6th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– Will the Minister of Trade and Customs use his influence with the Government of Victoria so that Mr. McLean may be permitted to import from Queensland upwards of 10,000 head of cattle, to be sold in the State, to relieve the public of Victoria of the exorbitant prices which at present are being charged for meat?
– I understood that Mr. McLean wished to import cattle, not from Queensland, but from the Northern Territory. When he brought the matter before me, I told him that there was no Federal restriction on such importation, but advised him to see the Agricultural Department of Victoria regarding it. I understand that the Victorian authorities object to the importation, because they fear the introduction of the tick pest. However, I shall make representation as requested.
– Has the Post- . master-General been informed by the contractors for -the mail service between the mainland and Tasmania whether the new mail steamer will take up the running within the time contracted for? The steamer ought to be ready in September.
– i am not sure when the steamer will be ready, but I shall give the honorable member an answer tomorrow. The construction of the steamer has been delayed by circumstances over which the contractors could have no control. cruiser Brisbane:
-Is the Minister for the Navy able to inform the House of the exact date on which the cruiser Brisbane will be launched?
– The vessel will be launched in September, and I am hourly expecting the fixing of the date.
Returning Soldiers : Pay when in
Hospital : Presentation of Machine Guns : Camp on Northern Rivers : Liverpool Camp Inquiry : Sale or Red Cross Goods : Postage on Newspapers.
– i wish to know from the Minister for the Navy if, when soldiers are returning to Queensland, information can be telegraphed in advance to the mayors of the townships along the railway line, so that a proper welcome may be arranged for the wounded men?
– The suggestion is reasonable, and I feel sure that the Minister will in future have information sent, at least twenty-four hours ahead of the despatch of the troops, to the largest townships through which they will pass, so that a proper welcome may be given to the men.
– A few days ago the honorable member for Hunter asked a question regarding the pay of soldiers in hospital, it being rumoured that pay is stopped directly a man gets into hospital. Has the Minister any further information on the subject? I think that there was a misunderstanding between him and the honorable member for Hunter.
– I answered the question as I understood it. But it appears that the point upon which information is desired is whether the pay of soldiers in the hospitals at Men a House, Alexandria, or elsewhere has ceased. I have already stated that the pay of a soldier does not cease until he is discharged. It appears, however, that under an Imperial regulation the soldiers in hospital receive only a very small allowance. Their pay is not stopped, bub it is not given to them while in hospital ; it is allowed to accumulate.
– The citizens of Williamstown desire to present machine guns to the Defence Department. Can the Minister for the Navy say where such guns can be purchased, or whether they can be purchased?
– It is almost impossible for private citizens to purchase machine guns for presentation to the Defence Department, which is buying every gun on which it can lay its hands, and the Imperial authorities and the Allies are all doing the same.
– Is it a fact that all the recruits now offering in New South Wales cannot be accommodated at Liverpool? If so, will the Minister of Defence make arrangements for the accommodation of the men offering from the northern river districts of New South Wales at some camp in an adjacent situation?
– I understand that there is ample room at Liverpool for all the recruits now offering in New South Wales, but I am sure that the Minister of Defence would be pleased to establish other camps if there were not room.
– Has the final report of Mr. Justice Rich regarding the military camp inquiry been received by the Government? If so, when was it received, and when will it be laid on the table?
– No final report from Mr. Justice Rich has yet been received.
– Has the Minister for the Navy any information regarding the statement that Red Cross goods have been sold to the soldiers at the front instead of being given to them ? If not, when does he expect to know about the matter?
– I cannot yet give the information which the honorable member desires. An inquiry is being made, and as soon as I have the information, I shall make it known to the House.
– Can the PostmasterGeneral alter the regulations regarding the postage of newspapers to the front which compels the affixing of a1d. stamp on every newspaper, no matter how small, and prevents the enclosing of more than one paper within a wrapper? Could not several country newspapers be posted in one wrapper at a cost of Id. if the total weight did not exceed 16 oz. ?
– Special arrangements have been made, independent of the Post Office, for the despatch of newspapers and parcels to the front, and a large number of newspapers have been despatched in that way. As to the postal regulations, I think I have gone as far as the law will permit in the way of making concessions, but I shall look into the matter again.
– As it has been the practice in the past to name warships of a certain class after the rivers of Australia, will the Minister for the Navy consider the advisability of naming the next of such vessels to be launched after the Murray River, the most important water-way in Australia?
– I shall be pleased to consider the suggestion.
– In view of the fact that the Imperial authorities have accepted the services of another division from Australia, will the Minister for the Navy endeavour to give the men and officers of the artillery unit sufficient notice to allow of their completing their private arrangements prior to joining the colours ?
– The request seems a reasonable one, but I ask the honorable member to put the question on the noticepaper in order that I may ascertain what is practicable.
– Can the Minister for the Navy state whether in the War Precautions Act there are any provisions which prohibit lawyers trading with the enemy ? If there are not, will he ask the Attorney-General to introduce an amendment of the Act in order to place lawyers on the same footing as other persons in the community ‘(
– As a legal point is involved, I ask the honorable member to address his question to the AttorneyGeneral.
– Has the AttorneyGeneral seen an advertisement published in the Shippig and Commerce Journal, of 1st October, 1914, wherein Elder, Smith and Company announce that they are agents for Beer, Sondheimer and Company, of Frankfort-on-Main ? If so, does the Attorney-General still persist in the statement that Elder, Smith and Company were not agents for a German firm ?
– In view of the comprehensive reply I made yesterday when dealing with the motion of the honorable member for Wannon, and also in answer to a question by the honorable member for Dampier, I cannot understand the repetition of the question; but in order that there may be no confusion, I shall say once more that Elder, Smith and Company, as such, were never agents for Beer, Sondheimer and Company. At the outbreak of war, Elder, Smith and Company held half the shares in the Elder Metal Company, which was agent for Beer, Sondheimer and Company. Soon after the outbreak of war, the Elder Metal Company went into liquidation, and that severed completely the connexion between Elder, Smith and Company and Beer, Sondheimer and Company. Elder, Smith and Company was, and is yet, the only firm that has completely severed its connexion with Germany.
– I should like to ask the Attorney-General if it is the intention of the Government to permit the Minister of Defence to become a peregrinating attendant on all Courts, and the Judges thereof, throughout the Commonwealth; and, with a view to preventing the Minister of Defence becoming such an attendant, will the Government consider the advisability of introducing legislation, or even martial law, to insure the safety of the Commonwealth and the Empire?
– The intention of the Government is to pursue their policy, which is to prevent persons who are hostile to Britain and the Commonwealth, and to the best interests of the country during this time of war, from being at large.
– In view of the financial strain likely to be imposed on the Commonwealth in the near future, and with a view to effecting economies all round, will the Minister of Home Affairs consider the postponement of further works at the Capital?
– I have no doubt that the Cabinet will consider that, and other matters, very shortly.
– Will the Minister of Home Affairs have careful inquiry made into the useless expenditure being incurred in South Australia with a view to its cessation ?
– I am not aware of any useless expenditure in South Australia, or anywhere else. No doubt the whole question of expenditure will be dealt with on its merits and with due regard to the existing extraordinary state of affairs.
Mb. R. McC. Anderson’s REPORT
– Having regard to the fact that the newspapers to-day publish a summary of the report qf Mr. R. McC. Anderson, on the Postal Department, will the Postmaster-General afford honorable members an opportunity of perusing that report ?
– I have yet to learn that any newspaper has published anything, beyond a mere guess, as to the contents of Mr. Anderson’s report. I hope honorable members will take no notice of newspaper reports.
– Is the Minister of Trade and Customs aware that a large number of slaughtered heifer calves are being sold in Melbourne; and, if so, can he inform the House whether any of this meat is finding its way to the cool stores for the purpose of export? Further, is the Minister in communication with the
State Ministers of Agriculture with a view to preventing this wholesale slaughter of calves, and particularly heifer calves, throughout the Commonwealth ?
– This matter has been brought up many times by the honorable member for Oxley; and a fortnight or three weeks ago, in reply to a question by him, a return was laid on the table relating to the matter. All the State Ministers of Agriculture have been communicated with, and urged to bring the subject under the notice of those most interested, in order to prevent the slaughter of heifer calves in view of the serious position in which Australia may find itself, so far as our beef supplies are concerned, in the near future. As to bull calves, I think that, in consideration of the shortage of meat, it is, perhaps, advisable that they should be slaughtered. None of the calves brought to Victoria have been exported during the last three months.
– On the 29th July the honorable member for East Sydney asked the following questions: -
I am now enabled to give the following answers : -
Branch the present staff of sorters meets all requirements. The conditions relating to the vacancy of Assistant Superintendent are not parallel.
This shift is preferred by a number of the men, and if it were abolished the 1 a.m. to 8 a.m. shift would require strengthening. A straight shift from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. would not suit the work.
Railway Passes for Recruits :
Letters for the Front.
– Is the Minister for the Navy aware that there is a good deal of dissatisfaction amongst the troops in New South Wales, owing to the fact that they are not receiving a concession to which they are entitled in the shape of free passes to their homes when they are on final leave? Will the honorable gentleman cause inquiries to be made as to who is responsible?
– It is the rule of the Department to give railway passes to troops who are on final leave, but these passes are good only within the State in which application is made for them. As to the second portion of the question, I shall be pleased to make inquiries.
– I desire to call the attention of the Minister for the Navy to the fact that there have been many complaints of the non-delivery of letters at the front. I have had handed to me a postcard from a soldier in Egypt who asserts that there are in that country 100,000 letters unsorted. Will the Minister arrange to cable for information as to the truth of this statement?
– I can hardly think that there can be 100,000 letters unsorted or undelivered. However, a gentleman has gone to Egypt on behalf of the Government, and no doubt he will look into these matters. I shall bring the question under the notice of the Minister.
– Is it the intention of the Government to bring in a Bill during the present session to ratify the agreement arrived atwith the States in regard to the River Murray?
– As soon as all the States have passed the necessary legislation this Government “will also do so. I do not know whether all the Governments have passed Acts, but if they have we shall do the same.
– All the States have, except one.
– Until all the States have done so this Government cannot pro- ceed.
– I desire to make a personal explanation in regard to the proceedings of yesterday, when we had under discussion the question of shipping the harvest. The Age of to-day, first of all, reports the proceedings in the House, and then follows with a paragraph, beginning
Position of Elder, Smith and Co
Prior to the foregoing debate, the Attorney-
General, in reply to Mr. Gregory (W.A.), said it was not true that Elder, Smith and Co. were, prior to the war, agents for Beer, Sondheimer, and Co. of Frankfort.
I do not propose to read the paragraph any further; but the newspaper report adversely criticises actions of members of the House. The last statement quoted shows, or wishes the public to believe, that the Attorney-General had already answered a question by the honorable member for Dampier.
– I am making a personal explanation.
– The honorable member is going beyond a personal explanation.
– My explanation is that a question was neither asked nor answered.
– The honorable member may make a personal explanation in regard to anything concerning himself, but he is now referring to some matter between the Attorney-General and the honorable member for Dampier ; and he must not do so.
– Then I shall say that the comments in the newspaper report, in some phases, deal with myself. The inference is that. I made the statement complained of with the full knowledge of an answer previously given by the Attorney-General to a question of the honorable member for Dampier. I wish to say, in explanation, that that question was neither asked by the honorable member for Dampier, nor answered by the Attorney- General, before I spoke.
– But the honorable member is now debating the matter, and he has no right to do that.
asked the Minister of External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
asked the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
Whether he will reconsider the refusal to permit a representative of the Society of Friends to visit the interned enemy subjects at Torrens Island, South Australia, in view of the fact that a similar concession has been granted in Great Britain?
– Only one application has been received for permission for members of the Society of Friends to visit camps of internment. The applicant was informed that a member of the society accredited by it as a duly accredited representative would be permitted to visit camps for the purpose of ministering to any prisoners who might desire his services.
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
The bulk of their butters are marketed oversea within two weeks, as compared with two months in case of Australian and New Zealand butters.
The Conference on Uniform Standards for Foods and Drugs, comprising the principal health officers of the Commonwealth and States, in their report issued in 1913, approved of the present standards for butter in respect of preservatives which include boric acid in proportion not exceeding one-half per centum.
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
Did the Treasurer of the last Administration ever ask that the moneys voted by Parliament for expenditure re Canberra (the Federal Capital) should be stopped, and, if so, will the Minister lay the papers in connexion with the matter before Parliament?
– As far as the records of the Department are concerned the Treasurer of the last Administration never asked that the moneys voted by Parliament for expenditure re Canberra should be stopped. He suggested curtailing some items of the proposed expenditure, and a different allotment of the general vote, but on the matter being explained to him withdrew his suggestion.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
Whether the agreement with regard to the distribution of the sugar crop can be placed on the table, and, if so, whether it will entail an; charge on the Consolidated Revenue; and, if so, what statutory authority he has for any such arrangement being made?
– A Bill will be introduced, and the information will be given then.
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
Reporting of Casualties
asked the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are - 1 and 2. Yes. 3 and 4. The fault seems to lie with the soldiers’ commanding officer for not reporting to the proper authority all the casualties in his unit, although the great difficulties under which the operations are being conducted must be taken into consideration. The wounded may be picked up and taken away without his knowledge, or, even if with his knowledge, it is quite possible he himself may become a casualty, and the matter overlooked.
The Commanding Officer, Base Depot, Alexandria, is the Imperial official reporting authority in Egypt, but he can only transmit information that is supplied to him.
Hospitals under the command of Australian officers in Egypt are reporting sick and wounded as they are admitted, and endeavours are being made to obtain this information from all hospitals to which Australians are transferred.
Action has been taken to remedy the defects brought to notice.
In Committee of Supply:
– I move -
That a sum not exceeding £16,195,469 be granted to His Majesty for or towards defraying the services of the year ending 30th June, 1916.
On the 3rd December, 1914, I stated that the probable revenue which would be received during the financial year ended 30th June, 1915, was £23,273,000, and that this would be supplemented by a loan for war purposes to be received from the British Government of £10,500,000, also by proceeds of Treasury-bills amounting to £2,588,314, which with £1,222,401, the surplus it was anticipated would be brought forward from 1913-14, made the total amount available for expenditure £37,583,715.
The revenue actually received was £22,411,710, or £861,290 less than the estimate. The Customs revenue exceeded the estimate by £613,247, but there was a shortage in land tax of £746,222, and the probate duties amounted to only £39,646, whilst the estimate was £1,000,000, being a shortage of £960,354. Defence revenue was in excess by £211,389, owing mostly to freight received from cargo carriers.
At the time the Estimates were framed, it was expected that only £10,500,000 would be received as loan from the British Government, but arrangements were afterwards made for a second loan of £6,500,000, of which £3,600,000 was received up to 30th June.
It was estimated that Treasury-bills amounting to £2,588,314 would be required in aid of revenue, but owing to the receipt of the additional British loan, it was found necessary by the 30th June to issue only £311,905.
The total expenditure amounted to £38,047,962. The surplus actually brought forward from the previous financial year, viz., £1,224,347, was available towards meeting this expenditure, thus leaving £36,823,615 to be provided during 1914-15.
The special war expenditure amounted to £14,792,960, being £4,406,031 for Naval, and £10,386,929 for Military. The war expenditure was thus in excess of the amount of £14,100,000, borrowed from the British Government up to 30th June.
Finance 1915-16 As regards the Estimates of the current year - and here may I pause to state that this is not the Budget, but an intermediate statement that honorable members desire, and that, I think, can with advantage be given - I estimate the revenue at £23,540,000.
This is £1,128,290 more than that received during 1914-15. The items are: -
Honorable members will be glad to hear of the estimated revenue from the Transcontinental Railway.
In addition to the total revenue mentioned, viz., £23,540,000, the amount of £10,400,000 has still to be received from the British Government as the balance of the loan of £24,500,000.
I also add £20,000,000 to be received as the proceeds of the Australian “War Loan. Strictly speaking, the expenditure on war services will be charged to loan up to this amount, but for the sake of clearness I have included the amount in this statement in the same way as the £10,400,000 to be received from the British Government.
The balance of expenditure over receipts is £20,103,104, of which it is estimated that £4,000,000 will he received as income tax.
As regards the final estimated deficiency of £16,103,104, I will refer to the subject later. I will now read a statement showing the revenue and expenditure for the year : -
The total of £70,215,475, representing the draft Estimates of expenditure for 1915- 16, does not include expenditure on new works. It will be seen from the balancesheet I have just read that, in respect of new works, the Budget estimate for 1914- 15 was £4,303,870, and the actual expenditure £2,670,236, while the draft Estimates in respect of new works for 1915- 16 represent an expenditure of £3,827,629, so that the total of the draft Estimates for 1915-16 in respect of ordinary expendi ture, war expenditure, and expenditure on new works is £74,043,104.
– Does that total exclude ordinary loan expenditure ?
– No ( ordinary man in these abnormal times can say what is “ordinary loan expenditure.” The comparison of revenue I have read shows that the Budget estimate of revenue for 1914-15 was £23,273,000, whilst the revenue actually received was £22,411,710. The rough estimate of revenue for 1915-16 is. £23,540,000. Allowing for £10,500,000 war loan from British Government, and £2,588,314 Treasury-bills in aid of revenue, the total of the Budget estimate for 1914-15 was £36,361,314, -while the actual revenue for 1914-15, including these two items, was £36,823,615. To the rough estimate of revenue for 1915-16, set down at £23,540,000, we have to add £20,000,000 in respect of the Commonwealth loan for war purposes, £10,400,000 in respect of the war loan from the British Government, £4,000,000 for income tax, and £16,103,104 to be otherwise provided, making a grand total of £74,043,104.
– Will the new Commonwealth loan of £20,000,000 supersede the issue of Treasury bonds for which we provided last session? Will the balance of Treasury bonds be issued in view of this loan of £20,000,000?
– After we have exhausted all the loan money which we have yet to receive from the British Government, as well as the £20,000,000 that we expect to raise, by way of loan, in Australia, and have collected £4,000,000 by way of income tax, we shall still have, in my opinion, to raise anything from £16,000,000 to £20,000,000 to provide for our war and other expenditure. Since the question has been raised, I think that the people of Australia are capable of raising, not only £20,000,000, but double that amount should our necessities demand that. That, however, is merely by the way. I am tempted to refer once more to the question of bonds, but as it relates to the note issue, I would rather not deal with it at the present time.
War Expenditure. Naval. The Naval expenditure for the war during 1915-16 is expected to be as follows: -
– Does the total expenditure just mentioned include the ordinary administrative expenditure of the Department?
– The ordinary administrative expenditure of the Department is not included. That information will be found in the general balance-sheet.
War Expenditure. Military. The Military expenditure in connexion with the war up to 30th June, 1915, amounted to £10,386,929, which is made up as follows : -
The estimated Military expenditure consequent upon the war during the pre- sent financial year totals £38,460,000, as shown hereunder: -
The estimated cost per member of the Expeditionary Forces per diem is 14s., exclusive of transport.
– The other day the right honorable gentleman said that the cost was 25s.
– That was a rough estimate. I asked the Defence and Naval Departments some time ago, at the instigation of honorable members of the Opposition, to ascertain approximately what was the cost per head for each of our fighting men either here or overseas. They told me that it was roughly 25s. per head per day. I am now endeavouring to give a closer estimate of what they have submitted. I can only give to honorable members what they have given to me, and the information is as accurate as can be ascertained. The estimated cost per man landed in Egypt is £85. The estimated cost per man prior to embarkation is £57. .
Total War Expenditure. In addition to the amounts already shown, there will be expenditure for interest on the loan from Great Britain amounting to £680,266, and on the Australian loan of £20,000,000, say, £562,500. There will also be contributions to sinking fund of £62,500 in connexion with the Australian loan; so that the total war expenditure for 1915-16 will be :-
Loan from British Government. It was arranged that the Imperial Government should advance £18,000,000, subsequently increased to £24,500,000, for war purposes, to the Commonwealth, at the rate of interest which, including expenses, it cost to raise its own loans. For the present £3 10s. is being paid on every £95 borrowed, or £3 13 s. 8d. per cent.
This rate is subject to future adjustment, and cannot be finally determined until the loan is redeemed.
Such redemption will be made at a time to be arranged with the Imperial Government, which will then buy up in the open market the amount of stock to be redeemed, when the price would be taken into account, together with any discount paid at the time when the loan was raised, in fixing definitely the rate of interest to be paid throughout the term of the loan by the Commonwealth.
The amount already borrowed from the British Government is £16,100,000, leaving £8,400,000 still to be borrowed.
Loan Funds. The expenditure for the year ending 30th June, 1915, was -
The total loan expenditure up to the 30th June, 1915, was -
Since 30th June a further amount of £1,500,000 has been appropriated for the Kalgoorlie railway.
On the 30th June, 1915, the Loan Funds were exhausted as far as cash is concerned, and have been replenished since by the investment of the Australian Notes Fund in Treasury-bills.
The probable expenditure out of Loan Funds for the present financial year is estimated at £3,000.000, viz.: -
This amount has to be provided during the year in addition to the amount of £16,103,104, which I have previously shown to be deficient on the Revenue Account.
Deficit to be Provided. The total amount to be provided in order to balance the Revenue Account and to supply funds for Loan purposes, viz., for the
The estimates made in connexion with the Expeditionary Forces are, of course, not final. Events may happen which will have the effect of considerably varying the expenditure, and consequently the additional amount to be provided.
In the meantime I propose to finance the Kalgoorlie Railway and other purely loan works by a very limited issue of the Australian Notes.
Loans to States. An agreement was made with the States on 5th November, 1914, under which the Treasurer agreed to advance, by way of loan, the following amounts to States in monthly instalments, commencing December, 1914, and ending November, 1915: -
It was agreed that the rate of interest should be that which, including all charges, it costs the Commonwealth to raise moneys for its own purposes, but to be not less than 4 per cent, per annum.
Bonds were to be given by the States for the amounts borrowed.
The States also agreed not to borrow otherwise during the same period, except for renewals of existing loans falling due. They were to be allowed, however, to sell Treasury-bonds to an amount not exceeding sales in a normal year.
The following amounts have already been advanced to the States: -
At present, the States are being charged 41/8 per cent, interest, but this rate will be adjusted when it is known what rate the Commonwealth has to pay.
In March last, the States were advised that the British Government would not object to their raising loans in the London market, and were informed that, under the circumstances, the Treasurer of the Commonwealth would not insist on strict compliance with the clause of the agreement under which they undertook not to borrow otherwise than from the Commonwealth.
The following sums were raised by the States during the financial year ending 30th June, 1915, for works, in addition to loans made to them by the Commonwealth - I am indebted to the Premiers for these figures: -
In addition, Victoria raised £900,000 in Australia for revenue purposes.
– Is it clear that there are no conversion loans covered by those figures ?
– The Secretary to the Treasury says that none of the money is for conversions. The amounts astound me. We asked only for loan figures; but I have no direct statement to the contrary of what the honorable member suggests.
London Liabilities Account. The balance of this account on 30th June, 1915, was £2,872,711. This account was instituted to finance London transactions. When stores are ordered from England, the appropriate vote is debited, and the London Liabilities Account credited. The Public Account in London is kept in funds by remitting large amounts from time to time as required.
Australian Notes Fund. The balance of the Australian Notes Fund on 30th June, 1915, was £32,939,769. The following investments were at the credit of the fund on that date : -
The interest earned by the fund from the commencement, less expenses, amounted to £811,467.
The annual interest derivable from investments was £772,723.
The circulation on the 30th of June was £32,128,302, the gold reserve being £11,034,703, or 34.34 per cent.
On 9th August the circulation was £34,635,323, the gold reserve being £12,016,161, or 34. 69 per cent.
On the outbreak of the war, the circulation was £9,882,423.
An agreement was made with the banks to deposit £10,000,000 in gold in exchange for notes when called upon.
Up to date the banks have lodged £5,106,100, leaving £4,893,900 yet to be paid. As Treasurer, I am responsible for a larger amount not having been paid, it being the policy of the Government not to hold in the Treasury more gold than is required there.
Since the declaration of war on the 4th August, 1914, great and unique responsibilities have been cast upon the Commonwealth. Australia has been splendidly represented in the actual arena of hostilities. Much has been done by this portion of His Majesty’s Dominions. Much remains to be done. The Government’s determination is to .continue to train, equip, and transport to the seat of war every available man fit to help defeat our enemies.
Units Despatched. Since the beginning of the war 76,000 troops have been organised, equipped, and despatched for active service abroad. These troops consisted of the First Australian Division, complete with Light Horse Artillery, Engineers, and Infantry; four brigades of Light Horse ; four Infantry brigades ; and other arms as shown on the attached table: -
Troops in Training. In addition to these units, 40,000 troops are now in camps of training throughout Australia in preparation for despatch to the front. Included in the troops quoted is the Military Expeditionary Force for operations in German New Guinea, which sailed on the 19th August, 1914. This territory was captured, and with the neighbouring islands is now garrisoned by Australian troops.
Flying Corps. At the request of the Indian Government a half flight of the Australian Flying Corps was despatched to the Persian Gulf for operations in the Tigris Valley, and is carrying on valuable work in conjunction with members of the Royal Flying Corps. Reinforcements are about to be sent at the request of the Government of India.
Reinforcements. The actual number of troops being sent monthly to the front as reinforcements is 5,300, and for the months of October and November this will be increased to 10,600.
New Units. It is proposed to despatch (in addition to the reinforcements already mentioned), in order to complete a second Australian Division, 4,400 troops; together with the Eighth Infantry Brigade, with signalling, ambulance and supply units complete, numbering an additional 4,600 troops.
General, lt will thus be seen that 76,000 troops have already been sent to the front. Those about to be sent are 4,400 - to complete the Second Division - 4,600 - 8th Infantry Brigade and details - and the monthly reinforcements of 5,300. The number in camps of training is 40,400, making a grand total Australian Expeditionary Force of 117,000. Not included in this 117,000 are the 8,000 troops of the Citizen Forces mobilized in Australia for home defence.
Equipment and Clothing. The whole of the troops forming the Expeditionary Forces of the Commonwealth have been fully clothed and fitted out with the’ very latest fighting equipment. Every member of the Expeditionary Forces has been provided with two suits of warm woollen garments of excellent quality; also underclothing and substantial, comfortable boots, and, in addition, a reserve stock of these is being shipped to Egypt monthly in sufficient quantity to enable the troops to obtain new issues every three months. Special clothing had also to be provided for the Tropical Force. To provide the garments for the number of troops already embarked, or shortly due to embark, has necessitated the manufacture of 8,000.000 yards of material.
Resources of Australia in Equipping Forces. The fitting out for service abroad of units which hitherto had not formed part of the Australian War Organization, called for considerable initiative and resource. Ways and means had to be devised, new ground to be opened up ; but all difficulties in this respect have been surmounted. The resources of the Commonwealth in labour and machinery sufficed to produce almost every item of necessary military equipment, including many articles which had not previously been manufactured in Australia. The local manufacture of machine guns, wireless telegraphic instruments, compasses, periscopes, and other articles of important military value will shortly ba undertaken. Probably the most successful achievement of the Department in this connexion has been the designing and production for the first time of a purely Australian Infantry equipment.
Vehicles and Harness. For transport and supply services in connexion with troops embarked to date, over 2,000 vehicles and 7,000 sets of harness have been provided. Practically all these vehicles have been made in Australia; 90 per cent, of the harness, and, in addition, 10,000 sets of saddlery, have been manufactured by the Commonwealth Harness and Saddlery Factory.
Rifles. It has- been found possible to provide rifles of the latest pattern for the whole of our Expeditionary Forces, lt is satisfactory to note that 25 per cent, has been manufactured at the Commonwealth Small Arms Factory. The weapons supplied from this source have been well reported upon from Egypt.
Small Arms Ammunition. The supply of Small Arm Ammunition (also made in Australia) has always been found to be one of the greatest difficulties in time of war. The resources of the Commonwealth have been severely taxed in this connexion, but all requirements have been fully met. The large initial reserve provided for each rifle in the hands of Expeditionary Troops is being maintained by the shipment of monthly supplies to Egypt to replace that expended in action. A liberal allowance of ammunition is also being provided for practice purposes.
Local Defence Requirements. In addition to clothing and equipping troops for oversea, the requirements of our Citizen Forces and Senior Cadets have to be met, and every endeavour is being made to keep their clothing and equipment as fully maintained as possible.
Food Supplies. It would be quite impossible to furnish definite figures to illustrate the enormous quantities of food supplies which have been obtained by the Department to provision the troops during the currency of the war ; but the following items may be set forth as examples showing the daily requirements of the troops at the present time : -
and other articles of provisions in like proportion.
Horses. Since the outbreak of the war 31,627 horses have been obtained by the Defence Department for military purposes, of which 2S,988 were purchased at a cost of £560,968, and the balance, 2,639, were donated. Up to date 24,270 horses have been sent away with the Australian Imperial Forces, and there are still about 6,600 remounts remaining within the Commonwealth to fulfil future requirements. This establishment, of course, has necessitated the purchase of enormous quantities of forage.
Casualties. Our casualties in connexion with the present war, including those who have died in Egypt and en route since the embarkation of the first contingent, now total some 13,976, made up as follows: -
A large proportion of the sick and wounded cases is, fortunately, of such a nature that, with their characteristic keenness, a great number have been, and will be, again available for the task in hand, so that the figures do not necessarily mean the Force is permanently depleted to the extent shown.
Care of Wounded and Sick. Every possible attention is given to our sick and wounded, who have the most skilled and experienced physicians and surgeons of the Empire at their disposal, as well as the invaluable and self-sacrificing ministrations of our nurses.
Department of the Navy. The Royal Australian Navy, since the outbreak of war, has fulfilled all the calls upon it. Each ship has done its part. In the
Financial Statement made toward the end of the year 1914,I indicated the part the Navy had played in making possible the capture of Samoa and German New Guinea, and referred to the exploit of the Sydney at Cocos Island, and the work of the Fleet in escorting overseas their comrades of the sister service, who have writ the name of Australia large on the heights of Gallipoli. In recent months the Navy has been working behind an impenetrable veil. We may not definitely say in which of the Seven Seas our ships are serving, but I am proud to be able to tell honorable members that each ship is doing her share at her appointed station, and is helping to maintain that sea supremacy which is the biggest asset on the side of the Allies at this moment, the maintenance of which, moreover, necessarily means our safety.
Revenue. The amount of revenue from this Department to be paid into the Consolidated Revenue Fund for the year 1915-16 is estimated at £450,000. This is made up of -
It is also estimated that a sum of £1,000,000 will be collected as freight in respect of cargo carried on transports. This amount will not be credited to revenue, but will be treated as a set-off against transport expenditure. I think that is the better way to deal with it.
– Yes, so long as the Audit Act will allow you to do that.
– Provision is made for a full year for the crews of all His Majesty’s Australian ships, and for a portion of the year for His Majesty’s Australian ship Brisbane, and the torpedo boat destroyers Torrens, Swan, and Derwent, not yet commissioned. And, in addition, for the necessary sea-going personnel for His Majesty’s Australian naval establishments, Garden Island, and the Naval Depot, Williamstown. Provision is also made for officers and men temporarily appointed to the sea-going Force for the period of the war. The total complement provided for is 314 officers and 4,617 men.
A notable inclusion in the Estimates of the Navy for the current year will be the provision for salaries and wages, maintenance, stores, coal, and other expenditure in connexion with the commercial transactions of detained enemy vessels used as trading ships.
Cargo Service. Thirteen vessels are used in this general cargo-carrying service, trading to ports in Great Britain, South Africa, Europe, and North and South America. The expenditure under this head for the past financial year, 1914-15, was £163,000 ; the receipts were £211,000. Final figures are not yet available, as expenditure is incurred and large amounts of freight are collected in London, in regard to which statements of account are not yet to hand. The figures are therefore subject to some variation. For the year 1915-16, the estimated expenditure is £318,000. For the year 1915-16 the estimated receipts are £400,000. These figures are subject also to variation for the reason previously given.
Transport Service. Beside this class of sea-carrying trade, the Navy Department has also the charge of transport services in connexion with our Expeditionary Forces. Seventy ships have been taken up and fitted out as transports or hospital ships, and, in addition, six detained enemy vessels have been fitted up, and are being utilized for transport purposes. These latter ships have been provided with crews, stores, &c, and are completelyrun by the Department of the Navy. The cost of transport services, viz., £6,500,000, is included in the vote for Expeditionary Forces, and is made up as follows: -
Of the net amount of £6,500,000 required, it is estimated that £1,000,000 will ultimately be recovered from the Admiralty, reducing the net charge to £5,500,000. Commonwealth transports are frequently taken over for long or short periods by the Admiralty, and the voyages of transports are also subject to deviation on Admiralty account. The additional expense on Admiralty account involved to the Commonwealth is estimated, for 1915-16, at £1,000,000. The total cost, of running these transports is, in the first place, paid by the Commonwealth, and -claim for such portion as is not a Commonwealth charge is rendered against the Admiralty.
The Season.- The present outlook over -the Commonwealth is in general very favorable, except as regards the greater part of Queensland, where rains have been much below the normal since the beginning of the year. With that exception, since the break in the dry spell in May last, good rains have fallen at frequent intervals throughout all the settled agricultural areas. These have been accompanied by remarkably mild winter temperatures. Reports from Commonwealth observers establish the following position : - In Victoria, abundant and frequent rains over almost all areas give promise of an excellent growth of vegetation. In. New South Wales, prospects in general are exceedingly good, grass and herbage springing well; there are excellent harvest prospects, and stock are fast improving. In Western Australia, the rains have been remarkably good all through this year. In many parts this season promises the best ever known. In Tasmania, prospects are likewise good. In South Australia, throughout all agricultural areas, the prospects could hardly be better, while in the inland pastoral districts, though rains would be welcome, a favorable outlook is taken. Queensland is ex tremely dry, and the outlook so far rather unfavorable in’ general throughout the State.
Realizing that the prospective good season in Australia during the coming year should be taken full advantage of, the authorities in the various States have taken action to largely increase the area put under crop.
In 1912-13 the total area under crop in the Commonwealth was 13,038,049 acres. In 1913-14 the total area under crop in the Commonwealth was 14,683,012 acres. In 1914-15 the total area under crop in the Commonwealth was something like 15,700,000 acres.
During the present season, it is estimated a much larger area has been put under crop. This is largely in connexion with the wheat crop. The area under wheat in the Commonwealth during the year 1912- 13 was 7,339,651 acres, with a production of 91,981,070 bushels. In 1913-14 the acreage was 9,287,398, with a production of 103,344,132 bushels. In 1914-15 the acreage was 10,321,328, but, owing to an unfavorable season, the production fell to 24,843,536 bushels. The prospects of the wheat crop for the coming season are highly satisfactory. A large increase in area under this all-important cereal is reported in all the States. In Victoria - which alone up to the present has made an official estimate - the acreage has increased by no less than 33 per cent. Should the other States show a proportional increase, the total area is estimated to be somewhere in the neighbourhood of 13,500,000 acres. With favorable weather conditions, a record crop, perhaps of 160,000,000 bushels, may be possible. This figure, of course, is merely an estimate.
Transport of Wheat to World’s Markets. In anticipation of a very considerable exportable surplus of wheat and other produce, the Commonwealth Government, acting in co-operation with the State Governments, is now actively engaged in securing freight for its transport to the markets of the world. The problem is complex and difficult, owing to the uncertainty of the tonnage required, the price of wheat in the world’s markets, and high rate of freight arising out of the scarcity of deep-sea tonnage - a considerable percentage of the world’s mercantile marine is now temporarily or permanently out of action. A scheme of organization dealing with the whole wheat-freight requirements of the Commonwealth has been devised, and every effort is being made to enable the producers of Australia to profitably dispose of their products in the world’s markets.
I have only a few more words to say. Honorable members will see that an additional amount of about £20,000,000 will be required. We shall have to pledge our credit, either to the people of Australia or to the people of Australia and the Mother Country, for this additional amount. As to the Port AugustaKalgoorlie to Fremantle railway, honorable members will agree that to allow a work of such dimensions to begin at Port Augusta and stop at Kalgoorlie would be an insane policy for any Government to acknowledge. I have communicated with the Premier of Western Australia, pointing out how urgent it is that the work of linking up this line for through communication should commence at the western side of Australia, and I expect a favorable reply.
I take this opportunity at a time of national crisis to speak to the people of Australia concerning the position of this National Parliament and National Government. I say no more than that these great transcontinental lines are essential for our protection as well as for linking up the peoples of the continent. We have no time to waste over disputes of any kind, and no words of mine, and certainly no feeling of any kind, will be calculated to ruffle the political temper of any of the States. But national necessities and duties must_be attended to by the responsible Government of the Commonwealth, and I appeal to the Governments and people of South Australia and Western Australia to meet us in this great national undertaking. To allow an* expenditure of £5,000,000 of Commonwealth money to begin at one place and end nowhere would not only be suicidal, but show us to be a people incompetent and unworthy to have the representative institutions we possess. There is no use in mincing language in matters of this kind.
I feel, also, that I should not close before I make mention of the undoubted difficulties that have arisen, and %vill arise, from the position of Australia, possessing as it does seven Governments, each one of which is piling up a separate national debt. We have inherited this difficulty. We must not complain concerning the parties who are at present engaged in protecting their States’ interests, nor can they complain of the action of the Commonwealth in trying to protect the interests of the country as a whole. But we have to face the position. We cannot hide our difficulties, and they will not disappear if we simply bury our heads and declare that they do not exist. These difficulties do exist as a stern reality. The figures I have taken pains to give honorable members this afternoon must bring home to them the fact that there are great difficulties, if not dangers, in front of Australia, unless we have the full and wholehearted co-operation of all the public men of Australia in these matters.
As regards the resources of Australia, I have not changed my mind in the slightest degree since I have had an opportunity of travelling from one end of the country to the other. I know of no country with greater, or, indeed, with such great resources. I do not limit the possibilities of finding money for ourselves to tens of millions, or even to a hundred millions, if the people so determine; but I do say that the necessities of the Commonwealth demand economy from its people in every walk of life. It is an error, in my opinion, honestly made by many men, to think that frugality is attended by disturbed trade and destroyed industry. The effect is quite the opposite. Mother Nature here is finding opportunities for every one to help to provide the food we need, the raiment we wear, and all that is really necessary to our material well-being. We have a superabundance of produce to export if we have the opportunity. Probably the present trouble is being brought more nearly home to us because of the closing of our credit; but this may be the best thing that has happened to Australia up to the present moment.
In the meantime our particular business, unhappily, is to impose additional taxation. Different opinions may be held both as to the method and amount, but the necessity for the taxation is obvious.
– Does the Treasurer propose now to give us some idea of the taxation proposals?
– I could not now disclose the proposals.
– Why not?
– The fact of the matter is that the formula, although published in the newspapers a long time ago, is not yet complete.
– You have not yet dealt with that member of the Caucus who let out the secret!
– There was, after some struggle, one aspect, however, that was certain, and that was the taxation of individual interests in companies.
– Where was the struggle - in the Cabinet or in the Caucus?
– We have none.
– But you gave a casting vote, did you not?
– That looked like a bit of a straggle, did it not?
– No, because I got my way.
Before I mention some leading features of the proposed income tax, may I be allowed to say, on behalf of Parliament, that although this war has, of course, broken and brought grief to many family circles in Australia, it is a proud sorrow that has been bravely suffered. It is not out of place, I am sure, for me, on behalf of this House, to express to all who have suffered on account of the war our sympathy with them, coupled with a determination to see this matter through to a righteous end, whatever it may cost in money or in life. While we are asking all to make some sacrifice in the way of money contributions, what are these compared to the sacrifice of the young men who are nobly coming forward determined to give their all - happy, indeed, to give their lives if the nation need them !
Honorable members will see from what I have stated that, even allowing for the amount of £20,000,000 to be borrowed in Australia, and £10,400,000 to be received from Great Britain, the estimated revenue will be short of the estimated expenditure by over £20,000,000. We must do our part in this great war, no matter what it costs us. In these circumstances, it is obvious that recourse must be had to additional taxation. The Government, after very careful consideration, have decided that this shall take, the form of a graduated income tax. The rate of tax will range from 3d. in the first £1 over the exemption - £156 - to 5s. in every £1 over £7.756. The exemption of £156, which will be granted to incomes from personal exertion only, will gradually abate as the income increases, and will disappear when the income is £1,000. There will be an additional exemption of £13 for every child under sixteen years of age, which will be granted to every taxpayer, irrespective of his income. Companies are not to be taxed as such except on their undistributed profits. The rate of tax on these will be determined by a calculation based upon the share of profits allocated to the individual shareholders. It is estimated that the tax will yield a revenue of about £4,000,000. I have to thank honorable members for their consideration.
– I rise for the purpose of asking the right honorable gentleman to agree to an adjournment of the debate until next Wednesday.
– Yes; certainly.
– Will it be possible for honorable members to obtain copies of the right honorable gentleman’s speech ? Hansard will not be published until Saturday.
– Yes. The matter is not in type. but I think we shall be able to obtain an advance proof to-morrow for honorable members.
– It has been a somewhat exhaustive Budget-
– It is not a Budget at all. It is merely a statement of the financial position.
– It is more than a statement; it is really a Budget, for the Budget that will follow will be little more than a re-adjustment, of this statement; and the figures are so stupendous that I hope my right honorable friend will give us, at all events, until next Wednesday for its consideration.
– On that understanding, I should like to ask the right honorable gentleman what the course of business for the remainder of the week is to be? I understand the AttorneyGeneral proposes now to move for leave to introduce an Income Tax Assessment Bill.
– Let that motion be taken as formal. Then we can proceed with the notice of motion in the name of the Minister of Home Affairs regarding the Small Arms Factory.
– My difficulty is that we have a matter of some financial importance that we want to discuss, and as the House is now in Committee of Supply, perhaps the present might be an opportune time for dealing with it.
– I suggest to the right honorable gentleman that such a course would be” rather unfair to me. If it is a financial matter the right honorable gentleman has in mind, I should like to hear the debate, and I hardly feel fit to do so now. To-morrow would suit me much better. I can bring forward Supply so as to enable the honorable member to deal with the subject to which he refers.
– Never mind; we will go on with the ordinary business, and deal with this question on the adjournment of the House to-morrow.
– I move -
That leave be granted to bring in a Bill for an Act relating to the imposition, assessment, and collection of a tax upon incomes.
I have not the Bill with me now, but I hope to have it to-morrow, and’ with the consent of the House we can go straight on with its discussion then. I cannot do that, however, unless honorable members opposite agree.
– la such a course fair in an important Bill like this?
– The right honorable member does not wish to discuss the Bill to-morrow ?
– Not on such short notice.
– Then I will introduce the Bill to-morrow, make my secondreading speech, and agree to an adjournment of the discussion. By leave, however, I would like to explain that the course suggested by the right honorable member will leave the House in the position of not having any business for to-morrow, unless honorable members will agree to the discussion of certain matters that may be advanced a stage.
– As far as I can see, the House will have plenty of business to-morrow.
– The right honorable gentleman may be referring to seme pyrotechnic display. I am talking about serious business. It may be necessary to ask the House to amend certain of its war legislation. I should like to obtain from the right honorable gentleman the assur ance that if the Government find that some of their war measures require immediate consideration, they will have, in this course, the co-operation of honorable members opposite.
– The honorable member has met with no difficulty from the Opposition so far.
– No, no; and I am not anticipating any now. I merely desire to inform the right honorable member that it is quite possible the Government may have to deal with matters such as I have indicated, to-morrow.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move -
That ‘in view of the report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works, it is desirable that a Small Arms Factory, with necessary provision for housing workmen, be erected forthwith at Canberra.
In submitting this important motion, I desire to impress upon honorable members that its appearance is not the outcome of any rivalry that may exist between the Federal Capital City and any existing city in the Commonwealth, and I hope honorable members will not attempt to deal with the question involved as though it were. Had such a motion as this been introduced a few years ago, it might have justifiably provoked some feeling of rivalry; but to-day such a motion has to be regarded in the light of contemporary history. It is not necessary for me to dwell upon the position that every newspaper reader knows the civilized world is in. Hardly a question of importance can be discussed in Melbourne, London, Paris, Petrograd, or any other important city, some aspac’ s of which have not been materially changed as the result of the war; and I would like honorable members to bear this fact in mind when they are dealing with the motion that I have just submitted. I should not be so deeply interested in the subject if it were not for the gravity of the present situation. In itself, the motion is a simple one, which asks for power to carry out a recommendation of the Public Works Committee.
– How much is the new factory going to cost?
– I will answer the honorable member’s query shortly. I quite admit that the financial aspect of the situation cannot be lost sight of. In spite of the political school to which I belong, 1 feel that all questions of this kind must be dealt with as business transactions; but the point that I wish to lay before the House at the present moment is not one of immediate financial concern. I am not going to deal with ancient history; but it is the fact, nevertheless, as was demonstrated in that period which began with the Peninsular War and culminated with the Battle of Waterloo, that a general lack of organization has always been the chief characteristic of any policy adopted by the British people. Thanks to the proverbial British luck, we have always managed to muddle through with whatever we have undertaken, and, despite our troubles at the present time, I have not the slightest doubt that we shall continue to do so. But this policy of muddle is not a wise one to pursue. Responsible Ministers of His Majesty, wherever they may be serving, are repeatedly charged - and rightly charged, I think - with the policy of “ muddling through,” and Australia, unfortunately, has not escaped from that reflection. It is a policy, however, in respect of which no virtue can be claimed, and the sooner we substitute for it a proper system of organization the better. Our enemies, the Germans, do not muddle through. Their present position is due to their splendid organization, but I would rather have British muddling, with honour, than Germany’s brilliant system of organization, divorced as it is from almost every principle that distinguishes between man and the beasts of the field. There are two strong reasons why this motion should commend itself to the House. The time has passed when Australians should be content to merely muddle through with any work they take in hand. We should declare for system, and in building the Federal Capital should have some regard for common-sense business principles. It is very desirable that there should be an extension of our Small Arms Factory, and I hold that Canberra is the best situation in which to place it. It is desirable to establish it there, because, in the first place, it is essential that Defence matters should not be under divided authority, but rather under the control of the Commonwealth Government, which can speak for the manhood and womanhood of Australia. It seems to me that in respect of any Commonwealth Factory to be established in the future, our critics in the press and elsewhere should be called upon to show cause why it should not be erected in the Federal Territory.
– Then the honorable member believes in centralization. He would have no Commonwealth Factory, for instance, in South Australia.
– My right honorable friend is in favour of centralization when it suits him. I favour centralization from a military point of view.
– Does the Minister suggest that this Factory, in a military sense, would be safer at Canberra than at Lithgow ?
– Good heavens!
– I bow, of course, to the honorable member as a superior authority on military strategy.
– Why not quote the Defence Department on the subject?
– It is a wellrecognised military principle that works of this character should be established as far from the coast as possible. Germany has recognised this principle. Instead of establishing its wonderful munitions factory at Hamburg or some other seaport, where it would be in danger of attack, it decided to establish it at Essen, where it can be reached by an enemy only with difficulty.
– It is very close to the frontier, but in the middle of a coal and iron district.
– It is certainly not near the coast. We have reached theparting of the ways. Every additional hundred thousand pounds that we spend at Lithgow will strengthen vested interests there, and make it more difficult to remove this Factory. Public men know very well how difficult it is to secure the removal of any big Government works from a district when vested interests have grown up about it, and every additional pound that we spend at Lithgow will make it more difficult for us to face the situation, and deal with it on its merits. All that I am asking the House to-day to do is to decide that the time has ar rived when additions to our Small Arms Factory should be built at Canberra. That is the policy of the Government; but, speaking for myself, and, I believe, for thousands of citizens, I consider that this will ultimately prove to be but part of a scheme for the creation of an arsenal. Such an undertaking must be faced. The Imperial Government have appealed to us to depend upon our own resources in taking our share in the war, and that means that we must provide for the local manufacture of munitions of war, and everything relating to the equipment of an army. Why should we, ostrich-like, bury our heads in the sand, and refuse to recognise the position ? We have reached the parting of the ways, and must take this step.
– When the nation is in deep water.
– I am rather amused to hear that statement.
– There is nothing very amusing about it.
– It is amusing if viewed from the stand-point from which I ask the House to look at it.
– It is the Minister’s standpoint that is amusing.
– My honorable friend regards everything in life as a comedy. He is himself the greatest farce in the Commonwealth. I am not suggesting that it is the policy of the Government to build an arsenal. The Government simply ask the House to adopt this motion, but I believe that the people of Australia will soon realize that it will be necessary to establish an arsenal. I propose now to give honorable members some opinions to support the military view of the case.
– When the Minister speaks of “ the military view of the case,” does he suggest that the opinions he is about to quote come from the War Council, or from some officer in his Department?
-The honorable member is not going to find out where they come from. He merely wishes to know in order that he may enjoy the luxury of blackguarding some one. He may blackguard me if he desires. I submit these points for the consideration of honorable members -
The scheme is looking ahead to bring together in the future, under one general control of the Commonwealth, the manufacture of small arms, machine guns, pistols, and, in fact, all arms for the Military Forces. Of course, heavy guns for Naval Forces, and armour plates would not be made there.
Honorable members will recognise that the naval and military branches of the Department are quite distinct, and that my remarks have no relation whatever to the Navy -
Arms and the like must be manufactured away from the sea coast, for security when an enemy attacks.
Canberra will, in a few years, be a big town, and there is now a chance of laying a beginning for the various manufactures required for the Army, to be brought together in course of time.
The late manager of the Small Arms Factory said in his evidence that the bringing together will result in ultimate economy.
It is hardly necessary to quote such evidence because every one who is familiar with gigantic undertakings knows that the more they can be concentrated and carried on under one business control, the more economically they can be conducted. That is a consideration that will appeal to those honorable members who always regard matters of this character from a financial point of view. If we are going to have Commonwealth Factories scattered here, there, and everywhere, we cannot hope for economy or efficiency.
– That has been done in the past. Commonwealth Factories have been placed here and there to satisfy the different States.
– That is so. We must look at this matter from a commonsense point of view.
– Is it common sense to establish the Factory in the most expensive part of the Commonwealth for the manufacture of a rifle?
– The honorable member may indulge in his little tirade when I have completed my speech. The report continues -
Lithgow is not the proper place for several Commonwealth factories, because there is not room at or round the present site to group together several factories.
If additions are made to the Lithgow Factory the comprehensive scheme would not be started now, and other factories, instead of being together, will be scattered here and there.
One general management with certain departments common to all factories, and with interchange of workmen when necessary, will lead to future economies, and if we go away from the coast, what better place than Canberra ?
Even now the manufacture of other military arms and munitions in Australia is being considered; it must come, and come soon.
There is room at Canberra to erect many factories close to each other and to find land and build houses for workmen close by; that is the way to keep pood workmen when you get them, and train them.
This proposal looks into the future. In a year or two’s time every one interested will say if the arsenal is not founded as one concern, “Why was it not done?”
We know the usual style of criticism ; it is just as old as the hills, and is not confined to this Parliament, but is common to all the Parliaments of the Empire. We are carried away by party prejudices and other causes for the time being, and lose sight of the economic and national point of view, and so the country suffers.
– But this is not a party question ?
– I hope that it is not. I sincerely hope that it will not be regarded as a party question when a vote is taken. However, without any reflection on this Parliament, no one can dispute the fact that we often do not look at things from a broad point of view. We have many badly situated railway termini in Australia because of the fact that our lines have been built in patchwork fashion, Parliament authorizing a small expenditure upon them from time to time, and this system has resulted in our having railway termini which are a disgrace to Australia. Every one says, “ Why has this come about?” It is because in public life in Australia we seldom look at matters from a broad point of view, and thus we sacrifice future interests. The proposal that I am now submitting to the House looks into the future. The Home Affairs Department has the plan and the organization to construct cheaply at Canberra. I direct the attention of honorable members who pride themselves on being keen business men to this fact. There are some people who approve of any work as long as it can be shown to them that it can be undertaken cheaply. I am not one of those who belong to that school.
– But the honorable member is now quoting it as an argument.
– Any stick is good enough for him.
– I am aware that I cannot convert the honorable member.
– No, not according to the report before the House.
– it is acknowledged to be a wise practice to get the workmen to live close to the Factory.
– Who has furnished the report that the Minister is quoting ?
– It has been supplied by one of my officers. It was before the Public Works Committee. I have no objection to reading it except that I impose the condition that if there be criticism upon it I shall be criticised and not the officer. The report proceeds -
Canberra. - Sum required to build factory at Canberra for double output of existing factory at Lithgow, including staff quarters and lands, £92,100; sum to build garden suburb for workmen, £113,300. Total, £205,400.
– Is the proposal that the Minister is outlining the Canberra proposal ?
– Yes, and that is why I am asking the House to deal with the matter of Canberra versus Lithgow. This report continues -
Results : - (a) A small arms factory at Canberra with double output of existing Small Arms Factory; (6) a factory for making military vehicles at Lithgow; and (c) initial works and foundations laid for further factories at Canberra.
Thus, by expending £5,500 more at Canberra than would be spent at Lithgow, the Commonwealth would possess two * complete factory premises instead of one.
I understand this remark to mean that for this expenditure we shall have at Canberra a factory double the size of the plant we now possess for the manufacture of small arms.
– What does the Minister propose to do with the Lithgow plant?
– I have been informed that it is very desirable that the Lithgow plant be retained and put to use. Lithgow is considered a very desirable site for building waggons and so forth which will be essential for military purposes.
– What particular features make Lithgow suitable for building waggons in preference to small arms?
– If the case put forward by the Government, that it is desirable to manufacture these small arms at Canberra, succeeds, and some future Parliament should decide that all the small arms should be made at Canberra, we would have the Lithgow Factory on our hands. But that would not be good business; therefore I say that it will be very easy to utilize the plant at Lithgow for the purposes which I have indicated. The report proceeds -
Sum required to duplicate buildings, &c, of present Factory at Lithgow, including power plant, £66,600; sum to build garden suburb, on same lines as proposed at Canberra, including 100 acres of land,£ 133,300; total, £199,900.
Preliminary Estimate of Cost, Canberra. - Workmen’sSuburb - buildings and work.
Manager and Staff. - An amount of £5,000 was included in the estimate for construction of Factory buildings (£92,100) handed by the Director-General of Works to the Public Works Committee.
Workmen’s Domestic. - Assumption 700 men employed. Out of that number there would be at first 230 married men, 350 unmarried men, and 120 boys, of whom the numbers residing at the Factory would be, when the Factory starts work - 160 married men, 280 unmarried men, 100 boys living with parents, altogether 540. The remainder of the employees, namely, 70 married men, 70 unmarried men, and 20 boys, would at first be accommodated in or about Queanbeyan, and later on at Canberra.
If this scheme is accepted by the House, and the work is started, it will be upon a site lying between Queanbeyan and Canberra, and will undoubtedly affect industrial development in that direction. Any honorable member who has visited Canberra knows that there is a sufficient area of land at that spot for large factory extensions. Furthermore, the fact that railway communication exists on that side of the city is a matter to be considered from the economical point of view.
– Does the Minister propose the erection of the Factory on a particular site at Canberra, or simply the transfer of the Factory to Canberra to some site there?
– I am merely giving honorable members an idea of what I think would be the best site, and when we take into consideration the fact that we have to house working people, the site that I have indicated must be deemed worthy of full consideration. In the meantime, I simply regard the question from the abstract point of view, that is, as to whether honorable members prefer Lithgow to Canberra; but, at the same time, I am endeavouring to show that from an economical and business point of view, we shall not be losing money by choosing Canberra.
– The Minister is not defining any particular spot in Canberra ?
– Not this afternoon. I have nothing further to add in regard to that phase of the question. A little while ago, when addressing myself to this matter, I urged that consideration should be given to it from a military point of view, and that we should stop our muddling policy. To-day we have before us a systematic proposal from the Government in regard to the building of factories for munitions of war.We need to have something like an organized policy. Furthermore, rightly or wrongly, the members of the National Parliament of Australia have made up their minds that Canberra is to be the Capital, and something like £800,000 has been spent on buildings, works, sewerage, and water supply there, while a considerable sum has also been spent in the re-purchase of land. Now, unless we are to continue talking in the abstract about our wonderful Capital, and asking when we are going to get there, and what we are going to do to further that end, and unless we are to continue having the development of our Capital a fruitful source of attack directed from the “ outs “ against the “ ins “ on the ground that sufficient money has not been spent ; if we are really anxious to settle Canberra, we have now an excellent opport unity of doing something in that direction. If within a few years Canberra is to be a reproductive place, paying interest on the money expended on it, and providing a sinking fund for the repayment of the expenditure, how is that to come about? Is it to be done by making pretty pictures, by delivering speeches about the grandeur of the place, and what will happen there in the future? How are cities built, and how do nations become great? Is it not by the settling of big industrial communities in their midst? When such communities are settled in any place, their so-called “ betters “ will follow them - an industrial population will never follow its so-called “ betters.” A certain trading, parasitic community might follow any other settlement; but do we believe in making Canberra a real city, or are we humbugging the people in regard to it? Why, for sixty years, was Washington untenanted except by members of Parliament, officials, and the army of carpet-baggers and lobbyists?
– That would make a considerable population.
– And a desirable and illustrious population, no doubt! Disguise the facts as “we may, we know that it is the industrial armies of the world that make cities great.
– What great armament factory is there at Washington?
– I am not aware of any there. But it is our business to put a stop to muddling, and to organize. Let us end our mere academic speechmaking, and do what we can to settle a working population at Canberra. I understand that the good citizens of Lithgow are in a state bordering on revolution.
– They have reduced the price of their land since the chance of competition arose.
– No doubt; but the prices will go up again. I do not wish to impute motives, and I do not blame the townspeople of Lithgow. Those of any other township would have done the same. But they put me in mind of the disinterested gentleman of the Brick Lane Temperance Society, who supplied the company with tea.
– The people of Lithgow put themselves out to provide accommodation for the extra hands sent there by the Defence Department.
– No doubt they have suffered a great deal ! I know what that kind of suffering amounts to, and have always noticed that such disinterested persons make money out of what they do. We have no charitable scheme on hand. What I propose is not brought forward as a charitable arrangement.
– Is not the Minister giving the land at Canberra?
– No. This Government gives away nothing. We shall charge rentals which will cover the value of the land. At Lithgow they ask £1 a foot for the land; but at Canberra the land is worth only £4 10s. an acre, which makes a great deal of difference to the rent.
– Is not £4 10s. per acre the average price of the large estates at Canberra, including scrub land ?
– It is the actual price of the land at the No. 1 site.
– We propose to erect fifty cottages, each consisting of three rooms, kitchen, and offices, at a cost of £380 each, for which we shall charge 8s. 9d. a week. You would not get such accommodation for the money at Lithgow or in Melbourne. I know that you would not get it in Hindmarsh.
– And we shall not get it at Canberra. If the Department’s estimates are no better in the future than they have been in the past, they will be very wide of the mark.
– The Department is organized for this sort of work, and I undertake that it will be done for the price stated. Of course, if wages increase 20 per cent., the position will be altered; but under existing conditions and prices what I say will be done. Then we propose to build seventy cottages of four rooms each, for £480 each, and to let them out at11s. a week.
– That will not be done.
– I have not been eleven months in my present position without knowing what can be done. Bricks and cement are obtainable within a mile or two of the site.
– Cottages could not be built in Sydney for the price.
– No one would think of establishing works like these in Sydney. The landlords of Sydney would howl loudly enough to wake the dead if the Commonwealth Government proposed to erect workmen’s cottages there. We propose, further, to erect forty cottages of five rooms each, for £580 each, and to let them out at 13s. 4d. a week. This is a subject in which I take a special interest. I believe in settling Canberra as quickly as possible, and that can be done only by bringing a busy working population there. The idea of some honorable members is that Canberra shall be merely a fine place, in which aesthetic gentlemen with eyeglasses will promenade with ladies with beautiful parasols, feeding the ducks on the lakes. Under no circumstances would they have a working man there. But the time has arrived for regarding the matter seriously, and if this question is considered without party prejudice, we shall discontinue our now historic muddling. Canberra will be entirely under the control of the Government, Parliament voting, from time to time, such sums as it may consider wise to spend there. At present you cannot opena newspaper or take a walk without coming across one of these pestilential quacks of town planners. There are men of another class who, for twenty-five years, have been advocating town planning. Such a man, who has written much and spoken much on behalf of the workers of the Old Country, and of Australia too, is Mr. Chiozza Money. Take his works on riches and poverty. His idea is that in planning a new city you should aim at providing wholesome conditions for a working population, giving them rooms of ample size, and gardens, and space in which their children will grow up strong and healthy. Where existing cities were concerned, he would build the new city alongside the old, and improve conditions in the way I have mentioned. That is the sort of town planner who is a large-hearted man, the town planner who has a soul that feels for the people for whom he is writing and speaking. The mountebank, carpetbag town planner is quite another person. It is not statesmanship, nor practical politics, nor business, nor common sense, but an outrage on reason, to spend money in attempting to do what we cannot do. We cannot do at Lithgow what can be done at Canberra.’ I urge the House to agree to the motion.
.- My honorable friend was so overwhelmed with his enthusiasm that, in regard to one aspect of this matter, he would appear to be ‘quite inarticulate. We listened to the honorable member speaking on every subject under the sun, including military aspects and military judgments subscribed by persons whose military authority was apparently so obscure that their identity could not be disclosed. In the course of a perambulatory excursion ‘throughout) the world, the honorable gentleman dealt with other cities and other countries, which, when examined, were found by the Minister not to supply the parallel he attempted to convey. From that, he proceeded to the usual flamboyant appeals to statesmanship and common sens®, and every other attribute which the Ministerial statement seemed to be denuded of. Then he besought us to avoid muddling by engaging in a project which, from a business point of view, the Minister has not yet explained to the House. The ‘honorable gentleman told us of the cost of establishing factories, but not one word has he told us of the cost of producing rifles. After all, that is the matter with which this House is concerned. The Factory is only a means to an end ; its cost is a temporary matter, which is reflected in the cost of the output of rifles only in the interest and other charges in connexion with the capital account. But the running charges of the Factory are of vital importance.
– Rifles will be 2d. cheaper at Canberra. Now will you be satisfied ?
– Upon my soul! The Minister is advising us to remove the Factory from Lithgow, and to start afresh at Canberra. He gave us no details whatsoever of the cost of producing rifles at the new site; he did not tell us of the cost of materials, or the accessibility of labour; but he appealed to all sorts of prejudices. The one valid argument he put forward was a very insulting one.
– Order !
– I do not mean that it was insulting to ourselves; but, so far as the national city is concerned, his argument was certainly not complimentary, namely, that unless we take factories to the national city at the expense of the taxpayers of Australia, that city will not be peopled. 1 propose to do what the Minister should have done. Without enjoying the same advantages as the Minister has, I shall examine the cost of producing rifles at Canberra. In the first place, I find that coal will be as much the basis of power at Canberra as it is at Lithgow, and I ask the Minister if it is not a fact that at the Lithgow Factory, in July of this year, 450 tons of coal was consumed in connexion with the output of rifles?
– Does that statement appear in the pamphlet?
– It does; but is it true?
– It is not.
– Would it be true to say that 100 tons of coal is used in the Factory every week? I think it would. I understand, from men on the spot, that coal at Lithgow costs between 6s. and 7s. per ton. When I was Acting Minister of Home Affairs, coal at Canberra cost over £1 a ton.
– That is not the effect of the evidence.
– I do not know what the evidence was, but I know what the fact was. At that time we had not completed the small branch line of railway. which may have reduced the cost of coal at Canberra by a shilling or two; but in round figures the cost of coal at Canberra to-day will be in the vicinity of £1 per ton. In the course of a year 15,000 rifles are turned out at the Lithgow Rifle Factory. In other words, the capacity of the Factory, work ng one shift of eight hours, is i288 rifles per week. The difference in the cost of coal at Canberra and at Lithgow, respectively, is, approximately, 13s. 6d. per ton against the former. We will assume 114 tons to be the weekly consumption of coal. When that extra coal cost is divided by the output of rifles, the result is an added charge of 5s. per rifle for coal alone. I anticipated that the Minister would have dealt with these particulars instead of giving us a lecture about “ muddling through.” I am anxious to know what is to be the added cost of the rifles produced at Canberra; and I do not care what secret conclaves the honorable member has in the Ministerial room, or what appeals are made to him by officers not to disclose their identity. The Minister stated that, so far as the Factory building was concerned, the principal building material would be concrete. At present, there is no cement at Canberra, and following the ordinary course of cement manufacture, cement will not be produced at Canberra in less than two years.
– I shall be sorry if we cannot produce it inside that time.
– The Minister will be much deserving of praise if he does produce cement there earlier.
– Do not worry about that.
– It is the country that must worry. If the Government propose to delay the construction of this Small Arms Factory until the manufacture of cement has been started at Canberra, this motion might be submitted to this House eighteen months hence - when, possibly, the war will be finished - without involving the project in the very serious disadvantage to which the honorable member for Macquarie has drawn attention. If Canberra cement is to be used for these buildings, do honorable members recognise what the added charge for cement will be?
– Yes. Be careful; we have all the information.
– I tremble to my fingertips, because the honorable member for Denison is to follow me. I admit that the Public Works Committee did consider the cost of building the Factory. The one thing they did not consider was the cost of producing the articles which the Factory is to turn out. The Lithgow Factory is adjacent to the Commonwealth Cement Works, and to the other cement works that are competing with it. lt is in the midst of the cement manufacture of New South Wales, and, one might almost say, of Australia.
– What governs the price of cement at Lithgow ?
– The price has been governed by a ring.
– No, by the price of cement m Sydney.
– The honorable member ought to know that cement is, unfortunately under the influence of a ring.
– I thought there were no rings in Australia.
– The honorable member has done a lot of bad thinking. This Cement Ring is governed primarily by the Commonwealth Cement Factory ; but, whilst the price of cement in Sydney is artificially regulated, it can be reduced to users in the immediate vicinity by Government pressure.
– That pressure ought to be exercised.
– It ought to be legitimately exercised where unfair prices are being charged. If the Government wish to establish a cement factory in order to reduce the cost of the article for public works, such a factory at Lithgow would be in the area where all the materials for cement manufacture are to be found. Coal and shale, and everything else required for that manufacture are to be had in the immediate neighbourhood. According to the pamphlet which I hold in my hand, the cost of cement at Lithgow is 75s. per ton, that price being due, no doubt, to the proximity of large cement works. At Canberra, on the other hand, cement costs £5 per ton. According to the estimate made by the Director-General years ago, before the recent increases of wages were thought of, the cost of cement manufactured at Canberra would be over £5 per ton. So that this prime essential for factory construction is much cheaper at Lithgow to-day than it will be at Canberra after the Government Factory has been established.
But my main complaint is that the running charges have been ignored. Everything used at the Factory at Canberra, even including the labour, must be conveyed there. The ordinary practice when starting a factory is to seek a site where raw materials are cheap and labour is accessible. In this instance, however, the Minister is deliberately proposing to establish the Factory at a place where materials are prohibitively dear, and labour is nonexistent.
– Does the British Government do as you say ?
– Every Government follows the policy I have stated.
– Then why is the British Small Arms Factory established at Enfield ?
– Can the Minister mention one big arsenal in England which is not easily accessible, and does not enjoy the advantages of cheap freight? Our Empire was born in sea power, and depends for its existence on the command of the sea; and here we are talking as if we were afraid some cockleboat was coming along to blow the Factory up.
– Tell that to the people of Scarborough ! The honorable member laughs!
– I do laugh at the attempt to compare an arsenal, which one defends, with an undefended seaport that Huns have bombarded. The great works of Vickers are at Barrow-in-Furness, right on the sea-coast; and there the heaviest battleships of England are building unmolested every day.
– Shipyards cannot be anywhere else but on the sea-coast.
– Quite so; but I am showing the insanity of the Scarborough argument of the Minister. The great works I have mentioned, and other works of the kind, are at places on the sea-coast which have proved the safest places in England.
– Is Barrow-in-Furness on the east coast?
– Of course not; it is on the west coast.
Germany was used as an illustration by the Minister; but I point out that the situation of the Krupp works was not chosen for strategic reasons, but because war materiel could be turned out cheaply, and more expeditious distribution secured than elsewhere. It is the turn-out and cheapness of production that governs the location of such great works. Krupps, however, is vitally close to the western frontier; and from a military point of view the situation is, perhaps, the last that would be chosen. But the cheapness of turn-out, and so forth, make up for the added cost of protecting the works. Any factory, public or private, that is not established where the running charges are light fails in competition. This is to be a Government Factory, and it will not be exposed to this universal law of competition. If it were a private factory, it would, at Canberra, be out of existence in a few years; but are we perpared to put an additional burden on the backs of the Australian people for ah time in the turn-out of these munitions? We are told by the Minister that the step, if taken, will be irrevocable; and he supports the change because of an idea which in itself is somewhat incoherent. That is the idea of industrial settlement at the Federal City, though that is foreign to the very meaning of a Federal City as understood in this House up to the present time. It is an idea bolstered up by this or that appeal to prejudice; but every appeal fails on closer examination. Did the distinguished and anonymous military authority that the Minister has quoted have the temerity to say that Lithgow was more in danger from the sea than is Canberra? If so, I ask the Minister to go to the Defence Department and ask the officers there which place they would rather have the duty of defending.
– The Department favours Canberra.
– It does not. I got this nonsense about defence from the same source that the Minister has got it, and I made it my business to inquire.
– Has not the gentleman mentioned a seat on the Board 1
– I do not wish to introduce the gentleman’s name into the discussion; but I understand that the Public Works Committee investigated the question, and could find nobody except this one man who took the view that one place is safer than the other. As a matter of strict fact, Australia, to repel any landing expedition, depends in normal times entirely on our Citizen Forces, and these Forces are, between Lithgow and the sea, to the extent of the whole available population under training, of the great metropolis of Sydney. What is there between Canberra and the sea?
– Exactly the same Forces.
– And they, I suppose, would have to be brought by train into the open country to defend Canberra.
– I suppose the troops would walk from Sydney to Lithgow!
– A few moments ago we were assuming that the place must be protected from some sudden onslaught from the sea ; and yet it appears that it is not proposed to have the defence on the sea coast, but that the troops are to be taken to the Factory that is in danger ! We were appealed to by the Minister not to go on “muddling through”; but I ask the honorable gentleman to get rid of a little of his enthusiasm and become clearer in his vision.
– I might become a cynic like you, then !
– All this really does make one a bit cynical. I came into this House expecting to find a higher and purer atmosphere, where ability and disinterestedness would reign supreme; and yet, after fourteen years, I find my friend, the Minister of Home Affairs. He is in a rarer atmosphere; but I want him to think clearly, and not to become choked by that rareness. I ask the honorable gentleman not to press this motion to-day; but, if he does, I hope he will absolutely accept whatever vote the House cares to give. “If the House supports the Minister, misguidedly thinking that it will be to the advantage of the Federal city, I point out that there will be no advantage at all, but that, on the contrary, there will happen what the best lovers of the Capital would dearly like not to see. Further, there will, for all time, be an addition to the cost of turning out rifles, to an extent in regard to which the Minister can give us no information. I have, however, submitted some figures showing that coal alone will be responsible for an increased cost of 5s. per rifle.
– That will not be the last word on that point.
– I do not expect that it- will. I have not had a chance to verify the figures, but they are the only figures that have been submitted to the House. Whatever basis we take, we shall find that the change will add, at any rate, shillings to the cost of production; and I strongly urge the House to turn down the proposal, and continue to manufacture rifles at Lithgow, where material and labour are readily accessible.
– I listened with some surprise to the temperate speech of the honorable member for Wentworth. I cannot understand the absence of his usual fire and the language he generally employs towards honorable members on this side. I do not know whether that is due to the atmosphere of the chamber, but it is quite refreshing to hear him speaking in tones so gentle. I was further surprised to hear the honorable member talk about the atmosphere of the Department of Home Affairs, seeing that he himself left that Department not so long ago. The present Minister has, in my opinion, done remarkably well in office, and I do not think that the ex-Minister has scored by his remarks in this connexion. To me it is remarkable that an ex-Minister should not have made himself more conversant with the facts, considering his long experience in Parliament and in office. The other day he charged us with having no business experience.
– I did not charge the honorable member with that.
– Yet this afternoon he apologizes to the House because his figures are not what they should be, and tells us that he is simply quoting information that he has received. I should have thought that an ex-Minister would have had all these things at his finger’s end. Why did he bring this gentleman from America to develop the Capital, if he was not possessed of that knowledge necessary to enable him to say whether its administration and development were what they should be? The honorable member should be the very last to speak about the ability of any Minister. What ability did he display when he was in office? Only a brief time ago, when he was at the Department, the Government were paying Mr. Teesdale Smith 7s. 6d. a yard for shifting sand; and when he speaks as he has done this afternoon, he throws himself open to such criticism as I am passing in the presence of gentlemen who have come so far to hear him champion their cause.
– To what is the honorable member referring? I rise to a point of order. The honorable member for Denison has just stated that some gentlemen have come many miles to hear me champion their cause. I do not know to what he is referring, but I desire to move that his words be taken down with a view to subsequent investigation.
– It is highly disorderly to interrupt an honorable member when he is speaking. If the honorable member for Wentworth has no point of order to submit he has no right to interrupt the debate. Nothing has been said to warrant me in having taken down any words; and the honorable member for Wentworth cannot take the course he desires.
– I shall now leave the subject of the honorable member for Wentworth.
– Will the honorable member say exactly what he meant by his words just now?
– The day may not be far distant when the honorable member and myself may be fighting side by side in the defence of Australia; and that is the reason I have let him down so lightly; otherwise, I should have dealt with him in a different way. The Works Committee have gone into this question very deeply, and it has been a very trying time, indeed, to me as a member of that Committee. I have had to oppose one of my dearest friends in this House - one of the most able men here - who taught me much as a young member. I have had to throw all personal feeling aside, and do something, not, as he would like, in the interests of the people of Lithgow, but in the interests of the people of Australia. The Committee were desirous of having the best information ; and at great inconvenience to ourselves we visited Lithgow, and invited evidence from every part of that section of Australia. Any one interested had the opportunity to lay their views before the Committee; and the evidence given was weighed calmly, with the result that we arrived at the decision we did. I have here facts supplied to me by the Department, the officials of which know the details from A to Z. Cement is costing 12s. 9d. per cask at Lithgow, a little more than 75s. per ton. At Canberra the cost is 14s. 7d. per cask. Sand at Lithgow is 5s. a ton. It can be obtained at Canberra for the price of carting, say, ls. 6d. a ton. Aggregates at Lithgow are 3s. per ton; at Canberra it can be obtained for carting, ls. 6d. Notwithstanding that cement for the manufacture of concrete is higher at Canberra than at Lithgow, the lower cost of the other ingredients makes concrete cheaper at Canberra than at Lithgow. Speaking with regard to the future, we find, according to a statement dealing with the subject, that cement for the manufacture of one yard of concrete would cost at Lithgow 12s. 6d., at Canberra 14s. 7d. ; aggregate, at Lithgow 4s. 6d., at Canberra ls. 6d. ; mixing, at Lithgow ls. 6d., at Canberra 2s. 3d.; total, at Lithgow 18s. 6d., at Canberra 18s. 4d. Where is the justification for the high figures that the honorable member brought down in order to throw dust in the eyes of other honorable members? The same result will accrue from an analysis of the cost of power. The figures I quote are figures which have been audited by the AuditorGeneral, and if I am wrong the AuditorGeneral is also wrong.
– What is the explanation of the difference in the cost of mixing?
– I cannot say what the difference is, but did the House ever hear of such an extraordinary question? What is the difference in the cost, of mixing?
– It is a very big one.
– It may be that machinery, such as they are now waiting; for at Canberra, is installed at Lithgow. I know that timber for use at Canberra can be obtained from Tasmania, equal to any timber in the world, at 18s. to 20s. per 100 feet - though very little would be used, because the building would be chiefly of concrete. Now we come to the cost of power. At Lithgow what is known in New South Wales as hill coal is used. I am not a coal miner, and I do not know much about the coal of New South Wales, but can it be suggested that this hill coal is of the same value as other coal for steam-producing purposes ? Has the honorable member taken that into consideration ? He also quotes the price of coal at the pit mouth, and not delivered at theLithgow Factory.
– How far is the Factory away?
– Probably the coal may have to be carted a mile.
– The price at Canberra was not delivered at the Factory either.
– At Canberra the best coal that can possibly be got is being used. It has to be imported, and it costs £1 a ton, but may I explain the effect? A portable engine might be described as “ No. 1 “; giving the minimum amount of efficiency from a pound of coal, “ No. 2 “ could be quoted in referring to the engine and boilers now working at Lithgow, whilst the plant installed at Canberra might, at the same time, be described as “ No. 3,” which gives double the power of “No. 2.” About 12 per cent, of the power stored up in the fuel is being obtained at the Canberra powerhouse. No higher percentage of power than this is being obtained in any part of Australia, simply because a most uptodate system has been adopted and the best possible machinery installed. The boilers are fitted with superheaters and mechanical stokers. There is no waste. Everything is regulated as though by clock-work.
– Did not the same man put in both plants?
– I do not know. All I know is that the Labour party were in power when the machinery at Canberra was selected. I do not know who was in power when the Lithgow plant was chosen. -There are practical men on this side of the House. I have served my time at mechanical engineering, and I know something of what I am talking. At Canberra there is an up-to-date powerhouse, and up-to-date machinery waiting to be used.
– Constructed for what purpose?
– For any purpose that it may be required for.
– No, no !
– Most decidedly it was, and that power now lying dormant will be made use of immediately the Factory is established. It will be possible when the plant is installed to supply electric power at one-third of the price at which the same power could be supplied at Lithgow. The charge for water for condensation purposes at Canberra will be very slight. All that will be required is a small electrical pump to pump up water from the Molonglo River, and it is obvious that with such up-to-date machinery current will be generated at Canberra far more cheaply than one could ever hope to generate it at a place like Lithgow. We have heard a good deal about the difference in the cost of freight as between Lithgow and Canberra. According to figures in my possession, this difference is only a matter of 17s. 9d. a ton. As there are 200 rifles to the ton, the freight from Canberra will amount to about one penny per rifle more than from Lithgow. The cost of living may be higher at Canberra than at Lithgow, but the figures clearly show that there is nothing to warrant the statement that the cost will be 20 per cent, higher, and I have yet to learn that wages will be higher. This cost will be reduced when the population increases, and, in my view, people will prefer to live at Canberra than at Lithgow.
– I have visited both places. I have lived at Canberra long enough to know what the climate is like, and I can say unhesitatingly that, outside Tasmania, there is no more beautiful climate anywhere. But in dealing with a matter of this kind, let us get down to a basis of national policy and put on one side all these petty local colloquialisms.
– What does the honorable member mean by “ local colloquialisms” ?
– I will tell the honorable member if he cannot understand. I am referring to the men who keep themselves wrapped up in little things, and cannot possibly get outside them ; and, seeing that the honorable member knows a bit about Lithgow, I can quite understand his attitude upon this great question. Would that he could go to some of those bigger countries where things are done in a big way. May I bring to his mind the action of the honorable member for Swan in regard to the railway workshops in Western Australia. When their removal was in contemplation, did the right honorable member hesitate, notwithstanding the enormous cost that their removal involved? I have great respect for the right honorable gentleman as the result of his attitude on that question, and after what he has done in Australia in a big way. By his removal of the railway workshops, in the teeth of very severe criticism, I am informed the right honorable member effected a result that has been very beneficial to the State concerned. If the honorable member for Wentworth could only know the name of the gentleman he is criticising when he speaks as he does of the military expert who has expressed an opinion on this subject, he would probably moderate his view. I cannot give the name. I have pledged my word of honour not to divulge it, but I can say that I was both surprised and gratified when I heard his opinion, and 1 am satisfied that Canberra is the most suitable place for a Small Arms Factory.
– Why does not the honorable member read the evidence?
– I have read the evidence. After the recent experience of older nations, I think honorable members will agree that the time has gone when the great munition-producing arsenals of the world should be in the hands of private enterprise. At the end of this terrible war there can be no more 15 percent, dividends on the manufacture of munitions. I hope each Government will accept the responsibility for the manufacture of its own arms and armaments. Let Australia lead the way by the establishment of a Factory in her own territory, away from all outside influences. No person without direct responsibility can in the future have anything to do with the defences of a country, and the establishment of this Factory at Canberra, over which the Government will have complete control, will be the first step in the right direction. It should also be borne in mind that subsidiary factories, that will be adjuncts to the Small Arms Factory, will necessarily be grouped together in a manner that will eventually create one great arsenal at Canberra. I have not time to read what Engineer-Captain Clarkson said with regard to Lithgow, but I know that he declared Lithgow to be unsuitable for the manufacture of big guns, because the land is not sufficiently level.
– He further stated in his evidence that he did not approve of having the Small Arms Factory there at this period.
– I am ready to admit that. Captain Clarkson. while making arrangements in Great Britain for the purchase of machinery for the Small Arms Factory sent a cablegram to Australia protesting against the establishment of the Factory at Lithgow, on the ground that the site was unsuitable. Mr.Wright, the late manager of the Factory, who has a long experience of such establishments in the Old World, and had no axe to grind, when giving his evidence-
– What! No axe to grind ?
– I repeat that he had no axe to grind. He was about to leave Australia when he was examined by the Committee, and he said that Lithgow was not a suitable place for such a Factory. After seeing the Canberra site, he expressed the opinion that when we had the Factory working there in full swing the change would well repay the Government.
– Where is that statement in his evidence
– At page 7 of the report, paragraph 29, Mr. Wright is reported as saying of Lithgow -
This site was a poor one to commence with; but the Factory is here, and we have to make the best of the position.
After visiting Canberra, he said that the transfer of the Factory to the Federal Territory would well repay us.
– The honorable member said that Captain Clarkson cabled from London protesting against the Lithgow site. Can that cablegram be produced ?
– He said that he sent such a cablegram.
– No such cablegram came here while I was in office.
– And it has. never come.
– Captain Clark- son is reported at page 16, paragraph 81, of the report to have said -
I had nothing to do with the selection of the site; indeed, I never saw it untilI arrived here in 1911, after the Factory had been pretty nearly built. I may say that I queried the site at Lithgow several times - in fact, I cabled from London that I did not think it was satisfactory, on account of the large amount of levelling that would be necessary, and the consequent expense.
What more does the honorable member want?
– That was a protest against the site not against Lithgow.
– It was a most emphatic protest
– The honorable member is misleading the House.
– I ask honorable members to cease interjecting.
– At page 19 of the report, paragraph 83, Captain Clarkson is reported to have said -
The site at Lithgow is not an ideal one for turning out larger armaments, such as quickfiring guns, if only because of the fact that there would be varying levels to contend with.
I come now to the question of land for workmen’s dwellings, which considerably influenced me in the vote that I gave as a member of the Committee. I have no desire to speak disparagingly of the people of Lithgow; but land-owners there have been doing what land-owners in Australia and elsewhere have long been doing. I found there workmen’s homes built on blocks having a frontage of 25 feet, and abutting on unmade streets, which, at the time of my visit, were ankle deep in mud. These long, narrow, single-fronted cottages are likely to prove but the nucleus to .rows of hovels. Not one of them has a front garden of any size, and there is only a narrow side entrance to each of them ; yet the minimum rental is 14s. 6d. a week. They give a return of 8 per cent. net. The late manager of the Factory, Mr. Wright, said, as reported at page 7, paragraph 29 -
About three years ago I recommended the resumption of the land extending from the engineer’s cottage to Main-street. The price I had in mind at that time was about f 10,000; but since that date building has taken place, and only about two-thirds of that area is now available, at a price of £11,000. There is about 13 acres in that block.
The price, therefore, represents about £S46 per acre.
– It has been reduced since the Committee recommended that the Factory should be transferred to Canberra.
– The owners were never asked to submit a price.
– A big reduction was brought about as soon as it was known that the Factory was likely to be removed.
– Land-owners were not given a chance to submit prices to the Committee.
– We examined the mayor and several councillors of Lithgow. We were at Lithgow for several days, and land-owners should have volunteered to give evidence.
– The Committee did not give even a hint that it was proposed to remove the Factory.
– The honorable member has been misinformed. Mr, Ryan, the editor of the Lithgow Mercury, who was examined by the Committee on its return to Melbourne, said -
I admit that the transfer of the Factory to Canberra, and the consequent depletion of the population of Lithgow to the extent of 2,000 or 3,000 souls, would mean a valuable accession of population to the Federal Capital, and that, when considering this matter from an Australian stand-point, every aspect of the question must be taken ‘into account.
Yet the honorable member for Macquarie says that when we were at Lithgow a week before this gentleman was examined we gave no indication of the proposal to remove the Factory.
– It was not suggested.
– The Chairman of the Committee at every meeting gave publicity to the fact that the Factory might be removed, not necessarily to Canberra, but to some more suitable site than Lithgow. Mr. A. E. Cornwell, an employee at the Factory, gave evidence, as reported at page 39, paragraph 159 -
I bought a piece of land with 85 feet frontage and 200 feet depth, and the price was, roughly speaking, at the rate of £220 an acre.
If, as the honorable member for Macquarie suggests, land is available at Lithgow at a much lower rate, why have the workmen been taken down?
– That land was sold by a syndicate.
– 1 can understand now why so much interest is being taken in the proposal to remove the Factory. Syndicates, as a rule, are not philanthropists. Do honorable members think that if it were proposed to enlarge the present Factory, land syndicates at Lithgow would lower their prices ?
– Would they not be likely to raise them?
– I think so.
– The Committee should have inquired of the owners.
– The honorable member, when dealing with this question recently, said that 200 employees of the Factory at Lithgow had purchased land there. I questioned Mr. Wright on the subject, and he said that he had not the information at hand, but would obtain and forward it to the Committee. Later on he sent to the secretary a letter giving the names of employees who had purchased land, and that letter is available to honorable members. Mr. Wright said that employees had purchased land at Lithgow, and that fifty-five of them had either erected, or were erecting, dwellings thereon.
– He was in error.
– I cannot do more than refer the honorable member to the evidence. Colonel Owen said, as reported at page 49, paragraph 221 -
I have put down for the land of the Factory at Lithgow, 10 acres, at £300 per acre; and I have put down 100 acres, at £250 an acre. I think you will find these areas work out at somewhere about £1 per foot frontage on the basis of 40 feet frontage and ISO feet depth per house.
– He said that these were mere approximations.
– Will the honorable member say that those who give evidence on oath are not careful of their statements ?
– An expert engineer who gives sworn evidence as to land values cannot be expected to be taken seriously, It is utterly absurd.
– As DirectorGeneral of Public Works, Colonel Owen had power to send an expert to Lithgow to value the land. The Surveyor-General in the Department of Home Affairs presented papers to the Committee setting out that a Sydney valuer had valued the land at Lithgow at £600 per acre.
– It can be purchased at £40 per acre.
- Mr. James Ryan, the editor of the Lithgow Mercury, said, as reported at page 26, paragraph 101 -
As to the evidence given before the Committee that 20 acres of land in Lithgow were obtained at a cost of £10,000, or £500 per acre, I can only say that when the Government go into the land market they will find - I think it is the general rule - that the owner of land is not very modest in his demands.
Is not that a reasonable assumption ? Do honorable members think these philanthropic land-owners will reduce their prices?
– I have a written offer of land at £40 per acre.
– I am delighted to hear it. If the honorable member’s statement is correct, then I can only say that the Committee will have earned their pay, even if their recommendation be not carried. Their action will have resulted in bringing down the prices charged for land at Lithgow for workmen’s homes.
– What does the honorable member mean by the words “ earning our pay”?
– We were doing our duty to the Commonwealth. But I used those words because I had in mind the fact that when the Bill which created the Public Works Committee was before the House, some honorable members claimed that the Committee would be the means of saving the Commonwealth thousands of pounds. That is what we have tried to do. We have an unlimited area of land at Canberra, and it has been obtained at No. 1 site at £4 10s. an acre, and. at No. 2 site at £5 an acre. On that land we hope to erect workmen’s cottages as they should be erected, and as I saw them, not only in Great Britain, but in that part of Europe where the war is now raging - ideal houses in garden cities. The time has gone by when our workmen of Australia, who produce its wealth, should be housed in poorly constructed dwellings. At Canberra we have the facilities for building a garden city equal to the town of Port Sunlight, where I spent a day. Mr. Lever told me that he had not considered the pounds, shillings, and pence that the houses would return him; but that he had considered the welfare of his workmen. Each cottage there has its beautiful little garden, kept in perfect care at a cost of 3d. a garden by the management. Better workmen and better workwomen are thus secured for the factory, and give a better return to those who were so far-seeing as to house them under ideal conditions. Again, at Bournville, I was told that a child eight years of age was 4 inches taller and 2 inches more in chest girth than the child 4 miles away in the slums of Birmingham. Having seen these garden cities, and realized the great advantages they possessed, I readily grasp this opportunity of attempting to create a garden city in Australia.
– We can do it just as well at Lithgow.
– No; the conditions are not the same at Lithgow. The country is too hilly; and, according to Mr. Hunt, the climate is not nearly so good as that at Canberra. To show how deeply the Public Works Committee went into this question, it actually ascertained the number of frosts that occur, and information in regard lo the climatic conditions generally of the two places. The evidence showed that, from a climatic point of view, Canberra is far superior to Lithgow. I think that I have sa’d sufficient on the land question to prove that, from a business point of view, we cannot entertain the idea of buying land at Lithgow, even at £40 an acre, and making roads thereon. I understand that the Government had to make the road leading to the Factory; and if they had to construct streets over the huge area of land that it would be necessary to purchase, they would have to add the cost of it to the rent of the cottages. We hope to erect workmen’s cottages at Canberra that will be ideal ; and the evidence quoted by the Minister plainly shows that we shall be in a position to make them available at about 10s. 9d. per week.
– What- a £580 house?
– Speaking from memory, the rent of a £580 house will run to 14s. 7d. per week; but it is proposed to build three different classes of houses, and a man can rent whichever type he prefers to live in. There is no city in Australia at the present time where houses can be rented at the price at which it is proposed to make them available at Canberra.
– Will they be built by day labour?
– Yes, just as work is now proceeding at Canberra by day labour. In competition with the contractor, the departmental cost was 25 per cent, lower than the contractor’s tender, and the work is being carried out at a cost which is even lower than the estimate. The Department have the plant on the ground, and I am sure that they will build these cottages well within the estimates. In these circumstances, what a splendid deal it will be for the Commonwealth to build the Factory and these workmen’s cottages to form the nucleus of the great city which I hope will be created for the people of Australia. We have to develop that Territory, and the only way in which it can be done is by showing our good faith in it, and establishing our own works there. In my opinion, every Commonwealth-owned factory should be situated in that Territory. Speaking from memory, I believe that in the Senate it was unani mously resolved, on the motion of Senator McDougall, that in future all Commonwealth factories should be erected at Canberra. I have been greatly influenced by remarks which I have heard in the Chamber, even from the Leader of the Opposition, who said ‘that if this great city is managed rightly, it will not cost the Commonwealth sixpence. Under the conditions under which we are starting it, I do not believe that it will involve any cost to the Commonwealth. Consider the revenue that will be returned by the occupiers. In twenty years’ time the sinking fund on these cottages will make them free so far as the Commonwealth is concerned, and instead of the rents increasing owing to unearned increment given to the land by the people who reside upon it going to the landlords, there will be no such thing, because the Commonwealth will not wish to profit by any value added to the land by the people who develop it. Taking all these things into consideration, I had no alternative, as a member of the Public Works Committee, but to agree to its recommendation. I ask any honorable member sitting on the Government side of the House who is true to Labour principles and true to himself whether he can do otherwise than vote as I intend to vote? If he has any ideals for uplifting and bettering the conditions of the workers of Australia, surely he must vote for their accomplishment. Here in this proposal we are endeavouring to put those ideals into practice without any great’ outlay falling upon the Commonwealth, while at the same time we shall be developing our Federal City.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Sitting suspended from 6.25 to 7J/.5 p.m.
.- As a member of the Public Accounts Committee, I have followed this discussion with a good deal of interest, and I must confess that I have rarely listened to any debate into which quite so much irrelevant matter has been introduced. I do not intend to follow such examples, and I feel that I am under less necessity for elaboration because it appears to me that the whole matter can be brought down io one issue, which very singularly seems to have been lost sight of. I desire, in the first place, to ascertain why this proposal has been brought forward; and turning to the report of the Public Works Committee, which recommends the extension of the small arms manufacturing plant, and the establishment of a factory at Canberra, I find the clue to their activity in the following words: - “It is the desire of the Government to double that output.” The present output is 20,000 rifles per annum, and that expression means that the Government desire an output of 40,000 rifles. We have not been told in the Committee’s report why the Government desire to increase the output to such an extent, but that, I contend, is the whole point. I also find that Mr. A. C. Wright, the late manager of the Small Arms Factory at Lithgow, stated in his evidence that he also had received instructions some time ago from the Minister of Defence to formulate plans for the extension of the Factory. That is another indication that the Government desire to extend the Factory. But again we are left in the dark as to why they desire to extend it. The motion proposed by the Minister of Home Affairs to-day reads - “That in view of the report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works, it is desirable that a Small Arms Factory, with necessary provision for housing workmen, be erected forthwith at Canberra.” That is to say, the Public Works Committee understands that the Government desire to extend the Factory, and reports accordingly, and now the Minister of Home Affairs proposes a motion, which says, in effect, that because the Public Works Committee recommended this extension of the Factory, the work should be proceeded with. Thus it seems to me we are going round in a vicious circle.
– You can read the circumstances the other way about - the Government policy is so-and-so, and the Public Works Committee agrees with it.
– But still we return to the beginning of the circle from which, we started. Again, I would point out that the House has not been given reasons why the enlargement of the Small Arms Factory is desirable or necessary. We are told that the Government desire to increase the output of rifles to 40,000 per annum. I make bold to say that no suggestion to increase the small arms manufacturing machinery would have been made from any quarter if we were not engaged in war. Therefore this pro posal is the outcome of the war - an illogical outcome, because we are all agreed that it will be impossible for us to produce rifles with this new equipment in time for such rifles to be used during this war. At least the common hope and opinion is that the war will be concluded before the eighteen months or two years have expired, which will be the time necessary to install the additional machinery. So that the increase of the output to 40,000 rifles per annum has nothing whatever to do with the present war. Then, will the Minister of Home Affairs tell me that when the war is over we shall require to produce rifles at the rate of 40,000 per annum? We certainly shall not. It must be recollected that we shall re-start our home defence with a reserve of probably 100,000 rifles brought back by the troops when they return from the front.
– Do you not think that many of the rifles will require to be renewed ?
– Many of the rifles taken to the front-by the Australian troops will require to be replaced, but not at the rate of 40,000 per annum, even allowing for the future extension of our home defence system. Then, again, by working two shifts instead of one, we can, with tho present equipment at the Lithgow Factory, approach very near to an annual output of 40,000 rifles, and we shall be able, without the installation of further machinery, to overtake all the requirements of Australia in the matter of small arms. Mr. Wright, the late manager of the Factory, has been quoted by the Minister of Home. Affairs as a strong witness in favour of the proposed extension. When that gentleman was before the Public Accounts Committee he was asked what was the probable life of the machinery which, his firm had installed at the Lithgow Factory, and he gave us to understand that, judging from the life of similar machinery elsewhere, that installed at Lithgow would last about twenty-five years. When asked later to state his reasons for opposing the double shift, he stated, amongst other things, that the double shift would wear out the machinery much more quickly. What worth is the evidence of such a gentleman who could put forward a paltry reason of that sort to justify his attitude of hos- tility to the double shift. This gentlemau declared that the double shift was impossible and impracticable, although it is now in operation, and he, with the tolerance of the Minister of Defence, hindered Australia in regard to the supply of small arms for eight or nine months. I say, without the slightest hesitation, that, in my opinion, the reason why this gentleman has supported the proposal to duplicate the machinery at Lithgow or at Canberra was simply his desire to take back to America an order for that machinery.
– Do you think that is a fair statement to make, unless you are absolutely sure of what you are saying?
– I cannot find in that gentleman’s evidence any substantial reasons for duplicating the machinery in order to double the output of rifles. By initiating the second shift at Lithgow we have practically duplicated the output already, whereas, by the proposal now before the House, we shall only have the output doubled after the necessity for so doing has passed away. After this war -one of the first things that will be undertaken by the British authorities will be “the substitution of another rifle for that which is now in use. They had almost arrived at a decision on that point when the war broke out, and, in view of what the war has taught us in regard to the necessity for rapid fire, it is more than likely that the British military authorities will turn their attention to an automatic rifle, which, perhaps, will be in the nature of a compromise between the existing rifle and a quick-firing gun. Whatever may be their decision in that regard, it is perfectly certain that the rifle we are now producing at Lithgow, and for an increased output of which we are asked to authorize the expenditure of £150,000, will be obsolete practically as soon as the war is over. Why, therefore, we should spend money on the equipment of a factory to produce an obsolete rifle passes my understanding altogether. I contend that no .nod and substantial reason has been shown why the equipment of the Factory at Lithgow should be duplicated either there or at Canberra, and, that being so, it is quite obvious that this proposal should fall to the ground. We do not desire to” spend this money needlessly, even though it might have the delightful result anticipated by the Minister of Home Affairs of establishing a considerable industrial population at Canberra. The accession of such a population to the Capital city might be very desirable, but it is quite probable that we could establish a population at Canberra, equal in numbers and importance, by some other method than the wasting of money on the equipment of a Factory, the output’ of which will be obsolete in a few years.
– If there were an industrial population, would it not interfere with the aristocracy of Canberra?
– That is possible. It is an idea that has not hitherto occurred to me, though the honorable member may have some objection on that ground. I am inclined to think that a mixed population would be no disadvantage even to Canberra. However, that is rather apart from the question. Unless the Government can show reason for doubling the machinery in use at present, there is no justification whatever for going to Canberra to erect another Factory, just as there would be no justification whatever for increasing the amount of machinery even at Lithgow.
– You are against any development at all on that line ?
– I am against spending money unnecessarily. I have pointed out that we can get all the rifles we require from the present equipment, and that, if we spend this money on the equipment of another Factory, or even on additions to the Lithgow Factory, we shall simply be throwing it away, because the rifle at present in use will be put aside as obsolete immediately the war is over, or very soon after.
– It was said a little while ago that the bayonet would be obsolete.
– No one has ever said that the bayonet would be obsolete, except one or two theorists who undoubtedly misled some military authorities in various parts of the world. I am not saying that all rifles will be obsolete, but merely that the particular rifle with which our troops are now armed will be, and, as a matter of fact - though I did not wish to refer to this - it is by competent authorities regarded as the least effective of all the European rifles in the field at the present time. The honorable member for Herbert may not have heard me say that just about- the outbreak of the war the British authorities had all but determined on a new rifle. It is quite certain, therefore, that as soon as the war is over, and in view of what military authorities have learnt regarding the nature of modern warfare, a change will be made. I take it that we should rest on our oars at present in this regard, and content ourselves with turning out the maximum number of rifles at the present Factory to meet our requirements. We cannot in the next two years add, by new machinery, to the output of rifles, even if we spend three times the proposed sum on the equipment of a new Factory, and after the war is over there will be no necessity for any output over and above that of which the present Factory is capable.
.- I am sure that we listened with great interest to the case put forward by the Minister. The decision of the Public Works Committee was a majority decision. As one of the members of the Committee, I dissented, because I con- sider that we are not justified in expending public money in the way proposed.
– Will the honorable gentleman throw any light on the question why it was desired to increase the output in this way?
– I will deal with that at once. So far as the evidence would allow us to make up our minds on the question, we had regard to the natural increase of population, and the development of our Citizen Forces, along with the development of the rifle club system throughout Australia. We believed that it was desirable, not only to have a sufficient output to supply the requirements of such development, but also to build up a reserve that might prove necessary at any time. I may say that, while we believe that three shifts should be worked at Lithgow - and we are very glad that the Government have at last decided to work the machinery full time - the evidence that was tendered to the Committee was generally in support of having machinery sufficient to enable one shift to be worked normally. If the new machinery is purchased and the present Factory is doubled in size, it will enable the production of 40,000 rifles per annum with an eight-hour shift. We understand that that one shift is the usual time worked in the various factories of the United States, Europe, and England.
– Will the honorable member show how we can use 40,000 new rifles every year?
– I am going to attempt to explain. None of us can foresee how many rifles will come back from the war in good condition; but we know that, with a proper development of our rifle club system, we shall require 55,000 rifles in order to provide those clubs with proper equipment.
– Each member a rifle?
– Yes. We favour the policy of compelling every member of the Citizen Forces, on reaching the termination of his training at the age of twenty-six, to go into a rifle club as a kind of reserve, and to undergo compulsory shooting practice for a certain number of days per annum. We understand that the Government are favorable to such a policy, which would mean 13,000 or 15,000 rifles a year for members of the Citizen Forces so drafted into the clubs. It will require, as I say, 55,000 to bring our rifle clubs to a proper condition in the matter of equipment; and then we have to allow for a large increase in rifle club membership after the war is over. In Switzerland, at the present time, where there is a population less than that of Australia, there are 220,000 or 230,000 members of rifle clubs, as against a membership of 70,000 or 78,000 in Australia. It will be seen, therefore, that there is any amount of room for expansion in this regard. The two items of 13.000 rifles a year for members of the Citizen Forces who pass into the rifle clubs, and 15,000 rifles to supply the average increase in the Citizen Forces, together with the normal extension of the club system, show us at once that the capacity of the Factory of 40,000 rifles with one shift is not too great. It is no use cheese-paring ; we must look to the future, and even at the cost of a few thousand pounds for machinery, we should have, not only enough for our normal requirements, but some machinery in reserve if we are to use the Factory for turning out machine guns and other armament in addition to rifles.
– Why not build a machine-gun factory?
– We are speaking of rifles just now. I wish to place dearly before the House my position as a dissentient member of the Public Works
Committee in reference to the Small Arms Factory. 1 am not at all opposed to the Canberra site. I believe that the idea of establishing a Factory at Canberra, and having housing accommodation for the workmen, is a good one; and if no Factory had been built, I should have been inclined to favorably consider the proposal to establish one there. But my objection is that at this time the closest economy is necessary in our public expenditure. It is proposed to establish a Factory, with workmen’s homes as an essential part of the scheme; and, according to the Minister, the Government are going to expend something over £250,000 to accomplish what could be accomplished equally well by doubling the size of the present Factory.
– And abandoning the housing problem t
– A time of war, when we are spending millions, is not the proper time to enter into a great housing scheme such as that proposed at Canberra. Such a scheme can very well wait; and I do not think we ought to launch into experiments of this character under the present circumstances. There is already a Factory at Lithgow employing about 800 hands. The single men are drawn from the present population of 10,000 or 11,000, and do not require to be provided for in the way of houses, while the married men are solving the problem for themselves by purchasing blocks and building their own homes. My personal opinion is that the Government could help to solve the problem at Lithgow a little more rapidly. For instance, we could spend a few thousands in the purchase of land ; and we have it on the authority of the honorable member for Macquarie that 100 acres adjacent to the Factory can be purchased at the small rate of £40 an acre, representing a few shillings a foot. I do not think there is anything to choose between the two sites, both of them being sufficiently inland. But if we take the history of Great Britain, Belgium, Germany, and the United States, we find that in nearly every instance such factories are established close to large centres of population. I do not wish to quote evidence too extensively, but merely to give an epitome of that presented to the Committee by those competent to speak on the subject. Mr. Wright’s evidence was quite unsatisfactory to my mind. He placed obstacles iri the way of three shifts being worked, and this, in my opinion, largely discounts his evidence on almost every question. Mr. Wright, however, argued that Lithgow was not a good site, though he had no objection to the climate; his chief objection to Lithgow was that it was distant from large centres of population, where labour could be obtained without any trouble.
– Did not Mr. Wright- say the housing conditions were bad?
– He did not say there was anything seriously wrong with the housing conditions. He said they were not altogether satisfactory, though he had in mind the view that any scheme of extension should be accompanied by some provision for the workmen.
– Did he not say that he would have difficulty in getting skilled workmen to go to Lithgow ?
– That was in reply to a question regarding the working of three shifts; but we now know that the people of Lithgow have risen to a sense of their responsibilities, and have thrown their homes open to workmen in order that rifles may be more rapidly produced in this period of national emergency. But the plain position is this: According to estimates submitted by engineers of the Home Affairs Department, it will cost £92,000 to erect at Canberra a Factory twice the size of that at Lithgow, and it will also cost about £100,000 to erect workmen’s homes within the Territory. That is not all. New machinery will cost £40,000. The social and educational requirements of this community will have to be attended to. Schools and places of amusement will have to be established; and in my view the expenditure will not- stop at £250,000.
– I think the honorable member will find all that included in the Estimates.
– Will not the workmen’s homes return interest?
– I am speaking of the large expenditure that will be necessary at this stage if we are to attain the results we have in view. The one object of the inquiry by the Public Works Committee, just as the one object of this debate, is to solve the problem of turning out an increased number of rifles. We already have at Lithgow a Factory established at a cost of nearly £200,000, and all that is necessary to double the output there is an expenditure of a further £100,000 or less, in buildings and plant. The cost of enlarging the existing Lithgow Factory to twice its present size will be £56,000; additional machinery will cost £40,000, making, roughly, the £100,000 to which I have just referred.
– Does the honorable member say we have already spent £200,000 at Lithgow ?
– Yes; included in which is £80,000 or £90,000 in machinery and equipment, much of which it will not be necessary to duplicate in order to double the output.
– Does not a large proportion of the amount already spent at Lithgow represent raw material ?
– I am not considering raw material at all. For the expenditure of an additional £40,000 on machinery, we shall have all the equipment necessary to turn out twice the number of rifles that are now being turned out. I am largely in sympathy with the idea that the Commonwealth should establish its own factories at Canberra; and if, in the future, factories of any description are to be established, they may very properly be established in the Federal Territory. The DirectorGeneral of Public Works has a proposal whereby the Lithgow Factory, if it is abandoned as a Small Arms Factory, can be used for the manufacture of vehicles.
– Is not the honorable member, as a Victorian, opposed to any money being spent at Canberra ?
– I am not discussing that aspect of the question at all. What I say is, why, if the Government is desirous of establishing a Factory for the manufacture of vehicles, does it not propose to establish such a Factory now at Canberra rather than drag away all the machinery that is now working satisfactorily at Lithgow ? It should also be borne in mind that considerably over 100 men have already made their homes at Lithgow, where there is growing up a mechanicallytrained population that can be drawn upon for purposes of the Factory whenever the occasion demands. These people have made their homes at Lithgow.
– Good old vested interests !
– I do not know whether honorable members propose to look lightly at the vested interests of nearly 150 workmen, most of them married, who have established their homes at Lithgow. , If that is what their policy of State Socialism means, it seems to me that it is a very destructive policy. I have already stated that the witnesses before the Public Works Committee most competent to express an opinion upon this subject were against this removal. Captain Clarkson was one of them. Captain Clarkson said he did not consider Lithgow was a good site, not for the reasons that have been quoted during this debate, but because the site was not near enough to a large industrial population.
– Does the honorable member suggest that what I read was not correct ?
– I do not suggest anything of the kind. What I suggest is that the honorable member only read a portion of Captain Clarkson’s evidence!. May I read this extract from Captain Clarkson’s evidence -
I further objected to the site because Lithgow is so far away from any large centre of population, and I thought that the labour difficulty would become very acute. Had I had my way, I should have had the Factory near Melbourne or Sydney. There wa”s great difficulty in regard to the supply of labour up to the time I severed my connexion with the place. We were, however, more fortunate than I thought we should have been, because at the time the Factory was started Hoskins’ works were closed, and, therefore, we found more labour at our disposal.
Mr. Wright said very much the same thing - that the site is not a good one chiefly because it is not near enough to some industrial population. If it be a fact that the Lithgow site is a bad one because it is nol near to a large centre of population, Canberra must be an even worse site, for the reason that it has no industrial population at all, so that from that stand-point it would be a mistake to move the Factory io Canberra. After he had visited the proposed site at Canberra, Mr. Wright agreed that in course of time it might pay to remove the Factory. His evidence on that point was as follows : - ‘ lt is very difficult to say whether by the establishment of a Factory at Canberra that would have twice the output of the existing Factory at Lithgow, and which might undertake also the manufacture of artillery, it would be possible to save in economy of manu- 0 facture and administration an amount equivalent to the interest cost of the buildings at Lithgow. I can say that it would not require a very large increase of staff to run a Small Arms Factory that would have three times the output of the existing Factory. Tlie managerial expenses would probably not bc any larger, and working with larger quantities and increased facilities there might bc a considerable reduction in the cost of manufacture. But to give a direct answer to your question, I should require to carefully weigh the possibilities on both sides. When I am asked whether the establishment of all these Factories at Canberra, with three times the number of hands, would lead to a saving which would compensate for the abandonment of the present building at Lithgow, I may say that I think in course of time it would.
That is the only part of Mr. Wright’s evidence that can be taken as in any way showing that he was favorable to the transfer of the Factory from Lithgow, and it is an opinion that honorable members will see is very full of qualifications, one of which is that the Factory must be three times as great as the one it is now proposed to establish at Canberra. Whatever may be our ideas regarding Canberra in the future, whatever decision the Government may come to as to the establishment of factories at Canberra, the present is not the time to incur heavy expenditure by pulling down an existing factory.
– But the Lithgow Factory can be used.
– If that argument is a good one, why should not the Government establish any new factory it has in mind at Canberra, leaving the Lithgow Factory as it is? The Government, apart from workmen’s homes and machinery, are proposing an expenditure of £100,000 in establishing this Factory at Canberra. For this expenditure there is no warrant. It will not lead to a greater output of rifles. On the contrary, the transfer of the Factory for a time will involve, to a certain extent, a cessation of manufacturing.
– But does not this mean the beginning of an arsenal ?
– An arsenal can be established at Canberra without loss even if the Small Arms Factory be allowed to remain at Lithgow. Mr. Samuel McKay, the manager of the Sunshine Harvester Works, gave evidence before the Public Works Committee that a factory employing 1,000 hands is a complete unit and quite large enough for any one adminis tration to manage economically. He stated that his factory employs about 1,000 hands, and that it is quite large enough for one man to manage successfully and economically. To go beyond that limit to any great extent means an increase rather than a decrease in the cost of administration, the larger responsibility being beyond the reasonable control of one administrative staff. By removing the Factory to Canberra we shall incur an expenditure of £250,000 at least in total outlay, at a time when economy should be practised and will not secure any greater economy of management. If other munition factories are to be established at Canberra, they will be separate units requiring separate administration. There is no likelihood of the cost of production being reduced by removing the Small Arms Factory to Canberra; on the contrary, there is a chance of the annual cost being increased. I doubt if it will be possible to supply water there as cheaply as at Lithgow.
– There is an unlimited supply at Canberra.
– Quite so, but I doubt if it will be possible to supply it as cheaply as at Lithgow. Then, again, coal will be dearer at Canberra. It seems rather extraordinary that it should be said to be possible to erect at Canberra a factory double the size of that at Lithgow at one-half the cost. I shall not discuss this question from a party or Socialistic stand-point.
– Why does not the honorable member quote Colonel Owen’s evidence? .
– This is Colonel Owen’s scheme, and naturally he is in favour of it. Those most competent to express an opinion on the subject are men who have had experience in dealing with small arms factories, or similar establishments involving organizing capacity. Mr. McKay told us that, even if the transfer of the Factory to Canberra meant an increased expenditure of only £28,000, he would not favour it. Leaving out of consideration the cost of the workmen’s homes, I believe that the increased expenditure will be between £30,000 and £40,000.
– What is McKay’s factory compared with some of the great factories of Europe ?
– This is not a proposal to establish a factory, like that of Krupps, employing many thousands of hands; it is merely proposed to erect a factory in which 1,000 will be engaged. Mr. Wright, the late manager of the Small Arms Factory, said it ought not to be shifted, while Captain Clarkson, “who has had a world-wide experience-
– World-wide ?
– He inspected quite a, number of factories in the United States of America, and also visited Germany, Belgium, and Great Britain.
– In addition to which he was trained at Armstrong’s.
– Quite so. He visited factories in Germany, Belgium, the United States of America, and Great Britain, and coming back with a vast storehouse of knowledge said that, while he did not consider Lithgow the best site, for the reason that it did not comprise a large industrial population, he held the view that the Factory should not be shifted. He did not think that Canberra was a better site. On the evidence given before the Committee, the proposal to remove the Factory is not sound from a business stand-point. It means an expenditure of £150,000, which is not warranted, and even after incurring that expenditure we should be in a rather worse position than before, so far as the rapid output of rifles is concerned. The transfer will interfere with the manufacture of rifles at a time when a rapid output is demanded to serve the requirements of our troops.
– Why did not the dissenting minority submit a minority report?
– That is not the practice.
– Members of the Committee fight out their disputes in the House.
– The question raised by the honorable member is rather an important one. Is it to be understood that an honorable member, on becoming a member of a Parliamentary Committee, gives up his right to discuss in the House questions of public interest dealt with by that Committee ? This is not a case in which members of the Committee are disagreeing in the House with a decision that was unanimously arrived at. Our votes are recorded in the minutes of the proceedings of the Committee. Six members of the Committee voted for the removal of the Factory to Canberra, whilst the remaining three members, after failing to carry an amendment that the Factory should remain at Lithgow, and should be increased to twice its present size, voted against the recommendation to remove it. In these days, public economy should be our first consideration. We are expending tens of millions of pounds in the prosecution of the war, and, in the circumstances, seeing that the removal of the Factory .to Canberra will not expedite, but really retard, the production of rifles, I think the House will be slow to vote for the additional expenditure which this proposal will involve.
Mr. CHARLTON (Hunter) [8.401.- I desire briefly to justify the vote that I propose to give on this question. At the outset I should like to say that Committees appointed by this Parliament must be divested of all party colour. A decision having been arrived at by the Committee, that decision must be submitted to the House, and it is for honorable members to agree or disagree with it. Having had occasion to visit Lithgow as a member of the Committee of Public Accounts, which inquired into the financial aspects of the Factory, I am perhaps in as good a position as is any honorable member to deal with this question. I hold the view that any Commonwealth factory about to be established should be erected in the Federal Territory, but a factory having been established outside that Territory, I have to consider very carefully whether it would be wise to remove it.
– The honorable member would not build a Government factory in the Federal Territory merely because it is Federal territory ?
– Not at all; but I believe that we should find employment if we can for the people of the Territory. This Factory having been established at Lithgow, the question we have to consider is whether, by removing it to Canberra or elsewhere, we are likely to reduce the cost of its product. The first consideration that appeals to me in dealing with any factorv is whether or not it is manufacturing at the lowest possible cost. That. I contend, is a business consideration which cannot be ignored. Up to the present time the Small Arms Factory has not given the results that were anticipated. I am glad to say that it has improved considerably of late, and, I believe, is still improving; but the cost of producing rifles is still greater than it should be. The people of the Commonwealth should not be called upon to pay for rifles manufactured at the Lithgow Factory more than is sufficient to insure to the workmen engaged there a fair return for their labour. We should insure to the workmen engaged in the Factory a fair wage, and, subject to that consideration, should not be called upon to pay more for our rifles than the price at which they could be imported. I have carefully examined the evidence given before the Public Works Committee, and, with the exception of that given by two officers of the Public Works Department, have not been able to find anything that is favorable to the removal of this Factory at the present time. All the witnesses appear to have arrived at the conclusion I formed while at Lithgow, namely, that whether the site was suitable or not at the time the Factory was established, it would be unwise now to make a change. A proposal to extend the Factory is totally different from a proposal to remove it altogether. If we were about to establish this Factory, I should vote against the selection of the Lithgow site, because I do not think it is the best place in Australia for a rifle factory; but, since the Factory has been established there, to remove it to Canberra would mean adding to the cost of our rifles. I have taken from the report of the Committee figures which support my contention. It states that to establish this Factory at Canberra, we should have to expend £92,100, whereas, to extend the Factory at Lithgow, we should have to expend £66,000. There is thus a difference of £26,100 in favour of extending the present Factory. It is accepted by the Auditor-General “that 7£ per cent, should be allowed”, as the general average, for depreciation. Allowing for 7£ per cent, on that £26,100, we arrive at an additional annual depreciation charge of £1,892. Further, an interest charge of 4 per cent, has to be borne by the Factory, which would mean an additional annual charge of £1,044. Thus the additional annual charge for depreciation and interest that a new factory at Canberra would have to bear over an extension of the Lithgow Factory would be £2,936. Seeing that the rifles already cost so much, and that it is necessary to reduce that cost, I cannot feel that I would be warranted in voting for a proposal that would make for increas ing the cost of these rifles. My desire isto see everything produced from Commonwealth factories at the cheapest possible rate commensurate with the payment of good wages to the employees, but it doesnot appear to me that we would’be justified in accepting the proposal put forward. Every one with a knowledge of workingthe Factory who has given evidence saysthat he cannot recommend the removal of the Factory - that, seeing it has already been established, its removal would not be the right thing to do ; and the only twowitnesses who are favorable to the removal to Canberra are officers of a publicDepartment. Very often officers of public Departments do not take the cost of things into consideration. They desire to see certain steps taken, and they report accordingly, and the thing is accomplished, only to find often that thecost has been considerably higher than the estimate. I venture to say that in this case their estimate will be considerably exceeded. The Lithgow Factory hascost double the estimate submitted by the departmental officers, and it is quite possible that if we remove the Small Arms Factory to Canberra we shall have todouble the present estimate. Therefore, from the point of view of economy, we are not justified in voting for the removal. These are days when we should cut down expenditure as much as we possibly can. The Minister says that his Department will be in a position to build workmen’s dwellings at a cost of £580, and let them at lis. a week. He must have made a mistake, or he is not allowing for sufficient rental on the capital outlay, becauseit is a recognised fact in connexion with buildings that a return of about 8 per cent, is necessary in order to allow for depreciation, renovation, and interest, and a rental of lis. a week will work out at about 5 per cent. To let a house costing £580 at lis. per week will not provide for depreciation, interest, and renovation. I intend to vote for keeping the Factory at Lithgow. From my own point of view, and from the fact that the removal toCanberra would add ls. lid. to the cost of each rifle, 1 am not justified in voting for the motion. If the output of rifles remains at 30,000 per year, even at the estimate ‘ submitted by the Department, the increased cost of producing a rifle would be ls. lid. Consequently- I vote in favour of keeping the Factory at Lithgow.
– On a point of order, I wish to know, Mr. Speaker, whether this motion is in order. Section 15 of the Public Works Committee Act says -
No public work of any kind whatsoever, the estimated cost of completing which exceeds £25,000, and whether such work is a continuation, completion, repair, reconstruction, extension, or a new work, shall be commenced, unless sanctioned as in this section provided.
Every such proposed work shall, in thefirst place, be submitted and explained in the House of Representatives by a Minister of State, in this section referred to as “ the Minister.”
The explanation shall comprise an estimate of the cost of the work when completed, together with such plans and specifications or other descriptions as the Minister deems proper, together with the prescribed reports on the probable cost of construction and maintenance, and estimates of the probable revenue (if any) to be derived therefrom, such estimates, plans, specifications, descriptions, and reports to be authenticated or verified in the prescribed manner.
Upon motion made in the usual manner by the Minister, or by any member of the House of Representatives, the proposed work shall be referred to the Committee for their report thereon.
According to the Votes and Proceedings, the work was referred to the Public Works Committee on a motion moved by Mr. Fisher -
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Commonwealth Public Works Committee Act 1913-14, the following work be referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works, with a request that the reference may be dealt with as an urgent matter: - Small Arms Factory, Lithgow - extension of buildings, plant, &c.
That was the work submitted to the Committee, and plans and specifications relating to the extension of the Small Arms Factory at Lithgow were laid on the table. The Committee were asked to report on that work. They reported. Then sub-section 5 of the same section of the Act says -
The Committee shall, with all convenient despatch, deal with the matter, and shall, as soonas conveniently practicable, regard being had to the nature and importance of the proposed work, report to the House of Representatives the result of their inquiries. and sub-section 6 says -
After the receipt of the report of the Committee, the House of Representatives shall by resolution declare either that it is expedient to carry out the proposed work, or that it is not expedient to carry it out.
That is all they had to do. Then there is a provision to the section which says -
Provided that the House of Representatives may, instead of declaring affirmatively or negatively as aforesaid, resolve that the report of the Committee shall, for reasons or purposes stated in the resolution, be remitted for their further consideration and report to the Committee; in which case the Committee shall consider the matter of the new reference, and report thereon accordingly.
The very object of the Act was that every work that was proposed by the Government should be submitted to the Committee and reported on. The work that was proposed by the Government, and submitted to the Committee in this case, was the extension of the buildings, plant, &c, at the Lithgow Factory. It was the duty of the Committee to see whether it was expedient or not to proceed with that work. But they have not reported on that question at all. They have reported that they recommend that an altogether different work, for which neither plans nor specifications were in existence, should be established at Canberra. The motion before the Chair to-day is -
That, in view of the report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works, it is desirable that a Small Arms Factory, with necessary provision for housing workmen, be erected forthwith at Canberra.
If this motion is in order and the proceedings of the Committee have been in order, the Public Works Committee Act is a dead letter. It seems to me that it is utterly impossible for the House to adopt the recommendation of the Committee. It was altogether illegal, and was quite outside their province as it was not a matter that was submitted to them for their consideration.
– The honorable member asks me to rule on a question of law, and not on a question of parliamentary procedure, but I take it that I am not here to give opinions on questions of law. All that concerns me at the present moment is the following motion, of which notice was givenyesterday by the Minister of Home Affairs -
That, in view of the report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works, it is desirable that a Small Arms Factory, with necessary provision for housing workmen, be erected forthwith at Canberra.
So far as I know that motion is perfectly in order. After the House passes an Act of Parliament, I am not called upon to interpret it. I am here merely to conduct the business of the House on motions and other matters brought directly before me in the ordinary parliamentary way. This motion has come forward in the usual parliamentary way, and is, so far as I can see, perfectly in order.
– I am glad that after attention has been called in the House to the matter, and after inquiry has been made by two Committees of the House, the Government have at last decided that, in the best interests of the country, it is necessary ‘to make available to the people of Australia a larger output of rifles. There can be no two opinions as to the advisability of doing so. In asking the House to consider this matter, I want to take them back a little to when it was first originated. There are honorable members now in the House who remember the motion which was submitted by Sir Thomas Ewing, the then Minister of Defence, for the establishment of a Small Arms Factory. The reason which was given then, and which was adopted by the House at the time, and since bv the country, was that the Commonwealth should be self-contained in regard to the output of small arms, and the Government of the day decided that a Small Arms Factory should be established, and the Minister of Defence selected Lithgow as the site for it. At the time it was felt that for financial reasons it would be impossible to do everything that was desirable to make the plant accomplish all that would be required and as at that time we were only feeling our way in defence matters, it was decided to despatch a responsible officer to make inquiries as to what would be the prospects of establishing the smallest complete factorv, consistent with economy, that would be a self-contained one. It was ultimately decided that a factory with an output of 50 rifles a day would be most likely to meet the exigencies of the case from an economical, as well as an experimental, point of view, and estimates were submitted to the House as to the cost of that factory and as to what it would be likely to produce, and also as to what would be the cost of the output. On the estimates submitted at that time the money of the people was spent, and today, on similar premises, the Minister of Home Affairs asks us to agree to build another factory on estimates. I wish to give honorable members some proof of the value that we can place on some of these estimates, so that we shall not go blindly into the matter or without guidance from previous experience. At that time we were told that a self-contained Small Arms Factory, with an output of fifty rifles per day, could be built for £92,144; but the investigations made by the Committee of Public Accounts show that up to the 30th June last the cost of the Factory was £182,046, or an increase of 98 per cent, on the estimated cost. If the estimates now submitted by the Minister of Home Affairs are no closer to the actual cost than those were, though they should be based largely on the experience gained at Lithgow, I am afraid to venture on the experiment of establishing a new factory. It was claimed that by establishing a Small Arms Factory we could not only produce the rifles in the Commonwealth, but also turn them out at £3 9s. Id. each, as against £4 5s. each that we were paying to import them, the argument being advanced that we would save 15s. lid. on each rifle made in the Commonwealth, and on that argument the people’s money was spent; but from that point of view the actual results are very disappointing. I am scarcely at liberty to talk about the output of the Factory at Lithgow, but I am safe in saying that the estimated output has been reached. However, the cost of the rifle is about twice the estimated cost. The Public Accounts Committee made inquiries as to why the rifles should cost so much, and as to whether there was any way in which that cost could be reduced. As put very ably just now by the honorable member for Hunter, who is Chairman of that Committee, one matter more than anything else that we should emphasize at the present time is the need for economy. We need rifles, but we want to get them at the cheapest possible price. The Public Accounts Committee devoted itself largely to discovering means by which the rifles could be produced at a price approximating to the estimate. One reason given to the Committee for the high cost of the rifles was that the Factory was too small. We were told by the manager and the assistant manager, both of whom are experts, that a factory, to be complete, must contain a certain proportion of plant which was not required to be used during the whole of the working hours, and consequently, while one side of the Factory is busily engaged, another side is practically idle. Their contention was that the most economical way to extend the output of the Factory would be to increase certain parts of the machinery. These witnesses told the Committee that it was not necessary to duplicate the whole of the plant in order to double the output of rifles, and from their evidence it is clear that the proposal now before the House is not the most economical method of increasing the output. The proposal that seems to be most in the minds of honorable members is to duplicate the present factory, either by doubling the establishment at Lithgow or erecting a second factory at Canberra. According to the experts, neither course is necessary, and I shall occupy the House for a few minutes by the quotation of portions of the evidence bearing on that point. The assistant manager, Mr. Ratcliffe, was asked by the Chairman - 673. Have all the machines in each section been working eight hours a day since the inception of the Factory, or have some been idle during part of the time? - Some have been idle during part of the time. 674. Would that idleness interfere with the output of completed rifles? - In some cases it would, and in others it would not. The point that I wish to make is that the operations on some components are lengthy, while others are of short duration. Take the case of a component on which there are 100 operations or more. Some of those operations can be done at the rate of 500 a day, while in respect of others only fifty a day can be performed. Then, again, some parts can be turned out at the rate of 1,000 a day. When we have a number of parts to manufacture, we subdivide the work, determine how we are going to manufacture, and lay out a number of machines. In the case of one operation we are able to do, say, only twenty-five a day on one machine, and we, therefore, put down two machines for that job. By-and-by we come to an operation which can be done on the one machine at the rate of fifty an hour; but we cannot subdivide the machine, and we must have it in the Factory, whether we need to use it one hour or eight hours a day. You must observe the ratio of the rate of production to the ratio of the producing unit, which is the machine. What may take a day in respect of certain operations on one machine may be done in two hours, perhaps, in the case of operations on another machine, so that the latter machine must be idle for some part of the day. 675. By Senator Backhap. - And the men attending upon them must also be idle? - No. We have to transfer the men to some other operation. Where we have a plant capable of producing only fifty rifles a day, there must necessarily be some machines that cannot be utilized to their full capacity, while others have to be used to their fullest producing power. 676. So that the whole plant would not have to be duplicated in order to secure an increased production? - That is so. In putting down a plant you must have regard to such an output as is economical to manufacture. By increasing the capacity of your plant, you keep your machines more fully employed. In factories with a production of several hundred rifles a day, to a large extent, the machinery is grouped by what is known as the component system.
The evidence of Mr. Ratcliffe shows that one section of the Factory is not kept fully employed, whilst other sections are working up to the maximum capacity. He was further asked - 1254. Has the failure to secure that steady flow interfered with the production of rifles’? - It has, to a certain extent. Some components have to run a long way before they can be handed over to another section; so that a machine may lay idle for months before the work relating to it can be reached.
By Mr. Atkinson he was asked -
Is there any other cause of delay which you have not mentioned? - The plant is not large enough; the number of machines being insufficient. The wood room and the barrel department are self-contained, and in respect of them there should be no trouble, but where you have components floating from one section to another, the cost of transit amounts annually to a considerable sum. If you were to examine a chart showing the various parts of this Factory over which a component travels in course of manufacture, you would imagine that you were looking at a network of telegraph wires. At Enfield even a stranger can stand at the first machine on which an operation is performed upon a component, and follow that component without any guidance through the factory to the point where it is finished. There a component docs not touch the floor. It is handed from machine to machine, and each machine is numbered.
The last quotation I shall make from Mr. Ratcliffe’s evidence is as follows - 1319. You suggest that the plant is too small to permit of a continuous and uninterrupted flow of components? - Exactly. In these charts I have endeavoured to time-table every process. I also produce a chart showing how machine capacities can be utilized. Theoretically, there is a means of providing for a continuous flow of work; but every little contingency, such as a breakage of tools, or some other unforeseen delay, makes it impossible in practice.
I turn now to the evidence of the manager, Mr. Wright. He was asked - 1971. If the contract had been for 100 rifles a day, instead of fifty, would not that have enabled you to get better results? - Far better. 1972. Is the smallness of the output a disadvantage in co-ordinating the work? - Most decidedly.
Further on he said -
Can you suggest anything to reduce the cost? - The first thing I should recommend is to double or treble the plant, and bring it up to 150 guns a day. 2018. By Mr. John Thomson.- Why do you think the price might be reduced in that way? - Because of the larger quantities going through, and easier organization. A staff for 150 guns would not be much more expensive than a staff for fifty. The plant we had first would not have been sufficient to supply even the cadets maturing from year to year. 2019. Would better grouped machines add to the output? - They cannot be grouped in a different way under present circumstances. If the plant was increased by 200 per cent., as I would like to see it, you would get a better distribution of the machinery and better supervision. 2020. Can any material alteration or improvement be made while the Factory is restricted to its present capacity? - I do not think so. 2021. How many additional men would be required to work a double shift? - About 350. 2022. If they could be found, and you could turn out twice the number of rifles, would you recommend that they should be engaged? - I would recommend doubling or trebling the plant rather than working a double shift. 2023. By Mr. Fowler. - Would it not be cheaper to double the staff than to increase the machinery? - If you increased the staff, and kept only the same machines, you would double the wear on them.
If the Minister is anxious to increase the output of rifles, and to make the best possible use of the money already expended, he should arrange to increase certain sections of the Factory so as to extend the capacity of those portions which are now engaged in major operations, and so keep continuously running the machines employed in minor operations. By this policy a great deal of money could be saved, and we should obtain results at a far earlier date than is possible by any other means. I hope the Minister will seriously consider this matter, and before proceeding with the erection of a factory at Canberra, consider whether the country would not be better served by increasing certain parts in the Factory at Lithgow than by doubling the existing plant at Lithgow, or duplicating it at some other centre, where an additional staff would be required for supervision, thus adding to the already high cost of the article. In the small Factory at Lithgow the expense of supervision is a considerable item in the cost of producing the rifle. The material put into the rifle is worth only about 14s. 6d., and yet the Government are paying over £7 apiece for the rifles. A factory with a larger output, say, of 150 rifles per day, could be managed and supervised with the same staff as a factory producing fifty rifles per day. Lithgow possesses real advantages as a site for a small arms factory. I amnot going to say that it is an ideal place for such an establishment. Nevertheless, the Factory having been established there for reasons which were considered sufficiently good at the time, and having regard to the local supplies of coal and steel, and the accessibility of the place from a strategic point of view, the Government should hesitate about transferring the Factory from that spot.
– What about the land available?
– So far as the extension of the Factory is concerned, there is no doubt that the necessary land is obtainable at Lithgow. At this time we require all the rifles that can be made available, and we need to husband our resources, not only in rifles, but also in finance; and if there is any means by which the Minister can bring about a satisfactory result with the least expenditure of money, it is his bounden duty to adopt it. I have sufficient confidence in the present Minister of Home Affairs to believe that he will thoroughly investigate this matter. If the present plant is supplemented in the manner I have outlined, at a cost much less than the estimate for duplicating the plant at Canberra, a substantial increase in the output of rifles will be obtained.
.- Will the Minister of Home Affairs kindly inform me whether, when this proposal was originally referred to the Public Works Committee, the Minister had in mind the removal of the Factory to Canberra ?
– That idea was in my mind, at any rate.
– Was that idea conveyed to the Committee?
– If it was in the Minister’s mind, it is unfortunate that he did not place it on paper.
– I asked a question in the House, and the Prime Minister said that this proposal would be referred to the Committee.
– Surely it is within the province of the Committee to report on the removal of the Factory to Canberra; otherwise, the Committee is a farce.
– I think it is. At the same time, it is quite apparent from the statements made by Ministers, and from the evidence given before the Public Works Committee by the Government experts, that there was a solid body of opinion on the part of Government officials that this Factory should be transferred to Canberra. If that is so, itis a most unfortunate thing that in the reference of this subject by Parliament to the Public Works Committee the question of the transfer of the Factory to Canberra was not definitely and specifically set forth. I venture to say that had it been proposed to make this reference to the Public Works Committee an altogether different view would have been taken of it. As a general proposition, I believe in the establishment of Commonwealth works in the Federal Territory, so that the expenditure of public moneys may enhance Commonwealth property, instead of adding to the incomes of private persons. At the same time, the Government, in putting forward a proposal which had in it, as they knew, the germ of an idea for upsetting the whole of the arrangements of the working of the present Factory, could not have made a bigger blunder.
– How is this upsetting the arrangements of the present Factory?
– If the Minister goes to Lithgow he will find the place in a regular ferment. A representative committee of the residents have been putting what they call their side of the case before members of this House; and the honorable gentleman must know that the Factory workmen have made arrangements for the purchase of land and the building of homes. He must further know that the youths employed in the Factory have their local family ties, and that the removal of a great Factory like this, employing such a body of men, must create a very disturbed feeling in the town, particularly amongst those immediately connected with the works. For the purposes of the present war we require the greatest possible increase in the output of riflesnow.
– The new or enlarged Factory could not turn out rifles for two years yet.
– Not so long as that.
– Even if it wereeighteen months, it seems impossible for the war to last so long. Any one who haslooked into the financial aspect of thequestion must feel almost startled to think of the possibilities for the Allies if the war were to continue for that length of time, with the present rate of expenditure. Previous warsoffer no parallel; and it would appear that by the end of eighteen monthsall would be bankrupt. I notice from, the American newspapers that a large order from the Russian Government wasrefused because the American people were not satisfied as to the means of payment,, and a large order from the French Government was held up for a considerable time for the same reason, showing that there is financial embarrassment even at the present time.
As pointed out by the honorable member for Macquarie, there is atpresent lying idle at Randwick, Sydney, a great plant capable of producing a vastly increased output of rifles. The Government could have utilized this plant, which is idle largely because of their lack of action. We have now to meet an emergency situation; and even if the war did continue for a longer period than twoyears, there would be plenty of time for us afterwards to make permanent arrangements of the kind now proposed.
In the meantime the employees at Lithgow have arranged to work double shifts, aud the townspeople regard it as an obligation on them to co-operatively make the best arrangements they can for assisting the Government to obtain an increased output. If ever there was a time when this Factory, and the people there, should have been left undisturbed, it is now.
– Does the honorable member think that additions could be made to the present Factory without interfering with the production of rifles?
– It is admitted that the additions to the present Factory will take a year and eight months to complete ; and this means, of course, that for that period the whole of the working of the Factory will be upset without the production of one additional rifle.
– If a year and eight months is the time estimated, we may safely say it will be two years and eight months.
– Probably three years.
– That would apply to either Lithgow or Canberra.
– Quite so; and the question is whether the duplication ought to be proceeded with, or emergency arrangements made to use the machinery lying at Randwick.
I do not blame the Public Works Committee for the report they have given. If a matter is referred to them, and they believe in the public interest that some course should be pursued other than that definitely outlined to them by the Government, it is an obligation on them to make a recommendation to that effect.
A report having been presented which was not provided for in the reference, it seems to me that it should have been the duty of the Government to make a fresh reference so as to put the matter in order. Otherwise, we can see how all sorts of difficulties may arise.
To take an extreme case, a Government might desire to have some proposal, which they knew would not pass the House, dealt with by the Committee, and all they would have to do would be to refer one matter, nominally, to the Committee, and make arrangements to have the Committee report on the first matter, which really had nothing to do with the original reference. It would thus be possible to obtain an indorsement of some Government scheme by methods other than those provided by law. What redress would honorable mem. bers have under such circumstances?
– Vote against the proposal - that is the only redress.
– That is no redress for the Government breaking the law.
– As a matter of fact, this reference was regularly made and irregularly returned ; and the Public Works Committee must accept the responsibility.
– The irregularity is apparent. I do not know that the Public Works Committee are supposed to take into consideration the legal aspect of the case, but merely to do the best they can according to the evidence before them.
The question of the legality of the reference having been raised, the Government would be well advised to withhold the proposal until the advice of the
Attorney-General has been sought as to whether the point raised by the honorable member for Gippsland is a valid one. The Minister assures me that the debate will go over this evening’s sitting, and that he will bring the matter under the notice of the Attorney-General.
If I am compelled to give a vote on the motion to-night, I shall give it with very great diffidence - most reluctantly. I believe in the general policy of erecting public works in the Federal Territory. But, as a supporter of the Government, I say that, in view of its being found, as I believe it will, that this proposal is not properly before the House, the Government would be well advised to withdraw it for the present.
– Surely we can decide the matter on its merits now, as well as on any other amended reference?
– This is, in my opinion, the wrong time to take the general merits of building public works at Canberra into account. The circumstances are most unpropitious and inopportune.
.- I think honorable members may now be quite satisfied that it is not the intention of the Government to maintain two Small Arms Factories. A statement recently made by the Prime Minister left the impression that it was the intention of the Government to have one plant at Lithgow and another at Canberra, but the Minister has now made it clear that this is not the case. When the proposal for the extension of the present Factory came before the Public Works Committee, estimates were submitted showing that the cost would be £45,000. Various matters affecting the Factory were dealt with by the Public Works Committee at that time. The establishment of a second shift and the extension of the plant were considered, and a recommendation was made that further plant should be purchased. On this point may I say, in reply to the honorable member for Perth, who stated that he could not realize why a larger plant should be ordered, that information placed before the Committee showed how necessary it was that the Factory should be capable of turning out considerably more rifles than it had hitherto produced. The Public Works Committee afterwards investigated the proposal to establish an entirely new factory, and a majority recommendation was made that a new building should be erected at Canberra. The main arguments in favour of the removal were contained in statements made by officers of the Public Works Department, who gave evidence that they would be able to build a complete factory at Canberra at a less cost than would be involved by the erection of additions to the Factory at Lithgow, with the purchase of land added. They were also under the impression that the Lithgow site was not suitable for factory extension, and declared that Canberra possessed a better climate and an up-to-date power plant. They pointed out the excessive cost of the land that would be required for workers’ homes at Lithgow, and urged the advisability of full control of all industrial undertakings established by the Commonwealth being maintained in the hands of the Government. The departmental estimate of the new buildings at Canberra was £92,000, but in addition to this provision has also to be made for the population of 5,000 people which would become resident at Canberra if this factory were built and the workers transferred. At the present time 750 workmen are employed in the Small Arms Factory, and, according to the evidence of Mr. Wright, when the Factory is in full swing it will give employment to between 1,100 and 1,200 hands. I have worked out the cost of removing this number of people. Honorable members must realize that they cannot be dumped into the bush where there are no conveniences. If a new factory is erected at Canberra, provision must be made for the reception of the workmen who will be employed there. I estimate that, out of the 750 workmen now employed, 450 are married men, for whom homes will have to be built. Three estimates were submitted to the Public Works Committee in respect of cottages that might be erected, and, taking the cost at £480 each, the erection of 400 cottages would involve an outlay of £192,000. Provision” will have to be made for about 240 unmarried men, and this will cost £30,000 more. A water supply will cost £10,000. At the present time the Department is proposing to establish a septic tank for the treatment of sewage, but this system will eventually have to be connected with the main sewerage system, at a cost of £25.000. Schools, institutes, and other buildings for the accommodation of this large population will probably involve an outlay of £20,000, in addition to which roads, footpaths, electric lights, and matters of that sort would account for another £6,000. These items bring the total expenditure involved by this removal to at least £375,000. The departmental estimate was considerably less than this, because provision was not made in it for dealing with the number of people who will be affected. On the other hand, the cost of extending the Lithgow Factory can be limited to about £60,000. It was stated by departmental officials that land will have to be purchased for the erection of workmen’s homes at Lithgow, and a sum of £28,000 was given as the estimate of the sum that would be required in this connexion. This figure has been the subject of much argument at meetings of the Public Works Committee. Some time ago I stated in this House that these estimates were grossly misleading. I repeat that statement now ; and I say that it is absolutely impossible for the Department to justify the purchase of an area of 50 acres of land at the price stated, unless they are desirous of actually throwing money away. I believe that the honorable member for the district has in his possession an option for the purchase of all the land that will be required at the price of £50 an acre. This will bring the necessary expenditure down to a sum considerably lower than was stated by the Department. It has been suggested that Lithgow is not a suitable place for the Factory on account of its climatic conditions. As a matter of fact, there is not a healthier community in all Australia, and it is only necessary to look at the railway map of New South Wales to see that Lithgow is now connected, or’ will in the near future be connected, with every part of Australia. Situated 100 miles inland, Lithgow is quite secure from the sea and possible naval raids, and yet it is within reasonable distance of a port. It is connected with both Sydney and Melbourne. When the railway to Broken Hill is completed it will have communication with Adelaide. On the completion of the transcontinental railway it will be in direct communication with Western Australia, and a branch railway line is now in progress which will give communication with the Queensland system. Geographically, no place stands out as being so completely suitable for the erection of buildings such as we now have in contemplation as Lithgow. I do not think any argument is needed to show the advantages Lithgow possesses over Canberra in other respects. In a short time the necessary steel will, I think, be manufactured at Lithgow, though at present it has to be conveyed only 100 miles, as against 200 miles to Canberra. Oil is also manufactured in the vicinity.
– There is a big deposit near by which will be available for use in connexion with this work. Cement is also manufactured in the vicinity, whilst coal is obtainable at 6s. 6d. per ton, as against £1 per ton at Canberra.
– What does it cost to convey coal from the pit mouth to the Factory ?
– The price “delivered “ is, I think, 6s. 6d. per ton.
– No; I am now. reading the evidence, in which it is stated that the price is 6s. 6d. per ton at the pit mouth.
– That may be. I have no wish to mislead honorable members at all, but in any case I think we may take it that the cost will be considerably less at Lithgow than at Canberra. The charge for the water supply at Lithgow is 3d. per 1,000 gallons. The scheme prepared for a water supply at Canberra provides for a rate of ls. per 1,000 gallons. Gas is supplied at Lithgow at 3s. 4d. per 1,000 cubic feet, and a big quantity is required in this work. There are no gas works at Canberra. Another important consideration is that of the supply of labour. Messrs. Pratt and Whitney’s specification provided that only 152 unskilled labourers and two skilled labourers would be required for the Small Arms Factory plant. All the evidence given before the Committee has been to the effect that the Factory should be close to a large centre of population. It has been argued that the Lithgow site is not a good one, and I believe that had experts been asked to report at the time they would have recommended that it should not be selected, since the industrial population there was not large enough to euable the manager to obtain all the unskilled and boy labour that he required. Mr. Wright, Captain Clarkson, and Mr. Ratcliffe all declared that no advantage would be gained by removing the Fac- tory to Canberra, and that if any change was to be made the Factory should be removed to the vicinity of some large centre of population, where the requisite labour would be available. In what respect shall we improve our position by removing this Factory to Canberra? The conditions prevailing at Lithgow are immeasurably superior to those at Canberra, so that if this change be made our position will not be improved in the slightest degree. The removal would involve a very large expenditure. In an official report submitted to this Parliament when the proposal to start this Factory was approved, we were told that we should be able to produce rifles at a cost of £3 9s. Id. each. I have tried to ascertain what is the actual cost of production at the Factory, but have found it impossible to do so. The general manager stated that for the three months ending 30th June last - and that was the best three months he had had, so far as output was concerned - the cost per rifle was £9 13s. 4d. The cost at Canberra will be considerably more, for everything will be dearer. Our rifles are costing us more than 100 per cent, in excess of the price at which they could be obtained elsewhere. I understand that rifles can be imported and delivered here at £4 5s. each. Recently I asked a series of questions in this House, with a view of ascertaining the actual cost of the rifles produced at the Commonwealth Factory, and was then told that the value of the stock in hand was £111,000. Having regard to the value of the material used in each rifle, that statement would show that the stock in hand is sufficient to keep the Factory going for eight years, whereas we were told that it had not enough material to keep it in full working order for more than seven or eight months. There must be something wrong with these reports. I do not wish to do anything to add to the work of the Department at the present time, but I think that the Minister should insist upon the annual reports and balance sheets of the factories associated with it being issued within a few months of the close of the financial year, so that we may readily learn the cost of production. I should not be surprised to find that rifles manufactured at the Small Arms Factory are costing us something like £1? each. It cannot be denied that an enormous capital expenditure will be involved in establishing the Factory at
Canberra. This expenditure is to be incurred merely to gratify the desire of the Labour party that the Commonwealth should have absolute jurisdiction over its workmen. The cost of production will be increased at Canberra. If the Factory be established there, where shall we find the requisite labour?
– Labour will always follow the work.
– I doubt it. A large amount of boy labour is required at this Factory. Surely the Minister does not wish to increase the cost of production by employing men where boys should be engaged.
– What did Colonel Owen say on this subject?
– I do not think he was questioned on this phase of the subject, and I do not regard him as an expert in these matters. The Minister, who says that the labour will follow the work, must realize that if the Factory were established at Canberra we should have to provide for the housing of the workmen, and incur all the expenditure incidental to the building up of the town. An expenditure of at least £375,000 would be incurred in respect of this Factory alone.
– Apart from the cost of the railway.
– Quite so. I have not included in my estimate the cost of railway accommodation. At least £10,000 would be expended in putting in a siding at one of the proposed factory sites at Canberra, while in the other case the expenditure would be considerably larger. The Government should take the House into its confidence, and tell us what will be the total cost of this proposal. The Minister, in answer to a question which I recently put to him in the House, admitted that up to the present time there had been a capital expenditure of £178,000 on the Lithgow Factory.
– And with that common sense which characterizes him, be is going to throw it away.
– Is this a commonsense proposal to put before the House?
– What are we spending on the desert railway to the West?
– That railway, if the present Administration, aided by the honorable member, is going to continue, will cost us nearly £3,000,000 more than it ought to cost. I am trying to curb honorable members opposite in their desire to indulge in heavy expenditures. Surely, at a time like this, we should not support this unseemly extravagance. The Prime Minister has told us that we must economize, and we know that it is necessary to do so.
– Does the honorable member suggest that we should stop the building of the east-west railway ?
– I suggested some time ago that the Government could economize in the construction of that railway by calling for tenders. They should not have allowed themselves to come wholly under the control of the union secretary, who was brought over here by the Minister with the object of trying to secure his consent to a proposal to make the men work eight hours a day. There has been extravagance in connexion with the building of that line, and it still con:tinues. I wish to avoid further extravagance in connexion with the Small Arms Factory, and honorable members have now an opportunity to put a stop to this proposed expenditure.. The Minister admits that there has been a capital expenditure of £178,000 in respect of the Lithgow Factory, and if we could obtain a correct balance-sheet I think it would be found that the cost has been considerably greater. It has been suggested that if this proposal be adopted, the Factory buildings at Lithgow may be used as workshops for the building of vehicles for the Defence and Postal Departments. Carriages and vehicles of various kinds are to be made there, and transported to Western Australia, as well as to the far north of Queensland. What a magnificent idea !
– Who made that suggestion ?
- Colonel Owen. No doubt, if that proposal were adopted and £100,000 spent in giving effect to it, there would be an agitation to shift it for exactly the same reason that is now actuating the Government. They would desire to have the workmen engaged in it placed solely under Federal jurisdiction. Is this a fair way of treating a town like Lithgow? Depend upon it, other centres of population will be made to suffer in the same way if this project be adopted. We have factories in various parts of the Commonwealth. Are all of them to be removed to Canberra? I have heard some honorable members opposite say that they would favour the transfer of all Commonwealth factories to the Federal Territory.
– Centralization again.
– Quite so. They wish to build up the Federal Capital at the expense of the States. I visited Lithgow for the first time as a member of the Public Works Committee. I have no friends and no interests there, nor have I any at Canberra. My sole desire is that we shall do what is best in the interests of the country. The Committee was informed that a number of the employees of the Factory had built their own homes at Lithgow, while a number of others had bought land on which they proposed to build. All these men will suffer if the Factory be removed, and so, also, will those who have erected buildings to house the workers. Surely they are deserving of some consideration. The Factory having been established at Lithgow, it should not be removed unless cogent reasons can be adduced for its removal. Having regard to the need for economy, it is almost a scandal to suggest that a factory which had cost £178,000 to establish should be deserted, and an expenditure of £375,000 incurred in building a new factory at Canberra and housing the workmen there. I hope the House will reject this proposition’,’ and decide that the Small Arms Factory shall remain where it is.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Watkins) adjourned.
. -I move-
That the House do now adjourn.
I said earlier in the evening that it was the intention of the Government to proceed with the income tax proposals tomorrow, but. although we have done everything possible, I regret that we shall not be able to deal with that matter until next week. To-morrow we shall proceed with the debate that has just been adjourned, and with such other business as mar be available.
– It is time the Government arranged matters so that we could do busi ness, or cease calling honorable members here. To drag honorable members over here, or, indeed, to drag those who live in Melbourne to the House day after day, when there is practically no business being done, is unfair. Last week we were dragged over for half-a-day’s work. It is true that this week we have had a statement from thePrime Minister;but that is really all the important business for the week.
– The right honorable gentleman must remember that the Prime Minister has been ill for a week, and that the taxation measure has consequently been delayed.
– I am quite aware of that; but the fact that the illness of the Prime Minister prevents the preparation of business is an additional reason why the House should be adjourned, so that honorable members need not be here practically filling in time doing nothing.
– Is not the removal of the Small Arms Factory to Canberra important business 1
– If it is so important, why should the debate have been adjourned at 10 o’clock? Whyshould not the House have continued, and come to a decision upon it? The sooner a decision is arrived at one way or the other, the better it will be for all concerned. To have matters going on as they areis not fair to the people of Lithgow. Let us put that town out of its misery one way or the other. In the meantime, far more important than the vested interests of the people of Lithgow is the big national question of the production of rifles which is being hung up.
– The honorable member cannot discuss that matter on this motion.
– I do not propose to discuss it. I am merely suggesting it as a reason for facilitating business, and I urge the Government to come to a decision, so that Lithgow may know its fate, and so that we also may know our fate with respect to the Factory at Lithgow, and provide for doing something which will increase the output of rifles there. It is too important a matter to play with for personal, private, or party reasons. One consideration only should guide us, and that is the production of rifles at the earliest possible moment. I take it that this matter will be the only business for to-morrow. Meanwhile I ask the AttorneyGeneral to make an effort to bring the business of the House to a completion, and not to bring honorable members here week after week to do practically nothing.
– In my remarks this evening, I made reference to the honorable member for Wentworth speaking to people in the gal lery. In justice to the honorable member, I wish to say that I had no intention of implying that he was addressing any particular person or persons in the gallery, or that he was influenced in making the remarks he did under the promise of any bribe from any person within the precincts of the House. My intimate relations with honorable members of the House warrant me in saying that I do not believe that there is one honorable member who would allow any person to approachhim with a view to’ offering him a bribe.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.0 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 12 August 1915, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1915/19150812_reps_6_78/>.