6th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– I ask the Prime Minister if he will make a clear statement as to what is proposed in regard to the Christmas holidays of casual employes?
– The casual employes will be treated in the same way as the permanent employes of the Government in regard to the Christmas holidays. The original question asked on the subject was whether the special concession would be given to temporary employes which was given in 1912. My reply to that question was “No.” The concession was absolutely abused, and will not be given again. The statutory holidays will be cheerfully allowed to all concerned, and will be paid for.
– The Minister of Trade and Customs has announced that it is intended to impose light dues, when a three-months’ notice has expired, and that that notice will commence before the end of the month. Therefore, it must be contemplated to take over the lighthouses from the States within about three months’ time. I ask the honorable gentleman whether, before the issue of a proclamation for the taking over of the lighthouses, he intends to have a clear and definite understanding with the States as to the basis of the valuation of transferred properties? The Minister will find that in one particular case there was some dispute regarding a quarantine transfer, the basis of valuation not being fixed beforehand. To make matters perfectly clear, does the Minister intend to get a definite agreement from the States before this transfer ?
– If we are to wait until all the States have come to a definite decision regarding the valuation of the properties to be transferred, the transfer may be postponed for ever. The Defence, Customs, and Post Office properties which were transferred to the Commonwealth at the inception of Federation, were not valued for several years afterwards; and I do not think that any difficulty will arise with regard to the valuation of the lighthouses. I do not consider it wise to postpone the transfer any longer.
– Has the Minister of Trade and Customs read the following paragraph in reference to the duties on fodder published in this morning’s Age. This is the report of a statement made by the Premier of South Australia: -
The Minister of Customs, if he had been correctly reported, had made a mistake regarding South Australia. At the instance of the Grain and Fodder Board, the Government, on 20th November, telegraphed to the Prime Minister ordering 6,000 tons of chaff to be imported to this State. No reply having been received, a further telegram was sent on 7th December, and that has not been answered.
Has the Minister seen that paragraph, and has he inquired why the telegrams were not answered ?
– I read the paragraph, and at once inquired about the telegrams. I find that South Australia was the only State that replied affirmatively to our inquiry, though Western Australia sent a message regarding maize, with which I have already dealt. The telegram from South Australia was, however, pigeonholed by the clerk who received it from the Prime Minister’s Department, and neither the Comptroller, the Secretary of the Department, nor myself, was aware of its existence until this morning. The telegram is as follows: -
With reference my telegram, Cth November, 6,000 tons of hay chaff will not bc required to be imported from New Zealand provided it is guaranteed of good quality and subject to shipment immediately after next harvest.
Apparently, the “my” should be “your,” and the “not” should be omitted, these being mistakes in coding.
– What is the date of the message ?
– It is dated 20th November, and was sent from the Prime Minister’s Department to the Customs Department. The explanation of the officer who received it was that he was waiting for the reply from the other States, thinking that no action was necessary until all the States had replied.
– A second telegram was sent from South Australia on the 7th December.
– I have not seen that telegram on the file.
– Is there any pigeon-hole that has not been searched ?
– The telegram that was sent by the Prime Minister to all the States, except Victoria, was dated 6th November, and is as follows: -
With reference to conversation with Minister of Trade and Customs at recent conference, would you be good enough to state quantity of oats’ el i off or other fodder you desire should be purchased in Now Zealand on your account? Telegraph reply, please, with least possible delay.
On 7th November, the Premier of New South Wales replied -
Your telegram yesterday re fodder. My Government do not wish participate.
That was referred to the Customs Department. From Perth this telegram came from the Deputy Premier on the 9th November -
Reply your wire, 6th instant, re New Zealand fodder, have been negotiating with Argontine for 6,000 tons maize. If sanction of this not approved, would like to secure its equivalent in cats or other concentrated fodder. Unable, at present, estimate amount of chaff required. Can you indicate price)
The Premier of Queensland telegraphed on 11th November -
With reference your telegram 6th November, under the present conditions think no occasion to make provision specially for oaten chaff. Lucerne is a popular fodder in Queensland. Present cutting good, and, given summer rains, we shall have monthly cuttings of lucerne. Still, will you give me idea of price? Could lie landed at Brisbane, Rockhampton, Townsville, or. if this is not practicable, give me quotation free on board New Zealand.
That was sent to the Customs Department on the 12th November. Then there was the telegram from the Premier of South Australia, which I have read; and on the 23rd November a telegram from the Premier of Tasmania -
Referring to your telegram of the seventh instant seeking information quantities of oats etc., to be purchased from New Zealand, I regret that owing action legislative council in refusing pass Foodstuffs Commission Bill it is impossible ascertain quantities produce now in hands of producers, merchants, and other thereby preventing accurate calculations as to requirement of this State; there is little doubt however that we will be in urgent need of considerable quantity of wheat during next twelve months.
As I stated the other day, I saw Mr. Hutchinson and Dr. Cameron on two occasions, but they did not make any definite statement as to what would be done. This letter was sent to the Premier of Victoria on the 24th November -
With reference to your conversation with my colleague, the Minister of Trade and Customs, at the recent Conference, I shall be glad if you will be so good as to state the quantities of oats, chaff, or other fodder which you desire should be purchased in New Zealand on your account. The favour of an early reply would be appreciated.
No reply to that letter has been received. I made a mistake iu my reference to the telegram of 7th December. The Premier of South Australia wired on that date -
Referring to your telegram of 6th ultimo and my reply of 20th ultimo, shall be glad to learn whether New Zealand chaff has been secured.
I did not see this file until this morning.
– In view of the fact that more than one State has applied for the free admission of fodder, particularly Western Australia and South Australia, and as there is a likelihood of Queensland requiring a similar concession, will the Minister reconsider the matter of allowing the free importation of fodder during this period of drought ?
– I will be pleased to submit that matter for the Cabinet’s consideration.
– Is it the intention of the Minister of Trade and Customs to secure the chaff which the South Australian Government have ordered ?
– On account of the publicity which has been given to this matter, the reason for secret negotiations with the New Zealand Government has disappeared, and as the South Australian Government is the only Government requiring the importation, I think it would be better if they could do the trade directly. The matter of the remission of the duties is one for submission to the Cabinet in view of the action taken, over which I can assure honorable members I had no control.
– Will the Minister of Home Affairs undertake to have issued to members copies of the small pocket edition of statistics issued by Mr. Knibbs?
– I gave an instruction to Mr. Knibbs some time ago to have that little volume republished, and members should receive copies in a few days.
– A statement has been *published in the press that arrangements have been made by the Commonwealth whereby Australian troops in Egypt may cash Australian bank notes. Will the Prime Minister inform the House how many Australian notes have been so cashed, and if it is intended to pay our troops in Egypt with Commonwealth notes?
– No arrangement for the payment of Australian troops in Egypt by notes particularly has been made. Before the troops left Australia an arrangement was made by the Government through our London agents to allow of the immediate payment of our troops wherever they landed, whether in Egypt or elsewhere. Arrangement was also made for the provision of savings banks in the camps, so that every facility would be given the troops to deposit their money. There is no intention of allowing Australian notes to wander all over Egypt, nor is that desirable. But the information which the honorable member has referred to is an indication that Australian paper currency is good in any other country.
– Has the Minister of Trade and Customs seen the statement in the press that the prohibition of the export of Australian wools to America has been removed. If so, is it a fact that since that removal the restriction has been enforced t
– The Prime Minister’s Department cabled last week to ascertain whether the press statement that the prohibition had been removed is correct. We have only the one source of official information on a point like that, and that is the British Government. When the British Government say that the restriction can be removed, so far as it concerns the United States of America, it will be removed.
– Some time ago the Commonwealth prohibited the export of wool to certain countries, amongst them Japan, Canada, and New Zealand. Recently the prohibition was withdrawn with regard to Japan and Canada, but it was allowed to continue in regard to New:Zealand. As a considerable quantity of Australian merino wool is required in New Zealand for manufacturing purposes, will the Minister of Trade and Customs withdraw the embargo on the export of wool to the Dominion ?
– Speaking from memory, I think I gave authority a few days ago for the shipment of wool to New Zealand, but each quantity to be shipped has to be approved by me. I may say that one place on another Continent to which we were asked to ship wool was ordering over a thousand times as much as went to that country last year. That is the sort of tiling we have to guard against in these days.
– Before making any reduction in the duty on cinematograph films, will the Minister of Trade and Customs make inquiry as to whether there is not sufficient theatrical talent in Australia, and a sufficient number of photographic experts, to produce many of the dramas and comedies which are now presented to the Australian public ? Will he also see that any proposed reduction he may make will not be so low as to prevent Australian manufacturers establishing a new industry?
– I certainly think there is sufficient histrionic talent in Australia to produce the comedies and dramas I have seen at picture shows. I also think that the photographic artists here are as good as those elsewhere. But the Government received information which led us to believe that a mistake had been made in the values of the films, and the question I have to consider is whether we should rectify that mistake.
– What is the reason for a Gazette notice authorizing the issue of £16,000,000 worth of Australian notes? Is that intended to cover a new issue ?
– The Treasury is not authorized to issue any notes without a Gazette notice covering the amount. I think that we have gazetted, from time to time, £4,000,000, £6,000,000, £12,000,000, and so. on, until we are now gazetting the issue of £16,000,000, and if the issue were likely to increase to £17,000,000 or £18,000,000, we should have to publish a Gazette notice permitting an issue to that extent. In addition to the law allowing an unlimited issue of notes with a statutory reserve in gold, there is also provision which makes it necessary for an Order iu Council to be made that a certain amount shall be issued.
– Will the Prime Minister inform the House what public works, if any, the Government intend to remit to the Public Works Committee for inquiry during the forthcoming recess 1
– The Government have in contemplation the passing of a resolution remitting to the Committee certain works, which, I think, will occupy their time sufficiently and well. Parliament will probably have to exclude from tb; consideration of the Committee the Works Estimates for 1914-15, leaving it to deal with prospective works.
– That means a short amending Bill.
– It means an amendment of the principal Act, which was passed in 1913, and provided for the exclusion of the Works Estimates for that year. The Public Works Committee, however, was only appointed a few days ago. Had the Act been passed during the current financial year, no doubt the Works Estimates for 1914-15 would have been excluded from the consideration of the Committee. This is a matter, however, that can be dealt with according to (he general consensus of opinion of the House.
– Is the PostmasterGeneral favorable to a conference of the Deputy Postmasters-General, which might be able to make suggestions that would assist him in carrying out the reforms of the Department which he has in view?
– There are some reforms which we believe necessary, and if it is thought that it would be advantageous to have a meeting of the Deputy PostmastersGeneral in order to urge them to carry out those reforms we may convene one.
– I wish to ask the Attorney-General if the reported action of an officer from New South Wales in destroying a ban-age placed across the Murray River at Nyah is not a breach of section 98 of the Constitution?
– A matter of considerable importance is raised by the honorable gentleman’s question. The authority of the Commonwealth under the Constitution to deal with navigable rivers and the control of waterways is very considerable, and extends, no doubt, to the power to deal with obstructions to navigation. To what extent we may deal with an Act of any State interfering with the right of other States to the use of waters for irrigation or navigation purposes, I should not like to say off-hand, but I shall look into the matter most carefully, ask for further particulars, and let the honorable member know the result.
– I notice that the payments into and withdrawals from the Notes Fund prior to the outbreak of the war amounted to about £250,000 a mouth, but that since the outbreak of the war many millions have been paid by the banks into the Notes Fund. In August about £2,250,000 was paid in, and last month the payments were about the same. I desire to ask the Prime Minister what is the explanation of this enormous pouring in of gold since the outbreak of war? Is it the outcome of any arrangement with the banks?
– Up to the present time no substantial amount has been received as the result of the arrangement made. Small amounts have been received in respect of the banks and the States, and they do not aggregate more than £750,000. I think that they have confidence in th© Commonwealth.
– Will the Prime Minister state how long the new issue of £1 notes, which is obviously of only a temporary character, will be kept in circulation ? How long will it be before the Government printing press will be able to turn out the permanent instead of the temporary notes?
– In the emergency that arose both the paper and the dies of the old bank-note issue had to be employed.
– But when will the new issue of Commonwealth notes take their place ?
– They are being printed rapidly. A new machine which was ordered by the Government of which the honorable member was a member, is now being installed, and in twelve months we shall be able, I think, to cover the issue.
– Is not the trouble in relation to the supply of paper?
– There is always trouble in the matter of the paper to be used unless arrangements are made well in advance for a proper supply, but that trouble now is nearly at an end.
Effect of Increase
– In view of an apparent misunderstanding regarding the increase of taxation under the Bill to amend the Land Tax Act, I wish to ask the Prime Minister what will be the increased rates on properties of a total unimproved value of £5,500, £6,000, and £10,000?
– The honorable member advised me that he was going to ask this question, and I am therefore able to supply the House with the following information as to the effect of the amending Bill-
– Will the Prime Minister supply the same information regarding the effect of the amending land tax legislation on estates of the taxable value of £50,000, £75,000, and £100,000 ?
– I shall be very glad to do so.
– The right honorable member has not the information at hand ?
– Then the question put by the honorable member for Indi was “ rigged up.”
– I told the Housethat I had been advised by the honorable member for Indi that he proposed to ask the question.
– I call upon the honorable member for Richmond to withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw it.
– I should like to know from the Prime Minister whether the Government are willing to reciprocate with New Zealand in the matter of oldage pensions?
– During my previous term of office, the then Minister of Customs of New Zealand was in Australia, and we came to an arrangement for reciprocity. That arrangement, however, was not approved by our successors on the ground that the Commonwealth, as it was stated, would gain no advantage.
– On the ground that the Commonwealth would lose so much by the arrangement.
– But thai the Commonwealth would be rather placed at a disadvantage. I am exceedingly anxious that there should be a reciprocal treaty of the kind, and I am in hopes that we shall soon have a satisfactory one.
– The statistical works issued by Mr. Knibbs are becoming very popular as books of reference, and I think it would be very desirable, if some arrangements were come to, by which these could be placed on sale in the various capital cities.
– Those books are on sale at the present time, but I shall make further inquiries into the matter.
– I should like to know from the Minister of Trade and Customs whether the idea underlying the correspondence which he read a little while ago was that fodder should be purchased in New Zealand by the Commonwealth Government and made available for the States of Australia ?
– That was the idea which I submitted to the Premiers of the
States, and which they all agreed represented the best plan under the circumstances. It was felt that there should be only one purchaser instead of four or five in New Zealand. It was suggested that the arrangement with New Zealand should be similar to those purchases we have made with the South African and Indian Governments in regard to other commodities.Unfortunately, any good that might have been done by such an arrangement with New Zealand is, I am afraid, now impossible owing to the publicity that has been given to the matter.
– Has the Prime Minister seen in to-day’s newspapers, an account of a meeting of dealers in wheat? Does the right honorable gentleman think there must be some mistake in that report ? People can scarcely believe that there is so much roguery carried on in the wheat trade as the report of that meeting would suggest?
– I read the account of the meeting, but I regarded it more as a light entertainment than as a declaration. I hope I am not asked to make any comment on how the merchant princes carry on their business in Australia.
– Has the Prime Minister had brought under his notice some cable messages which appeared in the morning newspapers a month or six weeks’ ago, previous to the new Tariff, showing what business men in other parts of the. world are doing for the purpose of trying to capture the Australian trade previously in the hands of the enemy. The cables were as follow: -
Mr. Milne, on behalf of the Board of Trade, has collected 430 samples of foreign hardware, hollowware, and aluminium goods, mostly German and Austrian, which compete with British goods in the Australian market. These are now being exhibited in Birmingham and Sheffield, and later on will be exhibited in London and other industrial centres.
A British Scheme
Lord Desborough and influential business men in London are forming a league for the purpose of handing over to Britain’s Allies all the trade diverted from the enemy which cannot be carried on in Great Britain.
Will the Prime Minister consider the advisability of appointing a Committee of this House for the purpose of organizing, in the same direction as in London, because, in my opinion, such a step would, be most beneficial to the people of Australia ?
– This is a very large and important question. I have the pleasure of the acquaintance of both the gentlemen referred to. Mr. Milne is a representative agent of Great Britain here, and Lord Desborough has been alwaysassociated with interests of the kind. I arn of opinion that it would be better to. have a Committee appointed from outside Parliament. It is rather dangerous, for Members of Parliament to be directly associated with inquiries concerning duties of Customs and Excise which may affect their own particular interests. It is better to have a delegation altogether apart from the Legislature, but, as regards the policy, the Government are entirely in favour of it.
– Will the Prime Minister take into consideration the assignment to the Inter-State Commission of the inquiry that I have suggested, so that new industries may be established in Australia ?
– The suggestion is a good one. I shall ask the Minister of Trade and Customs to refer it to the Commission.
– In view of the admittedly important character of the work to be undertaken in the making of an inquiry into our industrial occupations, to see if we can become selfcontained and capture the enemy’s trade, will the Prime Minister consider the advisability of reconstituting the Royal Commission of which Mr. Deakin, Mr. Dugald Thomson, and Mr. Knibbs were members? They were engaged on this work when the Prime Minister terminated their commission.
– I do not think that that body would be the proper one to which to refer these matters.
– Will the Minister of Trade and Customs now admit that his action in removing the duty on wheat has had no effect whatever in the way of providing a cheap loaf for the people of this country ? Has the honorable gentleman noticed the gazetting of the proclamation of the New South Wales Government fixing the price of wheat at 5s. per bushel, and the price of the 2-lb. loaf from the State bakery at 4d., with an addition of 1½d. per loaf in some places to the rate ruling before the war.
– As to the first part of the question, I do not believe that I have made a mistake in abolishing the wheat duties.
– I did not ask that question. Shall I put my question again ?
– Has any progress been made in the negotiations with New Zealand and Canada in regard to reciprocal trade?
– No. The Government were busy with the Tariff until three or four weeks ago, and since then there has been a general election going on in New Zealand. I believe that the gentleman who conferred with me on this question has been defeated, and it is quite uncertain as to which party may be returned to power.
Questions Without Notice
– Is it possible for the Assistant Minister of Defence, before the rising of the Houses, to lay upon the table the plans and specifications and report relating to Cockburn Sound Naval Base ? I should also like to know whether it is true that the Government propose that the Naval Board shall review those plans and specifications, and are prepared to act on any recommendations of the Board, which may be against the opinion of the eminent firm of Sir John Coode and Company ?
– I have communicated with the Minister of Defence, and he agrees with the attitude I have taken up in this Chamber, namely, that the plans and specifications, together with the report, should first be considered by the Government and by the Naval Board. From what I know, it would be impossible to lay those documents on the table today, or, I am afraid, to-morrow. I may inform the right honorable gentleman that on the Naval Board there are members who are quite capable of dealing with the report and the plans. The first member of the Naval Board is Admiral Sir William Creswell.
– Is, he an engineer?
– He is a man of wide experience. We have also on the Board qualified gentlemen in the persons of Captain Pring and Captain Clarkson. The Board has been constituted solely for advising the Minister, and putting certain things before him.
– It has not been constituted to give engineering advice.
– Captain Clarkson is an engineer.
– He is only a mechanical engineer.
– The honorable member for Swan has asked his question, and now seeks to reply to it. Seeing that the honorable member evidently knows all about this matter, it was not necessary for him to submit a question to the Minister. After submitting a question the honorable member should remain silent while it is being answered.
– On a point of order. If a Minister says that he has not grasped my question correctly, am I in order in putting it again ? T was prevented from doing so.
– When the question arises I shall deal with the matter.
– The Minister of Defence and I, after a conference, have decided that the Government, the Naval Board, and the Minister should first decide on a certain course of action with regard to these important plans before they can be placed on the table.
– Can the Assistant Minister, representing the Minister of Defence, say what qualifications or diplomas in engineering, outside ordinary marino engineering and the looking after an engineroom of the ship, are possessed by any member on the Naval Board ?
– The time has arrive*! when I should intervene in connexion with these questions. The question submitted by the honorable member is not one which can be put.
– The Assistant Minister told us yesterday that he would do his best to lay these papers on the table before the adjournment. May we expect them ? Will the Minister say “Yes” or “No”?
– My reply yesterday was that I would try to comply with the request of the honorable member for Swan, but I have since consulted the Minister of Defence, and I find that it is impossible to do so.
– You mean that you will not do it; that is the plain English of the reply.
– On a point of order. Does the refusal to allow me to put my question just now mean that honorable members are, in future, not to be permitted to ask Ministers at question time what are the qualifications of officers of a public Department?
– When such a question arises, I shall give the honorable member my ruling.
– May I ask a further question in connexion with one I have a lready asked ?
– Owing to the fact that honorable members may ask questions without giving notice of them, a dozen questions are sometimes founded on the reply given by the Minister. There can be no finality to questions in such circumstances. . Ministers are not blameless in the matter. They should ask for notice to be given. Questions will then come on in the ordinary way, and be answered, which will put an end to what now occurs. While I am anxious to give honorable members every latitude to get all the information possible, they must see that some step must be taken to curtail the practice of founding a number of questions on the Minister’s reply to a question asked without notice.
– On a point of order, is it your function, Mr. Speaker, to say what should be done to terminate this business? The Standing Orders give honorable members the privilege of asking questions without notice. As you have just pointed out, the remedy is entirely in the Ministers’ hands. They can regulate the matter; but Isubmit that you cannot interfere, so long as honorable members obey the Standing Orders. To a degree, these questions might be curtailed, but any step taken with that object in view should be taken by Ministers. They encourage this sort of thing by the speeches which they are constantly making.
– Order ! Part of my duty is the conduct of business, and the prevention of the abuse of privileges. The manner in which questions are asked without notice leads to debate in the shape of questions from one side of the chamber to the other. I cannot permit that to continue.
– In view of the courtesy of the Government in allowing heads of public Departments to arrange for as many officers of their Department as possible to view the march past of the last Expeditionary Force before its departure, will a similar courtesy be extended in regard to to-morrow’s march past?
– Yes. Instructions will be issued to heads of Departments to permit as many employes as possible to be absent from their duties for half-an-hour or an hour, in order to witness the march past.
– Is the Minister of Trade and Customs aware that, though the price of wheat in Victoria is 6s. 9d. a bushel, the price of the 2-lb. loaf of bread is 4d., whereas, though the price of wheat in New South Wales - as fixed by the Labour Government - is 5s., and though there is a State bakery in operation, the price of the 2-lb. loaf of bread in two counties has been fixed at 4d. ; while, in the balance of the State,the price is1½d. in excess of that prevailing on 11th August last? In view of these facts, does the Minister think that the removal of the duty has had the effect of cheapening the price of the loaf of bread?
– I am not aware that the facts are as the honorable member has stated ; but if he will put his question on the notice-paper, I shall give him a reply.
– I understood that the Postmaster-General had issued the order that no temporary employes in his Department were to be dismissed. As a number of such employes at Ballarat have been dismissed, I ask the Minister if that has been done by his direction?
– No order was given that temporary employes should not be dismissed. Dismissals of temporary employes are constantly occurring. They are rendered necessary by the Public Service Act, which fixes the period for which ‘ a person can be employed temporarily at six months.
– The statement has been made that the Postal Department proposes to dispense with the services of a number of men, particularly in Victoria, and that this is to be done as soon as the House has adjourned. I ask the Minister if the statement is correct ?
– This is the first that I have heard of it. Men who have been employed temporarily for six months are constantly being dismissed, their places being taken by others whose names stand first on the application list. When temporary employes are retained for more than six months, complaints are received from persons desiring employment. The law permits an extension of the period by three months.
– The Assistant Minister representing the Minister of Defence was good enough to say yesterday that he would get the opinion of the Minister regarding the reintroduction of the kilt?
– I shall consult the Minister about the matter.
– As the New South Wales Government is reported to have fixed the price of bread at 4d. per 2-lb. loaf within the counties of Cumberland and Northumberland, and at 5£d. outside those counties, will the Minister furnish the House with a return showing the price at which the New South Wales State bakery obtained its wheat, and the quantity that was obtained at 3s. 9d. or thereabouts before these prices were fixed?
– If the honorable member will put the question on the noticepaper, I shall try to obtain the information, and also similar information in regard to the operations of a baker who carries on business within a quarter of a mile of this building, who bought flour at £8 a ton, and is charging 8d. a loaf for bread.
– Some time ago I asked the Minister if he would endeavour to ascertain from the Government of New South Wales information regarding the wheat seized at Darling Harbor - the names of the consignees, the stocks held, and prices obtained. Has he obtained that information?
– It would be very inconvenient to furnish it.
– Can the Minister inform the House what special works, other than those ordinarily undertaken by the Departments, have been put in hand recently to relieve the unemployed in Australia?
– I do not know of any special works beyond those for which provision was made on the Estimates. The departmental officers have been instructed to put all the men possible on the various works in hand.
– In connexion with employment on the works which are being carried out to afford relief to the unemployed, will the minute relating to preference to unionists apply?
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as folf OWE : -
asked tho Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
Whether the Chief Electoral Officer advised the cancellation of the instruction to issue checked rolls after the last election?
– No recommendation was made by the Chief Electoral Officer. The instruction was suspended at the instance of the Minister for the reasons given in the reply to a former question by the honorable member.
asked the Assistant Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The number who volunteered and have been accepted will bc supplied to the honorable member as soon as possible. There is no record, however, of any particulars in the case of those who have not been accepted for service. In regard to the other information required, a nominal roll is in course of preparation which will give the required particulars, and such will shortly be available.
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
Considering the great expenditure upon the Port Augusta - Kalgoorlie Railway, viz., £1,346,834, during the year 1913-14, and the fact that this Parliament has no information whatever as to the manner in which that money is being expended, or in regard to the methods being pursued in the construction of the work, will the Minister request the Public Works Committee to make such investigations as may be requisite to ascertain whether or not the money voted for this work is being spent in such a manner as may commend itself to the Committee?
– The KalgoorliePort Augusta Railway is a work already authorized by Parliament in the KalgoorliePort Augusta Railway Act, and does not. come within the scope of the Public Works Committee. Details of what is being done are circulated periodically 10 members. The work is under the supervision of a- very capable Engineer iu Chief, who has within the last few years successfully built, some 2,000 miles of railway in the honorable member’s own State.
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
If he will inform the House if it is a fact that a petition, signed by over 200 of the chief architects and engineers of Australia, was addressed to the Right Honorable Joseph Cook, M.P., then Minister for Home Affairs and Prime Minister, requesting that a Royal Commission of professional experts be appointed to review the “ built up design “ prepared by the Departmental Board in connexion with the Federal Capital?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
Yes. A petition, reading as follows, was received by the late Prime Minister on 5th July, 1013: -
To the Honorable Joseph Cook, M.P., Prime Minister, Commonwealth of Australia.
We, the undersigned architects and engineers practising in Australia, respectfully and urgently petition you to appoint a Royal Commission of professional experts, to inquire into and report upon, the general administration relative to the building of Canberra, and to review the present built-up design, to which so much expert objection has been taken, notably by Colonel W. L. Vernon, V.D., F.R.I.B., iri the June issue of Building magazine.
You are well aware of the uncompromising attitude adopted by the ex-Minister for Home Affairs toward the professional counsel offered him at various stages of the competition, and we recognise in the fortunate turn of the political wheel,0an opportunity for yet saving Australia’s Capital City from the. grave constructional disaster that threatens it.
The power that you would have gladly exercised in opposition you now have the opportunity of putting into effect as Prime Minister, and we can assure you that the exercise of that power is most necessary in this phase of national affairs. (Sgd.) Alfred Spain, G. A. Julius, J.
Burcham Clamp, N. COOPER Day, and others.
Colonel Vernon, however wrote to the Acting Minister for Home Affairs as follows: -
I desire to say that no communication has passed between myself and the promoter of the petition; that I am not in the slightest degree in. accord’ with, its prayer as regards administration; and that I further strongly object to the unauthorized prominence given to myself therein.”
Colonel Vernon subsequently explained when his attention waa drawn to the matter, that his article in the Building magazine was based on a misapprehension as regards levels.
The following paper was presented: -
Pood Supplies and Trade and Industry during the War - Reports and Recommendations of the Royal Commission on.
Bill returned from the Senate with the message that the Senate had agreed to it 4ls amended by the House of Representatives.
Motion (by Mr. Fisher) agreed to -
That Government business take precedence of general business to-morrow.
Motion (by Mr. Fisher) proposed -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent new business being taken after 11 o’clock p.m.
– I ask honorable members to be prepared to do so. We must get on with the business.
– I offer no objection to tho motion; it would be useless to do so, because we are entirely in the hands of the Prime Minister. Never before in my life, when special arrangements have been made for the termination of our sittings, have I seen a business-paper so loaded as ours is now. It is useless to attempt to make arrangements with my right honorable friend. He does what he likes.
– I made an arrangement with the right honorable member.
– Yes, and you have departed from it radically and absolutely.
– The Prime Minister went through the business-paper -with me, and then there were about ten items on it. Now there are twenty-one, and notice of three others was given to day. A motion such as the right honorable gentleman has just moved would have occupied six- days if he had had his bashi-bazouks on this side of the Chamber.
– Is that remark in order?
– I think the honorable member used the expression in. a jocular sense.
– I apologize to the bashi-bazouks.
– I desire to meet, the convenience of the House.
– The right honorable gentleman desires to meet the convenience of everybody, but he wishes this to be done and that to be done, and everything must be passed.
– I am responsible.
– What an absurdly obvious thing to say. Of course the right honorable gentleman is responsible, but his is not the sole responsibility. Every honorable member of the House has his responsibility.
– Not in the same sense. If we go wrong, the Opposition gain.
– Exactly. There speaks the purely party man in these nonparty days. Partisanship oozes out of the right honorable member at every joint. We have had a series of most bitterly partisan addresses from the front Government benches only this morning, and for the right honorable gentleman to say that he alone has the responsibility for these measures is so much nonsense. As to the quality of the work to be done, every honorable member on both sides of the House is equally responsible to this country. According to the right honorable gentleman’s motion, all we have to do is to agree to the most preposterous things, and he says, “ They are my responsibility, not yours.” That is a theory of parliamentary representation that could only be conceived in a House that is dominated by a party outside this Parliament; and I advise my right honorable friend to come back to his parliamentary moorings.
– I think I have heard that before, but it is not correct.
– It seems necessary to remind the right honorable gentleman of it. His constant appeals to us and his statements that he will meet our convenience are so much absolute nonsense. The fault is on his side entirely. We on this side are ready to wind up the work of the session the moment the Prime Minister becomes reasonable. That is precisely what he will not be.
– He is not going to do as the honorable member dictates.
– Certainly not; and may I suggest that we on this side are not here to do entirely as the Prime Minister, or the Caucus behind him, dictates. Let honorable members put that in their pipes and smoke it!
.- I was surprised to hear an intimation from the Prime Minister that it is proposed to sit throughout the night, because I was under the impression that, if honorable members were ready to sit right through last week and this week it would relieve us of an experience which we have had in past sessions, and which does no honorable member any good. Therefore, I was sorry to hear the Prime Minister say that honorable members would be expected to terminate this session by an allnight sitting, as a means of expediting the business. I hope that that idea will not be persisted in, because, personally,’ T am opposed to it.
.- I desire to ask the Prime Minister a question. In reference to the seventeen Bills on the notice-paper, and the two of which notice has been given, I think the House is entitled to know which of those measures the Government propose to pass if the House adopts the course suggested by the Prime Minister. And I think we are also entitled to know whether it is intended to pass the Commonwealth Banking Bill?
– Then I desire-
– The honorable member had resumed his seat.
– Only While I was receiving an answer to my question.
– The honorable member is not entitled to ask a question at this juncture.
– I submit that I am entitled to ask a question at any stage, and it cannot be regarded as a speech. I take leave to say that parliamentary practice is not in accordance with your ruling, sir. An honorable member may ask a question at any time by permission of the House and the Speaker.
– The honorable member can only do so with the unanimous consent of the House. For that the honorable member did not ask.
– I stated that I rose to ask a question.
– Is it the pleasure of the House that leave be given to the honorable member for Balaclava to continue his remarks?
– I am always loth to cross your decision, sir. I am one who believes in upholding the authority of the Chair, even though an honorable member may not always agree with the decision of the Chair. However, what I desired to say is that, if it is proposed to attempt to pass the Commonwealth Banking Bill, I take leave to imagine that more than one all-night sitting will be required.
– Is that a threat?
– This has been marked down as one of the measures essential to be passed. That has been stated by me at least twenty times to the House.
– I have not heard the statement.
– Oh yes, the Prime Minister marked that Bill down on the list j but the right honorable gentleman is continually adding to the list.
– I am not disputing the statement made by the Prime Minister that this Bill may be on the list which he has given to the Leader of the Opposition.
– And for three weeks the Bill has been held back by desire of the Opposition.
– No; I think we are anxious to get on with the Bill.
– Very well; I will put it at the head of the notice-paper at any time.
– I certainly challenge the statement of the right honorable gentleman that he stated in the House twenty times that this measure must be passed before the recess.
– I appeal to honorable members to confirm my statement.
– The Prime Minister has repeatedly stated from his place that this Bill should be passed.
– Order ! I appeal to honorable members to discontinue these interjections.
– Whilst I do not dispute the statement of the Prime Minister that the statement has been made in the House that it is the intention of the Government to proceed with this measure, I do say that I was not aware of that intention. I now hear it with great surprise, and in no spirit of threat, but in the same manner as the Prime Minister intimated to the Chamber that it will be necessary to wind up the session with an all-night sitting, I take leave to say that it will take a long time to pass the Commonwealth Bank Bill.
– That is a threat; it is a challenge.
– It is not a threat, but I should be wrong to allow the honorable gentleman to imagine that we would assent to that proposition without opposition. Speaking for myself, personally, and not from a party point of view, I can assure the right honorable gentleman that some of us on this side feel strongly in regard to this Bill.
– I have told the Prime Minister that half-a-dozen times.
– It cannot be suggested that honorable members who have strong views on certain important Bills, which are not war measures, can be asked to set those views aside in order to suit the convenience of the Government. That would not be a proper discharge of their responsibilities.
– Very well ; we will sit extra days if that course is deemed necessary in order to pass this measure.
– I shall participate in those extra sittings with very great gusto. I am not one of those who believe that we should rise this week merely to allow the Government to finish their programme as they think best. Any Bill that deals with the war I am prepared to pass after a reasonable protest. We cannot do more because the numbers are against us, and, after all, the chief responsibility rests on the Government. But the Commonwealth Banking Bill is not one of these. It is not a measure for which any ground of urgency has been raised in the House. It is not connected in any way with the crisis through which we are passing, and from which I hope we shall soon emerge. But it is a propaganda measure which suits the desires of honorable members sitting opposite, and, to some extent, suits the views of many of their constituents.
– Order ! The honorable member is going beyond the question before the House.
– I was going to say that the Banking Bill, according to my judgment, is distinctly a party measure, and in that spirit some of us must endeavour to meet it. I am speaking only for myself, and in no menacing way. But, as it is the intention that honorable members shall separate in good-will and reassemble early in the new year, I do think that the discussion of a financial measure of such far-reaching importance as this may very well be deferred till then. If we are to push on with the Bill now, we, who are opposed to its provisions, must meet it with that opposition which we owe to our convictions and our responsibilities.
.- I rise with the idea of assisting the House out of the tangle into which it has got. First of all, I think honorable members would like an intimation as to who is the Leader of the Opposition to whom the Prime Minister can appeal when he is desirous of making any arrangement in regard to the business. We have just listened to one of the Opposition’s new leaders, a gentleman who is evidently not familiar with the forms of the House, and is not accustomed to a chamber in which the Leader of the Opposition is treated with respect by the head of the Government and by the party behind him. That being so, we can quite understand the assumption of the honorable member for Balaclava that he speaks on behalf of the Opposition in regard to the Banking Bill. I say emphatically that nothing on the business-paper has been so pointedly emphasized to the House by the Government as has that particular measure. The Government intimated clearly that they desired to see the Bill pass before the House adjourns. And there are reasons for that course.
Opposition Members. - What are they ?
– I certainly think it would be desirable that members of the Opposition should retire and decide amongst themselves who shall be their real leader. If they will do that, we may be able to have an understanding between the members on this side of the House, who are anxious to proceed with business, and those on the other side, who, perhaps for party purposes, desire to delay the business with a view to influencing the opinion of the electors in the forthcoming contest that has been necessitated by the death of a member of the Government party. I hope that the Commonwealth Bank Bill will be passed ; that, true to the traditions of our party, every opportunity will be given to honorable members to discuss every measure submitted to the House, and that there will be no resort to that brutal instrument, the “ gag,” such as took place last session. I have always been opposed to the use of the ” S&S>” but ^ honorable members of the Opposition show an utter disregard of the interests of the people whom they are sent here to represent, I am afraid I shall have to depart from a principle which I have always cherished.
– Is that a threat?
– No; but when those whom I represent are made to suffer, it is my duty to review the position I have taken up in this regard. I should like the Opposition to have regard to the season of peace which we are now approaching. Some of them have expressed a desire that the business of the House should continue; but this apparently does not meet with the approbation of all their colleagues. I have no wish to lecture the House, but 1 desire to bring to bear on honorable members opposite my common-sense business capacity. I do not pose as a model of political purity, but I believe that the people have confidence in me, and if the Opposition will accept from me a few pearls of wisdom the result will be beneficial to our proceedings. I do not think we should deal with this question in a purely jocular spirit. We should think seriously of what is likely to be the result of our action. The honorable member for Balaclava is new to this House, but not to parliamentary procedure. He should recognise that much business remains to be done, and that while it may be amusing to him, as a representative of this State, to keep the representatives of other States away from their homes, there is a strong desire on our part to get back to them and to our families. We are making big personal sacrifices. Honorable members who are able to return to their homes each night should have some sympathy with those who are not in that happy position. There should be no attempt to impose too great a strain on the health of honorable members, or to retard their efforts to concentrate their minds on the great problems which confront this Parliament. I hope that all these measures* will be allowed to go; and that honorable members opposite will release themselves from their party ties, and recognise that they are not likely to gain much of an advertisement by talking as some of them have done.
.-! do not wish to accept the challenge just thrown out by my distinguished friend, the honorable” member for East Sydney. I echo the hope with which he concluded his brilliant peroration, that all the Bills which the Government had succeeded in passing would be permitted for the time to continue. We are concerned, however, not with the measures which the Government have passed, but with those which they wish to carry. I confess that I am not going to be deterred for one moment by the threat of the honorable member to make certain sacrifices to expediency aud to outrage his conscience by voting for the “ gag.” 1 wish now to put it with all good feeling to the Prime Minister, that if the Government feel it their duty to proceed with certain measures which, for some occult reason, are regarded by them as supremely important, although having no relation to the war, and which some members of the Opposition, consistent with their duty to the country, are prepared to discuss, then they should be considered in the open light of day, when the press can report the debate, and when the discussion which emanates from the very serious purpose apparent on both sides will reach the ears of the public through the ordinary channels. I would urge it upon the Prime Minister that the Commonwealth Bank Bill should not be rushed through in an all-night sitting.
– That it should be taken in a day sitting ?
– That is fair.
– It, would be infinitely preferable, if possible, to conclude this, of all sessions, without an all-night, sitting.
– I quite agree with the honorable member. If the Opposition are prepared to agree to an extra, day’s sitting I shall be quite satisfied.
– It is immaterial to me whether we sit on after Christmas or not.
– I wish to meet the Opposition.
– I think that all-night sittings disfigure our proceedings and undermine the health of honorable members. We have had many experiences of them, and although we conduct our business during all-night sittings with extraordinary good humour, the long strain which they entail certainly does tell upon the physique of honorable members. I urge the Government, with every desire to assist them in concluding this, of all sessions, with reasonable good humour, to have the Commonwealth Bank Bill discussed when the press can be present to report our remarks, and not to force it through in an all-night sitting.
– In reply to the honorable member for Wentworth, I desire to say at once that I am not at all anxious that there should be an all-night sitting, and that if the Opposition are prepared to sit an extra day to deal with the Commonwealth Bank Bill - it must go through - I shall be satisfied.
– It will take more than one day to deal with it.
– What is the urgency ?
– It is in the public interest that it should go through. The honorable member for Balaclava has made a number of statements that are not accurate, but I may not discuss them now.
– When the opportunity offers we shall discuss that statement.
– Very well. The Commonwealth Bank is the property of every citizen of the Commonwealth, and the protection of it is the duty of this Parliament.
– Does it need protecting ?
– The protection of its interests in equity and justice is the first duty of the representatives of the people in this Parliament, who are only trustees of the institution. I agree with the honorable member for Wentworth, that it is undesirable to have an all-night sitting, and if the Leader of the Opposition is prepared to fix any reasonable time for the discussion of the Commonwealth Bank “Bill - at a time when the representatives of the press can be present and report the debate - I shall be very glad to cooperate with him. But the threat of the Opposition that they will allow to pass only those measures which they suggest should be dealt with before the House rises, is not acceptable to the Government.
– There is no such threat.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 15th December, vide page 1948) :
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 (Incorporation).
.- The Attorney-General said yesterday that he did not regard this as a measure that should be in any way permanent.
– Not in its present form.
– Would it not be possible for us now to put it in a better form ?
– It would mean recasting the whole scheme of taxation; but that is not contemplated by the Government at the present time. The honorable member must know that this question of probate and estate succession duties is very complex.
– The honorable member is adding to its complexity.
– This Bill relates to the duty itself. I have already indicated that substantial alterations are to be made.
– Liberating the next of kin and others from the duty ?
– Yes; there will be substantial alterations.
– In what Bill?
– In the Assessment Bill.
– Very well, I shall say no more.
.- I wish to put a question to the AttorneyGeneral regarding the calculation of estimated revenue to be reaped from this Bill. When the resolution was before the House, we had the extraordinary confession that the calculation given by the Treasurer in his Budget speech was quite wrong. In other words, the Treasurer told us, in his Budget speech, that it was expected that £1,000,000 would be obtained this year.
– I have already explained how that error arose, and how the Treasurer was led into it. The Trea- surer was not desirous of imposing a probate duty that would yield more than £1,000,000 per annum, and his instructions were that such a duty was to be levied as would yield that amount.
– That means a revenue of £500,000 for the present financial year, and to that extent we are £500,000 out in our calculation.
– The yield may be more or less.
– I was going to say that it is very difficult to estimate probate revenue.
– The difficulty is intensified in this case by the fact that we have been unable, perhaps naturally, to obtain any information from the State authorities.
– I am astonished to hear that.
– We are working in the dark.
– The Treasurer could obtain quite a number of interesting details apart from the probate offices of the States; but the only real calculable details must come straight from the State probate offices.
– I repeat only what the Commissioner told me.
– The differences in the mode of increasing the graduation have to be carefully stu’died in considering the two taxes.
– But a careful study shows such a divergence between the systems that it is impossible to base a Commonwealth system on any one of them.
– If harmony between the Commonwealth Government and the Governments of the States “had been established, there would have been no difficulty whatever in a couple of expert men from New South Wales and Victoria, the two more popular States, providing the Treasurer with an estimate which, allowing for the conjectural data, would have been sufficiently approximate. I doubt the estimate of the Treasurer, and I think the original calculation is nearer right than the amended one. This is a very stiff tax, rising to 15 per “cent. The maximum in Victoria is 10 per cent. ; and, while the State Government tax estates under £1,000 and the Commonwealth does nob, the heavy loads on the top of the ramp will bring in a tremendous revenue.
– That is not borne out by the data at our disposal, which show that the bulk of the revenue comes from, the estates in the middle.
– I did nob know that this Bill was coming on to-day, and, therefore, I cannot conduct an analysis of that kind; but I speak with some experience, both of the difficulty of estimating probate revenue, and of the wonderful results from it when heavy estates fall in, even at 10 per cent.
– It is speculative at best.
– I admit that, and, therefore, I put it on one side as not settling anything. All direct taxation is speculative, and when we are dealing with life and death it is more so than usual ; but we are bound to calculate whether the revenue will be large or small, and I think the yield will be much more than the Treasurer anticipates. If my idea be correct, the yield will be £1,500,000 in a normal year, and approximately £2,000,000 in a full financial year.
– That is not borne out by our information.
– The total probate revenue for Australia, in the year 1912-13 amounted to £919,000, and, in the year before, £973,000; and in neither of those years, so far as I know, was duty paid on any very heavy estates in either of the principal States. ‘I do not think that in either of these two years there were any such estates as that of the late Samuel Hordern.
– Or of J. Darling.
– Or Syme, or any of those men whose estates cause such a large influx of revenue.
– There was certainly not such an estate as that of Tyson.
– Speaking from memory of Victoria, and with some familiarity with the procedure in other States, I think the two years I have mentioned were normal years, and it must be remembered that the proposed Commonwealth tax is much heavier than any in the States.
– It is heavier, but it will not bring in more revenue. There is a difference in the maximum.
– I know there is a stage at which the tax is heavier: the angle reaches further, and it is steeper in the end; and the whole question is what happens in the case of an estate of, say, £40,000 and £100,000 and over. On such, estates as these the Commonwealth yield will be vastly in excess of that of the States.
– But the bulk of the taxation is nob derived from such es-
– The bulk of the yield in abnormal years is frequently from such estates.
– Between 75 per cent, and 85 per cent, of the revenue is derived from estates other than those between, say, £80,000 and £100,000.
– If we take estates below £80,000, then we should probably get 75 per cent, of the revenue in any given year; but the big estates to which I have referred destroy and reverse those calculations. This is a year in which we are going to have a crop of disaster. We must speak frankly in financial matters; and while no Treasurer would desire the death of citizens merely for the purpose of reaping revenue, there must be a crop of deaths in a time of war, drought, tribulation, and taxation.
– Happily the rain is falling !
– But that does not counteract this kind of taxation.
– Give me rain, and the rest can go!
– I shall give the right honorable gentleman as much rain as he desires; in fact, sometimes I should .like to drown him in it, if I could.
– I should swim out!
– No doubt the right honorable gentleman is a political floater, who could not be submerged with success. However, I should not like anything to happen to the Prime ‘ Minister, since I have heard that it is his intention to go to England.
– Is that so? I heard something to that effect.
– Yes, I understand it is a fact.
– I rise to a point of order. The honorable member for Balaclava ought to be confined to the question before the Chair, and whether the Prime Minister is going to England or not, has nothing to do with the discussion of the probate duties. Such interjections as we have heard are merely wasting the time of the Committee. I do not know the reason why it is suggested that the Prime Minister is going to England.
– I have not mentioned the reason, but I shall do so if I am allowed.
– The Leader of the Opposition has raised a point of order, and as the honorable member for Balaclava was certainly not discussing the question before us, I call him to order. I am exceedingly pleased that the Leader of the Opposition called my attention to the matter; and I shall, in the future, rely on his active assistance in maintaining order.
– I am sure that the Leader of the Opposition will willingly co-operate with the Chair, and I promise to assist him in every possible way. I regret having transgressed the rules, but I was led away by the interesting interjection of the Prime Minister. I was pointing out that the disaster, conflict, and anxiety under which we are now labouring, will no doubt have their effect in connexion with direct taxation of this kind. In a tram-car the other day I met a respectable citizen who told me that he is eighty-four years of age. He is a man who pioneered Australia in the early days, and, according to current rumour, he has amassed a considerable amount of property, both real and personal. He spoke in tones of the deepest stress of the taxation which this Government are imposing in the way of a land tax and probate duties; and certainly such a man as he is hit hard while he lives, and doubly hard when he dies. I remarked to him that he would be worried into his grave, and he said, “ I am worried half-way there already.” Such a view may be unreasonable, and I think it is; but it is real, and will have i’3 effect. Apart altogether from taxation, there is no doubt that, in times of great national upheaval, we find greater mortality than at other times amongst the more mature of our population. The honorable gentleman in charge of the Bill should have taken more reasonable steps to furnish the Committee with the grounds of his estimates; and I am astonished to hear that the State officers have refused to supply him with data.
– I do not think it is quite accurate to say that the State officers have refused to supply any information.
– The information that has been given to me-
– I must ask the AttorneyGeneral not to interject.
– I thought it would be helpful if we knew the attitude of the State officers in regard to these proposals. All I am anxious to ascertain is whether or not the rate provided for in the schedule is likely to yield us an amount of revenue vastly exceeding the calculation of the Treasurer. In my judgment, if all the data were supplied, that would be found to be the case; and it would have been advisable to have the assistance of the Tax Commissioner in Victoria, who is a man of wide experience, with full charge of all the taxation in that State, and in immediate touch with his colleagues iu the other States. There is no doubt that this gentleman could, and probably would, have supplied thoroughly reliable data on which we might calculate the probable yield. As this is the first occasion, as I hope it will be the last, on which the Commonwealth will embark on this form of taxation for emergency purposes- for so the Prime Minister originally told us - T think we should be careful not to disturb sources of revenue on which the States rely so rauch. If we had better information, we should probably have wiser legislation.
– An income ta.x ?
– If I were permitted to compare alternative schemes, I should not have the slightest hesitation in suggesting duties on kerosene and tea, and asking the people to cheerfully bear them.
– Order ! I must ask the honorable member to confine himself to the question.
– I submit, Mr. Chairman, that it is the question. One should be at liberty, without violating any rules of procedure, to show that the Bill is a bad one, because there is a better one that could be introduced.
– I am here to conduct the business of the Committee, and, as the Leader of the Opposition has requested me to keep honorable members to the point, I shall do so.
– I asked you, sir, to do no such thing. I submit that these constant references to myself can only be intended for some ulterior purpose.
– Order !
– Why is constant reference made to myself?
– Will the honorable member resume his seat? The honorable member rose to a point of order when the honorable member for Balaclava was speaking, and directed my attention to the fact that that honorable member was not confining himself to the Bill, or the question before us. I called the honorable member for Balaclava to order, and requested the assistance of the Leader of the Opposition in seeing that the rules were observed. That assistance the honorable member promised to give.
– Why should you do that?
– I take full responsibility for my action; and, while I occupy this position, I expect the Chair to be respected.
– I rise to a point of order.
– There is no point of order.
– There is a point of order, and I insist on stating it.
– What is the honorable member’s point of order ?
– My point of order is that, in giving a ruling, you, yourself, are not acting in accordance with the Standing Orders in assigning as a reason for that ruling any remarks the Leader of the Opposition, or any other honorable member, may make.
– There is no point of order. Will the honorable member for Balaclava proceed ?
– Speaking for myself, Mr. Chairman, I shall swiftly obey any order you may make, whatever it may be. Surely it is permissible to make comparative estimates and recommendations when taxation measures are before us ? For instance, in regard to this proposal, one honorable member may wish to point out that the rate fixed is double what it should be, on the ground that other means of raising the revenue could be substituted. That course is very often followed. Honorable members may wish to show that this proposal is wrong, because better sources of revenue can be found that will be more equitably distributed over the community. Before this Bill disappear* from this or the other Chamber, the AttorneyGeneral should get from the Victorian Taxation Office an estimate of what this tax will probably yield, because, it that information were obtained, it would probably be found that the realization would be likely to be greater than the Treasurer’s expectations. I have, in a descriptive sense, and not in an abusive way, described both of the propositions for direct taxation as vindictive. Had the Treasurer been desirous of squaring the ledger only instead of serving party purposes as well, he could have found much more reasonable, and much fairer, means of taxation.
– A statement of what this tax is supposed to do, what we expect to derive from it, and what alterations we propose to make in its incidence, should facilitate business, and shorten discussion. No doubt considerable advantage would be derived if information could be obtained from the State officials, as suggested by the honorable member for Balaclava, but I have been informed that it has been found impossible to get such information. The estimate of the amount of revenue - roughly about £1,000,000 for the year - is, owing to the absence of complete data, only an estimate. Both here and in Great Britain no data can be obtained as to the proportion in which estates are bequeathed to widows and children, to collaterals, and strangers, though in making an estimate of the revenue to be obtained from such taxation, such data are vitally important. As the Government have decided to exempt all gifts and bequests to charitable, educations], and scientific institutions, and the estates of all persons who during the present war may die on active service, or as the result of disease or wounds incurred while on active service, and also to concede to widows, children, and grandchildren a substantial concession over collaterals and strangers - the rate suggested is two-thirds - the amount of revenue as now estimated will fall from £1,000,000 in a year to somewhere below £700,000 per annum.
– You cannot form that idea without data.
– We are working on data which we admit to be incomplete, but which are all that are available to us. The result of the proposed amendments to the Bill will reduce the revenue by over 25 per cent. The following figures will show the incidence of the tax upon the different values of estates, and the amount of revenue that the tax is estimated to yield -
After making deductions for estates left to charities - say £75,000 - the approximate revenue will be £700,000. In view of these figures, and of the fact that, under our proposal the maximum of the rate of tax is not imposed on estates under £70,000, whereas in most of the States the maximum rate applies at £20,000, and, taking into consideration the proposed concessions, the proposed duty will not be heavier than those now existing in the States. It will press much more lightly than any State tax on moderate estates with values up to £40,000. In the circumstances tha proposal ofthe Government is one that should receive the support of honorable members, and I hope that that support will be given with as little discussion as possible.
Sitting suspended from1 to 2.30 p.m.
.- One feature of this proposal which is worthy of consideration is its effect on the State Treasuries. The Commonwealth estate duty will be the first charge on an estate, and will have priority of the State duties. These are now imposed on the value of the difference between the assets and the liabilities of the deceased. It would be interesting to know how far the revenue of the States will suffer as the result of our legislation. By way of illustration, let me point out that at the present time an estate valued at £100,000 is liable for probate and other duties on the whole amount, but when this measure becomes law, it will probably be found that the taxable value to the State of such a property will be only £85,000, that is, the original taxable value less the 15 per cent. levied in estate duty by the Commonwealth. It seems to me that there is a good deal in this point. The Commonwealth estate duty will be a debt like any other debt. This raises the question whether we should adopt this method of raising revenue when there are so many other methods which could be adopted. I do not press the matter, but should it be discovered later that my point is a good one, it will not be my fault that it has not received consideration.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 3 agreed to.
Schedule and title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Standing Orders suspended.
Motion (by Mr. Hughes) put -
That this Bill be now read a third time.
The House divided.
Majority . . . . 10
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read the third time.
Bill returned from the Senate with amendments.
That the amendments be taken into consideration forthwith.
In Committee (Consideration of Senate’s amendments) :
Sectionproposed to be amended -
Clause 2 -
Section twenty-nine of the Land Tax Assessment Act 1910-1912 is amended by omitting all words after the words “perpetual lease” and inserting in their stead the words “ or a lease with a right of purchase, or a lease of land to be used for pastoral, grazing, or cultivation purposes, or a homestead lease, or a mining lease, shall not be liable to assessment or taxation in respect of the estate, and the owner of a leasehold estate under any such laws for a term not greater than one year certain shall not be so liable…..
Section proposed to be amended -
Notwithstanding anything in the last two preceding sections, the owner of a leasehold estate under the laws of a State relating to the alienation or occupation of Crown lands or relating to mining (not being a perpetual lease without revaluation, or a lease with a right of purchase) shall not be liable to assessment or taxation in respect of the estate.
– I move -
That the amendments be agreed to.
The amendments have been made to give effect to understandings arrived at in this Chamber.
– Are the timber -getting licences of Western Australia covered?
.- What effect does the Attorney-General think the amendment will have on timber leases throughout the Commonwealth? For many in Victoria; rent is paid to the Crown, and royalty is paid on the timber cut.
– It was promised that such payments by the lessees should count. The lessees should get relief in respect to what they pay to the States.
– They certainly should, but whether they will do so is another matter. Unless we take care that this is made plain, a number of industrial arrangements will be dislocated.
– Mining lessees are in the same position. In New South Wales royalty is paid on the coal output.
– The position seems to be similar, though I do not know whether the legal effect will be the same in both cases. The war has badly dislocated the timbergetting business. In Victoria large numbers of men have been thrown out of em ploy ment because of the impossibility ot’ finding an outlet for timber. We do not know how long this state of things will continue, but it should be our endeavour to assist rather than to retard native industries. We should avoid the infliction of hardship in this case, even at the risk of loss of revenue. I would suggest that the Attorney-General should consider carefully the effect that this provision is likely to have on the industry of timber production.
– Even if timber leases are included, which I think is a great mistake, certainly under the provisions of the present Act, lessees would not be entitled to deduct the royalties paid to the Crown from the value of their leases. The only things which under section 28 the lessees can deduct are mentioned in the proviso of that clause -
Provided that, whore onerous conditions for constructing buildings, works, or other improvements upon the land, or expending money thereon, are imposed upon the lessee-
That does not cover it - or where any fine, premium, or foregift or consideration in the nature of fine, premium, or foregift, is payable by the lessee, the Commissioner may assess the amount (if any) which ought, for the purposes of this section, to be added to the value of the rent in respect thereof, and the value of the rent shall be deemed to be increasedby that amount accordingly.
The words “ fine, premium, or foregift “ do not include royalties. As is well known to lawyers, the term refers to a lump sum payable, not in the nature of rent, but as a condition of getting the lease. But the royalty is usually based upon the amount of timber obtained.
– Would that not be a condition of the lease?
– It is a condition of the lease, but it would not come under the proviso to section 28. The royalty is not rent, and it is not a fine, premium, or foregift. An alteration should be made in this regard, otherwise royalties will not be deductable. I submit that it is wholly undesirable to include the timber leases at all. The same argument applies to timber as to mining leases, but it applies in a much stronger way. In this case we are dealing with a perishable asset, and the right given by the Crown is a right given to an individual to destroy something and make it his own. Another practical difficulty in connexion with timber leases is that some of the greatest timber concerns do not work on leases, but get concessions or licences, and this proviso would not apply to them. The whole matter requires further consideration before the Government attempt to include timber leases under this taxation. This may involve a considerable dislocation of the timber industry, and that possibility does not seem to have been considered. If the timber lease is to be included, an alteration ought to be made to givethe lessee the advantage of any royalties he pays.
.- I should like to invite from the AttorneyGeneral an expression of opinion in regard to certain timber leases in Tasmania. I believe that in that State there is a certain kind of timber lease that is in close association with the closer settlement policy, and one of the conditions attaching to the lease is that the lessee has to prepare and make available certain areas which are to be returned yearly to the Crown for closer settlement purposes. It seems to me that by including leases in the Bill we are likely to interfere with the closer settlement policy in Tasmania. I should like the Attorney-General to inform the House of what is likely to be the effect of the clause on leases of that character.
– The inclusion of timber leases within the operation of this clause opens up a very wide field, because through the States there is a great difference in the conditions governing the management or control of timber cutting. No two States have precisely the same regulations or give the same facilities for cutting timber on Crown lands. In New South Wales the leases which this clause may be expected to cover are leases given by the Crown of the exclusive right to cut timber over certain areas. There is the ordinary licence to cut timber on Crown lands at a small fee, and there is another licence, for which a larger fee is payable, which permits the holder to cut timber on timber reserves. Then there are what are known as leases giving the exclusive right to cut over certain areas. In all these cases the licensee has not only to pay a fee for the licence to cut, but he also pays a royalty of so much per superficial foot of timber cut, so that the amount they pay for the right to get timber cannot be calculated from the amount set down in the lease. To that amount must be added the sum they pay in royalties. The Prime Minister stated that the taxable amount would be the difference between the rent paid and the economic value of the lease. But I desire to know whether the amount which is paid in royalty for the exclusive right to cut timber is to be calculated in additipn to the rent, so that the economic value will be ascertained after making allowance for both. I can claim to have more timber men working in my constituency than there are in any other district in the Commonwealth, and I know they are operating under very disadvantageous circumstances. A great deal of the timber we have been marketing for some years, particularly piles and timber for wharfs and large structures, has been sent to Germany, and some of the mills were almost exclusively engaged in cutting that class of material. Since the war the orders from abroad have not been carried out, and consequently, with the exception of local orders, the mills are without work, and a great many men are idle. If the timber industry is to be handicapped bv a further charge, as it is suggested the provisions of this Bill will impose, the industry will have avery bad time indeed. I may add that it is also likely to meet with a further difficulty in connexion with the re-arrangement of the Tariff. Another fact to be borne in mind is that, as a rule, the timber areas are in very inaccessible places, and the reason for giving the exclusive right to cut is that the ordinary means of taking the timber out will not answer. Large sums of money have to be spent, generally in the construction of tramways, and other works, to carry the timber from the gorges and places which are inaccessible by ordinary transport. All these things add to the cost of the industry, and should be taken into consideration when the value of the leases is being assessed. It should be remembered that not only is the timber being marketed and employment being found for a large number of people, but when the timber is cut off the timber-getter assists in the development of the country by placing at the disposal of would-be settlers land wholly or partially cleared. I hope the Attorney-General will be able to pay particular attention to the royalties and other charges on exclusive timber areas and leases of that character.
.- I am astonished that the Government should propose to tax timber leases at all. The position in my electorate is somewhat the same as that in the electorate of Cowper. There are large areas over which certain individuals have the exclusive right to cut timber, and I should like to hear from the AttorneyGeneral whether it is possible under the valuation clauses to make deductions for the expensive works that very often are necessary in order to get the timber. For instance, there is a licence granted by the Government of Western Australia to a company that is supplying firewood to the mines on the eastern gold-fields. That company has very large timber leases, and it has about 180 miles of tramway, a considerable length of which is not on the lease at all, because as the timber is cut out the tramway is extended into the forest beyond. I am not sure whether the provisions in the Bill would allow of the necessary deductions being made in a case of that sort, and yet the lease without such a long line of tramway would be absolutely valueless. In regard to the question of royalty, I am not at all clear that the present clauses of the Bill do permit the necessary deductions being made for royalties paid, but they certainly should be made.
– Those leases are in no worse position than mining leases.
– I admit that. The Attorney-General says that the deductions ought to be made, but I ask him to point to the provisions of the law that clearly state that they can be* made.
– There seems to be a misunderstanding of the effects of this measure upon leases. The basis of value remains the same in all leases. There is no difference in principle between a timber lease and any other kind of lease. A timber licence, however, is quite a different thing, and is not taxable. Most of the> discussion this afternoon has had relation to timber licences which are not within the scope of this measure. Broadly speaking, the principles that apply to the valuation of a pastoral or any other kind of lease apply to a timber lease, but the honorable member for Cowper and the honorable member for Richmond, if 1 know anything of the circumstances existing in New South Wales, have been referring, not to’ a timber lease, but to a timber licence.
– Very well. The honorable member for Richmond spoke of one covering 180 miles of railway. That would be quite a considerable lease. It is obvious that a timber lease covering such an extent of country must co-exist -with other leases over the same area for other purposes - grazing and the like - »nd the value of most of such timber leases granted will be below the taxable value, and so exempt. In any case, I submit that no hardship will arise. Difficulties - practical difficulties and difficulties of assessment - may occur. When we meet again we shall see just how far those difficulties can or cannot be surmounted.
– But the assessments will be made in the meantime.
– I do not think so. “No one will pay before we meet again. These lessees will be put to very little inconvenience, and certainly to no expense. If there be these gross anomalies .as suggested, I promise that they shall be rectified.
Mr. KELLY (Wentworth1) T3.41.- With the statement just made bv the Attorney-General the urgency of this measure seems almost to have disappeared. The honorable gentleman tells us that until Parliament meets again nothing is going to be done, to any appreciable extent, from the point of view of the taxpayer, or from that of the Department, in gathering assessments.
– He did not say that.
– Not in so many words, but unless his language was a false pretence, which I do not suggest, for one moment, it was intended to convey to us the idea that he proposes at the next, meeting of Parliament to introduce a Bill to remedy anomalies already found in this measure during this short discussion.
– Nothing of the sort, and no one but the honorable member would imagine such a thing.
– Quite right. No one could gather that from the AttorneyGeneral’s statement.
– The Attorney-General said that he proposed to give us another opportunity. »
– I said that if these anomalies arose opportunity would be given to redress them.
– The Attorney-General assured us that we should have an opportunity to consider inequities in this measure.
– What else have I said ? When I put the honorable member’s statement into plainer language, to find out whether he meant anything at all, he avails himself of the opportunity to indulge in a little abuse, a»nd is immediately backed up by a very appropriate supporter. We owe it to the taxpayers that they’ should know exactly where they stand. We should not pass legislation exposing them to certain obligations, and at the same time hold out a vague hope of putting things right before they are called upon to send in their assessments. Every taxpayer, no matter how much or how little he may support the party in power, is entitled to know clearly what is expected of him. Our legislation should be clear and unambiguous. It is admitted, however, that this Bil] is ambiguous. It does not carry out what the Prime Minister himself said would be a fair thin?, namely, that these royalties would be deducted. That being so, why can we not put the matter right, and let the men concerned know where they stand I
– I have explained that in the valuation of all leases, royalties will be deducted, and, what is more, that is what the Act says.
– It is not. My honorable friend disagrees with some other lawyers who are more pre-eminent in the legal profession, and quite as trustworthy as he is in this House.
– They do not support the honorable member in his statement, having regard to the amendment now made.
– All lawyers are not legal practitioners.
– All legal practitioners do not practise.
– There are some who would like to be in the position of the Attorney-General .
– No doubt, because hi? opinions are taken without question by his only clients.
– Not one of his Acts has been upset by the High Court.
– Let the honorable member ask the honorable member for Flinders if, with the amendment now made, the Act supports his statement.
– I shall do so.
– There is a wellrecognised channel through which opinions can be obtained.
– I shall support the honorable member for Flinders in his strictly professional view.
– If the honorable member does so this Bill will not be passed this session. I do not wish to ruffle my distinguished and learned friend the AttorneyGeneral, especially in the dying hours of the session, but I think, with the honorable member for Grey, that the feelings of our friends in the timber industry may be lightened to some extent by the consoling thought that, after all, the mineral leaseholders have an even more
Unjust burden to bear than they have.
– The honorable member for Balaclava has said that it is a good thing to tax leaseholds.
– The honorable member for Balaclava holds that it is a good thing to tax leases, and he has voted accordingly. Therein he differs from the honorable member for Grey, who, by his interjections, shows that he thinks it is very bad to tax leaseholders, but, nevertheless, votes enthusiastically, though silently, for their taxation ! I do not wish to embarrass my honorable friend, but I agree with him that mineral leaseholders suffer at least as great a hardship as do the timber leaseholders, concerning whom we have had this trouble this afternoon.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolution reported and report adopted.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 15th December, vide page 1950) :
Clause 13 -
1 ) Subject to this Act, estate duty shall be levied and paid upon the value, as assessed under this Act, of the estates of persons dying after the commencement of this Act. . . .
which passed from the deceased person by any gift inter vivos or settlement made within three years before his decease, or, being property comprised in a settlement under which he was tenant for life, the life interest of which was surrendered by him to the remaindermen within three years before his decease . . . shall for the purposes of this Act be deemed to be part of the estate of the person so deceased.
Upon which Mr. Groom had moved byway of amendment -
That the following new sub-clause be added: - “ Estate duty shall not be assessed or payable upon so much of the estate as is devised or bequeathed for religious, charitable, scientific, or educational purposes.”
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
– I wish to move -
That the following proviso be added tosubclause 1 : - “ Provided that no estate duty shall be levied on the estate of any member of the Expeditionary Forces whose death in action or on the battle-field is caused by wounds or disease, or who dies before the termination of his services or the end of the war in which he is engaged.”
In perusing the Bill I noticed this grave omission, and have, therefore, submitted the amendment.
– The honorable member should extend it to persons dying after thewar from disease contracted while on service. A soldier might contract typhoid immediately before the termination of hostilities, and die some time afterwards.
– Certain words might be added to meet such cases. This is not a Liberal or a Labour question. It concerns all classes of the community. We find dying in the trenches persons of every creed and of all political views. Australia’s noblest sons are going to the front, giving up all that is near and dear to them in order to fight for their country, and they should ‘ receive every consideration. To some of our brave men going to the front the facing of death is a mere detail compared with the wrenches that take place when they have to part with their wives and their children. We have at the front peer’s sons and commoner’s sons, squatters and boundary riders, members of the State Parliaments, and, I am proud to say, a member of this House. I was proud to hear from Colonel Eyrie, who is leaving us to serve at the front, that, Amongst the soldiers in his regiment is a number of gentlemen who occupy high positions in this country. One case he cited was that of a gentleman who owns it station estate worth something like £40,000, and who is accepting 6s. a day as a private, and paying another person £400 a year to look after his property in Australia. This is only one of many similar cases of men in good positions who, along with the humblest boundary riders in their service, are prepared to Weed arid die in the trenches for the liberties of their country. If a person has property of considerable value, and he happens to meet his death while performing the noblest duty he can on behalf of his country, his wife and family should not be penalized. I notified my intention yesterday morning to move this amendment, and I am pleased to think that it has the sympathy of the Prime Minister, while the Attorney-General has signified his intention to accept it. I congratulate the Government on their action in the matter.
– It will shorten the discussion if I now state what amendments the Government propose to make iti this measure. I quite agree with the contention of the honorable member for Calare. It would be a most unworthy return for the patriotic services that our soldiers are rendering on behalf of the Commonwealth and the Empire to impose on their estates and on their dependents the additional burdens contemplated by this measure. It is, therefore, proposed to exempt altogether such estates from the operation of the tax, and to do so in the following terms, which go further than proposed by the honorable member for Calare : -
Nothing in this Act shall apply to the estate of any person who, during the present war, or within one year after its termination, dies on active service, or as a result of injuries received or disease contracted on active service, with the Military or Naval Forces of the Commonwealth, or any part of the King’s Dominions.
This covers the whole of the ground, including men who are incapacitated, or would die from disease or wounds within one year.
– I am prepared to accept that amendment.
– The honorable member for Darling Downs proposes that the duties shall not be assessed on estates devoted to charitable, religious, scientific, or public educational purposes, and the Government ave prepared to adopt that suggestion in the following terms : -
In respect of so much of the estate as by will, intestacy, gift inter vivos, or settlement, passes to the widow or children or grandchildren of the deceased estate, duty shall be assessed and payable at two-thirds of the rate which would otherwise be payable.
This seems to cover the whole field, including gifts inter vivos, the mode very frequently selected by wealthy men to endow public institutions.
It is further proposed to differentiate between estates passing to widows and children, and estates passing to collaterals or strangers, by making a special concession in favour of the direct descendants to the extent of one-third. This means that in the case of the widow and children, the payment will be two-thirds of the rate otherwise payable. That amendment is couched in the following terms : -
Estate duty shall not be assessed or payable upon so rauch of the estate as is devised or bequeathed or passes by gift inter vivos, or settlement for religious, scientific, public, charitable, or public educational purposes.
– Does that apply to estates of any size?
– Yes. The Victorian Act, for which, I understand, the honorable member for Flinders was responsible, provides that, while beneficiaries other than the widow and children pay 10 per cent, on £20,000 and upwards, the direct descendants pay, on the same sized estates, £6 4s. per cent., or about two-thirds. It is impossible to have a system that will fit in with the systems of all the States. I mentioned this morning how far the proposed amendments to which I have just referred would affect the revenue. Roughly speaking, it reduces the total estimated to be derived from this source by one- third.
It is proposed to make amendments in one or two other clauses to which allusion was made yesterday. Clause 24, which provides that the Commissioner may, within three years after the last payment on account of duty, make any alteration or addition to the assessment as he thinks necessary, is to be amended so as to make the period one year, the reason being that the clause as it stands will tend to embarrass administration by hanging up estates. Ample provisions for dealing with cases of fraud are made.
The Government are having another clause drafted to take the place of clause 53, in order to materially reduce the penalty for evading the duty.
– Will clause 54, which provides that the Governor-General may forfeit an estate for fraudulent evasions, also be amended 1
– It is proposed to leave out the forfeiture provisions in clause 53, and, therefore, clause 54 will also go.
– I desire to direct attention to subclause 4 of clause 13, and to suggest to the Attorney-General that he follow the Victorian Act and reduce the period, as applying to gifts inter vivos, from three years to one year.
– I should like the honorable member to tell us why.
– Sub-clause a should, in my opinion, apply only after the commencement of the Act, and it should be amended to that effect; otherwise it may be held to cover more than is intended.
– The State laws do not do that.
– I think the Queensland law does. This is a Bill for the purpose of taxing estates, the intention being that the tax shall fall on estates at the time of death. It is considered fair and proper that the community should take a portion of the wealth left at death, for the purpose of the government of the country; and, inasmuch as this may be evaded by persons making a settlement during lifetime, this clause is inserted.
It seems to me that a period of twelve months would be a fair one to allow.
– If the honorable member means twelve months after the passing of the Bill, I do not agree with him.
– No ; I do not meant that. What I say is that this clause should apply only to al] settlements made after the passing of the Bill, if made within twelve months of the death. It seems to me that the Attorney-General is following too rigidly the land-tax procedure. According to the Victorian Act, all such gifts are taxable if made within twelve months immediately preceding the death.
– In the Victorian Act it is twelve months, whether before or after the commencement of the Act; and it is vital whether it is before or after.
– In the case of the States there is a previous series of estates and duties, but in the case of the> Commonwealth we are starting this class of legislation. I understand that an amendment was made in New South Wales to apply the duty to settlements made “ after the commencement of the» Act.”
– The honorable member has referred me to the Victorian Statute. I have looked at it, and it says ‘ ‘ before or after.”
– I did not refer the honorable member to the Victorian Act for that point; I, first of all, referred him to the period provided in the Victorian Act, namely one year, and I now refer him to a New South Wales Statute in regard to the point of making the duty apply only to gifts and to settlements effected “ after the commencement of the Act.” As we> are starting with a clean sheet in regard, to this legislation, we should not make the duty apply to distributions which could not have been made with the purpose of evading our taxation. We cannot assume that persons have attempted to> avoid our tax by making these distributions before the passage of our measure.
– There are settlements? covered by the State law which would not be covered by our Bill, because they have been made “ before the passing of the Act.”
– But the Victorian Act was passed in 1903-; and the State had had previous probate duties ; but in the* case of the Commonwealth we are making a start upon these duties.
– I refer the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs to the honorable and learned member for Flinders, by whom the Victorian Bill was introduced.
– If the honorable and learned member for Flinders says that 1 am right in my contention, will the AttorneyGeneral agree to it?
– 1 refer the honorable member to the attitude of the honorable member for Flinders in 1903.
– If a man dies a month after the passage of this measure, an examination of his property may disclose the existence of a gift inter vivos which was made three years ago. That gift will come under this sub-clause.
– If so, it is open to very grave objection.
– I think so. The man obviously could not have had any intention of evading the duty proposed in this Bill. There are two points at issue. I maintain that the Bill should only apply to settlements made after the commencement of the Act, and my next point is that the period should be shortened from three years to one year. The intention of the Attorney-General should be to get at the transmission at the time of death, and not at a bond fide settlement intended to operate during life. To tax settlements extending back for three years, as against one year in the case of Victoria, will mean covering a tremendous period. The Attorney-General has shown a reasonable spirit in regard to other suggestions made, and I am sure that if he cannot take into consideration my first point, he might accept the second.
– In connexion with the Victorian Act, passed many years ago, the AttorneyGeneral has referred to my authority as against the contention of the honorable member for Darling Downs, but the Act of 1903 was merely an enlargement of the same class of duties that had been imposed for many years, and which, by making settlements inter vivos, there had been many attempts to evade, and as it merely continued a precautionary measure rendered necessary prior to that time, there was no reason why it should not come into operation with regard to settlements made before the increase of duty was imposed. In the case of the Commonwealth, however, we are starting, as the honorable member for Darling Downs says, with a clean sheet; and if we pass the measure as it now stands it will considerably affect bond fide settlements or gifts made within the past three years. If they are not bond fide, if any interest in the property still remains to the testator, of course they do not get the benefit of our legislation. They must be proved to be real bond fide gifts, in which the testator gives away the whole of his property. If this clause is agreed to, then, in the case of a man who made a settlement three years ago,, giving away his entire property - settlements usually mean dividing into smaller estates - each of the people who have been enjoying the estate in severalty will be faced, not only with the obligation to pay duty in respect to the interest they receive, but also with the necessity to pay duty on a higher rate than that applicable to the original property. I cannot imagine anything more unfair.
– Did it not apply in the Victorian case?
– The Victorian Act went back for twelve months only, but it merely increased the application of a particular kind of taxation which had been in force for years.
– Does the honorable member say that as we are starting with a clean sheet we should not adopt this provision ?
– I think not. The Bill might be made to apply to settlements made after the first announcement of the introduction of this tax. We can contemplate that some people, in anticipation of this measure coming into effect, might be making settlements now. We might fix the date as after the 1st December last, in order to meet the case of people who, in contemplation of the passage of this legislation, get rid of their estates.
– There might have been some suspicion of all this during the gene- 1*3.1 ©lection
– I do not think that there could be any reason for suspecting it during the general election, because the honorable member’s party went to the country on the general principle that there would be no necessity for imposing unusual taxation. At all events, there was no suggestion that honorable members were going to impose heavy succession duties on top of the State taxation.
– Every one realized that the raising of extra revenue would he necessary.
– The honorable member knows very well that no one at that time suspected that there would be huge new succession duties imposed by the Federal Parliament. To fix the date as after the introduction of the Bill is not unreasonable. If we place it further back, we are creating an absolute injustice, and imposing a tax, not on the estate of the person who dies, but on the portions of that estate which have been enjoyed for a long time, and at a higher rate than would have been imposed on the whole estate in other circumstances.
Mr. HUGHES (West Sydney- AttorneyGeneral) 1.3.42 J. - The enthusiasm of honorable members in their attempt to make this a perfect measure is a little overwhelming. Every concession given them, instead of sating their appetites, only stimulates them to press further suggestions upon us. They are evidently inspired with the noble purpose of making this Bill the most perfect piece of legislation that has ever emanated from any Legislature. This no doubt is an extremely laudable ambition, but at this stage of the session I do not feel myself called upon to encourage it. I noted with great interest the fatuous admiration of the honorable member for Darling Downs for Victorian legislation - in patches. It appears that this legislation is sown with tares and wheat in such curious and unequal proportions that whenever the honorable member for Darling Downs stoops down lie gets a handful of wheat, but whenever I stoop down I get a handful of tares. The honorable member directed my attention to section 11 of the Victorian Act of 1903, but he resolutely declines to look at more than one part of the section. The measure was piloted through the Legislative Assembly by the honorable member for Flinders, and distinctly provides that every conveyance or gift by any person made before or after the commencement of the Act is covered by the provisions of the Act. The honorable member says that this was proper in the circumstances, because the Victorian Act was only amending the existing law, but that had Victoria been starting from the beginning they would have acted very differently. The honorable member for Flinders, in supporting his measure, said the best he could of circumstances which no doubt he has totally forgotten. His memory limps most curiously in this matter. Lest he should labour under that difficulty any longer, I shall take the liberty to refresh his memory from the pure well of the original Act. The session has been long and difficult, and many things have happened, and the honorable member has forgotten section 115 of the Administration and Probate Act of 1890, which Ms Bill of 1903 amended. It was a consolidation of the law relating to probate and administrative duties. Section 115 is as follows: -
If any person has made or shall hereafter make any conveyance or assignment, gift, delivery, or transfer of any estate, real or personal, or of any money or securities for money with intent to evade the payment of duty under this part of this Act, in case such person should, die, the property comprised in any such conveyance or assignment, or the subject-matter of any such gift, delivery, or transfer shall, upon the death of such person, be deemed to form part of his estate for the purposes of this part of this Act, upon which ‘ duty shall be payable under this part of this Act, and the payment of the duty upon the value of such property may be enforced against such property in the same wa.y as duty under this part of this Act is enforceable and as if such person had bequeathed or devised the said property to the person to whom the same may have been conveyed, assigned, given, delivered, or transferred.
Not only are all transfers and settlements made twelve months before the passing of the Act liable to duty, but all transfers and settlements made at any time are so liable.
– Only if made with intent to evade the payment of duty.
– The honorable gentleman evidently did not follow the reading of the section. It is unfortunately all too clear for the honorable member and his present contention. The wording is -
Any conveyance or assignment, gift, delivery, or transfer of any estate, real or personal, or of any money or securities for money already made, or which hereafter may bc made either in escrow or otherwise, to take effect upon the death of the person making the same, shall be deemed to have been, or to be, made, as the case may be, with intent to evade the payment of the duty under this part of this Act, “ shall lie deemed to have been made with intent to evade the payment of the duty.” These words are clear as Holy Writ.
– That is, if made within one year previous to the death.
– No time whatever is stated. Any conveyance made at any time before death is deemed to be an attempt to evade payment. The section continues -
All property of any kind whatsoever the subjectmatter of a donatio mortis causâ shall upon the death of the person making such donatio mortis causâ be deemed to form part of his property for the purpose of estimating the duty payable under this part of this Act, and duty shall be paid upon it as upon any other part of such person’s property, and the payment of such duty may be enforced against such property the subject-matter of such donatio mortis causâ in the same way as against any other property, of or to which such person may die seised, possessed, or entitled.
In the Act which the honorable and learned member’s measure amended, the principle to which he objects was embodied without any limitation at all; so that any property passing under any gift or settlement, whether inter vivos or by will, was affected, whether made before the passing of the Act or not.
As to the point mentioned by the honorable member for Darling Downs, I shall be very pleased to make the term twelve months instead of three years, provided that the words “ before or after the commencement of this Act” be inserted.
– The latter part of the provision which the Attorney-General read refers to donationes mortis causâ, or gifts made in the immediate anticipation of death. Such gifts, even though the person who makes them may not die immediately, are regarded as part of his estate for the purposes of duty. That part of the section which has relation to the question which we are discussing is this -
If any person has made or shall hereafter make any conveyance or assignment, gift, delivery or transfer of any estate, real or personal, or of any money or securities for money, with intent to evade the payment of duty . . . the property . . . shall upon the death of such person, be deemed to form part of his estate for the purposes of this Part of this Act.
I am in no way responsible for Acts which were passed long before my time. The Act of 1903, which is the authority on which the Attorney-General relies, in dealingwith gifts before the coming into operation of the measure now under dis cussion, was an amendment of laws that had been long in force. It reads -
Every conveyance or assignment, gift, delivery, or transfer . . . shall - (a) if made within twelve months immediately preceding the death of the person so dying; or(b) if made at any time relating to any property of which property bonâ fide possession and enjoyment shall not have been assumed by the donee immediately upon the gift, and thenceforward retained to the entire exclusion of the donor or of any benefit to him by contract or otherwise be deemed to have made the property to which the same relates chargeable with the payment of the duty payable under the Administration and Probate Acts as though part of the estate of the donor.
That was a reasonable provision, and one which might well be adopted now. In cases where there has been an absolute gift, and property has passed to the beneficiaries, it should be free of duty if made before this Bill comes into operation.
– Such property in some cases may have been dissipated or redistributed.
-Yes. In any case the interest is much smaller than that of the original possessor, and it should therefore be taxed - if taxed at all - at a lower rate. The revenue is absolutely protected. It is open to the AttorneyGeneral to adopt the same principle of operation in regard to this Bill as is adopted in regard to a Tariff measure, and make its provisions applicable from the date of introduction. I have not made an examination of the laws of the States, but I think that they afford no authority for the step which the Attorney-General wishes the Committee to take. This provision would operate with great harshness upon persons who for years have been enjoying in their own right what was once a part of- another person’s estate, but has long since passed to them.
Amendments (by Mr. Hughes) agreed to -
That in sub-clause 4, paragraph a, after the word “ made,” line 8, the words “ before or after the commencement of this Act “ be inserted.
That the words “three years,” twice occurring, be left out, with a view of inserting in lieu thereof the words “ one year.”
– I move a further amendment-
That after sub-clause 4 the following paragraph be inserted : - 4a. Estate duty shall not be assessed or payable upon so much of the estate as is devised or bequeathed or passes by gift inter vivos or settlement for religious, scientific, public charitable, or public educational purposes.
– -What is the” meaning of the word “public” in relation to “charitable”? The term “charitable purposes” has a perfectly defined meaning in law, and the use of the word ‘ ‘ public ‘ ‘ before it may give some undefined limitation.
– These words are taken from the Victorian Statute.
.- The AttorneyGeneral will remember that when the Land Tax Assessment Bill was before the House in 1910 we then debated for a couple of days the question of the distinction between “private” and “ public “ in relation to the word “ charitable.” Eventually the House decided to use only the word “ charitable,” because the qualifying word might exclude a large number of persons from the purview of Parliament’s intent. Paragraph e of section 13 contains these words -
All land owned by or in trust for a charitable or educational institution, if the institution, however formed or constituted, rs carried on solely for charitable or educational purposes, and not for pecuniary profit.
– The Victorian Amending Act of 1907, paction 3. subsection 2, says -
– A great many charities will not be covered by that.
– That is the meaning of “public charitable settlement” in the Victorian Act of 1907, but the meaning of the terms generally applied is not limited by that Act.
– I hope the Attorney-General will omit the word “ public,” because it will restrict the interpretation of the measure.
– I will stick to the Victorian phraseology.
– Then the honorable member ought to define the words “ public charitable.” If the honorable member takes the words from the Victorian Act, he must insert the Victorian definition. Take the case of the Salvation Army, to which a man may leave large sums of money for the establishment of some institution like the Boys’ Home. Or there is the instance of Dr. Barnardo’s Home. Institutions of that character are established by private bequest, and are governed by the deed or charter that creates them. But by inserting the word “ public “ in this sub-clause, that institution would probably not come within the definition of a charitable institution. By the omission of the word “ public,” the Attorney-General will get nearer to his intention than if he allows the amendment to remain in its present form.
.- As the Attorney-General has referred to the Victorian Statutes, 1 would remind him of one or two occurrences that are not visible on the face of the Statute. As a result of the use of the terms which the AttorneyGeneral has quoted, there was a celebrated law case, the only case we had in reference to the payment of duty under the Victorian Act. That was in connexion with the estate of the late Mr. Forrest, formerly a member of the Victorian Assembly, who, tempted by the wording of the Act, made a will in which he bequeathed £100,000. to charities.
– The definition in that case was limited by the meaning set forth in the section. It would not necessarily have that meaning in the Commonwealth Statute.
– In that case the testator’s will was upset. The payment of duty had to be made, but the charities did not get any of the money that had been willed to them. From every point of view the Act failed to meet the intention of Parliament. As a result, another Act was passed last year giving the Courts greater freedom from the old case law, which stretches back three hundred years. The word “ charitable “ is as clearly defined in case law as any word in the language, but the words “ public charitable “ were very confusing to the Court. There were several reasons why that will was upset, but that was one of them. I think it would be better, in view of the experience we have had, if the established meaning of old words were adhered to and the word “ public “ were struck out.
.- I also hope the Attorney-General will strike out the word “ public,” because I can assure him that a great many charities which are exempt under the State law will be brought under this taxation if that word is allowed to remain. The English Courts have discussed, particularly in the case of The Commissioner of Taxes v. Pemsel, what wore charities within the meaning of the Act. The greatest confusion has always been introduced by qualifying the private character of charitable institutions. In the South Australian District Councils Act and the Municipal Corporations Act the word “ charitable “ is used without any qualification. I think the same wording is adopted in many of the English Statutes. I do hope that we shall not prevent gifts of money to charities, by declaring that, although the object of the gifts is admirably subserved by the character of the institution, whether private or not, we shall exclude them from benefits that ought to be given to all kinds of charities.I am quite sure the public sense of the community will recognise that the insertion of the word “ public “ will place upon what ought to be the intention of Parliament a limitation which they never would sanction.
– I can only say that my experience should be a salutary warning to those who endeavour to meet the wishes of honorable members opposite. I introduced an amendment practically upon the lines laid down by them, and am now face to face with positively hideous dangers. The bowelless purpose of this measure is exposed to the full view of a horrified public. It would appear to have its claws thrust into the very vitals of gentle charity. All this is very affecting; but with every desire to follow out the amiable and well-intentioned suggestions of honorable members opposite, I do not know what I am to do. The term “public charitable purposes” is very wide. As to what extent it is. narrower than ‘ ‘ charitable purposes ‘ ‘ I cannot for the moment say. Questions continually arise in the Courts as to what is a “ charitable “ gift or settlement. Is it the intention of my coad jutors to suggest that the word “public” ought to be struck out before the word “education”? Is that, too, wrong?
– I should prefer to see it omitted.
– Rather than have any more bother about the matter I am prepared to strike out the word “ public “ before the word “ charitable.” I can hardly conceive of any educational purpose which would not be public. The word “public,” as used here, does not mean “State” or “National,” as opposed to “ Denominational,” but has a very wide significance.
Amendment, by leave, amended accordingly.
.- I think that the word “public,” before “educational,” should also come out. I do not wish to cite too many State Acts, but there is plenty of precedent for my contention. In the Municipal Corporations Act of Adelaide we have reference to any church, chapel, or building used exclusively for public worship, any building belonging to an academical institution which shall have obtained an act of incorporation, if such building be used directly for the academical purposes of such institution, and any other building, or part of a building, used exclusively as a school, “ whether public or private.” That leaves no room for doubt. The object is not to tax people who are not making education a commercial enterprise.
– Show me the Probate and Succession Duty Act of South Australia, or any other State, and I shall be willing to follow it.
– They are not identical. I do not wish to speak of any Act with which I am not quite familiar; but some of the definitions under the South Australian Act are not in line with those to Le found in this Bill. I would refer the honorable member to the District Councils Act of South Australia, and also to the Water Conservation Act of 1886, under which a question as to what was the meaning of “ charity “ arose in a case in which I happened to be engaged as counsel. In all these the intention, and, in most of them, the expression, is to give the benefit of exemption to private, as well as public, institutions of the kind. In order to prevent any doubt arising with regard to the schools covered by them the words whether public or private” are used. Why should we throw upon the High Court the almost impossible obligation of finding out what is in our minds in regard to this expression ? The AttorneyGeneral’s benevolence towards Christmas should extend at least as far as I suggest, and if he will agree to strike out the word “ public,” before the word “ educational,” we shall accept it as something of a Christmas box. Even if the sub-clause be amended as I propose, it will not exempt as much as is exempted under the State Rating Act, and I think the State Taxation Acts. I think that the South Australian Taxation Act of 1884 contains a similar exemption of charitable lands, and that under il they are not liable to taxation.
.- I hope the Attorney-General will adopt the suggestion just made by the honorable member for Angas, and strike out the word “public” appearing before the word “educational.”’ If he does not he will create difficulties for himself in regard, first of all, to the determination of what are public educational trusts. There are many, certainly, that are on the border line, and there are many also which are of a distinctively private character, but are recognised by the States, in those cases where compulsory education prevails, as affording a sufficient standard of education. I cannot understand why there should be this limitation, insisting upon “public” educational institutions. One has only to stir one’s imagination to recall large numbers of well-known educational institutions of a distinctly private character, and yet recognised as of the very highest standing, where students of all creeds and classes are educated ; and one cannot understand why the Attorney-General should insist on the retention of the word “public” in connexion with education any more than he should insist upon its retention in connexion with the word “charitable.” I hope that he will not.
– With every desire to help honorable members, I think that they are creating difficulties, and are arguing about words rather than principles. “ Public institution,” as defined in Stroud’s Judicial Dictionary, volume 3, page 1607, is, within the meaning of the Births and Deaths Registration Act -
A prison, lookup, workhouse, lunatic asylum, hospital, and any prescribed public or charitable institution. “ Public hospital “ is defined as including
A children’s and general hospital supported by voluntary contributions and founded for the free admission and relief of patients within a defined area, upon production of a governor’s letter, and of patients outside that area upon payment of a small weekly sum. “ Public charity “ is defined as -
An institution for the charitable benefit of a large body of poor persons.
As a general rule, a friendly society, even if it has honorary members, is not a public charity, but - if it receives voluntary donations and be founded for members in distressed circumstances or otherwise in poverty - it would be regarded as a public charity. Then, again, we find “ public education “ defined at page 1605 as including -
Education provided in return for periodical payments, as well as purely gratuitous or free education.
There the term is applied whether there is a payment for the education granted or whether there is none. It is not material that such education should be controlled by the State. The Statute from which the honorable member for Angas quoted is of no use to us in this connexion, since we are dealing with the disposition of estates. If a testator, by a certain form of words, could so dispose of his estate as to wholly escape the payment of estate duty, that would be to defeat the purposes of this law. If a testator devised his estate to be used for the purpose of educating his own family, would the honorable member, as a lawyer, say that that would not come within the amendment suggested by him, and the estate wholly escapes payment of estate duty ? We must safeguard the revenue; and I take it that it is not the intention of the honorable member for one moment to permit any wholesale evasion of the Act by a mere disposition of property covered by such a provision. I, therefore, suggest that “ public educational “ is the proper phrase to use. If it should turn out that sufficient authority can be adduced to support a contrary view, and a form of words can be inserted which will safeguard the revenue, I shall be quitewilling to insert them. I am not wedded to the word “ public,” although it is a well-known word, and has a definite meaning. Under the circumstances, I ask the honorable member to allow the clause to pass, and I shall consult with him in the matter. If it should prove that the amendment can safely be made by inserting some words to effect our purpose and his, I shall have that done in another place.
.- I see a difficulty in altering this clause, because the word “purpose” is the governing word. In the Acts from which I cited, the word “school” is used, and there may be ambiguity introduced if the word “public” is used here. I understand the Attorney-General wishes to give expression to the sense that schools - educational institutions- - which are exempt under local Acts, ought to be exempt under this Bill. This is not a private matter.
– I quite admit that. My idea is to express what “ public “ connotes generally, and not what it connotes technically - that is, a public institution is one which is open to a considerable body of persons, and used for educational purposes.
– I know that there has been a great deal of litigation in England owing to the use of the word “ public,” and even in the case of the smallest class of churches the question has arisen whether a contribution made by parishioners, in some cases to schools, took the institutions outside the category of charity in the meaning of the Act.That I wish to avoid. I might mention that in the Waterworks Act of South Australia, the word “ public “ is used, and the question of the limitation imposed by it came before the Courts. It was a case in which I was engaged myself, and after argument had gone on for a time, the Crown was convinced that such institutions ought tq be exempt, and a verdict was given by consent - the question was never decided. In the definition of the South Australian Act to which I have referred, we find mentioned public hospitals, lunatic asylums, benevolent institutions, and buildings “used exclusively for charitable purposes, and the question arose whether the word “ public “ did not qualify the term “charitable purposes.” However, if the Attorney-General promises to consider the matter, and, if necessary, have an amendment made in the Senate, I am perfectly satisfied.
– I shall see to that.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Mr. Hughes) agreed to -
That after subclause 4, as amended, the following paragraph be inserted : - 4 b. In respect of so much of the estate as by will, intestacy, gift inter vivos or settlement pusses to the widow or children or grandchildren of the deceased estate duty shall be assessed and payable at two-thirds of the rate which would otherwise be payable.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Amendment (by Mr. Hughes) agreed to-
That after clause 13 the following new clause be inserted: - “ 13a. Nothing in this Act shall apply to the estate of any person who, during the present war or within one year after its termination, dies on active service or as a result of injuries received or disease contracted on active service, with the Military or Naval Forces of the Commonwealth, or any part of the King’s Dominions.”
Clauses 14 to 20 agreed to.
Clause 21 (Assessable value for residents).
.- This clause provides for the deduction from the gross value of the assessable estate all debts “due and owing” by the deceased at the time of his death. I do not know whether this means that a debt must actually be payable at the time of death, because, if so, and the clause does not apply, say, to a mortgage due later on, then there will be a gross injustice. There has been a. good deal of trouble to find out what is meant by ‘ ‘ due and owing,” and I think that the phrase “ due or owing “ would be the safer. I do not desire to move an amendment, because the matter is so technical, and I satisfy myself with drawing the attention of the Attorney-General to the point.
-I shall look into the matter.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 22 and 23 agreed to.
Clause 24 -
The Commissioner may, within three years after the last payment on account of duty on any assessment, make all such alterations in or additions to the assessment as he thinks necessary. . . .
– I move -
That the words” three years “ be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ one year.”
It has been pointed out by the honorable member for Gippsland that three years is too long a period, and will embarrass the administrator.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 25 to 27 agreed to.
Clause 28 -
.- There may be some difficulty in lodging a notice of objection within thirty days, and I am not sure whether the Commissioner under the Bill will have power to extend the time. By clause 34 the Commissioner has power to extend the time for payment of the duty, but there is no provision to enable him to extend the time forthe lodgingof anobjection. I think the Commissioner could waive his right to stop the appeal ; but one does not like to place the taxpayer, who may have difficulty in finding out how his estate stands, at the mercy of the Commissioner. I suggest that the Attorney-General consider the advisability of inserting words to the effect that the notice of objection may be lodged within thirty days after the service of the notice of assessment, or in such further time not exceeding thirty days as the Commissioner may allow.
Amendment (by Mr. Hughes) agreed to-
That after the word “assessment” the following words be insetted : - “ or such further time, not exceeding thirty days, as the Commissioner may allow.”
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 29 agreed to.
Clause30 - (1.) On the hearing of the appeal the Court may make such order as it thinks fit, and may eituer reduce or increase the assessment, and the order of the Court shall be final and conclusive except as provided in section thirty-two of this Act. (2.) If in any appeal under this section the assessment made by the Court -
.- Subclauses 2 and 3 take the question of costa out of the discretion of the Court, and provide that if the appellant’s estimate of valuation is less than what the Court finds, the costs must be paid by the appellant. Such a penal provision does not appear in any State probate legislation, and I do not think that it should appear in our measure. Assessments of value are, to a large extent, matters of opinion. In dealing with estates, we are not dealing with offences, such as cases of fraud under the Customs Act, but we are dealing with something tangible, the valuations of which can be checked. There may be many opinions widely divergent as to the value of an estate, and to compel a man who made a mistake in an estimate to pay all the costs of extended litigation would be unfair. In the majority of cases people will be too frightened to risk the costs of an appeal, especially when there may be two appeals, because assuredly there would be a second appeal to the High Court.
– To cut the matter short, what do you suggest?
– I suggest that subclauses 2 and 3 should be left out of the Bill.
Amendments (by Mr. Hughes) agreed to-
That before the word “ and “ in sub-clause 1 , line 3, the words “ and may make such order as to costs as it thinks fit,” be inserted.
That sub-clauses 2 and 3 be left out.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 31 to 37 agreed to.
Clause 38 (Duty a first charge on estate) .
.- I do not know whether the Attorney-General has decided what relation this provision will have to the State laws. As our legislation does not override the State legislation in regard to taxation measures, it may be that any provision we make giving us priority cf charge over the obligation to the State will not be valid. I cannot say what the position is. I merely call attention to the fact that under the Constitution taxation is an absolutely independent power, and is not part of our exclusive or concurrent powers.
– Have you any doubt that where there is conflict in respect to concurrent jurisdiction the right of the Commonwealth would prevail.
– No. Taxation through the Customs is a matter of exclusive jurisdiction, but taxation generally is sui generis, and I think that the High Court has drawn the distinction that it is an independent power.
– We shall get lost if we are not careful. What harm can the words in the clause do?
– None from the Commonwealth point of view, but difficulties may arise, and I merely wish to show that we are not allowing this legislation to go through from mere ignorance as to its possible scope. I cannot suggest any amendment to the clause.
Clause agreed to.
Subject to any different disposition made by a testator in his will, the duty payable in respect of an estate shall be apportioned among the persons beneficially entitled to the estate in the following manner : -
The duty shall in the first instance be apportioned among all the beneficiaries in proportion to the value of their interests; and
where there are any beneficiaries under the will each of whom takes only specific bequests or devises of a value not exceeding Two hundred pounds, the duty which under paragraph (a) of this section would be payable in respect of the interests of those beneficiaries shall he apportioned among all the beneficiaries in proportion to the value of their interests.
Amendments (by Mr. Hughes) agreed to-
That after the word “ estate,” line 3, the words “ exclusive of so much of the estate as is devised or bequeathed or passes by gift inter vivos or settlement for religious, scientific, charitable or public educational purposes,” be inserted, and that at the end of clause the words “ Provided that for the purposes of this section the value of the interests of the widow or children or grandchildren of the deceased shall be reckoned at two-thirds of their assessed value,” be added.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 40 and 41 agreed to
Clause 42 (Duty - how payable).
.- On the spur of the moment, to find the true significance of some of the clauses of the Bill is difficult. This clause professes to declare the order of liability in respect to the different parts of an estate. It unlooses the obligation on the personal estate, and impliedly makes it a charge on the realty. The laws of the different States vary upon this point. In Victoria the primary liability of the personal estate for probate duty is not exactly the same as the provision in South Australia, and the question that arises in my mind is whether, for the purpose of raising this duty, we can declare the law of liability, and so alter the existing law of liability which the State prescribes.
– In Victoria the duty is payable out of the general residue.
– In the Land Tax Assessment Act provision is made for taking land in certain cases, and under it the power of the Commonwealth has been asserted to a great extent.
– There is no doubt about our power as regards land. This does not refer to any priority of obligation that may be imposed by the terms of a will. I see difficulties about these matters, and therefore draw attention to the point. The provision does not save dispositions madeby a will. My opinion is that we cannot abrogate the provisions of the will; that this must be subject to them.
.- I hope that the Attorney-General will look into this matter very closely. A will might declare that certain legacies should be paid in cash immediately. This difficulty might then arise. The executors, to pay the duty, might have to use the whole of the available cash, and would then have to sell the land, under perhaps disadvantageous circumstances.
– Suppose there was no cash at all. Must the Crown wait for the tax ?
– No. In that case clause 34 would apply, but I doubt whether it would apply to the case to which I refer.
-I shall look into the matter.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 43 to 50 agreed to.
Clause 51 (Offences).
.- The penalty of £100 is provided for failure or neglect to duly furnish any return. That seems to me an altogether too drastic penalty. It is the penalty that is provided for knowingly and wilfully making or delivering any false returns and other similar offences. In my opinion, it is too severe, and is also too severe for the offence of refusing or neglecting to attend and give evidence or to produce any book, document, or paper.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 52 -
Penalty: Five hundred pounds and an amount equal to treble the amount of the duty which would have been evaded if the value stated in the return had been accepted as the value of the estate; or forfeiture of the estate involved or any part thereof.
Amendment (by Mr. Hughes) proposed -
That all the words after the word “ who,” line 1, be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words : - “ (a) with intent to defraud, in any return understates the value of any estate, or
Penalty : Five hundred pounds or imprisonment for three years.”
– If you prove fraud you are entitled to punish severely, but for anything short of fraud, this penalty is too severe. Apparently by “ any wilful act, default, or neglect” is meant something less than fraud .
– I shall look into the matter.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 53 and 54 negatived.
Clauses 55 and 56 agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments.
Standing Orders suspended; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Bill returned from the Senate without request.
Debate resumed from 15th December (vide page 1902), on motion by Mr. Jensen -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
– In my judgment, no Bill of this session will compare in importance with the measure now under discussion. I take no exception to the cold statement of figures made by the Minister in moving the second reading, but his speech might well have been warmed with some reference to considerations entirely outside those of finance. If by pensions is meant, as is ordinarily meant, payment to the full of services rendered to the State, the Bill is misnamed. We can never pay for the services these soldiers render Australia in the war, and, therefore, in the ordinary acceptation of the term, “ pensions,” we may not express exactly our relationship to the soldiers in this particular measure. I am one of those who believe that the proposals set out in this Bill are in themselves meagre enough, and I frankly confess that I should like to see them made a little more liberal. I know that we treat all matters relating to pensions very charily in this House, and one has only to mention the subject to be the butt of obloquy and scorn. But when we are faced with the grim realities of a struggle for our national existence, I hope we shall approach the matter in a very different manner from the way in which we have approached it in times gone by. At any rate, the outstanding fact remains that some of our finest men have given up all they possessed, have left their occupations behind them - some of them at sacrifices which in themselves are very likely to be of a ruinous character - and have surrendered all material prospects in life to go abroad to fight for their country at this time. Therefore, I say that when we talk of payment of this kind, the word “ pensions “ is a complete misnomer as applied to a condition of affairs in which a man, without considerations of any kind but those of love for his country and realization of his duty to his country in this time of national peril, goes forth to sacrifice his life, if need be, so that his home, his country, and its institutions may be made secure. Accordingly all sides of the House, and, I think, every member in the House, approaches this Bill in only one spirit, and that is a desire to do the best we possibly can for these men, and, for the rest, to give them our blessing in the arduous undertakings of the war.
The scheme of pensions outlined by the Assistant Minister differs slightly from a draft which the Liberal Government left behind them when they surrendered office. I cannot help feeling that this Bill is very much belated. Just why it should have been kept for the closing hours of the session I do not know. I have an impression that this should have been the first legislation of the session, and there is no reason why it should not have been.
– Would it have made any difference ?
– I do not know that it would in a pecuniary sense; but I do think that every man who went to the war should have known that he was leaving this provision behind him, and there was no reason at all, except the dilatoriness of the Department and the Government, why this should not have been brought forward long ago. However, it boots nothing to be critical as to that point now. We are face to fac® with this measure, and I do not think it will take very long to pass it through this Chamber.
I have already stated that this matter was under our consideration, and that we left behind us a draft which was not quite complete; but, so far as it went, it was more liberal than this Bill in some respects, and perhaps a little less so in others, although the aspect in which it was less liberal was due entirely to an oversight on the part of the Minister of Defence. It was decided that the amount for the widow, even in that scheme, should be £50; but the Government considered that the man who was totally incapacitated should have more than the widow for this reason: A man who has lost both hands, or both legs, or his eyesight, or has suffered total incapacity of any kind, is a much more helpless being in the world than a strong woman who has no children, and is able to make her way in the world with the help’ of a £52 pension. That was the consideration which induced us to make the amount for total incapacitation £75, instead of £52, as this Bill proposes. I frankly do not think that this is a sufficient provision for the man who is totally incapacitated. All he will get under this Bill will be £52 for himself, and £26 for his wife.
– And something for the children.
– Yes, if there be any; but in considering the pensions of the seniors I prefer to leave the children out of account.
Honorable members must remember that we have not hurt ourselves yet over this war; all we have done is to give a little of our abundance. There has been no real sacrifice, so far as the nation as a whole is concerned; nor do I think that this Bill represents a burden the liquidation of which to the uttermost farthing will hurt the country in any way. I cannot help feeling that we could have been a little more liberal with the nian who is totally incapacitated than this Bill proposes that we shall be, and I would strongly urge on the Government, even at this stage, to consider whether it would not be wise to make the amount for total incapacity £78 per annum instead of £52. Even that would be only £104 for the nian and his wife, and that is not too liberal a pension for a man who has been made utterly unfit for any occupation by giving his services in the defence of his country. I appeal to the Government to consider whether- they will not make the amount for total incapacity a little more liberal than the Bill proposes. Apart from that, I shall have little to say about the amounts of the pensions, except to remark that perhaps the amounts set down for officers are very small indeed in comparison with the Imperial pensions. So, indeed, is the pay we give our officers. Australian officers above the rank of captain receive much less than the officers in the Imperial Army. If we are going to standardize our Army right through, the least we can do is to pay, officer for officer and man for man, a little more than is paid in the Imperial Army. Instead of that, we are actually paying them less, and I should not be surprised if, later on. in consequence of that fact, we have an exodus of some of our officers to the Imperial Army.
– Consider the difference between the private in the Imperial Army and the private in our Forces.
– I admit that; but I am speaking of the way in which we pay for military direction.
– In England they take the money from the private soldiers and give it to the officers.
– But the honorable member must have seen that the Imperial Government have quite recently doubled the pensions, and provided for the appropriation of an additional sum of £100,000,000 sterling for the payment of pensions alone.
To realize how little the war is hurting us, one has only to contrast our payments on account of the war during the year with those of the Mother Country. Our total outlay for the whole twelve months is calculated at £11,700,000, but we have already read that the Imperial Government have raised a loan of £350,000,000, which is to meet the war requirements until May next. In addition to that, the sum of “£100,000,000 has been appropriated, or hypothecated in some way, for the payment of war pensions. When, therefore, my honorable friend suggested, as he was perfectly right in doing, that the totality of our pensions would run into over £1,000,000 sterling, he stated what is a very small amount indeed. After all, Australia has one-ninth of the population of Great Britain, and all through their figures show that Great Britain is expending nearer twenty-nine times what the Commonwealth is expending. I remember that when I was talking some time ago about the number of soldiers we were sending to the war, the Prime Minister quite properly reminded me that we had already a Navy in Australia. The reply to that is very simple : So far our Navy has cost us only about £1,500,000 annually for the last four years.
– More than that.
– No. It has cost Australia about £4,000,000 for the construction of the Navy, and about £2,000,000 at the outside would cover the cost of administration. Iu those four years the Mother Country has spent nearly £200,000,000 on the Navy, so that the introduction of the Navy into the comparison does not help us much.
– The right honorable gentleman compared Australia with Canada, and the later figures from the Dominion show Australia to be in the front.
– I never mentioned Canada in that connexion. I said that, in my opinion, the whole of tlie Dominions could do a great deal more than they are doing. May I remind the right honorable gentleman that the people in Canada appear to be doing more than we are with the land forces just now 1
– Has the honorable member seen the latest official figures for Canada?
– Yes; 106,000 men.
– We have under arms or in training more than that.
– I understand that Canada has already undertaken to send two armies of 30,000 each to the seat of war. We are only proposing in Australia to maintain an effective army in the field of 33,000.
– There is no limit to the number we will maintain if more men be necessary.
– The right honorable gentleman knows that more men are necessary. Any man who says that every soldier we can send away to the seat of war is not necessary does not realize the gravity of the situation.
– .And the necessity exists now.
– And every man is being trained and prepared to be scut to the war. Canada is only a hop, step, and a jump from the scene of the war.
– I am not sure that every man is being obtained and prepared. I hope that this criticism will not be considered as intended to be anythingbut helpful.
– If there is to be any criticism, I wish it to be before we adjourn.
– I am making: the criticism now. I do not agree with the Minister of Defence and the Prime Minister that we should aim only at sending such men from Australia as we can equip ourselves from local resources. I think we ought, if necessary, to rake up equipment anywhere we can find it in the world. The whole world is being laid under contribution by the fighting armies to-day, and it is not a matter of confining ourselves to our own country when we desire to get soldiers ready for the war. You buy wherever you can obtain what is required in the shortest possible time. The all-important essential is celerity in the despatch of troops.
– What would have happened, supposing the men who have been lauded at Egypt had not been equipped ?
– It would be most absurd to send away men who were not equipped. The question is where and how to obtain your equipment in the quickest way.
– Not only has Australia equipped its own men, but it has supplied others with equipment, as the right honorable member himself knows.
– Quite so. The Prime Minister is referring to the despatch of motor equipment?
– To the supply of material of every kind.
– I do not know co what else the right honorable gentleman is referring. This, however, is a little wide of the question immediately before us.
The point that I wish to emphasize is that, since we are sending out a limited number of men to the war, and since apparently the war is not going to cost us very much, so far as the actual equipment and despatch of troops are concerned, seeing that it will represent only £11,700,000 for a whole year, we might well be a little more liberal with the pensions that we propose to provide. The Treasurer should make the minimum pension in the case of total incapacity, not £52 a year, but £78 per year. That would mean that a man who was crippled and a derelict, so far as the ordinary occupations of life are concerned, would, with his wife, receive £104 per year. I do not think that this little addition would hurt us very much, but it would mean much to the man who had left everything behind him to go to the war, and had come back fit for nothing. We should not forget the kind of men we are sending, nor should we forget the position that many of them occupy. It is well known that many with big fortunes are serving as privates. That is an argument for no pension at all, perhaps, since men so situated will not need one. But between the two extremes - between the man who has ‘ nothing but his labour to depend upon and the man at the other end of the social scale, who has a fortune - there are many occupying good positions in our social and industrial life. Some of them have given up positions where they were receiving £10 per week, in order to go to the war, and while on active service they will receive 6s. per day. Since all gradations and ranks and degrees of capacity for earning money are among these men to whom the lower rates of pay apply, I plead again that the scale of pensions should be a little more liberal where they are totally incapacitated. With regard to the officers, I think that the proposals of the late Government were a little more liberal.
– Our maximum was, I think, £250; here it is £156 per annum. As the Minister very properly showed the other day, these payments, even if they were raised, as proposed by us, to £250 per annum, would be much below the Imperial rates, which, in special cases, go up to very high amounts. The scale which the Minister quoted the other day related, I think, to colonels; but above them there are other commanding officers who, I think, have special pensions allotted to them, in addition to the liberal ones quoted by the honorable gentleman. Our officers who go to the front will be very much below the officers of the Imperial army in this matter of pensions. Not only are they working for less pay here, when following their military occupations, but when they go to war, and suffer, we propose to give them far less than half the pension they would receive if they were in the Imperial army. Altogether, our scheme of pensions cannot be said to be particularly liberal.
– It is, if we take the rninimum and the maximum rates.
– Even then I do not think it is particularly liberal. In the Old Country the pensions have been doubled recently.
– Even so, the pension is only at the rate of ls. for the loss of a limb. Before it was only 6d. a limb-
– I am speaking not of the loss of a limb, but of cases where death or total incapacity occurs. I understand that in the Imperial Army, in the case of total incapacity, a man with a wife and children would receive up to 24s. or 25s. per week. That would be quite as liberal as the payments we propose to make, having regard to the difference in value.
– They do not amount to very much. They pay for all the allowances they receive.
– How many of the heroes of Balaclava have died in the workhouse ?
– Quite so. I recognise all that; and I am urging that we should be more liberal. I am suggesting a higher rate of pay in the case of death or total incapacity.
I was very much interested in the figures quoted by the Assistant Minister of Defence the other day, as showing the probable drain upon this fund. He referred, I understand, to deaths, and not to the total casualties.
– Yes ; I quoted the figures relating to casualties and cases of invalidity.
– Then there must be a tremendous amount of invalidity which the honorable gentleman did not explain.
– There are three such cases to every death.
– May I remind the honorable gentleman of the figures he gave me the other day regarding the number of men we propose to send to Hie front. We have 42,000 men provided for in respect of the financial year. Of these, 20,000 have gone, 13,000 are going this month, and during the next six months there are to go only three batches of 2,000 each. Of this total of 42,000, 9,000 will be reinforcements.
– Surely this is not correct?
– It is true. I am putting before the House the statement made by the Assistant Minister in answer to a question put by me in consequence of some remarks made outside by Senator Pearce.
– More are to be sent, if necessary.
– All trained men will be sent as soon as they are fit to go, and we arc training as many as Ave can get.
– The fact remains that we are only aiming at having 33,000 effectives in the field for the year. I also asked the Assistant Minister of Defence what reinforcements it would take to maintain these 33,000 effectives in the field. His answer was, “About 2,000 per month.” That shows for the twelve months a war wastage of 24,000 in 33,000. The wastage of war altogether is very terrible. When I held office as Minister of Defence it was estimated, I think, at 68 per cent, per annum. I think, therefore, that there must be many kinds of invalidity other than those which the Assistant Minister of Defence mentioned when introducing this Bill. His figures seem to bear out that view. He said that to keep these 33,000 effectives in the field we should require to supply, roughly, 2,000 a month.
– And that is a very small margin.
– It is. I think that before the year’s end we shall find Canada doubling the number of men which she has already provided.
But the point that, is relevant to this discussion is as to how we can help in a practical way those we send to the front and who suffer in consequence. I find that in the Old Country there is a whole system of pensions payable to soldiers. The honorable member for Maranoa, himself an old soldier, will recollect that if a man there in peace time is incapacitated he is entitled to a scale of allowances for the rest of his life. The officers also, after so many years’ service, receive very high allowances in the shape of pensions. I saw it stated the other day that an officer in the Imperial Army who has served eight years, may leave, and, if he joins one of the territorial arms of the service, is entitled to a pension of £100 a year for ten years, or a total pension of £1,000 for having served in the Army for eight years.
– There is a long-service pension for the private.
– That is so. It is material for us to know whether an Imperial soldier, who is incapacitated in the war, will receive this peace pension, to which he would have been entitled had he left the Army at the time the war began, in addition to the pension which he will receive as a consequence of any disability incurred in the war. Are those pensions concurrent and’ cumulative, or does one displace tha other? If the Imperial soldier gets the two pensions, he will be treated relatively better than our own men.
– He will get his retiring pension, and also the pension for active service.
– Does not the honorable member see that these two pensions together, in the case of a decently long service-
– We have no pension for long sei-vice here.
– I know. I am now only speaking of the relative positions of our men and the men in the Imperial Army. If the Imperial soldier gets the two pensions he will be quite as well off in point of money, to say nothing of the money value, as our own men in Australia. In a matter of this sort we ought to have some information. But I know that when I was at the Defence Department it was marvellous what little information could be obtained about the other armies of the world. I could not get any; and o:ie of the last things I did was to instruct Mr. Pethebridge to get all the details of the Imperial pensions scheme, so that we might set about arranging one for our own Forces.
We are only tinkering with our Defence Forces if we do not secure some retiring allowance for them. We can never have that circulation of ability from bottom to top unless there is something for the men to leave the Army on. It is not a fair thing to keep a man in the service for years, and then allow him to go out to beggary; and the result is often that we keep him in.
– What does the average man in the industrial army get when he has spent his life there ? Ten shillings a week.
– There are numbers of men in the industrial army who can make three or four times the money that men in the Defence Forces can make. If a man is an expert military officer, thoroughly trained, with a complete knowledge of his business, his ability in civil life would, in many cases, have brought him much higher pay than he caa receive as a soldier. In our Army and Navy we are now giving an education equal to that of a university. We are turning out men with such knowledge as would enable them to obtain a bachelorship of engineering at any one of the seats of learning. Altogether, we are giving them such a scientific training, in both Army and Navy, as would enable them to command respectable positions in the scientific and professional sections of our civil life.
– They would not be of much use without that training.
– Quite so ; and, therefore, we must keep that fact in mind when we are considering the pay and pensions we propose to give them. In the British Army, and, indeed, in every Army and Navy in the world, the men have either to get on or get out ; they must keep going up or go, the idea being that there shall be the highest ability constantly circulating from the bottom to the top of the service. Therefore it is that provision is made for them in the shape of handsome pensions. I met a doctor of the Imperial Navy some few years ago, who informed me that he was entitled to a pension of £1 a day after twenty years’ service. That is the way in which officers of the Imperial Navy are treated.
– Does the honorable member seriously advocate that we should engraft such a system on our democratic Defence Forces?
– I say that we cannot have the best ability in our Army and Navy unless we do.
– It is quite inconsistent with the principle of our defence scheme.
– People have to buy their children into positions in the Imperial Army.
– No, no. They must all pass through the Staff College.
– Some of the most brilliant men in the British Army to-day have risen bv their own unaided efforts. The days for commissions by purchase are passed.
– Purchase in the British Army was abolished in 1868, I think.
– I have yet to learn that a pension scheme such as prevails in the Imperial Army, and every other Army in the world, is inconsistent with the spirit of Democracy. The pension is only a payment for services rendered - part of the salary. In most Democratic countriespensions are paid, so that all over the world, according tothe Prime Minister, the spirit of Democracy is being flouted. All this, however, only indirectly bears on the question of our officers’ pensions. According to this Bill, an officer of the highest grade is to be paid £156 a year as a maximum pension. I suppose the Government have made up their minds on the point; but we certainly thought that a maximum of £250 was little enough to pay men of great skill and ability, who are leaving so much behind them in the way of civil opportunities
– Those officers have a better chance to make provision in the way of insurance, and so forth, than have the poorer classes; and they do make such provision.
– And why ? Because they have earned more.
– Certainly. Every officer going to the front is heavily insured, simply because he has money to pay for the insurance.
– Is that any reason why we should not doour duty in the matter?
– The fact ought to be taken into consideration.
– That reasoning would lead us to keep the pension away from every man who does not need it.
However that may be, I see that the widow’s allowance is to cease on remarriage; and, personally, I do not think that ought to be. The pension Is the widow’s right, whether she remarries or not, and it ought to continue to be paid so long as she cares to receive it.
– Does she not get her loss repaired with another husband?
– I do not know : she may or may not; and we cannot legislate on an assumption like that. This pension is the woman’s right, and not a charity ; and I understand that my friends opposite believe in equal payment for both sexes.
– You are on thin ice now !
– I do not think I was ever on thicker ice. In my opinion, the woman is entitled to the pension whatever she may choose to do in the future; it is a right vested in her by the sacrifice of her former husband in the service of his country.
– We should have half the fellows chasing her to marry her !
– That does not say much for the honorable member’s sex.
– No, it does not; but my sex is no better than it ought to be.
– I recognise the necessity for getting this Bill through at the earliest possible moment.
The pensions, I see, are to be administered by the Minister of Defence, together with a Board, which, I presume, will be a Military Board.
– Not necessarily.
– I do not see why the administration of this Bill should be a military matter at all, because it is clearly one for the Treasury.
– It is proposed to amend clause 10, in order to provide that no pensions shall be payable until approved by the Governor-General, which practically means the Treasurer.
– But I think the Treasurer should administer the Bill.
Mr.fisher. - There is no doubt about that, but he ought to have the assistance of a Board.
– With that I agree. My point is that the administration should be removed from the Defence Department. There is plenty of work there already; and a detached mind in assessing such matters as pensions is, perhaps, better than one immersed in the technique of a Department.
– The administration of this Bill is a Treasury matter.
-I hope the amendment suggested will be made, and that there will be a board to administer the Bill.
– To administer in doubtful cases ?
– Well, to practically administer the Bill under the Treasurer. In the United States such pensions are administered by the Department of the Interior, which a writer has described as a collection of “ unrelated Government bureaux “ - a sweeping up of odd ends.
– That has hardly been a success in America.
– I do not know that the fault has always been with the administration of the pensions in the United States.
– Oh, yes.
-That is not due to administration, but to legislation.
– Pensions are given to hosts of people who were never at the war at all.
– That is by the law.
– No; by the administration .
– I understand that an amending law was passed which opened the door to all that kind of tiring.
– People receive pensions in America who were not even born at the time of the war !
– That is largely owing to the amendment of the law made some years afterwards. I do not suggest that we should follow American methods. All I am suggesting now is that the Treasurer should administer these pensions, with such a body as has been indicated to assist him in the details. I hope that this Bill will find a speedy passage to the statutebook. The sooner we let our soldiers know that we are making some provision for them in the event of any untoward circumstances - as seems more than likely in connexion with this most terrible of all wars - the better for our own reputation, and the better for their comfort and those they leave behind. We owe it to them to do this at the earliest possible moment, and to make the provision as liberal as our circumstances will permit.
– I should be wanting in courtesy to the right honorable gentleman, and to the House generally, if I did not say a word or two in reply to the speech just made. Happily there are no two opinions about the necessity for passing a measure of this kind; there are no two wishes on the part of honorable members as to what should be done in the direction of payment of pensions, subject to the limitation of our capacity to pay, and in this connexion I do not think that the proposals in the Bill should be regarded as the final instalment of pensions. But I maintain that there is a great deal of wisdom in accepting the scheme submitted now. The Leader of the Opposition has pointed out that the scheme should have been brought before Parliament earlier, but Ministers are not to be blamed for the delay. There were suggestions by the previous Government for a scheme of pensions, but the evidence upon which it was founded was limited and incomplete.
– The scheme was got out for the last Government by the Government Statist.
– The outstanding feature of the scheme suggested by our predecessors was a larger payment to the officers, who perform the highest services to the country, but who are very well remunerated for them.
– We proposed larger payments for total incapacity.
– In arriving at our scheme, we had in mind the principle underlying the Workmen’s Compensation Act, which has been accepted by the people of Australia a number of times, and which is not an unfair basis on which to discuss matters of this kind.
– Does your Bill follow the principle of the Workmen’s Compensation Act*
– Not altogether; but I say that Parliament, having already decided upon the principle in the Workmen’s Compensation Act, we had that basis to follow ; and this measure is founded upon it, whether the rate be higher or lower than honorable members may like. No doubt there is not an honorable member whose heart would not get the better of his judgment, and who would not vote anything that sentiment might suggest, and what, perhaps, he thinks the action of those who are giving their lives for their country would justify : but, at the same time, the scheme outlined and contained in the Bill has been submitted in good faith, and in the hope that it will meet most of the circumstances. The Leader of the Opposition has introduced into this debate a number of subsidiary and somewhat extraneous subjects. One was the question of general pensions to officers of the Military Forces. I presume such pensions would also carry with them pensions to the men, because, in a Democratic system such as our defence system is, we cannot single out the officers of our Permanent Forces and leave the men stranded.
– I do not think that the Leader of the Opposition made that suggestion.
– The argument of the Leader of the Opposition was incomplete. It dealt only with the capacity of the officers.
– I asked the Leader of the Opposition whether he meant officers and men of the Permanent Forces, and he said, “Yes.”
– I was referring to the whole of the Permanent Forces.
– I am not opposed to that principle, hut the scheme should be founded on a general basis, practically the same as that which we shall apply to the whole of the public officers of the Commonwealth. There are many avocations which are quite as dangerous to life as war - though perhaps we might except this war - and which require as much courage.
– The question is not one of danger, but one of promotion and leaving the service when officers can no longer go up.
– I am entirely with the Leader of the Opposition in that the life of a professional soldier unfits him for the ordinary occupations of life more than any other occupation, except, perhaps, it be that of a member df Parliament.
– The political army never stops to gather up its dead or look after the bereaved.
-That is true. I do not wish the honorable member to believe that I am averse to a system of pensions for our permanent officers and men of the Australian sea and land Forces.
– I can assure the right honorable gentleman that I will not suggest anything . in this matter that is not helpful.
– In my wildest dreams I never thought that the Leader of the Opposition would. He spoke of the Government aud our contingents. Australia lias been singularly fortunate in what it has been able to do. It has been able to send forward a very large contingent of men, equipped in everything needed to make them a first-class fighting force, and it has been able to help in other ways both on sea and on land in a way that no other Dominion of the Empire can, but that does not relieve the Government, whoever they may be, at the present time from doing everything they can to send additional contingents. That is being done. I have told Parliament already that every available officer capable of training men as soldiers is being secured and set apart for that purpose. Indeed, some men are now being trained in order that they may train others, with the object of having our contingents thoroughly trained before they leave Australia and during the period when we have not the means of conveying them to the seat of war. We are losing no time in this direction, and there will be no end to the number of men being trained, provided that they are otherwise fit to be soldiers. Let me assure the honorable member that there is no limitation to the number of men that will be sent forward, although the number mentioned by him was the maximum number suggested by the Imperial authorities for the present. The Government have never limited themselves to the number asked for.
– What does the right honorable gentleman mean by his reference to the number suggested by the Imperial authorities?
– I refer to the supplementary numbers.
– I think that before we left office we offered 30,000 troops, and I did not hear of any countermanding order. They wanted all that we could send them.
– There were no countermanding orders, but it is quite evident that the Imperial Government thought that the number of equipped men we sent was a very substantial offer on the part of the Commonwealth.
– They were very grateful, just as they would be grateful for another 30,000, if we could send them .
– I do not think that we need be envious of each other as to how much we have promised. The real test will be not only as to how many men have been sent, but also as to the fitness of those whom we send, because, after all, the capacity of the unit to fight will determine this war quite as much as the large numbers sent.
– Nevertheless, numbers count.
– I know that. Every man in Australia, whether he has carried arms or not, must feel a sense of pride in the bearing and undoubted fighting capacity of the men who have been sent, and of many of those who are now being trained, and who will he sent forward in the immediate future. The Minister of
Defence informed me quite recently that he is taking every step possible to increase the number.
– Can you give any indication of how volunteers are coming forward ?
– In fairly good numbers, quite equal to the present capacity of the Government to train them. However, in a very little while we shall have other officers and other training camps, that will enable us to train the men more expeditiously. We are incurring considerable expense in. order to provide training officers and training camps that will provide larger contingents if necessary.
– I suppose that there has been a considerable depletion of officers.
– The Minister -has taken in all the competent subordinate noncommissioned officers and placed them in a special training camp, so that they, on their part, may become training officers to give training in other camps. I believe that the principle he is following is quite sound, and that it will have a good effect. I agree with the Leader of the Opposition that the administration of this measure should be under the Treasurer. Obviously the failure of the American system was lack of proper control. I think that a Naval and Military Board ought to decide doubtful questions, and make recommendations to the Executive.
– I think that the Naval and Military Forces should be represented on a Board, but I do not think that it should be a Board exclusively of naval and military officers.
– The point may be determined from time to time, as we see how the system works, but I should not like to be in the Treasury if every case had to be determined by the Minister. The determination of many questions in regard to invalid and old-age pensions is often difficult, but in this case there will be military reasons for certain injuries that come within the law, and also for injuries that do not come within it which it should not be the sole function of the Treasurer to determine, but which should be determined from recommendations bysome competent tribunal. The Leader of the Opposition also raised the question of taking the pension from the widow who marries again. I admit that this is a question on the borders of doubt, but I think that the larger measure of protection for the widow will lie in not paying the pension after her marriage. I hesitate to go into the reasons that may appeal to the minds of many people at the present time. A lover wishing to become a husband desires to make provision for his wife throughout her life. I do not think that widows will suffer if we allow this provision to remain.
– This is a measure which we can all approach without the faintest shade of party feeling. I congratulate the Government on having introduced it. One of the most shocking things of the past has always seemed to me, and no doubt to many honorable member’s, to be the fact that some of those who have fought the battles of Empire have been left in old age to devices for obtaining a livelihood which were unworthy of the country which they had served. The substantial provision made for the widows of men in the lower ranks is by no means too large, having regard, not merely to the service to the country that is being performed by their husbands, but to their own wants. I cordially support the view of the Leader of the Opposition that the Government might well consider whether it might not be possible to make some addition to the provision, in cases of total disablement,, when in a family there will be at least two mouths to feed instead of one. I have nothing to add to the arguments which he put forward, except to say that this is a matter in which we should not count the cost too much. Of all duties that fall on Parliament, the gravest is that of making provision for those who have left us to take the terrible risks of the war. Among both privates and officers are many men who have made great sacrifices by giving up means of livelihood dependent upon their skill in business and professions which they may never fully recover. For that reason I conceive that the Government has reasonably not made the pensions of the widows of officers as high as they would be under the Imperial scheme. I do not think that we ought to slavishly follow that scheme in this matter, but I ask the Prime Minister to consider whethere some extension might not be made for the reason that some of the officers who have gone away have, to some extent, gone under expectations grounded upon tlie usual practice in the Empire. It would be an unfortunate thing if they had to carry on their extremely responsible duties under a sense of reasonable disappointment. I wish to add a word or two on the point referred to by both the Leader of the Opposition and the Prime Minister as to the aid that we have sent to the Mother Country in this struggle. I believe that the Government is endeavouring to do all that is possible. I think that the Prime Minister recognises - as we all do - that this is the hour of trial for us, and for every part of the Empire. I have no doubt whatever that the interests of Australia are perhaps more deeply involved than those of any other part of the Empire, and that the maintenance of our liberty and of our possession of the Continent depends almost immediately on the success of the Allies. We look to the Prime Minister, as the leader of Australia, to lead, not merely in the administrative work of doing what can be done in the recruiting and training of men, but also to direct the public opinion of Australia by impressing upon our fellow citizens on every possible occasion the supreme necessity and duty that rests upon them. I asked the right honorable gentleman how the volunteers are coming in, and he replied that they are coming in as fast as we are able to train them. I do not come here’ to criticise in this matter. It is the duty of all of us to assist the Government in every way. We are all anxious to follow the lead which the Prime Minister can give in arousing, and keeping aroused, the patriotism of the people, and the feeling that a supreme effort should be made, and must be made now.
.- I desire, in the first place, to compliment the Assistant Minister on the clear and logical speech with which he introduced the Bill, and which impressed other members besides myself. It should be a good augury for him that the measure is not a party measure. I am in agreement, with a good deal that was said by the Leader of the Opposition. I agree with him in what he said about clause 4 as to the members of the Board. In my opinion a saving would be effected if we took advantage of the experience of the
Department administering our old-age pensions and invalid pensions, letting’ it control the payment of these war pensions. I see no necessity for having a medical practitioner on the Board. We have our active Government medical officers to rely upon for reports, and it is not necessary to have a medical officer on the Board. The provision under which a widow may lose her pension differentiates between a woman and a mau. That should not be done by a Democracy. Every effort of this Parliament since its creation has been to bring the woman up to the level of the man in matters of citizenship. Many of the widows for whom provision has been made are young women. A case in point must be known to all honorable members. Were that widow to marry and again lose her husband, she would not resume her pension rights.
– Why should she be discouraged from marrying again?
– She should not.
– In a case like that, the pension rights should he resumed.
– The provision in regard to children is a just one. We are only the dispensers of the public money, and I am sure that if the citizens of Australia could express their opinions, they would say that all children should have equal consideration. Why should widows be treated differently? Do not the wives of workers love their mates as much as the wives of men better off love theirs? Have not the officers more money to put by than the average private possesses? We are paying the leader of our Forces more than General Von Moltke received when he led the victorious German army through France. He was then getting what was equivalent to about £1,500 in English moneys We are paying our leader as much as was paid to MajorGeneral Hutton.
– German rates of pay are much lower all round than Australian rates.
– The 20,000 men who have gone to tlie war cost us £S,000 a day in pay, without allowances.
– An Australian soldier costs about six times as much as a German soldier, and three and a half times as much as an English soldier.
You cannot compare any voluntary system with that of Germany. Whereas the cost of the British Army per unit is £65, that of the Swiss army is only £7, and that of the German army £46. In my opinion, the fatalities and casualties in this war will be greater than in any other war that has preceded it, and the Commonwealth will thus be involved in expenditure of at least £250,000.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.
– I shall continue my remarks in reference to the widow who will lose her pension. That might operate as a bar against her on her re-marriage. I think honorable members will agree that the highest ideal of marriage is attained when there is monetary independence on the part of the woman, so that she enjoys a greater equality with the man than under the old idea that the woman was only a chattel and slave. However, that, is a detail which I do not wish to press at the present time. But if a division is taken in Committee on this question, I shall vote to give women equal rights with men. I have always been somewhat timid in regard to the question, of pensions. To see the effect of the pension system, honorable members have only to look at the most, glaring example in the whole world, that of Victoria, which, in this respect, equals, if not exceeds, the United States of America. In 1851 the pension system was started at a cost of £500 a year. Last year the pensions totalled £360,000, although the system had been nominally abolished twenty-five years ago. I do not wish honorable members to have the idea that I desire to be unjust to the public servants of Victoria. I recognise that they entered into an honorable agreement with the Government, and were justly entitled to the pensions they drew, but the pensions to which the Government committed themselves at that time were most ridiculous and unfair to the taxpayers who paid them. The figures show that for the year 1895-6 Victoria paid more in pensions than all the other States of Australia and New Zealand combined. In that year the Victorian pensions bill was £339.228, South Australian £6,930. Western Australia £4,998, Queensland £27,960, Tasmania £11,542, New Zealand £29,148, New South Wales £150,834, or a total of £231,418. In other words, Victoria paid in pensions £2 for every pound paid by New South Wales!, although at that time the latter State had a population of over 1,200,000. To-day the proportion is even worse. Honorable members will recognise that if the pension obligations of Victoria rose from £500 in 1851 to £360,000 in 1913, in other words, from something over £1 a day to nearly £1,000 a day, it behoves us to consider carefully what we do in regard to the establishment of “a pension system. The figures which have been submitted to the House show that if the 20,000 men we have sent to the war meet with average mortality and injuries the Commonwealth will be liable to pay £250,000 a year in pensions. But honorable members will recognise that Australia will not stop at sending 20,000 men to fight. This war may drag on for many months, and the existence of the Empire is at stake. By sending additional troops to the front we may make ourselves liable for a payment of £500,000 a year in pensions, or, if we quadrupled the present figures, so that Australia were represented in the fighting line by an army of 80,000 men, the annual cost of pensions would be £1,000,000. I do not object to that, because, as Mr. Lloyd George has said, those who have much to give will bp required to give more. That distinguished gentleman stated that the revenue from the wealth of Great Britain amounted to £2,700,000,000 per annum, and that if he taxed that in proportion to the taxation at the time of the Napoleonic wars, when Pitt was controlling the Exchequer, he would raise in taxation £700,000,000 in one year. We in Australia must be prepared to face taxation. The worker pays his taxation through the Customs. The balance must be provided from land and income tax.
– That is not what the Protectionists say.
– Even the Minister of Trade and Customs will agree that many of our duties are of a revenueearning character, and are not protective. I think I have shown clearly the dangers of pensions. I alluded earlier in my remarks to the annual cost per man of the various European armies. My authority is Sir F. O. Adams and C. D.
Cunningham, the former of whom waa the British Minister Plenipotentiary at Berne, in Switzerland, and the figures are: - Great Britain, £64 10s. 4d.; Spain, £56 2s. 4d. ; Austria-Hungary, £52 12s. ; France, £46 13s. 6d. ; Germany, £46; Denmark, £45; Italy, £43 18s.; Belgium, £40 10s.; Holland, £31; Russia, £22 16s. ; and Switzerland, £7. That leads up to the subject of the pensions paid by the Imperial authorities to our soldiers. I need hardly remind honorable members of the number of Balaclava heroes who have died in the workhouse. The statement made by the honorable member for Maranoa that the pension used to be reckoned at “ 6d. a wing” speaks more eloquently of the conditions that used to obtain than any words of mine could. I have had the misery of collecting sixpences from students in order to purchase a movable hand-chair for a Balaclava hero who had lost both his legs. Over a period of twenty years, frequent operations had been performed on account of the decay of the bone, until eventually the old hero collapsed and died. That is an instance of how the rankers were taken care of in days gone by. On the other hand, the pensions of officers were fairly high and comfortable, and no one could complain on that score. I was a little astonished to hear the statement of. the Leader of the Opposition that the pension of the widow of an officer was hardly sufficient. I would have been glad to welcome from the right honorable gentleman a statement that the pension should be made equal for the widows of rankers and officers alike, for the logical reason that if the pensions to children are the same, the pensions to the widows also should be the same.
– We make those differences all through civilization.
– But we do not make them in connexion with the old-age pensions. Thanks to the courtesy of the Prime Minister I am able to quote accurate figures of the estimated payments on account of old-age pensions and the maternity allowance. The estimate for the old-age and invalid pensions is £2,579,264, and for the maternity allowance £674,990, or a grand total of £3,254,254. That is possibly the most noble example of pensions to those who need them that the world at the present moment can show. I be lieve in only one system of pensions; that is, for a pension which every unit in the community could claim. Having had the experience of presenting 1,500 applicants for old-age pensions, I have met men and women who were once in very high positions who blessed the Government that had brought into existence that splendid system of assistance to the needy. I hope to see the day when that pension will be increased, and when there will be only one pension, which every individual may claim. I had hoped that that might have come about had it not been for this accursed war which is blanking out the world in a horror of smoke, crime, and blood. Such a scheme would have obviated the necessity for the introduction of a Bill such as this. Honorable members must recollect the splendid speech made by the Honorable John Burns in the House of Commons, when he showed that the danger in many civil occupations is far greater than the average danger of the soldier. Having regard to the average life of a soldier, the risk he takes is a mere bagatelle compared with the risk run by those engaged in the chemical works of Rutherglen. The average life of a healthy agricultural labourer taken from the land and put into those factories is only seven years, and any woman who enters those establishments will never enjoy the Godgiven privilege of motherhood. Those workers cannot even cleanse their faces with the ordinary water that flows in our rivers. Their occupations are far more deadly than soldiering, and their pay is much less. One officer in our Expeditionary Forces left a position in the city at £3 per week to become a lieutenant at £7 7s. a week, so that by becoming a soldier he improved his position by over 100 per cent.
– He has to pay his mess out of that. My son is a lieutenant on the same rate of pay, and I know that he gets 17s. 6d. a day and a field allowance of 3s. 6d.
– Those figures do not alter the comparison. The lieutenant had to pay his own mess when he was receiving only £3 a week. In round figures he improved his position from £3 to £7 7s. a week. This is the most expensive body of fighting men that has ever gone into war; but Australia is proportionately richer than any other coun- try fighting to-day, and ought to be able to afford that payment as long as it is necessary. We must remember that itis not only the welfare of the Homeland that is at stake, although, if it were, and Australia were perfectly safe, I do not believe there is any one so selfish as to advocate that Australia should not give its last man and its last shilling to help the Mother Country. Much more should we be prepared to make a sacrifice when we, together with the Motherland, are fully involved, for none will gainsay that if the heart of the Empire were destroyed by a battle in the North Sea, there would be no chance of Australia ever flying its own flag in the Southern Ocean. I have made my protests. They are, briefly: That the appointment of a medical man to the Board should be mandatory; that a widow should not forfeit her pension because she sacrifices portion of her rights of citizenship; that we should be careful in reference to the growth of a pension system ; and that the widow of an officer should not receive more than the widow of a ranker. The commanding officer will draw an amount equal to that received by General von Moltke when he was chief of the whole of the successful German armies in France.
– We have only one in that general category, whereas I suppose that in Germany there would be fifty close up to him in the matter of pay.
– No ; I think that we have, either in the Expeditionary Forces or engaged in training troops here, about 100 men who would draw something like £900 a year by way of salary and allowances.
– Only colonels and brigadiers draw that amount.
– My information is fairly good. The chief commanding officer of 250,000 men in Switzerland receives £2 per day, or £612 a year, in actual war time.
– What does the Swiss soldier receive?
– Speaking from memory, about ls. 3d. per day. In Australia, military men who have remained behind, and, following the advice given in Pinafore, have “ polished up the handle of the big front door,” have received very high rank. Some, who would not volunteer for active service during the South African war, now have large and important commands, and are drawing big salaries, whereas men who did go to the front, and who gained the encomiums of British Generals, have been passed over. They have volunteered on this occasion, but have not been given a chance. The truth is that they do not belong to the Frills and Feather Club. I refer to the Army and Navy Club, which is so contemptible that a German, who took the oath of naturalization, and later on took the defence oath, and entered the Automobile Corps so that he might gain a knowledge of the roads and by-ways of the country, was allowed, on certain disclosures being made, to resign from its membership. This man took an English films in order that he might run a swindling company here under that name, yet he was allowed to resign from this club. If I were asked by any young military officer for advice, I should tell him at once to join that club, to flatter, and spread butter, so to speak, over- its officers, and he would thus get advancement more rapidly, perhaps, than would otherwise occur.
– What does the Assistant Minister of Defence say to that statement ?
– The matter, has not been brought under his notice. Once the Minister of Defence and the AssistantMinister learn of this, I am satisfied that these by-ways to promotion in our Military Forces will no longer be left open. It has been said that a man has only to give a motor car to the Defence Department to be allowed to join the Defence Forces with the rank of lieutenant.
– Who says thai?
– The man in the street. If the honorable member desires it, I will supply him, privately, with names.
– The honorable member ought to give the names to the House, seeing that good men have been left out.
– If the honorable member will look up the list of those who have presented motor cars to the Department, he will ascertain the names for himself. I am not here to pillory any man.
– Does the honorable member say that a commission can be purchased in the Australian Defence Forces?
– I do not say that it can be, but it has been done by the means I have indicated.
– In the Expeditionary Forces ?
– The honorable member is casting a shadow on the whole of the officers who have gone to the front.
– Proof of what I say can be given whenever the officer’s ask for it. I compliment the Government on the introduction of this Bill, which, taken as a whole, is a splendid one. The men and women who pay our taxation, aud thus enable this Parliament to exist, the Government to control the affairs of Australia, and the Expeditionary Forces to be sent away to help the Old Land, should make this Bill the basis of a claim for like provision in respect of every worker when he becomes no longer able to earn his own livelihood. This Bill shouldbe made the basis of a proposal to increase the old-age pensions to the same extent. A man who loses a limb or who loses his sight while working among the army of toilers, and is thus permanently incapacitated, should be entitled to relief of this kind. And so with the woman who loses her helpmate. She and her children, the future units of this State, should make this Bill the basis of a claim to obtain a pension when they are in need.
– The concluding statement made by the honorable member for Melbourne, that the presentation of a motor car to the Defence Department enables the donor to purchase a commission, is one thatI cannot allow to pass without comment.
– The commission is not purchased, but it is secured in that way.
– The honorable member practically said that commissions were purchased in this way. The Assistant Minister of Defence knows perfectly well that those who gave motor cars to the Department left with the Expeditionary Forces as members of the Automobile Corps. Each man drives his own car. Having presented his own car to the military authorities, he takes it with him, and, in order that he may be in a better position to render good service to his country, he is given the rank of lieutenant. It cannot be said that in this way he purchases a commission in the Defence Forces. He presents a motor car to the country in order to better assist in its defence.
– That is exactly what the honorable member for Melbourne has said.
He says that if a man buys a £200 car, and gives it to the Department, he obtains a commission. That is a nice state of affairs.
– He is given the rank of lieutenant, in order that he may be able to go to the front and drive his own car when he gets there. But, so far as I understand the position, he is not given a permanent commission in the Defence Forces of the Commonwealth.
– But he goes away with the Expeditionary Forces.
– And takes his own car.
– Does he draw the salary of a lieutenant ?
– I do not know.
– If he does, it means that he gets £1 per day for himself and his car - a very good bargain for the Commonwealth.
– Then I shall buy a car to-morrow and go to the front myself.
– I am afraid that the honorable member for Maranoa, if he did so, would require something more substantial than pneumatic tyres. During this debate honorable members have been allowed to ramble at will over the whole question of defence, but it is not my intention to go beyond the scope of the Bill itself. I rose because I felt it necessary to put what I consider to be a fair statement of the facts with regard to the Automobile Corps which has gone to the front. I agree with the Leader of the Opposition that, if possible, we ought to increase these pensions to a considerable extent. There is, of course, the fear that the war may continue for a considerable time. I sincerely trust that, if it does, Australia will prove herself worthy of the name she has held in the past, and that she will send, from time to time, more men to the front. Should we do so, our pension list must increase, and increase to a considerable extent. Those who have gone forth to serve their country in the hour of danger are fighting for the Empire, and particularly for Australia. The bringing of the war to a successful termination practically means more to Australia than to any other part of the British Empire. I feel fairly confident that if the Home Government were to say to Germany to-morrow, “ We are prepared to cease our hostilities and to give you Australia,” the enemy would be perfectly satisfied. Australia, so far as I can gather, is the objective of the German nation. Germany would be quite content to end the war if it were given the control of Australia. I say, therefore, that those who go to the front are fighting for the British Empire in the first place, and fighting for their own homes here. It is the duty of those of us who are not able to go to the front to see that any one who is injured or permanently invalided as the result of active service is fairly treated. I do not think for one moment that this pension list is going to be anything more than the country will be able to bear. I am perfectly certain that those who are able to bear taxation will cheerfully pay it, in order that the men and those dependent upon them may be properly treated. We have had quite a number of taxation measures before us this session, and the revenue of the Commonwealth is now to be taken chiefly from the pockets of those whom the Prime Minister has described as being best able to bear it. Let me say for those so described that they would sooner see their money used to provide an adequate pension scheme for the men who are injured while on active service than for any other purpose. Speaking for that class of people, I say that we are quite prepared to bear our fair share of taxation, in order that those who . have gone to the front shall be cared for, and, if it is possible, more adequately provided for than will be the case under the Bill as it stands.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 (Definitions).
– I propose to submit an amendment to delete the words “ Minister of State for Defence “ appearing in the definition clause, and to insert in their stead the words “ Commonwealth Treasurer.” I am not altogether satisfied that we should not insert in their stead the words ‘* Prime Minister.” I feel that it would be far better to put the obligation of dealing with these pensions under the immediate control of the chief responsible Minister of the Commonwealth.
.- I have a prior amendment that I wish to submit in regard to the definition of “ de pendants.” According to the definition clause, “dependants” means such members of the family of a member of the Forces who were wholly or in part dependent upon his earnings at the time of his death. There appears to me to be a weakness in this regard. It is clear that a dependant must be a person who is dependent on the member of the Force at the time of ‘his death or incapacity. Thus, if a son went to the war, leaving a father and mother who could not be called dependent on him, and he were killed or incapacitated, and his father died, say, a week later, the mother, though left without support, would not, according to this Bill, be a dependant entitled to any consideration. Most of the members of the Forces are young men, and such cases may easily occur. Had the father died before the son was killed or incapacitated, then the mother would come within the operation of the Bill, and be entitled to a pension, for then she clearly would have been dependent on the son. I think that, under such circumstances, the mother, who may have been left in very straitened circumstances, possesses a vested interest which ought to be preserved. I can cite another case that will bring the matter more closely home to us. If the late Mr. E. A. Roberts, who was member for Adelaide, had still been alive, and his son had volunteered, as he has done, to go to the front, and had been killed or incapacitated prior to his father’s death, the widow and family would have had no claim for any consideration, though they would have been clearly dependent on the son had he lived. Life is very uncertain, and many parents have suffered great sacrifices to educate and bring up their families; and yet a widow left as I have described would be out in the cold. I suggest that an amendment should be framed to meet those cases, while at the same time protecting the interests of the Commonwealth.
.- I indorse the remarks of the honorable member for Grey. There seems to have been an oversight in the Bill, and it is one that will hurt the poor more than it will the welltodo. If the son of a man who is earning £3 or £4 per week and maintaining his family goes to the war, and the man dies after his son has had the misfortune to be killed or incapacitated, the whole source of the income for the family is cut off, though, if the father had died before the son, there would, have been a just claim to a pension.
– What does the honorable member suggest?
– The noint is a new one to me, but it is one of importance, that requires consideration.
– There must be some limitation, or otherwise we shall have all the worst features of the American system. There must be a limit as to time, and as to persons.
– Limit it to theparents.
– It is an omission in the Bill under which serious injury may be done.
– It is not a new point; and the danger is the extension to uncles, aunts, cousins, and so forth.
– I do not think that uncles, or aunts, or grandparents ought to come under the Bill.
– If the proposal were limited to parents, I think we might accept it.
– An uncle or an aunt may support nephews and nieces.
– In infancy, yes; but there are very few cases of men supporting their aunts and uncles or grandparents. Under the Old-age Pensions Act of Victoria, people were not called upon to assist in supporting uncles and aunts who were pensioners; indeed, there was the greatest difficulty in getting people to support their parents.
– The Government will accept an amendment of the kind suggested if it be limited to parents. I do not think it would be safe to go beyond parents, for there would be no end to the claims. There is too much evidence that if we were to extend the operation of such a provision beyond parents we should create a sea of trouble for ourselves and our successors.
– Would the Prime Minister include both parents, or only a widowed mother?
– I do not think we can discriminate, because, in some cases, it is the mother who keeps the household, and when she dies the father is left helpless.
– I do not feel disposed to submit an amendment myself, but suggest that one should be inserted before the Bill is finally dealt with.
– Ah amendment will be prepared limiting the operation of the provision to the parents.
Mr. FENTON (Maribyrnong [8.43].- There is danger in leaving our safe moorings, and I suggest that the question might very well stand over. For instance, the son of a widower, with a family of small children, might go to the war and bo killed or incapacitated before the death of his father, and the children left with no one to take care of them. This is just as hard a case as that suggested by the honorable member for Grey.
– But a far less probable case.
– It is a case that might happen; and as manv difficult points may arise, I think we ought to allow a certain time to elapse, and then introduce any amendments found to be necessary.
. - I suggest that the words “ or death” have been inadvertently omitted from the definition of “ dependants.” The definition provides that dependants are such of the members of the family of a member of the Forces whose death or incapacity results from his employment in connexion with warlike operations as were wholly or in part dependent upon his earnings at the time of his death, or who would “but for such incapacity” have been so dependent. I think that the definition should read “but for such incapacity or death.”
– I do not think that there is any omission.
.- I feel that it is necessary for us to be generous, and, as there may be many among those who go to the front who have been reared by foster parents, who would be cared for on their return by their adopted children, we should make some provision for these foster parents. If any who have been reared by foster parents aremaimed at the war, they must be looked after by the foster parents.
– The definition of member of a family provides for an adopted child.
– There are many who are not really adopted within the letter of the law.
– The honorable member can rest assured that there will be a very broad reading given to the provision.
Mr.YATES.- I hope so. I hope that there will be no need to fight out the matter in the law courts. We can afford to be generous to those who sacrifice their health, strength, and lives, and I hope that any person who may be dependent on a member of our Forces will not have to go to a Court of law, and that the Minister, in amending the clause, will see that it is made sufficiently broad to cover every case that comes within its purview.
.- I do not know whether the Minister has yet drafted a” suitable amendment, but I suggest that we should insert the words “ or parents subsequently deprived of adequate means of living.” They would carry out what I intend.
– We had better postpone the clause and go on with the other part of the measure. The provisions are very intricate, and it would be better to bring down an amendment at another sitting.
– I stiggest that wherever the word “ illegitimate” is used it should be substituted by the words “ex nuptial,” which have been accepted by our Statist as less offensive.
– I accept the suggestion. As the clause is to be postponed, the necessary amendments can be effected at a later stage.
.- I call attention to paragraph 5, which reads -
Being an illegitimate child leaves a parent or grandparent so dependent upon his earnings.
While we are trying to do all we can in justice to the dependants of our troops who have gone to defend the Empire, the extension of pensions to the grandparent of an illegitimate child is rather a strong proposal.
– Is not the responsibility often cast on the grandparent owing to the parent dodging it?
– How can the grandparent be responsible? As the saying goes, this is “ a bit over the fence.” We should not, at this juncture, saddle the finances of the country with this responsibility.
– I am opposed to the honorable member. The benevolence of age is often greater than that of youth. Very often the grandparent has taken charge of and reared worthy citizens, and why should that grandparent be deprived of their support if they go to the war and are killed or incapacitated?
– The number of cases would not be one in a million.
– The honorable member comes from a country where such, cases are not infrequent.
Clauses 3 and 4 agreed to.
Clause 5 (Powers of Pensions Board).
– Will regulations provide for the expenses of persons who appear before the Pensions Board? The pensions will probably be dealt with in Melbourne, and, as the claimants may be resident in another part of Australia, there may be hardship entailed upon them if they have to pay their expenses in travelling to Melbourne to have their cases dealt with by the Board.
– Regulations will be made covering all such matters.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 6 to 9 agreed to.
Clause 10 -
A pension payable under this Act to the widow of a member of the Forces shall cease upon her re-marriage.
.- I ask the Assistant Minister why should a widow’s pension cease on her remarriage ? The provision seems to me a mean one.
– The widows would be chased to death otherwise.
– I do not see why widows should not retain their pensions if they marry again. In my opinion, the clause is a blot on the measure.
– It should not be the policy of the Legislature, and I am sure it is not the intention of the Government, to discourage marriage. Many of the widows for whom we are providing will be young women, and it would be against public policy to erect a bar against their remarrying by making it obligatory to relinquish their pensions on doing so. As to men running after them, I think they may be left to take care of themselves. I think with the Leader of the Opposition, that the pension should be re tained as a matter of right.
.- In reply to the argument that the clause is a serious bar to the re-marriage of widows of fallen soldiers, I would point out that the pension amounts to only £52 a year, and that a child’s right to a pension would not be affected by the re-marriage of his mother.
– Are the widows always to remain widows?
– The honorable member seems to contend that a widow would prefer her pension to another husband, but I never met the woman who would prefer a pension of £52 a year to a husband.
– The widow should have both the pension and the husband if she wishes it.
– The object of the Bill is to insure tlie livelihood of soldiers’ widows who have lost their breadwinners. When other breadwinners come along to provide for them, are they to receive in addition compensation for the loss of the first breadwinners?
– It may turn out that the second husband cannot provide for the widow.
– It is men of that sort who would marry these widows.
– The interjection of tlie Leader of the Opposition suggests that it is the dead-beats and hangers-on who would be after the widows.
– Is not that a slur on the widows?
– No. The case is one that we meet in life only too often. Those of us who have had to do with pensions know how some persons hang on to one another, and know, too, the scheming that takes place. Women entitled to a pension of £52 a year for life would easily find men to marry them. The pension would at least give their husbands beer money. The clause as it stands is a protection to the widows.
.- I am glad that the honorable member for Hume has raised this question. I do not know why these pensions should cease on the re-marriage of widows. A widow who re-marries may lose her second husband. Is it provided that she shall then get back her pension? In my opinion, the widows should retain their pensions; the amount is not a large one in any case. I am sorry to think that a great number’ will be made widows by the war, and £1 a week is not much to pay those who suffer by the loss of their husbands. As to their being run after, they should be tlie best judges of the men who pursue them. They would probably choose sensibly the second time, and, perhaps, get better husbands.
.- There is another view to be taken of this matter. Will it be said that 5s. a week is sufficient to rear a child? It costs a good deal more than that.
– That may be an argument for increasing the allowance for children.
– We cannot afford to do that, but we can afford a pension of £52 a year to the widows of working men. The argument that it is necessary to protect the widows against adventurers conveys an objectionable slur. Women can take care of their own and their children’s interests.
.- I hope that the Minister will stand by the clause. Any one who knows anything of the ways of the world knows that there are plenty of men who will run after a widow, or any other woman, if they think she has money. It is unwise to shut our eyes to the facts of life, and by allowing widows to retain their pensions on re-marriage we should be putting them into a most dangerous position. It must be remembered that in some cases the pension will be as rauch as £156 a year. To my mind, in agreeing to the clause we should be doing the right thing by these widows. A widow who marries again has no claim on the State, and the man who marries her will have no claim, as he would have if her pension right remained.
– It will be remembered that in the Bulli disaster in New South Wales, over twenty years ago. some eighty or ninety miners were killed. It was provided that the widows of the victims, on re-marrying, should receive £100 each, and within twelve months there was hardly a widow left. I do not mention that case as an argument against continuing the war pension to widows. In my opinion, we should put no hindrance in the way of the re-marrying of widows. The policy of Australia is contrary to that. If it be thought that we cannot afford to pay the whole amount of the pension to a widow who re-marries, we might pay a reasonable proportion of it.
– Say half.
– That is a good suggestion.
– To be paid in a lump sum ?
– I do not consider that advisable, because it might have the effect that the honorable member for Henty has spoken of.
.- I support the contention that widows who re-marry should retain their pensions. I am inclined to believe that Australia is wealthy enough to provide that if any woman should bc so unfortunate as to require one of these pensions, she should be allowed to retain it, even though she marry again. The pension will be only compensating her for the pain she would iia ve suffered through the loss of her husbaud. I believe that the Government should impose a heavy tax upon bachelors at this period, and make them contribute towards this pension. If a division is taken up upon this question, I shall vote in favour of the widow retaining her pension after re-marriage.
.- The Leader of the Opposition and the honorable member for Hume reached the real principle that underlies the granting of these pensions to widows, when they #aid that the widow receives the pension as a right which she ought to be able to retain during her lifetime. There can be no possible question as to how the money is to be expended. It is presumed that reasonable use will be made of it for the support of herself and her family. A pension is granted ordinarily without any restriction, and it seems to me an interference with the liberty and rights of the widow herself if her pension is to be withdrawn when she re-marries.
– I think the honorable member for Henty made a good point; but what we ought to do is to extend the pension for a certain number of years after the widow marries a second or third time.
– Until the new husband has had time to spend the pension.
– In America the pensions go on for ever. Widows who lived in 1812 are still drawing pensions. I should not like to interfere with the great centripetal power of affection, because the world’s existence and aspirations are based on love. A great Persian philosopher has said that love was like a hen’s tooth - you could not see it, but, oh, heavens ! you could feel it. I do not desire the pensions to interfere with love, because by so doing it will destroy the fountain springs of the world ; but at the same time we must not do anything that will perpetuate the pensions. While another Persian philosopher said that “Love is blind,” an American philosopher has answered him by saying ‘ ‘ Yes. love is blind, but marriage removes the cataracts from the eyes.”
.- I. think the Government are right. When” a woman re-marries, the responsibility for her maintenance is taken from the State, and is assumed by the second husband. There is another aspect of this question, and that is, if there should be issue of the first marriage, the responsibility of maintaining the widow’s children does not rest with the second husband, and therefore the pension of the widow should be transferred, either wholly or in part, to the children.
– You can trust a mother to look after her children.
– But it must not be forgotten that the husband controls the home, and we have to remember the possibility of a second family coining into existence. With the two families, two separate sets of interests will arise. In such a case the Government might put aside portion of the pension for the benefit of the issue of the first marriage.
– The honorable member for Wimmera was rather labouring a point which, if pushed to its logical conclusion, is against his own argument, when he said that the pension which the widow receives is given as a right. The children also receive a pension as a right; but at the age of sixteen that right disappears, because they are then presumed to be in a position to support themselves. The Government put the widow on exactly the same terms in that respect. The whole purpose of the pension is to provide support for those who need it, and at the time they need it most. When a widow re-marries, the need for the pension as a means of support ought to disappear.
– The older a widow gets the less able she is to maintain herself, but the older a child gets the nearer he is to being able to maintain himself.
– So long as the widow remains a widow her pension is not interfered with, and when she is no longer a widow she is, or ought to be, supported by her husband. Another fact to be remembered is that the Government have on their platform a proposal for the establishment of pensions for all widows, so that whilst this Bill proposes to provide for widows who lose their bread-winners as the result of war, the Government will later on, when the finances permit, secure every widow against want. If a man undertakes the responsibility of making a widow his wife it is his duty to support her. The remark of the honorable member for New England that the forfeiture of the pension would be a hindrance to re-marriage, simply means that a pension of £52 is a temptation for a man to marry a widow. I do not think that the men of this country value a wife at £52 a year, and I do not think that that sum will be a sufficient temptation to a man to accept the responsibility of matrimony. On the whole, the Government are acting most generously, and the provision of this pension to widows and children at this particular juncture ought to be of great help to them.
– I should like to ask the Assistant Minister whether he has any information as to what happens elsewhere in regard to the pension of a woman who re-marries. The experience of the world surely ought to be worth something to us in framing this measure.
– The American experience is bad enough.
– There have been wars ever since time began, and surely there must have accumulated a great mass of experience in every country in the world which ought to be at the disposal of the Defence Department in drafting this Bill. Can the Minister say whether anything is known in the Department in regard to pension schemes in other parts of the world ?
– I think the British system is that the widow’s pension endures for one year after re-marriage.
– -I think we are putting this payment on a wrong basis. If the pension is anything at all, it is a small recompense to the widow for the loss of her husband and bread-winner.
– You look upon it as compensation ?
– As partial compensation, and surely the widow, if anybody, is entitled to it. It is partly a recompense to her for the loss of her husband, and why, therefore, should we seek to deprive her of that recompense ? If the widow is young, and re-marries, the probabilities are that there will be two families. In that case we ought not to seek to release ourselves from our obligations. We should not try to do so because she re-marries, taking all her responsibilities with her. This right of pension inheres in the woman, and we are not entitled to relieve ourselves of it by reason of anything she does in her future life. I can conceive of nothing that is more calculated to bring a little added comfort into the home that needs it greatly, if there be two families, as the result of a re-marriage. The very thing that we most need in Australia, and which we are encouraging by other means, is an increase in the families of the Commonwealth.
I do not agree with the speech made by the honorable member for Henty. I do not believe there are many women who would be cajoled into an unsuitable marriage by reason of this paltry allowance of £50 per annum. To suggest that widows are going to fall victims to wastrels because of this £50 per year seems to me to be paying a poor compliment to them.
– I could give the right honorable gentleman a few cases of the kind.
– I have no doubt that there will be cases of the kind, but they will not be the general rule. Why should we legislate for special cases ? This recompense belongs to the widow as of right, and she should not be deprived of it because of the fact that she does something which we say is a good thing for the country.
– What would happen if the second husband died?
– A very pertinent inquiry.
– She would be in exactly the position that every other widow occupies to-day.
– No. But for the war she might not have been a widow at all.
– What is to happen if the second husband dies, and she marries a third time?
– It is time we slopped this cheap jesting. To me it is a very serious matter. It is a tragedy for the widow, and, if she has a family, who is going to penalize her? That, however, is what the Government practically intend to do if she takes it upon herself to re-marry. I can conceive of nothing more fatal to our own. policy in regard t o the encouragement of marriage and the rearing of families than what is proposed in this clause. The pension should remain with the widow, and we should give to her the right to re-marry or not, as she thinks fit.
.- The Government, when framing the Bill, gave this clause very serious consideration. The Bill has been introduced to provide a pension for the widow of any soldier who loses his life while on active service, and to provide pensions in the case of partial or total incapacity. Our object is to provide a pension, ranging from £52 to £156 per annum, for those who lose their husbands while on active service. If there are any children left by the deceased they also will receive a pension. But if the widow re-marries, then the man to whom she is joined in the bonds of wedlock takes the place of the former husband. He takes over all the responsibilities that should be undertaken by a man entering the marriage state. He promises, indeed, to make provision for his wife. He becomes the breadwinner, and takes the place of the first husband. We provide a pension to recompense tho widow in some small way for her loss, but if she re-marries her loss is made good by the second husband.
Mr.josephcook. - It may or may not be made good.
– If she has the misfortune to marry a man who will not give her the same attention that her first husband did, it will not be made good.
– She might marry some one who wanted a home.
– That also is possible, but I contend that we shall have done all that we are called upon to do by making provision for the woman during her widowhood. If she places herself, by re-marriage, in exactly the same position that she occupied before the death of her first husband, then the responsibility of the State ceases so far as she is concerned.
– Would the Minister consider the desirableness of granting slightly larger allowances to the children in the case of the re-marriage of the widow?
– The Bill provides for them until they reach the age of sixteen years, because we recognise that in the case of the re-marriage of the widow tho step-father might not give to the children the attention that they would have received from their own father. Every man in Australia who takes unto himself a wife should be responsible for her proper maintenance. The point has been raised as to what, would be the position if the second husband died and the woman was well advanced in years. In that case she would be able - if she were sixty years of age - to claim an old-age pension. What is more, the Government hope, while in office, to bring down a scheme providing pensions for widows and orphans. We cannot, say definitely at this stage that we shall do so; but if the war comes to an early termination, and Australia enjoys a return of prosperity, it is our intentioa to bring down such a scheme. I hope that honorable members will deal with this provision on its merits. I emphasize the point that if the widow re-marries the responsibility of providing for her properly falls on the second husband. I hope that honorable members will stand by the clause as printed. The Government are just as anxious as is any honorable member to provide an adequate scheme of relief, but there must be a limit to all legislation of this character. We desire to do the fair thing, and I think that we are doing so.
– The position taken up by the Assistant Minister of Defence is hardly a fair one. If we provided that, in the case of the death of a soldier, his widow should receive a lump sum of £200, would the Government ask for the return of. that amount in the event of the widow’s early re-marriage ? On an actuarial basis it could be shown that, having regard to the presumed life of the recipient, the value of a pension of £52 a year was considerably more than £200. The point that we have to consider is whether or not a woman is a citizen of Australia. If she is, then she should enjoy the full rights of citizenship. Why should a pension granted to a woman on account of her suffering and loss be stopped in the event of her re-marriage?
– It is given to her under this Bill because of her widowhood. If she terminates her widowhood then the pension terminates.
– That is hardly accurate. If the husband were totally incapacitated she would receive half the amount of the pension. I am confident that every association of women will say that under this Bill woman has been put back into the position from which she was originally rescued by this Parliament. Women were not allowed to vote, but were classed with criminals and lunatics; and the present is an instance of going backwards. If the question goes to a division, I shall vote against the clause; and I am sure we shall have protests from the women’s political organizations on both sides against a proposal that is derogatory to women as affecting their rights of citizenship.
Question - That the clause stand as printed - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 21
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 11 (Pensions payable from moneys appropriated) .
– I cannot help feeling that it is. a reflection on the Department that we can get no information as to what is done with regard to defence pensions in other parts of the world. For four or five years the Department is supposed to have been elaborating a scheme of pensions, and yet, to-day, we cannot get a tittle of information concerning what is done elsewhere. With all the military men going between here and the Old Country, we cannot ascertain what is the practice in the Imperial Army.
– I can tell the honorable member that the soldiers never get a ‘ bean ‘ ‘ in this way.
– This is the first time such pensions have been given.
– At any rate, in discussing a pensions scheme we should have ascertained, as far as possible, what is the experience of the world.
– The honorable member has been in office.
– I have already told honorable members that one of the last things I did before leaving the Department was to instruct Mr. Pethebridge to get all the details of the pensions scheme in the Imperial Army.
– We have not had time to get the information, or, at any rate, we have not gotit.
– It would be the easiest thing in the world to ascertain from the Imperial Army all the details, but, as it is, we have nothing to guide us.
– The Imperial authorities hardly know themselves, seeing that they were considering the matter only a. fortnight ago.
– They have had pensions ever since there has been a British Army.
– Nothing of the sort!
– I suggest to the Assistant Minister that he should cable Home to-morrow ; he could get the information in a few hours.
– I shall do so.
– I do not say that we should slavishly follow the British scheme, but the principles must have been discussed at Home over and over again, and we should obtain some guide as to their application here.
.- The honorable member for Parramatta is very indignant because, he says, we are in the dark for lack of information. I do not know whether the honorable member really means what he says, or whether he merely desires to occupy time. But he urges that the information could be got in a few hours by cable, although he was fifteen months in office and never obtained any.
– Why not save your rhetoric for another occasion ? Do not play the clown - this is a serious matter !
– If it is a serious matter it only shows the insincerity of the honorable member when he proposes to deal with it.
– Is the honorable member in order in accusing me of insincerity ?
– If the honorable member regards the words as offensive, I ask the honorable member for Bourke to withdraw them.
– Of course- he withdraws the “ clown,” and I withdraw the “ insincerity.” In considering the question before us there is no necessity to ransack the world for information in order to decide whether we shall give a widow £1 or 15s. a week. What should we gain by any delay ? How much better off should we be if we had information from all the countries in the world? What is the particular object in view?
– We should find that in England the higher paid men get more in pensions!
– That is one reason why we should not follow the English example. Some fifteen months ago the honorable member for Parramatta objected to the pensions and allowances proposed by the Labour Government, and advocated a superannuation scheme, in which everybody should be comprehended. For months, during which the honorable member was a Minister, the Government were seeking information from the world on the subject, and got nothing; and now it is suggested that there shall be a cable sent to England, and the necessary information obtained in a few hours. I do not question the sincerity, or the insincerity, of the honorable member for Parramatta ; but what is his object? How much longer is this discussion to go on ? Perhaps this and other Bills ought to have been before us earlier in the session, but they are here now; and it would make matters much easier, and insure some progress, if the ‘ ‘ gag ‘ ‘ were applied to the Opposition. I am sure the honorable member for Flinders would be pleased to see the “ gag “ in operation, and I am anxiously waiting for it.
– I congratulate the honorable member on his desire to “ gag “ through a Bill of this kind.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 12 agreed to.
Clause 13 (Extension of Act to British Reservists).
.- This clause provides that any soldier of the Imperial Reserve Forces called up for active service is to be treated, as long as he is a bonâ fide resident of Australia, in exactly the same way as members of the Australian Forces who are residents of Australia. The principle is quite right; but there were numbers of Australians travelling abroad at the outbreak of the war, who, instead of returning to Australia to join the Forces here, joined the British Forces. When the war is over, if these men are spared, they will return to Australia, which is their home.
– They will get the British pension.
– They will probably be provided for under the Imperial pensions, but that scale is low in comparison with ours. There should be provision made to enable them, when they return to Australia, to be included under the privileges granted by this Bill.
– Could there not be some arrangement between the British Government and the Commonwealth Government?
– That would be the better way.
– I raise this matter so that it will not be overlooked. Before many years are over, there will be quite a number of applications for pensions under the suggestion I am now putting forward.
The matter need not be dealt with just now, but the Minister should realize that the contingency will arise, and later on, after the Government have considered the point, they can bring in an amending Bill to deal with it.
– There is another phase to be considered. We have hundreds of men loaned to the Australian Defence Department by the British Government, and, although they still belong to the British Army or Navy, they will stay here almost to their retiring age. Are we to place them in the same category as bonâ fide Australian residents? I consider that they should be recognised as bonâ fide Australians, and come under the privileges bestowed on British Reservists by this clause. Many of them are now taking part in the war on Australian vessels, and have left their wives and families in Australia. The point raised by the honorable member for Henty is quite correct. We have heard of Australian and New Zealand Forces which have been formed in Great Britain. There will be plenty of time to deal with these matters later on; but certainly both points raised should be considered.
– The suggestion thrown out by the honorable member for Henty is a reasonable one. No doubtthere are many Australians who joined the Imperial Forces when war was declared, and are, perhaps, now on active service, whose action was just as praiseworthy and noble as that of those who have left in our Expeditionary Forces. At the proper time these individuals can be brought under the operation of this measure by a small amending Bill. No doubt after the measure has been in force for some time, we shall find that amendments will be needed to make it a complete and just one.
– Are the wives and families now in Great Britain of those who, unfortunately, were lost in our submarine, protected under this Bill?
– Any Imperial Reservist called to the war because of his being associated with the Imperial Forces will come under this Bill, so long as he returns to Australia and resides here, and his wife and dependants will also come under the measure, so long as they reside in Australia.
– If a Reservist is a single man, and is killed in the war, what will happen to his relations?
– The Imperial Act will provide for them. If he leaves no dependants who are bonâ fide residents of Australia, he will not have any claim under this Bill.
Clause agreed to.
Amendment (by Mr. Jensen) agreed to-
That the following new clause be inserted: - “10a. A pension under this Act shall not be payable until approved by the Governor-General.”
– I move -
That the following new clause be inserted: - “ 11a. Subject to this Act, a pension shall be absolutely inalienable whether by way or in consequence of sale, assignment, charge, execution, insolvency, or otherwise howsoever.”
No person will be able to claim a pension by way of debt due by the pensioner.
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear!
Proposed new clause agreed to.
Scale of pensions payable to widow on death of a member of the forces or to a member upon total incapacity -
Column 1. Rate of pay of the member, per day, 6s. . . .
Column 2. Pension payable to widow on death of member, £52 per annum.
Column 3. Pension payable to member upon total incapacity, £52 per annum. …
– The soldier who is totally incapacitated is a pitiful object so far as the materialities of life go, and should receive a pension at a higher rate than that provided. We are treating him rather scurvily is providing a pension of only £1 a week.
– The wife also gets half that amount, and if there are any children they are provided for.
– In all probability the wife may be unable to do anything more than nurse the incapacitated pensioner. I think that the amount should be increased. While I am speaking in regard to the schedule, I may say that search in the Library has disclosed the fact that, under the Imperial pensions scheme, a widow, on re-marrying, receives a gratuity of twelve months’ pay. In addition, the pension is kept alive, to be drawn should she again become a widow.
– I am not against that either; but we are not going on with the Bill to-night.
– I suggest that we should have the matter remedied in another place. Let us make our pension scheme as generous in this respect at least as the Imperial pension scheme. I hold that the pension belongs of right to the widow.
SirWilliam Irvine. - Can the Senate amend the Bill?
– To test whether the pensions for total incapacitation shall be increased from £52 to £75 or £78, I move -
That the words “ per annum,” in column 3, be loft out.
If the amendment be carried, it will be a direction to the Ministry to increase the amount.
– That would involve an alteration of the whole column.
– If we could give heed to our hearts alone, we should all support the proposal. But the Government think that the scheme of pensions that they have introduced is a fair one. We have been fair without being over generous, and if experience shows that we have fallen short in any respect, there will be ample opportunity to remedy matters. We must oppose the amendment in the performance of our duties to the States, rather than in accordance with our wishes.
– I should be sorry if my feeling in this matter were to run away with my judgment. It is from a sense of justice and fairness that I have moved the amendment. The Commonwealth could afford to pay to a soldier who is totally incapacitated a little more than £1 a week to insure that he will be properly looked after, and can live in tolerable comfort. I move the amendment, not from any motives of sentiment, but from a sense of strict justice.
– We must stand by our measure.
– If the Prime Minister opposes the amendment, I shall allow it to be negatived on the voices. Certainly I shall not withdraw it.
.- Is it for reasons of economy that the Government have provided that if the rate of pay of a member of the Forces is more than 50s. a day, the pension payable to his widow on his death, or to him on total incapacity, shall not exceed the pension payable in respect of a member whose rate of pay is 50s. a day? To be fair, the Government should fix the pension rates in accordance with the salary rates, right up the scale. As you go higher, the number of persons affected becomes fewer, there being very few officers, indeed, who receive more than 50s. a day. But those who fill these high posts are men possessing exceptional abilities, and in the ordinary walks of life would have a much greater earning capacity than the juniors whom they control. We must pay for ability. A general or admiral must be paid in accordance with his rank and services, and his pension should be proportionate to his salary. This is not opposed to the principles of Democracy. Even the present Government recognise that the ability necessary for the conduct of important business concerns must be paid for at high rates. Not only are the men who receive more than 50s. a day few in number, but, in the nature of the service, they run less risk of being killed or incapacitated; so that what I suggest would not unduly increase the liability of the State. The Government should give more consideration to the dependants of the higher officers.
.- In my opinion, the Government are being fairly liberal in the matter of pensions. The loss of the widow of a man in the rank and file is greater than the loss of the widow of a highly-placed officer, because her husband had fewer opportunities for making provisionfor her after his death. Some of the officers are receiving £1,500 a year, and an allowance of 15s. a day, which they have no opportunity to spend. But the rankers are in a very different position. If the honorable member for Henty is so desirous of justice, why did he not propose that all widows should be treated alike? That would be democratic. There should be no distinctions whatever. But whereas the widow of a ranker is to get only £52 a year, the widow of an officer may get £156 a year. The Government are meeting the situation as well as the revenue will permit, and during the past few weeks no one has complained more loudly than the Leader of the Opposition of the new taxation proposals that have been made necessary by the war. The right honorable member has shown such inconsistency in this matter that hardly any consideration should be given to his proposal; because, in politics, a man should make consistency his first virtue. However, I do not wish to be too hard on the right honorable member. If I had my way, every widow should receive an equal pension, because I believe that the wife of the worker loves her husband as much as does the wife of a man in any other walk of life. However, seeing that my colleagues in the party do not agree with me on this point, I am prepared to waive my objection to the schedule.
.- I do not think the scale of pensions is quite consistent. The scale provides for the payment of £1 a week to the widow of a private, and an allowance of 5s. per week for each child. Thus, a widow with four children would have an income of £2 a week. If, on the other hand, a private is totally incapacitated, the allowance will be considerably less.
– No. He would receive the full amount of £52, the wife would, receive £26, and in addition there would be an allowance for each child.
– Then I am quite satisfied .
.- I rather fancy that had this Bill been the law of the Commonwealth when the war broke out, there would not have been such an enthusiastic advocacy of the various patriotic funds. Those funds were the outcome of the absence of any statutory provision for the soldiers who were going to the war.
– It was hardly that, because in England, too, there are big patriotic funds.
– Those patriotic funds in England were also raised with the object of relieving British soldiers who were incapacitated in the war. Had the people known that every injured soldier and the widows and children of men who were killed in the fighting would be provided for by the Commonwealth, there would have been no response to the patriotic funds. I fear that, now the response has been made so generously to the appeal for funds, there will be no claims by the men, who will be so well treated under this Bill.
– There will be plenty of claims
– There may be claims, but my experience of public funds raised in the past is that the benefits have invariably filtered through to persons for whom they were never intended by those who made the contributions. I am. sure we shall have a similar experience in connexion with the patriotic funds. It will be said that the soldiers, as well as the widows and children, are provided for by the Government, and therefore there is no legitimate outlet for the funds in accordance with the intentions of the donors. Some steps ought to be taken to ask those who are in charge of the various patriotic funds to pay that money into the Commonwealth Treasury, to form the nucleus of a fund from which we could begin to pay the pensions which have been provided by this Bill: I am afraid that when the war is over and the patriotic funds are being distributed, we shall have the knowledge that those funds are being paid out to a class who do not require such assistance very much, and the excuse will be that the soldiers have been provided for by the Federal Parliament. I do not know whether the Government have approached the custodians of the patriotic funds, but if not, they have not used that precaution which is desirable to safeguard the donors of the money against imposition and misappropriation. I say again that, in my expectation, those who contributed to the funds will have grave cause of complaint in regard to the manner of their allocation.
Schedule agreed to.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
The object of this Bill is to provide machinery so that Treasury-bills may be issued to enable the revenue during this extraordinary year to be enhanced out of loan moneys which are available, and which can be paid into the Consolidated Revenue Fund. The Bill is in the usual form of provision for Treasury-bills, and is, I think, correct in every particular. It merely provides the machinery on which the bills, which will follow at a later stage, will rest.
– I think this Bill presupposes that money has been raised by loan.
– We have actually borrowed some money, although we had no authority for doing so.
– Should not the honorable member validate that borrowing?
– I am introducing another Bill to authorize the borrowing of £18,000,000.
-There ought to be some legal authority for the borrowing.
– The British Government accepted our word, although we told them that we had no parliamentary authority for raising the money.
– The honorable member was perfectly right in assuming that he would get the authority. I assume that he has not issued any bills yet, but is deferring that action until this machinery Bill is passed,
– That is so.
– I think the procedure is to raise money by Act of Parliament, and then Treasury-bills will be issued to give effect to the loan.
– This Bill is in aid of revenue till we get the loan money. We may need to issue a great number of Treasury-bills, because the expenditure during this year will be greater than the revenue.
– Is the Treasurer asking the House to give authority to issue Treasury-bills to an unlimited amount?
– No. I think the amount is limited in the Bill to £9,000,000.
– The power to issue Treasury- bills, even in aid of revenue, must be based on some authority given by this Parliament.
– I have a Bill here to authorize the raising of £7,986,000.
– Very well.
– I take it that this is only a general machinery Bill ?
– Quite so.
– As no authority is granted under the Bill to raise money apart from Parliament, it therefore does not provide any loan funds. I cannot find much to object to in it, except that I observe that the Treasurer is proposing under it to pay his interest more promptly than the States do. I think the States pay interest half-yearly, whereas the Treasurer proposes here that interest shall be payable quarterly.
– It is a little against us.
– And the Government are fixing the maximum rate of interest at 5 per cent.
– It will be less than that - 4 per cent.
– I hope so.I do not see much to object to inthis Bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Motion (by Mr. Fisher) agreed to -
That the honorable member for Gippsland. Mr. Wise, do take the chair.
In Committee :
Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.
Clause 3 (Power to make out and issue Treasury-bills).
. -I have looked through this Bill very carefully, and I think it would have been better to specify the denominations and the issue of the bills, as is done in the State Acts, In some cases power is taken, if necessary to convert Treasury-bills into other stock As this is a machinery Bill, however, I do not wish to move any amendment.
– In this matter I am largely in the hands of the officials.I am advised that it will cover all the procedure necessary.
– On the question raised by the honorable member for Angas, I think that the issue depends upon whether or not the Ministry regard this as the parent measure, and whether it is to be followed later on by an authorizing Bill.
– That is so.
– In the State legislation with which I am familiar we do not state the amounts in the principal Act. I think that is wise. Later on, if this be followed by a Bill authorizing special loans, such as the loan of £2,500,000 contemplated by the Treasurer in his Budget speech, reference need be made only to the conditions mentioned in this measure.
– And to others.
– And to others that may follow.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 4 to 10 agreed to.
Clause 11 (Trustees may invest).
– I invite the Treasurer’s attention to this clause, which provides that -
A trustee, executor, or administrator may invest any trust moneys in his hands in the purchase of Treasury-bills.
Has the right honorable gentleman considered the fact that the States deal generally with the law relating to administrators, executors, and trustees? Does he think that we have the power, by a Commonwealth Act, to alter probably the terms of some State authority that has been given to trustees or executors to invest money? I do not suggest that any one would regard these Treasury-bills as an unsound investment; but the technical question may be raised as to whether wo have any power to authorize such an investment on the part of trustees.
– This question has cropped up many times.
– This is the first occasion on which we have attempted to legislate with respect to it.
– It is thought advisable not to declare any Commonwealth limitation in this regard. There is, I believe, a reasonable doubt as to whether we have this power.
– There is no doubt whatever about the matter.
– There is, at all events, a reasonable doubt in my mind ; but I ask honorable members to allow the clause to pass.
– It can do no harm.
– I do not think there is any possible doubt about this matter, and I feel sure that the Attorney-General will’ not suggest that this provision is not entirely outside our power. We are not given any authority to determine the general condi tions under which trustees may make investments. It is entirely a matter of State control. There is no section in the Constitution which vests us with this power. In answer to the suggestion that we should adopt this clause because it can do no harm, I would point out that it may do a great deal of harm. By passing it, we shall be holding out the guarantee of this Parliament that trustees, if they invest in this particular way, with or without the authority of the State Parliaments, will be doing a perfectly legal act, no matter what the terms of their trusts may be. We ought not to place ourselves in that position. We have no power to do this. Why are we now, for the first time, enacting something that is just as much outside our power as if it related to the State railways? The only effect it can have is to mislead trustees in the performance of their trusts. It is true that, in many cases under the provisions of a State law or a trust deed, trustees are entitled to invest in any public security, including, of course, Government stocks. But if they have not that power, we are only holding out false colours, and pretending to authorize them to do something that they have no authority to do. I urge the Prime Minister to omit this clause. I can assure him that the matter is much more serious than he appears to think.
– I understand from the honorable member for Flinders, whose legal experience and opinions are entitled to consideration, that it would be quite possible in certain cases for trustees to invest in these Treasurybills. Why should any trustees be limited in their operations, when we have an opportunity to give them facilities to purchase these bills?
– The point is that if they have not the power we cannot give it to them .
– If they have not the authority of State Acts, or that of their own trusts, to purchase these bills, we cannot give it to them.
– But if they have the power, why should we not have the machinery to enable them to purchase these Treasury-bills ?
– In that case they could do so without this clause.
– If they have the power to make these investments, we might as well tell them how best to invest their money. The point is that we ought to give them a lead in this matter. The last thing to go in Australia will be the credit of the Commonwealth.
– We all admit that.
– I do not wish to unduly press the clause.
– May I suggest that the right honorable gentleman consult his Law Officers as to whether this clause should remain?
– There is no doubt about the point raised.
– Very well. If honorable members will allow the clause to pass, subject to that understanding, I shall be glad to carry it out.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 12 to 15 agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Standing Orders suspended, and Bill rend a third time.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
This is a very short Bill, and I think it well that I should read it. The clauses are as follow: -
The Bill is to authorize an act which, I fear, is practically already completed. It will provide the legal authority for a loan raised by the Commonwealth, through the Imperial Government, for war purposes. I have mentioned once or twice before in the House and in Committee that, shortly after our coming into office, the condition of the finances of Australia was such that the States were asking for loan money and could not get it. The Commonwealth was likely to need a little on its own account for war purposes, but we thought and believed that we should get through, at least, this financial year without raising a loan. I, as Treasurer of the Commonwealth, gave to the States on behalf of the Government a promise that we should stand behind them as guarantors for a loan that might be raised in London on their behalf and for their purposes. However, the conditions of the money market were not favorable to a loan being raised in that way, owing to a difficulty in obtaining the amount required, and because of the rate of interest demanded. It was then decided by the Commonwealth, with the consent and approval of His Majesty’s British Government, that we should apply for a loan for war purposes only, and after some negotiation the Home Government cheerfully agreed to put intoa future war loan being raised for Imperial purposes, an amount of £18,000,000 for our war purposes. This money has been raised, and two days ago, I think, we got final information that the price of the loan was 3½ per cent. at £95, and that the period of the loan was fourteen years, making the actual interest over that term £3 19s. 7d.
– Does that cover the cost of flotation?
– That covers the amount we have to pay, including the difference between £95 and £100. The actual cost at the present time to us at £95 will be, not £3 10s., but £3 13s.8d., I think.
– That is not reckoning discount.
– We only get £95, and we must add one-twentieth on to the £95, equalling, I understand, 3s. 8½d.
– But does that cover the flotation expenses?
– We have a communication from the British Government to the effect that they are crediting us with £95 for every £100, and that they will charge 3 J per cent, on that £100; and we therefore have to make up the difference between the £95 and the £100.
– In other words, we have to pay interest on the £5 we do not receive ?
– That is the whole thing. I got some of my honorable friends to try to make a calculation for me, but even the most experienced * of them had to consult a table.
– Is the total cost covered ?
– Everything is covered. If we set aside £3 19s. 7d. per cent, in the first year, and so on, we shall be able to pay off all at the end of fourteen years. Honorable members know that a loan has been granted by us to the States to the extent of £18,000,000 at a minimum rate of 4 per cent.
– That has nothing to do with this Bill, but will require another measure.
– However, I shall leave that for the present.
– You are surely not going to give the States £18,000,000 without another Bill.
– I dp not wish to link the two things together, but think it just as well to keep them separate.
– When may we expect that other Bill? When we meet again or now?
– We. must have it at the present time.
– I am speaking of the Bill to authorize the lending of this money to the States.
– All this money goes into the Consolidated Revenue.
– And I think it is right it should go there. However, I need not discuss that matter further beyond saying that the loan has been raised. Yesterday the first monthly instalment of the Imperial loan, amounting to about £1,500,000, was paid to the credit of the Commonwealth into the Commonwealth Bank in London; and by raising this war loan the Commonwealth has been enabled to lend to the States the equivalent of the amount-
– I think the right honorable gentleman may be heartily congratulated on the success of this operation. Outstanding in my mind is the immensity of the obligation we are under to the Imperial Government for all the assistance rendered now, and at every other time. When one reflects that we have developed this country, and made it what it is, largely on money obtained from our friends oversea - men of our own race, and our kith and kin - at a rate at which we could not obtain it anywhere else in the world, one begins to understand what the Imperial connexion really means to us in a material sense, to say nothing of any other. When we consider, further, that throughout the whole century rind a quarter of our development, the total cost of protecting us and all our interests has been cheerfully borne by the Mother Country in addition, we begin to realize how privileged we are as citizens of this great Empire of ours, and what it really means to be able to call ourselves Britishers. I am not quite clear that, with all my parliamentary experience, I know very much about Loan Bills. This is our first experience of Commonwealth borrowing, and, therefore, it is, to a large extent, unexplored ground. To the Prime Minister belongs the honour and credit of initiating a borrowing policy on so generous a scale.
I see in the Estimates, page 5, several items under the head of “ Special Appropriations,” and there is a point to which I desire to call attention in connexion with them.
– There is another bil’ coming.
– But all this money is to be paid into the Consolidated Revenue. I apprehend that the money borrowed from the Imperial Government will not come here, but will, the bulk of it, stay in London, and that the £140,000 set down as interest in the Estimates under special appropriations on the Imperial loan will be paid from credits in London.
– Oh, no ; the sinking fund will he paid out of revenue.
– Yes, of course; but I am now speaking of the interest.
– The interest, too.
– I hope it is quite clear that this preliminary £140,000 is not to come out of the £18,000,000 loan.
– All interest and sinking fund will come out of revenue.
– The Estimates do not say where it is to come from.
– We shall be receiving interest as well as paying it.
– I am referring to the “ Special Appropriations,” on page 5 of the Estimates.
– These are special appropriations for ordinary services, “ special “ meaning separate Bills.
– Where is the appropriation for the payment of the sinking fund. ?
– There is a Statute making provision in that regard for all om loans.
– The Inscribed Stock Act-!
– I think so.
– I presume it is safe to say that this £140,000 will not be paid out of. the loan itself ?
– Certainly not; we do not pay interest out of our loan funds here.
– Here is another item on the same page of the Estimates of £40,000 for interest on Treasury-bills in aid of revenue.
– That is probably connected with the other Bill of which I shall speak later on. We estimate that the revenue will not meet our expenditure from now on, and we must provide a credit.
– On page 65 of the Estimates there is a statement showing the estimated expenditure consequent upon the war, consisting of £11,575,800 for the forces, £140,000 for interest on the Imperial loan, £1,250 for premiums on life assurance policies of members of the Public Service who are members of the Expeditionary Forces, and £25,000 for wireless stations in Pacific Islands. According to this table, and the way it is set out, it will be seen that out of this loan appropriation of £11,742,050, which is the estimate of war expenditure for the year, the Treasurer is paying £140,000 in interest, and an item of £1,250 as the premiums on tlie lives of members of the Expeditionary Forces.
– This is the war loan. For obvious reasons it is not proposed to have a sinking fund for a war loan.
– It is the estimated war expenditure for the year, and the Treasurer proposes to pay the interest out of the loan, and a further item of £1,250 as the premiums on the insurances of certain members of the Expeditionary Forces. A fair reading of these figures indicates that it is proposed to do this.
– The war loan must meet the war charges.
– The Treasurer has already said that he did not intend to charge the interest to the war loan. Why, then, is this sum of £140,000, representing interest, to come out of the £18,000,000? He evidently proposes to pay interest out of borrowed money.
– That must be a mistake.
– It is part of the war loan.
– Surely we will not pay interest out of loan capital. It should be paid out of revenue.
– The Treasurer now admits that he is going to pay this interest out of his loan. Yet a little while ago he was very unctious in saying that he would not do that kind of thing. I do not think that a fraction of the interest should be paid out of loan money, and surely the money we have undertaken to pay towards the premiums of our civil servants in the Expeditionary Forces should not come out of loan money. These matters are fair charges on Consolidated Revenue.
– The States are paying us 4 per cent, on the same amount. It is a case of debit and credit.
– That is all the more reason why out of the moneys which the States pay us we should pay this interest.
– So we shall. We pay into revenue what we receive, and debit ourselves with the other.
– We pay the £11,742,050 into revenue, and pay out £140,000 in interest, and £1,250 in premiums, from the war loan. Thus for war purposes we are going to spend only £11,601,000 in the year. Interest on war loan should come out of Consolidated Revenue. Paying it out of the loan is the kind of financing we used to see in the bad old days in some of the States, which was always regarded as financing of the most unsound and “wild cat” character.
.- The Treasurer made it quite clear in his Budget speech that this sum of £11,742,050 is made up of £10,500,000 from the Imperial loan, and £1,242,050 to be raised by Treasury-bills. The interest, amounting to £140,000 will come out of the loan money ; I presume it will be paid out of Treasury-bills. The Treasurer, by interjection, has informed us that we shall get a quid pro quo from the States, and that is true to a certain extent - to the extent that this loan to the States is financed out of loan funds. I remind the Treasurer that any interest from the States will not go to Commonwealth revenue, but to the fund that is gradually being built up to strengthen the note issue. We shall not get £140,000. We shall get a portion of it into Consolidated Revenue, but not the whole of it. At all events, it is quite clear, from the figures that are presented, that this year we shall actually pay the interest out of the money that we are raising. I hope that before the Budget is brought down next year the Treasurer will look into the matter and see that in future the interest on the loan is not charged to the loan, but is paid out of Consolidated Revenue.
– I shall give you the particulars to-morrow.
– We know that this money is to be advanced to us for war purposes only. We learn from a cable report that the loan is not only to be limited to war purposes, but is also not to be used for developmental purposes. That is the clear understanding, and I think that a certain amount of misapprehension in the minds of a good many people should be removed. The two transactions, that of borrowing money from the Imperial Government and that of transmitting it to the States, were originally connected in the minds of everybody. Now, however, that proposal has been altered, and we are, as a matter of fact, lending money to the States, the same amount of money in the same period.
– No, for a shorter period. The Treasury-bills are for two or three years to the States.
– The period during which the loan is made is the same, but it does not last so long. The calendar year of J915 embraces all transactions.
– Not only isthat the same, but I understand from the Treasurer that the amount of money payable as interest by the States will also depend on the rate that we shall have to pay to the Imperial Government. In order to avoid any possible chance of putting ourselves wrong with the Imperial Government on a matter of such vital importance, the Treasurer should assure the House that the Imperial authorities are fully aware of the precise steps we are taking in this matter.
.- The Treasurer has remarked upon the extraordinary generosity of the Imperial authorities in arranging the loan, and when we study the figures that generosity becomes even more conspicuous. The price at which we are getting the money has been rendered possible because of the extraordinary facility with which the Imperial Government have raised it. If the original transaction of each State borrowing the money in Loudon had been carried out, though the cost would have been nominal, it would have been much greater. -Invariably the charges to tho States are: - 1£ per cent, for underwriting, 10s. per £100 for brokerage, and a charge for advertising, and 12s. 6d. composition duty to the British authorities in the case of inscribed stock, sometimes more for debentures. Apparently the British Government have forgiven us that 12s. 6d. That is why the discount to which the Treasurer referred amounts to only 3s. 8-Jd. The expenses of the loan amount to 5s. 10#d. as against 50s., which is due to the- fact that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, aided by the financial interests of England, has been able to secure contributions to the loan at so cheap a rate. The more the Prime Minister studies the figures, the more will he feel glad that he has been aided by the Imperial authorities to carry out these transactions with such wonderful success.
– It was they who did it.
– I think there should *h** a sinking fund, altogether apart from any suggestion from the British authorities. It would have been wise to put aside at least 10s. per cent., and although I would not press for that in this year of stress, I hope that in his next Budget the Trea- surer will propose a way of catching up this year, as well as making provision for next year.
– Provision for a sinking fund is made in the Inscribed Stock Act.
– I do not know that that Act applies.
– This will be inscribed stock. The Imperial authorities will not take transferable debentures.
– The Act applies to all our loans.
– Then repetition here would be useless. As to whether interest is now being paid out of the loan itself, I think that the Prime Minister will find that that is happening. A net £18,000,000 will come into the Consolidated Revenue, but the amount of the debt we incurwill run into over £19,000,000. The Consolidated Revenue, strengthened by this loan, and by the issue of Treasury bonds amounting to £1,500,000, will be the source of all our appropriations. In one sense every charge this year will come out of loan. But I do not. think it is technically correct to speak of the payment of the interest being out of the loan, although all the expenses of the year will be helped by loan money. This is a matter into which the Finance Committee could well inquire. If they deemed the procedure not to be correct, I think that the House would be prepared to accept their representation. In view of former loan transactions with which we are acquainted, this is most gratifying.
– I thank honorable members for the manner in which they have dealt with this matter. The position was very serious, and we had an anxious time for a number of days. I am grateful for the remarks that have been made concerning the action of the Imperial authorities. In reply to the honorable member for Flinders, I should like to say that the Imperial authorities know our position as well as we know it ourselves. I took the means available to me to make them fully acquainted with the whole of our circumstances. They made certain imperative conditions that we could not get away from, and one of them was that they would not raise money for any but war purposes.
– I suppose they could not do so except at a ruinous rate.
– They laid down the principle that under no other circumstances would they pledge their credit at this time. I join with honorable members in expressing thanks to the Imperial Government, not only for the low cost at which they have raised the money, but also for the manner in which they have carried through the transaction.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and considered in Committee pro forma.
Motion (by Mr. Fisher) proposed -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until to-morrow at 10.30 o’clock a.m.
House adjourned at 11.40 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 16 December 1914, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1914/19141216_reps_6_76/>.