6th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Motion (by Mr. Fisher), by leave, agreed to -
That leave of absence for the remainder of the session he given to the honorable member for New England, absent on public service.
The following papers were presented : -
Small Arms (Departmental) Committee -Re- port on Visit to Small Arms Factory, Lithgow.
Ordered to be printed.
Lands Acquisition Act -
Land acquired under, at -
Brisbane, Queensland - For Meteorological purposes.
Gnowangerup, Western Australia - For Postal purposes.
Guildford, New South Wales- For Postal purposes.
Somerton, near Glenelg, South Australia - For Defence purposes.
Wynnum, Queensland - For Postal purposes.
Papua - Ordinance of 1915, No. 1 - Supplementary Appropriation (No. 1) 1914-15.
War Precautions Act - Regulations Amended (Provisional)- Statutory Rules 1915, No. 81.
– Have the Govern- ment considered the desirability of securing, in the present crisis, the wisdom and ability of leading honorable members on both sides of the House, in order to obtain a more effective organization of the resources of Australia, with a view to prosecuting the war more effectively?
– I have again and again said in this Chamber that the. Government will accept helpful suggestions or views from any honorable members, and from any persons outside the House, and that we are willing to co-operate in every way to assist the conduct of operations. But if what the honorable member desires is the formation of a coalition Government, my answeris that I am against that.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether, in view of the extreme urgency of the nation’s need for munitions of war, as expressed by Mr. Lloyd George at Manchester and Liverpool, and the success attending his efforts, the right honorable gentleman, and the Minister of Defence, will confer with the Governments of the States, which control the railway workshops of Australia, with the heads of private engineering and manufacturing firms, and with industrial organizations in Australia, as to the possibility of their assisting the Empire by directing their energies to the manufacture of these essentials?
– Over a fortnight ago, the Minister of Defence had such a consultation, and directed some of his officers to continue the work. At the Premiers’ Conference, I gave a guarantee to the Premiers that this Government would work with them in everything we did in this connexion.
– Will the Government co-operate with private firms, too?
– Has the attention of the Prime Minister been directed to the proceedings of a meeting held in Brisbane, apparently at the suggestion of His Excellency the Governor of Queensland and members of the Chamber of Commerce, with a view to organizing industry in that State for the supply of ammunition and munitions generally? Will the right honorable gentleman co-operate with any similar action that may originate in any of the other metropolitan cities of Australia?
Mr- FISHER.- Yes. Queensland was represented at the Premiers’ Conference, andthe meeting referred to is the out come of a statement which I made at the Conference.
– Will the Prime Minister take into consideration the urgent necessity of appointing a Commission, comprising two members to be elected by the Chamber of Manufactures in each State, to organize all iron and other suitable factories for the manufacture of war munitions ?
– We have already arranged with the State Governments for the appointment of representatives of all the productive forces in connexion with munitions and other articles of war, and that body is at work now.
– Do you say that a Committee has been appointed ?
– A Committee has been appointed to deal with matters connected with the Lithgow Small Arms Factory. It includes men who are dealing with the question of making ammunition, and every other ancillary article that will be of assistance to our fighting forces, either in striking at the enemy or in preserving their own health and comfort. As a result of a conversation I had with Sir Alexander Peacock to-day, further steps will be taken by the Government to deal with that matter. -
– Are we manufacturing shells in Australia?
– I do not think the honorable member is serious in askingthat question. The steps we have taken are for the production, wherever possible, in Australia of equipment to defeat theenemy and protect the health of our ownsoldiers.
Equipment of Nurses - Life Insurance - Prisoners - Effective Forcesin the Field - Methods of Examining Recruits - Land Settlement of Returned Soldiers - Delayed - Reportsof Casualties - Broad meadows Camp.
– I ask the Assistant Minister of Defence if the Department provides full equipment for the trained nurses who are accepted for service at the front? If not, what proportion of the cost of their equipment is found by the Department?
– The Department allows £15 for equipment to each nurse, the money being handed to the nurses to spend as they choose.
– Because of the difficulty and delay in obtaining the ordinary proof of death of soldiers killed in action, for administration and life assurance purposes, will the Prime Minister communicate with the Premiers, with a view to their passing legislation through the State Parliaments dealing with the matter)
– I shall be very glad to do so. I wish to co-operate in all these matters.
– Can the Minister for the Navy give us any information as to the number of Australians taken prisoners at Gallipoli; and how they are being treated ?
– I shall endeavour to obtain the information, and make it public.
-I desire to bring under the notice of the Attorney-General a matter affecting a soldier who has gone to the front. The Defence Department was a day late in paying the separation allowance to his wife, and the wife was a day late in paying the premium on his insurance due to the Australian Mutual Provident Society. As a consequence, he was fined £10 on a policy of £200, whereas had he been here as an ordinary citizen, and not fighting for his country, the fine would be only 6d.
– If the honorable member will give, me an opportunity to inquire into the matter, I shall ascertain exactly what the facts are, and whether the Government are able to interfere. There is on the policy which he has handed to me the following indorsement: -
It is hereby further agreed that Active Military or Naval Service outside the Commonwealth of Australia, and /or the Dominion of New Zealand and the territorial waters thereof, is not covered by the society under this policy unless an extra premium at a rate not exceeding £5 per annum per £100 assured be paid in advance for such period as may be required by the society. Failure to pay such premium renders the policy void.
– In view of the fact that a very large number of men who present themselves for service are rejected on account of physical disabilities, will the Government take into consideration the advisability of obtaining a report from competent men - military men for preference - regarding the apparent physical condition of those young men who form the crowds at the various football matches in and around Melbourne?
– Why not include the young men in the clubs and elsewhere?
– The suggestion contained in the honorable member’s question borders on conscription; and, from what I know, a sufficient number of recruits is now offering. In the other States the number is well up to the standard, and in Victoria there is an improvement.
– All sorts of information is dribbling out in this Parliament and elsewhere concerning what was done at the recent Premiers’ Conference. Would the Prime Minister care to tell the House whether the question of increasing the effective Forces in the field was seriously considered at that Conference, and, if so, whether any decision was arrived at regarding ways and means and methods of co-operation as between the States and the Commonwealth?
– At the Premiers’ Conference in Sydney the Premiers offered every co-operation, and I, in return, offered co-operation on our part, not only in the production of munitions and equipment, but also in recruiting and increasing the Forces to be sent to the front. Up to the present time, the co-operation between the States and the Commonwealth has been working smoothly.
– Can the Assistant Minister of Defence say whether there is a uniform system of examination of recruits; that is to say, whether the same reasons for ruling men out obtain in all the States? No doubt the Minister has seen in this morning’s newspapers a statement to the effect that, at Adelaide, 150 out of 162 recruits offering were passed, while, so far as I understand, the average of rejects is about 50 per cent, in the other States. If the standard of examination and the ‘ methods adopted are not uniform in all the States, why is that so ?
– So far as I know, the standard of examination in all the States is the same. These examinations are absolutely under the control of the Chief Medical Officer, Colonel Fetherston, who resides in Melbourne. That officer, through his officers, controls the examinations in all the States, and’ gives instructions as to what tests shall be applied. So far as I know, the methods are absolutely uniform.
– Will the Prime Minister, approach the Premiers of the various States with a view to an . arrangement under which returned soldiers shall have preference in connexion with land allotments dealt with by Lands Boards?
– - I shall bring the purport of the honorable member’s question before the Premiers. It has been laid down as a good rule that one Parliament shall not interfere with another, but I shall do as I have said.
– Is it a fact that all Australian casualties at the Dardanelles are first reported to the Imperial Government before they are reported to the Common-wealth Government i If not, what is the reason for the delay in getting word in Australia regarding Australian casualties ?
– I shall procure that information, and reply to the honorable member to-morrow.
– Will the Assistant Minister of Defence say what preparations, improvements, and alterations are being made at the Broadmeadows Camp for the reception of troops later on, and to prevent a recurrence of the trouble that arose prior to the removal of the camp to Seymour? Can he inform the House on what date the troops will be brought back from Seymour to Broadmeadows?
– A Committee has been appointed, to inspect the Broadmeadows Camp, and report to the Minister as to whether it would be wise to keep Broadmeadows as a training camp, or whether it would be better for the troops to remain at Seymour. The report, which has been received by the Minister, is favorable to the alteration of the Broadmeadows Camp, and improvements are suggested that will involve the expenditure of £5,000 or £6,000. It is believed that when these improvements are effected, soldiers will find every comfort at Broadmeadows,
An HONORABLE MEMBER. - Is it private property ?
– -Have you got a lease of it?
– It has been handed over to us until the termination of the war.
– A generous gift, too.
– I may say that, although the Department will have to spend this large sum of money in makin? the camp dry, and in making roads, a good deal of the money will be returned to the Government by the sale of the metal which will be put on the roads to the local municipality after our vacation of the camp. It is not known when the camp will be removed from Seymour to Broadmeadows. The date has not yet been fixed.
– I hesitate to ask another question of the Assistant Minister of Defence, but I should like to know whether the need for the huge expenditure has arisen out of the occupation of the camp by troops, or whether it really is by way of making the preparations which should have been made before men were sent there at all. If that is the case, what officer is responsible for the blunder?
– If lives can be saved by the expenditure of this money, I think it will be amply justified.
– Will the PostmasterGeneral tell the House what is being done for the relief of the mail contractors who have been so heavily hit by the drought in various portions of Australia ?
– Each case will be dealt with in the order of application by the Deputy Postmaster-General of the State in which the contract was let. A number of applications for consideration have* been received, and, in dealing with them, the Deputy Postmaster-General will have regard to all the circumstances of the case, such as the time at which the contract was let and the price fixed. Some districts have not been so much affected by the drought as others, and prices of fodder have been cheaper in some places than in others. I have urged that the matter shall be attended to with the utmost expedition. - Mr. Page. - Will the honorable member do away with the red-tape methods that prevail in his Department?
– There is no red-tape in my Department. The honorable member cannot expect us to hand out everything that is asked for; to do so would cause injustice. Some of the contractors who tendered two or three years ago have been hard hit, because they had no warning of the drought, but those who tendered in December last knew that a drought prevailed, and could estimate the prices they would have to pay for fodder. The Department will deal with each case on its merits, and I have given instructions that all cases shall be dealt with as speedily as possible.
– I hold a communication from a drought-stricken mail contractor on Kangaroo Island. I should like to ask the Postmaster-General whether his reply means that each contractor is to make application for relief? Is the Minister prepared to receive such applications at the present moment?
– I am not calling upon every mail contractor to apply for relief. Those who are in need of assistance will, I presume, apply.
– I ask leave of the House to make a statement concerning the loss of submarine AE2.
– The Department of Defence has received the following cablegram from the Naval Representative in London, dated 9th June: -
United States Ambassador reports that three officers and twenty-nine men were saved from submarine AE2. This is total number of officers and men on board when the vessel sank, therefore all have been saved.
– The Government are endeavouring to give every attention to matters arising out of the war, and to protect Australia. They have not considered the question of adjourning Parliament, having regard to the fact that the Estimates for the year ending 30th June next have not yet been agreed to, and that other important matters will require to be dealt with soon. Any prorogation of Parliament will destroy the Tariff, which is now before the House.
– Has the attention of the Prime Minister been drawn to a statement made by Mr. Chiozza Money, M.P., in the British Weekly of the 15th April, 1915, wherein that gentleman stated, in reference to the Prince of Wales Relief Fund, that “ the cost of distributing relief, amounting to £2,832, is as much as £1,294. That is to say, for every 20s. of relief payments disbursed, 9s. are spent in costs. . . . The expenses account of £1,294, to which I have referred is made up as follows : Wages, £828; tea allowance to staff, £123; miscellaneous, £343.” When the Prime Minister is conferring with the AttorneyGeneral regarding the advisability of exercising governmental control over similar funds in Australia, will he direct his attention to that statement, and endeavour to prevent similar abuses taking place in Australia?
– I am conversant with* the statement made by Mr. Money, and I have learnt of cases in Australia that are equally unsatisfactory. But most of the funds in the Commonwealth have been started by States and through State agencies, and the Commonwealth Government ought not to intervene until we have justification for doing so. However, I regard it as a patriotic duty of the public to assist in preventing fraud in connexion with these funds.
– Has the PostmasterGeneral, in reply to my repeated representations, yet arrived at a decision to reopen the tenders for motor cycles in order to enable local manufacturers to tender for the same class of article as is being tendered for by importers?
– The matter has not yet come before me. I have made inquiries with a view to insuring that the firm which the honorable member mentioned in a previous question gets a fair chance.
– Is the Minister of Trade and Customs in a position to inform the House what the Government propose to do in regard to the duty on the sugar which it will be necessary to import shortly?
– I am not in a position to inform the House of the intentions of the Government.
– Can the Minister of Home Affairs inform the House when the Clothing Factory at Geelong will be completed and in operation, to supply clothing for our troops ?
– I think the factory will be ready in a week or two, but to-morrow I shall give the House all the information that I have on the matter.
– Did the Prime Minister notice in to-day’s newspaper cables the boast of the enemy in connexion with the use of gases? -
Our object is to assert the mighty power of Germany over Europe. Within two months our enemies will be subdued.
Will the right honorable gentleman answer that boast by stating that we, on our part, will lay aside all other considerations, and consolidate and organize the entire resources of the country in an effort to enable him to justify his very laudable statement that our last shilling and our last man will be placed at the service of the Empire ?
– I do not think that the enemy would be frightened if I were to repeat what I said before the war. What the honorable member has indicated is our mission in the meantime; and I feel if I were younger I should take a more active part.
– Is it not a fact that, after new Tariff proposals were, laid on the table some time before Christmas’, an adjournment of Parliament took place ? Did that adjournment interfere in any way with the imposition of the duties, or with the power of the Collector to collect them? Further, I should like to know whether an adjournment of the House now would have any effect on the Tariff proposals recently laid before us?
– Tariff proposals were, I think, laid on the table on the 12th December, and there was afterwards an ad journment. While an adjournment does not invalidate Tariff proposals, a prorogation does.
– Has the attention of the Assistant Minister of Defence been drawn to a paragraph in the Age of today, and, I presume, also in the Argus, in respect to the overtime that is being worked at the Commonwealth Clothing Factory? In view of the splendid organization of unemployed women, many of whom are mothers of families and in great need, will the Minister consider whether any of the garments necessary for the Postal Department cannot be intrusted to these women at a price which will enable them to feed their little ones?
– I shall be pleased to make inquiries and inform the House regarding this matter.
– In view of the fact that the Government of New South Wales have called upon the people of that State to pay a super-tax for war purposes will the Prime Minister be good enough to let the House know how much of the resultant revenue has been received by the Commonwealth Government ?
– I am sure that the honorable member is mistaken - that there is a misunderstanding somewhere. No Government in Australia, except the Commonwealth Government, incurs direct expenses for any war purposes whatever.
– The State Government say that they put on the tax for war purposes.
– They may say so, but they do not do so.
– Last week the Leader of the Opposition said that, although there were five Labour Governments in Australia, the cost of living was higher than ever before. Can the Minister of Trade and Customs give the House any information as to the difference between the prices of the following commodities in New South Wales, where there is a Labour Government, and in Victoria, where there is an antiLabour Government: - Bread, butter, flour, milk, sugar, meat, eggs, and fish?
– The honorable member can scarcely expect me to give’ an immediate answer to a question of that kind. I shall certainly endeavour to get the desired information. As to fish, I know that a New SouthWales State trawler has brought a quantity in, and that it is being sold very cheaply at the present time.
– Last week, the Minister of Trade and Customs promised the honorable member for Cook that he would place before the Cabinet the honorable member’s request for the introduction of a measure that would guarantee reasonable prices in connexion with foodstuffs and other articles. Will the Minister say whether the matter has yet received consideration, and, if so, what proposal the Government have in view?
– I have placed the matter before the Cabinet. When the Government have prepared a measure, it will be brought down.
– Will the Minister of Trade and Customs lay on the table of the House the figures prepared by Mr. Knibbs showing the relative cost of living in New South Wales and Victoria ?
– I think honorable members are already in possession of Mr. Knibbs publication.
– Has the attention of the Minister of Trade and Customs been called to that portion of Mr. Justice Street’s report in which he lays stress upon the unrestricted slaughter of female calves, and suggests that some legislation should be brought in dealing with the matter? Has the Minister communicated with the respective State Governments with the object of carrying out Mr. Justice Street’s recommendation?
– Some action has been taken. Whether the State Governments have been communicated with or not, I cannot say off-hand.
Preference to Unionists - Postal Employees Awards - Gold Production
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Each person applying to be recorded for employment on temporary work is required to state whether he is a member of a trade union or industrial organization. 2 and 3. See answer to No. 1.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Whether letter carriers and other postal employees will in future get the benefits of any award affecting their positions unless they become members of claimant organizations, parties to the awards?
– I presume the honorable member refers to the effects of the repeal of the provisional regulation passed by the Cook Government. The provisional regulation made the benefits of certain awards by the Arbitration Court, which, by the terms of the award, were confined to members of the claimant union, apply to all employees in the industry. The repeal of the provisional regulation allows the awards of the Court to operate. Only those awards already made or to be hereafter made, which the Court has directed to apply to members of the claimant union only, are affected.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Will he consider the advisability of taking step’s to increase the gold production of the
Commonwealth with a view to assist in securing sufficient gold to meet any engagement at the conclusion of the war?
– The production of gold in increased quantities, like every other commodity of exchange, is receiving the earnest attention of the Government.
northern territory : Liquor licences - Papuan Oil Fields - Norwegians: ENTRY into Western Australia.
asked the Minister of External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
asked the Minister of External Affairs, upon notice -
What is being done in the way of developing the oil- fields of Papua?
– The- answer to the honorable member’s question is: -
Practically all preliminary work in the way of surveys and the geological examination of district has been completed. Various experimental bores have been put down. None of these reached a greater depth than 400 feet. Small quantities of oil of a superior character have been obtained.
Machinery has been procured for the purpose of sinking deep wells.
Three experienced oil drillers have been engaged. Two of them have just arrived from Canada.
Drilling operations on selected sites are about to be begun.
Considerable clearing has been effected, and houses have been erected for the accommodation of employees.
A small steamer has been built to maintain communication between Port Moresby and the Vailala River.
The whole of the work is being carried on under the direction of Dr. Wade, an experienced petroleum expert.
– When does the Minister expect any results?
– We already have results, which I can show the honorable member.
asked the Minister of External Affairs, upon notice -
Whether he has yet reached a decision regarding the entry into Western Australia of a party of Norwegians, alleged to be under contract?
– The matter was referred to the Attorney-General’s Department for an opinion on certain points of law, pending receipt of which it was impossible for me to decide whether action should be taken. The opinion has not yet been received, but I am advised that it is expected to reach the Department to-day. No time will be lost in giving it consideration. I am advised that the persons referred to are contract immigrants, so far as their shore work is concerned.
Separation Allowance - Recruits Rejected - QUARTERS: : Removal of Families.
asked the Assistant Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are: -
Widowers with children also receive the allowance under certain conditions.
asked the Assistant Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are: - 1 and 2. It is not possible to obtain accurate figures of the number of mcn rejected throughout Australia as physically unfit, as it is understood that full records of men examined in country districts have not been kept.
asked the Assistant Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
Whether it is a fact that the families of men who are proceeding on active service are being turned out of their homes bv the military authorities to make room for men who are staying behind; if such is the case, will the Minister take steps to protect the families of these men from this injustice?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
Under the provisions of Standing Orders for the Commonwealth Military Forces, the family of a permanent soldier proceeding on active service may be called upon to vacate quarters in the barracks, if such are required for the accommodation of the family of the man who is to take the place of the absent soldier. The reason for this is that active service pay is higher than home service rates, and, in addition, separation allowance is paid to the family of the absent soldier if his pay is less than 8s. per diem.
asked the Assistant Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is “ Yes.”
Closing of Butchers’ Shops - Stamping of Meat - Export Duty on Meat.
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
If he will inform the House, if possible, the number of butchers’ shops closed in the State capitals from 1st January to 31st December, 1914, and from 1st January to 31st May, 1915, or latest date possible?
– It is doubtful if the information could be obtained with any accuracy. In any case, it is a matter in which reference would have to be made to the State Governments. In connexion with a question asked in this House some months ago, which also required reference to the Government of New South Wales, the Premier of that State in response to a request for information intimated that, in the opinion of his Government, inquiries relative to local matters should be made the subject of questions in the local Legislature.
Mr. FENTON (for Dr. Maloney) asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
If he will have all meat exported stamped in a similar manner to the system of the Jewish race all over the world, so that purchasers of Australian meat will know the date the meat was passed by the Government inspector, in lien of the system of attaching a tag that can be removed if unscrupulous owners desire to do so?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is -
The date of inspection and passing of meat for export is now marked on the tag, and the State Governments have been asked to cooperate as to meat for local consumption. It would not be practicable to apply to mutton and lamb exported in the carcass, or beef in the quarter, marks necessary to preserve the identity of cuts from such carcasses or quarters.
Further, excessive marking of carcasses of Australian meat would place that meat at a disadvantage in the world’s markets as compared with meat from other countries.
Mr. FENTON (for Dr. Maloney) asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
If he will consider the enactment of an export duty for the prevention of the increasing cost of meat to the citizens of Australia, so that such duty will be imposed on the basis of the cost of freight and all charges, and that when Australian meat is sold in London cheaper than in Australia the difference in price be added to the above duty?
– At present it is not considered desirable to impose an export tax upon meat, particularly in view of the fact that the whole of the beef and the greater part of the mutton and lamb exported is for military use. .
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
asked the Assistant Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
Whether, in view of the absence of enemy - warships in the Pacific, Atlantic, Southern and Indian Oceans, the Naval authorities still consider it necessary to close the Port of Sydney to regular British trading and passenger vessels between the hours of sunset and sunrise; and will he state what other Australian ports are similarly closed?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is -
It should be noted that the Examination Service is not designed to deal with enemy warships, but to prevent the entry of enemy merchant ships, of which there are a large number at neutral ports in the Pacific and other oceans.
The Examination Service was put into force at all defended ports. It is being relaxed at ports other than Sydney as circumstances per mit, but it is undesirable to make public the degree to which this has been done.
Sydney .being a Naval base, as well as a ‘ mercantile port, it is not considered advisable to relax the Examination Service there at present.
– My question related only to well-known British vessels, of which no mention is made in the reply.
In Committee of Supply (Consideration resumed from 9 th June, vide page 3850) :
Department op External Affairs.
Division 35 (Sigh Commissioner’* Office), £34,191
– The Government have decided, I understand, to dispense with Sir George Reid’s services as High Commissioner at the end of the year.
-“ Dispense “ is the wrong word to use. Sir George Reid’s term will then have expired.
– Is it not a fact that Sir George Reid’s services as High Commissioner will end at the close of the year?
– Will end, but will not be “ dispensed with.” That is not the proper term to use.
– The only proper statement is that his services are being dispensed with at the end of the year.
– I deny that.
– The honorable gentleman’s denial will not alter the fact that his services as High Commissioner are to cease in December or January next. No reason has been given for making a change in this very high and important office except the statement made by the Minister yesterday that he thought the term of six years was sufficiently long for an Australian High Commissioner.
– What I said was that a period of six years seemed to me to be sufficiently long to put a man out of touch with Australian public opinion.
– Of what value is it to quibble with terms in this way? The Minister means, or does not mean, that Sir George Reid is now out of touch with Australian public opinion.
– Why did Parliament limit the period to five years?
– With the idea of enabling the work of a High Commissioner to be reviewed at the end of five years, but certainly not with the idea of dispensing with his services if he has proved to be faithful to the responsibilities reposed in him. If the Minister considers that the provision in the Act is to be taken to mean that at the end of the period the occupant of the office has to go irrevocably, he might just as well argue that the same thing applies when we impose a term of three years on the services of a member of Parliament, or limit the period of office of any high public servant. A general application of such a provision in that way would demoralize public service altogether, and it has only to be mentioned for its absurdity to be realized. Yet that is’ the only statement we have had from the Minister concerning dispensing - I can use no other term - with the services of the present High Commissioner in London.
In a very important matter such as this, the Prime Minister might have been expected to tell us fully and frankly what i3 in the minds of the Government, and the reasons they had for intimating to Sir George Reid that he must cease to be High Commissioner at the end of the present year. The position of High Commissioner is certainly one of the highest gifts of the Government, and one of the highest and most important positions in connexion with .our Commonwealth. The figure Australia is likely to cut at the seat of Empire depends upon the calibre and general ability of the man appointed as High Commissioner. Has there been any complaint as to the way in which Sir George Reid has performed his duties so far? I have heard of none. I venture to say that if Australia were polled tomorrow, Sir George Reid would be reappointed for the full term of five years without question.
– Your Government intended to give him only twelve months more in the position.
– That is an entirely incorrect statement.
– According to the records on the file it is an absolutely correct statement.
– My Government left that important appointment to be made by whoever succeeded at the polls, and, in the meantime, gave Sir George Reid security of tenure of office until the election should be well and safely over.
– There was no election pending in February of last year.
– That was twelve months before, and even then there was an election in sight. The honorable member knows that at that time we were trying to get a double dissolution, and for a long time previously.
– Not at the time the right honorable gentleman’s Government gave Sir George Reid another twelve months.
– The quibbles raised by the Minister do credit to his ingenuity, but not to his fairness.
– I am sorry; I shall say no more.
– Had my Government come back to power after the elections, Sir George Reid would have had a longer term than twelve months given to him. There is no shadow of doubt as to that. I desire to know if there is anything in the minds of the Government?
– A minute, to which the honorable member for Darling Downs is endeavouring to attract the attention of the right honorable gentleman, was made after honorable members were kicked out of office.
– I have yet to learn that we were kicked out of office. We were turned out by the public, just as the honorable member’s Government had been turned out twelve months previously. The elegant language of the Minister is not quite Chesterfieldian.
– I apologize.
– That makes the second apology that I have had from the Minister during the short space of time that I have been on my feet. Evidently, the Minister means to say all the nasty things he can, and then apologize for them. I ask him to state frankly what is in the minds of the Government in regard to this very high and important appointment. I should imagine that it can be taken for granted that the decision was a Government decision, and that, the Minister would not act in this matter without consulting his’ colleagues. Therefore, we should be told what was in the minds of the Government when they intimated to Sir George Reid that, at the- end of the year, his term of office would not he renewed. In the meantime, all I wish to say is that this decision of the Government cuts right into the teeth of the feelings and wishes of the people of Australia as a whole. If ever a man had the right to re-appointment to a high position, Sir George Reid has, for the splendid services he has given to Australia, and for the way in which he has established the status of his office at the seat of Empire.
It is just as well to remind ourselves of the sacrifices he made in order to accept the position. I am in a position to know that he was earning a much higher income than the salary we pay to him as High Commissioner. His receipts from his work at. the Bar were very much in excess of the £3,000 a year we proposed to pay him as High Commissioner. So the right honorable gentleman made a pecuniary sacrifice in order to accept this office.
– I do not think he has saved much from his salary in London.
– Every one knows that Sir George Reid would not save anything. I do not believe if he were paid £10,000 a year he would save anything from his salary. He does not belong to the class of man who can do so. The more he had the more, I believe, he would spend - that is, in connexion with his office. Every one knows that Sir George Reid was always a poor man, no matter what income he made, or what position he held. The point I wish to make is that when he was asked to accept the position he made a pecuniary sacrifice in order to become High Commissioner for Australia; and now, at seventy years of age, after having served the Commonwealth faithfully and with distinguished ability in the centre of the Empire, he is practically told by the present Government that they have no further need for his services, and that he must make way for some one else, who at the present time is nameless. I think that the Government should tell us what was in their minds when they agreed to turn away this high public servant in this manner. They should tell us whether they were dissatisfied with the way in which he had performed his duties, or whether they had any one else in view, who, in their judgment, would perform the duties of the office with greater ability, and gain a better status in London than Sir George Reid could possibly get for the post. There can be no reason for a change except for betterment in connexion with a high office like this. If the Government are dissatisfied with Sir George Reid’s opinions, and the way in which he has performed his duties, it is their duty to the Committee and to the country to say so. In the meantime, I cannot help feeling that a high public servant has been treated very shabbily by this Government, and in a way in which he should not have been treated.
– We did not say that when the right honorable member served George Ryland as he did.
– Is the termination of Sir George Reid’s appointment an act of revenge for the dismissal of Mr. Ryland]
– I do not know what is ‘!n the minds of the Government. *
– I knew nothing about Mr. Ryland’s dismissal.
– The right honorable member was Prime Minister at the time.
- Mr. Ryland’s dismissal did not come under the consideration of the Cabinet.
– It was insinuated that he was incompetent, and other statements were made.
– When high public servants are of the right honorable member’s political kidney they are all right; otherwise they are all wrong.
– I understand that Mr. Ryland was dismissed because there was nothing useful for him to do in the office to which he had been appointed.
– It may be the same with Sir George Reid.
– Then, why does not the Government say so? My complaint is that the appointment of Sir George Reid is being terminated without any reason being given.
– It is strange that the right honorable member waited until now to state the reason of Mr. Ryland’s dismissal.
– The records show that the reason of Mr. Ryland’s dismissal was stated at the time.
– If the matter were left to me, Sir George Reid should have another five years.
– If it were left to the people of Australia he would be given another five years.- I have yet to learn that he has done anything to forfeit the confidence of this Government; certainly he has not forfeited the confidence of the people of Australia, as they showed unmistakably when he paid us a visit a year or so ago. The Minister of External Affairs stated the other day that he thought that after six years a man might lose touch with Australia, but Sir George Reid has not been away from Australia for six years. Quite recently he spent six months in Australia. In view of that fact, it is absurd, to say that ono who has lived sixty-five years in thi3 country has lost touch with it. I invite the Government to tell the House frankly and freely why they have decided to dispense with Sir George Reid’s services, and what is in their mind concerning the high and important office that he fills.
– The Leader of the Opposition was more reasonable in his discussion of this question this afternoon than he was on a previous occasion, when he attacked the Minister of” External Affairs on the ground that the decision of the Government in regard to Sir George Reid was not in keeping with the decision of our predecessors. He has’ abandoned that position now.
– Not at all.
– No one has said anything against the present High Commissioner, but his own statement furnishes, I think, the strongest reason for not extending the term of office, and that is that no one who has been living out of Australia for five years can be thoroughly in touch with it, and properly and efficiently represent it.
– Where did he say that 1 ‘
– In this chamber, I think.
– Sir George Reid has not been absent from Australia for five years; he was here the other day.
– Does the honorable member call two years ago the other day?
– That is apart from the question. We, as a Government in the exercise of our responsibility, have extended the right honorable gentleman’s term for one year, making it six years in all, thus carrying out the arrangement of’ the previous Government.
– Not at all.
– Immediately we had arrived at a decision on the main question we notified Sir George Reid of the termination of his Commissionership, which will end in January next. Certain communications have since passed between him and the Minister of External Affairs on the subject. As the Leader of the Opposition knows, we are not called on to determine now who shall succeed Sir George Reid.
– No; but I ask why his term is not to be extended ?
– The .reason is that in all well governed countries the representative opinion of the people should in its due turn find expression through representative offices of the country.
– That sounds very much like spoils for the victors.
– Do not bring up the first appointment; a coalition was entered into for the very purposes of it.
– The only word that properly describes that statement is one of three letters.
Mr. GLYNN (Angas) r3.38].- The High Commissioner, after a visit, left Australia in February, 1914, when I was Minister of External Affairs. He was naturally desirous to have his position defined within a reasonable time before the expiration of the term of his appointment, and he therefore, before leaving, mentioned the matter to me, and also wrote a short letter to me, stating that he would be glad if the Government would soon consider the matter. , I brought the subject before Cabinet, I think, in February, and the opinion was expressed that it was too soon at a date ten or eleven months before the expiration of the term to decide whether Sir George Reid should be given an extension. But before Sir George Reid left Australia I told him. with the consent of the Prime Minister, that my impression was from what had taken place in Cabinet. - I was not giving the decision of the Cabinet, because there had been none on the subject - that an extension of three or five years would be granted.
– But that he might rely on getting at least twelve months.
– I am now dealing with what happened in February. I did not say then that he might rely on getting at least twelve months. I told him that, although the Cabinet was of opinion that it was premature then to consider the question of extension, I believed that he should have reasonable notice - I think I said four or five months - so thathe could make any arrangements that might be necessary under any possible contingency. Time went on, and the matter was, I think, referred to by Sir George Reid in another letter. About the end of July or the beginning of August I wrote to him to say that the Cabinet had not yet decided the matter, but that, personally, I desired that he need not be anxious as to his position, and that he might rest assured that, pending a decision of the Cabinet, he would have an extension of at least twelve months. I made that statement on my own authority, because I could not get a Cabinet meeting to deal with the question, but I told the Prime Minister what I intended to do, and he consented to it. I have here a memorandum containing the exact words that’ I wrote to Sir George. They are these -
You may at least act on the assurance that your term will continue for another additional twelve months.
– That was on the 8th July.
– Shortly afterwards occurred the double dissolution, and the murder of the Austrian Archduke which precipitated the present war. It was then very difficult to get the Cabinet to deal with this matter. All the Ministers were not present in Melbourne, and although I brought up the matter three or four times I was pressed not to ask for its decision. With the knowledge that I have of Sir George Reid’s competence, and of the high opinion held of him by the people, not only of the United Kingdom, but of the Empire - I speak to some extent from information obtained from correspondence with Canada and the United States of America in regard to departmental matters - I thought that, whatever difference of opinion there might be as to the ordinary term of a High Commissioner, Sir George Reid’s case was exceptional. The first consideration that influenced my view was that Sir George Reid took office with a Treasonable expectation of remaining there more than five years. It was he who established the office, and its dimensions and usefulness have enormously increased since, as is shown by the Estimates. He has had to supervise one of the most important Departments con nected with our external relations. I hoped that he would go to America in connexion with the Panama Exposition to deal with some matters of tentative policy regarding our commercial relations with the United States of America.
– He had been there before.
– And he got a great reception.
– I think that he would have got an equally good reception on his second visit. There may, perhaps, be no great difference between the absolute ability of members, but there are differences in the manifestation of ability, and that of Sir George Reid was peculiarly related to his office. Because of his bonhomie, his reputation as a member of this Parliament, and as Premier of New South Wales for a long period of years, because of his aptness of phraseology, and his ability to hit the exact mood of his audience, which he has displayed in the United Kingdom as well as, on one occasion, in America, he seemed in every way suited for the position that he was chosen to fill. There were other considerations. Sir George Reid told me that, from 1907 until he left Australia, he was earning about £4,000 a year at his profession, and he had, in addition, the balance of parliamentary salary left after the various demands made on it. If he returned at the age of seventy, although he has a marvellous buoyancy of spirit and a wonderful fund of energy, he could not be expected, remembering the changes in modes of thought and professional relations that occur in such an interval, to obtain again within two or three years the volume of practice which he enjoyed at the time of his departure. That is a matter which the Minister might reasonably consider. Taking all the facts into view, I thought that. I was entitled to ask that his case be regarded as exceptional, and that his term be extended for five years.
– Why did you assure him of a renewal for only twelve months ?
– Because I could not get a Cabinet decision on the point. Unfortunately, the war broke out, and when the matter was brought forward the election campaign was proceeding, and we could not get a full Cabinet meeting. When the full Cabinet did meet, the Government were already defeated.
– You did not mean to imply that Sir George Reid’s engagement would terminate at the end of twelve months ?
– Certainly not. I will repeat what I said to Sir George Reid - “ You may at least act on the as- .surance that your term will continue for an additional twelve months.” That assurance was given in order to allay his probable anxiety. His term was within six months of expiry, ,and I thought it was his due to know whether he was to remain in office or not. Unfortunately, there was no Cabinet decision on the point. I gave that assurance on my own initiative with the consent of the Prime Minister, because a Minister must take some risk, even though, at the time, he has not Cabinet sanction for what he does. When the Government had been defeated, we considered that, instead of dealing with the matter then, it was more becoming in us to trust to the good sense of our successors to act upon ‘the apparent intention of their predecessors to give Sir George Reid an extension of his term by three years, if not five years. I have not the documents at hand, but I know the Minister will credit me with a desire to put the facts exactly as they were, and will not question my accuracy any more than I would question his. The honorable gentleman will find that what I am saying is borne out by documents in his office. In addition, I believe that since I left office Sir George Reid has written to the Prime Minister a letter that will confirm what I am saying.
– The fatal flaw in your case is that you never mentioned in any document I have seen anything about three years or five years until you were out of office.
– Why should I mention it?
– Why mention twelve months?
– Mr. Atlee Hunt must know what was done. A letter was written, and I think a typewritten copy of it is to be found in the Department. Has the fact that the Minister did not know until we left office that Sir George Reid had been given the promise of a year’s extension of his term, and that the question of three and five years had been under consideration, any effect on his yet unfettered judgment as to whether Sir George shall get an extension of his term or not?
– The honorable member is making a mistake as to what I said. I said that there is no mention of the promised extension of three or five years, except the record which the honorable member made when he was leaving office.
– Even if that be so, to what’ is that fact relevant at the present moment? Surely the Minister does not doubt my bona fides in stating what took place. Even if the Government were inclined to doubt - and I believe they would not - my statement, they cannot do so, because there is a document in Sir George Reid’s handwriting which states that an extension would be given to him. How can the absence of any record of the promise until I was leaving office fetter in any way the Government’s still free discretion?
– There is on the file a letter from Sir George Reid detailing a conversation which he had with the honorable member. Is the honorable member referring to that?
– There is a memorandum received by the Prime Minister after I left office in which Sir George Reid recapitulated the facts. i know of the existence of that letter, because Sir George Reid wrote to me personally, and mentioned, incidentally, that he had communicated the facts to the Prime Minister. Therefore, I know the Prime Minister is in possession of the facts, which he could give to the House if he chose.
– You may quote that letter if you have it.
– I will do so if- the Prime Minister consents.
– My practice with all correspondence is that if it is marked “ Private,” it is kept private. If it is not private it is put on the file. I ask the honorable member to read that letter to the Committee.
– There are two parties to all private communications; one is the writer, and the other is the receiver. I have no wish to commit any breach of the seal of privacy put on the correspondence by Sir George Reid.
– I ask the honorable member to read that letter to the Committee. If there is nothing private in it, the communication will be on the Minister’s file.
– The Minister of External Affairs has drawn me a little aside on this question by his reference to his lack of knowledge of the extension of Sir GeorgeReid’s term when the present Government took office. My point is that that objection is not relevant; but even if it were, there is a document in the possession of the Prime Minister which confirms my statement. If there is any doubt as to the accuracy of what I am saying, that document can be referred to.
– I prefer that the honorable member should read it. The honorable member cannot do things by halves.
– I am not half doing anything; every word I have uttered, and the statement is fairly exhaustive, is confirmed in writing. I always hesitate to make public, even at the instance of one of the parties, a communication which I have not personally received ; but I happen to have a copy of a memorandum, which he says is on the file, which was addressed to the Prime Minister, and if the honorable gentleman wishes me to read it I shall do so. My copy does not bear any date, because it was enclosed in another letter, and Sir GeorgeReid apparently desired me to note, when he despatched the memorandum, whether there was anything in it with which I did not agree. The memorandum reads -
That is exactly what I have told the Committee from independent sources of information.
– Is that on the file?
– Therefore it was not a private letter.
– How could I say whether the letter was private or not? Sir GeorgeReid told me that he had written to the Prime Minister, and he forwarded me a copy, which I had not intended to read to the House until I was asked to do so.
– Your point was that it was a private letter.
– What does it matter whether the letter was private or not? I do regret that Sir GeorgeReid was not appointed for a further term before the Liberal Government left office; but, having been beaten at the elections, we thought it more becoming of us to trust to the good sense of our successors to ratify the apparent intention of the previous Government than for us to forestall their decision in the matter by making the extended appointment before we left office. Not only did we act in this matter according to what I consider the best traditions of administration, but we applied the same principle to other offices. Although I was strongly of opinion that the Administrator of Norfolk Island should be the man who at present holds that office, I did not make any appointment; I left the question open on the file.
– Did not the Labour Government do the same in regard to the Inter-State Commission?.
– They did, and I honour them for it. I think the last Government acted rightly, although their action may have involved some sacrifice and turbulence of spirit. All I ask of the Government now is that they shall look into all the facts, and say whether or not the case of Sir George Reid is not an exceptional one, and whether there are not a good many grounds, which might not weigh in other circumstances, for saying that the re-appointment of Sir George Reid for a further term of five years might be made.
– I cannot miss the opportunity of saying a few words on this matter. I have great personal sympathy with Sir George Reid. and great admiration for his ability. He and I differed in politics, but I certainly do not think that he received fair play from the late Government. I have made that statement before in this House, ‘and the remarks made to-day by the honorable member for Angas, whom I highly regard, clinches my opinion. There was a very sinister report in circulation that a member of the last Ministry made it a sine qua non of his supporting the Cabinet that he should have either the High Commissionership or a certain other position.
– There is not a word of truth in that statement.
– If the Leader of the Opposition gives me his word that the rumour is not true I will gladly accept it.
– There is not a scintilla of truth in it.
– I have no desire to use any harsh language; but the Leader of the Opposition will remember that I spoke very strongly on a previous occasion on this very matter, and an interjection gave me the clue to what I have just now referred.
– It is entirely without foundation.
– I am glad to have that definite statement, which I accept most willingly. That does not free the late Administration from the responsibility of not making a re-appointment which would have been one way out of the difficulty. If there was anything to criticise in the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition to-day it was the interjection in which he spoke of “ spoils to the victor,” for that is a question honorable members opposite should never approach. I am sorry that the Leader of the Opposition should have thus spoilt the speech on which the Prime Minister complimented him.
– Did you hear what the Leader of the Government said ? He said that the Coalition was formed specially to appoint Sir George Reid.
– I did not, but I heard what the honorable member himself said. I am also glad to see that the Leader of the Opposition is a firm believer in the initiative and the referendum. There is no doubt whatever that Sir George Reid has done good work; and if there have been any faults I attribute them to the officers and subordinates of his Department. We all know that officials in charge of Departments make mistakes, for which the political head is often blamed; indeed, sometimes the head is made a mere rubber stamp. It is a matter for regret that a man at the end of a long political life should be called upon to forego, perhaps, the highest position that the country can bestow. I can quite understand the honorable member for Angas feeling regret in this regard, but he must remember that times change. The late Government, simply because they were supported by only the casting vote of the Speaker, forced a double dissolution. No doubt this event found them somewhat unprepared; but had they done their duty, as expressed in their own words, they would have made this appointment. Had that occurred, it would have been sacred, for I feel certain that the Labour Government would never have done what the Cook Government did in dismissing officers simply because they were Labour men; and, in my opinion,’ they cast a stigma on their escutcheon, which, for me, will never be wiped out.
– I am afraid that nothing that can be said on this side will alter the determination of the Government, though I am confident that if the House were consulted, a substantial majority of members would say that Sir George Reid is entitled to a renewal of his term of office. After all, it must be admitted that Sir George Reid has, in the fairest way possible, irrespective of party, represented Australia, and he has done so with conspicuous tact and ability. It is all very well to suggest that, according to the Act, the term is only five years, but the fact remains that, under ordinary circumstances, when a man has done his duty well, and is still capable of performing it, his services are recognised by a renewed appointment. If it were suggested for a moment that there was any failing of ability, or that discredit had in any way been brought upon the Commonwealth by Sir George Reid, there would, of course, have been ample reason for bringing his period of office to a close; but the contrary is the case. Sir George Reid has not only earned distinction from an Australian stand-point, but he has made a reputation that is really Empire- wide. Why, then, cannot we offer to him some recognition in the form of a renewal of our confidence ? . Is there any honorable member opposite who has not the most complete confidence in the impartiality of Sir George Reid? Has that gentleman at any time shown any indication of his previous political leanings in the performance of his duty? There is not the slightest doubt that, from an advertising point of view, Sir George Reid has done magnificent service for Australia. He is trusted by the Imperial authorities, and both the British press and Imperial statesmen have paid their tributes of praise to him; indeed, he has been recognised by Royalty itself as a most fitting and successful representative of this oversea Dominion. One reason for the termination of his appointment is suggested by the Prime Minister, who has told us that Sir George Reid, on one occasion, said that any person away for over five years was not in immediate touch with the affairs of Australia. But even if Sir George Reid did incidentally make a statement of that kind, it cannot apply in his case, because he has been here within five years, and then travelled throughout the length and breadth of the country. I emphasize the fact that, in the discharge of his duties, Sir George Reid has shown himself to be completely an fait with Australian affairs, and has kept himself completely abreast of the times. The only two honorable members opposite who have spoken on this subject - the honorable member for Melbourne and the honorable member for Maranoa - have indicated a desire that there should be a renewal of the term of office. And why should there not be? If a man does his duty he is entitled to some recognition; and it has not been hinted or suggested for a moment that Sir George has not done his duty with outstanding ability. Neither the Prime Minister nor the Minister of External Affairs is at present in, the chamber, but I ask the Minister of Trade and Customs to bring the views that have been expressed from this side of the House before the Cabinet. I am sure that Sir George Reid has earned the confidence of honorable members on both sides, and there is not the slightest doubt that if re-appointed he would continue to discharge his duties with the same ability as in the past. We know that Sir George made sacrifices when he accepted the appointment, and that he would return subjected to the disadvantage that, owing to his lengthy absence, he would be unable to step into his former place. Under all the circumstances, I hope that the Government will see fit to reconsider their decision.
– It is very plain that there is little gratitude in the public life of the world. Many years ago a famous lawyer named Holman, in America, gave up his practice, as Sir George Reid did, and went into Congress, where, by his efforts and watchfulness over the finance-, he earned the title of the “watch-dog of the Treasury.” The day came, however, for his annihilation by a younger man; and at the declaration of the poll, paraphrasing Cardinal Wolsey, he said, “ Had I served my family half as faithfully as I have served my country, I should not now be turned out to starve.” The life of a public man is the most ungrateful life of all. Reforms and change come; and, unless you are a “rubber stamp,” you get the “ toe.”
– The honorable member has a fellow feeling?
– It does not affect me, because, thank the Lord, I am above and independent of it all. But it grieves me to think that in the public life of the world there is so much ingratitude. When Sir George Reid visited America he outshone all the great speakers at the Pilgrims’ Banquet in’ New York, although he took a very unpopular side, inasmuch as he pointed out- how much America owed to Great Britain for her start m life. On that occasion, the newspapers described him as one of the five greatest orators in the world; indeed, a seat in Congress was offered to him if he would only take out his naturalization papers. Further, the Americans, were looking forward to see Sir George at the opening of the Panama Exposition. We ought really to be fair. We ought to have appointed three Inter-State Commissioners, and the Cook Government should have given Sir George Reid another five years’ term of office. But this country seems like every other country I have been in - everybody, if he can, grabs the best job,
– It came to me as a painful surprise when I read the announcement that Sir George’s renewal of office was to be limited to twelve months, and it came as a futher shock to learn that there was no intention to give a further renewal. I do not wish to say much, but simply to record my appreciation, as a member of this House, and as an Australian by adoption, of the magnificent services which Sir George Reid, in his capacity as High Commissioner, has rendered to Australia. His name is a household word in the Old Country. Wherever the name of Sir George Reid is known - and I think it is known in every village and in every hamlet, if not in every house throughout the Empire - it is associated with the word “Australia.” That, in itself, is one of the most magnificent tributes to the fitness of Sir George Reid to continue in office. My feeling is that any change that may be made will certainly not be a change for the better ; and I sincerely urge that this matter shall be further considered before a final determination is come to by the Government. I hope also that regard will be paid to what I believe is the general feeling of this House. It cannot be said, even after the most critical examination of Sir George Reid’s work as High Commissioner in the Old Country, that he has in his capacity as the representative or the Commonwealth in London ever betrayed the slightest party bias or the slightest predilection for one colour or another in connexion with political matters. He has dissociated himself from all questions of a party complexion, and has devoted all the powers at his command - and every one will admit that those powers are extraordinary - to the welfare of Australia and to making Australia known throughout the world. Sir George has answered all the - criticisms that have been levelled at Australia, and has done his best - a magnificent best, too - to advertise its resources, its wonderful opportunities, its people and its institutions in the Old World. It will be admitted, I think, that during Sir George Reid’s term of office Australia has become much better known than it ever was previously in its history; and I urge again that, before any final determination is come to, the question of renewal should be further considered by the Government. I feel sure that a decision to renew Sir George Reid’s term of office will meet with practically the unanimous indorsement, not only of members of this Parliament, but of the whole people of Australia.
– I hope the Ministry have not left this matter in such a position that it is impossible for them to give a further extension of time to Sir George Reid. The general opinion throughout Australia is that Sir George has occupied his office with credit to himself and distinction and benefit to Australia. Sir George has also rendered great service in the interest of the Empire as a whole, as well as of Australia. I still believe that the opinion of this House is the opinion that was expressed by the present Minister of External Affairs when he spoke on the 27th January, 1910, regarding Sir George Reid. He then said -
During the last three or four years if the House had been called upon to elect a High Commissioner, the choice of Sir George Reid would have been practically unanimous.
I believe if we had a free and secret ballot to-day, the House would again be practically unanimous in their opinion as to whether Sir George Reid ought to continue in office. Later the present Minister, again dealing with Sir George Reid’s appointment, said -
The Labour party is immensely pleased with the distinct honour paid to Sir George Reid. Where the States of Australia are concerned he spoke up like a true Australian-
– What are you quoting from ?
– A speech by the present Minister of External Affairs.
– When ? Mr. GROOM- The 27th January, 1910- - and I hope that that will be the case in the future. He is a man of uncommon gifts and strong individuality, and must necessarily impress the people of the Old World.
There was prophecy in those words by the Minister, who was speaking at that time as a representative of the Labour party, and I think the terms of the prophecy have been amply fulfilled. Sir George Reid has reached the high ideal that was then expressed of him by thoi Minister. I want now to deal with one or two other matters which come under this particular vote. Obviously, while the war is in progress, the question of immigration must sink in the background so far as regards the actual transportation of persons across the sea; but I saw the other day an article in one of the leading English newspapers dealing with the action of the Canadian Government in connexion with immigration after the war. from the Canadian point of view. It raised the very important question as to what steps should be taken at the present time for the purpose of securing at the close of the war a stream of suitable immigrants into Canada, and I think it would be advisable for the Minister to give consideration now to that important question, with the object of developing a policy to be brought into operation at the conclusion of the war. Judging from the trade relations which existed before the outbreak of hostilities, there was an enormous demand all over the world for the primary products of Australia. When the war ceases that demand will not be decreased. It will certainly continue, and possibly may be largely increased. New markets may be opened up in direct consequence of the war, and it may become a serious problem as to how best the developments that will be necessary can be met, and how a steady influx of suitable immigrants can be maintained. The development of the Australian export trade to Europe is also covered by this vote, and I would like the Minister to inform the Committee whether he has received from the High Commissioner any suggestions on this point. On a previous occasion the High Commissioner did make recommendations. One was that an expert might be appointed to deal with the Australian exports. A recommendation was also made with regard to the advertising of Australian produce, though for the time being that will, I presume, be suspended. But the question as to what new markets are likely to be opened to Australian trade after the war is tinimportant one, and I would like the Minister to give us some information upon the point, particularly if he has been in communication with the High Commissioner upon the subject. I would also like to know to what extent the Minister is carrying on his advertising campaign at the present time. It is quite conceivable that operations in this respect will have been cut down, but I can see no harm in -continuing the advertisements which deal with land settlement and immigration, and also those that will have the effect of creating greater confidence in the financial stability of Australia.
– - We are distributing literature.
– But I would ask the Minister to go further, and direct his attention to the advisability of opening up negotiations with the Imperial authorities to secure a regular stream of suitable immigrants - not necessarily from Great Britain itself, but from such European sources as are likely to contribute a stream of useful citizens to the Commonwealth - at the close of the war.
– I desire to say a few words by way of protest at the action of the Government in seeking to dispense with the services of Sir George Reid as High Commissioner. At the present time, when we are engaged in this great war, I think we should consider the advisability of following the example set by the Imperial Government, and drop all questions of party in order to deal most effectively ‘with the great problems that have arisen. If the Imperial authorities have thought it necessary to take up an attitude of that description, I think it is equally desirable for us in Australia to continue Sir George Reid in his office, particularly as he is so closely in touch with all the interests of Australia as well as with matters affecting the Empire generally. This, of all times, is the worst to make a change in the most important office that we have in the Public Service. If a vote were taken throughout Australia as to whether Sir George Reid should continue in office for another period, I feel that the decision would be almost unanimously in favour of the retention of his services. I go further, and say that if this question were brought up in this House as a non-party question, there would be a similar degree of unanimity, and I would ask the Government to bear that fact in mind. Let the matter be brought forward as a non-party question; let us lay aside all party considerations, and deal with the matter fairly and justly, and I feel certain that the almost unanimous verdict of the House would be in favour of the retention of Sir George Reid in his office. Only a few moments ago we heard honorable members on that side vieing with honorable members on this side in their eulogies of Sir George Reid. The honorable member for Darwin could not have spoken more strongly, and the interjections made by the honorable member for Maranoa showed what his views of the matter are.
– There is a kinship between them.
– It is the kinship of justice, which is stronger than that of politics. The Government have not given one reason why a change should be made. Can they find for the position a man who is in- closer touch with public opinion in Australia, and who has done more for the Commonwealth, than Sir George Reid has done as High Commissioner? Can they find a man standing higher in the opinion of not only Australia but the whole of the British Empire? If his term of office be not extended, we shall lose the services of one of the most valuable officers who could be appointed to such a position. I hope that the Government will reconsider their decision, and that they will be fair to the House, as well as to the country, by putting to a- vote, on a non-party basis, the question of whether Sir George Reid should not continue, in office as High Commissioner.
– I should be glad if the Minister would make a statement as to the attitude of his Department with respect to advertising in Great Britain and Ireland, immigration, and the development of the Australian export trade in Europe. “We have under the heading of “ Contingencies “ an item of £1,200, “ Grant to British Chamber of Commerce in Paris, 1913-14 and 1914-15.” That chamber has practically represented Australia in France for some time, and has furnished reports of an interesting and useful character.
– The only information I can - give is that it forwards to us periodical reports.
– In connexion with the question of immigration, I would point out that Dr. Morris was sent Home, by the Commonwealth to inspect intending immigrants to Australia.
– He is, I think, under the control of the Department of Trade and Customs. I have not seen any reports from him in my Department.
– Will the Minister make a statement regarding the Government’s immigration policy?
– I have no statement to make at the present time. Seeing that the votes covered by these Estimates have nearly all been spent, it would be useless to make a statement at this stage.
Proposed vote agreed to. .
Division 36 (Papua), £62,141
– I desired last night to make some reference to the oil discoveries in Papua, to which the attention of the Committee was drawn by several honorable members. The honorable member for Echuca expressed some doubt as to the prospects of a successful issue, and as to the wisdom of the expenditure already incurred in investigating the oil fields there, whilst another honorable member desired to know what qualifications were possessed by the Government expert, Dr. Wade. I may say that Dr. Wade was recommended to the Department by Professor Wyndham Dunstan, of the Imperial Institute. That Institute has within its purview a number of highly-trained expert geologists, who carry out examinations of this kindin East Africa, certain parts of India and China, as well as in other places, and it recommended Dr. Wade as possessing very high credentials and experience in connexion with oil fields.
– Was he not in the Roumanian oil fields?
– I cannot say for the moment; but I know that he had a great deal of practical experience, as well as professional qualifications, to recommend him. At the time of his appointment to furnish a report to the Government, it was thought that the prospects of successful oil boring in Papua were very pronounced, owing to the discovery of mud volcanoes and seepages over an area of about 1,000 square miles, and Dr. Wade now reports that about 1,500 square miles of country have been found by him to afford very good prospects. Two bores were put down about eighteen months ago, and one, I think, had reached a depth of about 320 feet when I left office.
– It is now down 400 feet.
– It must be. At a depth of 320 feet oil was discovered.
– Did the honorable member hear me read a report on the subject last night ?
– Yes, and I was very pleased with its encouraging character. The oil found at 320 feet was analyzed on behalf of the Department by Mr. Wilkinson, and also by Professor Bell, who is, I think, chemical adviser to the Navy. Mr. Wilkinson,, who supplied to , the Department much information regarding the process of separating the elements of the oil in order to ascertain its general commercial value, reported that it was similar to that obtained in the Borneo and Sumatra fields, and that paraffin wax was obtained from portion of it. I mention this because last night the honorable member for Henty wished to learn whether this oil has an asphaltic or paraffin basis. Dr. Wade, in his report, mentions four or five of the elements, which include light petroleum, kerosene, lubricating oils, and coke and asphaltic constituents. Professor Bell expressed the opinion that the oil was of almost too good a quality to be used for fuel. Mr. Wilkinson gave me a list of the elements of petroleum as they are taken off in the process of distillation. I cannot say how many of these are contained in the oil found at a depth of 320 feet in the Papuan bore, because at the time I received this information it had not been so exhaustively supplied; but the order of elements in distilling is, first of all, benzoline, then motor spirit, a heavy benzine, and afterwards best benzine, up to 150 degrees test; then second-grade kerosene, clearing kerosene, fuel oil, lubricating oils, another the name of which I cannot remember, paraffin wax, sulphate of ammonia, and finally the gas. According to the reports, some of these elements were discovered in the first oil obtained at a shallow depth. The ad vice that we received from Mr. Grebin, who was acting for the Department before Dr. Wade was appointed, was that the commercial oil is not found in quantities until a depth of 1,000 feet is reached. It is found necessary sometimes to go to a depth of from 2,000 feet to 3,000 feet in order to obtain the oil in quantities, but I believe that the discoveries made in Papua are as good as those obtained at a similar depth in other parts of the world. Let me deal with this question for a moment ‘from an Imperial stand-point. About £15,000,000 has been invested in Russian oil-fields by capitalists in the United Kingdom, and of that sum about £10,000,000, I believe, is productive. The balance has been sunk, as so often is the case, in connexion with speculative companies. The Imperial Government a short time ago invested £2,000,000 in the Anglo-Persian Oil Company, and they are taking a keen interest in the oil-field operations in Papua. If we succeed, as I think it likely we shall, in obtaining the oil in commercial quantities, it will be of great value for the purposes of naval defence. As to the question of allowing private companies to develop the oil-fields of Papua, I think that the proper policy is that now being adopted - that we should wait until we can ascertain what the fields are likely to be. I was informed by Mr. Grebin that in Russia two-thirds of each marked block is reserved by the Government, only one-third being leased, and that the Russian Government engage in deep boring and geological examination on the reserve portion of each block. They bind the lessee also to carry on the work of developing in a genuine manner on the portion leased to him. The Standard Oil Comapny was refused a licence to exploit any of the oil-fields of Burmah. The Imperial Government are very jealous of allowing outside companies to exploit fields that ought to be retained for the use of the British Navy. They allow opportunities to some British companies to deal with a portion of such fields; but, having regard to all the circumstances, I think we are wise in waiting’ to see what the discoveries amount to before framing any definite policy. When we find oil in commercial quantities, as I believe we shall, at a depth of 1,000 feet, the question of policy can be discussed.
– After finding the oil, would the honorable member allow private syndicates to come in?
– I would not. I think that in some cases the oil becomes exhausted after five years, and it may, therefore, become expedient to retard development when a certain stage is reached so as to maintain large reserves for the Navy. All these matters have been considered by the Department. A few years ago we set aside some £50,000 as a bonus to encourage the shale oil industry, which is not as good, when developed, and is more difficult to develop than is that of liquid oil; so that I think the Government expenditure on the Papuan oil-fields, which, up to the present is not more than £15,000 or £20,000, is more than justified.
– The one industry we have; the other is in the air.
– This is a great industry, and when a certain stage is reached an expenditure of hundreds of thousands of pounds, perhaps, will be involved. We shall then have a development on a large scale. Last night the Minister gave ‘i.s some very useful information in regard to the development of Papua. The LieutenantGovernor has pointed out that the reason for an apparent slackening in development is, that the plantations have now reached a certain stage where extension has ceased, and when the planters, after a period of five or six years, anticipate some commercial return. While the preparation of the land was going on there was a larger importation, and, possibly a more buoyant Customs revenue. The deficit of £12,000 in this direction this vear is due to the fact that the plantations have reached a critical stage in their development.
– The settlers are beginning to complain in that their commodities do not enter the Commonwealth free of duty.
– The Commonwealth Parliament should consider the matter of helping the Papuan settlers to some extent in that direction, though possibly they would not get much relief from the remission of the duties on the class of produce they would export to Australia. The principal and most profitable industry is copra; rubber comes next in importance. I hone that the experiments made by the Government on four or five plantations will prove successful. In 1911 Mr. Batchelor obtained the sanction of the Rouse to the expenditure of £25.000 spread over five years on experiments for the purpose of encouraging the growth of rubber and copra. An area of 1,500 acres was set aside for the purpose and to the end of June last, about £16,000 had been spent in this direction. I believe that there was an unexpended balance of about £5,000, while another £5,000 was in some trust fund, but the Administrator told me that he thought itwould be necessary to get £10,000 more in order to bring these experimental plantations into bearing. This would mean a total expenditure of £35,000 on a limited area of 1,500 acres, the estimate being based on the experience in the matter of clearing and planting four of the principal plantations in Papua. I understand that the cost of preparing land for copra is about £23 an acre, but as there are considerable profits when a plantation is so developed that it will give a commercial return, the Administrator expressed the hope that when the plantations were in full bearing considerable profit would be yielded to the Commonwealth. I trust that this will be the case, though, so far, there have been some faults in regard to the estimates made. The Minister has explained that some works have not been carried out, owing chiefly to the war having broken out. Before I left office I went through some of the works which the Administrator had suggested as necessary for the purpose of developing Papua, but complaints have been made that these works have not been pushed on.
– We are building the wharf.
– As a matter of fact, had not the war intervened, I believe that the Minister would have sanctioned a number of works for which provision had been made. As there is very little light thrown on the problems of Papua in this chamber, it is as well to mention a few of the works which it had been in1 tended to carry out. These were : - Coastal lighting. £720; lighthouse, Port Moresby, £15,000; Hombrom Bluff to Sogeri road, £1,600; Bootless Inlet to Astrolabe road, £900; Rigo to Kemp Welch road, £2,550; Gadagabuna (Milne Bay) to Saggarai road, £4,000; and roads giving access to agricultural settlement oh Woodlark Island, £2,000’. There were also several public buildings which need not be detailed, and there was provision for a jetty at Daru. Various other smaller items bring up the total proposed expenditure to about £28,000.
– The expenditure on the steamer necessary to replace the Merrie England is not included in that total.
– No. The Merrie England was lost two or three years ago. When I looked into the matter, I found that there had been various offers of steamers, which we could not accept. Therefore plans were drawn un for a new steamer. In order to check the estimate, tenders were called on those plans here and in the United Kingdom. The lowest tender from the United Kingdom was £27,000 or £28,000, delivery to be made in nine months. It is necessary to add £3,000 or £4,000 to cover the cost of delivery at Port Moresby. There was a tremendous difference between this tender and the tenders submitted in the Commonwealth, which ran up to £52,000, while in some cases there was no guarantee as to the time of delivery. As a matter of fact, the figure I have mentioned was the tender of a Government establishment. I was slightly doubtful about the low tender received from the United Kingdom, and therefore we did not accept any tender. An attempt was then made to get a secondhand steamer, but I would not accept any that was offered. Having no desire to repeat mistakes of the past, I thought it rather too big a matter to spend £30,000 or £40,000 on a vessel that might’ not prove to be suitable for Papua, and I even went to the trouble of getting a double examination of a steamer that was offered in the Philippines. Hove ever, I did not accept any offer of a secondhand vessel.
– Whatever the steamer may cost, it is better to build it to meet the peculiar requirements of Papua.
– My experience is that a Minister must be very careful about recommendations from outside people as to what would prove to be a suitable steamer.
– Would we require a steamer of shallow draught?
– Yes, the steamer would need to be of shallow draught, and would need to have a double bottom, owing to the possibility of striking reefs. It must also be suitable for the carriage of prisoners. The means of communication in Papua being so slight, occasionally prisoners must be conveyed from place to place on the open sea. As all these things have to be taken into account, the task of securing a suitable steamer is rendered difficult. We have no reason to be despondent in regard to Papua. From my experience of him, I know that the Lieutenant-Governor is well fitted for the position he is filling. He is efficient and energetic, and never spares himself, and from what I have heard he seems to be the most approachable man we possibly could put iti the position.
.- New Guinea, or Papua, as we generally know it, though now that we have taken over the whole area the Territory will probably revert to its old name, seems to be capable of development in several directions. I intend to speak to one only, and that is the question of producing oil. We know that one of the severest contests of the war is being waged in Galicia for the sole purpose of gaining control of the oil wells, and it seems that in New Guinea, or Papua, we have every possibility of obtaining a good supply of oil for the British Empire. If there is one thing of which the British Empire is decidedly short it is oil. We are all aware of the agreements that have been entered into with Russia and Persia, by which the Imperial authorities have obtained concessions to get oil in those countries; and if we can prove that there are good oil-bearing beds in New Guinea, and can make them productive, we shall be doing a great deal to assist in the prosecution of the war. For this reason i make these few brief remarks complementary to the question I placed on the business-paper this afternoon, in order to impress upon the Minister, if such a course be necessary, the extreme desirability and urgency of doing all that can be done in the direction of developing the oil resources of New Guinea.
.- Yesterday I spoke at considerable length upon the subject of oil, but not with a view to discouraging the development of oil-fields in Papua. I was particularly pleased to hear the later report submitted by the Minister, and learn from it that the prospects seemed to be very much better than they appeared to be shown in. the previous report. After what the Minister and the honorable member for Angas have said, it would be a sorry thing if we did not make the very best effort to develop oil-fields in Papua now that there is a reasonable chance of doing so.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Division 37(Northern Territory), £321,005
.- We have not had any definite pronouncement from the Minister in regard to what the Ministry intend to do with respect to a land policy for the Northern Territory. Do they intend to adhere to the principle of leasehold?
– I can tell what we intend to do in few words: there is to be no change.
– The Government expect to settle the most difficult part of Australia - land situated within the tropics - on a title that has been discarded by every civilized country in the world. No civilized country has ever been successfully developed on the principle of leasehold titles. That policy has been tried and been found wanting even in countries easy of development, and yet Ministers expect to apply it successfully to the most difficult part of Australia, and to secure settlement there. It is like flying in the face of nature to expect it. Of all the land that remains to be settled in Australia, the Northern Territory should be shorn of every disability from which it is possible to free it. Even if we grant freehold titles in that country . it will be difficult enough to get people to settle there. If the Ministry, in dealing with the most difficult portion of Australia, seek to impose the discarded principle of leasehold titles, they will make the settlement of the country absolutely impossible. For fifty years South Australia tried to get people to settle there, and spent a considerable amount of money in their endeavour, until the Commonwealth took over the Territory with the idea of bringing about some improvement. The Commonwealth has also spent large sums of money there, yet there has been a gradual decline of occupation. Ofthe 330,000,000 acres in the Northern Territory, only 473,000 acres, or . 14 per cent., have been alienated. In 1901 the occupied area was 113,000,000 acres, and in 1913 only 96,000.000 acres. During the time that the last Labour Government was in power, there was a considerable decline in occupation there. The Government will make the Territory a failure, from the point of view of occupation, if some change is not made in the system of land tenure. The leasehold system was tried in Victoria, and failed. It is the freehold system that alone induces settlement. That has been noticeably proved in the case of the Mallee country of this State. I challenge any honorable member to show that the leasehold system has induced permanent settlement in any part of the world, or brought about the cultivation of the land necessary for its maximum production. In New Zealand the B alla nce Government created a perpetual lease, having a term of 999 years, with a rental equivalent to 4 per cent. of the value of the land, the conditions being probably the easiest in the world.
– The land was a gift.
– Notwithstanding that, there was a constant agitation during the terms of the Seddon and the Ward Governments for the conversion of these leaseholds to freeholds, and the Massey Government was compelled to promise that conversion.
– Why is it that the leasehold system has been a success in connexion with private holdings?
– It has not been a success. In Great Britain they have not made the best use of the land because of the leasehold system.
– In the United Kingdom land has gone out of agriculture to be put under grass.
– Yes. That is largely due to the prevalence of the leasing system there. Of course Great Britain has given great attention to industry. The honorable member for Angas is probably better informed than any other honorable member about the tremendous transformation that has taken place in Ireland since the tenant f armer was given the freehold of land.
Mr.Fenton. - The change in Ireland is also due to co-operation.
– Yes. But to make co-operation a success you must have close settlement. There are some fine examples of co-operation in Denmark, and, in this country, in the electorate of Richmond, and also in my own district.
-Co-operation and closer settlements are possible only where there is permanent tenure.
– Yes. The Government are flying in the face of the world’s experience by insisting on a land title that has failed wherever it has been tried. . They have not truly endeavoured to develop settlement in the Northern Territory, and for that they should be condemned to everlasting obscurity. There is no excuse for their attitude, because hey cannot point to any country in the world where the leasehold system has been a success. Australia, more than any other country, needs population, and mould offer every inducement to settlement, because its’ position geographically is a perilous one. There is no justification for the action of the Labour party in re-introducing exploded theories and recommencing experiments that have proved a failure. Unless the Government are prepared to alter the system of land tenure in the Northern Territory, and to change conditions there in many respects, the country will remain undeveloped, and will thus be a standing menace to the future integrity of the Commonwealth.
.- If the honorable member for Wimmera had been speaking against instead of in favour of the freehold system, most people would indorse his statements, because no other system of land tenure has proved so inimical to human liberty as that.
– Does the honorable member own the land that he farms?
– Yes. Were I cast on an island where only one kind of food was obtainable, I should be forced to eat that food. j
– There is any quantity of leasehold land available in New South Wales.
– The fact that I put the interests of the majority of the people before my personal interests should satisfy fair and impartial minds that>- I am desirous of doing the right thing. We have only to look at the figures to see what a complete failure we have made of land settlement by the adoption of the principle of freehold tenure. I gave the information to the House when speaking on the subject some time ago. I then pointed out that, although our population is less than 5,000,000, and our territory exceeds in area 3,000,000 square miles, Governments, to create closer settlement, are buying back at huge prices a little of the land which they had foolishly bartered away. As one who has been engaged in the administration of the Closer Settlement Boards of New South Wales, I say that by adopting freehold tenure in the Northern Territory we should forge new fetters for the future generations of this land.
– Only 6 per cent, of the land is alienated.
– Persons are leaving fertile areas, where illimitable wealth could be produced, to herd in the cities, and it is almost impossible to keep population in the country. The tendency of humanity is to oppress its fellows. The highwayman armed with a gun is able to exploit travellers by road, and men given land in fee simple are put in a position to control the lives of countless millions who are in no way their inferiors. Thinkers like W. E. Gladstone, James Anthony Froude, and John Stuart Mill have condemned the freehold principle as unsound, and the Labour party has an opportunity, if it possesses the courage and ability to use it, to institute a system which will be an object lesson to the world. I speak as a land-holder, who puts the interest of the genuine land user before everything else. Unless we adopt some policy of leasing for the land of the Northern Territory, there must be constant doses of land taxation, and that panacea is a crude and clumsy expedient compared with the perfect leasehold system by which reproductive labour will be set free.
– The Labour party wishes to tax the leaseholder as well as the freeholder.
– The absurd system of freehold which has so long cursed the world makes us adopt methods which would be unnecessary under other circumstances. We have been told that the possession of a leasehold gives no incentive to exertion; that a man must own his land before he will exert himself to improve it. It is a strange thing that qualities which are shown when persons become the lessees of private landlords should disappear when they become the lessees of the State. Some 85 per cent, or more of those who use the land derive their title to it from others who possess the freehold.
– How does the honorable member arrive at those figures?
– My statement embraces the people in the cities and towns, as well as those in the country. The condition of things in the district from which I come is enough to make an honest man blush. I employ share farmers, and make a good profit out of them; but where men are engaged in farming who have no better title to their land than a yearly lease, few are doing well. In some extreme cases, when a drought comes, they are compelled to go out on to the stock routes and camping reserves until the rain comes. After the crop has been put in, they have to get away somewhere else, coming back to harvest it. What we have now cannot be called settlement, but .is merely an exploitation of the resources of the country. We shall not get genuine settlement until we have a better system of land tenure. But I am not going to deal with the principles by which the land tenure of the States could be improved, though the question is an urgent one in every State. My present concern is the development of the Northern Territory under the leasehold system. We are told that it is the absence of the freehold system that prevents settlement in the Territory. Yet we know that in New South Wales, with its various free selection Acts, the freehold system absolutely broke down, and even a conservative party like the Liberals departed from that principle in the Act of 1908 in an endeavour to avert the direct consequences of the freehold system.
– But they had to return to the freehold.
– All the elements that contribute to make a freehold are taken out of the title that may be Required under the Crown Lands Acts of New South Wales.
– In 1908 the lease-holders were given power to convert to freehold.
– It was a concession more honoured in the breach than in the observance. The party of which the honorable member is president sought a certain concession for conversion, and the then Premier, Mr. Carruthers, gave a promise of it, which promise was afterwards redeemed by his party; but they afterwards turned his party out, because, when they attempted to convert, under the 1908 Act, the Courts decided that they must pay what was considered the capital value of the land at the date of application. What they wanted to do was to convert at the nominal rates fixed on homestead and settlement leases in the out-back country in dry seasons, and which they were allowed to do by the amending Act of 1910. The limitations contained in section 25 of the 1908 Act in regard to converted holdings are such that the title, which purports to be a freehold, is nothing more than a glorified leasehold. Not only is there the limitation of individual holdings, but even after the deed of grant is issued the holder can transfer only with the consent of the Minister. Therefore, I say that all the elements that go to make a real freehold, such as Froude said no man should possess - that is, a freehold with which a man can do what he pleases - were taken away. Even after that was done, with the very best intentions, it was found that the. real evil of land monopoly was still latent in the system, and would ultimately destroy it, because what is called a living area in a progressive country is constantly changing, and a man who has no more than a living area to-day, may be in half a generation a land monopolist. That is the evil we seek to prevent by instituting the leasehold system in the Northern Territory. I wish to make a few suggestions as to how that system may be applied to the Territory. Having given consideration to this matter as a practical man, I have come to the conclusion that if we wait until the Northern Territory is developed by capital going into the country either under the leasehold or freehold system, or until the Government develop the country by a purely communal system, from which, as I understood the propounder of that system, we are to eliminate every socialistic element, we will wait till the millennium. The way to commence the development of the Northern Territory is to make use of the best material which Australia can produce in the form of capable and willing young men who are now struggling all over the Commonwealth to get a piece of land on which to maintain their individual independence. Every willing worker of this type the Commonwealth may enlist for the Territory by a system that can be very easily devised. Nothing should be simpler than to classify the lands of the Territory, and place them under the control of a commission of three capable managers. Such men are to be found in abundance throughout Australia, and I would give them power to improve and settle pastoral properties, having due regard to the frontages to railways that will be gradually constructed in accordance with the expressed desire of the majority of this Parliament that the country shall be adequately served by railways suitable both for defence and prosperous, settlement and development. The land could be manned by the Government calling for applications from capable young men, who would be willing to enlist for a period of five years at a fixed wage of, say, £2 per week and keep, on the understanding that half the wage was to be held by the Government as a deposit for the future settler, whom we should hope to create under the advantageous conditions I am outlining. Those men should be engaged in clearing, fencing, and working the properties, which would be made productive firstly with cattle and horses; then, as closer settlement became possible, and as the railways came into being, the improved holdings could be subdivided, and these young workers, equipped with the small capital which their deferred wages would furnish, would be given the premier position as leaseholders, under a system which would not aim at taking the biggest possible rent from the community for the individual, but would make the prosperity of the settler the first consideration. Having so provided for these first State settlers, I would map out the country so that every man with capital, large or small, could take possession at light rentals of the areas further removed from the railways than ‘the areas which had already been allotted to the State itself and its embryo ‘settlers. I would give these independent leaseholders the best rental terms possible, but I would enforce strict residential and stocking conditions, together with a stipulation that they should employ young men in the manner I have described, and pay a proportion of their wages into the Commonwealth Bank, to be drawn and utilized on the same lines as the wages of the employees on the Government stations. Ultimately, of course, these larger leaseholds would be subdivided under such terms, and at such time as the necessities of settlement might dictate, and the leaseholders’ employees given the same preference when qualified as settlers as employees on Government stations. I venture to say that every man who is now vainly seeking for land in the Commonwealth would avail himself of an opportunity such as this, and the system would be Socialistic only so far as any Socialism should go - that is to say, it would aim at doing for individuals what they could not do for themselves. When, with the growth of development and the increase of facilities, it became possible to make a living on a more restricted area, a system of subdivision, with appraisement of and payment for improvements,” could be put into operation. In this way, it would be possible to open up and develop the best pastoral country of the Northern Territory, and under the capable management of three commissioners, the pastoral products alone would pay for the extension of the system. The development of other industries would gradually follow. I could lay hold of hundreds of men who would gladly sign on for five years at a wage of £2 per week and keep, with the certainty that, at the end of that term, as the Government holdings became fully improved, railways were advanced, and closer settlement became possible, if only to the extent of substituting sheep for cattle and horses, they would be the first settlers, and would be able to carry on their individual enterprises untrammelled by the absurd conditions which hamper other settlers throughout the Commonwealth. There could be no greater reflection on the intelligence of Australia than the fact that, at the present time, we are unable to find land for our capable and willing workers. Of course, it suits a section of the community to sit down and live on the products of others; I myself could do that; but no political economist would defend the private ownership of land as being in accordance with the highest principles ‘o£ human justice. They ali say that, at the best, that system is an expedient, and that they have found nothing better to accord with the natural desire of people to acquire the ownership of land. *
– If these young men you refer to did not settle on the land, would you return them their deferred wages 1
– Certainly. I would pay them about £2 per week, but if they proved their incapacity under the capable management of three commissioners, they could be sacked in the ordinary way, or could be allowed to sign on at a reduced wage. I would withhold half of the £2 paid, and pay 3 or 4 per cent, on the deferred amount, and then, when the stations were subdivided into, say, ten blocks, these young men would” start independently with a small capital, and with the inestimable advantage that comes to an individual from having worked for some years under the conditions he will have to face in the future. Then at any stage the settler could sell out to another man similarly qualified, of whom the Commissioners approved. In that way we could begin settlement, and provide for, at least, a good living being obtained by the average man, bar accident or disease.
– If a man is a failure, you would give him his money back?
– If a man were a failure, it would be found out, not in two or three years, but in two or three months : and I would give him his money back at the rate of 30s. or 33s. a week.
– They would not go under these circumstances.
– This is no place to defend the details of a scheme of the kind; but let any honorable member indict the principle, and I shall answer him. If the principle is sound, it is a reflection on human intelligence to say that we cannot provide for the details. Let us look at the contrary system of freehold, as we have it in New South Wales and Victoria. We find that before there is . a population anything like a tenth of that which a State could carry. the Government is compelled to buy back land. The same principle is applied to mining, to “ encourage capital,” as it is called, and we know the sort of development that takes place; indeed, if the present system were specially designed to prevent true mining development it could not be more effective. In New South Wales, with the conditions of which I am the better acquainted, can any man show me any mines discovered simply because of the application of capital ? In ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, mines are discovered in consequence of the daring and enterprise of the man with the nick and shovel.
– But mines are developed by capital.
– I am now speaking of the discovery of mines. I wish it to be understood that I am not indicting capital, which does not receive, from either this side or the other, the consideration it deserves. I am now speaking of legitimate capital, used directly in assisting its parent, labour, to carry on production. We were fighting for years in New South Wales for a Mining on Private Lands Act, and the remarks I am making are applicable also to mining on Crown lands, except that I am stating the strongest case. If a man who has discovered some “ show,” makes an application under the Mining on Private Lands Act, he begins, after certain preliminaries have been complied with, to develop the particular lode, or whatever it may be. Then a man, whom we call a “ capitalist “ - though I say this is an illegitimate use of the idea of capital - comes along, and, if he thinks the circumstances warrant, he may lodge applications for as many leases as he likes, with the result that by the time the real miner has discovered something good, and a rush sets in, it is found that the country is pegged out all around, and those who hold the titles begin to float “wild cat “ or genuine mines - all based on the discovery of the miner. This is tolerated; and yet it would be very simple to prevent it, and enable the State to render the necessary assistance, and see that the real worker got the benefit of the discovery. As a matter of fact, the way is paved for monopoly, and those who support the system of freehold land, or the present system of mining, never stop to consider that the interests of individuals are always made subservient to the favoured few who possess capital. The principle of Socialism is the principle I look forward to as that on which the development of the Northern Territory depends, especially in the matter of land; and I was sorry to hear the honorable member for Flinders say, some time ago, that we of the Labour Darby went through the country at election time preaching direct opposition, and almost undying enmity to capital. What we are really aiming at is the setting of reproductive labour free - at giving practical and logical expression to a doctrine, the truth of which is admitted by the ablest economists, namely, that capital is the child of labour. It is unjust and monstrous that labour should have to stand aside until a thing of its own creation gives it a right to work; and that monstrosity should be removed. We all know that the three great factors are land, labour, and capital; and we wish to see labour the predominant partner, because it is the creator of the one and the inheritor of the other, under Divine ordinance.
.- I quite indorse much of what has been said by the honorable member for Werriwa, but there is also much more with which I cannot agree. More particularly am I at variance with him in his somewhat peculiar historic view of certain Acts of Parliament passed in New South Wales. It would appear that, before one can speak on land questions here, it is necessary first of all, to advertise the fact that you are a practical man; and in this regard I am fortunate, though, unlike the honorable member for Werriwa, I have no share-farmers to help me. I do the whole of the work on my farm, either with my own hands, or those of my family, or of the men I engage and pay.
– I did that until I became so successful that I need no longer do so.
– The honorable member for Werriwa, when dealing with the New South Wales Act of 1908, seemed to forget that then, for the first time in that State, provision was made for leaseholders to convert their holdings at their own option into freeholds. I happen to know something of this, because I was at that time a member of the State Upper House, and assisted in some slight degree in making that measure law. This conversion, it will be noted, was not compulsory, but absolutely voluntary.
– I did not say it was compulsory.
– Then 1 should like to draw attention to the fact that it was not Sir Joseph Carruthers who brought in that Bill, but the Honorable Charles G. Wade. Sir Joseph Carruthers had then been out of politics for some time.
– I spoke of the Conversion Act.
– And that is the Act of which I am speaking; and I am afraid the honorable member is somewhat confused. When Sir Joseph Carruthers introduced his 1895 Act, with all its academical leasehold tenures, he inserted a provision under which any person who had a freehold could, at his option, con vert it into a leasehold. The honorable member for Werriwa holds land under conditional purchase, or, for all I know, under freehold - at any rate, he admits he owns the land - and, if he is such a “ whole-hogger “ for leasehold, how is it he has not taken advantage of that Act, and converted his own land to leasehold tenure? If the honorable member has not done so, his position does not savour of that consistency that we all like to see, even in politicians. The honorable member knows as well as I do, or, at any rate, he ought to know, that ever since 1895 he could have converted his land into leasehold any Monday morning in any Crown land agent’s office in New South Wales.
– I have not done so because the system of leasehold is not the true leasehold as supported by our party. When I can get the purer brand of leasehold at which I am aiming, I shall do it.
– As a matter of fact, the honorable member for Werriwa must admit that he is in much the same position as the rest of us - we are all imbued with an earnest desire to own our own little bit of land. However, as I say, if the honorable member is consistent, he will speedily convert his land into leasehold, especially after the speech he has made to-day. The honorable member is attempting to interject, and no doubt the facts I am. citing may be unpalatable; but I feel it my duty, as a representative of New South Wales, to correct some of the unfounded and unfortunate statements that have been made regarding the land legislation of that State. In the converted areas - the homestead selections and settlement leases - in New South Wales, we are told that the freehold is no good, because there is a certain limitation placed upon it. The point I want to make is that we in New South Wales who are of an agricultural frame of mind have no desire to assist in the aggregation of large estates, and the way in which we sought to prevent that was by placing a limitation upon the transfer. When we allow a man to convert from a leasehold to a freehold we argue that he should be allowed to convert only a certain living area, and if subsequently he desires to sell, that he shall sell only to an individual who, with the land he already has, holds an area that does not substantially exceed a living area. By that means we are hoping to prevent the aggregation of large estates. What better example could we have in the fostering of small holdings than in the system which operates in France, which has been the bulwark of the French agricultural success, and which has resulted in a large number of small landed proprietors being placed all over the country? That system could, in my opinion, be applied to many of the territories that we dominate with very satisfactory results. I am one of those who refuse to condemn from A to Z the Minister of External Affairs for the efforts he has made to populate and develop the Northern Territory. I have gone carefully through the Estimates, and I find many items that receive my commendation. When we take into, consideration the fact that the Northern Territory has been open for settlement for something like half a century, and that we are now no nearer the attainment of our object than when we started, I think it must be apparent to everybody that the Minister in charge of this Territory has a very difficult row to hoe. The subject is not one upon which we should indulge in unnecessary recriminations. On the other hand, I think we should do everything we can to assist the Government. The Northern Territory is ours now, and we should unite in making its development successful. There are, however, one or two matters to which I should like to draw the attention of the Minister, and I feel sure that he will listen to the utterances of at least one practical man on this side. The original administrators of the Territory were quite right when they instituted a series of experimental farms. Obviously we must have experiments there if we are to be successful in our efforts to induce settlement; and I would impress upon the Minister that the most important man upon an experimental farm should be the experimentalist. I discover, however, that the Minister is offering his experimentalist a salary of only £200 a year. That is the pay offered to the most important man’ in the Territory, the man who is going to show us proper methods and introduce crops that will help to settle the country. I ask the Minister whether he thinks that is a fair remuneration to a man occupying such an important position?
An Honorable Member. - The Inspector of Hotels is to receive £600.
– If that is a fair salary, does the Minister think that £200 is a reasonable sum to pay the experimentalist ?
– I rather think that the managers of the experimental farm will be the principal men there.
– Why not call them experimentalists, then?
– What do the managers get?
– £350 a year.
– Those are the men we require.
– I venture to assert that even they are underpaid, when we consider that everything depends upon the result of their efforts.
– The honorable member is probably right.
– There is just one other matter that I desire to draw attention to in regard to these experimental farms. It cannot be suggested that we do not know anything about the Territory. I am a comparatively new member of this House, but I have heard several debates upon the subject, and yet, in spite of the knowledge thus acquired, we find that the experiments at the farms at Batchelor and Daly are all in the direction of agriculture as carried on elsewhere. If there is one factor that is going to make or break an experimental agricultural farm, it is the factor of rainfall. Yet what do we find there? The Meteorologist tells us that in the region where these farms are situated not a single drop of rain falls during the months of May, June, July, August, or September. Under these circumstances, speaking as a practical man, I say that agriculture as we know it can never be a success there. Why? Because we have no rainfall during the growing period. Between the months of October and March or April there is a rainfall of something like 40 to 50 inches. Obviously, therefore, the experimentalists in that country will have to devote their energies to the growth of crops other than cereals, and to the development of agriculture on lines other than those practised in the more temperate zone. I respectfully suggest that the Minister should instruct the experimentalists in the Northern Territory to devote their attention to some form of agriculture that will be in conformity with the prevailing climatic conditions. It is of no use anybody going into the Northern Territory from the southern States with the object of trying to grow such crops as wheat, oats, barley, or maize under the methods with which we are now acquainted’. In my younger days I went through a considerable portion of the Northern Territory, and, as one who knows something of it, I have no hesitation in saying that it possesses some of the most magnificent country any one need wish to see; but it is pastoral country pure and simple, and in its development we shall have to follow the ordinary process of development. First, the pastoralist or the miner, then the agriculturist, then the manufacturer. That is the order in which all countries have developed. Before we can make any success of the Northern Territory we shall have to regard this part of Australia as pastoral country pure and simple. Mining, of course, may go on all the time; and, as far as mining is concerned, I wish to draw the attention of the Minister to the fact that, while he proposes to spend £15,000 for developmental purposes, including loans to prospectors, he puts down the sum of only £3,000 for the purpose of assisting settlers, presumably either pastoral or agricultural. Why should that distinction be made? Is not the agriculturist or the pastoralist as important to the development of the country as the miner?
– Do you seriously propose that we should subsidize the pastoralist?
– No ; I am not suggesting that at all. But I think that whatever you are doing in the way of assisting the mining industry you should, at least, do as much to assist agriculture. If it is the settled policy of this Government, as I believe it is, that the only tenure in the Northern Territory shall be of a leasehold character, then I would urge upon the Government the necessity of seeing that there is a fixity of tenure. The difficulty we met with in New South Wales with regard to the leasehold system, and the circumstance that makes leasehold so unpopular with the majority of practical men, notwithstanding all that the honorable member for Werriwa may say, is that there is a periodical re-appraisement of rent; and whether that period be short or whether it be long, the experience of New South Wales is that, as a result of the re-appraisement, the rent always goes up, never down. The result is that we have the somewhat startling spectacle that the older the land gets the higher goes the rent. Any practical man knowsthat that is an agricultural proposition which is the reverse of common sense.
– Do you not think the increased expenditure of public money in these districts increases the value of theland, and that, therefore, the tenant ought to pay’ a little more rent ?
– Undoubtedly, wherepublic money is spent; but where a man is situated 300 or 400 miles from whereany public money has been spent, I donot think it is fair that his rental should be increased, because of the expenditureof money somewhere else.
– What suggestion do you make?
– I will suggest at oncethat there should be a fixed tenure at a fair rental.
– How many years?
– I do not think it would be going too far if a fortytwoyears’ tenure were granted. I am speakingfrom the experience of New South Walesof the manner in which the Western Division was settled.
– I think the tenure now is one of forty-two years, with a revaluation at the end of twenty-one years.
– I am pleased to hear it.
– It is exactly the sameas in New South Wales.
– That is perfectly satisfactory. Some criticism has been offered to the Minister in regard to hissuggestion that land should be made available for returned soldiers. I am. thoroughly with the Minister in that respect, and it may be information for him to know that I have a number of lettersin my possession from soldiers now at the front, urging the consideration of this very matter ; and as a number of them are good bushmen - men well acquainted with thedifficulties of back-country life - I think they would make ideal settlers. If they knew that land in some portion of the Northern Territory, where they could’ make their homes, ‘would be made available on. their return, they would have something to look forward to during the war. I commend the attitude the Minister has taken up upon this subject, and I hope he will go further into the matter, even to the extent of giving returned soldiers the preference over anybody else.
– Hear, hear!
– Give them farms.
– I do not think that would be too much either; but the development of the Northern Territory depends absolutely on one main factor - the granting of transit facilities to those who go there. Unless you give a. man the opportunity of getting his produce . to market, you will not, under any circumstances, induce him to go so far away from the benign influences of civilization. I am now going to make some observations with which I am afraid my honorable friends from South Australia, who insistently and persistently advocate the building of a northsouth railway, will not agree. They urge that the line to Oodnadatta- should be continued due north, say, to Alice Springs. I do not know whether those who advocate such a route have ever followed it.
– Yes; and a good many times since the honorable member was there.
– For about 300 miles north of Oodnadatta the average rainfall is not more than 5 inches per annum. If the Government are going to put a railway through such country, with a view to promoting settlement, then I am at a loss to understand how they can ever expect the realization of their hopes. Such a line would not pay for axle grease. It would be a suicidal policy to adopt.
– The honorable member must have a very short vision.
– On the contrary, it is very keen, and directing it to a map supplied to me by the Government Meteorologist, I find that, over the large area I have named, there is a rainfall of only 5 inches per annum.
– Order ! The item before the Chair has nothing to do with the question of railways.
– I admit that I have deviated slightly from the ‘line I should take-. I rose principally, to suggest that the salaries of the manager of the experimental farms, and also of the experimentalists, which are fixed at £350 and £200 respectively, should be substantially increased, and I hope that the Minister will give these men a little more consideration.
.- We have in this division an item of £2,000 in respect of “ travelling expenses,” and I observe that, during the previous year, £3,623 was expended under this heading. I wish to know to whom these travelling expenses have been paid. The Administrator who, from my point of view, is neither of use nor an ornament, receives £1,750 per year, in addition to £500 per annum by way of allowance. On top of these amounts we have these travelling expenses. The Administrator is allowed £2 per day travelling expenses and a motor car, which he leaves out on the run. An investigation of the expenditure of the Department of External Affairs - of the Central Office here, and of the Northern Territory branches - would lead to the greatest revelation that has yet been made.
– Let it be taken up by the Finance Committee.
– The Finance Committee would be profitably engaged upon such an investigation. On the question of salaries to which this division relates, I would point out that many of our employees out back, where the cost of living is excessive, might well receive an increase. But we are getting very little return for the money we are paying the Administrator, and I am inclined to think that investigation -will show that he is receiving the bulk of these travelling expenses.
– The honorable member knows thai- is not so.
– I do not.
– Surely the honorable member knows that officers are continually travelling in the Territory. The Warden, the Inspector of Mines, the Geologist, and the police, and other officers have to travel from place to place.
– I know that the one officer who does the travelling to a very great extent is the Administrator.
– The honorable member has the Administrator “ on the brain.”
– And the same may be said of a good many honorable members.
– It is about time that the Parliament had him “ on the brain.” If ever a man was a misfit for his office, the Administrator is.
– There are a good many who think differently.
– Where are they? Not in the Northern Territory. As a matter of fact, Dr. Gilruth has got rid of every officer in the Territory who knew anything about it. That wa3 practically the first policy that he put into operation.
– Of whom did he get rid?
– Practically all the old officers under the South Australian administration have gone.
– Some have died.
– That is so; but a Melbourne University professor, after all, is not the man. to develop the Territory as it should be developed. If there is any man who can create a row up there, it is Dr. Gilruth. I am not going to say that every man in the Northern Territory is wrong, and that the Administrator alone is right.
– He was at the Melbourne University for years; but the honorable member cannot find there one man with whom he quarrelled.
– He knows nothing about the Northern Territory, and his appointment as Administrator was a mere fad. The whole arrangement in connexion with it was very questionable. The position was never advertised.
– Was there ever an Administrator of the Northern Territory who gave satisfaction ?
– There have been Administrators who have given more satisfaction than he has done.
– He is intelligent and energetic.
– The right honorable member for Swan is satisfied with the Administrator because he approves of his railway policy. The right honorable member has never been in the Macdonnell Ranges, but he jumps to conclusions as to the character of the country there. He spoke the other day of having travelled along the Alberga River, trying to lead the Committee to believe that he had been in the Macdonnell Ranges.
– That is not correct. The honorable member ought to be ashamed of himself for saying what is not true.
– The honorable member had only been 30 miles north of Oodnadatta.
– That is not so.
– The right honorable member has never seen the Macdonnell Ranges. He travelled through the Musgrave Ranges.
– I have never said that I have seen the Macdonnell Ranges.
– The right honorable member, when speaking last week, said, in reply to an interjection by me, that the country in the Macdonnell Ranges was no good, and in the next breath he spoke of having come down the Alberga River. The inference to be drawn was that, because he had been an explorer - a fact on which he has played for years - he had been there.
– What has the honorable member been playing at? He has been changing from one thing to another just like a chameleon.
– That is not so. It is most amusing to see the Minister of External Affairs with his arms, figuratively speaking, about the neck of the right honorable member for Swan. I have recollections of speeches made in this House in which no such friendliness was displayed. The right honorable member is not going to bluff me.
– State facts.
– The right honorable member, when the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta railway was under consideration, secured his pound of flesh.
– And the honorable member for Grey is now out for his pound of flesh.
– I wish to see the Northern Territory Agreement carried out. Every one must admit that the great obstacle in the way of the development of the Northern Territory is lack of railway communication. When I put a question to the Minister as to the intentions of the Government, I am told, “’ Oh, yes ; the Government are pledged to this and to that, but the finances will not at present admit of our carrying out all our pledges.” The answers which i receive to questions as to when the northsouth railway will be built remind me of’ a placard in which the merits of a certain brand of Scotch whisky are advertised, and on which we have the words, “ Say when, mon.” The Minister, like the guest in the placard, turns his head while the glass is overflowing. Notwithstanding his protestations, the right honorable member for Swan would have turned down the Agreement in regard to the Northern Territory. At any rate, ho would have us wait many years for the railway which the Commonwealth contracted to build. He said last night that some years would elapse before a connexion would be made with Oodnadatta.
– Before the line was completed. The honorable member is not doing his case any good.
– Order! I. must ask the honorable member not to discuss the question of railways on this item.
– I am not worrying over the right honorable member’s view of my case. There was a time when he was very glad to secure my support for the east-west railway.
– The honorable member was helping himself at the time.
– The right honorable member was insisting then on his “ pound of flesh” for Western Australia. I did not take up the selfish attitude that he is now taking up.
– Was not that railway to go through the honorable member’s electorate?
– Yes; but the proposition was not new to me, because as far back as 1894 I had submitted in the State Parliament of South Australia a motion in regard to it. I repeat that it is amusing to note the display of friendliness between, the Minister and the right honorable member for Swan.
– The honorable member is jealous because it is a case of “off with the old love and on with the new.”’
– I warn the Minister to be careful, because there is danger.
– He is your Minister.
– Have I not the right to criticise my Minister? But what I complain of is the wonderful affection between these two gentlemen. The right honorable member for Swan waa accustomed to pocket boroughs in
Western Australia, and to dictating to other Ministers, and he attempted to do the same in this case. I shall say no more on this point, but I desire to know how these travelling expenses have been spent ?
– The sum of £25,270 appears on these Estimates for gold-fields and mining in the Northern Territory. We are spending a whole heap of money on the Mines Department in the Northern Territory, but we do not seem to discover anything new. If we could only find s Broken Hill it would set a lot of thing) at rest, and be the means of “ making “ the Territory. Anything that would lead to the establishment of local settlement would be of incalculable benefit to its future development, but we do noi seem to be able to get a move on.
– We are doing something for Marranboy and Mr Bonney.
– But it should be possible to concentrate our efforts in order to thoroughly exploit some particular portion of the Territory. There seems to be no attempt to do so. 1 mention this matter because I pin my faith to the finding of a good mining field as being more ‘likely to quickly develop the Territory than almost anything else. It is a matter of supreme and even vital urgency. Therefore, instead of scattering our energies and enterprises over a large field, I consider it would be better to spend our money on a selected spot in order to test it thoroughly and ascertain whether there is a chance of developing a mining field, thus facilitating immensely the settlement of the Territory. Instead of having a system of grants from year to year without any benefit being derived from them, we should specially test one spot thoroughly at the earliest possible moment in order to see if it is possible to develop a mining proposition that .will attract a fair population. The main thing is to get a “move on.”
.- In the most favorable circumstances the development of a mine is, as every one who has had anything to do with mining knows, a slow process. The work of sinking shafts and cutting drives and tunnels cannot be done in a week or two, and we must be satisfied to go slowly, particularly in a territory where transportation is impossible during a large portion of the year. Although the sum of £25,270 seems large, £15,000 will probably be repaid to the Department, because for every £1 we advance by way of subsidy to a mining company we take absolute security of the mine and plant for its repayment.
– I would not care if there was no return to the Department so long as there was development.
– As I have said, the estimate of expenditure is not large when this £15,000 is considered, and also the item of £6,000 for boring plants for water supply.
– Have you any fixed system of grants to aid mining?
– Yes; and under it we propose to assist the Mr Bonney mine, which is the most promising gold mine being worked by an Australian company. We have taken the mine and machinery as security for its repayment. I do not think that I need say any more at this stage. I hope the Committee will put these Estimates through, because nearly the whole of the money has been spent, and this is the fifth or sixth time ti the Committee has had the Estimates of this Department under consideration.
– I rise to make a personal explanation in regard to a reflection made by the honorable member for Grey upon myself. The honorable member seems to have got into his head the idea that I had said that I had been in the Northern Territory, and in the Macdonnell Ranges. I have never said anything that could give the honorable member that impression. On my exploration expedition in 1874 from Western Australia to South Australia, I came down the Alberga River, which is just south of the Territory. I was not in the Territory itself, and, of course, have never said that I was. I shall read what I said on a previous occasion in this regard.
– I have the right honorable member’s remarks before me.
– Yes; but that did not, apparently, prevent the honorable member misrepresenting what I said. This is what I said-
– Order ! Is this a personal explanation?
– Yes. In this chamber, on 22nd April last, I said -
Whether the agreement with South Australia was wise or unwise, I am prepared to give effect to it, because we cannot go back on a bargain definitely made. To continue the railway northwards from Oodnadatta would have some advantages in respect of the obtaining of labour, and so on; but it would not immediately assist in developing the Northern Territory, because an extension of 330 miles would take it only na far as the Macdonnell Ranges, to a point 1,000 miles from Port Darwin. . . . Between Oodnadatta and Alice Springs the average rainfall is only 10 inches per annum, and the country some of the poorest in Australia.
– You have not read it all.
– I have not read the honorable member’s .interjection. He interjected, “ It would tap the very best of the country.” Then I went on to say-
Between Oodnadatta and Alice Springs the average rainfall is only 10 inches per annum, and the country some of the poorest in Australia.
– The right honorable gentleman had never been there. How could he say that?
– There is no one living there. I have heard from honorable members on both sides of the chamber that it is a drought-stricken piece of country.. However, I went on to say-
In 1.874, I came down the Alberga River from the interior, for a distance of 100 miles or more, and could not find any water, except by digging in the bed of the river, which is formed by the storm waters of the Musgrave Ranges. That country is very poor, and there is little hope of settlement there. From the Macdonnell Ranges northwards there may be a rainfall of from 14 to 15 inches, and still further north a rainfall of from 15 to 25 inches.
Where did I say anything about being in the Macdonnell Ranges? I was never further north than “ the Alberga River. Yet the honorable member persists in sayin? that I said that I had been in the Macdonnell Ranges.
.- The right honorable member is trying, in a very ingenious manner, to get out of a little corner. When he was speaking of that 330 miles between Oodnadatta and the Macdonnell Ranges I interjected that a line between these two points would tap some of the best country, and it was upon my interjection that the right honorable member said -
Between Oodnadatta and Alice Springs the average rainfall is only 10 inches per annum, and the country some of the poorest in Australia.
Then he went on to say that in 1874 he came down the Alberga River, and the inference was that this river was somewhere close to the Macdonnell Ranges, whereas it is nearly 300 miles from the country about which I was speaking, and is only 30 miles north of Oodnadatta.
– Surely it is more than that. “When I travelled through there I was two and a half days in getting to the Peak.
– I have not done the right honorable gentleman an injustice. Any person reading the right honorable gentleman’s remarks would infer that he had been in the locality of the Macdonnell Ranges, and that the Alberga River was in close association with those ranges, though it has no more to do with them than the Katherine River.
– Do you think that I meant to infer that?
– That was the inference to be drawn from the right honorable gentleman’s remarks, which were made in reply to my interjection that a railway between Oodnadatta and the Macdonnell Ranges would tap some of the best country.
– That country lies beyond the part that I crossed in 1874.
– Exactly ; and Heavy Tree Gap, to which the line would run, is 300 miles beyond the spot where the right honorable gentleman was. Why I object is that honorable members who have not been in that part of Australia, and who know that the right honorable member for Swan made that exploring trip, might be misled by his remarks; whereas I know that the right honorable gentleman on that occasion came down to Oodnadatta from the Musgrave Ranges, which are hundreds of miles from the. Macdonnell Ranges. The right honorable gentleman must admit that fact.
– I have never said that it was not a fact.
– The right honorable gentleman did not say in the chamber that he had not gone through the Macdonnell Ranges.
– /Have you beenthere, that you speak so positively about, that country?
– I have too great a> respect for the right honorable gentleman, to try to do him an intentional injury.
– Well, you do it.
– I have not tried to* do the right honorable gentleman any injury
Sitting suspended from 6.S0 to 7.45 p.m..
.- Are the .items, “ Manager, Maranboy* £600”; “Assistant, Maranboy, £250”; “Clerk, £265 “; all in connexion with the crushing mill ?
– I do not think so.
– Is the manager at Maranboy ?
– Am I to understand that the manager of the State crushing mill is receiving £600 a year, with an assistant at £250 1
– Yes, that is his salary.
– The highest salary we ever paid in Western Australia, and the conditions would be pretty much the same in the back country, was £330 a year, and that was considerably over the average. I think the Minister is paying, far too much, and there should be no necessity for an assistant manager. I hope the Minister will look into the matter.
.. - On the subdivision, “ Railways and Transport,” may I ask the Minister if he is in a position to make a statement as regards the general policy of the Government with respect torailway construction in the Northern Territory ? He has been eight or nine months in office, and has had time to consider the whole question of railway policy. The Administrator and the Royal Commission specially appointed for the purpose have made investigations, and it would help the Committee if the Minister could give some indication as to the general policy of the Government with regard to railway construction in the Territory. The opinion has been freely expressed on both sides that if the Territory is to be developed, settled,, and occupied, railway communication must be the first consideration. -Mr. Mahon. - What do you want to know ?
– Are the Government going to proceed on definite lines, or do they propose to consider later on the lines on which they will proceed in the future, simply pushing on at present with the lines already under construction? It would be better for the Government to outline a comprehensive scheme, and, instead of working piecemeal, to work according to some definite plan of development, even if it is on the lines announced by the preceding Administration. Has the Minister considered the policy laid down by the previous Government? If the Government have not considered the matter, of course it will not be possible for the Minister to give us the information we want. Have the Government considered the question?
– It has been considered, but not comprehensively.
– What policy has it been decided to adopt?
. - When the Minister is answering the honorable member for Darling Downs, I shall be glad if he will inform us whether the Government have decided on any particular course with regard to the main route of the railway ? When the matter was before the House five or six years ago, a plan for a line of railway which would deviate to the east, so as to facilitate the junctioning of the railways running through Victoria, New South Wales, and Queensland with the main line, was put forward, but we were told by the then Government that the Agreement which had been entered into between the former Government and the South Australian Government precluded any deviation from the straight line as laid down by the South Australian Government when the Northern Territory was in their possession. It was pointed out then - I do not know with what correctness - that the straight route involved a very high grade up the Macdonnell Ranges, and would leave the line some hundreds of miles from the eastern boundary, so that the States I have named would not be able to get beyond their boundaries to link up with the main line. I understand that later the Government have felt themselves at liberty to make a deviation from the line agreed upon in the original contract with the South Australian Government, and I shall be very glad if the Minister could tell us whether anything definite has been decided in that regard.
Mr. MAHON (Kalgoorlie - Minister of External Affairs) [7.521.- Had the honorable member for Parkes been here he would have known that the question of a railway from Newcastle Waters to Camooweal for connexion ultimately with Cloncurry and the lines in Queensland and New South Wales to which he refers, has been under discussion and comment for the last two or three sittings.
– I should be always here if I were a Minister, but now I am not a Minister I am never here.
– We are always glad to see the honorable member here, although his visits, like those of the angels, are few and far between. The Government have had the question mentioned by the honorable member for Darling Downs before them from time to time, but I need scarcely remind the Committee that the important questions arising out of the war have absorbed the bulk of the time of the Cabinet, and that other matters, important and pressing as they are, have not received the attention they undoubtedly deserve. These Estimates, moreover, are practically last year’s Estimates, prepared by the last Ministry. The money is nearly all expended. In the circumstances, honorable members might take a considerable number of items on trust and allow the Estimates to go through now.
.- The method of railway construction being followed on the north-south line has possibly escaped the Minister’s notice. It is being constructed upon gradients and curves readily adaptable to the 4-ft. 8£-in. gauge. The sleepers are adaptable to the same gauge, although the line itself is being built on the 3-ft. 6-in. gauge.
– That- is so, I believe.
– That policy is sound only if the Government have in view the comparatively early unification of Australian gauges.
– What is the length of the sleepers?
– I think they are 8 ft. or 8 ft. 6 in., and the weight of the rail is 60 lbs. The cost of these materials, unless the Government are going to convert the line to a 4-ft. 8^-in. gauge-
– I must ask the honorable member not to pursue the subject further. I have allowed passing references to railway construction, but that subject has nothing to do with the item before us, which is for salaries.
– I take it that the whole policy for the development of the Northern Territory is now open to discussion?
– It was open for discussion, but at a former stage.
– When we come to the Estimates of the Home Affairs Department, the honorable member can say what he wishes to say now.
– I appreciate the generosity of the Minister, and shall be only too happy to adopt the suggestion.
– I do not propose to discuss the question of sleepers, on which the honorable member for Wentworth is a far greater authority than I, but I have a word to say regarding the attempt of the Minister to evade the question to which I drew attention. I asked a very simple question; and I have been informed that since I spoke the Labour Conference at Adelaide has decided for the Government which way the railway shall go. I take it that the Government, having got its orders, will construct the railway in the direction decided upon. What I wish to discover is whether the Government will accept those orders literally, and construct the railway in a direct northerly course, or whether they will allow it to deviate to the east ?
– The honorable member is now discussing the main question.
– We shall take the advice of railway experts, not that of political experts.
– Will the Government be guided by the advice of railway experts if that advice runs counter to the opinion of the Conference?
– That remains to be seen.
.- I was pleased to hear the Minister of External Affairs inform the honorable member for Parkes that the Government had not time to deal with ordinary questions in Cabinet during the present crisis, because they are so much occupied with matters concerning the war. Most good will be done by giving attention to war ques tions at this juncture, leaving other matters over for consideration later.
.- On page 60 there is a line which shows that last year £9,000 was voted for a railway survey from Oodnadatta to the Katherine, and £7,599 spent, the proposal for this year being represented by a glorious and comprehensive blank. Is it the intention of the Government that there should be no survey?
– The Estimates are those of the last Government.
– The blank referred to indicates the policy of this Government regarding railway construction in the. Northern Territory.
– I should like to know how the £7,599 was spent. Has a survey been made, or how much of it has been completed ? In what direction is it proposed to take the line?
– There is no sum on the Estimates for a survey this year.
– I hope, Mr. Chairman, that you do not suggest that the matter of the survey cannot be discussed because no sum is proposed to be voted this year. There is in the Estimates the item, “ Railway Survey from Oodnadatta to the Katherine.”
– For that nothing is provided.
– That is the trouble. Surely we shall be in order in calling attention to the fact?
– The honorable member will be in order in doing that.
– That is what I understood the honorable member for Adelaide wished to do. The Minister should tell us why nothing is proposed to be spent this year. Evidently this gaping blank speaks eloquently of the Government’s policy for the development of the Northern Territory by railway construction. What does the honorable member for Grey think of this?
– On page 165 the right honorable member will find that there is proposed to be voted for “ lands and surveys,” £28,569; and “railways,” £185,157.
– Last year we voted for “lands and surveys” £27,000, of which £19,000 was spent.
– The item to which I draw attention may explain the blank about which the right honorable member was speaking.
– If the item to which the honorable member draws attention is to provide for surveys and other work in connexion with the east-west railway, as well as the Northern Territory railways, one or other must be neglected, because the sum set down is about the same as was voted last year.
– Only £19,000 was spent last year.
– Probably not more will be spent this year ; but the provision last year was over and above that set down for the survey from Oodnadatta to the Katherine, for which no provision is made this year. I should think that it is urgently necessary to push on with the investigation of routes for railway extension in the Northern Territory. We have been told that this, that, and the other railway is needed.
– Was there not a contract let for a survey?
– There was.
– And did you not knock it off the Estimates?
– No; the present Government have knocked it off.
– What did you do with it?
– The party opposite have knocked it off and knocked it down.
– No; alone you did it.
– My honorable friend, or any member of his party, may complain as much as he likes, but this blank line is a thing which he cannot get over. My attention has just been called to a resolution arrived at by the Labour Conference the other day on this very question, and it is appropriate, I think, that I should read it to the Committee -
That the agreement between the Commonwealth and the South Australian Governments to connect Oodnadatta and Pine Creek by railway should be given effect to without unnecessary delay. “ Without unnecessary delay,” yet my honorable friends opposite proceed by creating a blank. They proceed by proposing not one copper for the survey of this most important route. Here is a specimen of what they are always doing, holding out the burly at all their conferences to this section of the community and to that section, but the moment they got away from the conference, doing nothing with practical projects.
– What does it matter so long as you vote for it?
– Give me something to vote on. I am anxious to. see this railway policy develop, hut what can I do with a blank ? There is no money provided for the line.
– Now that the Conference has spoken, the Supplementary Estimates will contain an item.
– No money at all is to be voted for this most important railway project.
That reminds me that the honorable member said the other night that a good many of these railway projects had had to be knocked on the head because of the war. I would like to know what reason there is in the war for abolishing or postponing these projects, or doing anything but pushing them forward with the utmost possible energy and determination. If ever there was a time when these railway projects could be gone on with at full speed, and as many men as possible pressed into their service, it is now, when we are supposed to have an unemployed problem on our hands. While we are able to give to the States tens of millions for State railway projects, the Minister tells us that we are hanging our own up because of that same war. I think that if ever there was a time when we ought not to hang up these projects it is during this war time when there is no lack of money. We are told that on every hand. My honorable friends are increasing their note issue every day. It is now up to £33,000,000, and their gold reserve is down to 30 per cent., yet they have not the money for a railway which has been declared to be urgent by Lord Kitchener, and one which my honorable friends are talking about on almost every platform in the country.
– Why did you not start the line when you were in office? Why did you not do something?
– We did.
– Why did we not do everything under the sun in fifteen months? All that I have to say to the honorable member for Denison is that we did get a “ move on “ with that particular line. We passed a Survey Bill, and, I believe, let a contract for a survey, and now my honorable friends opposite carry it on by not providing a shilling for it. They have stopped the work where we left it - that is the thing I am complaining of - and the only excuse they have to offer is that there is a war. I venture to say that the war has not hurt us so far as our finances are concerned. My honorable friends got all the money they wanted - a little more than usual - from the Imperial Exchequer, so that the war has not hurt our finances in this direction. It may have curtailed their efforts in others, but certainly not in this. If ever there was a time when unemployment is urgent and clamant, and these railway projects should be proceeded with at the earliest moment, and with the utmost despatch, it is now.
– Who is delaying them?
– Who is?
– You are delaying them by not allowing the Estimates to go through.
– We are delaying Estimates which do not provide a penny for a line ! Are we ?
– You would take the Estimates for Noah’s Ark and discuss them.
– If we did turn up Noah’s Ark we would find the honorable member there. I guarantee that no one ever saw a pictorial representation of Noah’s Ark who did not see that face and form. Anyhow, sir, it was a Noah’s Ark interjection, for I do not think that anybody would be foolish enough, even in Noah’s Ark, to expect a Government to build railways without money. I believe that somewhere in those ancient times, the Egyptians were set the task of making bricks without straw, and here is a modern repetition of it.
– This railway you are complaining of is finished.
– From Oodnadatta to Katherine River?
– So it appears.
– Who says so?
– I have a statement here.
– The whole line from Oodnadatta to Katherine River !
– The survey is done.
– That makes the matter only the more interesting. If the. work is finished, it must have been finished before the present Government took office. Here are their Estimates framed ten months ago, and not a penny is proposed for the work. If the survey is finished, what is wrong with the line? Why has not a sleeper been put down? Why has not a rail been put down ? Here is a further condemnation of the honorable member’s inept administration.
– I have a very interesting telegram to read as soon as you have finished.
– I would like to hear an interesting telegram.
– I havejust received a very interesting telegram which I think honorable members will be pleased to hear. It is from Mr. Day, surveyor, and reads as follows: -
Have carefully inspected country between Anacorra bore and Arltunga, from telegraph line to one thirty-six meridian east longitude, except extreme westerly portion, which now engaged on. Expect reach telegraph line again about fifteenth inst. From Alice Springs propose inspect country north MacdonnellRanges between telegraph line and same meridian as far as Tennant’s Creek. Whole party have endured considerable hardships account waterless nature country inspected to date. Have determined courses Rivers Hale and Todd. Large areas good pastoral country discovered in areas formerly supposed consist entirely sandhills and spinifex. Am confident water can be obtained bores and wells on pastoral country referred to. Have telegraphed Administrator.
.- There is an item for expenses in connexion with the preparation of the Land Bill for the Northern Territory. I noticed a little time ago the gazettal of an Ordinance in regard to Roads Boards, and I should like to ask the Minister why it is proposed not to give the residents of the Northern Territory the slightest voice in the government of those Boards ? The Ordinance sets out, first of all, that the Administrator shall appoint all members of the Roads Boards, and, having done that, he is also to appoint the chairman and secretary.
– Who pays for the construction of the roads?
– I do not know whether the Government pay all expenditure, or whether any taxes are raised. Whilst I admit that, under the conditions which exist in the Territory, it may not be possible to have a duly elected local governing body, such as we have in the more thickly-settled districts, I do think that the residents of the Territory should have an opportunity of some representation on the Board in addition to the official appointees. Will the Minister explain to the Committee his reason for having the personnel of the Board fixed by the Administrator, not even leaving to the Board the appointment of its own chairman and secretary?
– I think we have adopted the South Australian model, which had been in operation there previously.
– If white residents are to be attracted to the Territory they must be allowed an interest in the management of their local affairs. At present they, have no direct representation of any kind on the Roads Boards.
.- Will the Minister inform the Committee how far the freezing works at Darwin are advanced ? Will he also give an assurance that there will be no interference with these works, such as was suggested by the honorable member for Oxley, because there can be no doubt in the mind of any one who understands the pastoral industry that those works, if completed, will help very much in the development of the Territory ; but they will not be carried to completion if it is suggested that when they are completed, and made, a payable undertaking, they will be taken over by the Government. I ask the Minister to give the Committee some assurance that the firm which is establishing the works will have some security of tenure.
.- The only information I can give the honorable member is that the works are being proceeded with by a private company. That company does not report to me regarding the progress of the work, and its rights are amply secured by the agreement made with the late Government. I apprehend that if any invasion of the agreement is attempted the firm will have a legal remedy, but as to giving an assurance regarding future events, I hope the honorable member will sympathize with me in my present difficulties, and not ask me to take responsibility for things that may happen in the future.
Division agreed to.
Division 38 (Port Augusta Railway), £104,390, agreed to.
Division 39 (Norfolk Island), £3,000
.- I desire to say a few words in regard to the vexed question of the administration of Norfolk Island. At present the island is controlled by an Executive Council, consisting of two elective members and five Government nominees. The residents of the island claim that they should have a much larger share in the government. * Indeed, at a public meeting we attended, they claimed complete autonomy. Of course, while the Commonwealth provides the money for the administration of the island, we cannot admit that claim. Nevertheless, it is incumbent upon the Government to give the islanders a considerable measure of redress. The recommendation of Mr. Atlee Hunt was that there should be an Executive Council of twelve members, six to be elected and six to be nominees. Possibly, for the time being, that would be a fair solution of the difficulty, and would go far to satisfy the residents, especially if they were also given the assurance that gradually they would be given the preponderance of representation. That scheme would be reasonable, because the island can be made self-supporting, and the residents would be inclined to put much greater effort into the work of production if they were given a larger measure of responsibility. They strongly object to any increase in the cost of government. Rightly or wrongly, there is an increase this year, because a secretary has been given to the Administrator. I formed a high opinion of Mr. Murphy as an Administrator. He is the right man in the right place, and if he has time to devote to the development of the country he will very soon be able to so encourage the settlers that greater effort will be made to increase the production from the soil. The industries of the island are numerous, and they can be fostered. Now that this island is under our control, we ought to extend to its settlers every possible consideration, and I think that we can legitimately go to the length recommended by Mr. Atlee Hunt. I believe, too, that we may fairly act on the assumption that at a later stage we shall be able to afford its people a larger measure of self-government. The other night a statement was made in this chamber by the honorable member for Cook to which
I take exception. He declared that certain Pitcairners laboured under a substantial grievance in that they had been ejected from houses in which they had been permitted to dwell uninterruptedly for nearly fifty years. I desire to point out that these people were allowed to occupy those houses, which were in the vicinity of the gaol, by the Imperial authorities for so long a period that they began to claim them as their own.
– They were their own.
– The island belonged to Great Britain, and proof of that is to be found in the fact that the titles which its settlers hold to their lands were issued by the Imperial authorities. The settlers petitioned the late Queen Victoria to grant them the absolute ownership of their dwellings. The Crown Law authorities of Great Britain would not accede to their request. They insisted that the settlers should sign a lease. The settlers were badly advised by a local lawyer, and declined to sign the lease, with the result that the Imperial Government insisted upon them vacating their premises.
– The New South Wales Government.
– It was the British Government. I have a copy of the lease which they refused to sign.
– That was not done until the New South Wales Government had taken over the control of the island.
– The New South Wales Government did not have control of the island at that time, which was under the administration of Great Britain. It has been stated that these settlers were improperly thrust out of their homes. I hold that the Crown had no option but to insist upon their acknowledging its ownership of the houses in question or vacating the premises. All the islanders to-day recognise that they made a mistake. Had they signed the lease offered to them they would have had the houses at a peppercorn rental for three generations. They were not unfairly treated.
– What are they going to do about it?
– I do not know. Today the houses are vacant, and are falling into disrepair. This shows the difficulties which the Minister experiences in dealing with a simple-minded people who are easily led. If the Executive Government were altered to some ex tent to suit the views of these islanders, it would be a great encouragement to them, and if they are sufficiently encouraged the island is capable of producing a great deal in the way of coffee, lemon-juice, &c. Since last Christmas no less than 700 barrels of lemon-juice have been despatched from the island. In the matter of whale oil the Executive Government can be of great assistance by providing the settlers with proper marketing facilities. A good deal has been said by the honorable member for Calare in regard to the necessity which exists for improved harbor accommodation. Next in importance to that is the establishment of proper marketing facilities for the settlers. Over and over again these people have failed to get anything like the true value of their products because they prefer to accept for those products whatever cash they can obtain from traders, to sending them to market. There is great scope for the Administrator to exercise himself in the direction of affording the people greater trading facilities. This is the first occasion on which we have had an opportunity to discuss the conditions which obtain on Norfolk Island. To my mind, there is a considerable future before that settlement. Whaling can be profitably carried on when adequate market facilities have been provided. The production of lemon juice can be largely augmented, as can also the supply of coffee. We are now appropriating £3,000 towards the cost of the Executive Government of Norfolk Island. I trust that in the course of three or four years it will have become selfsupporting.
– The honorable member for Echuca rose to correct me, and I have risen to correct him. He stated that prior to its transfer to the Commonwealth, Norfolk Island was administered by the Imperial authorities. Theoretically that is quite true, but practically it is not correct. As a matter of fact, the Governor of New South Wales was appointed Administrator of the island under the Government of New South Wales. The present Administrator was an official in the New South Wales Department, through whom were received all communications connected with the island; and he was appointed because, it was said, ho had a thorough knowledge of all that had been going on.
– Did the Hew South Wales Government pay the cost of the administration ?
– Yes, and they supplied a schoolmaster and a policeman from time to time. As a matter of fact, the Bill that was passed last July in this Parliament was to transfer the administration of the island from New South Wales to the Commonwealth. For the eviction of a number of the islanders, about which I complain, the State Government are responsible.
– The present Government?
– No ; a Liberal Government. When these people first went to Norfolk Island they found a number of residences - such as would be worth at least £1,000 each in Australia - that had been left by the authorities of the convict settlement, and these houses were well furnished and ready for occupation. The islanders were given to understand that they would occupy Norfolk Island under similar conditions to those under which they had occupied Pitcairn Island - that the island was for themselves and their descendants. They balloted amongst themselves for the houses, and for three generations families have been living there. It is quite true that the question of a legal title to the houses was raised locally; but, in my opinion, that was a mistake, for I firmly believe that if attention had not been drawn to the point those people would never have been interfered with. From what’ I can gather, this question was answered in a spirit of annoyance.
– Was that by the Common-, wealth Government?
– No; that was about five years ago, and it has rankled to such an extent that one cannot be on the island for five minutes without realizing the deep sense of resentment there is in the breast of every islander. And that resentment is felt not only by those who have’ actually been evicted, but by all the other residents. My primary objection is that the Government should have evicted those people, and, not having any use for the buildings, allowed them to go to rack and ruin. These islanders were actually told that if they did not leave the premises peaceably a British warship would be brought, and a landing party called on to punish them. That is not the way to treat people like these. The honorable member for Echuca has said that these people admit they were wrong in not signing leases; but, as a matter of fact, they do not admit anything of the kind, though they do think that they were foolish in raising the question of a legal title. That it was realized that these people had some kind of title, is shown in the fact that it was arranged they should be left in possession for three more generations ; and they are firmly convinced that the property was properly willed to them by their parents. We must remember that these people are quite a type by themselves, and do not look at matters in the same light as we do; and they deeply feel being deprived of residences which have been in occupation of the various families for sixty or seventy years. The latest occupants, and their parents before them, were born in the houses, and they cannot understand a treatment so different from that which they always received when Pitcairn Island and Norfolk Island were under the immediate control of the British Crown.
– They had only to sign leases.
– That is admitted; but they resent the idea that these houses, which have been held by their families for three generations, have been wrongfully willed to them. If a proclamation had been issued stating that, after a certain date, these houses must not be regarded as the private property of the occupants, but must be available to the Government, on certain notice, if they were required for public purposes, authority would have been fully vindicated. It was certainly not necessary to pitch these people into the road, and then leave the houses to fall to pieces; such an attitude is altogether too paltry and mean for a great Administration, and suggests the action of some sordid private landlord. It was the Government of New South Wales for the time being who were responsible, and not the Commonwealth Government.
– The honorable member has said that it was a Liberal Government. Will he kindly give me the date?
– It occurred about five years ago.
– A Labour Government has been in power for five years.
– It was previous to the advent of the Labour Government to New South Wales.
– Why did the Labour Government not find a remedy when they came into power?
– Probably because no representations were made to them regarding the matter. It must be remembered that Norfolk Island is about 1,000 miles away from the coast of New South Wales; and, but for the visit of members of Parliament, it is probable that we should have known nothing of what has been going on. However, the responsibility now devolves on us. I have in mind one particular case, in which a widow, with several young children, and a maiden relative, without a male breadwinner, is occupying the house. The people of the island are very socialistic and communal in their mode of life; and if a bread-winner dies there is no lack of food or clothing for his family, each person making it his or her business to leave necessaries whenever they pass the house. Indeed, one can get as good a meal in the house which has no breadwinner as in a house where misfortune has not come. It is now proposed by the Administration that this maiden lady, widow, and those depending on her, shall be turned out of the house. I said to the Administrator, “ What use have you for this house out of which you propose to turn these women and children?” And he said, “It is required for the local policeman.” There are only two houses occupied from which the people have been evicted : one by the local minister of the Church of England, and the other by the local medical officer. These gentlemen are not islanders.
– How many houses are there ?
– I forget, but I think there are about twenty. The people make no objection to the local minister and the medical officer, but I venture to say that if any other islander occupied a house from which another had been pitched out, he would not retain the respect of the local people for five minutes.
– Will the honorable member give me a chance to investigate the matter?
– Yes; I will not occupy the time of the Committee at any length. I feel that I am appealing to a sympathetic Minister, and a sympathetic Government. There is really no need at all to put the people out of the house I have referred to.
– Have they been put out?
– They are not out yet, but when we were leaving they were threatened with eviction, and I do not want this to be done by our Government. I also advise the Minister to see that something is done to keep the houses in repair. A little expenditure will be sufficient for this purpose.
– I do not think there is a man on either side who would see the people evicted.
– Neither do I. I hope my honorable friends, the member for Calare, and the member for Echuca, who visited the island, will not be a party to any further evictions, especially when it is known perfectly well that the Government have no use for these houses at all. The honorable member for Echuca made some reference to the administration of the island, and I want to impress upon honorable members the fact that the Government have £3,000 down in the Estimates for the administration of the island this year. In view of the fact that there are less than 150 families there, this is absolutely ridiculous.
– £20 per family.
– But is not a part of that for education purposes, and so forth?
– Yes, that is true. But £20 per family is very high. I admit that Mr. Murphy impressed me as being a very capable administrator, but I cannot see any necessity to follow, in regard to the island, the example of the Northern Territory and Papua, where the interests are more important, and the population and area are much larger, nor should we follow the course to be adopted in the Federal Capital Territory. Norfolk Island does not require His Excellency, and a regularly constituted Government House, with all the paraphernalia associated with a pretentious and imposing Administration. We do not want anything of that sort for an island with less than 150 families, representing 600 men, women, and children. There is no need for an official secretary, secretary to the Executive Council, Customs Officer, postmaster, and a number of other officers, not forgetting one policeman and two local auxiliaries. With every respect to Mr. Murphy, I say that any man who has visited the island, and will express an honest opinion, will admit that one smart man would be capable of doing everything on the island, including Customs work, for there is a ship calling only once a month, and it arrives in the morning, and departs in the afternoon or evening. One man could do the whole of the work. He could have a local policeman to assist him and to carry out those multitudinous duties which elsewhere in Australia fall upon police officers. The Police Court cases would be so few as not to justify the appointment of a policeman there at all for that purposeonly, but as I have said, there are other duties in which a policeman could be employed.
There is just one other point that I want to draw attention to. Excellent coffee is grown on the island, and there is a great opportunity for the islanders if they can be given some encouragement in the way of marketing the product in Australia. Since the island came under Commonwealth control the duty of 3d. per lb. has been removed, but peculiarly enough the buyers in Sydney have refused to alter their price to the Norfolk Island people, so I would like the Minister to make a special note of it, and see if a remedy can be found. If the islanders could be assisted by a plant for skinning the coffee, and if they were given the opportunity of selling their coffee to a number of merchants in Australia, instead of having to sell to only one having a skinning plant, they would be very greatly encouraged to give more attention to the production of this article. I hope, therefore, that the Minister will give these matters his earnest consideration.
.- There is just one matter that I want to bring before the Committee in connexion with this subject. When these people were asked to sign the lease, we were advised that they refused to do so. Rather than sign it, they went out. That is the sum total of the whole business, and I cannot see that they can claim much sympathy under these conditions.
.- This incident brings up one of the most romantic episodes in Australian history, which sprang out of the wave of compassion that arose throughout the world on behalf of a little island which could not produce enough food for the people who inhabited it. I refer to the Pitcairn Island. It is also another instance of the many experiments in land tenure that the British nation has indulged in during the last century. The people did not care to leave Pitcairn Island, on which many of them had been born; but ultimately, on the sacred promise of the late Queen Victoria, they were induced to leave. They were promised the houses, buildings, and offices that had been in use when Norfolk Island was a hell upon earth, at a time when to be a convict was to be a criminal punishable in the most severe manner that human intelligence could invent. The premises rendered vacant on the abolition of the penal settlement at Norfolk Island were promised to the Pitcairn Islanders; and I would ask the honorable member for Echuca if there is not on the mainland such a thing as adverse possession, under which an occupant may obtain the title to his holding after so many years’ occupation?
– That is twenty-one years; the people I refer to have occupied these premises for fifty years.
– That fact has to be borne in mind when considering the position of the Pitcairn Islanders, who came to Norfolk Island on the sacred promise of the late Queen Victoria. I visited the island in 1907, when the Federal Government was strong enough to abolish black slavery, on my way to the New Hebrides, to see the kanakas who had been returned to their homes. At that time I was told by these men that they were feeling the grip of the New South Wales Government. I said then that I hoped they would in the future come under the dominion of the Commonwealth, and what I thought then I think now - that there is not a member of this House who would evict any of these people, even if he had the chance. Many of them are now very old, even those of the third generation, and when they were allowed by the British Government to rule themselves, the position seemed to be fairly satisfactory. No word of mine will be urged against Mr. Murphy, who is, I believe, an intelligent administrator; but I say that the island is suffering from the curse of large salaries, where they are not needed. When they had their own votes, the islanders, through their council of leaders, ruled the island intelligently, and sought to prevent the aggregation of large estates, though close upon 1,200 acres are held in one estate by the Melanesian Mission.
– It is 900 acres.
– At that time is was 1,200 acres. It may have been lessened a little since, but I think it is nearer 900 than 1,200 acres now. There was a law in operation that when a sailor came to the island and married, he had a right to 20 acres of land and a house. If one of the boys visited the mainland and took a wife back, the same right was given to him. But when the late Administration came into existence, all that was swept away. I have never in my life allowed my brain to create a thought, or my lips to utter a word, against religion; but I say that religion to-day is not doing its duty. The islanders complained to me that Motu - perhaps the best language that was spoken in the New Hebrides - was being taught.
– They are teaching it now.
– Motu is a mors musical language than Italian, but why did they not teach the glorious English language, the language of our continent here? I do not say that good work is not being done, but quoting the words of one of the islanders, I protest against that one large estate of the best land being permitted in the middle of the cleared portion of the island.
– How did they get it?
– You will have to ask the church. You have only ‘got to go down Little Collins-street and see there where the house of God was hidden by whiskeries, wineries, and breweries that were built against it. I raised my protest here against what was being done then, but if any honorable member goes past William-street he will see that the church has been taken, lock, stock, and barrel, from the slates of the roof down to the stones of the foundation, and shifted in order to make way for breweries, wineries, and distilleries, and other business places. But speaking on behalf of these islanders, if there is a single spark of humanity left in the mind of anybody who may care to go there, I am sure he will come back as strong an advocate of their claims as I am, if he will only mix with them and see them as I did. There are other members of this House who have visited the island lately. When the islanders of Pitcairn chose their wives from the South Sea Islands they taught their children their father tongue - English. The mothers taught their children the mother tongue, and to-day in Norfolk Island you will hear the English language spoken with the softness of the Italian tongue. I have never heard English spoken as sweetly and as softly as it is spoken on this island. I want the Ministry to see if they cannot send there a common-sense man who will teach the residents the latest ideas in cultivation. There is not a single fruit that will not flourish in Norfolk Island, which could keep Australia supplied with citrus fruits or cocoanuts, and many of the other fruit) that we have now to import more or less regularly from the Mediterranean. All sub-tropical products might be cultivated there with advantage. There are about 600 people on Norfolk Island, and there is, perhaps, less crime there than in any portion of Australia. I hope that the people will be given a better chance than they had under the administration of the New South Wales Government. We should appoint some honorable member of this Parliament to represent the island Territories of the Commonwealth. In every State of Australia every adult should have one vote. Even in the mighty United States of America this does not obtain, because, in that country, the residents of the District of Columbia have not the franchise. According to Mr. Bell, the inventor of the telephone, that is because of the bribery and corruption of the native vote. Here, in the Northern Territory, Papua, and in Norfolk Island the white people are unrepresented. They should be enfranchised and thus remove what, in my view, is a stain on the good name of Australia. I hope that honorable members will discover some way to remedy that state of things. I shall lose no opportunity to voice a protest against the infamy of depriving white men and women of the right to vote. We have done that in the case of the Territories of the Commonwealth to which I refer, although wc claim to have in the Commonwealth the broadest franchise in the world. I ask the Minister of External
Affairs to consider whether it is not possible, by permitting certain honorable members of this House to represent the people in these places, to extend to them the rights of Australian citizenship.
.- I wish to follow up the remarks made by the honorable member for Melbourne. I visited Norfolk Island a few months ago, and I am in a position to question what the honorable member has said concerning the area of land occupied by the Melanesian Mission. The Mission occupies an area of from 900 to 1,000 acres. It was offered to them by the Government at £2 per acre, and at that time it was unoccupied Crown land. Since the Mission secured the land they have brought it to a high state of improvement. The estate under the Melanesian Mission has become really an experimental farm for the benefit of the islanders. The property has been improved and brought up to the state of perfection of an English park, and when secured by the Mission was not required by the islanders.
– It is required by the islanders now.
– There are 1,500 acres of Crown lands still available on the island.
– Did not the islanders object to such a large tract of land being taken from them?
– The Mission is employing, in different ways, from twenty to twenty-five islanders, and if the area they occupy were divided into lots of about forty acres each, it might be suggested that the islanders, although not occupying the land individually, are occupying it collectively. There are 120 mission boys, who are being taught farming, carpentry, and other industries. They are also being taught to read and write.
– Are they being taught to speak English ?
– Yes, they are being taught English as well.
– Not at all.
– I may be astray on that point; but honorable members will agree that we are under some obligation to evangelize, Christianize, and civilize the islands of the Pacific.
– And brutalize them?
– No honorable member who has visited Norfolk Island could come to> any such conclusion as the honorable member suggests. The work of the Melanesian Mission has an influence for good, and is a blessing to the islanders. It is true that the people who have, according to the honorable member for Cook, been evicted from their homes may, in some instances, have occupied them for seventy years; but I point out that the Government first of all parcelled out the land in portions of from twenty-five to forty acres.
– How many acres are there in the island altogether?
– There are 8,000 acres.
– The Statesmen’s Y earBook, which I have here, says that there are only 6,440 acres.
– That statement is incorrect. The honorable members for Cook and East Sydney will agree with me that there are 8,000 acres on the island.
– The honorable member is wrong in saying that the Government parcelled out the land. The natives distributed it amongst themselves.
– As one who has made his living on the land, I know that if I did not live upon it, and came to live in a town, it would not be properly developed, and I should not be making the progress which I might be expected to make. These people were permitted to live in the houses provided until they built homes of their own on the blocks granted to them by the Government.
– Are not the unoccupied houses going to ruin?
– I believe that is so; but I wish to say that I consider the people have been humanely treated. The Government told them that they might occupy the premises for three generations at a peppercorn rental. They could not have made them a more reasonable offer, and I agree with the honorable member for Echuca that they were not well advised in rejecting it. They were asked to sign leases on the terms I have stated, merely that they might acknowledge the Crown as the owner of the land. I wish to impress upon the Minister of External Affairs the fact that something should be done for the benefit of the Norfolk Islanders. We should do, for instance, for them what the New South Wales Government did for the people of Lord Howe Island. The people of that island produced an annual crop of palm seed, and the Government of New South Wales appointed a Commission to find a market and distribute their products for them. We should find out what Norfolk Island is suitable for, and should, by the appointment of a Commission to market the products of the people, prevent them from being victimized by the people of Australia. They are not up to business methods, and it is necessary that the Government should take a paternal interest in them. We were shown over a coffee estate on Norfolk Island, where hundreds of bushels of coffee were produced, and were informed that the producers got something like 6d. per pound for the product. That is not a very remunerative price. They are prepared to sell large cases of luscious oranges at 2s. per case. Schnapper, trumpeter, trevalli, kingfish, and other fish weighing from 12 lbs. to 15 lbs. are sold there at1s. each. Beef and mutton can be obtained at 3d. per lb. In my opinion, Norfolk Island is an ideal place in which to spend a holiday. I hope that many citizens of the Commonwealth will pay a visit to the island. Provision should be made for better accommodation, and a regular steam-ship service should be provided to help the islanders. The exports of the island amount to about £1,500 per annum, while the imports total about £9,000. These figures, on their face, would seem to spell ruination ; but the shortage in exports as compared with imports is made good by the amount expended by visitors ; by the cable station, which employs fifteen or twenty hands; and by the Melanesian Mission, which also spends a lot of money in finding employment for the islanders.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Division 40 (Mail Service to Pacific Islands), £22,850, agreed to.
Division 41 (Miscellaneous), £41,225.
.- I should like to obtain some information with regard to the despatch by the Commonwealth Government of a representative to the International Congress of Veterinarians which was appointed to be held some time ago in the Old Country. A grant of £150 was made for the pur pose. The object sought to be accomplished by our representative at the Congress was to place before the representatives of other nations the exact position of Australia in respect to diseases of stock, and to obtain from the best veterinarians of the world information as to the most scientific method of dealing with such diseases. When the matter was first brought forward, it was pointed out that the Australian representative would be able to disseminate amongst the States the information obtained by him; and 1 should like to ascertain whether the report of our representative has yet been printed and circulated for the benefit of the States who co-operated, I understand, with the Commonwealth in this movement. The Victorian Government went so far as to offer the services of its chief veterinary officer as a representative of the Commonwealth. Shortly after the despatch of our representative, the war broke out, and I am anxious to learn whether this International Congress actually took place. Australia stands out amongst the nations of the earth as the one great stock-raising country which is practically immune from the most dread diseases of stock such as the footandmouth disease, and I was hopeful that an exhaustive report on the results of the Congress would be presented.
– If I have the report, I shall see that the honorable member is supplied with a copy of it.
.- In connexion with the item “ Advertising the Resources of the Commonwealth, I shouldlike to obtain some information. The appropriation for this purpose for 1913-14 was £50,000, and the amount actually expended was £41,979; but the estimate for this year was only £5,000. On the other hand, provision is made in these Estimates for an expenditure of £5,000 on advertising in the United States of America, in addition to an expenditure of £12,000 on the Panama Exposition. I wish to know why we should spend £5,000 in advertising our resources in America. It seems to me that Australia at present is securing, from our boys at the front, the greatest and most glorious advertisement she has ever had ; and that this sum of £5,000 would be much better expended upon them. or upon those whom some of them will, unfortunately, leave behind.
.- The explanation is a very simple one. It is that these Estimates were compiled before the outbreak of the war, and that, in view of the expenditure on the Panama Exposition
– There is an additional item of £L2,000 in connexion with that Exposition.
– Quite so; but our object was to avail ourselves to the fullest extent of the opportunity which that Exposition offered for advertising the resources of Australia, not only in California, but in the other States of the Union.
– Has the £5,000 been expended ?
– Practically nothing has been spent on advertising in America, so far as I am aware, since the outbreak of the war. It was recognised that during the continuance of the war we could not reasonably expect to obtain the desired result; and beyond what has been expended upon literature for the Panama Exposition at San Francisco I think very little of this money has been spent, at all events since the outbreak of the war.
– A few days ago the honorable member for Ballarat asked in this House a series of questions concerning the appointment of Mr. Deakin as one of the Commissioners to the Panama Exposition, and the answer given by the Minister left it clearly to be inferred that Mr. Deakin, in order to secure double payment for his services, misled his fellow Commissioners sitting in San Francisco.
– That was not intended.
– No other inference could be drawn from the answer. The question asked by the honorable member for Ballarat was -
Was the Australian Commissioner at San Francisco aware, when paying him (Mr. Deakin) £43 10s. per. week, that f 1,000 had been paid into Mr. Deakin’s credit in Melbourne to cover his expenses?
– That question had, surely, to be answered “ Yes “ or “ No.”
– The answer given by the Minister was -
No: the Commission, at a meeting in San Francisco, after Mr. Deakin’s arrival, agreed to pay him 30 dollars per day. The other members of the Commission were not aware at the time that Mr. Deakin had been paid £1,000 in Melbourne.
If Mr. Deakin had received £1,000 while in Melbourne, then this answer by the Minister would leave it to be inferred that he allowed the other members of the Commission sitting in San Francisco to vote him a salary of £43 10s. per week, although he had in his pocket at the time £1,000 given to him by the Commonwealth to cover his expenses. That implies the most odious charge that could be levelled against such a man. It is unfortunate that two of the oldest and most faithful public servants of Australia are being tossed out like corks on the water, and allowed to float off “without as much as a compliment being paid to them.
– Does the right honorable member know that George Ryland was a very old public servant?
– I was not aware of it.
– And yet he was sacked because he was a Labour man.
– We have had the George Ryland case all day, and if I may draw an inference, it seems to me that the only one that can be drawn is that all this visitation of vengeance on these old public servants comes about because the Liberal Government did not keep George Ryland doing nothing in the north of Australia at £800 a year. I have heard that George Ryland admits that he had no useful place to fill up there.
– That is pure rumour. “
– I ask honorable members not to discuss that subject.
– Is the honorable member for Brisbane prepared to say that George Ryland Had a useful function to fulfil in the Northern Territory, and that he was entitled to be paid more than-
– Order ! ‘ This discussion is out of order.
– Yes, Mr. Chairman, I would rather not say, anything about George Ryland. I am speaking to the question of Mr. Deakin’s expenses at the Panama Exposition, and I say that the inference which the Minister clearly leaves to be drawn is that Mr. Deakin deceived the Commission in San Francisco, and although he had £1,000 in his pocket, took £43 10s. per week from them.
– Do you say that the allegation is incorrect?
– I hope that *t is; I do not know anything about it.
– Then why talk about it?
– Because m the absence of evidence I do not believe that Mr. Deakin deceived the Commission. Th s whole of his past career and history gives the lie to any such charge.
– Then what the Minister said was untrue and misleading.
– All that I wish to say is that I hope, in the interests of Mr. Deakin, that the Minister will put the matter right. If ever there was a man who was scrupulous in regard to public moneys it was Mr. Deakin. He was the one man in Australia who stood out particularly in that regard; the one man who always treate’d public moneys as if he were in reality a trustee of private moneys.
– Surely such conduct is not exceptional.
– It was exceptional in this way : He was always parsimonious in the expenditure of public moneys upon himself. When a man with the utmost scrupulosity with regard to the expenditure of public moneys upon himself is treated in this fashion, we have a right to enter a protest.
– I am glad to learn that the right honorable gentleman has altered his opinion in regard to Mr. Deakin.
– That is a hit to leg! I have heard the right honorable gentleman say some awful things about Alfred Deakin.
– Did not the right honorable gentleman attack Mr. Deakin on the matter of expenses ?
– Order! This cross-firing must cease.
– Never; and if I may also reply to the foolish interjection of the honorable member for Macquarie - because it means nothing; it is an idle interjection-
– If the right honorable gentleman calls it an idle interjection he is “ hot stuff.”
– I call it an absolutely idle interjection, from an idle fellow, who the other day came here and wanted to sit all hours of the day and night, and whom we did not see again for a fortnight afterwards.
– Will the honorable gentleman address himself to the item?
– I am here as often as the right honorable gentleman.
– I wish the honorable member would keep his foghorn voice out of this debate. He blunders in every time. Let him keep out of this matter; he is not in it at all.
– Does he speak the truth ?
– He does not speak the truth.
– I ask the right honorable member to withdraw that statement.
– Yes, I withdraw it. The interjection led me astray. I meant to say that the honorable member’s statement was ‘an absolute exaggeration. I wish to make but one reply to it. If ever a man did serve the party opposite Mr. Deakin did, and they reward him by treating him as if he were a pickpocket. That is my answer to all these taunts of honorable members.
– Twenty-six of us kept thirteen of Mr. Deakin’s party in office.
– In order to keep the right honorable gentleman out.
– That is a perfectly proper interjection from an Independent, who votes and speaks Labour every time
– May I again ask the right honorable member to confine himself to the item?
– May I ask you, Mr. Chairman, to protect me from these terrific onslaughts from this Independent member who sits immediately behind the Government, and supports them to his heart’s content?
– I am doing so. I ask the honorable member to confine himself to the item.
– I ask the Minister to clear up this point, because the inference is clearly to be drawn from this statement that Mr. Deakin took £43 10s. per week from the Exposition Commission at San Francisco, while at the same time he had £1,000 in his pocket which this Government had given to him before he went hence. An honorable member interjects, “ Are you jealous?” I am jealous for the reputation of an old public servant, and I hope that party feeling has not so got the better of us that we cannot stand up and defend each other’s reputations in these matters. It is miserable, pettifogging party spirit which leads us to make these inferences against public men with such splendid records behind them.
– No one is impugning Mr. Deakin’s honour.
– This statement does. The Minister says that Mr. Deakin was given £1,000 to cover his expenses when he went away.
– He had a perfect right to get it.
– I understand that it was placed at his disposal. Yet here the Minister says, without a word of explanation, that Mr. Deakin allowed the Commission in San Francisco to vote him another £43 10s. per week over and above the £1,000.
– I do not see anything wrong in that. Mr. Deakin was entitled to be paid his expenses.
– Does the honorable member believe that Mr. Deakin took this £43 10s. and the £1,000 also?
– I am sure that he would not do so.
– Yet here is the Minister’s reply given in the House.
– If you read the Minister’s reply you would understand it.
– Will the Minister of Home Affairs read the reply? I am sorry I have asked him to read it, for I know he would not be capable of understanding it if he did.
– If I had a talent for political roguery like you, heaven help me !
– The Minister must withdraw that remark. It is not in order.
– I will withdraw it if it is offensive, though it strikes me as pretty true.
– The Standing Orders must be obeyed, as I am sure the Minister will see.
– I withdraw it.
– The Panama business wants a good deal of clearing up apart from the reflection on Mr. Deakin’s honour in this question and answer.
– Nothing can touch his honour. He is an honorable man, especially in money matters.
– And we have a right to protect his honour in his absence.
The more I look into the matter the more I am convinced that he has received the scurviest treatment that ever a man received at the hands of any Ministry.
– The whole Government are to blame as much as the Minister.
– I am referring to the Government.
– What are we to blame for?
– For treating Mr. Deakin in the way he was treated in connexion with the Commission and for sending him over there after a controversy, the record of which, I suppose, would go over on the same boat with him. If anything could tend to neutralize his influence at the other end, I should think it would be the reading of the correspondence which took place between him and the Minister, and which all turned on one omission on Mr. Deakin’s part in setting out the then position of affairs with regard to Panama. All the details were on the file in the honorable member’s office.
– They were not. They are not there even yet.
– Why are they not there?
– I do not know. That is what I should like to find out.
– Who kept them off?
– I do not know. I should like to find out.
– I do not see why the honorable member does not or cannot find out. Has he tried to find out?
– What files are missing that should be there?
– The most important letter of all - the one that Mr. Nielsen wrote on the 14th August.
– Is not that on your file?
– This conversation ‘ is entirely out of order.
– It is interesting, and wants some clearing up. If the letter was addressed to the Commission it ought to be on the file of the Commission. If there is a letter missing I should like to know what has become of it, and what is the reason that it is not on the file.
– I do not know any more than you do.
– That is the clearest proof that the honorable member has not concerned himself in finding it.
– What other inference is possible? Mr. Nielsen is there; Mr. Deakin is there; Mr. Edward is now here; and whatever were the previous relations between Mr. Nielsen and the Minister, Mr. Nielsen feels himself as much affronted as Mr. Deakin by the Minister’s action. It is not only over Mr. Deakin that the honorable member has ridden rudely and roughly. It is Mr. Nielsen and everybody else there. The Minister has waved them all aside.
– I think you ought to wait until you get all the facts.
– When are we to get all the facts?
– They are not available yet.
– The Minister takes care that he will not make anything available. Would he mind making available the correspondence that has taken place recently between him and the .Commission?
– Most of that was published in the Argus.
– I understand that a most interesting correspondence has taken place between the Minister and some of the Commissioners resident in Australia - Mr. Hagelthorn, for instance. Will the honorable member make that correspondence public?
– Part of it has been made public already.
– Where is the other part?
– I am not in the habit of publishing information prematurely.
– I am sure the honorable member is not premature in anything that he does not think is to his own advantage. He is acting very cutely over the whole business. I hope to have other opportunities to see this correspon dence; but in the meantime, one or two facts stand out that require some explanation from the Minister. He not only waved aside the Commission in regard to the* appointment of a successor to Mr. Edward, and insisted upon Mr. Oughton taking charge of the whole thing there, but he went so far as to communicate with an outside commissioner altogether - the American Commissioner of the Exhibition - and told him to take no notice of the Australian Commission.
– I did not.
– The Minister practically told him, “Mr. Oughton is the man; look to him, and never mind anybody else.”
– I merely notified him officially that Mr. Oughton had been appointed Secretary to the Commission, and said no more. I did that as I was bound to do it.
– What had the American Commissioner to do with it?
– He had the direction of the whole concern, being the executive officer of the American Government.
– He had nothing to do with our court, which is our affair.
– Yes; he had absolute control over the whole thing.
– This conversation across the table is very irregular.
– We are ascertaining the facts. ‘ The more they are looked at, the more ugly they look for the Minister.
– I am satisfied.
– I am sure the honorable member is. He set his heart on giving this man this billet, and allowed nothing to stand in the way. If trusted public servants stand in the way, “ out “ them; let them go to the four winds of heaven - to the uttermost corners of the earth.
– Utterly incorrect.
– The Minister said, “Let them all go, if they are in the road - even Mr. Nielsen,” whom he relied on implicitly at the beginning of the affair. His main charge against Mr. Deakin was that he did not forward to him everything that Mr. Nielsen had written to him. He told us that Mr. Nielsen was the one man whose opinion should have guided the Government in connexion with the Commission, and because one letter from this man, upon whom he relied altogether, so far as the control of the Exhibition was concerned, was not among the papers, he said that a gross injustice had been done. When asked of what the injustice consisted, he said, “ Mr. Nielsen’s is the one opinion that counts.”
– Exactly; as the man on the spot.
– But when it comes to the matter of Mr. Oughton, Mr. Nielsen’s opinion is worth nothing. His opinion counted for everything against Mr. Deakin, but it went for nothing in the scale against Mr. Oughton.
– Are you defending Mr. Nielsen now?
– The honorable member has ceased to defend him. He has given him the boot. He stood in the way of Mr. Oughton, and out he went. When Mr. Deakin alone was concerned, Mr. Nielsen was the only man whose opinion counted with the Minister. He was the man who should have absolute control, the man who knew the business from A to Z, and the one person upon whom the Minister could rely. Mr. Deakin took exception to the appointment of Mr. Oughton, and would not have him foisted on to the Commission to the exclusion of Mr. Harrison, whom the Commissioners had appointed, and who had taken up the work where Mr. Edward left it. Mr. Harrison had become acquainted with the details of the Commission’s administration and its interior economy, and when he was firmly settled in the saddle, Mr. Oughton popped up with a letter from the Minister, which told him practically to’ take charge, and not mind any one else. Mr. Nielsen, as well as Mr. Deakin and Mr. Robertson, took exception to this action of the Minister, and they all had to go. I do not know who Mr. Oughton is, but he ought to be a very able man, a man of outstanding merit, a shining star in the firmament, to justify the setting aside in his favour of trusted public servants in this way. To cap all, the Minister finished by intimating to the American Commission that Mr. Oughton had been appointed, and that he was the man to reckon with. “ Never mind Mr. Deakin, or Mr. Nielsen, or Mr. Robertson, Mr. Oughton is your man from now on.” That is strange treatment for trusted public officials, who gave time, talents, and energies to the making of the Panama Exposition a success.
Mr. Deakin left Australia with the good will and good wishes of his fellow countrymen to be the representative of the Commonwealth at the Exposition. I urge my protest as strongly as I can against such treatment of an old and trusted public servant. We have had two instances of the kind in one day, and have not been paid even the compliment of an explanation as to why those concerned were so treated. Sir George Reid is to go from the High Commissioner’s office, and all we can get from the Ministry is five minutes’ bluff from the Prime Minister. There is no explanation offered as to the reason for the Government’s action. Mr. Deakin vied with Sir George Reid in the public service of this country throughout a lifetime. Both of them are poor men in their old age because of their devotion to the public interest. Party views should never blind us to the great public services of these men. I should like to hear from the Minister an explanation of the question and answer which he has allowed to go on record. In view of Mr. Deakin’s great care in the spending of public money he should have been protected from the inferences which are inescapable in connexion with the Minister’s answer.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department of Home Affairs.
Division 98 (Administrative Staff),
– Can the Minister inform us what is the general policy of the Government in regard to the railway development of the Northern Territory? The Minister of External Affairs referred us to him. Will the - honorable gentleman tell us whether the Government have considered a comprehensive railway policy for the development of the Northern Territory, and give us some idea as to the direction in which the* railways will go ?
.- The request of the honorable member for Darling Downs is a strange cue to come from an ex-Minister, who should know even better than myself what the position is in regard to these Estimates. Practically the whole of the money which we are now voting has already been spent. I assure the Committee that the
Government have a policy for the development of the Northern Territory.
– The Minister might state it.
– It does not occur to the honorable member that possibly the question about which he has asked has not been considered by the Cabinet. The Government will certainly redeem the promise made as to the construction of the north-south railway. It has been suggested that this is the time for carrying out the work; that we can borrow plenty of money from the British Government; and have, in fact, more than we know what to do with. This is the double-distilled trash that we generally get from the Opposition. During the past sixteen months we have laid practically 500 miles of railway. What did the last Administration do in regard to the east-west railway? Practically nothing. Its affairs were in a hopeless muddle.
– That is an incorrect statement, and the Minister knows it.
– It is a correct statement, though it has nothing to do with the question. The question I was asked was in regard to a policy for the Northern Territory, and my answer is that it is not a fair question.
– That has nothing to do with the cast-west railway.
– I was giving an illustration, and if the right honorable gentleman docs not wish me to enlarge upon it, I will not do so.
– I do not mind.
– I dare say that some information will be wanted about the matter, and I can afford to let it go. As I am not particularly anxious to “ stone-wall “ my own Estimates, I would like them to be proceeded with. My answer to the inquiry of the honorable member for Darling Downs is that the question has not been considered by the Government, and that in the Estimates for the next financial year proposals will be made in regard to the north-south railway.
Mr. PAGE (Maranoa) [9.561.- At the beginning of these Estimates there is a little item regarding which I desire an explanation. The Home Affairs Department in one respect is in exactly the same position as the Defence Department. The secretaries to. these Departments are hun- dreds of miles away from the seat of learning in Melbourne, and they are still down on the Estimates as secretaries. I propose to move that the salary of the Secretary to the Home Affairs Department be struck out, because there is really no Secretary.
– Some officer is drawing the salary.
– Let the Secretary to the Department draw the salary for the work he is doing in the Federal Capital Territory. Let His Excellency be the administrator of that Territory, and let the officer who is doing the secretarial work of the Department draw the salary for the position. I ask the Minister to tell me what is the position of Mr. Bingie on these Estimates.
– He is Acting Secretary. That is all I know about him.
– There is no provision here for an Acting Secretary. Will the Minister ask his “ boss “ behind the chair what position Mr. Bingie occupies in the Department?
– He is recognised in the Department as Acting Secretary.
– He may be put down here as Chief Clerk, but that is his position.
– -He has been doing the secretarial work for two years. , There is a regulation which provides that if an officer in the clerical or professional division does the work of an officer for six months, he shall receive the pay of the latter. I desire to know why the Chief Clerk in the Horn© Affairs Department is not receiving the pay of the secretary; and in order that we may have a discussion on the item, I move -
That the item, “Secretary, £900,” be reduced by £1.
– I desire, sir, to make a personal explanation, if I may. A little difference arose between the honorable member for Calare and myself, and I think it can be cleared up to his satisfaction and mine if I read a paragraph from page 33 of the report on Norfolk Island by the secretary to the. Department of External Affairs -
A glance at the map will show that about a sixth of the alienated lands of the island arc included in one holding, under the name of the Melanesian Mission, whose head-quar- ters are here established. Considerable opposition was shown to the sale of these lands in 1868. The then inhabitants resented the intrusion of outsiders of any class, and contended that the island had been given to the Pitcairners for their exclusive use. Sir John Young, Governor of New South Wales, was of opinion that it would be for the ultimate good of the community, as well as of the Mission, that the transaction should be completed, and accordingly a small free grant was made -
That is not counted - and about 900 acres were sold for £2 per acre, the purchase money being added to the Norfolk Island Fund.
I desire to explain that, in addition to the 900 acres, there was a grant whose acreage is not mentioned there, and that is how so many honorable members justifiably concluded that it was only 900 acres which the Melanesian Mission had.
– I am sorry that the Minister of Home Affairs thought that I was treating him unfairly in asking a question regarding railway policy. I was not criticising him in regard to any particular item. Is there anything unfair in asking a Minister whether the Government, after having been in office for nine months, have a policy with respect to the Northern Territory, and, if so, to tell the Committee what it is? The reply I received from the Minister was that it was an unfair question to ask. What was the object of placing this large Territory under the Government if their duty is not to frame and develop a policy, and ask this Parliament to follow their lead ? The Minister has told us that it is the policy of the Government to carry the line from Pine Creek to Oodnadatta. Is it part of their policy to provide for communication between that main line and the railway systems in other States? For instance, is it intended to make a connexion with Queensland? I would remind the Minister that, when the Agreement regarding the Northern Territory was being discussed here, the late Mr. Batchelor said that the very safeguard of the Agreement was the fact that such railway connexions could be made. While not desiring to embarrass the Minister in any way in regard to carrying out the Agreement as concerns the north-south line, I would like to know whether it is the intention of the Government to provide connexions between the Territory and the railway systems in the other States?
– How many years’ programme do you reckon that is? Do you expect the Minister to effect all that- next year?
– I should think that after being in office for nine months the Government have some idea of the direction in which their railway policy is to go. A Railway Commission was appointed to investigate this matter. It will be remembered that, with the exception of the period in which the administration was carried on by the honorable member for Angas, a Labour Government have been in charge of the Northern Territory from the very date on which it was taken over. Any one who glances at the report of the ex-Minister can see that he had a complete, comprehensive policy, which did include the possibility of a connexion with Queensland - in fact, a definite proposal. It is not unreasonable to expect a Government who have always chided other Governments for doing nothing to be prepared with a statement of policy in this regard. I shall be glad if the Minister can give some information on the subject to the Committee.
– I do not know that I have any other answer to give. I think that it is decidedly absurd to ask for a railway policy to be declared when we are considering Estimates for a financial year which will expire in about three weeks.
– I am not asking about your Estimates; I am asking for your policy.
– And I am asking the honorable member to have a bit of common sense. The answer to the honorable member is obviously that when the Treasurer submits the Estimates for the next financial year, and when he makes his policy statement to the House, will be the time for the Government to declare their policy in regard to railways. But so that there may be no misunderstanding, I may inform the Committee that it is the intention of the Government to proceed with the construction of the northsouth railway. I may further say that it is our intention to follow up the railway policy in the north proposed by the honorable member for Angas, because we propose to extend the line from Katherine River to Bitter Springs. Turning now to the salary of the Acting Secretary for Home Affairs, I ask the honorable member for Maranoa to withdraw his amendment. Mr. Bingie, I admit, is a very able secretary. I am not here to defend in the abstract the Government policy in regard to this officer’s salary, but the war having broken out a few weeks before we took office, it was considered by the Government that, in view of the extraordinary expenditure that would have to be faced, it was not desirable to increase salaries more than was necessary. It is in accordance with that policy that the salary of the Acting Secretary has not been increased. We hope that the war will soon be over, and then we shall be able to reconsider these matters without having to face the big expenditure on warlike preparations which is proving such a heavy drain on the public resources at the present time. Soon after the Government took office, the Leader of the Opposition asked me whether it was our intention to establish a Lithographic Department, and I answered in the negative. My reason for doing so was that, although I believe that such a Department would be a wise innovation, the time was not opportune for embarking on expenditure of that nature. My defence of the Estimates as they appear before the Committee to-night is based on that ground alone. Any one who has, as Minister, had the honour of receiving the assistance of Mr. Bingie can vouch for his ability and loyalty to the Service, but I may inform the Committee that he has never pressed upon me his claims for a reconsideration of his salary. On the contrary, he has always taken the ground that the present was not the time for the adjustment of salaries. I do not say that the Committee should be guided by that fact, but it is right that I should mention Mr. Bingle’s attitude.
– And he has never spoken to me, on the subject, either.
– Mr. Bingie would be the last person to approach a member on a matter of this sort. His present salary is due to the exigencies of the war, and will be adjusted as soon as this great international trouble is over. Therefore, I ask the honorable member for Maranoa not to press his amendment. The Government may have committed an error of judgment. We might have increased the higher salaries, and given this particular officer the salary he ought to receive; but we decided not to increase salaries for the time being. I hope my explanation will satisfy, the Committee that the Government had no desire to act unjustly to Mr. Bingie or to any other officer who may have thought that he was entitled to increased recognition of his services to the Commonwealth.
Mr. RICHARD FOSTER (Wakefield; [10.12]. - I was pleased to hear the Minister speak so well of Mr. Bingie, but the modesty of that officer in not seeking what is justly due to him makes me feel that such a public servant ought to be protected. I cannot understand the Minister’s statement about increases to salaries not having been given recently, because during the time Mr. Bingie has been Acting Secretary of the Home Affairs Department, extensive and striking increases have been given to public officers. It should be remembered that Mr. Bingie is advancing in years, and, in addition, he is fitted for the very highest position in the Service. He has been treated without due consideration by the present Government and by the previous Government. It is not in the interests of the Public Service to allow a distinguished officer of the capacity and character of Mr. Bingie to reach his age without allowing him to enjoy, not only the position, but also the pay commensurate with his abilities and years of service. I hope the practice of taking a Secretary from the Department for more than two years, and appointing ah Acting Secretary, will be discontinued. The Secretary of the Home Affairs Department has been away from office intermittently for four years. I ask the Minister to further consider this matter, and give Mr. Bingie the pay that is his due, and also the status which, to an officer such as he, means infinitely more than the pay. My principal purpose in rising was to ask the Minister to give the Committee a comprehensive progress report on the construction to date of the Kalgoorlie-Port Augusta railway. The fact that we are dealing with Estimates, the votes in which arc almost entirely spent, is no reason why we should not know exactly how the money has been spent. In connexion with a big undertaking like the east-west railway which will involve the expenditure of several millions sterling, it is the duty of every honorable member to make himself personally acquainted with the progress of the work and of the expenditure which has been incurred up to date.
– Has not the honorable member a copy of the departmental digest ?
– Yes, but I desire a comprehensive progress report from the Minister such as should be issued in connexion with every big undertaking. I do not ask the Minister to make such a report available to the Committee tonight, but, if possible, I should like him to supply us to-morrow with a statement of what work has been done, and of the precise character of that work. The Minister has stated that since he assumed control of the Department a certain mileage of railway has actually been laid down, and he has implied, if he has not actually avowed, that infinitely better work has been done during the past few months than had been accomplished previously. If so, I am delighted to hear it, because I am satisfied that there was plenty of room for improvement in connexion with the whole business. I imagine that the accountant of the Department could, with very little difficulty, supply the information which I desire. I should like to be informed how much has actually been ‘ expended upon the construction of the line, how much has been spent upon rollingstock and plant, how much upon rollingstock for traffic purposes, and also upon making the requisite provision for water supplies. I further ask for information concerning the work that has been done which was not anticipated at the commencement of this undertaking, and for which provision was not made in the original estimate of cost. Then the Minister might tell us what amount has actually been expended to date, whether that expenditure has been within the official estimates of the Engineer-in-Chief , and, if not, by how much those estimates have been exceeded. If the Minister will supply us with these particulars, I am satisfied that the debate upon several items will be materially curtailed.
.- I do not intend to allow any opportunity to pass without emphasizing the necessity which exists for getting a move on in connexion with the construction of the northsouth transcontinental line. I am aware that no mention of that undertaking is made in this section of these Estimates, and, consequently, I assume that I shall be debarred from referring to it at any length. The need for the construction of this line is obvious to anybody who has a genuine interest in the welfare of Australia. I have not any patience with a Government which will not take action in the direction I have indicated. Of course, the Estimates which we are now considering are those framed bv the late Government, and the Ministry, therefore, may fairly plead that they are not responsible for them. Personally, I regard the need for the north-south railway as being so urgent that I am not prepared to accept any excuse for inaction. When the present war is over, it is quite probable that we shall have to recast our whole policy so far as the outside world is concerned. If the struggle should not end as satisfactorily as we desire it to end, there will be grave dangers ahead of us in the settlement of Australia, and in the absence of a transcontinental line from north to south, concessions may have to be made so far as our northern areas are concerned which we will all deplore. In the absence of railway communication settlement in that portion of the continent is impossible. I am inclined to think that provision might be made for the settlement of returned soldiers there. I am’ prepared to go to any length in forcing the hands of the Government in initiating the construction of this railway. To-night the Minister of External Affairs informed us that he had received a telegram from those who are engaged in exploring the route of the proposed line. That telegram stated that they were pleased to report that certain areas through which they had passed, instead of being the desert tracts they had been represented to be, consisted of finelywatered and grassed country. That information is very gratifying, and merely confirms my idea that the line will be a payable proposition from a pastoral point of view. Arrangements should be made with the States under which their railways will be linked up with this great transcontinental line. There should lie some co-operative scheme devised which will permit of the Commonwealth rendering necessary assistance to the States so as to ensure a grand trunk-line system. Assuming that the whole of the country which the north-south line will traverse is of a barren character, it will still pay to construct that line, in order that we may be provided with quick means of communication with the East. This is a paying proposition, and what i told the House the last time I spoke on the matter, namely, that, if the Government will not act, I should like an opportunity to form a syndicate to take it off the Government’s hands, I repeat now.
– I was not present when the honorable member for Maranoa raised the question of Mr. Bingle’s salary, but, in my judgment, he did a very proper thing. It is time that something was done to remove an anomaly that has existed for the past four . years. Had we on this side had the framing of these Estimates, I should certainly, have endeavoured to do something in that direction, and there is one way for which we have a precedent. When I went to the Defence Department five years ago Colonel Pethebridge was acting as Mr. Bingie is acting now, during the absence of Captain Collins, the Secretary of the Department, ?n London, on special duty.
– Captain Collins has been in London ever since, I think.
– That is so; but for three years Colonel Pethebridge acted for Captain Collins, at a salary of about £700 a year. In order to meet the situation, I placed an extra sum of £150 on the Estimates as an allowance to him as Chief Clerk, for acting as Secretary; in other words, provision was made to pay him half the difference between his nominal salary and the salary of the head of the Department. This meant that Colonel Pethebridge was paid a total of £850 per annum, or very nearly the salary of Captain Collins. I felt then - as I feel now in respect to Mr. Bingie - that the placing of this sum on the Estimates was only doing a modicum of justice. For four years Colonel Miller has been away in the Federal Territory, paying only occasional visits to the office, and during the whole of that time the work of Secretary has been practically done by Mr. Bingie.
– It has been wholly done by Mr. Bingie.
– Yes; I admit that.
– And Mr. Bingie has had to contend with all the limitations imposed by his anomalous position.
– There has been no limitation in responsibility, but only limitation in salary and status.
– And also of power in many respects; and the whole position requires putting right at the earliest possible moment. The first thing that the Government should do is to pass an Act creating a trust for the Federal Territory, and making Colonel Miller responsible Administrator in association with a couple of other experts selected because of their special aptitude and ability. Colonel Miller ought then to cut his connexion with the Department so far as the Secretaryship is concerned, and then, of course, Mr. Bingie would formally step into the position which he now actually fills. Pending that, there is nothing to prevent the Government from making an allowance to Mr. Bingie to compensate him for his work and responsibility, and that could easily be done by the means I adopted in the case of Colonel Pethebridge. Personally, I should like to see this matter go to a vote to-night, as there would then be a direction to the Government to act in the way I have suggested. Surely neither the war nor any other consideration should prevent us from paying reasonably for work performed. Mr. Bingie has been doing the work of Secretary for three years for £700 a year, and I see no reason why he should not be given at least another £100 out of the
Treasurer’s Advance, thus wiping away the reproach, for it is one, of requiring a man to perform these duties at the lower salary. . Every one knows what a competent and devoted officer Mr. Bingie is, and I am sure that he is as loyal to the present Minister as he was to his predecessor. I have known Mr. Bingie for many years, both in State and Federal service, and I venture to say there is no man more devoted to his office and work.
– He is a real good sort!
– A slave to his work !
– If Mr. Bingie is so good a “ sort “ and so valuable an officer, we ought to do him justice, and I have suggested an easy way which constitutes no reflection on the Government, but is merely a direction to increase Mr. Bingle’s salary from the Treasurer’s Advance. In connexion with the Capital City, I think that the Committee is entitled to know, Estimates or no Estimates, what are the relations generally between Mr. Griffin and the Minister and the other officers. Is anything being done to seriously modify Mr. Griffin’s plans? Once before there was an attempt at a serious modification, which might have had some temporary advantage, though I do not know, because I have not studied the matter sufficiently to say. However, if there is to be any modification in opposition to the views and wishes of the planner of the Capital, the Committee ought to know every detail and every step of the proposed modification, and the reasons for it.
– Mr. Griffin has modified the plans himself.
– Yes; but that is quite a different matter from having his plans modified by other people, who, it may be, do not understand them as he does. It is all the more necessary that Parliament should have something to say on this matter, because Mr. Griffin, so far as I know him, is not good at defending himself. Some of the best public officers in the world are not good at self-defence, and I fancy that Mr. Griffin is in that category. Everybody knows that he is an idealist. You have only to get into conversation with him to know he is a man of ideas.
– He is an extremely capable town planner, all the same.
– I believe that Mr. Griffin lives and moves and breathes in the air and atmosphere of this Federal Capital plan. All his life he has shown that he cares nothing for money, or for the material considerations that affect men Tn their ordinary business relations. His whole life bears witness to the fact that he does care for ideas, and I say that such a man is invaluable in connexion with the planning of a capital like ours, which is to last for centuries to come. I am not sure that, while Mr. Griffin is thinking of the position of affairs a couple of hundred years hence, the Minister and his officers are not considering the immediate requirements of the moment. I see no reason why there should be any friction at all.
– There is none, so far as I am concerned.
– Surely the Minister can hardly have seen his own papers if he says that?
– I am afraid the Minister cannot say that.
– It is perfectly correct.
– Does the Minister say that nothing has been done except with the approval and sanction of Mr. Griffin ? Can he say that he is doing nothing to modify Mr. Griffin’s plan ?
– I have not modified anything at all yet.
– I think the Minister referred once to the fifth wheel of the coach.
– If there is to be any modification, it will be done by the House and the country, not by me.
– Does the honorable the Minister seriously think that either he or this House is capable of modifying plans of that kind ? Does he really mean that the plan can be modified on the floor of this House?
– I will tell. you what I mean later on.
– Is it not absurd for the Minister to talk about this House modifying a plan ?
– This House consists of men of common sense.
– Common sense ! I should think we want more than common sense in the planning of a capital. We want an extraordinary sense - a special town-planning sens© - to undertake a work of this kind.
– But you want to bring common sense to bear on the matter.
– I am afraid that if there is to be any modification of the plan for the Capital by the Government or this House, a botch will be made of it. You might provide for the immediate requirements; but in the years to come it might turn out that we had made a very serious and costly blunder. I do think that there should be harmony in the Department between the author of the design and those who are to be responsible for its execution. There ought to be no difficulty, but as far as I can see I think there is. . In any case, if there is not, and if things are going all right, may I ask the Minister will he lay upon the table of the House all the papers that have passed between Mr. Griffin and his officers and himself? That is a fair question. Will he let the House and the people know what is being done?
– I have no objection myself to let light in on the subject.
– Will the Minister lay those papers on the table?
– I do not see any objection.
– Will the Minister do it?
– I have no objection; but this question ought to be put to the Government.
– Are we not putting it to the Government, through the responsible Minister for the Department?
– As far as I am concerned, there is no objection.
– There ought to be no hesitation, if things are going along smoothly and harmoniously, in making the House acquainted with all the details of the correspondence that is going forward. At any rate, this House is entitled to know what is being done in this tremendous project, in which millions of money will be spent. Mistakes made now may later on prove very costly; and I say that the aim of the Minister ought to be to press into the service of this project for the Capital all the splendid practical ability which he has at his disposal in the Department.
– That is what I am doing.
– But do not forget the plan and the planner while you are doing it.
– I am not forgetting.
– Do not let the planner be pushed into the background; because otherwise, in the carrying out of proposals for immediate requirements, the wrong view might be taken. If the planner is not forgotten, he might be able to save the whole situation in the years that are to come. It is all very well to construct the works immediately required, but we should also have a scheme that will provide for the years to come. Now there ought to be no great difficulty i n getting the planner and the plan workin? in the completest accord with those who are responsible for its execution. T am afraid that is not being done at the present time. At any rate, I think this House is entitled to know exactly what the present position of affairs is; but as the Minister has promised to place those papers on the table, I will refrain from further criticism until we see the documents, and have a chance to peruse them for ourselves. May we take it that we shall get those papers?
– Do not let him bind you down. He is not in the party.
– I only want to see those papers.
– As far as I am concerned, I do not see any objection to the papers being produced.
– Are they ready for production?
– They are in order. I have seen them.
– Perhaps the Minister will give them to us to-morrow.
– They are quite in order for laying on the table to-morrow.
– Will the Minister give them to us to-morrow, as soon as he can?
– As soon as I can, yes.
– Very well, I am satisfied with the answer given by the Minister. I am only anxious that we shall make no mistake with regard to tha laying-out of the Federal Capital/
– There will be no mistake, as far as I am concerned, while I am here.
– If the Minister will give us those papers, we will see if things are as he says; we will see if there is harmony as well as co-operation amongst all those officers. And if there is no trouble, I will pay the Minister a compliment with the greatest pleasure.
– If it were possible for the Minister in some way to get the officers and Mr. Griffin together by the creation of d Board, of which Mr. Griffin would be chairman, something useful might be done. I think I would have done this’ had I been at the head of the Department. I intended myself to bring Mr. . Griffin out here, but at that time Americans were not too popular. I was pleased that the Cook Government brought Mr. Griffin out, and I have often complimented Mr. Kelly upon this matter. It will be well for the people to look at the history of Washington, the Capital of the United States. There they deserted the engineer who planned the original Capital, went away on the cheap-jack trade, and in 1860 the Capital was nothing but a mud heap. A clever business man, Mr. Shepherd, was made chairman of the Board of three Commissioners appointed to run Washington, and this man had to spend millions of pounds to carry out the original plan and make up for the mistake created by the adoption of the cheap-jack policy. There may be danger of that sort of thing happening here.
– There is no danger of that.
– When I accepted the plan of my officers, I made them take the main points out of Mr. Griffin’s plan. I confess I thought at the time it was a mistake to do that. But I could see that on the original plan the Capital waa going to cost a lot of money at the start. I understand now that Mr. Griffin has since modified his plan, and brought it up to the actual conditions surrounding the geographical position of the Capital. It is a pity that you cannot realize what it means to have a landscape architect like Mr. Griffin. You only strike a man like him once in a hundred or a couple of hundred years. I wish I had his mind and thought. I wish there was a man in Australia who had it, because a man who can give a plan like that is a genius. He is heavenly or godly, no doubt. We called for plans from the whole world. The whole world sent us plans, and yet this man stood out in bold relief, with the exception of one or two more. An Australian named McDonald, a civil servant, gave a plan according to which the sun would shine in every outhouse at different hours of the day. I think he, too, was a genius.
– At some hours?
– At some hours. I mean. We ought to profit by the mistake made by the United States. I think I am entitled to speak on this matter, being the man who laid out the foundation of the Capital, and having fourteen years ago introduced a resolution to this House that we should acquire 1,000 square miles of Federal ter.ritory in the fee simple of the nation, that could never be sold. A little while before that I made the suggestion for the building in London, and before that I drew up the plan for a great banking scheme, and if it had been adopted there would have been no one out of work in Australia to-day. Having been the
Minister of the Territory, and having had a business training - which does nutcount in a House like this; the less you know, the greater man you are here, especially on business - having done this, I feel that I would like to make some suggestions to the Minister. One of my suggestions is that he should get ail his officers in one Board, making Mr. Griffin chairman.
– I am not strong on Boards myself.
– But I am if I control them.
– I can do better without a Board.
– Not always. If we get all these men together they will talk things over, and there will be a better feeling amongst tn em than you will get by having them all pulling against each other. There is too much jealousy now.
– They are not doing that; what is the use of talking?
– There must be something in what I say, or else why is this man, who was brought from America, taking no part whatever- in the construction of the Capital? When that Capital becomes a failure, you will have some other Minister, who will have to spend thousands of pounds putting everything back into its proper place. My opinion is that it is better to lay your foundations out first, economically and efficiently, and to do your business in a business way. The next point I want to talk about is Mr. Bingie. I am deeply interested in Mr. Bingie. I have not seen him - God knows when. I have plenty to do with my own private affairs to prevent me running round about other people’s business. A wonderful man in this world is the man who can look after his own business first. If he can do that he will stop criticising other men. In 1911, I think it was, I sent Colonel Miller to the Federal Territory as Administrator. I know I was blamed for not creating a permanent administration; but you must not forget this, that you have to deal with the Cabinet, and when you come to a Cabinet to create something new every man in it is frightened, and wants more information. Next week, when you come again, he wants more information, and next year he wants still more; while you have to find some man that has been dead, and is not resurrected, and get the information from him before they will let you pass it. And so unless you have got permanency of life, you will die before you get the thing through. I would not have a Cabinet at all. I would let each Minister run on his own, and let them vie with each other. The man with brains is not then crippled by the man without. I think there is no doubt about that. If I had been listened to, we should now have had the most efficient banking institution in the world, and there would have been no unemployment. I am a banker, and know a good deal about this game if any one wants to take me on. I do not come with theoretical experience got out of almanacs. I come with knowledge, trained to the business ; I was not sent out because I did not know anything. I was sent out because I knew something. But to come to the point about Mr. Bingle. I know the Minister is just as sympathetic towards Mr. Bingle as I am, but here is the position: Mr. Bingle was getting £600 a year. He had already done the work for a long time, and I got him raised by £50. Then Mr. Kelly got him raised £50 more. Now he has been doing the work of the Department - a careful, studious, honest,’ conscientious officer, who stands at the table, and puts the things before you, and does not give you a lecture. He said so and so, and left it for me to decide. That was a great pleasure to a business man. Colonel Miller is a conscientious man ; but as compared with Mr. Bingle he runs on a different set of rails. I sent him up to the federal Territory as Administrator. He carried out my orders, and has done good work there. I instituted the digest system, and Colonel Miller kept it going. It has given me joy to find that my successor, the present Leader of the Opposition, and his successor, the honorable member for Hindmarsh, kept the system going. It is neither fair nor honest that a man paid £700 a year should be doing the work of a man who is paid . £900 a year. Mr. Bingle, not as Acting Secretary of the Department, but as Chief Clerk, is still at the command of the Secretary of the Department up in the Federal Territory.
– An Executive minute was put through constituting Mr. Bingle Acting Secretary.
– The Minister never knew, because Mr. Bingle is a conscientious man, and is loyal to Colonel Miller. I discovered the matter by finding that work was being sent up to the Federal Territory and coming back to me under the red-tape system of Methuselah.
– There is nothing of that now.
– No; because I suddenly put a stop to it.
– The honorable gentleman did not stop it all, because I had to stop some of it.
– It may have started again after I left; and the present Minister of Home Affairs may have to stop it once more. Mr. Bingle is doing the work, but is not getting the pay. He has the responsibility, but has not the . power to act, because he has to wire to some ‘ other man for authority. It is not honest that this Parliament should keep this kind of thing going for four years. Until Mr. Bingle is given his proper position, the promotion of the accountant and other officers entitled to advance when’ Mr. Bingle steps up is delayed. The Committee should give instructions to have Mr. Bingle appointed Secretary of the Department, and a permanent position made for Colonel Miller in the Federal Territory. If that cannot be done at once, Mr. Bingle’s pay, as suggested by the Leader of the Opposition, should be increased by £100 a year. This officer helped me to establish the costing system, the digest system, and the schedule system. I feel grateful to him for doing so. He did not argue with me and tell me that it could not be done because it was not done anywhere else in the British Empire.
– I am glad that it was a supporter of the Government who moved the amendment, because, in the circumstances, the Minister can accept it with the feeling that he is accepting an entirely friendly direction. I may be pardoned for referring to the work done by the present Acting Secretary of the Home Affairs Department. There is no more loyal or devoted servant of the Commonwealth than this officer. I found, when I went into’ the Department, that he was in a very low state of health. He was suffering from heart trouble, and I hinted that he should- take a rest. He would not do so, because he felt that ho ought to be there when a new Minister took charge. Eventually I took the step of sending him a way to Honolulu to meet the British parliamentary delegation. As a matter of fact, I sent him away for the benefit of a sea trip. I knew that would do him good, and he came back restored to health. He is the sort of man upon- whom any Minister could utterly depend. That cannot be said of every man. It is a good thing to have an able man at one’s side, but it is better still to have an able man who is at the same time absolutely honest with his Minister. Mr. Bingie realizes that his duty is to the office, and not to any particular Minister. *
– There are some very able men in the Department.
– Of course there are; but there is no more loyal or tactful man there than Mr. Bingie. Apart from his claims to recognition, we have to consider the injustice of keeping such a man for four years responsible for the work of Secretary of the Department at a chief clerk’s pay. I am satisfied that the Minister realizes that that is not fair to Mr. Bingie.
– I have admitted that.
– I hope that the Government will .put this matter right. The difficulty of the last Government was that it was necessary to pass a Bill to deal with the matter properly, and honorable members generally realize that it was not easy to get a Bill passed in the last Parliament. I trust that measures will be taken, to give Mr. Bingie the full status of Secretary of the Department, and failing the passing of a Bill for the purpose, that he will be given the salary which should properly attach to the position.
Mr. ARCHIBALD (Hindmarsh- Minister of Home- Affairs) fll.4]. - I have already referred to the work done by my friend, Mr. Bingie, as Acting Secretary of the Home Affairs Department. It has given me very great pleasure to hear honorable members who have come in contact with him bear their testimony to his sterling character and. valuable public service. On behalf of the- Government, I assure the Committee that the matter win be considered in the preparation of the nest Estimates. - I never pretended to defend the present position. I do not say that it was an adequate reason for the Une of action adopted by the Government, but I repeat that the reason for it was that we did not fee] disposed when the war waa going on to re-adjust matters of this character. ‘ So far as the future is concerned the Government .will undertake to see that justice is done to Mr. Bingie
– After ‘ listening to the remarks of the Minister of Home Affairs I am satisfied that the object I had in submitting the amendment is attained, and I therefore ask leave to withdraw it.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
House adjourned at 11.6 P.m
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 10 June 1915, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1915/19150610_reps_6_77/>.