6th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Report of the Public Works Committee upon the extension of the office accommodation at the Victoria Barracks, Melbourne, presented by Mr. Riley, and ordered to be printed.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether the Government has considered the ‘propriety, in view of his great Imperial services, of sending a letter of congratulation to General Botha?
– I shall give the matter consideration, and inform the House of my decision in regard to it.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether it is intended to provide in the amending Income Tax Bill for the extension of the exemption granted to persons serving in the Naval and Military Forces to income from property as well as to income from personal exertion?
– The Act exempts from taxation the income of persons serving in the Naval and Military Forces which is derived from personal exertion, but we cannot extend the exemption to income from property. The matter was discussed at length when the measure was before the. House, and I then pointed out that the effect of the exemption now suggested would be that persons possessed of large property, now serving with the Forces, would receive very large sums of money for their services, thus setting up a most undesirable distinction between - such men and others. I shall, of course, consider what the honorable member has to say on the subject when the matter is again before the House, but I hold out no hope of the acceptance of his suggestion.
– I ask the Minister of Home Affairs why the member for Perth was not given an opportunity to attend the ceremony of laying the foundationstone of the new General Post Office for Perth? Will the honorable member ascertain who was responsible for this gross discourtesy?
– The occur- . rence was unfortunate, but I shall see that it will never occur again.
– Has the Prime Minister read the reports which appear in to-day’s newspapers of a lecture recently delivered in London by Mr. Ellis Ashmead Bartlett? These reports are evidently published with the approval of the censorship, and the lecturer reiterates the statement that the Dardanelles operations have -failed. I ask the honorable and learned gentleman whether the time has not arrived for the House to have some understanding in regard to the matter, as it now appears that the sending of our men to Gallipoli means the sending of them to useless slaughter. Is it not about time that we had some discussion on the subject ?
– Mr. Ashmead Bartlett is a self-advertising sensationalist, who does not deserve half the ‘ publicity that he is getting.
– I am sorry that the question has been asked. This Government have not the responsibility of directing the campaign. Our business is to carry out the instructions of the Imperial Government, and to give that Government our hearty and enthusiastic support. And it is our clear duty to refrain from criticising the actions of men who are placed in a situation of frightful responsibility, already subjected daily to criticisms from persons without authority or responsibility or right to be considered seriously. I do not pretend to understand the situation in the Dardanelles, but I know’ what the duty of this Government is; and that is - to mind its own business, to provide that quota of men which the Imperial Government think necessary in the circumstances, and to see that those men are efficiently led, fed, and equipped. That we shall do.
– Has the Prime Minister noticed in the press that it is stated that Mr. Ashmead Bartlett is to undertake a lecturing tour in Australia, among other places? Do the Government propose to place any embargo upon his proceeding with a tour in Australia dealing with the Dardanelles campaign?
– I have seen the paragraph in the press to the effect that Mr. Ashmead Bartlett proposes to lecture in Australia, hut I do not propose to consider the point raised by the honorable member until he arrives in Australia.
Camps: Bread Supply: Pensions
– In view of the grave dissatisfaction that exists in regard to the condition of Liverpool and other Camps in New South Wales, will the Minister for the Navy have inquiries made with a view to removing the Camps to Federal Territory, either at Jervis Bay or Canberra, where, as he is aware, there is plenty of Government ground and good water, where the climate is good, and where every condition is favorable?
– No doubt there has been criticism in regard to the Camps in New South Wales, probably from those from whom it should not come, but I ask the honorable member to give notice of his question.
– Will the Minister lay on the table a return showing the amount of bread supplied by the State Bakery of New South Wales to the various Camps, and the saving to the Commonwealth, if any, that has been effected ?
– At the same time, will the Minister ascertain whether the man who is in charge of the State Bakery in New South Wales, or the man next to him, is a German, or a person with German sympathies?
– I shall bring the question under the notice of the Minister of Defence.
– In reference to the case of a medical officer who was on duty in a camp, and died, and that of a sergeantmajor who was sent to a camp to train soldiers and died, in view of the fact that the wives and children’ of these two members of the Military Forces cannot obtain pensions, because neither had enlisted in the Expeditionary Forces, will the Minister for the Navy bring in an amendment to the War Pensions Act in order to make provision for these and similar cases ?
– The War Pensions Act applies only to persons who have enlisted for service. I shall confer with the Minister of Defence and the Cabinet in regard to the matter and furnish the honorable member with an answer.
Contract with Mr. Griffin.
– Now that the honorable member for Darwin is back in the position of Minister of Home Affairs, does he propose to assist Mr. Griffin to carry out, in its integrity, his contract as architect for the Federal Capital ?
– Mr. Griffin is not an architect.
– He is a landscape architect. Does the Minister propose to. assist Mr. Griffin to frustrate the attempt of other officers to interfere with the carrying out of his contract ?
– I think that I shall be able to get the officers to come together and work as a team of Christians.
– In connexion with a recent strike at the Cockatoo Island Naval Dockyard, and the report in the press that certain instructions were given to the management by Senator Pearce, will the Minister for the Navy say whether the dockyard is under the control of the Minister of Defence or the Minister for the Navy, and, if the latter is the case, why the dispute was referred to Senator Pearce instead of to himself ?
– The statement appearing in the press was an error. The matter was not referred to the Minister for Defence; it was referred to myself.
– In view of the fact that, owing to delay and backward condition of construction by the Department in regard to country telephone lines, many people in country centres are subscribing to erect these lines privately, will the Postmaster-General grant to these persons the requisite material at cost price in order to enable the lines to be erected expeditiously and more economically ?
– If the honorable member will place the matter before me in a concise way I shall give it my best attention.
– In view of the inaccurate information given to me in regard to the first death of a soldier from cerebro-spinal meningitis, May last having been given as the date when it should have been October last, as proved by a death in the Melbourne Hospital, will the Prime Minister, in the interests of the health of the community, have a return prepared showing the death rate from this terrible disease in comparison with that from small-pox, and will he see whether the Quarantine Department cannot take action for the safety of the soldiers and the_ general public?
– I shall be glad to supply the information and to consider the situation in the light of the data procured in order to see whether anything can be done in the matter.
– As under the Oldage and Invalid Pensions Act provision is made that when a pensioner becomes ill he is cast back on the State and his pension ceases when he enters an institution, will the Treasurer give careful consideration to the question of continuing the payment of the pension in part to the pensioner, and in part to the institution which has to see him through his trouble ?
– I shall be glad to give the honorable member’s question every consideration.
– Seeing that most of the public press of Australia has been advising the Federal Parliament and Government to cease party strife, may I ask the Prime Minister if his attention has been drawn to the action of the Liberal members of the Legislative Council of Tasmania in refusing to accept the suggestion mad© by members of both sides in the Lower House that party strife should cease until 1917.
– I did not know that that was the case, but it does not surprise me. I doubt whether any useful purpose could be served by attempting to explain or to inquire into it. No doubt the posi tion is inconsistent with the “ Cease party strife “ cry so much in evidence just now. The circumstances will, no doubt, be very useful during the coming referenda campaign.
– Following upon that question, I would like to ask the Prime Minister whether he is aware that members of the labour leagues of Tasmania wired urgently to their representatives in the Legislative Council asking them not to consent to this proposal?
Several honorable members interjecting,
-Order. I appeal to honorable members to try to conduct the business of the House in a more becoming manner. If they are going to carry on in this way, I should advise the House to immediately adjourn. It is always possible to ask a retaliatory question upon any other question, and if the practice of asking questions of that nature, first from one side of the House and then from the other is persisted in, confusion will result. I ask honorable members not to ask questions in this manner because they can serve no useful purpose.
– I have only been able to receive the honorable member’s question third hand, but what I understand he desires to know is whether I was aware that the labour leagues of Tasmania had advised their representatives in the Legislative Council not to follow the suggestion made by the Lower House regarding party strife. I was not aware that there were any representatives of labour in the Legislative Council of Tasmania. I will have inquiry made, however. I will engage an antiquarian to look into the antecedents of al] the members of that House.
– Following upon the splendid example set by the Imperial Government, closely followed by the Governments of Canada, South Africa, and New Zealand, will the Prime Minister take into serious consideration the advisability of dropping all party strife at the present moment, and forming a national Government with a Ministry selected from members on both sides of the House.
– Mav I point out to the honorable member that I can remember that question being asked on five or six different occasions.
– Not of this Prime Minister.
– I know the question has not been asked of the present Prime Minister.
– It is a silly question, anyhow.
– Order. I do not wish to lecture honorable members, but the Standing Orders state that when the Speaker is on hia feet there shall be silence. It is most disrespectful to me, and to the House generally, that honorable members should persist in interjecting when I am on my feet. The conduct of business seems to be rather difficult this morning, and honorable members appear to be in a mood to do anything but business. I do not see that the question asked by the honorable member can serve any good purpose, but as it has not been previously put to the present Prime Minister, I will permit it on this occasion.
– On a point of order. Do I understand that you, Mr. Speaker, take up the position that you are the judge of whether a question is right or wrong?
– The honorable member cannot have sufficiently observed the forms of the House, or he would have known that that is one of the Speaker’s functions.
– It is the first time I have known you to take up that attitude.
– The attitude of the Government towards the question of the formation of a National Cabinet remains exactly what it was during the régime of my late chief, Mr. Fisher. I only wish to observe now that it can hardly be said that the experiment of forming a National Cabinet in Great Britain has been followed by that cessation of party strife that the honorable gentleman speaks about.
– Has the attention of the Prime Minister been drawn to the case of a returned soldier who had allocated 3s. per day to his wife whilst he was on active service? On his return to Melbourne this wounded soldier discovered that a wonderful Defence Department had made him out to be £63 in debt, and that they purposed to collect that money by deducting the -2s. per day that the man had allowed himself. If the Prime Minister discovers that the facts of this case are as they appear in the press, will he consider the desirability of appointing the honorable member for Maranoa and a member from the op posite side of the House to see if they cannot obtain something like fair play for these unfortunate soldiers?
– I know nothing of the case related by the honorable member, but I will have inquiries made, and on the facts as they are disclosed I shall be prepared to take such action as the circumstances demand.
– Seeing that a large number of women are prevented from participating in the old-age pension scheme owing to that provision which prevents women living apart from their husbands receiving a pension, and seeing that a number of these women are living apart from their husbands through no fault of their own, having been deserted, will the Treasurer see if it is not possible to make the pension available to women who are placed in this unfortunate position.
– I shall be glad to take the matter into consideration.
– I understand that the Prime Minister is to meet the State Premiers to-day in consultation upon the subject of wheat freights. Should the position be that sufficient tonnage at reasonable rates is not available, will the honorable gentleman, in conference with his State colleagues, seriously take into consideration the possibility of adopting wider means of dealing with the question of freight, after a review of the whole situation 1 o
– The honorable gentleman is not able to say to what extent the action of the Government has not been successful.
– I did not say that. Perhaps the honorable gentleman did not hear my question.
– I am perfectly certain that the action of the Government in this matter was not only justified but necessary. Although the circumstances that now exist preclude the probability of obtaining the supply of freight that the present harvest demands, I say without hesitation that, had it been left to unregulated competition, the position would have bolen infinitely worse. I desire to say further that, bad as the position is to-day, it has been made much worse by the action of unpatriotic persons in this country who have circulated untrue statements which could, and did, so disturb the freight market in England as to impose an additional 10s. per ton on all freight hired. When the matter is dealt with in the House I shall, if necessary, produce such evidence as will show very clearly from what quarters this action came, and for what purpose it was taken.
– Is the Prime Minister prepared to indicate when he will give an opportunity to the House to discuss this particular proposal ? I would remind him that if there is to be any useful discussion it should take place before it is too late.
– The honorable member may discuss the matter in the Committee of Supply. As to the discussion taking place before it is too late, I have only to say that arrangements have been made, and that they are1 quite definite. The representatives of the various States entered into this project after a careful review of all its circumstances. They are to meet to-day to deal with the situation as it exists. They will declare the rate of freight and proceed to allot it.
– Is it not a fact that the Prime Minister had made his chartering arrangements with Messrs. Elder, Smith and Company, and Messrs. Gibbs, Bright and Company, prior to the Conference of State representatives?
– Arising out of the answer given by the Prime Minister to the question I asked him a few moments ago, I desire to ask whether he will be in a position before the debate on the Supply motion is concluded, or before the Christmas vacation, to make a full and definite statement as to the arrangement, whatever it is, that has been entered into, so that the House may, if necessary, avail itself of the opportunity to discuss it.
– I am unable to say whether I shall be or not. I have only to repeat once more that the Conference of State Ministers meets to-day. What they will do, and when they will do it, depend, of course, upon themselves. Whether such information as is available after that Conference will furnish honorable members with pabulum for useful discussion I am not in a position to say, but if so it will be very much at the disposal of the House.
– I desire to ask the Minister for the Navy when the House will have an opportunity to discuss the report on the Cockatoo Island Dockyard presented by the Public Accounts Committee.
– It will be almost impossible, I think, to afford an opportunity for the discussion of the report before the Christmas vacation; but I may say, in passing, that many of the complaints which, according to this morning’s newspapers, are embodied in the report, have already been adjusted by myself.
– Will the Prime Minister state whether it is proposed to prorogue Parliament this year, and open a new session next year, or whether we are to have merely an adjournment?
– It is proposed to follow the practice heretofore adopted. We shall adjourn next Friday, giving the President and Mr. Speaker power to summon both Houses to meet at any time. The arrangements made in regard to the next meeting of the Parliament will be precisely similar to those made before.
Armidale Camp : Supply of Stretchers : Attendance of Savings Bank Officer - Hospitals - Clerical Assistance - Caldwell Machine Gun - Longbarrelled Service Rifles
asked the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
– Inquiries are being made, and a reply to the honorable member’s questions will be supplied as soon as possible.
asked the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
– Inquiries are being made, and as soon as particulars are to hand the information will be given.
asked the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Caulfield Military Hospital. - Expenditure, approximate, £20,000. The amount already expended will provide accommodation for 500 beds. As the necessity occurs, further buildings will be provided to bring the number of beds to approximately 2,000. Estimates of the extra accommodation are now in hand.
Alfred Hospital. - Expenditure, approximate, £5,000, If the necessity requires, it is proposed to erect wards for a further 200 beds. A rough estimate is £10,000.
New Out-patients’ Hospital, Melbourne. - Estimates in hand. 2. (a) The hospitals provided and proposed as above are commonly termed Hut Hospitals. The wards are long, airy pavilions, each accommodating 50 beds. lt is considered that the proposals set out above will, when completed, provide sufficient accommodation for Victoria.
asked the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
In view of the Secretary of the Defence Department and his staff being overworked, and in view of the number of clerical workers out of employment, will the Minister arrange for assistance so that the Department can meet the demands made upon it?
– Additional clerical assistance is being availed of as much as possible to relieve the pressure on the staff.
asked the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
Whether it is a fact that the Caldwell patent for a machine-gun, which is an Australian invention, was accepted by the Imperial Government this year; if so, will the Minister inform the House what practical steps have been taken to make machine-guns of this or any other pattern in Australia? ) Mr. JENSEN. - Information in possession of the Department goes to show that it is not a fact that the Caldwell machine gun has been adopted by the Imperial Government.
asked the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
Whether the long-barrelled service rifles, which, at the outbreak of war, were taken away from the rifle clubs, will be restored, as the same have been superseded by short-barrelled guns for the use of the Expeditionary Forces, and the former are no longer needed?
– The rifles referred to by the honorable member will not be withheld from rifle clubs any longer than is absolutely necessary.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Is it intended to grant the old-age and invalid pensioners the promised increase of 2s. 6d. per week before the end of this session?
– It is regretted that in the present state of the finances it is not possible to increase the old-age and invalid pensions. As already stated by the late Prime Minister, the matter of the expansion and extension of the principle has only been delayed by circumstances over which we have no control.
Customs Officer, Edithburg - Cornsacks - Use of Sugar Spirit for Fortifying Wines.1
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Whether he will, for the convenience of the trade, alter the Customs regulations so that cornsacks will in future be done up in bundles hot weighing more than 3 cwt. instead of 6 cwt. as at present?
– The matter is not at present governed by regulation, and no representations have been made tending to show that there is any necessity for action in the direction suggested.
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Will the Minister grant permission to the vignerons of West Australia to utilize sugar spirit for the purpose of fortifying this season’s wines in lieu of grapespirit, owing to the impossibility of obtaining grape spirit for this purpose?
– The matter has been under consideration with regard to all the wine-growing States. The trade is divided on the subject, and, after full inquiry, it has been decided not to allow the use of sugar spirit. Its use in fortification of Australian wine is at present prohibited by Statute.
Mr.FENTON asked the Minister of External Affairs, upon notice -
Whether he can inform the House as to the stage of progress reached in the erection of the Commonwealth Offices, in London, and when will the offices be ready for occupation?
– Contracts for the finishing trades have been let, but it is not possible at present to say when the building will be finally completed. It is probable that portion will be ready for occupation about April next.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Whether he will reconsider the offer made by the permanent-way employees of theRailway Department of New South Wales, who offered their services on Saturdays gratuitously for the manufacture of war munitions?
– It is suggested that these men place themselves in touch with the State Munitions Committee of New South Wales, with whom the Defence Department is dealing in such- matters.
Motion (by Mr. Fenton) agreed to -
That a return be laid upon the table of the House showing the imports into Australia from Great Britain, America, Germany, Japan,
Austria, and Italy, also the exports from Australia to the countries named, for the years ended 30th September, 1914, and 30th September, 1915.
Referenda : Statement of Case For and Against: Sir William Irvine and the Amendment of the Constitution - Liverpool Camp : Tipping of Cooks : Bread Contract: Change of Site: Mr. Orchard’s Charges - Camp Canteens and Baths - War Information and Money Contributions - Postal Department: Railway Carriage of Mails: Telephone Rates and Revenue: Allowance Offices - Cost of Government - State Loans - Australian Imports - Delayed Casualty Information - Recruiting - District Regiments - Use of German Trade Names - Defence Administration: Effect of Criticism on Enlistment: Treatment of Sick and Wounded Soldiers: Neglect in Pay Office: Mr. Ozanne’s Offer of Services - The War and Labour Disputes : Preference to Unionists - Transport of Wheat - Small Arms Factory - Manufacture of Munitions and Guns - Export of Metals : Molybdenite : Metal Exchange - Departmental Administration : Mr. Anderson’s Reports: Supply and Tender Board - Cockatoo Island Dockyard.
In Committee of Ways and Means: (Consideration resumed from 28th Oct. vide page 7021) of motion by Mr. Higgs -
That towards making good the Supply granted to His Majesty for the services of the year ending 30th June, 1916, a sum not exceeding £7,201,735 be granted out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
– I wish to draw the attention of honorable members to a document which has recently been issued under the supposed authority of the Referendum (Constitution Alteration) Act, No. 2, passed in 1912. The portion of the document to which I intend to refer is described as the case for the amendments. I do not propose at this stage to invite the Committee to enter on a general discussion of the merits of the proposals for constitutional amendments, which are, apparently, shortly to be placed before the people of Australia. . What I desire is to call the attention of honorable members, who; now in Committee, are dealing with finance, to what appears to me to be a distinct breach of the authoritygiven by this Parliament to each side of the House to put forward their arguments, at the public expense, in favour or against the proposed amendments. When I first read this document, it seemed to me that it bore its authorship on its face, possessing, as it did, in every page, almost in every line, such familiar marks of a style well known to all of us now - a style, I may say, admired by nearly every one - a style brilliant, effective, and not too scrupulous, I at once came to the conclusion - which for a certain reason I now find to be wrong - that the author of the pamphlet was” the gentleman who occupies the high position of Prime Minister of the Commonwealth. However, I reverted to the report of the debate which took place on the introduction of the Bill to enable either side of the House to place before the electors the reasons for and against the referenda, and I found there stated by the Minister who introduced the Bill - the then AttorneyGeneral and now the Prime Minister - the following admirable exposition of the principles that ought to guide either party in politics in using the power which Parliament granted them to expend public money in this way. In Hansard of 1912, page 7154, the present Prime Minister defining the purposes of the Bill then before us, said - honorable members may put their case before the public, provided that it is put in an impersonal, reasonable, and judicial way. There is tobe no imputation of motives. In short, the argument is to be one which appeals to the reason rather than to the emotions and party sentiment.
Could any expression of the highest ideal of statemanship in using this great power have been better given than in these words? The honorable gentleman went on to say -
The subject necessarily covers a wide field, but no irrelevant matter must be introduced. In order that these conditions may be observed, it is suggested that two impartial persons shall be appointed to act, one for each side of the House, the matter being submitted to each party by these gentlemen before being forwarded to the Chief Electoral Officer. These persons will be selected by the different parties in this House. All that the selected individuals will have to do is to see that the matter is treated impersonally, that no motives are imputed, and that, within the very wide scope which the subject covers, no irrelevant matter is introduced.
I wish to say at once that I do not invite a discussion on the general question, because I do not think the present moment appropriate, and I do not intend to enter into a general discussion of its merits. Another opportunity will probably occur in this House, before we part, of dealing with the matter in the way in which it should be dealt with. I think, however, that I am justified on this occasion in referring to one passage, in which a statement made by me at a public meeting held at a place known as Ringwood, in “Victoria, is made use of in a way of which I feel sure that, not only the opponents of these measures, but every member who supports the proposed amendments of the Constitution, will, when he knows the facts, be very careful not to give his approval. I refer to this because the statement has not only been given a prominent position in the printed case, but because, since its appearance with the full authority of an official document, it has been printed and re-printed, and, no doubt, circulated throughout the Commonwealth. Yet the statement is a false one.
– Could there not be a prosecution for publishing false information ?
– My only desire is to make the matter quite clear.
– I hope you will have better luck than Mr. Fisher and Senator Pearce with their libel actions.
– We are not now talking about libel actions, but endeavoring to do our duty as members of Parliament - that is all we are concerned with at present. I take no exception whatever to the author of this case, whoever he may be, using my public utterances, either in favour of or against any. of these amendments. I take no exception to his making the utmost use of them - he is perfectly welcome to that course, and perfectly justified in doing so. I have been as definite and clear in my statements as has any member of the Committee. Honorable members are entitled to use my statements, but they are not entitled to use, and to spend, public money in publishing and extending statements that either were not made by me or were made in relation to a totally different matter, as if they were used in relation to some of these amendments. The particular passage to which I refer appears on page 17 of the pamphlet, and it is given additional prominence by this marginal note - “ Sir William Irvine says ‘ Constitution needs amendments to enable Commonwealth Government to conduct the war.’ “ Anybody reading that marginal note would derive the impression - and I think that is the intention - that I had stated that the Constitution required the amendments, which are to be the subject of the forthcoming referendum, for the purpose of carrying on the war. The passage on which that marginal note is based is an isolated sen.tence culled from a newspaper report, and was never referred to me by the author of the pamphlet for confirmation - a sentence from a report apparently sent by telegraph, and subject to all the qualifications of that class of reporting.
– You did not contradict the report.
– I did not; and I should say that the words contained in that report were probably, in substance, the language which I uttered. The sentence I refer to is -
I am strongly of the opinion that the powers of the National Parliament of Australia must be strengthened. From what has happened during the last year 1 am more convinced than ever that the somewhat loose-jointed …. Constitution which we entered into fifteen years ago will need to be sufficiently strong for the great work we have to perform during the war, and more especially those heavy responsibilities which we will have at the close of the war.
That sentence is reprinted in connexion with these specific amendments, and pointed to as an argument in favour of those amendments. Yet, if the author of the pamphlet had adopted what I believe to be the invariable practice of courtesy amongst members of this House,’ before using the language of a political opponent for even the purposes of ordinary parliamentary debate, and much more so when using that language for incorporation in a formal official document printed and circulated at the expense of the Commonwealth for the information of the electors - had he done me the courtesy of asking me if I had used those words, and, if so, if I had used them in the connexion in which he wished to apply them, I should have told him, although I should have thought it almost unnecessary to do so in view of the definite statements I have made inside and outside the House from time to time, that my statements as to an amendment of the Constitution in the direction of strengthening the powers of the Commonwealth for the purposes of the war, had no reference to any of the proposed amendments which are the subject of this pamphlet, but had relation to the financial weakness which this Parliament now labours under, and which constitutes a serious handicap upon our successful prosecution of the war.
– If the honorable and learned gentleman will look further through the pamphlet, he will find a statement to the effect that his words referred to the desirability of having one taxing power instead of seven.
– I am quite aware of the fact that, in dealing with another phase of the subject, my expressed opinions are used as the honorable member has interjected. But is it not plain that any elector reading that pamphlet would come to no other conclusion than that I had deliberately stated that these particular amendments now before the people were essential for the successful prosecution of the war ? I ask the Prime Minister whether that is not the intention of the author of the pamphlet? I do not charge him with being the author, but I ask him if that is not the inference which any reasonable individual would draw fi om my utterance as used in connexion with this pamphlet. Members are aware of my reiterated expression that not one of these amendments is essential to the purposes of the war, but that the Commonwealth now possesses, by the mere existence of a state of war, all the powers that arc necessary for its prosecution.
– You did not say that.
– I have said that, and I challenge the honorable member to contradict me. I repeated and emphasized the admirably expressed and absolutely true language of the then AttorneyGeneral - now the Prime Minister - that he would be a bold man indeed who would assign any limit to the powers which this Parliament possesses for the prosecution of the war. That being the contention I have expressed over and over again inside and outside the House, it must have been known to the author of the pamphlet, as it is known to every member of the House, that my attitude has been that none of these amendments is essential for the prosecution of the war, but that, more especially for undertaking the great duties which we may rationally expect will fall upon us on the successful conclusion of this war, we shall require to possess a greater degree of financial power than the Constitution at present confers upon this Parliament. If I had been asked by the author of the pamphlet what was meant by my reference to the necessity for an amendment of the Constitution, I should have told him that on that occasion, as on every other occasion, I was advocating a strengthening of the powers of the Commonwealth in order that it might better be able to deal with the difficult financial problems that are arising. I do not intend to deal to-day with the various arguments used in the pamphlet. There will be other opportunities for such an analysis, but I am not going beyond the mark when I say that the general statement of the case for the amendments hardly complies with the impartial, impersonal, high-minded, and judicial conditions upon which the facts were to be stated to the electors of the Commonwealth. I shall not initiate a debate on that matter now, but I deem it my duty to the House and to myself to protest that my statement, which has been given additional importance by being circulated already, at the very commencement of the campaign, in different parts of Australia - leaflets in which it is reprinted have reached me from Tasmania - is being used in such a way as to give a false and incorrect impression of the views I hold.
.- We have heard a good deal about the faults of the Defence Department, and it has struck me that it would not be altogether out of place if honorable members heard something about the good work which the Department is doing. We need first of all to realize the gigantic undertaking in which Australia is engaged at the present time. Our Defence Department has been called upon to solve a problem such as never confronted us in Australia before. They have handled something over 160,000 troops, and have been able to equip them. It is universally acknowledged that the equipment of our troops compares more than favorably with that of the soldiers of the older countries of the world. It stands to the credit of the Defence Department also that we have been able to transport across the seas to the seat of war a vast number of troops, well-trained and equipped, without any accident whatever. It is greatly to the credit of the Department, in my opinion, that a young country like Australia, drawn practically for the first time into the whirlpool of war, should have been able to rise as it has done to meet its responsibilities. The Department responsible for the enrolment, equipment, and transportation of so vast’ a body of troops over a great stretch of water to the centre of operations should be credited with the success it has achieved. Though the Department is not given the credit it deserves by some members of this House, it has received praise from the greatest military authorities in the Empire. Their praise and commendation is an effective answer to the little pin-pricking criticisms of our Defence Department which we have heard. It is no easy matter to transport a large body of troops over so great a distance as our Defence Department has done. A thousand and one details have had to be attended to, thousands of men have had to be engaged in the fitting up of a great number of transports, and. it is greatly to the credit of the Department that the work of fitting up the transports has been carried out without any industrial disputes. The way in which they have_ dealt with the German control of metals in Australia is, in my view, also greatly to the credit of the Government. The British Government is to-day following the lead set by the present Prime Minister of Australia in this connexion. If in this matter there is one man in Australia who has risen to the height of his responsibility, and who has displayed a knowledge of the far-reaching effects of the German control of the metal industries of Australia, it is the present Prime Minister. The Government are deserving of the greatest credit from the community on this ground alone. If the Prime Minister had done no more than tackle, as he has done, the German control of metals in this country, it would stand to his everlasting credit. We have heard many complaints about soldiers’ pay, and in this connexion I wish to say that, in common with other honorable members, many cases of hardship have been brought under my notice, but I have been able, in every instance, to have the grievances complained of remedied. I have all the facts before me, and I know what I am talking about. Some seemingly very hard cases have been brought under my notice, but I repeat that, in every instance, I have been able, with the assistance of officers of the Defence Department, to unravel the difficulty and to have justice done.
– Why should people have to go to the honorable member at all about such tilings?
– I am not going to discuss that at the moment. I am referring to cases which have been brought under my own notice.
– The honorable member has been extremely lucky.
– It is not a case of being extremely lucky, but of using a little common sense. I came into this House recently as a new member without any previous experience of parliamentary life, but I am egotistical enough to claim the possession of common sense, and I know how to get round an obstacle if I cannot get over the top of it. I can mention a case where two sons left for the front, leaving their mother absolutely destitute. They left no papers giving her the Tight to “any of their pay while they were away. She got into communication with me, and we decided that a cable should be sent to her sons in Egypt asking them to send back authority to enable her to collect something from their pay. That was done. When she took the cable in reply to the Defence Department they turned, it down and refused to recognise it. I interviewed officers of the Defence Department, and I wish here specially to refer to the chief clerk- of the pay branch, Victoria Barracks, Sydney. Let me tell my New South Wales friends that if they require to have anything fixed up in connexion with the district pay-office they have only to go along to this officer, and he will see that all that is necessary is done. I have said that, in this case, the Department refused to recognise the cabled authority. I interviewed the authorities’ on the matter, and the reasons which they advanced for their action impressed me as being very sound. They urged that the cable in itself afforded no proof that the sons had given the requisite authority for the disbursement of their wages in the direction desired. Accordingly, a cable was sent to the officer commanding the particular force to which these young men were attached, and a satisfactory reply was received from him, with the result that the mother has since been receiving the pay of her two sons. Another case was that of a woman residing in Annandale, Sydney, whose two sons enlisted together and simultaneously departed for the front. In due course she applied for their pay, when the Department informed her that it had a record relating to only one son. In such circumstances one would have condemned the Department without first taking the trouble to institute inquiry into the matter. When this lady communicated with me, I immediately waited upon the paymaster and went through the papers with him. In this connexion I would advise honorable members not to be content to accept an officer’s assurance, but if possible to personally inspect the papers relating to any matter in which they may be interested.
– The honorable member is giving away the show.
– I went through the papers with the paymaster, and we discovered that the fault lay in the fact that one son had signed on behalf of the two.
– Did he sign the other brother’s name?
– No; but he signed both papers. Surely the Defence Department should not be condemned for an error of that kind! Immediately upon ascertaining the position-, the necessary papers were forwarded to Egypt with a request that the son who had omitted to allocate his pay to his mother should repair his error by signing the requisite paper and returning it to Sydney. He has since done this, and his mother is now receiving pay. on his behalf. But, on the face of things; an honorable member might have come along here and submitted a motion for the adjournment of the House in order to call attention to the matter, when in reality the Department was not to blame. Still another case of a similar character is that of a soldier who had been invalided from Rabaul. Upon his return to the Commonwealth the Pay Office hung up his pay for some time. As a result, however, of a little perseverance I was able to secure the rectification of the error, so that he is now receiving the pay to which he is properly entitled. Just before I left Sydney I was approached by an officer who had previously been in the Holdsworthy
Camp, and who had recently been transferred to Liverpool. He informed me that since his transfer he had received no pay. I communicated with the Department on the matter, and I have since received a letter intimating that the trouble has been satisfactorily adjusted. That is another instance in which a great noise might have been made.
– But the honorable member for Corio telegraphed to the Minister, and waited upon all the leading officers of the Defence Department. What more could he do?
– I am not objecting to the complaints voiced by the honorable member for Corio. I am merely giving my own experiences. I say that in every case of this kind which has been brought under my notice I have been successful in getting matters adjusted to the satisfaction of the dependants of the soldiers. It is the duty of every honorable member to insure that justice shall be done to these persons. If the whole of my time is occupied in that direction, and my efforts are successful, I consider that I shall be merely discharging the duty which I owe to the country. Coming to the Liverpool Camp, many complaints have reached me as to the food which is supplied there. Ample supplies are available, but the fault appears to me to lie in its distribution. The cooks are provided with rations for a certain number of men. But there are certain shrewd gentlemen amongst the trainees - men who have knocked about shearing camps for years, and who consequently know the ropes. Almost the first thing, which they suggest is that the troops shall each contribute ls. per week by way of a tip to the cook. That means that those who contribute get plenty of rations, whilst those who do not fare badly.
– That is a pretty serious charge.
– It is true. The cooks at Liverpool Camp should not be permitted to accept a tip from the soldiers in any shape or form. Wherever a large body of men is gathered together and a section of them throw in ls. a week for the cook, that section will get better treatment than will those men. who do not. In the interests of the Camp, the Department should see that this objectionable system is discontinued. I wish now to say a word or two in reference to the canteen. I was very pleased to learn that the system hitherto in vogue at the camps is1 to be changed. I was delighted to hear the honorable member for Nepean admit that the only way to efficiently run a canteen is on Socialistic lines. I hope that he will carry his convictions a little further by recognising, that if that system is a good one to adopt in the case of canteens, it must be equally good in other cases.
– Did he not refer to the co-operative system?
– I have no desire to enter into an academic discussion as to the difference which exists between cooperation and Socialism, but I am prepared to discuss that matter with the honorable member outside this chamber at any time.
– Why not debate it here?
– Although I am only a new member, I do not intend to be led away from the course which I have mapped out for myself. Still another matter which is deserving of consideration is the provision of baths at our military camps. It seems to me very wrong that our soldiers should be obliged to pay for baths there. These little luxuries should be provided absolutely free. If there is one thing more than another which makes for sickness in a camp it is uncleanliness. It will pay Australia to see that ample facilities are provided at our military camps whereby our soldiers may obtain hot and cold baths free. There is an uneasy feeling in the Commonwealth that everything is not right in regard* to the war. We are told certain things ‘by the Department, and we hear of huge blunders that have occurred. Honorable members are asked to vote on measures affecting the war, the welfare of Australia and the Empire,, while all the time they know nothing about the war except what the newspapers tell them. While I am prepared to give- every assistance in my power to- carry the struggle to a successful conclusion, I want to- be able to’ do it in a sensible and reasonable manner. I want to be able to come to the House and record my vote in the light of facts. I want to know where I stand and where the country stands. What do honorable members know of the needs of the Empire or of what is actually happening, in the theatre of conflict ? It is full time the Government took honorable members into their confidence on the subject. If the position is serious, if there is need for something great to be done, let the Government tell us so. The public mind is uneasy, and the members of this Parliament should not have to go to the newspapers for their information. If there is something seriously wrong, if there is a call for even greater efforts, I say to the Government, “ Take honorable members into your confidence. Let us know the position. We are all reasonable men, all lovers of our country, all desirous of giving our best for Australia and the Empire, and the least we can ask is to be taken into your confidence.” I am sure that if that is done, out of the joint wisdom of the whole House something will be evolved whereby better efforts can be put forth than is the case to-day. I am anxious to know the real position and how we can best give effective help, and that is why I desire that the House should be taken, at any rate, further into the confidence of the Government than it is now. A great call has been made to the manhood of Australia, and to that call it is responding nobly. It has done great and glorious deeds in Gallipoli ; but there is also a call to the people with money in Australia. If the sons of the workers of the Commonwealth are called on to give their lives for their country and they have shown that they are prepared to do so cheerfully, and “in so doing to give their all, the people with money in Australia should be at least prepared to give what they possess on the same conditions as the workers have been giving their lives. When another loan is placed on the Australian market, our capitalists should lend their money as freely and as readily as the sons of the workers have given their lives.
– The last loan was over subscribed.
– So it ought to be. There is no patriotism in a man lending his money to his country at war time at 4$ per cent. It is merely a good business investment. If the workers have to give their all, the capitalists should be prepared to give their money free of interest. That would be a test of the patriotism of those gentlemen. One honorable member asks if we are to be given a chance to vote in that way. I am going to vote in that way whether I am given a chance or not. I am actuated by the very highest ideals and desire to do the best I can for my country. I came into the Australian Parliament as a young man with out any previous experience, but filled with ideals. I want to do something on behalf of Australia, but whether I can do so or not remains to be proved. At least I am going to try’ to do it. If I fail it will not be for want of trying, and I want the people who sent me into this Parliament to be able to say that I tried to do my best on behalf of the country that gave me birth.
.- It was very refreshing to me last night to hear some honorable members attempting to deal with the finances, referring to extravagance, and predicting that sooner or later Australia will have to steer a different course with regard to loans than has been the case in the past. I do not think the honorable member for Wimmera, who raised the question last night, had really thought out what he was saying. He drew attention to the action of the State Governments in charging the Federal Government for the cost of carrying mails and packages over the railways. He said a reduction had been made in the train services, and that the Commonwealth should request a reduction in the cost of carrying the mails. That was one of his suggestions for dealing with the great financial question which the House must sooner or later tackle. In some cases the railways have been run at a very serious loss, and it must not be forgotten that the same taxpayers find the revenue to carry on the Federal and State Governments. There would, if the honorable member’s suggestion were adopted, be no reduction in the actual expenditure, because the State would have had to bear extra cost in other directions if there had been an attempt to run the railway mail service at a cheaper rate. We all hope, of course, that this reduction in the train services will only be temporary, and that before long normal traffic conditions will prevail again. The reduction in the cost of government in Australia is a matter that is receiving a great deal of attention at the present time, and if we could do something practical we would be able to show our earnestness in that matter. When we proposed to have a National Government in this country, who thought for a moment that we would continue the six State Parliaments on the same scale as previously ? Who thought that the six Upper Houses, which are not representative of the people at all, would be allowed to continue? When honorable members bear in mind that the State Parliaments cost something like £750,000 a year, they will realize that, when I advocate a reduction in the cost of State Parliaments, I have a better grasp of the financial situation than has the honorable member for Wimmera, who wanted to save a few hundred pounds by cutting down the cost of the Federal mail service and putting the burden on to the States. The State Premiers will shortly hold a Conference in Melbourne with the new Prime Minister and the new Treasurer. I am sorry that this Parliament has not taken some steps to place the new Federal Ministers in a position to intimate to the State Premiers that the time has arrived when no further State loans shall be negotiated beyond the borders of Australia except through the Commonwealth Government. This question cannot be evaded much longer.
– The people will demand its consideration.
– We all deplore the fact that it is possible for any one of the State Governments, during this present crisis, to put Australia in an awkward position, because if one State negotiates a loan of an unbusinesslike character, it must have an important effect in the near future on the position of Australia in the London market. No stretch of imagination is necessary, and no great financial ability is required to understand clearly what would be the effect on Australia of an unfavorable State loan floated in London. Eighteen months ago we talked about a £300,000,000 debt in Australia, but today we are approaching the £400,000,000 mark, and it is advisable that the Federal Treasurer should be in a position to tell the State Premiers that no further loans, beyond the borders of the Commonwealth, must be negotiated except through the Commonwealth Government. Is not that a business proposition to put to the people of this country? We all know the honorable member for Flinders cannot see eye to eye with members on this side on many matters of importance, but I am sure that he will admit that, sooner or later, this policy must be adopted by the Commonwealth Government. The new Treasurer is statesman enough, I believe, to appreciate the wisdom of taking a bold stand at the next Premiers’ Conference, and I hope he will insist upon this ques tion being settled definitely, because the position must be faced sooner or later. The honorable member for Wimmera referred to the State Savings Banks, and on that subject I want to say I am sorry that the proposal made by the Federal Treasurer some years ago was not given effect to, because it was a thoroughly sound business proposition. On that occasion the Treasurer of the day, the Right Honorable Andrew Fisher, displayed a masterly grasp of financial affairs, and he presented a thoroughly practical scheme when he proposed that 75 per cent, of the new business should be retained by the States and the balance of 25 per cent, should be allowed to go to the Commonwealth, the States and the Commonwealth between them utilizing the money in the best interests of the people as a whole. A better proposition than that will never be presented, but the States, with the idea, probably, of retaining their sovereignty, and, perhaps, also of preventing the onward march of progress, declined to accept the proposal. No one will dispute that we have sovereign powers in this direction, and with all due respect to the statement made by the honorable member for Flinders, I rather think the press took the correct view of his utterance, because it was in accord with the honorable gentleman’s statements on former occasions in regard to the alteration of the Constitution. No member sitting on this side of the House has done so much to divide his party as the honorable member for Flinders has done on that subject. I think that on some subjects he has an open mind, and I believe that on some questions affecting the Constitution he has a broad mind. He spoke with the idea of keeping as near to his party ns is possible. I do not know exactly what to call him. I know that he is not a pet child with the Opposition. I realize that he is a terribly disturbing element in the party. One has only to travel with honorable members on the other side to know that every time the honorable and learned member does speak here they take much notice of what he says. They are often very silent indeed when he speaks in reference to the Constitution. They seem to feel; with a sort of shiver, that they are on the wrong track, and that he is on the right track. That is the impression which is conveyed to any observer of our proceedings. I have not been here so long as many honorable members, but from my seat I watch the attitude of honorable members on the other side. I never see so many dumb members sitting in a legislative chamber as I do when the honorable and learned member gets up, so anxious are they to hear what he is going to say. They keep very dumb, and sit with tongue in cheek until he has finished his speech. Take the statement he made to-day regarding the report of the speech he delivered at Ringwood, in his electorate. It is a curious thing that it has taken the honorable and learned member four months to find out that it was not a true interpretation of a sentence which he uttered.’ He would not have found out the mistake only that the sentence was quoted in the pamphlet issued by the Government. It gave him an opportunity to try to put on the sentence a different interpretation from that which the general public were likely to make. But, with all respect to the honorable and learned member, I do not think that anything he said this morning will alter the view of the public in regard to the way he put that question. I take it that on the occasion of his utterance he was addressing a meeting of his constituents, and felt a degree of liberty which he does not experience when he addresses a number of opponents. No doubt he said to himself, “ This is a fine chance for me to give a true interpretation, and to state what is really in my mind on this great question affecting the Constitution of Australia.” I can quite understand his position at the time. Every honorable member, like himself, realizes that it is pleasant to go to a meeting where politics are not discussed, because he can then often tell the truth, whereas, at a political meeting, he cannot. Honorable members on the other side are always talking about patriotism, yet they go to a public meeting, even during a recruiting campaign, and start by dealing with economic questions. I am sorry to say that many good-intentioned persons do not understand such questions. If our honorable friends opposite would avoid, economics, and deal with recruiting alone, they might render some service to the country, but when they go on to a platform they say to the working man, “ Can you not do away with the glass of beer? Can you not do away with the pipe of tobacco? If you wear your shirt two days more than you are in the habit of doing you will save on your laundry bill. If you do not go out on Sunday you will save on boot leather.” That is the sort of stuff which our honorable friends talk when they deal with economic questions outside. I am really loth to go on a platform where such stuff is uttered. I often think that if these speakers would take a little more interest in Australia, and a real interest in economics and questions affecting public expenditure, they would be perturbed by the fact that our present imports are valued at £77,010,343. That is a quarter in which they ought to apply the pruning knife instead of worrying about the wharf labourer, the coal miner, and the builder’s labourer, who, after a day’s work, enjoys a pipe of tobacco, and sits at home with his wife or chats to a friend. The greatest contributors to the public revenue are those who take alcoholic liquor and enjoy a pipe of tobacco. Now, how is that great volume of imports- £77,000,000 odd - itemized? Foodstuffs represent £4,230,112, and apparel and textiles £19,742,595. Whenever one is addressing a public meeting he will notice that a great number of the audience are standing in boots, not caring a damn where they were made.
– These persons do not care where their boots come from. The use of the word “damn” is not wrong. Is it unparliamentary, sir ?
– It is an unparliamentary term.
– Not in the sense in which I used the word. At public meetings one will observe many persons standing in imported boots, and not caring a button whence they came. They do not know either where their hats came from. They might have been made in Germany, Austria, or Turkey. One will notice many persons with Turkish cigarettes in their mouths while he is addressing the audience. All these articles are purchased in Australia. When the early history of Australia comes to be written, I do not know of anything which will provoke the historian to so much ridicule as the fact that it imported metals and machinery to the value of £17,929,306. Although the Commonwealth contains untold quantities of the raw material, yet nearly £18,000,000 worth, of metals and machinery are now imported, and honorable members on the other side can only worry about John Smith or Willy Brown smoking a pipe of tobacco after he has done his day’s work, and wanting him to knock off the habit or to wear his shirt longer than he- does. Here is a very funny item in this return from the Trade and Customs Department. Goodness knows what the item “ Miscellaneous “ contains. I tried to get some information about the item. It might include some of the watches of the honorable member for Nepean for all I know to the contrary. The miscellaneous imports are valued at £10,930,138. All this money is spent by less than 5,000,000 persons. I hope that before long honorable members will realize that we cannot continue to exist by borrowing ; that we cannot go on raising large loans which have the effect of increasing the cost of land to our people. I hope that members of the Government will be courageous enough to try to end this sort of financing. The honorable members for Wentworth and Grampians have spoken during the debate about the manufacture of aspirin, a German drug. I am in accord with the sentiments of the honorable member for Wentworth, and am glad to know that his education in these matters has not been neglected; but it cannot be forgotten that patent rights form the subject of international law. Recently in Sydney I had a conversation with a legal gentleman who is a great authority on the subject, and he told me that the legislation under which Permission may be given to persons to operate under patent protection originally granted to alien enemies will have effect only during the war, and that later the original patentees, whether Germans or other foreigners, will resume all their rights and privileges. The honorable member for Wentworth suggested that aspirin could be made under another name, but the patent laws do not permit the infringement of a patent in that way and the patentee could get the courts to protect his rights. It is only just that these rights should be so protected. . The other day, when in Sydney, I was asked to address an anti-German meeting. but I felt that I could not mix myself with every one, and ought not to be the tool of designing persons. I am sufficiently well known in Sydney for every one to be aware that I cannot be bought. The men connected with this meeting have for thirty-six years and longer been preaching the doctrine that we should purchase in the cheapest market, wherever that might be, They are the men who are responsible for the presence of so many German articles in the Australian market, and have done more than any others to bring our metal trade under the control, not of Australians or Britishers, but of those who are our deadly enemies, and who will be our enemies even in time of peace, because they are using our valuable resources for their own ends. I need not name the men to whom I refer, but one of them is a knight, and has been a prominent freetrader for a number of years.
– The secretary to the meeting was a member of the Waverley Labour League, and so was the President. The idea originated with the Labour league.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The honorable member for Dalley suggested that the only persons in Australia who are not taking part in the great struggle in which the Empire is now engaged are those who are well off. I am afraid that such suggestions are prompted, not by the desire to speak the truth, but in the hope of stirring up political strife; certainly they are highly regrettable. The wealthy persons of this community have done as well as any others. I do not know one wealthy family in Australia which has not representatives at the front.
– I heard a wealthy man say that he would put his money into American stocks rather than pay our taxation.
– Their representatives have given in just the same degree as others. The honorable member knows quite well that this Parliament has the power of taxation, and has exercised it. In many cases the aggregate taxation in Australia amounts to more than a fourth of the incomes of the wealthy. In some cases it goes higher than one-half.
– What if it does?
– Have any honorable members on that side of the chamber heard complaints from the wealthy people ?
– Are they not paying their taxes as loyally as any one else?
I have heard no general complaint from them. They recognise that it is their duty to pay, and they are doing their duty, and doing it well. When we turu aside to the voluntary contributions which have flowed like water from both the welltodo and those who are not so well off, I venture to say that the Australian contributions stand out above those given in any other part of the British Empire.
– The Indians have contributed far more handsomely than any other part of the Empire.
– I do not think that statistics will bear out the statement of the honorable member. He must recognise that India is one of the wealthiest portions of the British Empire, and while I admit that the wealthy citizens of India, in common with the wealthy citizens of Australia, have given liberally to the patriotic funds, I do not believe that any part of the British Empire has done as well as Australia in proportion to its population and wealth. I deprecate the attempt to set class against class. At the Dardanelles we see the wealthy man’s sons shoulder to shoulder with the sons of the poor man, doing their work in the trenches just as nobly and just as well as any other class. I do not say. that there are not among the wealthy those who have shirked their duty, just as we can find among the working classes those who have shirked their duty.
– Generally they have some- obligation at home.
– We all know that there are those who have no obligations at home, and have their full health and strength, but yet have not seen fit to volunteer in this campaign. Individual cases are to be found on all sides, but I ask honorable members not to draw between class and class invidious distinctions for which the circumstances give no justification. Every class of the community is endeavouring to do its duty, and is doing it nobly and well.
Mr.Fenton. - What was wrong with the statement of the honorable member for Dalley? He said that the workman gave his life ; why should not the wealthy man give his purse ?
– What was underlying the remarks of the honorable member was the imputation that the wealthy classes were not doing their share. I venture to say that they are doing their share, and doing it nobly and well. But I do not propose to draw invidious distinctions between class and class at the front; the subject that I wish to bring particularly under the notice of the Minister of Defence, or his representative in this chamber, is the question of how best Australia can answer to the call for more and still more men that came to us from our King the other day. Australia has done well so far. Perhaps it has done more than any of us anticipated would be necessary when war was declared on the 4th August, 1914.
– It has done more than, any other part of the British Dominions.
– There again I do not propose to draw invidious distinctions between Dominion and Dominion, or between State and State. I wish to place before the chamber my views in regard to the obligation that is laid on Australia in this struggle to do nothing short of its best, and in regard to how best we can do it. Australia has done well, but before the struggle is ended it will have to do a good deal better, in common with other parts of the Empire. If for no other reason than the purely selfish one that Australia possibly has more to lose than any other part of the Empire, it ought not to stop short of carrying out in its fulness the promise of the late Prime Minister when he said we would not stop until we had given our last man and our last shilling. The difficulty in regard to the present method of raising troops is the uncertainty of the system, and I believe that it will be found increasingly difficult as time goes on to get even the reinforcements necessary to keep the present forces to which Australia is already committed up to their existing strength. The recruiting figures of the last week or two show conclusively that the number of volunteers coming forward is not sufficient to maintain the necessary reinforcements - I think the Minister of Defence will admit it - and I seek to learn from the Ministry the proposals they have in view to assist the endeavour to swell the numbers. It is difficult to persuade men to leave their districts, their homes, and their kith and kin to go away to a concentration camp among a lot of men whom they do not know, and then proceed to the other side of the world. I have had considerable experience dur- ing the recruiting campaign, having addressed a large number of meetings, and having been partially successful in persuading recruits to make up their minds> but the further I have gone the more I have become convinced of the increasing difficulty in getting men to come forward. I believe we could overcome the difficulty to a great extent by the creation of district regiments - by raising regiments in specific districts - by mapping out Australia into districts where men known to one another could be brought together in their district regiment. Men would be more ready to join if they knew they would be going through the campaign in the company of their mates, whilst one district would vie with another in turning out the greater number of recruits, and in providing the best regiments. It would be infinitely easier to get men than it is today if some such system were adopted.
– Does the honorable member think they would not go to help the Empire, but would go to help a particular regiment!
– I do not think that for a single moment. The honorable member for Barrier must know that in a matter of this kind there is a great meaning attached to the little word “ comradeship.” Scores of lads who would hesitate to go away to a camp where they did not know any one, to go into a tent where they did not know any one, and have to battle through it all by themselves, would gladly enlist if they knew they were going to join men with whom they were acquainted. I noticed the other day a speech made by the Canadian Minister of Defence in England, in which he said that it had not been necessary to hold a single recruiting meeting in Canada. “ All we have done,” he pointed out, “is to map out a district, and I have announced that from that district we intend to raise such and such a regiment,” That regiment was filled within a week. I believe the experience of Australia would be the same if the same expedient were adopted. Take, for instance, my own district - the Richmond and Tweed district. A large number of men have already gone from there. In the month of September the Lismore recruiting office dealt with 477 recruits. This month, up to the date when I was recently there, 235 recruits had been sent into camp. But there are hundreds and hundreds of young fellows who, if a district regiment were created, would at once join the colours, though they will not do so to-day. Again, take the New England district. One of the influences that has been of material assistance in bringing recruits along at Armidale has been the existence of a local camp. Small companies of local men have been formed, and they have gone into camp together. The presence of that Camp has been a great incentive to recruiting in that district, and I urge the Minister to seriously consider the desirability of establishing throughout Australia district regiments on the lines I have suggested. I have done my best in the recruiting campaigns just as other honorable members have done, but I am coming to the conclusion that, notwithstanding all the recruiting efforts that are being made, we are not getting sufficient men to keep the reinforcements going. Whilst that is the case our difficulties will grow greater and greater, so that the Minister and the Government ought seriously to contemplate an alteration in the existing method to discover whether it is not possible to obtain a greater and more constant flow of recruits. May I refer for a moment to one of the little pinpricks noticeable in connexion with the work of the Defence Department - pinpricks little, perhaps, in themselves, but all tending to check the flow of recruits ? I mean the existing method, or lack of method, of notifying casualties to the relatives of those who have gone to the front. I do not know what is wrong. It is evidently not at this end, and it is evidently not on the peninsula at Gallipoli, for it is after the troops have left Gallipoli that all the trouble begins. In many cases that have come under my own notice, the notification of a casualty has reached the relatives weeks after the casualty actually happened. Take the case of my own brother. I received a letter from him dated 9th September. He had then been four weeks in the hospital ; but I have received no official notification of this casualty yet, and I do not know when I am likely to get one. The son of an honorable member of this House came home the other day wounded from Egypt, and when he landed in Australia his father did not know that he had been wounded, and to this day he has not received any notification of the casualty. Scores of similar cases might be quoted.
Is it not possible for the Minister to devise some better method of notifying the casualties as they actually occur, and of so saving the relatives of those at the front these months of anxiety? I could quote instances where relatives have been notified of casualties. They have cabled, but have not been able to receive any information, yet after weeks and weeks of anxiety they have discovered that when the original notification was despatched their relative had recovered from the effects of his injury.
– You can hardly avoid some mistakes.
– But these are not mistakes1. The whole trouble is that the notification of casualties is weeks and weeks behind. A case came under my notice the other day in which the Defence Department notified a casualty to a man. A private was wounded in the fighting early in August. The Department notified the father of this on 27th September, and intimated that the lad had been landed at Malta. The father instantly wired to ascertain the nature of his injuries. He could obtain no satisfaction through official channels, but eventually discovered through the Red Cross- that his son had been shipped from Malta to London on the 5th September. He then endeavoured to obtain further information concerning him through official channels, and was furnished with the particulars which the Red Cross Society had already supplied. Meantime he was cabling to London, and, eventually, ascertained through the Young Men’s Christian Association that his boy was well, and. on furlough. I have yet another case where the Department notified a citizen on the 20th July that his son was wounded. He endeavoured to get into communication with him, and succeeded, through private channels - chiefly through the Red Cross and the Young Men’s Christian Association - in discovering that his son was wounded on the 28th June; that on the Sth July he. arrived at the second Australian general hospital, Ghezireh that he was discharged from that hospital at the end of July, arrived again at the front early in August, and embarked on a hospital ship from Anzac at the end of August, ill. Ultimately the father received a cable from his son, dated London, 13th October, stating, “On furlough; quite well.” That was the information, the father obtained through private channels. The official information he received was as follows: - In the first place, he received a telegram from the Defence Department, Melbourne, on the 20th July, stating that the young man was in the Second Australian General Hospital, Egypt, suffering from a slight bullet wound. The next intimation that he received from the Department was in the form of a letter from the Officer in Charge of the Base Records, Melbourne, dated 13th October, as follows: -
DEAR Sib, - With reference to my wire of the 20th July, I have now to. advise you that information nas been received ‘to the effect that your son is now in the hospital at Birmingham…..
That was the whole of the official information he obtained. Between the 20th July, the date on which the telegram was sent by the Department, and the 13th October, there was a complete hiatus so far as official information was concerned.But that the father was well, off, and could afford to send a number of cablegrams, he would not have got the information that he did through private sources. This is by no means an isolated case. Many cases of a similar character are constantly coming under my notice. To make the position worse from the point of view of the failure of the official information, it may be mentioned that, in the letter of the 13th October, from the Base Records Office, the statement was made, “Any further particulars coming to hand will be promptly transmitted.” A system which permits of this kind” of thing-
– The system is absolutely hide bound and conservative in the extreme, but the authorities will not alter it.
– That may be. If we desire to have a constant flow of recruits we should endeavour to get the military machine to work as smoothly as possible. If there is one thing more than another that at present is retarding the recruiting movement in the country, it is that relatives of soldiers at the front, once they are wounded, have the greatest difficulty in ascertaining what has happened to them. All honorable members ar© aware of the anxiety of parents in this regard. All know the difficulties that crop up from time to time. The experience of honorable members in this respect must have- been similar to my own. We know that when a parent has an experience of? this kind, the story passes from mouth to mouth, and is more and more exaggerated. This tends to retard recruiting.
– There is an impression abroad that the Government do not care.
– That, no doubt, is what is being said; but I know that the Government do care, and that they are anxious that the relatives of those who go to the front shall be kept in touch, as far as possible, with what is going on. They are anxious to relieve the anxiety of parents. Numerous instances have been brought under. my notice where they have responded to requests I have made, and have despatched cables for information. But while the authorities here are doing that - and the Officer in Charge of the Base Records Office, in Melbourne, is doing his best to get information from the other side - in nine cases out of ten, either the information supplied from the other end in answer to their cable messages is weeks old, and of no use whatever, or no information at all is forthcoming.
– The trouble is at the other end.
– I believe that it is at the base. We know that our wounded men are scattered about - that some go to Alexandria, some to Cairo, some to Malta, and others to England, but the methods adopted for collating this information at the front, and sending it to Australia must be bad. The information so supplied is weeks old. I ask the Minister to devise some means of securing reasonable celerity at all events in the notification of casualties, and of keeping the information up to date.
Sitting suspended from 12.57 to 2.15 p.m.
– I wish to take this opportunity to reply to some comments and statements made by honorable members yesterday in regard to alleged neglect on the part of the Minister of Defence and some of his officers in the cases of sick and wounded soldiers, or of men travelling from one camp to another. I am afraid that such criticism cannot do recruiting any good. Every time that such comments and statements are levelled at the Defence Department because of alleged negligence or unfair treatment, it must have a prejudicial influence on those who are thinking of enlisting; and, therefore, it is necessary that some reply should be made to the honorable member for Corio, the honorable member for Corangamite, and the honorable member for Nepean. With reference to the statement of the honorable member for Corio in connexion with the case of Private Ryan that the Minister did not reply to his wire, the facts are that the honorable member first wired to the Minister on 12th October, saying that he had wired Paymaster Bolle over a month ago. Mr.. Trumble, acting secretary, wired back the next day, 13th, that Paymaster Bolle waa posting report that night. The delay in making payment was due to company officers at Seymour failing to claim pay for this man, reporting him as absent, and neglecting to ascertain his whereabouts. At the same time, the Minister admits that the pay office, with the information supplied by the honorable member and Mrs. Ryan as to Private Ryan being in the hospital, should have continued the payment of the soldier’s allotment to his wife, pending adjustment of the matter in proper form. The Minister intends to sheet home the responsibility for the lack of records by the officers at the camp. As regards the pay office at the Victorian District Head-quarters, the Minister recognises that those in charge are working at great pressure, and are also responsible for safeguarding public moneys, and must, therefore, satisfy themselves of the bona fides of claims. At the same time, he feels that in this case the paymaster should have exercised his discretion, and dealt with the matter more promptly. It has to be remembered that the greater part of the paymaster’s staff, about 80 per cent., consists of temporary clerks who have had little experience of this work. In respect to the offer of his services by the honorable member for Corio,, the following, letter was sent to him by the Minister, and no reply has been received. This letter is dated 11th September, 1915, and is as follows : -
Dear Mr. Ozanne,
I have been> thinking over your letter of 27th ult., in which you offer your services to the Department in any suitable capacity.
You do not state your age, and, of course, as you know, any appointment would be dependent on your passing the necessary medical tests.. I notice you state that you were a sergeant in the old Harbor Trust Artillery under Colonel Hanby. Colonel- Hanby is at present commanding a dep6t battalion at the Show Grounds Camp, and, with your experience with stores and of military work, it might bc possible to place you as a QuartermasterSergeant for a start, when you could work up to a Quartermaster’s position. To this end you would have to enlist for service in Australia, and could replace a man going to the front. I think it necessary to add, however, that such duties should be continuous and not intermittent, and the question immediately arises how your parliamentary duties are to fare. Furthermore, any such appointment would be provisional only, and your continuance in it dependent on your performance of its duties. I cannot think of any other opening just now. I have not taken any steps with regard to the position referred to, but if you are willing to proceed in the matter, I will make inquiries to see if it is available.
Yours faithfully, (Sgd.) G. F. PEARCE
I think the honorable member for Corio stated that he had offered Ids .services to the Department, and had not received a reply.
– That is not to what he referred- he referred to the organization of the system of dealing with correspondence.
– And I have read the reply.
– That reply refers to another matter that arose long ago.
– I am told differently. However, the honorable member for Corangamite alleged that a man, after being in camp eighty-eight days, was paid only 30s. The only record that can so far be found is a letter from the honorable member on 23rd September in reference to Private T. T. Hammond, who, the letter stated, had been in camp for ten days, not eighty-eight days as stated in the House, and asking that he be paid. The matter was at once sent on by the Secretary for Defence to the District Pay Office, and the District Paymaster, on 19th October, 1915, advised the Secretary that the matter had been referred to the camp with a view to settlement. The honorable member for Nepean referred to the case of A. J. Smith, of the 12th Light Horse. No record can be found in the Department of any representations from the honorable member in this matter. In the case of Hargreaves, referred to by the honorable member for Corio, trouble arose because this man at first refused to make an allotment of his pay to his wife as required by regulation. He signed portion of his pay over to his mother, and made a statutory declaration that his wife was not living at home, and that this disentitled her to separation allowance. Paymaster Bolle suggested that, if Har greaves admitted that he was legally liable for her maintenance, separation allowance to the wife would be admitted up to 15th August. For the three months prior to 15th August Hargreaves was on sick leave, and was apparently not claimed for by the Camp Staff. The nonpayment to the soldier himself arose through no record or pay-sheet being forwarded by the Camo Staff to the District Pay Office on account of Hargreaves. Non-payment of separation allowance was also affected by this same fact. The Minister will also endeavour to fix the responsibility for this neglect on the officer at the camp responsible for the neglect, and to see that proper punishment, is dealt out to him. I should now like to say a word or two with reference to the observations and suggestions of the honorable member for Richmond. The honorable member has asked me to bring his suggestions under the notice of the Minister of Defence, and that I promise him I shall do. The Department has had to deal not only with 160,000 men, but with their relatives as well, and thousands of letters are received in Melbourne every week, dealing with all sorts of inquiries and cases. Under all the circumstances,-
I think that the Minister has done admirable work; and I trust that in the future we shall not hear such observations regarding him as we have heard in the past. Honorable members ought to try to realize the work that has confronted, and still confronts, the Minister of Defence, and I am sure that if any honorable member here were in the position of that gentleman, he would not like to be attacked in any such way.
– Nobody is blaming the Minister.
– The Minister has been singled out by some honorable members of the House.
– I am sure the Minister would admit that in my remarks there was nothing derogatory to him.
– Not at all. I am sure that the honorable member made no attack on the Minister; and I have promised to bring the suggestions he made under the notice of the honorable gentleman. However, there are some honorable members who, with a view to notoriety, or for some other reason, seem to take a delight to rake un things against the Minister at the head of this Department. But, as I said before, I trust that we shall not have a repetition of this in the future. I know what the Minister has had to bear, with all the responsibility that is placed upon him.
– I hope the Minister for the Navy does not mean that honorable members may not endeavour to right a wrong.
– Not at all; but honorable members ought to be sure of their facts before they bring cases before the House. I point out to honorable members that if they will take their complaints straight to the barracks and interview the Minister, in every instance anything that is wrong will be put right. I appeal to honorable members not to bring trivial matters before the House in the future.
– It has been my lot to have much correspondence with soldiers and their relatives; and I can say that, personally, I have always received the utmost courtesy and most generous consideration from the Minister of Defence. Many of the cases brought before me that looked black and complicated were straightened out on investigation by the Minister; and in every instance I have received satisfaction. Those requests which the Minister has turned down I also would have turned down had I been Minister. There are cases in which the Minister must use his own discretion in the interests of the country, and he cannot be expected to give to an honorable member or to the public everything that is asked for. I desire to place on record my sympathy with the Minister of Defence in the arduous task he has to perform. If one calls at his office he finds that so many people are waiting to see the Minister that he has scarcely time to get his meals. We should realize the great responsibility that rests upon him, and remember that if there are faults overwork is the cause. The Minister has no intention of refusing members the fullest consideration of every matter they bring forward.
– Has he been accused of any such intention?
– Yes. We have no reason to feel ashamed of the work done by this Parliament and the Minister who represents the Parliament in connexion with the conduct of the war. Australia, with a population of less than 5,000,000, has done better than Canada, with its population of 8,000,000, and it must be remembered that Australia has to transport its troops a very much greater distance to the seat of war than has Canada. The Government have great trouble in getting transports and having them fitted up, and then, when those transports are expected to return from Egypt, they are utilized by the British Government for other work, and Australia has to find other transports. We should endeavour to show sympathy with those who have the responsibility of carrying on the business of the country and the conduct of the war.
– They have to meet with the obstruction of the unionists.
– That statement is a slander on the workers of the country. There has not been in Australia one strike that has had the effect of interfering with the despatch of troops.
– What about the remarks of Mr. Justice Heydon?
– Mr. Justice Heydon referred to the internal disputes between one union and another. Has there been any strike in the Small Arms Factory? No; the men have been working in that Factory from 7 o’clock in the morning until 7 o’clock at night, day in and day out. It is a slander on the workers for any honorable member to say that they are trying to delay the operations of the Defence Department. There8 have been no disputes in the boot and clothing trades, and the Woollen Mills, which arc producing the cloth and blankets for our troops, have been working at high pressure continuously. The workers may have had grievances, but in the interests of the country they have suppressed them. That is a compliment that cannot be paid to the workmen of England and France. I trust that we shall have no more of this personal criticism of the Minister of Defence. The honorable member for Nepean last night attacked the Defence Department and the State Government of New South Wales with regard to the bread supply, but he did not take the trouble to ascertain the conditions on which the bread is supplied. The truth is that the Government enters into a contract for the supply of bread at so much per hundredweight.
– In the contract the weight of the loaf is specified.
– If that is so, the Minister must have wrongly informed me. A few months ago questions were raised about the supply of jam for the Navy and the Military Camps, and the Minister for the Navy informed me that, although the tins contained only 13 or 14 ounces of jam, the Department did not suffer, because the jam was bought by the hundredweight. The Minister made no attempt to accuse the contractors for jam supplies of trying to rob the public, and after receiving his assurance I allowed the matter to drop. One jam manufacturer had come to me and said, “We used to have the contract for the supply of jam to the Department, but now a certain firm is supplying jam in tins that contain only 14 ounces.” When the Minister explained that the jam was bought by the hundredweight, I accepted his explanation, and made no attempt to suggest that the contractor was robbing the Commonwealth. The honorable member for Nepean, however, has deliberately gone out of his way to make it appear that the men in the Camps are not receiving their proper allowance of bread because the State Government is supplying a loaf which is 10 ounces short in weight. We have been told that there should be no political strife while the war is in progress, and the honorable member has shown us how he acts up to that principle.
– You are setting a nice example.
– I am endeavouring to reply to the honorable member for Nepean, and every time a member rises to attack the Government unfairly I shall not allow his remarks to go unchallenged. Friends of mine who are men of independent means, and have been accustomed to live for years in the lap of luxury, have told me, after visits to the military camp, that the food supplied to the soldiers in the camp is of the best quality, and that they get plenty of it. How can honorabl.3 members expect to assist recruiting by delivering speeches in this House complaining that bread of short weight is delivered to the military camps, and by finding every kind of fault with the administration of the camps? We cannot wonder that recruiting in New South Wales has not been as successful as could be desired when we find honorable members from that State endeavouring in this House to condemn the administration of the Liverpool Camp. Personally, I am inclined to interview the Minister of Defence privately with a view to having that camp removed. If, as we are informed by the honorable member for Nepean, it is merely a dust heap, and should be asphalted, it is clear that a suitable site has not been chosen for the camp.
– I advocated two years ago that it should be removed to Green Hills.
– The Commonwealth Government have territory of their own, and any money spent there would be well spent. I think that we might consider whether the camp should not be removed from Liverpool. If the people of Liverpool have instructed their representative in this House to try to get the camp shifted, why should we not shift it? I should like to ask the honorable member for Nepean whether it is a fact that he paid a man to go up to the Liverpool Camp to take a cinematograph picture of the scene when a certain presentation was made to him, in order that the picture might be exhibited at all the picture shows throughout the Commonwealth.
– No. That is on a par with other things the honorable member has said.
– When I was in Brisbane recently I saw a picture showing all the recruits cheering the honorable member at the camp. We can understand the honorable member’s continuous faultfinding with the administration of the Liverpool Camp if it is done, not for pure motives, but for advertising purposes. We are here to look after the public interest, and not our own interest.
– It is the public interest that I am trying to look after.
– If that be so, why did not the honorable member interview the Minister of Defence before making his charges?
– I refer the honorable member to the honorable member for Corio.
– These honorable members appear to me to be trying to get into the limelight for business purposes, and not because of their desire to promote the public interest.
– I rise to a point of order. I have listened to the honorable member for South Sydney making serious reflections upon members of this House for a considerable time. I draw your attention, sir, to the fact that the honorable member has suggested that members of this House are trying to get into the limelight, and has charged them with making arrangements with other persons for their appearance in picture films.
– It is disorderly on the part of any honorable member to impute improper motives to any other member; but, so far as he has gone, I did not notice that the honorable member for South Sydney had done so.
– My object is to try to prevent honorable members opposite from imputing improper motives to Ministers and to honorable members on this side. I hope that this kind of thing will be discontinued, and that honorable members on both sides will unite in their efforts to carry on the war successfully.
– A Coalition Government.
– When the honorable member considers the British Coalition Government he need not suggest the formation of such a Government here. I am as anxious as any one else that recruiting should be successful. I complained that speeches made here, on both sides, are calculated to injuriously affect recruiting. The sooner honorable members realize that the better. The members of the present Government have occupied their positions for but a very short time, and yet their candid friends have risen to criticise and find fault with them. It requires no ability to find fault. That is the simplest thing in the world to do. Fancy the honorable member for Nepean travelling over in the train with the Minister of Defence all the way from Sydney to Melbourne without mentioning that he intended to bring certain matters before the House, and then, on his arrival here, launching his torpedo. What for? Was it to assist the Defence Department? Not at all. Honorable members should be straightforward and above board, and should consult with the Minister of Defence.
– Ask the honorable member for Corio why he did not do so.
– Ministers have replied to that honorable member.
– Ask other honorable members why they have not done so.
– I Jo not blame honorable members on one side more than those on another in this connexion. I think that honorable members on both sidesshould be more generous to Ministers at this critical time.
– Honorable members opposite were very generous to two of them the other day.
– Another matter to which I should like to refer is the statement made by the honorable member for Maranoa on the subject of telephone charges. I was surprised at the sympathy the honorable member expressed for the business portion of the community. When the honorable member for Barrier, as Postmaster-General, reduced the charge for telephones from £9 to £4 and £5, we heard no outcry from the commercial classes. That was considered right in their interests. The honorable member for Maranoa proposes that during the day the charge should be only½d. per call, because the business people then require to use the telephone. He suggests that the charge at night should be1d. per call. The honorable member has scarcely realized what we should be up against if his suggestions were adopted. If there is one thing for which I commend the late PostmasterGeneral it is the way in which he faced the problem of making the telephone service pay. After all, it is only a business enterprise. We propose to install the automatic system at great expense, and it will increase by 6 per cent, the facilities of telephone subscribers. This is not the time to reduce, but to increase, the charges for telephone calls. I hope that the present Postmaster-General will not listen to honorable members who are asking for cheap telephones. We are getting a cheaper telephone service to-day in the Commonwealth than are the people of any other part of the world considering the service rendered. The honorable member for Maribyrnong has said that the only exchange that is not paying is the Sydney exchange, and that a profit is shown by the Melbourne and Hobart exchanges. The honorable member is altogether wrong in the inferences he has drawn. In the case of the other exchanges referred to, capital cost and depreciation have not been taken into consideration in his estimate. He has considered just the takings of those exchanges.
– But they show a little better results than the Sydney exchange.
– It is unfair £o consider the results from a metropolitan exchange by itself. It is connected with a number of suburban exchanges, and they should all be considered together. The system must be regarded as a whole.
– The country service pays.
– If the honorable member will look up the figures he will discover that he is mistaken. I believe that the telephone service should be placed upon a sound and paying basis.
– It will be all right. Read Webster’s report.
– I have every confidence iri. the Postmaster-General, who, I believe, has a better grip of the Postal Department than has any other honorable member of this chamber. I am of opinion that he will deal with that Department in a practical manner. At the same time I hope that he will not be led away by the cry that we ought to -have cheap telephones. To-day the users of our telephones are paying less than is being paid in any other part of the world for similar services. I hope that the PostmasterGeneral will look into a number of other grievances which are before him at the present time. I feel sure that he will not encourage the practice of compelling female telephone attendants to work at night. The whole tendecy of legislation in the United Kingdom is to prevent the employment of females at night. I trust, therefore, that the Postmaster-General will initiate a system under which day labour will be substituted for night work in the case of female telephone employees. I am prepared to extend to Ministers the most generous consideration. There are any number of grievances which I might bring under the notice nf honorable members, but whenever I have had cause for complaint, and have approached Ministers privately my representations have received attention. This remark applies not only to honorable members of the present Government, but to honorable members of previous Governments.
– The Minister of Defence should be pleased with his apologist in the person of the honorable member for South Sydney, particularly on account of the statements which have just been made. I do not know whether the honorable member read the remarks of Mr. Justice Heydon in regard to ‘the delay which took place in the despatch of transports. I cannot say whether he recollects the action taken by the previous Governments in connexion with the preparation of those transports. But I feel pleased with the remarks which have since been made by the Minister of Defence in respect to this matter, and with the strong action which he has promised to take. At the same time I very much question whether he would have dared to make such a declaration only a few days ago. Had he done so, the same treatment would probably have been meted out to him that has been meted out to the late Minister of Home Affairs. It may be true that a (rood many of the complaints which are voiced in this chamber would be avoided if Ministers were approached privately. But personally I have not received at the hands of Ministers the same consideration that has been extended to the honorable member for South Sydney, nor have other honorable members. I know that there is a good deal of trouble in the Defence Department. We have some particularly good officials there. Only the other evening, upon my return to the city by a late train, I met one of these officials coming out of his office at twenty minutes to eleven o’clock. This practice of working overtime is I understand, Quite common. It is preference to unionists which is causing all the trouble that is being experienced in the Department, and which is responsible for the wretched administration we are getting.
– Party strife.
– What are we having here 1 We know that the only thought of a certain section of the community is to pass disloyal resolutions with the object of preventing men from enlisting. That is the only qualification they possess. One has only to go to the Departments to discover the slackers and wasters who are hanging around them. What we require is a staff of officials who will be permitted to choose men for themselves, instead of being obliged to subscribe to the doctrine that no person who is not prepared to sacrifice his political convictions shall obtain employment in the Commonwealth Service.
– Who passed disloyal resolutions ?
– The Clerks Union of Victoria, and it forwarded a copy of them to the Prime Minister.
– Within the past three months. They affirmed that men “were only going to the war on account of empty bellies. The honorable member for Batman will probably remember the circumstances better than I do. To my mind, the position is a very serious one, particularly from a financial point of view. However, I do not propose to discuss that aspect of the question to-day. I am strongly of opinion that certain action taken by the Government is calculated to seriously prejudice the future of Australia. The great wealth of this country is due to our primary industries, and I view with apprehension the action taken by the Attorney-General in connexion with many of those industries. In the first place, I would point to the arrangement which he has made in respect to the. transport of our wheat. I feel sure that his action will prove injurious to the farmers of Australia. Had the transport of our wheat been left to the ordinary agents, the requirements of our producers would have been far better satisfied than they will be. In connexion with this matter, it strikes me as peculiar that the Minister of Lands in Western Australia should have made an entirely different statement from that made by the Attorney-General. Mr. Johnson states that he came to Melbourne to give his opinion in regard to the suggestion of the Attorney-General that the Commonwealth should take action. Being a member of the same political party, he was quite willing that the Commonwealth should do so. He states -
I was sent across by the Government to represent Western Australia, and Mr. Hughes pointed out at that time that he did not think it advisable to have a conference of all the States, but that he desired to get the individual view of the various States.
When the representatives of the States were called together on the second occasion, the Attorney-General had completed his arrangements for the transport of our wheat with Messrs. Elder, Smith, and Company and Gibbs, Bright, and Company. Speaking of this conference, Mr. Johnson states -
On assembling, Mr. Hughes said that, as a result of the meeting he had had with the representatives of the various States some time previously - that is, the meeting to which I have referred - he had got into communication with shipping people, and had come to an arrangement with two firms to do the whole of the chartering necessary for the Australian harvest.
Then the Attorney-General led us to believe that the various indent and shipping firms were quite agreeable to subscribe to his proposition and to fall into line. The Conference met representatives of shipping firms, the wheat buyers, and the Chambers of Commerce, and accord ing to Mr. Johnson -
They were of opinion that the shipping people should look after the shipping, that the buyers should look after the buying, and, generally speaking, they thought these people were well able to cope with the business without the interference of either the Commonwealth or any of the States.
I feel sure that had this matter been left to the ordinary channels, the farmers would this year be far better catered for than they will be. We are in a wretched position at present. We are at the end of October, and so far as we know nothing has yet been completed, nor have we any idea of what shipping facilities are going to be guaranteed in the various States.
– Would it be possible for private enterprise to have done anything t
– I believe it would have done far better. With Government management, we are having the same wretched bungling throughout, and particularly in the case of the Small Arms Factory, as the honorable member knows. The second shift was started there only a few months ago, although almost immediately after the war began the Minister announced that he had given instructions to institute a second shift. Nothing was done in that matter until the Public Works Committee, to which the honorable member belongs, and the Finance Committee, brought forward resolutions to the effect that, as the result of their inquiries, they believed a second shift could be instituted, and it is now working. The Government have done nothing up to the present in regard to the manufacture of munitions. They may be making inquiries and preparations, but the fact remains that, for over a year since the war began, nothing has been done.
– Shells and machine guns are now being made. You will not answer that statement.
– The honorable member has mentioned the fact. In all the concerns in which the Government have been interested there has been nothing but delay, and in every instance, so far as I can judge, the cost has been far greater than would have been the case if the undertaking had been left to private enterprise. I am afraid of the influence of the action of the Government on our primary industries, and am particularly anxious about the result of the action which the Attorney-General has recently taken with reference to the export of metals. Certain metals are absolutely essential for the manufacture of munitions. Wolfram and scheelite are metals from which tungstic acid is extracted. Tungsten has for many years been used for hardening steel. We have been producing a good deal of wolfram and a small amount of scheelite, and this has been purchased in the Old Country, Germany, and other places. The value of molybdenite has only lately been demonstrated. Some time ago the French Government discovered how valuable it was in preventing cordite from deteriorating, especially in warm climates. It was afterwards found wonderfully efficacious in hardening steel, a discovery which has almost revolutionized the tool manufacturing processes. Molybdenite is now used in the manufacture of cannon, to increase the penetrating power of shells, for hardening the armour plates of vessels, in making machine guns and bullets, and rifles, and rifle bullets. It has also been discovered that aluminium can be made as tough as the toughest steel by adding an alloy of molybdenite now indispensable in the building of aeroplanes. There is therefore a great demand for this metal. The Attorney-General and the Government generally are doing right in demanding that none of these metals shall be sent to any alien country, and I am with them heart and soul in requiring that they be sent to Great Britain first, and if not required there, then to our Allies to assist in making munitions for the successful prosecution of the war. In 1913 we exported two-thirds of the world’s output of molybdenite. The Government recently issued instructions that none of these metals was to be exported except under the authority of the Minister of Customs, which was quite right, but later the AttorneyGeneral issued a regulation that no molybdenite, wolfram, or scheelite was to be sent out of Australia unless it came up to a certain standard, which, as a matter of fact, has not been reached in Aus- tralia except in a few instances. According to Mineral Industry for 1914, published in the United States of America, Australia produced, in 1913, 145 tons of molybdenite, which contained 80 per cent. Mo. Sa, or better. According to the same journal, Norway produced molybdenite giving 84 per cent. There has been immense working of molybdenite in that country, where they work from low-grade ore, as low as 1 per cent., but they have the very finest plants for treating the material. The Attorney-General’s regulation stipulates that no molybdenite shall go out of Australia unless it goes at least 90 per cent., nor must it contain more than per cent, of tin or per cent, of bismuth.
– The Attorney-General’s advice seems to have been all wrong.
– It has been simply a case of blundering. I do not know who was responsible, or what sort of metallurgical advice the Attorney-General has obtained, but the result is that 40 or 50 tons of molybdenite placed on vessels to be sent to the Old Country had to be taken off again. Whoever was guilty of this was guilty of an outrage against the nations that are fighting Germany, and some investigation is demanded, because if the information sent to me is correct there is something behind this.
– What is the ostensible excuse?
– It is the question of price. So far as the wheat business is concerned, two firms have been given a monopoly of all the shipping, and can sit in their offices and draw their commission, the other agents having to come along and hand them over their charters.
– What do you mean by saying there is something behind all this?
– Every effort should be made by both State and Federal Governments to assist the producer at this time. The State Government is making great efforts to get molybdenite produced here, and has had it produced from lowgrade ore. There are molybdenite lodes in Queensland, New South Wales, and Western Australia, and every effort should be made by the Commonwealth to help the producer to produce an article which can be used by Great Britain and her Allies in the manufacture of munitions.
– The producer is getting under this arrangement a lower price than he was getting before.
– Ever so much lower.
– Is that the trouble, that the price has gone down?
– The price has not gone down. The London Mining Journal of 4th September last showed that molybdenite was 120s. per unit in London. Only a few days afterwards the Attorney-General issued his regulation fixing the price at 105s. per unit. This is undoubtedly a good price; but according to my information, a producer at Wolfram Camp, by the prices fixed by the Government as payable at different localities, loses 14s. 2d. a unit, or nearly £70 per ton to get his metal to London, while the producer in Sydney will lose nearly £60 a ton, that being the difference between the London price and the price which will obtain in Australia. The ordinary cost of sending this metal to London was formerly about £6 per ton. We now have one firm - Dalgety and Company - who are the sole agents, and have complete control in connexion with the export of this mineral.
– Are they not a reputable firm?
– Yes, of course they are.
– Then what did you mean when you said just “now that there was something behind all this?
– The producers of these metals are nearly all small men.
– We want to endeavour, as far as possible, to secure the fullest production of all these kindred metals, and we do not want to prevent their export under reasonable precautions. The Attorney-General told me yesterday, in answer to a question, that he was not aware that some parcels of molybdenite had been taken off a vessel and prevented from being sent away, but I saw the correspondence in the press in Sydney, in which the Attorney-General was concerned.
– To whom was the metal consigned ?
– I do not know who consigned the metal.
– Very likely the Minister wanted to be satisfied as to its destination.
– The AttorneyGeneral, I know, is responsible for the regula tion dealing with the export of molybdenite, and if one watches the progress of events in connexion with this matter, one will see how kindly the people who are exporting wolfram and scheelite are treated as compared with those who are exporting molybdenite. It is a serious matter that the Attorney-General was not aware, according to the answer he gave me yesterday, that molybdenite which had been consigned to London had been taken off a vessel, because I am given to understand that last Wednesday, in answer to a cable from the Home authorities, permission was given to ship molybdenite of a lower grade. I quite agree that the greatest care should be taken to see that the metal goes only to Great Britain or her Allies to be used for the manufacturing of munitions; but I say that there has been criminal neglect owing to the wretched regulations which are interfering with the exportation of this metal. Here is an extract from a letter which I have received from Mr. Scantlebury, and after reading what he has to say, I want to urge on the Government the necessity for a Commission to inquire into the position. He states -
Certainly somebody should go to gaol over this muddle, and if there has been no hold-up in Australia of these rare minerals, if production has not been curtailed by any Federal action, if the industry throughout the Commonwealth is not jeopardized by unnecessary conditions in respect to grade and purity - in other words - if all I have said is a myth, and in the words of the Attorney-General, there is no truth whatever in my statement, then it should be myself. On the other hand, if it is true that for nearly two months all shipments of these indispensable minerals have ceased, that large quantities have0 been taken out of the holds of mail steamers on the eve of departure, which by this time would have been turned into munitions; that appeals for permits to ship have been disallowed, and contracts for the British and French armies and navies have been dishonoured - if these and other sensational revelations, I, with other producers, am prepared to make are true, then I claim to have done Australia some service in directing attention to the greatest munition muddle of the war.
– Did not the honorable member read in the papers a London cable congratulating the Prime Minister on the action he has taken?
– That was not on this question.
– The congratulations referred to by the honorable member were in relation to the efforts made by the
Commonwealth Government to loosen the grip which German interests have on the metal industry in Australia.
– Mr. Scantlebury is careful to say that “if” his statements are true, certain action should be taken. He does not say that his statements are true.
– In his letter, Mr. Scantlebury states that some one should go to gaol over the matter, and that if his statements are not true, that he should go to gaol himself. We find now that the Attorney-General, in starting the metal exchange, is building up a monopoly, which, in the future, will control the metal industry of this country. We find, also, that, in order to become a member of the Exchange, an entrance fee of £50 will be required, as well as a subscription of £15 15s. a year, while a bond of £1,000 will have to be entered into before any person will be allowed to deal in metals. Firms like the Broken Hill Proprietary Company know how to look after their own business, but I am afraid that in future the small producers of metal in this country will be right in the hands of a little “ ring,” which will be controlled by this Metal Exchange, for, according to the Attorney-General, no metal will be exported from this country except through the Exchange, which will be buyer and seller, and a record will be kept in the office of the Exchange showing from whom metal is purchased, and to whom it is sent. All exports could have been watched by the Minister of Trade and Customs to see that these metals were sent to help our own people, but? now a monopoly will be created, and “ rings “ formed by the very people who say that they want special powers to be able to deal with monopolies. I hope that, as a result of what I have said, the Attorney-General will have inquiries made, and if the information is inaccurate, that the persons responsible will be punished. So far as I am concerned, I think the action of the Government in regard to the metal industry will retard its development, and more particularly the development of those special alloys which are so necessary for the production of munitions of war for our Allies and our own people. It does seem strange that while, in the past, both Great Britain and Germany were prepared to take molybdenite concentrates of 80 per cent., nOW, unless very heavy expenditure is incurred in refining plants, molybdenite which will not come up to the high test demanded of it must be kept within the States, and our people debarred from its use. I feel that the action of the AttorneyGeneral in connexion Avith this matter is detrimental to the best interests of the Old Country and of Australia.
.- It is not my intention to delay the Committee very long to-day. I listened with considerable interest to the statement made by the honorable member for Flinders, who complained that he had been misrepresented with regard to his attitude over the amendment of the Constitution, but I remember some remarks which he made a few months ago in Ballarat, and I took the trouble to look up the Argus, which, I suppose, the honorable gentleman will not accuse of having misrepresented him. In the Argus of 9th February this year there appeared a report of a great Liberal rally in the important mining centre of Ballarat, and it was presided over bv the President of the People’s party, Mr. Vernon. He was in no doubt as to the purpose of the meeting, because he said -
The Liberals had been defeated at the polls last September, but worse would be ahead if the referendum proposals were to be adopted; and so they had to be increasing in their vigilance and active in their organization.
The honorable member for Flinders was the principal speaker, and whilst he and his party are telling the people of Australia to-day that we should not indulge in domestic politics in the manner in which we are doing, yet at that meeting he said, with reference to the war -
At the same time one could not shut one’s eyes to domestic problems.
He clearly recognised that it was part of his duty to take part in these discussions. After dealing with preference to unionists and the nationalization of monopolies, he went on to say -
The people of Australia had rightly rejected the amendments proposed, although some of them might contain the germs of some necessary alterations of our Constitution.
He clearly recognised, if that statement be correct, that the Constitution needed some alteration, and he was not dealing then with an item of finance. Continu ing he said -
He held the opinion that our Constitution was not the perfect instrument which at first it was said to bc. That Constitution was a collection of compromises between a new and growing national spirit, and the inevitable local jealousies which form part pf the history of six States which had previously acted independently. The Constitution might be likened to a coat. The cloth was very good, but the cut was old-fashioned, and it was beginning to give at some of the seams.
Surely that was a reference to the proposed alterations of the Constitution, which the party on this side of the House have submitted at different times to the people of the Commonwealth. Surely it is not a reference to finance. Proceeding he said -
New duties were about to fall upon this Commonwealth, and we must get down to fixed principles to deal with them. He wished to say something upon present principles of finance.
After making use of that illustration, he intimated that he had something to say about financial matters. He need not taunt the members of the Labour party to-day with trying to misconstrue his attitude or his statement on that occasion, because at the same meeting his lieutenant, the honorable member for Balaclava, made a speech -
Mr. Watt, who was greeted with prolonged applause, said that it was the pride and boast of the Liberal party that its members could stand on the same platform and differ. He differed from Sir William Irvine on many of the conclusions of which that gentleman had given so thoughtful a statement. The question of dual sovereignty to which Sir William Irvine had referred was a fundamental part of the Federal Union.
It will be seen that the Tory member for Flinders is too radical for even the honorable member for Balaclava -
So long as we pretended that our national destinies were guided by a Federal form of Government, the question of dual sovereignty was the very essence of the contract. Dual sovereignty implied this: that there should be assigned to the Commonwealth, on the one hand, and to the States on the other, a particular area of operation as clearly defined as legal language could define it; and within those respective spheres the Parliaments should be absolute, so far as British Parliaments could be absolute. He, for one, could not attend that meeting and hear the views Sir William had so solemnly and so trenchantly argued, without saying that he did not agree with them. When the proper time came, he would be called upon to break a lance in connexion with such advice. A slip of elastic might be put into the clothes of this young continent; but they should allow it to have its growing pains without bursting its garments.
There are honorable members on the opposite side saying that they do not agree with the’ honorable member for Flinders. Why ? It is not from the financial stand point at all. It is not because he was dealing with something in a drastic way. He admits here, in language as plain as could possibly be used, that the Constitution which governs us at the present time needs amendment.
– Hear, hear !
– On that occasion he said that the Constitution is like an oldfashioned garment, that the cloth is very good, but is bursting at the seams. What did he mean by language of that sort if he did not mean that the Constitution was in need of radical alteration ? His statement will take a lot of explaining away so far as the people of Australia are concerned - a vast deal more explanation than he gave to the House to-day.
– Do you not think that it would be a ‘fair thing to allow the thousands and thousands of soldiers who are away from Australia to record a vote?
– I promised my honorable friends opposite that I would not take ten minutes.
– Do you agree with all that Mr. Anstey says?
– No. I cannot see that the honorable member for Flinders had a right to complain as he did to-day, considering the expressions which he used previously regarding an alteration of the Constitution.
– Will you allow me to ask you a question ?
– I do not mind, as I am in the witness-box to-day.
– Seeing that we are all in agreement that some alteration of the old garment ought to be made, do you not think that it would be a fair thing to allow our soldiers, who are fighting for us, to take part in the referendums ?
– My reply is that a number of our men who are away - thousands of them - are not entitled to a vote when they are here. Their absence is an unfortunate thing for those who desire to carry the referendums. But I know that the honorable and learned member belongs to a party in Victoria who deny 500,000 persons the r121’11; to vote for Legislative Councillors. Not one word is said by him on that subject; but because a war is in progress he makes use of a patriotic sentiment, and pretends that he is so ultra-democratic that he desires the absent soldiers to have an opportunity to vote. I venture to say that if the war was over to-morrow, and the men came back to Australia, he would be one of those who would oppose giving them a vote’ in common with other men in the State.
– Suppose that I am capable of every evil, will you answer my question?
– The honorable and learned member will not give a vote to working men, whether it is for the municipal council or for the Legislative Council, but he cannot help himself as regards the Federal Parliament.
– Now, after that,, answer the question
– My reply is that if I can devise any means whereby the men can get the right to vote, it will be done. Let me now deal with the position which Australia is taking up, and what we are doing in connexion with the war. I am one of those who disapprove of an honorable member bringing forward little complaints and magnifying them, and blaming the Defence Department for sins of omission and commission. The Defence Department has done good work in many respects. But the war has taught the lesson that what is most needed is artillery, machine guns, and ammunition. The part that Australia is playing in supplying this want is extremely small. The Premiers offered to put their plant and skilled artisans in the railway workshops of the States at the disposal of the Commonwealth Government, and we should now be making shells at something like the same rate as that at which they are being turned out in Canada, where the new orders for shells from Russia and Great Britain are valued at £11,000,000; but the output of the Newport railway workshops is a miserable 250 shells a week. Surely the workshops in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, and ‘ South Australia are not doing what they should do in this matter. The Canadians are beginning to make artillery, but we are not making even machine guns. The excuse that is made is that we are going to have an abundant harvest; but in Canada they expect a harvest greater by more than 100,000,000 bushels than any previous harvest. Their harvest is estimated at 300,000,000 bushels of wheat, and ours will not be one-third of that, whereas the population of Australia is about 5,000,000, as against 8,000,000 in Canada. It seems absurd to talk of conscription when we are so neglectful of the duty of supplying munitions and artillery. I shall not consent to conscription without insisting on the application of the principle to wealth before its application to human beings.
– We have that already.
– No, we have not.
, - I do not agree with the honorable member for South Sydney, the special apologist for the Government, that the Government has any complaint to make regarding the criticism of its administration in this chamber. The honorable member reflected unfairly on the honorable member for Nepean. When the honorable member for Nepean first brought his complaints against the Defence Department, he was criticised in a similar way, but he has since been complimented for his action, and particularly by the Judge who inquired into the conduct of the Liverpool Camp. That Judge not only sustained the honorable member’s charges, but discovered other evidence of inefficiency, if not of maladministration, and made many suggestions for improvements. This has had the effect of stimulating rather than of depressing the recruiting. Recruiting cannot be expected to succeed when evils of the kind complained of are known to exist. As to the bread that was shown here last night, let me say that, even although the contract provides that it must be paid for by gross weight, it is usual to stipulate that the loaves supplied shall be of a standard weight. It must be remembered that in the camps the bread is distributed by loaf, so many loaves being given to so many men. When a loaf is 8 or 10 ozs. short, the men to whom it is given get short rations.
– But the men do not complain of the insufficiency of the food.
– No. I think that there is enough food; indeed, there is a great waste of food. This waste has been going on throughout the Commonwealth for weeks and months, without any attempt being made to adjust the deliveries to the requirements of the camps.
– You will find waste in private homes.
– That is no justification for wholesale waste in the Public Service. I do not know any Government in Australia whose administration is more wasteful and inefficient than that of the Commonwealth Government. Mr. Anderson, an expert business man, appointed by a Labour Government to investigate the administration of the Departments, has supplied reports that should startle honorable members. I do not think that the House can do other than insist on a very distinct improvement being effected in the administration of our Departments generally. For example, the question of supplies for the Defence Department should have been handled by a competent independent Supply and Tender Board. In fact, it is appalling that we have not yet created such a Board to deal with all purchases of the various necessaries for the services of the Commonwealth. I have not the slightest hesitation in saying that the Commonwealth has suffered losses to the tune of tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of pounds a year that would not have occurred if we had had a properly efficient independent Supply and Tender Board to control purchases. As a matter of fact, as the expenditure in the Defence Department is now reaching a sum aggregating £50,000,000 a year, possibly millions could have been saved in this Department alone. Year after year I have pleaded with the Government for the establishment of such a Board. I have had on the business-paper a notice of motion which I have never had the opportunity of reaching, but Mr. Fisher has frequently promised to create a Supply and Tender Board.
– The Liberal Government had a chance to do it. Why did not they do it?
– They passed a Bill through this House for the purpose, but the Senate threw it out.
– We offered to see it through both Houses if the Liberal Government would put it into a separate Bill.
– That was a subterfuge. Honorable members offered to do it as they offered to do a number of other things. While they rejected the provision for a Supply and Tender Board, they also took care to see that two Parliamentary Committees provided for in Bills introduced by the Liberal Government were rendered ineffective for many months. We must put an end to all extravagance and the shocking expenditure and waste that is proceeding. If we do not do so, we shall not be able to continue our public works or pay the enormous liabilities that are being created by the war, and which are likely to increase so long as the war lasts. Mr. Anderson has also dealt with other Departments, particularly in regard to stores, though he has not confined himself to stores; and now that we have three new Ministers, I ask the Government to see that no time is lost in this matter. About a week before the House adjourned on the last occasion I asked Mr. Fisher if he would agree to submit the question of the appointment of a Supply and Tender Board to the Committee of Public Accounts, and allow that Committee to make inquiries as to the methods adopted by existing State Boards. The late Prime Minister said that the suggestion was a good one, and that he would give favorable consideration to it, but I am not aware that any step has been taken to do so. I ask the Government whether anything has been done in the direction of creating a Supply and Tender Board?
– I understand that the Defence Department has created a Board of that character, while, in regard to all the Departments, I understand that a conference is now being held, but I cannot say how far the matter has proceeded. I do not know. If I had the information I would give it to the honorable member.
– I ask the Minister to urge the Prime Minister and his colleagues to give this matter the very earliest attention. I shall be very much disappointed if the present Government do not bring down the necessary legislation. It would not be a debatable matter. I believe that it is the opinion of both sides of the House that such a Board should be created, and I hope that the very short Bill which would be necessary will be submitted before Parliament adjourns on this occasion. Over and over again we have had indisputable evidence as to shocking extravagance and waste in our public works due to inefficiency and very largely to inexperience and irresponsibility. Yet there is no attempt to remedy this condition of affairs. Yesterday the report of the Committee of Public
Accounts upon Cockatoo Island was laid upon the table, and I wish to know whether the Government are satisfied with the conditions obtaining at the dockyard, and with the amount of work that is returned for the money spent. Statements were submitted to us by Mr. King Salter some time ago, and were published in the press. They disclosed a similar state of affairs. However, Ministers do not seem to be concerned. They seem to be just as indifferent to public expenditure and public waste at the present time as they have always been. When are the taxpayers to receive consideration? I appeal to the honorable member for South Sydney, who is Chairman of the Committee of Public Works.
– He is a very good man.
– He is a good man if he would only let his heart and his head direct his actions, and refuse to be controlled by others. I ask honorable members generally whether they are satisfied to allow conditions to continue as they have been at Cockatoo Island, for what applies to that dockyard applies to nearly all the public works of the Commonwealth. Is the “ Government stroke” to continue giving this country 10s. to 35s. worth of work for the expenditure of every sovereign? The practice almost throughout the world in regard to shipbuilding is to adopt the piece-work system, which, I understand, the men at Cockatoo Island desire. This would probably increase individual wages by 50 per cent. In some cases wages, good as they already are, would be nearly doubled ; but the Government would get an infinitely better deal. There are many other matters that I intended to discuss this afternoon, but I have been promised by the new members of the Ministry that they shall be put right in a very short time. I accept that promise in absolute good faith. I would much rather see things put right by a Minister than have to make complaints in Parliament; but sometimes it is hopeless to expect an improvement, and then it becomes necessary to speak. The new blood in the Cabinet seems to promise well; and I am taking their word for it that improvements will be effected. If they are not, I will return to this subject on a future occasion.
Mr. PARKER MOLONEY (Indi) ber who has just resumed his seat has never criticised this Government fairly. He has always attempted to introduce a great variety of scarecrows into his criticism, and he has done to-day just what he has done on every occasion he has spoken during the time I have been a member of the House. He has referred to the extravagance of the Government, yet he has never been able to deny that the party in power has always lived within its income. That is more than the party with which the honorable member is associated ever did.
– Does that disprove extravagance?
– The honorable gentleman knows that what I am saying is correct. The first Fisher Government - the one elected prior to 1910 - took office when there was a deficit, and left a surplus. When the Liberal party was defeated in 1910 - when I had the honour of entering this Chamber for the first time, and an opportunity of knowing something of what was going on - it again left a deficit. The Fisher Government was in office for three years, and when they left in 1913, after paying their way, they left a surplus of £2,000,000. The Liberal Government, in the twelve months preceding the historic double dissolution, spent half that surplus and all its revenue ; and yet the honorable member will have the country believe that his party is the party of perfection in matters of financial administration. His party has never managed to live within its income. I merely mention these facts in answer to the statements that are so frequently made by the honorable member, who is never fair enough to admit that, when the Labour party was in power in normal times, it was always able to pay its way. The honorable member has also stated that the Labour party was responsible for the defeat of the proposal to establish a Supply and Tender Board made by his party.
– Hear, hear ! It was thrown out by the Senate.
– I want to place on record the facts regarding this Bill, and to show that the statement made by the honorable member is similar to that made by other honorable members of hia party, that the Labour party was responsible for the defeat of the Bureau of Agriculture Bill. The proposal regarding the Tender Board was introduced along with another matter. The Labour party, then in Opposition, announced that if the Government would bring forward the two matters in separate Bills, they would be prepared to vote for them. The Liberal Government were not prepared to do that, and therefore they must accept the responsibility for what subsequently occurred. I hope that, in future, the honorable member’s criticism will be a little fairer than it has been on this occasion, and that he will not indulge in quite so many scarecrows as he has done hitherto. May I say just a word or two with regard to the criticisms by honorable members on both sides of the House against the Government in regard to the subject of defence. I suppose I have as much business to transact with the Defence Department as any other honorable member, particularly any other country member, and I desire to say, in regard to the officers in charge of the Defence Department, particularly the officer in charge of the Base Records branch - Mr. Brady - that any matter that I have brought forward for rectification has been promptly dealt with by them. If honorable members who have complaints to make, instead of writing to the Minister - who is already up to his eyes in the work of dealing with the great national problem before us - would only go to the responsible officer of the Department particularly concerned, and personally interview the officer on the subject of his complaint, he would find the matter speedily rectified. That, at all events, has been my experience. It is no use coming here to criticise, as honorable members have done. The greatest compliment that can be paid to those engaged in the carrying on of this war is in the paltriness of the complaints that have been launched against the Administration by honorable members on both sides of the House.
– We will take that opinion from the honorable member on the one side, and we will take Mr. Justice Rich’s opinion on the other.
– I am not going to stand up here and say that there are not just grounds for complaint in certain directions. It would be a miracle if these little things did not crop up.
– Little things!
– Yes ; paltrv things.
– So paltry that a High Court Judge expressed an opinion about certain matters the other day.
– Well, what are they in comparison with the raising and equipping of 160,000 men? What is the miscarriage of some allotment of pay compared with a task of that magnitude ?
– If they were only isolated cases, perhaps we would not mind.
– The honorable Leader of the Opposition, to quote the words he used when he was going out of office - if I may be permitted to refer to the double dissolution-
– It is not at all painful. The honorable member will never be guilty of our record - a record of “ surrendering office and place and pay.
– I am referring to the occasion when the right honorable member was handing over the reins of government. The peculiarity of all this is that it took place while the war was on - at a time when, we are told, all party strife should cease. As reported in Hansard, page 165, the right honorable member said, on 14th. October, 1914-
We tried to do the best we could in difficult circumstances -
He admitted that the circumstances were difficult - and I, for one, am very glad to be out of it all. I had enough of it. 1 shall be much hap- . pier on this side than I was when we were making an heroic struggle to keep our heads above water while fighting the “ bashi bazouks “ who were arrayed against it.
The right honorable gentleman admitted that the struggle was a Titanic one, although he remained in office for only a month after the outbreak of war. and his Government were making preparations to equip only 20,000 men. What was that task, as compared with the task of raising and equipping a Force of 160,000 men?
– Does the honorable member think that is a fair - statement to make? He is not a fair man at all.
– I have quoted from Hansard.
– The honorable member is distorting the whole thing. He knows that my remarks had no reference to the equipment of anything.
– I know that it had reference to the task-
– That kind of lying is the worst of all.
– I ask the right honorable member to withdraw that remark.
– I do, sir; but I wish to know whether the honorable member is in order in deliberately distorting the statement I made.
– Order I The right honorable member will have an opportunity to make a personal explana- tion.
-I gave the Committee the reference to my quotation. I have quoted the words actually used by the right honorable member when handing over the reins of office.
– Of course, I used the words; but they are not susceptible of the interpretation that the honorable member is placing on them.
– I shall allow the right honorable member to interpret them in his own way. He admitted that the task before this Government was an unenviable one: and I do not think it will be denied that the responsibility resting upon their shoulders in connexion with the war is a very heavy one. That being so, honorable members, instead of moving the adjournment of the House, in order to discuss Defence questions, should visit the Department, where they can have their grievances rectified by the responsible officers.
– The honorable member would do well to let the Defence Department alone. He will be provoking reprisals one of these days, and will be sorry for it.
– I have no desire to ruffle the right honorable gentleman. These ghosts of the past are not nice things to raise.
– The ghost does not hurt me. It is the honorable member’s ghostly interpretations to which I object.
– I listened to the honorable member for Flinders to-day with a good deal of interest, as I always do; for I regard him as a constitutional authority to whose utterances we should be prepared at all times to give attention. Discussing the official pamphlet that is being issued to the electors in connexion with the refer endum, he told us that he had never said, or, at all events, had never intended to convey the meaning attached to words attributed to him in that pamphlet, as showing his opinions regarding the powers of the Government under the War Precautions Act.
– Is the honorable member the author of that pamphlet?
– No. The honorable member has made various statements in this House regarding our constitutional powers, and. they are capable of half-a-dozen interpretations. I propose to make a quotation from one of his speeches on the subject, and shall then ask him whether, in view of it, he can complain of the interpretation given in the official pamphlet to his views. In this House, on 4th June last, as reported in Hansard, page 3735, the honorable member said -
I am not going to attempt to define the constitutional powers of a Government such as ours in time of war.
Ho now says that our referendum proposals are unnecessary, because, so long as the war continues, we have all the powers we need. In June last, however, he declared that he would not attempt to define our constitutional powers. Later on, in the course of the same speech, he said -
It is hard to say, in the complex industrial and commercial conditions now prevailing, exactly where warlike operations terminate. I am not prepared to say that, under the existing conditions in Australia, any power would reside in the Federal Government to go about buying foodstuffs generally and distributing them.
What could be plainer than that? In the light of this statement, could any other interpretation be placed on the honorable gentleman’s opinion than that given in the pamphlet?
– What did the honorable member say at Wangaratta ?
– I know of some people who were not even .allowed to speak there. I shall read the last of these statements made by the honorable member for Flinders, and shall ask him if it is unfair to say that it is hard to understand what are his views regarding our present powers.
– It depends, to some extent, upon who is trying to understand them.
– Quite so; but I venture to say that even the honorable gentleman himself does not understand these statements. A Philadelphia lawyer, much less a Victorian barrister, could not understand them. He said -
If the object is simply to say, “ Things are dearer now than usual, whether through combinations or conspiracies, or arrangements of the kind, therefore let us buy the stuff, and sell it to the people more cheaply,” I hardly think that would or could reasonably, in the present conditions of Australia, be regarded as a legitimate exercise of the constitutional power.
In view of these statements by the honorable member, as reported in Hansard, I think that every word published in the official pamphlet as an interpretation of the opinions held by the honorable member for Flinders is justifiable, and that these utterances on his part will need far more explanation than he has been capable of making. The honorable member for Dalley made a statement to-day to which some objection was raised by the honorable member for Richmond. The honorable member for Dalley said that he was doubtful whether, if there had to be conscription of men, there ought not to be also conscription of wealth, so that those in possession of wealth might make a sacrifice somewhat in proportion to that made by our young men who risk their lives at the front.
– That is not what the honorable member said.
– It is a fair interpretation.
– It is not a fair interpretation; he was not talking of conscription, but about voluntary service.
– I shall not split straws with the honorable member, who, in reply to the honorable member for Dalley, said that the men of wealth were not doing their, fair share. That has often been said, though I do not say now one way or the other. I propose now to quote from a speech made by Mr. Livingston, the Minister of Education of Victoria, who is a member of the same political party as honorable members opposite; and, strange to say, it is a speech that was delivered in the Wangaratta district. Mr. Livingston said -
Many of the wealthiest men in Victoria, it was well known, were not giving a fair proportion to the war funds. Measures were, therefore, being taken to insure that those who could pay should be made to pay. He was afraid that many who were willing to part with the last man would baulk at the last shilling. The Labour party was bringing in a wealth tax, and he would be glad to support such a measure to the utmost of his power.
It is very gratifying to have the opinions of honorable members opposite and their political friends, especially when any exception is taken to a hint that, perhaps, - men of wealth are not doing all they should.
– I admit that some are not; but the great majority are.
– I do not pretend to say whether they are or not; perhaps, in the present case, comparisons are odious.
– Then why make them 1
– I am merely speaking in answer to some interjections from honorable members opposite, with the object of showing that it is not only on this side that such opinions are held. I now wish to say a word or two about the proposed increase in the telephone rates. Last night the honorable member for Maribyrnong said that the telephone service showed a profit in all the States; but I wish now to point out that that is not so. According to the fourth annual report of the PostmasterGeneral - the last one issued - there was a loss of £171,000 in New South Wales, £60,000 in Victoria, £21,000 in Queensland, £3,000 in South Australia, £28,000 in Western Australia, and £9.800 in Tasmania; or a total of £296,000 odd throughout the Commonwealth. Yet, in the face of this fact, we are told that the rates should not be increased. Last night the honorable member for Maranoa urged that the charges for the use of the public telephone should be raised ; and, apparently, he would allow our big commercial firms, some of which have as many as twenty telephone connexions, to escape with the charge of½d. a call; while he would force the poor man, who cannot afford to have a telephone in his home, to pay 2d. or 3d. for the use of public telephones. I hope that the PostmasterGeneral will think twice before he is induced to abandon the proposal to increase the telephone rates, which I think would prove an excellent way of making up the shortage in the Post Office. When the Postmaster-General is considering this matter, he might also take into account the miserable conditions under which some of the allowance offices are conducted in the country districts, and devote a portion of the profits from the increased telephone rates to relieving the unfortunate people concerned. There are also the mail contractors to be considered ; but I wish particularly to speak of those in charge of allowance offices, whose conditions are, I consider, shameful in any country. It is all very well to say that there is not much work to be done in these offices, but the men and women in charge have to be there all the day, for, very often, the miserable return of 10s. a week. The fair thing should be done by those . people, who have to face all the drudgery in our country districts. There are several other matters with which time does not permit me to deal; but I hope that the Leader of the Opposition has looked up the statement I referred to in Hansard, and realizes that I have not done him an injustice.
Conduct of Business - Trade Names : Licence fob Manufacture of Aspirin - Mr. Ozanne and the Defence Department - Wheat Freights.
– I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
The business before the House being that which has been announced, it would be well if honorable members would address themselves to the legislation and other matters before them in such a way as to enable us to rise next Friday. I understand that the Leader of the Opposition has expressed his hope and belief that we shall be able to get through the Supply Bill on Wednesday.
– I hope we may.
– And also the Works Bill. That would leave the Loan Bill, the Murray Waters Bill, and the Income Tax Act Amending Bill.
– Let us understand. You are asking me to make an engagement to terminate a debate at a certain time, but you must remember that honorable members opposite have occupied more time to-day than we have on this side. I do not mean an understanding of that sort.
– I put it to honorable members on both sides, that, while there may be a great deal to be said, there is not a great deal of time in which to say it; and they must dam up their eloquence if we are to get through by Friday next. In addition to the business I have mentioned, there is a motion to submit the Katherine River to Bitter Spring railway to the Public Works Committee; and also a little Quarantine Bill.
– I should like to be clear about the statement made by the Prime Minister. I told a colleague of the honorable member that I would do what I could to help to terminate this debate on Wednesday night. I cannot say that it will terminate then; but I hope it may.
– Surely the honorable member speaks for his party.
– Does the honorable member speak for his party?
– Our leader does.
– Did Mr. Fisher speak for his party recently? If I were the honorable member I should leave that aspect of the question alone. It will be time enough for the honorable member to talk of what I do for my party when a mishap has occurred on this side similar to that which occurred in this House in connexion with the Government a few weeks ago. So far as I know, there is only one ‘ desire amongst honorable members on this side of the House, and that is to get away from the House as soon as possible. If the referendum is to be taken, the sooner we tackle it the better. But the Prime Minister knows that the Supply Bill is the only opportunity afforded to honorable members of clearing up the ordinary current complaints that arise from time to time. I certainly shall not do anything to ‘prevent this debate terminating on Wednesday. If anything will stand in the way of that desire being achieved, it will be speeches such as the last to which wo listened this afternoon. I hope that we shall not have a repetition of speeches of that kind, which absolutely distort an honorable member’s meaning.
– Order ! The honorable member must not refer to speeches in that way. He may make a personal explanation if he so desires.
– One can think nothing of controversialists of that character. I sincerely hope that it may be found possible to finish all our business nextweek.
Dr. CARTY SALMON (Grampians) [4.20]. - I rise to speak particularly on the subject of trade names. I have further information on the matter, and I shall take an opportunity of dealing -with it next week; but in the meantime I ask the Prime Minister to inquire into the licences issued by him to the two individuals who are making aspirin, in ‘order to discover if the licence does not contain a condition that they shall not take others into their company or syndicate. In defiance of that condition, they have taken two. other men into the company, thereby breaking their contract. I have a large list of articles which are susceptible of the same treatment, and I would strongly urge upon the Prime. Minister that, before the next meeting of the House, he should make further personal inquiry into this matter. I have the most perfect faith in the attitude of the honorable gentleman in regard to the war. I believe that he honestly desires to do all he possibly can to Becure victory, and, after victory, the fruits thereof to those who have fought so well to secure them. I believe that when he does inquire into this matter he will take such steps as to secure the people of Australia from what I regard as a very grave danger. The honorable gentleman has always shown himself courageous enough to retrace his steps when he found such a course necessary.
– I was not present this afternoon when the Minister for the Navy made a statement in reply to what I said yesterday. I was not aware that it was his intention to do so. I have, however, read his statement, and I have to say that one or two of his remarks were not accurate, and had no bearing on the subject. In the first instance, he stated that a reply was sent-
– Do I understand that the honorable member is replying to a statement made by a Minister? ‘
– Yes; to a statement made by the Minister for the Navy this afternoon.
– The honorable member cannot, on this motion, reply to a statement made in a former debate.
– May I be permitted to make a personal explanation J
– The honorable member may do so; but he must confine himself to a personal explanation.
– I desire to state that the Minister for the Navy read a letter purporting to have come from me in connexion with a charge I made yesterday, and it had no bearing on the subject. I do not believe in asking any man to do something which I am not prepared to do myself. Having had some military experience, I thought it my duty to offer my services to the Minister of Defence. I did so; but that was a matter quite distinct from the charges I made in connexion with Private Ryan. Yet that letter was brought into the Minister’s reply, and a reference was made to a letter wherein I stated that I offered my assistance in the re-organization of a particular branch of the Department of Defence. So far as the telegram which has been referred to is concerned, I did not receive it; nor have I, up to this time, received any reply to my inquiries.
– I should like to learn from the Prime Minister whether he has gone sufficiently far with his negotiations with the representatives of the States to be able to make any announcement as to the freight available for the transport of wheat, and the flat rate determined upon. The reason I press the question is that’ already, in the far-northern districts, wheat is being taken off. There are practically no buyers at the present time. Millers and other buyers are standing off. There is a very limited amount of storage space in the country and at the ports, and there is a rush for it. Men are in some difficulty to know just what they ought to do. If the Prime Minister is in a position to give the House any information on the subject, I shall be glad if he will do so; and, if not, that , he will tell us when he thinks he will be in a position to make a definite statement.
– With regard to the question raised by the honorable member for Grampians, I want to say that it is a very curious thing that, as soon as I grant a licence- to two Australian chemists to make aspirin, I am overwhelmed with suggestions that I should take away the name of “ aspirin “ and substitute for it “ acetyl-salicylic,” ostensibly to rob the Germans of the credit of the name, although it must also deprive these licensees of the benefit of their enterprise and ability. After many months of war, during which’ the community has been using aspirin, an Australian firm is manufacturing pure aspirin, which conforms to the test. I noticed a statement in the newspapers to the effect that it is not included in the Pharmacopoeia, but that acetyl-salicylic is included. The article which is being manufactured by this Australian firm conforms to the required standard.
– I wish the honorable gentleman would get expert evidence on that point.
– I have further to say that to-day I received a request, as earnest as that made by the honorable member for Grampians, to allow the chemists to sell German aspirin, because it would be unfair that they should be left with it on’ their hands. It is difficult to please every one.
– Make them put the formula on the packages.
– What I propose to do is to allow the term “ aspirin “ to stand until the question whether. German names in general should be wiped out is settled. Personally, I think it is desirable. In the meantime, I invite the chemists and the public of the country to stock Australian aspirin, and buy Australian aspirin. I have just a word to say to the honorable member for Wannon. I deprecate statements made from time to time that the farmer has been, or is being, prejudiced by the freight arrangements. For the. first time in the history of Australia, his interests are being safeguarded. It is not a fact that) in normal seasons, shippers begin to buy at this time. There is no wheat for sale, though they can buy forward.
– That is too thin.
– The Conference from which I have just come is now considering this question. As the members are direct representatives of the States, are responsible to them for their acts, and have their interests at heart, I must assume that they are the persons to whom the farmers will look in this matter. At any rate, the Conference is considering the question in all its aspects in regard to the handling, financing, and transporting of the harvest. All these questions are so inter-related that they cannot and ought not to be considered alone. I had some hope that the Conference would be able to conclude its labours this evening. I am afraid now that it will not; but, in any case, it will do so on Monday. A report from the Conference will be issued, and the honorable member for Wannon will then be in possession of all the information that can be made public in regard to the matter.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned st 4.33 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 29 October 1915, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1915/19151029_reps_6_79/>.