6th Parliament · 1st Session
The Clerk having informed the House of the unavoidable absence of Mr. Speaker Mr. Deputy Speaker took the chair at 2.20p.m., and read prayers.
– I have a statement to make to the House. On Wednesday, the 14th inst., on the House resuming business after the adjournment, I called upon the honorable member for Maribyrnong to continue his speech, and he proceeded to do so, when the honorable member for Echuca directed my attention to the state of the House. Ascertaining that there was not a quorum of members present, I gave instructions for the bells to be rung. During that period, when the bells were ringing, the honorable member for Melbourne, Dr. Maloney, made very abusive remarks concerning the Prime Minister and other honorable members, using such offensive terms as are not permitted under our Standing Orders. I immediately called him to order; he refused to obey; defied my authority, and said he desired me to name him. He then proceeded to directly address the visitors in the galleries. I again called him to order, and desired him to desist, which he refused to do. When the bells had ceased ringing, finding that a quorum of members was not present, I declared the House adjourned until the next day of sitting. After the House had been declared adjourned, the honorable member for Melbourne continued to address the visitors in the gallery, using most opprobrious terms regarding the Prime Minister and members supporting him. During the course of the debate on the motion for adjournment made by the right honorable the Prime Minister on Thursday, 15th inst., and while the honorable member for Melbourne, Dr. Maloney, was addressing the House, the member for Henty called my attention to the. state of the House. Finding that a quorum of members was not then present, I directed the bells to be rung. When they had ceased ringing I found there was not a quorum present. I then rose from my place in the chair and stated that as a quorum was not present the House would necessarily have to bo adjourned, under our Standing Orders, until the next day of sitting, but before declaring it so adjourned, I desired to refer to an incident which had occurred the previous day, with the object of preventing its occurrence in the future. I was then immediately interrupted in a personally offensive manner by the honorable member for Melbourne, who rose from his seat and continued addressing those in the chamber and visitors in the gallery. I called him to order repeatedly, as he was abusing the Standing Orders, which provide that when the Speaker is addressing members the members must remain seated and silent. The honorable member for Melbourne refused to obey the Chair, and I then named him for his persistently disorderly conduct, and informed him I should report his conduct to the House on its next day of sitting. Before I had declared the House adjourned, and while I was still occupying the chair, the honorable member for Melbourne submitted some motion concerning myself to those assembled, and solicited their voices in support. After I had declared the House adjourned, and had left the chair, and directed the galleries to bo. cleared, the Honorable member for Melbourne continued his remarks, which were personally offensive to myself. Another incident during the disorderly proceedings was the audible remark of one visitor in the gallery, who loudly proclaimed the member for Melbourne a hero. It must be admitted that the continuance of such conduct on the part of any member will lead to more discreditable, regrettable, and disorderly scenes in the future if some remedy is not provided to prevent them. I therefore ask honorable members to give the matter now reported their serins consideration, and provide some adequate means of preserving the honour and dignity of Parliament, and maintaining its high and noble traditions.
.The statement you have just made, sir, and the occurrence out of which it has arisen, are, I think, without precedent, and I hardly know what course to pro- pose.
– Hear, hear! There was no House on the occasion referred to.
– When a member is named from the Chair, it is usual for the Prime Minister, as Leader of the House, to move a motion, but I cannot gather from your statement, sir, whether you desireme to do that. Still, I feel compelled to express some opinion regarding the circumstances to which you have alluded, and to suggest means forpreventing what you have properly called “ discreditable, regrettable, and disorderly scenes.” The honorable gentleman chiefly concerned will see that his part in this matter is quite clear. He came into conflict with the presiding officer, who is the custodian of the. rights and privileges of the House, and whose duty it is to declare what conduct is disorderly under the Standing Orders. It is for him, therefore, to apologize, and to express regret for what happened. That is what has been done by other honorable members similarly placed, no matter how much they may have been smarting under a fancied wrong, and even in the very heat of the moment. The honorable member has had nearly a week in which, to think the matter over, and 1 hope he will, therefore, without further ado, make the amende honorable for. which the circumstances call.
– With all due respect to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I cannot accept your statement of what occurred last week as the correct one.
– There is no motion before the Chair.
– I understand that the position is without precedent, and am therefore at a loss to know what course to follow ; but as the member to whom the presiding officer looks, I am entitled-
– The honorable member for Bourke was ruled out of order because there wasno motion before the Chair, yet,
Mr. Deputy Speaker, you are allowing the Prime Minister to speak.
– I am giving the Prime Minister the. opportunity to make a motion.
– May I respectfully suggest that, however desirous the Prime Minister may be of meeting the situation, he cannot make a motion which will do so unless and until he is conversant with the whole of the facts ?
– That is not a point of order.
– I shall conclude with a motion if compelled to do so, but I do not wish to make a motion. Every honorable member knows that what I am now doing is always done.
– There was no House on the occasions referred to.
– The honorable member for Melbourne Ports must not interject.
– What have we to do with the point raised by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports? Mr. Deputy Speaker has made a complaint regarding the conduct of an honorable mem- ber, and there is now a House. The mat-: ter has been brought before the House; I have been asked to deal with it; and I am dealing with it. I am so far perfectly in order, and it I were not to take notice of the complaint I should be grossly disrespectful to the Chair. I would say to the honorable member, “ Never mind the circumstances under which this incident occurred.” The question is - Does he intend, in view of what Mr. Deputy Speaker has said, to make that apology which the presiding officer considers necessary and proper in the circumstances? That is the whole point to which I desire’ to direct the honorable member’sattention I refrain from making any comment, good, bad, or indifferent; I say nothing more than that my position compels me to take this action, and that I take it without any prejudice for or against the honorablemember or the Deputy. Speaker. The proper course, and the invariable course, when honorable members find themselves’ in such a position as that occupied by the honorable member for Melbourne, is to apologize, no matter whether they think they are right or wrong, and to respect the Chair.
– I ask leave to make a statement to the
House, because there is no motion before the Chair. You, Mr Deputy Speaker, have not mentioned any standing order that I have broken, but you have sought to exact’ from me an apology for something of which you cannot give any legal proof under our Standing Orders. In this morning’s issue of the Age, it was stated that the first business to be taken in the House to-day would be the action of the honorable member for Melbourne in connexion with last Thursday’s disorderly count-out. I thought you were going to allude to that sir, and had you done so, I should have been prepared to answer it. I propose to quote standing order 33, which, I think, exactly fits the situation. It reads-
If any member shall take notice, or if the Chairman of Committees, on notice being taken by any member, shall report to the Speaker that a quorum of members is not present, the Speaker, standing up in his place, shall count the House; and, if a quorum be not present within two minutes, he shall adjourn the House till the next sitting day.
You have not told me of one standing order that I. broke when I addressed the gallery on the occasion that the count-out was brought about - in a way sufficient to make any man indignant. In all good temper, let me say that the Prime Minister, on that occasion, knowing that the House had been counted out, came into the chamber smoking a cigarette, and, had I been near enough, he would, possibly, have puffed the smoke in my face.
– That was the most offensive thing. of all.
– If the Prime Minister had not done that, I would not have attacked himas I did. If you, sir, can show me a standing order that I broke whenI spoke to my fellow citizens at a time when we were here simply as a party of private members- when there was no quorum present, and, therefore, no House - I shall immediately apologize, and withdraw what I said. But you have not pointed to any standing order - although I have no doubt you searched for one - that would meet the situation. With your knowledge of the procedure of the House, Mr. Deputy Speaker, you will agree with me that celerity in dealing with any act of disorder in the House is the real essence of our Standing Orders. What, then, was your duty in the circumstances ? You will admit that you should have brought before the House, at the first opportunity, the matter of which you complain. The first opportunity of referring to what happened in connexion with the count-out on Wednesday presented itself on the following day, when the House met. But did Mr. Deputy Speaker then say a word to the House in regard to it? Did he bring before it my conduct, which he says was terrible ? I am sure that honorable members will discount the honorable member’s innuendoes as to terrible language having been used by me. I ask him to mention the language I used of which he complains. With theexception, possibly, of a little bit of Billingsgate which occurred between the Prime Minister and myself, after he had said, “ Hear, hear!” I said nothing of which I need be ashamed. After that incident I appealed to the ladies who were in the gallery at the time and asked for their opinion. They comprised a deputation which had been waiting for three-quarters of an. hour outside, and they assured me that they would never again vote for the Liberals. It was something like a public meeting, and I spoke as I would address any meeting of my constituents. If I was wrong, then, in the name of justice, let the Deputy Speaker point to the standing order that I violated, and I will at once apologize.. I hope that will meet the suggestion made by the Prime Minister. If he wants more -if he would like to contest with me the constituency of Melbourne, and learn what my constituents think of him, he may do so. Until Thursday night last, sir, there was no personal difference as between you and me. The fact that I went, at considerable expense, to your own constituency to address meetings in your interest will prove what my feelings were towards you. Even if you were right in the action you took while in the chair, can you defend your action in coming round to me and rubbing in the salt by telling me that you had named me? I told you then that I had not heard you name me, and I find that out of eighteen honorable members who voted that you leave the chair only two heard you name me. However, I waive that point; I do not want to take any technical advantage. According to Hansard, you said on the occasion under consideration -
There not being a quorum present, the House, under our Standing Orders, must be adjourned until 2.30 p.m. on Thursday next.
Up to that point you were quite right, but when, as shown by your own words, you knew there was not a quorum present, you had no right to transact any business. Section 39 of the Constitution provides that-
Until the Parliament otherwise provides, the presence of at least one-third of the whole number of the members of the House of Representatives shall be necessary to constitute a meeting of the House for the exercise of its powers.
– I rise to a point of order. Either there is something before the Chair, or there is not. If there is anything before the Chair it must arise from a motion moved, or to be moved by me, to the effect that the honorable member, as a result of your naming him, be suspended from the service of the House. Before proceeding to submit such a motion I allowed the honorable member to rise, be- . cause I assumed, as any reasonable man would have done, that he proposed to make an apology. Instead of that, he is making an oration. In the circumstances I submit he is not in order, and cannot be allowed to proceed.
– I desire to speak to the point of order.
– The Prime Minister had an opportunity to conclude with a motion.
– But I wish to speak to the Prime Minister’s point of order.
– I must ask the honorable member for Melbourne to remain silent while the Deputy Speaker is addressing the House. When the honorable member rose, as I expected he would, I gave him the preference in order that he might make a statement. I am giving the honorable- member a considerable amount of latitude, and he is asking me certain questions which I am ready to answer. The honorable member must, however, confine himself to the charges I have brought against him.
– Have I not the right to speak to the point of order?
– I have decided the point of order.
– I asked leave to address the House, as honorable members will remember.
– That question was not submitted to the House.
– I must ask the honorable member for Melbourne to resume his seat. The matter before us is a most serious one affecting the dignity of honorable members, the dignity of this House, and the dignity of parliamentary institutions. I ask honorable members to be respectfully silent and allow the honorable member for Melbourne to say what he has tosay. If the honorable member, in my opinion, goes beyond the bounds, I shall call his attention to the fact.
– I only wish to know where I am, and, to that end, desired to speak to the point of order. When there is no motion before the House, I understand that a member may speak only by permission of the House, or by way of personal explanation; and before I spoke I distinctly asked for, and thought I had obtained, permission. On Thursday night the Deputy Speaker said -
There not being a quorum present the House, under our Standing Orders, must be adjourned until 2.30 p.m. on Thursday next, but before declaring the House adjourned I wish to refer to an incident that occurred last night.
I did not hear you say these latter words, but no doubt, sir, you did so. I then interjected -
But there is no quorum; there is no House.
Thereupon you requested me to resume my seat, and I said -
I rise to a point of order. I ask - How dare you speak?
These are not the words I used ; what I said was that if the Deputy Speaker, could speak, I could speak, because I was in possession of the Chair. Then you said -
An honorable member cannot speak while the Speaker is on his feet.
I then moved that you leave the chair, and you again requested me to resume my seat. This request I acceded to. You will remember, sir, that I satdown and covered my head with a piece of paper in order that I might be in a position to raise a point of order. This you would not allow me to do, and thereupon I stood up and refused to comply with your request to resume my seat. The motion that you leave the chair was carried by eighteen votes to two, and then you said -
Order! Before adjourning the House until 2.30 o’clock p.m. on Thursday next I name the honorable member for Melbourne for disobeying the Chair. The House stands adjourned.
You will remember that then you walked round to where I was speaking to another honorable member on the floor of the House, and “rubbed it in” by tell- ing me that you had ‘ ‘ named ‘ ‘ me, that I replied that that was the first I had heard of it. In all my twenty-seven years of political life I never knew a Speaker who had “ named “ a member to come on to the floor of the House and tell him, without any preliminary conversation, “ I have named you.” Surely it was enough for you in your position in the Chair to do that. I submit that you went beyond your power as Speaker in attempting to speak when there was no quorum. The only exception to this rule is when a Royal Order comes from the King, which can be heard whether there be a quorum present or not. How could you, as Speaker, address a House that did not exist - that had no powers to carry any legislation ? As I have already’ said, if it can be shown that I broke a single standing order, I shall express my regret for what occurred. I cannot, and will not, do more. I stand on my rights as a member representing the most valuable constituency in Australia. Although Sydney is a larger city as regards papulation and wealth, honorable members know that it is divided into four different constituencies. I did not, as I say, hear the Deputy Speaker “ name “ me, but if he did so I contend that, under the circumstances, his action was illegal. Briefly my defence is this: The Deputy Speaker, after announcing that no quorum was present, in my opinion exceeded the powers of the Chair in seeking to make a statement, he having stated that the House should adjourn to the next day of sitting. It was to this action by the Deputy Speaker that I took objection, because, ‘in my opinion, his action was wrong. I rose to a point of order, and, if he named me, I did not hear him; and his action in naming me was, therefore, illegal. The quorum required in this Chamber is larger in proportion than that required in the House of Commons, where forty, out of a membership of no Jess than 670, is sufficient. Had our quorum been fixed at the same ratio the Deputy Speaker would, of course, have been quite in order. Then, again, the House of Lords, with a membership of 586, may manage the whole British race with a quorum of three. In Canada, the United States of America, Switzerland, and Germany, a quorum of the majority of members is insisted on in the Legislature; arid I maintain that I have been very harshly treated. I know, sir, that you would not permit even the Prime Minister, or any Cabinet Minister, to do what you yourself did, namely, make a speech when you knew there was not a quorum present. At the time the House had no legal or constitutional existence, but was merely a body of private members. In Quick and Garran, we are told -
The principles affirmed were (1) ‘ that a colonial legislative- body, whether it has been established by Royal Charter, or by Statute of the Imperial Parliament, is not entitled to enjoy and exercise the powers, privileges, and immunities of the Houses of the British Parliament, unless these powers, privileges, and immunities have been expressly conferred upon such a body by Imperial Statute ….
No Legislative Assembly or Council under the British flag can proceed with any legislation or any business in the absence of a quorum. The Presiding Officer is supposed to be blind to the fact for the time being; but when once his attention is drawn to the absence of a quorum, there can be no further business until a quorum has been formed. ‘ I am requested, however, te apologize for having striven to rise to a point of order at a time when I hold you, sir, were out’ of order. As the Presiding Officer of the Chamber it is your duty to be more exact in the application of the Standing Orders than any private member. I repeat that if I am asked to apologize for striving to call your- attention to the fact that you were out of order in addressing a House that did not exist, I have no apology to give. This is the first time in my twentyseven years of parliamentary experience that I have been “ named,” and I do not take the fact lightly. If on a question of principle my word is at stake, I am prepared to go to a higher power, namely, to the people’ who> have sent me here as a representative. So long as I live I shall endeavour to see that the rules of Parliament are observed. I do not think that you purposely did me an injustice; but, if mistakenly, you,’ sir, did something that was wrong, I was entitled to rise in my place on a point of order and draw attention to that error. Rather than be suspended for one day, I prefer that this House should expel me. If the House sees its way to- suspend me, I think I shall ‘ consult my constituents. Already I have seen my campaign committee, because I always take time by the forelock. I remember when the second lieutenant in the present Government - this second Caesar, who refused the crown of Prime Ministership - caused us suddenly on one occasion to face our electors ; and I am prepared to face at any moment any political storm. I shall not he fearful of the result. Every sensible man and woman will say that it was the duty of the Government to have kept a House on the occasion we are discussing. It will be . remembered that, when I was speaking, there was not one member sitting on the Government side of the House.
– Before the Prime Minister speaks, I desire to remind the honorable member for Melbourne that he has not quoted all the standing orders that bear upon this question. I direct his attention to the fact that a number of the Standing . Orders deal with the position that has arisen, and only in one specific instance is it provided that the Speaker shall forthwith adjourn the House. The occasion under review was not one to which that standing order applies. It is in the discretion of the Speaker to say whether the House shall be adjourned forthwith, orwhether he shall delay the adjournment for a few moments, as I did on that occasion, for a particular purpose. Our first standing order provides that, if, in any respect, our own Standing Orders do not provide for the needs of this Parliament, the practice of the British House of Commons shall be followed. On many occasions where a breach of privilege has occurred in the British House of Commons, the offending member has been called to the bar, and, in some instances, arrested. The honorable member for Melbourne must know that the Standing Orders provide that, if exception is taken to any ruling from the Chair, notice of dissent shall be given, and dealt with on the following day. That course was not taken by him. It was during the time that the House was sitting, and when it was not known whether there was a quorum present or not, that the honorable member committed the offence with which I have charged him. At that time, the bells were ringing for a quorum. He has forgotten, also, that on that occasion I did not name him. Therefore, I could not have made the statement which he alleges I made to him. on the floor of the House. It was on the second occasion, when no quorum was present, that I named the honorable member. The honorable mem ber contends that I had no power to deal with the matter then, and that I should have dealt with it at the earliest opportunity, when the House was again constituted. Honorable members will recollect that as soon as I had read the prayer on Thursday a motion by the Prime Minister that the House, at its rising, should adjourn until to-day was carried, and was immediately followed by another motion “ that the House do now adjourn.” It was during the discussion on that motion that the honorable member’s offence was committed. I can assure the honorable member and the House that the action I took was for the sole purpose of preserving the dignity of this Chamber. The honorable member has stated that he has been twenty-seven years in the publiclife of Australia. My record is even longer than that.
– Not as a member of one party all the time.
– I gave a great deal of latitude to the honorable member, because I desired that he should be allowed to state his case as fully as possible; but I ask him to make no reflections of that kind, and not to introduce any party feeling into the matter with which we are now dealing. This is a question to be dealt with from a non-party point of view in order that we may uphold the traditions of Parliament as they have been handed down to us. The honorable member for Melbourne was wrong, as he must, on reflection, admit. I call the honorable member’s attention to standing orders 29, 31, and 33, in which it is stated that in, the absence of a quorum, the Speaker shall adjourn the House. Standing order 32 is the only one which says that the Speaker shall adjourn the House forthwith. I hold, and if I am wrong in my understanding of the duties of Speaker-
– May I put a question to you?
– The honorable member may not. When there is a motion before the Chair I will permit honorable members to speak. In any case, when the Speaker is addressing the House, whether he be right or wrong, he is entitled to be heard in silence. I contend that the House is under the control of the Speaker from the time he takes the chair, and constitutes the House until the moment he declares the House adjourned.
On the occasion of the honorable member’s offence I had not declared the House adjourned, and I distinctly stated that before so doing I desired to refer to the honorable member’s conduct on the previous evening. I had no other object in view than to prevent a recurrence of such incidents in future; and no matter what honorable member had committed the offence, I should have taken exactly the same course. The House is just as much under the control of the Speaker, and honorable members are just as amenable to our rules and Standing Orders, while the bells are ringing for a quorum, as at any other moment when the House is in session. The Speaker must have that control if the House is to be conducted in a decent manner. Honorable members look to the Speaker to preserve the dignity of the House, and as, that dignity was imperilled by what had occurred, I was impelled to take action. The honorable member for Melbourne stated that after the adjournment on Thursday last I descended to the floor of the House and twitted him with the fact that he had been named. I assert, and I desire no controversy, that I did not do that. No such thought entered . my mind. The honorable member, on the other hand, did certainly attack me personally because of the conduct of the House and an incident affecting some persons in the strangers’ gallery to which my attention had been directed, and in regard to which I had already taken action. I cast the responsibility on the Prime Minister and the House, as a whole, irrespective of party, of preserving the ancient dignity of parliamentary proceedings. I have reported what occurred, and it rests with honorable members to take what action they deem proper.
– Next business.
– I understand your position, Mr. Deputy Speaker, perfectly well.
– Are you going in cold blood to hang the honorable member for Melbourne ?
– Order ! I have asked the honorable member for Melbourne Ports to remain silent. I ask him not to put the Chair in another false position by having to call attention to the fact.
– You admit that you are ina false position, then?
– I call upon the honorable member to withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw it.
– I understand what Mr. Deputy Speaker requires me to do; but, unfortunately, I did not catch that part of the remarks of the honorablemember for Melbourne in which, so I am informed, he expressed some regret at what had occurred. I do not even know whether that is so or not.
– I said that if the Speaker could show one standing order that I broke when I addressed the citizens of Melbourne who were in the gallery, I would apologize.
– In effect, what the honorable member says is that what he did do was proper, as the Deputy Speaker had no jurisdiction, but if the Deputy Speaker had jurisdiction he did not do it It is perfectly clear that if a man goes into Court and commits some offence against the rules of the Court, it is not for him to say that he has not done so, since the Judge had no jurisdiction. That is a matter f or the Judge to decide. There is no superior tribunal.
– We are not in Court here.
– I am dealing with one honorable member at a time. All honorable members cannot get an advertisement over this business. Mr. Deputy Speaker has said that the jurisdiction in this matter is his: I acknowledge that jurisdiction. He has called upon me to take the usual action, but it is an action that I have never taken; I have always appealed to offenders to apologize. The honorable member for Melbourne must realize that he cannot get behind the decision of the Speaker in this matter. Therefore, he must apologize, and I ask him to do so. When honorable members in the heat of controversy have been, as it were, caught in the very act, there has been some reluctance on their part to apologize, but I have never yet known a case in which an apology did not follow after the lapse of a few minutes. The honorable member for Melbourne has had plenty of time to think over this matter. ‘He comes to the House in cold blood. The House has all its dignities and all the responsibilities enshrined here to preserve. The
Deputy Speaker says that, in his opinion, the honorable member’s action has brought the House into contempt, and that the honorable member has been acting in a way discreditable to the House. He has called upon the honorable member to apologize, and I, as the mouthpiece of the Speaker, . call upon the honorable member to apologize forthwith. Does he propose to do so?
– No; I have said it twice now.
– Very well; then I have no option but to move -
That the honorable member for Melbourne be suspended from the service of the House for the remainder of the sitting.
Several honorable members rising,
On this question there can be no debate or amendment.
The House divided.
Majority . . . . 20
Honorable members interjecting,
Honorable members again interjecting,
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The honorable member thereupon left the chamber in the company of the SerjeantatArms.
Mr.FENTON. - Is the Prime Minis ter prepared to put into operation the powers he possesses under various Acts of this Parliament to prevent the Metropolitan Gas Company from increasing the price of gas to consumers?
– The honorable member may not have observed that, as a result of the great coal strike, a Board was given jurisdiction over the entire coal industry. It has, pending a careful inquiry into the increased cost of production, caused through the. new award rates . of wages and conditions, increased the price of coal by 3s. a ton, an increase which is reflected in the price of gas. It is impossible for the Government to provent the price of coal from affecting the price of gas.
– Is the Prime Minister prepared to fix the price of cattle on the hoof, so that the people of Australia may have a. chance of getting meat at a reasonable price?
– I am prepared to see that the people of Australia are given a chance to get meat at reasonable prices, and to prevent the holding of supplies in one part of the continent to the detriment of the Commonwealth and of the Empire.
Statement of Policy
– I desire to announce to the -House that on Saturday last, 17th February, I tendered the resignation of Ministers to His Excellency, the Governor-General, and that His Excellency was pleased to accept the same. Thereupon, I requested His Excellency to grant me a commission to form a new Administration, and this His Excellency was pleased to do. A new Government was. then formed, its members duly sworn in, and the portfolios allotted as follows : -
Prime Minister and AttorneyGeneral. The Right Honorable Wil liam Morris Hughes, P.C.
Minister of State for the Navy. - The Right Honorable Joseph Cook, P.C.
Treasurer. - The Right Honorable Sir John Forrest, P.C, G.C.M.G
Minister of State for Defence. - The Honorable George Foster Pearce
Vice-President of the Executive Council. - The Honorable Edward Davis Millen.
Minister of State for Works and Railways. - The Honorable William Alexander Watt
Minister of State for Home and Territories. - The Honorable Patrick McMahon Glynn, K.C.
Minister of State for Customs. - The Honorable Jens August Jensen
Postmaster-General. - The Honorable William Webster
Honorary Minister. - The Honorable Littleton Ernest Groom
Honorary Minister. - The Honorable Edward John Russell
Before setting out the policy of the new Government, I think it necessary to review shortly the circumstances that led up to its formation. These are, of course, well enough known, not only to honorable members, but to the electors generally, Yet it is necessary to recall and marshal facts already known, but which seem in some danger, from one reason or another, of being obscured, in order that the House and the country may view the position face to face, and not darkly through the glasses of distortion and misrepresentation.
Let us first then go back to the genesis of this Parliament, which sprang into being amidst the very flames of conflict. This isa War Parliament. It was elected after this mighty world war had raged a full month; it was elected after the sieges of Liege and Namur, but before the Marne had turned aside that . first fierce and apparently resistless swoop of the enemy upon Paris. This Parliament was elected whilst the Commonwealth and the Empire, quite unprepared for a life and death struggle, were confronted with the possibilities of imminent and most appalling disaster. It was, and is, a War Parliament. It is a committee of public safety deliberately elected to deal with the war. It was elected by a people resolute to prosecute the war with the ut- most vigor, and to do all things necessary to aid the Empire in that purpose. Every member stood, and was elected, on this policy. Not one would have been elected had he dared to advocate a policy other than that. I regret that it should be necessary to remind some honorable members of this fact; but by their recent speeches and actions it would seem that they have forgotten that every member of the Labour and Liberal parties, although they differed on domestic politics, was pledged to subordinate all things to the resolute prosecution of the war.
Mr. Fisher, the then Leader of the party, speaking at Colac, pledged Australia’s “last man and last shilling” in this great struggle. These words, which have become historic, are surely sufficiently sweeping ; but the more deliberate terminology of the Labour manifesto, if possible, pledges the Labour party and every member of it still more definitely to a policy running the gamut of all things necessary to achieve victory : -
Our interests and our very existence are bound up with those of the Empire. In time of war, half measures are worse than none. If returned with a majority, we shall pursue with’ the utmost vigour and determination every course necessary for the defence of the Commonwealth and the Empire in any and every contingency.
Regarding, as we do, such a policy as the first duty of Government at this juncture, the electors may give their support to the Labour party with the utmost confidence. And this we say, further, that whatever be the verdict of the people, we shall not waver from the position taken up by Mr. Fisher on behalf of our party, viz., that “ in this hour of peril there are no parties, so far as the defence of the Commonwealth and Empire are concerned, and that the Opposition will co-operate with the Government and stand behind them as one man.” The position, then, is that if the . electors give us a majority, we sholl expect Mr.
Cook and his supporters to’ stand behind us. On the other hand, if Mr. Cook has a majority, we shall stand .behind him in all things necessary for the defence of the Commonwealth and the Empire.
Who can read these words and doubt that the Labour party was elected to prosecute the war with every ounce of energy, sparing neither men nor money ? Who can doubt that Labour was pledged to a policy subordinating all things to the war, to a policy that boldly declared that “ in this hour of peril there are no parties “ ? Who can doubt that ‘Labour was chosen’ because the electors believed that the party would give effect to this policy? Who can doubt that but for this belief the Labour party would have been hopelessly beaten?
And, as I have said, every member of the Liberal party was also elected upon this very same policy: to put the war first and everything else second. It is well known that the leaders of both parties solemnly pledged themselves to stand behind the Government chosen by the people, and to support its war policy to the uttermost. This is the solemn contract which every honorable member of this Parliament made with the electors. Upon the terms of this contract he was elected. Unless he had been prepared to subscribe to them he would have been ignominiously rejected. Many honorable members seem strangely to have forgotten this fundamental fact.: but the people have not.
Now I want to show that, not only was the Parliament elected as a War Parliament, but that it has, with a few exceptions, until quite recently, fully recognised that this was its first and greatest; function, and one to which all others were to be subordinated.
Until the end of August last, when the submission to the electors, by way of referendum, of the question of compulsory service was brought before Parliament, the Labour party had an ample majority in either House of the Parliament, and could have introduced whatever kind of legislation it thought fit. I invite honorable members to note that the legislation, actually introduced other than that directly relating to the war or arising out of it was- negligible. No greater proof of the fact that it recognised that the prosecution of the war was the business for which it was elected is needed than that it abandoned its proposal for taking a’ referendum for the amendment of the Constitution, a matter on which, as is well known, it . felt very strongly, holding, indeed, that -its power to deal Effectively with all the problems arising out of the war was seriously circumscribed by the conditions.
I -do not say that every member, of the Labour party, after election, acted upon the assumption that this was purely a War Parliament, and that its duty was to do all things necessary to win the war and v to subordinate all else to that end; but the party, as such, certainly did. The Labour Governments- both that headed by Mr. Fisher as well as ‘the later one By myself - did so act, and there was, during the whole of these two Administrations, a substantial number of the party who believed heart and soul in that policy.
This, then, is a War Parliament, elected to. deal with the war. The war still rages, and more furiously than ever. Far from showing signs of abatement, it has indeed now taken on a new and more dreadful shape, menacing the very foundations upon which the Empire stands.
I come now to the present position of parties in the Parliament. The necessity for standing fast by the Labour manifesto is more than ever obvious - “ in this hour of peril there are no parties.” There should be none. The recent referendum has, unfortunately, caused a permanent cleavage in the ranks of the Labour party - the party returned by the .electors during the war to deal with the war, its prosecution, and all matters arising out of it - and as a result of that division in its ranks it no longer commands a majority in the House. I need not remind the House that the late Government, composed exclusively of members of the National Labour party, without a majority in either chamber of the Legislature, found it impossible to govern effectively. But the need for effective government at this juncture in our history is overwhelm- . ing.
I cannot help feeling humiliated and sad that in the very vortex of this maelstrom of war the tumult of faction and party drowns the voice of “Australia calling to her sons to. defend her; the voices of our kinsmen and their Allies oversea calling upon us to come and stand by their side; the appeals of the boys at the front to relieve and support them. The other nations banded together in this great alliance against military despotism are facing it unitedly; but we - we only - seem unable to close our ranks in the face of the common enemy.
Under what baneful influence have my honorable friends in the Official Labour party, in whose company I have spent my whole public life, lately fallen ? Why do they shut their ears to the call of country and duty? Why did they not join hands with us, their old colleagues, their friends of a lifetime, their fellow soldiers in the cause of the people - those men against whom the envenomed tongue of slander and hatred cannot even now charge a single violation of that Labour platform upon which we were all elected ?
Why, I say, did not the Official Labour party accept the invitation to join hands with us and with the Liberals, to form a National Government, in which all parties should be represented, so that the full force of the nation should be behind its war policy?
They cannot deny that if they had done so the interests of Labour would have been insured, for, with both sections thus brought together, Labour would have had a substantial majority in such a Government.
They cannot deny that they are solemnly pledged by their own manifesto tq put all party interests aside in this hour of peril.
Why, then, did they hold so churlishly aloof ? There are some in that party who would have welcomed such a step. Why was it not taken ?
The reason is obvious on the face of things. The Official Labour pa’rty is no longer master of its own actions. It is a mere pawn in the hands of outside bodies. It does what it is told to do. If a member dares to murmur, to speak as he thinks, to let fall an indiscreet word, to reveal by word or act his true feelings, to protest against an intolerable tyranny, what a lot is his? He is a marked man. Even abject submission to the will of the juntas will. not save him. He lives with the sword of excommunication suspendedover his head. He is opposed in his selection. The member for East Sydney, an old and trusted member of the party, a man grown grey in the cause of Labour, has been defeated by one of the representatives of the junta. The member for South Sydney has just escaped a similar fate ; and other members are faced with the same prospect. .What a position for men who have devoted their whole lives to the cause of the people. What a contrast with the state of things that formerly prevailed. Why, sir, I have been a member of the Labour party since its inception: I have never had but one selection, and that the first of all. In twenty-two years I was never opposed in my league.
And what is the policy of the Official Labour party? I do ,not speak of the platform upon% which it was, like myself, elected, but its policy towards this war, towards the future of Australia.__ What a painful contrast is its present attitude to that set out in the’ manifesto upon which it was elected. I ask again, what is the policy of this once great party with great ideals?
Beyond hatred of myself, what does it stand for?
Let me now deal with the present state pf the war, and the need for men.
When the people we’re asked to agree to compulsory service in October last, there was great need for men. The people did not agree to compulsory over-sea service, but their decision - which the Government intends to respect - does not mean, as the enemy press and some disloyal persons in ,our midst would have it, that Australia is war weary, that she intends to do no more. It only means that Australia does not believe in conscription : that, and nothing more.
It does not mean that she is not as resolute in her determination to fight with every ounce of energy she can gather alongside Britain and her Allies until decisive victory brings the world that lasting peace for which it yearns. That this i3 Australia’s attitude is certain.
She keenly resents the disloyal and slanderous utterances of some persons who pretend to speak in her name. Australia is determined, above all things else, to do her duty in this great war as befits the country that bred the men of Gallipoli and Pozieres.
The need for men was great in October last: it is not less to-day: if anything, it is greater.
Since the people gave their verdict on 2-Sth October, the Roumanian campaign has nin its appalling course: victory Kas followed the German legions almost as closely as a shadow.
Our great enemy now straddles the whole country of our latest Ally, holding its fairest domains in its grip. The door to the East, the Mecca of Germany, is now pushed wider open. During the last four months the enemy has conquered more territory; his troops are enheartened, even the people groaning under the hardships of war are cheered by this latest proof of the .tremendous power of the German armies. “
Then, too, there has come upon us the latest phase of the submarine war: in its present form the most direct and serious menace to the safety and power of the Empire that this war has created. The danger is very real; it is a dagger aimed right at the heart of the Empire, and so meaning life or death to us. .
On the West the opposing armies are gathering themselves for what they believe will be the final assault. Already the first sounds of the titanic conflict are faintly heard across the ocean. The greatest battle in the world - a battle beside which all the great battles of antiquity are but mere affairs of outposts - besides which Mukden, and even the Marne and the Somme, the greatest battles in the world, will lose their lustre - Armageddon is at hand ! The fate of the world hangs on it. The enemy is powerful, resourceful, resolute, desperate. Ever the cry is for more men. Australia has been asked - all the Dominions have been asked - to send more men. Britain is resorting to every means to strengthen her already gigantic armies. The Times yesterday states that -
The Government have decided immediately to revise all exemptions of men up to thirtyone years of age, but the ‘new order is not expected to supply the military needs, and it may be necessary to raise the military age to fifty, unless large numbers of young exempted men are obtained All men under thirty-five years of age are urgently required at the front. ,
We want more men : more money : more wheat, meat, and other products necessary to enable the armies of Great Britain and her Allies to fight their way to decisive victory. We want a united Parliament reflecting a united people, in order that the full force of the nation may be put forth, v /
This war, which has passed over the world like a great- fire, testing with its flaming breath all nations, all men, all human institutions; which has swept away social, political, and economic barriers that seemed destined to last for ever; which has effected as if by magic a bloodless,’ constitutional, and economic revolution in Britain, has created many and vitally important “ problems - economic, political, National, and Imperial, which compel our earnest and immediate attention. ,
The solution of many of these does not lie in our hands; they are Imperial in their nature.
Sir, the Dominions that league of free, self-governing nations, which form part of what ia called the . British Empire - are now summoned to a Conference at the heart of the Empire to consider great problems.
This Conference marks a new epoch in Imperial development. The scope of its deliberations is so wide as to cover all matters directly relating to the war or arising out of it. ?
The Conference will, for example, consider the conduct- of the war; peace, and the terms upon which the Empire will agree to it ; Imperial trade, including preference: and the constitution of the Empire. For the first time in the history of the Empire the voice of the selfgoverning Dominions will be heard on these great questions, upon which the destinies of nations hang; on which the future of the Dominions depends ; on which they have previously never been consulted - peace and war.
The question of the control of the Pacific will come up. Is this not a matter of vital importance to us?
For the first time the question of the development of the resources of the Empire - the trade of the Empire - are to be considered by representatives from every part of the Empire.
Who will dare say in the face of these things that Australia should not be represented ?
It is impossible to exaggerate the importance of this Conference. It is a War Council of the whole Empire ; and it meets to consider the conduct of the war when the fate of the Empire literally’ hangs in the balance.
Australia must be represented at such a Conference. Its voice must be heard; its counsels considered. It is unthinkable that of all the nations that make up the Empire, Australia should be the only absentee.
And the people of Australia not only expect, but insist, that they shall be effectively represented.
Now, as this great Conference of representatives from every part of the Empire meets very shortly, the matter is urgent. If any delegates are going from Australia they must leave the Commonwealth almost immediately.
I shall not dwell upon’ the position in the other Chamber of the Legislature ; but it is obvious that the responsibility of maintaining such an attitude as will prevent Australia being effectively represented at the Imperial War Conference must rest upon the shoulders of the majority in that place. The Government has a definite policy on this matter which is clearly indicated in the resolution of which I gave notice to-day. The terms of the resolution set out, not only the present position of parties in Parliament, so far as it affects the Imperial Conference, but provide the only means by which Australia can be effectively represented thereat.
Let us now turn to the general policy of the Government. The Government is a War Government. It is not a Government formed to destroy, but to build up. It does not come into existence to serve the cause of reaction, on the one hand, or of advanced legislation on the other. It comes to deal with the war, and subject to its clear declaration to respect the verdict of the people on the 28th October last, it will do whatever is necessary to help win the war. It is not a rich man’s Government, nor a poor man’s Government: it is the people’s Government; not a Government for some people, but for all people. And it will deal fairly with all. The purpose of its being is to enable the Commonwealth to most effectively continue this great struggle for liberty and right. It earnestly invites the co-operation of every section of this House; of every elector of this country.
The Government stands for the development of Australian national spirit on the foundation of Imperial ideals.
The Government strongly believes in, and will maintain in its entirety, the White Australia policy.
The new Administration rests upon the foundations of responsible government. The Ministers are responsible directly to the members of this Parliament, the members directly to the people, and to them alone.
The Government knows what is its duty to the men who fight for their country in this great war, and intends to fully perform it. The Government will deal with the returned soldiers and sailors by a policy worthy of the great sacrifices they have made
The Government, considering the question of repatriation” as one of first importance, has appointed a Minister to give his undivided attention to all matters affecting the welfare of the returned soldiers. He is now finally shaping the machinery for that purpose, and the Government expects in a few days to set forth its policy in full detail.
The financial burdens imposed by this war upon the world are colossal. Already we here in this favoured land, far removed from the scene of strife,’ have incurred a debt for war . purposes of £131,000,000. Our obligations during the calendar year for war alone will not fall far short of £78,000,000. But this by no means exhausts the tale of our liabilities. For Commonwealth purposes other than war, for moneys to be provided to the States under the financial agreement between Commonwealth and States, for repatriation, for land settlement, for soldiers, and for financing the 1917-18 wheat crop, an amount” not far short of £70,000,000 will be required, much of which will be necessary this year. The probabilities of loans in Britain for other than war purposes are remote.
In face of these facts, even putting aside the vital importance of economy in national expenditure on things other than those essential to the effective prosecution of the war, the necessity for sound and careful finance is obvious. The financial policy of the Government will, therefore, be such as the circumstances imperatively require. To the war all things must be subordinated. We shall pursue a policy of sound finance. We hope to make such financial arrangements with the States as will avoid’ dual taxation on the same asset; we shall exercise that supervision of expenditure which our circumstances fender imperative. The Government will not practise that odious economy that begins and ends by reducing the wages of the working classes, nor will it countenance in any way the even more odious policy already suggested, that men should be driven out of employ- ment in order to compel enlistment.
The policy of the Commonwealth War Government on the question of the Tariff is definite, and may be shortly stated as follows : - It is the intention of the Government to develop Australian production and industry, and to proceed with such amendments of- the present Tariff as may be necessary to attain this end While, for reasons stated to honorable members on a previous occasion, alteration of the . present Tariff cannot now be* made, the Government are pledged to deal with the matter directly circumstances make it possible. It is our intention to introduce a short Bill to legalize the collection of duties under the present Tariff. The Government will, .also develop the policy of the late Administration, and seek the aid of science for the development of industry.
In regard to industrial matters, and arbitration in particular, the policy of the Government may be shortly stated-. For the effective prosecution of the war, for the development of industries, peaceful industrial conditions and continuity of operation are essential. The policy of - the Government will be to create machinery for the economical and expeditious hearing and settlement of disputes by arbitration, and, as they believe in the principle of arbitration, so they believe in the enforcement of Courts’ awards.
In regard to conscription, the policy of the Government is clear and definite; it intends to respect the verdict of the people delivered on the 28th October, 1916. It is, of course, impossible to see or say what the future may have in store, but it is clear that the electors of Australia alone can reverse their previous decision.
In conclusion, I desire only to say-that the necessity for a Government which has behind it the whole force of the nation is in our present circumstances obvious to all men. It is with very great regret that the Government find themselves unsup- ported in this House of the National Parliament by a section of honorable members. But the responsibility for that condition rests upon their shoulders, and Dot upon the shoulders of the Government. The Government feel charged with a heavy and grave responsibility. They conceive themselves intrusted with the mission of giving full effect to the resolution of the people of Australia to prosecute this war with all its heart and soul and strength, subordinating all things to that end until decisive victory crowns the arms of the Allies. That this Government will do, subject to what I have said in the course of this speech, no matter what comes or goes. This Government, brought into being in the hour of national crisis, and composed of men of diverse political opinions bound together .by the cement of national peril aims not to pull down those things that exist, or to introduce into the economic structure anything alien to its forms, but only to create an instrument by which the national will of the people of the Commonwealth can be effectively carried out.
– The House cannot to-day give leave to the honorable member for Yarra to speak on another day. He must ask for such leave on that day.
– As the Prime Minister has failed to move that the statement be printed, will it be in order for me or some other honorable member to do so, in order to permit of a discussion of the policy of the new Government?
– I did not want to shut out the honorable member or any of his party, and, as it would appear that I have inadvertently done so, I shall, if permitted to do so, move -
That the statement be printed.
Motion, by leave, proposed.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Tudor) adjourned.
– Has the attention of the Prime Minister been drawn to a statement in the press, attributed to Mrs. Norman Shelley, that there are Germans and pro-Germansby the thousand in our midst, spreading disloyalty; that the workers of the WintheWar League know that statement to be a fact, and that they can name a country town in which the Mayor recently drove about with four Germans in his car who were supposed to be interned conducting what was actually an anti-conscription campaign ? . Does the Prime Minister propose to take any action to ascertain the identity of the Mayor who acted in that manner?
– I have not seen the statement, and can hardly believe it, but I shall be glad if the honorable member will put me into communication with Mrs. Shelley, so that the Government may make inquiries.
– On 1st December last, during my absence, the honorable member for Wentworth made the following statement: -
The honorable member for Cook, and some very appropriate supporters, went from meeting to meeting telling the people what they said had occurred at a secret conference of
Parliament. Confessing themselves to be breakers of their own honour, they told the meetings that Australia was in dire peril, that not a single man should be allowed to leave the country, and that every one should be trained to meet the peril. These statements were made throughout the city of Sydney.
When asked where the statements were made, the honorable member mentioned Randwick as one place. I give that statement a most absolute and unqualified denial. I did not at any time reveal any statement made at any secret meeting of this Parliament or of members of the Parliament.
The honorable member also said -
The idea was that every Australian should be armed and placed in camp prepared to meet the local peril; but no sooner was the verdict obtained and the writ returned, than, with the name of the honorable member for Cook at the head, a circular letter came to every member of the Federal Parliament demanding that the men in camp should be immediately released. The peril has passed! No longer is it of any value as a bogy.
I can hardly acquit the honorable member of a desire to deliberately misrepresent me, seeing that on 27th May last I forwarded to him, as to every honorable member of this House, a memorandum in which I stated what I thought should be done to train Australian manhood for home defence. The honorable member knows that what I suggested was the training in their own areas as civilians, without interference with their civil occupations, of themanhood of Australia for home defence ; and that it had nothing to do with the idea of taking men from their own occupations, locking them up in camps, and depriving them of their ordinary civil liberties. The statement; published in the press, with the resolutions in which the anti-conscription campaign committee in New South Wales asked that the proclamation should be withdrawn, was as follows: -
At the conclusion of the meeting, Mr. J. H. Catts, M.H.R., stated that the committee considered the corollary of the referendum vote should ho the immediate withdrawal of the proclamation and the releasing of the men called up thereunder. It was never suggested by Mr. Hughes that the proclamation had to do with home defence in Australia. There still remained, however, the question of preparing for home defence. Australia was divided’ into thirty-six battalion areas. The training of our manhood should be proceeded with in these areas under a scheme that would permit of their civil occupations being proceeded with.
As this appeared in the press at the same time as the resolutions asking for the release of the men, the honorable member must have known that I had never advocated, or been a party to, men being called into and trained in camp, but that what I had advocated all through, and still advocate, is that the whole of Australia’s manhood should be trained for home defence in the districts in which they live, without interfering with their civil occupations.
– I made the statements referred to by the honorable member in good faith. I believed every statement I made. As regards the last matter, I was referringto a letter which I had received from the honorable member’s own campaign committee, and not to any statement appearing in the press, of which I had not heard until the honorable member read it. That statement, however, proves more conclusively than the letter, which I think bore his name, that the honorable member wanted that force disbanded which might have been used for home defence against any local peril. I made my statement about the other matter in good faith upon the reports and representations made to me by men in Sydney, who professed to have heard the honorable member. I shall make further inquiries, and if I then find that the honorable member did not do what I said I shall gladly accept his explanation.
Mr.J. H. Catts. - I am prepared to go with the honorable member to Randwick, in his electorate, on the question.
– I, too, am prepared to go to Randwick.
The following papers were presented: -
Defence Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1917, No. 25.
Naval Defence Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1917, No. 30.
Papua - Ordinance of 1916, No. 16 - Customs.
Public Service Act - Promotion of R. B. Avery, Postmaster-General’s Department.
War Precautions Act - Regulations Amended -Statutory Rules 1917, Nos. 23, 24.
– There are, approxi mately, 160,000,000 bushels of wheat in the No. 1 Wheat Pool, on which about1s. a bushel remains outstanding, and for this a surplus scrip certificate is issued. That aggregates about £8,000,000. Many of the farmers holding scrip are anxious to invest in the war loan. Will the Treasurer accept that scrip as an application in connexion with the war loan, and issue war loan scrip for it on the maturity of the wheat scrip?
– I shall be glad to do so provided that on the maturity of the scrip the amount coming to the Treasury will be the amount of the bond, and that interest shall begin from the date on which the money is received at the Treasury.
– Will the Prime Minister state what public reason exists for the visit of the Treasurer, in company with the two other delegates, to the Imperial Conference ?
– The Treasurer is going to the Imperial Conference because, amongst other things, the British Government have asked that of those colleagues who accompany me one shall be able to speak with authority on finance, and the Government think it proper that the Treasurer should go.
– Has the PostmasterGeneral taken any steps with the companies contracting for the mail service between Tasmania and the mainland to see that the s.s. Loongana maintains the contract speed ; also, has he communicated with the companies upon any other points in connexion with their contract?
– I dealt with the matter this morning. I have asked for all particulars that will enable me to form a judgment as to the relations between the public and the contracting company.
– Has the Prime Minister arrived at a decision as to whether Rockhampton will be made a centre for the appraisement of wool?
– I regret to say that the Wool Committee has not yet been able to alter its decision in regard to that matter, but I understand that, in view of what was said upon the question in the House, the members of the Committee are giving it very earnest consideration. I shall again remind them of the arguments; used by my friend, and I hope to be able to give him an answer at the next meeting of the House.
– Last week I directed attention to the character of the despatches sent by Mr. Bean, the official correspondent with the Expeditionary Forces. I had been under the impression that his functions were to record the achievements of the Australian troops, but he has, apparently, devoted himself to the political side of questions; because, in a contribution which recently appeared in the Melbourne press, and in messages which have appeared in the Government Gazette, we have sentiments of this kind -
But more bitter still is the thought which I hear expressed on every side, that, after all these men have done, the Australian party politician cannot sufficiently sink party gain and loss to wholeheartedly represent in the Imperial Conference the Australian ideas of justice and right for which they are fighting and dying.
As the -Assistant Minister for Defence has disappeared from the scene, I ask the Prime Minister whether he’ thinks the Australians who are “ fighting and dying “ are worrying about representation at the Imperial Conference, and whether he will instruct this gentleman to confine himself in future to his proper functions ?
– I do not know whether they are worrying about the matter or not.
– Is it a fact that Mr. Bean is compiling a book entitled Records of the War, which will contain several plates, and that it is to be printed in London 1 Seeing that it might be classed as an Australian production, does not the Prime Minister think that the work should be done by Australian artists and printers?
– I have noticed a statement in the press that a book, to which Mr. Bean, amongst others, was going to contribute, was to be published, but I did not know that it was to be published in London, though there may be 100 good reasons why’ it is desirable that it should be published in the neighbourhood of the men who are contributing to it, enabling them to revise proofs, and so on. On the other hand, I admit the fitness of the suggestion that as a record of Australian doings the work should be done in Australia; and as far as that can be done, I shall see that it is done.
– It appears from information that has. beenplaced in my hands that the work is entirely a private speculation by . Mr. Bean. It is not a Government venture, and is not under Government control:
– Is not Mr. Bean in the . pay of the Commonwealth Government?
– I am speaking merely on information which has been placed in my hands. All I can say is that the book is a matter of private arrangement, and is being produced entirely at Mr. Bean’s risk. However, I shall ascertain the facts, and see how far the suggestion of the. honorable member can be carried out.
Motion (by Mr. Tudor) (by leave) agreed to -
That leave of absence for two months be given to the honorable member for Batman, on the ground of ill-health.
– I ask the. Minister for Home and Territories can he tell me whether it is true that from the 1st July, 1914, to the 19th July, 1915, the Administrator of the Northern Territory drew over £400 in expenses?
– I cannot answer as to the total expenses drawn by Dr. Gilruth. The salary of the Administrator of the Northern Territory is £1,750 per annum, and. during his absence on official business he draws expenses at the rate of £2 2s. per day. I shall be pleased to give the honorable member the information for which he has asked.
– Last week a question was asked by the honorable member for. Wide Bay in regard to the agreement between the Commonwealth Government and the Sugar Refining Company respecting the purchase of all sugars for the Commonwealth. I have pleasure in laying the agreement on the table.
– I ask the Prime Min ister when finality is likely to be reached with the 1915-16 wheat crop. If it is not likely to be reached within a reasonable time, when will a further advance be made to the farmers?
– The question asked by the honorable member is raised by a question of which notice has been given by the honorable member for Hume. The answer to the honorable member for Echuca is that all payments have not yet been made in respect of the 1915-16 wheat crop. When they will be made depends entirely on the rate at which the wheat is absorbed by the market. The British Government are now advancing every penny that is being paid to the farmers.
– I ask the Minister for Home and Territories whether his office has received any report of the value of Rona Falls, near Port Moresby, for industrial, municipal, and railway power by means of a water-power plant ? If so, is thereany reason why such a report should not he presented to Parliament, and honorable members informed of its nature ?
-I have not yet had an opportunity to obtain the information asked for. I shall ascertain the facts, and let honorable members know them.
– I ask the Minister for the Navy whether his attention has been drawn to a statement published in the Age of yesterday, to the effect that l,000 tons of wheat have been exported to Tasmania clear of freight charges, and also that a member of the Wheat Board was able to make arrangements with the Commonwealth to convey a large tonnage, I think of barley, to the United Kingdom?
– I regret that I have not had time to investigate these matters completely. I believe that the honorable member’s statement is substantially correct, but I think that his interpretation of the facts is somewhat wide of the mark. I understand that the carrying of the grain to Tasmania free is a matter that was arranged between the Government of Tasmania and the Government of the Commonwealth. So far as I have been able to learn, there are some grounds at least which appear to justify what has been done. I should like only to add that it has been discontinued completely, and that the quantityex ported to Tasmania was not 1,000 tons, but 750 tons. There is still remaining to be decided the question of differential treatment for Tasmania in this regard. What has so far taken place has been in pursuance of a matter of public policy between the two Governments concerned. With respect to the other matter referred to, I am having investigations made into it. I am inclined to think that it will be found that no grave scandal has arisen in connexion with that matter.
– On the 23rd November last a proclamation was issued prohibiting the export of skins. Since that date the custom has been for the grower, personally, or through agents, to senddown his skins to the ordinary market. There they are sold by auction, but up to the present there has been no arrangement completed for their appraisement. Buyers in the open market are in the position of buying in the dark as to values, with the result that the producer in the country is not getting value for his skins. When does the Prime Minister expect to be in a position to tell the growers of the skins the method and basis of appraisement that will be adopted.
– I certainly understood that the Wool Committee had fixed the day for the appraisement of skins.
– I think the honorable member must be in error. 1 received a deputation of sheep-skin buyers, dealers, and farmers’ representatives the other day. The deputation was introduced by Mr. John Lynch, and the question of appraisement was dealt with. Mr. Higgins said thai he hoped to fix a day for the first appraisement of sheep skins this week. I feel certain that he will do so in a few days.
– Values in the country are being borne down because of the delay.
– The honorable member will understand that I am not able, personally, to deal with all these matters. I can only speak as to general principles. If the honorable member desires me to deal with skins that are still in the country-
– No; first those in store.
– Then all I can say with respect to skins brought down to places where appraisements are to be held is that they will be appraised in a few days. I am unable to tell the honorable member what the basis of appraisement will be. I shall ascertain that from the Wool Committee, and let him know later.
– I did not gather anything from the Prime Minister’s statement with respect to Defence administration, and I wish now to ask the Minister representing the Minister for Defence whether, in view of the serious charges made as to defalcations in connexion with expenditure, both naval and military, it is intended to have an investigation of the administration of defence, naval and military, by a public Committee of members of this House or of persons outside Parliament.
– The Government have already considered that question, and have decided that a competent and representative Committee shall be appointed to inquire into the financial and business side of the Departments referred to. The. Committee will be appointed almost immediately.
– I asked the PostmasterGeneral, on notice, last week a question with respect to uniforms to be supplied to temporary letter-carriers, many of whom are returned soldiers. Uniforms were denied to these men by the Department. The Postmaster-General said he would inquire into the matter, and sympathetically consider the’ request. I ask him now what steps he has taken to give these men the relief for which they have asked.
– I did promise the honorable member that I would look into this matter. I am doing so, but I have not yet arrived at finality. I may add that I have made an arrangement with the Leader of the Opposition to have the matter placed before me by a deputation, when I shall give it attention.
asked the Assistant
Minister, representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
Will he state what percentage of men in the Australian Imperial Force, who are reported in the casualty lists as wounded or sick, return to duty?
– From the figures available, 43 per cent., but there have been 18,974 deaths, 3,645 missing, and 941 prisoners of war, and these casualties have also to be replaced.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Whether the farmers interested in the old “pool “ -1915-1916 harvest - can expect another dividend in the immediate future, or whether they will have to wait until the whole transaction is completed?
– The question as to when the next dividend will be paid must depend upon the rapidity of completion of Imperial purchases.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Will the Government take immediate steps to preserve the food supplies of the Empire, which are threatened by the action of the’ men in striking at the Lake’s Creek meat works; meat, it is alleged, being left to rot?
– Every effort will be made by the Government to preserve the food supplies of the Empire.
asked the Assistant Minister, representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
Are the services of General Williams, Commandant of the military forces in Victoria, who is retiring from that position in favour of another officer, to be retained in some other capacity, and thus enable the Commonwealth to continue to receive the benefit of the experience and ability of this officer?
-It is proposed to grant Brigadier-General Williams, on his retirement from the position of Commandant, Third Military District, a well-earned holiday. Should an opportunity arise of further utilizing his services in some capacity where his experience will be of value to the Commonwealth, the Minister will gladly avail himself of it.
asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
Mr.WEBSTER. - The following answers have been furnished by the Acting Public Service Commissioner: -
Positions of sorter at Rockhamptonand Townsville have not bean abolished.
asked the Minister for
Home and Territories, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– This matter is one with which the honorable member for Werriwa is fully acquainted, and he will probably satisfy the honorable member in regard thereto.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Whether, realizing the importance of increasing our output of metals, he is in favour of the appointment ofa Royal Commission to report as speedily as possible on -
The best methods to adopt under the War Precautions Act to stimulate the production of ease and alloy metals, including the grunting of financial assistance, the subsidizing of treatment plants,and the regulating of charges and conditions;
The effect of restrictive regulations and orders relating to production, treat ment, and export of metals;
The effect of regulations dealing with the raising of capital for the develop ment of minerals?
– The Government realize the importance of the subject,but for the purposes of war measures it is not practicable to await investigation by a Royal Commission, and it is not thought desirable at the present time to appoint such a Commission. .
asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Whether it is a fact -
Will he have inquiry made into the above matters, and insist, if necessary, on some practical and patriotic action that will tend to relieve such needy farmers and help to preserve and extend the industry?
– The importance of the matter deserves, and is receiving the close attention of the Government. It is, however, obviously one that falls within the jurisdiction of the State authority.
asked the Assistant Minister, representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
Weeks, Highgate Hill; G. Peterson, 93 Waterstreet, Spring Hill, Brisbane; W. H. Sands, Prince-street, Paddington; J. McTavish, Isaacstreet, Toowong; and W. Smith Weston, Wolston; in training at Swan Island, Victoria, have been refused such final leave as will enable them to visit their homes before departing for the front?
– Inquiries are being made, and a reply will be furnished as soon as possible.
Motion (by Mr. Hughes) proposed-
That this House do now adjourn.
.- The other day I brought before the House the need for supplying with Australianmade uniforms the Australian soldiers now serving at the front, or in course of training on Salisbury Plain. I mentioned that in recent months a large number of men and women have been discharged from our clothing factories. To-day I was informed that fifteen male pressors and forty-five women workers were last evening discharged from the Commonwealth Clothing Factory. Since I last spoke on the subject a deputation waited on the ex- Assistant Minister for Defence, the honorable member for Denison, and asked him not to. cancel existing orders, and to make every reasonable effort for the retention of the men and women employed in the clothing factories of Australia. It was represented to him that, although the Commonwealth has its own mill for the manufacture of cloth, and its factory for the making of uniforms, and although there are in Australia a number of other factories that have been making uniforms for the Defence Department since the beginning of the war, the Australian soldiers serving in France, or being trained on Salisbury Plain are being supplied with uniforms made for the British Government. The honorable member stated that uniforms were not being sent Home because of the difficulty of obtaining transport facilities and space. He added that he was pleased to be able to say that the Government had made all the necessary arrangements for the export of the season’s wool clip. If the Government can make arrangements for the export of wool in its raw state, it could make arrangements for the reservation of sufficient space on the transports for the uniforms needed by our soldiers on the other side of the world. We have from 200,000 to 250,000 soldiers on Salisbury Plain and at the front, and the wear and tear on the uniforms must be very considerable. I admit that the number of soldiers in camp in Australia has been considerably reduced, but the number on active service abroad has been increased.
– While on Salisbury Plain do the men wear khaki or “blueys”?
– They wear both. The wear and tear on uniforms worn by soldiers on active service at the front, or while on leave in London, must be considerable. But whilst we are closing down clothing factories in this country, uniforms made in Great Britain are being supplied to Australian troops in France and Egypt. Last night fifteen men and forty-five women were discharged from the Commonwealth Clothing Factory, and a few evenings ago sixty hands were dismissed from a clothing factory at Collingwood or North Fitzroy because of a notice received from the Department that no further contract for the supply of uniforms would be let. I trust that the new Assistant Minister for Defence will give this matter his earliest and most sympathetic consideration. The majority of the members of this House would prefer that our own people should be found employment in this direction rather than that the work should be done out of Australia. I am informed that. one reason why some employees of the Commonwealth Clothing Factory were dismissed last night was that the ex-Assistant Minister for Defence had adopted a suggestion made by the manager of the factory that soldiers’ uniforms should not be pressed. Such uniforms have always been pressed in this and every country before being sent out, but the latest innovation here is to distribute them practically as they leave the hands of the machinists. The old system should be continued. The appearance of our troops will not be improved by the wearing of unpressed uniforms. If the Assistant Minister will make inquiries he will find that my statements are correct. I invite him to ask at the Department how many uniforms have been sent from Australia to England during the last few months for the use of our own men. I am assured that none has been sent and that the Department does not intend to send any. I enter my emphatic protest against this failure on the part of the Government to do its duty to a section of workers of this country by giving them employment in the making of uniforms for the use of our soldiers in other parts of the world.
. -I should not have risen at this stage but for the statements just made by the honorable member for Fawkner, who is certainly labouring under a misapprehension. I have here a transcript of the shorthand notes taken when the deputation waited upon me in regard to- this question of uniforms. The report reads -
Mr. Hannan said that Australian wool had been made up in Australian mills, in which Australian capital was invested, and now they could not send it away for the use of Australian soldiers, and the reason given was that there was no freight available. And yet thousands and thousands of bales of raw wool could be sent away.
The Assistant Minister said Mr. Hannan was assuming that our troops were being clothed by British-made clothing. He denied that, and Mr.Hannan had brought no proof that, with the exception of a few individual cases which he (the Minister) had previously dealt with, the assumption was correct.
I did not admit that space was being found on board ship for all the wool desired to be exported. What I did say was that every freightage throughout Australia was getting its share. The statement made by the honorable member for Fawkner with regard to the dismissal of certain hands from the Commonwealth Clothing Factory as the result of the nonpressing of uniforms is also incorrect. As to the action that I took I court the fullest expert inquiry. When the proposal was first submitted to me I went thoroughly into it and caused it to be fully investigated. I did not act on the recommendation of the QuartermasterGeneral alone; I caused to be brought before me the manager of the Factory, one of the officers concerned, who is a practical man, and who said to me, “ I defy you or any one else to tell the difference between the two lots of clothing - those finally pressed, and those not so treated.” All the uniforms are pressed, and the honorable member for Fawkner forgot to mention that the only part of the operation which is involved in his complaint is that known as the final pressing. Under the old system every topcoat and every suit of uniform was treated, in the way of pressing, just as a £7 suit ordered from a tailoring establishment would be treated. After being so pressed these uniforms and topcoats were put into .bales and handed out to men who were about to go into the trenches. This question arose in connexion with a matter of importance with which I was dealing, and in connexion with which I was advised that a very considerable saving could be made in the Department. I called for a report, and gave instructions that the estimate of the anticipated saving should be made on conservative lines ; I desired to be shown what could actually be saved. The report I received was that a saving of £39,369 per annum could be made. Surely that was worth making. It was to be effected simply by so altering the pattern of certain clothing that the quantity of material required would be reduced, and by the introduction of certain machinery. While I desired that every man and woman should be kept in employment, I did not wish it to be said that, during my term of office, there were employees of the Factory who were doing nothing. One of the leaders .of the deputation which waited on me on this subject said he did not want any unnecessary work undertaken merely to keep men in employment. What would be said of a Minister who refused to effect a saving which could properly be made ? I repeat that I was not content to take this action on the evidence of the responsible officer, Brigadier-General Stanley, alone, but that I had before me the responsible workman - the man in charge of this class of work. I asked him, “ Can we make this saving without dealing harshly with any of our employees?” He replied that we could, and that he would most likely be able to find other employment for those who were displaced.
– Is it a fact that the Defence Department is not making good from Australia the wastage in uniforms worn by Australian soldiers in England and France ?
– The Department is doing so to the best of its ability. The honorable member may think he has a good case ;’ but will he tell me how many Australians are clothed with British clothing ? Not a case has been put before me. One of the deputation, a . senator, had some relatives at the front, and I asked him whether these relatives had written out saying that they could not get Australian clothing. He replied that they had not, but that he had asked a brother and a nephew, who were in the trenches in France, to communicate to him any defects in the .food and clothing given to them. I have now to say that both these men in the trenches have written to me and told me that the conditions are excellent. What happens is that the men who go into hospital in France and Great Britain are under the control of the British Government, who use what clothing they like. Further, men who are desirous of appearing particularly well clothed - this I have heard from an honorable member on the other side - purchase their own clothing. This may be; but what are the conditions under which they are supplied with clothing? The military authorities have gone very carefully into the matter, and they have decided that a man can wear a suit for a certain time; and a number of men, who are more careful than others, have quite a quantity of second-class clothing on hand. The authorities have not been at all meagre in the distribution of clothing; but if men are desirous of having more, I do not see how they can be prevented from purchasing it. It is altogether wrong for an honorable member to blame an ex-Minister for something over which he had no control. I only did what I declared I should do when I assumed office, namely, do justice to every workman and workwoman ; that none would be dismissed if honest employment could be found for them; but I am not going to keep men or women on merely for the sake of their doing something, as the secretary of the union said in the presence of the honorable member-
– No, no, he did not. The secretary asked you to supply the men in England and France with Australian uniforms.
– Yes; and I said that we were doing that to the best of our ability ; that we were shipping clothing in every available foot of space; but that foodstuffs were just ‘ as essential to our troops as clothing. The Defence Department sees that no ship leaves Australia unless fully laden, and- the officers concerned are only too desirous to do all possible in the way of supplying good clothing. My instructions, which will be borne out by the manager of the factory and officers, were that no man.or woman was to bs dismissed if legitimate employment could be found . I do not believe there is a union in Australia which would desirethat men and women should be kept on for the sake of keeping them in work, while they did not give full value to the country. If such a course were taken with one unionist it must be taken with all. I regret to have to speak in this way, but the remarks are drawn from me by the statements of the honorable member for Fawkner. The matters to which I have referred would not have got beyond the Department if it had not been necessary for me to state the facts in selfprotection.
.- I wish to emphasize the plea put forward by the honorable member for Fawkner. If’ some little time had been given, employees might have had an opportunity to seek work elsewhere; but the dismissals came like a thunderbolt last night, in the face of an overcrowded labour market.
– And there is no justification for the dismissal of one person if we made all that was necessary for our own soldiers.
– I- believe that. The great bulk’ of the total saving is effected by the alteration of the pattern, and the principal complaint is that the dismissals are of employees who were doing what was considered essential work. Thirty years ago and over, those of us who were born in the backblocks remember that the slop suits were all finally pressed, and that this pressing is a general practice of the trade. The ex-Minister will agree that no officer would wear a suit that had not been finally pressed; and why should a private be asked to do so? Experts in the trade tell us that the final pressing ofthe coat, trousers, and overcoat add to the endurance of the garments, and, whatever price is paid for a suit, there ought to be proper finish and value for the money. It is strange that at this eleventh hour the practice of final pressing should be abandoned as not necessary. To-morrow I hope to introduce to the. Assistant Minister for Defence a deputation of practical men and women, who- will lay before him certain facts worthy of his sympathetic consideration. It is to be hoped the Assistant Minister will make serious inquiry into the statements made by the honorable member for Fawkner. Is. it right that any men or women should be thrown out of employment when .we are the greatest wool-producing country and ‘ possess our own mills ? Of course, there are cases in which’ men cannot be clothed with Australian material, but we have a High Commissioner, ‘ and I am sure that in the great building which he now ‘ occupies ample store room might be found for the supply of our troops at the front and in hospital with Australian-made material. I understand the Minister at . the head of the Department to be a sound Protectionist, and I hope he will see that Australian workers are protected more effectively than in the past. In the statement made by the Prime Minister this afternoon, it was affirmed that the Government will see that employment is provided for our own people as far as practicable. Yet I know that last week 100 men were dismissed from the Naval Base at Flinders. I do hope that the Minister for the Navy will do what’ he can to provide employment there.
– The honorable member must recollect that certain of the works at Flinders have been completed.
– But there is a great amount of- work “at the Flinders .Naval Base which can be gone on with. The men could be profitably employed in the interval between the present time and the completion of the buildings.
– The buildings are all under the Department of Home and Territories.
– There have been large dismissals from the Naval Base of men who were employed by the Naval Department. Unfortunately, these men cannot find re-employment at the present time as readily as they could do so four or five years ago. Here is the case of one man to whom I gave a letter of introduction to the manager of a factory in the hope that he would secure employment. ‘ He is the father of seven children, -most of them very young, and he writes -
Thanks for your letter received on the- 18th instant. But in the meantime I had enlisted.
I was forced by the distress in my family to enlist.
It is deplorable that the father of seven children should be obliged to enlist because he could not find employment in this country, which is overflowing with wealth and raw material. If there is any country in the world where there ought to be no unemployed, it is Australia. Whilst I have done all that I could on behalf of voluntary recruiting, I have, on every occasion that the father of a large family has attempted to enlist, endeavoured to persuade him that his duty was at home rather than at the front. In many instances, the wives of these men have asked me to plead with their husbands and to dissuade them from enlisting. Then there are many men who cannot go to the front, but who would gladly go. They are precluded from doing so by reason of their age, or of some physical disability. Surely we can find employment for them. There are thousands of men in the Commonwealth who are unemployed, and who cannot go to the front. Surely in Australia profitable employment can be found for them.
.- I wish to ascertain precisely where we stand in regard to the construction of the proposed arsenal. We have not had much information vouchsafed to us on this matter, but the little that has beenforthcoming has made me doubtful as to whether we are proceeding in a proper way. At a more opportune stage I shall have something further to say in reference to this matter. Do the Government intend to defer this particular work until we are in a better position to approach it?
– I wish to put a series of questions to the Minister for the Navy.
– The honorable member should let me alone.
– The Minister is personally interested in this matter, and is now in a position to assist us. The matter to which I desire to direct attention relates to the calling together of the trustees of the Repatriation Fund. The Minister is aware that since Christmas several notices have been forwarded to the trustees, summoning them to meet in Melbourne. Some of these gentlemen have had to come from other States, and’ upon their arrival here have been told that their meeting has been postponed until the fol lowing week. Occasionally, while they have been in transit, they have been informed that the meeting which they were on their way to attend had been postponed, because the Prime Minister was otherwise occupied. To-day, in conversation with the secretary to the trustees, I learned that the meeting called for Monday next has been similarly put off. Is this a fair way of treating gentlemen who give their services to the Commonwealth for nothing, and who have large business interests to attend to? They are obliged to neglect those interests in order to come to Melbourne, and yet this is the manner in which they are treated.
– What would the Minister for the Navy say if he were treated in that way ?
– I confess that I should not like it.
Mr.PAGE. - Some of the trustees are talking of resigning their positions on account of the cavalier way in which they are treated. If the Prime Minister does not care to attend as chairman, surely he can appoint somebody else in his place? Are the trustees to be absolutely dependent upon one man? In Queensland I have been asked many questions as to what the trustees of the Repatriation Fund are doing, and I have had to reply’ that I know nothing about that matter, because we have not had a meeting. I hope that the Minister will see that there are’ no more delays, and that a meeting of the trustees’ is called as early as possible.
.- I desire to direct attention to a resolution which was carried by the Kyabram School Board, and which, I know, represents the feeling which is entertained in most country schools. It reads -
That this School Committee protests against the Daylight Saving Act as applied to country schools.
There is no doubt that daylight saving has been a great failure in Australia. There has been a slight saving of money in connexion with lighting, but it has been at the expense of the producing interests, more particularly the dairying industry. So far as children are concerned daylight saving is likely to be a detriment to our race. Children cannot be. forced to ‘ bed before darkness and cool conditions set in, and they must rise earlier. I am quite satisfied that these altered conditions are doing a great injury to our children.
The people do not ask that the Act should be rescinded so far as its operation for this year is concerned, but only that it shall not be put into operation again. In regard to unemployment, I have a great deal of consideration for the working men who are out of work, but I would remind honorable members opposite that, to a very great extent, capital, is not being invested in this country to give employment for the simple reason that the labour unions have now become so aggressive that there is no inducement for the investment of capital.
– Capital never made bigger dividends than it is making now.
– The labour unions have become so aggressive, and their demands so extraordinary, and there is such uncertainty as to whether they will remain at work for one single day, that no man with common sense who has capital to invest will put it into a labour-giving concern. Consequently, it happens that there is a scarcity of employment, and we have those distressing circumstances mentioned by the honorable member for Maribyrnong.
– In regard to repatriation, I, too, have been much disappointed at the continued postponement of meetings of the trustees. I will see the Prime Minister at once about this matter, and I agree with the honorable member for Maranoa that nothing could be more important and urgent than the work to be undertaken by that body. I assure him, however, that in the meantime the work is not being neglected. The Cabinet has placed Senator Millen in charge of the parliamentary side of the matter, and he is now engaged in sketching lines for the future development of the whole scheme, which, when complete, will be found, I hope, to be such that it will in no way interfere with the important functions now being discharged by the trustees.
– Are Brigadier-General Williams and Mr. Lockyer associated with him?
– Not yet. Nothing will develop until we have Senator Millen’s report. As to the Flinders Base and the work there, I have only to say that I hope the new Government will not be, any more than the old Government was, unsympathetic to. the workers of Australia. It will be the greatest pleasure of my life to do whatever is possible in the way of finding legitimate employment.
– In regard to the reduction of employees at clothing factories, I have been asked by the honorable member for Maribyrnong to receive a deputation. The matter is entirely new to me, but I will look into it, and receive a deputation at a time which I will notify to the honorable member to-morrow.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at5.35 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 22 February 1917, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1917/19170222_reps_6_81/>.