6th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 11.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– The Minister of Defence is reported to have said yesterday, replying to something that had been said by Senator Millen regarding statements of Admiral Jellicoe, as to the want of munitions of war -
As far as theremarks about the statements of British statesmen and British naval and military leaders were concerned, it had to be remembered that there was a good deal of bluff in war, and some of those statements were, doubtless, meant for German consumption.
Will the Prime Minister take care that these remarks, which are insulting to British statesmen, and to British Naval and Military leaders, are censored, so that they cannot be cabled Home?
– I do not think that the expression is ideal, but I shall bring the honorable member’s question under the notice of the Minister of Defence, and ask him to reply to it.
– Can anything more calculated to discredit our preparations be conceived?
– Is the Prime Minister aware that the re-constructed Imperial Cabinet contains a Minister for Munitions who holds an office which has been specially created to expedite the manufacture and despatch of munitions of war? Is the right honorable gentleman of opinion that the statement of a responsible Minister in Australia that the appeal of the leaders of our Army and Navy at the front to the men in British workshops to hurry preparations in order to increase the efficiency of the forces in the field, is only bluff, ought to be cabled to England? Will the Prime Minister prevent that statement of the Minister of Defence from being cabled to England pending the Minister’s reply to the question of the Leader of the Opposition?
– I do not propose to stop the sending of any message that the cable censors may think fit to pass, and shall not intervene unless directed to do so by the House. I do not admit the inference’ that has been drawn from the statement of the Minister’ of Defence. The questions are based on political rather than national considerations.
– The Minister’s statement had only one meaning.
– There is a political vendetta against the Minister.
– If there is, it is being waged by members sitting behind the Prime Minister.
Captain Bean’s Reports - Broad- meadows Camp : Cases of Sickness - Information Respecting Casualties.
– Has the Assistant. Minister of Defence received official reports from Captain Bean regarding the operations at Gallipoli? We have had one report, which came to hand very late, but no second report has been made public.
– I am not in possession of any further report.
– Has the. Assistant Minister of Defence seen the statement attributed to Captain Bean, in this morning’s newspaper, that 30,000 Anstralasians went to the front at the Dardanelles? Does the honorable member consider it wise that our censor should permit the world to know the number of troops operating at the Dardanelles?
– That is not the total number there.
– I have not read the statement referred to, and have not seen everything that appears in the press this morning. I do not know that the information has any bearing on the position at the front.
– Has the Assistant Minister of Defence the information which he promised the House two nights ago in regard to the number of deaths and accidents, and the extent of sickness at Broadmeadows Camp since its inception ?
– The information is not yet available.
– In view of the anxiety of relatives of wounded soldiers to obtain information regarding them, will the Assistant Minister of Defence consider the desirability of providing a direct telephone line to the Base Records Office, and thus prevent unnecessary delay?
– The suggestion is worthy of consideration, and I shall consider it.
– Is the Prime Min ister aware that the restrictions imposed on the export of coal to South America still exist, and that they hamper our coal trade to anextent that has caused a large amount of unemployment? Is he aware that one steamer has been -waiting in Newcastle for some weeks for a cargo of coal, but cannot get it because of these restrictions ? As the Pacific is now clear of enemy vessels, will the right honorable gentleman take steps to get the Admiralty to remove these restrictions, in the interests of the coal trade of Australia?
– I am aware that restrictions on the export ofcoal from Australia are still in force, and have affected our coal trade, though I am not aware of the case of the particular vessel referred to. The Government has inquired of the Admiralty, on frequent occa sions, if it can see its way to remove in part the restrictions which it has imposed.
– It is stated in the newspapers that a military procession will pass through the streets to-morrow afternoon at 3 o’clock. As the arrangements for this procession do not seem to have been completed yet, will the Assistant Minister of Defence take into consideration the fact that a large patriotic and charitable demonstration for the relief of distressed Belgians and Servians, for which great preparations have been made, at considerable expense, is to be held in the Royal Park at 2 o’clock, and will he endeavour to arrange that the processionshall not clash with that demonstration ?
– I shall bring the question under the notice of the Minister of Defence.
– I ask the Minister of External Affairs if it is correct, as stated in the Bulletin of 20th May, that Dr. Wade has strongly urged the Commonwealth Government to buy the Railton Latrobe Company’s leases and works in a shale proposition. Ifthe statement is correct, can the Minister inform the House what is the decision of the Government in regard to the matter?
– The statement is not correct.
– On looking through the War Precautions Regulations, I notice that regulation 54, which deals with powers of arrest, has been substituted for a former regulation, which was No. 9, and provided that a competent Naval or Military authority, or an officer of Customs, might arrest,without warrant, any persons whose behaviour was of such a nature as to give reasonable ground for suspecting that he had acted, was acting, or was about to act, in a manner prejudicial to the public safety or the defence of the Commonwealth., or to authorize the arrest where an offence had been committed. The regulation which has been dropped impliedly gave the right of trial to the man who was arrested. I wish to know whether this right has been deliberately withdrawn, or whether the omis- mon is an oversight? Will the AttorneyGeneral have the matter looked into?
– Regulation 54, as well as all the other War Precautions Regulations, is governed by the following instructions to the Naval and Military officers, and to the Defence Department generally, which are set out in regulation 3 -
– I referred, not to offences, but to arrests on suspicion.
– I had the second paragraph which I have read inserted in order that the right of civilians to civil trial might be set out .clearly.
– I do not think that it is clear that that right is being preserved.
– I think that it is, though there may be something in the honorable gentleman’s point. I went carefully through the regulations one by one, and made a number of alterations, and, in my opinion, the effect of regulation 54 is not to in any way impair the right of civilians to a civil trial.
– I wish to know only if the Attorney-General will look into the matter, and see whether a mistake has been made.
– I shall do that.
– I desire to ask the Attorney-General if, when he is perusing regulation 54 of the regulations referred to by the honorable member for Angas, he will direct his attention to regulation 55 to ascertain if it is not a fact that the naturalized subjects of countries allied wilh us in this war may be interned indefinitely without any right of trial, and without any recourse to the High Court, such as is given to persons of German blood under the next regulation ?
– I would direct the honorable member’s attention to subclause 2 of clause 3 of the regulations -
Nothing in these regulations shall be construed as affecting the right to trial by a civil Court of persons, other than alien enemies or persons subject to the Naval Discipline Act or to military law, for offences against the Act.
That is quite clear, and I should advisethat the Minister had no authority in thatregard.
– Will the Assistant Minister of Defence inform me whether a Mr. Albert Borchard, of Sydney, has been appointed by the Defence Department to inquire into the stores and munitions in stock in Sydney? Can he tell us anything about the appointment?
– There is no truth in any statement that Mr. Borchard has been appointed to any position in the Defence Department.
– I desire to ask the Assistant Minister of Defence whether Mr. Albert Borchard has been requested to nominate appointees to the Department of Defence in Sydney?
– That is quite a different question.
– The honorable member might have told me that before.
– I answered the right honorable member’s question. He asked me whether Mr. Borchard had been appointed to a position in the Defence Department, and I said that he had not. Mr. Anderson, whilst examining the accounts of the Department of Defence, with a view of reporting to the Government, informed the Minister that it would be wise to put on some men to take stock of certain goods in Sydney. He was permitted to carry out this suggestion, and he recommended that two> men whom he knew should be employed for the work at a salary of £4 per week.
– It was nob Mr. Borchard’s recommendation ?
– Mr. Anderson recommended two men, and they have been employed by the Department. They will conclude their’ work about to-morrow.
– Will the Assistant Minister of Defence state whether the Defence Department has sought the advice or the help of Mr. Borchard in Sydney in any connexion whatsoever in relation to the matter referred to this morning ?
– Mr. Borchard may have been seen by Mr. Anderson; I do not deny that. But Mr. Borchard ha* nothing whatever to do with the DefenceDepartment.
– Did Mr. Borchard or did he not nominate any one for these positions ?
– He may have done ,hat, but the men engaged by the Defence Department to take stock are not Germans or Austrians. That is the answer to the honorable member’s question.
– It is not.
– It is. I know what the right honorable member is driving at.
– Then why did not the Minister answer my question?
– Why does not the right honorable member come into the open ?
– In asking the Assistant Minister of Defence a further question, without notice, I wish to congratulate the Government on the way they cry *’ Wolf ! “-
– Order ! The right honorable member must not cast any reSection.
– I hope, Mr. Speaker, that you will restrain Ministers from seeking to cast reflections upon the Opposition.
– The Leader of the Opposition is making insinuations.
– I am insinuating nothing. I should like to ask the Assistant Minister of Defence if Mr. Albert Borchard, accountant, of Sydney, has nominated men for the positions to which he has referred. That is a plain question.
– I am not aware whether he has nominated persons to these positions.
– Will the Minister inquire?
– I can tell the House that Mr. Anderson ascertained from Mr. Borchard where he could obtain two men who would be competent to carry out this work. Let us be quite plain-spoken in this matter. The Leader, of the Opposition has heard it said that Mr. Borchard is a German?
– I understand that be is. I have heard that he is.
– -That is why this question arose ?
– Of course, it is.
– Is it not a proper question ?
– Certainly, but why not come right out into the open? I have been asked whether the Department of Defence has employed Germans to take stock of certain goods in Sydney.
– I made no such inquiry.
– I am here to say that we have no Germans taking stock in the Defence Department. Mr. Borchard may be a German, but he is not engaged in the work.
– Are his nominees taking stock?
– Mr. Anderson, in acting for the Department, may have had a conversation with Mr. Borchard. I am not going to say that he did not.
– The honorable gentleman has just said that he had.
– Yes; Mr. Anderson may have asked Mr. Borchard if he could nominate two men for this work. That may be quite true; but the point with which I am concerned is that the two men who are carrying out this work for the Department are Britishers, whereas the question put to me was intended to convey the suggestion-
– Order ! The honorable member must not debate the question.
– I know the meaning of the question.
– Will the Assistant Minister of Defence see that in all future appointments to his Department, recommendations from Germans are not accepted as the best that could be made for service in it?
– If the honorable member will permit me, I shall answer that question. This Government will treat according to its merits every recommendation made by every person who is allowed his liberty, and who is an honest man. We shall employ in the Public Service only those whom we think will protect the service of the people and the honour and greatness of the country.
– Will the Assistant Minister of Defence state whether it is not a fact that Mr. Albert Borchard is the leading public accountant in New South Wales, that he has been for many years a naturalized British subject, that he has repudiated the action of Germany, and has held a great demonstration at his private residence to raise funds for the Belgians?
– I believe that Mr. Borchard is employed by the Government of New South Wales in a very prominent position.
– He is one of the most prominent accountants in Sydney; there is no doubt of that. Is the Assistant Minister of Defence aware that it is reported in the Sydney Morning Herald that the Sydney City Council is considering whether it should not relieve Mr. Borchard of his appointment under that municipality?
– That is a matter in
Which the Sydney Municipal Council is free to exercise ite own judgment. It has nothing to do with me or with the Government.
– By way of personal explanation, I should like to say that I asked the question of the Minister in terms as impersonal and free of bias as I could make them. I do not know Mr. Borchard. I have no interest in asking the question except the public interest; and, if it is a fact that Mr. Borchard is, as he is represented to be, a man unimpeachable in character and in every way fit to be employed by the Government, I shall be glad to hear it.
– Mr. Borchard is not employed by the Government.
– I may inform the Minister that quite a number of things are said in this communication which has been seen by me, and I have altogether ignored them, but I claim that it is my right to ask a question when I consider that public interest requires matters to be cleared up without any innuendoes from Ministers or anybody else.
– The honorable member for Parramatta rose to make a personal explanation because of interjections across the chamber. From time to time I have allowed many questions to be asked which I considered to be irregular, but when it becomes necessary for an honorable member to make a personal explanation as a sequel to an irregular question, I feel that it is my duty to take action. A question is asked, and answered, whether rightly or not is not for me to Bay. Then five or six further questions are founded on the original one. My predecessor in this Chair refused to allow this procedure, but I refrained from taking that course, desiring to give honorable members the fullest opportunity of obtaining information; but, if this form of question is to continue in the irregular way in which it is developing, I shall feel obliged to take some action to protect the House from itself, unless the House orders me to do otherwise.
– I desire to say that-
– The honorable member may speak only by leave of the House. Is it the pleasure of the House that the honorable member have leave to make a statement ?
– Before the honorable member is given leave, I desire to know what the statement is about.
– I have no wish to speak.
– Will the PostmasterGeneral state whether any decision has been arrived at by his Department in relation to the resolution passed in this House last week that relief should be granted to mail contractors who have suffered by reason of the high price of fodder? If so, will the honorable gentleman state on what basis the relief will be granted ?
– I announced when the question was under discussion last week the decision at which the Government had arrived. We are seeking necessary detailed particulars before definitely deciding on the amount. As honorable members are aware, the cases vary, but I hope to have the matter dealt with in a day < or two.
– I desire to ask the Assistant Minister of Defence whether, in view of the inconvenience and delay caused to shipping by the prohibition against entering the port of Sydney between sundown and sunrise, which compels passenger and other ships to remain outside the heads all night, the Government will consider the matter of reviewing the prohibition, having regard to the fact that the Pacific is at present free from enemy warships?
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister what action the Government intend to take in reference to the very serious charges made in this Chamber last night, regarding certain military officers who took part in the inquiry at
Sydney, into the alleged looting at Rabaul ?
– The Government have remitted to the Attorney-General, for immediate action, the question of the character of the investigation by the court martial and the procedure followed. It will take action to deal with the whole question, quite irrespective of what the opinion furnished on that question may be. I think we want, first of all, to ascertain whether the inquiries were made according to prescribed rules, but whether they were or were not so made, the Government will take action to secure a thorough and impartial investigation of the whole matter.
Charity Movement in Sydney.
– Has the Prime Minister noticed that a movement is on foot in Sydney to approach America with a view to raising charitable funds for our returned soldiers, and that the Premier of* New South Wales has telegraphed to the various State Premiers inviting their assistance in the organization of a big scheme to raise funds for this purpose ? Does he not think that this is a reflection on the Federal Government?
– Order ! The honorable member must not debate the question.
– We are not taking part in any such charity organization.
– Are we not able to look after our own returned soldiers without asking the United States of America to help us? Is not the Federal Government in a position to provide for them without Mr. Holman ‘s proposed intervention ?
– I have some difficulty in following the honorable member’s question. If any organization, charitable or otherwise, is engaged in philanthropic work, we shall assist it in every possible way, but this Government cannot, as a Government, get behind every organization .
– In the event of the State Governments importing sugar, in consequence of the shortage, will the Federal Government consider the advisableness of remitting the duty?
– The matter is under consideration.
– Is the Prime Minister yet in a position to make a statement in regard to the employment of Turks in the censor’s office in Adelaide?
– I have referred the honorable member’s question to the Defence Department, and I have not yet received a reply.
– I desire to makea personal explanation in regard to a question I asked yesterday concerning works at the Federal Capital. I asked the Minister of Home Affairs when he would be prepared to make the general statement regarding those works which he promised when I asked a previous question. The honorable member answered sharply that he had made that general statement on the day after I asked the question, but he would have no objection to repeating the statement again. That reply made me look rather foolish. I have referred to Hansard to see what general statement the Minister had made, and I found that a week after I asked him that question he answered one question which was put to him by Mr. Charlton and another put by Mr. Austin Chapman. As those answers represent the extent of his general statement, I do not think there was any necessity for the honorable gentleman to give a reply yesterday by which he tried to make me look foolish.
– I had not the remotest idea of making the honorablemember appear foolish, and if he considers that was the effect of my reply I apologize to him.
Coin Device on TELEPHONECHARGESAGAINST Officers - Officers Entitled to Pensions - Casual Letter Carriers - Mail Contractors’ Drivers’ Wages - Functions of Letter Carriers - Letter Sorting System - Letter Carriers Award.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– Inquiries are being made, and replies will be furnished as early as possible.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
Will he furnish a return showing -
– Inquiries are being made, and replies will be furnished as early as possible.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Will he immediately ascertain from the Commonwealth Public Service Commissioner what are the contemplated functions, from the 1st July, of a letter-carrier or assistant in the letter-carriers’ room or in the mail room, General Post Office, Melbourne?
– Inquiries are being made, and a reply will be furnished as soon as possible.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– Inquiries are being made, and replies will be furnished as early as possible.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice- -
Mr. TUDOR (for Mr. Fisher).- Inquiries are being made, and a reply will be furnished as soon as possible.
Unionists and Non-Unionists
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The inquiries were instituted by the Statistician in accordance with his usual duties. The manner in which the data was obtained is stated in the Labour Bulletin, No. 8, pages 294-296, containing the information.
asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice -
Whether inquiries have been made as to the amount of beet sugar held by the Victorian Government at the Maffra factory, and, if so, with what result; and when will such sugar be available for consumers, and at what price?
– Yes. The stock on hand is 1,000 tons. The sugar is now available, and is being sold ; but it is expected that the whole of it will be disposed of to Gippsland storekeepers.. The price is slightly under the market price of 1A sugar.
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
Whether the policy of preference to unionists is to be applied in making temporary and other appointments to the Electoral Department?
– The regulation providing for preference to members of trades unions or industrial organizations, other things being equal, will apply in so far as it may be applicable to the employment of temporary clerks under section 40 of the Public Service Act. lt will not otherwise apply to the electoral administration.
In Committee of Supply (Consideration resumed from 27th May, vide page 3529) :
Department of Trade and Customs
Division 89 (Lighthouses), £61,999
. - I was referring last night, when progress was reported, to the shipping that came into the port of Hobart last year. The tonnage of the New Zealand Shipping Company’s twelve boats was 72,104 tons, and the light dues paid under the existing system were £300. Under the proposed Federal system of 8d. per ton, the light dues paid by that company would be £2,404. The inward cargo on those boats amounted only to 8,244 tons. The total number of steamers of the two companies - Shaw Saville and Albion, and New Zealand - was twenty-five. The total tonnage was 162,642 tons, and the light dues paid by the two companies to the port of Hobart were £625. Had the proposed Federal system been in existence, they would have paid £5,422. The outward cargo on those ships in 1914 amounted to 58,605 cases of fruit, 697 passengers were landed at Hobart, the through passengers for New Zealand numbered 10,258, and the coal bunkered was 5,239 tons. If the Department insist on putting these heavy light dues on the ships, the companies will have to put up their freights by 7s. a ton to cover the extra cost. The port cannot stand it, and the result will be that the ships will not come to Tasmania. The Mayor of Hobart, Mr. W. M. Williams, a business man, has stated that the people passing through Tasmania spend £30,000 a year there. It will be disastrous to Tasmania if these dues are allowed to be inflicted on us. To show the unfairness of the proposal, a ship may come to Fremantle, pay 8d. a ton, and then trade right round the coast for three months, calling at every port, and using every light along the coast.
– Do you suggest that the charge should be made so much per trip ?
– It is not for me to make suggestions. That should be done by the highly paid staff which the Minister has to help Sim.
– But has the Minister issued any scale of tonnage ?
– We know all about it: These are the regulations likely to come into force if we do not fight them. I shall do my utmost with, I hope, every honorable member from Tasmania, to prevent this injustice being perpetrated upon us. A ship trading round Australia uses every light on our coast, but the majority of the ships entering the port of Hobart will use only two or three lights. These vessels come straight from the Cape to Hobart, where every provision is made for them, and then proceed to New Zealand. All £hey have been asked to pay in light dues is £25, whereas under the new system, such a vessel as the Ionic would be called upon to pay £216 17s. 4d. The Marine Board of Tasmania has laid itself out to cater for this traffic, and it has paid well; but the trade will b© simply paralyzed by the introduction of the new dues.
– Why does the honorable member ask for this differentiation?
– The reason is that it is not necessary for these boats to call at any port in Australia other than Hobart, because the cargo they bring for Launceston is carried over the Tasmanian Government railways for the same inclusive freight as to the former place. A pier, unequalled in any port in Australia, has been built at Hobart for the accommodation of these vessels. At the end of this pier there is a depth of 64 feet of water, capable of accommodating a Titanic, and vessels can enter the port at any time. The Minister has asked me to make a suggestion, and, in my opinion, there is nothing to prevent the Department levying what I should describe as a portofcall charge. What I mean is that such vessels as I have described would pay a due of 3d. at Fremantle, and a similar
*um at each port at which they happened to call; and this would dispose of the Minister’s objection that a boat for “Queensland would have to pay dues at half-a-dozen ports. If these vessels used all the lights on the coast, there would be no objection to the proposed charges, but there is every objection when they happen to use only one or two. To show how the Marine Board of Hobart is trying to develop this trade, I may say that they are willing to give up dues on the river lights, which do not come within the jurisdiction of the Department of Trade and Customs; and their main reason for this concession is that the charges under the new system are so high that in all probability it would be impossible to get vessels to call.
– The new system is not in operation yet. v
– I am glad of that, and I am going to make it so “ warm “ for the Minister that, if I can manage it, the new system shall not come into operation. This is not a party question, and I am here to fight in the interests of the little island State, which does not receive overmuch from the Commonwealth.
– That will not do !
– What about the £900,000 ?
– Tasmania was -entitled to every shilling of that £900,000.
– Not one penny !
– I am sure that the Minister, and his highly efficient staff, will show of what they are capable, by going deeply into this question, and giving Tasmania, at any rate, a fair deal. Last year was a bad season in the southern part of Tasmania, but, nevertheless, by the steamers I have mentioned, there were despatched 58,605 cases of apples. In the previous year 120,000 were sent away.
– About 500,000 cases were sent to Victoria.
– I am glad to -say that Tasmania sends about 1,000,000 cases to the ports of Australia; and yet honorable members ask, “Where is Tasmania?” Why, Tasmania has to supply New South Wales with potatoes for the half-year, not to mention the fruit that is sent to Queensland ; and, further, when the Queensland people become physical wrecks they resort to the island State in order to build themselves up. Yet we are asked, “Where is Tasmania?” For about three months in the year every available man in the waterside unions is required to work the ships; and they meet the occasion loyally, working as long as thirty-eight or forty-eight hours at a time. In the winter, however, there is a slump, and large numbers of fine, ablebodied, willing men are unable to find employment. What can be done to retain these men at the ports if the boats cease to call ? And when the summer arrives, how is the necessary labour to be obtained ? I appeal not only to the Minister, but to the Government and the House, to give Tasmania fair consideration. I know that it is the intention of the Department to improve the lighthouse service of Tasmania; and I may say that if it had not been the intention of the Commonwealth to take over the lighthouses, the State Government, in conjunction with the Hobart Marine Board, would have inaugurated a better system of lighting on the west coast. In my opinion, the shipping trade of Tasmania will increase if proper facilities are afforded; and there is every warrant for the arguments and suggestions I have submitted, because the Government of Tasmania is harnessing up a power the like of which does not exist in any other part of Australia. We have on the great lake a splendid hydro-electrical system. During my trip through Switzerland I saw nothing to equal it, and I am credibly informed that the Government will be able to sell electrical power to anybody requiring it at a price lower than any other body can sell similar power in any State. A company is in process of development with the object of making calcium carbide. We have the limestone adjacent to the river I spoke of. We can get coke quite easily from Newcastle, and with the electricity produced by the means I have mentioned, we shall have all that is necessary for the production of calcium carbide. All this will increase the trade of the port of Hobart, and I feel sure will do much to make for further progress in the State, provided it is not hampered in the manner that this proposal contemplates. I only wish to refer to one other matter, and I shall be very brief. I do not know the conditions under which lighthouse-keepers generally are living at the present time; but when this matter is being dealt with I hope that an investigation will be made so that we shall be able to know how these people spend their leisure hours, in order that everything may be done to make their lives much more tolerable than I am afraid they now are. There are a large number of magazines taken at intervals from the Parliamentary Library table. I do not know what becomes of them, but if it ‘is possible for some of these magazines or for some books to be sent to these lighthouse-keepers, something will have been done to cheer their lonely lives.
– They already have a library arrangement in other States.
– It is a very poor one, I think.
– It is a very good one in some States. ,
– I am simply repeating the words of one of the lighthousekeepers to me. He said the loneliness of the life in some of our coastal lighthouses is dreadful.
– But the occupants are changed about; they are not in one place for any length of time.
– In some of the States they have been in the one position for as long as thirty years.
– That is one of the reasons why I welcome the prospect of the Federal Government taking control, for it appears to me that each State has a different system. In many cases, also, leave of absence has not been forthcoming as it should have been to these people, who should be entitled to some relaxation from the noble work they are doing.
– Do not you think it should cost a little bit more, then?
– Of course, it will cost more. I am not complaining of the Minister paying his officials big salaries, but as I pointed out last night an increase of from £12,000 to £34,000 requires explanation. At the same time I do not wish it to be understood that I am opposed to the expenditure of money for the purpose of making the conditions under which these lighthousekeepers live somewhat better.
– Do you know anything about the education of their families?
– I have only hearsay evidence on that question, and it is not very favorable. The Minister may know more about it than I do, and I donot wish to say anything further than that I hope that every opportunity will be given to the lighthouse-keepers to educate their children.
– I cannot tell you much about the education. I can tell you a good deal about the lack of it.
– I hope the Minister will do what he can to make some provision in this regard. We give scholarships to young people who live* inother parts of the Commonwealth, and I think some means might be discovered of educating the children of lighthousekeepers at the expense of the Government. It would pay the Commonwealth, because they would turn out better citizens. In conclusion, I hope the Minister will not take anything I have said as personal. The subject is one that is near to me, because X am desirous of seeing Tasmania in general, and Hobart in particular, progress, as I think they should progress. I do not want to see anything done to stop industry or to prevent that which brings about national progress everywhere. I donot want to see commerce or shipping interfered with, as is likely if this proposal becomes law, for I feel sure it will have a disastrous effect upon Tasmania, and! be the means of putting the State back: many years. I hope the Minister will” give. the matter his earnest consideration,, and that he will be able to make a statement to the House that will alleviate the fears that have grown up that Tasmania is going to be crushed out by this newsystem.
– I only want two minutes, inorder to repudiate some of the very scandalous statements that were made by thehonorable member last evening concerning myself and my Government. I merely made a friendly interjection, when the honorable member turned on me with hisusual ferocity and told me of the thingsthat our Government did not do for Tasmania, of the neglect we had shown towards that State, and of the things which the present Government had done. I havehad to withstand a good deal of adversecriticism in Tasmania by the honorable member and his party, but I have always done my level best to help that State. _ The best proof of that will befound in the fact that we gave Tasmania. an additional £400,000, which, his Government refused to give.
– And then they did not bite.
– No; it simply means that in Tasmania, as in many other places, there are men who are so obsessed by class warfare that they shut out of their minds every consideration of. State.
– It was your insulting interjection which caused me to make the remark.
– Well, there is the answer.
– You were trying to raise racial feeling.
– Has my honorable friend read the racial stuff published in his own paper in Brisbane in connexion with the last election?
– I did not.
– Order! This dialogue must cease.
– I am willing that it should cease, sir; but, really, my honorable friends opposite live in glass houses in relation to all matters, and, therefore, they should stop throwing stones. I come back to Tasmania. Ever since I have been in this Parliament - and I challenge the honorable member to find a scintilla of evidence to the contrary-
– You brought it on yourself.
– Order !
– I am not concerned with what I brought on.
– I had no sooner started than you said, “ Let us go home “ - after you had occupied- the whole evening.
– I am not so much concerned with who brought it on. I am concerned with the facts, and take this opportunity of putting them on record. The position is that the Cook Government did what the Fisher Government declined to do.
– I was referring to the lighthouses.
– Tasmania has an infinite and continuing advantage. Not only that, but I believe that my Government was the first to give Tasmania a sleeper contract, which was refused by the Fisher Government. Moreover, my Government did not talk about what it was going to do for Tasmania. It took steps to see that she got a very much better mail service over the water than the Fisher Government had given her.
– You tied us up for seven years, and we have not got the service yet.
– That is the way in which we have injured Tasmania.’
– We have not got the service.
– Order !
– That is the way in which I intend to go on injuring Tasmania, too. I have always had a warm corner in my heart for the State, and demonstrated it whenever an opportunity has presented itself on the floor of this Chamber.
– The mail service has to come. You have not given it to us.
– It is just about time that this clap-trap about the attitude of this deponent and his Government concerning Tasmania ceased. And now, to crown all, the honorable member goes on to answer himself beautifully. After saying what we would not do for Tasmania, and what the present Government is going to do, he quotes the lighthouse charges that were in vogue when the Cook Government was in office, and is demonstrating what an enormity it will be to Tasmania if the Fisher charges are imposed.
– In personal explanation, I wish to say that I had no intention of referring to the right honorable gentleman last night until he made this insulting interjection - “ Let us go home.”
– Is that insulting?
– The right honorable gentleman made that insulting interjection after I had waited here for eight days to bring this matter before the House. He occupied the whole of the evening, and then he used an insulting interjection.
– Order !
– I do not intend to speak long. I am very strongly tempted to follow the lines just adopted by the Leader of the Opposition, and make a few remarks in regard to his statement about class feeling and racial feeling, but the time is short. My purpose in rising is to get some information about the Estimates and the lighthouses. I am very sorry indeed that there has been so much delay on the part of the Commonwealth Government in taking over the charge of the lighthouses. A start was made, and now I understand action is postponed until the 1st July of this year.
– We hope to take them over then.
– Here is the position which appeals to me. The total expenditure provided on the Estimates for the current financial year is £61,999. That covers the salaries of 293 or 294 employees. If the Commonwealth has not taken over this service-
– We have not paid the money.
– Then the expenditure will not be as it appears on these Estimates ?
– Oh, no.
– You cannot put up new lighthouses without providing for their maintenance.
– The erection of new lighthouses is a different matter. I regret very much that it is not proceeding more rapidly than it is. The coasts of Australia are exceedingly dangerous, and with the growing size of steamers they are becoming increasingly dangerous. The northern coasts of Queensland, in particular, are dangerous, and though an effort was made by the previous Minister of Trade and Customs to erect two lighthouses there, I understand that very little progress has been made.
– You put him out before he could finish them.
– Why is not the work being finished ? On page 146 of these Estimates there is an expenditure of £530 on salaries noted in regard to No. 2 District, which extends from Torres Strait to Cape Moreton, but there is not a hint or suggestion as to the person for whom, or the purpose for which the money is expended. Careful particulars are given as to the contingencies, but no information is given as to the salaries of officers. The same thing occurs on page 147.
– There is an officer up thereyou know.
Mr.FINLAYSON.- Why is it not specified? A sum total of £485 is set down on the page, but there is nothing to indicate to honorable members the purpose for which the money is spent, by whom it is received, or indeed whether there is any justification for the expenditure. Careful particulars as to contingencies are given in regard to No. 3 District, which includes New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania, and Bass Strait. Items as low as £1 are particularized under that heading, but regarding what is done with the £485 for salaries we know nothing. The total expenditure for last year was £6,031. I do not think that is a very heavy expenditure, considering the importance of the work. The probability is that the expenditure for this year, although £61,000 is provided, will not exceed £10,000 or £12,000. What possibility is there of the lighthouses being taken over by the Commonwealth on the 1st July, and what progress is being made with the erection of the new lighthouses, which, to my mind, are urgently required ? That information I would like to get from the Minister. May I say a word now in regard to the questions raised by the honorable member for Denison? Some four years ago I put myself in communication with the State Premiers, and, without exception, they favoured me with some very useful information in reply to questions. I discovered that in all the States there were some arrangements, more or less well organized, for the provision of libraries, magazines and newspapers to the various lighthouse-keepers, but there was a considerable divergence in the methods adopted for ensuring a regularity of the exchanges, and particularly in regard to the transfers of the men. In some of the States there was a very good system, and in others a very loose one. The main point which needs to be borne in mind is that special consideration should be given to the men in the more isolated places, which perhaps the Government steamer only visits once in two or three months. Where the families are grown to school age and have to be brought to the mainland to be educated, special arrangements in regard to leave of absence to the men ought to be made. I think that, as a rule, two months is considered a fair time for a man to occupy a position in an isolated lighthouse. The same thing applies to other conveniences which we know the men engaged in this work have to sacrifice. It is too early for us to criticise what may be done. But it is not too early to express the pious hope that the Minister, in making regulations for the taking over of the lighthouses from the States, will provide for the regular and frequent interchange of hooks, magazines, and newspapers, and . above all will make such arrangements as will permit the education of families by transferring married men from the more isolated stations to places convenient to schools.
– That is done now in some of the States.
– Not in all. The Commonwealth will establish a uniform system, and we hope that it will be at least equal to the best system now prevailing. Married men with families ought to receive special consideration.
.- There are two matters for which I ask the Minister’s consideration. The Lighthouses Act provides that where practicable lighthouses shall be connected with the nearest telephone exchange. At the present time many lighthouse men and their families Are isolated, and are thus put to serious inconvenience and danger when illness occurs. The other matter does not strictly come under the Department of Trade and Customs, though it affects those in the lighthouse service. I ask the Minister if he will see that, before voting takes place in connexion with a parliamentary election or referendum, arrangements are made for the recording of votes by lighthousekeepers and their families. In my electorate, about twenty-six persons were unable to vote at the last election. The nature of their duties prevented these persons from attending the polling places. Whatever objection we may have to some systems of voting, we should see that these persons are not deprived of the highest privilege of citizenship, the right to take part in the government of the country.
– The honorable member for Denison has brought forcibly before the Committee the wrong that will be done to Hobart and to Tasmania if certain proposed light dues are charged on oversea shipping touching at Hobart but at no other port in the Commonwealth. The effect of these charges will be to prevent that shipping from coming to Hobart as surely as if it were prohibited by an Act of Parliament. I know that the figures presented by the honorable member are authen tic. Under the present proposal, light dues which now come to £25 will be increased to about £260, and 25 per cent, of the revenue from freight on the cargoes usually carried will be needed to pay them. The difficulty which faces the Minister is the objection to getting away from a uniform charge. No doubt if a vessel called at each of -the principal ports of Australia, and was charged £25 for light dues at each port, she would have to pay in all more than the sum that I have just named. But the charge to which I object will be made on vessels which come direct to Hobart from oversea, land passengers and mails for Tasmania and the other States, and take on board coal for the continuance of their voyage to New Zealand. If this charge is persisted in-, these vessels will probably evade it by coaling outside the harbor. I am certain that the Minister is not wedded to the departmental proposals, and I hope that now that the facte have been pointed out to him, he will not sanction a charge which would be so prejudicial to Tasmania. Possibly the new charge may be less than the old for vessels calling at a number of ports in different States, but it will be very unfair if applied to vessels calling at one port only. For years the people of Hobart and Southern Tasmania have been doing all that they can to secure and maintain a direct service from overseas. The port charges of Hobart have been so light that when Lloyd’s recently published a list of the shipping ports of the world, Hobart appeared on it as the cheapest port in existence. As the honorable member for Denison has pointed out,’ splendid wharfs have been constructed at Hobart, at which the largest vessels can load fruit with despatch, wharfs of which any State might well be proud. The shipping is brought close up to the city, and vessels can lie with their bows touching one of the principal streets. But if the proposed charge is levied, the direct service of steamers between Tasmania and other parts of the world will be stopped. That would be a serious blow to Tasmania. For one thing, all heavy freights from abroad would then have to be landed at Melbourne or Sydney, and brought across to Tasmania by an Inter-State steamer. There would then be double handling and double wharfage to pay, which would be a great hardship on the business people of
Hobart, and on those in country districts who use heavy machinery. At the present time the existence of a direct service from London keeps the Inter-State charges within bounds. Were that service to stop, Tasmania would be at the mercy of any shipping monopoly. This would be disastrous, not only to the general interests of the State, but also to the waterside workers at Hobart, who now get work in connexion with the despatch of the oversea steamers at a time when InterState traffic is slack, and there is little else to do. Indeed I often wonder how they manage to get through the winter. I do not think that this House would allow any Government to do an act of injustice to a State such as would be involved in the shutting off of that State from oversea communication. Oversea intercourse is of vital importance to the trade of an island State like Tasmania. If there is one thing more than another that is necessary, it is direct communication with the outer world. The increased cost of labour, of living, and of production make it necessary to reduce the cost of transport as much as possible.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.15 p.m.
– During the luncheon adjournment I was asked by an honorable member why any special consideration should be extended to Tasmania. At the risk of repetition, I should like to point outthat these vessels come from England, vid the Cape, direct to Hobart, and then proceed to New Zealand. Hobart is their one Australian port of call. I believe that the result of these charges will be to absolutely prohibit these vessels from calling at Hobart. Under the Navigation Bill, oversea vessels now carrying passengers between the mainland and Tasmania will be prohibited from doing so. Tasmania and Western Australia will be directly hit by the provisions of that measure which prevents English liners from carrying passengers between the States and along their coast. In addition to this disability under which these two States will suffer, the Department now proposes to impose prohibitive lighting charges which will absolutely deprive Tasmania of the only oversea trade that she has, and will inflict upon her an injustice that I am sure this Parliament upon consideration will not tolerate. I know that the Minister has been looking into the matter, and
I recognise the objection which all Departments have to any departure from a uniform system. When this matter wasfirst under consideration I suggested that the fairer course to pursue would be to make a port charge.
– A charge at every port?
– For every trip?
– No. I would have a minimum and a maximum charge, and would provide that after what was considered to be a just amount had been raised no further charge should be levied. I would, for instance, make a port charge on every vessel touching at Fremantle, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, and Brisbane; a charge in respect of every port at which it called. If that were done, the £25 per vessel now being paid under existing conditions at Hobart would be found to be far more than was thus secured.
– There should be no profit made out of the service.
– It is not intended that there should be any profit.
– I do not think that it is desired to make a profit. We want to act fairly as between State and State. Speaking from memory, I think there are oversea vessels calling at Brisbane that do not call at the other State capital ports.
– But they probably used every light on the Australian coast ingetting to Brisbane. They could not reach that port without using a dozen lights.
– The vessels to which I am referring as calling only at Brisbane do not come round the Leeuwinand go up north, but work their way round from the south.
– The oversea vessels calling at Hobart and proceeding to New Zealand would use only one or two lights.
– Including the Derwent light, which will not be taken over, they use only three Australianlights. They simply call at Hobart to coal and to land passengers for Tasmania as well as a certain number of passengersfor other ports who are transhipped by the Inter-State boats.
– How many lights would they use in reaching the Derwent?
– They would not use any Australian lights until they struck the South- West Cape light. They come direct from the Cape. This is a very serious matter for Tasmania. If this line of steamships is shut off as it undoubtedly will be by these charges, Tasmania will be deprived of the only direct communication that it has with the outside world. All oversea goods for Tasmania will have to be landed at Melbourne and transhipped by the InterState boats. There will, consequently, be two handlings, two rates of freights, and costly charges to provide for before they reach their destination.
– That is what they want.
– I am sure that it is not what this Parliament desires, and I believe also that the Minister will realize the justice of our claim, and the enormous handicap to which Tasmania will be subjected if these charges be made. The present charge will be multiplied more than ten-fold. Some of the vessels now paying £25, as they have been doing for years past, will have to pay £260 in respect of the one trip. Such a charge is so monstrous that I wonder at any Department daring to put it before Parliament. I have no desire to labour this matter. I think a fair case has been made out for the consideration of the Minister, and I am very hopeful that he will see that some radical alteration is made in respect of these charges. If he does, he will prevent honorable members doing that which they dislike to do: appealing from the Minister direct to the House for a recognition of the justice of their claims.
– The Government, in approaching the consideration of this matter, found themselves face to face with the problem of fixing the lighthouse charges on such a scale as would make that branch of the Department pay for itself. The lighthouses will be transferred to the Commonwealth, I hope, on the 1st July next, and the charges which it is proposed then to bring into operation will be on the basis I have just mentioned. It is not expected, however, that they will be sufficient to meet the whole of the expenditure on lighthouses as well as pay interest on the value of the transferred properties. The honorable member for Denison, in estimating the amount spent in Tasmania at the present time at £12,000, did not allow one penny by way of interest on the value of the buildings now being used. A responsible officer of the Department of Home Affairs, acting on behalf of the Federal Government, as Colonel Miller did, in respect of the other transferred properties, will determine, with a representative of the other side, I presume, the valuations to be placed on the lighthouses, land, and equipment taken over. Assuming that they are valued, in the case of Tasmania, at £100,000, that means that an additional £3,500 will have to be provided for in respect of interest. There will also be an increase of £500 in the cost of the upkeep and repairs of Tasmanian lights, whilst the salaries proposed to be paid tinder the rates fixed by the Commonwealth Public Service Commissioner will be about £1,200 more than is now being paid.
– But if these vessels are prevented by prohibitive charges from calling at Hobart, the Department will lose all this revenue.
– I shall deal with that point in due course. It is estimated that even if these charges be made there will be a loss of from £10,000 to £12,000 per annum in respect of the lighthouse service of the whole Commonwealth. It is not thought that the Commonwealth should be asked to bear that loss. This matter was before the late Government, but no decision was arrived at, because the arrangements were not sufficiently advanced to enable the charges to be fixed. The departmental files show, however, that the question was before the right honorable member for Swan as Treasurer, and also, I think, before the present Leader of the Opposition when he held office as Prime Minister. The late Government were trying to determine upon what basis the lighting charges should be fixed, but nothing was done. When we took office, we had to deal with the matter, and it was after I had given notice through the public press of our intention to make a charge of 8d. per ton per quarter on every vessel using any Australian port that an objection was received from Tasmania. The peculiar position of vessels which call at one port in Australia only, and do not proceed to other Commonwealth ports, but to another port oversea, was pointed out to me by a deputation attended by the honorable members for Franklin and Denison, and I have, in the course of interviews, admitted the justice of the claim that these vessels should have different treatment, and stated that I thought that in their case we could reduce the; charges by half. Therefore, I think that we can meet their position by a substantial reduction in the charges. The suggestion put forward by the honorable members for Franklin and Denison that the charge should be so much per trip would hit Tasmania if no maximum was provided.
– I saidthat there should be a maximum.
– The Loongana, which makes a trip three times a week, would probably pay more than any other vessel in the Commonwealth.
– That is a ferryboat service.
– But that ferry-boat uses four or five lights. I am not in favour of charging so much per ton per trip. There should be a quarterly basis. The only other objection is that raised by the New Zealand company in regard to its vessels which travel between America and Sydney. These vessels pass one light only, and do the whole of their business in Sydney, as that is their port of destination. On this account the Government consider that there should be some differentiation between vessels using one port only en route to another port outside Australia, and vessels coming to any port in the Commonwealth. The questionof the treatment of the people employed in the lighthouse service has been raised. I consider that the Commonwealth has a greater responsibility in regard to these people than in regard to other persons who are not in its employment. Their position is different from that of people who go out into isolated places and make homes for themselves; they are compelled to reside in these spots, which are on remote capes, promontories, or islands.
– Where there are no picture shows.
– Not only are there no picture shows ; unfortunately, there is also very little facility for education. I think that we all realise that the Commonwealth has a responsibility in that direction. We must see that the children of these Commonwealth servants who are isolated on capes or islands do not grow up in ignorance, and when we are taking over a new service, it is our duty to see that we provide the means of giving education to the children of those employed by us. For this reason the cost of the service will probably be higher than it was under State control, and I say this without any desire to cast any reflection upon what the States have done in this direction.
– No one can object to the cost being increased on that account.
– There will be increased cost also in regard to some of the wages paid.
– Is the Minister taking over the whole of the fees now collected by the States?
– No; the States will not give them up, but I shall make that position plain in a moment. I am now dealing with the position of the men employed in these isolated places. The suggestion of Commander Brewis is that we should have unattended lights wherever it is possible to do so, provided that they are as suitable and as reliable as attended lights.
– How do our charges compare with the former charges?
– I do not think there is very much difference. The vessels upon which they will fall mostly are those of the tramp class. In regard to the question of the honorable member for Wimmera, about the time the Lighthouses Bill was passed, the State of South Australia, which has always been charging light dues, commenced to call them port dues. Precisely the same amount of money was collected under the new title. The name was changed so that there would be nothing to hand over to us. On the 30th July, 1914, a letter was sent out to the different States by my predecessor, the honorable member for Darling Downs, and New South Wales, Victoria, and Queensland agreed to hand over their lights to the Commonwealth ; while during the last week or two I have seen representatives of Tasmania, Western Australia, and South Australia, and they have verbally told me that their lights will be handed over to the Commonwealth on similar conditions, though this has not actually been done so far. We have not been hasty in the matter; we have already waited for nearly ten months and have not yet got the lights. Therefore, I have given notice to-day of my intention to ask leave to bring in a Bill next Wednesday for the purpose of amending th* Lighthouses Act with the object of allowing the Commonwealth to take over these lights if they are not surrendered. Of course, if we can get them without passing the Bill it will be an advantage.
– Some of the States should be pleased to give them up.
– They do not seem to be in a hurry about it. I hope that it will not be necessary to pass the Bill, and that we shall receive word that the lights will be handed over. Western Australia and Tasmania have already agreed to surrender portion of the dues they collect, but the other States have not said anything in regard to this matter. Western Australia will discontinue to charge half the dues collected, and Tasmania the dues charged for lights other than local harbor lights, which will remain under the control of the State.
– Western Australia has practically given up its dues because they were inconsistent with the Act.
– Western Australia and Tasmania have agreed to surrender the dues as stated above; but the other States which have been collecting the money have not shown any desire to hand over anything, and if the ship-owners find that they are being charged double rates the fault will not be ours.
– If Western Australia and Tasmania hand over half their dues, and we impose our rates, what will be the total impost?
– These States do not propose to hand over the dues to us. They propose to remit to the ship-owners portion of what they now charge. Of course, their charges added to ours will increase the total charges upon the ship-owners.
– Tasmania will need to take off all the dues she collects if anything like the charges proposed to be imposed by the Commonwealth are enforced.
– The Government do not propose to make any profit, and if the States will remit their charges I do not think that the impost will be any heavier generally than the previous State charges.
– The States will not remit their charges.
– We cannot help that. At four or five Inter-State conferences resolutions were adopted asking the Commonwealth to take over this service. A Bill was introduced into the Senate, first of all, by the honorable member for Kooyong in 1909, when he was a member of that House. It was eventually passed in 1911, and preparatory work has been in progress ever since. Lights have been altered in a number of cases, and other lights have been constructed. The honorable member for Brisbane asked to-day for information as to what lights were in course of construction on the Queensland coast. I know that the Wilson’s Promontory light, which is passed by more ships than any other light in Australia, was brought up to date about twelve months ago. The lights at Fort Point and Point Emery, on the Northern Territory coast, were completed and lighted last week, whilst the construction at Cape Don was commenced one month ago. With regard to the lighthouses north of Cooktown, the foundations at Dhu Reef have been completed, and the tower is in course of construction. Six other lights and towers on that portion of the coast are being constructed in turn. The light tower at West Point, Tasmania, is under construction.
– Will the Queensland lights be finished this winter?
– We hope that they will be completed before the hurricane season sets in. The work can be conducted on the reefs only at certain seasons, and when the hurricane season sets in the vessels and men are compelled to return to the nearest port on the mainland. Last year they were paid off at Cooktown, but they are at work again in the endeavour to complete the operations before the advent of the next hurricane season. It is expected that three lights north of Cooktown will be completed this season. It is not intended to do the whole of this work at one time, but to spread it over a period of six years. That policy is in accordance with the suggestion I made to Commander Brewis in 1911-12, firstly, .in order that there should be no undue financial strain, on the Commonwealth; and, secondly,, because, having got together a body of men skilled in this work, they could be» utilized at the various sites in turn. I think it was through this proposal to spread this work over six years that the Ship-owners Federation got the idea that we intended to pay during that period the whole cost of the lighthouses which the Commonwealth took over from the States, and that the allowance for depreciation would be fixed accordingly.
– The light dues you are fixing contemplate a revenue that will pay the depreciation charges.
– The estimate is that the whole cost of maintenance - that is, lights, wages of employees, and the expenses of the vessels which visit the lights - will amount to from £10,000 to £12,000 more than we shall receive in revenue, after allowing a small amount for depreciation. It is not proposed to make any profit out of the lighting service, nor do I think we should attempt to do so. If it is found by experience that the proposed charges will leave us a profit, I shall advocate that they be reduced to a rate which will no more than enable the service to pay for itself. But we do propose to make the conditions of the men engaged in this work as comfortable as possible, and we :are hopeful of being able to arrange for a. periodical transfer of officers so that their children may have, an opportunity of getting education, which they have not had in the past. The honorable member for Gippsland suggested that arrangements should be made whereby the lighthouse officials may record their votes at election time. I will bring that suggestion under the notice of the Electoral Department, in order to ascertain if such arrangements can be made. The proposal may present difficulties, but, if it can be carried out, I certainly think that we should give an opportunity to men whom we send to out-of-the-way places to record their votes. . If there is any other point on which honorable members desire information, I shall be pleased to give it.
– In regard to light dues, what the Department tried to do when I was in charge of it was to induce the States to remit the dues which they charged, because there was a great danger that the public would be taxed twice for the same service. We urged the States to avoid duplication of taxation. At the Pre miers’ Conference in 1914, a statement was submitted which showed exactly the expenditure of the various States on this service. It was shown very clearly that the States have been grouping the light dues with the harbor and tonnage dues, and that it is very difficult to separate and re-allocate them. The Premiers promised to look into the matter, but I understand from the Minister that the answers received have been unsatisfactory. Any default on the part of the States in this respect must not be attributed to the Minister. The only danger I see is that of making the dues excessive. The light dues paid by the shipping community will be added to the freights and passenger fares, so that ultimately the charge will fail upon the people who are exporting, as well as those who are importing. I hope, therefore, that the Minister will carry out his expressed intention, and, instead of trying to make a profit out of the service, reduce the light dues as low as possible, if he finds that the revenue is increasing. I should like to ask the Minister if he proposes to give three months’ notice of the proposed new rates ?
– I gave that notice at the end of last December, and specified a rate of 8d. per ton. The Union Steam -ship Company’s representative called on me and pointed out how unfair this chargewould be on the company’s vessels calling at Sydney.
– Has the Minister made any arrangements with the States as to a basis of valuation for the properties to be taken over ?
– Mr. Godwin, of the Home Affairs Department, has that matter in hand at the present time.
– In the past, owing to the acquisition of certain properties without a prior agreement as to the basis of valuation, serious difficulties arose in connexion with the valuation of one of those properties, and I would suggest to the Minister that, in order to avoid similar complications arising again, he might get the Home Affairs Department to make a tentative arrangement with the different States, not for the purpose of a complete valuation at the present time, but for a basis of valuation at any future time.
– I understand that a conference is now being held between a representative of the Commonwealth, in the person of Mr. Godwin, I think, and representatives of the States, with a view to determining the method of valuation.
– I am glad to hear that. It will save the Minister trouble in other respects. Then I would like to ask the honorable gentleman whether due precautions will be observed, with a view to ensuring the transfer of all officers at present in the Service, so that there may be no unemployment?
– “We have not taken over any officers yet.
– An alteration was made in the Act for the express purpose of safeguarding the positions of many of these officers throughout the States. For years they have been employed in lighthouse work, and any sudden dislocation of this service would be a very serious matter to them.
– I am assured by the Director that he does not know of one case in which an officer in the Service will not be taken over.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Division 90 (Navigation), £2,891
– I should like to know when the Navigation Act is likely to be proclaimed? This is a question which was often put to me by the present Minister when he was in Opposition.
– I may be permitted to remind the honorable member that the very first question which his leader put to me last night was, “When does the Minister propose to proclaim the Navigation Act?” The position is that, as a result of the Maritime Convention which sat shortly after the loss of the Titanic, it has been found necessary to bring in an amending Navigation Bill. That measure has been passed by the Senate, and is now before this Chamber. The Government consider that it would not be wise to proclaim the Navigation Act until that Bill becomes law. A Director of Navigation has already been appointed, as has also a Chief Clerk. The latter was appointed about a week ago, and applications have been invited, with a view to filling the positions of Examiner and Surveyor. These applications are now being considered. Work is in pro gress in the matter of preparing regulations, and I may remark that these regulations will in themselves form a very thick volume. Under the Navigation Act there will be ten times more regulations than under any other Act.
– I am glad that the Minister now realizes the difficulties of the position.
– I recognised them before. My chief complaint was that the late Government did nothing in reference to the appointment of a Director of Navigation. We hope to proclaim the Act as soon as possible.
– The creation of a Navigation Department by the Commonwealth will mean running an entirely fresh Department concurrently with the existing State Departments. The intention of the late Government was - as soon as a Director of Navigation was appointed - to get into touch with the States, with a view “to preventing unnecessary duplication of work, and to organizing the Department upon a uniform basis throughout Australia. I should be glad to know if any progress has been made in that direction. We do not desire to superimpose a seventh Department upon the existing State Departments.
– I said the same thing about the Bureau of Agriculture.
– The establishment of that Bureau ought not to result in the duplication of work. The idea underlying the enactment of a Commonwealth Navigation Act was to secure uniformity throughout Australia. If we create a separate department and run it concurrently with the State Departments our action will not conduce to the best interests of navigation.
– I am not sure whether my honorable friend made representations to the States upon the matter to which he has referred. However, I thank him for his suggestion. In the filling of official positions in the Navigation Department, I can assure him that regard will be had to the men who are holding offices in the State Departments at the present time. Their claims to positions created under the Na- vigation Act cannot be ignored. Everythingwhich can be done to work harmoniously with the States in this matter will be done.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Division 91 (New South Wales), £95,557; division 92 (Victoria), £72,537; division 93 (Queensland), £60,568; division 94 (South Australia), £35,321; division 95 (Western Australia), £35,491; division 96 (Tasmania), £8,461.
– Can the Minister state what the present arrangements are between the State and Federal Departments in New South Wales as regards the taking over of patients? Some time ago we gave the New South Wales Government the use of our quarantine station to house their patients and contacts for the time being, the State agreeing to make other provision for contacts if we required the whole station. Has the arrangement worked satisfactorily in the judgment of the Quarantine Department?
– When the honorable member was Minister of Trade and Customs, the New South Wales Government arranged to pay the Commonwealth so much per day per patient. That has been carried out, but, fortunately, I believe, there are no smallpox patients or contacts at present in that State, which has been again declared a clean State.
– There were two cases announced to-day at Kurri Kurri.
– I was not aware of it. The New South Wales Government made arrangements within the last few months to house their patients and contacts at Long Bay coastal hospital, in order that the North Head station might be available for passengers from oversea vessels.
– Has the State paid up the arrears yet?
– Some of the arrears, dating back to the agreement, were paid off. There was an amount in dispute prior to the agreement, and I do not know whether that has been settledor not. I shall obtain the information for which the honorable member has asked, and let him have it at a convenient opportunity.
– Will the Minister explain the item -
Deduct allowance to be made by Department of External Affairs for services rendered in connexion with the Immigration Restriction Act, £50.
– The Immigration Restriction Act, although administered by the External Affairs Department, is carried out by officers of the Customs Department. Although the amount is only £50 for Tasmania, it’ s £1,100 for Western Australia, £400 for South Australia, £900 for Queensland, £600 for Victoria, and £900 for New South Wales, or a total of £3,950.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Division 97 (Northern Territory), £1,719, agreed to.
Conduct of Business - Cases of Sick ness at Broadmeadows Camp - Shortage of Explosives - Expeditionary Forces: Remission of Money for Soldiers - Property of Deceased Soldiers - Port Stephens Naval Base.
– I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
– Till the week after next?
– Till the usual hour. I shall be absent next week, but am sure that with the Leader of the Opposition and my colleagues present business will be conducted as usual.
– I hope the right honorable gentleman will have an enjoyable time, and do good work for his country at the important function he proposes to attend, but Ministers have many important administrative affairs to attend to next week without attending the sittings of Parliament. I hope next week we shall hear that the Government are taking steps to deal with these military scandals that have arisen.
– They are being taken now.
– I am glad to hear it.
– I think the President of the court is coming to see me with regard to some remarks which I have made.
– What court?
– The Rabaul court.
– I shall be glad if the honorable the Prime Minister will let us know at the very earliest opportunity what is being done. Now there is another matter which cannot be allowed to stay where it is, and that is the question of the Small Arms Factory at Lith- gow.
– Quite true.
– Something must be done. We cannot ignore the recommendations of two responsible Committees of this Parliament. I hope, therefore, that some definite statement will be made on this subject next week. In the meantime I wish the Prime Minister a pleasant trip and” a safe return.
– It is not my intention to delay the House, because I understand the Assistant Minister .of Defence is now in a position to give the complete details in connexion with the mortality and sickness at the military camp at Broadmeadows. T hope the official figures will do something to allay that feeling of uneasiness in the community caused by what I may term the’ somewhat exaggerated statements that have been made in this House.
– I am pleased to be in a position to give this information to honorable members. The request put to the Camp Commandant was as follows : -
Please furnish the following particulars regarding the Broadmeadows Camp: -
Weekly state of Broadmeadows since formation of Camp.
Total number of deaths since formation of Camp.
Total number of deaths during four weeks ending 22nd May.
Total number of cases of sickness since formation of Camp.
Total number of cases of sickness during four weeks ending 22nd May.
Number at present undergoing treatment at Broadmeadows and base hospital respectively.
Desired that this be treated as an “ immediate matter “ so that the Minister may be in possession of the necessary particulars at »s early a moment as possible.
The figures supplied deal with recruits and officers in camp from the ‘25th
August, 1914, to the 25th May, 1915, and the details are as follow: -
From 25th August of last year until 25th May of this year the average of the men in camp has been 8,214, and the total number of deaths during the whole time has been forty. Of this number, eleven deaths occurred at Broadmeadows, and the rest, I take it, occurred in hospitals.
– From illness contracted at the camp?
– Yes, I think so; but, as the honorable member will see, the death rate is very low, considering that there has been an average of over 8,000 men in camp during the whole of the time. This information, I think, will completely refute a lot of those wild statements which have been made.
– There is nothing like the facts.
– The total number of deaths during the four weeks ending 22nd May of this year has been thirteen. Of this number, five occurred at Broadmeadows, and eight, I suppose, in the hospitals.
– Has the Minister compared the mortality rate in the camp with the mortality rate outside?
– It will compare very favorably with the outside rate. Since the formation of the camp in August last, up till 25th May, the total number of cases of sickness has been 1,180, and the total number of sicknesses during the four weeks ending 22nd May, during the time when the bad weather was experienced, and when we heard statements about 250 at Broad meadows, was only 185. Of that number there are in treatment at the Broadmeadows Camp five, and at the base hospital seventy-four. I want to say that if these figures are analyzed, as they should be, it will be seen that we have nothing to complain about with regard to the mortality or sickness at Broadmeadows, and certainly there is nothing to be alarmed about.
– Have you the number of deaths that have occurred during the last fortnight?
– I cannot say what they were, but I have given figures covering the four weeks ending 22nd May, and I can assure the House that we are doing everything possible to insure the health of the troops in camp. I think we ought to be very well satisfied with the position as disclosed in the return, and certainly there is no justification for the allegations about cruel treatment of the men in camp, and no justification for those wild statements which have been hurled at the Government, and perhaps also at the medical gentlemen connected with the camp. The return, I am confident, will ease the minds of all persons in Australia concerning the treatment which their relatives are receiving at the camp.
.- I desire once more to draw the attention of the Prime Minister to the position of the coal-mining industry in the Newcastle district owing to the shortage of explosives. Since I referred to the matter recently in this House I have been, furnished with further information, and. I think it is my duty to lay the matterbefore the Prime Minister. I have received from the secretary of the Colliery Employees Federation a statement showing the number of unemployed in the* collieries in the Newcastle and Maitland districts, and also the state of the minesin regard to the shortage of explosives. The information forwarded to me showsthat in the various mines of that district there is a total of 2,931 men unemployed or partially unemployed, owingto the shortage of explosives. The detailsare given as follows: -
These men are either totally unemployed! or partially unemployed, and, iri some cases, collieries, in the absence of explosives, have closed down altogether.
– Cannot explosives be made here?
– That is the trouble, because we have no testing station. The letter goes on -
It will be noticed that some of these collieries have worked half time, and others very intermittently during the last twentyfour weeks, but having got in touch with the managers, they inform us that the prospects, ahead are anything but bright, and we can safely anticipate that from now on during this crisis we will have nothing less than 3,000 unemployed within our Federation. These figures are authentic, having been supplied by the Log secretary, and you need not be afraid! to use them.
For three or four years past, in this House, I have been urging the necessity for the establishment of a testing station, 90 that, at such a time as the present, we might be self-contained. On this point, the writer says -
Representation has been made by the Colliery Employers Federation to the Federal and State Parliaments urging upon them the necessity of a testing station being erected in the State with a view of testing local manufactured explosives.
– Either that or modifying the Act.
– One thing or the other must be done.
– Modifying the Act would not help us now.
– I think it would.
– The letter proceeds -
Just recently a deputation waited upon the Minister of Mines, pointing out the urgency of the erection of this station, owing to the shortage of explosives at that time in the Newcastle and Maitland districts. The manager of the Westonite Company was on the deputation, and stated to the Minister that if a temporary testing station was erected he could then get on and manufacture explosives, and relieve the position that was so pronounced over the shortage of explosives.
That is local manufacturing -
We suggested to the Minister that an old tunnel could be temporarily erected whereby a test of the explosive could be made, but we have gone fully into this matter, and men we can safely rely upon assure us that a fair station could be erected for £3,000. The Minister, in reply, stated that’ he had given the matter every consideration, and was very much in favour of the erection of a temporary testing station, and would recommend immediately to Cabinet the advisability of going into this matter at once. Wc would suggest, in view of this statement, that the Federal Government co-operate with the State, and ask them what they are doing to relieve the unemployed over the explosives question.
I suggest that the Prime Minister should get into touch with the States, ascertain what is required, and what is being done ; and, further, that he should communicate with Sir George Reid in order to ascertain whether explosives could not be obtained from some manufacturing companies at Home, so as to relieve the acute position here. The question of a testing station could be discussed with the representatives of the States, and it ought to be, for it is, in my opinion, a national question. There ought to be a testing station for all explosives, so as to encour age manufacture here, and, in times such as the present, render us independent of outside supplies. This is a most important question, worthy of earnest consideration. We ought, in the first place, to provide for the temporary difficulty, and then take such steps as will insure that Australia in the future shall, in the matter of explosives, be self-contained.
– In regard to the return as to sickness at Broadmeadows read by the Minister, I asked a question some time ago as to whether the cases detailed were cases of what is known as “bed sickness,” or whether the men were able to move about. The usual course pursued in camp is to have a sick parade. The men who are reported by a noncommissioned officer as being sick, are marched in charge of a corporal to the hospital at a time fixed in Orders. The time is fixed, not by the medical officer, but by the camp authorities; and if a parade is fixed for 6.30 o’clock in the morning, that is not by choice of the medical officer, but by -order of the Commandant, who is solely responsible for routine matters. A triple report in relation to each case is made, and no man is seen or treated by the medical officer unless he is reported. We have heard that a medical officer refused to attend a in an who had been sent down in the course of the day by some officer ; and it must be understood that that medical officer was acting strictly in accordance with the regulations, which provide that attendance or medicine cannot be given unless the proper form is presented. Every man, no matter what his condition may be, who requires medical attendance or medicine, even though it be only a packet of salts, must have his name on the sick report ; and if the whole of the names of those who are on the sick report are included in the return read by the Minister, I can only say that the sickness in camp is miraculously slight.
– I much doubt if that is the case.
– I cannot imagine for a moment that there has been any selection of cases. The only distinctions are between men who go into hospital and men who return to the tents, or to light duty or whole duty. I impress on honorable members the fact that of the three reports one remains in possession of the medical officer, another in possession of the orderly corporal, while the third is placed on the file in the Regimental Office, and I cannot imagine that out of these records selections have been made. I am sorry that the Assistant Minister did not say anything about the letter which was read here, and which I understand was handed over to him for inquiry.
– That is too serious a matter to quibble about until we get the facts. A person who has done that sort of thing will have to answer for it.
– I hope so, although we had the respectability of this man vouched for in the House.
– If, on inquiry, a person is found to have been mistaken in that way, there is a malicious and dangerous wrong ; and we ought not to talk about the matter until we have the judicial side.
– I am not aware whether the Assistant Minister has obtained particulars.
– It is being inquired into.
– Do I understand that the Assistant Minister is in possession of the letter?
– I take a very serious view of this.
– And so do I; it is a great reflection on the medical officers.
– It is worse than that.
– It seems that one or two medical officers have given certificates of death, and have, under the Jaw of the land, rendered themselves liable to prosecution.
– But there is a statement damaging to the interests of the country; and an enemy could not do worse.
– There is just one other point I should like to mention. On a previous occasion I referred to the fact that cable messages had been received from members of the Forces abroad, asking their friends to send money to them, and that it had. come to my knowledge that a number of these were bogus and fraudulent. Cables have been sent purporting to come from members of the Expeditionary Force at Malta, while those men were still in Egypt ; and, therefore, the messages were forged. I ask the Minister to consider whether some means cannot he adopted to provide that such applications should come through the Pay Office, or some responsible officer who has some idea of the identity of the men. I only want the Government to protect those anxious relatives who are being victimized and exploited by a number of men who are taking advantage of long distance and of the natural anxiety felt by people regarding those for whom they have an affection. Several cases have come under my notice - one involving the sum of £20 - and I am sure there must be a much larger number than I know about.
.- May I, in support of what the honorable member for Hunter has said, point out that the question of establishing a testing station for explosives has been brought forward on behalf of the miners several times in recent years. I remember when in the State Parliament that we made an effort to get a station established, but were not successful, and I fancy the fact that makers have had to send to England for whatever explosives they require has mitigated against Australian inventors taking up the question. I call to mind, for instance, the case of an old soldier who had invented an explosive which he thought was eminently suitable for coal-mining purposes, and I was appealed to to obtain for it a trial in the mines. I did this on behalf of both miners and managers at several collieries, whose opinions were that it was the best explosive they had ever used in a coal mine, both from the standpoint of safety and of production. To my surprise, however, the syndicate formed to manufacture the explosive in the State of New South Wales was refused a permit to make it. I have often thought, since then, that if there has been in existence in Australia any ring, it has been a ring of importers of explosives. This action on the part of the New South Wales Government has meant that the importers of the various kinds of permitted explosives have controlled the market. Now, owing to the absence of explosives from England, the coalmining industry is being paralyzed be cause the Coal Mines Regulation Act provides that only explosives that are on the permitted list shall be used. Surely in a national crisis like this, when such facts as these are known - and they can be substantiated by the cleverest mining experts in our district - something can be done to meet the situation. The position has become very serious in the districts that are affected. Not only have mines been closed through the absence of any export trade, owing to the acquisition of ships and charters, and the embargo on coal, but the collieries at which work is going on will be in no better position unless explosives are forthcoming.
– Who regulates the matter ?
– The Coal Mines Regulation Act.
– Who regulates the output of explosives?
– It is regulated in England, and the Government of New South Wales will only allow the use of permitted explosives.
– But you are not challenging that?
– No, I am not challenging it, except to this extent, that, though the Imperial Act and the New South Wales Act provide for the use of permitted explosives, we have no guarantee that when the explosives arrive they willbe up to standard ; hence the necessity for a station at which the so-called permitted explosives from the other side of the world can be tested at any time. But this is the point: We are now in a necessitous position and require explosives. I have not seen the explosive known as “ Westonite,” “but, from what I have learnt of it, I think it is just as safe as some of the permitted explosives we have been importing - some of which, by the way, come from Germany. Ihave seen permitted explosives flare up in mines exuding any gas at all. However, the matter is so urgent that I do not think any time should be wasted, not only in establishing a testing station for Australia, but also in getting into touch with the Government of New South Wales, to see if it is not possible to give some assistance to an industry which is of such importance to Australia.
.- The other night the honorable member for Bourke made a serious statement about a gentleman who occupies a prominent position in Sydney - Dr. Antill Pockley, whose son was killed in New Guinea nearly nine months ago - to the effect that he has not yet been able to secure any of his son’s effects. That may not be a very big matter, from a national point of view, but the father naturally desires some relics of his son, and I ask, in the interests of the family, if the Prime Minister cannot see that these effects are returned to the family of the late Captain Pockley.
– I should like to say a few words upon the matter just referred to.
– The honorable member has already spoken once. Is it the pleasure of the House that the honorable gentleman be permitted to speak again?
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear!
– It seems to me that the remedy for the matter referred to by the honorable member for Hunter is not so very difficult, but what my honorable friend is suggesting would be no remedy at all. If you started tomorrow to build a testing station in Australia, by the time the plans and specifications were passed, the tenders called for, and an agreement arrived at between the Governments concerned, the war would be over. The honorable member’s suggestion offers no immediate remedy. I think the remedy lies much nearer home. It is a fact that the people in Australia can make explosives that are both safe and efficient. All that is needed is for the Government of New South Wales to alter its Coal Mines Regulation Act, during the period of the war, so as to permit of locally-manufactured explosives being; used, under proper supervision.
– I understand the State Government have made a move in that direction, but that the difficulty is that there is not sufficient explosive of the sort that would be permitted in a gaseous mine to cover the necessities of the whole trade.
– You must not open the door too wide.
– I do not want to open it too wide, but does the honorable member mean to tell me, with all the scientific and practical resources that are available in the coal-mining districts and at theUniversities of the Commonwealth, that it would not be possible to say whether an explosive is safe or dangerous? An elaborate laboratory is not needed to do that.
– They can tell you, but only one Australian company is now manufacturing explosives that would be permitted in a gaseous mine. The latest hews I have read is that they will not le able to manufacture anything like sufficient to cover the requirements of the -different mines.
– “What will this proposal for the erection of a testing station do to remedy that?
– We asked the Prime Minister to get in touch with the State, with the view to an’ immediate remedy.
– I made two proposals. The first was that the Prime Minister should consult the. State with the view to see if anything can be done to provide immediate relief, and the second was that, if immediate relief cannot be provided, a testing station should be erected for future use, so that we might be able to establish our own factories.
– That will not give any immediate relief to the unemployed. Only one thing can do that, and that is relief from the conditions now imposed by the Act in New South Wales. I think that ought to have been done long ago. I cannot bring myself to believe that we cannot manufacture here explosives which would shoot coal and be perfectly safe, even though they be not on the approved list. That is the only immediate way out . of the situation.
– You, as a practical man, know that you would have to make a test somewhere, in order to see that no - flame was emitted.
– With all the -scientific resources of our universities it ought not to be a difficult thing to do, I should think, without a testing station, and it could be done, I think, if the State Government would tackle the question earnestly.
– A few days ago the Assistant Minister of Defence, in reply to a question, stated that the Department was not prepared to proceed with the work at Port Stephens. A sum of £5,000 is provided on the Estimates for the purpose, and I am informed that the survey is sufficiently complete to permit of men being employed at once.. The nation would get full value for its money, and the work would be very useful. We must all admit that eventually Port Stephens will become a very impor tant harbor, as well as a means of defence. The answer to my quest-ion was not quite in accordance with the facts. I .am given to understand by those who know the locality that men could be set to work at once, and that the plant required would be a very small one, inasmuch as there is a great quantity of rock and mullock to be - shifted, which, of course, could be done with a few tools. According to the information I have received, it would take a very short time to arrange for a large number of men to be employed. The work is preliminary work, which must be carried out before any important operations can bc started. As an amount is provided oh the Estimates for the purpose, it seems to me that this is a very opportune time to provide employment. The men are very suitable to the work to be done. It is not a case of giving to men work for which they are not suitable. It can be easily started, because there are no engineering difficulties, and, as I said, not a very large amount of plant is required.
, - I understand from the Assistant Minister of Defence that the Department has made available a considerable sum of money for the work at Port Stephens, and that the expenditure of it will be begun quite early.
Regarding the request of Dr. Pockley, of Sydney, that he should be furnished with the personal property of his son, who was killed in the operations at New Guinea, I think that, if possible, it ought to be done, and will ask the Minister of Defence to take immediate action in that direction.
With reference to the suggestions from the honorable members for Hunter and Newcastle, I think that a testing station for blasting powder ought to be established in Australia. War has its purposes and its lessons. Had a testing station been established here, I have no doubt that we would have had an explosive manufactured which would be absolutely safe. We have simply rested on the fact that it would cost £2,000 or £3,000 a year to maintain it, and we have not such a station. It fs not fair to Australian inventors of explosives. Any person who knows anything about the subject is aware that one cannot transport a commodity, made into an explosive, to a testing station 10,000 miles away, and land it there in the same condition as when it was shipped here. Therefore inventors are at a disadvantage.
– It might explode on the way.
– That is not the point. The honorable member does not seem to understand the seriousness of the matter.
– I understand it.
– Over 2,000 men are out of employment in consequence of the shortage of explosives.
– I advocated here the establishment of a testing plant.
– The State Government will be communicated with immediately, and if anything can be done by the Commonwealth Government to help in any way the use of an explosive made in Australia we shall do so; but I think the honorable member will see that primarily it is a matter which rests with the State.It is largely a coal mining affair, but I am bound to say that, as a question of policy, although we have always been against the proposal on the ground of cost, I think that the time has come when we must not only take risks, but be prepared to incur a considerable expenditure to put ourselves in a position to carry out what we have to do during war as well as in times of peace.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 3.57 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 28 May 1915, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1915/19150528_reps_6_77/>.