been in office we have expedited matters as much as possible, and have appointed a Director and central staff and other officers. But no attempt was made by our predecessors to approach the Governments of the States in regard to the remission of the light dues upon the transfer of the control of the lighthouses to the Commonwealth. Consequently, we put before the State Premiers, when we met them in conference the other day, the desirability of their Governments relieving the shipping of the Commonwealth of taxation to the extent of the expenditure of which we were relieving them.
– What will this Government do if the State Governments refuse to act?
– This Government will go straight on, and carry out its constitutional duties; but we were bound, in the interest of Australian shipping, to place the position before the Premiers. It seemed unfair that ship-owners should be taxed twice for the one service.
– Can the
Minister of Trade and Customs tell us when we shall have an opportunity to amend the Tariff by increasing the duties on some articles, and lessening those on others ?
– The Government will beprepared to take action immediately reports are ready.
– I wish to know from the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs whether the workmen have been withdrawn from the pipe line from the Cotter River to the Federal Capital ?
– The first section of the pipe line - that to Mount Stromlo - has been completed; the men employed on it have finished their work. Water supply services, embracing the pipe head reservoir at Mount Stromlo, a pipe line of some 6½ miles from there to the service reservoir at the top of Red Hill, and the service reservoir itself, have yet to be carried out, and tenders for these works are being called for by advertisement, I think to-day.
– Have not tenders already been called for?
– Tenders were called for in respect of part of the work, but I was not satisfied with the offers received, and I am endeavouring now to get better terms for the Commonwealth by offering Commonwealth transport plant which we have at the Federal Capital for the carriage of contractors supplies. We propose to treat contractors much in the same way as the Victorian Government, for example, treats private activities in this State with regard to railway carriage. In addition to the three works which I have named, for which one contract is being called, tenders will also be asked for immediately for the construction of the main sewer, which will be a big work. I understand that tenders will be invited within a week.
– Is it a fact that tenders were called for in connexion with the reservoir at Mount Stromlo, and that the only one received stated an amount which was £5,000 in excess of the departmental estimate of the cost of the work?
– Will the Minister inform the House of the result of the calling for tenders for that work?
– I should like the honorable member to give notice of that question.
– Will the Minister of Trade and Customs inform the House what he has done in connexion with the charge of 15s. per ton made by the Government of Western Australia for the inspection of potatoes sent from Victoria to Western Australia?
– As I promised the House, I took immediate action, sending a despatch to the Premier of Western Australia, and yesterday I arranged with the Prime Minister to try to obtain an interview with him on the subject while he is in Melbourne. It is not the fault of this Government that there has been delay.
– You have the necessary power to act.
– A Minister cannot act. Definite action, when circumstances justify, must be taken by Parliament.
– I wish to know from the Postmaster-General if it is a fact, as indicated by the Governor-General’s Speech, that the Government has abandoned its intention of bringing about the thorough reform of our postal service by instituting a new system of management?
– Then will the Prime Minister inform the country why no reference to reform is made in the Governor-General’s Speech.
– The moment the Government sees an opportunity to proceed with this big measure of reform - for it is a very big measure- it will not hesitate to take it.
– A fortnight ago I sent to the Minister of Trade and Customs a telegram, to which I have received no reply, advising him that shipments of maize, infested with corn moth, one of the worst diseases that can infect produce, were being landed in Sydney and Brisbane from South Africa. I wish to know what action has been taken to protect the Australian growers of produce.
– On receipt of the telegram, inquiries were made by telegraph in Brisbane and Sydney, andI think that a letter is now in the post informing the honorable member of the result of the investigations of the Department. It was discovered that the maize imported into New South Wales gave no indication of the presence of the pest, though signs of the moth were found in some of the sacks in which the maize had been imported into Queensland. This maize was emptied out of the sacks, and closely examined by the State authorities. The bags were subjected to treatment, and every precaution was taken to safeguard the interests of the Commonwealth, to prevent the pest from getting into the country.
– The Minister’s information is wrong.
– If the honorable member has better information, I shall be glad if he will give it to me.
– It has taken a fortnight to reply to a telegram.
– No one in Melbourne can say what is happening in Sydney or Brisbane. Time must be allowed for the officers to make inquiries and to report. If the honorable member knows that the reports are false in any particular, he should, in the public interest, let me know at once what is wrong, so that the proper action may be taken.
– I shall do that.
– I wish to know from the Postmaster-General if it is a fact that a Board of Inquiry has been appointed to discover the defects of our telephone system, and that it consists of officers connected with the Department. I ask the honorable gentleman if it would notbe better to appoint outside electricians* to the Board. Would not such a Board give better results?
– No Board has been appointed. The Chief Electrical Engineer accompanied me and my secretary to Sydney, and then went on to Brisbane to inquire into telephone matters.
– I have to inform the House that, at the summons of His Excellency the Governor-General, I attended the Senate chamber, where His Excellency was pleased to deliver his opening Speech, of which, for greater accuracy, I have obtained a copy (vide page 5). I presume it will not be necessary for me to read it, as honorable members will be supplied with printed copies..
Motion (by Mr. Joseph Cook) agreed to -
That a Committee, consisting of Mr. Kendell, Mr. Fleming, and Mr. W. H. Irvine be appointed to prepare an. Address-in-Reply to the Speech delivered by His Excellency the Governor-General to both Houses of the Parliament.
That the Committee do report this day.
Mr. SPEAKER laid upon the table the following paper: -
Commonwealth Bank Act - Commonwealth Bank of Australia - Balance-sheet at 31st December, 1913, together with Auditor-General’s Report thereon.
The following papers were presented : - Audit Act -
Naval Account Regulations - Statutory Rules 1914, No. 18.
Treasury Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1913, Nos. 297, 334, and Statutory Rules 1914, No. 6.
Transfers of amounts approved by the Governor-General in Council -
Financial year 1913-14, dated - 5th February, 1914, 5th March, 1914, 25th March, 1914.
Bank Act -
Savings Bank Department Regulations - Statutory Rules 1913, No. 333.
Beer Excise Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1913, No. 317.
Bounties Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1913, No. 306.
Commerce (Trade Descriptions) Act - RegulationsStatutory Rules 1913, No. 347.
Conciliation and Arbitration Act -
Regulations - Statutory Rules 1913, No. 331.
Copyright Act -
Regulations - Statutory Rules 1913, No. 338.
Customs Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1913, No. 346.
Defence Act -
Landing of sailors from foreign menofwar, &c. - Statutory Rules 1913, No. 325.
Military College - Statutory Rules 1913, No. 326.
Military Forces - Statutory Rules 1913. No. 327.
Military Forces - Financial and Allowance - Statutory Rules 1913, No. 332.
Universal Training -
Part I., II., and III. - Statutory Rules 1913, No. 328.
Part IV.- Statutory Rules 1913, No. 329.
Part V. (Provisional) - Statutory Rules 1914, No.19.
Regulations amended (Provisional) -
Military Forces -
Statutory Rules 1913, Nos.. 312, 313, 322, 323.
Defence Act -
Regulations amended (Provisional) -
Military Forces -
Statutory Rules 1914, Nos. 3, 13, 27, 29.
Military Forces - Financial and Allowance -
Statutory Rules 1913, Nos. 321, 324.
Statutory Rules 1914, Nos. 1, 2, 15, 20, 23, 28.
Universal Training -
Statutory Rules 1913, No. 311.
Statutory Rules 1914, Nos. 4, 14, 16, 24.
Distillation Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1913, No. 343.
Dominions Royal Commission (Imperial) - Natural Resources, Trade, and Legislation of certain portions of His Majesty’s Dominions-
First Interim Report.
Second Interim Report.
Minutes of Evidence - Taken in -
London, October and November, 1912 -
Part I. - Migration.
Part II. - Natural Resources, Trade, and Legislation.
New Zealand, 1913.
Australia, 1913 -
London, November, 1913; and Papers laid before the Commission.
Electoral Matters - Interim Report of the Royal Commission.
Excise Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1913, No. 345.
Federal Territory - Report on a Geological Reconnaissance of, with special reference to available Building Materials, by D. J. Mahony, M.Sc, F.G.S., and T. Griffith Taylor, B.Sc., B.E., B.A., F.G.S.
High Court Procedure Act and Judiciary Act-
Rule of Court - Amendment of “Practitioners Admission Rules “ - Statutory Rules 1913, No. 330.
Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act -
Regulation - Statutory Rules 1914, No. 10.. Lands Acquisition Act -
Land acquired under, at -
Baulk ham Hills, New South Wales- For Defence purposes.
Bligh, South Australia - For Postal purposes.
Burnie, Tasmania - For Postal purposes.
Camberwell, Victoria -For Defence purposes.
Crystal Brook, South Australia - For Defence purposes.
DaylesFord, Victoria - For Defence purposes.
Doodlakine, Western Australia - For Postal purposes.
Dorrigo, New South Wales - For Defence purposes.
Dowsing’s Point,near Hobart, Tasmania - For Defence purposes.
East Perth, Western Australia - For Postal purposes.
Finley, New South Wales - For Postal purposes.
Lands Acquisition Act -
Land acquired under, at -
Friezland, Queensland - For Postal purposes.
George Town, Tasmania - For Defence purposes.
Ginninderra, Federal Territory - For Federal Capital purposes.
Jervis Bay, New South Wales - For Defence purposes.
Kilkenny, South Australia - For Defence purposes.
Latrobe, Tasmania - For Defence purposes.
Marrickville, New South Wales - For Defence purposes.
Maryborough, Queensland - For Defence purposes.
Molong, New South Wales - For Defence purposes.
Newmarket, Queensland - For Postal purposes.
Pentland, Queensland - For Postal purposes.
Prospect, South Australia - For Defence purposes.
Rosewood, Queensland - For Postal purposes.
Ryde, New South Wales - For Postal purposes.
Sydney, New South Wales - For Postal purposes.
Wallendbeen, New South Wales - For Postal purposes.
Wallsend, New South Wales - For Defence purposes.
Wallumbilla, Queensland - For Postal purposes.
Land Tax Assessment Act -
Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1913, Nos. 335, 337; Statutory Rules 1914, No. 5.
Manufactures Encouragement Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1913, No. 316.
Maternity Allowance Act-
Regulation - Statutory Rules 1913, Nos. 298, 299.
Naturalization Act -
Return of number of persons to whom Certificates of Naturalization were granted during 1913.
Naval Defence Act - Naval Forces - Regulation amended - Statutory Rules 1914, No. 21.
Naval Defence - Reports by Sir Maurice Fitzmaurice on Flinders Naval Base, Port Western, and other matters.
Ordinances of 1913 -
No. 6 - Quarantine.
No. 7 - Noxious plants.
No. 8 - Printers and Newspapers.
No. 9 - Evidence and Discovery.
No. 10 - Weights and Measures.
No. 11 - Probate and Administration.
No. 12 - Succession Duties.
No. 13 -Real Property.
No. 14 - Papuan Antiquities.
No. 16 - Customs.
No. 17 - Plants Diseases.
No. 18- Dog.
No. 19 - Supplementary Appropriation (No. 1) 1913-14.
Ordinances of 1914 -
Post and Telegraph Act -
Post and Telegraph - Statutory Rules 1013, No. 348.
Telephone - Statutory Rules 1913, No. 349.
Telegraph Lines (Protection) - Statutory Rules 1913, No. 350.
Regulations amended (Provisional) -
Statutory Rules 1913, No. 318, 319.
Statutory Rules 1914, Nos. 9, 11, 12, 17, 22, 25, 26, 30.
Regulations amended -
Statutory Rules 1913, Nos. 309, 314, 320.
Powellised and other Timbers - Interim Report of the Royal Commission.
Public Service Act-
Regulations - Statutory Rules 1913, No. 341.
Appointments of -
C.E. Deacon, as Vainer, Class D, Professional Division, Land Tax Branch, Queensland.
Promotions of -
Public Service Act -
Promotions of -
Spirits Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1913, No. 344.
Telegraphs and Telephones Special Works Account Act -
Transfers of Amounts approved by the Governor-General in Council, dated - 17th December, 1913, 5th March, 1914.
Trade Marks Act -
Regulations - Statutory Rules 1913, No. 339.
Wireless Telegraphy Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1913, No. 351.
Workmen’s Commonwealth Compensation Act-
Regulations - Statutory Rules 1913, No. 336.
Mr. KENDELL brought up the AddressInReply to His Excellency’s Speech, prepared by the Committee appointed this day, and it was read by the Clerk, as follows: -
May it Please Your Excellency :
We, the House of Representatives, of the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia, in Parliament assembled, beg to express our loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign and to thank your Excellency for the Speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.
.- I move -
That the Address be agreed to by the House.
Before dealing with the political questions covered by the Governor-General’s Speech, I desire to express my regret at the approaching departure of His Excellency from Australia. His Excellency has discharged the duties of his high and dignified office with credit to himself, and I am sure, with a great deal of benefit to the people of Australia. Socially, His Excellency and his good lady have been extremely popular, and they will be much missed. Although Lord Denman is severing his official connexion with Australia, I feel sure that he will not cease to speak and work in its interests when he returns to the Old Land, and that we shall find that, although not immediately connected with us, he still has at heart the well-being and advancement of Australia. My sincere wish is that every happiness and prosperity shall be the lot of His Excellency, his good lady, and his family. I wish now to express my appreciation of the honour which the Government have conferred upon me by assigning to me the duty of submitting this motion. I regard it as a compliment, not only to myself, but to my constituents. My experience of honorable members justifies my anticipation of their forbearance while I deal very briefly with the questions covered by His Excellency’s Speech. I ask for their forbearance, since I have, unfortunately, a very bad cold. We are told that a cold always attacks the weakest spot, and it is, perhaps, because of this tendency that the cold has settled in my head. I need not concern myself, at the present time, with the opening clauses in His Excellency’s Speech. They deal with matters that were the subject of considerable debate last session, and they speak for themselves to-day. It is not my desire to utter one word that will unduly extend the debate on this motion. We have heard repeatedly during the recess that the last session of the Commonwealth Parliament was barren of results. That taunt has constantly been hurled at us by members of the Opposition, and, in the circumstances, we felt that it was absolutely necessary that the House should be given an early opportunity to retrieve its position.
– To repeat the dose.
– I trust that the honorable member will not suggest anything of the kind. I am not a glutton in the matter of dissolutions and elections, and I always contend that the man who prates about his anxiety to go before his constituents at a general election is a good deal of a humbug. Passing by the first four clauses in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech, I come to that relating to the Conference of State Premiers which closed only a few days ago. For the first time, so far as I am aware, in the history of such gatherings, the State Premiers in conference were approached in a truly Federal spirit by the Commonwealth Government.
– The Commonwealth Government approached them on bended knee.
– I am afraid that my honorable friend has got his wires crossed. The Commonwealth Government approached the Conference of State Premiers with a full recognition of the importance of State rights, fully conscious of the fact that the States existed, and were doing a useful work before Federation was thought of, and that they had made it possible for the. Commonwealth to be created. As the result of the attitude adopted by the Commonwealth Government, the Conference was fruitful in achievements the like of which had never been even nearly approached before.
– What was done?
– I shall endeavour, a little later on, to show what the Conference has made it possible for this Parliament to do. One of the questions discussed by it was the transfer of the State debts, and if as a result of the Conference a solution of that difficult problem can be arrived at an enormous saving will be secured to the people of Australia. I trust that honorable members will throw no obstacle in the way of such a happy consummation. The position of the Commonwealth Bank was also the subject of discussion at the Conference. I have always held that the true function of the Commonwealth Bank is to transact the whole of the banking business of the Commonwealth and State Governments, including the flotation, redemption, and conversion of loans. It appears to me that the offer made by the States to transfer its current accounts to the Commonwealth Bank in exchange for the small savings bank business which that institution is now carrying on is a very liberal one, and I think we ought to embrace it without demur. The honorable member for Darwin will agree with me to a very large extent on this question.
– The proposal means a segregation of strength.
– No; it means an aggregation of strength. If the decision rested with me I should jump at the offer made by the States.
– My belief is that the Commonwealth and States should work in unison, and should be represented on a board to control the National bank.
– The honorable member is an authority on these questions, and I may say, in passing, that I would take his advice on business matters as readily as I would that of any other member of the Opposition. The question of a uniform railway gauge was brought before the Conference of State Premiers, and 1 hope that the action taken will lead to a uniform gauge for Australia. We, as practical men, know that the longer we defer dealing with this question the greater must be the cost. I have long entertained the idea that the laying down of a third rail would be one means of getting over the difficulty of securing uniformity without going to the heaVy expense of laying down new tracks. Before the matter is finally settled, some such scheme may be evolved. In any event, I am convinced that, action must be taken in the near- future to deal with the question. Reference is made in His Excellency’s Speech to the agreement arrived at between the Commonwealth and the States of New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia in regard to the use and control of the Murray waters. It would be incorrect, perhaps, to say that this has been a burning question for many years, but it has undoubtedly been a very important one. No one will deny that we shall be wise in endeavouring to conserve the thousands of millions of gallons of water which are annually allowed to escape into the sea. The scheme for dealing with the Murray waters will not only give employment to thousands of men on a reproductive work, but will enable us to place at least an additional 500,000 settlers along that great river and its tributaries. In the succeeding paragraph of His Excellency’s Speech we have reference to a subject which is certainly related to that with which I have just dealt. I refer to the statement that the Government hope to place before Parliament proposals for State and Commonwealth co-operation in regard to immigration. I have always maintained that this Parliament should have a hand in the work of immigration. The Commonwealth should select the immigrants and land them on our shores, first satisfying themselves that the States have made ample provision for their reception. Recently I saw a letter in the press, in reply to some arguments advanced as to the unsuitability of some immigrants for work on the land and their utter want ofknowledge in this regard. That letter recommended that a training farm should be established in the Old Country; and while thoroughly agreeing with the idea, my opinion, is that such a farm should be established in each State here, in order to give our own boys an opportunity of learning what can be done with land.
– What about our Agricultural Colleges?
– Those colleges are beyond average town boys; and I suggest a different plan. We know that there are tens of thousands of boys growing up in the towns every year without the slightest knowledge of what the land can produce or how to produce it. A great many of those boys, no doubt, desire to remain in the town, but numbers of them would, no doubt, be willing to go and work in the country if they knew how.
– If they had the chance !
– If they had the chance ; and I venture to say that I could select in each State a mixed farm where boys could get six months’ training, which would convert them into a valuable asset to this country - convert them into a source of profit to themselves and their parents.
– In six months?
– Yes, in six months. I venture to say that, having had forty years’ experience of farming–
– And yet do not understand it!
– I should not go to the honorable member for farming lessons, anyhow. I have expressed my idea on the matter, and I shall not dwell longer on it, seeing that it will come up for discussion later.
– What about paragraph 3 of His Excellency’s Speech ?
– I shall deal with that later.
– Pay men decent wages, and ‘they will go on the land.
– That interjection brings me to the question of the high cost of living. Do honorable members think that’ the cost of production can be increased day after day, and year after year, without the selling price of the article produced also being increased? Honorable members talk about “ a decent wage ‘ ‘ ; and I suppose they think that if m’en were paid £10 a week for their work people should still be asked to sell their wheat for 2s. 6d. a bushel. -That is the way in which honorable members opposite talk because they do not happen to produce wheat.
– When the Liberals were running the country the honorable member got only ls. 9d. a bushel for his wheat.
– When the Liberals were running the country I used to got 4s. 6d. and 5s. for my wheat, and yet the loaf of bread was cheaper than it is today. I notice that reference is made in His Excellency’s Speech to the Inter-State Commission’s Tariff inquiry. I have followed the evidence given before the Commission, and I am satisfied that it is going thoroughly into the questions placed before it. I hope that we shall soon be in possession of a progress report, which will enable this House to deal, partially at any rate, with a certain number of items, and place the industries of Australia on a thoroughly sound footing, having regard to the interests of the consumers as well as to the interests of the producers. ‘ The question of the development of the Northern Territory no- doubt suggests the need for a great deal of information and much thought to enable the Minister of External Affairs to deal with it in a satisfactory manner. I believe that at the present time that honorable gentleman is in possession of information which will enable him to place a policy before this House for the development of the Territory. It seems to me that the Northern Territory, like every other part of Australia, will have to be pioneered by the pastoralists. We shall have to supply those who enter into the pastoral industry ‘ there with means of conveying their produce to the seaports, and thence to the markets; and then, as they make progress, closer settlement will, no doubt, follow. As to the coming session, I trust that, if honorable members opposite desire to assist the Government in enacting laws to give effect to a good deal of the work done at the Premiers’ Conference - to assist the Government in enacting laws for the benefit of Australia as a whole - they will early, indicate their desire. If, on the other hand, they are determined to fight the Government, then the. sooner they show that determination, and the sooner the “whole box and dice” of us go back to the people for fresh orders, the better I shall be satisfied, whether I am returned again or not. Thank goodness, I could live before I came to this Parliament, and I can live if I do not come back to it. We are, I believe, all anxious in our own particular way, and from our own points of view, to do the best for the people of Australia. There is no doubt a wide difference of opinion between the two sides of the House. Parties are very evenly balanced; and I should like to see the whole of us unite for about a couple of months peaceably to pass into law measures which would have the effect of affording employment and furthering the development of the country.
– Suppose that we unite for the purpose of electing a Ministry from both sides of the House?
-That plan, of course, might have worked years ago. It seems to me, however, that, if we proceeded to elect a Ministry from both sides of the House, the side having the majority would decidedly desire to have the “ thick end of the stick “ in the’ election.
– Which side has the majority ?
– We on this side claim to have the majority. The question of the initiative and the referendum was raised to-day by a notice of motion that was given; and if such a change could bring about a better state of affairs than was the case during last session I should welcome it. It appears to me, however, from the little experience’ I had here last session, that, if the people issued a mandate, and that mandate did not please the majority in the House, it would not be carried out. If it were possible to have this House ‘bound to carry out such a mandate under certain penalties, I should welcome the plan. I think I have taken up sufficient time; and, as I am not very well, the honorable member for Robertson, who is to follow me, has promised to deal with any’ points I may have omitted to mention.
– What about paragraph 3 ?
– I shall leave the honorable member for Robertson to deal with paragraph 3 of His Excellency’s Speech.
– The honorable member himself promised to deal with.it.
– The honorable member need not ask any question about paragraph 3, because that paragraph speaks for itself. I trust that the present session will be more fruitful in good work than the last, and that the feeling in the House will be kindly from start to finish. If we have to say hard things of each other’s policy, we need not employ hard sayings to each other personally. I thank the whole of the House for the very kind hearing that has been given me. I have spoken with much difficulty; and I am sure I should have felt nervous but for the fact that in the past I have received so much consideration all round the chamber.
.- I rise to second the motion, and I may say at the outset that I am quite prepared to deal with paragraph 3 of (fis Excellency’s Speech. The previous speaker has been asked why he did not deal with that paragraph 3. I am quite prepared to deal with it, and * say what I believe it means. The function of .a Legislature is ,to put into concrete law the will’ .of .the dominant political factor pf the day. When the previous Administration were in power, they brought in a law which put the people’ of Australia in an entirely new political position. No doubt, they thought they were doing that work as representing the dominant political factor of the day, but there are two things to be . considered when dealing with a question of this kind. The first is - has the dominant political factor actually expressed itself at the ballotbox; the second is-r-is the party in power able to construe properly the will” of the dominant political factor? The position that has arisen in the Commonwealth is that the previous Administration, when in power, brought into operation a law altogether new to Australia, and one which was directly opposed to the principles of the British Empire and honest British fair play.
– When did they pass that law?
– By an administrative act they gave preference to unionists.
– It was not a law.
– The function of a Legislature is two-fold - administrative and legislative - and, to my mind, the administrative is the more important. I have often heard it said, “ Let me write the songs of the people, and I care not who makes the laws.” From our earliest childhood, we have seen the effects of administration. In the United States of America, the Courts are overriding the Legislature .every day>’ showing that an administrative act is always of more importance than legislation. However, what I wish to arrive at is this: Paragraph 3 of the Governor-General’s Speech has a deep and significant meaning, not only for the House, but for all Australia, because it touches on the primary principles of the British Empire. The paragraph stands for British liberty and fair play. We on this side are striving for equality of the people in the eyes of the law, the fundamental principle on which British liberty is based; but it lay with the past Administration to deny to the people of Australia the operation of that fundamental principle. Another meaning in paragraph 3 is that we believe in equality of opportunity at the ballot-box. In fact, we believe in these two great forms of ^quality - equality in the eyes of the law, and equality pf opportunity at the ballot-box; and when we give the people these, there need be no further talk - and we hear it whispered here and there to-day - of social revolution. Never in the history of the world has there been social revolution of any moment where the people have had free expression of opinion at the ballot-box, and where they have been treated equally before the law ; and we on this side of the chamber stand all the time for liberty in those two respects. That is the meaning of paragraph 3; and when we go before the people, I at least shall be prepared to go on the platform and fight it from beginning to end. There are two other very important matters in the Speech ; one is the handling of our facilities, using the term in the broadest possible sense, as they exist to-day. There’ can be no doubt that the Prime Minister, at the recent Conference of the Premiers of the States, went far towards putting us in a position to use to the very best advantage the facilities as they exist in Australia to-day. But we can go beyond that. When we come to deal with the development of our resources, it seems to me that any one who is in earnest need only look through the Speech of the GovernorGeneral and see in three paragraphs - take paragraphs 9, 15, and 16 - that there has emanated from the present Administration what might truly be called a big Australian policy. If we look merely at the way in which the Government are prepared to handle the Commonwealth Bank, we see the difference between the present Administration and the previous. The previous Administration put up a skeleton with no life in it; but the present Prime Minister went to the Premiers’ Conference and breathed life into the figure; so that all that now remains is to put it properly to work - the life is in it. We have done away with the pettifogging ideas of the previous Administration. The proposal now is to deal with the National Bank in a broad national manner, on a basis which is just and generous and vigorous, as should be the policy of a National Bank. Why need the National Bank of Australia go pettifogging round with savings which were well handled, and have been well handled for many years, by the States? Instead of that, the Prime Minister launched out and offered a vigorous policy, which the Premiers of the States, whether they were with us or against us, were quite prepared to accept.
– He offered nothing new.
– He arrived at something new, and that is the main thing; in fact, that is the difference between the parties. Honorable members opposite always offer things new, but never get there; whereas we do the new things - we arrive. That is the fundamental difference between the two parties. I do not wish to delay too long in this matter, but it seems to me that there are a couple of striking omissions from the Speech. There is no mention ‘of our interests in the Pacific, and there is no mention of the Post and Telegraph Department. I sincerely hope that the Postal Department will be pushed on for all it is worth, because there is no matter of greater importance to country dwellers and those in the far-distant parts of the Commonwealth than the proper development of the post and telegraph system.
– You are colonial; be national !
– I am a colonial as is said, but that is no reason why I should turn my back on the main principles that have made the British Empire possible. That is why I strongly support, to the best of my ability, the Speech of the GovernorGeneral ; because it puts forward a comprehensive policy for Australia - what we might call a big Australian policy; and it goes further, and gets down to the fundamental principles. We are going to stand for equality for all people in the eyes of the law, and equality of opportunity at the ballot-box, and upon these principles we are prepared to stand or fall.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Fisher) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Joseph Cook) pro posed -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until to-morrow at half-past 2 o’clock p.m.
.- In fixing the sessional orders in relation to the sittings of the House, has the Prime. Minister taken into consideration the desirability of sitting three days of the week only?
– The honorable member can discuss that when we take the motion for the adjournment.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr. Joseph Cook) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– I wish in a few words to refer to a matter that I have already brought under notice. The request of the Minister of Trade and Customs must be my excuse. I wish to inform the House, and through the House the Minister, of the exact position. Two shipments of maize have already been landed in Australia from South Africa, the bags being branded, I understand, “ Maize, sound, clean, and good, from South Africa.” A large portion of the shipments was landed in Sydney without any difficulty, and immediately went into consumption, but a portion of both shipments went to Brisbane, and in both cases the maize was condemned. The Minister has said that a few bags were condemned; but I think my information is correct - that the whole of the Brisbane shipment, amounting to over 1,000 bags, was condemned. It is futile for the Minister to say that a few bags only were found infested with cora moth. I saw three sacks landed which were simply infested with the cocoon unhatched of the moth, while I have testimony to the effect that on the wharf where the maize was landed the hot, moist, humid weather was hatching, out the moths by hundreds. These moths were finding their way all over the country. It is not a question of every precaution having been taken. The fact is that the maize has been landed in Sydney, while the very same shipment was condemned in Brisbane out of the same ship. It is impossible to imagine that the maize would be infested in Brisbane, and not equally infested in ‘Sydney. Of course, they might not hatch out so quickly in Sydney, but the fact remains that there has now been landed in Sydney several thousand bags of South African maize infested with one of the most dangerous pests that can possibly affect the farmers of this country.
– Who are the farmers’ friends now ?
– The position would be somewhat humorous if it had not its serious aspect, because the party who are admitting this maize into the country are the farmers’ party, who pose before the community as the sincere and particular friends of the farmers; yet here, through their officers in Sydney particularly, they are allowing this pest to come in.
– Whose officers in Sydney -the Commonwealth’s or the State’s?
– They .are not State officers. It is a miserable quibble on the part of the Minister to say that they are State officers.
– I asked, “Who are they?”
– The Minister should be the last to ask me what officers were dealing with the import. ‘Every ordinary member of this House knows that the officers who are handling these matters in the States are the State officers, subsidized or paid by the Commonwealth to carry out the quarantine work, and the Minister should not shelter himself behind the idea that they are State officers.
– The honorable member was suggesting that the Government had done this thing themselves.
– The Minister surely does not wish us to believe that he it not responsible for oversea imports.
– No, -I did not say so.
– This matter is entirely and absolutely in the hands of the Federal authorities. The State officers are simply acting in the Customs Department as quarantine officers for the time, and the State Departments are paid by the Federal Government for their work. My contention is that any future shipments of this produce should be absolutely prohibited in the interests of the farming community of the Commonwealth. I notice that shipments of maize are arriving from Java. I draw the Minister’s attention to the fact that we are in .danger of the introduction of an equally insidious and dangerous pest with maize from Java. If the Ministerial party are as anxious to protect the farming community as they profess to be, the Minister will see that immediate steps are taken, not only to prevent the importation of maize from South Africa, but to cause the most careful investigation to be made with regard to the shipments expected from Java.
.- I should like to draw the attention of the Prime Minister and of the House to the question already raised by the honorable member for ‘Kennedy with regard to the House sitting three days per week. The House has been sitting four days per week for some years past. No other Legislature in the world attempts to sit for the same length of time, and the reasons against it are many. In the first place, if Ministers are occupied with their duties in the House for four days a week, the control of administrative matters must pass from their hands into the hands of the officials, and it. is clearly the duty of Parliament to prevent this, whatever side is in power. If Ministers’ time is taken up with administrative matters, they cannot be occupied at the same time with the legislative matters that have to be attended to while the House is sitting. With the House sitting for four days in the week affairs are frequently at a high tension, and this is very trying for the health of members. We saw that two members died last session, and probably the length of sittings had something to do with the fact. When we have been wrangling for a long time, the strain of the week’s, work is too great upon members, and the only relief that they are able to get is by going out of the chamber and staying out during a large part of the debates. That, again, is not in the best interests of parliamentary government, because men ought to be able to sit here for the whole time. If we want to test how long men may devote themselves to intellectual work, we shall find that in all countries the amount of intellectual work men may do is limited in the bulk of instances, in the case of the law, at any rate, to something like five hours a day. A man is not, as a rule, able to give full attention to his work beyond that time. Of course, we know that there are exceptions, but I am taking the generality of cases. When men are sitting here every day, how is it possible for them to do what they should do in the direction of finding out whether similar legislation has been introduced in other countries, and what its effect is, and to give the benefit of the knowledge thus acquired to other members who have probably been engaged inother work? To enable us to do that, I think this House would be doing an excellent thing by adopting the three days of sitting per week, which is certainly as long as men should sit to attend -to their legislative work. We find that the best men devote something dike ‘twenty-five hours, in (the whole ‘week to judicial work.
This House might well take note of the fact, and revert to a sane procedure. If we sit too long, the effect is to delay instead of hasten legislation. A feeling of irritation is set up in the minds of men.. rendering them incapable of taking that sound and calm judgment of matters that certainly should be brought to bear on, legislative work. I think I am well within the mark in saying that practically two-thirds of the members on both sides of the House are thoroughly agreed that the House now sits too long. To adopt the usual hours will cause no delay inlegislation, but will distinctly encourage a quicker procedure. It will be to the advantage of every man in the House, and of the country, if the days of sitting are limited to three. I would ask the Government to take the matter into their early and serious consideration.
– I agree with the honorable member for Werriwa with regard to the Housesitting only three days a week. I desire to discuss with the Prime Minister a little matter affecting Tasmania. I cannot s.eewhy that State should- be deprived of itsfive Divisional Returning Officers simply because it is small. Napoleon was a littleman, and yet he conquered Europe. Some of the greatest minds that Australia ever produced came from Tasmania. Tasmania is the mother of Australia, and why should it not get five Divisional Returning Officers? With regard to the* other States, let us take Brisbane as an instance. There will be three or- four constituencies in that city, and oner Divisional Returning Officer with a clerk could manage them. The same would apply to Adelaide; and then without having to increase the cost we could have five in Tasmania. The five divisions are; absolutely separate in Tasmania. Hobart is only one constituency, and the others? come’ into the suburbs of Hobart. I want the Prime Minister to look into the matter, and see if he cannot put Tasmania, on the same- level as the other States. When I was there last there was a lot of ill-feeling; not alone on the Labour side, but on the side that -my honorable friend represents. In. fact, men whom I met said that, they did not consider the proposal was fair. I wired to the Prime Ministerpointing this out at the time, but I hoped’ to see him later on, and had not the opportunity. I hope he will do justice to.little Tasmania, not on account of heir weakness, but on account of the fact that all the States must be treated on an equality, and the cry must be justice to all. We must not give the big States the supreme control.
– As I told the honorable member for Brisbane in regard to the shipments of maize, we received a report that a number of the bags had been examined, and that in the sacks only was this pest discovered, and that every sack that was affected was properly treated by the officers. I think Mr. Knowles, the State officer, was in charge of this matter, and the report we received from him through the proper channels was to the effect that the whole shipment had been satisfactorily dealt with. As regards Sydney, inquiries were made, and the information we have received from the State officers there was that in no instance were these importations affected by the disease.
– Yet they were all out of one shipment.
– Two boats were mentioned - the Sumatra and the Java. The honorable member can take the assurance that the Department, generally speaking, from a central administrative point of view, is eager to keep out of Australia any pest likely to be injurious. I do not know whether he has any other information than what he has already given to the House. If he has, I shall be very glad if he will supply it to me, and shall immediately get the whole matter reported on, and, if necessary, additional inquiries made.
– If what the Minister has just said is true, we are up against one of the most serious things that could happen to those who grow maize in Australia. The honorable member has told the House that the bags were examined, and that in all the bags the corn moth was discovered.
– I did not say it was discovered in every sack. I said that in all the cases in which it was discovered it was immediately dealt with, according to the report, so as to prevent the possibility of the introduction of the pest.
– That was only in relation to the sacks, and not in relation to the maize.
– The maize was examined, and the moths were not found in it.
– It would not be possible to examine every grain of maize, or even to make any thorough general examination. The discovery of the moths in the bags is a very serious matter, and the whole of the shipment should have been destroyed. We are suffering in Australia from the introduction of pests in the past, and any Min.ister, whether Labour or Liberal, should be most careful, and even drastic, in dealing with these matters. There is not a pest in Australia to-day that cannot be traced to some particular importation, and laxity on the part of those who are administering matters at the time has permitted these pests to cause considerable damage to the whole of the farming community. The whole of the potato crop of Australia has been in certain years practically destroyed through the introduction, of a disease. The same remarks apply to the fruit-fly, and to a number of. other pests that have come in from time to time. The most drastic measures should be taken to prevent the introduction of this new pest, even though the destruction of forty shipments of maize might be necessary. Should the pest get a footing in the country, it would seriously affect the locally-grown maize, and at the present time we have to go to a great deal of expense to keep down the weevil pest. I did not know that maize was imported into this country. Certainly no other crop grows more luxuriantly here, and enormous yields of maize have been obtained in almost every part of the Commonwealth. Every endeavour should be made to prevent the introduction of pests, and infected shipments should be destroyed. The pest in question is very minute, and could not easily be detected by the examination of a few samples of grain. Coming to another matter referred to by the honorable member for Werriwa, the suggestion that we should sit fewer days per week, I would point out that. this. Parliament sits more hours a day, and more days a week, than any other in Australia. The length of our sittings, and the consequent strain imposed on the first occupant of the chair, waslargely responsible for his death, which was a disaster to the Commonwealths When I occupied the chair I was at the end of the session in a state of health which made it very painful to continue my duties, and you, Mr. Speaker, will bear me out in the statement that each week the fourth day’s sitting is a great trial, and that the occupant of the chair is then in a state in which it is very difficult for him to do justice to the position. Further, the sittings of Parliament being extended over four days, Ministers have not the opportunities which they should have for administrative work, and there is a danger that they may be forced into becoming mere automata for the approval of the decisions of the permanent heads of the Departments. It would be better for the work of the House, as well as the administration of the Departments, if we sat only three days a week. There is a general impression abroad that a member’s work is confined to attending the sittings of the House ; but, as a matter of fact, five-sixths of it is done out of the Chamber. There is nothing more tiring and exhausting than the examination of documents and statistics to obtain the information with which members have to prime themselves to do justice to the work of Parliament. In addition, they have an enormous correspondence to attend to, some of them having to deal with more than 100 letters a week on the average. In the interests of good government, and of the health of members, we should sit only three days a week.
– The attention of the Minister having been drawn to the danger of the importation of pests from South Africa, I hope that he will take immediate action to provide proper preventive measures. There are in South Africa a number of pests which are not yet established in Australia,one of them affecting wattle bark. which is imported here. We have suffered a great deal from the introduction of pests, unwittingly or innocently. Rabbits, foxes, and other animals have done a great deal of mischief, and there are in addition all the insect and other pests which have been brought here. I hope that the Ministry will carefully consider how the introduction of pests can best be prevented, and will give special consideration to the pests likely to he introduced by the importation of wattle bark.
Mr. McGRATH (Ballarat) [6.9).- We have been informed by the Minister of Trade and Customs that of a shipment of maize half that was landed at Sydney was found to be free from corn moth, and the other half, which was landed at Brisbane, was found to be infected. I take it that the inspection in Sydney was lax. That reveals a very serious position. If laxity in the examination of one importation can be proved, it may obtain generally, and under a lax system we do not know what pests may not be introduced. It is not likely that only that portion of the maize which was landed in Brisbane was affected by the corn moth. The chances are that the whole shipment was infected, but that the pest was not discovered in Sydney because the examination there was lax. The officials who have been guilty of laxity should be brought to book by the Minister. The farmers of Australia have already enough to do to make ends meet, and we do not want to add to their burden. The honorable member for Gippsland laughs at that, although, in his district, there are very large growers of maize, and they are much interested in this matter. It is no laughing matter to the farmers about places like Orbost. They are anxious that there should be the most thorough examination of all importations. It surprises me that maize is imported into Australia, seeing how much we produce. I trust that the Minister will not rest content with the explanations that he has received from his officials, and that he will order a further investigation to ascertain who is to blame. As to the suggestion that we should sit only three days a week, I would say that were we sitting in a chamber that was properly ventilated we might, perhaps, well sit four days.
– There would still not be time to deal with our correspondence properly.
– That may be a difficulty with some members; as a Victorian, living near home, I have not so much travelling to do as have the representatives from other States. Probably Victorians have more time than they to deal with their correspondence. I trust that the Prime Minister, when framing the sessional orders, will give consideration to the request that has come from both sides that we shall sit on only three days a week. Reference has been made to the great losses of last session. The honorable gentleman did me a good turn in providing me with a three weeks’ spell at a time when, owing to the labor- kms nature of the work, I badly needed it. In connexion with my suspension–
– I ask the honorable member not to anticipate the discussion on a motion of which notice has been given.
– I am anxious that the discussion of that motion may como on, so that I may say a word or two on the subject of my suspension.
.- I had no intention of addressing the House this afternoon, and I have never before offended in connexion with a motion for adjournment, but I wish to reply to certain reflections which were made upon me deliberately by the honorable member for Ballarat. Gippsland is practically the only maize-growing constituency in Victoria, and has produced the best average yield of maize obtained anywhere in the world, a yield of 60 bushels to the acre. I did not laugh, as the honorable member for Ballarat suggested, at the introduction of a new maize pest, because I know that the producers of this country have already quite enough pests to deal with; what occasioned my smile was the honorable member’s statement that we did not want to put any further burdens on the producers. I smiled at the idea of honorable members opposite attempting to lighten the burdens of the farmers. The possibility of the introduction of a new pest is too serious a thing for any one to smile at. I am surprised that the maize which has been referred to was allowed to enter the country. It may be that when the maize was being unloaded in Sydney the pest was in an undeveloped stage, in which it was too minute to discover, and that it developed on the journey to Brisbane. The Customs authorities in Sydney may be to blame, but probably the honorable member for Brisbane himself could not have detected the pest in the Sydney shipment.
– Why did not the pest develop in. the maize that was left in Sydney?
– Did it develop there ?
– That is what no one knows.
– Possibly the Sydney maize was not infected, or the climate was not warm enough for the development of the pest. I have never at any time smiled at the prospect of anything happening to the detriment of the producers. This Government undoubtedly represents the producers, and has done more for them than has any other Ministry.
.- As the representative of a district in which a very large quantity of maize is produced - its annual output, I should say, is from 40,000 to 60,000 tons - I desire to refer briefly to this question of the introduction of maize containing corn moth.
– Gippsland, in the matter of maize production, is a mere cypher as compared with the honorable member’s district.
– It is only a circumstance. Notwithstanding what the honorable member for Gippsland has said, it seems to me that the inspection must have been very lax, and that, if the larvae existed in the maize, the inspector should have been able to detect them. The incident is but another illustration of the many faults arising from dual control - a matter to which I have had to refer on previous occasions. The honorable member for Kennedy has said that the officers concerned should be brought to book for the laxity displayed by them. I would remind him, and the House, however, that they are employed by the State. If any action were taken by the Commonwealth, they would snap their fingers at us, just as some of the State officers do in connexion with Commonwealth public works, and the States would probably condone anything done by them in this direction. Even if it were proved conclusively that the larvae existed in the maize when it was landed at Sydney, and that if ordinary precautions had been taken their presence could have been detected, the officers would find plenty ready to support them in their previous contention that no larvae could be found. This is a very serious question, affecting not merely the districts around Sydney and Brisbane, but the whole farming community of Australia. Honorable members opposite who profess to represent the farmers are responsible for every pest with which the farmer has to contendfrom the Chinese to the kanaka; the prickly pear to the rabbit. When we on the Opposition side of the House rise in the interests of the farmers, the Government, and their supporters, who are
– We will father everything, if you like, but the prickly pear.
– The prickly pear, the Bathurst burr, the fox and the sparrow - the introduction of these and other pests - can be traced to men whom honorable members opposite represent. When we endeavour to protect the producers, we find men like the honorable member for Gippsland seeking to defend a Government which has certainly failed to do what it ought to do in the interests of the farming community, whom it claims to specially represent.
– I should not have risen at this stage but for the amazing ignorance displayed by honorable members opposite in regard to certain pests.
– We are a pest to the Conservatives.
– If the honorable member were infected with the microbe of sweet reasonableness, the comfort of honorable members would be materially increased. I have no sympathy with deliberate negligence on the part of any inspector whose duty it is to examine imports. But if honorable members opposite had an even elementary knowledge of microbe organisms, they would know that they can exist only in certain temperatures, and that it would be quite possible for them to be latent in Sydney and yet virulent in Brisbane.
– Would the honorable member apply that statement to the corn moth?
– There are few cereals which have not inherent in. them a latent microbe-organism which, under certain conditions, will ultimately devour the whole of the grain.
– That is not a reply to my question.
– I merely wish to point out that these particular moths, at a certain stage, might be visible only to an entomologist with the aid of a microscope. The average inspector has not had an opportunity to gain special technical education in that direction, and if we are going to place upon these officers the onus of examining all imports to discover the presence of every pest, then we must be prepared to offer such salaries as willinduce Men ofgreaterabilityto
– The statement just made by the honorable member for Hume that the State inspectors could not reasonably be expected to detect the presence of microbes or the existence of certain pests or diseases in grain has occasioned me a good deal of surprise. If it is too much to expect of these officers then why are they employed? If there is any country whose exports of produce and live stock should be subject to the closest scrutiny, it is South Africa, and the very fact that this maize had come from South Africa should have induced the officers concerned to make a most minute inspection of it. We have in this instance another illustration of the way in which the Labour party, which is said to be a menace to the farmer, is prepared to’ come to his rescue, while those who claim specially to represent him, remain silent.
I wish now to refer to the presence of microbes in this chamber. I complained on numerous occasions last session of the want of proper ventilation, and whether we meet two days or four days a week it is high time that the ventilation of the chamber was improved. Althoughlittle more than two hours have elapsed since we met here the atmosphere is already very vitiated. .
– Efforts have been made for nearly forty years to improve the ventilation of the building.
– There is not a ventilator or window in the wall which separates this chamber from the Queen’s Hall, one of the largest in the building. Surely if a hole were knocked in it the ventilation would be improved. I have been fairly regular’ in my attendance, and always desire to hear the debates, hut I have made up my mind that, unless the ventilation of the chamber is improved, much of my parliamentary work shall be done outside. Is it to be said that we have not in Australia engineers capable of improving the ventilation of the building? I think that the vitiated atmosphere has a good deal to do with the bad temper that is sometimes displayed. Anything that would tend to improve the health of honorable members would be a step in the right direction. I understand that you, Mr. Speaker, have charge of this matter, and I hope that efforts will be made at once to deal effectively with it.
.- The question which has been raised in regard to the importation of maize infected with corn moth is one of the greatest gravity. Every precaution should certainly be taken to keep any new pests from Australia, for, it is beyond cavil that any pest which exists elsewhere will certainly flourish here. I should like, however, to ask my honorable friend who has raised this question what else the Government could have done. The moment the discovery was reported to the Minister he issued instructions that every precaution should be taken, and the most complete efforts made to deal with it.
– But the machinery is slow.
– The machinery was provided, I think, by the honorable member for Yarra - the ex-Minister of Trade and Customs - and I am sure that he did the very best he could in the circumstances.
– The very fact that my successor has kept the -system on shows that it must be a good one.
– It was the best that could be done.
– I should think so; and I am glad to know that the best has been done to meet difficulties of the kind. The complaints as to the adequacy of what is done must, I submit, lie’ somewhere else than at the door of the responsible Minister of the day.
– It seems that the fault must lie with those who did the .inspecting; no one is blaming the Minister.
– The inspecting is done only’ by those officers appointed for the purpose.
– Why did they not “spot it” before?
– Because, apparently., they are not as well able to “ spot it” as we are in this Chamber.
– The officers in Brisbane found it out.
– The Brisbane officers found the pest, while the Sydney officers said there was none.
– And this was in regard to the same boat.
– That may very well be.
– Does the Prime Minister think that the moths would come out in .two days?
– Yes; they generally come out in less than two days.
– If the Prime Minister had seen the bags as I saw them, he would know that could not be.
– It is quite apparent that I do not know half as much about maize as some of my honorable friends opposite. I desire to say, once for all, that the Government ought to take every step possible to prevent these diseases coming to . Australia. If my honorable friends opposite can suggest any better regulation - any better method of inspection, or any more competence in dealing with the matter - I hope they will do so. We shall consider any suggestions made, and, if practicable, put them into operation at the earliest possible moment. In this case, apparently, the best has been done in the circumstances; and the officers concerned, who for this purpose are our officers, were thought the best men who could he put in control by the predecessors of the present Ministry. As both sides concur in the arrangements made as the best possible we may fairly conclude that the machinery is as good as any that could be thought of by those best able to advise. As to the days of sitting, I am becoming ap- prehensive of a general strike in this Chamber; and I am afraid it looks like a strike with conspiracy behind it. Honorable members on both sides are in agreement on this very important matter ; and it looks very suspicious. As honorable members will have observed, instead of moving the usual motion relating to the days of sitting, I purposely postponed it with a view to considering the whole circumstances.
Mr.Riley. - Leave it to the House; it is not a party question !
– Somehow or other, ever since my honorable friends of the Labour party have been in Opposition, they have shown a desire to reduce the hours ofsitting.
– The late Prime Minister kept us eight hours and a half each day for the whole of one session.
– And what can the present Government do? The exPrime Minister set the pace, and we cannot help ourselves. I would not think of throwing over the ex-Prime Minister in such a way as that suggested ; we have too much respect for him. If honorable members on both sides will undertake not to strike, I will see if I can set up a hoard of conciliation.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 6.30 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 15 April 1914, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1914/19140415_reps_5_73/>.