5th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– The honorable member for Yarra yesterday drew attention to some figures quoted by me, and pointed out, very properly, that there was an error in them which, on my part, was accidental. I was quoting at the time from figures taken from a flimsy copy of the return, and I have now to say that “ 1901 “ should read “ 1907.” As pointed out by the honorable member, the exact figures were £93,549,165, and those for 1912 were £148,775,407.
– It made a difference, did it not?
– I was drawing attention to the progress made by the manufacturing industries, and the misquotation made no difference to the point I was putting.
– Has the
Minister of Trade and Customs signed any order for the closing of Customs bonded warehouses in any other part of Australia except Stanley, Strahan, and Burnie in the electorate of Darwin, and Devonport, in the electorate of Wilmot?
– Yes; three of these places have been closed in Queensland, because of the repeal of the Sugar Excise Act. There has been no distinction made; each case has been treated in accordance with the reports presented, and the usual practice of the Department.
– Will the PostmasterGeneral take steps to insure that the automatic telephone service which has just been installed at Brighton is made available for subscribers? “At present, proper communication is impossible; and I understand that subscribers are being charged for every ring whether they secure connexion with the Central Exchange or not.
Honorable Members. - Hear hear !
– There are a good many” hear hears,” but I point out that, although the people’ cry out for automatic telephones on the most uptodate system, they have not the patience to wait from seven to ten days while hundreds of subscribers are being transferred from one switchboard to another. Subscribers are not being charged for calls that are not effective, because, under the automatic system, there is no registration unless the subscriber obtains connexion. The trouble is that the people have not yet learned how to work the machine. If they would take a little care and trouble, instead of grumbling, it would be much better for them and for the Department.
– -In view of the remarks of the Postmaster-General, may I suggest that, as there is no telephone exchange at all in either the electorate of Yarra or the electorate of Batman, it would be advisable to try the automatic principle in these places, seeing that the people there would more easily fall in with the new system.
– If I remain long enough in office I shall take the matter into consideration.
– Will the AttorneyGeneral issue an order to the. Electoral Branch that, if the name of a man or woman has been struck off the certified roll, but is, as proved by the card, on another roll, he or she shall be allowed to vote- that every person who is a bond fide elector shall be permitted to exercise the franchise? Multitudes of people do not understand all the procedure about letters and so forth, and consider that they are all right if they are on one of the rolls.
– The question indicates, I think, that the honorable member does not quite understand what the certified roll is.
– Oh, yes I do; it is the last “ punch “ !
– Now the question is couched in language that I clearly understand. I shall bring the question under the notice of the Minister in whose Department the matter is, and he will give an answer.
Mr.FENTON. - Can the Minister of External Affairs give the House any information regarding the use of Australian timbers, marble, mural decorations, and windows of Australian workmanship in the construction of the Commonwealth Offices in London? Is the promise that the honorable gentleman gave to a deputation being fulfilled by his officers in this regard?
– The honorable member kindly informed me that he intended to put this question, and I asked for particulars from the architect, but, unfortunately, they have not come to hand. Speaking from memory, I understand that the marble to be used will be New South Wales Caleula marble, Victorian Buchan marble, and South Australian Angaston and Kapunda marble. There have been special reports from the architect and the sculptor, who speak in the highest terms of Australian marble; and there is now a good opportunity presented, in the erection of Australia House, to advertise the existence of excellent material in Australia for building and sculptural purposes. In fact, some of the marble has been pronounced quite equal to the
Parian marble of Greece. We are also doing our’ best to have Australian timbers used as much as possible in the building, and it is selected for some, at all events, of the furniture and of the panelling. I shall give the honorable member more particulars when I receive them from the architect.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister of Defence say whether any honorable member, who so desires, may see the room used for the solitary confinement of cadets at Queenscliff and other places?
– I shall bring the honorable member’s request before the Minister, and see whether it can be complied with. This is an opportune time to inform the House that the punishment of solitary confinement for certain offences in connexion with universal training - a punishment that has been enforced for a number of years - is now under the consideration of the Minister with a view to its abolition.
– Has the attention of the Prime Minister been drawn to a very significant cablegram appearing in yesterday evening’s Herald with regard to an appeal made by Dr. Sun Yat Sen, leader of the Republican party in China, for help from Japan ? If there has been an appeal of that sort, is it likely to affect our diplomatic relations in any way detrimental to Australia?
– I have not seen the cable. To tell the truth, I have been too busy reading those memoranda that are causing trouble. I have not seen the cable referred to, and I am quite unaware whether our diplomatic relations will be affected by such procedure.
– What Minister is in charge of the administration of the Electoral Act at the present time?
– I am the Minister responsible. Why do you ask?
– Can the Minister of
Trade and Customs say whether it is possible to obtain the statistics of the manufactures and production of the
Commonwealth from 1901 to 1907, and have them placed in the statistical books that are issued monthly ? The figures are given for the last few years only.
– I do not think we can get any earlier figures.
– The Minister told me privately yesterday that he thought it was possible to get some of them. I know that I tried to get them and could not. Also, will the Minister try to expedite the publication of the figures? At present none are available until practically twelve months have elapsed.
– I shall try to obtain the information. It will be very difficult, as the honorable member says, to get the figures for 1901 to 1907. It may only be possible to get approximate statistics, but whatever figures can be obtained, I shall endeavour to get them. They can be taken for what they are worth.
– Seeing that there are only two political parties in this House, will the Prime Minister, at the coming election, allow the electoral officers to be chosen half from one party and half from the other party, and thus allay any doubt as to the proper conduct of the election ?
– I can only conclude that my friend is totally unacquainted with the Electoral Act and regulations. If he would read the Act he would see what it says, and thus save me from answering such foolish questions.
– Can the Prime Minister give us any information yet as to when the new rolls will be available, and, what is more important, whether a reasonable time will be allowed after the rolls are made available before the issue of the writs, in order that names that are not on the rolls may be placed on them ?
– I can only reply again, for about the tenth time, that every facility will be afforded that we can possibly make available.
The following paper was presented : - -
Northern Territory - Outlines of Policy - By the Honorable P. McM. Glynn, Ministerof External Affairs.
Ordered to be printed.
Pamphlet. - S.S. “ Stuart.” - Appointments by the Fisher Government.
– Is there any truth in the statement that the Minister of External Affairs has prepared a pamphlet in connexion with the policy of the Government in relation to the Northern Territory ? If there is, will the Minister place that pamphlet on the table before the House is dissolved?
– I have not seen any statement in the press or elsewhere to the effect that I have been preparing a pamphlet on the Northern Territory. The statements to that effect have been confined to the honorable member, and in order to gratify him, and alford him some matter for his speeches upon the policy to be pursued in regard to the Northern Territory, I have laid on the table some memoranda that I have had prepared.
– Will the Minister of External Affairs furnish a statement as to the loss incurred on the steam-ship Stuart- both as to capital and working accounts ?
– I can only recall the figures approximately. The vessel was originally purchased for about £10,400, and the cost of the necessary additions and repairs was £5,907. Therefore, we may put down the cost at about £16,307. I think there was a loss on the working of the vessel of about £4,000 a year ; but a mail subsidy of £2,500 was previously paid. As the vessel was unsuited for the purpose for which it was purchased, and was rather expensive to work, I eventually sold it for a net price of about £6,000.
– What has become of the coal hulk that was purchased in Sydney and taken to the Northern Territory for the purpose of supplying the steam-ship Stuart with coal?
– I must assume that the coal hulk is still in the Northern Territory. It was sent there some time ago, and enabled us to make a very large saving in connexion with the price we have had to pay for coal.
– Was the loss made on the vessel charged to “ Contingencies “ as stated by the honorable member for Gippsland at North Mirboo ?
– I am sorry to say that I do not read many political speeches in the papers.
– What was the loss charged to ?
– To Consolidated Revenue, of course.
– I could not answer the honorable member’s statements without making some reference. I do not know to what vote the loss was charged. All I know is that the loss was sustained, and that we have to stand it.
– As these questions have been asked, will the Minister of External Affairs answer another? It is alleged that he has stated that the officials appointed in the Northern Territory by the Labour Government were appointed for seven years, and could not be removed or interfered with in any way. Did he make any such statement ?
– I made that statement, I believe.
– Then it shows how many people can misrepresent the position.
– I made the statement as to one individual, and I made it on the authority of the exMinister of External Affairs, who in this House, and as reported in Hansard, stated that Mr. Ryland was appointed until he reached the age of sixty-five years.
– Under the provisions of the Public Service Act.
– Yes; and Mr. Ryland ‘s age was then fifty-eight.
– I ask the Minister of External Affairs whether he made a statement, that he is reported by a Liberal member to have made, that these officials were appointed for seven years, and could not be removed or interfered with in any way ? Of course, the Prime Minister’s remarks are an outrage.
– I do not believe that any Liberal member did say that I stated any appointment was made for seven years. I have not read any speech to that effect, but it casually came to my notice that an assertion of that sort was made about three months ago. The explanation is that another Minister made a statement from which the deduction was made.
– Was it the Prime Minister ?
– No; my predecessor.
– Do you say that I made the statement?
– The inference was that I had made a statement that these men were appointed for seven years. There must be some misapprehension. In any case, no such inference could be drawn from any statement made by me, because I have not said anything of the sort.
– I desire to ask the Minister of External Affairs whether it is not a fact that all permanent officials in the Northern Territory are appointed under the Public Service Act of the Territory, which entitles them to remain in the Service until they reach the age of sixty-five years, but which also provides that they may be removed at any time if it is thought that they are incompetent, or if there is no work for them to do ?
– The tenure of office of officials in the Northern Territory is really at the Governor-General’s pleasure.
– But they must retire on reaching the age of sixty-five years.
– That does not necessarily follow. They can be removed at any time by the Governor-General, but the removal of an officer from the Service does not involve the slightest imputation on his character. It is merely an indication that we do not want his services.
– I ask the Minister of External Affairs whether the steamship Stuart was purchased by the late Government as the result of tenders being called for the supply of such a vessel for the Northern Territory?
– I think that the vessel was on the stocks for sale for about six months, and was purchased in Sydney. Iwill find out whether tenders were invited,
– There were no tenders.
– I thought that tenders were not invited, but I desired to be sure before replying to the question. When we decided to sell the Stuart I called for tenders, but we did not receive one for her purchase.
– Can the Minister of External Affairs tell us, approximately, how long Mr. Ryland remained in the Service in the Northern Territory before he was dismissed ?
– I cannot fix the date, but the appointment was made shortly after the Queensland elections.
– Was he in the Service for two or three years?
– I cannot exactly remember, but I do not think he was there for more than a year.
– That is the best answer that could be given to the Prime Minister, who stated that Mr. Ryland could not be dismissed for seven years.
– I do not know how my answer can be said to affect the Prime Minister’s statement; but I have no wish to argue the matter.
– Will the Minister of Trade and Customs state whether it is the intention of the Meat Export Trade Commission to examine only those who volunteer to give evidence, or to summon witnesses who would not otherwise come forward, and from whom valuable evidence might be obtained?
– The conduct of the inquiry is entirely in the hands of the Commissioner, who has already published an invitation to all persons, who may desire to do so, to give evidence. In addition to that, by the Act recently passed he has been fully endowed with the necessary legal authority to summon compulsorily any witness whom he thinks it necessary to examine.
– Is the Minister himself likely to suggest to the Commissioner the names of any persons who, he thinks, could give evidence?
– The conduct of the inquiry is entirely in the hands of the Commissioner.
– Is there business in the appointment, or is there not?
– Of course there is, otherwise the Commissioner would not have been appointed.
– The right honorable member probably is accustomed to doing otherwise.
– I know the ways of the Fusion Ministry !
– And I know that the right honorable member is a past master of insinuation. The Commission, as he knows, was appointed in perfect good faith, and has full power to inquire into the question.
– Will the Minister of Trade and Customs ask the Commissioner to examine on oath some of those who have made statements about unborn calves having been purchased by the Beef Trust, contracts having been entered into for several years ahead?
– Those honorable members who have so much information to give us can accept the invitation which the Commissioner has published in this morning’s papers.
Closing of Customs Bonded Warehouses, Tasmania.
– I desire to move the adjournment of the House in order to discuss a definite matter of urgent public importance.
– I have received a notice from the honorable member that he desires to move the adjournment of the House to discuss a matter of public urgency, namely, “ the closing of the Customs bonded warehouses at Stanley, Burnie, Devonport, and Strahan, by the Government, and the consequent injury to the small business people of the northwest coast of Tasmania.” Is the motion supported ?
Five honorable members having risen in their places,
– I am taking this action not with any desire to delay public business, but because leading business men on the north-west coast of Tasmania - not supporters of mine, but staunch members of the Fusion party - have requested me, as the representative of the district for the last thirteen and a half years, to try to prevent this injurious attack upon the privileges that they have enjoyed for thirty-three years. I shall ask the Minister to listen, not to my own views on the matter, but to statements made by representative bodies. In the first place I direct attention to the following protest from the Marine Board, members of which support the Fusion party.
Closing Coastal Warehouse Bonds.
Ultimatum issued to close Strahan Bond on and after 1st July. This necessity of the trading public and convenience of the people has existed for over thirty years in the port of Strahan.
It is now under the Commonwealth control, and is managed by the postmaster, who is also Customs officer, and holds various other titles, offices, and duties.
Its cost in management is infinitesimal compared to former days under State control. Many hundreds of thousand pounds’ worth of dutiable goods have passed through the Customs here; the greater bulk is not stored, but duty paid on entry.
It is safe to say fully £5,000 have been paid to Customs revenue in this port during the last five months.
The upkeep of the bond buildings is almost nil; it is a commodious building, and was erected as an appurtenance to the Customs Department of Strahan.
The small amount of revenue as rent is said to be the reason for closing the bond; the rental of this building should not be a reason for destroying a necessity and convenience of the people. If the rental ledger is to be squared, why not allocate a small percentage of the total duties paid into Customs revenue in each port, sufficient to meet the purpose?
The effect of closing these bonds will be to increase the cost of goods to the consumer, besides turning the aetual rent, now received, into a loss instead of a credit.
Foreign goods often arrive through Hobart or Launceston consigned from the Home markets to Strahan; if the invoices and documents do not arrive at the same time as the’ goods, and which does happen fora space of three or four days occasionally, then, if the bond is closed against storage it is said the goods are to be returned to Hobart for bonding. This means the goods, after arrival here, if not cleared immediately, have to be shipped back to Hobart or Launceston, and when the papers arrive they will be re-shipped to Strahan, making three voyages instead of one, and that the merchants must put on the extra charges at the cost of the consumer, to say nothing of the delay.
Surely the cost of living on the north and north-west coast of Tasmania is high enough now without the present Government, who came into office to reduce the cost of living, raising costs ; and surely, at a place where the rainfall is from 3 to 17 feet per annum, the Government should do nothing to injure the people.
It will also mean that the usefulness of the bond for distributing goods, and the duty paid automatically, as they are taken out, will be destroyed.
Let me try to show what this means to the small indent merchant. He purchases, say, £1,000 worth of goods, and perhaps by the time they arrive his credit is not as good with the bank as it was previously, and he is required to pay the whole of the duty within three days. If he has not the whole amount, he can put the goods into the bonded warehouse, and that will cost him practically nothing.
– There is the cost of storage.
– But the store is there, and it is in charge of the postmaster.
– Are you sure you are speaking of Strahan ?
– I think you said that £5,000 had been paid in duties during the last five months.
– Yes. I said, “ It is safe to say that fully £5,000 has been paid to Customs revenue in this port during the last five months.”
– In the last financial year the whole revenue was only £1,341, and no foreign ships go there.
– They come from all parts of the world to the Mount Lyell mine, and if they cannot get up to Strahan they have to discharge lower down.
– What is the rental?
– There is none, because the State Government handed the bond buildings over to the Commonwealth, and as I have already read, “ the upkeep of the bond buildings is almost nil.” The protest continues -
If these bonds are closed, it is nothing less than the elimination and destruction of all small merchants and the driving them out of business.
When the population of the West Coast was only a few hundred, we had it for their convenience. Now we have 20 to 30,000 of a community, all the bonds are to be centralized in the large cities.
To do so is an infringement of the ancient British Customs for the establishment of bond warehouses, where port facilities exist. It is a gross injustice to the whole of Tasmania’s coastal ports, and will seriously affect the whole community.
The various Marine Boards have protested, but, so far, without avail.
John Ware is the secretary of the local association. I will just read these further letters before touching upon the general question, but I enter my protest, because the Government donot, as a rule, pull a constable out of a little village and allow the people to run the village themselves because it costs a few shillings to keep a constable there. But I will deal with that later. The following is the correspondence regarding the proposed closing of the bonded warehouse at Strahan : -
From Acting Collector of Customs, Hobart, 1st April, 1914.
Sir. - As the Bond at Strahan will be closed on and from the 1st July next, all goods must be cleared on import entry direct from the vessel within the prescribed time laid down by section 72 of the Customs Act and Regulation 43 thereunder.
Yours faithfully, (Signed) J. L. HARBROE,
Let me emphasize the fact that this is a universal protest by these men, who are not Labour men. I desire to get out of the Minister’s mind the idea that they are Labour men.
– It has this to do with it, that honorable members think I will not bring anything into the House that is not from a Labour man. I am a party man outside the House, but in the House I am a business man, and quite non-partisan.
Dear Sir. - Referring to your letter of 20th April ultimo, I beg to inform you that we have now received definite notice from the Customs that the bonded warehouse at Burnie will be closed on 1st July next. The matter was submitted to my Board at their meeting held on Tuesday last, and I was instructed to write you agreeing to join in an united protest, or any concerted action of similar nature.
Yours faithfully, (Signed) P. B. WILLIS,
Sir. - Referring to yours of 20th ultimo, re bonded warehouses, I am directed to reply that this Board has not yet received any notification of the closing of same.
If you have a house on another man’s land for sixteen years, and he has not notified you to get off within that time, it becomes yours.
– I should like to test the matter in the Courts with my honorable friend. I think I would beat him on the point. I know several cases of the kind.
To the Honorable the Minister of Customs, Melbourne.
Dear Sir. - We beg respectfully to protest against the proposed closing of the Strahan bonded warehouse, on the following grounds -
I have the honour to be, Sir,
Your obedient servant, (Sd.) A. P. C. Boss, Master Warden.
To the Hon. the Treasurer, Hobart (memo.).
By direction of the Master Warden, I bog to forward copy of letter to the Hon. the Minister of Trade and Customs.
Yours faithfully, (Sd.) A. G. Prater, Secretary.
To the Secretary, Marine Board, Strahan. Sir,
Referring to your letter of the 20th instant, covering copy of a communication addressed to the Hon. the Minister for Trade and Customs, Melbourne, protesting against the proposed closing of the Strahan bonded warehouse, I have the honour to inform you that I have brought the matter under the notice of the Hon. the Premier and suggested that he support the Board’s action.
I have the honour to be, Sir,
Your obedient servant, (Sd.) J. A. Lyons, Treasurer.
Fancy a Labour man wasting printing by signing in that way -
Dear Sir. - I am enclosing copy letter sent to Treasurer by to-day’s mail in connexion with closing of bond at Burnie.
Yours faithfully, (Signed) P. B. Willis,
That man has more sense. He has been in my district.
We have been informed by the Customs Department that it is contemplated to closethe bonded warehouse at Burnie on 1st only proximo. The matter was discussed by my Board at a meeting held on Tuesday last, an d
I was instructed to protest through you against this action as being detrimental to the best interests of the port.
We understand the reason for thus closing the warehouse is that the revenue is too small to warrant the rent of the building used. My Board feel that the public will be greatly inconvenienced by the closing of the bond at Burnie, the shipping papers often coming to hand after the goods have been landed; in some instances the papers are sent to consignees at Waratah and elsewhere, and have to be forwarded to Burnie agents by them, sometimes involving a delay of a week or more.
The Customs Department have been paying £8 per annum for the bond at this port,and my Board have instructed me to offer the building at a nominal rent of £1 per year, hoping thus to obviate the necessity ofthe proposed action.
My Board will be glad if you will endeavour to prevent the closing of this warehouse.
I have the honour to be, &c., (Sd.) P. B. Willis, Secretary.
Between £400,000 and £500,000 would be spent before the breakwaters are finished, which will make this the most important port in Tasmania, where the biggest ships in the world will be able to load the produce of the great north-west and western districts of Tasmania, with their agricultural and mineral wealth. Mount Lyell, Mount Bischoff, and the other great mineral fields are in that part of the island. Why should business men be deprived of rights that they have exercised for thirty-two years?
To the Hon. J. H. Keating, Parliament House, Melbourne.
We have been notified of the closing of the bonded warehouse here. As this involves serious inconvenience and loss to importers, besides a certain amount of loss to this Board, we have protested strongly, and would do anything in our power to prevent this injustice. The date of closing has been fixed as 1st July. Burnley has been similarly notified, andare also protesting. For some reason, which we are unable to explain, Stanley has not, they say, received notice. We would be pleased to give any information. (Sgd.) A. P. C. Ross.
I wish the Minister to take a lenient view. Small business men and farmers buy in small quantities. When a farmer imports an engine into Burnie, the bills of lading or invoices may not arrive for a week or two later, and the engine will therefore be shipped back to Launceston at his expense. In his speech yesterday the Minister of Trade and Customs said that his high officials - his inspectors - had decided that these Customs bonds were not profitable. In the name of the immortal Julius Cæsar how can high officials, sitting in their easy chairs in a big city, know what are the requirements of a little country district? When I was Minister of Home Affairs, I confess that I received suggestions on many occasions; but before acting, I looked into them with a view to seeing how they would affect the outside public. It is true that the people who reside on the north-west coast of Tasmania enjoy a beautiful climate during the summer, but it is one which is very injurious to their health during the winter. For the sake of saving a few shillings, why should they be deprived of a right which has been conferred upon them under a British Constitution ? Do we ever refuse to give a dinner to any foreign gentleman travelling through the Commonwealth because it will cost £30 or £40? Certainly not. Yet the Government have closed these Customs bonds in Tasmania, and have thus inconvenienced a number of small business men, simply because the said bonds cost the Commonwealth a few pounds annually in maintenance. The Minister has affirmed that it is not the policy of the Government to centralize everything in the big cities. Let him prove his statement by issuing instructions that nothing is to be done in the way of closing these Customs bonds until after the next general elections. Then, if the Labour party are returned to power, these bonds will not be touched; whereas, if the Liberal party prove triumphant at the polls, we shall not be able to prevent them doing just what they choose. I say that we ought not to cancel any right that these -small ports now possess. The cities have everything. They have beautiful libraries, picture shows, the Melbourne and Sydney Cups, and, indeed, everything that art and science can supply. If a small indent merchant purchases goods upon which he has to pay a couple of hundred pounds in Customs duties, he ought to be able to put those goods in a bonded warehouse on the coast, and to take them out just as he requires them for distribution amongst his customers. But, under existing conditions, he cannot do this at the ports of Burnie, Stanley, and Devonport. However, I will leave the honorable member for Wilmot to deal with the position as it affects Devonport. I say that this is the begin ning of the centralization of everything in the big cities. It is like Morgan’s octopus in America, which took all the finance of that country into Wall-street. Surely, if the present Government are a Government of the people, for the people, and by the people, instead of a Government of the people by and for the monopolies, they will not do anything to injure the small business men of Australia. Why should the high officials in the Public Service of Australia, who are surrounded with every comfort, and who enjoy all the luxuries when they travel, be permitted to say what are the rights of the little farmer on the north-west coast of Tasmania ? This matter was first brought under my notice by Mr. F. O. Henry, a business man who has large warehouses in Devonport and Strahan. He is not a Labour man, and if St. Paul came from Damascus he could not make him one. I hope that the Minister will take this matter into consideration, and make it impossible for me to say that the Government are endeavouring to centralize everything in the big cities. The national spirit of this country is being touched, and under its influence I hope to see the public life of Australia quickened with a new sense of freedom, Democracy and progress.
– Order I The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I was very much struck by the honorable member’s remark that he was a party man outside of this House and a business man inside of it. I am glad that, being a business man inside the Chamber, he did not refer to the honorable member for Darwin, the party man who said that this was one of Mr. Cook’s tricks to further the interests of large merchants.
– I did not say that. I said “ the Cook Government.”
– Did the honorable member say that it was a trick?
– I said what they told me over there.
– I am glad that the business man is now withdrawing what the party man is alleged to have said outside this Chamber. There is apparently no suggestion that this is a trick. Nor could there be. This morning a question was asked as to whether Customs warehouses had been closed only in the sovereign constituency of Darwin. As a matter of fact, the ordinary practice of the Department has been followed in the cases cited by the honorable member. For instance, on the 9th December, 1910, I find a Gazette notice, under the name of Frank G. Tudor, Minister of Trade and Customs, in which he proclaims the closing of nine Customs stations in New South Wales, twelve in Victoria, six in Queensland, three in South Australia, and one in Western Australia. The honorable member for Darwin might also tell me whether the following places are in the sovereign constituency which he has mentioned - Penguin, Smithtown, and Wynyard ? These stations are included in the same Gazette notice.
– By the Lord Harry, I did not know it.
– It appears, therefore, that the late Government closed down all these stations, and the honorable member raised no protest against their action. The honorable member has proclaimed himself to be the first business man of this Parliament, and I would remind him that, as business men, it became necessary for the late Government to close the Customs stations in three places in his own electorate.
– I did not know it.
– This honorable member who knows everything did not know what was going on in his own electorate. I cannot believe that. I prefer to believe that he was the business man all the time. While I have been Minister of Trade and Customs it has been necessary for me to act as a business man as previous Ministers have done. I have had to close some stations. The honorable member for Darwin knows that it is our duty to reduce, as far as possible, the cost of collection of the revenue. We cannot justify the imposition of taxes upon the people, and then employ an unnecessary number of officials to collect the taxes we impose. Of course, I agree that we should not unduly interfere with trade and the operations of those engaged in business. The honorable member drew a pathetic picture of the farmer and miner who was going to be injured by the closing of the Customs warehouses at these ports. I do not suppose that he could give a single instance in which a farmer imported an engine from abroad, and had it shipped direct to- any one of these ports, nor could he -give an instance of the kind in the case of a miner importing. What does it all amount to ? In the three places mentioned the stores have been closed. What are these stores ? They are places in which dutiable goods are stored for a certain time, and charges made for their storage, but the merchant, owning the goods, does not pay the Customs duty on them until he takes them out. The case about which the honorable gentleman was most pathetic was the case of Strahan. I find that the revenue derived for twelve months from the charges on goods at Strahan was £1 6s. 7d.
– The whole revenue for the year ?
– Yes, the rents received on the goods stored for the whole year was £1 6s. 7d. The goods were stored for a time, and the merchants did not pay Customs duties upon them until they were taken out, but my honorable friend wishes us to believe that, on this account, the whole cost of living throughout Tasmania was increased. The revenue received for the storage of goods in bond at Burnie for twelve months was £2 2s. lOd. The Harbor Board, I think, is our landlord at Burnie, and we pay for the use of the building in which the goods are stored £8 per year. I wonder what would be said of the honorable member for Darwin as a business man if he conducted his business in that way! In this case we are practically subletting the store to the people who own the goods. Could the honorable member, as a landlord, afford to sublet a house for £2 2s. lOd. a year for which he was himself paying a yearly rental of £8 ? He must, as a business man, admit that that could not be regarded as a sound business proposition. It should be remembered that these stores are revenue-collecting institutions only. They cannot be regarded in the same light as post-offices which are used to afford facilities for rendering services to the public as a whole. I take next the case of Devonport, and I find that the revenue for the year derived for the storage of goods in bond there was £5 8s. lOd. The State Government of Tasmania are now taking back the bonded store there. It is being re-vested in them, and they have informed us that they propose to charge us a rental of £20 a year.
– They are outrageous.
– As they are a Labour Government the honorable member is probably quite right. I find that the Premier of Tasmania, in replying to the Department of Home Affairs, informed the Department that the State Government would require rent for the building at the rate of £20 per annum. I do not know whether this came from the Liberal or the Labour Governments of Tasmania.
– The honorable gentleman will find that it is from Solomon.
– Probably. I find that the date of the report goes back to the 30th January. As a business proposition the honorable member for Darwin would not consider that for a moment.
– The honorable member justifies us in that case. We were getting a rental of £5 8s. 10d., and we have to pay £20 a year for running the business. There is no serious inconvenience caused by the closing of these places.
– They offered the place at Burnie for £1.
– I have not received that offer. This is the report I have on the matter -
From the point of view of expense alone there is nothing to justify the retention of these warehouses, but the worst feature, to my mind, is the fact that it enables importers at these places to warehouse goods, such as spirits, tobacco, &c, which should be examined and dealt with by experienced officials, and it is impossible for the class of officers stationed at these outports to carry out such duties - which include gauging and taking strengths of spirits - satisfactorily.
– How was it done for thirty-two years?
– It has not been satisfactory, apparently. That is the opinion expressed by the Collector. The matter was not decided, as the honorable member for Darwin suggested, by a man in a swivel chair, or by a man sitting in an arm-chair in an office, as the honorable member said he used to do.
– I did not say that; I said that officials made reports to me.
– The officials in this case were not arm-chair officials. Mr. Priestly was the man who investigated this matter. He reported the result of his inspection of these places, and it was upon his report that the Collector of Customs made his recommendation to me. Honorable members will see from the facts that I could not possibly have justified the continuance of these small stores. The convenience they afforded was simply to enable merchants to pay duty on their goods as they required them, instead of on the spot as they were removed from the ship. In order to continue that convenience, the Commonwealth would lose at Devonport alone something like £14 a year.
– A terrible amount.
– It would be a loss all the same, and we have to consider the accumulated losses throughout Australia at different places. We could not conduct business on those lines. We are bound to provide the public with facilities, and to collect the revenue with as little cost as possible. Big cities like Ballarat and Bendigo, and other places in the Commonwealth, might make similar calls upon us, and ask that goods should be stored there until they are wanted to go into consumption. If that practice were carried out throughout the Commonwealth, the cost of collecting the Customs revenue would be excessive. We should not add to the burdens of the people in the way of taxation by undue expense in its collection. If the honorable member for Darwin will consider this matter in this House as a business man, he will recognise that we have dealt with it on its merits. We have every good feeling towards the three districts concerned, and are glad to see their progress and prosperity, and the extension of their industries. We have every sympathy with the farmers and miners, but we are bound to be as economical as we can in the collection of the revenue. Honorable members will recognise, from the facts that I have supplied, that no case whatever has been made out by the honorable member for Darwin in connexion with the closing of stores in the ports I have mentioned.
.- I sympathize to some extent with the honorable member for Darwin, because several bonded stores and Customs houses have been closed in my own electorate.
At the same time I quite recognise the position as put by the Minister of Trade and Customs. I made no complaint because I realize the justification for the closing of such places. The Minister has not, however, stated the expense of keeping up the office in addition to the rent, that is, what salary the Customs officer would be paid.
– In this instance, it is included in the postal salary. That is part of his duties.
– It would be an item, I suppose.
– The Commissioner is supposed to take that fact into account in assessing the salary. We are not allowed to give them a special salary for doing that work.
– My concern was to know what was done in regard to these special Customs officers. Were they found other positions, or were their services dispensed with ?
– In every instance, instructions were given to try to place them. They are being gradually placed now. We are not getting rid of them.
.- I support the protest of the honorable member for Darwin. The Minister of Customs’ statement that the Government are careful about the expenditure, and are carrying the matter on in a businesslike way, is rather ludicrous, considering their extravagance in other directions.
This is a case in which encouragement ought to be given to the rising districts in Australia. It is something like the facilities given in connexion with postal matters. Mail services have to be conducted to deliver a very few letters in outlying parts, but that matter is not put on a pounds, shillings, and pence basis, nor should this be. It is recognised as part of the scheme for the development of the country.
We do not, however, find this cheeseparing in the Defence Department, or the High Commissioner’s office in London. We find there the most lavish expenditure. The expenditure on the Defence Department for 1913-14 is nearly £1,000,000 more than that for 1912-13. A large amount of this has gone in the payment of extraordinarily large salaries, enabling high officials to live in great luxury. According to an article in to-day’s Age, the expenditure on the High Commissioner’s office is some thing appalling. At the pace we are going, it is estimated in the article that our representation in London will cost us over £100,000 a year - much more than considerable European Powers are paying for their ambassadors in various countries.
The Government who profess to run the Departments on business lines balk at the expenditure of a few pounds to give great conveniences to farmers, miners, and others who are building up the resources of the country, but raise no question of business arrangements or shortage of revenue when it is a matter of enabling the High Commissioner’s office in London to entertain wealthy globe-trotters, or Defence Officers to live in ease and luxury.
In the light of these facts, the Minister’s statement that he is closing up these Customs offices and denying these advantages to the electors of Darwin because of business considerations, is all moonshine.
Question resolved in the negative.
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– A letter on the subject was received yesterday through the honorable member for Perth. As the statements contained therein are not sufficiently specific, the Comptroller-General is further communicating with the writer.
– I ask whether there is a quorum present..
The bells having been rung,
– Order ! Honorable members must not leave the chamber. Order! The honorable member for Barrier came into the gangway, and went out again.
– He did not come inside the Bar.
– There is a quorum present. I call the attention of the
House to the fact that when a quorum is called for, honorable members within the chamber at the time must not leave the chamber, especially after the Speaker has called attention to the fact that they must not go out. It may, perhaps, be true that the honorable member for Barrier was not actually within the Bar.
– I desire to assure you, sir, as a personal explanation, that I would not willingly break the rules. I thought the call was for a division, and I was paired.
– Are we to understand that within the chamber means within the Bar, or within the passage leading to the Bar?
– An honorable member within the Bar is certainly within the chamber. There were one or two members who came within the Bar, and then made an attempt to go out again; but they returned when I said members must not leave the chamber.
– You mentioned the name of the honorable member for Barrier. Will you kindly tell us whether the honorable member was actually within the chamber ?
– I am not able to say at this distance whether the honorable member had actually got so far. There were several honorable members about there at the time. All that I noticed was that the honorable member turned round and went out. I am unable to say whether he was actually within the Bar or not. My impression, however, is that he had not got as far as the Bar.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the questions are -
Regulation 122 (2) as passed in April, 1013, defines such prescribed institution or place as “ Any place kept or used for military purposes or any other institution or place approved by the Minister.”
Section 135 of the Act further makes the trainee committed to detention subject to the regulations governing the institution or place in which detained.
At Queenscliff the first punishment under the regulation was 24th March, 1914.
– Was that the first case of the solitary confinement of a cadet?
– Order ! Questions cannot be debated.
No. 4. (a) In the Victorian prisons, the conditions of solitary confinement are -
The conditions of confinement in military detention room at Queenscliff are -
I am desired to add that the Minister is revising the regulations with a view to prohibiting the punishment of separate confinement for offences against the universal training provisions of the Act.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the questions are -
A certain amount of delay occurred because the claims were not rendered immediately on conclusion of camp. When received the claims were not in order, and had to be referred back for amendment, thereby creating further delay.
In regard to the second, I am informed that comparatively few complaints have hitherto been received, and that there would have been no delay in this instance under ordinary circumstances, i.e., if the claims had been rendered in proper order at the time.
There does not, therefore, appear to be any necessity at present for instituting different arrangements.
Instructions are being issued that all possible steps are to be taken to insure prompt payments, and that no unjustifiable delay shall take place.
Compulsory Training Regulations : Prosecution of Cadet - Woollongong Telephone - Invalid and Old-age Pensions - Garrison Artillery Camp, Newcastle - Customs Department : Launch Service - Small-pox in New South Wales - Electoral Rolls - Industrial Unrest - Maternity Allowance - Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway : Sleepers Contract - Perth to Kalgoorlie Railway - Naval Forces : Imprisonment of Stoker - The Senate - Premiers’ Conferences - Commonwealth Bank - Finance : Borrowing - Administration of Cook Government.
InCommitte of Supply:
Consideration resumed from 18th June (vide page 2369), on motion by Sir John Forrest -
That a sum not exceeding £3,060,026 be granted to His Majesty for or towards defraying the services of the year ending 30th June, 1915.
.- In Ms speech last night the honorable member for Henty spoke of Federal extravagance, and when I asked him to instance a case of Federal extravagance entered into by the late Government he said “ the Federal Capital Site.” From this remark we can now understand why the work at the Federal Capital is not going on as fast as it should; it is owing to the influence of the Victorian section of the Fusion party. Another question raised by the honorable member was the enrolment of electors, and he advised the Treasurer that a good source of getting revenue would he to put the Electoral Act in operation against those who are not now applying for enrolment, and inflict the full penalty of £2. I do not know that it would not he a good thing if the right honorable gentleman were to take that step. I do not know whether he would be wise in following the advice of the honorable member for Henty. Numbers of those who are now enrolling have been struck off the roll since the date of the last election. Many of them are persons who changed their place of address, and are only now entitled to get on the roll by virtue of a month’s residence at the new address. Some time ago I asked the Assistant Minister of Home Affairs a question regarding the enrolment in the Illawarra and Riverina divisions. According to information I had received from these electorates a large number of names were being challenged, and many names were being struck off the roll in each case. I desired to ascertain who was responsible for challenging the names of these persons, especially in the Riverina electorate, where the most glaring instances had occurred. The answer I received from the Assistant Minister was that the person who was chiefly responsible for sending in objections to names on the Riverina rolls was a man who does not reside in the electorate, but has an office in Pitt-street, Sydney. I found that 2,006 objections had been sent in, and that Mr. Archdale Parkhill, who resides 300 miles or more from the electorate, was responsible for challenging 1,484 of that number.
– The Argus of this morning says that he was here yesterday conferring with the Caucus of the Liberal party.
– Perhaps Mr. Parkhill was taking his instructions from the Caucus in regard to this matter.
– Were these people improperly taken off the roll?
– My point is that the Department has no right to take any notice of a challenge from a man who resides outside an electorate, and does not know the people to whose names he objects. I submit that if names have to be challenged they ought to be challenged by a resident who knows whether the persons challenged have removed from the district. The Electoral Act contains a provision that, with every objection to enrolment, the objector shall lodge a deposit of 5s. to show his bona fides. I desire to know from the Department, or the Assistant Minister, whether Mr. Archdale Parkhill lodged the fee of 5s. in respect of each one of the 1,484 names which he challenged?
– How many names were objected to in the case of Illawarra?
– Two hundred odd.
– Did he lodge an objection, or only suggest that these names should be taken off ?
– I suppose that it was an objection. A gentleman named Lloyd objected to 318, and Mr. John Wise, secretary of the Liberal Association, objected to twelve, while a Mr. Bertram, of West Wyalong, objected to four, making a total of 2,006 electors challenged as wrongfully on the roll for Riverina. This sort of thing is going on all over the country, and I venture to say that if inquiries were made it would be found that some thousands of names had been objected to by Liberal organizers, secretaries, and supporters.
– Yet the rolls are bigger than ever.
– Quite so. Turning to the double dissolution, I noticed that the Victorian Chamber of Manufactures held a meeting, as reported in last Tuesday’s Age, and that addresses were delivered by the Minister of Trade and Customs and by the president, Mr. Brookes. The lastnamed gentleman, in the course of Bis remarks, said -
The double dissolution gave to employers an opportunity that might not come again for a generation.
This remark was received with applause.
– Mr. Brookes is on the door-mat of the Prime Minister now, just outside this chamber.
– I have seen the black organizer here several times, and have heard no objection raised.
– The “ black organizer,” as he is called, is just as “ white “ a man as is the honorable member for Riverina. He happens to be a native of Australia, and has just as much right to come to this House as has Mr. Brookes.
– Then the honorable member admits that Mr. Brookes has a right to come here?
– I took no exception to Mr. Brookes coming to the House; I was merely referring to his remark that the double dissolution has been brought about in the interests of employers, and that it presents the only chance that they may have for a generation. Mr. Watt, that great patriot, who is making such a hero of himself, also addressed the Chamber of Manufactures. Mr. Watt is spoken of as making a great sacrifice in leaving State politics for Commonwealth politics, but he knows full well that darkness is looming up for him so far as the State is concerned. A recent by-election at Essendon showed a reduced majority, which amounts to a notice to quit ; and, but for the fact that there were thousands of names off the rolls which should have been on, there would now have been another representative in the State Parliament for that constituency. Mr. Watt, addressing the Chamber of Manufactures, said -
He hoped the members of the Chamber would make up their minds to give some portion of their time, and as much money ns they could, to the Liberal cause. They had a chance now of putting out of public life in Victoria some men who ought never to have been in it. (Applause.) They could not do better than follow the example of their president, who, he knew, spent a good deal of time and money in assisting organizations to uplift the political, social, and industrial life of the country. (Applause.)
I suppose Mr. Watt had in his mind the £500 which was sent over by Mr. Brookes to the Liberals in Western Australia at the last Federal election, and that he was putting out a feeler with a view to a similar donation in the forthcoming campaign.
– I wish it would come !
– I should think that the Treasurer’s pension from the State ought to be enough to enable him to finance this campaign.
– The honorable member is getting into the mud, where he ought to stick.
– It is all very well, I suppose, for the Treasurer to attack the maternity allowance, and make statements against the poor recipients, but when a word is said against himself he regards it as getting into the “ mud.” Are we to take it that the Treasurer is the only person with a licence to get into the “ mud “1
– I do not believe in personal scurrility and abuse, and that is all the honorable member is fit for.
– I am only speaking the truth.
– It is not the truth; and the honorable member ought to be ashamed of himself for so speaking in Parliament.
– I wish to say a few words on the Defence Act and the treatment of the cadets. Some time ago I asked some questions in the House with, regard to Victor Yeo, of Broken Hill, who was arrested for non-compliance with the training provisions, and the answer I received from the Honorary Minister was that this lad had been sentenced to imprisonment for a month, a portion of which was to be spent in solitary confinement, with a diet of bread and water, for something over a week. Since the present Government came into power there have been several cases of this character. The first was that of Victor Yeo, and the other cadets involved were H. Flintoff, the Size brothers, of South Australia, and Thomas Roberts, of Melbourne. Most of these lads, I may say, are the sons of Quakers. There was also the case of Kreygger, a Presbyterian, who had conscientious scruples against military training. In November of last year this youth was arrested and sentenced to twenty-eight days at Swan Island. When he arrived there he refused to fall in, saying that he had been sent there for refusing to drill, and that he would continue to refuse because of his conscientious scruples. Another boy took a similar stand, and the officer in charge instructed two cadets, one of whom, Noonan, is a pugilist, who takes part in contests at the Stadium and elsewhere, to bring the recalcitrants into line. I am informed that some very harsh treatment was used on that occasion; so harsh, indeed, that the Department decided to have an inquiry. An inquiry was held. The Court consisted of Major H. J. Cox-Taylor, R.A.G.A., and Lieutenants B. M. Morris, R.A.G.A., and L. F. S. Mather, R.A.E. Paragraph 6 of their finding was as follows : -
That, with the exception of Trainee Kreygger, who says he was hit by Noonan, and otherwise ill-treated, and Trainees Flintoff, Phillips, and Anderson, who say they saw Kreygger hit by Noonan, the remainder of trainees on parade failed to see any hitting or other rough usage take place, although Kreygger states that he was hit after he rejoined the squad.
This young fellow informs me that he was not allowed to have any one at the inquiry to look after his interests, and that he had to do all the cross-examining himself. We know that, under the military rules, these young men are afraid to go as far as they would like to go. It was really a civil case, because it was a case of assault, and should have been tried in a Civil Court. At any rate, the Department should have given this young fellow the opportunity he desired to be represented by a solicitor. They refused that permission. He also tells me that the officer who was in charge of the lads at the time, and was responsible for getting Noonan to arrest him, and saw the whole of the ill-usage, was removed from Swan Island two days after the inquiry, thus showing conclusively that the officer was in some way responsible for the illtreatment. I find that the Size brothers, at Largs, were placed in a room 9 feet by 6 feet, in which nine others had to sleep, and that there was no ventilation. Even in the case of the most hardened criminals it has been found necessary to abolish solitary confinement.
– Under whose regulalations was it brought in ?
– That does not matter. I was not here when the regulations were framed. Had I been in the House I would most certainly have fought against such a regulation as this. It is a disgrace and a scandal, and is practically going back to the days of the convict system.
– Why do you not give the credit to the right party?
– The regulation was framed by the military authorities. I blame the military authorities, and not the Government.
– Regulations have to be approved by a Minister.
– I have heard honorable members on the Ministerial side say that this regulation is wrong.
– It is not a regulation; it is an administrative act by this Government.
– By the Fisher Government.
– I have heard honorable members opposite declaiming against this regulation. If it is wrong it is the duty of the Government to alter it at once, and to see that these young men do not suffer in the way they have suffered. I have referred to the case of young Roberts, who at the present time is undergoing twentyone days’ imprisonment, with seven days’ solitary confinement, for refusing to fulfil the compulsory requirements of the Defence Act. Reference was made to it at a recent meeting of the Operative Plumbers’ Union, and the Melbourne Argus published the following report of what occurred -
Mr. F. P. Roberts, the father of the boy, said that since the Minister of Defence (Senator Millen) had stated that there was a window in the cell in which the solitary confinement was passed, his wife had visited the Queenscliff Fort. She asked to be shown the particular cell in which the boy had been placed. The reply given her was that this could not be done without permission from head-quarters. Mrs. Roberts then visited her son at Swan Island, and asked him if he was sure that there was not a window in the cell. The lad replied that ho was certain that the only light in the cell came from two ventilators. Mrs. Roberts, on her return to the Queenscliff Fort. was informed that Head-quarters had been communicated with by telephone, and the reply to the request for permission to see the cell was that in no circumstances was this to bo allowed.
– Did not the Minister announce this morning that he was altering that regulation?
– Then why keep on threshing the matter out?
– The regulation, or this administrative act, is only being altered because of the protests of honorable members of this party against such a dastardly thing occurring in any so-called civilized country, and because Ministers are going to the country. They are doing it for electioneering purposes.
– What ? Amending some of your regulations?
– I fought my pre-election campaign upon this question, and I fought my election on it. I was sent to this Parliament because I had the courage to say that I opposed the whole system. I came into this House saying that the defence of Australia was costing far too much, and I maintain that if we are to have our present system these cruel punishments should not be undergone by our boys. Furthermore, I say that if we compel them to train we should look after them and see that they get every comfort, and that while they are in camp the necessaries of life should be provided for them. I referred, when speaking on the AddressinReply, to the last Liverpool camp held in March of this year. I spoke of the treatment that the boys received in that camp when the weather was so trying.
At that time New South Wales had the heaviest rainfall the State had experienced for fifty years. Yet the boys were compelled to remain in camp for eight days. At Kiama I saw a photograph of the camp taken four hours after the heavy rainfall, and a number of the young men were standing outside their tents kneedeep in water. They could not sleep on their beds, and had to walk about the whole of the night, and had to undergo a forced march of 20 miles on the following day, carrying all their kits. Each young fellow’s kit, when dry, weighs about 30 or 40 lb., but on this occasion the kits were wet and sodden, so that an extra load had to be carried. The Sydney Morning Herald of the 26th March contained the following: -
On their way toMacquarie Fields to-day the brigade marched through Liverpool, and as it was a route march, the men had to carry knapsacks, great-coats, and lunch, besides rifles and side arms. This is a pretty considerable load for the young soldiers.
It also stated that -
In New South Wales, and the same is true of the rest of Australia, there are not sufficient blankets to supply the troops.
And this during one of the wettest seasons that we have experienced in New South Wales for forty or fifty years.Rain began to pour as soon as the boys went into camp. An order should have been issued at once to break up camp and to return the lads to their homes. But no such direction was given. The boys were kept in camp the full period, and at the end of it had to take part in the review before General Sir Ian Hamilton, in the Centennial Park. Many of those lads came from my own district. They told me that they suffered a great deal, and that, on their return home, many of them lost considerable working time because of colds and other troubles that they had contracted while in camp. I hold that if we are to have compulsory training we should make the system as comfortable as possible for these boys. It is wrong to force lads under sixteen years of age into camp. At Broken Hill, a brother of the lad to whom I have referred, who is only fourteen years of age, was fined for failing to drill; but, as the result of pressure that was brought to bear, it was eventually agreed to forego the fine. I have before me a long list of cases of boys who have been haled before the
Court. In Melbourne, there is a police magistrate named Read Murphy, who, when dealing with such cases, tells the boys that they are comparable with criminals. A magistrate who uses such language ought not to be allowed to deal with offences of the kind. In conclusion, I desire to refer to a deputation which I introduced to the Deputy PostmasterGeneral, New South Wales, regarding necessary alterations to the telephone service between Sydney and Woollongong. The Deputy Postmaster-General admitted that the service at Woollongong, so far as the telephone was concerned, was in a very bad way, and he promised that the matter would be inquired into. So far, however, nothing has been done, and business men in Woollongong doing business with Sydney, are compelled, because of the delays of the telephone exchange, to wait for hours to get into communication with the capital city.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I wish to make reference to the question of old-age pensions. I should not have done so, but for some interjections that were made in an undertone yesterday while I was addressing myself to another matter. I did not catch their full import at the time; but upon inquiry I found that some of them insinuated that, by reason of action I had taken in the House, old-age pensioners had been prevented from obtaining an increase in their pensions.
– Is that not so?
– The honorable member prevented the Bill getting through.
– That is not correct. It would be unparliamentary to say that it is untrue.
– Then my memory must be at fault. But was it not the honorable member who persisted in proceeding with the discussion?
– No. Look up the records. The right honorable member has the number of Hansard in question in his hand. If he does so, he will see that he is doing me an injustice.
– I am not doing the honorable member an injustice. I do not care about the records.
– The Treasurer is satisfied to make a wild charge against another honorable, member, and, although he has Hansard in his hands-
– And I am looking it up, too.
– When I challenge him to look up the records, he says that he does not care twopence for them. I shall give him some records, and leave honorable members to judge between them and the statement made by him.
– I did not make the statement in question.
– The Treasurer promulgated it, and some of his henchmen, without knowing anything about it, repeated the falsehood.
– The Treasurer voted against reducing the pension age to sixty years.
– I did.
– The Treasurer now admits that he voted against the reduction of the pension age to sixty when I moved it.
– The Labour party were three years in office, but they did nothing in that direction.
– The Treasurer admits now that he was against the reduction of the age. We succeeded in reducing the age for women to receive the pension to sixty last Parliament.
– And so was the honorable member for Eden-Monaro.
– The Labour party were three years in office, and would not help these old people.
– We gave them the pension.
– Order I These informal discussions across the chamber cannot be tolerated. I ask honorable members to allow the honorable member who is addressing the Chair to make his speech without interruption.
– The statement of the honorable member for Eden-Monaro that we did not help the pensioners during our term of office is not true. We reduced the age for women to sixty, brought in the pension for invalids, removed the embargo upon pensioners owning their own homes, and in other ways liberalized the Pensions Acts. The part that I took in the discussion of oldage pensions and the efforts I made to liberalize the pensions were referred to, yesterday or the day before by the honorable member for Yarra.
– Yes; and I have placed on record how the Fusion party voted.
– That being so, I need not cover the same ground. There are one or two other matters, however, which I wish to place on record now that the question has been raised.
The present Government, in the Ministerial statement of business to be dealt with which they presented to the House in July, 1913, made the following statement: -
It is proposed to amend the Old-age and Invalid Pensions Act in the direction of giving greater liberty to the pensioners, and insuring that when they enter temporarily a State benevolent institution they shall still receive, subject to regulations that portion of their pension not paid for their maintenance. The present system is neither logical nor equitable, and places an unfair burden on the State benevolent institutions.
What did the Government do to carry out that promise? At the last moment, almost the day before Parliament was prorogued for the Christmas vacation, the Government proceeded with the Bill. They had any amount of time to deal with it before, yet they would not go on with it.
On the 8th October, 1913, leave to bring in the Bill was granted, as will be shown from the following quotation from Hansard, vol. lxxi., page 1912: -
Invalid and Old-age Pensions Bill.
In Committee (Consideration of GovernorGeneral’s message) :
Motion (by Sir John Forrest) agreed to -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of a Bill for an Act relating to sections 7 and 8 of the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act 1912 relating to claims made for invalid and old-age pensions by persons who are unfit to be intrusted with pensions, relating to payment of invalid and old-age pensions in respect of periods during which pensioners are inmates of benevolent asylums or hospitals, and relating to payments on the decease of invalid and old-age pensioners.
Resolution reported and adopted.
That Sir John Forrest and Mr. W. H. Irvine do prepare and bring in a Bill to cany out the foregoing resolution.
The proposal was agreed to without debate; there was no obstruction of any description. Every member on the Labour side was anxious to give the Government that opportunity. That was on the8th October.
Nothing further happened until the 16th December, when Sir John Forrest moved the second reading of the Bill, at 12.18 a.m. At 12.52 the Leader of the Opposition spoke for five or six minutes in expressing the approval of himself and his supporters, and at 1 a.m. the debate was adjourned. Thus about forty minutes was given by the Government to the consideration of that Bill, to remove some of the disabilities under which the old-age pensioners are labouring. Then, on the 18th December, Parliament was prorogued.
Now I come to the present session. The alteration of the old-age pensions was of such importance that it was included in the Speech of the Governor-General in 1913, which indicated the business for that session. But I have read every paragraph of the Speech with which the late Governor-General opened the present session, which I hold in my hand, and I find not the slightest reference to old-age pensions.
This shows that the Government have absolutely dropped the matter. There has been no appearance of the Bill which was brought forward last session. The Government have not asked for leave to introduce such a measure, no motion for leave appears on the notice-paper, and, apparently, the Government have no intention of dealing with the question.
– You would not let us do anything.
– When I was speaking yesterday, the right honorable member said, in an undertone which I could hardly hear, that I had in some way blocked the Bill last year from being proceeded with. I did absolutely nothing of the kind. The Treasurer has been trying to find something in the records to confirm that statement, but he cannot do so. His statement is pure invention. I have asked the Clerk, who now sits at the table, and who keeps a complete record of what takes place in this House, for any such reference, and I find that there is not the slightest justification for the insinuation that I had anything to do with the Government dropping this measure.
Coming now to the proposed increase in the pensions, I am in favour of such an increase. I am glad that the honorable member for Eden-Monaro is present.
– Then why not have a vote before this Parliament closes ?
– Hear, hear ! Let us have a vote. There is a majority of only one on the Government side, and if the honorable member says that there must be a vote on this question, a vote there must be. But if the honorable member says that he desires a vote taken, and is not prepared to take the action necessary to have that vote taken, he shows himself to be totally insincere.
– You ought to be a judge of insincerity, seeing that your party was in office for three years and did nothing.
– That is not correct. We liberalized the Pensions Act by ?250,000 per year. The honorable member cannot deny that the power is in his own hands to force a vote on the question of increased pensions. He claims to have independence of the Fusion to do things that are necessary in the interests of the people. Then let the honorable member join honorable members on this side, every one of whom will stand by him, and we can force the Government to make an increased allowance to the old-age pensioners.
Let me deal with the effort that has been made in that direction. The honorable member for Eden-Monaro, with such haste that nobody else had an opportunity, placed a notice on the businesspaper soon after the House met, and as the fact of such a notice being on the paper prevented other honorable members from taking similar action, the honorable member had a monopoly of the business-paper in that respect. The honorable member’s notice reads -
Mr. Chapman to move ; That, owing to the increased cost of living, an increase should be made in the payment to old-age and invalid pensioners.
When that motion was placed on the notice-paper, private members had certain days set apart for the consideration of their business; but on the 6th May the Prime Minister moved new Sessional Orders which took away the whole of the time allowed to private members, and prevented them transacting their business.
I pointed out at the time the disability that was being placed on the honorable member for Eden-Monaro in regard to his motion, and in order that an opportunity might be given to private members to proceed with their business, an amendment was moved by the honorable member for Kennedy - a Labour member - in these words -
That the following words be added : -“ except on Fridays from 10.30 a.m. to 1 p.m., which time shall be devoted to private members’ business.”
One would have thought that the honorable member for Eden-Monaro, whose notice stood first on the business-paper that day, would have been anxious to have a few hours once a week to proceed with this urgent matter of assistance to old-age pensioners, but he voted with the Government to deprive himself, or any one else, of an opportunity of proceeding with his motion. I pointed out the position at the time on page 659 of Hansard, as follows: -
The honorable member for Eden-Monaro, who is very enthusiastic in his interjections,will recognise that adoption of the proposal put forward by the Government will deprive him of the opportunity of moving the motion he has on the notice-paper, which is as follows : -
That, owing to the increased cost of living, an increase should be made in the payments to old-age and invalid pensioners.
I am in favour of that proposal, and I was looking forward to an opportunity of supporting the honorable member. But he, apparently, wishes to wipe out private members’ business in order to deprive himself of the opportunity of moving this motion.
– That is too thin.
– When the honorable member votes, we shall see whether he wishes to deprive himself of that opportunity.
– Why are you trying to bully me ?
Mr.J. H. CATTS.- Something more than a laugh-provoking interjection will bo required to explain away the attitude of the honorable member.
Then in a division which is given on page 63 of this session’s Hansard on the amendment I mentioned a moment ago-
– The honorable member is not in order in quoting from Hansard of the present session.
– If I am not in order in reading the division list, I have indicated where it is recorded, and the people may see by the official records that the honorable member for Eden-Monaro -
– voted to deprive himself of an opportunity of going on with his motion. His name is recorded on that division list, and every member on the Government side voted in the same way.
Then a further division was taken to see if we could vote out the new Sessional Orders and go back to the preceding ones, which gave private members time to deal with these matters. We found the honorable member again voting with the Fusion party opposite to prevent this being done. Every honorable member on the other side did so.
– No; the honorable members for Indi and Wannon voted with us.
– I am glad to be corrected and that these two members showed that they had minds of their own on this question. The result of the vote was that there was no opportunity to deal with the matter.
Referring again to the Bill introduced last session, to which I have referred, Hansard reports show that on the 17th December last our sitting was suspended from 4.35 to 8 p.m., but the Government made no attempt to go on with the matter. The House would have been prepared to take a vote on this pension matter without discussion, and I venture to say that it is now prepared to do so. The matter is in the hands of honorable members opposite. The Government is in a majority of one only, so that any member of the Liberal party, by coming across to this side, could force a vote on the question. Discussion could be prevented by the adoption of the closure which has already been put in force by the other side.
– Why was the debate adjourned, and not finished, as I urged ? I said that we should be able to give only a limited time for the consideration of the matter, and that I hoped that honorable members would recognise that, and would help me to pass the proposal without delay. Against my advice, the honorable member for Brisbane moved the adjournment of the debate.
– The Government indicated they would adjourn the matter, and the member for Brisbane simply ob tained the right to speak whenever the Bill came on again. Does the Treasurer now withdraw what he said about me?
– The honorable member rose several times, and was pulled down, and at last stayed down. He wanted to talk.
– That is not so. The records do not bear out such a statement. He now says I wanted to speak. If the Treasurer will stretch my desire to speak into obstruction of an amendment liberalizing old-age pensions, God knows what he will not say when he gets to the country.
.- I wish to discuss one or two matters affecting the Defence and Customs Departments. The replies given on behalf of the Minister of Defence to some questions which I asked this morning are not only unsatisfactory, but also totally misleading, though in harmony with the replies usually received from the headquarters of the Defence Department. I have before characterized the Headquarters’ staff as a body of persons who beat every other set of departmental officers at delaying, evading, and misleading when asked for information. I wished to know why certain payments for services rendered some two months ago at the Garrison Artillery Camp at Newcastle had not been made. The replies I got were these -
That reply is misleading, and almost untrue. I have just received information from the spot that the accounts have not been paid, and that the money was asked for before the camp broke up. This is the second occasion on which delay has occurred, the same thing happening before, a year ago, when payments were held back for over two months. The accounts are such as are rendered in connexion with every garrison camp. I am informed that -
A sufficient amount of money was asked for whilst in camp to pay all claims before leaving.
The paymaster cut down this amount so that claims for officers’ field allowance, waiters, and cooks, advance party and sergeants’ mess allowance could not be paid. These claims were according to regulations, and are paid at all other camps but this. Why should they be debarred ?
The sum of £128s. for officers’ field allowance was received on 10th instant, nearly two months after camp. The money was asked for on the 11th April, and waited for until 2nd May, when vouchers wore forwarded, and the only response is the receipt of the above amount (£12 8s.). There is still a sum of £22 owing for sergeants’ mess allowance, waiters, and cooks, and gunners’ advance party.
When men are compelled by law to give up their private time to attend these camps, the Department should provide for the ordinary services that are necessary there. The officers taking part in the camp should not have to pay cooks, attendants, and others out of their own pockets, and then be made to await the convenience of the officials at headquarters, who draw big salaries, and cavil at small items. This sort of thing will tend to destroy our military system. It will tend to cause those who are enthusiastically engaged in studying how most effectively to man the guns to throw up the sponge in despair. The whole matter requires thorough investigation. When it is urged that there is no reason why a departure should be made from the existing system, my reply is that that system is a hundred years behind the times. If some of those who now occupy responsible positions cannot improve upon that system, they should give place to others. There is another matter to which I desire to direct attention. It relates to the Customs Department and to our Public Service Act. I blame the Act for the fact that, instead of securing the services of skilled seamen to take charge of our Customs launches, we are much more likely to obtain the services of clever students who have quite recently left school. I hold in my hand an advertisement calling for applications from persons competent to take charge of a Customs launch in Sydney Harbor. The test to
Which applicants were subjected was not one involving their seafaring qualifica tions, but partook wholly of the character of a clerical examination. I ask honorable members if that is a proper test to apply to persons who are desirous of being placed in control of a launch which is to perform service amongst our merchant fleet? A man may be able to multiply £15 6s. ll½d. by some thousands, but it does not necessarily follow that he will make a good coxswain of a Customs launch. I repeat that the fault of the present system is to be found in our Public Service Act, which should be amended at the earliest possible moment. If candidates for these positions are to be tested only from the stand-point of their educational acquirements, we shall build up a service in which those engaged will be jacks of all trades and masters of none. I have here a copy of the examination papers which candidates were required to answer, and I have no hesitation in saying that they are merely fit to test the qualifications of lads of fourteen or fifteen years of age who are just leaving school.
– The honorable member admits the necessity for some educational test?
– Yes; but that is the whole test.
– Surely not!
– I have a personal knowledge of men who possess sea-going certificates, who quitted school twenty or twenty-five years ago, and who, in applying for similar positions, have had to compete against young men who have only just left school. The examination to which these candidates were subjected was decided from the stand-point of their proficiency in arithmetic, dictation, &c. If that does not produce a condition of things which will endanger the lives of people in our harbors, and bring about poor results in the management of these vessels, I do not know what will. Men who, I am sure, the Minister would rather place in charge of these boats have failed to pass these examinations, merely because they were not so smart in solving arithmetical problems as were some of the younger candidates.
– The possession of seagoing certificates implies that their holders have mathematical knowledge.
– I admit that. I submit, however, that the crucial test should be the experience and sea-going qualifications of candidates.
– The Public Service Commissioner will take experience into consideration in making appointments.
-According to the advertisement he will not. As a matter of fact I know that the successful applicant secured the appointment because he’ was the most proficient candidate in arithmetic. The same system obtains in other Departments. It is time that our Public Service Act was altered in such a way as to encourage men to become specialists in their own particular lines. It is idle to judge men by their knowledge of dead languages, which will never he required in the course of their official duties. I trust that the Minister will see that applicants who possess all the knowledge that is required for successfully managing these boats, hut who may not be so adept in arithmetic as are some of their younger competitors, will receive more consideration in the future.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.15 p.m..
– I wish to say a few words in connexion with the system of vaccination adopted with the idea of preventing the spread of small-pox at the time of the outbreak of that disease in Sydney, and to make special reference to the matter as affecting my own electorate, where I saw a good deal of what was done in connexion with the establishment of depots for vaccination. At the time of the outbreak of the disease, action was taken by the State authorities, and particularly by the Federal Government, to establish vaccination depots at different places in the State. People were induced to attend these depots and be vaccinated in order to prevent the spread of the disease. At the time of the outbreak of the plague, and on previous occasions when cases of small-pox were discovered in the State, a different system was adopted, and the houses in which the disease occurred were isolated. On this occasion the system of general vaccination was adopted, and those who were vaccinated, although they might have been contacts without the knowledge of the authorities, were allowed to mix freely with the rest of the community. I can say, from personal knowledge of the vaccination depot established at Newcastle, and the doctors and nurses employed there, that it was not possible to have a more up-to-date establishment for the purpose. The bad results which followed were doubtless due to the issue of new lymph, or lymph that was wrongly prepared. The difficulty is that many of the victims of vaccination under the system adopted are marked in a worse way than they could possibly have been if they had suffered from small-pox itself.
– Does the honorable member refer to marks on the arm ?
– No; in various ways. I know of some cases that it would be almost impossible to describe.
– That must have been through bad vaccination.
– That opens up the question whether “vaccination is a good thing or not. Some time after the depots were established, a number of people became ill from vaccination, and as a consequence many lost confidence in the treatment and were afraid to go to the depots and be vaccinated. The smallpox would appear to be as bad now in the State of New South Wales as it was before.
– It is only fair to the State to say that it is nothing like as bad as it was.
– It is only a question of degree; the disease is still there, and a number of cases have recently been reported. I know of the case of a man who was in charge of a big business, of whom it was reported two or three times, after his vaccination, that he was dead. His condition, after, as he said, he was burnt by the stuff that was injected into his arm, was so bad that he was bold enough to petition the Government for an inquiry. From that time to the present, the Government have refused to grant the inquiry for which he asked in order that it might be discovered whether people had been vaccinated with inferior lymph, or with something else. The head of one business firm in Newcastle, with a desire to meet the Government in every way, induced his employes to be vaccinated, and no less than sixty of them had to go to bed.
– At night.
– The disfigurement of people by vaccination is too serious a matter to joke about. I have here the names of people who suffered severely as the result of vaccination.
– Could the honorable member give me the names? I shall be glad to inquire into specific cases.
– I shall endeavour to obtain authority to do so. In all these cases, I am informed that the people have been marked worse than they would have been marked had they suffered from small-pox itself.
– There never was any small-pox in Sydney.
– The honorable member may call the disease what he pleases. Although the gentleman to whom I have referred petitioned the Government from time to time for an inquiry into the matter, and went so far as to call at Melbourne with a view to securing an inquiry, he was not granted the inquiry he desired. It is true that he was told to see Dr. Cumpston. Naturally, the head of the Quarantine Department differed from the position taken up by independent medical men on the subject, and he asserted that thousands of other persons had been vaccinated with a similar class of lymph, and that no injurious results had followed. That statement was not true, because wherever the people were vaccinated during the late epidemic of small-pox, dire results followed in Sydney, and in Newcastle also. In the interests of the safety of the people, and in order to secure information to establish the value of vaccination for the prevention of the spread of smallpox, I hold that a searching inquiry should have been made into the matter as requested by this gentleman. No Government, State or Federal, has the right to let loose upon the people for the purposes of vaccination something which they call lymph, that introduces into their bodies germs which bring about other forms of disease. As medical men who examined many of these cases said, nothing could have been introduced into their systems that would bring about the diseases that followed so quickly as some of this stuff did. To show the necessity for a full inquiry as to whether vaccination is the proper method or not, or whether the lymph is being properly and scientifically produced, last year some of the members of the House were coming back to Sydney on a Japanese boat, which had small-pox aboard, and before they could land they had to be vaccinated. Some chose Aus tralian lymph, others Japanese and American lymph, and all those vaccinated with Australian lymph had a thoroughly bad time of it. We want to know whether the lymph prepared here is up to the highest standard, and whether people should be vaccinated at all, especially as so many medical experts are against vaccination as a preventive of small-pox.
– Very few medical men are against it.
– The number against vaccination is increasing every day. Men who have believed in it for fifty years have turned against it. The medical men who examined the case of the man who suffered so intensely, and who was given up for dead - he is as fine a specimen of manhood as one could set eyes on - almost failed to diagnose the disease that had been introduced into his system along with the lymph. The position is regarded as so alarming in this district that it is essential to have an inquiry by a thoroughly competent Commission, in order that confidence may be restored, or that we may learn whether the lymph supplied was foul, and so be able to sheet home the responsibility for what has happened.
.- I should not have spoken in this debate but for certain statements made by the honorable member for Illawarra about the number of names taken off the roll m Riverina. This is the first time that Riverina has ever been0 organized politically from one end to the other. It is now organized by the Liberals, and by the farmers and settlers. These bodies are going through the rolls, and ire challenging the right of names which should not be on the rolls to remain there, and sending in those names through Mr. Parkhill, the general secretary of the Liberal League. The names are not being objected to by a man who knows nothing about them. They are being objected to on the authority of local bodies, who are in a position to know all the men in the different districts. I have already, in this House, given instances of ten names in one town which are on the New South Wales roll, and also on the Victorian roll. In the next town further up, which is only a small place, there are nineteen names duplicated in the same way. Do honorable members opposite say that they should not come off?
– No !
– Then why object to them being removed?
– Is it not a fact that they are objecting to shearers directly they’ leave one shed to go to another ?
– There is no shearing going on at the present time. There are names on the rolls to-day which were objected to before the last election, some of them those of people who are dead.
– Then the Electoral Branch of the Home Affairs Department has failed in its duty.
– That is what we complain of. Many of the names objected to are duplications. Some are on in two divisions, and there are other names objected to which none of the local people can identify. There are 39,000 people in the electorate, and no fewer than 400 men have been put off Government works in one particular locality. Should those names be left on? They were not taken off by the Department, and are the Liberal organizations and the Farmers and Settlers Association doing anything wrong in objecting to them ?
– Yes; if the people are there.
– They are not; because we have made every inquiry.
– A large number of objections have also been made to people who are there.
– That is not correct. We are also putting on names - a fact which the honorable member for Illawarra did not mention. Will the honorable member say how many names the Labour organizers have put on the rolls, and how long those people have been in the electorate ?
– The prescribed time. They have a right to be put on them.
– Yes; if they are there for the prescribed time. But does the honorable member know ?
– We complain that objections should be going to Sydney all the time without the 5s. deposit being lodged in each case.
– I spoke to the Chief Electoral Officer, and he said that when names were on the roll that we thought should not be there, we were quite justified in calling attention to them, and that is what is being done. In Riverina, as the Liberal candidate, and as the representative of the farmers and settlers, all I ask is a “ square go.”
– Does the honorable member represent the farmers and settlers ?
– Strange to say, I do-.
– It is strange !
– It must be a mental kink on the part of honorable members opposite, but they do not seem to think it possible for a man to have political principles outside his particular occupation.
– The honorable member himself admitted that the fact is strange.
– The local farmers and settlers of Riverina, who have known me all my life, asked me to become a candidate, and I did so, with the result that I am in this House. I understand that my old opponent is now busy running around the electorate, at the risk of his health and reputation, making the statement that I am a squatter, and that I am in Parliament only to get the land tax repealed if possible. I said in my election address, and I have said time and again since in this House, that the principle of the limitation of estates is a good one - the only good principle associated with honorable members opposite.
– We shall soon lose the honorable member; let him leave a good impression !
– If honorable members opposite do lose me, the satisfaction will be mutual, for I never listened to greater twaddle than I have heard from the Opposition benches since I entered this House. As a matter of fact, I have been familiar with eloquence of the kind since I was a boy, for I have over and over again heard the gentlemen who represent the shearers talk the same old stuff. The Supply Bill ought to be passed without delay. Honorable members opposite have been talking against time, hoping to the Lord that something would turn up; and something did, but it was the absence of their own members at critical moments. We on this side have been jeered and gibed at as being afraid to go to the country, and some one has just suggested that the election will result in my absence from this House. I can only ask honorable members opposite why they do not accept the chance to lose me, and go to the country. Each day, however, we find honorable members opposite resorting to some new device, and clinging to some fresh straw, because they know that some of the Labour representatives must leave the Senate, and that about half-a-dozen in this House will never return. I am sorry, but such is the fortune of war.
– Is the honorable member not one of the half-dozen?
– I may be, but so far from being a disadvantage to me financially it will prove an advantage. Honorable members opposite do not, however, care to face these little accidents which are incidental to this profession of ours. I have been flatly contradicted when I have stated that union men are not allowed to vote as they think fit; but honorable members opposite, who profess themselves to be very keen about the secrecy of the ballot, know very well that if a labouring man appears at election time, he is immediately seized hold of by organizers, and put into the booth, even if he is going to vote Liberal.
– That does not apply to town electorates.
– It is what happens in my electorate. When certain union men signed my nomination, the organizer of the Australian Workers Union came down and threatened to have them expelled if they did not withdraw. Five of them who were rather weak in moral fibre did withdraw, but there were seven who told the organizer to go not only to Hay and Booligal, which are in my electorate, but much further on. It will be seen, therefore, that union men are not allowed to vote as they like.
– What is to prevent them, with the secrecy of the ballot?
– As far as possible, union men are prevented from voting as they like, and even storekeepers are afraid to proclaim their politics.
– At one station in Queensland, the manager could not find out which man had voted for me, so he “ sacked “ the lot, to make sure of “ copping “ him.
– How long ago was that?
– About thirteen years ago.
– Times have changed a little since then, and now the tyranny is not on the side of the employers, but on the side of the trade unions.
– The honorable member admits that the employers did use tyranny ?
– They may have done so ; but that does not justify tyranny on the part of the Labour unions, and the tyranny exercised now is worse than that experienced before.
-What about the two English immigrants at Ballarat, who were dismissed because they joined a union?
– I do not know everything; unlike honorable gentlemen opposite, I do not claim a monopoly of knowledge, especially of detailed knowledge, but speak only of principles. I am in favour of the secrecy of the ballot, and hope that nothing will ever interfere with it.
– Not even the postal vote ?
– No. If anything were done to interfere with the secrecy of the ballot, I should not be here. At the last election I received 1,500 more votes than did the Labour Senate candidate, so that it does not follow that, because a man is associated with Labour, he is in favour of Socialism, or of the policy of the Labour party. Honorable members opposite talk much about political unrest; but, despite their disclaimers, I cannot see how we can hope to avoid it when such a premium is placed on the preaching of it. The honorable member for Bendigo, who lectured us on the waste of time, and has since himself laid down the law, quoted the Archbishop of Canterbury, and to show that I am justified in my statement that social differences are used as a means to stir up strife, I should like to read an extract from the encyclical of the late Pope on the Condition of the Working Classes -
It is no easy matter to define the relative rights and mutual duties of the rich and of the poor, of capital and of labour. And the danger lies in this, that crafty agitators are intent on making use of these differences of opinion to pervert men’s judgments and to stir up the people to revolt.
Apparently, there are others with the same ideas as myself of human nature. In my opinion, the double dissolution is a very wise proceeding. Before I entered this Parliament I was told that we in this House would be tied up bythe
Senate, and allowed to do nothing.
And as honorable members opposite talked against time, and tried to prevent any business being done, we brought down the Government Preference Prohibition Bill. The measure has been called “ the shadow of a sham,” but it is a shadow that seems to have frightened honorable members opposite.
– It has smashed the Federal Constitution.
– It has frightened honorable members as much as did that shadow on the ramparts of Elsinore, that caused Horatio to say, “ It harrows me with fear.”
– Why do you not strike an attitude ?
– I have no desire to strike an attitude. My desire is to strike the Opposition. Talking about Hamlet, the shadow has got honorable members as full of points as there are “ quills upon the fretful porcupine,” because ever since it appeared they have sought every device possible to avoid going to the country.
– That is a reflection on the porcupine.
– Yes; because,’ as regards points, honorable members opposite can beat a porcupine every time. The double dissolution has not shaken the foundations of the Constitution, but it has shaken members of the Senate. It was a simple solution of the difficulty with which we were faced. We passed a Bill, the Senate disagreed with it, and it was sent back to us; we sent it back to the Senate again after three months, and the Senate had the choice of passing it or facing a dissolution. The provision in the Constitution is a guarantee that the Senate will not reject a measure a second time unless the members of that Chamber regard it as of vital importance.
– Therefore, in future, if ever they reject a Bill in those circumstances, there must be a double dissolution.
– Certainly. If Labour had a majority in the House of Representatives, and there was a majority of Liberals in the Senate, and if the Labour majority sent up a measure which the Senate rejected twice, they would have the same opportunity of securing a double dissolution. That procedure is quite fair.
– It is now laid down as a precedent for all time.
– Speaking as an elector, and having in mind the interjection of an honorable member opposite that I would not come back again-
– Cheer up !
– It is all right; I am coming back. I merely wish to “ buck up “ honorable members opposite a bit. My .ancestors did not live in Tipperary for ten generations without there being a bit of fight in me. My regret as an elector is that the press does not faithfully report what takes place in this Chamber.
Several Honorable Members. - Hear, hear !
– Honorable members cheer my remarks because the papers do not report the proceedings of the Chamber faithfully. There would be groans from them if the press did give a faithful account of what takes place here, because if that were the case, I am sure a great many of those who are now on the benches opposite would not return after the election.
.- It is to be hoped that the honorable, member who has just spoken will be able to put much more potent arguments before his constituents in favour of a double dissolution than he has uttered in this Chamber. He will find that even comparatively uninformed voters will be able to see through his argument. He boasts in proof of his fighting prowess that ten generations of his family have lived in Tipperary. I venture to tell him that there are some other Tipperary people about.
– Yes; and they all vote for me, thank God !
– If wagering were allowed, I would not mind betting that 95 per cent, of people of true Tipperary are against the honorable member.
– Because their sympathies are always with the poor, and lowly, and oppressed. Their sympathies are ever with the “ under dog.” That is the explanation.
– Then why did they ask me to stand, and come out and support me?
– I have some information about that matter, but I am reluctant to touch upon it. If the honorable member goes much further with his taunts, I may mention something that he would not like to hear.
– On a point of order. That is an insinuation. If the honorable member has anything to say about me, I would like him to say it.
– I heard something said. I do not know what it implied. I take it there was no insinuation conveyed in the remarks of the honorable member for Kalgoorlie. There is no point of order.
– I do not wish to refer further to the incident. But for the honorable member’s reference to his ancestry I should not have alluded to the matter, and at this stage I shall say no more about it.
– It is rather painful to the honorable member.
– It is not.
– In the history of Parliaments there never was a weaker case made out for a double dissolution than has been put forward by the Government so far. There may be more convincing arguments in the memoranda that they transmitted to the Governor-General.
– And copies of which they have burned.
– Copies of which they are supposed to have burned, and which they have boasted of burning. If they have made out a good case - and they appear to be proud of it - I cannot conceive why they do not bring down the document and publish it for the information of honorable members and the country. The only conclusion the people can draw from the present action of Ministers is that there is something in the document which will not stand the light of day, or that Ministers have taken advantage of the fact of the GovernorGeneral being a stranger, and of his unacquaintance with the practices of the Constitution, and have misled him.
I am glad to see that the Treasurer is in the chamber. I would like to appeal to his sense of justice in regard to the matter of an increase in the old-age pensions paid to people on the Western Australian goldfields and in other remote parts of the continent. No one knows better than the Treasurer that 10s. a week at Kalgoorlie, or in the outlying portions of Australia, will not purchase as much of the neces saries of life as the same amount will purchase in Perth, or in any other city adjacent to the coast. Therefore, it is plainly unjust and unfair.
– Not unjust.
– Undoubtedly it is unjust not to make some allowance for the surroundings in which the recipient of the pension is placed. When the Government of which the right honorable gentleman was a member framed the Commonwealth Public Service Act and regulations, why did they provide for a goldfields allowance? In the Parliament of Western Australia, the Treasurer always recognised that there should be a goldfields allowance and a tropical allowance. Is that not so?
– Yes, I think so.
– Very well; that means that those who were living in the interior should obtain a corresponding increase.
– They are getting it now.
– Nothing of the kind. The 10s. is a uniform payment.
– I do not think that the difference in the cost of living is so bad now as it was.
– Nevertheless, the goldfields allowance to public servants has not been reduced. Any alteration made has been in the direction of an increase rather than a decrease.
– Wherever wages have been fixed by a tribunal, the point referred to by the honorable member has always been taken into account.
– That is so. To show that the people of the gold-fields feel that an injustice is being done to them, I should like to explain that I have received a letter from Coolgardie, where a meeting of old-age pensioners was held, asking me to point out that the cost of living there is considerably more than in other places, and that, owing to the rise in the prices of the necessaries of life, a pension of 10s. per week is by no means adequate to their needs. I fear, however, that I cannot expect much sympathy from the Treasurer owing to the influence of his present associates.
– The position was the same during the three years that the Labour party were in office.
– That is not so. Since the Fusion Government have been in power the trusts have commenced to operate with a freer hand, and, as the Treasurer knows, have raised the prices of commodities. I would also remind the right honorable gentleman that I did not receive this letter three years ago. It has only just reached me. I presume that those who feel the pinch are the best judges in the matter.
– Quite right !
– I hope that the Treasurer will consider this request.
– I promise to do that.
– And, what is more, I trust that the honorable gentleman will grant it. I hear that he contemplates the reduction or abolition of the maternity allowance.
– Only in the case of those who can well afford to do without it.
– Judging by his remarks, as reported in the public press some time ago, he meditates the abolition of the maternity allowance.
– Not in the case of those who need it.
– Then the Treasurer proposes to make the allowance a pauperized dole.
– Is an old-age pension a pauperized dole ?
– No, because old-age pensions are practically universal.
– They are not available to every one.
– Any one who needs an old-age pension may obtain one. Every ones has the right to apply for a pension.
– Not unless he is sixty-five years of age, and has not a certain income.
– I ask the Treasurer to cease interjecting.
– If the Treasurer effects a saving in connexion with the maternity allowance by making it a pauperized dole, I hope that he will devote the saving so effected to increasing the amount of the old-age pensions.
– Why should the maternity allowance be described as a pauperized dole any more than an oldage pension?
– The Labour party has always maintained that old-age pensions should be available to all. It was the honorable member’s party, which im posed the present restrictions. Leaving that question I wish to express my regret that the right honorable member for Swan should have allowed the transcontinental railway to be held up for three months when by his intervention he could have settled the dispute long ago.
– I did my best. It is settled now, I think.
– It is, but not because of anything that the right honorable member did.
– I beg the honorable member’s pardon, it was.
– The Treasurer certainly came into the controversy at the last moment, but his action had no effect. When he saw that the strike was about to be settled he got into the limelight by sending telegrams to local newspapers and mayors, intimating a certain course, wanting to take credit to himself for the settlement. Believing that he was sincerely anxious for the early construction of the line, I appealed to him months ago in a letter in which I placed before him all the facts.
– I have spoken to the honorable member about the matter many times since then.
– I admit that the right honorable gentleman has spoken to me once about it. In answer to my letter I received an evasive reply.
– What was it?
– It was a letter marked “ Private, “ telling me that the matter referred to another Department.
– The honorable member has my permission to read the letter to the House.
– I receive too much correspondence to enable me to produce any particular letter without reasonable notice. Does the Treasurer deny that he marked “ Private “ a letter referring to a public matter?
– I was not the Minister concerned.
– My letter was not so indorsed, but the Treasurer marked his reply “ Private,” so that I was unable to use it. He allowed the work of constructing the East- West railway to be held up for three months, and since a mile of rails can be laid every day, his inaction means that the line so far constructed is 90 miles short of what it would otherwise have been. I have no desire to go into the question of the sleeper contract, since it has already been sufficiently ventilated in the House, but I believe that the right honorable gentleman will find, when he goes before his constituents, that they are not at all pleased with his action in that matter.
– What was my action ?
– Unfortunately, under the Standing Orders, I have but a limited time to speak, and I therefore cannot detail what the right honorable gentleman did, or failed to do, in connexion with that matter. Another subject on which I wish to bring him to the bar of public opinion relates to his action when the Premier of Western Australia came to Victoria and announced that he could not, for the time being, build the broadgauge line from Kalgoorlie to Perth in connexion with the transcontinental railway. What did the Treasurer do? He gave interviews to representatives of the newspapers in the eastern States, announcing that this meant the repudiation of an undertaking given by Western Australia.
– I did not say “ by Western Australia.”
– Yes, by Western Australia. Who could have repudiated the undertaking save the Western Australian Government?
– Surely the honorable member is not proud of it!
– Certainly I am not proud of the action of the right honorable gentleman. The Government of Western Australia are perfectly justified in delaying the construction of that line until they have the necessary funds. It ill became the right honorable gentleman to cry out “repudiation” when the State Government were spending all their available money in building local lines, to give producers in the Treasurer’s constituency a freer and clearer entry to the markets of the world.
– The honorable member is always attacking me.
– The right honorable member always interprets criticism as attack. But as I have no wish to be severe on him, he need not retreat from the chamber.
– Why not be fair?
– I have been absolutely fair to the Treasurer. The honorable member for Gippsland, who is only a recent recruit, ought not to talk of something of which he knows very little. My relations with the right honorable member for Swan have always been of the pleasantest character. My criticism of his public acts has not affected our personal relations.
– That has been because of the Treasurer’s generosity.
– We shall get nothing from the honorable member’s generosity.
– I guarantee that you will not.
– We need no guarantee. To look at the honorable member assures one sufficiently on that point.
– Order !
– I would like to draw the attention of the Minister representing the Minister of Defence to a very severe injustice that is being inflicted on some of the youths who are being trained to defend this country. I brought before the House the other day the case of a young man who was sent to the .Melbourne gaol for thirty days, for part of which period he was kept on bread and water, because he deserted from one of the war-ships on which he was employed as a stoker. The work proved to be very distasteful to him, and had he known its nature he would never have undertaken it. I called for the papers, and, to my amazement, I was unable to find out what authority had ordered the lad to gaol for thirty days. It appears that the Defence officers have the right to use the civil machinery to punish naval or military offenders, without any reference to a civil Court. The Government ought to look into this case.
– Where was the man tried 1
– Apparently, he was tried by court-martial. He is an unsophisticated lad, and the sole support of his parents. He did not desire to continue in the employment of the Navy, and he started mining near Southern Cross, where he was arrested, brought to Melbourne, and sent to gaol. A case like that requires to be explained to the people, or, at any rate, the justification for such treatment should be laid before Parliament.
Another case has arisen in connexion with the training of cadets. I refer to a young man named Williams, of Kalgoorlie. The circumstances of this case show how careless the officers are, and their readiness to take advantage of any little lapse - although there was none in this case - on the part of the cadet. The father of this lad, Thomas Williams, wrote as follows to the local paper: -
To the Editor.
Sir, - Might I claim space to bring under notice the case of Thomas Williams, who some time ago was notified to the effect that he was required at the drill hall. Having no objection to drill, he put in an appearance, and was listed in a company. He attended a couple of drills or parades, when he was notified that he was too big for that corps, and was dismissed from same to be transferred to another. He received no communication whatever relating to the transfer, excepting a notification instructing him to return all gear, &c, belonging to the company from which he was dismissed. Having no gear or uniform of any description no notice was taken of that order. The next communication he received was a summons to appear at the Boulder Police Court for not having attended a number of drills. He, of course, attended, and received seven days with the military authorities. Little more than a week elapsed when he received two more summonses, one of which stated that he left duty on 7th March before being dismissed. He was fined 20s. and costs. The second summons was for leaving duty on 21st March before being dismissed. Now. sir, the lad was not at drill on 21st March, but this fact did not embarrass the prosecution in any way. We find them conveniently altering the summons to read “absenting himself from drill on the 21st inst.”; fined 40s. and costs, noth withstanding the fact that the lad had attended a parade on the day following, from C.30 a.m. to 2.30 p.m.
I ask the Minister’s attention to what follows : -
The total fines came to £3 odd and seven days, also loss of time from work, which is no small matter in this case. Whilst perusing the drill card of the 84th Infantry, I find no mention of 21st March being a compulsory drill, so why the summons?
Evidently the unfortunate father of the lad had to pay the fine. If the cadet system is to remain popular, this sort of bungling must be avoided. The letter continues -
Then, again, does the prosecution think the fining of lads affects them? If so they are making a huge mistake. It is always the parents who pay. In conclusion, let me quote an impression gained by a visit to the Commonwealth ground one evening a month or so ago: I saw companies of cadets in all directions, and in almost every case the officer (I suppose he is called an officer) in charge was some small, under-sized youth, who, in a small, shrill, treble voice, ordered his company to shoulder arms, &c. I, for one, do not wonder at insubordination in the rank and file when one sees men being ordered around by boys.
I would like to refer now to the manner in which the electoral rolls are being manipulated. The worst that could be said of the rolls used in connexion with the last election was that they contained a large duplication of names. While I have listened to everything that has been said on the subject, I have not seen any proof that a considerable number of people voted twice. After all, that is the main thing. It is far better to have a few names duplicated on the rolls than that there should be efforts made, as undoubtedly efforts are now being made, to keep people off the rolls who ought to be on. Better duplication than disfranchisement. It is a most extraordinary thing that the present Government, who connived at a law which compels everybody to enrol under a penalty of £2, should be now adopting measures to excise the names of people who may be temporarily absent from their homes. Innumerable cases of that kind have occurred; and, apparently, the Liberal Leagues of Australia are depending for success at the next election on eliminating the names of Labour voters from the rolls.
I have here a statement by a man named Sambell, President of the People’s Liberal party, who says, “Many thousand names have been objected to by the Liberal organizers.” I desire to know what justification exists for these Liberal organizers going round the country in order to disfranchise the worker. We know that they are all verywell paid for this business, or they would not be engaged in it. And we may infer that the sinews of war are being supplied by the trusts which are now bleeding the community. But a Government should be above that kind of thing. They should desire to take the free and unfettered opinion of the people of this country. Another of these Liberal presidents, Mrs. Hughes, is reported in the Argus of 6th June as having said -
The man in the fields has somebody beside him at the plough, and the woman in her drawingroom or kitchen can influence those around her.
Apparently, the farmer who has a workman at the plough is to compel him to vote the Liberal ticket, and the lady who invites her friends to afternoon tea, and the wives of the workers into her drawingroom, is to use her influence to induce them to vote for candidates recognised by the Tory party. The reference to the woman in the kitchen means, I suppose, that illicit and illegitimate influence is to be brought to bear on the poor servant girl, to cause her to vote the Liberal ticket.
– If needs be, to boycott.
– Yes, and to sack. The other day u gentleman named Herbert Brookes - I do not know if honorable members have heard that name before - in addressing some organization over which he presides, gave great praise to the gentleman who ordered the double dissolution, and denounced as “mercenary” Labour leaders who had been guilty of criticising that functionary. This nian, who, I believe, was formerly a single-taxer and a pronounced Democrat, now says, according to the Argus of the 6th June - this is an index to the game that is afoot -
The political leagues cannot do much during an election nowadays without infringing the Electoral Act.
The inference is that the Liberal Leagues are prepared to break the law in order to accomplish their objects. Just as their representatives here have flouted the laws of Parliament, ignoring precedent and custom, and setting aside the Standing Orders, they, the followers outside, intend to infringe the law of the land in order to snatch a victory at the next elections.
Something has been said about the Senate being a party House. The Senate has been a disappointment to the Tories of Australia. Did the Treasurer ever imagine, when the Convention was framing the Constitution, that there would one day be a big Labour majority in the Senate? Of course he did not. Everything was beautifully arranged, so that a Conservative or Tory majority should always be there to checkmate the democratic House of Representatives. In the Treasurer’s sense, the Senate has been a very disappointing House ; but from my point of view, it has nobly vindicated the intentions of the framers of the Constitution. A Victorian functionary, an imported Viceroy, speaking recently at the Premiers’ Conference, said -
It does not lie with mc to discuss whether this conference is strictly constitutional.
Pundits will tell you that there is no provision in the Constitution for such conferences as these.
That is so. The pundits are strictly correct. Neither under the Constitution nor the Colonial Office regulations had he any place at such a conference. Many years ago at Kalgoorlie I said, and I repeat it now, that the Conferences of Premiers were an excrescence on the Constitution, and should not be recognised by any party in this House.
Finally, let me remind those who talk about the Senate not having proved a States House, and not having guarded the rights of the States, how it has acted on various matters affecting the States individually. The New South Wales senators have looked well after the Federal Capital site; the Queensland senators watched carefully to see that their State got the sugar bounty and duty; the South Australian senators managed to impose on us the Northern Territory; the Victorian senators fixed up the Murray River Waters Agreement; the Tasmanian senators got a financial grant for their State, and succeeded in lowering its telegraph and postal rates; and the Western Australian senators have obtained for their State the transcontinental railway. So, whatever may be said to the contrary, the Senate has proved a very faithful and vigilant guardian of the rights of the several States.
.- I was disappointed with the speech of the honorable member for Kalgoorlie; I expected something better from a man of his age and experience. His caustic utterances are not an example for younger members to follow, but I should like to reply to some of his arguments. Let me take the last one first. He said that the Senate has represented the rights of the States. I ask him how has the Senate dealt with the proposal to leave the control of Savings Banks with the Governments of the States. That was agreed upon at a conference of the Treasurers of all the States, Mr. Holman and Mr. Scaddan representing Labour Ministries, and the others Liberal Ministries. The first person to object to the arrangement in this House was the Leader of the Labour party, and he has been supported by the Senate. If the Senate represented the States, every senator would support an agreement of the kind to which I refer. As to the
Commonwealth Bank, I am of opinion that it should be controlled by a board of directors. No, doubt the Governor of the bank is one of the best men who could have been chosen for his position, but to intrust the control of the finances of the Commonwealth to one man is to cast on him a very big responsibility. Although honorable members opposite profess to be democrats, and to abhor autocrats like the Czar of Russia, they have made the Governor of the Commonwealth Bank an autocrat. The Bank of England, the Bank of France, and European, American, and Australian banking institutions generally are controlled by boards of directors. The Bank of England is governed by a court of directors consisting of thirteen members, and surely a system that is good for that huge concern would be good for our bank.
– The honorable member knows nothing about it.
– The honorable member has already told new members that they know nothing about finance. He offered to teach us mathematics, and to give us lectures on the Budget, and told us that when he was at home, and felt tired or downcast, he would sometimes get his “missus” to read a few pages of the Budget to him, because he found that that acted as a tonic. After having made this statement, the honorable member declared that the Government were spending £150,000, and desired to know what 4 per cent, on that amount would represent. He asked himself that question over and over again, and finally had to give it up. This is the gentleman who is going to teach us finance generally. He is the great authority on finance.
– Will the honorable member tell us what 4 per cent, on that amount represents?
– I consider that the Commonwealth Bank should be conducted on similar lines to those upon which other banks are conducted in civilized communities. Instead of lending money to the farmers at a low rate of interest, that institution is charging them 6 per cent, upon advances Yet we were told that the establishment of this institution would result in the farmers obtaining cheap money. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie also claimed that old-age pensioners on the gold-fields of Western Australia should receive larger pensions than should those in the other States, on the ground that they have to live in a tropical climate, and were therefore entitled to a tropical allowance. Now I would ask honorable members to peruse the Kalgoorlie Miner and to compare the prices which obtained in that city for fruit, vegetables and other commodities, with those which obtain for similar commodities in Perth. They will then find that there is practically no difference between the cost of living in the two places. I venture to say that living at Kalgoorlie is cheaper than it is at Perth.
– If our public servants in Kalgoorlie receive an increased allowance, why should not the old-age pensioners there be similarly treated?
– I maintain that no discrimination should be made. In the digest published by the honorable member for Darwin in April of last year, he pointed out that the cost of living has recently increased to the extent of 5s. 2d. in the £1. If that be so, I think that the old-age pensioners throughout the Commonwealth are entitled to some little increment.
– Then why not stick to us?
– It- was the honorable member for Eden-Monaro who proposed an increase in old-age pensions.
– There is no bluff about it. He has had a motion on the notice paper dealing with this question for weeks past. In addition, I find that -
In 1891 Mr. Austin Chapman, State member for Braidwood, New South Wales (now Liberal member for Eden-Monaro in the Federal Parliament), advocated old-age pensions, and obtained a number of grants of 5s. per week from the Government for aged miners in his district, instead of the old nien being sent to the asylums.
He was the person who originated this idea. He moved in this matter in 1891, before many members of the Opposition had ever seen political daylight, and yet we are told that his action was so much bluff and window-dressing. In his speech the other day the honorable member for Yarra stated that the Labour Government were the first Government in the world to introduce invalid pensions.
– So they were.
– I would invite the honorable member to study the records of the Parliament of New South Wales, and he will then find that the Hon. C. G. Wade was the first to introduce invalid pensions in Australia. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie attributed all the delay which has occurred in the construction of the transcontinental railway to the action of the present Government. He said that but for the strike the construction of that railway would have been further advanced to the extent of 90 miles. But who was responsible for that strike? Surely the present Government cannot be blamed for it ? If the employes on it chose to down their tools notwithstanding that they were working under the best conditions given to that class of labour in the world they have only themselves to blame. Under the regime of the Fisher Government these men were paid lis. 8d. per day. Without a moment’s notice they threw down their tools and went on strike. The Prime Minister agreed to meet them by offering them 12s. 6d. a day. But they declined to accept his terms and demanded 13s. 4d. a day. In this connexion I would point out that for similar work in the Northern Territory the honorable member for Barrier, when Minister of External Affairs, paid only 10s. a day. Mr. Scaddan, the Premier of Western Australia, is paying the same wage for similar work at Kalgoorlie.
– The honorable member knows that that is not true.
– It is absolutely true. Only the other day I discovered that quite a number of fettlers on the railway who are distant from Sydney some 250 miles, are in receipt of only 8s. per day. The Kalgoorlie men downed tools, and would not work under 13s. 6d. a day. It is a monstrous thing to blame the Government for that strike, in the circumstances.
– Does the honorable member say that only 8s. a day is being paid in New South Wales?
– Yes, and under a Labour Government.
– Sheer rot. I must enter my protest. It is not true.
– Order ! Does the honorable member rise to a point of order ?
– Yes; I rise to a point of order. I say that the honorable member for Calare should withdraw his statement, because it does not correspond with the facts. The Government of New South
Wales are not paying 8s. a day, but something much above that wage.
– That is not a point of order.
– Well, sir, it is a statement of fact.
– Order ! The honorable member must give the Chairman an opportunity of explaining the position to him without interruption. He has not raised a point of order. If there is a difference of opinion with regard to a statement made an opportunity is afforded to speak in reply. I should like to say, further, that the honorable member for Calare has been subjected to an undue amount of interruption. Where an honorable member’s time is limited he should be allowed to make his speech without interruption.
– There is only one thing I have to say. If it is not a point of order, it is a point of fact.
– The honorable member for Dalley must not play fast and loose with the Standing Orders in that fashion.
– Here is another old gentleman kicking up a row.
– That is hardly fair. The honorable member brings these interruptions upon himself.
– I ask the honorable member to proceed with his speech.
– In reply to the interjections of the honorable member for Dalley, I may tell him that I received my information from a Mr. J. Davis, who is a fettler working for the New South Wales Railway Department in Blayney. He has with him a party of about eight. I met them in the railway carriage, and they told me that the wage they were getting was 8s. a day. I have given the name of my informant, and the honorable member for Dalley is at liberty to make any inquiries he pleases as to the matter. There is no occasion to quarrel over it.
– Permanent fettlers, if the honorable member wishes to know, are now getting 8s. 6d. a day.
– That is a big rise on 8s., is it not?
– They have permanent appointments and many concessions.
– We have been perambulating all round the country. My honorable friends opposite, when addressing themselves to the Estimates, box every point of the political compass but the right one. I may be permitted to direct attention to a few matters connected with the Supply Bill. I have gone into the figures, and I find that, during the three years from 1908 to 1910 in which Mr. Deakin held office, he received a revenue of £34,082,584. Of this sum, he was obliged under the Braddon section of the Constitution to return to, the States £24,875,000, leaving a sum of £9,206,000 to carry on with. I find that from 1911 to 1913 inclusive the Fisher Administration received a total revenue from all sources of £43,243,613. Of this sum they had to return to the States under the per capita arrangement £17,045,777, leaving £26,197,836 to carry on with. These figures show that during their three years of office the Fisher Government received £15,380,000 more from Customs and Excise than did the Deakin Government, and they received from the Federal land tax £4,301,536, or a total additional revenue of £19,681,556. In spite of these figures our friends opposite have been complaining all over the country that the Deakin Government showed a deficit of £600,000, whilst the Fisher Government left the tremendous surplus of £2,000,000. Why should they not, with such a tremendous inflation of revenue? Let me give honorable members a simple illustration. If an artisan in Melbourne receiving £200 a year found that after twelve months’ operations he was in debt to the extent of £15, some people would be inclined to blame him, and consider that he was an impecunious individual, since, he spent more than he earned. If, in the next year, a rich uncle left him £1,000, and he spent £800, he would show a surplus of £200 for the year, but would any one say that he would be any better a man? The two cases are analogous. The Deakin Government had to get along as best they could with £9,000,000 to spend, whereas the Fisher Government, in their three years of office, received £19,000,000 more than did the Deakin Government, and our friends go through, the country claiming Mr. Fisher, on that account, to be one of the greatest financiers Australia has ever produced. If Mr. Fisher had had to be content with the revenue at the disposal of Mr. Deakin, namely, £9,206,000, instead of showing a surplus of £2,600,000 he would have shown a deficit of £7,800,000.
– Will the honorable member tell us something about the excessive expenditure during the last twelve months ?
– I am glad to be reminded of that. Following the advice of the honorable member for East Sydney, I have gone through the Estimates submitted by the Fisher Administration. I find, according to the last Estimates they brought down to this House, that commitments to the extent of £5,000,000 more than could be met by the revenue were left as a legacy to the present Government.
– The present Government are not compelled to carry them out.
– Does the honorable member say that they are not compelled to carry out those commitments ?
– No, they came in for the purpose of retrenching, but they have done nothing in that direction.
– As a matter of fact, they took office on 26th June, and the Estimates had to be made up to 30th June, so that they had only four days in which to deal with them. Practically, therefore, the Labour Government’s Estimates were brought down, after being reduced by £4,000,000.
– Do you think the electors of Calare will swallow that?
– If the honorable member does not think I am speaking the truth, let him go to my sources of information. If he goes through the late Treasurer’s figures carefully, he will find that what I have said is absolutely true. Great objection has been made by the members of the Opposition to the Government borrowing money for defence purposes. I do not altogether favour that policy, but there are certain defence items which should come under that category. The honorable member for Wide Bay, when in office, agreed to borrow £870,000 for the Cockatoo Island dock, a debt which the States are carrying at the present time.
– Where did he borrow it from ?
– From the States. The amount is due at the present time to New South Wales. He borrowed an additional amount of £2,100,000 from the Trust Funds. If he borrowed in this insidious manner, why should he blame us when we come on to the open market and borrow in a fair and open way? The Government and their followers are to be congratulated on the way in which they have held their own in the House during the last twelve months. In that time there have been a hundred divisions on contentious matters, and in those there were 3,618 votes cast by Liberal members, as against 3,199 by Labour members, an average of 36£ per division for our side, and 32¼ for the Opposition, or an average majority of 4.2 for the Government. The members of the Opposition tell us that we ought to resign, or have a single dissolution, but our answer is to point to that splendid record in an evenly divided House, where the Speaker holds the majority. The facts show that we have stuck to our principles, and devoted great attention to our duties. Recently, when in the Cowra division of my electorate, I found that the circular entitled “ Cook’s Latest “ was being distributed broadcast. It contains the statement, “ The police are taking names off the rolls, but will put none on.” Nobody in Australia can prove that assertion. Not a single name has been taken off by the police. The Labour organizations are circulating this lie, for 250,000 of these circulars have been spread broadcast throughout the country, but every Labour member in the House knows that the police have no authority to take a single name off the rolls.
.- Will the Prime Minister agree to report progress ?
– Yes; but I should like to know how long the discussion of this Bill is going on. I move -
That the Chairman report progress, and ask leave to sit again.
– We can hardly get a word in for your men.
– I am sorry to hear that reckless statement.
– I want to co-operate with the Prime Minister in bringing the debate to a conclusion, but he has not approached me on that subject. If he does, I think we can fix it up for the next sitting.
– There is no need for consultation. I want the debate closed at once. Will the Leader of the Opposition give us this stage of the Bill, at any rate? In order that I may make a statement, I ask leave to withdraw the motion.
– I object.
– In the circumstances, what is the good of the Leader of the Opposition saying anything?
– If you approach me, I will co-operate with you.
– I will approach the honorable member about nothing.
Motion agreed to; progress reported.
– I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
I should like to know from the Leader of the Opposition what on earth there is to confer about in connexion with a simple Supply Bill like that before the House. If the right honorable gentleman will tell me that, I shall be very glad to confer; but after a fortnight’s talk, it is the most wonderful suggestion I ever heard. The right honorable gentleman is apparently waiting for me to consult him with regard to the closing of the debate. Why? What for? Honorable members opposite have been talking about everything under the sun, and nothing in particular.
– So have Ministerial supporters.
– What is the use of honorable members opposite talking in that strain ? There have been only one or two speeches from this side, and these were made after honorable members here had got into a condition of despair, when, to enliven the tedium of their own idle existence in listening to the other side, they “chipped in” themselves.
– There have been nearly a dozen speeches from the Government side.
– And how many dozen from the Opposition benches?
– About two dozen.
– The motion is for the adjournment of the House, but it seems to me that the discussion relates to something that has transpired in Committee. Such a discussion would he quite irregular at this stage.
– We are talking about the termination of the debate on the Supply Bill; and I say it is time the Bill was through. I have many times seen Supply Bills under similar circumstances, but I have never seen an Opposition “ stone- wall “ a measure as they are doing on the present occasion.
– I rise to a point of order. The Prime Minister is accusing honorable members, not only on the Opposition side, but on his own side, of “stone-walling” a certain Bill; and I contend that such an accusation is out of order.
– It is out of order, and I shall withdraw the words, and say that honorable members are unduly protracting the debate. To what end, and for what purpose? I cannot see any reason or sense in what is being done.
– Will the Prime Minister give us a fair deal about the rolls? Will he have names collected and placed on the rolls instead of sending agents out to take names off?
– Does the honorable member suggest that the police are not giving him a fair deal ?
– I suggest that they ought to have claim cards for distribution.
– Is this an implied slander on the police ? If not, what does it mean ? Is there any meaning in the honorable member’s complaint, if it is not that I have suggested ?
– What was Parkhill doing at your caucus meeting?
– Order ! The honorable member for Brisbane is out of order in interjecting.
– The honorable member for Brisbane is not only out of order, but is making a statement for which there is no justification. It is, however, only on a par with all else that is teeming out just now from the other side. If honorable members opposite know of anything unfair being done about the rolls or the electoral arrangements, why do they not particularize ?
– We have been doing so for a week.
– All that we hear is “A Double Dose of Cook’s Latest.” I have never seen such a shameful campaign of mendacity as is go ing on at the present time; and it would seem that all respect for the truth had gone to the winds. What next are we to be charged with ? Every day imputations are being made on our honour and conduct as Ministers, and this without a tittle of foundation in truth. It is time that the campaign of mendacity ceased.
– Well, tie up Mrs. Berry !
– It seems quite the proper thing for honorable members on the other side to attack the women, and “ make it hot “ for them. I should be ashamed to attack women as do honorable members opposite. They have never known us on the Liberal side to do so in regard to their women - we should not think of it.
Several honorable members interjecting ,
– The conduct of some honorable members certainly calls for some remarks of a severe character from the Chair. It is not at all in keeping with the dignity, reputation, and character of the House or its proceedings that honorable members should continually interject as they are doing, and in such a spirit of levity as is displayed. I feel it incumbent upon me to speak in this way in order to express my disapprobation, and, I take it, the disapprobation of the House, of such conduct.
– I am sorry if I have said anything that I should not say, but one may be forgiven when, day after day, for weeks past, we have been assailed and charged by innuendo and otherwise with manipulating the electoral arrangements. It is an infamous slander for which there is not a tittle of justification.
– You started the slander twelve months ago!
– I have done nothing at any time to interfere with the electoral arrangements. I have done nothing that is not in keeping with the promise I made to the right honorable gentleman himself; and it is time these insinuations ceased, unless honorable members opposite have something to sheet home; and if they have, let us have it at once. I invite them - I defy them - to prove that there has been any wrongdoing in any one particular regarding the electoral arrangements. It is over the odds that day after day we should have to listen in this Chamber to imputations on our honour. I do not mind fair political criticism, nor do I mind honorable members opposite making points, but I draw the line when they begin to make imputations and charges against my honour in connexion with electoral matters.
– What about duplicate voting?
– Well, what about it? I have made no statements at any time in connexion with electoral matters that have not been borne out. I ask honorable members to stop this kind of tiling, and to allow us to get on with the country’s business. Let us pass the Supply Bill, and get to the country. If the country is in favour of honorable members opposite, let them get over here as quickly as they can. If they win, good luck to them; I shall not squeal as they are doing now.
Prime Minister has chosen to raise his voice, and to claim Divine guidance in the words he uttered.
– What does the right honorable member mean by “Divine guidance “ ?
– The Prime Minister called on truth to back him up in what he was saying, and declared that the personal honour of the Ministry had been attacked, and imputations cast on them, in a way never followed before. I can only say that, during my term of office, my personal honour was attacked.
– All I can say is that I shall not have mine attacked with impunity.
– But I can afford to have mine attacked with impunity by some honorable members opposite. The Attorney-General has spoken of the great mass of the working people, and of a portion of them as being respectable.
– When did I say that?
– The honorable gentleman is reported in the Melbourne press as referring to Labour people who were quite decent. The citizens of Australia who have avowed the principles of Socialism belong to a party which is accused by honorable members opposite of having violated the first principle of a social community, namely, the marriage tie, and the accusation is that we are not fit to be honest citizens. We have from the Prime Minister to-day a display of the highest indignation, because the Supply Bill does not pass at the particular moment Ministers desire.
– You are making a statement that has not a tittle of justification.
– I hope that no anger or passion will ever make me guilty of an unjust statement. The Prime Minister will remember that his former leader at one time launched a manifesto directly and distinctly against the honour and integrity of the Labour party; but even with the press behind him he absolutely failed to carry the country with him. Ministers are asking the country to believe that they are paragons of virtue, and must not be discussed in a political capacity, and they complain that they are being treated unfairly. No Parliament has ever treated Ministers in such a position more fairly.
– I do not think you know what fair treatment means.
– The Prime Minister has never got anything but courtesy from me either privately or publicly. Everything I have ever said against him has been said on the floor of the House.
– Why do you not defend these things that are pouring out every day?
– I am not defending; I am attacking. If the Prime Minister was anxious to get the Supply Bill through he might have made a communication to me. I am expecting one from him regarding the conference we had concerning the printing of the rolls and the period between the dissolution and the issue of the writs. The honorable gentleman withdrew his original communication, and I have been expecting a further one.
– I have nothing to communicate.
– Very well; but the Prime Minister might easily have let me know that he wished to have the Supply Bill through to-day. Had he done so I would have co-operated with him to put the measure through, and enable him to get Supply as early as possible and practicable. It would not then be delayed very long. The usual courtesy displayed in all Parliaments is for the Leader of the Government to approach the Leader of the Opposition in matters of this kind. I accept the Prime Minister’s statement that he has communicated his wish in this way, and I tell him that I shall co-operate with him, but at the same time I can point out that all the time occupied in the discussion of Supply has not been taken up by members of the Opposition. Fourteen members on the Ministerial side have spoken, five of them twice, including the Prime Minister himself. Honorable members who were not in the last Parliament might as well know that the Opposition in that Parliament kept the House sitting on one occasion for fifty-three hours, and not one member on the Government side spoke. Ministers did not squirm or appear as injured innocents, nor did they apply the closure; they simply awaited their opportunity. Our present Speaker, who was in a different position then, will recollect those circumstances very well. Of course, that incident is now, for honorable members supporting the Government, a matter for hilarity, while the present circumstances are regarded as infamous and as affording cause for indignation. It all depends upon the different point of view from which we regard things. Men who are elected to honorable positions are supposed to regard themselves as men, and to take as much as they give. I promise the Prime Minister to show Ministers that cooperation for which he asks, and perhaps earlier than he really desires it he will have the Supply Bill.
– The Leader of the Opposition has made a somewhat obscure reference to myself, and a speech that he alleges I have made. He has accused me of having stated that “ a section of the working people are respectable; some of them are decent.” I have never in any utterance, public or private, thrown the slightest doubt upon the respectability or decency of the whole of the working people of Australia. On the other hand, I have made it my particular endeavour to repudiate attacks which have been made on that class, or any other class, as a class. The Leader of the Opposition claims that he is entitled to attack this side of the House, and he does attack this side, and we do not object to being attacked; but when the attack takes the form of innuendo and insinuation, and not the form of direct statements which can be met and dealt with honestly and above board, we certainly object. That is just what the Prime Minister has said. We have the right to ask that if we are charged with anything dishonorable or dishonest the charge shall be made in express terms which we can meet. We have all heard the frequent use of the term “ manipulation “ as applied to the Government. There has been talk of “ manipulating the rolls “ or “ manipulating the electoral machinery,” and “ tampering with it.” The Leader of the Opposition knows perfectly well that if such an accusation were made against him he would be the very first to insist, and very rightly so, that individual instances should be given; and that is all we claim. There has been no instance brought forward that has not been abundantly disproved, so far as the Government is concerned. The statement alleged to have been made by me is merely one example of the kind of attack of which the Leader of the Opposition seems to be peculiarly fond.
– I shall find that extract for you.
– There is no man fairer than the Leader of the Opposition.
– It is -always very pleasant to hear the certificate of the followers of the right honorable member to that fact; but when a statement of the kind I have indicated is launched against us we have the right to be protected.
– Will the honorable member stand by his statement if I find it?
– What statement? That some of the working classes are respectable?
– You were referring to a portion of them only.
– I absolutely deny that I ever made such a statement, and I do not believe that I am reported as having made such a statement. If I am so reported the report is absolutely false and defamatory, because I have never made the statement.
.- I do not wish to accuse the Government of acts of commission, but I accuse the Department of which the Prime Minister is the head of acts of omission. If the Prime Minister wishes to know why the police have been blamed - and, in my opinion, unjustly - it is because their instructions were to remove names, and not to put them on the roll. In several cases throughout Melbourne the dividing line between electoral divisions is the centre of a street, and the odd numbers on the street are in one division, while the even numbers are in another division. If the police officer finds ah odd number in the division where only the even numbers on a particular street should be found, the notice of objection sent out to the person concerned is not sent out saying, “ You are in such-and-such a division,” but saying, “ You are not in this division,” though the person may have been living in the house fifteen or twenty years. This is an act of omission which could have been remedied by the Prime Minister, as head of the Department of Home Affairs, issuing an instruction that where the police find that a man is enrolled in respect of the wrong subdivision - the two sides of the street in which he lived representing different subdivisions - they should advise him where to go to secure proper enrolment. The Divisional Returning Officers who have been appointed in Melbourne and suburbs are among the best officers I have met. I think they know their duty well.
– Why does the honorable member say that the police were instructed to take names off the rolls ? The police cannot take any name off the rolls.
– We are old friends, and there is no need to quibble. What I say is that it is upon the report of the police that action is taken to remove a name from the roll.
– I have made inquiries to-day from an officer, and I know that what I say is correct.
– But the honorable member has not described the right procedure.
– The Government Whip - the paid “barracker” for the Government - is now interjecting. My statement, however, cannot be successfully controverted. I do not say that the Government would unjustly cause any name to be removed from the rolls ; but what I do say is that the officers under the control of the Minister of Home Affairs do not make it possible for every man and woman who should be on the rolls to secure enrolment, and that names are wrongly removed. The honorable member for Yarra told me to-day of a man thirty years of age who was still living in the house in which he was born, and who waa struck off the roll because he was said to be no longer residing there. He sent in a claim card, but the Registrar would not accept it, and has not yet placed his name on the roll. I have before me at the present moment particulars of three cases of the kind to which I referred a few moments ago. Where it is found that a person is enrolled for the wrong subdivision, the police, instead of leaving the notice of objection at present used, should leave a card stating that the ground of objection is “ That you do not live in this division or subdivision, and have not so lived there for at least one month.” In one case husband and wife had lived in the same house for years, but while the name of the wife was allowed to remain on the roll, that of the husband was struck off.
– Why, Mr. Speaker has complained that his name was objected to.
– Does that prove that we are doing wrong?
– I do not say that the Government are doing wrong.
– But the honorable member for Cook does. He says that we are manipulating the electoral machinery.
– And I have some matter for the Prime Minister.
– All I say is that there has been an act of omission in this case. It is too late now to take action, the police having completed their canvass in this State; but when an amending Bill is before us, I trust that we shall take care to provide thai people shall be told where they ought to apply for enrolment.
.- I wish only to ask the Prime Minister whether, when the writs are issued and the rolls are closed, he will cause to be posted in a prominent place in each subdivision the names of those who have been objected to, so that persons whose names have been wrongly removed will be able to take action in time to prevent their disfranchisement.
– When the Prime Minister complained that a campaign of mendacity had been pursued, I interjected that he had “ better tie up Mrs. Berry. “ It is due to that lady, as well as to the Prime Minister, that I should explain that I based my interjec- tion upon a report in the public press that Mrs. Berry, who is well known as the Liberal organizer in the Ballarat division, had said that there was in Melbourne a Socialistic Sunday-school, where children were taught that there was no God, and where infants were baptized in blood. This is not a laughing matter. Such a remark is sufficient to raise the righteous indignation of any respectable man. It is on a level, however, with a circular which was issued by the Liberal Association in South Australia, and scattered throughout the Commonwealth, wherein it was stated that the only use which Socialists had for their womenkind was to make them breeding cows, and that their desire was that the State should take care of their young, instead of the animals that bred them. That is the kind of mendacity to which it is high time a stop was put.
– I deny the statement made by the Prime Minister that we are always attacking the women. I give way to no man in my respect for womanhood; but I wish to show what several women have said of the Labour party.
– All this can be said next week, whilst we are considering Supply.
– But I wish to put it on record now, in reply to the honorable gentleman’s statement. At the Independent Hall, Melbourne, on 6th September, 1912, according to a newspaper report -
Mrs. Vial, of Fairfield, said, “Our State school system conduces to the bringing up of a race of agitators and loafers.”
Mrs. Walsh, of Reedy Creek, said, “ The proper place for agitators is the prison, where the ruling classes always put the agitator, from the earliest days of Christianity down to the present time.”
Mrs. Humble, of Geelong, said, “ Agitators were a menace, and should be penalized.”
– Is that the woman who was fined for a breach of the Electoral Act?
– I think so. The report proceeds -
Mrs. Martyn, of Essendon, said, “ Agitators for Labour were unprincipled, unscrupulous, and irreligious.”
Mrs. Mackay, of Bendigo, said, “ Popular education and the spread of democratic ideas are largely responsible.”
I shall read now what Herbert Spencer has said about the Labour movement.
– That is right. Leave the ladies alone for a while.
– I have been merely quoting statements reputed to have been made by these women. Is it any wonder that Labour men who have women folk of their own - mothers, wives, and daughters - should resent this kind of criticism ? It is an insult to the great masses of the workers.
– You are generally insulting about 50,000.
– The honorable member can never accuse me of being insulting towards women.
– This is what Herbert Spencer said -
The Labour movement is more a question of humanity than a question of the mighty dollar. It is the greatest movement in the championship of human rights and human liberty.
And in that movement women are included.
.- I have a couple of quotations which I may as well use after the challenge which the Prime Minister has made. As far as the Electoral Act is concerned, I have a few facts which I will put before the House next week; there is not time to do so now.
I have here a copy of Public Opinion, issued by a company in which several members and ex-members of the Liberal party have shares. The honorable member for Corangamite - Mr. Manifold - admitted yesterday that he had 100 shares in the company, which was wound up without its workmen being paid. This journal was brought out on behalf of Liberalism to influence the last election.
– Where did the honorable member for Corangamite admit that?
– He admitted it yesterday in this House, and I think his explanation is worse than the charges made against him. I hold in my hand a copy of Public Opinion dated 29th May, 1913, and in a leading article headed “For Australia,” the following passages appear : -
The so-called “ Labour “ Government stood exclusively for sectional selfishness, Class war, and plunder in the baldest meaning of the term.
Another paragraph reads -
By every principle of decency and decorum, the Caucus Government in the Commonwealth was in honour bound, in view of the entire withdrawal of the people’s trust and confidence, to retire.
That is referring to the Referendum Bill.
It hung on. It put place and pay above principle. It was there to “ have a good time while it lasted.” It debased and degraded every high ideal of public life in so doing.
And when all that failed before the determined attitude of the people, its Mob partisans resorted to “ Howl ‘em down “ tactics. Fair play is bonnie play. We have found its antithesis in organized ruffianism. The appeal by the Demagogue has been couched less in reasonable argument than in the expletives of the gutter; every semblance of probity and candour is abandoned; and in the unmasking of his true intent, reason has dwindled down to splenetic outbursts, spiced with malice and falsehood.
We have seen the scum rise to the surface and attempt to get itself mistaken for the cream.
Those are the adjectives in which the socalled representatives of Liberal thought expressed themselves when referring to their Labour opponents.
If I had time to give extracts from Hansard of statements made by the Prime Minister, the Treasurer, and the Honorary Minister, and to put them together, I should get such a collection of abuse as has not been used in any Parliament that I know of.
The honorable member for Riverina expressed a desire that the press would report what takes place in Parliament. If any Labour man used language such as has been used by some of the honorable gentlemen I have referred to, he would be hounded out of the country; but the whole Liberal press is engaged in hiding the misconduct of Liberal members in this Chamber.
– Honorable members opposite have just demonstrated all I have said. The honorable members for Brisbane and Cook are at it again even in this House. In pretending to repudiate, and make other people responsible for these things, they are indulging in the very tactics I complain of. The honorable member for Brisbane has referred to the “ breeding cows “ statement, for which, he says, Liberals are responsible.
He ought to know better. He does know better.
– On a point of order, I desire to state that I did not say so.
– This is not a point of order. That is a denial by interposition, which is irregular.
– The honorable member is trying to make it appear to this House that the Liberals were responsible for that statement. I desire to say that the meaning that has been read into even that remark is proof of the calumnious tactics of which I am speaking.
– Your party printed and circulated the statement.
– Another honorable member has stated that a Government supporter admitted that he had 100 shares in a newspaper called Public Opinion.
– Yes; he said that yesterday.
– Did the honorable member for Corangamite say that he had the shares to-day?
– No; because the company is wound up.
– It was wound up long ago.
– How long ago?
– I do not know.
– The paper has been for sale this year, and within the last two months.
– Is there an honorable member inside this House, other than the honorable member for Cook, who would dare to impugn the honour of the honorable member for Corangamite as to anything? If there is a man who stands above all reproach in this House, or out of it, it is Mr. Manifold. What, then, is the insinuation that is made? This is the campaign of mendacity that I have referred to. Because somebody has written something with which the honorable member for Cook does not agree, and there is a man remotely connected with that paper in quite another part of the country, the honorable member holds him directly and personally responsible. That is the sort of campaign I complain of.
– You do not deny it.
– I am not going to deny it, as the honorable member denied his writings.
– That is a falsehood.
– Order! I ask the honorable member for Cook to withdraw that statement.
– I withdraw the word; but I ask you, sir, to prevent the Prime Minister making those statements to describe which that word is necessary.
– I do not want to get into these personal recriminations, but the honorable member will bring them in. He thinks nothing about attacking individuals every day of his life. The honorable member ought to know better than to attack individuals.
– You asked for it.
– I did not ask for it. Why should I? I am complaining about the campaign of innuendo and slander which the honorable member is propagating throughout the length and breadth of this country, and two excellent examples have been given in the House to-day. As to the statement about what women are saying outside, mayI remind honorable members opposite that some of their own menkind are making many of those statements to-day. I was reading only to-day in the Hobart Post a controversy between the editor of that paper and a prominent follower of the right honorable member for Wide Bay, who stood against the present AttorneyGeneral in the last election for Flinders.
– And that man was very soon put in his proper place.
– What did you do?
– He was repudiated.
– He ran twice under the Labour party’s auspices. I suppose they knew all about his opinions then. This man proclaims himself to be a flagrant atheist.
– Why should he not, if that is his belief?
– Is it fair to say that we knew at two elections that he was a “flagrant atheist”?
– It is just as fair as much that has been said. I re ferred to the matter to make this observation : There are in every camp persons who are not what they ought to be. That will be so until the end of time. But why apply criticism, which ought to attach to such individuals alone, to the party to which they belong? I have never done that in my life. It is not fair fighting. It is no more fair to say that the statements which are criticised have emanated from the political parties to which the persons who made them belong, than it would be to say that the Leader of the Opposition or his followers are rank atheists, because one man in the Labour party’ announces himself to be an atheist. Why make these constant imputations and innuendoes against men on this side because of something written or said in some distant part of the Commonwealth? This sort of thing should cease. At the outset of the campaign I expressed the hope that there will be less of it than we have been having lately. Let us fight the issues out fairly. I do not care how hard honorable members hit, but let them keep above the belt. I hope that the Supply Bill will bo passed as soon as possible.
– When does the honorable gentleman want it? ‘
– At the earliest moment.
– I was arranging to get it through to-day when the honorable gentleman moved the Chairman out of the chair.
– I have been told each day that the Bill was going through, but it has not gone through yet.
– Does the Prime Minister challenge my statement?
– No, I am merely stating what has been the impression each day during the week. Every day was to be the last of the debate, and now it is to begin again next week. It is no use lingering. We must face the whirlwind, and the sooner we press forward the better.
– What is the answer to my question ?
– The question has been answered at least twice. I have said that we are going to publish the names that have been taken off the roll.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 4.37 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 19 June 1914, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1914/19140619_reps_5_74/>.