5th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– Before we enter upon the business of the day, I wish to refer, with the concurrence of the House, to the accident which took place at Bendigo on Saturday last. It was one of those unfortunate happenings which evoke sympathetic feeling wherever they occur, but are the more distressing when they occur within our own immediate circle. It would seem that, despite all we may do to avert these disasters, the element of human error, and, perhaps, of mysterious influence at the back of it all, which we cannot fathom, must often baffle us. When calamity comes we can only express the grief which it causes to us, and our sympathy with those who have been made to suffer. A peculiarly poignant feature of the Bendigo disaster is that all its victims were young men. A great loss has thus befallen the Commonwealth, because these young citizens were cut off in the promise and potentiality and hey-day of life. But the loss of the community is as nothing compared with that of those who mourn their breadwinners and relatives. I presume that public sympathy, taking some practical form, will, to some extent, make good their pecuniary loss, but little or nothing can be done to assuage their sorrow, and to compensate them for the companionship of those who have gone. All we can do is to express our sympathy, and to voice the hope that the future may have some compensation in store for what they must now endure. Speaking on behalf of the whole Parliament - because, happily, there are no party divisions in a case of this kind - I express the deepest sympathy with those bereaved, and pray for kindly blessings upon them from that quarter to which alone they can look for succour, and fortitude to bear their affliction.
.- The Prime Minister has done well to refer to this sudden and appalling disaster. Like me, he knows something of mining, and its difficulties and dangers. Miners, as a race, will brave any risk to help save their comrades, or to rescue them from injury or death, but disasters such as that which occurred on Saturday seem to be impossible to prevent. I am well acquainted with explosions of the kind that occurred at Bendigo, becauseI spent my youth near the place where Nobel has erected his factories, and remember the mysterious explosions which occurred there from time to time, and still occasionally take place. The cause of the present disaster will, perhaps, never be known, but Itrust that all that the wit of man can devise, and all that his ingenuity in discovering and applying the teachings of science can gain for the perfection of means to eliminate the chances of accident in mines, will be done, so that fathers, mothers, wives, and children of the miners may feel confident, when their breadwinners leave home for the scene of their labours, that they will return to them safe and sound. I join the Prime Minister in expressing sympathy on behalf of the whole people of Australia with the bereaved widows and orphaned children of these Bendigo miners. It is to be hoped that that Power which alone can give consolation in the time of their distress will bestow it amply and abundantly. I sympathize, too, with my colleague, the honorable member for Bendigo, who is immediately connected with the electorate inwhich these men have lost their lives.
.- As the member for the district in which this awful calamity has occurred, I wish to add a word or two to what has been said so eloquently by the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition, which, coming from men who have been miners, and understand the fearful dangers of mining, will be the more appreciated. It is incumbent upon us to read the lesson which this accident teaches. In Victoria, during the last five years, there have been 92 fatal accidents in mines, 289 accidents causing serious injuries, and nearly 9,000 accidents resulting in minor injuries. It behoves us, therefore, to consider what may be done to prevent accident, especially accidents like that of Saturday, by which seven comparatively young men were cut off in the full vigour of life, and seven families cast into deep mourning. Apparently these accidents are not entirely to be prevented, but we have to consider what lies in our power to lessen their occurrence, and what appropriate means can be devised to alleviate the distress and suffering which they cause. I thank the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition for what they have said. I am sure that their words will bring some measure of consolation to those homes where consolation is at present so sadly needed.
The following paper was presented : -
Debate resumed from 1st May (vide page 546), on motion by Mr. Kendell -
That the following Address-in-Reply to the Speech of His Excellency the Governor-General be agreed to by this House: -
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.
Upon which Mr. Fisher had moved -
That the following words be added to the proposed Address : - “ but regret to have to inform you that your Advisers deserve censure for having failed” to safeguard the interests of the people of the Commonwealth.”
– On the afternoon of Friday last, sir, the honorable member for Hunter made some remarks, and I crave the indulgence of the House to make, by way of personal explanation, a reply setting forth the facts. The first charge he made against me was in connexion with a telegram and a letter from Mr. Joseph Timms, stating his willingness to do the work.
– I do not wish to interrupt the honorable member, sir, bub under cover of a personal explanation he is practically replying to something which has been said by another honorable member. If that is to go on, where is it likely to end? I ask whether the honorable member is in order in practically replying to the speech of the honorable member for Hunter ?
– On the point of order, sir, I am not endeavouring to answer the speech of the honorable member for Hunter, but to clear myself from a reflection upon me personally which he made during the course of his speech on Friday last.
-It is in accordance with the practice of the House, as well as the Standing Orders, that, with the indulgence of the House, an honorable member may make a personal explanation at any time, if he has been misrepresented in regard to anything he has said, or if he desires to make clear something he has not already made clear in a part of his speech. I have not had any means yet of judging what the Honorary Minister intends to say ; therefore, I cannot, at this stage, say whether he is going beyond the bounds of a personal explanation.
– The statement of the honorable member for Hunter was that, although I had said to the House that I was not aware of the offer of Mr. Joseph Timms until the House met, I obviously must have been aware of it, because of a statement which appeared in the EngineerinChief’s answer to my queries.
– That is practically a reply to the honorable member for Hunter.
– Does the honorable member object to me clearing myself?
– Honorable members will find in the public file a question to the Engineer-in-Chief as to why the papers had not been submitted to me; he gave his own explanation, and I laid it upon the table of the House without comment. If honorable members care to turn up the public file, which the honorable member for Hunter had in his possession on Friday when he was speaking, they will find on the very next paper two statements from independent officers of the Home Affairs Department, conclusively proving that I, whatever the Engineer-in- Chief had said, could not have seen the two documents in question. One is a statement of the record clerk, which reads as follows : -
I have made personal inquiry and search for a communication from Mr. Joseph Timms, addressed either to the Engineer-in-Chief or to this Department, respecting an offer to contract for a portion of the work on the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta railway, but no such communication has been registered in this branch.
That is his statement, taken from the paper following the one from which the honorable member for Hunter quoted. On the same paper, the Secretary to the Home Affairs Department reports as follows : -
The paper, not having been to the. head office, Was not brought before you.
As honorable members know, the Railway Office is about a mile away from the Head Office.
– I rise to order. The honorable member is now opening up a contentious matter.
– The Honorary Minister is introducing new matter into this debate.
– The honorable member is reading something that has not appeared in this debate before. He has asked somebody for an opinion.
– This document was in the hands of the honorable member for Hunter when he made his speech.
– I will answer that presently.
– The Honorary Minister is introducing new matter altogether. I do not mind the honor- _ able gentleman explaining himself to the fullest possible extent, but surely honorable members on this side will have a perfect right to reply to new matter which is imported into the discussion. I, or any other honorable member, might *be interested in the matter, and how are we to get in a reply to the statement which is now being made? I ask your ruling, sir, on the point of order.
– I have already ruled that the Honorary Minister will be perfectly in order in making a personal explanation to set right any matter in which he has been personally misrepresented. We have two standing orders on the subject. Standing order 258 reads -
By the indulgence of the House a member may explain matters of a personal nature, although there be no question before the House; but such matters may not be debated.
Then there is standing order 260, which says -
A member who has spoken to a question may again be heard, to explain himself in regard to some material part of his speech which has been misquoted or misunderstood, but shall not introduce any new matter or interrupt any member in possession of the chair, and no debatable matter shall be brought forward or debate arise upon such explanation.
As long as the honorable member confines himself to the terms of the Standing Orders, and does not introduce new matter, but proceeds to set right something in which he has been misrepresented, he will be in order, but he will not be in order in introducing new matter which has not previously been referred to in the debate. A personal explanation should be confined to matters on which the honorable member claims that he has been misrepresented.
– I was only referring to these two statements by officers of the Department, to show that by the very file which is in possession of honorable members,- my lack of knowledge of these communications is completely and absolutely proved. There is a further communication from’ Mr. Monroe, Chief Clerk at the Railways Office -
I have to report that there is no record in the Engineer-in-Chief’s office of Mr. Timms’ offer ever having been forwarded for the Minister’s information.
– I think that the honorable member is now going beyond the bounds of a personal explanation.
– Passing away from that, sir, I will only point out that these papers are in the possession of honorable members, and there was no occasion whatever for the particular reflection which was laid upon me.
– Ask leave of the House to make a statement, and then get it in properly.
– So far as. that matter is concerned, the file is in the possession of honorable members, and has been for some time. I also wish to lay upon the table, in complete refutation of this insinuation, a letter from Mr. Joseph Timms, dealing with that question and others, and also a wire from myself to Mr. Hobler, Deputy Engineer-in-Chief, and his reply. There was one other statement made by the honorable member for Hunter in regard to myself, which is in the nature of a reflection, and, consequently, I crave leave, by a personal explanation, to clear myself.
– I rise to order. The honorable gentleman has produced a lengthy typewritten document, and stated that, as a part of a personal explanation, he is laying the document on the table. Surely he is not entitled to table a document which is not known to the House. We do not know what it is - in fact, it may have nothing to do with the personal explanation.I submit that the honorable member is not entitled to lay the document on the table as part of his personal explanation.
– I think that the honorable member is going beyond what is intended by the Standing Orders as the limits of a personal explanation, in laying a number of documents on the table of the House. His better plan will be to ask leave of the House to make a statement, and if leave is granted, then he will be able to do what he now desires. I am afraid that, in making a personal explanation, he is going beyond what is allowable under the Standing Orders.
– In that case, I shall take another opportunity of laying the papers on the table. The other statement to which I wish to allude, as it is a reflection on myself, was the statement that a certain paper, dealing with the costing on the Port Augusta railway, is missing from the file, and that, consequently, the Minister had not been frank and candid with the House. I propose to give honorable members the benefit of the inquiries I have made since to completely substantiate my position in this matter, which honorable members will find from a perusal of the papers is absolutely blameless.
– What papers are they?
– The honorable member will remember that I asked for the costing of the last 5 miles of similar country to the country before Mr. Teesdale Smith’s contract began, for which he was recommended to get an additional contract.
– Similar country?
– No; they tell me it was not. Perhaps honorable members will not object to hearing what the present Engineer-in-Chief has to say.
-Order! This is quite irregular.
– Then I will merely lay the papers on the table. I just desire to add this assurance, that, far from having any desire to in any way cover up the costing of this particular work, I have taken exceptional care to see that it can be compared with work done under a legitimate day-labour system, and at a later date I shall lay those papers also on the table.
– The Honorary Minister has stated that when I spoke on Friday I had in my possession the file from which he has quoted. I desire to say that the honorable member will see, by perusing my speech, that I quoted from correspondence appearing in the Melbourne Age after he had written to Mr. Deane. The point I made was that Mr. Deane alleged that a meeting had taken place between Mr. Timms and the Minister on the 26th February - if the Minister did not meet Mr. Timms, he can place his views before the House - and the Minister had informed the House that he did not know about any other offer until the House met. I say that if he met Mr. Timms on the 26th February, he must have known about the other offer before the House met. A second explanation I desire to make is in regard to day labour. I stated that a letter which the Minister wrote to Captain Saunders asking for information in regard to the cost of 5 miles of similar work carried out by day labour was not on the file, and was not obtainable by honorable members. The Honorary Minister has proved the correctness of what I stated by telling us that he intends to place the papers on the table.
– I understood the Honorary Minister to make a statement in answer to the honorable member for Hunter, on Friday-
– Order ! I am afraid these remarks are not in order.
– I was reflected upon, and I desire to make an explanation.
– If the honorable member is making a personal explanation he may proceed.
– The Honorary Minister interjected to the honorable member for Hunter on Friday, “ I told your leader that,” referring to the absence of certain papers. The fact is that the Honorary Minister came to me in my room - I think I received him as kindly as any man could receive another - and told me that he had not the paper which had been asked for. But that was not a communication that I could make to the House or to honorable members. Yet the Honorary Minister interjected on Friday in such a way as to suggest that I knew that he had not got the papers.
– You knew that I had not.
– That was a fortnight before the honorable member for Hunter spoke. The Honorary Minister knows he has transgressed in this matter.
– I desire to make a personal explanation in regard to the statement just made by the honorable member for Hunter. I can assure the House that I have never seen Mr. Joseph Timms in my life, and the file which I will lay on the table will conclusively clear up the whole matter for the benefit of honorable members.
– Several sets of papers have been laid on the table. I should like to know whether they are to be printed so that members may get copies of them. Will the Government agree to their being printed?
-I take it that, unless otherwise ordered, these papers will go before the Printing Committee in the ordinary way, and a recommendation will be made to the House.
– May I have the leave of the House to move that all these papers be printed?
– I shall now ask leave to lay on the table the following papers: -
Queanbeyan to Canberra Railway, cost of construction.
Kalgoorlie-Port Augusta Railway (Mr. Teesdale Smith’s section), cost of construction.
Kalgoorlie-Port Augusta Railway - Further correspondence with reference to an offer made by Mr. Joseph Timms in connexion with the construction of portion of the line.
– The whole of them?
– Yes, all of them.
– An honorable member just now objected to certain papers being laid on the table, and raised a point of order. I want to be clear as to what honorable members want.
– All of the papers.
– A point of order was taken that these papers could not be laid on the table.
– They could not be laid on by way of a personal explanation. Let us have the whole of them.
– Now that honorable members have gone back on what they said just previously, I shall move that the papers I now lay on the table, together with those previously tabled, be printed.
– To put ourselves in order it will he first necessary to get leaveof the House to lay the papers on the table. Then no point can crop up later as to the regularity of our procedure.
– I now move-
That the papers be printed, together with all papers on the question already presented.
– The motion would be made absolutely clear if the Prime Minisister would make the motion refer to all papers in connexion with the contract.
– As one of those who took a point of order a few minutes ago, I object to the statement made by the Prime Minister that there was some attempt on this side of the House to prevent any explanation being made in connexion with this matter.
– The honorable member ior Kennedy took the point of order.
– The honorable member for Kennedy objected to the Honorary Minister abusing the Staitding Orders in order to get in something he had no right to get in. The Prime Minister knows that perfectly well. The Honorary Minister came here with a second speech, which he had had carefully prepared-
– That is without foundation.
– An objection was taken on this side of the House, because honorable members are limited to one speech of a certain definite time, and the Honorary Minister, who had already spoken at great length, came in with a revised version, and sought to get it in by way of personal explanation. It ought not to go forth to the country that the Prime Minister is fairly representing the case when he says that there is any objection to the tabling of any papers in connexion with this contract.
– The people know it.
– They know it, but I object to the statement made by the Prime Minister being allowed to go uncontradicted into the records of Parliament.
Motion agreed to.
Colonel RYRIE (North Sydney) [3.30]. - I need not look at the clock in commencing my remarks, nor need you, Mr. Speaker, note the hour, because I shall not occupy more than half the time allotted to an honorable member upon this debate. I notice, however, that honorable members opposite who have spoken have taken their full time to the very last second, and, in most cases, on various pretexts, have clamoured for extensions. Yet they say they wish to go to the country. I do not think that going to the country worries them. I think that they are worried about coming back from the country. Had it not been for the little controversy that has just taken’ place, I would not have referred to the Teesdale Smith contract. I shall merely read a letter contained in the papers just laid on the table, and then I shall have finished with the matter.
– Wise man!
Colonel RYRIE.- If I had any more to say about it, I could only say that it is a question of whether the Minister is supposed to be an engineer, and measure up country and inspect it, and say whether the prices are correct, or whether he is expected to accept the advice and recommendationof his expert officers. But I shall content myself by reading a letter from the Engineer-in-Chief to the Secretary of the Department of Home Affairs -
With reference to the attached papers (your R.14/1835) on which the Minister asks for information as to the estimated cost of constructing the Queanbeyan to Canberra railway, and the total length of the line, I have to advise that the original estimate of cost of this line, as made by the late EngineerinChief on the 10th July, 1911, was £20,000 to £25,000, which amount provided for grades of 1 in 30, with 70-lb. rails, and curves not sharper than 10 chains radius. On the 6th February, 1914, Mr. Deane minuted he wished it placed on record that the reason his original estimate of £25,000 had been increased up to that date by £12,000 was due to improvements in the class of line, permanent way materials adopted, and additional works ordered. The Chief Commissioner, New South Wales railways, constructed the portion of the line within his own boundaries, but the rest of the line was constructed by the Railways Construction Branch of the Public Works Department, New South Wales, and the total cost to date is, approximately, £42,825 14s. 11d.; but it is estimated that an additional £1,110 10s. will bc required to complete the line. The actual length of main line is 4 miles 75½ chains, and the length of sidings is 1 mile 75¾ chains. There is on hand1¼ miles of material (rails, sleepers, and sundries) valued at £2,852 15s.11d., which amount is included in the £42,825 14s.11d. mentioned above. The cost’ per mile of the sidings will be less than that of the main line. I am separating the costs of the main line and the sidings, and will furnish you with the information within a few days.
These papers clearly demonstrate that a line constructed by day labour at Canberra, where the country is easy, and where there is practically no rock, is costing just as much as the section of line out of which Mr. Teesdale Smith is supposed to be making a fortune. I have not time to go into the figures, because I have not seen these papers until to-day. One reason why I speak in this debate is to have the opportunity of discussing a subject of the greatest importance. So important is it that it has hardly been touched on in this debate - I do not say this satirically - because honorable members realize that it is a matter that is far removed from party politics. . I refer to the utterance of Mr. Winston Churchill, the First Lord of the Admiralty, and the criticism on that utterance by the Minister of Defence, Senator Millen. I ask honorable members to believe that I am referring to this question without presumption. No one knows my limitations better than I do. I would not, for the fractional part of a second, endeavour to persuade myself that I could pit my reasoning in such a matter as this against that of the great men of the Empire who are endeavouring to solve those great problems that involve the prestige of the nation and the peace of the world. But I consider that we in this Parliament have some other duties to perform than that of wrangling as to who should occupy the Treasury bench, and one of those duties is to give serious thought to the very grave problems that I have indicated.
– Why did you not think that when you were in Opposition ?
Colonel RYRIE. - I do not know that I took up any different, attitude -when I was on the other side of the chamber. I have endeavoured to reason this problem out - perhaps in a crude fashion - and I can come to one conclusion only - I believe that any reasonably intelligent man would come to that same conclusion - that we have either to absolutely ignore the utterance of the First Lord of the Admiralty, or remodel and recast our whole naval scheme. Whichever course
We adopted would be taking a very serious step indeed. It would mean throwing overboard the advice tendered to us by one of the greatest naval experts, Admiral Henderson. It would have been far better had the Admiralty in 1909 said that they considered Australia should continue a scheme on a contributory basis; for we then should’ have been prepared for what has come now. But there was no proposal of that sort. The Imperial Conference recommended that we should build a separate Fleet Unit, and the Admiralty indorsed that recommendation. I say at once that for years it had been my opinion that we had better continue contributing to the upkeep of the British Navy, though not’ the paltry sum of £200,000. My opinion was that we should give a substantial subsidy, and that itwould not be wise to embark on the stupendous task of creating an Australian Navy. However, I was not egotistical enough to pit my opinion against such bodies as the Imperial Conference and the British Admiralty, and, in deference to those bodies, I changed my views and approved of the step that was taken.
– Does the honorable member change his opinion in deference to other people?
Colonel RYRIE. - Under the circumstances I changed my opinion in deference to people who, in my view, knew better than I did, and I think I was justified in doing so. It is only a fool who never changes his opinion- However, all this is by the way. We have put our hand to the plough, and there is no turning back in the enormous undertaking of creating a separate Unit in Australia. We have spent some millions of money in building an Australian Dreadnought, something like £2,000,000 on our battle cruiser. We have in our Fleet the cruisers Sydney, the Melbourne, and the Encounter; and at the present time, in our own shipbuilding yards at Cockatoo Island, another cruiser, the Brisbane, is being constructed. In the same dock three torpedo boats are coming into being, and the Sydney has gone to escort two submarines which are on the way out to the Commonwealth. In addition there is the Tingara training ship for boys, and the torpedo boats Parramatta,’ Yarra, and Warrego. Here we have a Navy, or, at all events, a Unit of which this community, though, unfortunately, very small in population, can be justly proud. We have watched the growth of our Navy from its infancy until we now find ourselves in possession of practically a complete Fleet Unit. But we have to face the bald truth that, after spending all those millions on vessels, docks, and naval bases, and after having had the expert advice of such men as Admiral Henderson, and entering on the great work of providing a NaVal College, we are told that we are all wrong.
– Whom does the honorable member believe - Admiral Hender son or the other man?
Colonel RYRIE. - Does the honorable member pose as one of those great men in deference to whom I would change my opinion? If so, the honorable member is greatly mistaken, because, while I admit that, as compared with the authorities I have mentioned, I am a pigmy, I am a Goliath when compared with him. As I say, after we have done all this work, we are told that we are all wrong. Why are we told that? Are the conditions to-day different from what they were five years ago, in 1909 ? I contend that they are not. Germany is the nation which Great Britain is supposed to fear, and must fear ; and waa not that so in 1909 ? To-day the Japanese are in alliance with Great Britain, just as they were five years ago. We were consulted then by the Imperial authorities, and we are not now consulted. We were treated more like a son than like a child of the Empire. A son, as a child, should in all things unquestioningly follow the advice of his parents, but when he grows to man’s estate he expects to be taken somewhat into their confidence, and, perhaps, later to become a partner in the firm. The only adverse criticism of the action taken by the Minister of Defence has come from the honorable member for Parkes; and of that portion of the honorable member’s speech, as of other portions, I do not approve. The speech itself was excellent, couched in language and delivered in a style calculated to excite the envy of a comparative novice like myself. Prom an oratorical point of view, the deliverance was all right, but I do not agree with the subjectmatter, more particularly with the criticism of the Minister of Defence. The honorable member for Parkes suggested that the Minister had insulted the Japanese nation. Personally, I have carefully read the utterances of Senator Millen, and the only sentiment I find that could in any sense be taken as an insult to the Japanese nation is in the expression that the “ pages of- history are strewn with shattered alliances.” In my opinion, however, such words cannot, even by the greatest stretch of imagination, be construed into an insult to Great Britain’s allies. In any case, we should be chary of speaking of insults to the Japanese nation, because our restrictive laws are a greater insult than could be conveyed by any words of the Minister of Defence.
– Would the honorable member have those restrictive laws removed ?
Colonel RYRIE. - No, I should not.
– For generations past similar statements have been made by Imperial statesmen.
Colonel RYRIE. - And it is perfectly true that the “ pages of history are strewn with shattered alliances.” Be that as it. may, the shattering of an alliance does not imply perfidy on either side; and I absolutely fail to see any ground for the statement by the honorable member for Parkes that Senator Millen has insulted the Japanese nation. Senator Millen’s criticism, with which I heartily agree, was a masterly one, and is backed up by no less an authority than Viscount Hythe, who, in the Naval Annual for 1913, wrote-
If the resources of the whole Empire are to be drawn upon for the common defence - and they must bc if the Empire is to stand - it is certain that every Dominion which bears its share of Imperial burdens is entitled to a voice in the control of Imperial expenditure and Imperial policy.
We are entitled to be consulted regarding the absolute change in the whole Naval policy of Australia which has been forecasted by Mr. Winston Churchill, but the inference is that we are not to take any part in the Imperial deliberations. We expect that we shall be consulted. We were consulted at the Imperial Conference in 1909, and again at that held in 1911 ; but now, without any warning, we are told,, not directly, but indirectly, that our Naval policy is based on wrong lines. We are told that battle cruisers are not required in the Pacific; that the Japanese Alliance is a sufficient protection for Australia. There is no time-limit to the statement, and I presume the contention is that the alliance is a sufficient protection for all time. The people of Australia, however, do not so regard it. Are the Opposition content to rely upon the Japanese Alliance for the safety of Australia ?
– We have not criticised Senator Millen.
Colonel RYRIE. - I am aware of that. I would ask those who have adversely criticised the Minister’s action whether they are willing that our battle cruisers shall be sent into Home waters in time of peace; and whether they approve of the doctrine that an agreement entered into between the British Government and the Dominions may be varied by one of the parties without consulting the other parties to it?
– Certainly not.
Colonel RYRIE.- I should think not. It is incumbent upon the Prime Minister to submit to the House a motion, intimating to the Home Government that the utterance of the First Lord of the Admiralty in regard to this question of Naval policy has caused a deep sense of disappointment, and even consternation, in the minds of the Australian people. The motion should also request that a conference be held in Great Britain at the earliest possible moment. I have a further authority to support my contention that we should be consulted in these matters affecting the defence of the Empire. In the Argus of Friday last, the following statement appeared under the heading “ Australia’s Navy “ : -
Admiral Sir George F. King-Hall, formerly Commander-in-Chief on the Australian station, has an article in the Nineteenth Century for May, dealing with Commonwealth defence.
He predicts that the Australian Navy will be a consolidating, rather than a disintegrating, force in the Commonwealth’s relations towards the Empire, provided that the Motherland’s statesmen regard the question with a far-reaching vision, and look to the future potentialities of the Empire and the Dominions. “ The time is approaching, if it has not come,” writes Sir George,”‘ when the Dominions will demand a fuller voice in the councils of the Empire, especially in relation to naval defence. Imperial, and particularly naval, conferences, should be more frequent than they have been hitherto. Now that the means of transit arc easier and quicker, there ought to be a permanent sub-committee always in session, keeping the different Governments in constant mutual touch.”
I have every confidence in the Minister of Defence, who, as soon as he took office, made many improvements in military administration.
Colonel RYRIE. - I am reading from my notes. I have not seen the Minister for weeks, nor have I consulted or spoken to him upon these matters. Senator Millen has administered his Department in a practical way. Save in a few isolated cases relating to officers, we have to-day a more contented Force than we had during Senator Pearce’s regime, and this despite the fact that the present Minister has not had at his disposal nearly the amount that was available to his predecessor.
Colonel RYRIE. - I am referring to the expenditure, not on huge undertakings, but in connexion with small administrative matters. As a practical man, Senator Millen has attended, not only to the bodily comforts of the men while in camp, but to their spiritual wellbeing. He has augmented the scale of Tations in camp.
Colonel RYRIE. - He has augmented the scale of rations, which is an excellent thing to do. There is an old, and perfectly true, saying that a soldier, to fight well, must fight on a full belly. To get the best out of the men, you must feed them well.
Colonel RYRIE- I know that. But they are supposed to be fighting. The more realistic the supposed fighting is made, the better is the lesson learnt by the troops. If we can get men to believe that they are actually fighing - and I have seen men in these manoeuvres who really did believe that they were fighting - so much the better. When a sham attack is being delivered upon any position, the best men are those who make themselves believe that they are actually fighting. I have seen some men white with excitement while engaged in an attack on a certain position. At any rate, it is just as well - whether they be really fighting or not - that they should not be permitted to go hungry in camp, and the increase of their rations is a reform which the Minister of Defence has brought about with a view to making a more contented Force. In regard to their spiritual welfare, the Minister has re-organized the Chaplains Department by instituting an efficient chaplain service for the military. It will thus be seen that he has attended to their spiritual as well as their bodily wants. More important things, however, have been accomplished during the period that he has been in charge of this Department. For instance, he has given some encouragement to the branch of the service with which I am associated, namely, the Light Horse. That encouragement was very badly needed. During the term of office of the last Administration the members of this arm of the service had to provide their own horses, take them into camp, and look after their own saddlery. For this they received the large allowance of £1 per year. The present Minister of Defence has increased the amount to £4 per annum.
Colonel RYRIE. - No. He is cutting down expenditure where it is not needed. He evidently believes in spending money wisely and in a practical way. Another very important alteration which he has effected is that of doing away with the Promotion Board, whose functions have been handed over to the Military Board. It is only right that the Military Board, which has to administer affairs in connexion with the Forces, should make all promotions. The Minister has also promulgated instructions for the guidance of officers in dealing with the owners of property over which troops have to manceuvre, or which is used in any way by the Defence Department. This matter was always a source of very great worry to the Minister, and it has frequently created a situation from which there was noescape without loss to the Department, and therefore to the Commonwealth. The Minister has also issued a set of rules relating to Military Rifle Clubs and Miniature Rifle Club Units.
Colonel RYRIE. - I do not know the exact number, but the honorable member could obtain that information from the Department. I do not profess to have all these figures at my command.
Colonel RYRIE.- The honorable member need not attempt to put words into my mouth, because this is a game about which I know something.
Colonel RYRIE. - The honorable member reminds me that there are many ways in which the Minister is worried by reason of trivial matters being brought under his notice - matters which he has to investigate. A question relating to one of these was asked by the honorable member himself only the other day. I would not have thought of it but for his interjection. On the 16th April, he asked -
Can the Minister representing the Minister of Defence explain why military horses in training at Liverpool were fed on fodder imported from the Argentine, or some other country, instead of being fed on Australian produce?
Colonel RYRIE. - I do not know whether it was black chaff he wanted, but the reply which was forwarded to the honorable member by the Secretary of the Department reads -
With reference to your inquiry in the House of Representatives on the 16th inst., relative to military horses at Liverpool Camp having been fed on imported fodder, I beg to inform you that the District Military Commandant, Sydney, to whom the matter was referred, has replied by wire as follows: -
Colonel RYRIE. - I tell the honorable member that I have not been near either the Minister of Defence or his Department -
Horses fed on Australian-grown oats known as Algerian. Most universally used oats in. this district.
I do not know why the Minister should be worried with such trivialities.
Colonel RYRIE. - Although the Minister has instituted many useful reforms, and although he is administering his Department on practical lines, much yet remains to be done.
Colonel RYRIE. - These are my own notes. The honorable member cannot play those tricks on me. Many improvements have yet to be made before we can have an absolutely efficient and contented Eorce. In connexion with our permanent field batteries, there is one improvement which is imperatively necessary if the men composing those batteries are to be made efficient and contented. At the present time the permanent field batteries have not horses permanently allotted to them. They should have. Let me glance at the position for a moment. A battery commander has command of his battery in every respect except that he has not command of the horses. In such circumstances, of what use is his battery? He may draw out a syllabus for the training of the men under him. All may go well until a day or two prior to the date fixed for certain training, when he may receive an order that fifty of his horses are required to be sent to Warrnambool or Timbuctoo, or somewhere else. Such a state of things is enough to make him jump up and never come down again. It takes all the heart out of him. It takes all the heart, not only out of the officer, but also out of the men. This may appear a trivial matter to honorable members, but I can assure them that there have been actual desertions from the Permanent Field Artillery because of horses being taken away from their batteries and given to militia troops and militia batteries in different parts of the country. These are horses that the men have taken the greatest pride in. They have groomed them, looked after them, fed them, and driven them. They know the horses, and the horses know them. Any man who has been brought up amongst horses, or is used to horses, will know what I mean. It is just as if a man on a station had a particular horse which he had looked after himself and kept in fine condition, only to find that, when he was absent, somebody else had given an order, and the horse had been taken away to pack rations out to a back station.
Colonel RYRIE. - That is easily calculated. There are three permanent batteries of field artillery in Australia - one in Victoria, one in Sydney, and one in Brisbane. On a peace establishment, the full complement for each battery is eightytwo horses. Each battery is divided into sections, and again into half-sections. Each half-section has one team - a gun and six horses and a waggon and six horses, or twelve in all. As there are four half -sections, that would make fortyeight horses. Then there are all the special men in connexion with the battery - officers, battery sergeant-major, trumpeters, ground scouts, and signallers. At all events, numerous other horses are required, making the total up to eighty-two for each battery as the minimum peace establishment. Consequently, 246 horses should be permanently allotted to the three permanent batteries, and these should not be taken for any other use.
Colonel RYRIE.- They would have to be fed, in any case.
Colonel RYRIE.- We have them. Horses are being bought every day; but these horses are practically counted now as remounts, and taken for any purpose. The battery commander never knows that he will have enough horses for his battery. This is one of the greatest causes of discontent among officers, noncommissioned officers, and men. There is room for an improvement, which neither the present nor the last Minister has carried out.
Colonel RYRIE. - It certainly should be done. The honorable member under stands these things. If the honorable member had a spscia] horse, which he liked and looked after, and received an order to let somebody else take it and ride it away, the honorable member would take it very hardly. That is the case ‘with thesemen.
Colonel RYRIE.- They do not. It impairs the efficiency of the batteries, which cannot turn out at review or on parade as they should. The battery looks nothing unless the men have nicely groomed horses in good condition. These men would have the horses in perfect condition if they were left to them, for they look after them, and take a pride in them. When an order comes from Major Dowse, D.A.Q.M.G., to a battery commander to this effect, “ I want fifty of your horses sent away to a camp at Warrnambool,” the horses have to be sent away, and honorable members can understand how the men feel. They are sent away to a militia artillery camp, and come back with sore jaws from the big bits that are used, with knees damaged by their journey in the- trucks, with their shoulders wrung, and all knocked to pieces generally. This sort of thing drives the men fairly crazy.
Colonel RYRIE.- I do not.
Colonel RYRIE. - If I blamed one Minister, I would blame the other. Probably the Minister has never had this matter put to him in a practical way, as I am putting it to the House now. I am satisfied that when he is made cognisant of the facts he will make an alteration, because he has proved himself to be a practical man. I wish to touch briefly upon the two test measures which are to come before the House. I think they are well named, because they are calculated to put the acid on honorable members opposite. It is no wonder that our honorable friends on the other side endeavour to ridicule them. They do so because they know that the passing of either of them will not trend in the direction of gaining them more votes.
Colonel RYRIE. - Here is the new chum interjecting ! Honorable members opposite are apparently excited. Perhaps they have not got over the excitement and enthusiasm of the great meeting held in the Melbourne Exhibition Building last night. It is no wonder that they endeavour to ridicule the Postal Voting Restoration .Bill, which is intended to give a large number of the mothers of the future men and women of Australia a say in the governing of the country in which their families will have afterwards to live. No wonder they ridicule the idea of our endeavouring to give those who are unfortunate enough to be crippled or infirm the right to vote. They do so because there is on record the fact that at the general election before last, 9,000 more votes were cast through the post for Liberalism than for Labour. That is the reason why they say, “This is a most ridiculous proposal. It is of no importance at all. Let us wipe it out of our minds altogether. Let these poor old cripples go hang. We do not care. Good enough for them if they cannot get to the poll to vote. Let them stop away. Let these women be fruitful and multiply, but do not give them a vote through the post, because it tells against us.” Let me examine for a moment the reasons that honorable members opposite give for doing away with the right to vote by post. Those reasons constitute one of the greatest slanders ever uttered against the working men of Australia. Let me repeat to them the Prime Minister’s remark - “You slanderers.” No honorable member on this side has ever uttered a greater slander against the workers of this country than that uttered by honorable members opposite, who have said, “ We must not allow the postal vote, because the working man is such a craven creature, such a spiritless being, that the boss will come along and tell him to fill out and sign his voting paper in front of him, and seal it up, and put it in the box.” In short, they practically say that the employer will -make this unfortunate trembling man do exactly as he pleases. It is a slander on the workers to say that they will vote just as the boss wishes them to.
Colonel RYRIE.- I believe that at heart I am a better champion of the working man than is the honorable member, who poses here as one of their true champions. There is the poor little unfortunate, trembling servant girl whose ogress of a mistress brings her before her, and forces her to vote as she wishes.
Colonel RYRIE. - Here we have the slander again repeate’d. It is no crime for a girl, through stress of circumstances to have to go out and earn her own living, but we are invited by honorable members opposite to believe that such girls are too craven in spirit to think for themselves. Women have the franchise now, and I say that many of them exercise it better than men do. My honorable friends opposite say that these girls employed in domestic service are so craven in spirit that they will vote exactly as their mistress instructs them.
Colonel RYRIE. - The honorable member for Adelaide says that it is because these girls are so careful of their bread and butter, but if he spoke from his heart, he would admit that he knows as well as I do that it is the mistress who trembles every time she sees her girl coming towards her, because she thinks she is going to give her notice. Imagine these poor little girls trembling - I don’t think. I ask honorable members to imagine, if they can, the men working Maloney’s chaffcutter, cutting up “ black “ chaff, being so brow-beaten by their boss as to allow him to tell them how they should vote. What a nice chance the employers have of instructing their employes how to vote. A reference to the postal vote suggests the condition of our electoral rolls, and many other questions arising in connexion with our Electoral Act. Let me remind honorable members of another slander put upon a certain section of this community by honorable members opposite. We know that instructions were issued by the last Administration that no man who was a land-owner, a station-owner, or overseer on a station should be employed in any capacity in connexion with the general elections. That was a slander upon the land-owners of the Commonwealth, but our honorable friends opposite always slander the land-owners. They would thrust them down, take their land away from them, and put them out of existence if they could. They would not allow them to act in any capacity in a polling booth, because they say that they are one-sided and biased. I say that that is a deliberate slander upon the land-owners of Australia. There are, of course, other people who are not biased, like, for instance, one gentleman who was appointed as a poll clerk in a polling booth at Canberra. Of eourse, he was not biased. He could not be, since he took after his father, the Honorable William Hughes. A son of the exAttorneyGeneral wa3 employed as a poll clerk in a polling booth at Canberra, and, of course, he could not be biased ; whilst because I happen to be interested in pastoral pursuits and primary production - and I say here that the primary producers of this country are the backbone of Australia - I am told that I would be a perjurer and a liar, that I would not act conscientiously, and that I would be false to the oath I should have to take before entering the booth as an electoral official. The son of the Honorable William Hughes might be allowed to enter a booth and act as a poll clerk quite safely because he would be absolutely fair and impartial. He would not be biased at all. He takes after his dad. I have nearly come to a conclusion, but I should like to say that the second test measure is, in my opinion, of the very greatest importance, although honorable members opposite endeavour to laugh at it, and suggest that it is of no moment at all, because only a few thousand men would be affected by the prohibition of preference to unionists in the Public Service. I know why our honorable friends opposite ridicule that measure. It is because the prohibition proposal would” prevent them from creating an enormous political machine.
Colonel RYRIE. - A political machine which would turn outLabour members of all sorts, sizes, and conditions on the shortest notice. The honorable member for Bendigo asks how the proposed test measure would prevent that, and I say that if our honorable friends converted the Public Service into a close borough for the unionists, they would create a huge political machine.
Colonel RYRIE. - The honorable member admits that the measure will be repealed if honorable members opposite are returned to power.
Colonel RYRIE.- The granting of preference to unionists in the Public Service would mean the creation of a huge political machine, which would be used for the advancement of the cause which honorable members opposite espouse. If we created huge unions in the Public Service, honorable members opposite know well that 90 per cent, of the unionists would vote for them. The result would be that here, in Australia, we should be governed practically by delegates from the Trades Hall. Honorable members opposite would take their instructions from the machine. I go so far as to say that they take their instructions from the Trades Hall at the present time. If any proof of this were needed, I might refer honorable members to a statement made by the honorable member for Denison. He said that the party opposite practically take their instructions from the Political Labour Leagues.
Colonel RYRIE.- What the honorable member for Denison said was that my honorable friends opposite take their instructions from the Labour Conference, which is not very far removed from the Trades Hall. The honorable member said -
As to the referenda proposals of this party, what we mean by them is that we have already progressed as far as the Constitution will allow us to go on present lines. But the people of Australia are continually crying out for more progress. They have given us certain instructions, which are on record in the proceedings of the Hobart Conference.
Colonel RYRIE. - The honorable member admits the statement of the -honorable member for Denison. Honorable members cheerfully admit that they take their instructions from the Labour Conferences:
Colonel RYRIE. - The country should be governed, not by delegates voicing the representations of sections of the community, but by members of Parliament chosen by the electoral constituencies, who should be untied and untrammelled in their parliamentary action.
Colonel RYRIE. - We, on this side, do not take instructions from the Liberal Unions, and have never professed to do so; but honorable members opposite admit that they take their instructions from the Hobart Conference. Therefore, if they were in power, the country would be governed, not by a Labour Ministry and its supporters, but by the Hobart Conference, of which Labour members are merely the mouth-piece. Members of Parliament should not accept instructions from any one. I came here determined to form my own opinions regarding the many grave problems with which public men are confronted.
Colonel RYRIE.- I did not know that. I have not asked him whether I could speak.
Colonel RYRIE.- The 4thJuly, 1912.
Colonel RYRIE.- I do not know to what the honorable member refers. I do not take instructions from any one.
Colonel RYRIE. - I was going to deal with some of the speeches that have been made by honorable members regarding the Beef Trust, but shall content myself with reading a short article published by the Buenos Aires Herald on the 13th November, last. It is headed -
High cost of meat in U.S.A.No hope in beef from Argentina. This Republic has reached its limits. The opinion of a U.S.A. expert.
The article is as follows : -
James M. Pickens, an expert in the Bureau of Animal Industry in U.S.A., has declared, says theNew York World, that “the high cost of meat is a serious reality, and it is now obvious that the rise in prices in recent years is the natural result of an actual shortage in production.
Yet honorable members tell us that the increase in the price of meat is due to the operations of the Beef Trust - “The condition is reflected,” he continued, “ in the per capita consumption of meat in the United States, which is estimated to have fallen off 10 lbs. in four years, or from 162 lbs. in 1909 to 152 lbs. in the fiscal year 1913. “ It is evident that the country is facing an era of short production of meat, and that some constructive means must be adopted if the American appetite for this class of food is supplied. “ The decline in beef production is shown in three different ways - by the number of cattle on hand, the number received at market centres, and the number slaughtered. We are depleting our stock of cattle, and there can be no doubt of the gravity of the situation.”
The honorable member for Oxley said that the Beef Trust is absolutely responsible for the high price of meat in Australia - “ While our population has increased during the last six years, the number of beef cattle in the country has, apparently, fallen off 20 per cent, or more.
Colonel RYRIE. - To continue my quotation - “Recently thousands of cattle have been brought in from Canada, mainly because of poor pasturage and partial failure of the hay crop there. This movement may continue for a time, but it will naturally have the effect of further reducing Canada’s stock of cattle. The unsettled conditions in Mexico make it unlikely that any considerable number of cattle can be expected from that country for at least a few years.
“Argentina and Australia are already supplying most of the British imports, and have been called upon to make up the loss in the supply formerly furnished by the United States. The Australian colonies, however, are sheep rather than cattle countries, and export probably four times as much mutton and lamb, by weight, as beef. “ Argentina is a large producer and exporter of beef, but has apparently reached the limit of its present cattle resources. The number of cattle in that country showed a decrease at the last census (1911) as compared with the preceding one (1908). The report from Buenos Aires that 7,262,000 cattle were killed in 1912 out of a total stock of 29,000,000 indicates that Argentina is drawing on its reserve.
These statements show that there is a shortage of beef all over the world, and that the high prices of meat here cannot be rightly ascribed to the machinations of the Beef Trust.
Colonel EYRIE- I do not know that it is. If it could be proved that the trust had designs on Australia, and that its operations would be likely to have a baneful influence upon our interests, I should be ready to support legislation to deal drastically with it. But I do not think that there is any proof at the present time that this trust is acting prejudicially to the interests of the people of Australia. When it does so act, it will be time enough for us to take action. I have no more to say with regard to the Beef Trust, except to refer very briefly to what the honorable member for Kennedy said in connexion with certain funds which have gone to the Liberal Association in Queensland. He intimated that these funds had come through Mr. Macartney from the Beef Trust. That was a spiteful statement for the honorable member to make, and I believe that he knows in his heart that it is not correct. The only possible connexion which any one can draw between the Beef Trust and the Liberal funds, to which this money was supposed to have gone, is that Mr. Macartney is a trustee of a Liberal fund in Queensland, and also a member of the firm of Thynne and Macartney, who are solicitors for Swift and Company, designated the Beef Trust. Still, honorable members think it worth while to come here and impute that the Liberals are drawing funds from the Beef Trust for conducting their campaign. The imputations are not worthy of honorable members opposite.
Colonel RYRIE. - I do not draw any funds from anybody. I wish that I did have an offer to contribute to the cost of my campaign ; and if I did, I would soon avail myself of it. I trust that this debate will speedily be brought to an end, for I think we have said all that we can possibly say.
Colonel RYRIE. - Let us get to a vote; let us do something; and if we cannot do anything, let us get out of this place. I am sick of it. I want to get to the country. Going back to the country does not worry me. If the honorable member thinks it does, I invite any of his friends to come to the nice little constituency of North Sydney. For goodness sake let us do something. I believe that when the Ministry do get the opportunity of solving the problem that confronts us, and that is by sending to the country, not this House alone but both Houses, the people will realize that those who have held the reins of power in this Parliament are men who are strong, capable, and honest; men who jealously guard the rights of not only one section of the people but the whole; men who are true Democrats. The people will then realize, I believe, that the Liberal party is composed of men who will not permit any section of the community to dominate and tyrannize over the peaceful citizens of Australia; men who will not allow any favoritism, or any preference, to a section or clique, but men who will mete out justice to all sections without respect to class, creed, or anything else; men of wide experience who are straight, honest, and honorable and who, above all, are loyal to His Majesty the King.
.- I shall not conclude my speech as the last speaker has done by asking for a division to be taken. That is, perhaps, typical of the honorable member. This afternoon, he has given us one or two illustrations of his character. He has blown his own trumpet pretty well. I interjected that his trumpeter, apparently, is dead, as he was blowing the trumpet and boasting that he is not afaid to go to the country because North Sydney is all right. I suppose that I would be justified in saying that I am not at all afraid of going to the country, because Yarra is all right, notwithstanding that the honorable member has an immense advantage over me. The daily papers of Sydney have backed him up for all they are worth, but the daily newspapers here have always done me the honour of opposing me. In that regard, he has a great advantage over myself. Yet he says, “Let us go to the country.” Fortunately or unfortunately, the determination of that question does not lie with us, but with, some one who is right outside of this party.
– If he goes out when a division is called foi it will be all up with the Government.
– Yes; if he goes out, the Liberal party will be “down and out,’’ for we shall be able to count only thirty^ six on the other side. Our opponents say they are anxious to get to the country. At different times I have heard them speak of industrial matters, and when trouble was pending, or when a strike or lock-out had taken place, they then said, “ Let us have a secret ballot of all the unionists, or of those connected with the . industry, and see whether there will be a strike or not.” I would like honorable members opposite to take a secret ballot to see whether there should be an election or not. There would be no election held at all if a secret ballot were taken, because it is an open secret that a large majority on the other side were opposed to the calling of Parliament together so early in the year. If honorable members opposite had had their way, we would not have been presented with this skeleton of a Governor-General’s Speech. Let us take the Caucus , meeting of the Liberal party which was held in Melbourne before Christmas. It has been stated that there was practically an even vote as to the date when honorable members should come back, and it was decided to leave Ministers to decide the question. Many Ministers, as well as members, went to their homes at Christmas expecting to be called back here in July, arid were quite annoyed when they, saw the announcement made by the Prime Minister at the meeting of Liberal workers on the 27th January. On the day after A.N. A. day, that is, on the day after the Governor-General had intimated his intention of retiring from office, the honorable gentleman went to the Guild Hall, under the auspices of Mr. Packer, and announced that the Government intended to call Parliament together early to do some work. I am anxious to see the Government get on with the work. Let us get ahead. Our honorable friends opposite, of course, say that time has been wasted by this amendment which has been moved by the honorable member for Wide Bay; but you, sir, as an old parliamentarian, know that there would have been an equal amount of talking if the debate had been confined to the Address-in-Reply. Independently of the amendment, we, perhaps, would have had as many, if not more, members on the Ministerial side speaking than have done so on this occasion. Therefore, the submission of this amendment of no confidence in the Government because of their lack of administration of the Departments has not delayed the business of the country for five minutes. The present GovernorGeneral’s Speech puts me in mind of one which Sir George Reid, as Prime Minister, placed in the hands of Lord Northcote to read. It was a four-line speech, and the Ministry was passed out in four days after its delivery. There was as much material in that Speech as there is in the present one. Had it not been for the meeting of the Premiers, there would have been absolutely nothing in the present Speech. We are all aware, of course, that the decisions of the Premiers’ Conference have to be referred to six State Parliaments, that is, to twelve Houses of Parliament. On no single occasion have the six State Parliaments ever been able to arrive at unanimity on practically any question of great importance. If in this Parliament we have the Stat© interest prevailing, that interest is infinitely greater in the State Parliaments. South Australia will probably think that it has been asked to give up too much in connexion with the Murray River waters, and the same idea may prevail in the Parliaments of Victoria and New South Wales.
– Victoria will have a word to say.
– The honorable member, having been in State politics for a number of years, will know more about that subject than I do, because my experience is confined to this Parliament. I do know from past experience, however, that many decisions of the Premiers’ Conferences have never been given effect to. I cannot call to mind any large subject, upon which the Premiers’ decision has been given effect to in the different States of Australia. That is one of the reasons that we put forward in urging the carrying of the referenda; we pointed out that it was so much easier to get one Parliament to do a thing than it was to get that thing done by six Parliaments. Some of the things which have been agreed upon at the Premiers’ Conferences have never been legislated upon yet. For instance, there was the proposed amendment of the Commerce Act with regard to footwear. I remember that, although we prescribed that all goods coming into Australia, if made of cardboard instead of leather, should be branded to that effect, the manufacturers in Australia could please themselves. The various Parliaments of the States have promised to legislate on that subject year after year, but have done nothing, or, where an Act has been passed, as in the case of Queensland, it has never been put into operation. The Queensland Parliament passed an Act, which was duly proclaimed, but is inoperative to-day. The Queensland Liberal Government do nothing, because, apparently, it is not to their interest to do anything. I was very much struck by one feature in connexion with this debate. On Friday, 17th April, the Prime Minister had spoken, and had been followed by the honorable member for West Sydney. Then, at 3 o’clock in the afternoon, the Prime Minister rose, and moved the adjournment of the debate, in order, he told the House, to allow the Honorary Minister to get plenty of space in the newspapers. The Prime Minister told us that if the Honorary Minister spoke that afternoon, he would not get his side of the case fully stated in the press. That is an absolutely new procedure’ so far as this Parliament is concerned.
– We get no consideration of that sort.
– No, we get nothing -of the kind. One of the morning papers, I think it was the Aye, said that “ Mr. Cook agreed to the adjournment.” There is a lot of difference between agreeing to a thing and asking for it, but that re- port made it appear as if the adjournment had been asked for by the Opposition, instead of being moved by the Prime Minister, in order to allow his colleague to get full space in the press. I noticed in the Age of that date that two and a half columns were given to the Premier’s speech, whilst the member for West Sydney, who replied at just as great length - indeed, I am not sure that the Prime Minister spoke for the full time allowed him, but I know that the honorable member for West Sydney did, be cause I was time-keeping for him - was only reported to the extent of one and a quarter columns.
– The proper comparison is between the space given to the Prime Minister and that given to the Leader of the Opposition.
– I am quoting the two speeches that were reported side by side. That is the debate which the Prime Minister asked should be adjourned early in the afternoon so as to give the Honorary Minister an opportunity of getting a fuller report in the press. The present Ministry are dependent on the newspapers. I notice that the Argus of the same date gave to the Prime Minister two and a quarter columns, and to the honorable member for West Sydney one and a quarter. The present Government have gone about the country complaining that they have had no opportunity of passing legislation, and that, during the last session, their measures were blocked in this House by the Opposition. Of course, they forgot to tell the people that a more brutal use of the “ gag “ was made by them than had ever been made before. On the 29th and 30th October, no fewer than thirty-four divisions were taken without debate, and Ministers were vieing with each other to use the “ gag.” When Ministers complain about their measures having been blocked, I ask them to name any Bill brought forward by them which was blocked by the Opposition. They certainly introduced certain items of policy to which they knew we were opposed, and which will be opposed again, notwithstanding that the honorable members on the Government side flatter themselves that those Bills will be passed, and thereby an election will be avoided. So far as I know, the Bills which the Government introduced last year are likely to meet with the same opposition, should they come forward this session. The honorable member for North Sydney stated this afternoon that we were opposing the postal vote in order to prevent the mothers of Australia having an opportunity of recording their votes. Later on, I shall quote from the Statistical Register of Victoria to show the birth rate in industrial centres, such as Richmond and Collingwood, compared with the birth rate in districts like Toorak and Camberwell, as the birth rate is very much higher in the working class suburbs, and the mothers of Australia will be able to see for themselves which party would be most likely to deprive them of the vote. The honorable member also stated that we were taking the vote away from cripples. As a matter of fact, we proposed an amendment last session which would give the cripples an opportunity to vote; but we object to making the postal vote so wide as to allow, not only the mothers and cripples, but also many others, to use it. If honorable members on the Government side are in. earnest in their desire to give a vote to people who are ill, they will have an opportunity of showing their feelings, because the same amendment can be moved again. Whilst the Government have complained that their legislation had no chance of passing, they certainly had a chance of doing one thing which they have not done ; they had a chance of attending to their administration. They had all the recess, and from July of last year until the opening of the present session, in which to administer the affairs of their Departments. What have they done? Let me deal with one matter with which 1 am most familiar. The Lighthouses Bill was passed in 1911. The honorable member for Kooyong, speaking on the second reading, said that the same Bill had been brought forward many times, and had not been passed. Of course it had not been passed. That is what we say about a number of Government measures. They have been brought forward time after time, but have never been passed. The honorable member pointed out that the measure was practically the same as that which had been passed in the Senate, but it had never reached this House. Although the anti-Labour party had held control of Parliament for so many years, with the exception of the six months in 1908-9, when the Fisher Government were in office - that six months was nearly all recess - they had never passed into law these measures. We passed the Lighthouses Bill in 1911; but what have our opponents done since then, though they have had a chance to push on with the work? The present Minister, in reply to a question, says that the transfer has not taken place because the Commonwealth have not made the necessary arrangements with the States. When moving the second reading of the
Lighthouses Bill, I am reported on page 649 of Hansard for 1911, to have said -
At each of the Conferences held in 1906, 1907, and 1908, the State Premiers urged that lighthouses should be transferred to the Commonwealth, and we have power, under section 69 of the Constitution, to take them over.
Then I went on to deal with the matter to which the Minister is now referring: the difficulty of the dual light dues, and I said -
Like my predecessor in office (Sir Robert Best), I have tried, without success, to ascertain from the Department the exact revenue collected in the shape of lighting dues. The receipts are so wrapped up in the revenues of the various State services, such as the Department of Navigation, or the Harbor Boards, that it is impossible to secure an accurate return.
The State Premiers have asked that the lighthouses should be taken over, but the Minister says that no action has been taken. The honorable member for Kooyong, my predecessor as Minister of Trade and Customs, in speaking to the second reading of the Lighthouses Bill, is reported on page 656 of Hansard for 1911, to have said -
I accept my honorable friend’s assurance that he will proceed with this work without delay. There is no doubt that, for a time, light dues will be imposed by the Commonwealth; and, probably, in regard, to harbor or similar lights, dues will be charged by the several States. That is an undesirable state of affairs; “but I do not think it is intended for a moment by the Government that the light dues should exceed the amount required for working and maintaining the lighthouses.
So the honorable member foresaw that there would be dual light dues. Last session I raised the matter on the Works and Buildings Estimates, and I asked that the lighthouses should be taken over without delay, whereupon the present Minister of Trade and Customs, as reported on page 2061 of Hansard for 1913, said -
I ask him to cast his mind back to the actual facts of the case. In 1909 a Conference was held in Melbourne between the State Premiers and the Commonwealth Government, and an arrangement was made as regards the exact position, settling the principles on which. th Commonwealth should take over the ocean lights, beacons, and buoys.
– That was referring to an arrangement by which the coastal lights were to be taken over by the Commonwealth,, the harbor lights being controlled by the States. There was no arrangement made at that date with respect to light dues.
– And there never will be if we wait for sis States to take action. Our Prime Minister goes cap in hand to the Conference of State Premiers, and says, “ Please Mr. Premiers, we want you to give your light dues to the Commonwealth.” It will not be done in that way. The Minister talks of “ settling the principles,” but these were settled in 1911, when the Bill was before Parliament.
– The States have never agreed to any courseby which double taxation could be avoided.
– The only way to avoid it is for the Commonwealth Government to make up their mind, and say, “ We are going to charge so much for light dues.” If we go to the States and say, “ We ask you to allow us to have so much of this State revenue,” they will do, as South Australia has already done, that is, call the light dues harbor dues, and they will say to the shipping people, “ We are not charging light dues; the Commonwealth are doing that.” If the Minister’s contention is correct, the States have endeavoured to hand over to the Commonwealth this expensive Department - it is an expensive Department-
– And will become more so.
– Yes, it will. We are as much entitled to protect life at sea as to protect it on land, The coast of Australia not only needs lighting, but charting, a work which must be undertaken. If we are to take over this expensive Department, I do not know whether it is to be. considered as a transferred property, but if that is to be the case, it will add at least £1,000,000 to the cost of those properties. I dealt with this matter when moving the second reading of the Lighthouses Bill.
– But you left it entirely untouched in administration. That is one of the things that are causing delay. We are now negotiating with the States’ in order to get a basis of settlement.
– So here is a new excuse.
– It is not an excuse. Did you do it?
– The excuse is that, as the Labour Government did not say the lighthouses were to be considered as transferred property, there is no power for the Commonwealth to go into the buildings and take charge of the lights.
According to the Minister’s contention, the States can also claim for alterations.
– It is not my contention. I merely asked you a question.
– The honorable member for Kooyong told me in 1911 that everything had been fixed up for the transfer of the lighthouses, and that he had the Bill ready. The reason why he did not put it through was that the Liberal party only talked about measures, and did not put them through.
– I put it through the Senate.
– It was easy enough to put things through the Senate. They nationalized several industries in one afternoon. It was not my fault that the transfer was not put through - every arrangement was made when I was in office to do so - and now the present Minister says that it has not been brought about because we did not make some arrangement as to the cost of the lighthouses. Were any prior arrangements made in regard to the cost of defence properties or post-offices when they were transferred from the States to the Commonwealth on 1st March, 1901? If we could take over buildings worth £10,000,000, and settle for them years afterwards, the same thing could be done more readily in regard to lighthouses, the cost of which is more easily ascertained, and regarding which, the Lighthouses Department possesses a more complete report than any other Department had in regard to its transferred properties. Yet the matter had to be held up, and Ministers go to the Premiers’ Conference and say, “ Please Mr. Premiers, can we put on these light dues ; because we are taking over the lighthouses, and have to spend money on them?” And if Mr. Watt says, “No; you cannot do it,” they say, “ All right, Mr. Watt, we shall not act until you are ready to let us take over the lighthouses.” Last year the Minister, as reported on page 2062 of Hansard, said -
The delay in appointing a Director of Lighthouses obviously delayed the transfer of the Department. It was hoped that it might be taken over this month; but it now seems clear that we shall not be able to take it over until 1st March next, or thereabouts, although the transfer will be made earlier if possible.
We are told that the lighthouses cannot be taken over even now, but that the transfer must be put off to still later on; in fact, the Government have to wait for the Premiers to arrange whether the Commonwealth shall charge light dues, or whether we shall continue to pay the upkeep of this expensive Department, and get absolutely nothing in return. The Government could have done what is necessary without passingone single Act, even if they are in a minority of seven to twenty-nine in the Senate, and have a majority of only one in this House. Honorable gentlemen opposite are very good at talking about inaction when they are out of office; and I am reminded that for years they kept talking of preferential trade, and yet did nothing.
– “We carried it into effect in 1908.
– And there was also the South African arrangement.
– The South African arrangement was in 1906, and the British arrangement in 1908.
– The Government wished to “ swop “ emus for ostrich eggs.
– Yes, but South Africa would not enter into an arrangement, and the Government there refused to allow a single fertilized egg to come to Australia, although there is a treaty in regard to preferential trade in certain commodities. When I was at the Department of Trade and Customs I endeavoured, in accordance with a decision of the Ministry of the day, to enter into reciprocal trade arrangements with both New Zealand and Canada, and to that end a conference was held, the first, I believe, of the kind in the British Dominions. There is infinitely more to be said for preferential trade between New Zealand and Canada and Australia than there is for such an arrangement between Great Britain and Australia. As Ihave said on many platforms, I am a Protectionist because of the improved industrial conditions that it gives to the people; and unless Protection results in such conditions, it cannot, in my opinion, be justified. Now, there are improved conditions in Canada and New Zealand, and these are much superior to the conditions of labour in Great Britain. It may be pointed out that the present antiLabour Government, while it did not enter into an arrangement with, did give some preference to Great Britain, but nothing was given in return. I conferred with Mr. Fisher, the Minister of Customs of
New Zealand, Mr. Foster, the Minister of Commerce in Canada, and this, as far as I know, was the first Conference between Trade Ministers of the Dominions. Arrangements were made between the Commonwealth and Canada, and between the Commonwealth and New Zealand, and agreements drawn up and signed by the Ministers. I have repeatedly questioned the present Minister of Trade and Customs on the matter; but nothing has been done. The honorable member for Brisbane in the debate now proceeding, as reported on pages 312 and 313 of Hansard, drew attention to the fact that nothing has been done by the present Government to push this matter forward, although they were in a position to do so last year had they so desired. On the 9th July last I asked the Minister of Trade and Customs whether anything had been done, and his reply was that no decision had been arrived at, but that the matter was under consideration. On the 13th September, in reply to another question, he said that the matter was under consideration, and on the 27th November he told me that he was not in a position to make a public statement. On the 9 th December I was informed, again in answer to a question, that no progress had been made, and on the 15th April of this year I asked him whether it had been under consideration during recess, and he replied “ Yes.” I must confess that I expected that answer, because, after all, a Minister who has thought about a subject can honestly say that it has been under consideration. I did not, however, expect the answer which he gave to the question whether any negotiations had taken place during recess, and whether Parliament was likely to be asked to deal with the matter this session, namely, that no further information could be given at this stage. Of course, that answer means that nothing has been done. In the Age of last Saturday there was voiced a complaint that the wine-growers of Australia are feeling the pinch in regard to the exportation of wines to New Zealand. The Dominion gives a preference to South Africa, the wines from which country pay a duty of only 2s. , per gallon, while the wines from Australia pay 5s. The result is that the export of wines from Australia toNew Zealand has dwindled from over 66,000 gallons to practically none, while the South African trade in wines has expanded in proportion. If the Government do not like the arrangement made by the Labour Government, let them make an arrangement of their own, and this they could have done during recess, but we are told that no information can be given at this stage. There is another point even more important than that of the lighthouses. Of course there is no doubt that we should be able to control the lighthouses instead of leaving them practically to be controlled by the States. We are spending money, and rightly spending it, I think, in trying to perfect our system of coast lighting; but, as I have pointed out, the Ministry are putting off a settlement. The important point to which I now wish to refer is that of navigation. For eight years the Navigation Bill was before this Parliament, and the anti-Labour party did practically nothing towards passing it into law. The honorable member for Kooyong, as the representative of several anti-Labour Governments in the Senate, brought this measure forward repeatedly, and sometimes it passed its second reading, but never, however, made any substantial progress-
– Because a Labour senator opposed and “stone- walled “ it on every occasion.
– The Labour senator referred to is, I believe, Senator Guthrie, who, in his desire to make the Bill a better one, proposed amendments which, I presume, the Government of the day did not accept.
– The Government of the day cannot have been very sincere to allow one man to hang up the measure.
– Quite so. The Government, had they so desired, could have proceeded with the Bill, but for eight years they did nothing.
– There were conferences, and one most important conference with the Board of Trade.
– I know that most important memoranda went from Australia to England, and from England to Australia, in regard to this or that alteration, and that then a conference was held in Great Britain, at which certain decisions were arrived at. However, in 1910, the Navigation Bill passed through the Senate, and in 1911 or 1912 was passed by the Parliament. The Minister of
Trade and Customs, who was a member of the Navigation Commission, knows more about the Navigation Act than does any other honorable member. He is well aware that the British Board of Trade objected to many of the provisions in our Bill, but that after the appalling Titanic disaster there was introduced into the British Parliament an amending Bill which brought the British Navigation Act into line with our own, and we did not have to alter a line of the Bill proposed by our Government. At the time of its passing it was foremost amongst the navigation laws of the world. It required that practically every passenger ship should be fitted with wireless, and made considerable improvements in the accommodation for and treatment of crews and seafaring men generally. But where is the Act to-day ? It has not yet been brought into operation by proclamation. It has been hung up, so that although, when we passed it, we occupied the proud position of leading the world in maritime legislation, to-day practically every other nation has passed us. As the result of an international Conference which was held in Europe, other nations have come up to our standard, and in many respects have gone ahead of us. The people of Australia to-day have no Commonwealth navigation law in operation. They have to depend upon the State Acts, passed more than twelve years ago. We read in to-day’s Age that the coming into operation of the Act is to be still further delayed. The Government, we are told, are waiting to receive from Great Britain applications for the position of Director of Navigation. Even the tip that has been given as to the gentleman who is to receive the appointment
– Who is he?
– The man who, it was said at first, would be selected is not to get the appointment. He is not a maritime man.
– All these surmises are absolutely unfounded.
– At all events, there is to be still further delay in bringing the Act into operation. We learn this from the Age, which keeps the Ministry in power. If that newspaper simply held the balance fairly between the two parties - it need not support usthe Ministerial party would be defeated at the next general election. At least five representatives of Victoria, now sitting on the Ministerial side, could not hold their seats if the Age remained neutral.
– How does the honorable member– «
– The honorable member for Gippsland is, to use a colloquialism, a “goner.” He knows that. That is why he has given notice of a motion in favour of the adoption of the initiative and referendum. If any one has made a hobby of the subject for many years, it is the honorable member for Melbourne; but the honorable member for Gippsland, in order to placate the Age, has given notice of the motion to which I have referred. That, after all, is a very easy thing to do. Experienced Parliamentarians know that a private member’s motion has no chance of being carried unless the House is practically unanimous.
– Do not say that. I carried my motion for the abolition of the parliamentary refreshment bar.
– And even that motion was not carried into effect because the Senate did not see eye to eye with this House. The Age tells us to-day that the proclamation of the Navigation Act is to be still further delayed pending the receipt of applications for the position of Director of Navigation from men in Great Britain, who, by the way, cannot be as familiar with the Australian coast as are those who trade regularly along it. For every man in i Great Britain who is familiar with the Australian coast and Australian conditions there are a hundred in the Commonwealth. We have here many skippers who hold exemption certificates for every harbor from North Queensland to Fremantle. If applications have not been received from any of these men - if no suitable ‘ man has applied - then the Minister should let us know, and say at once that the Government are anxious to look further afield. British skippers, much as I admire some of them, have not that knowledge of Australian conditions which is possessed by men who have been trading on our coast for many years. The Act deals not only with the safety of passengers, but with the accommodation provided for the men on board ship, and an Australian skipper knows more about that matter than does one from oversea. The Act stands exactly where it was when the present Go vernment came into power, save that it has received the Royal assent. It cannot be denied that the Ministry received’ the shock of their lives when the King assented to it. Many of their supporters, whose names I shall give, were earnestly hoping that it would not receive His Majesty’s assent, and the news that it had came as a great shock to them.
– Hear, hear!
– The honorable member for Dampier says, “Hear, hear” to my statement that supporters of the Government were hoping that the Bill would not receive the Royal assent. If there was a secret ballot on the other side as to whether or not there should be a dissolution, I believe it would be found that a majority of them were antidissolutionists
– What would be the result if the ballot were extended to the whole House?
– Honorable members opposite say that we are opposed to a dissolution - that we are frightened to face the people. I would remind them of the Ministerial caucus held just before Christmas, at which they were so evenly divided that the Ministry were left to deal with the whole matter.
– The honorable member must have been there.
– No, I was not.
– How does the honorable member get to know these things?
– Is my statement correct] So far as some honorable members opposite are concerned, one has only’ to guess a few times to get out the facts. Mr. Groom. - The honorable member is always guessing.
– I am not on this occasion, and I am satisfied that a secret ballot would disclose the fact that a very considerable minority of the Ministerial party is opposed to the Navigation Act. The honorable member for Grampians has interjected on several occasions that he is. The right honorable member for Swan certainly did not enthusiastically support it, and the honorable member for Franklin and the honorable member for Dampier are opposed to it.
– I would toss ifc out if I could.
– No wonder the Government keep back the coming into operation of the Act. Any member of their party can hold them up. Any one honorable member may, so to speak, hold a pistol at the head of the Government, and say, “ If you proclaim the Act, and so put the sailors of Australia in the same position as are sailors in other parts of the world, out you go.” That is why they are holding up the Act.
– The honorable member for Werriwa said the other day that he was opposed to it.
– No one takes much notice of him.
– The honorable member has not supplied a very convincing list.
– The list includes the honorable member for Werriwa, the honorable member for Dampier, the honorable member for Grampians, the honorable member for Parkes, the honorable member for Franklin, and the honorable member for Gippsland. I do not think that the honorable member for Gippsland knows much about navigation outside the navigation of the Gippsland Lakes.
– The Navigation Act needs amending, at any rate.
– The Government have hung up the measure - they have done nothing in regard to it, and they do not intend to do anything.
– They cannot help themselves.
– Half-a-dozen honorable members on the other side of the chamber who are opposed to the Act will prevent them doing anything with it.
– What about outside bodies, such as the Chambers of Commerce ?
– I do not know anything about them; but I do know that the Government could have taken over the control of lighthouses long ere this if they had not been afraid of the States. In the same way, they could have dealt with the question of navigation by administrative methods. But they have done nothing. It is very significant that not a single maritime constituency is represented in this Parliament by a Ministerial supporter. Every one of these electorates, comprising Fremantle, Hindmarsh, Melbourne Ports, West Sydney, Brisbane, and Denison, is represented by a Labour man, and not by a Fusionist. Is that why the Government are afraid to proclaim the Navigation Act?
– The honorable member knows that it is not. He knows that there is no foundation for his suggestion.
– Then, is it because halfadozen honorable members opposite have openly admitted that they are opposed to the. Act, and wish to see it amended?
I come now to the sugar industry. It will be recollected that, in 1912, I issued regulations which, as the Sugar Commission reported, fixed, for the first time in the history of the sugar industry, a living wage for its workers. Those regulations, which have always been referred to as the Tudor regulations, established a wage for workers in the industry of ls. per hour, without keep, and of 9d. per hour with keep - the value of the rations being estimated at 12s. per week. In speaking of the injury which it was alleged my action was likely to inflict on the sugar-growers, the honorable member for Richmondas will be seen by reference to page 2697 of Hansard for 1912 - said-
The Minister of Trade and Customshas, in the most arbitrary way, suddenly taken it upon himself to raise the wages of those employed in that industry from 26s. to 36s. a week and keep.
– Is that in Queensland?
– In New South Wales as well. Further, the Minister, by these regulations, has shortened the hours of work from fifty-six to forty-eight per week. I think the regulations have been issued with an . utter disregard of the interests of the industry, and without due inquiry as to what the effect will be.
In the course of the same speech, the honorable member said -
If the Minister were here, I should tell him, as I have already told him by letter, that the growers in my district have met, and have, through me, sent a telegram to him, declaring their determination that, unless the rates are altered, no more cane shall be planted in New South Wales this year. ,
– It will be a good job, too.
– If that is the view of the Minister, and of honorable members opposite - that the powers underthe Act should be used to strangle the industry - why does the Minister not say so?
– An industry that cannot pay fair wages has a right to be strangled.
– Does the honorable member for Richmond agree with that sentiment?
– All I have to say is that these regulations have been issued more from the point of view of political bribery than anything else, and with’ an absolutely callous disregard of the interests concerned.
Then, on page 2740 of Hansard for the same year, the present Minister of Trade and Customs is reported to have asked -
Prior to the issue of the regulations referred to were communications made verbally, or in writing, to the Minister on behalf of the Australian Workers Association, with a view to the framing of a more equitable form of agreement between the growers and the workers?
Apparently, what I did was not regarded by the honorable gentleman as equitable. Then, upon page 2930 of Hansard for the same year, the honorable member for Cowper is reported to have asked -
In view of the statement in this morning’s newspapers, that, as the result of the scale of wages fixed by the Minister of Trade and Customs being applied to the sugar industry, some 1,500 men have been discharged, will the honorable gentleman take the situation of the industry into consideration, and reconsider his attitude?
My reply was -
No representation from any employes to the effect that any man has lost employment by reason of the scale of wages referred to has reached me.
I come now to the reasons advanced by Mr. Denham why these regulations should be amended. At page 3940 of Hansard for the same year, the honorable member for Darling Downs read from a letter from Mr. Denham, the following, as the seventh reason-
That nearly all the growers throughout the State have dismissed their employes, other than those engaged in harvesting the present crop, and as the time for spring planting is at hand, immediate action must be taken if the industry is to be saved from extinction.
– Was not that a reference to the giving of relief in effect, by giving an increase in bounty to the growers?
– I will deal with that question later on. The honorable member went on to quote the following from a letter from the secretary of the Isis Primary Producers and Cane-growers’ Association -
This association has made a canvass of the Isis, and has ascertained that the effect of the new regulations is such that, at the present time, there would be over 100 per cent, more men employed there (outside cane-cutters) in the industry than there is; that is to say, we have evidence that60 per cent, of farm hands have been dispensed with.
The honorable member for Moreton, on the following day, said -
I very much regret that this important industry is to-day being strangled merely for electioneering purposes.
That was in 1912. The sugar that was harvested in 1913 had to be planted under the wage conditions which I enforced, and there was no alteration of any regulations or of the Act made before the 1913 crop was planted. We were told then that 1,500 men had been dismissed, and the honorable member for Richmond said that the New South Wales farmers were going to plant no more cane. I do not know whether that has turned out to be true or not, but the Queensland Government Statistician has issued, a report, which was available last week, showing the results of the sugar campaign in Queensland for 1913. This report was quoted in the Age of the 30th of last month. The cane in question must have been planted while those rates were being paid, and be it remembered that no alteration of the Act had been made then, and even the result of the elections was not known, because it must have been planted before 30th May, 1913.
– It was clearly understood at that time that the Commonwealth was going to give additional relief. Both parties had agreed to it. Is not that correct ?
– I will deal with that matter. According to the report of the Queensland Statistician -
The total cane crushed was 2,085,588 tons, for a yield of 242,837 tons of sugar, compared with 094,212 tons of cane, for a yield of 113,060 tons of sugar in 1912. .
That was absolutely a record. In 1912 the amount was 113,000 tons, and in 1913 it was, as I have shown, 242,837 tons. The Minister says that both parties were agreed that there was to be an alteration of the conditions. I should like to ask the honorable member if the cane-growers are satisfied to-day. I am not speaking of the workers at present. I did my best to look after the workers. I was accused of trying to strangle the industry, and not considering the growers. What have my honorable friend’s party in Queensland done for the growers? Absolutely nothing. I appeal to the honorable member for Herbert to say whether the growers have got the increased price of 2s. 2d. per ton, which was said to have been brought about by the Colonial Sugar Refining Company in their new agreement. Is the company giving the growers the extra 2s. 2d. which they were promised if we repealed the Excise and Bounty Acts? Ask any grower in Queensland. Every grower in that State will vote next time for the referendum, because they all believe that they can get more equitable terms from this Parliament than they can get from the Government of Queensland, so far as the sugar industry is concerned. Notwithstanding all that my honorable friends opposite have said regarding the regulations which I brought forward, Queensland’s answer was given in 1913, when they returned seven Labour members to the House of Representatives, and three to the Senate, whilst the three senators who were supporting the honorable member’s party were passed out. In fact, one of them thinks so little of his chance of getting back in Queensland that he has nominated as a candidate for the Senate in Victoria. Those gentlemen, apparently, are giving up hope. Some people who use slang would say that they have “ slung in their alleys.”
– Queensland was never better served than it was by those three men.
– Queensland’s answer to that statement was given at the last election. Seven Labour men were returned. I suppose it is safe to say that nine-tenths of the sugar of Queensland is being produced in districts represented by honorable members who sit on this side of the House, although there is a little produced in the districts of the honorable member for Moreton and the honorable member for Lilley. It was complained, when I introduced my regulations, that 8s. a day could not be paid - that it was* an outrageous proposal - but I have here a report of Judge Macnaughton’s decision in the Sugar Workers appeal case. That gentleman is, I understand, not a Labour man, and has never been remarkable for sympathy with any policy that we have introduced. He is, I believe, a thoroughly fair man; and in this decision given on the 25th April last, in an appeal from the decision of the Sugar Workers Wages Board - brought into existence, I believe, in the Mackay district - he practically justified the attitude which I took up. I think I am justified in quoting his words, considering the many hard things that were said about me, not only here but in Queensland, at that time. The following is an extract from the report of the case published in the Bundaberg Daily News: -
His Honour, in delivering his judgment, said the conclusion arrived at by the majority of the sugar Commissioners, on page 59 of their report, was that a living wage should not be less than 8s. per day. Effect had been given to this conclusion by the Commonwealth Government, when the Tudor regulations were issued, and by the Queensland Parliament in passing the Sugar Growers Employes Act of 1913.
He went on to say that, as the cost of living had increased -
I shall allow an increase all round of 8 per cent., that is to say, 8s. per day for eight hours, which will make the minimum wage fixed by me for the Southern district 8s. 8d. per day, and for the Central and Northern districts 9s. 2d.
It was said, when I brought in my regulation, that the growers could not pay 8s. a day; but, according to Judge Macnaughton, my decision was perfectly fair, and, as the cost of living had increased, it was even necessary to raise the rates.
– He knew that the import duty had been practically increased from £5 to £6.
– What I have quoted relates to the workers getting their share from the grower; but the growers are not receiving the extra 2s. 2d. from the refiner, and no honorable member on the opposite side dare go into any sugar district in Queensland and tell the growers that they have received it. The Colonial Sugar Refining Company’s agreement does not give the growers that increase of 2s. 2d. ; but the company is, of course, above criticism, and I understand that even a Court cannot now compel it to answer questions. We may have a chance to criticise it in this Chamber, but any man who says anything about the company on the platform outside will have to look out.
– They want another dose of “ Tudorculosis.”
– I am not sorry that I gave them one dose. If the effect was to increase the yield of the industry from 113,000 tons to 242,000 tons in one year, it could not have hurt them. They have evidently had something that has kept the industry going. I could quote several other matters. The honorable member for Richmond, for instance, made a long speech on this subject. In fact, he got red in the face whenever he dealt with it. When fixing ls. an hour for the men without keep, and 9d. an hour with keep, I did not provide any increase for overtime. It was said, of course, that the industry could not stand it. J udge Macnaughton has provided that -
Except in the case of cane-cutters’ contracts, all time worked in excess of forty-eight hours in one week shall be paid at the rate of time and a quarter, on holidays at time and a half, and on Sundays it shall be double time.
This is the industry that could not afford to pay a shilling an hour when I issued my regulation. It has now to pay ls. 3d. an hour for overtime on ordinary days, ls. 6d. on holidays, and 2s. on Sundays. The cane-cutters were exempt from the regulations of 1912 called the “ Tudor Regulations,” as they were on contract work, and earning more than the ls. per hour. They did not come under it, but what does Judge Macnaughton decide for the cane-cutters ? He provides that -
The minimum wage in the Southern district shall be 12s. per day with keep, and in the Northern districts 13s. a day with keep, for a week of forty-eight hours.
That is ls. 6d. an hour, and the Judge fixed the keep as equivalent to 15s. per week in the Southern district, and 16s. in the Northern districts. When I introduced the rates I proposed I was said to be wrong, but here we have Judge Macnaughton vindicating the action I took on that occasion.
– Alone the honorable gentleman did it.
– No, I acted on Behalf of the Government, and in the interests of the worker, and because I believed that the men employed in the industry had a right to fair wages and conditions. I agree with the honorable member for South Sydney that an industry that cannot pay fair rates of wages to those employed in it, and provide them with fair conditions of employment, cannot justify its existence in this country.
– The planters paid 12s. a week and keep twelve years ago. What sort of a time were they having then?
– When I introduced my regulations as to wages it was said that the industry could not pay them, and would have to go under. Now the Minister of Trade and Customs says that there has been an alteration, and I ask the honorable gentleman and the honorable member for Richmond whether they will contend that under the new agreement that has been drawn up by the Colonial Sugar Refining Company the increased 2s. 2d. per ton goes to the grower.
– I believe it does in my district.
– I guarantee that no cane farmer believes it does. I remember the honorable member coming here and telling us of a church that was going to be built in one district, but that would not be built because of the regulation I issued. The complaint was that cane farmers could not give any more to the collection for the church because they were being asked to pay fair wages to their employes.
– That is a bit strong. Is the honorable gentleman sure that that is what was said?
– Yes. A priest sent down a letter, and a quotation was shown me to the effect that he would have to give up building a church, or alterations to a church, because of the wages rates I had fixed for workers in the sugar industry.
– The church is built now.
– Yes, doubtless out of the record crop. They had a record crop in Queensland, and I hope they had a record crop in New South Wales also. I have just had this evening’s Herald placed in my hands, and it deals with a matter to which I had better refer before I proceed to deal with the Tariff. I find under the headings, “South Calls in Vain,” “ Captain Davis Comes Here,” the following cable from London: -
Captain J. K. Davis, commander of Dr. Mawson’s exploration ship Aurora, will be unable to take Sir Ernest Shackleton to the Antarctic, because he has accepted an appointment offered by the Commonwealth Government.
The following note is appended to that cable : -
It is significant that a few days ago it was persistently rumoured in Federal official circles in Melbourne that Captain Davis was to be appointed to the position of Director of Navigation, at a salary of£ 1,000 a year. About fifty applications for the post have been received, and they are now said to be under consideration. Several of them are from London, and more from that quarter are said to be still on their way. Navigation will be a branch office of the Customs Department, and Mr. Groom, Minister of Customs, was asked to-day if it were true that Captain Davis was to be appointed Director of Navigation. Mr. Groom said that no appointment had yet been made, and he was not in a position to make any further announcement, excepting that he understood that Captain Davis was an applicant.
– I said further that no offer that I knew of had been made to Captain Davis. The cablegram speaks of Captain Davis having accepted an appointment.
– That is so.
– I can tell the honorable member that 1 know nothing of that.
– Perhaps he has not yet been appointed, but has got the appointment “ in the bag.”
– Nothing of the sort; it is absolutely without foundation.
– I do not know Captain Davis at all.
– Let me add thatshould he be an applicant that will not preclude him from appointment.
– Certainly not, if he is best fitted for the position; but I say there are plenty of men employed on the Australian coast who know more of the difficulties of navigation on that coast than can be known by any man who is likely to be obtained from overseas. I wish now to say a word or two on the question of the Tariff. I have before me the list of items in regard to which applications for Tariff investigation have been received by the Inter-State Commission. The list has been issued with the compliments of the Minister of Trade and Customs.
– It was sent round for the information of honorable members.
– Quite so. I have gone through the list, and it will be admitted that I know a little about the Tariff. I was in charge of the Trade and Customs Department during the time that two extensive revisions of the Tariff were made, and I had some little to do with other revisions that took place. Many of the applications for an increase of duty refer to articles the total import of which is very small. The Minister of Trade and Customs said that last year when I left the office there were between 470 and 500 letters in the Department from persons applying for increases of duties.
– I think the number was 493.
– I never counted them.
– Nor did I, but they were gone through” for Tariff purposes.
– I suppose they were sent on to the Inter-State Commission ?
– The list which the honorable gentleman has before him is a list of applications made direct to the Commission.
– Apart from applications transferred to them from the Department ?
– None have been transferred fromthe Department without the consent of the applicants.
– I shall start with the very first item on the list, namely, “ beer,” which will probably appeal to the honorable member for Brisbane.
– Is it ginger-beer?
– No; it is beer in bulk imported from Great Britain. The general Tariff on that is1s., and an increase is asked for. I have here Mr Knibbs’ monthly summary of Australian statistics, including figures which, of” course, he gets from the Trade and Customs Department. I find that, duringthe eight months of the current financial year, the Department has collected £549,000 on beer made in Australia, This represents an annual production of the value of about £3,000,000. The Minister will find the figures at page 32 of this monthly summary. If he will turn to page 38 he will see that, during 1913, beer was imported to the value of £21,000. They are making in Australia £3,000,000 worth, and we imported £21,000 worth, and yet those concerned in the manufacture of beer are asking for an increase of duty. I do nbt know whether they are justified in their application or not. I am not so much concerned with that as I am with the fact that when I was in charge of the Department, I was denounced because I did not bring forward a comprehensive revision of the Tariff, and I want to point out that not more than a dozen of the applications on the list before me would make any substantial difference. Honorable members will admit that it would not be a matter of great importance if the local manufacturers of beer secured the extra £20,000 worth when they are producing £3,000,000 worth. One hot day would more than make up the difference. A. rise of 5 degrees in the temperature would make it up.
This is the declaration made previous to the last election by my opponent -
I, Edwin Lewis Purbrick, hereby do make solemn and sincere declaration that, if returned for Yarra, I will make it my business to force the matter of a Tariff on the notice of Parliament immediately it assembles.
Apparently the Government would not have got into recess had he been elected -
I will also pledge myself, if returned, to call an indignation meeting in the largest hall in Melbourne.
The Exhibition Building, I suppose - to protest against any attempts on the part of any party to refuse to give effective Protection at once.
This is what they say when they are before the electors. The honorable members for Gippsland, Corio, Indi, Wannon, and Corangamite all said the same thing.
– And the honorable member for Grampians, too.
– No; he is pretty washy on the subject. To continue my quotation -
I will also pledge myself that, if it is impossible to secure the immediate adjustment of the Tariff on sound and effective Protectionist lines, I will call a meeting of my supporters in both the Richmond and Collingwood town halls, and place myself unreservedly in their hands. And I pledge myself, if they think they could return a more effective advocate to Parliament to champion the cause of Protection, that I will, on request, resign the seat. More than this as a guarantee of good faith it is impossible for any man to say. I await the judgment of the thoughtful, intelligent, and free electors of Yarra.
– He nearly caught up to the honorable member in tactics.
– No one has ever heard me talk like that. Everything that could be said against me for not dealing with the Tariff was said. The other day,’ when the honorable member for Brisbane complained that the maize moth was being introduced into Australia, . the Minister said, “ We are only doing what our predecessors did.”
– We were accused of negligence, and I pointed out that, in our administration of the law we were using the same officers as were used by our predecessors.
– The Minister cannot excuse himself in regard to the Tariff by saying that he is doing the same as his predecessor. He has admitted that I introduced a revision of the Tariff which gives effective Protection to many industries.
– To some industries.
– The Tariff that I introduced is more effective than many persons know. Previously dredges were free; now they are dutiable. I also increased the rate on pianos by 10 per cent., and imposed a fixed rate as an alternative. In Vol. LXX, page 250, of our Hansard report, I find this statement of the present Minister of Trade and Customs -
– The honorable gentleman should not mention bananas; that is what I slipped on.
– The honorable member appears to have slipped to some purpose, because I see that the duty on bananas was increased from ls. to ls.6d. per cental. Then there was the loom industry, which received a benefit under the Tariff, I think that the item was free before, and a Tariff of 40 and 35 per cent, was imposed. I find that dredges of 500 tons register, which were formerly free, were made dutiable at 30 and 25 per cent.
Those facts were not pointed out when my return was being opposed. The list of those appealing for Tariff assistance is a long one. We Have been told that 170 applications for higher duties have been received, but we have not been told that 200 or 300 applications for reductions of duties have also been received. According to the Customs statistics, as presented by Mr. Knibbs, the importation of arrowroot last year was valued at only £230. We are asked to increase the duty on arrowroot. In the last Governor-General’s Speech this statement occurs -
The Interstate Commission has already been appointed, and, in addition to fulfilling its constitutional duties, it will supervise and report to Parliament with respect to industrial production and commercial exchange. It will also inquire into the working of the Tariff and its operation and effect upon the investment of capital and the employment of labour in Australian industries. It will make recommendations, from time to time, for the adjustment and revision of the Tariff, due regard being had to the interests of all sections of the community. In the meantime, any anomalies discovered in the existing Tariff will be dealt with.
I was denounced because I did not discover anomalies. But this Government has failed to discover any, and they have been there for nearly twelve months. Last year the importation of bran, pollard, and sharps was worth only £1,998. I have not taken the trouble to go all through the list, but I know that it contains eight items, in respect of which the average importation is worth less than £1,000 per annum. But, coming to tobacco, I find that the importations are very large, and are increasing each year. The honorable member for New England has spoken of the need for encouraging the growing and manufacture of tobacco, and the honorable member for Maranoa time after time has asked that something should be done in that direction. In 1911, 14,900.000 lbs. of tobacco, and last year 15,035,000 lbs. were imported, while the quantity manufactured from Australiangrown leaf Was only 2,208,000 lbs. The tobacco-grower is a primary producer, and, although this Ministry professes to desire to help the primary producer, it has done nothing for the industry. My time will not permit me to deal at length with the Teesdale Smith railway contract. Although seven Government supporters, in addition to the mover and seconder of the motion for the adoption of an Address-in-Reply to the Governor- General’s Speech, have spoken in this debate, not one of them has said a word in favour of the contract, and when the Minister was defending it they looked as if they were being accused. The honorable member for Grampians cheered the Minister, but he was the only one who did so. He is the right sort of pal to have; one who will stick to you when in the wrong; any one will stick to you when in the right. The honorable member for . Grampians stuck to the Minister, even though every other honorable member opposite, including the honorable member for Parkes, who is one of the straightest men on that side - a man who does not need to be praised by anybody - felt that he was wrong.
– Hear, hear ! He is a great “ pal “ of yours just now.
– No; he would do his best to put us out - the same as any one of my honorable friends on the other side would do. There is no political love lost between us, and he is doing precisely the same as honorable members on the other side did at the time of the referendum of 1911. Who are the men whom they used to quote then? Mr. Holman was the great man whom they quoted. When they can get a Labour man to quote against us, they use him to the utmost. And when we get a Liberal man to quote against them, are we not justified in quoting him ? Would I not like to quote the Age’s article on the railway contract if time permitted ?
– No article in the Age has proved that the public interest has been damaged to the extent of a farthing.
– On the 24th Marchthat is, a week after the Leader of the Opposition had his meeting in Melbourne, - the Age published an article containing this passage -
The public has now before it all the defence which the Federal Government have to make for giving a £20,000 railway contract to a private contractor without putting it to the test of open competition by tender.
Further on it says -
In the greater number of cases the original contractors sublet to others, and the subcontractors sublet again, the profits being divided amongst a coterie of snug middlemen, who milked the State cow industriously enough.
Is there any provision in this contract to prevent subletting ? Does it contain any conditions to protect the worker? Has the Minister of Home Affairs provided in the contract that the worker is to work only eight hours a day, and to be paid a minimum wage ? Not one condition is provided in this contract which the Minister speaks about! Speaking from memory, it does not provide against subletting, and I know that it does not lay down any labour conditions. Were the Ministry so neglectful of the interests of workers that they left labour conditions out of the contract altogether? As regards the contract itself, I wish to refer to two things only.
– Never mind about those things; get on to the other matter.
– On the 5th Marchthat is, a month after the contract was let - the Assistant Minister wrote a memorandum as to what Captain Saunders remembered, and got him to. initial a paper. Then three days after the Assistant Minister had secured the adjournment of the debate, he got Mr. Bingie to say, ten weeks after the transaction, what he remembered about being in the room. I have never seen such a set of papers before in my life. I have never known a case where Ministers sought to stand behind their officials. A more disgraceful action on the part of this Ministry I cannot conceive.
– You never had any papers. You covered it all up.
– Did I?
– Yes. ‘ ‘
– The honorable member cannot say that about me.
– That is the distinction between us - you covered everything up.
– If the honorable member says that about me, he is saying something which is absolutely inaccurate.
– I say that you covered up your facts.
– That is the difference, is it?
– Order ! The honorable member for Yarra has only a few minutes of his time left.
– The Honorary Minister calledfor a statement from Captain Saunders - a man whom he could put out, as Mr. Chinn was put out; because he is only a temporary officer. We can imagine what transpired. “ Look here, I want you to practically say what happened in that room.” What was he likely to write in these circumstances? It is doing precisely the same as some of the bosses do when they put the screw on men compelling them to do things. Then, Mr. Bingie, ten weeks after, is asked to write his testimony-
– You do not insinuate-
– The honorable member should keep quiet, or he will go out. We are not allowing inter jecting now that the Speaker is in the chair.
– Order !
– If you think you can put me out, try it on.
– Order ! The honorable member must not interject.
– I hope, sir, that you will keep honorable members opposite in order, because they require it. The Honorary Minister stood behind Mr. Bingie. He got that officer, ten weeks afterwards, to write his idea of what happened during that time. Every paper in this file is numbered except Mr. Bingle’s, and, I think, one other.
– Are you aware that you are making a despicable attack on two public officers?
– Order ! I ask the Prime Minister to withdraw that statement.
– Yes, sir, I withdraw it.
– The Minister placed these men in that position. No man with
Ministerial experience on the other side can point to a file of papers where a Minister, a month or ten weeks after an event, got officers to write as to what had transpired. I am sorry that time does not permit me to deal fully with the matter.
– It would certainly not be found in your files, because you had not any.
– Had I not?
– No; there was an “ honorable understanding.”
– I wish to say a few words about the Minister who is interjecting so much, and who should know better. He spoke about the rolls. I want to speak about the rolls in Victoria, as they are being collected at the present time. During the week that the Labour Government were in power in this State, the Chief Secretary, Mr. Prendergast, ordered a collection of the rolls. The previous enrolment in this State was about 681,000, whereas the new enrolment collected by the police is 781,000, so that in this State there were over 100,000 persons off the State rolls. The Prime Minister says, “ We will have an election when we get a pure roll.” The number of electors enrolled in Yarra under the new Federal roll is 40,602, whereas the enrolment in that electorate under the new State roll is 40,703. Our opponents will have to purify the rolls by nutting some on, instead of putting some off.
– That is very possible.
– It is, if we are ‘ to judge by the position in Victoria. I have no time to go into various matters which have been brought forward, but I want to know the reason for this great change of front on the part of the Electoral Department. About two months ago, the Department advertised for ten electoral inspectors, who were to do the whole of this work for the Commonwealth. I think that one electoral inspector was to be appointed for Tasmania, South Australia, and Western Australia respectively, and about three inspectors for each of the larger States. Before the applications were dealt with, the Department decided that they would not have any electoral inspectors. They wanted seventy Divisional Returning Officers, involving, as the honorable member for Hunter pointed out last week, an increase of over £20,000 in the expenditure on electoral officers alone.
– In addition to this increased expenditure, the Department will have to pay for rent now. In my electorate, for instance, they are looking for a shop to rent. I want to know from the Minister over this Department - the Prime Minister - whether they are going to have the whole of the Electoral Registrars in» addition ?
– We are going to try to get an effective electoral system.
– I am delighted to hear that.
– No matter what it costs.
– I agree to that absolutely - “an effective electoral system.” I must leave this question now, because there is another matter to which I desire to refer. In his speech the other day, the honorable member for Wannon said that the parties are over-organized, in other words, that over-organization is the evil with parties to-day.
– No; over-organization of the party spirit.
– When the honorable member for Maribyrnong was speaking, he said he had seen a ballot-paper for the selection of Senate candidates for the Liberal party, and I said, “You can easily get them.” You can get these ballot-papers for a “bob” a time. I have a ballot paper here, but I am going to cut out the number before I pass it over to the Prime Minister–
– The honorable member’s time. has expired.
– I desire to be allowed just a minute, in order to conclude my remarks. This is a genuine ballot paper.
– Obtained by joining the league.
– I did not get it by joining the league. Anybody could get those papers. They could join the league just before the selection. Some of the candidates pulled out and said, “ This is a faked ‘ ballot, and any one could get in,” and I do not know that they were riot correct in saying that. Any one could get as many of these ballot papers as he liked, and I have brought this one here to show that ballot papers were available to any one who wanted them.
.- The honorable member for Yarra made a remark a few minutes ago in connexion with the dismissal of Mr. Henry Chinn from the Government service, and that remark carried the inference that, in his mind, the dismissal appeared to be a political one. That same inference, in much plainer language, has been made time and again outside this chamber, and a Select Committee of the Senate was appointed in order to prove, if possible, that such was the case. ‘ That Committee failed absolutely to discover the slightest proof of any political interference in regard to the dismissal of Mr. Chinn. But in connexion with its inquiry I find that I have been singled out for certain accusations, and, consequently, it is a duty I owe to myself to refer, as briefly as possible, to the whole of this Chinn episode, and to supply the House and the country with some fresh information upon the matter. I do not know whether all honorable members have taken the trouble to wade through the voluminous report by the Select Committee of the Senate on the dismissal of Mr. Chinn, but I think that those who have done so will agree with me that special care was taken to restrict the scope of that inquiry very materially indeed. It was appointed to investigate the immediate circumstances of Mr. Chinn’s dismissal from the position he had held on the transcontinental railway, and there was to be nothing whatever said about his previous professional career or reputation. Naturally, of course, that made the inquiry more or less futile, so far as getting at the real facts of the case was concerned. We have had not only that inquiry, but also another attempt to get at the facts of the case - an attempt in which I was more particularly interested, and which failed, to a large extent, for the same causes, as were brought so effectively into the second inquiry to obviate an inconvenient investigation into this man’s alleged political and professional career generally. I notice with considerable regret that Mr. Chinn is still on terms of comradeship with some honorable members of this House, and I propose to-night to give them, an opportunity, if they so choose, to come to a conclusion that neither they nor the Labour movement gain much kudos by that connexion. Of course, I realize, also, that there are interests involved in regard to several members of the Labour party that may necessarily compel an unwilling association with Mr. Chinn. There is that large area of country north of Eucla, with which, I have no doubt, a good many members of the Labour movement regret very much that Mr. Chinn ever inveigled them into having anything to do.
I propose to refer very briefly to what is known as the Hodges Commission. I do not intend to make any comments that I can possibly avoid, in connexion with that inquiry. I shall merely put forward certain facts, which it is necessary for me to put on record, and which, so far, have not appeared in Hansard; and I propose to read, as an introduction to what I have to say, certain correspondence that took place between myself and the ex-Prime Minister, the honorable member for Wide Bay, in connexion with the scope of the Commission which was appointed to investigate what were called my charges against Mr. Chinn. I do not know Mr. Chinn at all, except from the evidence that has been submitted to me. I do not want to know him; and I was not interested in him to any greater extent than discovering that the late Government had made a very serious error in appointing him to the Government service. But, so far from trying to make political capital out of this mistake of the late Government, I did my best to privately convince the ex-Prime Minister of his mistake; and I did my best to privately convince the ex-Minister of Home Affairs. In my attempts in that direction I believe I was not alone. There were even members of the Labour party who did their best to get this deplorable appointment cancelled ; but in some unaccountable way the exMinister of Home Affairs and other members of that party stuck to Mr. Chinn right through, and, in the’ case of some of them, they have done so up to the present moment.
Sitting suspended from 6.S0 to 7.45 p.m.
– I wish to read the following correspondence between myself and the honorable member for Wide Bay s Prime Minister in connexion with the appointment and scope of what I may call” the ‘Hodges Commission. The first letter is from myself to the Prime Minister, and is dated the 4th January, 1913. It reads as follows -
Since I made my last speech in the House upon the Chinn appointment, I have noticed certain apparently authoritative statements in the press regarding the steps being taken to carry out your promise of an inquiry into this matter.
May I respectfully remind you that I have some little interest in these proceedings, and might very reasonably expect to be acquainted with them directly by you.
The latest news in this connexion, vide the morning papers, is that a commission relative to my charges is being issued to-day. Would you kindly inform me, at the earliest opportunity, as to the terms of the commission, so that I may be able to adduce my evidence with the least possible delay.
The Prime Minister replied on the 6th January, as follows -
I am in receipt of your letter of the 4th instant, and attach copy of a warrant issued to Mr. Justice Hodges in connexion with the inquiry into the appointment of Mr. H. Chinn.
I may mention that the warrant has only this morning been received from the Government Printer.
On the 22nd January, I wrote to the Prime Minister as follows -
T.n the course of the first sitting, on Monday, the 20th inst., of the Royal Commission on charges against Henry Chinn, I was made aware, from remarks by His Honor the Commissioner, of limitations as regards the scope of this inquiry which will prevent me from bringing forward, not only much of my evidence, but even some of the charges I had fully expected I would have had an opportunity to make. These limitations arise from the wording of the Commission to Mr. Justice Hodges, which (as interpreted by him) is not in accordance with the statement made by you in the House of Representatives on the 18th December. On that occasion you intimated that the scope of the inquiry “ will be limited to the statements made by the Honorable Member for Perth last night “ - and while you went on to say that it was “undesirable that there should be a sprawling Commission- dealing with every suggestion,” you also made it clear that “other matters might come in incidentally “ - this latter phrase, I presume, meaning that strictly relevant matters would be regarded as within the scope of inquiry.
It is now very obvious that the leaving out of the terms of the commission of any reference to “ incidental matters,” and the use only of the word “ charges “ and the omission of “ statements “ interferes very seriously with the case I had intended to present to the Commission, and which case in its details I could only very imperfectly state to the House by reason of standing order 266-268 preventing any direct allusions to previous debates in the same session, and also of standing order 257a with its time limit to speeches.
Under these circumstances, I have to respectfully request that a new .Commission to Mr. Justice Hodges be issued in the terms of your promise as already indicated, so that the statements made by me may _be gone into as promised.
I had a reply to that letter on the 4th February, 1913. It was from the Prime Minister, and reads as follows -
With reference to your letter of the 22nJ January on the subject of the commission issued to Mr. Justice Hodges to inquire into and report upon certain charges made against Mr. Henry Chinn, I desire to inform you that after carefully reviewing the matter the Government considers that the terms of the commission cover what was required, and is, therefore, unable to comply with your request for the issue of a new and enlarged commission.
On the 6th February, 1913, I wrote to the Prime Minister as follows -
I am in receipt this morning of your belated reply to my letter to you of the 22nd ult., calling, your attention to the serious discrepancy between the commission issued to Mr. Justice Hodges and what you promised me on the floor of the House on December 18th.
I have not the least doubt whatever that “ the Government considers that the terms of the commission cover what was required “ - so far as they are concerned.
May I remind you, however, that the obligation to carry out your promise has nothing to do with your Government? It is a matter affecting your own personal honour, and to attempt to shelter yourself behind a decision of your Cabinet is neither fair to yourself nor to me.
As you are aware I have not yet had an opportunity of stating my case. The Standing Orders of the House prevented me from doing it there, and your Commission to Mr. Justice Hodges prevented me from doing it at the inquiry.
Under these circumstances, I cannot accept the report of Mr. Justice Hodges as final, and will take further steps to challenge the appointment of Mr. Henry Chinn by your Govern-, ment.
Following that, I wrote to the Prime Minister on the 14th February. It is a rather long letter, but it is necessary that it should be included in these records, and as it is already condensed as much as. possible, I have no alternative but to read it through. However, I think it will be interesting. It is as follows -
I am in receipt of your favour of the 6th February enclosing^ copy of the report presented by Mr. Justice Hodges as a Commissioner to inquire into certain charges made against Mr. Henry Chinn by me, for which please accept my thanks.
When the report was made public in the press I was repeatedly asked to comment on it, hut refrained from doing so. I was quite at a loss to understand it, and waited for the official report, thinking that by a bare possibility it might in some degree resolve my difficulties.
The press reports appear now in all respects to be full and identical with the official copy, and it appears to be a duty I owe, not only to myself and to others involved with me, but to the public also, to make the following observations, and give the following additional information.
In the first place, I am unable to accept the method of the Commissioner in refusing to hear anything but evidence in the strictest legal sense. The Commissioner was directed by the terms of his commission not to take evidence, but to “ inquire “ into the charges. Surely this is an instruction to do more than take evidence. I take it that, to inquire into the charges was to look for, and to accept if offered, any information tending to throw light on the matters under investigation. Yet time and again when such information was offered it was rejected by the Commissioner.
The almost invariable practice of Royal Commissions, both here and in Great Britain, is to accept secondary or indirect evidence for what it is worth, and no difficulty appears ever to have arisen in this respect, so far as I have been able to ascertain.
In the course of the sitting of the Commission on Monday, the 20th January, the Commissioner in stating the limitations he intended to make to the inquiry made the following observation as reported in the minutes of evidence : - “ It was not proposed that I (the Commissioner) should go over all the events of Mr. Chirm’s life from the time he came out of the cradle, during the time he was at school or at the university.” At the time this remark was made I was, and even am now, unable to see the reason for it. Of course, I never proposed or intended to do anything so foolish us to investigate Mr. Chinn’s record from the time he came out of the cradle or during the time he was at school. But I certainly had intended and expected to be allowed to read evidence to prove that Mr. Chinn was not a university man in the ordinary sense of the term, because this has an important bearing on his alleged qualifications. On a document written by him to the Minister for Home Affairs, and included in the official file, there appears a printed heading, “ Henry Chinn. C.E., Melbourne University.” This, to put it mildly, was an insinuation that Mr. Chinn was a civil engineer. The following letter from the Registrar of the University of Melbourne throws some light on the inference that Mr. Chinn had attended the University, and on the question as to whether he is a civil engineer.
I may say that during the discussions in the Senate, it was insisted on, time and again, that Mr. Chinn was a qualified engineer -
The University of Melbourne, 29th January, 1912.
I am in receipt of your favour of 21st instant, which I find on. my return from holidays.
As I have already informed you verbally, I have been unable to find any record of the attendance of Mr. Henry Chinn as a student at the University. This does not necessarily imply that he did not attend at all, but it does imply that he completed no part of any university course, and that he did not even enter for any annual examination. He did not obtain a degree of any kind in connexion with civil engineering, nor did he pass any examination in connexion with the civil engineering course.
Some years ago the University issued a diploma to persons who did complete a certain course in engineering, and the holders of that diploma were entitled to use tha letters C.E.
Yours faithfully, (Sgd.) j. P. Bainbeidge,
House of Representatives,
Now, with regard to another issue which the Commissioner could not accept as a “ charge.” In one of my two speeches in the House of Representatives which formed the subject of the inquiry, I quoted a statement from the official file of papers dealing with Chinn’s appointment which runs as follows : - “ Went to Adelaide and made up tender for 54 miles construction electric tramways successfully, and acted as contractor’s engineer on works.” I explained to the House that ‘’ this is an official statement - part of the official file, submitted by tbe Minister to justify the appointment of Mr. Chinn.” When I indicated at the inquiry that I desired to read evidence in connexion with this statement the Commissioner refused me permission, giving as his reason that “ this is a statement on the official file which has no connexion with Mr. Chinn.” The second phrase somewhat surprised me, and I replied, “ I assume that statement on the official files was submitted by Mr. Chinn.” The Commissioner rejoined, “ I read that through very carefully, but I could find no suggestion that Mr. Chinn made it, and there is nothing in the language to suggest that.” Mr. Fowler : “ Do I understand that we are only inquiring into statements made directly by Mr. Chinn himself?” The Commissioner: “Undoubtedly! Those ore the only things for which he is responsible. I am here to deal with your allegations as to what Mr. Chinn said and did.” I had, of course, to leave the matter at that, but up to the present moment, although 1 have looked at the Commissioner’s ruling in every possible light, it is quite beyond me to reconcile it with the position taken up as regards other subjects of inquiry - the testimonials, for instance. At the opening of the inquiry there was no indication that these testimonials had been submitted by Mr. Chinn. This is shown by the fact that the Commissioner sought and obtained proof during the inquiry that they had come from Mr. Chinn. I respectfully submit that a similar investigation should have been made as to whether this statement on the official files had come from Mr. Chinn. Either it came from him, or it must have been invented - a most improbable assumption - in the Department. If it had been found by inquiry similar to that regarding the testimonials to have come from Mr. Chinn, then I could have read evidence against it. The evidence I proposed to read was that of the contractors who carried out the construction of the Adelaide tramways. In this connexion I read the following letter to the House in the course of my speech : - “ Smith and Timms, Contractors,
Adelaide,11 th November, 1912.
Dear Sir. “ In reply to your’s dated 30th ult., re Mr. Chinn’s connexion with the tendering for the Adelaide trams. Mr. Chinn was never at any time engineer for the tramway, nor did he ever do any engineering work in connexion with it. As far as his connexion with the making up of the tender for the construction of the 54 miles, he had nothing whatever to do with it, any more than check amounts as submitted. Mr. Chinn was appointed as manager of the tramway construction, but after a few weeks’ trial he was removed from that position, as, in our opinion, he was not competent to carry out the duties. “ Yours faithfully, (Sgd.) “ Smith & Timms.”
In the face of this, Mr. Fisher boasts that Mr. Chinn has “ a clean sheet.”
I do not propose to refer to the two testimonials which are the subject of inquiry except in one respect, and only because by im- plication a dead man’s reputation is somewhat esmirched in the course of the Commissioner’s finding. As regards the testimonial purporting to be signed by Garnsworthy and Smith, the latter gentleman denied on oath at the inquiry that he had given this testimonial. The Commissioner now finds that “ some of the statements in the said testimonial are not in accord with tbe facts,” and remarks also that “Mr. Garnsworthy, the person who signed such a document, if it existed, is dead.” There is a possibility expressed here that Mr. Garnsworthy may have signed a testimonial not in accord with the facts. Now Mr. Garnsworthy died last October, I think, but certainly some time after the alleged testimonial had been read in the Senate and published in the daily press. I put in the witness box a son of Mr. Garnsworthy, who was prepared to swear that he had heard his father say in discussing this testimonial as printed in the newspapers, that he knew nothing whatever about it. The Commissioner turned him out of the witness box without hearing his statement. Another son, who was on his holidays at the time the Commission was sitting, has since returned, and he also is prepared to give evidence to the same effect. I understand that from a legal standpoint what Mr. Garnsworthy may have said to his sons is not evidence, but surely a Royal Commission which was appointed to “ inquire “ might very reasonably have heard what had to be said in this respect by sons in a position to vindicate the good name of their dead father.
There were other testimonials I was prepared to challenge, and never dreamed but that sn opportunity would be given me of doing so.
The testimonial purporting to be from Sir William Zeal was one of these. My solicitors are now in possession of a copy-book imprint of a testimonial from this gentleman, now deceased, given to Mr. Chinn, which is of a very non-committal character, and quite different in its terms from that read in the Senate. Another of these testimonials I was precluded from challenging at the inquiry runs as follows: -
Municipal Council Chambers,
Town Hall, Brisbane,
City Engineer’s Office.
This is to certify I have known Mr. H. Chinn, C.E., for a considerable time, whose qualifications as a civil engineer and licensed surveyor I have verified.
From the testimonials he has received from engineers and others, and from my personal knowledge of his abilities and work carried out by b.im, I am confident in speaking of him in the highest terms - and am satisfied he Tanks amongst the foremost in his profession, and I have no hesitation in strongly recommending him for the position of engineer, for which I understand he is an applicant. (Sgd.) John Kemp,
Now Mr. John Kemp happens to be alive, and, learning that he was in active service in Brisbane, I made inquiries regarding this testimonial. The following is an extract from the reply I received signed by the town clerk at Brisbane: -
City Council Chambers,
Town Hall, Brisbane, 24th January, 1913.
Your letter of the 13th inst., making certain inquiries in regardto Mr. H. Chinn came duly to hand. I referred the matter of testimonial purporting to be signed by Mr. John Kemp, and bearing no date, to that gentleman, who is at present engineer in the service of the Metropolitan Water and Sewerage Board, Brisbane, and I give you Mr. Kemp’s words in reply - “ I have no recollection of ever having given Mr. Chinn a testimonial; he never did any work under me.”
The Commissioner reports that “ there is no substance in my charge” that Chinn, by falsely representing that he was co-trustee with another gentleman, and that they had money to lend, thus obtained money by false pretences. The Honorable George Graham swore positively that Chinn stated to him that he was co-trustee with Mr. Justice Hood, and he further declared, under cross-examination, that he was as certain of this as he was “ of standing in this box.” Any one in the inquiry room could see that the mention of Mr. Justice Hood’s name in this connexion was the pivot of Mr. Graham’s evidence. It was this that disarmed Mr. Graham of any suspicion he might have entertained of Mr. Chinn’s bona fides - it was this that fixed the episode in Mr. Graham’s memory. The Commissioner apparently attached no weight to this - does not even mention Mr. Justice Hood in his report.
Now, since the inquiry was closed, Mr. Graham remarked to me that the late Mr. George Russell, of the firm of Reynoldson & Russell, of Wangaratta, had, in conversation with him at the time, mentioned that he had a precisely similar experience with Mr. Chinn as that of Mr. Graham. At my suggestion Mr. Graham communicated w.ith Mr. Reynoldson, who at once instituted a search in the books of the late firm for anything that would throw light on Mr. Russell’s statement to Mr. Graham. The two following letters, with other proofs of the correctness of Mr. Russell’s statement, have been discovered, lt is to be regretted that these were not available before the inquiry closed, though, of course, under the Commissioner’s ruling such evidence, referring as it does to a case not stated by me in the House of Representatives, would not have been admitted at the inquiry. The letters are as follow: -
April 16th, 1894.
Mr. H. Chinn.
We have from time to time, since you were here in November last, been corresponding with Messrs. Wilson and Hunt to complete the loans on Lean’s and Lynch’s and Marcus’ properties. The former two, which were accepted by you out of themoneys which you stated belonged to your family. - such moneys being in the control of yourself and your brotherinlaw, Justice Hood - we expected from the tenor of your remarks would have been completed a few weeks after you left here, and now it is nearly six months. We learn now that Judge Hood does not know, or ever did act as co-trustee with you, and from Wilson and Hunt we also learn that you deny ever having said this. Luckily for us, the manager of the Bank of Australasia was a witness, besides the writer, to your statement thus made by you. We do not care to characterize your conduct, but have now to inform you that if the il5 15s. you obtained from us by false representations for valuation fees is not returned at once, proceedings for recovery will ensue without further notice. We are entitled to claim more, but accept above without prejudice if paid at once.
Yours truly, (Sgd.) Reynoldson & Russell.
April 16th, 1894.
Messrs. Wilson & Hunt.
Your letter of the 3rd duly to hand, which we have mislaid, and cannot find. Chinn’s action is monstrous, and it is nothing more or less than obtaining money under false pretences, as he distinctly stated to the writer in the presence of the bank manager, Mr. Blundell, that Judge Hood was his co-trustee, and that he would accept both Lynch and Lean’s loans for the money he and His Honour had under control, and as far as Marcus, he believed he could place it elsewhere. We have the bank manager’s authority to use his name, and if Mr. Chinn does not refund the valuation fees we will take immediate steps to make him. We are, of course, entitled to half the commission; but as we are satisfied with your bona fides, ‘we shall not press our claim unless you can recover from Chinn. You say that we should press for completion of the loans; but is there anyuse in doing so, as there does not seem to be any money controlled by Chinn? Wewant your advice, and will write Chinn direct, if you think it advisable. After thu time and expense we have been put to, Mr. Chinn must not think he can laugh up his sleeve with impunity at us.
Yours, &c, (Sgd.) Reynoldson & Russell.
– I wish, that the honorable member would not read so fast. “We want to follow him.
– The honorable member will be able to read this letter for himself. As he is aware, I have but a limited time, under the Standing Orders, and I propose to give some further information, which, no doubt, will be of interest to the honorable member for Barrier. My letter continues -
I come now to what has been generally regarded as the gravest of the charges I made, that “ when there was much anxiety regarding gold stealing (in Western Australia), Mr. Henry Chinn was trying to dispose of a parcel of gold in Perth, not to the mint, but to a private buyer, if ho could And one, at £2 an ounce, about half its value.” Mr. Hedges’ evidence was “ emphatically contradicted,” according to the report of the Commissioner, by Mr. Chinn, and Mr. Ellis “ corroborated the story so far. as it referred to him.” Mr. Hedges’ statement, in the opinion of the Commissioner, is not a probable one, and the consideration that influenced the Commissioner in coming to this decision is stated by him as follows: - “Bearing in mind that there was a certain amount of excitement in Western Australia at that very time about gold stealing, and that a Commission was then sitting to inquire into the subject, and that the Government were in possession of information of this amazing theft of gold, and had full control of all the constabulary and all the detecttive force of the State, and that every detective would have been eager to earn the reputation that would come from making a seizure and securing a conviction in such an extraordinary case, yet no conviction of any kind was obtained, and Mr Chinn was free.”
Now, in corroboration of Mr. Hedges’ evidence, I wished to call as witness the Minister for Mines at that time, Mr. Harry Gregory. I handed to the Commissioner a telegram from Mr. Gregory to me, in which, in reply to an inquiry from me, he stated that he fully remembered the incident. I also desired to call, in further corroboration, the detective who was told off, at the instance of the Government, to inquire into this particular matter. Neither of these witnesses was 1 allowed to put forward. If Mr. Gregory had been permitted to give evidence, he could probably have stated to the Commissioner a reason why no prosecution had resulted. A royal Commission was at that time inquiring in Western Australia into the “ alleged prevalence of gold stealing in that State.” It was being found that this illicit business was going on to an enormous extent. Mr. Finnerty, warden of the eastern gold-fields, estimated the extent of it at one million pounds sterling per annum. It was found that hundreds of people were involved, and the gold stealing was literally carried on wholesale. As soon as it had become known that there was to be an inquiry into this matter, there was a general exodus from the State of those who preferred to get out of the way rather than “ face the music.” In these circumstances, it will easily be seen that to have hunted down and prosecuted all those involved in this illicit and wholesale trade would have been an overwhelming task for any Government, and would have meant a huge expenditure of public moneys. The worst offenders had, in all probability, got beyond the reach of the Western Australian law. The Government took a course which a lawyer might possibly condemn, but which political expediency dictated as perhaps the only practical course. They declined the task of prosecuting all and sundry, and contented themselves with taking steps to put a stop to gold stealing in the future.
Towards the close of the inquiry I intimated that I was expecting a reply to an urgent telegram from Western Australia, the answer to which might have an important bearing on this particular charge. The day the inquiry closed, I had to state regretfully to the Commissioner that the reply w.as inconclusive. Two days later the information I had been anxiously awaiting arrived by post, and I am now in a position to say that, if an opportunity such as I have repeatedly asked is given me, I am prepared to establish the absolute correctness of Mr. Hedges’ evidence.
In view of the foregoing matters I have dealt with, I repeat my request that another Commission should be issued on the basis promised by you on the floor of the House. I have shown that the Commission which has reported to you was not constituted in accordance with your promise, and although, as you state in your letter to me of the 4th inst., “your Government consider the terms of the Commission “ cover “ what was required,” I feel sure that the public, as a whole, are not of this opinion.
If you and your Government still persist in regarding Mr. Henry Chinn as having a “ clean sheet,” and as being a fit and proper person to hold the highly responsible position to which you have appointed him, and if you continue to refuse me the inquiry you promised, I beg to intimate to you that I shall take the next step that this matter demands of me. That will be to formulate for myself my charges in connexion with this appointment, and to challenge Mr. Henry Chinn (who, I presume, will continue to have the moral and material support of your Government) to sue me for libel.
In conclusion, and in view of statements in certain quarters that I am animated by malice and other discreditable motives in following this matter up, may I remind you that you and your Minister of Home Affairs are both in a position to contradict this. Both of you must recollect that I, in common with others, did my best privately to show that the appointment of Mr. Henry Chinn should have been cancelled. It was hot till I was literally forced by the bluff and insolence of the Minister of Home Affairs that I came most unwillingly into the open to give the public an idea o£ the state of things.
And your Government and all those who seek to justify or excuse this outrageous appointment may rest assured that I will not be turned aside by abuse or misrepresentation from the unpleasant but urgent duty of exposing it to the electors.
That concludes the correspondence. I wish now to make one or two observations in regard to the general position. I shall be very careful to make no reflection whatever upon the learned Judge who conducted the inquiry. I shall merely state facts, and leave the House and the public to judge of them for themselves. I may point out, in the first place, that I have not yet been given an opportunity to formulate those charges which, I understood, I was to be allowed to make before the Commission. I was not asked, as I had expected to be, to formulate the charges before the sitting of the Commission. Owing to the time-limit imposed on the speeches of honorable members, I could not put before the House all my information, and there were other matters in respect of which I also expected to be granted an inquiry. The right honorable member for Wide Bay, who was then Prime Minister, was apparently of the same opinion, because, when intimating in the House that he was prepared to appoint a Commission, he distinctly stated that matters incidental to the statements I had made in the chamber, as well as the more direct charges, would be dealt with. Even when I came before the Commissioner, however, I was not given an opportunity to make my charges. They were formulated for me by the Commissioner himself. Up to that point, however, I was prepared to accept the situation, because two eminent solicitors practising in Melbourne - both acting independently of one another, and both having examined my speech - had advised me that on the charge that I had made that this man, Chinn, was a worthless scoundrel and an impostor, I would be allowed to produce evidence in regard to both his general character and his professional capacity. Honorable members, therefore, may judge of my surprise, in view of that advice, when the Commissioner’ informed me that words which I had deliberately used in this House, namely, “ that Chinn was a worthless scoundrel and impostor “ were merely vituperative epithets, and that he had arrived at the conclusion that his commission did not intend or require him to enter into any investigation on that basis. So that I was practically confined to the few matters with which time had permitted me to deal in this chamber. In regard to the large number of testimonials that Chinn had submitted, I was restricted at the inquiry by the condition of affairs I have indicated to the two that I had mentioned in my speech. One of these purported to come from a Mr. Falkingham, and the other from Messrs. Smith and Garnsworthy. There was one feature of the former which my solicitors regarded as absolutely conclusive as to its worthlessness - one feature which pointed to the fact that it was a forgery. That feature was that the address given at the head of the testimonial and the date upon it did not agree, inasmuch as Mr. Falkingham had left that address several years previously. The ex-Minister of Home Affairs suggested at the time that possibly Mr. Falkingham had. had some note paper with the printed address upon it, and had retained it all these years, and had used that note paper. The Commissioner, considering that bare possibility, had a searching investigation made, and it was proved conclusively that Mr. Fal.kingham had never used a printed headline on note paper. Therefore, that possible explanation fell absolutely to the ground. The fact remains that here was a testimonial purporting to come from a certain address, which, as a matter of fact, the alleged author had left several years previously. As regards the testimonial from Smith and Garnsworthy, Mr. Smith happens to be alive to-day, and he gave evidence before the Commission to the effect that he had not given the testimonial to Mr. Chinn. Unfortunately for me, Mr. Garnsworthy died between the period of the publication of these testimonials and that of the inquiry. But I got into communication with his family. He has left three sons, all holding responsible positions, and all being men of undoubted character. Each of these gentlemen informed me that in his presence his father had declared emphatically that he had not given Chinn this testimonial. However, I was not permitted to adduce that evidence at the inquiry, although I now have a declaration from two of the sons to that effect. I think that in the opinion of any ordinary person who followed the inquiry there can be very little doubt indeed as to whether or not these testimonials were genuine. I come now to Mr. Hedges’ story about the attempt made by Chinn to sell him gold at half its real value.
– About 3 cwt., which he carried in his vest pocket?
– My honorable friend had better keep quite quiet. As I have already indicated, the Commissioner preferred to disbelieve the story told by Mr. Hedges in regard to this gold. He considered it was incredible, although he did not allow me to call witnesses to confirm its truth. However, there is a sequel to this matter, which I propose to tell the House. When the solicitor who had acted for Mr. Chinn at the inquiry returned to Western Australia, a meeting of the Labour party was held at Midland Junction, a town in the electorate of Fremantle, which Mr. Hedges represented at the time. At that meeting, this gentleman, Mr. Haynes, stated that at the inquiry to which I have referred, Mr. Hedges, in telling this story about Chinn’s alleged attempt to sell gold to him, had committed perjury. Mr. Hedges at once took steps to institute proceedings against Mr. Haynes for slander, and I propose to read from the West Australian of Friday, 16th May, 1913, the result of his action. I was present in the Court when the barrister representing Mr. Haynes entered it, and stated -
Mr. Haynes is satisfied on inquiry that Air. Hedges did make a report to the Moore Government that Mr. Chinn had made an offer to sell to him (Mr. Hedges) a large parcel of gold at £2 an ounce.
Then the writer of the leading article in the West Australian makes the following observations, with which I heartily agree -
The character of Mr. Hedges stands completely vindicated, and the citizens, who have a particular interest in knowing that the reputations of their public men are above reproach, have cause for immeasurable satisfaction at the outcome of the slander case. Mr. Haynes need not feel sore. His words, which formed the subject of Mr. Hedges’ complaint, were foolishly uttered in the heated atmosphere of a political meeting. He has discovered how utterly without foundation they were, and withdraws them completely. He must feel, both as an eminent lawyer and a commonsense citizen, that Mr. Hedges had no other course to pursue but to take action against him if the representative for Fremantle was not to be completely damned in the eyes of the public. Mr. Hedges could not take proceedings against the Judge who passed strictures on his evidence; he did what was as effective, however, to clear himself of unmerited aspersions - he seized upon the first reputable person unprotected by privilege who impugned his honesty and good intent in the Chinn affair. His character was to be vindicated - it is cleared by a political opponent.
I am sure those honorable members who occupied seats in this House when Mr. Hedges represented the constituency of Fremantle will be glad to know that in this way his reputation has been completely vindicated in the face of the doubts that were expressed by the Commissioner regarding that particular story.
I now propose to revert for a moment to the matter of the testimonials. I would remind the House that they -all contained very highly laudatory statements regarding Mr. Chinn, the work he had done as an engineer, and the high standing that he occupied. He has disproved all that out of his own mouth by a statement made before the Commission to the effect that the pay he received in connexion with the important positions that he held amounted to £3 or £4 a week. That practical estimate of the value of his services is in itself quite sufficient to give the lie to anything that he may have put forward .about his wonderful qualifications as a highly skilled and experienced engineer. The honorable member for Wide Bay boasted that Chinn “had a clean sheet.” There is no doubt in my mind that the honorable member’s talk in that regard was merely an attempt to throw dust in the eyes of the public, and particularly to divert their attention from the blunder made by his Government. I should like to remind the House of what I actually proved in connexion with this matter. I showed in this House that Chinn was recommended by a prominent member of the Western Australian Labour party to the Federal Labour Government as follows, “ His services to our party should not be forgotten ‘ ‘ ; and by another leading member of the Western Australian Labour party, who said that Chinn had ‘ ‘ rendered valuable assistance during the recent election.”
– Your party reward these cases, only you do not put them on paper.
– I proved, also, that the advertisement calling for applications for the position appeared some weeks after Chinn had been appointed. I do not think, any Liberal Government has yet got so far as to advertise a position some weeks after its particular protege had been put into it. It was said, also, in the Senate that Chinn drew up plans for and superintended the construction of a railway from Mr Lyell to Kelly Basin, in Tasmania. I proved in this House that all Chinn’s connexion with railway construction in Tasmania amounted to the making of tracings in the office of a railway engineer in Melbourne, a class of work which Mr. Commissioner Hodges characterized during his inquiry as mere boy’s work. On the particular official paper to which I shall shortly make reference appeared a statement that Chinn carried on a big business in Melbourne for many years. I have made inquiries in all possible quarters regarding this big business, and find no evidence of it whatever. I find that he did do little jobs of surveying occasionally, some of them so very badly that his employers refused on one or two occasions to pay for them. I have the documentary evidence of that in my possession now. I find’, also, that this great engineer, with his remarkable experience and his wide connexion, occupied for some time the comparatively humble position of a collector of dues at the Victoria Market for the then lessee. Mr. Bartley Dinsmore, and the ordinary end of most of his engagements took place in that case. Mr. Dinsmore found serious irregularities in his financial operations, and sacked him. I have the evidence of that in my possession now, and should be very glad to submit a letter-book which I have by me containing press copies of the letters giving full particulars of the trouble between Mr. Dinsmore and Mr. Chinn. The honorable member for Darwin, who has stuck to Mr. Chinn through thick and thin, as the saying is, mentioned before the Senate Select Committee inquiry that he had heard of Mr. Chinn in the West as a good manager of men. I want, here and now, to challenge the honorable member to say when and where in Western Australia Mr. Henry Chinn had the management of men previous to his appointment to the transcontinental railway staff. I find that, for the greater part of the time he was in the West, he was doing what is known as ‘ ‘ living on his wits,” and had neither occupation nor position of any kind in that State.
I now come to some fresh matter, which I have no doubt will in- terest honorable members. The testimonials that I challenged, and* the testimonials inquired into before the Hodges Commission, were from dead men, and, as the originals were not in existence, it was manifestly impossible for me to prove, except from internal and surrounding evidence, that they were forgeries. Mr. Justice Hodges, in his summing up, remarked that, whatever Mr. Chinn’s failings were, he was no fool. I was inclined to take that statement for granted, until some time after the inquiry I was informed from trustworthy sources that Mr. Henry Chinn had even been foolish enough to forge testimonials from men who are now alive. I proceeded to make inquiries in that direction, and propose now to give the House the result. I want, first, to read two letters giving some particulars about Mr. Chinn’s career in the Public Service of New South Wales, and subsequently in Queensland. The following letter is dated from the Public Works Department, Sydney, 23rd January, 1913- Sir,
With regard to your letter of the 16th inst., respecting Mr. Henry Chinn and his service in this Department, I have had a search made with a view, if possible, of obtaining a copy of the testimonial dated 15th August, 1885, a printed copy of which you enclosed with your letter. I have been unable to trace any record of the letter having been issued from the Harbors and Rivers Branch of this Department, but perhaps this might be expected, as Mr. Chinn left the Harbors and Rivers Branch in 1882, and the testimonial is dated 15th August, 1885. Mr. Moriarty may have given him the testimonial, therefore, no copy being retained.
That is to say, it is suggested as a bare possibility; and I think it is a very bare one, that a man who had been at the head of this Department, but had retired, gave Mr. Chinn what purported to be an official testimonial three years after he left the service. Mr. Moriarty, however, I believe, is dead, and we have, therefore, no opportunity of going further into that matter. However, here is the next paragraph of the letter -
Mr. Henry Chinn joined the Harbors and Rivers Branch of the Department on 13th May, 1878, and resigned on 7th July, 1882, after a little more than four years’ service.
I understand that this resignation of Mr. Chinn was accompanied by a minute from his chief to the effect that he. was very glad to get rid of him. Those are not the exact words, but that is the effect of the minute.
– Give us the words.
– I can do so if honor able members wish, but I have not them by me now. I can assure honorable members, however, that there was a minute made on his resignation to, the effect that he had been somewhat irregular in his attendance . at the office, the insinuation, therefore, being that he would not be particularly missed if he went. Then here is the last sentence -
He was re-appointed in the Railway Construction Branch as a surveyor on the 15th November, 1882, and was dismissed on 31st March, 1883. ‘
That was five months after his reappointment. That is his record there so far as Ican get it.
– The honorable member does not refer to Sir John Madden’s testimonials’. That gentleman is not dead.
– He is not able to say anything at all about Mr. Chinn professionally.
– Or to Mr. Justice Hodges, either.
– Nor is Mr. Justice Hodges able to speak of Mr. Chinn professionally. I propose to deal in a few minutes with testimonials which profess to supply information regarding Mr. Chinn’s qualifications.
– The honorable member is going to give us a few more libels.
– I will deal with the few libels if the honorable member will allowme.:I have here a copy of a letter from the Metropolitan Water and Sewage Board of Brisbane, dated 31st July, 1912. It was sent to the Engineer-in-Chief for Railways, and I may say that I obtained a copy of it by writing to the Chairman of the Board in Brisbane. It is as follows:
Re Mr. Henry Chinn.
I have the honour, by direction of the President, to acknowledge the receipt of your letter dated 20th inst., relative to Mr. Henry Chinn’s services with the Brisbane Board of Water Works, which body this Board succeeded.
The contents of your letter are noted, and, in. reply, I am directed to furnish to you the following epitome ofMr.Henry Chinn’s career under the said Board of Water Works : - “Mr. Chinn was appointed as engineer’s assistant and draftsman from 5th August; 1901, in connexion with the preliminary surveys for a weir across the Brisbane River near the Board’s Pumping Station, at Mount Crosby, and was. engaged in making surveys and taking cross sections of the river until the following December, when he absented himself from duty without leave of either his superior officer or the Board, and without explanation, and hisservices were accordingly dispensed with. He ceased to be a member of the Board’s staff on 31st December, 1901.”
That is Mr. Chinn’s record in Queensland.
– What does the honorable member make out of it?
– I leave honorable members to draw their own conclusions.
– We will.
– I will give honorable members some more in a minute. In the Senate on the 31st July, 1912, this Chinn business came up, and Senator Needham, as will be found by reference to page 1431 of Hansard for that year, spoke in this way-
I desire to read two testimonials which have been supplied to me. The first is from the Melbourne Water Supply, and reads as follows: - “ Melbourne Water Supply,
Melbourne, October 9th, 1902.
Chinn, Esq., C.E.,
Dear Sir, - I am in receipt of your letter asking me to bear testimony, to your ability and qualifications as a civil engineer and licensed surveyor.
I have been personally and intimately acquainted with you for a period of over twenty years, and, therefore, consider I am fully justified in stating that during our long intimacy nothing has ever occurred in connexion with either your professional or personal career but what redounds greatly to your credit.
In my position of superintending engineer, I have had every opportunity of estimating your work, and it gives me great ° pleasure to state you have always shown exceptional skill as an engineer, and that you arehighly valued as such by both your brother professionals and contractors.
Your very large experience in the different classes of work carried out, and completed by you must prove invaluable, and I am sure the further opportunity of displaying your ability will add to your prestige, and earn you the distinction in your- profession you are entitled to. Believe me, faithfully yours,
– What does the honorable member wish to do with him-hang him?
– You have got him out, why do you not leave him alone?
– Because I believe that there are members of the party opposite who would put him back to-morrow, if they dared.
– Does the honorable member think that what he says will make any differencein the matter ?
– Ihave done my duty, and a very unpleasant duty it was, in showing how gross a blunder was. made by the late Government in appointing this man. I am still endeavouring to do my duty in furnishing good and substantial further reasons why the party should drop him most earnestly and emphatically. Here is a letter which I have received from Mr. Wm. Dowden, the gentleman who is supposed to have sent to Mr: Chinn the testimonial I have just read. The letter is friendly in tone to Mr. Chinn, and therefore the remarks the writer makes aboutthis testimonial that appears above his name in Hansard for 1912 are of the’greater value. It is dated from “ Dingee, 27/4/14,” and reads-
I certainly did not write the testimonial to Chinn, a copy of which yon . forwarded to me, but it is quite possible that I gave him some sort of testimonial, which I have now forgotten, and he, having lost it, may have written out another in place of it of a much more flattering nature.
When quite young men, Chinn and I were employees in the Government service as draughtsmen. He. was then, as far as I knew, a decent young fellow, and did his work fairly well. ‘ Since then I have seen very little of him, and know nothing as to his engineering abilities, nor do I personally know anything against his character further than what I have read in the papers, and the fact that he has either invented or greatly distorted the aforesaid testimonial.
I remain, yours sincerely,
Not content with reading one testimonial, Senator Needham went on to give a second one as follows:-
Municipal Council Chambers,
Town Hall, Brisbane,
Chief Engineer’s Office.
This is to certify I have known Mr. H. Chinn, C.E., for a considerable time, whose qualifications as a civil engineer and licensed surveyor I have verified.
Prom the testimonials he has received from engineers and others, and frommy personal knowledge of his abilities and work carried out by him, I am confident in speaking of him in the highest terms, and am satisfied he ranks amongst the foremost in his profession, and I have no hesitation in strongly recommending him for the position of engineer, for which I understand he is an applicant.
Senator. Needham concluded with the following observations ;
I have very much pleasure in seconding the’ motion, and I trust that such an attack on a man’s private or professional character will, never again be made in an Australian Parliament.
Virtuous indignation ! Now let us see how it pans out. Here is a letter from Mr. John Kemp himself, dated “ City Council Chambers, Town. Hall, Brisbane, City Engineer’s Office, 9th April, 1914”-
I am in receipt of yours of 2nd instant, together with volume of Hansard containing copy of testimonial alleged to have been given by me in favour of Mr. Henry Chinn. I entirely repudiate ever having given such a testimonial, the wording of which should be quite sufficient to indicate that. I saw Mr. Chinn once only, when he called at the Town Hall in search of employment. This must be at least ten years ago. He was never employed under me, but I am informed he was temporarily employed by the Brisbane Board of Water Works, who could, I believe, furnish you with more information than I can. Copy of Hansard returned under separate cover. Yours sincerely,
City Engineer and Surveyor. .
I have already read a letter showing that it was in a comparatively subordinate position that Mr. Chinn was employed by the Brisbane Board of Water Works, and that he was sacked after a few months. The letter just read is. an emphatic denial of the testimonial read in the Senate by Senator Needham. Senator Henderson brought along another of these beautiful testimonials, which are all in the same high-flown style, and’ obviously from the same pen, as any one with half an eye could see. He said - I quote from the Hansard report, volume LXIV., page 1433-
I have before me a letter dated : “ Pitt’s Buildings, Collins-street, Melbourne, 15th November, 1902.” It is addressed to “ Mr. H.. Chinn, C.E.” I suppose that means civil engineer.
Senator Millen. Which he is not.
Senator Henderson. Which he is.
Senator Needham. Honorable senators opposite cannot prove that he is not a civil engineer.
I have given the House positive proof that Mr. Chinn is not a civil engineer.
Senator Henderson. I will quote the letter “ Mr. H. Chinn, C.E., I have intimately known for a considerable number of years. He has’ been engaged on a great many of our most important engineering works in this State, also in Tasmania, New South Wales, and Queensland. I am in a position to state that he is a thoroughly competent and qualified engineer, and will, I am sure, give every satisfaction in whatever capacity he may be engaged. He carries with him the good will and respect of all those with whom he has ‘ been associated, both for his professional ability and private cha’racter.
Chairman, Melbourne Harbor Trust.”
Senator Henderson goes on to say ;
This gentleman is also, I believe, an architect and contractor.
Senator Givens. Does the honorable senator think that Mr. Chinn has any right to live at all?
Senator HENDERSON. ; I wonder.
Senator McGregor. Is Mr. Pitt a Labour man?
Senator Blakey. No. He was a member of the Legislative Council of Victoria, and was beaten by a Labour man two or three years ago.
Senator HENDERSON. ; It appears from this letter that Mr. Chinn has a private character as well as public reputation. He is known amongst those who have been associated with him to be a gentleman as well as a skilled engineer.
Let me now read a letter from Mr. Wm. Pitt, addressed to me from Pitt’s Buildings, 476 Collins-street, Melbourne, and dated 4th May, that is, yesterday -
In reply to your inquiries concerning testimonial appearing above my name in favour of Henry Chinn, on page 1433, the 31st July, 1912, I beg to state that to the best of my recollection I did not give Mr. Chinn this testimonial. He has done several small surveying jobs for me, but I have no knowledge of him as an engineer. - Yours faithfully,
– Mr. Pitt does not say that he did not give the testimonial.
– He says that he has no knowledge of it. Does the honorable member want more, or does he prefer to adhere to Mr. Chinn, and to uphold his continued favour by the Labour party? Does the honorable member realize what he is doing when, by his interjection, he associates himself with these forgeries. I advise him to keep silence.
– Mr. Pitt says he has no recollection of the testimonial ; he does not deny it.
– He says that he has no knowledge of Mr. Chinn as an engineer. The alleged testimonial is full of misstatements about Chinn’s engineering abilities and experience.
– Is the honorable member going to say all this outside?
– If the honorable member were as ready to make his statements outside as I have shown myself to be, he might have some justification for the observation.
– Challenge me in regard to anything I have said, and I will say it anywhere you like to name.
– I have only one other matter to refer to. I have quoted several times from an official paper purporting to give Mr. Chinn’s qualifications. That paper was on the official file, and others besides myself have a distinct recollection of it. But it has disappeared from the file, and another of a different character has been substituted for it. It contained a number of statements regarding Mr. Henry Chinn, which I have absolutely disproved, and it is a singular and regrettable thing that it should have disappeared in a manner that none of the officials have been able to account for. It is more singular still that there should have been substituted for it another paper containing statements regarding Mr. Chinn which are of an entirely harmless and noncommittal character.
– That is a serious charge.
– I make the charge deliberately, and I trust that the Minister of Home Affairs will be able to trace all the circumstances of this curious exchange. By way of illustration of the substitution, I quoted in this House from the official file the following statement: -
Went to Adelaide and made up tender for 54 miles construction electric tramway successfully, and acted as contractor’s engineer on works.
That is what appeared on the original paper. On the substituted paper there are only two words, “Adelaide tramways.” Mr. Chinn might have been heating rivets on the job for all that those two words say regarding his employment in connexion with it. The substituted paper bears the initials of a clerk inthe Home Affairs Department, and possessing that clue, I trust, as I have said, that the Minister will be able to trace the circumstances of this curious exchange. It is only one of a good many very singular happenings in connexion with Mr. Chinn’s appointment. I hope that I have now given the House and the country sufficient facts to make an end of the whole deplorable business.
– As a matter of personal explanation, sir, I desire to state that there is no statement I have ever made in this House, or in my twentyfour years of parliamentary life, that the honorable member for Perth will point out to me in Hansard which I will not repeat in any public place he likes to name. I challenge him to do the same thing.
– I listened with much interest to the honorable member for Perth on the Chinn inquiry, and I am just as far advanced on that matter as I was before it was started. The honorable member said he feels that he is doing a public duty, but any observer like myself would think that he is actuated by a good deal more than a desire to do a public duty, judging from the way in which he has attacked the man. However, I do not intend to deal with the matter any further. The members of the Government and their supporters are often joyful when they can reproach the members on this side, or our organization, with doing something which they think is unbecoming. A most peculiar incident took place lately in connexion with the selection of Conservative candidates for the Senate. The Honorable Samuel Mauger has withdrawn his name because he charged the party with carrying out the selection in a fraudulent manner by not giving him a fair chance. He is quite right. I, or anybody else in Victoria, could get a vote for the selection of the six Conservative candidates for the Senate by paying a shilling.
– How long before?
– I could get a vote up to last week by paying a shilling.
– I do not think that you could.
– Show him the ballotpaper.
– We have a ballotpaper here. I did not waste my money on a ballot-paper, but I can assure the honorable member for Wannon that, at any rate, ten days or a fortnight ago for every shilling he could give me I could have produced one of these papers.
– I doubt it.
– Not only could an individual have got a ballot-paper by spending a shilling, but friends of individual candidates were spending shillings, and sending the ballot-papers round to individuals to enable them to vote.
– Do you mean to say that you got one of them?
– I have a ballotpaper here, and I have seen about twenty.
– There are both a registered list and a time limit.
– I voted six times for old Packer. I spent ten “ bob “ on Packer.
– The reason why I am referring to this incident, sir, is to try to show you that the party who could resort to corruption of this character in conducting their own pre-election, cannot be trusted.
– Prove the statement.
– We have heard of more than one Conservative candidate for pre-election in Victoria and other States who complained of the unfair treatment which was meted out. The latest case occurred just prior to the last State election in New South Wales, where one of the candidates for pre-election for a North Sydney seat retired because a bunch of 600 votes had gone against him from persons who had never been members of the organization.
– If all this is true, how does it affect your party?
– I will show the honorable member. A political party who can employ such corrupt machinery for their own pre-elections will resort to any means and methods at the polls to secure the entry of men into this Parliament.
– We have a month, while you have twelve months.
– It is only because ‘ they know the tricks of the trade that they are so eager to charge the organization we represent with carrying out the methods they employ.
– Your members buy 5s. worth of tickets in our leagues to vote for the weakest candidate. They thought that I was- the easiest man to beat.
– There is an admission, sir. Now the Conservative section of the community did not learn these methods to fight the Labour party. They have used them against one another for years. You can well imagine, sir, what sweet positions there must have been in the past, and will be wherever a Labour member does not interfere. It is well known that a man who represents the Conservative section of the community in this House, or in any State House, is praying to the Lord week after week that he may get a Labour opponent, because he knows that if he should get two or three of the same sort as himself, the machine will get to work, and cost him a lot more money than it costs to fight a Labour man. The party who occupy the
Government benches with a melted majority have for years understood and applied all the methods that were necessaryto secure the return of the individual whom they wanted most, and it is because of their knowledge of the corruption that has taken place in their own ranks, in fighting one another, that they charge us in connexion with elections with doing what they have ‘ done. In Victoria, about four years ago, we had an election for the Legislative Council. Neither of the two candidates was a Labour man. Both were Conservatives. It was a case of dog eating dog, and the candidates fought one another just as bitterly as they fight us. The Conservatives, in order to secure the return of their particular’ candidate, resorted to methods that were corrupt in the extreme. Each candidate knew that the other was acting in this way, but they were afraid to take a case before the Court, because one could charge the other with having resorted to the same kind of practices. It is because of that knowledge that all the charges we have heard have been hurled against the Labour party, and the officials, too, over the conduct of the last Federal elections. I for one am not at all surprised that our opponents are suspicious, and know where to put their finger on the weak spots. At any rate, they ought to know, because of the methods which are carried on in the selection of their own candidates. As many as you like of these ballot-papers could, I repeat, have been bought for a shilling each ten days or a fortnight ago.
– That is absolutely not so.
– Read the ballot-paper.
– A part of this ballot-paper has been cut out. We know a thing or two, sir, and do not intend to leave an opening to trace where the ballot-paper came from. It reads as follows -
PRE-ELE CTION BALLOT.
For the Selection of Six Liberal Senate Candidates.
The voter should mark his or her mark on this ballot-paper by making a cross thus [X] in the square opposite the names of the six candidates whom he or she prefers. If more than six or less than six are ‘voted for the ballotpaper will be invalid..
Then follow the names, and they are good old Conservative names, every one of them -
Carrington, B. N.; Cook. J. Hume: Duffy, Charles Gavan; Edgar, William H. ; Glencross,
W.; Martin, Thomas; Mauger, Samuel; Morley, A. C; McColl, Senator J. H.; McLean,. W. J.; O’Brien, N.; Packer, J. T.; St. Ledger, A. J. J.; Trenwith, W. A.; Weedon, Sir Henry; Wilson, Wm.
There are a lot of rising young Conserva-. tives amongst a lot of derelict Conservatives, and the voter can make six crosses opposite the names and take his choice.
– Do they not have preferential voting?
– They want preferential voting only when they desire to beat us. For years the Labour party were in favour of preferential voting, but the Conservative section of the community would not have it. The time came when we obtained a majority, and then the Conservatives wanted preferential voting.
– You do not want it. Circumstances alter things.
– Our opponents are keen for preferential voting, but they would not have it when they had a majority in both the Federal and State Parliaments. However, we cannot blame them for resorting to these tricks against us, because they use them against each other. I desire to refer to that muchabused man - and deservedly so - the AttorneyGeneral. I interjected during the Attorney-General’s remarks that he wanted to alter the present Constitution of the Senate, and the honorable member replied that that was not so. All I can say is that I have read in a dozen or more newspapers that he had made that statement, and I have never seen any correction of it.
– I do not think I contradicted that assertion broadly, because I do want an alteration.
– The AttorneyGeneral now admits that he desires to see the Constitution of the Senate altered. As a matter, of fact, the honorable member recognises at this late hour that the representation of the Senate is on a most undemocratic basis, inasmuch as it gives the small States as many representatives’ as the larger States. When that Constitution was proposed, the party on this side realized that it was undemocratic, and fought against it ; but the Conservative section of the community, knowing that with the large electorates they had always held sway up till that time, thought they would continue to do so in the future. When the power they had enjoyed melted away, they could see how horrible and terrible the present representation in the Senate is.- I would like to ask what the honorable members for Franklin and Wilmot think on that particular question. Are they in agreement with the Attorney-General in regard to having the Senate representation of their State reduced? I receive no answer. Then I will ask whether the AttorneyGeneral speaks for the Ministerial party when he talks about altering the system of representation in the Senate? If he does, I am afraid that it will take the honorable member for Franklin and the honorable member for Wilmot a long time to explain away their position to their constituents’ in Tasmania. In the other smaller populated States, such as Western Australia, South Australia, and Queensland, the Liberals can well say that they are willing to alter the system, because they have lost all their representation in the Senatefor ever, but that is not the case in Tasmania, where the Liberals have still a share of. representation in the Senate.
– They will have a share only till the next election, and they will lose it then.
– To-day the honorable member for Yarra referred to the appointment of a Director of Navigation, and to the Navigation Act itself. I do not think there is a member on the Government side who, if he expresses his opinion honestly, though he may object. to the Bill, will not say that it ought to have been brought into operation before now.
I will admit that there were obstacles in the way’; the Bill could not have been brought into operation immediately, but by this time it could have been operative, a director could have been appointed, and the whole machinery could .have been brought into working order, so that those people’ in Australia whom the Act was intended to benefit would be getting the advantage of it to-day. We are continuing under the old system, and no one knows better than the Attorney-General the peculiar positions that may arise along the coast of Australia under the Navigation Acts which at present govern us. . It is extremely desirable that all those associated with navigation, whether they go tor sea orwork, on the water side, should be getting the benefit of the Federal Act, and the delay of the Government in bringing the measure into operation is criminal. I am inclined to believe that, as well as being politically against the Act, they cannot make up their minds as to who is to be the Director of Navigation. One might safely say that the sea captains who have been along the Australian coast for years are conversant with every current and every dangerous rock. They are conversant also with the trade of Australia, because before they became skippers they were first-mates on different vessels, and so became acquainted with the whole system of trade. They know the men who work on the ships and on the wharfs, because they have been intimately associated with them all their lives. Yet it looks as if somebody is to be imported from the Old Country who has not that special knowledge of the coast, but because he has some knowledge of otherparts of the world he is to be brought to Australia to administer the Navigation Act.
– He may have influential friends.
– That may be so In fact, I am told there is a naval man in Australia to-day who is shortly to retire from the position he now holds, and the office of Director of Navigation is being kept warm for him. We also hear that another well known gentleman, whose knowledge of Australia must be very limited, is likely to get the appointment. If these charges are untrue and unfair, the Government have brought them on themselves by the manner in which they have kept back the appointment and the proclamation of the Act.
Mr.W.H.Irvine - What evidence haye you. to support either of those stater ments?
– Perhaps we are fishing; but I believe there is something in them. These two names’ have been strongly mentioned for the position; and, as” similar positions have been filled by men whose associations have not been with Australia, it would seem that there must be some favoritism about it: Last year, when some engines required in a hurry for the transcontinental railway wereimported it was claimed by honorable members that the officials of the Department, and the Minister also ‘should have known earlier that they would be required. By interjection blame was put upon the previous Minister, That may have been the case, but, at the time, we understood that only four engines had to be purchased, whereas now I find that eight have been purchased. So far no specifications have been made known to the manufacturers of Australia, and the latter do not know what the requirements of the Department will be in regard to the purchase of engines during the next eighteen months or two years. In all probability the Department will follow the same course as before, and come down and ask for engines to be delivered so speedily that it will be impossible to manufacture them in Australia, and they will need to be imported. It is a remissness on the part of the Department not to give local manufacturers the opportunity of making any engines that will be required. At the last election, those at present in power told the people that the day-labour system, as adopted by the Labour party, was a baneful one, and that the contracting system was better, and less costly. They have since set out to prove this assertion, but apparently are fearful of proving the opposite through tenders exceeding the departmental estimates, for they have not let contracts, but have called for fresh tenders, as will be seen from the following paragraph, published in the Melbourne Argus of 21st April, and headed, “ Advantages of Competition “ -
Although it is only a comparatively small matter, the Federal Treasurer (Sir John Forrest) will probably be pleased to learn that, owing to competition in the open field, less money will be required for the erection of two post-offices in Victoria than appeared in the last postal estimates. The Hon.- Minister in charge of the Home Affairs Department (Mr. Kelly) has succeeded in saving £350 on the estimate for the new post-office to be built at Toora, and £22 on the estimate for that to be built at Loch.
The first structure was estimated by the Department to cost £2,000, while the estimate for the Loch post-office was £1,500. On two occasions tenders had been called for both these buildings, but in the opinion of Mr. Kelly the prices named were too high, and none was accepted. He therefore decided to invite tenders for a third time, with the very satisfactory result that a contract has now been let to Messrs. Rispin Brothers for the Toora building for £1,650 (estimate £2,000), and to Mr. F. W. Morris for the Loch post-office for £1,488 (estimate £1,500).
That the Department had to call for tenders three times before they could get the prices down to the estimates of the officials seems peculiar. It proves either that the system carried out by the Labour Government is the better one for building such structures, or_that contractors, fearing that the present Government would resort to the methods adopted by the last Government, have reduced their prices to a losing point. Either the contractors as a body are interested in proving that the contracting system is better, or, knowing how prone the present Government are to assist their friends, they have put in such high tenders that the Department could not possibly Accept’ them. If the day-labour system did nothing else, it has put a stop to the system of the past, by which contractors robbed the Government, and it has brought down tenders to fair bedrock prices. The case I have quoted would show that the Government,, with the assistance of the contractors, are desirous, by hook or crook, of proving something to discredit the daylabour system in order that they may revert to the old system of carrying out works by contract. I visited country districts on eleven occasions during the last campaign in order to do my small share of assisting Labour candidates, and during the course of my addresses, quite irrelevant to the matters I was discussing, I would hear, “ Yes, but what about your extravagant expenditure? What about the enormous taxation imposed on the people?” In the country newspapers, every endeavour is made to induce the people to believe that the Labour party have been extravagant, and, in fact, have robbed the community, and this finds more credence in the country than in the town. Even so late as last night I heard the same charge made in Gippsland; and the people will not believe that the estimates of the present Government last year were £4,000,000 in excess of the Estimates of the Labour Government inthe previous year.
– The Estimates of the Government last year were prepared by the Labour Government before they left office.
– Then it was the duty of the present Government to fulfil their promise to their constituents, and reduce those Estimates. As a matter of fact, when the elections were in progress, it waa impossible to pin down the Government, or their supporters, to any item which, in their opinion, should be reduced. They were afraid to propose to reduce the vote for Old-age Pensions, the Maternity Allowance, Defence, or the Post Office, because they knew very well that if they once suggested a lessened expenditure in any of these directions they would bring down on themselves the condemnation of a large section of the community. They had not the political honesty to point out where any reduction could be made, although they had hurled charges of extravagance at their predecessors.
– An endeavour was made to reduce the expenditure on the Federal Capital, but only thirteen honorable members supported it.
– In the honorable member for Henty we have a Victorian representative plucky enough to support a reduction of the Federal Capital expenditure; but I venture to say that he would not find a New South Wales representative to support him: If a New South Wales member did support such a proposal, it would be “ good-bye “ to him so far as a seat in this House is concerned.
– Does the honorable member argue that it is the duty of a Government to immediately stop work initiated by a previous Government?
– I merely refer to this matter because of the charges made against the Labour party of taxing the people and spending the revenue unnecessarily and extravagantly.
– Hear, hear !
– We even now find an honorable member ready to say “ Hear, hear ! “ to a charge of that kind, although there has not been a single suggestion of saving except by the dismissal of men who are carrying out necessary works.
– A saving of £23 has been made on the post-office mentioned by the honorable member.
– On the two postoffices I mentioned, there may be a saving of some £370, but that is not much when we are talking in millions. The people to-day demand that there shall be increased expenditure on the different undertakings of the Government; and honorable members opposite have not suggested any interference with the progress of the transcontinental railway, the Capital Site, the Northern Territory, or defence.It is true that they have hinted at some alteration in regard to the maternity allowance, but they certainly have not the courage to make that a test question on which to ask for a double dissolution ; this, too, in spite of the fact that, during the election campaign, they made nasty jests and peculiar suggestions in this connexion.
– What were the suggestions ?
– I shall leave those for a future occasion. If the Government had been in earnest in their desire to reduce expenditure, they could have very easily shown in what directions reductions should be made. The Postmaster-General has told his constituents that, at any rate, the Government will not reduce the expenditure on the Post Office, because, on the contrary, it is proposed to borrow money to carry out postal works. But it is as extravagant to spend borrowed money as to spend one’s own money. Will not interest have’ to be paid, and the borrowed money refunded ?
– The money is to be borrowed to construct permanent revenueproducing works.
– That is not tbe question. A Government is just as extravagant when it spends borrowed money as when it spends revenue; deferred payment does not mean spending less, but merely means placing the burden on the shoulders of those who will come after us. I should like to see the Estimates for this year, because I think we may safely say they will show a considerable increase on those of last year. I cannot imagine that the Government will attempt to go to the country without placing the Financial Statement and the Budget before us. Is it their intention to ask for only sufficient Supply to see them over the elections?
– That was done in New . South Wales.
– I do not care if the Holman Government have taken that course fifty times ; I want to know whether that is the intention of this Government. If it is, I fancy that the people of Australia will want to know the reason.
– The people of New
South Wales did not.
– I do not know whether the people of New South Wales did or did not. In any case, I do not look on Mr. Holman as a Labour man, but rather as* of the “kidney” of honorable members opposite. Had the Government possessed the courage, they could have reduced the expenditure on the Defence Department without impairing its efficiency. What is the position so far as the Defence Department is concerned ? I do not think that any responsible Minister would care to present to us to-day a statement showing what will be the cost of our defence system in 1920, when Lord Kitchener’s scheme will have matured.
– The Government which introduced the system should have done that.
– The present Administration should have proposed a reduction in the expenditure if they believed that it was extravagant. I “Slave been to some trouble to ascertain what will be the number of men and youths in training in 1920 under Lord Kitchener’s scheme. I find that, on the basis of our present population, assuming that there is no immigration, 42,600 boys will attain the age of fourteen years this year, while, in 1920, 48,000 will reach that age. But if the increase in the population from overseas since the date of the last census be maintained, then I find that, approximately, in 1914- the present year - 43,000 boys will attain the age of fourteen; in 1915, 43,300; 1916, 44,000; 1917, 45,000; 1918, 46,300; 1919, 47,800; and in 1920, 49,000. We have at present about 40,000 in the National Guard, in addition to about 60,000 cadets who are in training. Between now and 1920, 318,400 boys will reach the age of fourteen years, and if we allow that one-third of that number will be either physically unfit to train or be residing where they cannot be trained, we find that in 1920 we shall have at least 220,000 or 230,000 in the National Guard, whereas Lord Kitchener’s schema provided for a Guard of only 80,000. We shall have about 180,000 between the ages of sixteen and eighteen years, so that, in 1920, we shall have in training, either as cadets or in the National Guard, nearly 400,000 men. All these will have to be armed and supplied with uniforms and boots.
– I ask the honorable member not to go too fully into details, since, by doing so, he will anticipate a notice of motion on the notice-paper:
– The honorable member’s figures are very much out.
– I have obtained them from Mr. Knibbs.
– If they were right we should have no adults in the community.
- Mr. Knibbs does not often make a mistake. These figures show that, if the Ministry desire to reduce expenditure, they can do so in connexion with the Defence Department. The suggestion made by the honorable member for Perth, that sixteen years should be the age at which our youths should start to train, must be considered. It was foolish, I think, to decide to supply lads below that age with uniforms and arms. We might very well have been content to give them a course of physical training, and to teach them to shoot, as they used to be taught in connexion with our public schools, until they were sixteen or eighteen years of age. The compulsory training system was introduced by a Government which I supported; but the present Administration, when they talk of extravagance, should be prepared to reduce the expenditure in this direction. Such a proposal would receive the support of many on this side of the House. I also think that the retiring age should be twenty-three years, instead of twenty-six years, as at present. An exception might be made in the case of men who have to handle machine guns, but if they ‘were retained after reaching the age of twenty-three years, they should be specially paid for their services. If my suggestion were adopted, training would commence at sixteen, and cease at 23 years of age.
– Five years’ training is long enough.
– I would say seven years. This would lead to a great saving in connexion with the supply of uniforms and arms. If the system is to continue as at present, then in 1920 we shall have an army of 40,000 permanent men, drill instructors, area officers, heads of Departments, and so forth, to control the military cadets. I have not yet been able to touch the naval side, and cannot form even an approximate estimate of the total cost of naval defence in 1920. But having regard to the present rate of increase in population, I believe that, in 1920, on military defence alone, including the supply of uniforms and arms and the cost of training, we shall be spending £5,000,000 or £6,000,000 per annum. The Government might very well consider the desirableness of effecting a reduction. They have failed to propose anything of the kind, because the Conservative section of the community, whom thev represent, are more favorable to the scheme than are those whom we represent. I feel somewhat grieved that our party went as far as it did.
– T - They went military mad.
– But we were not the only people who did that. The whole world went military mad. Why?
– Because the spirit of fight is in the blood.
– Because the spirit of commercialism is in the blood. Only the other evening, the honorable member for Darwin explained how the people of the United States are charged many pounds more per ton for the armour plate of their warships than are the people of Japan. Why? Because the armour plate firms of America are willing to sell to Japan for a less price than they are willing to sell to America, notwithstanding that the very armaments with which they supply Japan will probably be used to resist American fire.
– Then they say that they are patriots.
– Yes. These commercial firms have as much kindly feeling for their country as a cat has for a mouse. I am not one of those who believe that we ought not to prepare for emergencies. But I hold that we are preparing to a greater degree than is necessary, and that there is not much likelihood of war. The truth is that the feelings of the people are worked upon in order that large armament firms in Europe may obtain millions of pounds’ worth of constructional work.
– That was not the reason why the honorable member’s party took the action which they did in the last Parliament.
– The honorable member was not here during the last Parliament. In addition, honorable members opposite know that I did not agree with the action of my party in going to the extreme that they did. But that is no reason why the present Government should not reduce our expenditure upon, defence. Why are we preparing so much for war ? Because in the Mother Country there is evidently a scare, and because there is a feeling that war will break out at an early date.
– There is not much doubt about it.
– With what nation will the war be?
– With Germany.
– Does my honorable friend know that all the arsenals of Europe, and all the armour plate manufacturers, are so interwoven that British money alone cannot be expended on British battleships, and vice versa.
– That would not apply in time of war.
– I propose to quote from a speech which Mr. Snowden delivered in the House of Commons on this very question, and in which he showed conclusively that the war scares of the world are simply designed to put profits into the pockets of the shareholders in large concerns, such as Vickers, Maxim, and Armstrong.
– Does that apply to Austria ?
– Yes. Does the honorable member know that Armstrong and Vickers have manufactories in Austria ? Should anything happen to British men-of-war in the Mediterranean, they hope to get the work of repairing them. Yet if a war occurred in Europe, Austria would be one of the countries with which England would be engaged.
– If there is anything in the honorable member’s argument, there will be no war.
– Exactly. That is my opinion.
– What is the power that is against the disarming of Europe to-day ?
– I propose to read from the Glasgow Forward the speech of Mr. Snowden upon this question. It is headed, “Snowden’s Great Exposure of Armaments Bing”; “Late Secretary to the Treasury calls them ‘ Crooks, Thieves, and Swindlers’”; “The Great Speech which the Capitalistic Press Suppressed.”
– The newspaper from which the honorable member is quoting must be of the same class as Truth.
– The article is one which any newspaper might publish. T intend to show that all the war scares of the world have been manufactured by
European firms, which are interested in the manufacture of arms and the building of ships. The editor, in his notes, says -
Phillip Snowden’s great onslaught on the Armaments Ring, delivered in the House of Commons on 18th March, was either carefully pruned or wholly suppressed by the capitalist papers of this country. It is essential that the Democracy of Scotland should have the facts, and accordingly, we have pleasure in publishing a verbatim account of that part of Snowden’s speech which dealt with the gang who operate the navy scares for dividend purposes.
No single one of Snowden’s statements was controverted in the House of Commons. -
I will read the speech, because I think it is essential that the people of Australia should know the truth in regard to this matter. Mr. Snowden said -
What are the obstacles in the way of ‘a substantial reduction of this expenditure? Why is it mounting up? The Governments - not only our own Government, but the Governments of all the European nations - profess to deplore it. The only speech I have heard upon the question by a responsible Minister in recent years who did not deplore it, and who did not make an appeal for a better understanding between the nations of Europe was the First Lord of the Admiralty yesterday. The only thing in -which he appeared to glory was that even the smaller nations of Europe were now gutting a mania for a fleet, and were trying to emulate the example set them by the great nations of Europe. What, in spite of these conditions, are the obstacles in the way of a better understanding? Lord Welby, who has held the highest and most responsible position as a permanent civil servant in this country, who was at the head of the Treasury, who is a man of world-wide reputation in matters of financial knowledge, and a mau of sterling probity, was speaking on this question a few weeks ago, and he said: - “ We are in the hands of an organization of (thieves, swindlers! They are politicians, manufacturers of armaments, and all of them are anxious for unlimited expenditure ; all go on inventing scares to terrify the public and to terrify the Ministers of the Crown.”
That is an extremely serious charge to be made by a responsible ex-public servant like Lord Welby. Can it be substantiated? I venture to submit to this House that it can be substantiated up to the hilt. We had a scare in 1909. That was not the first scare of the same character. If time would permit I could go through half-a-dozen previous scares and show that the features of each were precisely the same. They were all engineered during a time of trade depression - and engineered for the purpose of forcing Governments to spend money in the provision of additional armaments. I am not going to deal at any length with the scare of 1909. It is so recent,” and the facts that later came to light were so remarkable, that possibly the incidents are fairly well known. What was the state of trade in the shipbuilding world, and in many of the armament firms at the time when the scare was introduced? In the early part of 1909, Earl Cawdor, who presided at the Institution of Naval Architects, said - “During the past twelve months, with the exception of the Vanguard building at Barrow, not one British battleship has been laid down in a private shipbuilding yard at Home.”
Thu Naval Annual goes on to make a somewhat similar statement. I come to a statement . made just about the same time by a gentleman who at that time was a member of this House, but who has since been translated to other regions. He was then known as Sir Charles MacLaren. He was the chairman and director of more than one of these armament firms. Sir Charles MacLaren, at the annual meeting of John Brown & Co., of which he is chairman, said - “ Things were bad twelve months ago, and he was sorry to say they were bad still. He had seen no evidence of improvement during the past twelve months, and really there was very little evidence of distinct improvement in the immediate future.”
What was going on at the time of this exceptional depression? Why all these firms were engaged in increasing their capital, putting down new slipways, preparing for the time which they knew from past experience, and their knowledge of instruments they were able to work, would come sooner or later. Just before the scare, Armstrong, Whitworth, & Co. had equipped a new gun-mounting shop, with three erecting pits and ample storage for ordnance; the Coventry Ordnance Works Ltd. had completed in 1908 their great gun mounting establishment at Scotstoun. Messrs. Beardmore & Co. Ltd., with the aid of Vickers Ltd., had been making extensions at Parkhead works. All this time these men and their representatives were working behind the scene. The House will remember the Mulliner incident. Mr. Mulliner was a director of the Coventry Ordnance Works. What is the Coventry Ordnance Works? It is another name for John Brown & Co. The Cammel Laird Company and the John Brown Company own half the shares. Now we had it on the authority of Mr. Mulliner himself that for three years before 1909 he was constantly writing to the Government and appealing to them in other ways to spend more money upon armaments, and giving them information, which was afterwards found to be totally untrue, in relation to what Germany was doing. I do not suppose that is a very usual practice for Cabinet Ministers to interview commercial travellers and touts, but they made a departure on this occasion, and after three years of importunity, they enlisted the services of this gentleman, who was received by the Prime Minister and other members of the Cabinet; and then the Prime Minister and the First Lord of the Admiralty came down to this House with that bogus story about the acceleration of the German programme, and it has since come to light that theiT only authority was the man whose works were standing idle at that time, and who was so anxious to get Government work. The statement -which the honorable member for Fareham (Mr. Arthur Lee) made himself responsible for at that time will not be very soon forgotten. A cry went up - “ We want eight, and we won’t wait”; and they did not wait; and then the contingent ships were laid down, and they got the work. These are the very men who had been using this means to induce the public to spend money.
I find from the Navy League Annual that before this scare, the amount of private contracts for new construction was £7,000,000. The year 1910-11 was the first year of the new programme, and in that year private contracts went up by £4,500,000, but there was no more work given to the Government dockyards; it all went to private contractors of the Armament Ring, who forced the Government into this expenditure. I remember my honorable friend, the member for Woolwich (Mr. Crooks) [pleading with the then First Lord of the Admiralty for some work for Woolwich. Honorable members smile at that, but there you have the painful illustration of how this system incidentally makes a man do a thing which his party utterly abhorred. But the First Lord would give no part of the additional work to Woolwich. It all went to increase the profits and the dividends of these private firms. What do I find on examination of the balance-sheets of the firms which constitute the Armament Ring? I find in the year before the scare Messrs. Vickers’ profits amounting to £424,000. Two years after that they were nearly double that amount. Every year since the success of their intrigue their profits have gone up - £474,000, £544,000, £745,000, £872,000. The precise figures of their profits for the lasttwelve months are not yet obtainable; but they show another addition, so that their profits are increased by £500,000 a year as a result of the success of the scare they engineered four years ago. Now, what are the other component parts of the ring 7 Let us take Armstrong. That is the other firm in this. ring of which the First Lord of the Admiralty spoke very affectionately some time ago. He said that the relations of the Admiralty with Vickers and another large firm in the trade are far more cordial than the ordinary relations of business. That might be one reason why the representative of these firms was received in audience at a Cabinet Council. In the year of the scare Armstrong’s profits amounted to £420,000. They went on mounting up until last year, 1912, they had risen to £777,000, with an increase in dividend. Another firm, Messrs. Beardmore, shows on examination of their profits exactly the same thing. In 1909 their profits were £72,000; in 1911 they were three times that sum- -£201,000.
I have spoken of the Armament Ring. What is that ring? It ,is a combination of four, or five - strictly speaking - of the principal firms engaged in this trade. Patriotism is not one of the distinguishing features of the trade methods of this great combine. For instance, I find Messrs. Vickers have works at Barrow, Sheffield, Birmingham, but they do not confine themselves to this country. They have a yard in Placentia de las Armas, in Spain; they have another in Spezia, in Italy. They are evidently taking time by the forelock. They anticipate the promise of a Mediterranean Squadron. It is no wonder that I find the shares of Vickers, Armstrong, & Co., Cammell, Laird, & Co., went up on the Stock Exchange after the report of the First Lord’s speech. They have also an interest in the Whitehead torpedo factory, in Fiume, in Austria-Hungary, and it is against Austria we are asked to lay down the fleet in the Mediterranean. And, again, as the newspapers have reminded us so much in the last week or two, they have a place on the Volga, in Russia; indeed, they have two. They have also a shipyard in South America, and in anticipation of the development of the Canadian Navy, they have laid down works in Montreal. Another component part of the trust was there before them, and John Brown & Co. have what is going to be the largest shipyard in the world in New Brunswick.
I said patriotism is not a distinguishing characteristic of the methods of these firms. As a matter of fact, these firms are not Eng- ‘lish. Their management is international, and their shareholders are international. For instance, I find on examination of the share lists of Messrs. Vickers that they have shareholders living in Italy, Japan, Russia, Brazil, Canada, Australia, China, Spain, and Chili; and, after all, I think we are entitled to say that these “ men are true internationals. Now, I ask again, what is this Armament Ring? It comprises Vickers-Armstrong, John Brown, CammellLaird - the Coventry Ordnance Works is a subsidiary firm. Vickers, for instance, not only own works directly, but they are large controllers Of the Wolseley Tool and Motor Company and the Electric and Ordnance Accessories Company. Messrs. Beardmore not only own the business with which their name is associated, but they own half the shares of Whitehead & Co.’s torpedo manufacture; and Whitehead & Co., torpedo manufacturers, also have a large factory in Austria building torpedoes to destroy the ships that Vickers are building now! So the shareholders of the Armament Ring can look forward with equanimity to whatever happens. It is no matter to them whether it is an Austrian ship or a German ship, or a British ship that sinks, they can throw up their hats and shout, “More ships, more profits, higher dividends.” John Brown & Co. have a great works at Sheffield, with which their name is associated. They have a great shipping yard at Clydebank, and they have over seven-eighths of- the shares of Thomas Firth & Sons Ltd., and half the shares in the Coventry Ordnance Works. But I may add that after the Mulliner incident this company changed their managing director. After thu exposure of the means by which he succeeded in engineering the naval scare of 1909 the Government came to the conclusion he was not the man who ought to be retained as managing director of the firm with which the Government had contracts; therefore Mr. Mulliner was discharged, and there was appointed in his place- an Admiral of the Fleet, with a salary of £7,000 a year, and seven years’ engagement. John Brown are also associate. with Beardmore; they interchanged two directors with Palmer’s Shipbuilding Company and Projectile Company, and they have one director, in common with Richardsons, Westgarth & Co., Hadfield Foundry Ltd., and with CammellLaird & Co., so that when you touch one of the firms of this ring you touch the others. You do not know, to use the words of the coster song, “ Which is which, and which is the other.” I come now to the shareholders. I find the trustee for the debenture holders in Vickers is Lord Sandhurst, who, at the present time, occupies the position of Lord Chamberlain. I find that the member for the Hallam division of Sheffield (the Bight Hon. Stuart-Wortley), who rose so promptly in the debate the other day - when the First Lord of the Admiralty had suggested the possibility of getting armour plate from abroad - in order to point out that there were great firms in this country who had been encouraged by the expectation of Government work to lay down expensive plant. He practically said it would be a breach of faith on the part of the Government to take away from these people the expectations they had been given. The right honorable gentleman is a debenture holder for Vickers, and he is also debenture trustee for Cammell, Laird, & Co.
Now, who are the shareholders? It would be too long for me to give more than a very short selection from the list, but I find that honorable members in this House are very largely concerned; indeed, it would be impossible to throw a stone on the benches opposite without hitting a member who is not a shareholder in one or other of these firms. (Ministerial cheers.) I am sorry for the sudden hilarity of my honorable friends, for the shareholders in these firms are not confined to Unionist members. I find that the bishops are very well represented. Among the shareholders in Beardmore’s I find the name of an honorable member opposite as the holder of 5,000 shares. The member for Armagh (Sir J. Lonsdale), who asked seven questions in five weeks in 1000 - the scare year - as to when orders for gun-mounting would be placed. The honorable member for Osgoldcross division of Yorkshire (Sir J. C. Rickett - I congratulate him on his election last week as hon. president of the Free Church Council - is the great Imperialist. 1 have often seen his portrait in the London press as that of a man who placed patriotism and Empire before all considerations of sordid selfishness. I find that he is the holder of 3,200 shares in John Brown’s, and 2,100 shares in Cammell-Laird’s. Another of the members of Sheffield figures in practically every list, as he figures in every debate of this House when there is a possibility of more money being spent on arms and ships. I refer to the member for the Eccleshall division (Mr. S. Roberts). He is a shareholder in John Brown’s, a director of Cammell.Laird’s, also debenture trustee of the Fairfield Company, and a shareholder in the Coventry Ordnance Works.
It would hardly be fair to ignore” the Liberals altogether. I find that a director of Palmer’s is Lord Aberconway, and that a Liberal mem- ber of this House is one of his co-directors, the member for the Bosworth Division of Leicester (Mr. H. D. McLaren). I spoke of the “ internationalism “ of this, and I find the shareholders in Cammell-Laird’s include a considerable number of names with which I am not familiar. Another shareholder in Cammell-Laird’s is the representative of the Northern Division of Manchester (Sir C. E. Swann). I want to say one or two words about the Harvey Trust, which was formed a few years ago, and which represents, I think, the most up-to-date and complete form of capitalist organization the world has ever seen. Its internationalism is complete. It was formed for the purpose of working certain rights in the manufacture of armour plate, and it combined together the interests in Britain of VickersArmstrong’s, Beardmore’s. John Brown’s, Fairfield, Cammell-Laird’s, the Projectile Company, Palmer’s, and Hadfields-Coventry, of halfadozen of the leading firms in the United States, of firms in France, Italy, and Germany (Krupps). The directors were representatives of Beardmore’s, John Brown’s, VickersArmstrong’s, Cammell-Laird’s, the French Steel Company, Schneider’s, and others.
I find in the list of shareholders here the name of the present Colonial Secretary, and the name of the present Postmaster-General also figures. I said something about the cosmopolitan character of the shareholders’ list. Of course, in such a combination as the Harvey Steel Trust, it is only to be expected that a large number of foreign names would appear. I referred a moment or two back to the case of the Admiral of the Fleet, who had been appointed -managing director of one of these undertakings. That is not the only instance in which men have been taken from the service of the Crown and placed directly in influential positions under this armament ring. There is, of course, a reason for it. I will not give it in my own words, but in those of a representative, trade organ. There is a paper called “Arms and Explosives,” devoted to the interests of the armament trade, and in September last this paper wrote - and I ask the special attention of the House to the quotation - because it puts the matter far more clearly than I could do: - “ Contractors naturally are very keen to avail themselves of the services of prominent officers who have been associated with the work in which the contractors are interested. The chief thing is that they know the ropes, since the retired officer, who keeps in touch with his own comrades, is able to lessen some of these inconveniences, either by gaining early information of coming events, or by securing the ear of one who would not afford like favours to a civilian….. Kissing undoubtedly goes by favour, and some of the things that happen might be characterized as corruption. Still, judged by all fair tests, the result is good. The organizations of facilities for supply is maintained through times of peace on an efficient and economical basis. Manufacturers do not make huge profits, and they are enabled to survey from year to year, and to be ready in the case of national emergency.”
The thought of Armstrong’s subsisting on a dividend of 12½ per cent., and Vickers on 10 per cent., putting an equal amount to the reserve fund, is most affecting. Sir Andrew Noble, of the Royal Artillery, joined Armstrong’s in its early days. He is now chairman. There are other cases. I come to what I think will be admitted as the most serious of these transfers, the case of Sir George Murray, who succeeded Lord Welby as Permanent Secretary of the Treasury, a position of great responsibility. Nothing can be more disastrous’ for the financial reputation of this country than that there should be a suspicion - I do not put it any higher - of tbe strict probity of men who are in the position of permanent head of our great Department. One oanhot avoid suspicion being expressed in some quarters when a highly-placed public servant takes his pension and immediately after takes his Beat upon a board having the closest business relation with the Government. Why did he go to the board of Armstrong’s? He is not an engineering expert; he is not a naval expert. I add, in tbe words of “ Arms and Explosives,” “ He knows the ropes.” He keeps in touch with’ his old comrades. He cansmooth away any inconveniences. I will not, as this paper docs, characterize it as corruption.
– T - These are the pure men that lead the world;
-They are the patriots of Great Britain, the patriots of the civilized world. That statement was made in the House of Commons by Mr. Snowden, and never denied; but it was suppressed so that the public should not know the facts.
– It appeared in the Hansard record, I suppose.
– The newspapers would not publish it. If a member of the Opposition in this House charged a Minister with being interested in the manufacture of war material, the people of Australia would demand his removal from office. Our defence scheme is more costly than we can afford, and the enormous expense which it will entail is unnecessary, because,as I have shown, the war scares in Great Britain are manufactured for those interested in the Bale of armaments, war material, and. ships.
-Has not the Mexican scare been manufactured t
– I believe that it has been manufactured by the Americans. Ministers have told the people that they are desirous of reducing the expenditure of government. I feel sure that they will do nothing in that direction, though I should be happy to assist them in reducing, for one thing, our expenditure on defence, and I have indicated lines which might be followed with safety. Seeing that Lord Kitchener’s estimate is likely Co be considerably increased, the Government should seriously consider this matter. If nothing is done, Australia, in 1920, will have a National Guard of 220,000 men, and nearly 200,000 Senior Cadets, as well as Junior Cadets. It will be impossible for our people to pay for the clothing, arming, and instruction of so large a body.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Groom) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Joseph Cook) agreed to-
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until to-morrow at half-past 2 o’clock p.m.
– I understand that the debate on the censure amendment is to close to-morrow night.
– Hear, hear!
– Then I. ask the leave of the House to give notice of a sessional motion relating to our days of. sitting.
Leave granted; notice given.
House adjourned at 10.20 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 5 May 1914, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1914/19140505_reps_5_73/>.