6th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I ask the Attorney-
General whether contracts with Germany prevent any of the Broken Hill mining companies from selling any of their lead, zinc, or concentrates to British or American buyers if they desire to do so?
– I cannot answer the question by merely saying “Yes” or “ No.” The contracts - if I may apply that term to them - which existed before the war, would, were they still in force, prevent the sale of the products of the Broken Hill mines to the British Government, or to British manufacturers, and, if the Enemy Contracts Annulment Act, which was passed by this Legislature, had not annulled them, would still do so. But in my opinion, the Act is a valid exercise of our legislative authority, and is effective for the purpose for which it was intended. Some of the companies, however, assume that the measure is invalid, and, in consequence, concentrates and metallic products are not being sold to the British Government or to British buyers as freely as, I think, they ought to be sold to them.
The following papers were presented : -
Arbitration (Public Service) Act -
Inter-State Commission Act -
Inter-State Commission - Tariff Investigation Reports -
Ale and Beer.
Hats and Caps.
Matches and Vestas.
Ordered to be printed.
Defence Act -
Regulations Amended (Provisional) -
Universal Training - Statutory Rules 1915, No. 99.
Military Forces -
Statutory Rules 1916, Nos. 100, 101. (Financial and Allowance) Statutory
Rules 1915, No. 102.
Naval Defence Act -
Financial and Allowance Regulation
Amended (Provisional) - Statutory Rules 1915, No. 104.
War Precautions Act -
Regulation Amended (Provisional) - Statutory Rules 1915, No. 105.
– Is the AttorneyGeneral yet in a position to make a statement in regard to the sugar industry generally 1 Will the honorable gentleman tell us what is the position of the canegrowers of New South Wales under any arrangement which the Commonwealth Government have made either with the Queensland Government or with the Colonial Sugar Refining Company?
– I have not had an opportunity of preparing a statement, but, by leave of the House, I shall shortly reply to the honorable member’s question. This Government have come to an arrangement with -the Government of Queensland under which the latter have acquired the whole sugar crop of 1915 upon varying terms which average £18. per ton for raw sugar, 94 per cent; net titre. This Government will, take over that sugar, and have made arrangements with the Colonial Sugar Refining Company for refining and distributing it. We have come to an agreement with the Governments of New South Wales and Victoria - and I have no doubt that the Governments of the other States will cooperate with us, although we have not yet received replies to our communications to them - whereby we shall be able to retail sugar throughout Australia at a . maximum price of 3d. per lb. The discount now generally allowed to wholesalers will be extended to manufacturers, but no other discount. We have also taken over from the Colonial Sugar Re- . fining Company the sugar which it is importing from Java - both that which has arrived and that which is to arrive- upon terms that are satisfactory to us, and, shortly, are these: We paythe net cost to’ the Company of bringing the sugar to Australia, and from the 19th July, or thereabouts, we shall put that sugar on the market. It is estimated that by the time that sugar has been consumed the new season’s crop will be available. I am not able to speak in detail of the arrangements between the Queensland Government, the millers, and the cane-growers, but I have been given to understand that they are quite satisfactory. In regard to the remission of duty on imported sugar, the Government were faced with many difficulties. The quantity now to be imported is 14,200 tons; but, with the further shortage which is certain to arise about the end of February or the beginning of’ March, probably 80,000 to 120,000 tons more will be needed. It is impossible to speak with greater accuracy of this shortage, because neither the exact quantity of the present crop nor the date on which the new crop will begin to be available are known. It is clear that if the 1916 season is early the period of shortage will be abridged, and the importations will be less than they must be should the season be late. The Government were, therefore, confronted with the difficulty of remitting duty on, not 14,200 tons, but probably 130,000 tons. Considering all the circumstances, we decided that the welfare of the community, and of those engaged in the sugar industry in Queensland, whose interests as much as those of any other section must be considered, would be best served by spreading the duty on the 14,200 tons over the whole quantity of sugar that we have acquired, namely, 14,200 tons of imported sugar and 120,000 tons of Queensland sugar. That will make the duty about 12s. per ton spread over the whole crop. » The terms upon which we have acquired the sugar, and the cost of refining, distributing, and placing it on the market will enable the Government to sell it to the community at 3d. per lb. As the Government have no power to fix prices it was necessary to secure the cooperation of the various State Governments, and consequently I saw the AttorneyGeneral of New South Wales, and Mr. Hagelthorn, and the Premier of Victoria, and they have agreed to cooperate with us, and fix the wholesale price of sugar at such an amount as will enable this to be done. No sugar will be sold except upon the condition that it is retailed at the maximum price of 3d. per lb., and it will be sold in - 2
Brisbane at the same price at which it is sold in Perth, namely, 3d. per lb. The position in regard to the New South Wales crop is different. The Commonwealth Government have not taken it over, and no arrangements have been made to do so, but I am authorized to say that it is the wish of the New South Wales Government to take it over if the growers of New South Wales so desire. In that .case the Commonwealth Government will extend to raw sugar so produced in New South Wales the same treatment as that given to raw sugar produced in Queensland, and it will be retailed at the same price, and treated in exactly the same way.
– In view of the nonfulfilment of the promise of the Assistant Minister of Defence to accompany me to the Liverpool Camp at the last week end, and seeing that some statements have appeared in the press casting doubts upon my representations in regard to the condition of affairs prevailing there, I ask the Assistant Minister whether he is prepared to make *a statement to the House, setting forth the results of any inquiries he may have made?
– I shall be delighted Co do so. I ask leave to mak,e a statement.
– In regard to the statement made just now by the honorable member, I may say that I said distinctly that I could not accompany him at the last week end, but that I would endeavour to do so at this week end.
– That was said after the House adjourned.
– But I also said when I was speaking in the House that I did not think that I could accompany the honorable member that week, but would do so at the first opportunity. I have a report from the Quartermaster-General, Colonel Stanley, who has visited Liverpool Camp, a report from the VicePresident of the Executive Council, Senator Gardiner,, and a letter sent to Senator Pearce by a mother of a recruit who was in Liverpool Camp for three months, and has since gone to the war. Colonel Stanley’s report upon the ellegations made here last Thursday by the honorable members is as follows: -
This is the report of the Vice-President of the Executive Council, Senator Gardiner : -
On reading the report of Mr. Orchard’s speech in the Sydney morning papers, I immediately set out for the Liverpool encampment. On arrival at Liverpool, I wired to Senator Pearce, Minister of Defence, that I was going to have a look round, to see for myself the conditions. Going into camp, I reported to the Camp Commandant (Lt.-Colonel Kirkland) that I had read Mr. Orchard’s charges, and wanted to see for myself what the conditions were like.
– The report continues; -
I then strolled through the lines, talking to groups of men here and there-
– With the State Commandant.
– The honorable member has asked for a statement. Is it distasteful to him? Senator Gardiner’s report continues -
I then strolled through the lines, talking to groups of men here and there, and, as the midday meal was being served, I had the opportunity of observing both the quantity and quality of the food supplied. It was well cooked, of first-class quality, and comprised roast beef, baked onions, boiled potatoes, bread, and tea. Later I visited the kitchen, where the cooks were preparing a warm evening meal for the men, who were having a field day. That meal consisted of beef, vegetables in ample quantity, potatoes, onions, and carrots. As there was an abundant supply of good, wholesome, clean food, I was satisfied there was no room for complaint on that score. Clothing.Immediately upon arrival at camp, the recruits are “given two suits of warm woollen underclothing, and dungarees for the rough camp life while going through squad drill. When they are -passed into a company, uniforms are supplied, and, although all are not yet supplied with greatcoats, it is a mistake to think that there are only a few in camp.
Upon inquiry, I learned that every man engaged on night duty is supplied with a greatcoat.
Huts and Bedding.
The huts are large and roomy, and being new, are quite clean. The floors are tongued and grooved boards. The framing is Oregon, the walls and roofs are corrugated galvanizediron. The ventilation is an air space between the top plate of the wall and the roof, which, extending over the walls in bungalow fashion, keeps out the rain.
Three blankets and waterproof sheets are served out to each man on arrival, and in many cases straw has been supplied. On inquiry, I was informed that the reason why all had not been supplied with straw was due to the fact that straw was almost unobtainable; owing to the high price of fodder there was little straw on the market. -Q
The Medical Officer and the Hospital.
I had not the pleasure of meeting Dr. Schlink, but I heard expressions of regret on every hand that unfounded and unwarranted charges should have been made against him in Parliament. He holds a very distinguished position in his profession, and among his many friends he is spoken of most highly.
It is impossible to understand why an attack should have been made on the hospital management and the treatment of the sick at camp. While there are the regular early morning and afternoon parades of the sick, any serious or urgent case is attended to at any hour. I saw a man carried on a stretcher to the hospital at about 3 o’clock in the afternoon, and he received prompt attention.
In cases where a patient is seriously ill, he is sent in the ambulance to one of the Sydney hospitals; that is, if he can be removed with safety; if not, he is put in one of the two cottage hospitals at the camp, where there is a matron and nursing staff.
The less serious cases are sent to the hospital tent; the beds, bedding, &c, are just what one expects to find in a modern, well-equipped hospital.
I was informed that the instructions of Colonel Wallack Commandant of New South Wales, were that no expense was to be spared where the sick were concerned.
I spoke to quite a number of the hospital inmates, inquired closely about their treatment, and did not hear one single complaint.
In conclusion, I would point out that I have been through seven military camps; the knowledge gained there made it easy to make my inquiry without assistance, and, although I questioned group after group of men, I heard no serious complaint.
To my oft-repeated question, “Any complaints?” the most general complaint seemed to be that it was a hardship to ask the men who had given up good positions,- where they were earning good money, to serve the country, and give, if necessary, their lives in that service, to ask them to pay their railway fares when visiting their homes. “ Cheap fare or free pass “ .is the most oftrepeated complaint uttered, and therefore I concluded there was little room for complaint, and wired the Minister accordingly.
Albert Gardiner. 7th July, 1915.
I may mention that Senator Gardiner refused to have any officer accompany him about the camp.
– Did the men know his identity ?
– They did not. The officer in charge of the camp offered to accompany Senator Gardiner, but the offer was refused. I desire now to read a letter sent to Senator Pearce by the mother of one of the soldiers who- has gone to the front -
Fennell’s Bay, Toronto. 1 2nd July, 1915.
I read, with much surprise, of Mr. Orchard’s allegations with regard to the treatment of soldiers at Liverpool Camp. My son, Private Ernest Watkins, A Company, 17th Battalion, was at Liverpool Camp for four months prior to his departure on 12th May for the front. On his visits home and to my relatives, who visited him, ho spoke highly of the way men were treated at the camp. They were well fed, well treated, and had little to complain of. He made no complaints. The tents were rather crowded, hut he knew this was unavoidable, and even it was improving. They had no beds, but plenty of blankets, which were, he considered, sufficient.
My son was dangerously ill in hospital for about a fortnight while at Liverpool, and was most grateful for the care and attention he received from the doctors and nurses. He had a comfortable bed, and everything was satisfactory in every way.
My father was a soldier, QuartermasterSergeant Groves, of the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Buffs. He served in the Zulu War, and gained medals. I was with him as a child, and I know a little of war’s horrors, also of soldier’s life in barracks, so I can write from knowledge of both, and my son and his mates, I believe, told me the truth about life at camp. You can use this letter as evidence if necessary.
Trusting I have not taken too much of your valuable time,
I have the honour to he, sir, Your most obedient servant,
Lucy M. Watkins.
Assistant, Cardiff Public School. .
I think I have given a sufficient reply to the allegations of the honorable member for Nepean.
– I desire to announce that in response to the challenge issued when the statement was made by the honorable member for Nepean, the AttorneyGeneral has asked the Chief Justice to appoint a Justice of the High Court to inquire into this matter. The ground for the inquiry is that the allegations strike at the very .vitals of our defence system.
– Has the Assistant Minister of Defence any objection to laying on the table all the papers in connexion with the gift of £550 for the purchase of a motor ambulance by the Misses MacKay, of Anambah, New South Wales ?
– I have no objection.
– Has the Prime Minister any reply to the question I asked last week in regard to a reported interview with the Governor of the Commonwealth Bank on the subject of the British war loan ?
– I have seen the Governor of the Commonwealth Bank, who authorizes me to say that he was never interviewed by an Age representative, and that he did not make any statement that the Bank would contribute half a million pounds to the British war loan.
Enlistments from the Postal Department.
-Has the attention of the Postmaster-General been drawn to the statement that one of the country officers of the Department who had passed the local examination for recruits, received permission from the Department to go to Melbourne to be further examined, on the understanding that during his absence his pay would be stopped ? Will the Minister ascertain if it is the rule of his Department that recruits going to Melbourne to pass examination for enlistment have their pay stopped during their absence?
– I have seen the statement which appeared in the Age. No application was made by the officer named for permission to go to Melbourne. It was not necessary for him to visit Melbourne, because the officer is stationed at Echuca, and Bendigo is a recruiting centre, where finality in regard to medical examination can be obtained. This officer could have gone to Bendigo from Echuca in one day. He did apply for three days’ leave, but the original application, which I have with me now, does not mention anything about going to Melbourne. In regard to another case which has been mentioned, the officer, who was stationed in Melbourne, absented himself without leave, and, consequently, his lost time was deducted. No application for leave is in the hands of the Deputy, but if an application is received, and leave is desired for recruiting . purposes, the officer will suffer no reduction of pay. I have given instructions that no impediment is to be put in the way of any officer who desires to go to the front. Notwithstanding what his position may be. every facility will be given to any officer who volunteers.
– I desire to ask the Minister of Trade and Customs whether be has seen a statement in this morning’s press, to the effect that supplies of potatoes throughout Australia are becoming very scarce, and also alleging that there is a corner in Victoria seeking to control the Australian market. If the Minister has seen this statement, will he inform the House whether steps are being taken to prevent any cornering of the people’s food in the manner suggested ?
– I have not seen the statement, but I will have inquiries made to see what steps may be taken to prevent what the honorable member suggests is being done.
– Has the attention of the Prime Minister been drawn to the various statements which have recently’ appeared in the press, that large sums of money are leaving Australia for investment in the Imperial war loan. Does the Prime Minister intend to raise a loan in Australia? If that is his intention, does he not think it would be well to make an announcement on the point as early as possible, in view of the circumstance to which I have referred?
– I have already intimated, in answer to the honorable member for Capricornia that there is no foundation in fact for the statement that £500,000 has left Australia.
– I am not referring to that particular rumour.
– I am not aware that there has been any serious withdrawal of money from Australia. The Government contemplates the issue of a Commonwealth loan. Those who wish to subscribe will, I presume,- make their own arrangements. But we do not wish to hold duress over anybody.
– Can the Prime Minister state whether it is understood in Australia that any Australian contribution to the Imperial war loan will be subject to the British income tax?
– Speaking from memory, I think it will be, but I should like to be quite accurate on the point. Perhaps the honorable member will put his question on the notice-paper.
– I have a letter from the Labour Council of New South Wales that I would like to read in order to ask the Prime Minister a question in regard to it.
– Order! I would point out to the honorable member that if I were to permit him to read a long document, I should have to. permit other members to do the same. I am quite sure the honorable member is capable of Asking a question based upon the document without reading it at all.
– As a matter of fact, it is a very short document. It asks that import duties on foodstuffs should be removed until such time as the production of foodstuffs again reaches a normal level. It refers particularly to those cases where the removal of the duties will not cause any unemployment to workers-
– Order ! Will the honorable member ask his question?
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether he will coneider the removal of these duties with a view to the ‘ importation of foodstuffs in order to meet shortages where upon inquiry they are found to exist.
– In answer to the honorable member’s question, I can only say that I know of no method by which revenue can be taken off and at the same time debts paid. I also know of no way of pleasing everybody.
– Has the Prime Minister received any reply to the cable he recently despatched to the Imperial Government offering large supplies of coal from New South Wales?
– I am sorry to say that we have not yet received any further communication.
– May I ask the Postmaster-General if, in connexion with the subject of old-age pensions, he will consider the desirability of providing seats at the various offices where pensions are paid, in order that the pensioners may not be subjected to the fatigue consequent upon their having to stand for long periods?
– I understood that seats were provided everywhere, and if the honorable member will give me any instances-
– St. Peter’s Post-office, Sydney.
– I will see that it is done.
– I should like to ask the Prime Minister if his attention has been drawn to the paragraph which recently appeared in the Melbourne Herald to the effect that Sir Alexander Peacock, Premier of Victoria, had refused to postpone the Victorian municipal elections for the reason that, in Sir Alexander Peacock’s opinion, attention to Victorian local affairs would not be inconsistent with the highest Empire patriotism ?
– Order ! I would point out to the honorable member that questions of that character do not concern the business of this House at all, and ought not to be put.
– I desire to follow it up by a further question, and ask the Prime Minister whether he does not think that, if it is necessary to carry on legislation for the benefit of Victoria, it is equally necessary to carry on legislation for the whole of Australia ?
– Order! The honorable member is asking another question which does not concern the business of this House. He is putting a hypothetical case, and such a question cannot be allowed.
– Can the PostmasterGeneral inform the House whether any relief has yet been granted to mail contractors as a result of the debate which took place in this House some time ago?
– Yes ; a large number of cases have been fixed up.
– May I ask the Minister of Trade and Customs if, when framing the regulations under the Navigation Act, he will consider the advisability of inserting a provision that all vessels carrying produce from Australia in freezing chambers shall also carry selfregistering thermometers in those chambers?
– I will look into the matter, which has my entire sympathy. Representations were made on the point some time ago, but the only shipping company over which we had any control was the Orient Steam Navigation Company, as mail contractors. I believe they have been doing what was required ever since. I will, however, go into the matter with a view to seeing if it is possible to carry out, in other directions, the honorable member’s suggestion.
– By way of personal explanation, I desire to refer to a report appearing in the Argus of Monday, 5th instant, relating to a meeting addressed by me at the Bijou Theatre, Melbourne, on the previous evening. In regard to that report I desire to say that it was the report of a speech which occupied an hour and a half in delivery, and was neither adequate nor accurate, nor did it fairly convey the views expressed by me at the meeting. I desire also to refer to a leading article appearing in the following day’s issue of the Argus, which misrepresents me in the following particulars: - (1) It misrepresents me as favouring the application of conciliation and reason to persons engaged in the horrible atrocities of war, while in truth and in fact I pointed out that the horrors of war precluded both conciliation and reason, and justified the policy of my party and myself in favouring the settlement of international disputes - not atrocities - by conciliation and arbitration. (2) It misrepresents me as being willing to argue with fiends; as being complacent at the sufferings of my countrymen and their Allies, and as regarding with contempt those who are fighting in the war, while in truth and in fact I pointed out the futility of arguing with such persons so inflamed with the blood-lust of war. I referred in feeling terms to the sufferings of the soldiers and those who were bereft of those near and dear to them, and, to the best of my ability, I paid a tribute to the bravery of the troops at the front. (3) It misrepresents me as referring sneeringly to our soldiers as “ war-like persons,” whereas the expression was used in reply to a hostile interjection of a political character, and the reply was of a purely political character. It had a political application, referring to persons whose names I cannot properly mention under cover of a personal explanation, but not to soldiers in any way whatever. In addition to these outstanding misrepresentations, I have to- say that the whole article from the first line to the last, by assertion, suggestion, and innuendo is a mere licensed vilification of myself-
– Order ! The honorable member is now going beyond a personal explanation.
– Is that so? Then, Mr. Speaker, I shall conclude by saying that the article is a violent distortion of my utterances, opinions, and sympathies. In other respects I stand by the speech.
– I desire to make a personal explanation. I must express my appreciation of the Prime Minister’s action-
– The honorable member is not making a personal explanation.
– Then, sir, I desire, by leave, to make a statement.
– Is it the pleasure of the House that the honorable member have leave to make a statement ?
– Let the honorable member make a statement.
– I object.
Henderson Naval Base - Dredges G19 - Small Arms Factory.- Manufacture of Furniture - Use op Motor Waggons.
asked the Assistant Minister representing the Minister of De- ‘ fence, upon notice -
Will he submit a statement showing -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
asked the Assistant Minister representing the Minister of De. fence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
*1. No, the dredger was built by Messrs. Poole and Steele, of Sydney.
9th February, 1915.
20th April, 1915.
A temporary plate was put into the bow of the dredger to increase seaworthiness for the voyage to Western Australia, also a number of minor alterations were effected, the cost being £123 3s. 9d. Some defects were made good by the contractors at their own expense.
asked the Assistant Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
Broadmeadows Camp: Return of Sickness - Personal Effects of Deceased Soldiers : Employment of Messrs. Thomas Cook and Son - Enlistment of Farmers - Provision for Returned Wounded Soldiers: Supervision of Funds - Dentists for Troops in Egypt.
asked the Assistant Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– Reports are in course of preparation, and will be made available when ready.
asked the Assistant Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
asked the Assistant Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
Whether, in view of a number of farmers willing to join the Expeditionary Forces after the ensuing harvest, he will offer inducements to the same to enlist at once, with the understanding that they be relieved from duty during harvesting operations?
– This matter has been fully considered, but in view of the many difficulties and disadvantages of same, it is not proposed to take any action. The men who would be considered in an arrangement such as proposed will be available for embarkation as reinforcements almost as soon, if they contemplate harvesting as early as possible and enlist immediately they are in a position to do so. In the meantime, the men who are available will be drawn upon for present requirements.
asked the Assistant Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
asked the Assistant Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice-
Through the courtesy of Mr. A. Tj. Elvins, president of the Dental Board, a copy of the following cable message from Mrs. Frank Austin, in Egypt, to Mr. W. A. E. Graham, dentist, Melbourne, has been received: -
Dentists urgently needed for Australian troops in Egypt. Strenuously advocate sending 12.’
Mrs. Austin is doing Bed Cross work in Egypt “?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
Recruiting Campaign : Medical Examination : Rejections - Liverpool Camp Management : Commission of Inquiry - Control of Camp Purveyors - Captain Holmes - Contributions to Patriotic Funds - Pay of Non-Commissioned Officers
In Committee of Ways and Means:
Consideration resumed from 1st July (vide page 4568) of motion by Mr.
That, towards making good the Supply granted to His Majesty for the services of the year 1914-15, a sura not exceeding £3,096 be granted out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
.- The long delay in the passing of this motion is embarrassing us, and, therefore, I ask honorable members now to be as moderate as they can, because I wish to get on with the Estimates of the current year. I have no desire to limit discussion, but I should like to have the Appropriation Bill for last year passed as soon as possible.
– I wish first to enter my vigorous protest against the continued unreasonable and contemptible criticism of the administration of the Defence Department which is proceeding from honorable members opposite.
– Criticismhas come from both sides.
– The Government cannot regard the criticism as contemptible, seeing that Ministers have thought fit to have a Royal Commission appointed to make inquiries concerning the various matters which have been referred to.
– We object to our remarks being termed contemptible.
– I am glad that the cap fits. In yesterday’s Argus there is a report of a speech made by the honorable member for Balaclava, to which I regret to have to refer in his absence, though it is not my fault that he is not here. Speaking about the action of the Government in bringing forward its referenda proposals, the honorable member is reported to have said -
No one could possibly fight two great fights at once, and any one who sought to take an ounce of attention from the great struggle for the safety of the Empire was a traitor to his country.
The honorable member was not entitled to say that publicly, and, indeed, had no justification for saying it at all, his statement being, to my mind, extravagant and contemptible, and of a kind of which we are hearing too many these days. A member of the Opposition who, at a political meeting, charges Labour members with being traitors to their country because they choose to bring forward certain business which they refuse to regard as party business is unfit to mix in decent society. The honorable member for Balaclava stands condemned by his own words, because, in the same speech, he said that -
He had not been talking politics in Parliament lately. He did not intend to, for two reasons. Firstly, because he did not see how a man could immerse himself in ordinary party strife at the present time.
The honorable member made that statement when addressing a party political meeting, a meeting of the Australian Women’s National League. A member of this House addresses a party meeting and tells those present that he declines to talk in Parliament because he refuses to immerse himself in party strife! The impertinence of the statement ! He goes to a meeting of a political league which supports his own side in politics to say that the men who are opposed to him are traitors to their country! His speech proves him to be a man who is absolutely unreliable, and who is not responsible for what he may say in public. I am sorry that the honorable member is not here, so that I might throw back his statement in his teeth. We, on this side, are not traitors to our country; quite the contrary. We are in favour of the referenda proposals, which we decline to discuss as party questions, because this country needs saving from other than European enemies, and because the enemy within the gates is of more danger than the enemy without.
– -Is that really the honorable member’s opinion? It is a good job for him that he has not to face the Germans in the trenches.
– We have to face their compatriots here. If honorable members continue to make statements like that of the honorable member for Balaclava, I shall not sit silent under them. Had the honorable member been present to-day, I should have had still stronger things to say of him. At the meeting at which his statements were made, it was said by an ex-member of this House that if the Minister of Defence had had a son at the front a second shift would have been installed at the Small Arms Factory at Lithgow long ago. A more despicable statement was never uttered in public. Honorable members opposite ought to be ashamed that at their party meetings statements like that are allowed to go unchallenged. Such statements are not likely to bring about the cessation of party warfare, and I am going to fight attacks of that kind whatever the quarter from which they may come. I may have something more to say about this matter later, when the honorable member for Balaclava is present’.
Last Thursday I put a question to the Assistant Minister of Defence regarding the rejection of volunteers. On the 29th June, Dr. J. R. Lee, speaking at a meeting held in the Malvern Town Hall, said that there is too much red-tape about the system of examining volunteers, the rejections, according to the newspaper reports, being 50 per cent, of the men volunteering. Dr. J. Leon
Jones said that to his own personal knowledge fine, able-bodied men, who would be a credit to any country, had been rejected, and weeds had been accepted. According to the press reports, in Victoria, on Thursday last, 297 men volunteered for service, and of these 124 were rejected as medically unfit. On the 2nd July, the volunteers numbered 263, and the rejections 97. On the 3rd July the volunteers were 411, and the rejections 173. On Monday last, 1,129 men voluntered and 316 were rejected; and yesterday 1,949 applied for enlistment, and 977, or nearly half, were rejected. In June 5,564 men volunteered in Victoria, and only 3,381 were accepted. The magnificent response of the men of Victoria to the call now being made is most creditable to the State ; but the position is seen to be serious when it is remembered that about 40 per cent, of those who offer are rejected as unfit. Is the manhood of Australia - because the results obtained in Victoria are an indication of the position in the other States - becoming unfit for military service ? It is the best men who are offering now. The best men always offer first. From volunteering you get better results than are obtained by conscription, and it is a sad state of affairs if the manhood of Australia is degenerating so greatly, from a military stand-point, as it would appear to be if these figures can be taken as a correct guide. What makes the position worse is that since the 2nd July the Defence Department has reduced the standard of height the standard of measurement, the requirements in regard to teeth, and the requirements in regard to other physical Qualifications, and that, nevertheless, the percentage of rejections increases. In Great Britain the experience has been the same. During the Boer War a p’osition of affairs such as that to which I am now alluding was made plain in Great Britain. Thousands offered for service, of whom an immense number were rejected. The InspectorGeneral of Recruiting, Sir Frederick Maurice, reporting on the subject, made some rather startling statements. He said that there was an alarming proportion of the young men of the country unfit for military service on account of defective physique, and added that at the end of two years more than 40 per cent, of the .men -wishing to become soldiers would not be found serving; or, in other words, that 60 per cent, of the men offering were physically unfit to serve as soldiers. I have here a table showing the reasons for which men are rejected. It compares the rejections obtained in 1891 with those obtained in 1902, as follows : -
The Director-General of the British Army Medical Service, who was asked to report on that matter, somewhat questioned the figures of Sir Frederick Maurice, but the. latter pointed out that, although the military medical statistics showed that the rejections were only thirty-seven per 1,000, a large number of men failed to pass the recruiting sergeant and did not come under medical inspection ; and that there was also a large percentage of men who, knowing their inability to pass the test, did nob offer themselves. On these grounds, it was considered that the estimate of Sir Frederick Maurice, that 60 per cent, of the manhood of the British Isles were incapable of rendering military service, was well within the mark; and the position was regarded as so serious that King Edward appointed a Royal Commission, which undertook a very full and complete examination of the position. It dealt with such things as infantile mortality, hereditary taint, employment of mothers late in pregnancy and too soon after childbirth, decrease in breast feeding, defective milk supply, parental ignorance and neglect, school system, risks of contamination during adolescence, syphilis, insanity, eyes and ears, teeth, and so on. I do not wish to go into all these matters. I merely n6w refer to the question of teeth, to which the honorable member for Richmond has rightly drawn attention. On page 8 of the report of the Commission, in paragraph 44, in reply to the question -
Whether, in his experience as an anatomist, he had noted any changes in structure unfavorable to development?
Professor Cunningham said -
No, with the one exception of the teeth. It is an obvious fact that the teeth of the people of the present time cannot stand comparison, in point of durability, with those of the earlier inhabitants of Britain. Those who have the opportunity of examining ancient .skulls cannot fail to be struck with this. . . . In the white races of Europe the jaws are undergoing a slow process of shortening. The stunted character of the wisdom or backmost teeth, the small amount of space allotted to them, their variability, their late appearance* and, indeed, their frequent failure to appear at all, bespeak this change in the jaws. Through it the teeth are reduced in size, more crowded together, and, therefore, more liable to disease. Indirectly this may tend to favour the early degeneration of the teeth which is so marked a feature of the present age; but I take it that the real cause of this degeneration is the striking change which has> taken place in the character of the food.
On page 83, the Commission refer again to this very important matter. One gentleman, Mr. W. H. Dolamore said -
He had no doubt that bad teeth were a condition of the feeding that accompanies high civilization. The ruder and coarser sorts of food at one time in use not only kept the jaw in action during the plastic period of its development, but had the effect of a tooth-brush in keeping the teeth free from the settlement of toxic agents.
That an unreasonable number of men is being rejected in Australia on account of defective teeth is very evident. I think that these men are being rejected on very unnecessary grounds. We find it impossible to believe that, because a man happens to be short of a few teeth, or has artificial teeth, he is thereby prevented1 from fulfilling the duties of a soldier satisfactorily and effectively. The fact that the majority of the people of Australia have to resort to artificial aid to mastication is most regrettable, but should not in the slightest degree detract from their ability to serve their country, though probably it may place them at a disadvantage occasionally. The military authorities are unreasonably strict in rejecting men because of bad teeth. However, the whole question of the number of rejected men, and the reasons for their rejection, is a very important one, which the Government should take into consideration. The social conditions of the people, the kind of life we have to live,, the conditions under which we are living, the houses we occupy, the food we eat, the cooking of our food, and the hygienic surroundings of life generally - all these matters ought to be the subject of a very searching inquiry. Undoubtedly, they are affecting the physique and efficiency of our race. Australia is able to supply, in proportion to its population and resources, a much larger number of men and quantity of equipment in support of the Mother Country than any other Dominion but the fact stares us in the face that if we had to depend entirely on our own resources for the repelling of an invasion, we should be in a very sad position indeed. Some of us deplore most regretfully our inability to serve the Empire at this juncture; but if we are to have a continuation of the physical degeneracy that seems to be affecting the British people, as indicated by the figures I have given, and the reports I have read in regard to the British people, and by the statements appearing in our press as to the number of men rejected in Australia, . it would really seem that, before long, we must regard ourselves as a degenerate nation. If the war, which hasopened our eyes to certain weaknesses in our military organization, and also in our civil affairs, also opens our eyes to those social and moral questions so intimately associated with the welfare, physical development, and mental improvement of the people, it will have done some real good.
.- I am pleased to have the opportunity of thanking the Prime Minister for his intimation of the intention to appoint a judicial tribunal to inquire into, the charges I made in this House on Thursday last relative to the management of the military camp at Liverpool, because I feel sure that nothing bub good will result from such an inquiry. As I made my charges after personally investigating the truth of them, I am prepared to stand by them. I do not detract one charge I made in regard to the management of the camp, as I feel sure that I can verify every statement I made ; and it was my intention to-day to give the House the benefit of my experience at the camp on Sunday last.
– Do you propose to verify your statements before the inquiry ?
– I shall retain the further information that I have received until that investigation of my charges.
– But do you propose to verify your facts before the inquiry ?
– I shall be only too pleased to give the Commission the sources of my information. I hope that the Prime Minister, in justice to myself, will recognise the urgent necessity for appointing the Commission speedily, and taking evidence, not in regard .to the Camp as it is now, but in regard to what it was before I made my charges. A wonderful difference has taken place at Liverpool since Thursday last. The Assistant Minister of Defence is reported in the Argus of 3rd July to have said -
There was a temporary shortage of military overcoats at Liverpool depot. However. 1,000 overcoats had been supplied to them that day, mid if si further deficiency was found on inspection, additional supplies would be provided.
Evidently the gun that I levelled at the shortage of overcoats was loaded. On Friday last the military authorities went through Sydney buying up all the available overcoats to supply the men who had been without them for weeks. Mattresses were also unearthed suddenly from some mysterious recess, and the men are getting the benefit of them to-day. On Monday the troops were lined up, and the officers went round and asked each man to step forward and state what particular clothes he was short of - whether underclothes, dungarees, overcoats, or anything else in the shape of personal equipment. Consequently on investigation into the conditions of the camp at the present time, or next week, or the week after, would not be fair to me. My charges were levelled against the Department in regard to the conditions prevailing ;it Liverpool a week ago. The Assistant Minister of Defence read a letter this afternoon that the Minister of Defence had received from the mother of a recruit. I may be permitted to read a letter that I received from one of the men in the camp. It is as follows: -
Just n line to tell you there is a vast difference in the Camp routine since your speech in the House last week. I may say that overcoats and warm underclothing are being served out to the men with post haste, also straw mattresses are being provided in the huts.
That the military authorities are endeavouring to rectify their shortcomings as speedily as possible is quite evident. There was a general cleaning up at the Camp last week-end. Men who have been stationed at Liverpool since. February say that they have never seen such activity. It was because the Minister and
I were, expected there on the Saturday. I believe that the position at the hospital, on which remarks of a eulogistic nature have been passed to-day, was ludicrous. Though men in the past have had to wait an hour or so for attention, on Saturday one man who was carried up on a stretcher was absolutely rushed by four doctors anxious to attend to him. Seemingly my charges are bearing fruit. If they have resulted in giving the men -better conditions - in fact, in giving them that to which they are perfectly entitled - I shall be satisfied. Senator Gardiner went .to the camp and has made a report. I have the statement on good authority that he simply went to the officer commanding, Colonel Kirkland, and, accompanied by Colonel Stanley, they went down the lines and asked “ Any complaints? “ Could anything be more ludicrous ?
– That is not so.
– I am informed by the men that such was the case.
– On Senator Gardiner’s word of honour it was not so.
– I am pleased to hear the Prime Minister’s refutation of that statement, but the men say that such was the case. I did not go to the officers. I leave that sort of thing to Senator Gardiner, and to the other representatives of the Government. They may place themselves on the side of the officers. I am more concerned about the welfare of the men. The officers are well provided for, the men are not; hence my bringing forward these charges. I again impress on the Prime Minister the necessity for having these charges investigated speedily, because it is a matter of vital importance to the troops who are in camp in New South Wales. I have a letter from one of the men in camp. It is given as confidential, but it practically indorses all that I said last week. It is dated the 4th July, and says - Dear Sir,
In view of your very able and bold advocacy of .the cause of the recruits at Liverpool Camp and the Government’s denial that grievances exist, I hereby furnish you with .the actual facts.
I am a recruit having just recently arrived at the Camp, and I am taking this opportunity of a week-end leave to write to you. Naturally, I do not desire my name to be made .public.
I will hand the letter to the Prime Minister if he wishes.
– As the matter is going before a Judge, I do not wish to see the tetter.
– Then why did not the Assistant Minister of Defence allow the matter to rest, without introducing fresh matter beyond that which I mentioned in my speech? The Minister referred to the quality of the food. I did not speak about the quality of the food; I complained of the way in which it was served. The food is good enough, but it is the manner in which it is issued that I object to. I contrasted its issue with the issue of the food at the German Internment Camp, and I asked the authorities to take a lesson from the management of the internment camp. By so doing they would greatly benefit the men at Liverpool. This letter continues -
On the question of accommodation. On arrival we were given three blankets, one rubber sheet, and told to sleep in a long shed, which at that time was devoid of windows, except in places. Since then windows of tin have been constructed. But that first night will be one long to be remembered for the bitterness of the cold and the hardness of the boards. No one slept, and all, pretty well, were coughing violently. I do not wonder at pneumonia under those circumstances. Two days later we received sacks, which we filled with straw; these were our mattresses, given the day after you advocated them.
I wish to emphasize the point that those mattresses were issued only on the day after I advocated that course in this House.
Needless to say, they made things more comfortable. They talk about overcrowding in the city; well, you should see how we sleep in one of those sheds - cold and bleak and draughty as they are. We are packed so close that our breaths mingle and our shoulders touch - forty of us each side of the shed, eighty in the shed. There is no room to dress, and everything is disgustingly cramped and unhealthy, and we are told we ore responsible for all things issued to us. How can we be in an overcrowded shed, without convenience or comforts, or a place to put our things except the floor (not even a nail) ? We get our food like animals, and have to eat it on the ground in the dust, which is 6 inches thick. As you know, the stew is brought over in boilers, or dixies they call them, and there is a rush. One man is supposed to serve from this to the others, but the men are naturally impatient, and help themselves, and there is confusion confounded. The same applies to the tea and coffee, which is likewise brought in .dixies. For tea we get dry bread and jam. After our meals certain of our number have to wash out these boilers; there is no hot water provided to wash the grease off them and the plates; lit lead, we have to rub them with a dirty red sand and wash them in the river or under a tap - a slow and dirty process. We have to then fill them and take them back to the cooks - this, mind, is for the convenience of the cooks, who will not give hot water to do it. Then eating our food in the dirt is abominable - and dirty. Why cannot a table be provided that we can eat our food from ? With regard to washing, there are far too few taps-
I may say that there are only five taps for 400 men. The conveniences in this respect are altogether inadequate. There are no basins of any kind, and some men have to wait for over half-an-hour before they can reach the taps, and consequently many of them have wet boots and trousers before they can wash themselves - and the spectacle is common of crowds of men waiting to wash themselves, their tin plates, and to fill their boilers and rinse them out. Far more taps should be provided, and more conveniences erected. The sanitary arrangements are crude and devoid of all privacy and decency to a disgusting degree. Little wooden or iron cubicles should be erected; instead there is simply a rail with tins underneath. In the matter” of accommodation, as I said, there is neither convenience nor comfort, and there is overcrowding, rendering the loss or theft of articles quite easy.
– They are not allowed to take valuables into. camp.
– The letter proceeds -
Generally speaking, the arrangements for the recruits at Liverpool are rotten and primitive, and aboriginal savages are better off. I see Senator Gardiner has wired that everything is all right. This is a lie, and let Senator Gardiner become a recruit and he will agree it is. We have given our all, our lives, and left comfort, convenience, and congenial company, and the least the Government might do is to give us some place where we can eat our food in cleanliness, where we can sleep in comfort, where we can wash decently, where the sanitary arrangements are better than a black’s camp, and where the food is served with system and with sufficiency.
I have numerous letters on the subject, but I shall read only one more regarding the conditions at the medical camp -
I was delighted to’ read in this morning’s Telegraph of the stand you have taken on behalf of our recruits at Liverpool Camp. The following may interest you : - My only son enlisted, and was duly drafted to Liverpool Camp. He complained of the cold nights in Camp, and longed for something warmer to lay on, but “ stuck “ it like he should.
On Thursday, the 24th, he had awful pains in the stomach, and desired to see the doctor. He had to walk nearly 2 miles to get to the doctor’s place, and he was so bad that his mates offered to carry him there. He said “No,” he’d get there somehow, and did.
An orderly asked what was the matter; he told him, and there was a conversation between the orderly and a third person. My son then heard the following remark : “ It won’t hurt him, anyway,” and a dose of oil was given him to take. He walked back again and had a terrible night.
The next I heard was a telephone message that the civil ambulance was taking my boy to the garrison hospital, at Victoria Barracks, and as he was pretty bad I should get there quickly.
An examination there showed that he was suffering from acute appendicitis, and an immediate operation was the only chance he had.
Thank God for the Christians he was then amongst ! The doctors went without their dinners to get to him right away, the matron and nurses treated him as if he was their only son, and to-day he is making a rapid recovery.
I trust that there will be an examination into the whole of the management of thai camp and that evidence will be obtained from the men who were at Liverpool at the time my charges were made. The Government must recognise that men are leaving for the front daily, and if the investigation is delayed, in all probability many of those who gave the evidence which I have placed before the House will have left ‘for the seat of war, and their testimony will riot be available.
– It will be timeenough to consider that question when my case is disproved. I shall have no difficulty in proving my charges. . Mr. Jensen. - As the Prime Minister has said there is to be an inquiry by a Judge, do you not think it would be better to let the matter drop for the present?
– The Assistant Minister ought to have taken that fact into consideration when Ee made his statement to the House.
– The honorable member asked me to make a statement.
– But the honorable member did not then know that there was to be an inquiry by a Judge.
– I shall be quite content if justice is done to the men at Liverpool. I am satisfied that the Minister does not know what is taking place there. The honorable gentleman would persist last week in saying that the Germans in the internment camp had received second-hand coats. I challenge the Minister to repeat that statement.
– That is my information.
– No doubt the information came from the Minister of Defence. But I am in possession of other information to the effect that on the 26th May 430 coats were purchased from a certain warehouse in York-street, and others were obtained from Lowe’s stores and Grace’s stores, and were sent to the
German Camp six weeks before I deemed at necessary for me to apply the spur to the Government in order to induce them to give our own boys the same comforts. Could anything be more absurd than the Minister’s statement that these coats were secondhand? If it were necessary to purchase 1,000 secondhand coats in Melbourne to-morrow, where could they be obtained? The honorable member must realize that it was impossible to purchase 1,000 secondhand coats in Sydney.
– Does not the military store keep these coats in stock?
– The coats issued to the Germans were not regulation military coats; they are brand-new civilian coats. Another fact I omitted to mention is that the German Camp, although of more recent date than that at Liverpool, has a splendid electric-lighting system.
– In order that the men on guard may see everything that takes place.
– A very excellent idea. At the Liverpool Camp the men are obliged to go to bed with naked candles. The indifferent system of lighting in that camp is not conducive to the moral welfare of the men stationed there.
– That is a nice imputation to cast on the men. You have said it!
– What has he said?
– The honorable member knows what he said.
-I say that when surrounding circumstances are considered, the present lighting system at the Liverpool Camp is not conducive to the moral welfare of the men stationed there. The Assistant Minister pounces down on that statement like a bird on a worm, and, with the instinct of a Sherlock Holmes, says, “You have said it.” What have I said ?
– What is the inference? What do you mean by your statement?
– I must ask honorable members to cease interjecting, and allow the honorable member for Nepean to proceed.
– We are men of the world, and we know what human nature is. I say that we cannot have these camps too well lighted ; and if it is necessary to light the German Camp with electricity, why not give the Liverpool Camp the same advantage? One of the writers whom I have quoted complained of the lack of hot water with which to cleanse the dixies. Perhaps it would surprise the Assistant Minister to learn that at the German Camp it is quite the usual thing for some of the men to receive hot baths. Our boys at Liverpool have difficulty in getting hot water even to wash their utensils in. I am not desirous of hampering the Government in any way in this matter, but the points that have been raised are common knowledge up there, and it is the men who are complaining. On the previous occasion when I visited the camp I was alone. This time several honorable members of this House accompanied me. They are prepared to substantiate the statements I made, and hundreds of men are also prepared to indorse them. I am delighted that the Prime Minister has expressed his willingness that the matter should be investigated by a judicial tribunal; but what I do ask is that the inquiry shall be held as speedily as possible, because men are leaving the camp daily, and delay would not be fair to me.
– You will get the inquiry, and get it speedily.
.- I have listened with keen interest to the remarks of the honorable member for Nepean, and I think the House and the country ought to congratulate the honorable member upon having brought the treatment which soldiers have been receiving at the Liverpool Camp before the notice of the House. A great many of my electors have gone to the front. More of them are now in course of training at the camp; otherwise, I would not have spoken on this subject.
– Leave the matter to the inquiry; why refer to it now?
– I am sorry that the Minister did not leave the House the moment he heard these complaints and at once investigate them. These things can be covered up. The telegraph wires have been going, motor cars have been running to and fro in order to cover up the tracks.
– A member of the Government has been there.
-The testimony of hundreds of the soldiers is that the conditions have been much improved since the honorable member for Nepean brought the matter before the notice of the House. I would point out that what the Minister read was only a ^statement that had been prepared for him. The Vice-President of the Executive Council also visited the camp. Everybody knew he was a member of the Executive Council. How much information would he obtain when in the company of officials. I did not go to the Liverpool Camp myself, though I intend going there as soon as possible.
An Honorable Member. - Are you going under Dr. Schlink?
– No. I believe he is more closely related to you than to me.
– Let me tell the honorable member that I am the son of Danish parents.
– It is a contemptible remark, anyhow.
– The honorable member is not going to side-track me; I am going to say what I have to say, and if honorable members keep quiet, it will be the better for themselves. I want to say that a particular friend of mine happened to be in my town on Monday. He enlisted at Christmas, and some seven weeks ago contracted pneumonia, and was taken to the field hospital. I discussed affairs with him. I asked him whether he was well looked after when in hospital. He said the nurses were all male nurses, very willing, and though rough, and not accustomed to nursing, they did their best. I said, “ What nourishment did you receive - what food ? “ He said, “ That is the point; all they gave me was three courses of gruel a day.” I said, “ How long did you receive this?” He said, “For a week.” “After that,” I said, “you were convalescent?” He said, ‘ ‘ Fairly so ; and all they gave me was three rounds of bread and marmalade a day.” I said, “ Were they big rounds?” He said, “No; they were not very much better than a lady would receive at afternoon tea.” Three slices of bread and marmalade a day !
– Doctor’s orders, I suppose.
– He told me that when .he entered the camp he weighed 11 stone 8 lbs.; when he left the hospital he weighed 9 stone, and that he could have eaten a loaf of bread instead of the slice that was given to him.
– And have probably killed himself.
– I do not think so. With regard to clothing, this soldier told’ me that he entered the camp just before Christmas, and he only received his uniform the other day. During the time he was there he wore out three suits of clothes which he had to provide for himself.
– How long was he there?
– He went there before Christmas.
– And he wore three suits of clothes ? He must have . been extravagant.
– They had dungarees and overalls, of course. But I want to point out that during the second week he was in hospital-
– And you say he wore three suits of clothes ?
– Yes, since December.
– It is a yarn. You are spoiling your story.
– At any rate, I am giving the story as I received it, and I will believe this soldier, just as I would believe the Postmaster-General, and I say that without casting any reflection on the Postmaster-General. I asked him what the food generally was. He said it was very .good, though badly cooked. With regard to the camp, he told me they had long sheds with boarded floors 3 feet from the ground, but between each board there was about an inch of space, through which there was such a draught that he preferred to lie on the floor than upon the boards. I was very much struck with the statement made by the honorable member for Nepean regarding dirty medicine bottles. I asked this young fellow if the facts were as stated. He said they were. I said, “ Don’t you think the story that persons went to the doctors with dirty medicine bottles looks very much like a tale?” He said that the men took these bottles to the doctors thinking they would be taken away and their medicine supplied in clean bottles, as they had no facilities for washing the bottles in the camp.
– Has the doctor facilities for washing the bottles?
– There are, or should be, facilities in the dispensary. Honorable members know that in every country town in New South Wales men go round the town buying medicine bottles, which are cleaned and used again. The same thing might apply to this camp. These young fellows came along with dirty bottles, and I was informed that in many cases medicine was put into the bottles and mixed up with the ingredients already there. I am surprised more of them were not sick. I asked my friend if the statement made by Mr. Orchard regarding the coats and clothing generally supplied to the interned Germans was correct ? He said it was absolutely correct. I asked him how he knew, as he was not there. He told me that the motors passed close to the camp, and that the soldiers used to watch the lorries carrying all kinds of luxuries for the Germans, and to wish that they could be treated in a similar manner.
– Will you give evidence to that effect before the Judge?
– I will give the name of this man, if need be. I am surprised that the Assistant Minister, after having heard the statements made in this House by the honorable member for Nepean, should have allowed a week to elapse without making personal inquiries. Every other consideration should have been placed on one side by the Assistant Minister. It is suggested that enlistment is being discouraged by these statements. My retort to that is that enlistment is being encouraged by our criticism. The young fellows who give up all for their country are entitled to the best treatment possible. We should exert ourselves to the very utmost to make them comfortable, and to see that they get everything they need. Nothing is too good for them.
– They are the bestequipped soldiers in the world. They are the best paid; and they have the best rations, too.
– Best paid! I was coming along the Albury platform recently when I met the father of one of the boys who had been made acting sergeantmajor, and yet was receiving wages less than a private was receiving. I have made inquiries also at question time in this House regarding an acting lieutenant who was only receiving 6s. a day, and yet has to pay 3s. 6d. a day for his rations.
– Somebody has been pulling your leg.
– No, they have not. What does the honorable Minister mean by saying that the troops are the Bestpaid troops when they are only giving this acting sergeant-major a miserable 5s. a day ? Is that encouraging enlistment ?
– A private gets 6s. a day ; what are you talking about?
– I do know what I am talking about. Here is a letter on the point. This man enlisted as a private on 2nd May; he has been acting sergeant, and is still getting private’s pay. I do not wish to create any ill-feeling in this matter. All I want is to see that things are run on proper and right lines. I believe that a good deal of what is complained of has been done in ignorance. I am afraid that the Minister is too much inclined to accept the reports of officials. 1 believe the Prime Minister is actuated by motives of patriotism.
– Will the honorable member say that on the platforms of the country ?
– Yes. I believe, further, that the errors which have been made are not wilful, but are due more to ignorance than to anything else. I hope that the Minister of Defence, in view of what has been said, will at once make a personal investigation of- these matters. We represent a number of the young fellows in camp at Liverpool, and wish to see fair play extended to them.
– Does the honorable member think that the Minister should interview them individually?
– As the representative of a 2”ew South Wales constituency, the honorable member should visit Liverpool Camp, and see that proper treatment is extended to the men there who come from his own electorate, as well as from other parts of the State.
– I have.
– I have listened with interest to the remarks that have been made by the last twospeakers, and I hope that the matters towhich they have referred will be investigated. I cannot but admire the interest the Opposition now display in the men in camp. It seems that they are at last beginning to see the light, and to recognise that the men who “ do things “ do not always secure the best things in life.
– Would they take the same interest in these men if they were in the shearing sheds?
– I was about to point out that after the war is over many of the men now in camp will return to work in our shearing sheds and elsewhere.
– Some of us have done more for the shearers than the Labour party has ever done.
– The honorable member would not make that statement if the honorable member for Grey were present. That honorable member has an interesting story to tell of the conditions which prevailed in the shearing sheds of Australia when he was a young man. I am pleased to find honorable members opposite displaying some consideration for shearers and others now in camp, and I hope that those who have enlisted will return from the front fit in wind and limb to take their places once more in the industrial army of the Commonwealth.
– Does not the honorable member think that we had better do something to promote the successful prosecution of the war, and talk about doing something for the shearers at the proper time?
– I do not accept as gospel every statement made by honorable members opposite, and we have learned this afternoon that most of the allegations made in regard to the Liverpool Camp have been disproved. Whilst I was serving with the Militia in South Australia I attended three camps, and am able to say that life in camp means a rather rough time. Whilst there I ate food at which I should have turned up my nose had itbeen offered to me at home, and my limbs often ached as the result of sleeping on the ground instead of on a well-made bed, such as that to which I was accustomed. But I recognised that I went into camp to be trained as a soldier, and that I had to rough it. If honorable members opposite were not so ready to listen to a few who will never be satisfied, we should not have so many complaints as we have had. I trust that when our troops come back, and take their places in the industrial fighting line of Australia, honorable members of the Opposition will give equal attention and interest to their demands for fair conditions of employment, and for reasonable wages, so that they may be able to. buy spring mattresses, overcoats to keep out the cold, and comfortable houses The Opposition will have an opportunity to do something to better the conditions of these men when they return, but I am afraid their wail will then be that the men are always asking for something for nothing, and that they do not give a fair return f or_ what they are receiving. I did not rise to criticise the Opposition, but I felt that I could not allow the opportunity to pass without making a reply to some of the statements we have had from them concerning the treatment of our troops. I wish now to bring under the notice of the Assistant Minister of Defence a complaint regarding the treatment meted out to a medical officer of the Friendly Societies Medical Association of South Australia, who, because he holds that position, ia ostracised by the local branch of the British Medical Association. That association has fought the Friendly Societies Medical Association most bitterly from its very inception, and apparently the same bitterness is now Being evinced in connexion with the making of arrangements for the care of our wounded. Doctor Holmes, who holds the rank of Captain in the Army Medical Corps in Tasmania, and is at present a medical officer of the Friendly Societies Medical Association of South Australia, recently presented his commission to the commandant in Adelaide, and offered his services either in connexion with camp work or the treatment of wounded soldiers returning to South Australia. He is a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons, and also a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians, so that he is a properly-qualified medical man. In order to prove that he did not make this offer merely with a desire to get into the limelight, I think it well to mention that he is nearly seventy years of age. His son, Lieutenant L. G. Holmes, went with the First Contingent to Egypt, and while there was made Aide-de-Camp to the Brigadier of the Third Brigade, and promoted to the rank of Captain. He has since been wounded at the Dardanelles. Dr. Holmes, as I have mentioned, made application to serve his King and country by attending soldiers in camp, or wounded soldiers returned to Australia. The reply that he received from Dr. Shepherd, the Principal Medical Officer, could not have been more terse or cutting than it was. It was addressed to him, not as “ Captain “ or “ Doctor “ Holmes, but as “ Mr. Holmes, 24 Parade, Norwood,” and was as follows: -
Your letter of the 18th instant received. I beg to inform you that there is no vacancy at present.
I think that Dr. Shepherd should at least have addressed his letter to “ Doctor Holmes.”
– He looks upon him as a non-unionist.
– Professional etiquette should have been sunk in this connexion; but, in any event, Dr. Holmes was entitled to be addressed as “ Captain Holmes,” since he still retains his commission. I hope that the Minister will demand that Dr. Shepherd shall extend to every military officer the respect and courtesy that he would expect to be shown to himself. I hope, further, that the Minister will inquire whether, on the 18th May last, the date on which this application was made, there was really no vacancy for medical men in the directions indicated. If there was a vacancy it will prove conclusively that the feud existing between the local branch of the British Medical Association and the Friendly Societies Medical Association was responsible for this refusal. In any event, I trust that the Minister will direct Dr. Shepherd’s attention to the fact that, as a military officer, he must, when addressing a military officer, have due regard to the ordinary courtesies aud requirements of the service.
– I wish to take this oppitunity to make a few suggestions, which I am sure the Assistant Minister of Defence will accept in the spirit in which they are offered. I am pleased to learn that the Government have decided that a Judge shall be appointed to inquire into the condition of things alleged to have existed at the Liverpool Camp prior to the speech made in this House by the honorable member for Nepean, in which attention was directed to the matter. Since that date, I have visited the camp in order to interview some of my own constituents there; but, in view of what is taking place, I shall make no statement now regarding what I saw. I wish, however, to remind the Assistant Minister, and the Committee, that the Liverpool Camp is a permanent one, established on property purchased by the Commonwealth at a cost of something like £150,000, and that it will be well for the Minister, in view of the large expenditure so incurred, to avail himself of the best services that the Departments can offer him in his desire to make the camp what it ought to be. I suggest to the Minister that he should avail himself of the skilled advice of Colonel Owen, Director-General of Public Works, who, being a military officer, would understand camp requirements. He should ask Colonel Owen to furnish him with a lay-out of the ground showing how it may be used to the best advantage, and setting forth what permanent structures and conveniences are necessary to make it all that it should be, not only for its present purpose, but as a permanent military area. In the first place, it would be well to ask Colonel Owen if it is possible to provide the camp with a proper system of sanitation by means of septic tanks.
– That can easily be done.
– I think it can be done. I hope it will not be thought that, in making these suggestions, I do not realize what camp life means, or that there is any desire on the part of the Opposition to make feather-bed soldiers of our men. We realize what camp life means, but recognise, at the same time, that a certain measure of comfort and convenience should be provided for men who are doing the highest work that can be performed for their country. We do not wish to spoon-feed these men, but, at the same time, we think they should have some conveniences. There should be, for instance, a better system in connexion with the serving of their meals. The men have their food supplied to them in a small boiler with a cover, which they call a “Dixie,” and they eat from tin plates, which, with the “Dixies,” they are expected to return clean to the cook, or else to pay him 6d. per week for cleaning them. At present cold-water taps are the only means provided for cleaning these vessels, and, as honorable members know, it is impossible to properly clean greasy vessels by the application of cold water. I suggest that Colonel Owen should be asked to report whether it would not be possible to introduce some system of steam jets, or hot water, for the cleaning of such vessels. There should also be a better system of lighting. At present, the camp is lit here and there by a kerosene lamp on the top of a post, and men on sentry duty find it scarcely possible to identify persons in the poor light provided at night. Reading in their tents at night, the men have to use candles, which waste quickly and give but a poor light, because of the way in which the flame is blown about by the draughts. Would it not be better to provide electric lighting for the whole camp? I think that the Minister should visit the camp, and obtain his information at first hand. At present he relies. too much on his officers, and, while I admire him ‘for sticking to them, I know that officers are not faultless, and that a surprise visit would teach the Minister a great deal as to how money can be best spent in fitting up the camp, not merely for temporary occupation during the present training, but for all time. What I have asked for I look upon, not as .luxuries, but as necessaries. When a man wishes to wash his face, he has to catch with his hands the water from a tap, no trough or basin, being provided. Thus water is wasted, and the process is uncomfortable to the washer. Every navvy or timber-cutter has a dish, supported on three posts, for service as a wash basin, and our soldiers would not be spoon-fed if they were provided with similar conveniences. As to clothing, several hundred boys assured us that they were three weeks in camp before they received their dungarees. Many a boy leaves home with only the suit in which he stands up. He thinks that other clothes would be a nuisance, and he knows that it would be difficult to send them back. I had considerable trouble in getting the belongings of a soldier who had left for the front returned to his friends. Under these circumstances, men should be supplied with dungarees within a few days of their joining the camp. There may be reasons for not providing uniforms at once, but dungarees could be given. I left the Liverpool Camp at 5.45 on Friday night, and the outside sentry, who, I understood, was there for the night, was without an overcoat.
– All these men are supplied with overcoats, but we cannot force them to wear them.
– If I were the Minister I would not talk so confidently.
– That is the information that I have received from the officer responsible.
– I have been told that overcoats have not been supplied to all the men, and that the overcoats for which they are made liable at a valuation of £2, cost from 12s. 6d. to 14s. each. Having been reared in the country myself, I speak in no carping spirit of the conditions at Liverpool. I know that some of the complaints of the men are considered unreasonable. But we should do the fair thing to those in camp.
-. - The week before last Captain Murdoch visited the Liverpool Camp to inquire regarding the putting down of septic tanks and the provision of electric light, and we have received reports on both subjects. In all probability the septic tanks will be made and electric light installed very shortly.
– I am glad to hear it. Both things are urgently needed. I am sure that the Minister of Home Affairs would gladly lend Colonel Owen to the Defence Department, and he, as an architect and a military man, would know exactly what is needed, and could suggest the best way of spending public money on the camp. There are many things which I gathered from conversation with men on the spot which I cannot mention here, but with which I shall be glad to acquaint the Minister in private conversation. I hope that he will see that proper latrines are erected, so that men may not have to sit out at night in the rain.
Mr. THOMAS (Barrier) T5.12].- I cannot say that I regret that the honorable member for Nepean has drawn attention to the condition of the Liverpool Camp. I am confident that Ministers are anxious to have the defects remedied:, and it is unfortunate that the Assistant Minister of Defence could not visit the camp last Saturday.
– I could not do so, hecause of the trouble at the Naval Base.
– Of course, I accept the explanation; but had the Minister visited the camp with the honorable member for Nepean, a large number of matters could have been dealt with straight off. I have not been able to take interest in the Liverpool Camp, because of distance from Melbourne; but when my boy was at Broadmeadows I visited the camp there several times, and various complaints were brought under my notice. I learned, however, that there are two sides to most questions. The honorable member for Calare instanced the case of an actingsergeantmajor, who, he said, was not getting the pay of his rank. The honorable member first omitted to say that the man was only acting as sergeant-major, which makes all the difference. Very often, before a man can qualify for promotion, he is permitted to act in the rank to which he aspires. A private’s first step is to the position of corporal. The corporal may become a sergeant, and so on. It is of advantage to a corporal who wishes to become a sergeant to be permitted to act as a sergeant. Such a man has a better chance of passing for sergeant than a man who has not acted in the position.
– But the lieutenant to whose case I referred was being charged 3s. 6d. a day for mess expenses, although he was not receiving the pay of the rank in which he was serving.
– There may have been some hardship in that case, but most young fellows who aspire to a higher rank are glad to act in the higher capacity before submitting themselves to examination to prove their qualification for promotion. As to the supply of overcoats, I know that members of one contingent were not given overcoats until shortly before they left. But overcoats are often stolen. One young fellow of whom I heard had his overcoat stolen by a tent mate, and became liable for its replacement.
– A man should not become liable to pay £2 for an overcoat costing 12s. 6d.
– If these overcoats cost only 12s. 6d. there are fortunes to be made in the tailoring business.
– The overcoats served out at Liverpool the other day were bought in the Sydney warehouses at that price.
– As the Government intends to appoint a Judge to inquire into all these matters, I have no doubt that good will come of the discussion. I am sure that the honorable member for Nepean was actuated by the best of motives. Things are happening in these camp which I cannot mention here, and which it would be almost impossible to imagine. Another matter to which I wish to refer is one to which attention has been drawn by the honorable members for Bendigo and Melbourne. Some time ago the honorable member for Bendigo referred to the voluntary contributions that were being made for many laudable objects connected with the war, and asked for some Government supervision of the collections, and to-day the honorable member for Melbourne asked that there should be a central authority appointed lay the Government to control the numerous patriotic collections. I under stand that the Government have replied that they are taking the matter into consideration. I hope that they will take it into their serious consideration. Though they cannot prevent any voluntary association collecting money without full approval of the State Governments, I hope that the time will not be far distant when the Commonwealth Government, working in conjunction with the State Governments, will see that no collections are taken up without the full consent of the Commonwealth Government, and that there is proper control over these organizations. Otherwise, we shall have a tremendous scandal in Australia. Our people are open-hearted and generous, and at this particular juncture are ready to subscribe right and left to anything arid, everything in connexion with the war, but it is due to them that the Government should see that the money is collected by people who are properly authorized to do so, and that there is Government control in connexion with every effort in this direction. We have had grave scandals in the past in connexion with voluntary subscriptions. I believe that in connexion with the Creswick disaster the trustees took some of the money that they should not have touched. There is in Great Britain a very large fund called the Prince of Wales’ fund, amounting to £2,000,000 or £3,000,000, which money has been collected on behalf of wounded soldiers ; but in Glasgow the cost of distributing lis. from this fund is 9s. Of every £1 raised, 9s. is spent in the cost of distribution. Some may not imagine that such a thing could happen in Scotland, where the people are so careful with the bawbees, but, seeing that it has, we can well imagine what may happen in other places. Naturally there was some outcry when these Glasgow figures were made public, and the. defence put up was that, as the work of distribution was put in the hands of clerks who were out of employment, the money paid to these clerks could be set down as relief pay. I do not say that nothing should be done for the unemployed, but it is hardly fair to raise money for wounded soldiers and use it for the relief of the unemployed. The Lord Provost of Glasgow took £17 10s out of the Prince of Wales’ fund in order to go to London and make some inquiries, and when this matter was ventilated in the press the Town Clerk ofGlasgow pointed out that, as the Lord
Provost went to London on general matters, his expenses should not have been drawn out of this fund, and it was only done by mistake. However, the fact remains that the money was taken by the Lord Provost for a trip to London, and if such things can happen in the Old Country they are just as likely to occur in connexion with the funds that are now being raised in Australia. I have no desire to stay the flow of benevolence and philanthropy in connexion with the war, but a few days ago a collection was being taken up for the wounded soldiers returning to Australia. It is my view that the Commonwealth Government should make full and complete provision for every wounded soldier returning to Australia by means of general taxation. If we called upon the people of the country to bear this cost, they would gladly respond.
– Hear, hear; as long as the tax was equitable.
– To me the fact that people should be selling buttons and collecting money in order to make provision for our returning wounded seems to be a reflection on ‘the Commonwealth Government.
– I expressed that opinion a month ago.
– When we have so much weight of intellect - that of the honorable member and my own - brought to bear on the Government upon this matter, something should be done. I hope that the Postmaster- General, who is in the chamber, will bring the matter under the notice of the Government, following upon the questions put by the honorable members for Melbourne and Bendigo. These organizations for raising, by voluntary means, money for laudable objects, seem to be multiplying, and should be under complete Government control in order that the public may know that when they subscribe money it will go to the object for which they give it.
.- I regret that in the National Parliament of Australia the honorable member for Nepean did not first take that course which any honorable member not anxious to get into the limelight, but anxious to serve his country, would have taken. But there is some excuse for the honorable member. He is a juvenile; also, he is among a body of men who will stoop to anything for the purpose of belittling those who happen to be on the Ministerial side of the House.
– I rise to a point of order. Is the honorable member permitted to charge any honorable member with stooping to anything to gain a political advantage?
– The honorable member for East Sydney was not in order in doing so, and I ask him to withdraw his statement.
– Whether I am in order or not does not trouble me much.
– Order! The honorable member must withdraw his st:te.ment,.
– I withdraw it. I shall say the same thing - not in the same words, but in parliamentary phraseology that will give the same result, is any one reading it will understand. The honorable member travels here from another State in company with a large number of honorable members on both sides of the chamber, and, prior to making Ms speech on Thursday last, he travelled in the train in company with the Minister of Defence. Every honorable member, and every person in Australia, will admit that, at this particular juncture, the Minister of Defence has very heavy responsibilities on his shoulders, and I believe that the public, and even the honorable member, will admit that no one is more prepared to listen to grievances, or to remove anomalies, or tilings that should not exist, than the present Minister. I feel sure that the honorable member for Nepean will admit this; yet he travelled in that train, and, under the guise of friendship, sat alongside the Minister of Defence, yet did not have the courage to bring these matters under his attention in any way, or to intimate to him anything of the nature of the conditions that he is trying to make the public believe exist at Liverpool. The honorable member is, I know, a juvenile, and does hot understand the trickery and machinations that are directed towards damaging honorable members on this side of the House. But the fact remains that he did not say anything of these matters when in the company of the Minister in the train ; and when he got into his party room, he made up his statement in order that he might come on to the floor of the House in an endeavour to damage political reputations. If the result were only to damage the reputations of honorable members on the Ministerial side, I could suffer it, but the result was. to damage the interests of the people of Australia; and it makes my heart bleed to think that a man could get down so low in the human scale in order to gain political kudos.
– The honorable member is on the wrong track.
– The honorable member is starting out in a political career; let me Advise him. I was at Liverpool before h» was able to walk; I was there when it wis a washing-ground for wool, when double the men- who are now there were camped at the spot. The trouble is that in that district the party which the honorable member represents is losing support, and the honorable member’s friends tried to get “him to do something so that he might not lose the vote he secured at the last election. Let the honorable member take the advice of a man who knows something about the political motives to which those on his own side will stoop, and he will never again allow himself to get into the mess into which he has now fallen.
– How does the honorable member know that the honorable member for Nepean consulted the leading members of his party on this matter before he came into the House?
– You can kill a cat by other means than by choking it with butter. Is there any honorable member in this House; is there any writer on the press, or reporter in this House, who believes that the action of the honorable member for Nepean will secure one recruit, or tend to the encouragement of recruiting? Does the honorable member believe that Colonel Kirkland, or Colonel Irving, or any of the high military officials, would for one moment allow men in the Liverpool Camp to be treated in the way that the honorable member indicated? Do honorable members believe that the doctor to whom the honorable member for Nepean referred was influenced in his actions by the fact that his father had been born in Germany, a circumstance over which the doctor himself had no control ? No member of the House will believe such a thing, yet that was the inference to be drawn from the honorable member’s statements, which are not in accordance with fact. I would advise the honorable mem ber not to rush into these allegations, but to treat those who hold Ministerial positions, no matter to which party they belong, with the respect that one man should be able to command from another. Does the honorable member ask us to believe that those in control of the Camp would tolerate the conditions which he has referred to, if they knew that such things existed?
– My statement is true.
– It is not true. The honorable member should deal with things he knows something about. He may understand how to wind up a watch, but he knows nothing about buildings. In his opening remarks the honorable member referred to the huts being built off the ground. If I were asked to prepare a plan of a hospital building, I should place the floors well above the ground, so that there would be a good circulation of air under and through the building. The buildings erected, at Liverpool are typical of hospital buildings throughout New South Wales. The only trouble is that, in the Liverpool area, frosts are experienced. Anybody connected with building knows that, at the present time, it is impossible to get seasoned timber, and though the flooring boards may be tongued and grooved, it is impossible to keep them draught-proof, no matter how they may be jammed together with the jack. They will shrink apart in places, especially when there is a good current of air underneath the structure. The flooring boards are cut to within an inch of the walls, so as to give an upward current of air; that is a sensible plan, because otherwise it would be necessary to provide air bricks. So far as the roof is concerned, there is a space of 3 inches i - the thickness of the ceiling joists - between the top plate of the wall and the roof. That is not too great a space to leave along the whole length of a building. In my opinion, the buildings are very suitable for hospital purposes, because doctors agree that a sick person cannot have too much pure air.
– Are you speaking of the huts or the hospitals ?
– My remarks apply to both classes of building. Perhaps the men would be even better off if they slept in the open air. I would undertake to sleep very comfortably in those buildings. So far as the medical attention is concerned, I went into the hospitals and asked the men to tell me candidly if they had any complaints. They said they had none.
– Did you think they would complain while you were there, and they were sick? It is when they leave the hospital that they complain.
– They may complain when they can pull the leg of a simpleton like the honorable member, but they would not make foolish statements to an intelligent person like myself. The procedure in regard to the issuing of uniforms was explained to us. A man enters camp in his own clothing, and particulars of his identification are taken. When his clothes are taken from him, he is given a docket, and his valuables are placed in the safe. The man is then given a suit of dungarees which he continues to wear while he is a recruit. He is not given a uniform until he becomes definitely a member of some unit. In only one place did we hear of any grumbling, and then I was shocked to find that men could sink so low as some of these men had sunk. Two deputations waited on us, and both made such requests that I felt bound to tell them, in unmistakable language, what I thought of them. I said that they ought to thank God that they were in such a camp, and receiving the best medical advice, and that they were not fit to be outside the barbed wires. The action of the military powers in keeping them under restraint was to their best interests. They complained that their pay had been stopped, although payment was being made to their wives, and that they were not allowed to purchase certain articles which were likely to be injurious to their health in the condition in which they were. Honorable members must understand that a man in camp is either fit for service or he is unfit. If a man has a boil about his body, he is of no military use, and is sent to hospital. The large number of men in the hospital is partly accounted for by minor ailments of that description. The doctor informed me that for days, and sometimes months, there was an almost complete absence of measles or other form of sickness, but that when the dry weather set in after the rains cases of those diseases seemed to increase. The honorable member for Nepean ought to have seen the plan of the new hospitals and huts which are already in course of construction. They are a very good type of building. We cannot expect the camp to be perfect, because the Government have owned the Liverpool area for only about two years.
– They could have done a lot in that time. They are trying to make a temporary camp do the work of a permanent camp.
– It was never intended that 12,000 men should be accommodated in that camp at one time. I consider it marvellous that so many men have been put through the camp with such success. Time is required to make preparations to provide the necessary accommodation for training between 30,000 and 40,000 men. I honestly believe the officers in charge of the camp are just as earnest and sympathetic as the honorable member for Nepean. When the men reach Egypt they will not be supplied with beds and washstands
– They know that.
– Then why not break them in to hard fare? When one purchases a colt, he breaks it into work gradually.
– Were you told that a great improvement had taken place during the last two or three days?
– No ; there has been no alteration. Perhaps, had I seen’ Mr. Hoy, he might have told me something of that sort. I do not feel disposed to go so fully into this. matter as I otherwise should because of the announcement of the Prime Minister that a Commission of investigation would be appointed. Honorable members should give all the information they have to the Department, so as to assist the Minister all they can, and not seek to stab him in the back in an attempt to make political kudos. The period through which we are now passing is the most trying1 that has ever come upon Australia, and if we can do anything at all to assist one another, we should do it, and not make unfounded statements, or statements based upon one side of a question. If the honorable member for Nepean had taken the trouble to investigate both sides of this question before he came to the House, we should have heard very little of it. Instead of doing that he rushed with his letter, desiring to move the adjournment, to the Speaker-
– I moved more quickly than the military authorities generally move.
– The honorable member can move too quickly in throwing mud and in slandering. Friends of the honorable member for Nepean have expressed the view to me that they did not think that a Britisher and an Australian could have so belittled men in Australia who were trying to do their best under very trying circumstances, for I am sure the people outside will admit that the Defence Department has done wonders during the war. It has shown grit and ability that historians of the future will deal with, and the sort of stuff served up by the honorable member for Nepean will not “ go down “ at all. Even if all he stated were true, he should have approached the Minister and placed the circumstances before him. No Minister in a democratic Government would have dared to refuse to go into the matter, and would have given the honorable member what credit was due to him. What is dangling in front of honorable members is the proximity of the submission of the referenda questions. When I know what has been done, and when I know of the sacrifices that Australia has made, and is prepared to make, I wonder, when I hear statements like that made by the honorable member for Nepean, whether I am in the National Parliament at all.
– Were the statements made by the honorable member true?
– No, they are not true. If you go to a public school of 500 boys, you will find one or two prepared to growl. Go anywhere, you will find men ready to growl. There are growlers everywhere. There are some in the National Parliament. The honorable member for Nepean is a growler. He has not dealt with this question as he should have dealt with it.
– Does the honorable member sympathize with the way Germans are being treated in the concentration camp, as compared with the treatment of our own boys ?
– The honorable member is now coming to the root of all this controversy. He is trying to make the people believe that honorable members on this side of the House are doing something for the Germans in the concentration camp that they are not doing for Australian soldiers.
– They are
– There it is- there- is the kernel of the honorable member’s complaint. Here is a member of this National Parliament accusing this Govern ment of neglecting the interests of Australian soldiers in preference to the interests of a few Germans. I have some sympathy for the honorable member. He has only occupied his position in this House for a short period, and prior to coming here his environment was not such as would teach him to look upon allegations of this kind as he should do. He has not yet had a sufficient education in political matters.
– You have not had occasion to regret my presence here.
– The honorable member has to be excused for a good deal, but I hope this will be the last occasion upon which we shall hear allegations of this kind without their subject-matter being previously brought to the notice of those in authority. With regard to the camp doctor, all I have got to say of him is that I have found him to be a man who knows his business from A to Z. I do not know any other medical man so conversant with military matters, or one who is so anxious to look after the welfare of his patients.
– I did not criticise his ability. I criticised his origin.
– His origin! God help some of the people of Australia if they are to be judged because of their origin. I know of some who came out here for the good of the country they left. I do not know what my honorable friend’s origin was.
– What is the doctor?
– He is an Australian, trained at the Sydney University, where he took the highest degrees that it is possible for a man to take. For seven years he was a member of the staff of Prince Alfred Hospital, and for three years was secretary of a body which had for its object the closest scientific research possible in medical science. That is what the doctor’s career is. If there is one thing to be said about him, it is that he does not get sufficient pay. At present he is getting captain’s pay, but he should be getting more. He has given up his consulting rooms, the rent for which was more than he is now receiving.
– la he at camp all the time?
– He is there all the time, night and day, attending to his patients. The first parade is at 7 o’clock in the morning, and there are four parades a day. He has to be at them all. He has as- sistants, of course, but be has to supervise. As far as the field hospitals are concerned, the men in them receive more attention than could be given in the public hospitals, because the public hospitals could not afford the time devoted to these men in camp. But, as I said before, it must not be forgotten that this is a camp, and camp life must be lived there.
– Order ! The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
.- I am sorry that any heat should have been generated by the discussion of this subject. The Prime Minister has already declared that a judicial tribunal will bo appointed to investigate the charges made by the honorable member for Nepean, and I am sorry that a man who claims to be a Democrat, and who pretends to be bubbling over with the milk of human kindness, should make any attempt to prejudge the case. It will be time enough for any honorable member to say there is no truth in any of these charges when the Judge has made his inquiry. Until then, in justice to all concerned - the Department as well as the men - I think the best thing we can do is to be silent as to what the result is likely to be. I have been to the camp, and I was surprised at the spontaneity with which hundreds of men there said that every word that had appeared in the papers was true. I have a good deal of sympathy with these men. I am satisfied that most of them have enlisted from the very best motives .possible. They know what is in front of them, and they are ready to face it, and I do not think more evidence could be required than these men seem ready to give.
– I thought the honorable member suggested that this matter should rest pending inquiry.
– let the Judge settle it.
– The honorable member for Nepean had no sooner delivered his speech in this House than a thousand overcoats were immediately procured by the Department, and the camp was immediately busy in putting things right. Mattresses were also brought in for the men.
– “We have procured 70,000 or 80,000 overcoats since, the war began. We procure them by the thousand every week. What nonsense all that is!
– The Assistant Minister says the Department has procured all these overcoats. I am glad to know it; but I do not lay any charge against the Department at all. I believe the Department is anxious to do what i3 right, but the unfortunate thing is that the overcoats have not been distributed.
– I tell you we are procuring them every week. Do not think that because we procured some last Friday that we did anything new.
– I am sorry that the Assistant Minister cannot stand a little criticism, and I am sorry that he should make any attempt to cover this matter up. He has nothing to fear. It is not his fault if these overcoats have not been supplied, and it is just as well that inquiry should be made to see if the Department’s orders have been carried out. It is no good providing overcoats if the men do not get them, and they are left to lay in the frost in the blankets that I saw there.
An Honorable Member. - In the frost?
– Yes, on frosty nights.
– Do you expect them to sleep in overcoats?
– I did not say that they had to sleep in their overcoats, though they might just as well sleep in them, as they are left lying about the floor amongst towels and everything else; but I will not deal with the matter further.
– Why attempt to make political capital out of it?
– I am not attempting to do so.
– The honorable member has been doing so throughout his speech.
– I can only say that I have had no desire to do anything of the kind. The Prime Minister has promised that an inquiry shall be conducted, and I hope that it will be pushed along with the utmost despatch, as in all probability, hundreds of the men in camp to-day will have left Australia in a little while. If the inquiry is to be of any value, then the evidence of these men should be taken. There should be an opportunity for all to be heard or represented. I hope, therefore, that the’ inquiry will be commenced very speedily, so that all the facts may be brought out.
.- I desire to make a few observations regarding the Liverpool Camp, but trust that in doing so I shall not be accused of endeavouring to prejudice the inquiry which the Prime Minister has told us to-day is to be made by a Justice of the High Court. I, in company with two honorable members of my party, visited the camp on Monday last; and, while it covers so wide an area that it would take several days to examine it in a thoroughly systematic manner, we examined it as far as we could do in one day. My experience of men leads me to the view that, if one desires to elicit the truth, it is useless to question a man concerning matters of mismanagement in the presence of his superior officers. I was. careful to be guided by that experience, so that, while we were received very courteously by the Commandant of the camp, and other officers, I availed myself of the earliest opportunity to go amongst the men unaccompanied by any officer. As the result of my inspection I am able to say that whilst there is room for improvement in the Liverpool Camp, there is nothing in connexion with it to which serious objection can be taken. I, at all events, failed to discover anything of a serious character, or any defect such as would not be found in any large business establishment.
– Did the honorable member see the latrines ?
– I have had experience of big business establishments, and can say that even in connexion with their management there are details which will sometimes go wrong. We found that the principle laid down is that when men are taken into camp certain clothing shall be issued to them. The Commandant told us that the arrangement was that each man on coming into camp should receive two singlets, two pairs of underpants, two cardigan jackets, two pairs of overalls, and a pair of boots. I examined the clothing very carefully, and am able to say that for quality it will compare with the best in the country. It is, in short, of the very best. Each man is supposed to receive this quantity of clothing as soon as he goes into camp, but, unfortunately, the system laid down in practice does not work out altogether in detail. Whilst I got this statement from the Commandant himself, I made it my business to ascertain from the men how the system actually worked. One man, who was wearing blue overalls, told me that he had been supplied with a suit of overalls, one singlet, and a pair of boots. Another said he had received only two singlets, and no other clothing whatever. Others, again, had received nothing but a pair of boots. The blame for this does not rest with the administration of the Defence Department, but relates to the failure to carry out the instructions issued by the Department. I made particular inquiry from the men themselves, in the absence of the officers, regarding the food supplies, and did not meet with one complaint. Every man to whom I spoke said that he was perfectly satisfied with the quantity and quality of the food supplied to him. We gave particular attention to the question of hospital accommodation in view of what had been said regarding the hospital arrangements at the camp being under the direction of Dr. Schlink. As the result of our investigations, I have come to the conclusion that the Department should consider itself fortunate in having the services of a man of Dr. Schlink’s capabilities.’ He is not only a capable surgeon, but possesses that sympathetic temperament which makes so much for the proper care of men in hospital. There was an officer in charge of each hospital tent, and I asked them to retire while I questioned the patients so that they might speak with the utmost freedom. Every one of the patients spoke in the very highest terms of the manner in which Dr. Schlink was attending to them, and as to the treatment they received in hospital. Each patient is provided with a spring stretcher with a mattress and blankets. In the matter of bedding accommodation, I think the men in hospital are very well treated, and they all told me that they were comfortable and .felt as happy as their illness would permit. These spring stretchers are far more comfortable than are many beds in which I have had to sleep. Shearers and others working out back often sleep on stretchers consisting of a sack through which two saplings are run.
– They make very good bunks, and it is good luck to obtain them.
– Perhaps so; they are certainly better than sleeping on the floor. I repeat (hat the bedding accommodation at the camp hospital is all that could be expected, and that the patients appear to be thoroughly satisfied in respect of it: We saw a number of men who were not in uniform, and it appeared to me at first sight that there must be something wrong in this respect. On making inquiries, I discovered that the rule is that when men come into camp, they shall be provided, with the articles of clothing I have already enumerated, but that no man shall be supplied with a uniform until he has been allocated to a particular unit. That is a fair and reasonable proceeding. As the Commandant very properly pointed out, until the authorities are sure of their man, it is not reasonable to fit him out. When they are, they provide him with the articles I have named, and also a uniform. This explanation of what, on the face of it, would appear to be a serious omission on the part of the Department is a very satisfactory one, and shows that an apparent omission is really a step in the interests of the Department. I should like to give a word of praise to Dr. Schlink for one arrangement he has made, and that is the provision of a detention camp for those suffering from venereal diseases. There are some most shocking cases in this detention camp, and from the men there several complaints were made to us. They asked, through their sergeant, that we should receive a deputation from them. We agreed to do so, and the men placed their grievances before us. Their most serious complaint was that they were kept in a compound surrounded with barbed wire, and were not allowed to mix with the men outside or with the people in the neighbouring town. The doctor and the military authorities, in enforcing such. a. regulation, are not only doing their duty to the camp, but are rendering a service to the community. Every credit should be given to the medical officer commanding for his action in this respect. If like methods were adopted in the case of all persons suffering from this terriblescourge, it would not be many years before it would be stamped out of the country. We were informed that Dr. Schlink is an Australian native, and that he is truly Australian in sentiment. In speaking to us, he advocated certain claims made on behalf of the unfortunate men in the compound, despite the opposition of other military officers in the camp. We ought to be proud to have the services of such a man to take charge of the medical arrangements of the camp. Another complaint made by the men in the detention compound related to the stoppage of pay. It appears that men placed in the deten tion camp on the ground that they are suffering from venereal disease have the whole of their pay stopped, although this rule is not followed in regard to men suffering from other diseases. I think it rather hard that these men should be absolutely deprived of the whole of their pay for the reason that they have contracted this terrible complaint. I hope that the Minister will give some attention to what, I -think, is a reasonable claim on the part of these unfortunate fellows. I do not say that these men should receive their full pay, but something should be given to them. To be perfectly fair to the Minister, I must explain that if a man has allotted part of his pay to his wife or other dependant, the Department gives to that dependant the amount allotted ; but, in the case of the man who has no dependant, nothing is paid. As to uniforms, these are not served out until men have been attached to a unit. I desire to direct the attention of the Minister to the need for giving more encouragement to drill instructors. I do not think that the Department is taking advantage of all the service that it could command in various States from the drill instructors that are available. I was amazed, on visiting the camp, not to see there many of the drill instructors that I knew a year or two ago, the big, strong men of commanding personality, whose word of command compels discipline. These men are missing.
– Probably they have gone to the front.
– Some of them; hut there are others still available. I understand that some are considered “too old; but I know of several men whose services could be obtained, and who would give to the camp the discipline that I believe it needs. I could, if necessary, supply the names of fine, active men, whose mere tone and bearing would force any squad to obey at once, and I feel sure that, now that attention has been drawn to the matter, the Minister will endeavour to get the services of these men. I understand that the pay offered is not a great inducement to drill instructors to give their services. One of the greatest needs in military training is the enforcement of discipline, and to obtain that we must have men of the proper type to give instruction. With an instructor who knows his business, and who has the proper tone and bearing, you can quickly get men to absorb the knowledge that is being imparted, and they have the confidence in the authorities that is necessary to enable them to do their part in the grand army of Australian soldiers. If attention is given to this matter, it will improve the camp. I am glad that the Prune Minister has decided to appoint a Judge to inquire into the complaints that have been made. The intention of both sides should be to see that the conditions at the camp are ideal. In many things Australia has led the world. We have done this by our social legislation - we have shown that social conditions better than any previously known are obtainable. If we get to work in this matter in the right spirit, we shall make a democratic army of which we shall be proud, and which will be an example to other countries.
– Oan the Assistant Minister tell me what are the principles upon which per-‘ mission is given to individuals - photographers, barbers, and others - to carry on their businesses within camp areas? Is there competition, or are rights granted only to certain persons? The complaint has been made to me that at the Enoggera Camp certain persons seem to have acquired the right to carry on businesses, while others are refused. I can. understand that there must be some regulation governing the matter, because you must have discipline within a camp ; but where profitable trading concessions arc concerned, some definite principle should be laid down, so that there may he proper competition for the privileges concerned.
– The matter is under the supervision of the Minister, whose consent must be obtained before any one can carry on business within a camping ground.
– Is his consent given to every application?
– No. At Broadmeadows, where the encampment is on private land, the owner had the right to allow certain persons to go on the ground, subject to the Minister’s approval.
– What is the position at the Enoggera Camp?
– I shall ascertain it, and furnish an answer to-morrow.
– All who apply should be fairly treated.
– Many traders have built up businesses in which outsiders now wish to participate.
– I am afraid that that is the rule everywhere.
– Why should there be a monopoly ?
– There should not be a monopoly.
– Some of the businesses are run in the interests of the soldiers themselves, to whom the profits go. Sitting suspended from 6.29 to 7.45 p.m.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Standing Orders suspended, and resolution adopted.
That Mr. Fisher and Mr. Hughes do prepare and bring in a Bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented by Mr. Fishes, and passed through all stages without amendment.
Motion (by Mr. Fisher) agreed to -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until 3 pan. to-morrow.
House adjourned at 7.48 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 7 July 1915, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1915/19150707_reps_6_77/>.