6th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Report of the Committee of Public Accounts on the Small Arms Factory at Lithgow presented by Mr. Charlton.
Ordered to be printed.
Report of the Public Works Committee on the proposed increase of output of the Small Arms Factory at Lithgow presented by Mr. Riley.
Ordered to be printed.
– Is the Minister of Trade and Customs able to report any progress in the negotiations for reciprocal trade with Canada and New Zealand?
– A reply has been received from Canada to the first message sent from the Commonwealth, and a second message has been sent, to which we have not yet received a reply. We hope that the effect of the second message will be to enable us to enter into reciprocal arrangements with Canada, As to New Zealand, nothing has been done.
– I wish to know from the Minister of Trade and Customs what is happening in regard to the export of frozen meat from Australia. Cannot something be done to prevent the. export of meat to the detriment of the local consumer ?
– A good deal has been said about the powers of the Commonwealth in regard to the meat business, but all that this Government can do under the Commerce Act is to prohibit the exportation of meat, either wholly or in part. As a result of the questions asked by the honorable member, this Government has asked the Home Government whether it is obtaining more meat from Australia than is required for the use of its troops, and, if so, what arrangements are made for the disposal of the surplus. The Governments of the States are being asked how long the arrangements which they have entered into with the Imperial Government for the supply of meat will continue, and whether the supply of any given quantity has been stipulated. This morning I saw the representative of one of the largest firms of meat exporters in Australia - Mr. Elder. of Messrs. John Cooke and Company - and I put to him a question which I recently put to Mr. Angliss. I saidthat while there appeared to be plenty of meat in cool storage, the people of Australia were being charged for meat more than they ought to be asked to pay. With the exception of a contract with a friendly Government in one ofthe islands, we are exporting meat to Great Britain only, and Mr. Elder informed me that the exporters are arranging to keep in cool storage sufficient meat to supply the people of Australia, so that there may be no shortage. He. said that if people here would use frozen meat instead of always demanding fresh meat, they would get cheaper supplies, and that, although frozen meat might not look so well, it would in. many cases taste better than the fresh meat.
– What rot!
– I think that Mr. Elder knows more about this matter than any of us.
– Has the Minister ever eaten frozen meat?
– Yes; in Great Britain. It is possible that better meat is being shipped from Australia than is left here for local consumption.
– Has the Minister of Trade and Customs yet received from his officers a report on the importation of wheat, with special regard to the possibility of impurities being introduced with the wheat?
– I have not yet received a report, but as soon as I do I shall make it available to honorable members.
– I ask the Assistant Minister of Defence whether it is now the rule thatno person of an enemy nationality may enter or leave Australia ? If so, when was that rule first made, and are there any exceptions to it?
– The rule has been in force for many months.
– Since the war?
– Are there any exceptions to it?
– One or two have been made,but in each case under a heavy bond.
– I wish to know from the Minister of Home Affairs whether he will give the House an opportunity to discuss at an early date an amendment of the Electoral Act to provide for compulsory voting ?
– The matter is under consideration, but as the question relates toGovernment policy, it should be addressed to the Prime Minister.
– Then I ask the Prime Minister whether he will give the House that opportunity at an early date?
– An amendment of the Electoral Act is under consideration at the present time, and the subject of compulsory voting will receive consideration together with other matters.
– Will the Assistant Minister of Defence tell the House exactly what took place in New South Wales recently when two German prisoners escaped over the wall of the prison without the guard noticing them, and were subsequently caught in Sydney and taken back to Berrima?
– I shall obtain the information for the honorable member.
Sickness at Broadmeadows : Shooting of Sentry : Dead-letter Office: Reports of Casualties.
– Is the Assistant Minister of Defence in possession of the return which he promised last night showing the percentage of deaths and sickness at the Broadmeadows camp?
– The return is still in course of preparation, but I expect it at any moment.
– Will the Minister for the Navy make an inquiry as to the truth of a rumour that is cir culating in Tasmania that a certain soldier caughtsleeping in the sands in Egypt, after being tired out by the day’s work, was court martialled and shot? I wish to have the. matter looked into.
– I shall ask the Minister whether the rumour is correct, and shall inform the honorable member.
– Will the Assistant Minister of Defence say whether it is intended to take any notice of the extraordinary statements made in the House last night by the honorable member for Balaclava with reference to sickness and mortality at Broadmeadows ?
– The statements made by the honorable member for Balaclava yesterday were of such a nature that it is the intention of the Defence Department to ascertain whether they are true or otherwise. If the statements are found to be otherwise the persons who are culpable may expect action to be taken.
– Will the PostmasterGeneral inform the House in whose charge are the letters addressed to the. soldiers at Broadmeadows, and how long letters are retained there before they are returned to the senders through the dead-letter office?
– There is a departmental post-office at Broadmeadows, but I do not know whether the arrangement in regard to the retention of letters is different from that in post-offices elsewhere. I will make inquiries.
– The Leader of the Opposition asked a question yesterday as to who was responsible for reporting to the Commonwealth the casualties amongst the Australian Expeditionary Forces at the front, and he quoted the case of Captain William Bowman Douglas. In reply to the right honorable gentleman, I desire to say that the officer responsible for reporting casualties in connexionwith operations in the Dardanelles is a British officer, who is dependent upon the reports he receives from the front. The case of Captain W. B. Douglas has been referred to that officer for confirmation, and on receipt of his reply the necessary steps to advise all concerned will be taken. He has been asked to have every care exercised before reporting casualties of this description. At the same time, the difficulty of his position must be recognised, having regard to the fact stated above, that his only evidence is the information he receives from the scene of operations. An examination of the British casualty lists discloses that similar cases are not uncommon in the Imperial Army. In the stress of war errors in lists are apparently unavoidable.
– When will the Minister of Home Affairs be prepared to make a general statement as to the progress of works at the Federal Capital site, as he promised to do in answer to a question by me a couple of weeks ago?
– I think I made a general statement on the day after the honorable member asked the question. I have no objection to making the same statement again to-morrow, if necessary.
– Can the Assistant Minister of Defence inform the House whether the Department is in a position to supply rifles to rifle clubs; if not, what are the prospects of the clubs getting rifles at an early date?
– The supply of rifles is being inquired into by the Public Works Committee.
– Can the Minister hold out no hope for the supply of rifles to clubs until the report of the Public Works Committee has been made and acted upon?
– The Department is doing everything possible to expedite the supply of rifles to the clubs. We cannot do more than is being done at the present time.
– Will the PostmasterGeneral endeavour to make arrangements with the State Governments for the carriage of mails by train in the back country, instead of by motors and other vehicles?
– The arrangements in regard to the carriage of mails are in the hands of the Deputy PostmastersGeneral. I will call their attention to the matter.
– Will the Minister of
Trade and Customs inform the House what is the position with regard to the release of hides not required for defence purposes ?
– Hides not required for defence purposes are allowed to be exported to Great Britain or allied countries.I. have figures showing the export of hides to various countries during the last few years, and I shall he pleased to make them available for publication in Hansard if the honorable member will put his question on the notice-paper.
Offer of German Club
– Is the Assistant Minister of Defence in a position to reply to the question I asked yesterday with regard to the handing over of a German club in Sydney for use by the military authorities as a hospital?
– It is understood that an offer has been made by the Concordia Club to the military Commandant in New South Wales. The Acting DirectorGeneral of Medical Services inspected the building, considered it suitable for a small hospital, and advised that it might be used in case of emergency. The actual offer has not yet been received at head-quarters, nor is the Department aware of what action the Commandant has taken in the matter. Inquiries are being made.
Position of Colonel Miller - Delay in Making Appointments.
asked the Minister ofHome Affairs, upon notice -
– Owing to the war, adjustments of this character in my Department have been held over, and will receive consideration later on.
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
What is delaying the filling of the following positions in the Department of Home Affairs, advertised in the Commonwealth Gazette of September and December last respectively : -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is - 1 to 4. It has been considered desirable to temporarily defer action in regard to these appointments, which are expected to be made at an early date. The greater part of the work, meanwhile, is being carried out by temporary officers. These are new positions, and no one has a specific claim for appointment thereto, or ground for considering himself aggrieved.
asked the Assistant Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
asked the Assistant Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
Whether the Department of Defence will provide nurses of limited means accompanying the Expeditionary Forces with an allowance sufficient to furnish themselves with costumes, clothes, and equipment?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is -
At the beginning of the war, the then DirectorGeneral of Medical Services obtained prices for the necessary outfit for nurses from several firms in various States. The average was £15, and he advised that amount as the allowance. Even with the increase in prices caused by the war, they can still be obtained for very little over that sum. The Director-General of Medical Services has issued no orders for them to take anything more than laid down by Regulations, and has advised many nurses who have spoken to him not to do so. On investigating the matter recently, he found that an order or advice had been given in twoStates to take extra articles, such as mess kit, which nurses do notneed, they being arrangedbythe Departmentin Egypt or England. He has not been able to find how this advice was originally given, but thinks it was done by matrons now on active service. The Minister will consult with the Acting Director-General of Medical Services as to whether any increased allowance is justified, or as to whether the Department should provide, free of cost, the necessary articles of equipment, instead of making monetary allowance.
asked the Assistant Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
Whether the Government will approach the State Government of New South Wales, and make arrangements, so that Government House, now vacant, may be used as a hospital and convalescent home for returned soldiers?
– The Acting DirectorGeneral of Medical Services, with responsible medical officers in each State, is going into the whole question of obtaining suitable accommodation for returned wounded soldiers, and this suggestion will be brought under his notice.
asked the Minister of
External Affairs, upon notice -
Whether the Minister has yet decided what action, if any, he proposes to take in connexion with the alleged entry, under contract, of a party of Norwegians into Western Australia ?
– I have not yet received the opinion of the Attorney-General, to whom the matter was referred for advice. I expect to receive it very shortly, when the case will be immediately dealt with.
.- I have a motion on the notice-paper -
That all the papers in connexion with the claim of W. Keohan, late postmaster at Hay, be laid on the table of the House.
Prior to giving notice of this motion I received a communication from the person concerned, to the effect that he did not intend to proceed with the action that he had instituted against the Department, and, in that same communication, he asked for a return of the papers. Since then I have had a conversation with the PostmasterGeneral, who informs me that the Department has received no notification of a discontinuance of the action, and that, therefore, he would be compelled to oppose the motion on the ground that, while the action was pending, it would not be right for him to permit the papers to be laid on the table of the House. I fully recognise the position of the honorable gentleman. I anticipated from the letter sent to me personally, that the notice of the discontinuance of the action would have been sent to the Department; otherwise I should not have acted as I have. Under the circumstances, however, I ask permission to withdraw the motion.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
.- I move-
That, in the interests of sound health, good order, and effective administration, this House is of opinion that it is desirable to prohibit the supply or sale of intoxicants, other than for medicinal purposes, in any territory seized from the enemy in the Pacificand placed under the administration of the Commonwealth, and that the carrying of this resolution be an instruction to the Governmentto give effect to same.
This is a motion that, I am sure, does not require very much discussion. It is so obviously the right thing to do, that I do not propose to occupy the time of the House for more than a few minutes. The wording of the motion is, I think, sufficiently explanatory to enable honorable members to understand the reasons for its submission, and I, therefore, content myself with simply presenting it for approval.
.- Is no Minister going to say what are the intentions of the Government in this regard? Personally, I sympathize with any effort to preserve sobriety amongst the people in the Pacific possessions, and I do so with the more emphasis, perhaps, seeing that I happen to have been a teetotaller for over thirty years. There may, however, be some questions involved that the mover has overlooked. As a general rule, when possessions are taken from the enemy, there is no change in administration, except for military purposes, until the war is over. The question of the disposition of territories is one that practically remains in abeyance until the time comes for an adjustment, which is on the cessation of hostilities. This, I take it, is a general motion applicable to all the territories in the Pacific that may be taken over. As the honorable member” for Lang has not said anything in support of the motion, I should personally like to hear from the Minister of External Affairs, or other Ministers, what the effect of its adoption would be. In the absence of anything to the contrary, I dare say the House will pass the motion. What the honorable member for Lang evidently has in view is to apply to all the Pacific possessions a law which has been found successful on Norfolk Island, namely, the practical prohibition of liquor except for medicinal purposes. . I intend to support the motion, but it is one on which, I think, a word or two might be said.
Mr. FISHER (Wide Bay- Prime Minister and Treasurer [2.57]. - There is some point in the remarks of the honorable member for Angas. I think Ihave before stated to the House that, in regard to these island possessions, we are practically maintaining the status quo until the war is over.
– That is the general rule.
– We have not yet got a legal possession of these islands.
– I think that the words in the motion, “ in any territory seized, from the enemy in the Pacific, and placed under the administration of the Commonwealth,” covers the point raised by the honorable member for Grey.
– These islands have not yet been placed under the Commonwealth.
– We may, perhaps, be rather in occupation than in possession. Mr. Glynn. - I do not think any real harm could be done by passing the motion.
– That is my own opinion. I do not go so far as to say that the Commonwealth would not have power to carry out its own laws in its own way at this time, especially if it were thought that those laws were an improvement on those in operation when we first came into occupation. I should hesitate, however, to impose - and I ask honorable members to be careful before they decide to impose - conditions during the interregnum; conditions which might or might not prove to be to our advantage. For that reason, perhaps, it would be advisable for the honorable member ‘for Lang to consent to the postponement of this discussion until we have had further time to consider the question.
– I have no objection to an adjournment of the debate.
– I am not against the principle of the motion, but I think that fuller consideration should be given to it. I confess I have not been in a position to give it the consideration I now suggest, and I fancy that the Minister of External Affairs is practically in the same position.
– That is so.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Finlayson) adjourned.
PARLIAMENT Houses and Administrative Offices.
– I move-
This is a motion which ought to commend itself to the good sense of honor able members. It will be remembered that when Federation was achieved the expectation was that, within five years of the meeting of the Parliament, the Federal Capital would be in readiness for occupation. It was because we had that assumption in view that it was proposed the Federal Parliament should meet temporarily in Melbourne. Ifc was assumed, also, that it would not require more than five years to establish the Federal Capital in a sufficiently advanced stage for the Parliament to meet there, and provision was made in the Constitution that until the Parliament did meet at the Federal Capital it should meet in Melbourne. We know the developments that have taken place since then. We know the kind of influences that have been at work to prevent, in the first place, the selection of a Federal Capital at all, and since the Capital site was selected to prevent anything of a definite character being done in connexion with it.
– This is a no-confidence motion in the Ministry.
– No, it does not affect one Ministry more than another.
– What are the “undesirable influences “?
-] mean all those influences which are inseparable from the establishment of a Federal Capital in any of the existing State Capitals, and I particularly refer to the influence of the press of those particular capitals. There is always a tendency for that to destroy the Federal character of the Parliament, to make it more or less parochial, more or less an instrument that will be more advantageous to the particular capital in which it is located than to the interests of the country as a whole. I recognise that honorable members themselves try to be above influences of this character, but human nature is not always a perfect quantity, and, in my opinion, the only way in which we can preserve the Federal character of the parliamentary institution is by removing the Federal Capital to our own Territory, where it will not be subject to influences which are inseparable from its location in any of the State capitals.
– My only object in speaking upon this motion is to impress upon the Minister of
Home Affairs the necessity for urgency in this work. One might expatiate indefinitely on the advantages of having the Federal Parliament sitting in an isolated and, to some extent, unprejudiced environment, such as we shall secure at Canberra. But what I am most anxious about is that no repetition shall be made of the unfortunate experience in regard to the designs for the buildings such as that decided upon by the ex-Minister of Home Affairs. Although we may deprive ourselves of the advantages of competition with architects from the older countries of the world, yet here in Australia we are by no means poverty stricken in the matter of architectural skill.
An Honorable Member. - Are you afraid of a little competition from outside?
– That is not my point. The particular objection taken to the competition instituted by the last Government was that the designs were to be adjudicated upon in London by men drawn from various countries. I contended then, and I contend now - and this is the particular point I want to emphasize - that these designs submitted by architects from every country in the world should have been adjudicated upon here in Melbourne. I think the decision of the last Government in that respect was tantamount to an admission of no-confidence in the Australian architects. It will be generally admitted that while there may be a general similarity of design in regard to parliamentary buildings in various parts of the world, there are peculiar features attached, to each individual building. We in Australia are, to some extent, developing an architecture of our own. We are, of course, following the standard designs of other countries; hut in all our buildings there is a natural tendency to adapt them to our own climatic and local conditions; and my contention is that if the plans for our buildings are adjudicated upon in London by men who have no knowledge of Australia other than that gained from photographs or books, we shall not get a satisfactory style of architecture or a building as eminently suited to our climatic conditions as it should be.
– Was not there an Australian representative on the Committee?
– There was an Australian representative - the chairman - who was selected by the Australian Institute of Architects at the invitation of the Minister; but may I take this House as an example of what I have in mind ? Architecturally the exterior design is beautiful; but, so far as its internal arrangements are concerned, I question if it would be possible to get a more inconvenient, unhealthy, badly-ventilated, badly-lighted chamber in the world. This House is notoriously insufficient for its requirements.
– It is only half finished. The full accommodation is yet to be put up.
– That may he. Probably when the Federal Parliament meets at Canberra for the first time we shall have to be dependent upon partially finished buildings. I do not know whether this building was designed by a local architect or not.
– He was a local resident.
– If a local resident can make such a tremendous architectural mistake as was made in this building, what may we expect as the result of an architectural adjudication en the part of gentlemen who know nothing of Australia? The whole place is inconvenient. Three gentlemen came to see me this afternoon, and the only place where I could talk to them was standing in the Queen’s Hall - no room to go to, and no place even to sit down. The honorable members of the House have to walk from the badly- ventilated, heated chamber through cold corridors to get to their rooms in order to do any correspondence.
– We are very lucky in having the Government of Victoria lend it to us.
– The fact that the Victorian Government allows us to use these buildings has nothing whatever to do with the qualities of the building. What I am anxious about is that we shall secure at Canberra the best possible building for our purposes, whereas under the scheme of the ex-Minister of Home Affairs we should have had our buildings adjudicated upon by gentlemen who know nothing of Australia. By way of further illustration, let me remind the House that designs were invited for the lay-out pf the Capital city, and that Mr. Griffin, an American, was awarded the first prize; hut that, although he had previously been supplied with various contour surveys, photographs, illustrations, and books and papers in abundance .for his guidance, as soon as he came here, and saw the site for himself, he altered his plans. Those plans are still under revision. I contend that no body of men, however competent they may be ‘to deal with the architectural features of their own country, are in a position to adjudicate on designs for buildings of this kind without having a knowledge of Australia, and a personal acquaintance with the sit© on. which it is proposed to erect them’. Even the design of an ordinary cottage is determined to a large extent on the characteristics or peculiarities of the site on which it is to be erected. No photograph or survey is, in itself, sufficient to give an architect a competent idea of the outlook and the spectacular features that must be studied in connexion with the proposed parliamentary buildings at Canberra. I feel very anxious concerning this matter, because the general lay-out of the Capital city - in regard to its parks, streets, and buildings - does not commend itself to me in the slightest degree. Mr. Griffin has very fine qualities as a town planner, but, after three visits to Canberra, I hold the view that his design will have to be very considerably modified if we are to have a satisfactory lay-out. If that be so, it seems to me that it is still more necessary to exercise great care in determining the character of the parliamentary buildings to be erected. I believe in the principle adopted by the Minister in inviting public competition for a suitable design; and I think that the present Minister of Home Affairs was well advised when he decided that the competition should be postponed. But the time has now arrived when he may safely and properly revive it. When he does do so, he should take care that Australia gets an advertisement from the competition, and that the designs shall be adjudicated upon in Australia. It would be less expensive and far more satisfactory to bring the adjudicators here, so that they might determine the merits of the various designs with due regard to local conditions, than it would be to appoint an officer to gather designs from all parts of the world and to send him with them to London, or elsewhere, for their adjudication. I am entirely with the honorable member for Lang in the belief that a good many undesirable influences surround the meeting of the Federal Parliament in this city. The same undesirable influences would operate if the Parliament met in any other State Capital.
– Will there be any provision for a bar in the new Parliament House ?
– No. By the time that we occupy them, a bar will be considered so disreputable a place that there will be no danger of one being installed. If I were a member of the Victorian Legislature, I should be anxious to see the Federal Parliament transferred as soon as possible from Melbourne. Representatives of this State in the Federal Parliament are beginning to realize that their work is materially increased by reason of the fact that the people of Victoria look upon the Federal Parliament, because of its location here, as the Legislature to do things,’ and are more inclined to appeal to them than to members of the State Parliament. The latter may not object to this, but it must be admitted that they seem to live in a subdued, reflected glory, rather than enjoy the bright environment that should attach to them. This Parliament has decided that Canberra shall be the Federal Capital. That matter is beyond dispute or argument. What reason, then, is there to prevent us meeting in Canberra as quickly as possible? It is a beautiful spot. I was there last Monday, and I am sure that if honorable members generally would accept the invitation of the Minister to spend a week-end there, they would be anxious, if only because of the climatic conditions, to see the Federal Parliament meeting there as soon as possible. There are also urgent reasons, from an industrial point of view, why the Capital should be established as soon as possible. The opportunities for forming the nucleus of a population for the Federal Capital are opening up on every hand. There is every indication that little by little, at the present rate of progress, we shall found a city there, but the danger is that in this way little excrescences will gather and will form byandby the city itself. To avoid that danger I suggest that we should immediately launch out on the building of the city, and allow it to gather to itself those other attachments which must inevitably follow. The present policy, however, seems to be to fritter about the fringes of the city, to deal with outside matters, and to spend money on little things, instead of launching out boldly, determining the character of the principal features, and working up to the decision arrived at. If we start with little things it will always be difficult to leave them for the higher things. In building a city it is a tremendous advantage that high standards should be established in the first place, so that we may work up to them. These are a few reasons why I second this motion, and I believe that the Minister of Home Affairs will not only earn the gratitude of honorable members, but do a service to the Commonwealth by actively setting about the work of transferring the Federal Parliamentary machine to Canberra.
.- I do not take exception to the desire of honorable members that we should meet in the Federal Capital, but I am surprised that one whose duty it was quite recently to preside over this House and to determine questions of good taste and . decorum in relation to its procedure should have framed this motion in such a way as to cast a reflection on a city where honorable members have been the recipients of much kindness at the hands of the people. The motion reads -
That in view of the importance of having the Commonwealth Parliament removed at the earliest opportunity from the undesirable influences inseparable from its location in any of the existing State capitals.
We may take it that this is a specific reference to the undesirable influences of Melbourne.
– The motion does not say so, and the honorable member must not read into it something that it does not contain.
– I think that honorable members have had many advantages showered upon them by the city and the people of Melbourne, and that the motion should not have been framed in such terms. I am surprised that the honorable member for Lang, who as a rule is . so careful of the feelings of every one, has framed his motion in such language.
– Will the honorable member support the motion if I amend it by leaving out the words to which he has taken exception?
– Yes. I think it should be amended. There are many institutions in Melbourne that have at all times extended privileges to the members of this House, and at a time like this, when we are thinking of leaving Melbourne, we ought rather to pass a motion appreciative of their kindness than one condemnatory of improper influence. I make the suggestion seriously, because I think that the motion as it stands is not in good taste.
. -I think that the motion should be withdrawn, because it is unnecessary.
– It is a reflection on the Government.
– I do not think that the honorable member for Lang so intends it.
– I do not.
– The suggestion is that the Government is not doing what it should do.
– We had a debate on this matter a week or two ago, when the discussion continued to within ten minutes of the time allowed for it, so that I had not a chance to say what I wished to say on behalf of the Government.
– The honorable member has since had a good innings in the press.
– I must seize outside opportunities for making my position clear, if I am not given them here. The honorable member for Lang, who has for some time been absent from Melbourne in the prosecution of public duties, may not be alive to what the Government is doing at Canberra. I assure him and the House that the Department is doing its utmost to push on the works that are in progress there. At present there are between 600 and 700 men employed at Canberra, and my desire is that their employment shall be continuous.
– And the number increased.
– Then what need is there for the motion?
– There is no need for it, and therefore I suggest its withdrawal. My trouble is, not to find immediate employment, but to know what the course of work will be twelve months ahead, so that there may be no stoppage of works. As for the Parliament House, it will be within the recollection of hon orable members that soon after this Government took office, I turned down the arrangement of the previous Administration for the calling of competitive designs, to be judged by a Board consisting of a Frenchman, an Austrian, an Englishman, and an Australian. I felt that the war would make it difficult to get designs from the countries engaged in hostilities, and that as we did not know its probable duration, nor “its financial consequences, it” would be desirable to go slowly in this matter. The Government agreed with me. Now it is suggested that the time has arrived for reviving the proposal. I agreed with that, and it is in process of being revived. The architectural staff of the Department of Home Affairs has drawn up a scheme for a competition, to be confined to the British Empire. A copy of that scheme has been sent to Mr. Griffin, who was appointed by the late Government to look after the designing of the city, for a report, and one has also been sent for a report to the architects of the Commonwealth, who, I understand, are a federated body. They have been invited to criticise it as they think fit. Criticism from any quarter will be welcomed. The Government is prepared to accept ‘suggestions from any one in regard to the Capital, not because Ministers have no ideas of their own, but because we do not claim a monopoly of the intelligence, artistic skill, and designing ability of the Commonwealth. When the scheme has been approved of, designs will be called for without unnecessary delay. The honorable member for Lang, during the sittings that were held just before Christmas, pressed me to push on with the works at the Capital,’ and I have been only too desirous to do so. From what I have been told, I think that within twelve months we should be in a position to commence the erection of the Parliament House. I do not say that the building will be erected within twelve months, but at the end of a year we should be in a position to lay the foundations. I have to look ahead, not for a few months, but for at least a year, and should be glad to know what will be the course of business two years hence. The administrative buildings to which the honorable member for Lang has referred will not be of so striking an architectural character as Parliament House, which, we hope, will reflect credit on the Commonwealth, and all concerned with it.
– Surely the administrative buildings will be in keeping with the Parliament House?
– “Undoubtedly; but, speaking as a layman, I hope that they will be characterized chiefly by their suitability for the purposes for which they are intended rather than splendid architectural monuments.
– It should be possible to combine suitability withappearance.
– No doubt that will be possible. The administrative buildings which were erected close to the building in which we are now sitting are eminently suited to the requirements of the Departments which occupy them, and I do not think that they could be greatly improved from an architectural point of view, though, of course, there again I speak as a layman. It will not be necessary to occupy as much time in settling the designs of the administrative buildings as will be required to settle the design for the Parliament House. I think that we should certainly be able tobegin with the administrative buildings within a year. In the Department of Home Affairs there is architectural’ ability which is considerably above theaverage, and if our Chief Architect were relieved of much of his present work, I think he could design administrativebuildings which would be a credit to us. Whilst on this subject, I wish to refer to a defect in the plan of the city. I have no prejudice in this matter, and havenever seen, and do not wish to see, whathas been called the departmental plan. I am prepared to follow Mr. Griffin’s design as far as it isworkable. When it ceases to be workable, alterations will have to be made. If any honorable member would careto look at the schematic plan of the levels, which I received from Mr. Griffin about Easter time, he may do so at any time at the Home Affairs Department. When the motion I have on the notice-paper isbrought forward, we shall have the plans- in the House, so that honorable members may have an opportunity of studying them. Honorable members will thensee that the departmental buildings areproposed to be located in various parts of the city, and in one particular case the administrative buildings are as far from the site of the Federal Parliament House as is Menzies’ Hotel from this building. Later a plan will be submitted showing what would be the relationship of the various buildings to each other if they were erected in Melbourne. I would impress upon honorable members that we roust remove from our mind the pretty picture, and look at the facts. Is it desirable that on a wet day honorable members should have to travel a great distance from Parliament House to the administrative offices when they have public business to transact? It is in the interests of the Commonwealth that the administrative buildings should be not more than a mile from Parliament House.
– Why should they be even a mile distant?
– I would not objectto them being half-a-mile away, but they should not be any further distant from Parliament House than are the present administrative buildings in this city.
– When do you expect these administrative buildings to be completed ?
– When we have commenced to erect them it will be time enough to talk about their completion.
– Is Mr. Griffin being given every facility to take the levels, and obtain other information?
– Mr. Griffin has given me the levels, so that he must have had full opportunity to obtain them.
– Is there any truth in the statement that Mr. Griffin’s work is being hindered in the Department ?
– All the assistance in the way of information or staff which Mr. Griffin has asked for has been given, and when I tell the House that the staff is costing the Commonwealth about £50 a week In wages, honorable members will realize that Mr. Griffin is not being starved so far as assistance is concerned. I have referred to the administrative buildings because I desire to emphasize to honorable members that, whilst it is undesirable to have the buildings congested about Parliament House, they should yet be within a reasonable distance of Parliament House, as well as being conveniently accessible to everybody else who may have relations with them.
– All the public buildings should be together.
– Yes, providing that they are not congested. We must realize that we are building a city for the administration of the affairs of the whole Commonwealth, and that city should be built with due regard to the convenience of the parliamentary representatives and the people.
– Perhaps the honorable member wishes you to build a canvas town.
– I am not in favour of building any canvas town or tin shanties. My experience is that the men who are always clamouring for canvas houses and tin shanties are the first to grumble when they get them. The honorable member for Lang may not be familiar with what has taken place in Parliament during the last few weeks, because he has been absent frompublic business, but I assure him that the Government cannot be charged with responsibility for any unnecessary delay. We are proceeding with the works’ at the Federal Capital as swiftly as we can, taking all the circumstances into consideration. There are nearly 700 men employed in the Federal area, and I desire to keep that number employed, if not increased. My object is to look ahead, and insure that one work shall follow another, so that it will notbe necessary to suspend employment there. The building of this Federal Capital is a national undertaking, and party considerations should not have any weight in discussing the means of getting the best plan and the best results for the money we are expending. We must admit that we have a wonderfully pretty picture sketched out for us in connexion with the Federal Capital, but we must take a step ahead and obtain the opinion of civil engineers as to the best thing to do with the plans we are working on. I do not propose to further discuss the plans now, because I shall have another opportunity of doing so. Whilst I do not regard the motion as a hostile one, I am satisfied that the Government are doing their utmost to push ahead with the work. So far as I am concerned, there will be no delay in endeavouring to create a Capital City which will reflect credit on the Parliament and people of the Commonwealth. I do not say that the whole of the people will be satisfied, because amongst a free and intelligent people there will always be differences of opinion; but I am convinced that the majority of the people of Australia will agree that we have spent the money in a wise and satisfactory manner.
– I should like to amend the motion by omitting the words “the undesirable.”
– The honorable member may do that before the motion is put.
.- My reason for supporting the motion is different from the reasons expressed by other honorable members who have spoken. In five out of the six States of the Commonwealth there is a Labour Government in power. The one exception is the State of Victoria, and I am quite positive that a Labour Government would have been in power in this State but for the fact that the National Parliament meets in Melbourne.
– How do you reason that out?
– State politics in Victoria have been absolutely overshadowed since the establishment of Federation. In constituencies where from 80 to 83 per cent, of the electors go to the poll at the Federal election, only 46 per cent, or 48 per cent, record their votes in a State election.
– Order ! Does the honorable member propose to connect these remarks with the motion ?
– The latter portion of the motion requests the Government to expedite the removal of the Federal Parliament to the Capital City; and I am stating my reasons for believing that the removal of the Federal Parliament is advisable in the interests of Victorian State politics. Victorian politics’ have not received the same close attention from the electors since the Federal Parliament has been meeting in Melbourne as they did prior to that date, and I am afraid that as long as the Commonwealth Parliament is housed in Melbourne the same form of Liberal Government will continue in the State Legislature. Immediately this Parliament is removed to the Capital City, the day of Labour rule in the Victorian State Parliament will be close at hand.
– I ask the honorable member not to proceed on those lines.
– The honorable member apparently regards it as a good party move.
– I recognise the anxiety of the honorable member for Wimmera, the honorable member for Wannon, and others; because, so far as the Liberal party of Australia is concerned, Victoria is their only crumb of comfort - a crumb that would vanish with the removal of this Parliament to Canberra.
– Would it not be easier to remove the remnant of the Liberal party ?
– That is one thing I particularly desire, and for its realization no more effective step could be taken than the removal of the Seat of Government to the Federal Capital. I-say in all sincerity, that the presence of this Parliament in Melbourne has had a great effect on the minds of the people of Victoria. It is my ardent wish that Victoria should make the same progress that has been made by other States; and it is necessary, if that object is to be attained, to have » more progressive form of State Government. This, however, cannot, so far as I see, be brought about until the Federal Parliament has been removed. I do not support the motion because of any discomfort in this House, or of undesirable influences that may be exercised on the Parliament, but simply on the grounds that I have stated. 1 think that one of the undesirable influences that the honorable member for Lang has in his mind is the influence of the enthusiasm of the Victorian people for Protection. When the Federal Parliament was first elected, the majority of its members - or, it any rate, 50 per cent, of them - held strong Free Trade opinions; whereas to-day the majority are advocates of Protection. This I take to be the influence of the Protectionist atmosphere of Victoria.
– There is a majority of Protectionists from New South Wales now.
– I admit that the majority of the New South Wales people are Protectionists ; and, in my opinion, that is due to the Federal representatives of that State being brought more closely into contact with Victoria and its people; indeed, the honorable member for Cook himself has, I think, been subject to that influence. To-day the great majority of the people in Australia, and certainly the majority of the representatives in this House, believe in the principle of Protection. Personally, I am candid enough to admit that in this House and its surroundings I have been unable to recognise any discomfort. I came from a foundry to Parliament, and my surroundings here are far superior to those to which I had hitherto been accustomed; and I only hope and trust that, whatever Government may be in power at the time, the Parliament House at the Federal Capital will be, if not superior, at least equal to the House in which we now meet.
.- I support every move made to expedite work at the Federal Capital, and the removal of Parliament and the administrative offices from Melbourne. I should not, however, like it to be thought for one moment that I am not very sensible of the kindness and generosity of the people of Victoria to this Parliament. I say, without any hesitation, that Federal representatives are better treated by the State of Victoria than by any other State in the Union.
– The motion says nothing to the contrary.
– The Parliament and people of Victoria seem to have set themselves out, ever since this Parliament came into existence, to do everything in their power to make us comfortable.
– I am prepared to take out of the motion any words to which exception might be taken on that score.
– This is a magnificent and convenient building; indeed, I do not know its equal in Australia, and I should rather be in this House than in any other.
– Adelaide Parliament’ House is all right.
– Yes, such as it is; but it is very small compared with this.
– There are more conveniences for honorable members there.
– Why, the chamber in which we are meeting is almost as big as the “whole show” in Adelaide; at any rate, the South Australian Parliament House cannot compare with this one. I know that the honorable member for Lang does not wish it to be thought that any reflection is cast on the people of Victoria.
– Certainly not.
– Some verbal alteration might be made in the. motion to make that perfectly clear. The motion, in my opinion, is too vague and indefinite, speaking, as it does, of proceeding with the work “ at the earliest opportunity.” What is the “earliest opportunity?” Every Minister of Home Affairs we have had has assured us that he was doing “ everything possible,” and that Parliament would be removed at “ the earliest opportunity.”
– Could we fix a date?
– We ought to instruct the Minister to go on with the work at once.
– Why, that is what I am doing!
– We aH know that such phrases as “the earliest opportunity “ and “ the matter is receiving earnest and favorable consideration” have become mere conventions, and really mean nothing.
– I should be glad if the honorable member would use his influence to give the work a “push along.”
– I wish to do so. At every opportunity I have protested against the work not being gone on with more expeditiously; and I am sure that we all say “ Amen “ to the motion. The Prime Minister, in this House, on the 30th April, said that the sooner we removed to Canberra the better he would like it. That, of course, does not carry us much further; but the Prime Minister does desire the removal, and the question is: What has been done to expedite the removal ?
– That is what we want to know.
– Quite so. On the 7th May I asked the Minister of Home Affairs to make a statement in the House as to what is being done at the Capital site, and I believe that the honorable gentleman has had a statement prepared, and will present it very soon. On the 6th May, on a motion moved by the honorable member for Richmond, the
Minister of Home Affairs made a short speech, and then obtained leave to continue his remarks. So far as I can gather those remarks have never been continued.
– The adjourned debate is fixed for the 17th June. ,
– What I object to is our continually being told that plans are being proceeded with and investigations being made - that something has been referred to the Public Works Committee - and yet all the time we cannot see that very much has been done. There are 700 men employed at the site, but there ought at least to be 5,000, in view of the vast amount of necessary work that must be done at some time or other. I guarantee that if a business man, accustomed to big industrial, enterprises, were placed in charge, we would have 5,000 men there in a very short ,time ; and certainly some move ought to be made, considering that there are- 33,000 <men out of employment in Australia to-day. It would be infinitely better “to have this work done now than to wait until all our industries are in full swing, and there is a shortage of labour. Now is the time for the special move - now is the time to “ get a hustle on.” So far as Mr. Griffin, Colonel Owen, Colonel Miller, and the officers of the Department are concerned, they are all, I believe, very capable men ; but some of them appear to have got at loggerheads.
– That is all moonshine.
– If I had time to go through the Hansard record, I believe I could prove, from the Minister’s own words, that there was some dispute amongst these officers; indeed, I understand that evidence of the fact was given to the Public Works Committee by one of the gentlemen I have mentioned.
– The honorable member ought to say that there has been some animated friendly discussion.
– That is very similar to telling a liar that he is guilty of terminological inexactitude. There has been some dissension, and, in my opinion, the Minister ought to, metaphorically speaking, get the officers by the scruff of the neck and convince them that he will tolerate no further delay on this account.
– I “ run the show,” not they.
– I am glad to hear that ; and I only wish the Minister would run the show at an accelerated speed.
– Blame me - I shall, take the blame.
– I have no doubt that the Minister is greatly influenced by his officers, and I have a lingering suspicion that a number of these gentlemen are not very anxious to move to Canberra.. Possibly they are very comfortable in Victoria, and do not wish to have theirsocial enjoyments interfered with by a. move into what they would call the bush..
– That might apply to> some honorable members too.
– I do not know that, because there seems to be a general desire to prepare for our removal. When, competitive designs for the parliamentary- buildings were called for some time agor the Minister stopped the proceeding,, though I understand that fresh arrangements are being made in this connexion. Does the Minister propose to call for these designs from all the countries of Europe?
– No; competition wiltbe confined to th© British Empire.
– That suggests thatwe have had a delay of six months which ought never to have taken place. TheMinister stopped the calling for designssix months ago, on the outbreak of the war, because many of the world’s prominent architects were living in enemy countries,., and would not naturally have been ableto take part. He has now come to theconclusion that the competition ought tobe revived. On his own showing we havewasted twelve months. Now we are tostart de novo.
– How could I get on earlier without the levels? I did not get the levels until Easter.
– Have we to have the levels before the architectural designof parliamentary buildings can be created ?’
– I mean the main levels and the contour survey.
– You can determine upon the architecture of a building irrespective of the levels, and put the building upon whatever levels you have got. Surely that has nothing to do withit. It was decided twelve months ago to: go on with this competitive design. Now, according to the Minister, it would have been impossible to go on twelve months ago, because the Minister did not have tha levels. If this were correct, there was gross official blundering. But it is clear to any novice that the levels have nothing to do with the architecture of the superstructure.
– On the levels given then it would have been necessary to remove 2,500,000 yards of material.
– And the Minister has got fresh levels?
– I am using the levels supplied last Easter.
– However, Heaven only knows when we will get to the end of the thing.
– We will get to the end right enough.
– But in regard to these designs, it is quite clear we have had twelve months’ delay.
– Hear, hear ! There is no doubt about that, but it is not the fault of this Government.
– I do not know that I can go any further, but I hope the Minister will see that the work progresses and that something is done.
– You need not worry about that. Something is being done now. There are 700 men at work.
– What is 700 men? It is only a flea-bite where there is so much work to be done. A railway has to be built from Canberra to Yass to connect with the main Southern line of the New South Wales system. A railway has to be built from Canberra to Jervis Bay to connect with the Naval establishment there, so there is any amount of work to be gone on with. I hope the Minister will look into this matter, and if he has not made any definite statement of the position, that he will do so at the earliest opportunity.
– I ask leave of the House to submit an amendment by omitting the words “ the undesirable “ from the motion originally submitted.
Question, as amended, resolved in the affirmative.
In Committee of Supply (Consideration resumed from 26th May, vide page 3436) :
Department of Defence
Division 42 (Central Administration),
.- The only object. I have in rising is to supplement my remarks of last evening with one or two suggestions regarding possible improvements at the camp at Broadmeadows. I think it is very probable that a permanent camp will be established in Victoria as the result of the present war, and my suggestion to the Minister is that, in view of the enormous amount of material that has to be brought into the camp every day, and in order to facilitate the transportation of troops backwards and forwards, particularly during the winter months, the Government should consider the advisability of building a railway siding at the camp, and so obviate the necessity of carrying so much material over the roads. If a railway siding were established at Broadmeadows, hundreds of trucks of gravel and cinders might be brought in during, the absence of the troops, for the purpose of repairing the main parade, and for the top-dressing generally of the camp. If this were done, Broadmeadows would not again be in the condition In which we recently found it. I would also suggest to the Minister that he should establish a drying compartment at the camp. I think the Minister will understand the value of a chemical drying apparatus wherever there are soldiers liable to get wet on parade or on their other duties. Instead of a soldier taking his clothes into the tent, as he has to do at the present time, all wet garments could be sent into the drying kitchen, andin an hour or two could be sent hack dry and ready for use. Thoseof us whose duties often call us into the open air, know what it means to have to go through a whole day in wet clothes. Nothing is more conducive to rheumatism or to pneumonia; and when eight or nine men, each with wet clothes, are occupying one tent, and attempting to dry their clothes at the same time, the atmosphere gets very vitiated, and the health of the troops must suffer. If a thoroughly effective chemical drying kitchen could be established at Broadmeadows during the winter months, it would result in a great economy in the matter of clothing, and would be of tremendous advantage to the soldiers themselves.
.- I am sorry to have to come back to the question that I dealt with last night.
– So am I.
– But it is absolutely necessary. I may tell the House that I have not the slightest idea of gaining any popularity in connexion with this .matter at all. I did not introduce it by way of seeking notoriety or publicity. My attitude from the start was that the whole of the facts in connexion with Rabaul were so absolutely well known that there could not be any question as to what took place, and that the best way of getting out of a bad job would have been by letting the convicted men go. That attitude was declined. Since then a Board of Inquiry has sat, and a court martial has been instituted, neither of which I may say was of my seeking. But the “court martial has returned its verdict, and if this verdict is to be accepted by the people of this country, it means my condemnation. If the verdict of that court martial is based upon the facts that were presented to it, it is selfevident that I, as a member of this House, stand condemned as an individual who makes allegations without having any foundation for them, and who makes wilful and deliberate slanders against men concerned with military administration. I accept that responsibility. But I want to go a step further, and to Bay that it was this Government which promoted the inquiry and the court martial. If, therefore, there was no evidence to be brought before the court martial, its establishment was an outrage and an injustice to the officers concerned. But if there was evidence, and it was not presented - because charging an officer in respect to a fork or a spoon is so utterly insignificant a proceeding as to excite only contempt - but if there was evidence, and it was nob produced, it means that the court martial was a premeditated farce. Now I propose to deal with this thing as it stands, and present some facts to this Parliament and this country.
– Yes, a premeditated farce. On that I stand. I may say at once that I do not approach this question in any attitude that refuses to admit that a thing was wrong if it is wrong, but I approach it to-day with a strength of conviction that finds itself fortified by an ever-increasing armament of unassailable fact. Last November Colonel Holmes wrote that there were men of evil reputation among the troops, and some who had bad records in Australia. But he did not say then, nor has he ever informed the Minister, that there were any officers who were men of evil reputation. My affirmation is that the officers in Rabaul absolutely prohibited looting on the part of the common soldiers and sailors, but claimed for themselves, and exercised, the exclusive right of robbery, and that, when the whole thing was exposed, they sought to cover it up by every possible device. In making my investigations into this matter a few weeks ago I asked for the production of a letter of complaint received by me, and sent on to the Department last November, and for the covering note written by myself. I was told that the Department had not received any covering letter from me. I said, “Is it not peculiar that I should send into the Department a complaint made by a man without making any marginal note upon it, or attaching a cover-‘ ing letter to it? Be that as it may, I wilL let the matter rest at that.” I raised this question in the House, and the day following the release of these men from gaol the Minister of Defence made a statement to the press. That statement comprised four items. In the first place, he said that I had sent in a letter to the Department, which was received by it on 1st January last. When I read that statement I was surprised. I said to myself, “This is funny I Did I, or did I not. send in a letter with the man’s complaint to the Department?” I wrote to the Department asking to be supplied with a copy of the letter I was reported by the Minister to have sent in on the 1st January. I received a reply in which the Department returned to its original position : that I had not sent in a covering note. The Minister made the further statement to the press that on the 6th February I received a letter intimating that the case of these men would be reconsidered at an early date if their behaviour was good. There was nothing in that letter to indicate that consideration would be given to the men on any ground whatever. The word “would” did not appear; the word “may” was used; and used in reference to the consideration of the future good behaviour of the men involved. But it was not upon the question of the behaviour of the men while in gaol that I took my stand. I stood upon the solid, unassailable rock that if tha practice complained of on the part of these men at Rabaul was common to all up there, then they should not be in gaol. The Age stated my attitude fairly when it wrote -
Mr. Anstey did not claim that the soldiers are innocent. He contended that there should he but one brand of justice for all offenders, and since the guilty officers had escaped, he thought that the condemned privates should forthwith be restored to liberty. It is imperative that military jurisdiction should be purged of any suspicion of tampering with the scales, and its methods should _be brought into a prompt and close approximation with the forms and principles of civil law.
That was distinctly the attitude taken up by me. The third statement made by the Minister to the press was that I had merely anticipated the Ministerial action; and that owing to his goodness in permitting me to peruse the departmental files I had been able to build up the case which I had presented to the House. My answer to that is that one of the complaints made against me by honorable members, and by Ministers, in this House, was that I had presented no evidence in support of my charges. I had evidence, but I withheld it for the time being. I was content for the time being to make broad, general statements. The Minister later on told the press, however, that I used the departmental files to build up my case. If I put no evidence before the House in support of my allegations, what ground is there for this statement on the part of the Minister? Then the Minister went on to say that what had taken place in regard to the release of these men would have occurred quite irrespective of any publicity given to the matter by me. I do not want to claim any notoriety. I said that if these men were set at liberty, not one word more on the subject would be heard from me in this chamber. How did I keep that promise ? At no time did I make any mention of the naval side of the matter. Why did I say nothing about the naval officers up there? Because they were innocent? No! Because they were less guilty than the others? No! I was silent because they did not go to the extreme of putting men in gaol. The naval officers up there very cleverly examined each man’s kit. Whether they were at Rabaul or elsewhere, the men were refused permission to retain a single bit of loot. The Commander, in addressing them, said, in effect, “Your duty is to conduct yourselves in such a way as to reflect credit on your country. Do nothing that would dishonour it. We stand beneath a flag that has braved a thousand years, the battle and the breeze, and you must keep it unstained.” Having said that, having taken any little trinket to be found in their kits - having refused to allow them to retain any little keepsake, not even a bayonet point being allowed to remain in their knapsack - he proceeded to load his own property. He placed on the Parramatta a case of collapsible bedsteads, and shipped nine cases of assorted robbery by the Matunga. That cargo was sent to Sydney, and was re-shipped to Newcastle. These are facts known to the Naval Board and to the Central Administration - known to the Minister of Defence. They are set out in documentary form by accredited officers, whose word none dare impugn. What is true of Commander Bracegirdle is true of others.
– Is this what he did?
– Yes. This is no mere assertion on my part; it is a fact well known to the Department. But let me return to my main point in regard to the military officers. These men who were sentenced to a term of imprisonment were sent to Sydney. Subsequently Mrs. Penny, who was largely responsible for the publicity given to this matter - she is one of those women who are never beaten - proceeded to fight for her mate and her children. She tried to gain publicity for her case in the Sydney press. She wrote, also, to Ministers and to members of Parliament. She commenced one of her letters to the Minister of Defence by saying, “Listen to the prayer of a mother and 3ix children.” She then went on to detail the facts, and stated that her husband had been simply doing the bidding of the men who led the .troops at Rabaul. She received an answer to the effect that nothing could be done for her; that the Minister did not propose to alter the decision of his chief officers, and that Penny and the other men must remain in gaol. A letter to another Minister elicited only the same answer. She then wrote a further letter, in which she said, “My children have more meal times than meals, and my husband is lying in gaol while the other thieves are getting promoted in the
Army of their country.” Still no notice was taken of her appeal. I then sent to the Department the letter which is said not to be in existence.
– Does the honorable member say that he wrote a letter?
– I am not pushing that point, since it is denied by the Department that the letter of complaint received by me, and which I sent on to the Department, .was accompanied by a covering note.
– Has the honorable member any evidence?
– I told the Committee before the Prime Minister came in that I wrote to the Department before leaving for Norfolk Island. I wish now to ask the Leader of the Opposition whether, when he called for the production of the file dealing with this matter, he expected that the file would comprise the whole or only part of the correspondence ?
– The whole of it.
– And so would any honorable member. If the right honorable member will examine the file he will observe that there is first of all a letter purporting to come from William Penny to myself. The next document on it is the reply made on 6th February. If there was anything intervening, between the letter which I sent in and the reply which I received, in the shape of a report bearing on the letter of complaint, I take it that that report should be on the file just as any other paper relating to the case ought to be.
– If it dealt with the same subject.
– It did. On returning from Norfolk Island at the latter end of January, I telephoned to the Department to learn what had been done, and was told that inquiries were being made. I asked who was going to make these inquiries, and was informed that they would be conducted by military officers. My answer to that was, “ They are no good to me. I want a definite statement. I want to know whether the statement made by Penny and the others in gaol is true or untrue. If it is not true, then they should receive an additional sentence for perjury. If it is true, they ought not to be in gaol.” Mr. Trumble informed me that the matter had been referred to the Adjutant-General, Lieut. -
Colonel Dodds, and that I would receive an answer to my inquiries in the course of a few days. The point to which I would direct the attention of the Leader of the Opposition is that he cannot find on the file the report furnished by Lieut.Colonel Dodds. It has disappeared. I can tell the Committee, however, what Lieut. -Colonel Dodds reported. He wrote in the first place, “ It is not proposed to take notice of insinuations against officers of the Expeditions.” Therein was set forth the policy of the official chiefs. Men might say, “I looted under the direction of officers; I loaded loot under the direction of officers,” but no notice was to be taken. But they took notice of insinuations against the rank and file.
– How does the honorable member know this if the report is not on the file?
– Because I saw the report before it was extracted.
– It was on the file?
– Yes, but it was not there when the file was laid on the table of the House in response to the request made by the right honorable member for Parramatta.
– I wonder how the honorable member can get access to all these documents.
– The Minister of Defence gave him liberty to see them.
– There is no secret about the matter. The case had been going on for four weeks before the House met, and, becoming anxious, I asked permission to see the file in order that I might ascertain what was being done. That permission was granted, and I made certain extracts from the report to which I have referred. The position taken up by the Minister was that there could be no interference with the decision already arrived at. That was the answer given to Mrs. Penny, but later on it was said that the case of these men might be reconsidered if their behaviour was good- The question was whether the accusations made against officers were true or not, and an inquiry was demanded. But honorable members will gather from what I have said that the definite policy laid down by the Adjutant-General was that no notice should be taken of insinuations against officers. Lieut-Colonel Dodds went on to say that ‘ ‘ these accusations were made with the idea that the Department would be influenced in the decision in these cases in order to avoid a scandal.” If there was no subject for a scandal so far as the officers were concerned, how was a scandal to be created ? This, then, was the policy of the officers of the Department. They were determined to cloak up the matter in every way. Several weeks elapsed without anything being done; the end of February came round, but no one had moved, and I then said to the Department, “ It is easy to solve this question. Send an officer to Sydney to examine what property is sent down from Rabaul, and by whom it is owned.” Every sailor in the coastal trade knows what is placed in the holds of his ship. Every wharf labourer knows what goes in and out of the hold of a ship which he is working. The very dogs were barking what was going on, and while men on the wharfs were unloading the loot of the officers other men- of the rank and file were serving time in the penitentiaries of their country. At last I was informed that a man, in whom there was every confidence, was being sent up to make an investigation.
– Who was he?
– An agent appointed by the Minister. He went to Sydney, and within four hours of his arrival had absolute proof that every accusation was true.
– Who was he?
– It is for the right honorable member to interrogate me, and for me to make my own statement in my own way.
– But why suppress this name while parading others ?
– He was an official.
– The honorable member should put all his cards on the table.
– I am putting a good many of them before the Committee.
– They seem to have been carefully selected.
– No. There has been no selection. The man who was sent was Mr. Lahiff, Senior Ordnance Officer. Within four hours of his arrival in Sydney he obtained the evidence and got the loot into his possession. Lest the military chiefs should interfere, he took it to the police station, and put it under the charge of the Government of New South Wales. He seized the forged receipts in many cases. When he had done that, and they found that he was in Sydney, the military chiefs declared themselves outraged by this interference with their work. They asked, “Were not they the men to maintain the honour of the Army and to see justice done ?” They communicated with the Minister, and said, “We are carrying out this work. We are prepared to make a proper investigation. Why should we not be permitted to do so?” It is to their undying infamy that, though for three months they had had ample opportunity, they never made a step until they knew that the Senior Ordnance Officer was in Sydney, and had the thieves’ property in his clutches. Then (hey said they were prepared to constitute a Board.
– Who sent the Senior Ordnance Officer to Sydney?
– The Minister. He arrived in Sydney on the 25th February. On the 5th March the military chiefs communicated with the Minister, proposing the constitution of a Board.
– Did they consult the Minister about the appointment of a Board?
– They wrote to the Minister on the subject on 5th March, and on the 9th March he gave his consent to the establishment of a Board, although “from the end of November until that date the military authorities had done nothing in the matter. They thereupon ordered that the stolen property and the forged receipts should be handed over to them, declaring that it was for them to make an inquiry, and that they should have all the evidence on which to proceed. Mr. Lahiff was to assist them. On the 14th March, he reported to the Minister -
There is no doubt that looting has taken place on a large scale from the top downwards, and if it were not for the men in gaol there would be no question of loot at all.
That is to say, there would have been no one to “ squeak.” A private soldier or a sailor subject to his officers would not wish to be black-listed.
– Did the report refer to the naval authorities?
– No; only to the military authorities. The naval officers do not come into this matter at all. Mr. Lahiff’s report stated that the soldiers did what they saw the officers doing. The great bulk of the loot came by the troopship Berrima; and was placed aboard and taken away under the direction of military and naval officers. The transport Eastern was also used for a similar purpose. These ships, being under military and naval control, were not subject to Customs inspection. Nine cases of loot came by the Matunga on the 28th January, and were reshipped to Newcastle. Mr. Lahiff described the property that he had seized.
– This still refers to the property taken by the military?
– Yes. I am not dealing with the Navy at all. He said that on the 22nd of February five cases of loot were shipped on the Matunga at Ra- baul for Captain Ravenscroft. After the officers had left New Guinea their agents at Rabaul were shipping stuff for them. The Moresby and the Marsina were also used for the transport of loot. Amongst the looted goods were bedsteads, motor boats, gramophones, table linen, typewriters, chronometers, cameras, silverware, children’s soup plates, chinaware, saucepans, Japanese ware, glassware, jugs, coffee pots, kettles, lamps, &c, &c. Mr. Lahiff reported on the 14th March that stuff was still coming along, but that they were getting to the tail end of it. He said that forgery was added to robbery, and reported that he held receipts produced to the Customs authorities which he could prove to be forgeries. He urged that the Board of Inquiry should take no notice of receipts produced before them until these had been proved to be genuine. A cargo came by the Marsina for Captain Fry. But Captain Fry did not appear before the court martial. His consignment consisted of jugs, coffee pots, tea pots, &c, which he said he had bought from Captain Mueller, a German officer interned at the Concentration Camp at Liverpool, who replied that the receipt concerned goods that he had never owned. That was one forged receipt, hut there were others. There was a motor boat worth about £300, for which a receipt for £28 from an unknown German was produced. Mr. Lahiff went on to say that the military and naval officers were silent on the subject -
The Military men refer me to the Navy, the Naval officers refer me to the Military. The officers responsible for the shipment should be called.
Then the Board of Inquiry met. Captain Bowie Wilson was the first prosecutor appointed, but afterwards Colonel Ramaciotti was appointed.
– Was this tribunal a Board of Inquiry or a court martial ?
– First, there was the investigation by the Senior Ordnance Officer, then a Board of Inquiry, and, lastly, a court martial.
– Was it in reference to the proceedings of the Board of Inquiry that I made a promise to the House last night?
– The Prime Minister’s statement last night had to do with a different case altogether.
– Was Colonel Ramaciotti president of the Board of Inquiry, and subsequently of the court martial ?
– No. He was prosecutor. I think that the investigation to which the Prime Minister referred last night was made by a Board of Inquiry, though I understand that a Board of Inquiry cannot take sworn evidence.
– I understood that it was an investigation by a court martial.
– The honorable member for Bourke last night spoke of sworn evidence, so that the inquiry must have been that of a court martial.
– I am not clear whether the investigation was that of a Board of Inquiry or of a court martial. But to return to the case with which I was dealing when the Prime Minister interrupted me. Captain Ravenscroft was brought before the Board of Inquiry, and asked, “ What did you do with certain property? How did you distribute it?” He replied that the distribution was made under the orders of Colonel Holmes. One of the charges was that Lieutenant Holmes and Lieutenant Travers went to the house of the Deputy Governor, and looted it. The car driver was given three months because he took something for himself. Young Holmes was asked, “Did you go to this place?” He said, “ Yes.” “ Did you take the car there?” “Yes.” “ What did you take ?” “All sorts of things.” “ Under whose direction?”” Under the direction of Colonel Holmes.” If the evidence taken by the Board of Inquiry was not sufficient to justify the court martialling of Colonel
Holmes,I wish to know what would have been sufficient? Mr. Lahiff said -
I urge on the Minister to put it to the Board of Inquiry that they should accept no receipt until proved genuine, because I hold so many forged ones.
When the Board dealt with Sergeant Anderson, it said, “ Your receipt’s are bogus, we shall not receive them;” but Colonel Fry’s receipts were accepted as genuine, and he was allowed to escape. Following the Board of Inquiry came the court martial. When I read the list of officers constituting the court martial, my mind went back a few years in the history of this country, and I wondered what justice could be expected from a body so constituted. Its president was an officer who some years ago was called upon by the New South Wales Government to account for £700 that had been advanced to him. At the time he was a major. His reply was that the advance had been £300 in hard cash, not £700, and that he had receipts from his predecessor for the balance of £400. He could not account for a penny of the £300, however, and it was discovered afterwards that he had received the great bulk of the £400 for which he said he had obtained receipts from his predecessor. Out of £700 he stuck to £611. A Board of Inquiry was appointed to investigate the case, its members being Colonel Waddell and Major T. F. Knox, one of whom boasted that he was manager of the Colonial Bank, and the other that he was managing director of Dalgety and Company; and they claimed that no reflection should be cast on them when they reported that this officer was not guilty of the charges brought against him. The right honorable member for Swan was at the time Minister of Defence, and he asked for the notes taken during the inquiry. This was objected to, but the right honorable member pointed out that a Privy Council or a Supreme Court gives reasons for its decisions, and that the notes of Judges are public property.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
– He should be allowed to continue.
Motion (by Mr. Fisher) agreed to -
That the honorable member for Bourke be granted an extension of time.
– Eventually they had to give up the notes taken. Then the Audit Department of New South Wales formulated ten charges, each being a charge of absolute robbery of property of the State. A responsible officer of the Audit Department said, “ Give me a court martial, and I shall prove every one of these charges.”
– In what year was this?
– In 1904. A court martial was refused. The Audit officers then recommended to the Government of the State that a criminal prosecution for embezzlement should be commenced, but that application was smothered by social influence. It is the man against whom these charges were made - Colonel, then Major, Lee - who was appointed president of the court martial constituted to try the Rabaul cases. He embezzled £611 of the money of the New South Wales Government, and the officers of the Audit Department of the State recommended that he should be criminally prosecuted. He was only saved from gaol by social influence. He ought not to be in the Army of Australia, despite his work on the fields of South Africa, and certainly he should not, on any ground, be one of a tribunal to try others. I come now to another officer, Captain Ravenscroft. Here we have another beauty ! He was an officer in the British Army, who was drummed out of it for robbery. When he was brought before a court martial, the prosecutor asked Mr. Lahiff, the Senior Ordnance Officer, “ What are you here for?” Mr. Lahiff answered, “To give evidence, if necessary.” “What is your evidence?” “My evidence is against Captain Ravenscroft and others.” “ What is the character of your evidence?” “To prove that I seized the property they annexed.” “ Then you may go away; we do not want you.”
– Where does that incident appear?
– The right honorable gentleman can ask the Senior Ordnance Officer if that is not a true statement of facts. The prosecutor refused to admit this man into court because he could prove the case against Captain Ravenscroft. Did any one ever hear of such a farce as was reported in the Daily Telegraph the other day? This man was charged with having stolen a chronome- ter, just as other men were charged with having stolen a fork and spoon. If that was not a farce, I do not know what is. Although it was reported to the authorities that the accused persons had stolen gramophones, table linen, typewriters, cameras, silverware, chinaware, and dozens of other things, they -charged him with the theft of one little article. In the inquiry into Campbell’s case, three officers were permitted to swear to the man’s confession, but in the case against Ravenscroft the court would not permit any one to testify against the accused. The prosecutor walked into the court and said, “ I present the case for the prosecution. My charge against the prisoner is that he stole a chronometer; that, having stolen it, he received it; and, having received it, he got it with a full knowledge that it was stolen, and that he stole it after receiving it.” Then he concluded, “ That is my case against the prisoner, but, as I have no proof, I desire to withdraw the charges I have made.” The president of the court, Colonel Lee, said, “ You must go on with the case; we cannot allow these withdrawals.” The prosecutor replied, “ But I have no proof,” and Colonel Lee said, “ All the more reason why we should go on with the case.” Is it not an outrage for a prosecutor to bring a man before a court and then say, “ That is my charge, but I cannot go on with it “ ? Is that not making a farce of the whole proceedings and a travesty of justice?
– Was Mr. Lahiff called at any of these inquiries?
– He was in attendance, but the court would not hear him. He was told to go back to Melbourne. Why ? Because the court did not want any evidence to prove the guilt of Ravenscroft. Now I come to the case of Moore. When this question was discussed in the House on a previous occasion, we were told of the guarantees that were provided against any abuse or injury to civil liberty by a court martial. We were told that every sentence passed by a court martial would be reviewed by the Attorney-General. Yesterday I asked the honorable gentleman whether any sentence had been passed on Lieutenant Moore. The AttorneyGeneral replied that he had never heard of the man. Then inquiry was made, and it was found that the Gover nor-General and his Ministers had passed] execution on the man. Did honorable members ever hear of such a situation ? The Attorney-General told me that he> had never heard of the case of Lieutenant Moore. Then I replied, ‘ ‘ You passed sentence on him; he has been executed; his head is off.” Whereupon the AttorneyGeneral said, “Has he? Then, by God! I’ll review the case.” That is the sort of protection the public has in casesof this kind. In regard to these charges of looting, any member may examine themen who are now in gaol; he can look at the evidence, the names of the ships that came from Rabaul and their contents, the incontestible evidence of privates and wharf labourers, the facts that have come from the court martial, and the articles produced by the man appointed by the Minister to seize them, and he can come to no other conclusionthan that there was in Rabaul an atmosphere of robbery and crime, the responsibility for which rests upon those whocontrolled the expedition. This man Moore, a sergeant yesterday, a corporal the day before, a private prior to that - a man who had acquired his position by honorable effort - was made the scapegoat, whilst a notorious criminal likeRavenscroft, who ought not to be in any army in the world, is permitted to walk about as a free man. Is that not a travesty on justice? No man should be allowed to preside over these courtsmartial unless his life is untainted by any suspicion of crime. I never sought publicity in connexion wth this case. I said to the Minister “ Let these men go, and then hush the matter up; it is a dirty business, but it is iniquitous that a number of men should be kept in gaol whenthose who were in command of them, and who were equally guilty, are allowed towalk abroad. People cannot be in an atmosphere of crime, where every man is doing something wrong, without all being tainted by it. The best thing to do is ta smother the case up.”
– I do not agree with you- in that contention.
– That is my attitude, but the case has gone too far now.
– Everything that the present Government tackles is clean.
– This matter cannot rest here.
– It will not rest hero.
– Id is a pity the Assistant Minister did not make that statement long ago.
– We have “always said that.
– Did not the Minister of Defence wire to Lahiff instructing him to seize all this looted property?
– I have not said a word about the Minister of Defence.
– If these facts were known to the Department, action should have been taken long ago.
– Did Lahiff report these matters to the Minister ?
– I have quoted to the Committee Lahiff’s report to the Minister on the 14th March. The unfortunate position of all Ministers, irrespective of party, is that they have an undue conception of honour, loyalty and duty to the officials, whereas the duty of the officials should be to uphold the honour of Ministers. The honorable member for Wentworth, when he was Assistant Minister of Home Affairs, was placed in a false position by the acts of his officials; everybody knew that he was not at fault; but Minister after Minister is placed in the same unfair position. I say it would have been infinitely better for the honour of the Army, and for the credit of Australia, if, a few months ago, the Minister of Defence had done as I suggested, and liberated the men who were in prison. The only honorable thing to do was to liberate them and recompense them, and to say nothing further about the matter; or, alternatively, .to proceed to investigate the whole of the charges. At such a critical juncture in our affairs, an investigation would only do harm. It would have been infinitely better, as a matter of national policy, to hush the whole thing up and give the imprisoned men their liberty.
– I do not agree with you.
– Why has the case been hushed up so long?
– It has never been hushed up.
– It has.
– That is a biased opinion, expressed for political purposes.
– Why make that statement? The facts are there.
– Before the House reassembled, I asked the Minister what good would result from holding a court martial. As long as there is war, there will be looting, and we cannot restrain it. I take up no moral attitude in this matter, but I say that if one man is in the looting, all are in it. But do not let the officers take so much for themselves, and then put their subordinates in gaol for doing the same thing. The court martial had before it sworn affidavits by men who said that they were compelled to pack the looted property. Yet the court refused to act on that evidence. All I asked of the Minister of Defence was that those men should be taken out of gaol. I do not believe that any court martial that has ever been held on this continent found an officer guilty. The Army of Australia is controlled by the same old banking ring and the sugar monopoly that we hear so much of in other quarters - a black band of conspirators who ought not to have control of an army in any Democracy. The only honest thing to do now is to release the imprisoned men, and to give them compensation. Then, if it is desired to make an inquiry, let all the suspected parties be brought to the same bar, and impose on all the same penalties. But do not keep some men in gaol while making inquiries in regard to the others.
– And take the charges before a civil Court.
– There ought never to be a court martial except on the field of battle. I am now finished with this stale, stinking subject. I did not desire to ventilate it, I have had no pleasure in handling it, but if it has brought any comfort to the relatives of the imprisoned men, I am well rewarded for the discharge of a distasteful duty.
– I do not rise to address myself to the merits of the question, but to join issue with the honorable member for Bourke as to what is the right thing to do in regard to this matter. I deny that looting is a necessary accompaniment of a soldier’s duty. On the contrary, it is the duty of the commanding officer to shoot the first soldier who loots, if he cannot deal with him in any other way.
– Who is going to shoot the commanding officer when he loots?
– That is not a new quip. If the commanding officer loots, there should be dozens of officers and others who would be able to inform on him. The honorable member’s question assumes that the whole of our officers and soldiers are corrupt. They are not.
– That is not fair to me. I say that the great bulk of the officers and men of our Army are absolutely honest.
– I am glad to hear that. We assumed that there were sufficient honorable men in that expedition to give honest evidence in an inquiry, and that the facts would be elicited by crossexamination at a trial by either the civil or military power. If that is so, the honorable member’s argument is partially gone, because he stated that no court martial could be relied upon to do justice in a trial of officers.
– Hear, hear ! I say that.
– I do not agree with the honorable member, and I protest against any such statement being made.
– It is, by implication, charging the whole force of officers with being corrupt.
– That is the only point I intend to deal with now. I am not dealing with the facts and merits of the case, which I leave on one side, to he discovered in time by efficient means. I rise now to defend the honour of the whole of our armed Forces against the charge that the truth cannot he got from them in any Court, and especially in a court martial.
In the meantime, I repeat what I said last night, that the matter cannot, and will not, be allowed to rest at the present stage. It will be sifted thoroughly in every possible way. The facts presented to me are not quite the same as those presented by the honorable member, but we shall discover what the true facts are sooner or later. I can say, on behalf of the Minister of Defence, that, from the time when I first knew anything of this affair, and spoke to him concerning it, no man could have shown greater alacrity in trying to discover the facts, and bring them home to the guilty with the least possible delay. But there are certain laws, customs, and practices in judicial and semi-judicial matters that call for what seems to a lavman unnecessary delay. There has. however, been no wilful delay on the part of the Government nor any attempt to withhold any points of the evidence - there has been no attempt to shelter any man, no matter what his name may be. I repeat what I said on a previous occasion, that officers who are guilty of such charges ought to be treated more severely than would the humblest man in the ranks. Their case has been adjudicated upon by the Minister in a straightforward way, but it will not he left out of sight on a reexamination.
. - Along with other honorable members, I have heard with a great deal of astonishment the series of odious charges made by the honorable member for Bourke against the officers who had charge of the expedition to Rabaul. If a tithe of those charges are true, those officers ought not to be in the Australian Army. But up to the present we have only the statements of one man - that is, a gentleman who evidently has reported to the Minister what he has not been allowed to report anywhere else. But the honorable member for Bourke clearly reveals his motive when he says that he does not wish to punish the officers. After blackening their characters, and dragging out everything in their history that he thinks will damn them in the eyes of a decent-minded public, he concludes by saying that he does not wish to hurt them! He describes one man as a robber and plunderer, who ought not to be in the Army, but yet declares that he does not wish to hurt him! The honorable member’s notions of things seem to be very strangely inverted. In what way does he imagine he can hurt those officers more than he has done by bringing those charges and allegations against them, and damaging them in the eyes of the world. After heaping all this contumely, and all these scandalous charges, upon these officers, he makes the solemn asseveration that he does not wish to hurt them! He says, in effect, “ These men are murderers, plunderers, perjurers, and looters,but I do not wish to do them an injury.”
– I do not wish to hurt them.
– I should like to know what is the honorable member’s conception of an injury.
– Going to gaol and stopping there - that is one.
– I would rather spend my life in gaol as an innocent mau than have these charges unproved over my head.
– I should not like to give the honorable member the choice of the alternative !
– The honorable member has strangely inverted notions of what is right and fair. He says, “ Let those other men out, and then you can do what you like - let them out, and compensate them.”
– Hear, hear! Equality amongst thieves.
– The charge against those men was that they, being military police on police duty, held a revolver to a priest’s head and took his money; and yet the honorable member says, “ Let them out, and compensate them, and I shall have no more to say.” That is not my idea of a proper view of the case.
– Your idea is that a’ man may put a gun to another man’s head, and get away with the stuff.
– My idea is that if these military, police looted in this way their place is in gaol, just as it is the place for any officer who has been guilty of the same offence.
– That’s right.
– But there is a slight difference between the honorable member and myself, because his suggestion is that both should be set at liberty. I think we shall all agree that if half the charges are true, both officers and men should be in gaol.
– Either all should be in gaol, or all out - have it which way you like.
– The honorable member seems to take the view that those men in gaol would be all right if there were only some one else with them, but I should think that would be poor satisfaction.
– They should all be in gaol if what is stated is true.
– So they should; I am now only speaking of the honorable member’s notions of what ought to be done. The honorable member has made a series of charges. First of all, he impugns the members of the court martial; and those members ought to be in gaol if half that he has said is true.
– One member.
– Which one member - Ravenscroft ?
– Ravenscroft was the man at the Bar.
– And he has been let off.
– Yes, and good luck to him.
– Yet the honorable member says that this officer has been pursuing these practices practically all his official life, both in England and here. If that be true, this man has no right in our Army at all, and neither has Colonel Lee, I should imagine. However, what is the right way in, which to go about this business? Surely it ought notto be hushed up, as the honorable member suggests, but ought to be sifted to the bottom? Lahiff - I do not know his rank - ought to have a chance of substantiating all he has said, and if he can prove it all, then a very serious situation has arisen. These officers are men whom we trusted - men of repute whose honour in civil life has been above suspicion - and if they are to lie under these charges it seems to me that it would be “ good-bye “ to the officering of our Citizen Forces. If they be guilty, let us know the fact, and the extent of their guilt, and let them be punished like any other men. The question arises as to what kind of investigation would meet the circumstances ; and I have two suggestions to make, either of which I think would prove effective. I do not see why a Committee of picked men from this Chamber could not be appointed. There are, I believe, men on both sides who could be trusted with an investigation of the kind.
– Would not a Judge be better?
– That is my second suggestion, if honorable members do not like to undertake a duty of the kind, though, personally, I see no objection. It is only a matter of ascertaining the facts, because the apportionment of the punishment would await some other tribunal; and I think that such a Committee as I have suggested could perform the duty just as readily and efficiently as any other. We are all agreed that the matter cannot rest where it is, but must be thoroughly sifted in the interests of the officers themselves, and of the Forces generally. This thing has gone altogether too far to be ignored; and an investigation should be intrusted either to a Select Committee or to a Judge, against whom there could be raised no imputation of being a looter, a robber, or a perjurer. I have never during my parliamentary life heard such a series of charges made by an honorable member; and if those charges are proved, I shall get the surprise of my life. Some of those officers I have hitherto looked upon as men of honour and integrity, who could be trusted to any length ; and, as I say, I shall indeed get the surprise of my life if they are proved to have been guilty of such infamous practices. But I remind honorable members that this is only one aspect of the matter. The honorable member for Bourke made a series of statements last night concerning another man who made allegations concerning some pyjamas. This morning I went through the file of papers carefully; and I can only hope that the honorable member will never be judged on evidence similar to that furnished by this man Campbell.
– All I asked was, *’ Where is the confession?” That is all I said.
– What confession ?
– The confession that Colonel Holmes swore in the court martial that he held.
– I do not know where the confession is. Why does the honorable member confine himself to that single item in the whole of the statements made?
– Because if you go into a Court and swear that I have made a confession, and that you hold it, it is your duty to produce the confession; and, if you do not, the Judge ought not to condemn me.
– But, whether the confession be produced or not, the facts of the case are not altered.
– Are they not?
– This has nothing whatever to do with the question of whether or not the pyjamas were sold. We have a statement that Campbell wrote to his mother–
– I do not place reliance on that.
– That Camp-‘ bell wrote to his mother, who destroyed the letter, and subsequently made statements, from memory, as to its contents. It was the only letter she received from him whilst he was away. He only wrote this one letter, making complaint that something wrong was going on. He makes statements about purchasing pyjamas, but when he is asked to describe the man who sold them, he gives a description that cannot be fitted on to any man who had anything to do with the selling of pyjamas. The man Jones, who is said to have purchased them - he does not know where he is. He doe3 not know anything. Other men are mentioned in connexion with the transaction, but Campbell cannot find them, and does not know their names. Yet this man is held up by the honorable member for Bourke as a man who is the victim of some conspiracy on the part of his officers. I do not know how the honorable member reads these papers, but it seems to me that he reads them only to pick out certain bits that will help him to make a case.
– That is what I say about you.
– I have no doubt it strikes the honorable member as particularly funny, but the honorable member did not tell the House all those things that are referred to in the papers. If the statements of Campbell are to be believed, then the statements of a whole series of our officers must be discredited. Either the. officers are consummate liars, or Campbell is, as they say, a man of weak character.
– Do not you think that the document ought to be produced, or its absence explained ?
– I do. I do not know why it is not produced. I cannot imagine why it is not produced.
– There is nothing remarkable about a man having a short memory when a responsible officer could not remember the name of the canteen attendant, though he was president of the canteen. What a one-eyed member you are!
– I am afraid I am, in the eyes of the honorable member. However, this series of charges cannot remain where it is. If half what the honorable member says is true, there is a grave series of charges to be answered against many officers of the Australian Forces, He says, amongst other things, that it is impossible to get an impartial court martial. That is equal to saying that there are no officers in the Force who can be trusted to make an inquiry.
– Yes; Lord Russell of Killowen said the same thing. He gave a description of a court martial to Her Majesty Queen Victoria, which showed that.
– I congratulate the honorable member on following such an illustrious example. We now see where he gets his inspirations from. But this matter must be sifted to the bottom. Either this House ought to appoint a Committee of its members to do the sifting - I would prefer that we should do that; I think we can get at the facts, and satisfy the House as well as a Judge - or we should appoint a Judge to do the work. A Judge, no doubt, is beyond suspicion, and that is, perhaps, the one thing in favour of such an appointment. But either by means of a Judge, or by means of a Committee - of the House, the Government ought not to hesitate two hours before taking action. The Minister is here at the table. He tells us week after week that they are going to do something; but nothing is being done. The Prime Minister said last night that he was going to do something; but when is it all going to be done? How many more charges are going to be added to the list before inquiry is made ?
– No more. This finishes the series.
– And I hope, also, that the Minister will not let these men out of gaol.
– You are cruel.
– Perhaps I am ; but I have the idea in my own mind, and it is going to stay there, too, that when men are set to do . police duty for the special purpose of guarding and protecting people’s property, and afterwards go themselves and take that property, then they ought to be punished with the utmost severity possible. How else can confidence be maintained in our police force, or in our military arrangements, or in anything else that has to guard the sacredness of property and home ? Surely men in positions of high responsibility must carry a corresponding obligation to do the right thing, and, therefore, this crime is far greater than it would have been had the offenders been the ordinary men over whom these police officers were set. If the honorablemember suggests that these special military police can act the part of highwaymen, and visiting ministers’ huts, take their collections, and then be let out of gaol, he talks nonsense. They ought to have reasonable punishment, and if the officers have been guilty they ought to get their punishment, too. The whole thing, as I say, should be sifted, due allowance, pf course, being made for all surrounding circumstances. I do not want to take up any puritanical attitude. I want the fullest possible allowance to be made for the circumstances that surrounded all these cases, but I do not think the existence of those circumstances ought to relieve us from the obligation of visiting the consequences of any evil action upon these men, whether they be officers or not. Only in that manner can the discipline of the Forces and the morale of the Army be preserved. Just as such offences are visited with severe punishment in the British Army, so ought they to be here when they have been sheeted home. I do not know where the Prime Minister is, or what is to be done, but it is certain that we cannot have the Prime Minister saying at the table’ day after day that this and that is going to be done, and yet know that nothing is being done. This House ought to know what is to be done, and it ought to know at the earliest possible moment. In view of the statements made by the honorable member for Bourke, I do not think that this matter ought to be postponed for one hour. The Prime Minister ought to see that a competent and impartial tribunal investigates all these matters, and either relieves the officers of the series of odious charges which have been made against them, or, if the charges be true, visits them with the consequences.
– One would think that the honorable member for Bourke was the only member of this Chamber desirous of getting to the bottom of these charges of looting at Rabaul.
– He seems to be the only one who is getting there.
– May I inform the Committee that early in February the Minister heard of these rumours, and, in order to keep the Australian Army clean, at once set out to investigate. Certain persons were sent from Melbourne <»’« Sydney, secretly and unknown to any one in Sydney, to examine all the cargo then’ coming back from Rabaul. That was two months before the honorable member spoke in this House.
– I did not speak before because
– I just remind the honorable member of the fact. As soon as we heard whispers of these goings-on, we appointed the Chief of the Ordnance Department in Melbourne to visit Sydney, and make a secret investigation. Before he did so he interviewed the heads of the Customs Department in Melbourne, and was informed how best to go about his work so as to obtain the best results. He was in Sydney some twenty-four or fortyeight hours, when he wired to Melbourne - the Minister of Defence was absent from Melbourne when the wire came - stating that he believed certain goods in the Customs Department at Sydney were looted goods. I happened to be acting for the Minister at the time, and I wired back to Mr. Lahiff, instructing him to seize all the articles which he considered had been stolen or looted. Yet the honorable member says the Defence Department has done nothing, and that the Government are doing nothing.
– When was that done ?
– In February.
– What subsequent action was taken?
– When we were told in this House by the honorable member for Bourke that privates were to be gaoled for looting, and that the Government were taking no action with regard to certain officers who were supposed to have looted, what did we do? We actually had a Board of Inquiry then investigating. At the very time the honorable member first mentioned anything in this House concerning the Rabaul looting, that Board of Inquiry was going about Sydney, trying to obtain certain evidence, with a view to having it presented either to a court martial or to some superior Court. That took some little time, but the evidence has been presented. Now we are told by the honorable member for Bourke that the very men who could give evidence were not allowed to give evidence.
– That is so. That is what he says.
– I shall never rest, while I am Assistant Minister, until the matter is thoroughly investigated. I should refuse to represent the Defence Department in this Chamber if I thought such a thing was going on. I am sure the Government will not allow the allegation to go unchallenged, either. You’ have heard from time to time the statement made that Mr. Lahiff, Chief of the Ordnance Department, has certain information regarding certain officers, and that he had been prevented from giving that evidence. I say that we shall get that evidence as quickly as we can.
– But Mr. Lahiff reported all this to the Minister three months ago.
– And Colonel Lee, who is said to have refused to allow the evidence to be given, must also be dealt with. We have heard some terrible things about Colonel Lee this afternoon. I am not going to accept them until we have proof, and I think it is pretty hard for our Commandants to be made the butt of statements like this, made in a House of Parliament, unless we have some proof. The whole business is particularly distasteful to me. It has come as a thunderbolt to me to hear such terrible things about the gentleman who presided over this court martial, and I want to say, on behalf of the Minister of Defence and on behalf of the Government, that everything possible shall be done by way of investigation. If that court martial, as it was constituted, has not done its duty in a proper way, we will ascertain the fact. It will be the Government’s duty to find out what actually did take place. The honorable member for Bourke says that the court did not do its duty in the proper way. He said that certain evidence which might have been given was not allowed to be given, and he further stated - and I was sorry to hear him say this - that he did not mind looting. He said that he did not object to looting, but that he objected to some looters being sent to gaol while others were not. I was also sorry to hear the honorable member make the admission that if those now in gaol for this offence were set at liberty, he would be prepared to let the whole matter drop. I do not agree with that attitude, nor does the Government. I can assure the Committee, on behalf of the Government, that, in view of the allegations made this afternoon by the honorable member for Bourke, it is felt that the matter cannot be allowed to rest where it is, but that a further inquiry must be made. It will be for the Government to consider what form that inquiry shall take.
– When will the Government state what they are going to do ?
– I cannot say. The statements made this afternoon by the honorable member for Bourke were quite new to me. I was not aware that Mr. Lahiff had not been allowed to put forward the evidence which he had collected.
– The Government, at all events, should be able to announce what kind of tribunal will be appointed to make the investigation.
– I cannot be expected, as Assistant Minister of Defence, to say now what form the inquiry will take. The matter will have to be considered. An inquiry will be made, and the House advised in due course. I hope that the Defence Estimates will now be allowed to pass without further discussion. I have had a fairly stiff drilling during the last few days.
– It is not a drilling of the honorable gentleman that has been taking place.
– I quite understand that, but I have a responsibility which I am bound to respect. I am here to protect the Department, and I shall stand by its officers until the guilt of any of them has been proved.
– The sooner these accusations are lifted from the officers, if they are not guilty, the better for all concerned.
– Quite so. These Estimates have been well discussed, and I appeal to honorable members to pass them without further delay. I have only to add that this morning the Minister of Defence telegraphed to Colonel Holmes to produce the confession which he said he had obtained from Private Campbell. On hearing the statement made last week by the honorable member for Bourke in regard to Private Campbell, the Minister wired to the Administrator at Rabaul to ascertain if the confession was still there. A reply was received in the negative. I mention these facts only to show that the
Government are doing all that can be done in the matter. ,
.- I do not wish to delay the passing of these Estimates, but I feel that the statements made by the honorable member for Bourke should not be allowed to remain without investigation a moment longer than is necessary. Whilst I thought at the outset that a Select Committee of this House would probably be the best tribunal to elicit all the evidence relating to these charges, I must confess that, after reflection, I have come to the conclusion that it would be almost one of the worst. Months would elapse before a Select Committee or a Royal Commission could collect all the evidence, draw up its report and present it to the House; and even then we should be no nearer the trial of these men, if they be guilty of the charges “made against them, than we are to-day.
– Then Select Committees must be very slow in dealing with such matters.
– The history of all Royal Commissions and Select Committees is the same. Many people whose connexion with the subject-matter of inquiry it is difficult to understand are often allowed to give evidence, and there is no means of confining the inquiry to a particular channel.
– Every Commissioner asks practically the same questions.
– Quite so. The position, to a large extent, would be the same even if a Judge were appointed a Royal Commission. As a Royal Commissioner ho would have to take evidence, but could not administer punishment. It would remain for the Government, upon his findings, to take whatever action was necessary, and once more to go through the whole procedure of calling witnesses to prove every charge made. I think it would be more in the interests of all concerned, and the most effective means of dealing with these matters, if the whole of the papers were forwarded to the AttorneyGeneral, with a request that his Department should make an investigation, and that, if it found that a prima facie case could be made out against any officer, it should at once institute proceedings before a Judge and jury.
– Does not that mean that the Attorney-General would have to prove some criminal offence ? There may he something less than a criminal offence that needs to be exposed.
– Certain charges have been made, and whilst I suspend my judgment, I must say that the evidence submitted by the honorable member for. Bourke was very positive, definite, and conclusive from his point of view. He has told us that the Department sent an officer to Sydney to investigate the charges, and that on arrival there he quickly found a number of cases of looted goods. If that is so, then the goods were looted by some one, and some one is responsible. The honorable member for Bourke does not know, nor do I, who is responsible; but, according to the honorable member, this officer reported to the Minister that he was prepared to give evidence that looted goods had been found. The Assistant Minister of Defence has told us this afternoon that as early as February last Mr. Lahiff was sent to Sydney to examine certain cargoes, and that his report to the Minister was that he had discovered cases of looted goods. The honorable member for Bourke now tells us that Mr. Lahiff was not permitted to produce this evidence to the court martial.
– Did he report tHat fact to the Minister?
– I cannot say; I have not seen the papers. That charge is one that should not be allowed to hang over any man’s head a moment longer than is necessary to enable justice to be done. If a Royal Commission were appointed, with the result that criminal proceedings were taken, it would be said by the prosecuting counsel that the Commission had arrived at certain findings, and that that was a very good reason why the jury should arrive at the same conclusion. In this way the men on trial would probably be prejudiced in the .eyes of the jury. E strongly urge the Minister, therefore, to send this matter to the Attorney-General’s Department at the earliest moment, in the hope that if he finds that the evidence warrants it, he will submit a case to a Judge and jury in a civil Court.
.- Since the Government have announced that an inquiry will take place, I do not think it wise that we should further discuss this matter. Whatever may be our views concerning it, we should suspend our judgment until the results of the inquiry have been made known. There cannot be the least doubt that there has been maladministration so far as Rabaul is concerned, and when we have the result of the investigation before us we should be able to determine the responsibility. Most of the representatives of the metropolis of Sydney have had certain information brought under their notice, but they have no direct evidence on which to take action. I do not think it would be wise to further discuss the matter at this stage.
.- I expressed the opinion at an earlier stage of this matter that it could not be allowed to rest, and, having listened to the speech made this afternoon by the honorable member for Bourke, i am still more emphatic in that view. I do not think it is the duty of the Committee to leave the matter entirely in the hands of the Government. The honorable member for Bourke has appealed, not to the Ministry, but to the Committee. He has stated his case here, and every honorable member carries a certain amount of responsibility in respect of it. -I am very glad that the Government have indicated their willingness to take definite steps now to thoroughly sift the whole of these charges; but I cannot follow the Assistant Minister of Defence, when he assures us that they have shown all possible diligence in connexion with it. If the Senior Inspector of Ordnance reported, as we understand he did, to the Government that he had certain evidence, and if he was not allowed to put that evidence before the court martial, or Board of Inquiry, then I take it that he must have reported that further fact to the head of his Department. The honorable member for Bourke has not told us whether he did so or not, but it would be most remarkable if an officer of the Department who had been instructed to seek evidence was put aside in an inquiry of this kind, and did not report that fact to the Government. If he did report it, how is it that the Government have allowed the matter to rest until the present time?
– That is the system which is being built up. An officer must report to his superior officer, and this House is of no use. The matter is in the hands of the military.
– I think that the honorable member is quite in error. In this case, the officer was not reporting to his superior officer. He was commissioned by the Minister of Defence. I understand, too, that he reported the result of the inquiry directly to the Minister. If he was not allowed to give the evidence that he went to Sydney to collect, and to put forward, I take it that he reported that also to the Minister. Although several months have elapsed since this extraordinary miscarriage of justice occurred, nothing of any consequence, according to the honorable member for Bourke, has been done. It would appear that the Minister of Defence is only too willing to allow those concerned in this remarkable series of inquiries to hush up the whole matter.
– That is what it looks like. It remains for a further inquiry to show whether that view is correct. I strongly object to. the suggestion of the honorable member for Henty that there should be practically a criminal trial, because, for all we know, there may. have been no criminal element in the offences committed,though, if the charges are true, there was a gross breach of military regulations.
– Would not the AttorneyGeneral be able to determine whether there was any criminality?
– He would be able to determine whether there was or was not ground for a criminal trial. But I think that, before the matter is referred to him, the House should be given some general information bearing on the whole case. The Attorney-General should not be asked to make the whole inquiry necessary to a definite conclusion; the House should participate in the matter, because it affects us as a whole, and not the Government only.
– We need the expeditious settlement of the case.
– Expedition is all very well; but in a matter in which I was interested I was told by those who knew something about the course of the inquiry that there had been undue expedition, and that it would have been better if there had been a little more deliberation. In this instance, the best thing to do would be to appoint a Select Committee, or to have a Royal Commission composed of honorable members of this House, and, preferably, of gentlemen of legal training, to make an inquiry. If a Judge were commissioned to make the inquiry, there would be this danger, that he might confine himself strictly and closely to legal procedure in the taking of evidence.
– Would not a body of lawyers do the same thing?
– Not to the same extent, especially if they were men having parliamentary experience, and instructed to make a general inquiry. They would then probably take evidence which would not be accepted by a criminal Court.
– Does the honorable member suggest that these charges should be tried on hearsay evidence?
– Certainly not. But we should first obtain all possible information regarding these matters. I assure the House, from personal experience, that if the inquiry is conducted in accordance with the procedure of a criminal trial a great deal of information bearing on the matters at issue will be rejected.
– Could not a Judge be given a Royal Commission?
– Yes; but, again, in that case, there would be a danger of vital information being rejected.
– Not if the Commission were wide enough.
– I know of one inquiry of the kind which was kept within the limits of strict criminal procedure, and I do not wish to see that repeated.
– The honorable member’s statement is an indictment of the whole judicial system.
– No. I am speaking of the tendency of a Judge to follow the procedure with which he is familiar. My contention is that the investigation should have a broader scope than that of an ordinary criminal trial.
– In the case to which the honorable member referred, did not the Judge consider himself restricted by the terms of his commission?
– I do not wish to discuss that case. I merely instance it. I have stated in regard to it what was told to me by some of the leading legal men of this city, and have repeated it for the instruction of the House. The inquiry that we need would be on broad, general lines, and if the case assumes the serious character that the honorable member for Bourke indicates, there will be opportunities for a criminal trial subsequently.
.- I am glad that all parties are agreed as to the gravity of the situation disclosed, or partly disclosed, by the honorable member for Bourke. I deplore the fact that the chaotic and unsatisfactory condition in which we now find ourselves is the natural result of the policy of the Government and of the House in regard to military matters. It arises from our surrender of our proper functions, and from the handing over to unqualified persons of what should be the business of civil Courts, namely, the duty of eliciting, and weighing evidence. I join with the honorable member for Perth in objecting to the proposal of the honorable member for Henty as to the nature of the inquiry that should be held. I agree with him, too, that the matter ought not to .be remitted to the Attorney-General, and that the inquiry need not be made by a Judge. In my opinion, it could best be made by a Select Committee of this House. I know what the honorable member for Perth had in his mind. It is natural that he should think that if a Judge were appointed a Commissioner, he might consider himself strictly bound by the terms of his commission, which might be too narrow. A Judge possessing a trained judicial mind would not consider that he could go beyond the terms of his commission, and it has happened in this State that an inquiry has been thwarted by reason of the narrowness of the commission under which it was held. We want a full and wide inquiry. But we do not desire that the ordinary principles governing the eliciting and weighing of evidence should be disregarded. The honorable member for Bourke complained last night that one of the first principles of evidence was disregarded when a document was referred to, and, although a material part of the evidence, was not ordered to be produced, and its nonappearance was not explained.’
– Evidence of the contents was nevertheless given.
– Yes, and that evidence was weighed, although no attempt was made to explain why the document had not been produced, or what had become of it. Every one conversant with legal procedure knows that at the first mention of such a document a demand should have been made for its production, and its contents should not. have been admitted in evidence until it had been produced, or until it had been shown that it could not be produced, but that its contents were nevertheless provable. I desire that the proposed inquiry shall have an unlimited scope, but that the evidence shall be elicited by skilled persons. I think that it should be made by a Select Committee. It is immaterial whether its members be skilled in the law or not, if it lias legal assistance, but it would be well to choose some lawyers. The trouble of the honorable member for Henty seems to be that there is a suspicion that looting took place at Rabaul, and that the matter has not been satisfactorily tried. The question whether looting took place at Rabaul is unimportant compared with some others raised by the honorable member for Bourke. No doubt looting is a grave offence, but it is an incident common in a great war, and certain to take -place when large bodies of men are engaged.
– Looters are liable to be shot, and have been shot during the present war.
– Rightly so. I do not extenuate the offence. The looter, whether an officer or in the ranks, should be dealt with most severely. But the question whether looting took place at Rabaul sinks into insignificance beside the more important question whether corruption and impropriety can be rightly charged against our officers in’ command there.. That is the subject which should be investigated by a Committee of this House. The evidence should be elicited and weighed by persons trained in the art of eliciting and weighing evidence, so that we may have an illuminating, satisfying, and convincing report. There should not be even a shadow of a doubt on the mind of the public as to whether those whom we have appointed to lead our soldiers at the risk of their lives, and as trustees of the country’s reputation, did what was right. I hope that a Committee will make an inquiry on broad lines, and that it will act promptly. I congratulate the Government on having taken prompt action in regard to the court martial, and I hope that Ministers will again act promptly, and in the manner suggested.
.- There are two matters which I desire to bring under the notice of the Minister, because they have not been touched upon with the emphasis which, I think, they warrant. In the first place, I desire to refer to what appears to be the inordinate delay of the Defence Department in attending to the applications from country districts for increased rifle range accommodation. In the State of New South “Wales there is no greater recruiting agency in existence than the rifle clubs, and it seems to me ridiculous to encourage the inauguration of rifle clubs if the Government are not in a position to provide them with ranges on which to improve their marksmanship. Applications have been made for rifle ranges in several districts in the Hume electorate, and the same old stereotyped reply has been received from the Department that an officer would be sent to inspect the suggested sites as soon as one is available. It seems extraordinary that there should be so much waste of time in choosing a site on which men could practise shooting. I have authentic information that the rifle club at Wagga Wagga would have a membership of over 100 if proper range accommodation were provided. At another country town called Balldale the young men are very enthusiastic about learning to shoot straight, but an extraordinary time has elapsed since their application for a rifle range was sent in, and no endeavour is being made to conform to their wishes. I do urge the Defence Department to take notice of the applications from these and other places in Australia, because this matter is of the greatest importance to the people. The other matter to which I desire to refer is that which formed the subject of a question which I put to the PostmasterGeneral to-day, namely, the postal facilities provided for the soldiers at Broadmeadows. On the 7th May I forwarded to a lieutenant, who was in a regiment at Broadmeadows, a communication from the Assistant Minister of Defence. . That lieutenant, I know, was at Broadmeadows until Friday last, and I believe he is there still, but the letter which I addressed to him at Broadmeadows was returned to me to-day through the Dead Letter Office. If that incident indicates the nature ti the postal facilities at the camp, the authorities responsible for such a service may accept my hearty congratulations. It seems as if there is a great deal of carelessness somewhere which should be investigated carefully. Such an incident lends colour to the statements which one hears that communications addressed to soldiers at Broadmeadows are never delivered. I hope the Minister will see that somebody is brought to book over this matter, and that steps will be taken to allay the anxieties that are frequently attendant upon the non-delivery of correspondence addressed to the camp.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Division 44 (Aviation Instructional Staff, Central Flying School), £14,430; division 45 (Royal Military College), £51,500; division 46 (Chemical Adviser), £2,329; division 47 (Examination of Stores and Equipment), £5,630; and division 48 (Cordite Factory), £5,052, agreed to.
Division 49 (Small Arms Factory), £16,346
.- Is the Assistant Minister of Defence in & position to furnish the Committee with the report of the Small Arms Factory for the year ended the 30th June, 1914?
– I do not know whether the report is in the possession of the Department. If it is, I shall ask for it.
– I ask the question, not to embarrass the Minister, but because it does seem singular that the report for the year ended the 30th June, 1913, was only produced recently, and surely the Small Arms Factory is a concern that should he up to date.
– The position is the same with all the other Government factories.
– The reports are absolutely vital in the case of the Small Arms Factory, and particularly so in view of the fact that the manager is leaving the Commonwealth. I hope the Minister will expedite the production of the report for 1914, and, if possible, lay it on the table next week.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Division 50 (Clothing Factory), £5,571; division 51 (Harness, Saddlery, and Accoutrements Factory), £11,203; division 52 (Woollen Cloth Factory), £21,325; division 54 (Naval Administration), £38,444; Division 55 (Royal Naval College),- £35,200; division 56 (Boys’ Training Ship), £39,770; division 57 (Permanent Force, Seagoing), £625,000; and division 58 (Naval Establishments), £36,516; agreed to.
Division 59 (Fleet Unit), £15,116
.- I desire to ask the Assistant Minister whether the Government have given consideration to the question of replacing the lost submarines either during the currency of the war or at its termination. Our loss in that class of vessel has been total, and the Committee would feel reassured if honorable members were told that the replacing of the losses had already received the attention of the Government.
– The Naval Board has that matter under consideration, with a view to making a recommendation to the Minister for the next Estimates.
– Is this a matter for the Naval Board?
– The Naval Board makes a recommendation for all vessels.
– Of course, the Board does; but it does not know how much money the Government have available for expenditure on defence. The Naval Board is an executive body for the purpose of carrying out the policy of the Government. The replacing of the submarines is a matter of prime policy for the consideration of the Government. Apparently the Government are taking the matter very complacently, and have asked the Board to make a recommendation for the next Estimates. Other countries are scouring the whole world for naval and military resources, and the inquiry of the honorable member for Balaclava is, I take it, as to whether the lost submarines are to be replaced some years hence or at the earliest possible moment.
– I hope we shall soon have more than two submarines.
– And I should like them all to be built in Australia if possible. But I do not think that the Minister of Defence ought to wait on local resources in this connexion, unless the local resources are proved to be equal to the occasion.
– The submarine is the one class of vessel that it is impossible to build in Australia.
– Then the inquiry as to how the Government propose to replace the lost vessels is all the more pertinent.
– The Minister is now in consultation with the Admiralty concerning them.
– I am glad to hear that, and I should be better pleased if I knew the Minister was in consultation with the Admiralty with respect to another capital ship.
– I suppose we could not get such a ship built during the war?
– I am not so sure of that. The British Government have a way of getting these things; and, at any rate, my inquiry is a pertinent one. I hope the Government will take care, not only that we replace the submarines, but that the policy of keeping the Navy up to its proper strength will be pursued after the war is over.
– I can assure the honorable member that it is the intention of the Minister to keep on building.
– I suggest that the Government keep on buying, as well as building, because I am afraid that, with our local resources, there is not much prospect of our adding to our capital ships, and the war has shown the need of some vessel similar to a sister ship to the Australia. If we had had two capital ships instead of one at the outbreak of the war, we should, without doubt, have accounted for the German vessels here. I hope the Assistant Minister will impress on the Minister of Defence the necessity for bestirring himself in regard to the augmentation of the Navy, and the replacement of those vessels which, unfortunately, have been lost.
.- The war appears to have been an eye-opener in many directions, and certainly the value of the submarine has been amply illustrated. We see what Germany has been able to accomplish with these vessels.
– Very little.
– I do not know as to that; but, in any case, we have heard accounts of what our own submarines have been able to accomplish. I think that when a British submarine can go out with eight torpedoes, and account for eight enemy vessels, it is a splendid record, which proves how valuable the submarine is for port defences. I have come to the conclusion that these vessels are really the most valuable branch of the naval service. When we consider the relatively small cost of this type of vessel, and the effective work it is capable of. we are justified in impressing on the Government the necessity to increase the number. Such a policy would strengthen the confidence of our people, and prove satisfactory to all sections of the community.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Division 60 (Trust Fund - Naval Dockyard), £5,000; division 61 (Royal Australian Naval Reserve), £160,800; division 62 (Royal Australian Naval Reserve, sea-going), £4,000; division 63 (to be paid to Trust Fund- Uniform, Clothing and Necessaries, Naval, Aecount), £60,000; division 64 (Medical Services), £16,000; division 65 (Signal Stations and Examination Services), £40,000; division 66 (Maintenance of Ships and Vessels), £1,220,000; division 7 (Repair and Maintenance of Naval Works, also Repair of Vessels of other Commonwealth Departments), £5,000; division 68 (Miscellaneous Services), £51,400; division 68a (To be paid to the Credit of Trust Fund - Admiralty Account), £30,000; division 69 (Postage and Telegrams), £3,000; division 70 (Administrative and Instructional Staffs), £228,950; division 71 (Permanent Units), £240,373 ; division 72 (Ordnance Department), £46,864; division 73 (Rifle Range Staff), £6,800 ; division 74 (District Accounts and Pay Branch), £12,655; agreed to.
Division 75 (Universal Military Training, Citizen Forces), £1,305,700,
– I find that there is a great deal of dissatisfaction abroad as to the officering of our Forces, and complaints of various kinds are made. Some men are told that they are too young, and others that they are too old; some are able to get commissions forthwith, while others have to wait an unconscionably long time, and red-tape is still in the Department, reeling itself out by the mile. Generally, things are not what they ought to be; and, perhaps, it would be better for me to give a concrete case which came under my notice concerning a friend of my own. This friend was in London at the time the war broke out, endeavouring to raise capital for a small gold mine he owns in Western Australia, and he immediately volunteered as a private with an Australian regiment which was then being formed. For some reason the idea of an Australian regiment was not carried out, and those who had joined were drafted into the Fusiliers. He was with the Fusiliers for about six months, and reached the rank of sergeant. My friend was through the Boer War, and is a well-set-up and welltrained man; and, finding that the Fusiliers were not going to the front, he felt a desire to join the Australians in Egypt. With that object in view he saw Major Buckley, -who told him that if he got his technical discharge from the Fusiliers and went to Egypt, he would give him a letter to Colonel Whyte, through whom he would probably get a commission. At his own expense he went to Egypt, where he was told that the ranks were full, and that nothing could be done for him; but an officer from Western Australia suggested that if he came to Melbourne he would be almost sure to get a commission. Accordingly he came to Melbourne with all his papers in order, and testimonials speaking in the highest terms of his character as a man and his abilities as a soldier. Senator Pearce, however, would not see him, and he was informed that there was nothing for him but to join the ranks as an ordinary recruit. In the meantime he had received a warm letter of commendation from Colonel Foster, of Sydney University, who ought to be a good judge of what constitutes a good soldier. I may say that when my friend arrived here; I sent him with a note to Colonel Legge.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7 J/5 p.m.
– When we adjourned for dinner, I was relating a singular case which came under my own observation as indicative of the red-tape methods still pursued by the Defence Department. It is the case of a man who travelled all over the world, practically at his own expense, to get to the front. I had shown how he had enlisted in London, gone to Egypt by advice, at his own expense; how he had then been referred on to Melbourne, again covering his own expenses; how he could not get to the Minister here, but was simply told to go and recruit again like any untrained man. It is the case of a man who had been all through the Boer war, and served six months with the Fusiliers’ at Home, a thoroughly trained and well set-up man.
At that point, I gave him a note to take to Colonel Legge in the hope that the latter would look at his papers, and give him what he wanted. Colonel Legge gave him nothing but the same advice, to go and join the ranks, and begin again as a recruit. The only thing that the man wants - the thing that has cost him all this journey and expense - is to get to the front as a private without being put to the humiliation of being trained all over again. Would not any one imagine that the Department would jump at a man like this? He has now gone back to Western Australia, and I believe has
Joined the Force there as a private in the tope that he may get away to the front speedily.
– He is getting nearer the front.
– He worked his way up to be a sergeant in the Fusiliers in the Old Country. My complaint is that here is a man who is ready and eager to go and fight, but the Department will not even take the trouble to send him.
– Why did they not allow him to go to the front from the Old Country ?
– That I cannot tell the honorable member, and the man could not tell me. There was some reason why the particular battalion was to be kept in England, and not sent to the front, and that was why he left the Fusiliers. While we are going to the expense of training recruits, and keeping them here for five or six months to make them fit, here is a well-trained, thoroughly set-up, experienced man who finds it impossible to get to the front. It is only one instance. I have no doubt that many other anomalies of this kind occur. They all show that no matter how big the system, or how complete the machinery is, there should still be some room to treat these cases without subjecting them to the process of the slow-grinding machine. I still think that an effort should be made to let the machinery master the situation entirely, that the Minister should grip the machine instead of letting [,ne ] machine grip him. That is the only lesson I want to draw from the incident, and I put the case as one of many, which show unmistakably that the machine has a tendency to grip even the most capable,- alert, and intelligent Minister, unless he in turn takes the machine into his own- hands, resolutely grips it, and moulds and shapes it to the object he has in view. I do not intend to further criticise the item, but I do ask the Minister to keep an open mind in connexion with such cases, because it means money saved to the Commonwealth, and increased efficiency at the front. I am not so sure that a special effort ought not to have been made right at the beginning to get thoroughly trained men who are ready to go and fight at once, and form brigades or battalions, or companies of them. If they are ready to go, let them go, instead of putting them into the ranks with raw recruits, and wasting all their time and the country’s money in putting them through a process which they learnt years and years ago.
.- I am sure that the Leader of the Opposition would not wish to do one’ soldier an injustice, no matter what his rank may be, but I can tell him the procedure in the Imperial Military Forces. Once a man leaves the service, either by purchase or by discharge, as sergeant, or what ever rank he holds, directly he leaves that rank ‘ is filled by somebody ‘ else. They give a man, however, three months to consider whether he will come back again or not. If he goes over that term he has to join again as a recruit, and it is only by the recommendation of his commanding officer, after twelve months’ service, that he even gets the past service allowed him, never mind what his past rank was.
– That is in time of peace.
– In the Imperial Army there are no two sets of King’s Regulations, one for war and the other for peace. A soldier is a soldier from the day he joins until the day he leaves, and he is under the same regulations then as ne is on active service. If I was young enough to-morrow, I would go and join as a recruit. If the man to whom my honorable friend referred has the profession at heart, and the knowledge which he has attributed to him, there is not the slightest doubt in my mind that he would get his rank back in a very few days indeed.
– He is not anxious to get his rank back, but only to get to the front.
– You cannot discriminate. Suppose that a - company consists of ninety-nine recruits, and one man who has been through the drill. Are you going to send him on his own, or let him wait for the rest of the company?
– No, but I should think, as he is fit to go, you would send him with a company that is going. That is the point.
– I have not the slightest doubt that the man would be sent away at the earliest opportunity once he became efficient. I do not see much hardship in the case. If the man was as anxious to go to the front as he told the honorable member, why did he leave the front and go to the hack, as it were, in order to get to the front again? For that is practically what he has done. Only this afternoon I read in some London newspaper’s advertisements in which the authorities ask for trained men who are reservists, orwho have been in service, ho matter what their age is, so long as they are physically fit. Could not thisman have gone with that, crowd? There is a chance for him. There must be something behind all thisbusiness.
– He is not a reservist.
– Still he is a trained man.
– He is one of our own men.
-In the Old Country they want trained men.
– He is one of our ownmen, who was good enough to be promoted to the rank of sergeant in the Fusiliers, and who got his discharge with all sorts of high commendations fromhis officers.
-That is all right. In my time the practice Was to read outorders on parade at nightasking for volunteers for the different services. If a man wanted to go on active or foreign service All that he had to do wasto step out when hisnamewastaken, and next day he was sentup to pass the doctor, and if he did that it was but a matter of a few hours, of at most a few days, before he was onthe road to the place where his service was required. Why could hot this man have done the same thing?
– He simply could not; that is all.
-I do not know what he wants. The Australianservice is open to every one who is medically fit, and can pass the standard. If a man wants to join, all that he has to do is to go up and enlist and “ cop the bob,” and the rest is done.
– Young men have gone from Australia and ioined the Imperial Forces at Home as officers.
– This man didnot want to be anything hut a soldier.
– I saw an advertisement in which the authorities at Home asked officers of any age at all who were out in the different Dominions to apply at once through the Colonial Governments, and a passage Would be provided for them to go Home. But this is the case of a non-commissioned officer, and I have no doubt that if he enlisted to-morrow within a short time he would hold the rank of sergeant, and the authorities would be glad to get him. Surely the honorable member for Parramatta does not want the Australian Government to send this gentleman Home, of to Egypt, as a trained soldier “on his own “ in a mail boat.
-If the than is drilled and competent, I feel satisfied that he would be amongst the troop’s sent away in the first boat Which leaves here. I advise my honorable friend to fell the gentleman that heneed not be in any hurry; that he will be in plenty of time if he is there this day twelve months.
-You have not done yourself credit in talking that nonsense.
– It isnot nonsense.
Division agreed to.
Division 76 (Volunteers), £408; division 77 (Camps), £27,600 ; division 78 (Maintenance of Existing Arms and Equipment), £20,500.; division 79 (Ammunition), £164,500; and division80 (General Contingencies), £62,920, agreed to.
Division 81 (General Services), £55,470.
.- Earlier in the debateon theEstimates for the Defence Department I asked ft question concerning the remuneration of non-commissioned officers. Their increments were due about last July, but have not yet been received. The Minister of Tradeand Customs interjects that it is due to the fact thatthe Estimates have not been passed. I desire to know if provision is made in them for increments to non-commissionedofficers; and while the
Assistant Minister is obtaining the desiredinformation I wish to point out that a very great injustice is being done to the men. They are not permitted to volunteer or go to the front, although four of them got away with the First Expedition, and received a.~ commission, in the Imperial Army. . The British authorities recognised the worth of these men, but in Australia the best officers we have are not permitted to enlist to go abroad.. They have no opportunity of getting increases of salary, yet they are told that their services are so valuable that they cannot be spared. If that is so, surely some recognition should be made of their services by an increase of pay. I know some school teachers who are Area Officers. I know one who is getting £400 a year as a school teacher, and £180 a year as an Area Officer for putting in not more than an hour’s work each week. All some of them do is to sign the sheets. The” sergeant-majors do all the. work. They are the men upon whom the very, foundation of our defence system rests, a’nd yet the highest salary they can get is £240 a year. Many of them are only getting from £160 to £180. They have no opportunities for promotion. Recently the Minister of Defence gave sixteen senior non-commissioned officers temporary commissions, but he has not filled the sixteen vacancies created, though the rest- of the non-commissioned officers naturally expected that there would be a general lift up as the result. I am glad to see the Minister of Defence is in the House, and I hope he will recognise the good work that is being done by these men who are’ training the troops for service abroad. Our soldiers would not have done the good work that they have done at the Dardanelles had it not been for the splendid preliminary services of the sergeant-majors, who are well worthy of an increase of salary. All the vacancies that occur are “filled by militia officers, who, though not connected with the Army, are appointed to positions worth up to £500 a year. Yet the sergeantmajor is practically the instructor of these men. He is forgotten, kept upon a small salary almost without any increase. He is unable to enlist for service abroad,’ as many are anxious to do, and hasto stay at home and train the recruits. I .am not going, to argue against that. The Defence Department should be the best judges of what is required - in that: respect; but if the services of -these mem are so valuable, surely we ought to showsome practical recognition, and give them’ increases of pay.
– May I say, in-, answer to the honorable member’s query, - that provision is included in the sum shown under Instructional Staff pay, forthe payment of all increments due under: the regulations.
Division agreed to.
Division 82 (Postage and Telegrams),. £8,000 ; agreed to.
Division 83 (Rifle clubs and associations), £29,750.
.- May I draw attention to the fact that theamount set aside in connexion with therifle clubs this year is only £21,000, as. against £35,000 last year. I should like, the Minister to take notice of the fact. I think this Department requires some reorganization, particularly in regard to the construction of rifle ranges. We haveat the present time two different sections of -the Defence Department responsible for the construction of ranges. Themilitary authorities are responsible for military ranges, and the rifle club department is responsible for the construction of rifle club ranges. Both Tine club members and members of the Citizen Forces use these ranges. This is, of course, to some extent, .as it should be. But the reorganization which I think is necessary is that the erection of rifle ranges generally should be placed under one authority. There is no reason whyeither the military branch, or the. rifle club branch, should not undertake the construction of all ranges, so that we may have some expedition in the work that has to be done. The experience of nearly every honorable member of this House is that inordinate delays exist in the construction of ranges. “In my experience the military authorities generally take far longer - to .construct their ranges than does the rifle club administration ; and I think the matter might well be placed in charge of the officer responsible for the administration of rifle clubs generally. Another phase of this question which has arisen -since the war began relates to the construction of miniature ranges. A large number of the citizens. of Australia isnow engaged in some elementary form of drill. Men are turning up regularly once a week, sometimes more frequently, for drill. We do not know how long this war is going to last, or how far it may be necessary to call upon more men from Australia, or whether, in the long run, it may not be actually necessary to defend Australia, and, hearing all these contingencies in mind, we ought not to overlook the fact that large numbers of men are enrolling for the purpose of making themselves more or less efficient as part of the Australian Defence Force. There is only one way by which these men can receive instruction in rifle shooting, particularly in the congested parts of the Commonwealth, and that is by the erection of miniature rifle ranges. We have it on the best authority that miniature ranges are capable of giving men such training that they can almost go straight on to the battle-field from such a range. I think it was General Hamilton who stated that men had surprisingly little to learn when they got on to an open range after a thorough shooting drill on a miniature range; and, in my view, the erection of more of these ranges, particularly, as I say, in the congested centres of population, will very largely solve the question of shooting efficiency amongst our citizens. In the country districts we should have, I admit, open ranges; but these can be constructed far more expeditiously than they are being constructed now. I hope the Minister will look into this phase of the question, and endeavour, if possible, to bring under one heading the responsibility for the construction of all rifle ranges. There is no reason why we should not train up a citizen soldiery quite outside the ordinary regular troops which would be effective in case of national defence; and I hope a large number of miniature rifle ranges will be constructed, in order not only to encourage the Citizen Forces, but also that large body of men, beyond the age of enlistment for active service, who are training to fit themselves in the best way they can for the defence of their country.
– I should like also to impress upon the Assistant Minister of Defence the necessity for pushing along with the construction of more rifle ranges. When the present Government were in power on the last occasion, they gave a very serious check to the rifle club movement; at all events so far as Victoria is concerned. Because the compulsory system was new, and the Government wished to encourage it, they seized the ranges that had been occupied by the rifle clubs, and to-day the position of rifle clubs is no better than it was then. Saturday is a great day for rifle shooting, and where there is anything like a large force of citizen soldiers they take possession of the available ranges, so that the rifle club members cannot get any show at all. In my own electorate I know cases where land has been secured for the construction of rifle ranges, and where everything apparently has been done but the actual work of construction. The Minister knows perfectly well that if he wants to acquire land for rifle range purposes, he has the necessary power, and I hope the work of construction will in future be expedited. At present it seems to take something like two years to accomplish the preliminaries, and even then, apparently, it is impossible to get a start made. There is a great amount of unemployment in Australia at the present time, and these rifle ranges might very well be constructed by people out of work. I want to put in a claim on behalf of the people in the large towns throughout the Commonwealth where the ranges are being used by the military people on Saturdays; and where something should be done, I think, in order to give the rifle clubs one or two more targets. A remarkable thing happened at Colac. The rifle club had a range on its own property. It was, I admit, subsidized to a. certain extent, but the military authorities acquired land alongside this range to put up a military range; but, first of all, they wanted to pull down the rifle club’s range. It was doing no harm, and to-day is a perfectly safe range. At the time I thought there would be civil war in Colac as the result of this proposal, about which I interviewed Senator Milien, who was then Minister of Defence. The rifle club now has its range alongside the military range, and everything is perfectly satisfactory.
– As a matter of fact, there is too much divided authority.
– There is, and it is very disheartening to anybody who isendeavouring to do something for the rifle clubs. I have almost given up writing to the Defence Department about rifle clubs, or endeavouring to induce them to start work at places where land has already been secured. Some honorable members have referred to the Department as running the Minister. I think that must be so. At the present time the rifle club movement has been practically stopped. I agree that, as ammunition is not available, this was almost an unavoidable proceeding, but surely there can be more control in this Department than seems to be the case. I know one place in the country where there were ten or a dozen cases of ammunition awaiting use by the Light Horse in the adjoining country, but there were no Light Horse to use the ammunition. Yet it was allowed to remain unopened, whilst letters were received from the military authorities, saying that there was no ammunition available for the rifle clubs. It was pointed out that these cases were lying idle for a non-existent Light Horse regiment, and eventually the military authorities gave permission for four boxes to be taken out. Surely some better check can be kept upon stores than this incident seems to suggest - that ammunition can be allowed to lie unusedwhilst the rifle clubs are perishing for want of ammunition. I hope the Minister will look into this rifle club movement, and see if something cannot be done, more especially how that there is any amount of labour in the country. Where the soil has to be moved for the construction of a range there are plenty of men available. Surely the rest could be done by one of the departmental experts.
.- I would be very pleased if the Assistant Minister of Defence would explain why the item “ Grants to district rifle club unions distributed pro raid to number of efficients “ has been reduced from £5,000 to £100. I would also suggest to him the desirableness of placing an additional sum on the Estimates next year for the encouragement of miniature rifle shooting. The honorable member for Wimmera has already called attention to the fact that this form of rifle shooting might at the present time very well take the place of ordinary rifle shooting. I quite agree with him, and I am sure that there are thousands of citizens throughout Australia who would beonly too pleased to learn all they can of marksmanship, if miniature rifle shooting were brought within their reach. Very often it is impossible to secure rifle ranges within a reasonable distance of populous centres, and it frequently happens that men have to travel several miles in order to reach a range. But if miniature rifle ranges were established within the towns, thousands would be only too glad to avail themselves of the opportunity of learning all that they can of rifle shooting.
. -The item to which the honorable member has referred has been reduced because of the absence of competitions this year. I am in general sympathy with the views that have been expressed by the honorable member for Wimmera, and will not lose sight of them in connexion with next year’s Estimates.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Division 83a (Expeditionary Forces), £13,200,000, agreed to.
Division 83b (Other war services), £128,000.
.-I should like some information concerning the item “ Pay of censors and their staffs, £28,500.” What is the position occupied by these censors, and what is their attitude towards the speeches delivered in this Parliament? I have noted that they exercise a certain amount ofcontrol over the publication of statements made in this Chamber, andI would like to know who have been appointed to these positions, and how the businessof censoring reports is conducted. What instructions have been issued to these gentlemen, and what powers of discrimination do they possess? I know that I can read in the Times what appear to be full and free criticisms in. the German Reichstag concerning the conduct of the war. I do not know what is the position ofour censors here concerning the utterances of honorable members. I would like information on this point. I also desire an explanation of the item “ Expenditure in connexion with interned enemy subjects, £97,000.” I desire to know what number of enemy subjects are interned in the Commonwealth, what they are doing, arid what pay they are receiving:
– The honorable member for Bendigo has raisedvery important question in regardto the censorshipnot onlyof the utterances of honorable members in this
Parliament, but of their utterances outside of it. I think it is time that the Ministry cleared up the position in some way or other. It is about as unsatisfactory as it can be.I may say at once that I have discussed this matter with the Minister, and that I have also had some conversation regarding it with the chief censor. As a result I am not at all satisfied that the present position is satisfactory, or that the best thing possible is being done. Whatever I have to say in this connexion will, I hope, be viewed from the objective of abolishing some of the irksome restrictions which now trammel our utterances, and of thus leading to a. more reasonable censorship than exists at the present time. I imagine that it ought to. be. accepted as a fundamental proposition that anything which is published in the newspapers at Home may surely be published here. Seeing that we are contributing only a modicum - and a small modicum - towards the defence of the Empire, we surely have as much right to criticise men, munitions, and war preparations as have the people in the Old Country, which is carrying the chief responsibility for the entire conduct of the war. Yet our censors are every day ruling out statements which are far less important and far less critical than are those which are being made by all sorts of persons in the daily newspapers of Great Britain. Quite recently a censor here, acting under somebody’s instructions, would not allow a reference to be made to the desirableness of inaugurating a second shift at our Small Arms Factory. Two Committees of this Parliament have now reported in favour of that step, namely, the Public Accounts Committee and the Public Works Committee. They have inquired into the matter very thoroughly, and they both affirm that, in the interests, of war preparations, a second shift should be inaugurated at. the earliest possible moment. They go further and affirm that, in the interests of the economical working of the plant at the Factory, a further effort should be made to obtain the requisite material and to employ a double shift.
– Order ! The honorable member must not discuss that matter under, this item.
– I am not, going to do so. I am merely illustrating my point that our censorshipisunnecessarily restricted.
– Does the honorable member say that it is proposed to censor the reports of the two Committees, to which he has referred?
– No. I do not know what they are going to do in reference to them. But I say that, in view of what has already been done in the matter of utterances outside this chamber, the censor ought to censor those reports. Only the other day Senator Millen made a suggestion to. the Minister that the Factory ought to be working a double shift-a statement which was published in the press, I understand, because some censor allowed it to pass. That officer was promptly carpeted and instructed that he must not permit that sort of thing in the future. The censor, acting on the jacketing which he had received, promptly proceeded to censor the statement of the Minister in reply to. Senator Millen, and of course was immediately carpeted once more. He was then told that he must let the Minister’s reply go through. But when Senator Millen attempted to make a rejoinder, down came the censor upon his utterance, with the result that it has never appeared in print. Yet it was. a statement of the mildest character, as honorable members will admit when I read it. It is as follows:-
I am extremely disappointed with Senator Pearce’s observations regarding my recent statement as to the practicability of. organizing a second shift for the Small Arms Factory.
Senator Pearce practically asks the public to take it for- granted that everything is being done thai is possible, and with a view to discounting criticism, speaks of the undesirability of supplying information to the enemy.
This is not a question of supplying information to. the enemy, but of making additional rifles, to be used against them. I should be only too willing to refrain from further reference to the matter but for its overshadowing importance. Every day’s cables fromGreat Britain emphasize - and latterly in very pointed language-the need for additional munitions. Senator Pearce admits- this need, and yetthe fact remains that with all the. resources of Australia to draw upon, and after nine months of war, the Lithgow Factory is working with only a single shift.
This fact speaks for itself, and it is not to be concealed by phrases of mysterious import.
I have made, ample inquiries justifying my original assertion that a second shift can be organized, and indeed should have been at work long ago. Holding that opinion, I should have failed in an obvious duty if I had not directed attention to the failure of those responsible to utilize the, resources of the Small Arms Factory to the fullest extent. “That statement was censored and was not allowed to be published. If this sort of thing is permitted, we have reached the stage when, no matter how incompetent and. dilatory our public officials may be, end; no matter how the Minister himself may be failing in his duty, we must not indulge ‘ in criticism, and the Minister may shelter himself from attack under the censorship for which he alone is responsible. If it be a fact that the Small Arms Factory can be worked two shifts, and that it is only working one, I have no hesitation in saying that that is one of the best ways of which I have any knowledge of defeating the Empire. And so it comes about that the censorship ostensibly exercised to prevent the enemy defeating us may, by that very means, give the enemy such advantages, and allow him to get on such a head of steam in respect of his own preparations, as to snake it impossible to do anything against him. That is not what we desire. We want criticism of a helpful kind, and the greatest publicity given to that criticism in the public press. But while Senator Millen’s mild criticism is turned down, these same censors permit the publication of the following criticism, which was evidently passed also by the censors in Great Britain -
The Bishop of Pretoria (Dr. M. B. Furse), in a letter to the Times after a month’s visit to the Army in Northern France and Flanders, appeals to the nation to adopt compulsory service.
He says : - “The troops think that the nation is not backing them up as it could and should.
That isa very plain and distinct statement “ They feel that the ignorance and apathy at Homeare needlessly increasing their danger of losses. “After fighting desperately day and night for weeks with frightful losses, the men, dog-tired, are yet sent back to, the firing line after three days’ rest. They naturally conclude that there are not . enough troops available. Battalion after battalion in theYpres salient had to sit in the trenches and be pounded by the German high explosives with no. guns capable of keeping down . the German fire. “ The men naturally conclude that the nation has failed to provide sufficient guns and ammunition, . Similarly they find the. Germans readyto answer every British bomb with five or ten bombs. The troops know that it is little short of murder to ask men, however full of fight and spirit, to face an enemy amply equipped with big guns and the right ammunition unless they are equipped with equally effective munitions.
These statements arc passed by our own censors, and allowed to be published, but a mild criticism, such as that offered by Senator Millen regarding the working of a second shift at the Small Arms Factory, is promptly censored, and not allowed to appear in the press.
– Does not the right honorable gentleman recognise that it was the publication of Lt.Colonel a’Court Repington’s criticism in the Times that led to the reconstruction of the British Ministry?
– I was about to point out that British public opinion no doubt forced on the reconstruction that has just taken place. I have before me a budget of statements taken from the Times, which are infinitely stronger than anything Senator Millen has stated. But while those statements may go over the whole world through the medium of the English newspapers, we may not here contribute a small modicum of criticism on our defence making for fear that it should influence the war. Anything more ludicrous than the censorship in Australia cannot be conceived. The Small Arms Factory is working but one shift a day, and two Parliamentary Committees have reported that it should be working two shifts; yet, when a responsible ex-Minister of Defence makes that statement, it is not allowed to appear in the press for fear of some untoward circumstance occurring favorably to the enemy. The sooner we rid ourselves of this sort of thing the better. There is another aspect of this matter to which I should like to call attention, and that is that there is, it seems, a double censorship of all news from oversea published in Australia. It is censored at the other end of the world, and censored again at this end. I do not think that was ever contemplated. I find, for instance, that Mr. McKenna, speaking on this matter in the House of Commons, laid it down as a general principle that “What has been passed here will, in ordinary’ circumstances, be considered to have passed for the whole world.” Our censors do not so interpret their instructions. They insist upon exercising their own rights of censorship with respect to oversea news after it has passed the censors at Home. That being so, the public of Australia are not allowed to know what is going on con- cerning matters as to which the newspapers at Home are full. I submit that if we are going to stimulate recruiting, if we are going to bring home to the public mind of Australia the gravity of this war, we must let the people know the facts as far as we can reasonably do so. We must let them know, also, that our own possibilities are not being exploited to the fullest extent, and that everything is not as right as right can be. Wherever there is room for criticism that criticism should be permitted, and the true facts put before the people to the fullest extent compatible with the efficient prosecution of the war. It is of no use to humbug ourselves, and to act the part of the ostrich in connexion with a war of this kind.
-Does not the Leader of the Opposition see that he would be liable to be interned if he did what he he suggests? Has he not read the regulations that he passed ? .
– That I passed ?
– Yes; that the right honorable gentleman assented to with very great cheerfulness.
– I am afraid that we are doing here every day much that they hesitate to do in other parts of the world. Whatever the regulations may or may not be, it cannot tend to the successful completion of this war to restrict criticism that is intended only to add to the efficiency of our preparations. Mr. Brennan. - Hear, hear! Iwish that the right honorable member could be induced, to vote up to that idea.
-i am prepared to do so at any time. The trouble to which I have referred comes,I am inclined to think, from the want of definite and precise instructions to the censors. We have sixty or seventy censors in Australia, and I understand that there is only one department of censorship. Inthe Old Country specialization, of censorship is provided for. There is an independent censorship in respect of defence matters, another censorship concerning trade, and, in, short, I understand, four or five separate departments under responsible Ministers. Here, however, one Minister takes control of the wholecensorship,and censors’ matters having to. do with ordinary business - as inthe caseof sugar the other day-as well asmattersrelating to the conduct of the war. This, I think, is where weare going wrong. We are overweighting these censors, and putting upon them responsibilities for which they are utterly and eminently unsuited. And so the whole thing is being muddled and confused. We have sixty or seventy censors, and unless they are given preciseinstructions to adopt, as far as possible, a uniform interpretation, we are bound to have this trouble. A censor in Sydney, interpreting some vague instructions issued by the Minister, refused to allow Senator Millen’s very mild criticism to be published. From what I have seen of his instructions, he was justified in doing so. The fault lies, so far as I can see, in the instructions issued by the Minister. The censors may make inferences. Inferences may be drawn in regard to any matter. The censors may connect up anything with the war and war preparations, and so rule out any statement, whether it be really useful criticism or whether it be harmful. Something should be done to remedy this state of affairs at the earliest possible moment. The whole Department, I think, needs to be reorganized. Some trained ability ought to be brought to bear on the censor’s work, so that we may know what we ought to know, and be prevented from knowing what, in the public interest, we should not know. The Government must bring to bear practical training on these matters, just as they have had to do in connexion with other things. Many of these difficulties have been overcome in the Old Country; but we are still struggling with them here. I insist that nothing should be censored that is a fair public criticism of the administration of the Government, moreparticularly when that criticism is designed only to further the interests that we all have at heart in connexion with the world-war that is being waged.
.- In reply to the inquiry made by the honorable member for Bendigo, I wish to explain that the item of £97,000 for expenses in connexion with interned enemy subjects is made’ up of the cost of creating camps, supplying food and clothing to enemy subjects, and paying them1s. per day when they work. I have the number of interned Austrians in Australia, but do not think it advisable to make it public.
– Why not?
– It is not desirable at this juncture to publicly mention the number interned; but I circulated amongst honorable members, for their private information, a few days ago, a statement on the subject.
– What is being doneby these interned enemy subjects who elect to work?
– They are clearing camps, building, and doing ordinary work necessary in connexion with the camp.
– In Western Australia they do not work at all.
– Then they receiveno pay. Coming to the question of censorship, I wish to inform the Committee that the Minister has not issued any instructions to any censor to prevent the publication in the Commonwealth of the report of any speech made by an honorable member, except where its publication would disclose certain information that we do not desire to be circulated outside Australia. We do not censor any criticism of our administration. It is only in respect of statements likely to give the enemy certain information which we do not desire shall reach them, that the censors have the right to censor any speech made in this Parliament.
– Will the Minister lay a copy of the instructions on the table of the House to-morrow?
-I see no objection. I shall consult the Minister of Defence, and, with his consent, shall be pleased to do what the honorable member suggests. The Minister of Defence and I to-day met the Leader of the Opposition, the right honorable member for Swan, and Senator Millen, and discussed this matter with them. We are not acting in the dark, and dp not intend to do so. The Leader of the Opposition knows what is going on.
– We discoveredthe instructions with some surprise.
-The Prime Minister agreed that he would discuss this matter withthe Leader of the Opposition, and that promise was carried out.
– Are the censors acting uniformly? Were the instructions the same in every State ?
– Every censor was told that he could make his own inferences. That is the trouble.
– With regard to the matter referred to by Senator Millen, I know the Minister of Defence himself thought it should have been allowed to go to the newspapers. That is the opinion of the Minister; but the censor took another view because of instructions which had been issued to him by the Minister. I think, however, that the Minister will makeit clear to the censors in future that no criticism of any member in this Parliament shall be in any way censored, provided it does not give material information to the enemy. That is all I can say.
.-We do not know the position with regard to the censorship. When this matter was under discussion yesterday, I asked the Prime Minister if he would ascertain by cable whether there was any censorship over speeches by members of the Imperial House of Commons, as reported in the daily press, and he said he would do so. I am under the impression that there is no such censorship ; and I would be glad to know if the Minister has received any such communication, and, if so, what is the nature of it.
– I do not know.
– Last night, just before midnight, the Prime Minister read out the text of a cablegram which he had addressed on. the subject to the Home authorities, and also the reply. After reading the reply, I think the matter was just about as clear asbefore.
-What was the reply?
– I could not tell the honorable member.
-Was that censored in Hansard, too?
– No, I do not think it was. I know the Prime Minister himself was utterly dissatisfied with it, as it didnot make matters any clearer than before.
– There is a new Secretary of State now. Perhaps the Government will wire again.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department of Trade and Customs.
Division 84 (Central Staff), £55,340.
– I should like to know from the Ministerwhenthe famous Navigation Bill is to be brought into operation.
– That was the Minister’s daily inquiry when he was on this side of the House.
– Yes.When the Minister was on this side, day by day, and week by week, he addressed this inquiry to the then Minister of Trade and Customs, the honorable member for Darling Downs. No one was more emphatic than the present Minister on this subject, and according to him only the pettifogging methods of the Minister of that time were responsible for the. delay in bringing the measure into operation.
– I think you used to call him a” petulant little chap.”
-Yes, for he was so tiresome with regard to this particular; matter; but now, after nine months’ struggling with this great problem, the Navigation Bill is still as far off being put into operation as ever -
God’s in His Heaven-?
All’s right with the world!
But it is now my duty to insist upon asking this dilatory Minister what does he intend to do. Things were “ so and so,” according to him, when he was in office before, and he left them “ in such and such a condition,” and he used to ask why was the Act not put into operation. Now, after a further nine months, it is as far off as ever, and we are now repeating the question, “ What has become of the Navigation Bill?”
– Give him something easy.
– He is, in a pleasant harbor at present.
-Yes; that is the correct way of putting it. The. Minister is in a haven of rest-by the banks of the “still waters,” in “green pastures.” We cannot forget, however, what an amount of vituperation was hurled at the head of the previous Minister over this matter. Will the Minister be kind enough to tell us what has become of the Navigation Bill, and why “ those who go down to the sea in ships “ are not enjoying the benefits of this measure?
.- No one knows better than the right honorable member that the reason the Navigation Bill has not been brought into operation is on account of the numberof regulations that have to be framed.
– Yes; and that is exactly what the previous Minister used to say.
– The previous Minister did not even appoint a Director of Navigation. Though an advertisement was inserted in a number of newspapers, they did not get any further. Another reason for the delay is that, after the Titanic disaster, there was a maritime convention at which all the nations were represented, and certain findings were arrived at, rendering it advisable to amend the measure in some particulars. Australia, I think, was represented by Captain Collins, of the High Commissioner’s office.
– Was Germany represented ?
– As a matter of fact, Germany called the conference.
– And Germany had the best provisions for safety of life at sea at that time.
– The convention was held, and so expeditious was the Imperial Parliament that an amending Bill introduced in May received the King’s assent in August. I saw a cable in the papers the other day stating that, on account of the troubled state of Europe at present, it was not proposed to bring the law into operation. As I have said, it was necessary that our Navigation Bill should be amended in conformity with the findingof the Maritime Convention, and that amendment was passed in the Senate before we adjourned at Christmas. We were anxious to carry the Bill here before we adjourned,so that it could go Home for the King’s assent while we were in recess, but that was not done, and we are still waiting for the amend: ing Bill to be passed in this House. I can assure honorable members that the Director of Navigation is going on with the work of preparing regulations. Ad; vertisements have been inserted in the newspapers calling for applications for the position of Surveyor and Examining Engineer, and the Government are now considering these applications. We hope in the course of a few weeks to gazette the appointments of the successful applicants. There has been no delay. Honorable members know that this is one of the largest measures we have ever put through, and that it will have a considerable effect upon the trade of Australia. Ihopethatweshall get the amending Bill out of the way shortly, so that both measures may come into opera- tion together.
.- I have read the Bill as introduced into the House of Commons in consequence of the finding of the Maritime Conference which was held after the Titanic disaster, and it has occurred to me that the war may have some effect upon the proposed legislation.
– I think it has.
– I intended to tell the Minister privately one or two things which struck me in connexion with this matter when reading the Bill. It seems to me that some of our war legislation may have a bearing upon the previous Navigation Bill, and I hope, therefore, that the Minister will not be too precipitate in introducing the amending Bill, because if the war does make a difference, it will be a pity if the measure were placed on our statute-book, and had to be modified substantially six or twelve months afterwards. The original measure might have to be amended. I do not know what will be the result of bringing into operation at once that part of the Act dealing with British shipping. We do not want to impose any greater limitations upon British shipping than are absolutely necessary. Take the position with regard to our territories - the New Hebrides, the Bismarck Archipelago, the Carolines, and the Solomon Islands, which are all British now. They are all affected to some extent by the provisions of the Navigation Act, though at the time that Act was passed some of the islands were under a different allegiance, and, consequently, came under different provisions of the Bill. Then consider also the position with regard to the Northern Territory. There are, I think; three different shipping companies plying there, and making about twelve voyages a year. All these will be affected by Part 6 or 7 of the Act. It is bad enough to have the voyages altered in consequence of the war, but if we bring the technical provisions of the Act to bear on the operations of these companies, and interfere with communication, the position, so far as the Territory is concerned, will be far worse than at present. I hope the Minister will not lead the Committee to assume that nothing was done by his predecessor in, office.
– I never said that.
– His predecessor went to an immense amount of trouble over the regulations, and no one knows better than the present Minister how great were the preliminary difficulties that beset the Minister. The proclamation should be postponed, I think, because practically all the nations were parties to the Convention-, and had to introduce legislation in keeping with the finding.
– I wish to know whether a report has been made upon the investigations which are proceeding as to the best means of dealing with bitter pit. It must be four or five years since the inquiry was begun.
Mr.Tudor. - It was begun in August, 1911.
– Since that date the Commonwealth has been paying £1,000 a year for the investigation of this one disease. I wish to know how far the investigation is to be pursued.
– The term upon which we agreed with the States is now up.
– Was there a four-year contract?
– Then I apprehend that we shall soon have a definite statement on the subject. I do not object to the time that has been occupied. I should not mind spending £10,000 a year for ten years to arrive at a solution of the problem. One of the hindrances to the proper investigation of diseases of this kind is that the inquiries are not set about in the right way, nor conducted with sufficient competency, patience, and liberality. It is often thought that if investigators cannot show results at the end of a year or so, the expenditureon their investigations should cease. But to study the life-history of a disease, and to ascertain the best means of dealing with it, may take years of laboratory experiments, and we cannot hope for satisfactory results unless we are willing to pay the necessary cost, and are provided with the necessary patience. What Australia wants most of all is trained investigation applying itself to the study ‘of diseases and pests. We do not pay enough for the work. Men possessing the scientific experience that is needed cancommand salaries of £2,000 or £3,000 a year in other parts ofthe world. Butif,by applying himself to the study of a disease for five or seven years, a scientific man found a way to prevent it, the gain to the country would be one hundred times the cost. We do not pay for first-rate ability, and we do not give the trained investigators that we possess sufficient time and opportunity. I should like to see established a scientific Federal Bureau of Agriculture.
– Why did not the honorable member provide for one when he was Prime Minister?
– Let the honorable member ask the honorable member for Capricornia and his colleagues in another place why they turned down the proposal, and the reasons they gave for doing so.
– The reasons they gave for turning it down were better than those the right honorable member gave for turning it up.
– I am glad to hear the confession that they turned it down. A 100-ton engine could not have dragged that admission from members of the Labour party when they were before the country; but now that they are comfortably ensconced in power again, the party Whip says that they turned down the proposal for a Federal Bureau of Agriculture, and had good reasons for doing so.
– The right honorable member said that. It is he who turned it up.
– They dragged it all round the rural electorates.
– There was an election in Queensland last Saturday, and the Liberal party was dragged round then. Who was it spoke about the old ship swinging round to her moorings again ?
– As my honorable friend is big, I hope he will be merciful. Now that the Labour party has won in Queensland as well as in most of the other States, I hope that they will not throw the road over the hedge, but will let us all live. I was talking about bitter pit, and my honorable friend makes an interjection which is a bitter pill. I hope that if satisfactory results have not been obtained from the investigation that is proceeding, it will be continued until such results are achieved. I have not heard any specific for bitter pit announced.
– Has a progress report been made?
– A report has been presented.
– Yes; and as is customary in these matters, we have a scientific gentleman in one of the Universities announcing that the disease should be treated in one way, and our authority recommending a contrary method. But, notwithstanding these differences of opinion, I believe that out of the conflict of scientific wit will come scientific wisdom. I plead for patience and perseverance in regard to the investigation of the pests which are the bane of our producers, and I trust that money will not be grudged for investigations tending to increase the productivity of our fields and pastures, and to give an impetus to the primary industries, which must be the basis of the enduring prosperity of any country. A little money spent with that object will abundantly justify itself, and if the case of only one of these diseases be sifted to the bottom and solved for the fruit-growers or farmers of Australia, it will repay a thousandfold the little money spent upon it, and the little time taken in bringing it to a completion.
.- I cannot allow the item “ Administration of Bureau of Agriculture” to pass by without raising some word of protest against the blank that appears against it. Last year there was an appropriation of £5,000 for this purpose, but only £20 was spent, probably on postage stamps, and this year we have an absolute blank so far as this Government is concerned. This fact recalls one of the little incidents of the last elections. Talk about the body of Hector being dragged behind a chariot! I remember how the then Prime Minister was dragged all round the country, and I think the honorable member for Indi did his share of it. I remember the amount of kudos that the representatives of the present Government sought to get in rural electorates out of a statement made by the then Prime Minister at a meeting of the Chamber of Agriculture in Maryborough, and in which a slight inaccuracy cropped up.
– In one detail alone.
– But what political capital was made out of it! All through the country, members of the Labour party and Labour candidates said to the farmers, “ Let us get there ; we will not leave it to the last day of the session to send the Bill up to the Senate and put it through.” Here on. the Estimates before us is their answer.
– These Estimates were pre? pared by your Government:
– They were- not. They show the effort of the present Government in respect to. that matter. The explanation of the honorable member for Indi when he addresses his constituency will be amusing. But I wish to deal with a more serious, aspect.
– What about those two blades of grass?
-:Unfortunately it is the absence of even one blade of grass during a long period that; compels me to rise and speak upon this matter. During the last twelve months or more Australia has suffered an internal shrinkage of at least £30,000,000 worth of stock. I ven1ture to say that the loss of sheep has been at least 25,000,000.
– It has been 15,000,00Q in New South Wales alone.
– We have the estimate of 15,000,000 for New South Wales alone, and as the total number of sheep in Australia was less than 100,000,000, taking £1 per head as. the price of sheep, we, can estimate an immediate exhaustion of sheep through the drought to the extent of £25,000,00,0 in, value. We can also put down an average price of £5 to £6 per head for store cattle, and as the loss of cattle has been 1,000,000 head in New South Wales alone, we can allow £5,000,000 as representing the shrinkage in the value of our herds of cattle, which’, with the: loss of £25,000,000 worth of sheep, gives us ar total shrinkage, qf £3’0,000,000. in the value of ‘ our flocks and herds, without taking into consideration the loss of horses, and other stock. Let us also take the position of agriculture during the same period. In the previous year the crop, throughout Australia was, about 110,0.00,000 bushels, whereas last year the total production was only 20,000,000 bushels. There was a shrinkage of at. least 80,000,000 bushels, and taking the, price qf wheat at 5s. a bushel, which ii I reasonable estimate for that period, there, was, a loss of £2,0,000,000 on wheat along, Thus the loss of wheat and stock, during the period was from £50,000,000. to-£600.00,00.0. The Minister will s,ee that, with a reduction of 25. per cent, in our flocks, the very least we can do is to see that we make the most of the stock re.maining, and that our duty in that respect is more important at this critical time than ever before in the history of our country. The Minister knows that every animal or plant that grows in the Commonwealth has a host of natural enemies.. That fact is well known as the result of world-wide research work, though very little of this hag been done in Australia. The Leader of the Opposition was right when he said that wa had never been game enough to pay for the brains tq undertake laboratory work; in Australia. There, has been no highclass laboratory research work in the Commonwealth. It is high time it was. undertaken, particularly when we have had this tremendous shrinkage to the ex?tent of £60,000,000 through the drought,, while at the same time, as a result of the war, our national debt has increased by £26,000,000, and we can see in sight a debt of at least £50,000,000 before the war is over. The candle is being burnt at both ends. The gap between our loss in production and our increase in the national debt is considerable, but it can be made up all the more quickly if Parliament will give consideration to the efforts of the primary producers in the task of combating the host of natural enemies towhich their stock and plants are the heirs. It should not be left to a private member - the honorable member for Darling Downs- to give notice of his intention tobring in a Bill for the establishment of a Bureau of Agriculture. I hope that the Government will give attention tq this matter, and that they- will take into. consideration the tremendous loss the primary producers have sustained, by the exhaus-tion of their stock. As the producers, who are the chief aim of their direct imposts, of taxation, are, the principal wood and water carriers, of the Commonwealth, the Government should do something for them on the other side of the ledger, md, while they are increasing the producers’- burdens, help, them at the same time tor increase their, productivity. We cannot go on loading up the primary producers and increasing their burdens without helping them in some other direction. The Minister of Trade and Customs, whois’ so favorable’ to the establishment anc? encouragement of secondary industries, must know that these industries can only prove successful through increasing primary production and strengthening and encouraging primary industries. Therefore, I hope that he will at once state that the Government seriously intend to go on with the establishment of a Bureau of Agriculture, and that, in the next Estimates, an encouraging start will be made by appropriating a substantial sum with which to begin the work of such an institution.
– I am glad that the honorable member has reminded me of a littleincident which did such duty for honorable members opposite in the prosecution of their last election campaign. I made a statement at Maryborough which was wrong in one small detail. I said that every effort that had been made to pass the Agricultural Bureau Bill had been defeated by the Labour party.
– Was not that statement wrong?
– The only particular in which I was incorrect was in the statement that the Bill had not left this Chamber. As a matter of fact, the Bill had, left this Chamber on the day before Parliament was prorogued.In those circumstances.I think I might well have been forgiven for making that small mistake. The honorable members who prevented that Bill from reaching the statute-book were the supporters of the party now in power. I say, moreover, that the honorable members on. the Government side of the House have defeated every effort to date to place a similar measure on the statute-book. That statement cannot be controverted. When the Liberal party were in power previously an earnest effort was made to put the Bill through. The honorable member for Darling Downs piloted the 1909 Bill through this House, and it was sent to another place, where members of the Labour party were in force. After the second-reading speech had been delivered by Senator Millen, the Bill was treated by other honorable senators in a fashion which is shown by the following extracts from Hansard-
– That was six years ago.
– The Labour party havebeen in officefouryearssince, then, and there has been no appearance of an Agricultural Bureau Bill from them. Their only achievement has been to drop . the item from the Estimates. Senator W. Russell said of the 1909 Bill-
The Bureau, if established, will cost thousands of pounds. I have shown, in the opinion of the Ministers of Agriculture of the States-
The honorable senator was a States righter then - the Bill is not necessary, and that it will cause overlapping with what the States are already doing.
– I am afraid that the States think that to-day.
– If that is the honorable member’s attitude let him say so. Then Senator Henderson said -
The honorable senator must recognise that the Bill is altogether unnecessary. If it has any serious purpose at all, it is simply meant to create a useless Department, which will have no particular functions to perform, other than those which the States are how performing, and which they arenot inclined to hand over to the Commonwealth.
Senator de Largie said;
I am quite satisfied that this measure has been introducedfor no other purpose than to supply the Senate with a “ stop-gap.”
Senator Pearce Said;
I am not convinced that we have yet reached the stage when we should have a Bureau of Agriculture.
Senator Findley reminded us that we were heapingup expenditure of other kinds, and continued-
It seems to be an absolute waste of time to introduce a measure for the creationof what I consider would be a superfluous Department.
Senator Needham; another great shining light in the Senate, said-
The opposition to the Bill is based upon the fact that everything which a FederalBureau of Agriculture could accomplish is already being accomplishedby the States-, and in a better manner. … We are endeavouring to protectthe States, and to hold the scales evenly in all matters as between the States and the Commonwealth.
Senator Turley remarked, . “ The States are doing the work.”In the division on the second reading the following voted against the Bill : - Senators demons, Croft, de Largie, Findley, Givens, Guthrie, Henderson, Lynch, Needham Pearce, E. J. Russell, W. Russell, Turley Story, and McGregor. The Bill passed the second-reading stage, but in Committee Senator Pearce moved that clause 2 be struck out as an intimation that the Committee thought that it should be re-drafted. On thequestion being put, “ That the clause be agreed to,” the voting was - ayes 13, noes 16, and the noes included Senators Clemons, Croft, de Largie, Dobson, Givens, Guthrie, Henderson, Stewart, Story, Turley, E. J. Russell, Lynch, Needham, Pearce, Findley, and McGregor. The clause was negatived, and progress was reported. That reveals the manner in which the Senate contemptuously threw out the Agricultural Bureau Bill on the only occasion on which it was seriously discussed in another place. What happened in this Chamber when the Liberal Government again brought the Bill forward in 1913? It is well known that the honorable member for Capricornia made a dead set against the measure, and on every occasion he and other members of the Labour party made it quite clear that they would not permit any legislation of an effective character to be passed. The honorable member for Barrier asked, “ Will not this Bill mean the creation of more Government officials?” That was the honorable member’s trumpery reason for opposing the Bill at that time. The honorable member for Capricornia said -
I am sorry that the Prime Minister- did not allow this measure to stand over until next session, because it has certainly been brought forward without due consideration.
Then he continued in .his beautiful “ stone-walling “ way to allege other reasons for not passing the measure. He asked -
If we pass the Bill, what are we going to do for the unemployed ? The Government propose to expend anything up to £100,000 on a Bureau of Agriculture to assist pastoralists, who are, generally speaking, fairly .well-to-do, and to assist farmers, many of whom, unfortunately, are riot too well off.”
The late Mr. Arthur said -
Why do not the farmers join together and do this work for themselves?
And the present Minister of Trade and Customs said -
I do not believe in creating a seventh Department, where six are already in existence, unless we have some guarantee of its usefulness.
– Is this waking up the dead ?
– I am speaking now of the attitude of honorable members opposite to the last Bill, just before the elections. The Labour party strangled our first proposal in another place, and they strangled the last one in this Chamber, making it impossible to pass it dur ing the session; and this is followed now by the elimination from the Estimates of every copper for the purpose. I suggest to honorable members opposite that when next they go through the rural districts they should tell the people these facts, and never mind that little slip of mine, which only affected the question whether it was in this or in another Chamber that the measure received its quietus. The substantial fact remains, and cannot be rebutted, that every effort to pass an Agricultural Bureau Bill has been strangled by honorable members opposite, and I wish to put this on record because it will be useful in the near future.
.- The Leader of the Opposition has put his side of the question.
– I quoted facts.
– There are facts on the other side. This Bill was introduced by . the present Leader of the Opposition himself one afternoon, and a very short debate ensued, lasting not longer than about three-quarters of an hour. I followed the Leader of the Opposition, and then the honorable member for Wannon, who rose, got leave to continue his speech. As a matter of fact, no more was heard of the measure for about three months, though the Bill remained on the notice-paper to do. duty at farmers’ conferences, the opening, of agricultural shows, and so forth, in order to make country residents believe that something was being done on their behalf. . The honorable, member for. Hume .and the honorable member for Wannon know full well that the Bill was not brought on again until the last week of the session of 1913.
-1 deny your statements in toto, and I challenge you to get the records of the session.
– I shall get Hansard for that session, and place the correct version before honorable members.
– What is the Minister’s answer, to the statement that the Government have made no provision in the Estimates ?
– As I stated on a previous occasion, I, personally, think it unwise to create a seventh Department of Agriculture to overlap .the work of the -States, unless we come .tq some, arrange*ment with the States, as we did in the matter of bitter-pit. At the present time each State has a Department making investigations into agricultural matters; and, of course, no one would object if the States were willing to transfer their powers, and leave only one central body to spend the money.
– Certain negotiations took place, and I understand that the States were agreeable to use their machinery for demonstration purposes, leaving the Federal Bureau to devote itself to research work.
– So far as I know, the States have never agreed to an arrangement of that kind. It would be well, of course, if there were a Federal Bureau doing similar work to that which has been done in the United States. There the Federal Bureau is a sort of clearing house, and overlapping is prevented; but the States would not agree to a scheme of that kind. However, representations on the matter have been made to the States, and will be made again. Honorable members have asked why no provision is made on the Estimates.
– This is a matter which affects the farmers, and, therefore, the Minister declares that the States must be consulted, but. if it affected the cities the States would be ignored.
– That interjection reminds us of the statement which the honorable member made at the Farmers’ Conference at Maryborough - a statement that was wrong only in one respect, namely, the whole of it. The Government can carry out only a certain portion of their programme in any one session; and as we did not propose to proceed with a measure of the kind during this year, or until after consultation with the representatives of the States, it was not thought necessary to make any provision on the Estimates. As to bitterpit, if Dr. McAlpine is able to discover something to eradicate the pest, the Commonwealth will have done well. While the United States Government have spent over $1,000,000 in endeavouring to find some cure, the Commonwealth Government have not spent more than £8,000 in four years. The Ministers of Agriculture of the whole of the States met, and unanimously agreed to ask the Federal Government to contribute £1,000 a year for four years, the States jointly contributing a similar sum; and this request was acceded to. Certain of the laboratory work is being carried out in the Federal laboratory at the rear of the Customs House in Flinders-street. Three reports have been completed. There is to be a further Conference of the Ministers of Agriculture and the Committee which was appointed representing the States and the Commonwealth, and the meeting is to take place before the termination of the four-year period in July or August next.
– Why did not the Prime Minister discuss this question with the State Premiers when he was with them the other day ?
– Simply because it is a purely agricultural matter. I am not clear as to what reports have been presented to Parliament. I am not sure that this particular report has not been presented ; but I will make inquiries, and. if it has not been presented, see that it is made available at the first possible opportunity, because I think that every honorable’ member who is. interested in the orchardists, and in fruit cultivation, will admit that this is a matter which, as the Leader of the Opposition knows perhaps better than any other honorable member, is very important indeed. If the States are anxious and put forth a request, as they did four years ago, that the experiment should be continued, I think that the Government will look on the continuation of the work favorably. At any rate, we do want to see what work is being done. As the right honorable member has said, we cannot judge in four years how much progress has been made in regard to the scientific investigation.
– I am afraid that the explanation of the Minister of Trade and Customs, if it is an explanation, has not relieved the situation very much. If I remember rightly, during the last election the electors throughout the length and breadth of Australia were told that if the Fisher Government were given a chance, they would soon prove themselves the friends of the farmer.
– So they have.
– If they have, all that I can say is that they have a very curious way of showing their friendship, seeing that, according to these Estimates, they evidently propose to drop the whole of the administration of the Bureau of Agriculture.
-Hear, hear! Look at the position in Queensland, with all the agricultural districts in our hands.
-I only hope that outside the House the farmer will realizethe actual position. I am astonished to find that so many honorable gentlemen on the other side, representing country constituencies, can sit here tamely and allow this blank in the Estimates to pass when they know that by-and-by many very awkward questions will be asked them in their constituencies as to their attitude towards the very men they are misrepresenting to-day. It is a very extraordinary thing to me to discover that this FriendoftheFarmer Government is only prepared to institute an investigation with regard to bitter-pit.
– Would you like an investigation into the wheat scandal in Victoria ?
– I should like to have an investigation of every scandal, whatever it may be, wheat or otherwise; but at this juncture I am more particularly interested with regard to the scandal of pests. When we take into consideration the fact that we have just gone through not “a little drought,” but the worst droughtwe have had in Australia since 1857- the Fisher drought-
– People who know nothing about the country “ skite “ about it.
-I can assure the right honorable gentleman that there has been no severer drought in Australia since 1857 than the drought of 1914-15. If he likes to face the facts, and look into the matter as I know he could do, he will find that the time is not too late for him to recant the statement that it was only “ a little drought.”
– The honorable member is hot Speaking seriously. He does not know anything about the matter.
– I am speaking absolutely seriously, from an intimate knowledge of the State of New South Wales and the western portion of Queensland. The experience of Australia throughout its history has been that when We get a recurrence of good seasons we also have a remarkable multiplicity of pests. At this juncture, when we are all so cheerful and joyful in the belief that thedrought is being broken up ; when we want to have some investigationsto assist us very materially in the agricultural industry, we learn that the whole of the investigations, except as to bitter pit, are to go by. the board. It does hot seem to me that a Government which acts in such a way can, from this day out, declare itself to be the friend of the farmer.
– Can you suggest any means to eradicate the pests on the other side?
– Ah! that is his idea.
– The easiest way to eradicate those pests will be for the public to know their attitude from the agricultural point of view. If Ministers are not prepared to carry out the promises they made prior to the election, I think we can well leave them to the tender mercies of the constituencies at thenext appeal, when I am satisfied that there will be an eradication, though I would not like to go so far as to describe honorable gentlemen on the other side as pests.
– It is only a term of endearment.
– I am glad tohear that it is only a political term of endearment. There are many matters which we have to take into consideration. Why does the Minister of Trade and Customs single out bitter pit for investigation ? Why does he give a preference to the orchardists? Why does he not take into kindly consideration other phases of agriculture, which are just as worthy of investigation as fruit-growing? I have no particular animus against the orchardists. I think that they ought to be helped, and I quite agree with previous speakers that the investigation of bitter pit could be well undertaken by the Federal Government; but have we no pests in the territories over which we have sovereign rights? Have we no agricultural pests in the Northern Territory we are all hopeful of developing? Are we, on the one hand, to blindly invite agriculturists to go into that country, and then, on the other hand, turn down the assistance whereby they can deal with the pests which they are bound to discover? Is it hot a fact that in the tropics, wherein most of the Northern Territory lies, the pests are a great deal more virulent and numerous than in the temperate zone’s? Are we to understand that the whole of the Bureau of Agriculture is to go by the board simply, forsooth, because two or three honorable members on the other side of the House are afraid of some overlapping? May I tell the Minister of Trade and Customs that, in a personal interview with Mr. Valder,, the UnderSecretary for Agriculture in New South Wales, when I discussed the whole of this position with him, he frankly admitted that they had no feeling against the establishment of an Agricultural Bureau under Federal auspices. He said that he would welcome its establishment, and do everything he possibly could to assist in its development. He declared that he would be prepared to assist all along the line, unci when I pointed out that the State might have officers of scientific attainments who could be of assistance while the Commonwealth Government was creating a staff, he said frankly that he would be prepared to assist the Commonwealth in every way in that direction. Now, who is going to undertake the investigation of bitter pit for the Federal authorities? Are we to depend entirely on the State officers to do the work?
– He happens to be a Federal officer-
– Have we not an agricultural laboratory which is already investigating some diseases and pests? Could we not extend that laboratory so far as to do some of the work which we consider is the function of a Bureau of Agriculture? Surely it is not too late for the Minister to reconsider the position. But if, in his opinion, it is too late now, I ask him to give to those who honestly and faithfully try to represent the farming community an assurance that in the next Estimates he will include a sum of money in order that this very important work may be continued. I think the position is too serious for it to be treated lightly, or for it to provoke jeers and sneers such as those flung at the honorable member for Wannon because he said he desired to see two blades of grass grow where one previously grew. I do not know whether the honorable gentleman opposite knows that this is a quotation from Dean Swift, of St. Patrick’s, Dublin, who said that if any man could devise means whereby two blades of grass would grow where one grew previously, or whereby two heads of wheat would grow where one grew previously, he would be doing more lasting good to his nation than a whole breed of politicians. Yet for making that quotation the honorable member is continually chided by members on the Government side of the House. If we can have any help from the Federal authorities whereby the diseases and pests which are largely responsible for preventing the attainment of that ideal can be successfully dealt with, we shall then show that politicians are as anxious as the Dean was for the nation to go ahead. I hope the Minister will reconsider the position and restore to the Estimates the sum of money voted for the purposes of the Agricultural Bureau.
Mr. TUDOR (Yarra - Minister of Trade and Customs) [9.511. - The honorable member for Parramatta wanted to have placed on record the history of the Bureau of Agriculture Bill. Let me tell him that the Bill was introduced on the 9th July-
– What good is this?
– The honorable member wanted the matter on record. We are now within four weeks from the close of the financial year, and yet the honorable member wanted a sum restored to these Estimates with only that period to go. But the honorable member for Parramatta has put forward what he stated to be the facts. I want to put forward some others. The Bill was introduced on the 9th July, 1913. The second reading was taken on the 5th September - about eight weeks later. The Bill was brought up again on the 16th September and debated for about twenty minutes. Subsequently it was brought up on one or two occasions, and the adjournment was moved, not by a member of the Opposition, but by a member of the Ministerial party.
– Quite so.
– And nothing more was heard of the Bill until the 17th December, the day before Parliament was prorogued.
.- 1 think it absolutely astonishing that we should have a Minister of the Crown making a statement like that in this House. Almost every one here is conversant with what happened during the last Parliament, and yet the Minister comes forward and, with his hand on his heart, arid with every appearance that he believes what he says, gives us this suggestio falsi - the Standing Orders will not permit me to put it in any other form - this attempt to hoodwink honorable members of this House and the people outside into the belief that the progress, or want or progress, made with the Bill during the last Parliament was because the Government did not wish it to progress. What happened during the last Parliament? Every man in this House, and particularly every honorable member on that side of the House, knows that it did not matter what Government measure was submitted, there was wrong, and nothing but wrong, in it. It is notorious that we were not members of a deliberative assembly. Honorable members were seeking by every possible opportunity, by every possible side wind, by every possible trick, to heap discredit and hurl mud on those who occupied the benches they wanted to occupy. We had to put up with every sort of trick, with every sort of subterfuge, with every sort of insinuation, and why? Because we were very much in the position of the man who finds himself between an angry animal and the food for which its belly craves. Now that we know these things, surely it is a little late in the day for the Minister to get up and suggest, as he has done in the statement he has just made - sitting down after it with so smug a smile - that he and his colleagues were anxious to press this measure through, and that it was the Government he was then trying to “ chuck “ from office by just such insinuations and such playings with the truth that was loath to put forward the measure. I would not have spoken tonight but for the observations of the Minister, and I ask him now, what did he mean by that reply, if it was not that he himself was anxious to see this measure through, and that the late Government was not in earnest with it?
– They have shown their sincerity by keeping it off tie business paper.
– I trust, if the members of the party opposite do not realize it, that the public outside will see through these insinuations. As soon as they do, the honorable gentleman’s whole stock-in-trade, like the stock-in-trade of his honest-looking leader, will have vanished into thin air, for they seem to live by casting reflections of this sort from behind an honest exterior. I want to put this to my honorable friend : Did he not, here, a few minutes ago, tell us that he was not in favour of a Federal Bureau of Agriculture, unless some means could be adopted of stopping State overlapping; that he was going to give nothing additional to the farmer, and was not going to originate any additional inquiry of any kind ? But he added that if we could find some means of wiping out what has already been established by the States, and of placing the whole matter into one set of hands, then the Minister might be willing to prove himself a lifelong benefactor to those who have so long been his dupes.
– But he has taken no action in that direction.
– Of course he has taken no action, and he will take no action. He says it is only four weeks before the session will be up.
– I did not say that.
– Before the end of the financial year - I beg his pardon ; and, being within four weeks of that end, he does not propose to include this amount, though these Estimates were introduced at the beginning of the financial year. These Estimates were prepared .a considerable time before Christmas. It was not then a question of four weeks; it was a question of the whole balance of the financial year. The Minister’s explanation has completely borne out the suggestion that neither the Minister nor any of his colleagues want this thing done. All they are agreeable to do is to stop the agencies already operating in the various States, and bring them under one roof. He has not initiated a single new inquiry, and is not dealing with a single new problem of interest to the farmers whom they wish to see kent rigorously in the background. This problem, apparently, like the Prime Minister’s “little drought,” is a very small and trifling thing. The sufferings of the farmer, the miseries of those upon the land, are of absolutely no account. Yet I can say this, and every member of this House will recognise its truth, that whatever ‘may have happened to the farmer, however the country may have been suffering, there are eight or nine honest gentlemen upon that bench who have never been happier in the whole course of their lives.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Division 85 (Fisheries), £7,781.
.- I should like the Minister to tell the Committee if, as the result of the work carried out by the lost trawler Endeavour, he is in a position to say whether fish of a. sufficient quantity and quality to be of any commercial value has been caught to warrant the Government pursuing this ‘ matter any further. The Minister will probably recognise that there is likely to be a great shortage of meat supplies this year. Prices are very high, and relief will be brought to the householders of the country if something can be done in the way of making up the deficiencies that are likely to be felt by supplies of fish. Many families may have to substitute for their beef and mutton supplies from other sources, and if the Minister could give some information as to the possibilities in this direction, he would greatly relieve many householders and those who at the present time are taking action privately to cope with this matter, by investigating the great unexplored areas round the Australian coast. I should be glad if the Minister could give us some information on this matter.
– In regard to fishing grounds off the Australian coast, the position is that the whole of the reports upon the operations of the trawler Endeavour have already been presented to Parliament. The trawler commenced her investigatory work about the year 1908 or 1909. During her career she accomplished a good deal in that she definitely located payable fishing grounds in the waters adjacent to Australia. The Government do not propose, at the present time, to build or equip another trawler to continue that work. The whole of the information to which I have referred is available to any person who desires it. I quite recognise that it would be a great advantage if we could induce private enterprise to embark upon trawling operations in our waters, especially in view of the high price of meat. I understand that in New South Wales action is being taken in this direction for the purpose of cheapening the food supplies of the people. ‘
.- As reference has been made to the question of our fish supply, it appears a favorable opportunity to point out that in close proximity to one of our newlyacquired territories - I refer to Norfolk Island - an abundance of fish is obtainable. Only a few days ago I met the captain of the Makambo, who informed me that he had just brought a trial shipment of these fish to Sydney, and that a company had been formed, which was prepared to erect refrigerators at Norfolk Island if the public of Sydney were satisfied with the condition of the fish upon their arrival in that city.
– Are the fish of commercial value?
– Sometimes the best fish have no commercial value. It is a question of establishing a taste.
– The honorable member for Calare can speak with me of the quality of the fish from Norfolk Island. As to their quantity there is no room for doubt. If fishermen there go out in a whale boat, they usually return with as much fish as the craft can carry. If some up-to-date method for dealing with them were adopted, unlimited supplies could be secured. I hope that the Government will make a note of this fact, with a view to seeing if the industry at Norfolk Island cannot be encouraged, particularly when the question of the mail contract with the Pacific Islands is under consideration. Provision should then be inserted in the contract requiring the mail steamers to provide adequate refrigerating space. That would prove a boon to the public of Sydney as well as to the Norfolk Islanders.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Division 86 (Quarantine), £37,584; and division 87 (Analyst), £3,644, agreed to.
Division 88 (Inter-State Commission), £5,063.
.- I desire to point out to the Minister that the late Government entered into an agreement with the States in regard to the unification of railway gauges - an agreement under which the Inter-State Commission was to discharge certain functions. At the time of which I am speaking it was impracticable to ask that body to immediately tackle the problem of the unification of our gauges, seeing that it was then dealing with the Tariff.
– It is doing so yet.
– But I take it that it is now nearing the conclusion of its labours, and I would suggest that the Government should carry out the agreement into which we entered with the different .States. That agreement was to the effect that the Commonwealth and the States should make contributions to a common fund so as to enable this question to be properly handled. Payments into that fund were to be made, not according to the cost of unifying the gauge in each State, but according to the advantage which each State and the Commonwealth would derive from this common work. It was the introduction of this new principle which secured the unanimous approval of the States to the proposed unification of our railway gauges. It practically destroyed the possibility of any serious quarrel in connexion with the actual gauge to be adopted. Honorable members will realize that the battle of the gauge has been largely fought with minds subconsciously fixed upon the question of how much each. ‘State would be required to pay for the alteration of the gauge within its own borders. The Commonwealth Government pointed out that every State would benefit from the adoption of a uniform gauge by the common handling of the rolling stock, and by the interchange which would result in stock and other commodities. With the exception of Tasmania, every State in the Commonwealth will benefit by the unification of gauges. Take, for instance, the position of New South Wales. If the gauge were to remain at 4 ft. in., as I believe it will, because the balance of advantage, considering cost as an advantage, is so infinitely in favour of that gauge, then New South Wales would be a heavy gainer. And yet if Queensland and Victoria converted to the same gauge before this Conference was held it would have had to pay nothing towards the cost of unification. Across the northern borders of that State very often the seasons are such that there is plenty of grass, while there is stock wanting grass on the southern side of the border, and vice versa. Stock-owners in these northern districts of New South Wales would thus benefit enormously by being able to transfer their stock readily and easily into the adjoining State. In the same way, the people of Riverina would benefit enormously by the unifica tion of gauges. New South Wales would thus be a direct gainer as the result of the unification of gauge to which it had contributed nothing. Consequently, it did not seem to the Government at the time a rational proposal that the cost of unifying the gauges should be on a basis other than that -of payment for benefits received. To assess those benefits we had to secure the services of some body which would command common confidence throughout Australia. The body that recommended itself to this Premiers’ Conference was the Inter-State Commission, and for. that reason it was appointed, under the agreement, to go into the question of the advantage which each State would derive from the unification of gauges, and funds would then be automatically paid in by the various interested bodies. In addition to that, at the instance of Victoria and South Australia, the Inter-State Commission was to give a final verdict on the question of what gauge should be adopted.
My honorable friends opposite have had recourse to a hard-and-fast method of settling the question of which gauge should be selected. We have started to build a transcontinental railway, and we have other railways, described as strategic, also projected by the Commonwealth. My honorable friends opposite, in a somewhat high-handed manner, have said that the Commonwealth is going to construct these railways on a 4-ft. 8J-in. gauge. The inference is that this is to be used as a lever to compel all the railway services of Australia to come down to our basis. I do not believe the reform can be brought about in that way. I have never had any hope of the kind. The building of lines on. conflicting gauges in the various States is only adding to the difficulty. On the other hand, if we carry out the agreement to which I have referred, then, whatever the gauge adopted - and I am certain it will be the 4-ft. 8^-in. gauge-t-it will be adopted by the States for their own advantage as well as by the Commonwealth for its advantage. The result will be the consummation of this great work.
There is a strong call for urgency in this matter. Do honorable members recognise, that owing to the immense number of new lines that are being put down on varying gauges in the different States, the cost of unification is growing, according to a departmental estimate, at the rate of £1,000,000 a year? Do they realize that every year we put off this work it is going to cost an additional £1,000,000?
A uniform gauge is absolutely essential for the true trade unification of Australia and for the true pastoral and agricultural development of this continent. It is also essential for the economic running of these railways. We have in every State to-day to keep rolling-stock sufficient to meet the maximum seasonal influences. Our seasonal influences are threefold. We have the monsoonal influence in the north, the anti-cyclonic on the eastern seaboard, and the Antarctic on the south. Each of these seasonal influences, when felt to the extreme, detracts from the benefit that we gain from the other seasonal influences, with the result that we never have the maximum seasonal activity at the same time all over the continent. When we have a drought in Victoria, as we have had recently, we have a good season on the seaboard of New South Wales, as we have just had purely on the seaboard of that State. Where we get splendid seasons in Victoria we have not, necessarily, a complete failure, but a corresponding weakening of the effect of the other two seasonal influences which benefit stock, and agricultural and pastoral production in the other parts of the Commonwealth. This means that, owing to the artificial boundaries on our railway system, due to the break of gauge, we have to keep in every State enough rollingstock to enable us to handle the maximum seasonal output which the best of -seasons can possibly give us.
– Tremendous losses have been suffered this year owing to the want of sufficient rolling-stock to shift live stock.
– Quite so. The ideal is to have sufficient rolling-stock to enable the maximum seasonal output to be handled; but in practice that cannot be. The result is that, not being able to draw upon the adjoining States, we lose immense numbers of stock through our inability to shift them, and also suffer many other disabilities that I need not enumerate. Break down these artificial boundaries, and you have an immense economy in rolling-stock throughout Australia. To get the same results that you get to-day in any one State, you can -carry probably about one- fourth less rolling-stock in the eastern States by using, as every railway system in the world does, the rolling-stock of an adjoining system at any time when additional rolling-stock is required in any particular section. This is absolutely essential to the benefit of the States, and provided that we set about the work in an ordinary, tactful, and diplomatic way, the change can be brought about. Assuming that we have a common fund, and will pay into it- ourselves, while we ask the States to contribute to it in proportion to the benefits they derive, as determined by the Commission, in whom they have confidence, a uniform gauge is so clearly an advantage to all the States that every one of them will be anxious at once to come into line, and to push the reform through. If, on the other hand, we build this or that railway, no good is done. We have entered upon the construction of a railway from Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta on a 4-ft. 8^-in. gauge. When I was a Minister the South Australian Government started to link up Port Augusta by direct route with Adelaide. Up to that period Port Augusta was linked up with Adelaide, and will continue to be until this line is constructed, by two separate gauges - a 3-ft. 6-in. gauge for part of the way, and a 5-ft. 3-in. gauge for the balance. ‘ Now, we set about the construction of our line or a 4-ft. 8-1-in. gauge, as much as to say to the States, “ This is the Commonwealth gauge, and you will have to conform to it.” What resulted? South Australia started to build a 5-ft. 3-in. gauge line from Port Augusta to Adelaide. And with what result to our transcontinental railway? We shall have a break of gauge, a turning out of passengers and a shifting of luggage, with consequent delay at Port Augusta, and something still more serious, since it will mean an added difficulty to a service which will pay only if we can make it thoroughly up to date, first-class, and absolutely express. I personally made a strong protest, and the Government of which I was a member held the strongest views about the matter. But what power have we? We have no practicable power. If, however, we can unify the gauges on the basis of the agreement, we can get over the whole difficulty in a moment. Why not do it? Why not let the Inter-State Commission take up the agreement where we put it down, and carry out work on the basis arrived at by that Premiers’ Conference?
– They would be better employed doing that than they are at present.
– I have nothing to say on that matter ; but I would point out to honorable members that the Premiers, whether Labour or Liberal, had the utmost confidence in the Commission. Mr. Holman represented New South Wales, and he, at least, enjoys as much the confidence of the Labour movement as does my distinguished friend. There were, I think, three Labour Premiers at that Conference.
– What Conference?
– I cannot remember the exact date, but I think it was held in February or March, 1914.
– Two more Labour Premiers have come into power since then.
– I think there were three Labour Premiers at that Conference, and they were all satisfied that the Inter-State Commission could properly handle this important subject, because they were all prepared to leave it to that body. If, as I have shown, there was then, and I believe there is now, complete confidence in the Inter-State Commission, why should not this question be referred to them at once? Every year’s delay means the addition of a million to the cost of this work, which must be carried out sooner or later. Not only is it essential, but it is the” sort of undertaking that might well be put in hand during this wai period, when we should be thinking about finding work for our unemployed.
– The whole of the States agreed to be bound by the decision of the Commission.
– Did they undertake to agree .to any decision that might be arrived at?
– I do not think so.
– There is no better body to whom the question could be referred.
– The only serious difference of opinion was with regard to the gauges, and on this subject the Premiers agreed to be bound by the decision of the Inter-State Commission. The representatives of Victoria raised this question, and when I asked them if they would be bound by the recommendation of the InterState Commission, they said “Yes.”
That was the only side of this question that was seriously canvassed at that Conference.
Now, I maintain that it is our business, as the representatives of the people of Australia, to keep constantly before the public of Australia the common value of this unification scheme. State representatives occasionally try to make the public believe that unification is only necessary for defence purposes, but no greater nonsense could ever be conceived. This scheme, if carried out, would be of greater value agriculturally and pastor - ally than ever it would be for defence purposes, and the sooner the public recognise this the sooner we will see the scheme consummated. When we have to our hand this ready means of arriving at a satisfactory solution of the gauges problem, I would urge upon the Minister that this Government should at once give earnest consideration to the question of going straight ahead with the agreement as if nothing had since been said by one or two Premiers, who may have done a bit of back-sliding when they got away from the influence of the Conference.
– There have been three or four new Premiers since that Conference was held.
– I presume, however, that the new Premiers are not less Australian in their attitude than were those who attended the Conference. ,
– They might raise the point that they are not bound by an agreement made by their predecessors.
– They can be given the opportunity of accepting the agreement made by the Conference.
– How do you propose to finance the work in connexion with the unification of the gauges?
– That could be apportioned according to the benefit which each State would derive from the undertaking. The difference between the scheme I am advocating and the previous scheme is that, under the latter, every State was expected to contribute its own portion of the cost, as if each State would benefit to only an extent corresponding to the works within its borders. I have pointed out, however, that every State, except Tasmania, whether it pays for the conversion within its borders or not, is going to be immensely benefited by the scheme.
Kew South Wales, for instance, will experience a great benefit by the adoption of the 4-ft. S½-in. gauge in Queensland and Victoria, and that State ought to contribute to its cost. I am a -New South Wales representative, but I advocated this policy at the elections in 1913.
– And yet New South Wales is allowing Victoria to construct 5-ft. 3-in. gauge railways through her territory in three or four places.
– That is what we want to stop. In this unification of the gauges each State and the Commonwealth ought to pay proportionately to the value received. Steps should be taken at once to have an actuarial investigation made of the benefits which will accrue to the Commonwealth, and to each of the States, and then if all the parties agree to pay amounts thus ascertained into a common fund, there should be no difficulty in the carrying out of the agreement arrived at by the Conference.
– Was that the view put before the Premiers, and was it accepted by them?
– I think it was, but I am speaking without documentary evidence which I would have had before me had I known that this matter was coming on to-night. I remember I went into the Conference perfectly clear as to what was in my mind. I spoke in that Conference exactly as I am speaking to-night, and I did not hear any dissentient voice on this particular aspect of the question of the gauges. We have to remember that every State in Australia except Tasmania will reap a great benefit, agriculturally and pastorally, by the unification of the railway gauges.
.- Although the Inter-State Commission is within my Department, the unification of the railway gauges could have been referred to when the Estimates of the Department of Home Affairs or of the Department of the Treasury were under consideration. I think that at the time of the Conference which the honorable member for Wentworth has mentioned, the matter was under the control of the Department of Home Affairs. For many years, in Parliament and out of Parliament, the Prime Minister has advocated the unification of the gauges. I shall inquire how the agreement stands, because I recognise that it is of the utmost importance to Australia that all artificial barriers hampering intercourse should be broken down.
– I was misunderstood by the honorable member for Wentworth when he was speaking about the desirability of the Inter-State Commission dealing with the subject to which he was referring. I interjected then, and repeat now, that the Commission would be ‘better employed on any other work than that on which it is now engaged. I should like to know from the Minister if he thinks that the Commission has done the excellent work which it was thought it would do in connexion with the Tariff. It has been engaged on Tariff investigation for a considerable time. Has the Minister still the unbounded confidence in the Commission which he expressed a fortnight ago when replying to a question put to him by me? I think it fair to assume that, good Protectionist as he is, he has by this time lost confidence in the Commission, as has every one who believes in the settled policy of the country.
– The Commission has furnished unbiased reports.
– The honorable member cannot have read them.
– I have read every one of them. They are splendid.
– They cannot please any person who believes that Protection is the settled policy of the country. They seethe with Free Trade arguments, and every page contains evidence of the Free Trade proclivities of a majority of the members of the Commission. I shall not go into the Tariff question ; there will be plenty of time for that, but, as this Government practically pledged itself on the hustings to take no notice of the reports on the Tariff of the 1 Inter-State Commission–
– Did this Government pledge itself to ignore the reports of the Inter-State Commission?
– No. Ministers said that they would not necessarily follow the Commission’s recommendations.
– I have here the statement made by the Prime Minister, who did not agree with the attitude of the Leader of the Opposition on this question. The Leader of the Opposition will, perhaps, admit that the InterState Commission was appointed by his Government for the sole purpose of conveniently getting rid of the Tariff issue, and throwing responsibility on other shoulders.
– The honorable member has no right to say that.
– I am saying only what I feel.
– Perhaps the honorable member is stating the motives of the Labour party in introducing the Bill which gave the Commission its powers!
– The Leader of the Opposition told the electors that he and his party were pledged to abide by the conclusions arrived at by the Commission; that he was going to place the whole responsibility of dealing with the Tariff on the Commission. Every line of the reports to hand bears out the anticipation of Protectionists that those reports would, to put the matter as mildly as possible, show pronounced Free Trade leanings on the part of the Commissioners. This is what the Leader of the Opposition told the country regarding his attitude towards the Commission -
Our position is perfectly clear and simple on the fiscal question. We have arranged for a complete and expert investigation of the whole question by the Inter-State Commission, so that Parliament may be thoroughly informed when it comes to deal with the matter. The work of the Commission is now well advanced, and it is as certain as anything can be that’ it will report in time to deal with the Tariff during the first session of the next Parliament.
It does not look like it now. I wonder how long the Commission will take to come to the end of its Tariff inquiries -
The position of the party is clearly stated in the following proposal : To maintain the Protective policy of Australia as decided upon bv the people, amending the Tariff as necessary in the light of investigations by the Inter-State Commission.
– Hear, hear!
– I hope the Tariff will never be amended in the light of the investigations of the InterState Commission, if the reports that have come to hand are a fair sample of what the results of the Commission’s investigation will be.
– Perhaps the honorable member will now read the statement made by the Attorney-General to the
Sydney Chamber of Commerce the other day?
– I propose to read the statement of the Prime Minister, to show the attitude of this party on the Tariff question. Every member on this side is pledged to that statement. Not one member repudiated it. The right honorable gentleman said -
At the first opportunity, if returned, we would bring in an effective Tariff.
– Did you bring in an effective Tariff?
– The Tariff will be effective when we have finished with it.
– Then you did not bring in an effective Tariff, and, therefore, broke your promise to the electors.
– We ignored that Free Trade body, the InterState Commission. To continue my quotation from the speech of the Prime Minister -
Australia, as a young country, could not compete without a high Tariff wall against the dumping of goods made by cheap foreign labour. Manufactures and industries could not be developed and maintained without substantial Tariff protection. Mr. Cook, who w-.s not a fool, had seen that the people were demanding Protection, and he” ‘pretended to be in accord with the demand, yet he left the matter in the hands of three men constituting the Inter-State Commission.
. We pledge ourselves, if returned to power, to amend the Tariff during the first session to give effective protection to Australian industries.
The reports of the Inter-State Commission have, so far, been diametrically opposed to the sentiment of the ‘people of Australia in regard to a Protective Tariff. Sir William Irvine, speaking at Dandenong, said -
I think the great majority of the people are entirely in accord with the policy adopted by the Liberal Government of remitting the whole of the issues raised by the Tariff question to the careful consideration of the Inter-State Commission. . . . The people of Victoria are, in my opinion, not in favour of any general all-round increase in protective duties, but are in favour of such modifications of the Tariff as will be found by the Inter-State Commission to be necessary to complete the existing scheme of effective Protection for Australian industries.
What did they do to give effect to this sentiment? They appointed three gentlemen to constitute the Inter-State Commission, and every one knows the fiscal faith of the Chairman, of that Commission. A Free Trader is at the head of that Commission. I do not grumble at that; he is entitled to his convictions; but as the present Leader of the Opposition from many platforms in this country declared that, whatever the opinions of honorable members opposite had been in the past, they had concluded that the right thing to do, as a party, was to abide by the settled policy of the country, which is Protection, the proper thing for them to have done was to appoint men to the Inter-State Commission who were not known to be Free Traders or did not have the reputation of being Free Traders..
– You know that your party was about to appoint a Free Trader Chairman of that .Commission.
– The honorable member does not know anything of the kind. I do not know it. I should be very sorry to have anything to do with the appointment of a Free Trade chairman to a body that was supposed to deal in a comprehensive way with what was the settled policy of the country.
– Every one knows that he just missed the bus.
– I have already said that the reports of the InterState Commission are an insult to the Protectionist sentiment of this country. Although both parties have agreed that Protection is the settled policy of the country, every page of the reports submitted to us by the Inter-State Commission is seething with Free Trade sentiments. The apologies for not proposing to raise duties are alarming. I believe that they have submitted five recommendations so far.
– I think there are nine reports.
– At any rate, there is only one in which they have hinted at the desirability of raising the duty. In every other case they recommend either no disturbing of the present duty or the wiping out of the duty altogether. In one report they say -
Speaking of the manufacturing industries of the Commonwealth as a whole, their general expansion in the last five years has been most striking.
– Hear, hear ! So it has been.
– If the honorable member had seen the latest figures with regard to our imports during the last five years he would not say that. The report of the Commission upon the boot and shoe manufacturing industry is an index of their feelings on the whole Tariff question. They very carefully cover up everything that would be detrimental to their finding. For instance, they compare very conveniently the years 1909 and 1913; whereas if they had compared the years 1910 and 1913, there would have been a remarkable disparity in the figures. The boot and shoe factories of Australia in 1910 turned out 11,618,000 pairs; in 1913 the output was 11,135,000 pairs, and there were 610 fewer people engaged. This is the only principal industry upon which they have reported, and they point out that the trade is flourishing in every way, and they quote from the Commonwealth Year-Booh - I have not gone into it closely to know whether it is correct - as follows : - :
Among the specialized secondary industries of Australia, the hoot and shoe industry stands pre-eminent in respect of the number of factories engaged in it, the employment afforded by it, and the range of its output.
There is not one word in their report about 610 fewer people having been engaged in the industry in 1913, as compared with 1910, and there is not one word about the evidence on which their statement is based. I wish to point out one matter in answer to their report that this is a flourishing industry. I take the evidence given by the representatives of the conference of boot manufacturers of the various States. A statement was addressed to the Inter-State Commission by the Conference between representatives of the Boot Manufacturers Associations of New South Wales and Victoria, and representatives of the Australian Boot Trade Employees Federation from New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, and Tasmania, held at Melbourne on the 30th and 3lst October, and 3rd November, 1913. That was the principal evidence on the boot and shoe industry which the Commission received/ and I wish the Committee to note how rauch out of keeping with that evidence is the report made by the Commission. The statement submitted by that body, representative of both employers and employees in the boot and shoe industry throughout the Commonwealth, was -
Up to 1909, under the 1901 and 1907 Tariffs, the industry had been steadily progressing; during 1910, however, signs of a change began to manifest themselves, and a check in the irate of expansion became noticeable. This feature developed distinctly during 1910-12, three years in which Australia enjoyed great prosperity - the population increasing by about 410,000 in the period- and by the end of 1912 the drift backwards was so marked that the Australian boot trade had become “ an arrested industry.”
In a preceding paragraph it is stated that - the industry has been stopped in growth, is, in fact, in actual decline, and that the greater needs of our increasing population, which should be followed by a corresponding expansion in the employment and output figures of the industry, appear to be met by la’rger importations.
– Who put that statement in?
– It is signed by A. Whybrow, Thomas Y. Harkness, James Florey, representatives of the manufacturers, and Arthur Long, W. Forty, and E. F. Windebank, representatives of the Employees. Yet in view of that statement, the Inter-State Commission ask us to believe that this industry is going ahead by leaps and bounds. I believe that there are now 700 fewer employees in the boot trade than there were in 1910.
– What does the Commission recommend ?
– Its recommendation is the most peculiar I have ever seen. The Commission says, in regard to the bigger part of the industry which is flourishing, that there should be an increase of 5 per cent, in the duty, but of the part which is weak and languishing the Commission says that because it is in that condition it is not worth extra protection.
– I understand that the Commission recommended what the present Minister proposes.
– The Commission recommends that glace kid, which is dutiable at present, should be admitted free.
– Do we not manufacture glace kid in Australia ?
– We have done so.
– Every member on this side of the House is pledged to the policy enunciated by the
Prime Minister when he said on the hustings that if the Labour party were returned to power, our first duty would be to raise a Tariff wall that would effectively protect our Australian industries.
– And the Prime Minister has expressed in the Tariff schedule what he meant.
– I do not think I would be doing my duty in discussing this item if I were not to say that it is an absolute waste of this country’s time and money to have a body dealing with the Tariff when the party now in power is pledged to take no notice of the Commission. I have no confidence in the members of that body. I do not think their heart is in this inquiry, and I do not think they are capable of dealing with the subject. In the five -reports of the Commission I have seen enough to convince me that the members of that body are not in sympathy with the Protectionist policy of this country, and the people who appointed them never intended that they should bring in any recommendation in the direction of higher Protection. I agree with the honorable member for Wentworth that there are many other things requiring investigation which the Commission is much better fitted to deal with. I believe that in 1914 Australia’s imports exceeded the exports by about £6,000,000, and a body of men who, in the face of that fact, will submit a report that gives no recognition of that state of affairs, must be out of sympathy with the sentiment that pervades this community.
– What is your opinion of protection for the primary producer?
– When we are dealing with the Tariff, I shall not be one to vote for imposing or removing a duty because by such action I may gain votes. My desire is to make the Tariff effective so as to protect us in regard to everything we can produce in Australia, against the dumping of the products of cheap foreign labour.
– What about colonial wine ?
– The honorable member is referring to a question I put to the Minister of Trade and Customs in regard to the proposal of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to impose a duty on wines imported into England. The honorable member is evidently unable or unwilling to realize that a person may, consistently -with Protectionist principles, advocate the course of action I then suggested. A Protectionist naturally wishes to create industries in his own country principally, and at Home the people are not concerned about the wine industry.
– The honorable member must not discuss the Tariff.
– It is time the Inter-State Commission was put to some other and more congenial task with which it is capable of dealing. The Commission was appointed by the present Opposition - and honorable members opposite are, I think, in Opposition simply because of the composition of the Commission - to> conveniently get rid of an awkward situation, and this has resulted in a body which cannot deal with a question of the kind in conformity with the settled convictions of a majority of the people. Knowing the Minister of Trade and Customs to be a good Protectionist, I venture to say that he has altered the opinion he expressed a fortnight ago when he said that he had every confidence in the Inter-State Commission. If the Minister does have that confidence in the Inter-State Commission, I am sure that such is not the case with Protectionists generally.
– We have listened to a tirade of abuse levelled at the Inter-State Commissioners,, but I venture to say that the criticism of the honorable member for Indi resembles nothing, so much as that of a mite in cheese expressing its opinion of the maker of the cheese. The honorable member has said that the best evidence that the Inter-State Commissioners are acting detrimentally to the interests of the country is to be found in their recommendations concerning the boot trade. He asserts that the Commissioners have not the interests of the country at heart; that they are incapable of dealing with this question, and should be put to some other task; and the only proof he has of. their inability, incompetency, and want of sympathy with the industries of the country is in their recommendations concerning the boot trade. I point out, however, that all the Inter-State Commissioners have done is to recommend precisely what the Prime Minister and the Minister of Trade and Customs have recommended,, and if the Commissioners are unsympa- thetic and incompetent in relation to the Tariff, so are these honorable gentlemen.
– That is not final; we have not dealt with the Tariff yet.
– I see. The honorable member and others are going to crumple up the Ministers, and put them in the “squeezer” - “put the acid” on? Whatever the InterStateCommissioners have done regarding theboot industry, so also have tie Ministerof Trade and Customs and the Prime Minister.
– I havegood reason to believe that the honorable member for Indi is one of those who are responsible for the agitation to reduce- the cost of living, but if he is a married man his wife will tell him that every article of food and clothing has gone up in price by 25 per cent., owing to the prohibitive duties on imports that are supported by his party. A great cry has come from Queensland, where Mr. Ryan is the present Premier; and practically all the members of another place told the people of that State that if the Labour party were returned, the cost of living would be reduced.
– How does the honorable member connect his remarks with the item before us?
– These matters have been referred to previously, and I understood that the action of the Interestate Commissioners in regard to the Tariff was under discussion. I am just as much entitled to speak as I have been speaking as the honorable member for Indi was to touch on the question of wine or boots and shoes.
– If the honorable member is criticising the report of the Inter-State Commission, he is in order, but not if he is. dealing with matters outside the scope of that report.
– I thought that part of the duty of the Inter-State Commission was to inquire into the cost of living, and that the articles that have been referred to came within their purview.
– The Chair knows nothing about whether that matter has been referred to the Inter-State Commission or not. The question before the Chair is the composition and work of the Inter-State Commission.
– I think that increased duties and bounties have the effect of increasing the cost of living. These matters have been dwelt on by Queensland politicians and others, and I think I am justified in discussing the question.
– The honorable member is not in order in doing so now; another opportunity will present itself.
– I bow to your ruling, Mr. Chairman, but I very much desired to be let loose on some really good material that I have here.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Division 89 (Lighthouses), £61,999.
– At this late hour I will be very brief, but there is an important matter which I cannot allow to pass over without saying a few words. I refer to the taking over of the lighthouses by the Commonwealth Government. “What we in Tasmania cannot understand is the proposed increase in the cost of the upkeep. In our State the upkeep of our lighthouses has cost, in round figures, £12,000 a year, and if I am informed correctly the cost is to be raised to £34,000. I desire to know how that great increase is to be brought about. Now, what is it likely to do? It will simply paralyze the shipping industry, at any rate, of Tasmania, as I will proceed to show. I notice one remarkable increase in the proposed vote for the central staff. I have no objection to the head of a Department receiving a large salary if he can show that he is doing work which compensates the Commonwealth for the amount he receives. But in these Estimates we find that the salary of the Director of Lighthouses is to be increased from £670 to £800.
– There is no increase of salary. The reason for the disparity in the amounts is that whereas last year he was in the position for ten months, this year he is in for twelve months.
– The item of £546 for the lighthouse engineer is all right, nor do I object to the creation of the new positions of works superintendent with a salary of £336, and of draughtsman with a salary of £234.
– In Tasmania you have a very inefficient service.
– I have yet to learn that we have. I am credibly in formed that the service has done all that has been asked of it. It is true that we do want more lighthouses, but it rests with the Minister of Trade and Customs to say whether the service has not given every satisfaction to all concerned. I desire to point out the injustice which is proposed to be done to the Island.
– Let us go home.
– The right honorable member apparently does not care one iota for the interests of the smaller States. We in Tasmania got no consideration from his Government - indeed, we did not expect anything from him - but now that we have in power a Government who, I believe, will lend a sympathetic ear on such questions, I think that we will get the injustice remedied.
– I think that this subject is of sufficient importance to be discussed to-morrow.
– There are thirty-five ocean-going steamers calling at Hobart, and they pay in light dues £787 10s. I could give the whole list, but time will not allow me to do ‘so. I might mention, however, that a steamer like the Ionic, with a tonnage of 7,826 tons, paid £25, but under the scheme proposed by the Minister she will have to pay £260 17s. 4d. Again, theCorinthic, with a tonnage of 7,833 tons, paid £25, but in the future she will be called on to pay £261 2s. Last year the thirty-five steamers paid, as I said, £787 10s. in light dues, but under the new system they will have to pay £5,798 15s. 4d.
– Hear, hear ! That is what this Government has done for you.
– The Leader of the Opposition seems dreadfully amused. It seems quite a pleasure to him because we simply state that we will have to pay this increased sum. He is delighted apparently, judging from his statement here.
– Do not talk claptrap !
– Our little State is to be penalized to this degree.
– Do not talk claptrap!
– To show the effect of the proposed increase, I will give some particulars. Hobart was visited last year by thirteen steamers belonging to the Shaw, Savill, and Albion Company, representing a tonnage of 90,538 tons. They paid £325 in light dues, but under the new system they will pay £3,018. The port was also visited by twelve steamers belonging to the New Zealand Shipping Company, representing a tonnage of 72,104 tons. At this late hour, sir, I ask leave to continue my speech on another occasion.
– I move -
That the House at its rising adjourn until 11.30 a.m. to-morrow.
It will be convenient to honorable members on this side if the Opposition will agree to the motion so that we may be able to have a meeting.
– I have the greatest possible pleasure in agreeing to the proposal of my honorable friends. I hope that they willthoroughly enjoy their meeting tomorrow, and that no untoward results will follow from it.
– The country will be benefited by it.
– But is my right honorable friend quite sure that the extra hour will be enough for him? I think that he had better meet after luncheon, if he will take my advice.
– It is all right ; half-past 11 o’clock will do.
– Is the honorable member quite sure?
– I take the assurance of the Whip. In the meantime, I suggest to my right honorable friend that he should try to curb the infinite loquacity of his own side.
– I agree with you.
– They will not permit the business of the country to go on at all.
– I agree with you.
– I know what is going to happen. After all these tirades of abuse to which we listen hour after hour, the Prime Minister will come down one of these days and point his minatory finger over here and tell us that he must have some business done.
– You have put up twenty pages of Hansard yourself to-day.
– Well, I will not put up any more.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.20 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 27 May 1915, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1915/19150527_reps_6_77/>.