6th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
The following papers were presented -
Inter-State Commission Act -
Inter- State Commission - Tariff Investigation Reports -
Butter, Margarine, and Edible Oils. Inks, Stains, and Dressings for leather.
Paints and Colours, Varnishes and Paint Oils.
Miscellaneous Group I. - Arrowroot; Biscuits, dog; Coffee; Fish, preserved; Food, infants’ and invalids’; Game and Eggs; Isinglass; Jelly Crystals; Lemon Syrup Crystals; Nuts, edible; Onions and Potatoes; Polish, metal; Salt; Seed, canary; Seeds of Green Manure Plants; Tamarinds; Yeast.
Miscellaneous Group II. - Badges, Regalias, and Gold Embroideries; Calico for the manufacture of bags for the export of flour; Carpets, Floorcloths, and Linoleums; Cottons, sewing, viz. : Fancy cotton threads, plain, and mercerized; Feathers; Felt, roofing and damp-courses; Felt, saddlers’; Flowers, artificial; Hessians and Brattice Cloth, Jute Piece Goods, and Bookbinders’ Cloth; Parasols; Quilts, down; Saddlebags and Divan covers; Sails, Tents, and Tarpaulins; Shirt Studs, small; Woven Smallware
Ordered to be printed.
Estate Duty Assessment Act 1914 - Regulations Amended (Provisional) - Statutory Rules 1915, No. 136.
Laud Tax Assessment Act 1910-1914 - Regulations Amended (Provisional)’ - Statutory Rules 1915. No. 137.
Public Service Act - Regulation Amended (Provisional) - Statutory Rules 1915, No. 140.
– Will the Prime Minister consider the advisability of relieving companies of direct taxation on bonuses as well as on dividends? Many of the deferred payments of the co-operative dairying companies are in the form of bonuses, and I should like to know if they will be treated in the same way as dividends ?
– I think that all questions relating to the taxation of income should be dealt with when the taxation measures are under consideration.
– I ask the Minister for the Navy what is the reason for the delays in the delivery of letters to H.M.A.S. Sydney? I have received a letter from an officer on board that vessel, in which he says that few, if any, letters have been received from Australia, and that on the last delivery on the 1st July, only four letters reached them. Although the English mail is being delivered regularly, the Australian mail is not.
– All letters addressed to the vessels of the Australian Navy are sent to the Admiralty, and on the first opportunity despatched to the vessels for which they are intended. The delivery of letters to all the war ships is under the control of the Imperial authorities.
Meaning of Income
– A question has been raised as to the meaning of the word “income” in the schedule of the War Census Act. relating to the wealth return. During the discussion of the measure the Attorney-General said that income would be taken to mean receipts, less, amongst other things, money and outgoings expended in earning the income. Has he arrived at a clearer definition of this word?
– The schedule rer mains as it was approved of by the War Committee, and the instructions prepared in conformity with it have been considered with great care by the Statisticians of the Commonwealth and the States, who have dealt with this matter in a way which apparently leaves no room for confusion. Citizens are to be asked to state their full income, and deductions are to be set out under a separate heading. Were the return for the purposes of taxation, there might be some ground for criticism of the questions asked, as some citizens might include as income « sums properly belonging to gross rather than net income; but as the return is being made for purposes other than taxation, and the risk of such errors is small, it is not proposed to alter the form of question. Honorable members may rest assured that instructions have been drafted and the questions framed in the manner best calculated to elicit the information required.
– In view of the reverses that the Russian troops have sustained during the last few days, I ask the Minister in charge of the House whether it would not be advisable to send on behalf of the people of Australia a cablegram to the Czar to the following effect -
The sympathies of the people of Australia are ever with your brave troops, and we wish them God speed.
A message like that would, I think, cement the good feeling between the Allies.
– I shall bring the honorable member’s suggestion under the notice of the Prime Minister. Personally I am in favour of doing what he proposes.
BLACKBOY Hill Camp Water Supply: TRAVELLING Kitchens : Liverpool Camp Report: Dental Examination.
– I direct the attention of the Minister for the Navy to a matter which has been mentioned in the Legislative Assembly of Western Australia, and about which I have been asked to inquire; I refer to the complaints in regard to the inadequate water supply at the Blackboy Hill military camp, near Perth. It has been stated that only three water taps are there available for the use of some 3,000 men, and that the seven shower baths cannot be used by the men between the hours of 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. Will ‘the Minister kindly look into the matter, and if he finds that the complaints are justified will he remedy the grievances at the earliest possible moment ?
– I shall bring the honorable member’s remarks under the notice of the Minister of Defence.
– Has the Minister any information to give the House regarding the supply of travelling kitchens ?
– The Minister of Defence has ‘informed me that no more travelling kitchens are to be sent from Australia at present, because he ‘has been told by the War Council that an improved kitchen is being furnished from the other side of the world.
– Then what is it proposed to do with the money that has been subscribed for the purchase of travelling kitchens here ?
– No doubt it will be invested in the purchase of the improved kitchens.
– I ask the AttorneyGeneral when the report of Mr. Justice Rich on the Liverpool camp is to be laid on the table?
– It has been handed to the Minister of Defence, and I assume will be laid on the table of the Senate. Perhaps it would be better to put the question to the Minister for the Navy.
– I ask the Minister for the Navy when we may expect the report.
– As soon as it has been placed in the hands of the Government and the Cabinet has looked at it.
– Has the Minister not yet seen it?
– I have not.
– In view of the fact that dentists are being asked every day by would-be recruits the exact number of teeth necessary to pass the Medical Officer, will the Minister for the Navy have a definite announcement made in the press on the subject?
– I see no objection.
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister what motive the Government have for deliberately keeping back public reports and documents, such, for instance, as Mr. Anderson’s report on the Post Office, details of the sugar arrangement promised weeks ago, and Mr. Justice Rich’s report. These three, which occur to me at the moment, have been promised for some time, but we cannot get hold of them.
- Mr. Justice Rich called upon me about 4 o’clock yesterday afternoon and said that he had handed his report to the Governor-General, from whom I have not yet received it. As soon as it is received it will be placed on the table of both Houses. Mr. Anderson’s report was a departmental one, pure and simple, to the Ministry, and has not yet been fully discussed by the Ministry, but it will be laid on the table before Parliament rises. I made that promise before.
– With an opportunity to consider it, I hope?
– Yes, full and ample opportunity. I would advise them to unburden their whole souls while they have the opportunity, because this is where we can hear and answer criticism. As soon as the Attorney-General has completed the arrangement with regard to sugar, I am sure he will acquaint the House with the details, but it is a business arrangement which should not be revealed prematurely.
– You have never made a statement lately which is not a party snarl. I am getting tired of this sort of treatment.
– Order ! The honorable member for Parramatta must cease interjecting across the table. .
– The Prime Minister has no right to answer me in the way he did. Courtesy is due to the House from him.
– No one knows better than the honorable member for Parramatta that continuous interjections of the character he is making across the Chamber are out of order, and I ask him not to persist in the practice.
– Last night the honor able member for Balaclava said there was a great discrepancy between the Treasurer’s estimate of land tax receipts and the amount actually received. Can the Prime Minister inform the House whether that discrepancy was not caused to a large extent by remissions granted “by the Land Tax Commissioner on appeal ?
– I am not sure as to the amount of tax in question under the special amendment made last session to meet difficulties arising from the drought or other inability of taxpayers to pay the tax, but I think it amounts to nearly £300,000. I can give the honorable member a definite answer later.
Bill presented by Mr. Hughes and read a first time.
– Can the AttorneyGeneral state when we may expect the memoranda regarding the sugar agreement that he promised to furnish about three weeks ago ?
– I am sorry I have been unable to make the statement available, but the Prime Minister was quite right in saying that it is a business arrangement, and that the interests of the Commonwealth ought not to be prejudiced by a premature disclosure. However, I will show the agreement to the right honorable member to-day, and make it available to the House at the earliest possible moment.
– Seeing that a large number of elderly people who have made small savings would like to invest in the
War Loan, can the Prime Minister state whether such investments will make any difference to them later on in applying for old-age pensions?
– I do not think it makes any difference whether people invest in this or any other loan. The law regarding old-age pensions would have to apply generally in that matter, because the war loan is exempted from income tax only. We cannot alter one law by passing another on a different subject, so that I do not think such investments as the honorable member mentions would be specially affected.
– Has the Minister for the Navy received any information regarding the alleged non-payment of wounded Australians’ pay in the various hospitals in Egypt?
– The Minister of Defence is making inquiries into the whole matter.
– I have received from the honorable member for Wentworth the following letter: -
I beg to inform you that I propose to move the adjournment of the House to discuss an urgent matter of public importance, to wit, the permission given to Mr. Julius Blau to visit the United States of America, and the subsequent importation of quantities of 4,711 Eau de Cologne.
Five honorable members having risen in their places -
.- Since I asked the questions in reference to this matter, which made the papers available to honorable members, the AttorneyGeneral has given Mr. Julius Blau notice of his intention to move for the estreatment of his bond. I therefore do not propose to touch in any way on the question of the bond or the merits of the case which will shortly be heard. My remarks will be directed in the form of friendly criticism against the action of the Government in permitting Blau to leave Australia in face of the repeated protests of the Defence Department and their subsequent action in allowing him to import goods in spite of constant warnings from all over the country, and, in fact, all over the world, that they were in reality of enemy origin.
Blau is an Austrian subject, naturalized in Australia only comparatively recently. He addressed his first request for permission to leave Australia to the New South Wales Commandant, who forwarded to tha Minister at Melbourne a report strongly advising that the man be not given the permission sought. Shortly afterwards, on 4th January, the New South Wales Commandant followed this up by submitting to his Minister a case against Blau for infringing the provisions of the Enemy Trading Act, and recommended that he1 be prosecuted. The document is the strongest I have seen yet in this connexion, and if the AttorneyGeneral has no objection, I shall read ii in full. It was submitted prior to permission being given to Blau to leave Australia. It has nothing to do with the case pending, and I take it that my honorable and learned friend will not object to my reading it -
With reference to my 97/4/186 of 4th December, concerning Mr. Blau’s application for permission to travel to America, further correspondence to and from Mr. Blau shows that instead of allowing Mr. Blau to leave, it appears to me that the Attorney-General might be consulted with reference to taking action against Mr. Blau under the Trading with the Enemy Act 1914.
The case against Mr. Blau is as follows: - It is thought that Mr. Blau has committed a breach of section 3(1) of the above Act, as defined by section 2(a), in that he has done acts prohibited by the King’s proclamation, published in the Commonwealth Gazette, No. 72, of 12th September, 1914, or the similar provisions published in Gazette, No. 53, of 7th August, 1914.
It is probable that a search of Mr. Blau’s books will show a breach of paragraph 5(1) of the said proclamation. See Appendix 2, from which it appears that Mr. Blau proposes to make payments to Cologne, via America.
Mr. Blau has committed breaches of paragraph 5(7), in that he has attempted, directly or indirectly, to obtain from an enemy country, or an enemy, goods, wares, or merchandise; and that he has attempted, directly or indirectly, to trade in goods, &c, coming from - an enemy country, or an enemy.
Sec Appendices 2 to 6, particularly noticing the statement of the New York house in Appendix 2, that steps had been taken to obtain supplies from Germany to make up in America, and forward to Australia; the cable of an order vid Rotterdam, Appendix 3; and the discussion of ways of shipping to Australia after receipt of Blau’s letter of 19th August, Appendix 4. It is contended that the attempt to convert these goods from enemy to neutral property (Appendix 5) is such a colourable transaction for the purpose of evading the law that any
British Court would sweep it aside; that the Dutch intermediary is, in fact, only an agent, although he is called a principal.
Mr. Blau is now getting supplies from America, as suggested in Appendix 2.
It is also contended that Mr. Blau’s intended journey to America is for the purpose of committing a breach of the law, as declared in the second paragraph of the preamble to the proclamation, as he clearly proposes to hare commercial or financial transactions with a person resident or carrying on business in Germany. (See Appendix’ 1.)
The Appendices attached hereto arc only extracts from the original documents, which have already been forwarded by the Censor, Sydney, to the Deputy Chief Censor. The marginal numbers are the reference numbers of the Censor, Sydney.
I should be glad to know what decision i» arrived at, and would suggest that an early prosecution of this or some other suitable case would greatly assist the local ^efforts to prevent enemy trading.
T. Wallack, Colonel,
Commandant, 2nd M. District.
– On a point of order, I should like your ruling, sir, as to whether the matter before the House is one of urgent public importance, seeing: that the Crown Law Department is quitecompetent to deal with it.
– The Standing Orders provide that if a certain number of honorable members rise in their places to support the honorable member who desires to move the adjournment of the House to discuss a subject of urgent public importance, that of itself constitutes a sufficient ground of urgency. I have no discretion in the matter.
– I desire to prevent this, sort of, thing happening again.
– I rise to order. The honorable member is dealing with certain actions of a man named Blau, and the policy of the Government in connexion with importations made by Blau, and its attitude towards Blau generally. I informed the honorable member, and I now inform you, Mr. Speaker, that instructions have been given totake proceedings against Blau, and I say no more than that. It is for you, Mr. Speaker, to say whether, in the circumstances, it is proper to proceed any further with this motion. It is perfectly obvious that it cannot beopen for honorable members to pre-judge or anticipate in any way the proceedings, of the Court in regard to this matter. I desire to say quite frankly, that, although the matter is in the hands of the Crown
Solicitor, the case is not legally sub judice. Nevertheless, the first steps towards a prosecution have been taken, and the man will be proceeded against.
– In this matter of which I am speaking?
– I cannot say. It is impossible for me to reply to any statement made by the honorable member unless I am prepared to go into the whole of the merits of the case, and there is not one of the statements already made by the honorable gentleman that will not be affected by the Court proceedings.
– If the case were directly before the Court, and that fact were brought under my notice, I should say that the honorable member for Wentworth was not in order in dealing with’ it, but I understand that the case is not actually before the Court, and therefore I must allow the honorable member to proceed.
– I will say at once that if this case with which I am dealing this morning were ever coming before the Court, I would not raise the matter in this House, but the case that is to come before the Court shortly is in another relation altogether; it involves a question as to whether this man has kept a certain bond. I said at the outset of my remarks that I did not propose to touch on that case at all. The question I am raising is, after this protest came from the Defence Department, after -the strong recommendation to the Minister to proceed against Blau for enemy trading, did the Minister proceed to take any action? No: he allowed Blau to go to America in spite of the protest of his responsible officers !
– What is the date of the report you are reading?
– It is dated the 4th January, and the appendices in the report are, firstly, extracts from a letter dated 23/10/14-
From Julius Blau and Sons, Sydney to Muhlens and Kropff, New York, asking that arrangements be made for Blau to meet either Muhlens or Lemcke from Cologne in America, when he goes there next January. He would like to discuss with them the manufacture of 4711 in Sydney.
Letter dated 15/11/14. - From Muhlens and Kropff, New York, to J. Blau and Sons, Sydney: - “We acknowledge receipt of your letter of 29th August, and have taken due notice of all your remarks. We at once transmitted a copy of your letter to Messrs. Muhlens, in Cologne. In accordance with your request we cabled you on 23rd September as follows: - ‘Send letters our care and sight draft on London payable to us. -Muhlens and Kropff.’ Of course, it is (self) understood that all remittances for Cologne which you send in our care are for the account of Eau de Cologne and Parfumerie, Fabrik No. 4711, Glochengasse, Cologne, Germany, and for which they will credit your account. Steps taken to obtain supplies from Germany and to make them up in America.”
These documents were in the possession of the Attorney-General when we allowed this man to go to America : -
Letter dated 30/11/14. - From H. Brackman,
Rotterdam, encloses letters from head office at Cologne, &c.
Letter dated 10/12/14. - From H. H.
Baggelaar, Amsterdam, to J. Blau and Sons, Sydney: - “I have read your favour of 19th August to Herr Wincklcr, and in consequence thereof have discussed with Wehry and Co. the question of supplying goods. They are prepared to purchase our goods on a permanent account, and to send them on via Batavia, yet they wish to proceed safely with regard to the payment. Wehry and Co. accordingly cabled you to-day. - ‘ We will supply payment against document Cologne water soap. If agreeing wire quantity.’ You can best send my credits to Wehry in Batavia; he will then send them on to me through his house there. I should be glad if you will remit a good big sum.”
Letter dated 26/12/14.- Muhlens and Kropff to Julius Blau and Sons: - “ Director Schutte, of the Cologne house, has made arrangement with an Amsterdam firm to send supplies of 4711 and soap to Blau, and cabled accordingly on 5/10/14 : - Any Cologne coming from Holland will be invoiced by a Dutch firm and sent you on a Dutch steamer. This Dutch firm will be the owner of the goods, because they have paid the house in Cologne in advance for them.’ Naturally these people want to be fully covered and they advise us that they will make shipments of any quantity of 4711 provided that the amount of the order is paid to us (M. and K., of N.Y.) before shipment is put on the steamer or against documents in Holland, where, of course, your banker would have to establish a credit.’ “
Postcard dated28/11/14, showing that E Winckler is acting as intermediary between Blau and the head office.
That was the case for the prosecution of Blau, as presented to the Attorney-Gene ral by the Commandant of New South Wales shortly before the Attorney-Gene ral persisted in giving this man liberty to visit America. The Department in Sydney was staggered. For instance
Colonel Wallack wired to the DefenceDepartment on the 14th January -
J23 re my 97/4/186 of the 4th inst. - Person named therein has booked passage to America by Sonoma on Saturday andhas publicly stated his intention of going. In view of my reports of 4th December and 4th January propose prevent him unless otherwise instructed.
There is a further protest from Colonel Luscombe, and then the final scene of the comedy took place on the steamer. The Military Department had not prepared the formal papers for this man’s departure, although urged by the AttorneyGeneral, in a personal letter, to do so. In justice to the Attorney-General, I should like to say that he intended to exact a bond sufficient to insure that the operations of Blau in America would not he such as would in any way detrimentally affect the Empire. But with the merits of that bond I do not propose to deal now.
– I propose to deal with it, though.
– What was the bond worth?
– It was worth £6,000 - more than you are worth., and that is not saying much.
– I could not give my opinion of what the bond is worth without discussing the pending case; but there is no occasion for heat in this matter. I should like to now trace this matter to the deck of the steamer Sonoma at the time when this man Blau turned up for departure. The report from Sydney, dated 18th January, reads -
Captain Bowie Wilson attended the departure of the Sonoma. On his arrival the Provost-Marshal introduced him to Mr.who said he was looking after Mr. Blau’s interests with respect to his getting permission to leave by the Sonoma. Mr.- showed to Captain Wilson a wire from Mr. Hughes stating that permission would be given, and also a letter, dated 14th inst., stating that the necessary permit had been posted, but Mr. – stated that the papers had not arrived. Mr.– then introduced Mr. Blau, and it was pointed out to them that Mr. Blau had not got the necessary permission, and that the Minister of Defence was the person required to give that permission. A general discussion then took place during which CaptainBowie Wilson, not knowing who Mr.– was,” asked Mr.– what his connexion was with the business of Julius Blau and Sons, and whetherhe was Mr. Blau’s secretary, to which Mr. – replied that he was not in the business, but was interested in this visit of Mr. Blau’s to America, in which statement Mr.
Blau concurred, and that he had interviewed both Mr. Pearce and Mr. Hughes several times in the matter, and that Mr. Pearce had told him that if Mr. Hughes was satisfied that he (Mr. Pearce) would be……
The report continues -
In view of the apparent decision of the Attorney-General that the evidence referred to in my 97/4/186 of 4th inst. does not amount to enemy trading, or attempting to trade with the enemy, I would suggest that a copy of the opinion on the case bo forwarded for the guidance of those officers who are looking after this section of the work of the Staff in this District.
I think that this is necessary, as the officers concerned, two of whom are barristers by profession, were of the opinion that the evidence disclosed a very clear case. It is impossible for these officers to carry out their duties properly without some knowledge of. what the Attorney-General wishes to be proved to constitute an offence
Blau reached America. While he was there warning began to flood upon the Customs Department from all parts of the world that the goods which were sought to be imported were really of enemy origin. The attitude that the Department adopted was that if the goods were accompanied by the usual consular certificate they must be admitted. A prominent firm in Sydney wrote to the Customs Department, and pointed out that the goods were bearing the same trade mark as were borne by the enemy goods imported prior to the war, namely, “ 4711,” which was, in Australia, the registered property of Ferdinand Muhlens, of Cologne, and that there must either be some fraud of origin involved in the importation of these goods, or some direct fraud against the Australian Trade Marks Act. The attitude of the Customs Department was a tribute to the ingenuity of red tape. It said, “ It is not for us, but for the aggrieved party to take action.” Heavens ! Why the “ aggrieved party “ is Ferdinand Muhlens, of Cologne, whose agent, Blau, was importing these goods! Not only that, but actual invoices and catalogues of the German firm, proving the fraud, were placed in possession of the Government. I have here a catalogue issued by the firm of Ferdinand Muhlens, of Cologne, with photos of the branch factories, and on the third page appears a beautiful illustration of the New York branch of the German house! Further, in the possession of the Government, before Blau went to America, was a letter from the American louse to Mr. Blau, the Sydney agent of the same Home house in Germany, describing the house in Cologne as the “ Mother house.”
– As it is.
– As it is. In spite of this fact, these goods arrived, and, by the same political instrumentality as had brought about the importer’s permission to leave Australia, -were passed through the Customs. The Minister will say, as he said to me before I submitted this motion, that this shipment was accompanied by the1 ordinary consular certificate.
– So it was.
– Then let me tell honorable members what one of the honorable gentleman’s own officers says on the question.
– No report was sent in dealing with what the honorable member is about to say.
– The Minister will find the report I am about to read amongst the papers; I have seen it myself. It is a report by Geo. A. Mitchell, Customs Officer, Sydney,’ dated 6th July this year, and presented to Mr. Synan, the Crown Law Officer, who was conducting some inquiry for the Attorney-General. This man states in paragraph 7 of his report -
An examination of the attached copies of invoices shows that .a correct British consular certificate of origin has not been obtained.
– I think the honorable member is wrong - I think a report has been obtained.
– I am quoting the report of an officer of the Customs, which was provided for the honorable gentleman’s own information. It is true that there is a further report by R. O’Loughlin, dated 21st July, 1915, amongst the Customs papers, but it does not contradict that which 1 have read. It is as follows : -
The invoice bore a declaration vised by the British Consul that the goods were of American manufacture.
This report does not say that the declaration was made by the Consul-General, but that some other person’s declaration had been vised - had been seen - by the British Consul in America. I do not know the ordinary forms, and I am not in a position to speak of them; but between the reports there is no inconsistency; one states that the usual form had not been obtained, and the other is careful to say that the declaration had been vised, not “ made,” by the Consul-General in America.
These goods were landed here, the first shipment by the Barotse, and the second last week ; and I have moved the adjournment of the House to-day in order to insure that no further shipments shall be landed. Yesterday, in conversation, the Attorney-General said, “You may rest assured that no further goods will be imported.” But, last night, the Minister of Trade and Customs showed by his attitude that, so far as he is concerned, he is still of a different opinion, namely, that these goods will have to be admitted.
There are two points I desire to make. In the first place, goods bearing an enemy trade mark ought not to be admitted to Australia under any conditions, whatever be the nature of the declaration that accompanies them. That is a rough and ready way of stopping enemy trade. Could there be a more abominable thought than that a man should, despite repeated warnings, be allowed to go to America, and, as a result, send money to Germany, where, perhaps, it would be used in turning out, in the adapted works of the “Mother House,” some of those ghastly poisons that have been spread over the field of battle?
– They seem to be capable of doing that.
– They are quite capable, and that sort of thing ought to be stopped now. A great deal of the trouble has, I think, occurred because there are too many Departments handling these matters. The Minister of Trade and Customs, apparently, does not even know of Mr. Geo. A. Mitchell’s report in Sydney.
– If it were a report to the Attorney-General, I certainly would nob know of it.
– Here are goods coming to Australia which are said to be not accompanied with the usual certificate, and one Department pigeon-holes the papers, and does pot hand them over to another Department, so that the proper thing may be done when the goods arrive !
There is another consideration. I have carefully refrained from mentioning any names outside those purely official, and for obvious reasons. All of us are liable to commit indiscretions, but I say with all my strength that we ought to be particularly careful against backing any enemy influence, or the influence of any enemy subject, in the carrying on of external trade during the war.
– You cannot make any accusation against the Attorney-General in that connexion, for I think he has been extra strict!
– I am not making accusations against any one, but am, I think, on the contrary, behaving very decently under the circumstances; indeed, I doubt whether the honorable member for Maribyrnong would be so considerate as I am. If a member has a constituent interested he might be forced into a position where he felt compelled to do something of the kind, by, perhaps, formally sending the matter on; but if a naturalised alien of enemy origin is not a constituent, a member has no real necessity to espouse his cause, and all of us ought to be particularly careful in the future to see that we do not mix ourselves vip in this sort of representation.
In all friendliness, I say to the Attorney-General that I think the Censor, and the Censor’s staff, are really the best judges as to who can safely be allowed to leave any particular port. In this case they did prepare a strong case against the man, and submitted it to the Attorney-General, but, apparently, the honorable gentleman was so concerned with representations as to what the man’s intentions were, that he let him go, despite the protests of the staff in Sydney. It is a pity the thing has happened, and I deem it my duty to bring the matter up. Obviously we ought to allow no dealing from now on in enemy trade marks, and, secondly, we should be very careful indeed before we depart from strong recommendations made by the Censor’s staff as to who ought to be allowed to leave Sydney, Melbourne, or any other port. In this particular instance, the case submitted against the man was, in my judgment, the strongest I have yet seen. I am not a lawyer, and my view may not be worth much, but, so far as my lay mind can appreciate the facts, it is the strongest case of enemy trading since the war broke out. No action was taken, and the man was permitted to go to America. Subsequently the Department asked the
Attorney-General for an opinion why the case had failed, and he would not, or could not, give one.
– That is not so. I did not give an opinion. Blau’s case was considered most carefully with the aid of the ordinary machinery that is used in all cases. We have had hundreds of cases, and wherever there has been a good chance of prosecution we have prosecuted.
– All I can say is that I myself asked the permanent Secretary of the Crown Law Department, Mr. Garran, why the Attorney-General’s opinion did not appear on the papers, and he told me that an opinion had not been given in writing, but that his impression was that the Attorney-General had given his verbal opinion that the case was not strong enough for a prosecution. I am grateful to honorable members for hearing me out, and I hope that the ventilation of the matter this morning will prevent any repetition of such cases.
– I am sorry that the honorable member for Wentworth has brought this matter up, but since he has done so, it is necessary that the facts should be stated. I should like to say at the outset that I have never had any doubt since Mr. Blau returned from America, that he violated, and deliberately violated, the spirit, if not the letter, of his sworn declaration and his undertaking to me that his object in visiting America was “ to purchase machinery for the manufacture of ‘ 4711 ‘ in Australia.” I have no doubt whatever, either that this “ 4711,” samples of which honorable members have seen, is, for all practical purposes, a German product ; or that, at any rate, part of the benefits and profits will go to Germany. I leave that part of the question with the expression of my opinion that I am not at all satisfied that these importations are either necessary or for the good of the country. I now come to the position of Mr. Blau, and the circumstances under which he was permitted to go to America. The honorable member stated that, because the Censor was of the opinion that Mr. Blau should not be allowed to leave Australia, I should have followed his advice. I cannot for one moment admit that the government of the country is to depend on the advice of the
Censor or any other official; the government of the country must be carried on by the Government. I gave very considerable attention to this case, and I acted in regard to it on the settled policy that has been pursued by my Department from the beginning. The object of that policy is to establish by every inducement at our disposal new industries in this country. This man, in a statutory declaration, made on the 31st December, set out the intentions of his visit to America, to purchase machinery to establish an industry for making “ 4711 “ in Australia. I invite honorable members to note the contents very carefully. They illustrate very clearly the kind of men we have to deal with. This is the one case in which, since I took office, I have accepted statements of this kind as reliable. The results are before honorable members. Mr. Blau, in his declaration, said: -
I, Julius Blau, of No. 233 Clarence-street, Sydney, in the State of New South Wales, Commonwealth of Australia, merchant, do hereby solemnly declare and affirm that-
I am the managing director of “Julius Blau and Sons Limited,” a company duly incorporated and registered in New South Wales under the Companies Act 1890 on the 8th dal, of October, 1910.
The whole of the capital of my company is held by myself, my wife, my two sons, Oscar and Robert, and my son-in-law, William James Curtis, barrister of the Supreme Court of New South Wales.
I am a Hungarian by birth, and with my sons all duly naturalised British subjects, some considerable time prior to the declaration of war between England and Germany.
My present financial position is that there is standing to my credit at the Bank of Australasia head office, Sydney, over six thousand pounds (£6,000). My business, stock, and plant is of a value exceeding ten thousand pounds (£10,000). Book debts, value five thousand pounds (£5,000). Liabilities, nil.
The object for which I am about to visit the United States of America is for the purpose of obtaining the necessary plant for the manufacture of perfumery and soap, and to engage a skilled chemist, to my approval, who will not be an alien enemy subject.
The class of plant will comprise the necessary machinery for manufacturing the above commodities, and, in particular, for filling, cleaning, and corking bottles, distillation equipment complete, mixing, drying, crushing, and stamping plant for soap, and the general accessories of and incidental to such factory.
The amount of capital to be invested in the plant will be approximately three thousand pounds (£3,000), and the amount of capital to be invested in the industry generally will be over six thousand pounds (£0,000).
The factory should, subject to the delivery of the plant, be ready to turn out the completed product during the month of April, 1915.
My reasons for stating that the perfume “4711 “ can be made here in accordance with the original secret formula is that I, personally and alone, in Australia, have the knowledge and control of this secret formula.
The amount of cash which I will carry with mc to America will be fifty pounds (£50), and a letter of credit not exceeding two hundred and fifty pounds (£250).
All goods purchased by me in America will bc paid for in Sydney, and the documents relating to these transactions may bc inspected by the authorities if required.
I hereby guarantee that no German influence, capital, or interest of any sort or kind whatsoever will be employed in connexion with my operations in America or the proposed business in Australia.
The new business will be an extension of and carried on by my present company, and will be entirely owned and controlled in Australia.
I hereby guarantee that during my absence from Australia I will not myself, nor as the agent or representative of others, nor will I, directly or indirectly, permit or sanction any other person on my behalf to communicate with an alien subject, nor make any arrangements whereby any enemy subjects may benefit or participate in any profits or benefits arising or accruing out of any venture or business in which I am or may hereafter be concerned.
That I will in all respects conduct myself as a loyal subject of the British Empire.
And I make this solemn declaration as to the matter aforesaid, conscientiously believing the same to be true, and by virtue of the provisions of the .Oaths Act 1900.
That was his statutory declaration. It is a quite clear and unambiguous pledge to establish an industry for the manufacture of “4711 “ in Australia. Subsequently, I insisted upon a bond being entered into that he would carry out this undertaking. The amount of the bond was fixed at the amount of his capital. The bond was to be in the terms of the declaration. After some demur, this was done, and on the 1st March Messrs. Laurence and Laurence, solicitors, in Sydney, cabled Mr. Blau to the effect that a bond for £6,000 in favour of the Commonwealth Government had been executed by his company in terms of his statutory declaration.
– But it was not executed in the exact terms.
– It was not. But it ought to have been. There was an unauthorized interpolation, as I shall show. The terms of the bond, as wired by Mr. Garran, the Secretary of the AttorneyGeneral’s Department, to our Sydney office, repeats the terms of the statutory declaration. The bond was made out by Mr. McHutchison, the head of the Sydney branch of my Department, in the terms of the statutory declaration, and was signed by Mr. Blau’s representative in the presence of his solicitors ; but it was sent, not to Mr. McHutchison, from whom it came, but to Melbourne to Mr. Castles, Crown Solicitor. Thus it went from a man who had never seen the bond when signed to one who had never seen it at all. In this way the interpolation was not detected. The opening paragraph of the bond as prepared by Mr. McHutchison was typed, and read as follows : -
Whereas Julius Blau, the managing director of the said company, has applied for permission to visit America for the purpose of obtaining plant for the manufacture of perfumery and soap, and engaging a skilled chemist, and permission has been granted to him…..
This was how the bond as drawn up by us read; but there was interpolated in writing by the partners in theBlau firm, or by their solicitors, after the words “ skilled chemist,” the following words : - and for the importation of perfumery and soap manufactured in America.
– What is the worth of the bond in those circumstances?
– That remains to be seen. Honorable members can readily understand how this occurred. The bond was drawn by my Sydney office in the terms of our instructions, and it was signed by Mr. Blau’s representative in the presence of his solicitor, and was then sent to my Melbourne office, which, not having seen the bond before, accepted it in good faith as that which had originally been sent for signature. These are the facts, and they speak for themselves. I was, and still am, of opinion that it was a most desirable and sound policy to encourage the manufacture of this article here, and I never contemplated, never approved, importations being made. Our policy was the very negation of that, namely, that the article should be made here. In order that I might see that Mr. Blau carried out the terms of his bond, we communicated with the British Consuls in New York and San Francisco; also Mr. Neilsen, and private inquiry agents were employed, and Mr. Blau’s movements were watched throughout his tour.
– That does not appear on the file.
– Yes, it does. The reports disclose these facts. Coming now to the importations of “ 4711.” On the 11th May I received a communication from the Melbourne Chamber of Commerce inclosing a copy of a letter sent to the secretary of the chamber, showing that Mr. Blau was giving people to understand that he had received permission from the Commonwealth AttorneyGeneral to import “4711” Eau de Cologne from the New York factory. I had never given any such permission. I was not aware that any importations were to be’ made. If I had I should have stopped them. I minuted this letter as follows : - Inquiries to be made re this matter. Sample bottle to be obtained. Customs to be asked for particulars of shipment. Blau to be asked whether he did say that Federal AttorneyGeneral gave him permission to import.
Mr. Blau wrote back to say that he had not said it. Time passed, and I assumed that no attempt would be made to import. But a week or two ago I was notified by the Department of Trade and Customs that a shipment of “4711” Eau de Cologne had arrived. I did not think that that shipment should be admitted, and I said so. However, I am concerned now with my own action in the matter, after I learned that Mr. Blau had imported goods. It is not a question of whether he was successful or unsuccessful in his efforts to get these goods in. The mere fact that he did not succeed in getting the goods admitted would have no effect on me. It is enough that he acted in direct contravention of his undertaking. I am satisfied that he never had the intention of carrying out his undertaking to go to New York for the purpose of obtaining plant for the manufacture of “ 4711 “ in Australia, but that he went there for the deliberate purpose of making arrangements for importing it. On 3rd August last I wrote Mr. Blau to this effect -
I have to direct your attention to the following facts with regard to your recent visit to the United States of America: -
On 30th November last you, being a naturalised British subject of Austrian birth, made an application to the Federal authorities to be allowed to visit America. You represented that the primary object of your visit was to secure the requisite machinery and plant, and to obtain a skilled chemist, for the purpose of manufacturing Eau de Cologne in Australia.
You also personally interviewed me, and clearly represented that the object of your visit to America was as stated above.
On the 31st day of December you made a statutory declaration, in which you declared, inter alia, as follows: - “ The object for which I am about to visit the United States of America is for the purpose of obtaining the necessary plant for the manufacture of perfumery and soap, and to engage a skilled chemist, to my approval, who will not be an alien enemy subject. The class of plant will comprise the necessary machinery for manufacturing the above commodities, and, in particular, for filling, cleaning, and corking bottles, distillation equipment complete, mixing, drying, crushing, and stamping plant, for soap, and the general accessories of and incidental to such factory. The amount of capital to be invested in the plant will be approximately three thousand pounds (£3,000), and the amount of capital to be invested in the industry generally will be over six thousand pounds (£6,000). The factory should, subject to the delivery of the plant, be ready to turn out the completed product during the month of April, 1915. My reasons for stating that the perfume “4711” can be made here, in accordance with the original secret formula, is that I, personally, and alone, in Australia, have the knowledge and control of this secret formula. . . . I hereby guarantee that no German influence, capital, or interest, of any sort or kind whatsoever, will be employed in connexion with my operations in America, or the proposed business in Australia. The new business will be an extension of, and carried on by, my present company, and will be entirely owned and controlled in Australia. I hereby guarantee that during my absence from Australia I will not myself, nor as the agent or representative of others, nor will I, directly or indirectly, permit or sanction any other person on my behalf to communicate with an alien subject, nor make any arrangements whereby any enemy subjects may benefit or participate in any profits or benefits arising or accruing out of any venture or business in which I am or may hereafter be concerned. That I will in all respects conduct myself as a loyal subject of the British Empire.”
On the 18th day of February last Julius Blau and Sons Ltd. entered into a bond for the sum of six thousand pounds (£6,000), the condition of which was that you, during your absence, should “ not engage or employ any enemy Influence, capital, or interest of any sort or kind whatsoever in connexion with your operations in America or your proposed business in Australia; and should not, directly or indirectly, communicate with any enemy subject, or make any arrangements whereby any enemy subject might directly benefit or participate in any profits or benefits arising out of any venture or business in which you might be concerned; that you should conduct yourself in all respects as a loyal British subject; and that the new business in connexion with which you were visiting America should be conducted as an extension of, and be carried on by, the said company, and be entirely owned and controlled in Australia.”
Notwithstanding these representations and your statutory declaration and bond, you made no arrangements for the manufacture of Eau de Cologne in Australia, and, so far as I know, made no attempt to make any such arrangements. On the other hand, you did make arrangements for the importation of Eau de Cologne from the United States.
A shipment of this has arrived. The bottles are absolutely identical in get-up and appearance with the get-up, appearance, trade mark, and label of those made in Germany, with the sole exception that in lieu of the name and address of Frederick Muhlens, of Cologne, is the name and address of Muhlens and Kropf, New York.
It is apparent that the conditions of the bond have not been fulfilled, and I propose to take action upon the bond forthwith.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
Several Honorable Members. - Let the Attorney-General have an extension of time.
– I am put in a difficult position every time a similar situation arises. Either the standing order should be altered, or an extension of time should be given to the honorable member speaking, in the usual way. However, as it seems to be the desire of the House that the Attorney- General should proceed, he may do so.
– I shall not trespass further upon the time of honorable members. Mr. Blau ascertained in some way what my policy was, namely, the encouragement of industries in Australia, and he made representations to me which I accepted in good faith. I took every precaution that was open to me to see that he carried out his promises, but I am now perfectly satisfied that he made no honest attempt to do so. I believe, on the contrary, that he went to America for the sole purpose of making arrangements for importations, never at any time having any real intention of doing anything else. It is not extraordinary that he should have acted in this way. The only extraordinary thing was that I should have imagined that, in. any circumstances, he could act in any other way. However, it is my intention to proceed against him on the bond. Whatever may be the technical position of Mr. Blau as an importer of
American goods, I do not think that these goods ought to be admitted, because, as has been pointed out in this letter of mine to him, and-by the honorable member for Wentworth this morning, they are, to all intents and purposes, the product of the Cologne firm. 1 shall confer with the Minister of Trade and Customs with the view to seeing whether it is possible to take such steps as are necessary to prevent the importation, but I should like to say that the certificate of the British Consul has been given that these goods are of American origin. The statement that the goods are of American origin must be considered, but my opinion was not come to lightly, and will not be altered lightly.
– Why was no mention made of the important interpolation in the letter sent by the honorable gentleman ?
– I only saw it when the first notice regarding the importation was before me, and at once gave instructions that the bond should be obtained with a view of proceeding thereunder.
.- For the information of the House, and for my own satisfaction, because I have no desire to masquerade under anonymity, let me announce that I am the Mr. Blank to whom reference has been made. Mr. Blau was introduced to me under the most favorable auspices by men for whom I have always had the greatest respect. I had not the slightest reason to suspect any malign intent, and until the contrary has been proved I shall not believe that there was any, so far as he was concerned. I do not accept mere assertions. Mr. Blau was told that he could go away under certain conditions. He complied with those conditions ostensibly, and he furnished a certificate regarding goods brought here with the sanction of the Department. If it can be proved that those goods were of German origin, let the full penalty of the law be exacted, but it is not enough merely to say that they were of German origin. The country is not to be roughridden by the Defence Department because its officers choose to suspect everybody. One of the leading citizens of Sydney was arraigned not long ago for transactions which he could not avoid, and in which he became involved before the war broke out. We cannot accept the dicta of the Defence authorities unquestioningly. The officer referred to by the honorable member for Wentworth was most offensive to me, and had he not worn the King’s uniform something different might have happened. I do not know if he is a personal friend of the honorable member.
– I do not think that I have ever met him. Certainly I cannot place him at this moment.
– From the way in which he behaved on the occasion, he might have been the Dictator of Australia. I should not have had anything to do with the matter had not the Attorney-General consented to Blau’s departure. I had no facts placed before me beyond the statements of personal friends, whom I had reason to trust, and as consent had been given to Blau’s departure, it was surely the decent and honorable thing to stand by him.
– Why did the honorable member assume that there was going to. be trouble at the steamer?
– I had the word of the Attorney-General that everything was right.
– Then there was no reason to go to the steamer.
– Blau had not received his papers, which were to be furnished by the Department. I was innocent of all that was taking place, but understood that everything was right.
– The honorable member had nothing to do with the AttorneyGeneral in connexion with the matter ?
– The Attorney-General accepted the statement of facts put before him. I am not prepared to go into the technical side of the question. I understand that developments occurred after the consent was given, which may have thrown a new light on the subject. But to these I had not been “ made wise,” and I have not yet been “ made wise to them.” The fact that a man is of alien origin is not prima” facie evidence of traitorous tendencies when he is a naturalized subject, and it is not a reason why he should receive other than the treatment of a citizen. If the case were otherwise, there are men in office who would have to be dismissed, and we could not render homage to our rightful Sovereign the King; because no one is more closely allied to German families, than he is.
– Why was ifc necessary for the honorable member to support this application in the first place?
– A member’s friends come to him knowing that he has the ear of Ministers. All I did was to introduce Blau to Ministers. I had no brief for him, but he was well spoken of to me, and I introduced him to the AttorneyGeneral and to the Minister of Trade and Customs, and, incidentally, to the Minister for the Navy, I think.
– Wo have ali done the same thing dozens of times.
– I take it that an honorable member is entitled to introduce to a Minister any one who is creditably presented to him who wishes to interview the Minister. That was my part in this matter. I should be very sorry indeed were it discovered that traitorous conduct had taken place, but I fail to see what other course I could have pursued. I was satisfied in my own mind that a man of alien origin, who was properly naturalized, was finding himself in considerable and apparently undeserved difficulties. Should the contrary be the case, the law must take its course, and I should be sorry for having had anything to do with the matter.
– The Customs Department takes action in regard to all enemy goods which it is sought to import, but if goods come from neutral countries, and the British Consuls resident in those countries have certified that the goods are genuinely of local manufacture, we must let the goods enter.
– Even if they bear an enemy trade mark ?
– The trade mark may be registered in Australia.
– It may be the property of a German.
– It is our duty as Australians to deal with that matter, but its discussion involves legal questions into which I shall not enter now. The Customs Department accepts the sworn declarations of British Consuls residing in neutral countries as to the place of origin of goods sent here from those countries. Of course, if Parliament were to say that nothing should come from a neutral country about the origin of which there was any doubt, the position of the Customs Department would be an easy one.
No doubt was thrown upon the Consul’s declaration in the case under discussion.
– There was Mr. George Mitchell’s special report.
– The night before the papers were made available, I said that if the original invoice and the consular certificate were required, they would have to be obtained from Mr. Blau, being his property, though I understand that we could get them again by the exercise of the powers given by the Customs Act. The Customs Department does not wish to facilitate enemy trading, but it cannot hold up goods which are the production of neutral countries. The Customs Act gives power to prohibit the importation of articles, and if there were doubt as to origin, this provision could be put into force; but we must accept consular certificates to the effect that the goods to which they relate are of neutral manufacture.
– In this case the Consul did not swear that the goods were of American manufacture.
– Yes; he swore that they were bond fide of American manufacture. His declaration was to the effect that he was satisfied that they were of American production. On one of the bottles which the honorable member for Wentworth has produced, the words “ Made in America “ are blown.
– That statement refers to the bottle itself.
– What about its contents?
– I think that the British Consul in New York would not declare that the goods were of American production if they came from Germany.
– He did not declare that the goods were of American production.
– Eau de Cologne is made in Great Britain.
– It is made in considerable quantities in Adelaide. None of us has any desire to facilitate improper trading, but the Customs Department ought not to hold up goods which are genuinely of neutral origin, and thus risk the mulcting of the Commonwealth in damages.
– As Mr. Mitchell, an officer of the Customs Department, stated that the goods had not the consular certificate, why was not his view taken ?
– I did not see that statement.
– It was made on the 6th July, before the importation.
– It was made to the AttorneyGeneral for the purposes of a prosecution, and was not sent to the Customs Department. I did not hear of it until this morning.
– Should not the Minister have been informed of it?
– Possibly ; but as the person in charge of the prosecutions for trading with the enemy is a Customs official, I suppose that Mr. Mitchell thought that, when reporting to him, it was not necessary to send a duplicate of the report to the head office. The instruction has been issued that before any other shipment of Eau de Cologne, 4711, is handed over to Mr. Blau, or to any one in Australia, care must be taken to ascertain that not only the bottles in which it is contained, but the scent itself, has been manufactured in Great Britain or in an allied or neutral country.
– America- was only a blind in this case.
– If Parliament declares that we are not to trade with America, that will make things easy. I believe that America was only a blind in regard to the exportation of merino wool and other commodities, which I stopped.
– I think that the Minister was right in that case.
– Some honorable members did not think so. The Customs Department has taken, and will continue to take, all precautions to prevent the importation from neutral countries of goods which are of enemy origin.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta) £12.0]. - The discussion so far has justified to the full the ventilation of this matter, if only for the purpose of putting an end to this kind of sinister trading in the future. There are some very peculiar features surrounding the whole case, about which I knew nothing until it was ventilated here this morning. These are the points which have struck me from Ministers’ own admissions: There is first the admission of the AttorneyGeneral that, notwithstanding that he was firmly convinced in his own mind that Blau was a fraud, and was going away for sinister ends-
– No; I said the opposite. I said I believed, when I gave him permission, that he was going away for the purpose of establishing an industry in Australia. It was for that reason I gave him permission, but since then I have come to the conclusion that he did not intend to do anything of the kind.
– I am glad to be corrected, but there is still the other point that the honorable member should have set aside all the declarations made to him by his officers, and by the officers of the Defence Department after full and complete investigation, and still given the man permission to go.
– If it had been possible to get him for trading with the enemy, we should have got him, but we could not.
– I sympathize with my honorable friend in view of the fact that he had a good and pertinacious supporter, equally insistent, and pleading in perfect good faith that Blau should be given this one chance at any rate. But the trouble was that he took the advice given to him by his friend and ignored the whole of the official advice of the Department. That appears to have been the first mistake made, but others equally mysterious followed. The honorable member knew for a long time before any of the goods came here that they ought not to come. Did he communicate with the Customs Department in the matter ? Apparently not, because the Minister of Customs appeared months afterwards to be as innocent as he was before, although the AttorneyGeneral had the knowledge in his possession.
– The Customs Department was competent to deal only with the law as it stood, and not with the policy as a whole.
– Even the Minister of Customs acted right in the teeth of the advice of his own responsible officers.
– The Sydney officer did not report to the Minister of Customs; he reported to the Attorney-General.
– Why did he report direct to the Attorney-General, and not through his own Minister? Why did he keep his own Minister in the dark concerning this very important matter while he kept the AttorneyGeneral in the light?
– I could not say. I do not know that that is so.
– The Minister of Customs has just said that he never heard of the report until this morning.
– All I know is that, as soon as I heard of it, I asked Mr. Mills not to let the goods in.
– Altogether apart from enemy trading, this matter throws a strange light on the interorganization of the Departments. Apparently a Minister may he kept in ignorance by his own officers concerning great international matters. Another singular point is the alteration of the bond, which even the Attorney-General knew nothing about. The alteration was made in the bond by an officer in his own Department in Sydney.
Mr.Hughes. - I take the responsibility for that. It might have happened to anybody. The alteration was made very cunningly.
– I understood that it was done by the Crown Solicitor in Sydney.
– My office in Sydney drew the bond, and handed it to the solicitor. Blau signed it in the presence of his solicitor, and it was then sent on to Mr. Castles instead of being sent back to the man who drew it. Consequently we never noticed the interpolation.
– Who made the alteration in Sydney ?
– The solicitor, or, I believe, Blau himself.
– Then I understand that the Attorney-General’s own officer was totally ignorant of the alteration which was made by Blau and Blau’s solicitor 1
– That is so.
– Then it was an infamous proceeding. I ask the AttorneyGeneral’s friend in this Chamber to take note of the fact. Will he still say that he believes Blau is innocent in face of the fact that he deliberately altered an official document without the cognisance of the officers of the Department?
– It was the two young Blaus who signed it.
– Blau was away in America at the time.
– The honorable member should be fair.
– Fair ! I think we ought all to be fair to a gentleman of this kind ! If we are fair to him we ought to take care that he is placed beyond the possibility of doing anything of the sort again. The trouble is that we have been too fair to him. The whole proceeding is most infamous, and there has been an almost inexplicable concatenation of blundering in both the Departments. 1 should regard the alteration of the bond as an act of criminality. Of course those responsible may plead that Mr. Castles, to whom it was sent, should have seen the alteration, and noted it if he did not agree with it.
– Here is the telegraphic bond. This is what they had to sign.
– I have no doubt about it. There has been blundering in both Departments on the part of officers who certainly ought to have known better, and the matter ought to be inquired into from that point of view. If Ministers are to be made the playthings of officers in this way, and to be held responsible for official blundering twice or th rice repeated in one single instance, no Minister will be safe, and the whole affair throws a curious sidelight on the organization of the Departments themselves. However, let us be thankful that this kind of thing is at an end. It is the clearest of all cases of enemy trading, and we may hope that now it has been exposed, and the details inquired into and investigated as they have been this morning, an end will be put to similar cases. There is too much of this kind of thing going on in all the countries that are at war, and the only thing to do is to follow it up and hunt it out. Both Ministers may regard themselves as singularly unfortunate in having been treated in this way concerning important documents by high officers in each of the Departments. It is unfortunate that the Attorney-General let the man go away in the face of the reports of the officers who were investigating the matter. They may have been a little too downright and peremptory with my honorable and learned friend, but I have no doubt that they had fully satisfied themselves that the man was after no good, and reported accordingly.
– As I said, the only reason actuating me in giving him permission to go was that he proposed to establish an industry here.
– The curious thing is that the Minister of Customs tells us that the industry is already established in Australia.
– There are hundreds of Eau de Cologne being manufactured.
– The proposal may have been to establish some particular phase of its manufacture. They make a very good perfume here, but it is not 4711.
– That is only a trade mark.
– The fact remains that when the Attorney-General decided to let Blau go, the officers of the Defence Department were so satisfied in their minds of the clearness of the case that they remonstrated, and urged him to reconsider the matter. However, he went, and then followed the other succession of blunders, which can only be regarded as very unfortunate indeed. I trust that the discussion this morning will make a recurrence of such cases impossible.
– I am not sorry that the discussion has taken place. As the honorable member for Wentworth knows, immediately he brought forward the case 1 said frankly to him and to the House that every paper would be made fully available, and every facility given for investigation. The Government and Ministers have been attacked from two points of view in regard to these matters. On the one hand we have been told that they are strict and unfair in applying the law relating to enemy subjects. We have been attacked mostly on the ground that we are treating well-meaning men too harshly. Today we have an allegation of the very opposite character in regard to a case in which the Attorney-General has undoubtedly shown a great desire to treat generously a naturalized citizen of the Commonwealth who has been living in our midst for a long time.
– He told me he was a native of Hungary. If he had said he was a native of Germany he would not have received permission under any circumstances.
– There is a good deal to be said for Hungarians in one sense, but there is nothing to be said for ourselves as a Government if we do not take care to protect ourselves against every person, no matter what may be his country of origin, who is seeking to advantage himself at our expense. I make no statement of what my judgment and opinion are regarding the man, who is the subject of this discussion to-day. The evidence produced is not such as I should have expected to follow from the kindly act performed by the Attorney-General, and later by the Minister of Trade and Customs. Blau was treated with great generosity and consideration, and in return he has altered documents. He has imported goods which bear the certificate of the British Consul in America.
– That is questioned.
– At any rate, the unabridged document is attached to the papers.
– But a man who would alter one document would forge another.
– He has produced a certificate from a British Consul in America, and such a certificate is as good as law to us. A Government who would hold up such a certificate, unless they were in the possession of absolutely clear evidence to justify their action, would be guilty of an offence of a serious nature.
– Does not the right honorable member think that no goods which bear an enemy-owned trade mark should be permitted to be imported ?
– That would probably be a sound principle to operate on, but would the honorable member apply it in regard to. material from a neutral country contained in bottles or packing cases such as had formerly contained goods of enemy origin ? A very difficult point is involved, although in general the principle the honorable member has suggested might operate.
– You must either abolish enemy ownership of a trade mark or prohibit its use in Australia.
– I think that I should hold up all goods until a thorough investigation of their character had’ been made. That is the only safe course to follow, but we ought not to condemn the persons involved until an investigation is made.
– Have you not had investigation enough about that document?
– The Attorney-General, like myself, has few spare moments, and his opportunities of looking into documents are limited. It seemed a mistaken and insufficient act on the part of the Customs officer if he advised the AttorneyGeneral in regard to these goods, and not advise his own Minister. Such a course must lead to endless difficulties, although when points affecting the law relating to enemy subjects are involved the documents must reach the Attorney-General, because it i3 the duty of the Law Department to determine the liberty of the individual.
– There is no evidence that the officer did not inform the Comptroller of Customs.
– There is no evidence in the papers that he did.
– I believe he did.
– We have laid down the rule that no person is to be deprived of his liberty as an enemy subject without the authority of the AttorneyGeneral. That is a safeguard in all our legislation dealing with enemy subjects. It is a sound principle to which we should adhere, because although tlie Defence Department may act immediately and detain persons, the only Department that can determine whether an individual is to be deprived of his liberty is that controlled by the Attorney-General. It is unfortunate, however, that the Minister of Trade and Customs was not advised by ‘his officer in this matter, although the Attorney-General says that the ComptrollerGeneral may have been advised.
– It was the ComptrollerGeneral who spoke to me.
– In a matter of such importance the Comptroller-General ought to have advised the Minister immediately, and that he did not do so is a matter for regret. The discussion this morning will be helpful to the Government, and also to members of Parliament. In the past we have had a very free and easy style of dealing with enemy subjects and everybody else. We welcomed strangers with both hands, and treated them as friends. I am rather inclined to think that picnics of enemy subjects were held in the vicinity of the principal defences of Australia just in order that they might satisfy themselves as to how they looked. The days of such incautiousness are past, And although this great war will be costly in blood and treasure, it will serve a good purpose in awakening us to a sense of the responsibility which falls upon those who are clothed with authority. I thank the honorable member for bringing the matter forward in this fashion, and I am grateful for the way in which the subject has been discussed. Nobody doubts the iona fides of the Minister for a moment. Whatever has been done was prompted by a desire to help somebody who was thought to be honest and straightforward. The Government have received the worst of the deal, but in the end the country will bene’ fit from the disclosures which have been made.
.– I desire to say a few words on this question, because I raised a point of order when the honorable member for Wentworth introduced the subject. What has transpired since warrants the contention I then made. I will not say that the matter involved is not one of great public importance, but whether the motive in bringing it forward was entirely disinterested I am not prepared to state. To my mind, this question is to some extent sub judice, and as the Attorney-General has stated that a prosecution is about to be instituted, the matter will be threshed out much more openly in the Court, and receive greater publicity than by the discussion this morning. In regard to the importation of “ 4711,” I am entirely in sympathy with the desire of the Government to establish factories of all kinds in Australia, but if the quality of the Eau de Cologne to be manufactured locally is not better than that of the imported article, I do not think the establishment of the industry will be of any benefit to Australia. I bought some “ 4711 “ Eau de Cologne not long ago, and I formed the opinion that it was of very inferior quality. At any rate, I will buy no more of it. The right honorable member for Parramatta seemed to entirely misunderstand a statement made by the Attorney-General. What the Minister said was that this was the only occasion on which he had believed a. man of enemy origin. The statement in regard to the interpolation of certain words in one of the documents should bo sifted to the bottom, and the man responsible should be punished as severely as the law allows.
, - The Attorney-General made it clear to the House that he accepted the statement of the German Blau before that of his own officers. The Minister has shown that the administration of the law is not satisfactory. If we leave the administration of the law in the hands of men who will allow a foreigner trading with the enemy to ride roughshod over our Statutes as Blau has done, and place himself outside the possibility of the Government recovering damages, we shall be in a dangerous position. Such a state of affairs should be rectified at once. The Attorney-General stated that he accepted Blau’s evidence before that of his officers.
– I did not.
– That is the effect of what occurred. The Attorney-General’s statement gave one the impression that he had accepted the statement of this foreigner in preference to the advice of his officers.
– That is not true.
– The alteration of the bond justifies that view. That is the inference which any man would draw from the Attorney-General’s statement.
Debate interrupted under standing order 119.
asked the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
In view of the question re the date of the Rev. J. B.Ronald’s first application not being answered, will the Minister for Defence have inquiries made, and give the date of the Rev. J. B. Ronald’s first typewritten application offering his services to go to the front?
– The only typewritten application on record in this Department from the Rev. J. B. Ronald is dated 14th July, 1915.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
asked the Minister of
Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The men engaged upon public works in South Australia are employed by the State Works Department. I am not aware of what was done there in connexion with Australia Day, but may say it was not one of the Commonwealth’s statutory or approved holidays, nor recognised as such in the Federal offices and works throughout Australia.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Will he furnish a list of Germans and Austrians now in the employ of the Federal Government, including contractors, showing positions held and salaries with emoluments paid?
– Section 26 of the Public Service Act provides that no person shall be admitted to the Public Service unless he is a natural born or naturalized subject of His Majesty; except with the permission of the Governor-General. So far as I am aware there are no enemy subjects in the employ of the Federal Government.
asked the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
Is it the intention of the Minister of Defence to authorize the issue of badges to those who have offered for active service with the Australian Imperial Expeditionary Forces and failed to pass the prescribed tests?
– It is not contemplated to issue badges to rejected volunteers. A certificate is now being issued to all persons rejected, provided they apply for same at the time of undergoing medical examination for enlistment in the Australian Imperial Force.
– Yesterday I promised the honorable member for Lang to make a statement as to the treatment of our troops on the transports, with particular reference to the food provided. I may tell the House that the agreement that we had with the shipping companies is the most stringent that could possibly be drawn, and that it is all in favour of the troops. Honorable members will see, from the statement that I shall make, what the soldiers are given for breakfast, dinner, tea, and supper, and must come to the conclusion that everything is of the best, fit for any person to sit down to. In proof of this several menu cards that have been sent back to me by soldiers are attached. The statement is as follows: -
In compliance with your instructions, I beg to submit the following report regarding the victualling of troops on board H.M.A. Transports : -
The vessels which are engaged in the transportation of troops from Australia can be classified under two heading, viz. : -
Vessels owned or chartered by private companies; and
“Prize” ships, i.e., German vessels which were seized in Australia on the outbreak of war.
In thecase of the transports which are privately owned, the victualling of the troops is arranged for by the owners or agents of the vessels, and a certain sum of money per head is paid by the Commonwealth Government for this service. The amount in question differs in the case of officers, non-cominissioned officers, and men, and the scale of diet differs accordingly. In order to insure that the interests of the Commonwealth and the welfare of the troops will be conserved, the owners or agents of every transport which conveys troops from Australia to Egypt and other places are obliged to enter into a legal contract with the Minister regarding the victualling of the troops. An extract from the agreement referred to (which is known as the Victualling Agreement) is as follows: - “ 1. The owners shall provide and carry out the victualling of officers and female nurses (if any) (hereinafter referred to as the first class), sergeants (hereinafter referred to as the second class), and men (hereinafter referred to as the third class) conveyed in the said ship in accordance with the following terms and conditions : -
- The victualling for the first class shall consist of breakfast, luncheon, dinner, and tea, each such meal having a suitable and well-kept table liberally and amply supplied with articles of diet of the best description and quality equal in every way to the meals provided in first-class passenger ships;
The victualling for the second class shall consist of breakfast, luncheon, dinner, and tea, each such meal having a good and respectable table equal in every respect to the meals provided for second-class passengers in passenger ships;
The victualling for the third class shall consist of breakfast, dinner, tea, and supper, liberally and amply supplied with articles of diet thoroughly good, well cooked (where cooking is necessary), and of wholesome quality, equal in every way to meals provided for third-class passengers in passenger liners. The Example Menu set out m Schedule “A” hereto shall be the standard and basis required for the victualling to be provided for the third class. The supper required to be provided shall consist of biscuits, butter, and cheese, as therein set out.
In supplying meals in accordance with the menu set out in Schedule “ A “ hereto for the third class the contractors shall, in the aggregate, provide not less than the quantities
The quantities of articles in the above scale are only laid down as the minimum quantities of certain staple articles which must be included in the meals provided.”
Schedule “ A “ referred to in paragraph 3 above is embodied in the agreement, and is as follows : -
In the case of the “ Prize “ ships, these vebsels are manned by officers appointed by the Commonwealth, and the provisions are supplied from the Victualling Depots at either Sydney or Melbourne. Due precaution is taken that the proper amount of provisions is placed on board, and the master of each vessel is responsible to the Naval Board for the victualling of the troops in the same manner as the owners of the privately-owned transports are liable under the victualling agreement.
In order to guarantee that the quality of foodstuffs placed on board transports in Australia is up to standard, all the provisions placed on board for the use of troops on the voyage are examined by inspectors of the Public Health Department in the State in which they are shipped, and if the provisions do not comply with the Pure Food Acts in the particular State, or if there is anything to indicate that they are likely to deteriorate to any appreciable extent on the voyage, they are promptly condemned, and instructions are at once issued to the effect that the foodstuffs in question are to be removed and replaced by articles of the required standard quality. Whenever a transport calls at a port in a State other than that in which provisions have been placed on board, the master of the transport is obliged to produce to the Inspectors of the Public Health Department at that port a certificate to the effect that the provisions on board have already been examined and passed by the Inspectors in the State in which the goods were shipped. This procedure reduces to the absolute minimum the possibility of foodstuffs of an inferior quality leaving Australia in troopships for the use of troops.
Payment for the victualling of troops conveyed from Australia is made on production of a certificate signed by the Commanding Officer of the troops to the effect that the victualling has been carried out in an efficient manner, and in accordance with the terms of the Victualling Agreement. That the owners of the transports have loyally carried out their portion of the contract is evidenced by the fact that not one single case has been reported in which the necessary certificate of the Commanding Officer of the troops was not given.
The Department of the Navy does not provide for the victualling of invalided troops back to Australia in vessels which did not leave these shores as transports. This is, presumably, arranged for by the Imperial Authorities, but when the troops return in a vessel which was requisitioned in Australia as a transport, the Victualling Agreement, of course, still holds good, and must be observed. Complaints recently appeared in the press regarding the victualling of the returned invalid troops on a certain vessel. The vessel in question was not one ofH.M.A. transports, and I am not aware what arrangements regarding victualling were made at the port of embarkation.
The following copies of menu cards, which have been selected at random, are typical of the class of victualling which is provided for troops on H.M.A. transports : -
Grilled Bump Steak.
Fried Pork Sausages.
Bread, Butter, Preserves, Tea.
Haricot Ox Tail.
Boast Beef. Boiled Mutton.
Roast and Boiled Potatoes.
Stewed Steak and Carrots.
Grilled English Kippers.
Grilled Bump Steak.
Grilled Kidneys and Bacon.
Fried Eggs. Boiled Breakfast Bacon.
Chipped and Mashed Potatoes.
Cold - Roast Beef. Boast Mutton.
Tea. Preserves. Coffee.
Fruit in Season.
Ragout of Veal.
Boast Haunch of Mutton, Bed Currant Jelly.
Corned Ox Tongue.
Bengal Curry and Bice.
Boast and Boiled Potatoes.
Plum Pudding and Brandy Sauce.
Grilled Loin Mutton Chops.
Steak and Mushroom Pie.
Fried and Snow Potatoes. (Cold Viands.)
Roast Beef. Potted Head. Boast Mutton.
Troopship “ B.”
Grilled Steak and Onions, Chipped Potatoes.
Bubble and Squeak.
Bread, Butter, Marmalade, Tea, Coffee, Cocoa.
Saute of Babbit. Corned Pork.
Potatoes. Boiled Onions.
Currant Pudding, Sweet Sauce.
Cheese, Biscuits, Bread, Butter.
Cold - Boast Beef. Cumberland Ham.
Cucumber and Onion Salad. Pickles.
Bread, Butter, Jam, Marmalade, Tea.
Cheese, Biscuits, Bread, Butter, Cocoa.
Grilled Mutton Chops and Steaks.
Fried Tomatoes. Chipped Potatoes.
Tomato Omelette. Hashed Poultry.
Bubble and Squeak. Curry and Bice.
Cold -Roast Leg of Mutton.
Stewed Figs and Bice.
French Bolls. Toast.
Iced Tea and Coffee.
Tea. Coffee. Cocoa.
Macaron au Graton.
Cold. - Roast Ribs of Beef. Roast Quarter of
Galantine of Veal.
Cambridge Brawn. Bolonga Sauce.
Jacket Potatoes. Salad.
Bice Pudding. Marlborough Leakes.
Cheese - Cheddar, Gorgonzola.
Consomme. Islandaise. Boiled Hake
Fricassee of Veal a la Poulette.
Peas a la Yorkshire.
Boast Bibs of Beef. Horseradish
Boiled Shoulder of Mutton. Onion Sauce
Cold. - Oxford Brawn
Baked and Boiled Potatoes. Cabbage
Apple Tart (cold). Scotch Shortbread.
Before concluding, I desire to place on record the very valuable assistance which has been rendered to the Department of the Navy by the inspectors of the Public Health Department in the various States. These officers have been most careful and painstaking in the course of their investigations, and the satisfactory manner in which the troops have been victualled is, to a large extent, due to their strict surveillance over the quality of the foodstuffs placed on board.
Fleet Paymaster, K.A.N
Director of Naval Stores, Victualling and Contracts. 19th August, 1915
In Committee of Supply : Debate resumed from 19th August (vide page 5969), on motion by Mr. Fisher - .
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.
– During the five years I have been a member of this House I have never taken so early an opportunity to speak on the Budget or any financial statement, though I make no apology for speaking to-day. I should not have risen at all but for the fact that for some time the Conservative press, and Conservative politicians outside, have been advocating what they call “ economy.” I have listened to the right honorable member for Swan, who is an ex-Treasurer, to the right honorable member for Parramatta, who is an ex-Prime Minister, and to the honorable member for Balaclava, who is the future Leader of the Opposition and the past State Treasurer, and, of course, they having given us the benefit of their experience, we have to give some consideration to their words. I have never had the pleasure or honour of being a Prime Minister or a Treasurer, either in this or any other Parliament, but, in common with those I represent, I have had a most unfortunate experience in suffering, owing to the want of financial knowledge and administrative capacity on the part of those gentlemen. The whole trend of their contention is that we must economize, and the whole of the press of Australia is preaching the same message.
– “ Sack “ the workers!
– Those honorable gentlemen commence only at one end of their economy, and that is at the end where the workers are. But these exMinisters are blind - they have never gained from experience. In the interval between the financial crash, during the regime of the Patterson Government in Victoria in 1893, and six or seven years ago, this State managed to resuscitate itself to a degree. But it was through the cheese-paring policy of the Patterson Government and succeeding Governments that this State was thrown into a condition of financial chaos. The crisis was just as keen in every other State, but the smash and its consequent terror in Victoria were occasioned by the Patterson Government listening to silly cries for economy - cries from fools who knew no more about business than a child unborn. Private firms were encouraged to economize, and as a result we had the financial crash. A time of crisis is a time for a Government to be bold, and assist the community, rather than to take steps which will have the effect of dragging it down. The honorable member for Balaclava, when Treasurer and Premier of Victoria, suffered from the legacy of the unjustifiable parsimony left by preceding Governments. This silly policy of saving completely disrupted the State railways system.
– There were more accidents in Victoria than in New South Wales.
– Of course. Six or seven years ago we had a bountiful harvest, but in the spirit of “ economy “ the permanent way and rolling stock had been allowed to deteriorate to such an extent that the traffic could not be handled. The very man that the State Government brought from America to carry out the policy of economy knew that he was impairing the efficiency of the railway system, but he did what he was told. In the right honorable member for Swan we have one of. the old order of Treasurers, and he contends that we could do without taxation on the present occasion if we were to economize. I will say for the honorable member for Balaclava, however, that he advises care in the exercise of economy. In 1893, owing to the unfortunate policy then adopted, I, along with thousands of my fellow Victorians, was driven to other States for a living - all owing to that silly - I was going to say damnable - system called “economy.” Those at the head of affairs are supposed to be men who understand finance and business, but they starved the workers of Victoria, and ruined business men by the thousand. In 1893 the harvest was so plentiful that wheat was selling at ls. 7d. and ls. 8d. per bushel, and yet there was penury and misery in our midst owing to the causes I have indicated. In a time of crisis, a Government worthy of its name should look to the interests of thepeople, and not cast them aside to starve. It should not disrupt business, but should foster it by a bold policy. Consider the difference between New South Wales and Victoria. The crisis was just as bad in New South’ Wales as in Victoria, but when the - crash approached the “ dear old men “ in the Upper House in New South Wales sat up all night and passed a Bill which saved the situation, and the Government of the State, realizing the stress that was coming upon the State, and that the credit of business men was disappearing, adopted a bold borrowing policy which made credit so good in New South Wales that thousands of people left Victoria for that State. Victorian Ministers did not possess the sense to abandon their cheeseparing policy and adopt a bold policy, and the only thing that saved Victoria was the discovery of gold in Western Australia. For eight or ten years the gold-fields of Western Australia kept the people of Victoria from starving. The figures in the financial statement before us are appalling. After increasing our annual expenditure from £15,000,000 to £24,000,000 we find ourselves approaching an expenditure of £80,000,000. I do not talk lightly of this expenditure; I regard it with all necessary seriousness, and I know that it will take all the genius of the Treasurer, and all the support of the people of Australia, to bring us through the time that is ahead of us, but what a senseless proposal is the suggestion that when our total expenditure is close upon £80,000,000 we should lop off the £3,000,000 provided for works.
– That was not suggested. The right honorable member for Swan merely proposed that the expenditure upon works should be transferred from revenue to loan.
– Honorable members talk about economy, and the first economy they would practise would be to wipe out projected works.
– The honorable member is wrong in making that statement.
– There is nothing new in the suggestion. For generations similar proposals have been put forward and carried out, just as they will be put forward in the future by members of the political opinion of those on the other side of the Chamber when any financial crises occur in our history. Out of an expenditure of over £75,000,000, they seek to lop off the proposed expenditure on works. It is such a small amount when compared with the vast expenditure of the year, that lopping it off would have no more effect upon the financial situation than the bite of a flea on an elephant’s neck, while at the same time it would bring misery, not only to the workers who support us on this side of the Chamber, but also to the business men who always vote for those on the opposite side - they would feel it just as acutely as the workers. Economy is necessary, and the money that we might save by lopping off expenditure upon works could easily be saved by a careful consideration of the expenditure of the balance of the total estimated expenditure for the year. Millions of pounds are wasted. The fact that I sit behind the Ministry does not prevent me from criticising their actions or their administration. Much economy could be exercised in regard to the enormous amount of money that has been spent by the Defence Department. I can give dozens of cases where money could be saved, and where it would be true economy to do so. The Department has allowed scoundrels to buy horses at £16 per head, some of which have had to be sold afterwards for 5s. That is one instance in which economy should be practised. The Government are spending millions of pounds upon defence stores. Let them watch the expenditure on stores. In this House on a previous occasion I exposed the rather peculiar system under which these stores are regulated, and I make the assertion that we are being robbed of hundreds of thousands of pounds during the course of this war.
– Does the honorable member know it from his own knowledge?
– The honorable member was in the House when I brought the matter up. The money that is being wasted without giving us corresponding efficiency in regard to the training of our new brigade and our reinforcements is appalling. During the recent three weeks’ recruiting rush, men whose physical incapacity was apparent to any person running along the street were accepted and sent into camp, and fitted out with overcoats, underclothing, &c, only to be let go at the end of three weeks. A thousand men have been sent back from the front who have cost us hundreds of pounds each. I asked a question last night in regard to the medical fraternity at the front. These men are fools, and not fit to hold their positions, because they have. 3ent back from the front dozens of men who are but sufferers from the ordinary complaint of gonorrhoea. I understand that any doctor should be able to cure this complaint in Egypt, without having to send back to Australia as criminals men who have cost us hundreds of pounds each. Here is another direction in which economy could be exercised without any need to lop off the expenditure on works. Men with ordinary ailments have been sent back from the front as unfit, though during the recent recruiting campaign men with worse complaints have been accepted. Hundreds of men have been sent back from the front because they could not be made as obedient as the British Tommy is. These men, if they had had their opportunity at Gallipoli, would have assisted in making a name for Australia, but these asses sent them back. There was an affray in my constituency. Men on their way to the front, with the desire to emulate their fellows at Gallipoli, were brought down by boat from New South Wales, and what was more natural than that they should expect to be permitted to come ashore at Port Melbourne? But the adjective asses who run the Defence Department muddled matters, and the men could not get leave, and so they revolted. We cannot handle
Australians as the British soldier can be handled, because the Australian is not reared to it. Yet how did the Department punish these men? What did the Minister of Defence say that he would do to these men who were in revolt? He said, “ I will not let them go to the front “ - after all the expenditure incurred in training them. At Seymour I saw men who would fight brick walls if they could not get Germans to fight, yet after expending all this money on training these men, our silly system says, “We will not let them go to the front,” in order to punish’ them. If the Defence Department was run by individuals who knew how to handle men, and who would take hints and suggestions from those who come forward and give them, they could economise, but they do not need to be told anything, because “ they know everything.” Our medical arrangements in our camps are so abominable, so inefficient, and so glaringly inefficient that I cannot understand how any one visiting the camps has not conceived some method by which things could be done better. When the honorable member for Nepean in this Chamber made his statements with regard to the Liverpool Camp, many people thought he had struck a mare’s nest, but we have the same thing in Victoria in every camp. In February last I endeavoured to get the Defence Department to spend a few hundred pounds on improvements at Broadmeadows, but they would not do it, and afterwards had to waste thousands of pounds at Seymour. There is either inefficiency in management, or the men who are managing the camp at Seymour cannot get the supplies that they requisition. For instance, there is a square platform and a round tent, and when the rain falls on the platform outside it runs under the tent and wets the men inside. The latrines had no supports, so that men fell into them ; and the men were allowed to go four days without being paid. But when I told the Minister of these things, all he said was that the men ought to be at home with their mothers. That is not the way to run the show. One can complain and give hints and suggestions, but they are never accepted. My belief is that if honorable members opposite had been in office, the same set of circumstances would have occurred.
– How does the honorable member know that ?
– When Senator Millen was Minister of Defence he tried as hard as ever a man could try to carry into effect what I desired, but it was not done. We have also the case of the Melbourne Show Grounds, where the men ought never to have been put. If the Department was not prepared to make provision for all the recruits that came forward, it should have made arrangements to let the men sleep at their homes and drill during the day. That would have been a sensible arrangement, but the Department never accepts suggestions. The men were sent to the Show Ground, and placed in buildings where horses had been stabled, and, even when they were accommodated in large rooms, only those who slept close to the walls could hang up their clothes, while those who happened to be sleeping in the centre had their overcoats, their ordinary clothing, and their kits turned into floor cloths. When I suggested that lines should be hung, on which the men could put their belongings, the Minister of Defence said that it would be infra dig for a soldier to hang up his clothes, and that he should put them on his bed. But, hang it all, these men had no beds.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.15 p.m.
– It is well known that the equipment of Military and Naval Forces lends itself to jobbery. A colonel and a captain who had just returned to New Zealand from the front have been punished for peculation, and in every army in the world, notwithstanding frequent exposures, wrong-doing of this kind seems to occur. It is taking place in our midst to-day. I have seen overcoats in which the material which was purchased for 5s. 6d. per yard was cheap at the price, and others in which the material paid for at the same price was not much better than the felt that is used for putting under carpets. If the information that I have received is correct, there is nothing short of corruption in the fitting up of the transports, for which the firm of Cohen and Company is employed by the Naval Department. The State workshops were tried for the work, but the cost was found to be enormous, even greater than the present cost. The present contractors are paid on a percentage. They purchase materials at wholesale prices, and receive 10 per cent. for management on their outlay on materials and wages.
– Do they supply plant?
– Does not each carpenter provide his own kit?
– I think that each carpenter supplies his own kit, and that the plant used is very small, but its use is charged for. According to the information supplied to me, the supervision is anything but what it should be. I have been told that the firm gets a double percentage; that it has received as much as 12 per cent. from other firms from which it has purchased material.
– All these discounts go to the Naval Department.
– That was not the original arrangement.
– That arrangement applies from the fitting up of the first ship. Every penny received in discount on purchased material goes to the Naval Department. The arrangement is retrospective.
– I am pleased to hear that. The men employed on this work know me personally, and I have been told by them that a lighter filled with timber was in Hobson’s Bay for four or five days. Expenses were piling up all the time, but there was no one to take charge of the timber. I understand that much of it was wood not used for fitting up transports, but that eventually it got into Cohen and Company’s yard. I believe that it was charged to the Department.
– Does not that suggest that all this work should be done by contract ?
– No. I understand that the present system is cheaper than the ordinary contract system.
– The work done by Cohen and Company is the cheapest that has been done for the Department.
– I have been informed that tables used in the sick bays had been bought from Messrs. Craig, Williamson Proprietary Company for £10 10s. each for which £3 would be a fair price. I have been told, too, that timber bought in one yard has been transferred to another yard and bought again there. The Minister and I had a talk over these matters, and he says that my information is wrong, but to my mind, Messrs. Cohen and Company are not considering the interests of the Department.
– I shall be pleased to show the honorable member a copy of the new agreement which has been made with Cohen and Company. It is retrospective, and applies from the 1st February last.
– I am glad that the levying of a double percentage has been stopped, and that the agreement is retrospective. I believe that, with economy, the fitting up of the transports would not cost more than £4.500, although it now costs about £6,400 per vessel. My remarks show that I am ready to attack even a Government of my own party when I believe it to be in the wrong. True economy means the getting of full value for the money spent. It would not be economy to create industrial chaos by throwing men out of employment.
– I have been pleased to hear the honorable member’s remarks, and’ if, after seeing the new agreement, he has any complaints to make, I shall be glad to hear them.
– Has the honorable member anything to say regarding post-office stores ?
– No; but my father was a master tailor in the army, and had charge of commissariat stores, and for years I was in the way of hearing of the peculations that prevailed in connexion with army equipment.
– We shall not get satisfaction until we have a Supply and Tender Board.
– There is a Supply and Tender Board in Great Britain. What is needed is supervision by men who cannot be corrupted. The fault I find with Ministers is. that, when complaints are made, they are always fearful of being blamed personally. Of course, they have to trust their subordinates just as private employers have to do. If a private employer is cheated by subordinates, he suffers, and Ministerial responsibility is enforced by removal from office, which is very often an absurd way of dealing with the case. Ministers, when shortcomings are exposed, should at once make a thorough inquiry, and they should see that proper economy is practised. In the past, however, the method of squaring the ledger has been to retrench in a manner creating industrial chaos. The £3,000,000 which has been referred to is a very small part of the £75.000.000 to which the expenditure for the year will amount, and Ministers would be unworthy of their positions if they created depression by trying to save that amount. The honorable member for Henty knows that the Patterson Government put back Victoria for a decade by the economy which it enforced. Later our railways could not handle good harvests when they came, and orders had to be sent abroad for engines.
– That was false economy.
– Exactly. I hope that the Government will not reduce the expenditure on the East-West Railway or on the Northern Territory Railway by one cent. Had the Northern Territory Railway and the Freezing Works been finished, we should have been able to import frozen meat from the Territory, without fear of the introduction of the tick pest. The Government must take a firm grasp of public affairs, and determine that there shall be no depression, if it can be helped. It is the duty of the Government to foster industry. This cannot be done by the false economy of the past, which frightened private persons, and prevented them from spending. As soon as the Government begins to be careful, private individuals tighten their purse-strings. I trust that no Government that I may sit behind will be guilty of economies such as those suggested by the right honorable members for Swan and Parramatta.
.- It is strange to hear the honorable member for Melbourne Ports suggesting that there should be no public or private economy, seeing that only a few days ago the Prime Minister gave us a very interesting homily on the benefits of private economy. It would have been rather a good thing if the Prime Minister had applied to himself the advice he gave to citizens. He cannot expect the public to take his advice unless he sets the example in high places. His actual words were -
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: butI do say that the necessities of the Commonwealth demand economy from its people in every walk of life.
As a member of the House and a citizen of Australia, I have a right to demand that the Treasurer shall apply those principles to the Government of the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth spent in 1912-13 £21,000,000 odd; in 1913-14, £23,000,000 odd; in 1914-15, £23,000,000 odd, and the estimated expenditure for 1915-16 is £26,488,000. We thus have an increased public expenditure at a time when the citizens are asked to economize - an extravagant increase amounting to the colossal sum of £3,230,000. We make no complaint as to the estimated war expenditure of £48,000,000, provided efficiency goes with it, and for every pound spent we get a pound in value. Under those conditions we should not mind if the amount was doubled, because we are bound in common with the rest of the Empire to take our part in the war, and must find the necessary money to bring it to a successful issue. With interest at 4½ per cent., and a sinking fund of½ per cent., the sum of £1,920,000 will be required by the end of the financial year. In the circumstances, the Government have no right to propose an income tax to bring in £4,000,000 before the close of that period, and, as a matter of fact, there will be two collections within that time. £4,000,000 will be levied in respect of the year 1914, and we shall have to pay another dose in respect of 1915, so that the Government purpose taxing the people to the tune of £8,000,000 for war purposes to meet a bill of £1,920,000. I believe in raising the necessary money for war purposes by way of loans, Treasurybonds, or inscribed stock, and it is quite right that we should call upon the people to pay income tax to the extent of the £1,920,000 for interest and sinking fund, but beyond that we should go very cautiously in the way of taxation. If the Treasurer had kept his expenditure down to what it was in the previous year, he would haveeffected a savingof £3,230.000. If he had cut it down by another million he would have saved about £4,250,000, and there would have been no need for Federal income taxation.
– You should read. Mr. Watt’s speech.
– I have my own opin ion; and dare to express it. The expenditure incurred by the Treasurer is 13 percent. over that of the previous year, andthisat a time of war, when the Trea- surer announces that every individual in the Commonwealth should practise economy. The total income of the United Kingdom is £2,300,000,000. She is finding a £200,000,000 loan for the Allies, and her war expenditure for the coming year is £730,000,000, or £16 2s. per head of the population. The income of Australia is £218,199,000, and our war expenditure is £48,000,000, or £9 12s. per head of the population. It therefore cannot be said that we are spending too much for the purpose. If twice as much had to be spent in the prosecution of this just war, I should be behind the Government in spending it. All my criticism is of their peace, and not of their war, expenditure. A great deal has been said regarding economy in public works. When war was first declared, the country was in a state of chaos, and the Government were perfectly justified in keeping all the works going to provide employment.
– Great Britain is spending £4,000,000 per day on the war - or about £1,400,000,000 per year- about twice as much as you said.
– The figures I gave were for June, but the honorable member’s, figures make the position of Australia even worse. The Government were abundantly justified in keeping the eastwest railway and the works in the Northern Territory and the Federal Territory going when the war broke out, but conditions have greatly changed, and it is time the Government mobilized their industries, and put men to work where their labour will be of the greatest benefit, not only to themselves, but to the Empire. The Government have been repeatedly criticised in regard to the conduct of the Small Arms Factory, and it was only recently that they installed a second shift. The sooner they introduce three shifts the better. We must increase our output of munitions, and the number of shifts worked, and in the same ratio diminish the expenditure on public works which are not reproductive.
– Would you stop the building of post offices, and so on?
– Yes, while the war lasts. We have 120,000 troops in either the recruiting camps or the trenches, and the taking of that number from the ranks of labour must have given great relief to the labour market.
– How do you account for the present unemployment?
– I do not know where it is. I am not advocating the stoppage of public works at once, but would gradually transfer the men into other industries essential for the prosecution of the war. Contracts have lately been entered into in Canada to supply Great Britain and the Allies with arms and munitions worth £54,000,000, and our Government should closely follow Canada’s example. If labour is drawn from public works and put on to manufacturing munitions, we shall be manufacturing something which will be sent out of the country, and instead of transferring money from one person to another in Australia, we shall find the value of the munitions realizable in the way of gold, which will help us to discharge our liabilities, at the same time not disturbing the money market. I was delighted to hear from the Prime Minister that the estimated wheat crop for the whole of Australia is about 160,000,000 bushels. When Australia had a record harvest a few years ago, although there was no war in progress at that time, and Australia had not sent 120,000 troops to the front, we were completely at a loss for labour. I maintain that the harvest and shearing operations will absorb the whole of the surplus labour of the Commonwealth this year. Now, of all times, is the time when we should endeavour to develop our exports. Whether it be munitions, wheat, wool, hides, or anything else, the more we can send abroad the more money will be received, and the more readily will we be able to discharge our liabilities. The greatest needs of the belligerent countries to-day are steel, lead, copper, and spelter, and what country is in a better position than Australia to supply those metals? There are the works at Lithgow, and the recentlyestablished plant at Newcastle. Let the Government concentrate their efforts on increasing the output of steel, which is so essential to the Allies in the present struggle. Then there are the extensive lead and copper mines. The copper mines at Cobar and at many other places throughout the Commonwealth are actually closed down. We should keep those hives of industry working, and the more effectively we do that the more will we be able to assist the Allies to bring this war to a speedy close. In the Sydney Morning Herald of the 9th August appeared this statement -
Undoubtedly the speculative section of the public which likes to indulge in a flutter in mining enterprises of a sound and reliable character has been kept away from the Stock Exchange by a fear of the income tax proposals of the Federal Government.
– Those people are opposed to the income tax.
– We all are. I am opposed to the imposition of taxation to the extent of £4,000,000. The statement continues -
The fact that these proposals have been revised has caused speculators to heave a sigh of relief, for it is held that, as far as people with moderate incomes are concerned, the sliding scale principle proposed to be adopted would be more acceptable than the original suggestions of the Federal Government were. But the speculative portion of the public has not yet got over the shock caused by the earlier proposals of the Commonwealth, and this largely accounted for the disturbed state of the market during the week.
Otherwise the position of affairs regarding the mining industry is satisfactory. First, as regards metal values, copper at £75 10s. is a marked advance on the first of the month, whilst lead at £2311s. 3d. is maintaining a solid position. True, spelter has eased £2, but £98 per ton means big profits if the Broken Hill companies are getting any of this big price from the Americans, who at present control the spelter market. Tin at three months has eased to £156 per ton, yet that price still means profitable production, even to the most costly production by battery treatment and artificial concentration of the oxide, whilst the naturally concentrated stream tin produced from the deep leads of New South Wales, Queensland, and Tasmania is a most profitable article at the present price of the white metal in London.
I thinkI have shown the Committee that there are splendid markets for the metal industries, and the Government should help them in every possible way, and so in turn help the Empire.
– What is the difference between the price Of spelter to-day and twelve months ago?
– The price has increased tremendously. The AttorneyGeneral, when introducing the income tax proposals, said that the intention was to tax the idle surplus wealth which is not used for production. I have lived in Australia a good many years, and I have yet to discover that there is any idle surplus wealth. Speaking for the farmers whom I represent, I know that a great many of those men took up unimproved properties, and by working early and late they won a surplus Which they immediately reinvested in further improvements of their property. A great many business people in the cities have operated in the same way. Men who have started in a small way have, year after year, put their profits into their businesses, which have gradually grown to large dimensions. An investigation would show that that is the history of some of the most successful enterprises in Melbourne and Sydney. But that wealth which is being reinvested in enterprises is to be taxed by the Government. If a man does not put his wealth into business, how does he spend it? Perhaps, by sending his children to good private schools, thereby relieving the State of the cost of their education. Perhaps he has a well-kept garden, and employs skilled gardeners. He keeps a motor car and buys oil, naphtha, and motor accessories. He employs milliners, florists, tailors, and many other tradespeople. A hundred and one enterprises are kept employed by the expenditure of this so-called idle capital. If the Government seize that wealth, hundreds of persons who were provided with employment by its expenditure will be deprived of their means of employment. I think the Government are to be congratulated on inserting a provision to exempt the undivided profits of companies, but I would also urge them to consider the position of investors abroad. Take the case of the Broken Hill Pro- prietary Company, for instance. There is a Melbourne list of 365,680 shares, and a London list of 815,648 shares. The shareholders on the London register will be required to pay the full amount of taxation. So far as they are concerned, there will be no exemption of undivided profits. They will be called upon to pay taxation on the profits made in Australia, and also the profits made in England, and the States also will impose “taxation.
– Why do they not live in Australia ?
– A man does not always wish to live where- his money is. “Why does not the honorable member live in Queensland, where his investments are? We are very pleased to encourage the enterprise of these people, and yet the -Government propose to penalize them. I am unable to understand why this tax should be imposed in regard to the earnings for the year ended 31st December, 1914. If the year terminating 31st December, 1915, were substituted, the Government would receive the money in ample time. Australia has experienced a most disastrous drought, and the return of income for the year 1914 is not a fair basis for taxing the income earned during the present year, especially in the case of those people who are engaged on the land. During a conversation with a banker in the Riverina district a few days ago, he informed me that in the Hay district alone the pastoralists had lost about 50 per cent, of their sheep and cattle, and there has been no increase from lambing. Yet those men are to be taxed on the basis of their income during a successful year. They have lost their stock, and have no wool, and to tax them in this way is manifestly unfair. Perhaps it is advisable to make “the tax payable on the revenue earned during the calendar year, because the State collects income tax for that period, and it will be convenient to prepare one return for both Federal and State taxation, but the Government would be acting more justly if they imposed this income tax for the current calendar year. The reason given for choosing the period ended 31st December, 1914, is that the particulars of income for that year are more easily obtainable. But the census papers sent out state that taxpayers are also to give an estimate of their income to 30th June, so that, after all, they are compelled to make two sets of returns. Apparently the idea of the Government is to obtain two taxes instead of one - to raise £8,000,000 in order to find £2,000,000 with which to pay the interest on the war expenditure. Then, again, why should there be any discrimination between taxation on the return from personal exertion and the return from property in the case of the farmers, and rural landed interests generally?
– Does the honorable member not believe in such a distinction ?
– Yes, so far as returns from investments are concerned, but I am sure that if the honorable member owned and worked a farm he would know what personal exertion meant.
– The honorable member misunderstands the Bill.
– Perhaps the Minister may be able to enlighten us on this subject. At any rate, I think that farmers should be allowed an exemption up to a living area, which in New South Wales has been fixed at land of the unimproved value of £2,500.
– If a man derives income from his land he must pay tax on that income.
– Why discriminate against the best asset that we have in Australia ?
– There is no discrimination - a man either has an income or he has not.
– As I understand the proposal, the tax on an income of £300 from personal exertion is £5 3s., whereas in the case of the farmer, it is £6 14s. 9d.
– If a farmer receives rents from farms he pays at the higher rate, but in the case of his own land his income is regarded as from personal exertion.
– The Minister told us a few moments ago that that was not so. The schedule most emphatically and distinctly states what I have just pointed out. namely, -. that in the case of the farmer the tax upon £300 will be £6 14s. 9d.
– Because it is in the Bill.
– Why is it?
– That is what I want to know ; but I take it that it is because the Labour party always discriminate against the man on the land. Under the Tariff, which was introduced a short while ago, the farmer, like every other citizen, has to pay on all he wears and consumes ; but, in addition, he is taxed 10 per cent, on the jute goods he requires, the revenue from this item amounting to something like £170,000 a year. The farmer has to pay duty on all the implements he employs, and yet has to bear this additional taxation of 10 per cent. Only the other day the New South Wales Government increased the taxation on the farmer, in one direction, from 2d. to 6d., and our primary, producers there have also to pay for the maintenance of Pastoral Protection Boards, for rabbit destruction, and so on, involving considerable expense. In many cases the cost of enclosing properties with netting, and digging out all cover, amounts to £1 5s. or £1 10s. per acre. This will show what affectionate regard the New South Wales Labour Government have for the farmers. Then, again, when a farmer exports his wheat he has to pay harbor or wharf dues amounting to 2d. per bushel, and 6d. a bale on wool.
– The farmer has the us© of the wharfs.
– But I regard this as additional taxation ; and it is time somebody in this House stood up in the interests of the most useful class we have in Australia - the producers of our raw material and food-stuffs.
– There would be nothing to eat in New South Wales if it were not for the rabbits.
– The rabbit industry in New South Wales is worth £700,000, as regards the carcasses, and £400,000 in the case of the skins. The pastoral, agricultural, and dairying industries together are worth £124,500,000. However, I should now like to refer to the note-issue, from which it is the expressed intention of the Prime Minister to pay for the loans. A comparison of our position in this connexion with that of other countries may be interesting. Up to May, 1914, the note issue of the Bank of England was £29,500,000, while in 1915 it was £38,000,000, with Treasury notes to the extent of £40,0.00,000 - an increase of £48,500,000. The note issue in the Old Country at the present time is £1 12s. 6d. per head. In Australia, before the war commenced, the note circulation was £9,882,000, and the Prime Minister stated the other day that the figure was now £34,635,223, showing an increase of £24.752,900, or £7 per head, as against £1 12s. 6d. at Home. The difference between this country and Great Britain is that the latter has foreign investments to the extent of £3,000,000,000 or £4.000.000,000, of which £1,000,000,000 is held in the United States of America. In France, in 1914, the note circulation was £237,000,000, while in 1915 it was £456.000,000, showing an increase of £219.000,000, or £11 8s. per head ; in Germany in 1914, the note circulation was £110,000,000, while in 1915 it was £303,000,000, showing ‘ an increase of £193,000,000; in Russia, in 1914, the note circulation was £161.000.000, while in 1915 it was £319.000,000, showing an increase of £158,000,000, or £2 13s. per head. It will be seen that Australia comes a very good second to France in the matter of. the note circulation. per capita. France has £1,500,000,000 invested in foreign countries; while Australia is a debtor country to the extent of £350,000,000, and yet we stand second on the list in regard to note circulation.
– What about the assets for our indebtedness?
– Other countries also have assets, besides investments returning interest. I admit that when a country is at war there is a greater demand for currency owing to the increased buying and selling that is going on. Business is to a certain extent conducted on a cash basis, and. further, many cautious people, in time of war, are inclined to hoard their money. Such was the experience in France during the Franco-German war, when many millions were hoarded ; but when the Germans took possession, France was able to pay an indemnity of over £200,000,000. We may take it that what has occurred in other countries under similar circumstances is now occurring in Australia; and, therefore, the Government, to a certain extent, are justified in issuing these notes. We should be very careful, however, not to exceed a fixed amount, because the notes will have to be retired at the termination of the war. A little while ago I directed the attention of the Prime Minister to the tremendous cash reserves which are accumulating in the United States. Trade balances are very much in favour of that country. Exchanges are always in their ‘ favour. I suggested that it would be a good idea to send some representative from Australia who would get into close touch with the different financial brokers in the United States, and see if the Commonwealth could not get some of this money, which is so much needed here, in the shape of a loan. The average excess of exports over imports in the United States of America for three years before the war, was £100,000,000, but in the first four months of this year it was £119,000,000, and if it continues at the same ratio it will amount to £357,000,000 for the year, or an excess over the previous average of £257,000,000. Thus we can see that money is accumulating at a tremendous rate in America. France and Great Britain are contemplating floating a loan of about £70,000.000 there, in order to balance exchanges. Canada has already approached the same financial market for a loan, and it would not be derogatory on the part of a young country like the Commonwealth, which needs its own resources for developmental purposes, to send a representative to America with a similar object. I believe that he would be gladly received. Even if we had to pay more interest, it would be better to bring money here than tff drag it out of. the people of Australia, who need all they have for developmental purposes. Our trouble is that we have to pay £31,000,000 abroad before we reap any benefit from the money we raise, because our exports are short of our imports by £6,000,000, and we need £12,000,000 to pay our troops overseas, and £13,000,000 for the interest on State, as well as Commonwealth, loans. Therefore I urge the Government to do all they possibly can not to waste a grain of wheat, but to see that the ships are here, so that every grain that can be taken overseas is shifted, as well as every ounce of wool, or any of our primary products. I urge them to so organize labour that all our primary productions may be kept moving, while, at the same time, the manufacture of munitions of war and arms is undertaken for the carrying on of the great conflict in which we are engaged.
.- Last month the Treasurer made an interim statement concerning the finances, and one remark which he made then should arrest the attention of every man even distantly interested in the finances. That remark, which was this - that the difference’ between expenditure and income had been balanced by the issue of bank notes - seems to be the keynote to the financial statement, which is now before the Committee, because there is expressed in it that fatal facility for obtaining money which always leads to looseness. It is just the same as the position of a person who, for the first time, obtains control of a cheque book, to which he has not been accustomed. The money seems to go in a thousand ways, and the limit is reached so speedily that he wonders how it has come about. The Treasurer’s statement of a few days ago seems to show the effect of that looseness which always follows from the too easy obtaining of money. He told us -
The revenue actually received was £22,41 1,710, 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 £748,222, 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.
These figures seem to indicate that the whole matter had not received due an3 proper consideration before the estimate was put forward, because in every case the result has been different from what was forecasted. In regard to most of the items of revenue, if we take the statement of the Estimates of the current year, we find the Treasurer expressing himself as full of doubt. He does not seem to know his position. He has taken up the same attitude of looseness that was apparent in his previous statement. About a week ago, when he was asked the cost per head, of the recruits going to the front, he stated that the estimated cost was 25s. per head per day, but during the course of the financial statement delivered last week he told us that it was 14s. If that marked difference applies in regard to the daily cost of the recruit it must run into an enormous amount of money during a week and during a year. Then, when the Treasurer was questioned about what he was paying the British Government for the loan, he said that “ he did not know.” We cannot altogether blame him in that regard, but it seems to me that some definite businesslike arrangement should be entered into with the British Government, or that they should give us something approximate, if not an absolutely definite statement as to the amount of interest the Commonwealth will have to pay on these loans. Otherwise it is quite impossible for the Treasurer to give anything like a fair estimate of the expenditure for the year. Further on the Treasurer said -
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.
We have been told over and over again that the States were to be limited in borrowing by the agreement they entered into with the Commonwealth, yet now we are told in the Treasurer’s statement that there is to be no restriction - that the British Government have informed the States that they can do as they please, and the Commonwealth Government have given them liberty to follow on those lines. Wherever we look, there is uncertainty in the situation - absolutely nothing on which we can act. I do not know whether honorable members have had the experience of being on a colt that has bucked off the bridle. I have. When I read the statement from the Treasurer, I felt that he was in exactly the same position. In the first place the colt does not know what he is going to do, and in the next place the rider does not know what the colt is going to do, or what the colt is making up his mind to do. The Treasurer, like the colt, does not know what he is going to do next. No doubt, under present circumstances, we cannot altogether blame him, because the position is not wholly due to his fault. We are living in unprecedented times. As Shakspeare says, “ The times are out of joint.” But I find fault with the fact that there is absolutely no solid ground on which to work, and we have lost control ; we do not know where we are. The Estimates seem to be the merest guesswork. How can we deal with the finances of the country when everything is so nebulous ? We need some definite statement, something on which we can estimate what our expenditure is to be. I have already pointed out that we should have some definite agreement with the Imperial Government as to the rate of interest we are to pay. Further on in the course of his financial statement, when the Treasurer was talking about the total amount of loans, the honorable member for Balaclava interjected, “Is it clear that there are no ““conversion loans covered by those figures?” The Treasurer replied - -
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.
The Treasurer in control of the finances of the Commonwealth brings down a financial statement, and yet does not know what it means ; he does not know whether there are any conversion loans contained in a certain portion of his statement. He says that the amount of the loans astounds him, as well it might do; but what is our position when he cannot tell us whether any conversion loans are included ? How can we go before our constituents and tell the people that we are trying to manage the affairs of the country in a business-like way, and to keep the Commonwealth solvent, when we are not given a definite statement as to our position in regard to what money is being spent, and as to what loans are included in the figures presented to us)
– Did not honorable members ask the Treasurer for a rough statement of the position of affairs)
– They may have done so when 1 was away at recruiting meetings, but if they asked for a rough statement they must have emphasized the word “ rough,” because this is an exceedingly rough statement. It is so rough that it is absolutely of no use. It is rougher than the colt that has bucked off his bridle.
– Did the honorable member expect to have a Budget presented 1
– No; but we expected ai the very least to be given some solid ground on which to find a footing. Speaking of the Australian Notes Fund the Treasurer told us that the Commonwealth Inscribed Stock, in which the Commonwealth notes were invested, amounted to £3,830,000, and the Commonwealth Treasury-bills, £1,887,657, or a total of £5,500,000. The majority of the people believe that this is a businesslike action, whereby we are making money. The future position becomes even more uncertain in the figures laid down. Not only have we the expressed doubt of the Treasurer as to everything that he has put forward, but he also brings forward the statement that we have lent £5,500,000, leading the people to believe that this money is out earning interest, whereas it is only lent from one Department to the other, the Commonwealth having to find the interest which is here credited to the Australian Notes Fund. There is invested in New South Wales over £5,000,000, in Victoria over £3,000,000, in South Australia over £1,500.000, in Western Australia over £2,500,000 and in Tasmania over £1,000,000, or about £13,000,000 in all. The people are led to believe that the Commonwealth is earning interest on this money, but, as a matter of fact, the position is that the citizens, as taxpayers, of the Commonwealth have found the money, and are lending it to themselves as citizens of the States. These statements are calculated to deceive the public, and to lead to financial trouble. The interest earned by these advances is £811,467, but as a matter of fact the Commonwealth is merely paying interest to itself, or getting it from the people in their various civic capacities. Unless the people are made to understand how their income is made up, they must find themselves in a fool’s paradise. The honorable member for Calare spoke of the investments which the people of certain countries have made in other countries. In 1914 Great Britain invested £25,000,000 in the Argentine, £14,000,000 in the United States of America, £13,000,000 in Mexico, and £12,000,000 in Australia and in Brazil. It used to be a saying that “ Trade follows the flag.” That idea is largely exploded. We know now that trade follows investment, and it is a severe commentary on our management of affairs that Australia can attract from Great Britain less than half the sum that goes to a country which has not nearly its potentialities, and is under a foreign flag.
– Do not investments depend upon the rate of interest offering T
– If we cannot pay as good a rate of interest as is paid in the Argentine, there is something wrong with the handling of the affairs of this country. The Argentine can afford to pay high rates of interest because it encourages primary production in every way, and it is time that we did the same. It is only in that way that we shall increase the inflow of capital, and be able to pay the high rates of interest which must prevail for some years after the war.
– Apparently the honorable member thinks that the higher the rates of interest the happier the country.
– If the Minister of Home Affairs cannot see further into this matter of finance than his interjections suggest, I shall not discuss the subject with him.
– The rate of interest in the Argentine was only 4 per cent., but it is higher now.
– At any rate, the money that is going there should be coming here, and the rate of interest only partly explains the position. The AttorneyGeneral last night made a comparison of the direct taxation of the people of the United Kingdom and of the people of Australia ; but it was not a fair comparison, because it left out of account the tremendous amount that we pay in Customs taxation which they do not pay. As to Defence, I have had the pleasure and honour to be associated with the recruiting campaigns in Victoria and in New South Wales. Strangely enough, Victoria has supplied more men than New South Wales, and New South Wales more money than Victoria. Men in my estimation are worth more than money, and we wish to know why New South Wales, which has a larger population than Victoria, has not so fully performed its obligations in this respect. We know that the arrangement of the military districts makes the New South Wales figures smaller than they should be, and increases those of Victoria ; but that does not fully account for the difference. There can be no doubting the enthusiasm of the people of both States, and, to my mind, the difference between the recruiting results is due to -organization.
– The success of the recruiting in Victoria was largely due to the prevalence of unemployment here.
– In Victoria, as in New South Wales, a large number of recruits came from the drought-stricken areas.
– A great many came from my electorate.
– I am not comparing the recruiting in Sydney and Melbourne: I do not think that there was much difference between the results obtained in the two capitals. In my opinion, what happened in New South Wales was due to lack of proper organization; and it is time that the Federal Government took the matter in hand, and co-operated with the States in a universal movement. Some of the speeches delivered at recruiting meetings in New South Wales were calculated to do harm to the cause rather than good. T do not wish to mention names, or to blame any party, but some of the speeches were of the most damaging kind. Until there is co-operation between the Commonwealth and the States, and proper organization, we cannot expect the results that we would like. Another matter of importance is the manner in which the military authorities are handling the remount question. I have already drawn attention to the fact that some of the horses that are being sent abroad are not such as men should be asked to trust their lives to. Most of the horses are good, but some are absolute wasters. Although it may not be possible to get none but good horses, the military authorities should know how to look after the horses which they get. I represent a district in which is the Hunter Valley, which contains some of the richest country in Australia. Military horses have been sent to that country in such a poor condition that, notwithstanding the good feed, they have died before they could benefit from it.
– Is the district cold ?
– The nights are somewhat frosty, but, everything being taken into consideration, no better’ climate could be obtained. My electorate is the greatest horse-breeding district in Australia, and is notable for the horses it produces. The Government did wisely in sending horses there, but many of them were too far gone to benefit. As evidence of neglect, I can state positively that the horses are sometimes sent out with their shoes on. Recently I went to the horse depot at Ascot, where the management is on a par with the general management of the Department regarding horses. On the Maribyrnong Estate there is, perhaps, three-fourths of a mile of a 6-ft. paling fence, which is in many places falling down. The palings are broken off for 10 or 15 yards at a stretch, and lying on the ground, with the nails sticking up. These are the places through which the horses pass, and a better method for crippling them could not be devised. That was the state of affairs at the horse depot, and when I asked what was the cause I was told “ divided authority.” I do not know whether the matter has yet been attended to, but it is on a par with the whole of the management of the horses for our Defence Forces.
– What do those roosters know about horses?
– The Government should put in charge of the whole scheme some one who knows all about horses, and make him responsible for the horses throughout the Commonwealth. There are some curious tales abroad about the buying of horses, but when they are chosen and become the property of the
Commonwealth they should receive proper treatment. The loss going on through bad handling is enormous, and I have no doubt the same applies to other departments. When in New South Wales recruiting I was told, on the best authority, that now the State bakery, owing to some mishap to its machinery, has broken down, the bread for the troops is being baked by a German named Lindenberger. Sir Joseph Carruthers recently stated in the Legislative Council of New South Wales that no German should be allowed to supply liquor or food to people in Australia. He is no alarmist, but a careful man, who makes most cool and calculated statements, and such a statement from him should induce the Government to pay closer attention to what is going on. The whole position regarding the treatment of enemy subjects in Australia is absolutely unsatisfactory. There are in our midst 35,000 or 36,000 enemy subjects, of whom only about 2,000 are interned. In addition, a number of their descendants are just as bitter as the old people, so that it is safe to say there are 40,000 enemy subjects in this country who constitute a decided menace to the community, and the Federal Government are doing nothing to keep them in their place. Some of the girl employees of a flour manufacturing company in Sydney were ordered out to take off Belgian buttons they were wearing, because the manager was a German. The manager of a printing establishment ordered the girls in his employ to put away the Belgian flag because he also was a German.
– The manager of one of the largest firms here made them take down the flags that were hanging up at the establishment.
– Why do not the Government deal with these people ? I do not see why persons, with German sympathies, should be allowed to intimidate their employees in this fashion, or our soldiers to run the grave risks they are running in regard to food supplied by men who, to say the least, are of doubtful sympathies. The whole administration of the Defence Department seems to be unsatisfactory. The recruiting campaigns have been successful in regard to men in Victoria and in regard to money in New South Wales. Victoria could undoubtedly have given much more money, and New South Wales could give more men, and the recruiting movement could also be worked up in the other States. The time has arrived for the Defence Department to go into the whole matter with the State Governments, letting the people know frankly and clearly how many men they want, and how many theycan handle, because there is undoubtedly an impression abroad that more men have offered than the Department can handle. It is freely reported that manymen who have offered as recruits have been told to go home for three weeks or a month, because they would not be wanted for that time. If the Department cannot handle more than a certain number they should announce honestly that they do not want more than a certain proportion every day or every week. The present method is only making for dissatisfaction. In New South Wales men came from Orange to Lithgow, where they were supposed to be sworn in as recruits, and when they arrived there was no one present to meet them. They were not told where they were to go, nor were they given any assistance. Believing that they would be immediately sworn in and either sent home or passed into camp, they came unprovided with pocket money, and many had to sleep for the night wherever they could find a bunk. Some had to sleep on the railway station or walk about the town all night. Is that the way in which to encourage recruiting and to get the enthusiasm which is necessary if we are to make our young fellows realise that we know their worth ? The whole system requires working up from the central administration. In New South Wales there is no system, and the present Government absolutely lost control when they allowed the State Governments to step in and, in some cases, conduct a recruiting campaign in an inefficient way. If an agreement were entered into with the various State Governments, and the whole procedure were systematized, we should have a steady and constant stream of recruits, instead of a big number to-day and none to-morrow, or a great number this week and none next week, so that the Department is at a loss to know how to handlethe men. The people should know what, number of men is required, and then we should have a steady and growing enthusiasm, and an increase of men when they were wanted, and the whole system would redound to the credit of Australia in a way which is utterly impossible in the present state of affairs. We have sent good men to the front, and we know that there are still plenty to go, but we shall not obtain them and send them forth in the full glow of patriotism and enthusiasm if we do not handle them better than they have been handled in the past. From the points of view of neither defence nor finance have we risen to our responsibility, or established an organization such as would point the road to success. We are fighting the most highly organized people on the face of the earth. We do not wish to be over-organized as the German people are, and to destroy in our men that individuality which stood for so much when our soldiers were making history at the Dardanelles. But we” do need to co-ordinate all the forces of the Commonwealth and the States so that we can make the fullest use of our resources and opportunities.
– We are ossified.
-We are, and 1 will, here and now, state the reason. We are proclaiming this to be a National Parliament, and we are pretending that we are trying to do things without party spirit. We are merely play-acting. We know that before any proposal is brought into the House for debate it has already been settled. What is the use of our pretending to be sitting as a non-party and National Parliament when every proposal is settled before it reaches the floor of the House? We are fooling the people; we are a sham, a mockery, a delusion, and it is time that the people knew it. Personally, I do not believe Parliament should ‘ go into recess. We should continue the session, for even though matters are cut and dried by the time they reach this Chamber, we can still voice our sentiments and let the public know how affairs are progressing. In my opinion, our affairs are being conducted in a slip-shod fashion. It is common knowledge that the British people have always been slow beginners, but, to use a racing term, they are good finishers. We have been slow to get things into going order to meet the tremendous task that is still before us after twelve months of war, and, if we are to be true to our traditions, it is time that we woke up and began to “ put in our finish.’ ‘
The following paper was presented : - Liverpool Military Camp, New South Wales - Report on, by His Honour Mr. Justice Rich. (18th August, 1915., Ordered to be printed.
– In moving -
That the House do now adjourn, I ask the assistance of honorable members to close this portion of our proceedings on Thursday week. I understand from the Leader of the Opposition that that will be a convenient date.
– I express no opinion on that. I understood we were to adjourn next Friday.
– That seems impossible. There are certain Bills, including a small amendment of the Constitution, to be passed next week. It has to pass this House and another place. Obviously that cannot be done next week There is a considerable amount of other work to be done, and I shall require the passing of another Supply Bill. A number of honorable members wish to leave at the end of next week, and it is not the intention of the Government to bring forward any strong party measures in these times. I hope that arrangements can be made to meet the convenience of as many members as possible, provided that sufficient members remain to carry on the business properly. I take this opportunity of saying that an event is impending of which honorable members are aware, and we shall relieve as many members as possible for that occasion, everything will be done by the Government to preserve the rights of individual members, and especially of members opposite. The length of the adjournment will be such as to suit the convenience of honorable members. The Government have no desire to get into a lengthy recess for any purpose whatever.
– How long is suggested?
– I think we might very well adjourn on the same conditions as on the last occasion, when it was left to Mr. President and Mr. Speaker to convene Parliament at any time deemed necessary. In a time of war Parliament might need to sit at any time, and it is better to leave the arrangement as flexible as possible.
– Will such an arrangement comply with the provision in the Constitution as to’ annual sittings ?
– I think there is no doubt as to that. The former arrangement was made when there were six honorable and learned members on the front benches.
– Then it must be questionable !
– The point has not been tested in the High Court; a question might even be submitted whether or not we have any right to sit here at all, and I should have grave doubts as to the decision.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 4.4 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 20 August 1915, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1915/19150820_reps_6_78/>.