7th Parliament · 1st Session
The House met at 10.30 a.m., pursuant to the proclamation of His Excellency the Governor-General.
The Clerk read the proclamation.
The Usher of the Blackrod, being announced, was admitted, and delivered the message that the Deputies of the Governor-General for the opening of Parliament requested the attendance of honorable members in the Senate chamber forthwith.
Honorable members attended accordingly, and, having returned,
The Deputy authorized by the Gover- nor-General to administer the oath entered the chamber.
The Clerk read the commission, under the Great Seal of the Commonwealth, authorizing the Honorable Isaac Alfred Isaacs to administer the oath or affirmation of allegiance to the King required by law to be taken or made by members of the House of Representatives.
The Clerk informed the House that a memorandum was attached to the writ for the election of a member for the division of Darwin, notifying that the successful candidate, Charles Richard Howroyd, died on the 10th May, 1917, and that His Excellency had, on the 6th June, issued a writ for an election to fill the vacancy thus caused, the date of nomination being the 14th June, and the date of polling the 30th June.
The Clerk announced that he had received returns to the writs issued for the election of members of the House of Representatives.
The following honorable members made and subscribed the oath of allegiance: -
Anstey, Frank, Esquire, Bourke, Victoria.
Archibald, Hon. William Oliver, Hindmarsh, South Australia.
Atkinson, Llewelyn, Esquire, Wilmot, Tasmania.
Bamford, Hon. Frederick William, Herbert, Queensland.
Bayley, James Garfield, Esquire, Ox- ley, Queensland.
Best, Hon. Sir Robert Wallace, K.C.M.G., Kooyong, Victoria.
Blakeley, Arthur, Esquire, Darling, New South Wales.
Brennan, Frank, Esquire, Batman, Victoria,
Catts, James Howard, Esquire, Cook, New South Wales.
Chanter, Hon. John Moore, Riverina, New South Wales.
Chapman, Hon. Austin, Eden-Monaro, New South Wales.
Charlton, Matthew, Esquire,. Hunter, New South Wales.
Cook, Right Hon. Joseph, P.C., Parramatta, New South Wales.
Falkiner, Franc Brereton . Sadleir, Esquire, Hume, New South Wales.
Fenton, James Edward, Esquire, Maribyrnong, Victoria.
Finlayson, William Fyfe, Esquire, Brisbane, Queensland.
Fleming, William Montgomerie, Esquire, Robertson, New South Wales.
Forrest, Right Hon. Sir John, P.O., G.C.M.G., Swan, Western Australia.
Foster, Hon. Richard Witty, Wakefield, South Australia.
Fowler, Hon. James Mackinnon, Perth, Western Australia.
Glynn, Hon. Patrick McMahon, K.O., Angas, South Australia.
Greene, Walter Massy, Esquire, Richmond, New South Wales.
Gregory, Hon. Henry, Dampier, Western Australia.
Groom, Hon. Littleton Ernest, Darling Downs; Queensland.
Heitmann, Edward Ernest, Esquire, Kalgoorlie, Western Australia.
Higgs, Hon. William Guy, Capricornia, Queensland.
Hughes, Right Hon. William Morris, P.O., Bendigo, Victoria.
Irvine, Hon. Sir William Hill, K.C.M.G., K.C., Flinders, Victoria.
Jensen, Hon. Jens August, Bass, Tasmania.
Johnson, Hon. William Elliot, Lang, New South Wales.
Kelly, Hon. William Henry, Wentworth, New South Wales.
Lamond, Hector, Esquire,Illawarra, New South Wales.
Leckie, John William, Esquire, Indi, Victoria.
Lister, John Henry, Esquire, Corio, Victoria.
Livingston, John, Esquire, Barker, South Australia.
Lynch, John, Esquire, Werriwa, New South Wales.
Mackay, George Hugh, Esquire, Lilley, Queensland.
Mahony, William . George, Esquire, Dalley, New South Wales.
Maloney, William Robert Nuttall, Esquire, Melbourne, Victoria.
Manifold, Hon. James Chester, Corangamite, Victoria.
Mathews, James, Esquire, Melbourne Ports, Victoria.
Maxwell, George Arnot, Esquire, Fawkner, Victoria.
McDonald, Hon. Charles, Kennedy, Queensland.
Mcwilliams, William James, Esquire, Franklin, Tasmania.
Nicholls, Samuel Robert, Esquire, Macquarie, New South Wales.
Orchard, Richard Beaumont, Esquire, Nepean, New South Wales.
Page, Hon. James, Maranoa, Queensland.
Palmer, Albert Clayton, Esquire,
Pigott, Henry Robert Maguire, Esquire,
Calare, New South Wales.
Poynton, Hon. Alexander, Grey, .South
Riley, Edward, Esquire, South Sydney, New South Wales. .
Rodgers, Arthur Stanislaus, Esquire, Wannon, Victoria.
Salmon, Hon. Charles Carty, Grampians, Victoria.
Sampson, Sydney, Esquire, Wimmera, Victoria.
Sinclair, Hugh, Esquire, Moreton,
Smith, Hon. Bruce, K.C., Parkes, New
Smith, Hon. William Henry Laird,
Story, William Harrison, Esquire,
Boothby, South Australia.
Thomson, John, Esquire, Cowper,
New South Wales.
Tudor, Hon. Frank Gwynne, Yarra,
Wallace, Cornelius, Esquire, West Sydney, New South Wales.
Watkins, Hon. David, Newcastle, New South Wales.
Watt, Hon. William Alexander, Balaclava, Victoria.
Webster, Hon. William, Gwydir, New South Wales.
West, John Edward, Esquire, East Sydney, New South Wales.
Wise, George Henry, Esquire, Gippsland, Victoria-.
Michael Patrick Considine, Esquire, Barrier, New South Wales, made and subscribed an affirmation of allegiance.
The Deputy retired.
– I move -
That the honorable member for Lang, the Honorable William Elliot Johnson, do take the chair of the House as Speaker.
– I second the motion.
– I compliment the honorable member for Lang upon his nomination. I have, long known him aa a loyal supporter of the principles of the single tax, and as the holder of advanced views I honour a man who throughout his life stands firmly by so sterling a proposal. I have now a duty to perform in reference to the honorable member for Riverina, who has been mentioned in the newspapers as a likely candidate for the Speakership. I made a sworn declaration concerning that honorable member’s action while acting as Deputy Speaker on one occasion last session, but at the request of the Acting Leader of the House, at that time, the Ministe’r for the Navy, I seconded his motion to delete from Hansard certain references to Mr. Chanter on the understanding that he would go into the matter with the honorable member for Riverina after hearing the evidence I could produce. That evidence was produced, but, owing to some misunderstanding on the part of the Minister for the Navy - I do not think there was any wilful neglect - the meeting between him and the honorable member for Riverina did not take place. The statement made by the honorable member for Riverina to which I took exception, and which I hold waa inaccurate, has not yet been withdrawn, although the record of my sworn declaration was eliminated from Hansard, on the motion of the Minister for the Navy, seconded by myself. The honorable member for Henty, on the occasion to which my sworn declaration relates, saw the honorable member for Riverina leave the chair and walk towards where I was standing at the end of the table, where he twitted me with having been “named” by him in the House. I .replied that I had not been so named. ‘ I have here my sworn declaration dealing with the whole matter, and if I have sworn falsely the honorable member can take proceedings against me. If he will withdraw the statement to which I take exception I shall cheerfully accept his withdrawal. If he will but listen to the evidence of two members of the last Parliament, who, unfortunately for me, are not now in this House, I believe he will be man enough to do what I desire. My sworn declaration reads as follows: -
I, William Robert Nuttall Maloney, of 513 Elizabeth-street, Melbourne, in the State of Victoria, a member of the House of Representatives of the Parliament of Australia, do solemnly and sincerely declare -
That on Thursday, the 15th February, the Deputy Speaker, Mr. Chanter, after leaving the chair, came and spoke to me at the end of the table where the mace formerly rested.
He spoke to me, and, amongst other things, said, “ I have named you to the House,” to which I replied, “It is the first I have heard of it,” and, resenting his uncalled-for remarks, I flipped my fingers at him, and told him my opinion of his actions.
I did not use terrible language, and I challenge Mr. Chanter to state the words.
I did not use terrible language on the l4th February. The fact that ladies were present would have prevented me from doing so under any circumstances. I simply addressed those ladies, who were unknown to me, as I would have appealed to a public meeting.
The fact that a deputation of those same ladies waited for me on the terrace, and thanked me for what I had done, will prove that I did not use terrible language, or any other expressions that could be taken exception to.
I assert that Mr. Chanter’s statement in his contradiction of the above statements in paragraph (2), as recorded in Hansard, page 10567, is untrue.
And I make this solemn declaration believing it to be true by virtue of an Act of the Parliament of the State of Victoria rendering persons making false declarations guilty of wilful and corrupt perjury.
R. N. Maloney.
Declared this 1st day of March, 1917, at Melbourne, in the State of Victoria, before me -HenryB.P.Purkiss, J.P.
Honorable members will understand that I make these remarks with a view to honorable members on both sides having fairer play under the honorable member for Lang as Speaker, than, in my opinion, they would had the honorable member for Riverina been elected. I have no personal feeling in the matter, and I have made the offer to the honorable member forRiverina that he should withdraw what he said.I have given the names of the ex-member for Bendigo, Mr. Hampson, and the ex-member for Indi, Mr. Parker Moloney, as gentlemen who heard the words spoken by the Deputy Speaker ; and I have also mentioned the name of the honorable member for Henty, who saw the Deputy Speaker leave the chair and approach that part of the table where the mace formerly lay. Honorable members of experience know that, as a rule, Mr. Speaker, or the Deputy Speaker, generally leaves the chamber by the door behind the Speaker’s chair. I have made my protest, and what remains is in the future. I am sure that if the honorable member forRiverina can produce evidence as against the statements I have made, and will leave the evidence on both sides to any members of the House - on whichever side they may happen to sit - a proper conclusion can be arrived at. If the honorable member forRiverina is content to withdraw’ the statements he made, I am willing to welcome the withdrawal whenever it is forthcoming.
– I can assure the House that under the honorable member for Lang as Speaker, I shall apologize as quickly as I have to other Speakers in the past.
– What for?
– For nothing. I appeal to the new Speaker to keep the House in the same state of civilization we have had for the last three years, and not introduce that bludgeon known as the mace. It is time that assemblies of this character recognised that we are here for business, and not with a view to perpetuating some of the old ideas, which add nothing to the dignity of the Chamber, but simply render us a laughingstock. I hope that our new Speaker will accept the hint, for, while I am prepared to accept the “ wig,” I am not prepared to accept the “ bludgeon.”
– I desire to thank honorable members for the honour they have proposed to confer upon me, and I submit myself to the House.
Members of the House calling Mr. Johnson, he was taken out of his place by Mr. Poynton and Mr. Manifold, and conducted to the chair.
Mr. SPEAKER, standing upon the upper step, said - I desire to thank honorable members for the honour they have conferred on me in unanimously electing me for a second term as the Presiding Officer over this House, and to give honorable members the assurance that I shall endeavour, to the best of my ability, to conduct the business of the House, as Speaker, in accordance with the accepted traditions, and with perfect impartiality to all sides. I greatly appreciate the spontaneous expressions of goodwill I have received from individual members on both sides of the House.
The mace havingbeen, by Mr. Speaker’s direction, placed upon the table, honorable members gave three cheers for the King, and. sang a verse of the National Anthem.
– Sir, I beg to offer you my congratulations on your call by the House to the high and honorable position of Speaker. It is, I think, the first time in the history of the House that the Speaker has been chosen unanimously without election. I am certain honorable members on both sides are quite confident that you will carry out the onerous duties of your office with dignity and credit. You do not come new to the office. You had considerable experience at a time when the parliamentary ship was labouring in rather rough waters. Since then, many things have happened, and, while I trust that we shall not live to see the ship in the. doldrums, I trust that the experience you are entering uponwill be much more smooth and pleasant than that of the former time ; at any rate, I shall try to make it so.
.- Mr. Johnson, I desire to congratulate you on being elected again to the office of Speaker. The Prime Minister has just remarked that you had a previous experience, of which many of us know a little; and I trust, with the Prime Minister, that the passage of the parliamentary ship will prove more smooth than it was then.
– I desire, sir, to offer you my hearty congratulations on your election as Speaker. I feel sure that you will carry out the duties of your high and responsible office with credit to yourself and Parliament. I should like to say, as one who held the position for some considerable time, that there is no man in the House who knows better than myself the difficulties and strain which such a position entails. I broke down under it, and I regret to say that I am still suffering from the trials I went through. I remember that when you occupied the chair on a former occasion you almost broke down under the strain. In those circumstances, I appeal to every member of the House, no matter on which side he sits, to give you every possible consideration. Personally, I shall give you all the assistance that is in my power in the discharge of your duties. May I be permitted to extend to the officers of the House my sincere thanks for all their kindness to me during my long term of office. I include in this acknowledgment Mr. Friend and the Hansard staff, and Mr. Wadsworth and the Library staff. I should like also to offer my congratulations to Mr. Gale upon his attaining to the high office of Clerk of this House.
– I desire to thank the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition, and my predecessor in this distinguished office, the honorable member for Kennedy, for their congratulations, and to express the hope, and may I say also the belief, that in the carrying out of the duties of my office I shall receive the cordial support of all members of the House.
– I have already ascertained that it will be the pleasure of His Excellency the Governor-General to receive the Speaker in the Library at twenty minutes past 2 o’clock.
Sitting suspended from 11.25 a.m. to 2.15 p.m.
The House proceeded to the Library, there to present Mr. Speaker to His Excellency the Governor-General.
The House having reassembled,
– I have to report that, accompanied by honorable members, I proceeded to the Library of Parliament, and presented myself to His Excellency the Governor-General as the choice of the House, and that His Excellency was kind enough to congratulate me on my election as Speaker.
The Usher of the Blackrod, being announced, was admitted, and delivered the Message that His Excellency the GovernorGeneral desired the attendance of honorable members in the Senate Chamber forthwith.
Mr. Speaker and honorable members attended accordingly, and, having returned,
Motion (by Mr. Hughes) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a Bill for an Act to amend the Amendments Incorporation Act 1905.
Mr. SPEAKER reported the receipt of a Commission from His Excellency the Governor-General, authorizing him to administer the oath of allegiance to honorable members.
Mr. YATES made and subscribed the oath as member for the electoral district of Adelaide.
– I have to inform the House that I attended this afternoon in the Senate Chamber, where His Excellency the Governor-General was pleased to deliver his opening speech, of which, for greater accuracy, I have obtained a copy. It is as follows: -
Gentlemenof the Senate and Gentlemen of the Houseof Representatives :
– I move -
That the Standing Orders in connexion with the Address-in-Reply to His Excellency, the Governor-General’s opening Speech be suspended, and that certain other Standing Orders be suspended, in order to enablethe Committees of Supply and Ways and Means to be at once appointed, and to enable ail other steps to be taken to obtain Supply and to pass Supply Bills through all stages without delay.
So far as I am aware, it has been the invariable practice to proceed at once with the debate on the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply to His Excellency the Governor-General’s Speech; but the present circumstances in this House are unique, and so we are, perforce, compelled to resort to such procedure as will meet them. The position is perfectly well known. There has been an appeal to the electors; but, owing to the provisions of the Constitution in relation to retiring senators, certain members of the new Parliament are unable to take their seats. The situation is anomalous, but strictly constitutional. This new Parliament, coming as it does fresh from the people, is yet unable to consider urgent public business, because members in another place, elected on the 5th May last, are not permitted by the Constitution to take their seats until after the 30th June. In these circumstances, as it is essential that Supply shall be granted to enable the services of the Commonwealth to be carried on, we are asking the House to agree to the suspension of the Standing Orders to permit that to be done. We shall submit to the House, on the occasion of its next meeting, a Ministerial statement setting out the policy of the Government in regard to matters to be submitted to the Parliament during that session.
Having thus explained why the Government are not now putting forward their policy, I have only to add that, as some of the matters to be dealt with are of such urgency as to make it extremely undesirable that their consideration should stand over until senators who were elected on the 5th May will be able to take their seats, it is proposed to ask honorable members of both Houses to meet together to-morrow, so that the Government may have the benefit oftheir advice and counsel in respect to the urgent question of recruiting. As this is, before all else, the most pressing business, we conceive that we shall thus be acting in a manner at once compatible with the purpose for which we were elected, and at the same time complying with the provisions of the Constitution. I hope that honorable members will agree to the suspension of the Standing Orders, and permit Supply to be passed without delay, so that members of both Houses may have an opportunity to-morrow to take counsel one with another for the purpose of assisting the Government to formulate, and give effect to, such a scheme as will insure a sufficient supply of recruits for our oversea Forces.
.- I have no objection to the Standing Orders being suspended to enable Supply to be granted as early as possible, but I hope that this will not be regarded as a precedent. I fully realize that, as the writs could not be returned until yesterday, or the day before, there were obstacles in the way of an earlier meeting, and that provision must also be made at once to continue the services of the Commonwealth; but I should like to have from the Government a clear intimation as to when it is proposed to call us together again. If we are not to re-assemble until the second week in July, and if we are then to be asked to pass another Supply Bill for an indefinite amount-
– The next Supply Bill may be for one month’s services.
– Perhaps so. I wish, however, to emphasize the point that I do not desire this acquiescence on the part of the Opposition to the suspension of the Standing Orders to be taken as a precedent. The Government are not to think they are entitled to say, “ We are here in overwhelming numbers, and, therefore, can do just as we like.” The attitude of the Opposition to this motion, therefore, is not to be regarded as a precedent for the Government coming down with another Supply Bill at the eleventh hour and declaring that provision must be made at once for the payment of the services of the Commonwealth, denying us the right to discuss questions that ought to be considered on such a measure.
– Having satisfied myself that an absolute majority of the members of the House concur in this motion, I declare the question resolved in the affirmative.
Mr. MAHONY presented a petition from electors of New South Wales praying that an inquiry be at once commenced regarding the imprisonment of certain soldiers who served throughout the Gallipoli campaign, and that meantime such soldiers be released on their own recognisances.
Petition received and read.
The following papers were presented : -
Death and Invalidity in the Commonwealth -
Committee concerning Causes - Report on Infantile Mortality.
Tropical Medicine - Australian Institute of - Half-yearly Reports -
From 1st January to 30th June, 1916.
From 1st July to 31st December, 1916.
Ordered to be printed.
Audit Act - Special Report of the AuditorGeneral (under section 54) - Comments on that portion of the Report of the Royal Commission on Federal Capital Administration headed “ Requirements of the Audit Act.”
Audit Act- Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1917, No. 103.
Commonwealth Bank Act - Commonwealth Bankof Australia - Aggregate Balancesheet at 31st December, 1916, together with the Auditor-General’s Report thereon.
Contract Immigrants Act - Return for 1916, respecting contract immigrants admitted or refused admission into the Commonwealth, &c.
Commerce (Trade Descriptions) Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1917, No. 113.
Customs Act - Proclamation (dated 18th May, 1917) prohibiting exportation (except under certain conditions) of empty bottles.
Defence Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1917, Nos. 62, 64, 67, 69, 83, 84, 89, 90, 93, 95, 105, 114, 116, 117, 118.
Dominions Royal Commission (Imperial) - Natural resources, trade, and legislation of certain portions of His Majesty’s Dominions - (Papers presented to the British Parliament) -
Fifth interim report.
Entertainments Tax Assessment Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1917, Nos. 66. 121.
Federal Capital Administration - Reports of the Royal Commission on - (2.) Accounts and finance at Canberra. (3.) Wasteful expenditure at Canberra. (4.) Sewerage at Canberra. (5.) Brick-works at Canberra. (6.) Water supply, power, and miscellaneous.
Immigration Act - Return for 1916, showing (a) persons refused admission to the Commonwealth; (b) persons who passed the dictation test; (c) persons admitted without being asked to pass the dictation test; (d) departures of coloured persons from the Commonwealth.
Lands Acquisition Act -
Lands acquired under, at -
Bairnsdale, Victoria - for Defence purposes.
Bellerive, Tasmania - for Defence purposes.
Booroomba, Federal Territory - for Defence and Federal Capital purposes.
Cairns, Queensland - for Defence purposes.
Woodville, South Australia - for Postal purposes.
Young, New South Wales - for Defence purposes.
Regulation amended - Statutory Rules 1917, No. 63.
Post and Telegraph Act- Regulations amended- Statutory Rules 1917, Nos. 43, 58, 59, 60, 68, 80, 88, 108, 109, 111.
Public Service Act -
Twelfth report on the Public Service (1915- 16) by the Commissioner.
Promotions of -
Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1917, Nos. 57, 81, 82, 87, 104, 115.
Imperial Preference - Copy of resolutions passed by the Committee on Commercial and Industrial Policy on the subject of - to- g ether with copy or covering letter to the Prime Minister - (Paper presented’ to the British Parliament).
Premiers’ Conference, Melbourne; - Report of the resolutions, proceedings, and debates, December, 1916, January, 1917.
Summer Time Act 1916 (Daylight Saving) - Report of the Committee appointed by the Secretary of State for the Home Department to inquire into the social and economical results of, &c. - (Paper presented to the British Parliament).
Dardanelles Commission - (Papers presented to the British Parliament) - First Report.
Supplement to First Report.
Disabled and discharged soldiers in France - Treatment and. ‘ training of - Report (Imperial) by Captain Sir Henry Norman, M.P.
National Relief Fund - Report on the administration, up to the 30th September, 1916 - (Paper presented to the British Parliament) .
Order in Council of March, 1915 - Report drawn up by the Committee on the Administration of the - (Paper presented to the British Parliament).
Peace Proposals - (Papers presented to the British Parliament) -
Reply of the Allied Governments to the Note communicated by the United States Ambassador on 20th December, 1916.
Despatch to His Majesty’s Ambassador at Washington, respecting (dated 13th January, 1917) - (Paper presented to the British Parliament).
Reply to the German Peace Note communicated by the French Government on behalf of the Allied Powers to the United States Ambassador in Paris.
Pensions of soldiers and sailors disabled and of the families and dependants of soldiers and sailors deceased in consequence of the present War - Drafts of a Royal Warrant and an Order in Council for - (Paper presented to the British Parliament).
Prisoners of War, &c. -
British prisoners of war and interned civilians in Germany - Further correspondence with the United States Ambassador respecting the treatment of - (Paper presented to the British Parliament). ‘
Civilians interned in the British andGerman Empires - Further correspondence respecting the proposed release of - (Paper presented to the British Parliament).
Ships and Cargoes - Report drawn up by the Committee on the Administration of the - Order in Council of March, 1915 - (Paper presented to the British Parliament) .
War Precautions Act - Regulations amended -Statutory Rules 1917, Nos. 35, 54, 55, 56, 65, 70, 71, 72, 73, 75, 76, 91, 92, 94, 96 to 102, 106, 107, 110, 119, 120.
Mr. SPEAKER reported the receipt of a message from His Excellency the GovernorGeneral recommending that an appropriation be made for the purposes of this Bill.
Referred to Committee of Supply.
Mr. SPEAKER reported the receipt of a message from His Excellency the GovernorGeneral recommending that an appropriation be made for the purposes of this Bill.
Referred to Committee of Supply.
– Is the Prime Minister aware that pamphlets, signed by one Critchley Parker, and reflecting on Catholics in connexion with the war, have been freely circulated throughout the Commonwealth’? Does the Prime Minister consider that such literature is likely to cause dissension between sections of the community at a time when harmony should prevail, and, in consequence, retard recruiting? If so, does the right honorable gentleman intend to take any action under the War Precautions Act against the person referred to, and any other persons issuing publications whim, may engender strife in the community during the war?
– I have not seen all the pamphlets, but I ‘have seen a pamphlet, and I think it most unfortunate that it was circulated. I did what I could to prevent its further circulation. It is, however, unhappily true that this is not the only pamphlet that was circulated and likely to create disharmony in our midst. There is a scriptural injunction to which I may refer the honorable member. Remove the ‘ ‘ beam ‘ ‘ from thine own eye before seeking to remove the “mote” from the eye of another.
– In regard to the many applications and complaints made by residents in country districts in reference to the suggestion to relieve telephone attendants from duty from 6 o’clock to 8 o’clock in the evening, I wish to know whether the Postmaster-General has given the matter full consideration? Does the honorable gentleman intend to carry out the proposal, or will he inform the House what steps he intends to take?
– The matter referred to is one that has been under review, and I have called for reports as to the cost or saving that might be involved in such a proposal. In view of the possibility of a rather favorable financial aspect being placed on my Department at the end of this month, I have decided hot to withdraw the facilities referred to, but to enable people who cannot use the telephone during working hours to do so during the hours mentioned.
– I desire to know from the Treasurer whether it is true, as stated in a newspaper circulated on behalf of the Ministerial party amongst the soldiers at the front, that the Federal pension rate for wounded and invalid men is believed to be too low, and that it is intended to raise the minimum to £2 ?
– The matter has not been brought before me, nor have I considered it.
– Will the Minister for Works and Railways have prepared, and laid on the table of the House, a return showing the total cost of theconstruction of the East-West Rail way, including rolling stock, up to the 30th June? Will the honorable gentleman also lay on the table a return showing the revenue and expenditure of the Traffic Department from the period of the last return to the end of the financial year, also the totals from the inception of traffic?
– I shall have no objection whatever to do as requested, as soon as the financial year closes.
– I desire to ask the Minister representing the Minister for Defence whether, in view of the shortage of fighting men and the urgent necessity of strengthening the recruiting campaign, the Government will consider the desirability, before canvassing country districts, of closing the prize-fighting stadiums, which occupy the time and attention of many eligible city men who are not producers of anything essential to the favorable prosecution of the war, and would thereby be afforded an opportunity of offering their services.
– I shall certainly place the representations of the honorable member before the Minister for Defence, for consideration by the Government.
– Will the Minister for Works and Railways lay on the table of the House to-morrow a report showing the total expenditure on the Federal Capital up to date?
– I do not think I can get such a return ready in that time. There is some difference of opinion as to what certain works will cost, and I have spent some time over that matter. When the investigation is completed I may be able to present to the House the information desired.
– Is it the intention of the
Postmaster-General to make additions and alterations to the General Post Office in Sydney? If so, will the honorable gentleman, before he does so, submit the matter to the people of the city, and not proceed with the works on plans or imaginings of his own?
– I remind the PostmasterGeneral that I asked him a question, to which he has, so far, given no answer.
– In regard to the honorable member’s query, I desire to say that when questions are couched in language that is not parliamentary, and convey an insult, I shall not reply to them.
– Order! For the benefit especially of new members, I remind the Housethat when the Speaker rises to speak there must be silence in the chamber. The statement made by the Postmaster-General conveyed a reflection upon the Chair, whether unintentional or otherwise, and I must ask him not to make statements of that character.
– I desire to ask the Minister representing the Minister for Defence whether he can inform us as to -
– The honorable member for Wimmera notified me of his intention to ask this question, and I am able to give him the following reply: -
(a) 27,161, of whom 3,180 have been sent abroad again for active service; (b) 20,248 members of the Australian Imperial Force invalided from abroad have been discharged; no information is, however, available as to the number of these who have re-enlisted.
– Will the Minister for Works and Railways lay on the table a. copy of the reports by Mr. Commissioner Blacket of his investigations into the conduct of works at the Federal Capital, and supply copies to honorable members ?
– I have taken steps to do what the honorable member has requested.
I understand that the print of the report is complete, and honorable members will be furnished with copies after its presentation to the House.
– Will the Prime Minister say whether it is proposed that the joint sitting to-morrow shall take place in this chamber,, and whether it will be a meeting of which records will be taken. At the close of that sitting, will this House adjourn until Tuesday in the ordinary way, and then continue business?
– As soon as Supply is granted the Government intend to move the adjournment of the House, and subsequently to prorogue Parliament, and reopen Parliament in July, when the new senators are eligible to take their seats.
– About what date in July shallwe meet?
– Probably 11th July. In regard to the joint sitting to-morrow, there is no reason why records should be taken of it, but it is not to be regarded as a secret session. It is to be merely a convenient means for bringing members of both Chambers together, in order to discuss the question of recruiting, which, after all, is more important than any other, and to give the Government the benefit of honorable members’ experience and counsel.
– Will the business of the joint sitting be completed to-morrow?
– Yes. It will not necessarily be a public session, to which the press will be admitted, but it is not proposed to hold a secret session at which facts will be disclosed of which honorable members will not be permitted to make use. The desire of the Government is simply to give members of this Parliament, both those who now occupy seats in either Chamber and those who will be able to take their seats after 30th June, an opportunity of giving to the Government the benefit of their counsel and of assisting to frame such a policy of recruiting as will be capable of immediate operation.
– Has the Minister for Home and Territories any objection to laying on the table a return showing the issue of passports, and the dates thereof, to naturalized persons of enemy origin, and to persons of alien but non-enemy origin, since the war broke out?
– I have no objection to doing what is requested by the honorable member, but I think he is under a misapprehension.Persons of enemy origin, though naturalized, are not allowed to leave the Commonwealth by passport.
Dr.CARTY SALMON.- Is the Prime Minister able to give to the House some indication of the result of the labours of the board appointed to consider the restriction of the importation of luxuries and non-essentials?
– I understand that an interim report has been’ presented, but I have had no opportunity of perusing it. The Board is still considering the matter. I know of no reason why the report should not be laid on the table; but there may be details of it which will affect particular traders, and for that reason it may not be desirable that the report shall be made public. Subject to that qualification, the report will be laid on the table and made available to honorable members.
– Will the Prime Minister say whether any arrangement has been made by the Commonwealth and the Government of Queensland in regard to the purchase of the next sugar crop?
– The material conditions laid down by the Commonwealth Government in its negotiations with the Government of Queensland in relation to this matter are: that there shall be an undertaking given by Labour and by the growers that the conditions of the Dickson award or such other award, the rules and conditions of which are not more onerous than those under the Dickson award, as may be made before the agreement is entered into, shall govern the industry during the term of the contract; that there shall be no interruption of industrial operations by reason of strikes on any grounds whatsoever; that the determinations of the industrial Court or Cane Prices Boards shall be governed by the retail price of sugar, which shall not exceed 3½d. per lb., the wholesale price, therefore, being such as to permit of the article being retailed at that figure. As the wholesale price is £21 per ton, the price of labour must admit of these things being done. These conditions have been agreed upon by both parties for one year. The point in dispute now is whether the Commonwealth Government will insist that the State Government shall not pass legislation disturbing this condition. Mr. Ryan has declined to give that assurance so far as the Cane Prices Board Amendment Bill is concerned. What the Commonwealth Government ask is that no State legislation shall interfere with the agreement. Any legislation passed by the State Parliament might do that ; therefore, it must be subject to approval by the Commonwealth Government. That is the point which we are contending for. It isnot unreasonable, and I hope that it will be conceded.
– In view of the detrimental effect which the Australian Statesman and Mining Standard has had on recruiting, will the Government take steps to place that newspaper under the War Precautions Act, and prevent its publication ?
– I do not know the Statesman. I hope that this is no attempt to hold me upto public odium.
– You are not a newspaper, surely !
– I do not know the newspaper; but if the honorable member will supply me with a copy, I will look into it. If it is a newspaper which, by any utterance, has prejudicially affected recruiting, it will be dealt with, and immediately.
– Following upon the question of the honorable member for Hunter, will the Prime Minister take steps to prosecute those responsible for the distribution of the cartoons which he complained of ?
– I am unaware of any law under which action can be taken. The matter was submitted to my Department during the recent campaign. In my opinion, there is. no law giving power to the Government to censor literature, or to muzzle public opinion, other than by way of regulation under the War Precautions Act. But as we gave anundertaking before the last Parliament went to its Belshazzar Feast that there should be free and frank speaking, it was found impossible to resort to that Act. There was, perhaps, too much license given. As regards these cartoons, I want to say again, as I said during the campaign, that I did not agree with them. I considered them insulting to my religion, and they must have been very much more insulting to those whose religion they attacked. I know of no law, however, under which a person issuing such cartoons can be prosecuted.
– Will the Prime Minister redeem at an early date the promise which he made some time ago to create a Commonwealth Supply and Tender Board to take charge of all public purchases ?
– The Government will take an early opportunity to consider its policy on this matter.
– You made a promise in the last Parliament that you would act in the matter at once.
– Governments have been coming and going in a most embarrassing way, and this Government has not yet had an opportunity to consider the question of establishing a Supply and Tender Board, but it will do so at an early date.
– Will the Minister for Home and Territories lay upon the table of the House a report showing the total amount which has been expended upon, and in direct connexion with, the Northern Territory from the date of its cession by South Australia to the Commonwealth?
– I can get prepared - in fact, to a certain date I did prepare - the figures which the honorable member suggests, and furnish them to him, or, if he likes, lay a return on the table of the House.
– In view of the dis satisfaction which is expressed at the nonsettling of the returned soldiers who are going about the streets, will the Prime Minister arrange so that returned soldiers shall receive soldiers’ pay until they are permanently settled on the land or provided for in some occupation?
– The question is one which must be primarily directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Defence. The matter can “be referred to that Minister, and will receive the attention of the Government.
– With reference to the pamphlet’s about which a number of questions has been asked this afternoon, is the Prime Minister aware that the Political Labour party has taken credit to itself for its cleverness in reprinting and itself circulating those pamphlets which have, given so much offence to Roman Catholics throughout this country?
– I was not aware that they had reprinted them, but I did know that they were circulating them, because my attention was called to that fact publicly in a most prominent way by a gentleman whose loquacity before the election is only equalled by his taciturnity after the election.
– In view of the statement of the Prime Minister, that he knows of no power under which action can be taken against Mr. Critchley Parker, will he immediately draw up a regulation under the War Precautions Act in order to prevent such cartoons being circulated by any person or journal ?
– Any literature, by whomsoever circulated, which is prejudicial to recruiting will be suppressed, whether it is issued by Mr. Critchley Parker or any one else, even by the Political Labour Leagues.
– By permission, I would like to ask the honorable member for Wentworth if he can give the names of any one-
– Order! The honorable member is not in order in directing a question to a private member.
– As certain reconditioned wheat at Geelong has been declared “ black,” in view of the fact that most of our wheat has been sold to the British Government, the balance being held by the Wheat Board as Trustees for the growers, I ask the Prime Minister whether strong action will be taken to pro- tect the property of the British Government in war time?
– I am not aware of the facts other than what has been set out in the press, but from what I can gather there is a labour dispute which is affecting the stacking, loading, and unloading of wheat. I do not know to what extent the wheat is liable to deterioration from the weather, but I shall ascertain from the Minister for Agriculture for the State of Victoria exactly what are the facts. There is no doubt whatever as to the obligation of the “Wheat Board or the Commonwealth Government. The wheat has been bought by the British Government and is held by the Commonwealth, at our risk to be delivered in good order and condition up to the 31st December next, when the risk passes to the British Government. The wheat has been purchased for the purpose of enabling the troops at the front, and the people of Great Britain, to carry on the war. The matter, therefore, directly relates to the war, and there is on every citizen in the Commonwealth an obligation to keep that wheat in good order and condition. Those who seek to destroy it or diminish its value are acting against the very best interests of the country. However, I shall ascertain the facts, and do whatever I find is best to be done.
Transfer of Units: Punishments
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Defence aware that an order was issued in New South Wales on Saturday last compelling men attached to the artillery and engineering units and other technical branches of the service to enter the infantry, and that this order was cancelled within fortyeight hours, after causing a great deal of unrest and irritation? If the Minister is not aware of what has happened, will he make inquiries and ascertain who was responsible for the action taken?
– I shall bring the honorable member’s question under the notice of the Minister, and ask him to make the necessary inquiries.
– If men are required for fighting, does the Honorary Minister consider that there is any sense in placing members of the Forces under detention for long periods, thus depriving the army of the services of these men, as well as of those needed for guarding them ?Also, does the Honorary Minister consider it just, where men are ordered detention at the front, that the punishment should fall on their wives, children, and mothers ?
– It is impossible to answer problematical questions. Each case must be considered on its merits, and punishment awarded accordingly. As regards the second portion of the honorable member’s question, if he can give specific instances, I shall be pleased to bring them under the attention of the Minister.
– Is the Prime Minister aware that the matter of the Commonwealth acquiring its own supplies and stores was referred to the Joint Committee of Public Accounts by a previous Government, and was inquired into by that Committee, which took evidence and submitted a report upon it? Win the Prime Minister, before coming to a decision upon the methods under which the Commonwealth should secure its supplies, give consideration to the report of that Committee?
– Certainly. I shall be glad to do so.
– Will the Treasurer, during’ the recess, give consideration to the control and management of the Commonwealth Bank by a Board, and inform the House as to the Government’s policy in the matter?
– I shall be very glad to give it consideration.
– I desire to know from the Prime Minister whether the Government have yet fixed the price of wool for the 1917 clip?
– Will the Prime Minister request the Luxuries Board to make known the articles they propose to prohibit, and to allow a period of two weeks in order to permit those people who are affected to place their objections before the Board, so that they may be accepted or rejected before a final selection is made?
– I shall place the request before the Luxuries Board, in order that they may have an opportunity of considering the matter from thepoint of view raised by the honorable member; but it is perfectly obvious that the course which he has suggested could not be pursued, and, indeed, would be most undesirable, in regard to matters upon which Customs duties are levied.
– Will the Minister for
Home and Territories furnish a report to the House showing the number of persons of German birth now in the employ of the Federal Government in the Public Service ?
– I will have to consult other Departments before answering the honorable member’s question, and I will give him a reply later on.
Interference with Stackers - Payment of Advance on 1915-16 Crop - Bulk Storage of Grain.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether, in view of the very great value of our wheat in connexion with the successful prosecution of the war, he has taken any cognisance of the fact that a class of persons known as “ walking delegates “ go amongst the men at work in connexion with the salvage of wheat, inducing them to strike, and thereby endangering this valuable property of the Crown?
– I know nothing of the matter referred to beyond the reports which have appeared in the press. To the extent that the action of these men interferes with Australia doing its best in connexion with the prosecution of the war, it comes directly within the purview of the Federal authorities. But the honorable member must see that it is not sufficient to establish a charge merely to quote a paragraph from a newspaper. One must have some evidence to go upon before action can be taken.
– Will the Prime Minister, as Chairman of the Australian Wheat Board, say whether definite arrangements have been made for the payment of the advance of 6d. per bushel on the 1915-16 crop which was promised for July?
– Yes; it will be paid promptly on the 1st July next.
– In view of the shortage of shipping space, the gradually increasing difficulty in securing freight, and the consequent necessity for the storage of grain in Australia, and in view, also, of the fact that the matter is one which now concerns the Federal as well as the State authorities, will the Prime Minister give the House an opportunity to consider the whole question of the storage of grain in Australia ?
– At two Conferences of Premiers called by me to consider this matter, it was agreed that joint action should be taken by the wheat-producing States and the Commonwealth in regard to the erection of silos. Subsequently a Wheat Storage Commission, composed of representatives of each State and of the Commonwealth, considered the matter from the stand-points of site, form of silo, amount necessary to be stored, cost of storage per bushel of wheat, and all matters incidental thereto, as well as convenience of transport by rail and oversea. The members of the Commission have made their report, and I hope to have an opportunity of perusing it. The House will be given an opportunity to discuss the matter on the Estimates, or in some other way.
The following paper was presented -
Census and Statistics Act - Census, 2nd and 3rd April, 1911, Vols. I., II., and III., Statistician’s report and detailed tables.
Ordered to be printed.
– Following upon the motion for the printing of these papers, I ask the Minister for Home and Territories whether he can inform the House as to the number of copies of the census he proposes to have printed, and the probable cost of printing?
– I confess that I cannot answer the question, as I have only just had the volumes handed to me in order that they might be laid upon the table. I shall make inquiries as to the cost of printing, and inform the honorable member later.
– Will the Minister say whether the motion will involve new expenditure, except as to the paper to be used? If it is merely a formal matter, there will be no objection.
-It is a formal matter; it is an old expenditure.
– Will the Minister for Home and Territories inform the House as to what he proposes to do as the result of his recent visit of inspection to the Federal Territory and inquiry as to the progress of works there?
– I am afraid I cannot answer the honorable member at the present time. I am trying to get together all the facts connected with the Federal Territory. This takes some time, and one desires to be accurate. I can assure the honorable member that I shall try to act upon the impulse he has communicated to me, and get a thorough grasp of the subject.
Appointment of Administrator
– Will the Minister for Home and Territories say when he proposes to appoint a new Administrator for the Northern Territory?
– I think that at the next Cabinet meeting a decision will be come to as regards the appointment of an Administrator for the Northern Territory.I do not say that an appointment might not be made sooner, but the present Administrator has been continued in the office owing to the fact that it would have been rather a breach of the ‘ordinary practice to have appointed an officer of this standing during the time of an election and when the position of Ministers was doubtful.
An Honorable Member. - Dr. Gilruth’s time is up.
– I obtained authority under special ordinance to retain him during the pleasure of the GovernorGeneral.
– But he is being kept here in Melbourne.
– No doubt it would be better if Dr. Gilruth were in the Territory, where a great many troubles are arising, but it is idle to assume that he is not, while in Melbourne, assisting in the administration of the Territory.
– Should there not be an inquiry into the affairs of the Northern Territory generally?
– There has been inquiry after inquiry. I am endeavouring to ascertain the facts, but until we have data which will enable us to take into account the effect of natural laws, a final opinion regarding the Territory is impossible.
– I ask the Prime
Minister if a decision has yet been come to regarding a matter about which representations were made to the Treasurer last Parliament. Is the Government prepared to guarantee the scrip for the 1916-17 wheat pool, that is the scrip for the last wheat crop, up to 4s. a bushel nett?. Most of the wheat having been sold to the Imperial Government at 4s. 9d., would it not be practicable to give such a guarantee, so that farmers might be able to finance their operations through their own banking institutions? Many certificates are now being sold below their value because the holders need money for the carrying on of their operations. Cannotthe Government, instead of making advances from time to time, guarantee the scrip at a minimum value of 4s. a bushel, and thus prevent farmers who cannot afford to wait for further payments from sacrificing scrip ?
– I do not know why any farmer should sacrifice his scrip. The sum of 2s. 6d. has been paid on every bushel of wheat bought, and the growers are to get an additional 6d. per bushel on the 1st August next, and it must be remembered that, although some of the wheat has been sold, we are far from having sold the whole of it. The price obtained is 4s. 9d. per bushel, or about 4s.1d. or 4s. l½d. clear of expenses. Thus, after the 1st August the wheat scrip will be worth about1s.1d. During the past few weeks, I have been making a close inquiry into the position. There is no reason why any farmer should sell his scrip to speculators at below that value. If a farmer wishes to realize on his scrip,’ he should do so upon the assumption that only a few months will elapse before full payment is made by the pool. I warn the farmers of this country that a syndicate is being formed to “bear” their wheat certificates, which for all essential purposes are as good as bank notes, and would probably be accepted by a bank at a discount of 5 or 6 per cent. to cover an advance for three or four months at most. That being the market value of the scrip, farmers should see that they get it. I venture to say that any reputable bank will accommodate its customers on those terms.
– Have not the payments for wheat varied in the different States ?
– For the old crop only. I do not think that there has been any variation of payment in regard tothe new crop.
– Will it not be practicable for the Government to guarantee the wheat scrip at a minimum of, say, 4s. per bushel, and thus end the present difficulty? It will be perfectly safe to do what I suggest.
– The payment of 6d. per bushel, which is to be made on the 1st August next, will involve an expenditure of, perhaps, £4,000,000, and the honorable member asks us to guarantee £12,000,000. We have guaranteed ultimate payment, but we cannot arrange for cash payment. Where is the Government to get that sum? We are taking from the community in war loans and taxation a great deal of money, and cannot raise more until some of it has percolated back; we must not dip twice into the bucket until there has been time for it to fill again. When a bank advances money to a producer in the country, that money is presently paid by him to the local storekeeper, and transferred by the storekeeper again to the bank, the money thus circulating through the community and back to the bank within a very short period. Moneys advanced by the Government, however, do not return so readily. I do not know of any means which would enable the Government to advance £12,000,000 on the 1st August next.
– If the Government would guarantee the scrip at a minimum price of 4s. per bushel, the farmers would be able to get advances through their banks, and it would not be necessary for the Government to find the £12,000,000 of which the right honorable gentleman speaks.
– The wheat that has been sold to Great Britain has brought about 4s. 9d. f . o.b., and it may be taken that the expenses in connexion with the operation will not exceed7½d. or 8d. per bushel. In the first instance, therefore, the scrip was worth. 4s. l½d. or 4s..1d., according to the locality from which the wheat came, and any reputable bank would accept it at its present value. The Wheat Pool has, in effect, guaranteed that its certificates on the 1916-17 crop are worth 4s.1d., or thereabouts.
– The banks will not accept it.
– I cannot see why they should not. If I were a banker I would accept it.
– The asking and answering of questions cannot be allowed to develop into a debate. Some latitude has been permitted on this occasion, but I remind honorable members that anything in the nature of a debate at this stage is a transgression of the Standing Orders.
– I move -
That the honorable member forRiverina, Mr. John Moore Chanter, be appointed Chairman of Committees of this House.
I remind the House that the honorable member whom I propose for the position of Chairman of Committees has had a long and honorable career in the political life of his country, it being,I think, thirty-two years since he was first elected to the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales. At the time I was a boy residing in his electorate, and the first vote that I cast for a parliamentary candidate was cast for him. After a successful career in State politics, the honorable member, when Federation came about, entered the wider sphere of Commonwealth politics, and has served in this House almost without interruption ever since. He has also occupied the Chairmanship of Committees with credit to the House and with distinction to himself. I have much pleasure in moving his reappointment to the position.
– I have much pleasure in seconding the motion.
.- I shall say what I am about to say more in sorrow than in anger. There was a time in the history of politics in this country when a Chairman of Committees or a Speaker was allowed to continue in his office from Parliament to Parliament. In. those days no party issues were raised in regard to the Speakership. But nowadays a party decides who shall fill this important office. I am sure that no honorable member will say that the late
Speaker did not discharge his duties^ most ably and with strict impartiality. “ But to-day these considerations do not count at all. Since the advent of the Labour party into politics parties have come to decide who shall occupy the office either of Speaker or Chairman of Committees. In other words, the principle of spoils to the victors is now recognised, although many honorable members opposite condemn it so roundly.
– Honorable members opposite themselves established a good many awkward precedents.
– The precedent of spoils to the victors was not established by the Labour party.
– Yes, it was.
– The precedent was established in the Victorian Parliament, when Mr. Beazley, who occupied the office of Speaker, was turned out by a party vote.
– What has that to do with the present position?
– I take no exception to your appointment, sir. But it is a very great pity that the party opposite has allowed the principle of spoils to the victors to operate in the case of the proposed appointment of the honorable member for Riverina.
– It was the honorable member’s own party which elected him as Chairman of Committees during the last Parliament. Does he not remember ?
– I take exception to this motion, because the honorable memb’er for Riverina has shown himself to be a failure as Chairman of Committees. He has given us evidence that he does not possess the qualities which go to make any man a success in that position. I remember’ an occasion upon which the honorable member for Melbourne was addressing some remarks to a few of his constituents after the House had risen, when the Deputy Speaker, Mr. Chanter, left the chair, and entered into an unseemly wrangle with him on the floor of this chamber. I thought that that was a most undignified act on his part. Perhaps I may be prejudiced against the honorable member for Riverina because of the treatment which he meted out to me not long ago. Honorable members will doubtless recollect that on the 16th March last the honorable member, who was then filling the office of Deputy Speaker, rose and obtained the leave of the House for me to make a statement. When he asked for that leave he did not ask that I should be allowed to make a statement of a particular character. He merely put the question, “ That the honorable member for Capricornia have leave to make a statement.” Leave having been granted, I was proceeding to make a statement when the Prime Minister intervened, and, asked what the statement w s about. Thereupon the Deputy Speaker interrupted me, and said that (when I had asked for permission to make a statement he had put the question to the House under the impression that I wished to make something in the nature of a personal explanation. As a matter of fact, the statement that I desired to make had reference to the White Australia question, and I wished to refer to a book, by Mr. Douglas Rennie, containing a history- of “ black-birding,” in which it was freely affirmed that the honorable member for Wide Bay had something to do with the ownership of one of the vessels engaged in that trade. I do nob know whether the honorable member for Riverina knew of that, but because the Prime Minister intervened, he, as Deputy Speaker, acted in a party spirit instead of in an impartial manner, and deprived me of the right to make a’ statement - a right which the House had granted me. In my opinion, therefore, Mr. Chanter does not possess the qualities that we ought to expect in the Chairman of Committees, who may be called upon at any time, in the absence of Mr. Speaker, to preside over our deliberations. I suppose that there is no possibility of a candidate being nominated in opposition to the honorable . member, although there are many .men in this chamber who, if appointed to. the position of Chairman of Committees, would discharge its duties in an impartial manner. The honorable member for Riverina has had a long parliamentary experience, and must know all about the rules governing debate. In my judgment, he possessed sufficient knowledge to prevent him acting in the way that he did when he vacated the Speaker’s chair to prevent me speaking. Had he been a novice in politics, his action might have been excused. But he had had a very long experience in the chair, not only in this House, but in ‘ a State Parliament, and he ought, therefore, to have been the last man to abuse the power he possessed as Deputy Speaker by leaving the chair, and thus preventing me from speaking, notwithstanding that the House had unanimously granted me permission to make a statement. I suppose I can do no more to prevent the honorable member from occupying the position of Chairman of Committees, since honorable members opposite are in such strong’ force; but if the House does appoint him, I hope that he will endeavour to forget that he belongs to a numerically strong party, and that he will do his duty faithfully, as he ought to do.
.- When the honorable member for Capricornia, in the cold afterlight of reason, reads, to-morrow morning, the Hansard report of what he has just said, he will probably realize that he has hardly been generous to a man whose past services and character should, perhaps, have merited some consideration from honorable members. I think I am right in saying that the honorable member for Riverina is the oldest Parliamentarian in this House, and that, although the oldest Parliamentarian, he has made fewer personal enemies than any other man in this Parliament.
– Does the honorable member say that he has continuously occupied a seat in this House for a longer period than any other man ?
– No ; I think his record, from the earliest period-
– The honorable member for Hume, Mr. Falkiner, who has moved his appointment, once beat him for the representation of Riverina.
– And the honorable member for Riverina, who first beat him, and was afterwards defeated in turn by him, cherishes a more generous impulse towards him than do those who are interrupting. We have heard from the honorable member for Capricornia something in regard to the principle of spoils to the victors. Is that honorable member so blind, is his memory so dim - his conscience so smallthat he does not realize that he, himself, has voted twice for the appointment of the honorable member for Riverina to this position ? Is he not aware that in the last Parliament this House knew the honorable member for Riverina as its Chairman of Committees? Where then does the principle of spoils to the victors apply in asking this House to again accept him for that office? I, personally, have realized that the honorable member, although old in years and with an honorable record behind him, -has still those qualities of comparative youth : the qualities of decision of character and of firmness in those moments of crisis where firmness is demanded in the interests of the business which this House has to discharge. We cannot do better than have the honorable member for Riverina back in the Chair. I ask the honorable member for Capricornia, remembering the terms of good fellowship which exist amongst honorable members on all sides, whether it is fair that a man who has served his country honorably and long, who has done his duty and done it well, should be held up in this way because of some personal quarrel which the honorable member has had with him? I pay no attention to these things. I believe that the bulk of honorable members are proud of the fact that we do not cherish rancours in this place, that we are generous over past sores, that we are prepared to forget past misdeeds, and I believe that this House will want the honorable member for Riverina back in the office of Chairman of Committees, where he has served it so well in times past.
.- I do not know that I should have spoken but for the remarks just made by the honorable member for Wentworth. If any man has the record of a bigot in his own electorate, then that made by the honorable member for Wentworth, in the first speech which he delivered as a candidate for a seat in this House, will stand against it. I do not wish to go further into that phase of the matter, however, since the honorable member has a name which is nearly as Irish as is my own. He was wrong in saying that the honorable member for Capricornia had voted twice for the appointment of the honorable member for Riverina to the position of Chairman of Committees.
– He was once elected unopposed.
– The honorable member for Wentworth forgot that when the honorable member for Riverina was first elected Chairman of Committees, the honorable member for Capricornia occupied a seat in the Senate.
– The honorable member for Riverina, was twice elected Chairman of Committees as the result of Labour support.
– Why did not the honorable member mention the fact that the honorable member for Riverina supplanted as Chairman of Committees the honorable member for Grey? Our party does not believe in the policy of spoils to the victors, but, having regard to the example which is now set us, we may do so in the future. I hope that we shall not. I have no personal quarrel with the honorable member for Riverina. I actually seconded the motion moved by the Minister for the Navy that my affidavit should be expunged from the records, on the understanding that the right honorable gentleman would make an inquiry into my complaint. If I can prove that a mistake was made-
– Why go into this again ?
– If the honorable member for Riverina will admit that he made a mistake, I will say no more.
– The honorable member has put his case; why go further into it ?
– I shall do so. The Minister for the Navy promised to go into the evidence that I should bring forward. I know that he was very busy at the time, and had to pay an official visit to Adelaide, with the result that he did not see the honorable member for Riverina. I brought him one witness, and asked if he would hear what Mr. Parker Moloney, who then represented Indi, and the honorable member for Henty had to say on the subject. The Minister for the Navy, however, said that he was quite content. Whether he did or did not see the honorable member for Riverina on the subject, I cannot say.
– I did meet him; and if I were in his place, I would apologize and end the whole matter.
– I do not want an apology. I play the game with the cards down. In justice to the honorable member for Riverina, I must say that I think the blame rests with the Minister for the Navy. I asked the honorable member for Riverina whether the right honorable member had seen him on the one special point, and he said he had not.
– I did see him while he was in the Chair, but he has forgotten the incident.
– That was not a specific meeting.
– It was the only opportunity I had of seeing him. I did my best.
– There seems to have been a mistake all round.
– Then why not so regard the incident ?
– I told the honorable member I would referto it during the elections, and I did so. I have no personal quarrel with the honorable member for Riverina, but I think it was most unjust that,, after I had asked permission to make an explanation, I should have been interrupted by him, as Deputy Speaker. I ask the honorable member for Riverina, as a man, to acknowledge that he made a mistake. He certainly did leave the chair, walked to where I was standing at the end of the table, and, interrupted a conversation I was holding with another member, in order to tell me that he had named me in the House. The honorable member for Henty said he saw him leave the chair and walk to where I was standing, but did not hear what was said. Mr. Parker Moloney, who then represented Indi, and Mr. Hampson, the member for Bendigo at that time, heard what took place. Why should not the honorable member admit that he, like other men, is liable to make a mistake? I shall go on demanding a withdrawal. As to the thirty-six out of thirty-eight members who voted without knowing what they voted for, it is my intention, as their eloquence should never be wasted, to give them the time of their lives, never letting them speak without having a quorum to listen to their words of wisdom or otherwise.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I thank honorable members very sincerely for the compliment they have paid me, and the confidence they have reposed in me, in again selecting me as Chairman and Deputy Speaker. I very much regret some things that have been said, but I shall not enter into any controversy about them. When I took the chair previously I knew no party or individual. I knew only the rules of the House, and I called upon all members, no matter on which side they sat or what their political opinions or convictions might be, to assist the Chair. Mistakes have been made, no doubt, and mistakes will be made, but the action to which reference has been made was not mine individually. I was only the indicator to the House of certain things, and the House took certain action. So far as I was concerned, the whole matter ended there, and I decline now to enter into any controversy regarding it. I assure honorable members that when I occupy the position of Chairman of Committees, or if at any time I am called upon to relieve you, sir, for a short period, I shall endeavour to uphold the dignity of this Chamber, and ask all members to assist me to do so. I shall give every member the fullest privilege that the rules allow; but I shall allow no member to get behind those rules in order to do something that the House would not permit him to do. That is a perfectly fair stand to take. To those two honorable members who have paid me the compliment of indicating some of my past actions, I wish to say that I shall treat them individually just the same as I will treat every other member of the House. I shall give them all the privileges to which they are entitled. When I have done that I shall have satisfied my own conscience that I have performed my duty and upheld the traditions of Parliament. I hope that in upholding those traditions I shall be assisted by all members, including those two honorable members who do not wish me so well to-day. Towards yourself, sir, I shall at all times act most loyally, and should you at any time require help or relief, I shall be only too ready to give it. As you and I have been contestants for the position you hold, I hope we shall set an example to all other members to forget the past, to begin anew, and to show that we collectively are a Parliament that understands its duties.
Conduct of Elections - Private Meeting of Members - Financial Statement
Motion (by Sir John Forrest) agreed to-
That the House do now resolve itself into Committee to consider the Supply to be granted to His Majesty.
In Committee of Supply:
– I move -
That there be granted to His Majesty -
For the service of the year ending the 30th day of June, 1917, a sum not exceeding £181.
For the service of the year ending the 30th day of June, 1918, a sum not exceeding £750,000.
It has become the custom in this House, although it is not a custom that I followed before I entered this Parliament, to make an explanation of the Finance Bill at this stage. I do not know that there is any great inconvenience about it, and, therefore, I am following the practice which has been generally followed by Treasurers here. I desire first to congratulate you, Mr. Chairman, on occupying the chair again. Youhave had a long experience; we know you very well, and every one will be gladto see you presiding over the Committee once more. The motion is preliminary to the introduction of a Supply Bill for the current year which is nearly ended, and to cover a short period of the next financial year. Exceptional circumstances exist which have never previously occurred. For various reasons the Estimates for the current financial year have not yet been laid upon the table. The expenditure for almost the wholeyear has been made on Supply Bills. I am glad to say that the Estimates are ready, and will be placed before honorable members to-day. It will, however, not be possible to deal with them in detail before the financial year closes. It is therefore necessary to ask Parliament to pass the Supply Bill now before the House.
The total of Supply previously granted by Parliament for the ordinary services of the Government for the current financial year is £14,981,159. The total of the Estimates is £14,981,340, leaving only £181 which has not already been granted in Supply.
This position has been brought about by considerable reductions having been made in the Estimates as originally framed, and on which the amounts included in previous Supply Bills have been based. The result has been that under certain subdivisions provision has already been made in excess of the amount now included in the Estimates.
Shortly stated, Supply is insufficient for twelve months on many subdivisions , and is over-provided on some other subdivisions.
To correct the position, a Bill is submitted showing, under each subdivision, the total amount provided in the Estimates for the year. The total of previous Supply Bills is deducted from the schedule, leaving only £181 which Parliament is asked to grant to the Treasurer for expenditure during June. At the same time, an amendment is made of all the previous Supply Bills, so that the amounts provided in these Bills shall be available for the purposes as set out in the second schedule to ; this Bill, which strictly accords with the Estimates.
Although the total of the Estimates is £14,981,340, it is not expected that the whole of this amount will be expended. The departmental officers estimate that £634,590 will not be expended in 1916- 1917. This information was not received in time to permit a reduction being made in the Estimates, and it has not, therefore, been possible to make the reduction in the Bill now submitted. Moreover, it does not seem convenient to ask, as Supply for the twelve months, for an amount which is less than tha* already granted for eleven months. It. will be noticed that incorporated in lubis Bill is an amount of £750,000 under Treasurer’s advance for the year 1917-18. It is not intended to ask Parliament to vote Supply in detail for the month of July until the House meets again next month, when it will be necessary to obtain Supply for the payment of Public Service salaries and other urgent payments during, that month. It is necessary to provide some funds to cover .the interregnum between the 1st July and the date - on which the House will meet. Many of our works are being carried out by day labour, and wages will fall due before Parliament has an opportunity next month of voting Supply. In addition a War Pension pay-day falls on the 5th July, and it is necessary to obtain parliamentary approval to cover these payments. The expenditure will be limited to absolute necessities.
.- It would be preferable, I think, for me to make the few remarks I intend to make on the Bill itself, but it really does not matter whether I speak on this motion or the Bill. The Standing Orders have been suspended in order that .these financial proposals may be passed almost immediately, and I intend to place no obstacle in the way. But, apparently, Supply is not necessary to-day for the ordinary services, but for the Treasurer’s advance for’ the next financial year, and the Works and Buildings Bill. As the Treasurer has pointed out, a sum of £5,271,000 has already been spent on works and buildin’s in the eleven months, and £244,000 will permit of the works being carried on for the balance of the term. I admit that the Treasurer requires the £750,000 for the Treasurer’s advance until further Supply is granted in July, but I cannot see why, if the Treasury officials expect to save £600,000, there is any necessity to vote £181 to-day. Under the circumstances, as I say, it would have been just as well to simply provide for the Treasurer’s advance and the Works and Buildings in the Bills before us. I have no intention .of entering into any criticism as to the administration of the various Departments in the past. I understand that we are to meet on the 11th July, when we shall have an opportunity to discuss the conduct of the elections. That is a matter I do not intend to deal with to-day, but I certainly do object - and I see that the Minister who was in charge of the elections is present - to members of a party, who call themselves the “ Win-the-War “ party, advertising in German in the German newspapers.
– That is not so; neither my agent nor myself, authorized that to be done.
– Then why did the honorable gentleman not take some action against those who did so advertise?
– What could I do t
– However, at the proper time I shall take an opportunity to deal with the inaction of the Minister in this respect.
– Had I scrutinized every line that appeared I should have had my time taken up with nothing else!
– As I say, at the proper time I intend to deal with the elections, and call attention to the extraordinary expenditure on behalf of honorable members opposite. Practically every section of the Electoral Act was broken, and, in my opinion, no honorable member opposite could sign an electoral return declaring that only £100 had been expended on his behalf. I shall say no more in regard to that matter now; but I am concerned about the meeting for to-morrow. The Government and their supporters have come back boasting that they have swept the party on this side off the board; indeed, the Minister for the Navy said that the sun of the Labour party had set never to rise again.
– Who said that ?
– That was so reported the day after the election - it was said that we were “ smashed.”
– I did not say anything like that. It is a gross exaggeration !
– Honorable members opposite boast about winning the whole of the Senate seats, and of their majority in this House, and yet’ they invite all honorable members to a private meeting tomorrow, of which I am doubtful whether there will be a Hansard record made. I am going to that meeting to see what the Government propose. Throughout this country, and also overseas, they circulated a paper containing gross misstatements about the Labour party. In that paper, a copy of which I have, it was said that we, on this side, were not concerned about winning the war; but I ask, what are the Government going to do to win the war? They have been in power for nearly six weeks, and,, so far as I can see, their programme for winning the war is as far off as ever.
– The writs were only in the day before yesterday.
– The Government have been in existence all the time, and the day after the elections they well knew what the result would be. We are now asked to grant Supply without any obstruction, and I can say that there is no intention on this, side to obstruct. No doubt, other honorable members have received copies of the paper to which I have referred, and which speaks of the desire of the Labour party to prevent recruiting. That paper was distributed by the military authorities, and in it is the assertion that the Labour party has no consideration at all for the men at the front, and are not concerned about winning the war. Yet the Government which circulated that paper asks us to meet them to-morrow.
– Let me see the paper.
– I have no intention of letting the copy out of my possession; and, in any case, the members of the Government could obtain any number of copies.
– I know nothing about it.
– They were circulated by your Government.
– What did you circulate ?
– Under the authority I possessedI appointed Warrant-Officer McGrath, a member of this House, to appoint scrutineers, and to act for me in that respect.
– Was the matter left to him to fix up?
– He was the only authority we had over there, because we were not so fortunate as the Government, who had a lot of officers acting for them.
– What did he say to the men ?
– I have no doubt he went a good deal nearer to the truth than the honorable member could ever get.
– That is near enough for a dirty dog like you !
– I must ask the honorable member to withdraw that statement.
– I withdraw it.
– I am sorry if I am annoying the honorable member for Hindmarsh. I have not the slightest objection to Supply being passed, but I do say it is strange that, after the remarks made during the election campaign, that honorable members on this side had no consideration for recruiting or anything else, the Government should now ask us to attend the meeting to-morrow. I am going to accept the responsibility of doing so in order to ascertain what are the intentions of the Government.
– If you are coming in that spirit you will do no good. If I were you I would stop away.
– The responsibility is on the Government. They told the people that if returned to power they were going to win the war, and I say it is about time they started. Nothing has been done so far, and I am anxious to know what they are going to do.I hope that we will get the Estimates in more detail than have been given to the House.
– The ordinary Estimates and Budget-papers will be circulated.
– It appears to me to be farcical that, requiring only £181 for the last month of the financial year, the Government should bring forward the Supply Bill in its present form, because the whole of the amount required could have been obtained from the Treasurer’s Advance account and only the amounts required for Works and Buildings asked for.
– I desire to make a personal explanation with regard to the suggestion made by the honorable member for Yarra. Doubtless, without knowing the facts, he stated that during the recent election I had had an advertisement inserted in a German paper. As a matter of fact, I never saw the German paper referred to, or the advertisement either, but a Labour paper made the assertion with flaring headlines. My secretary, whose name was at the bottom of the advertisement, tried to find out who put it in, but was unsuccessful.
– It did appear in a German paper, though?
– I am informed it did, but I am so careless about these matters that I did not try to verify that statement. A lot, I understand, has been said about this matter in the other States, but neither I nor my secretary had any circulars or advertisements inserted in a German paper. Even if my secretary had done so, it would have been a perfectly legitimate thing to do, because the advertisement merely asked electors to “ vote for your old, trusted representative,” and was a copy of an advertisement to the electors published in ordinary newspapers. It is untrue to say that I had circulars or advertisements or addressed meetings in German. If those who made the statement had said that I addressed meetings in French it would have been more accurate.
– I desire now to present to honorable members a statement with regard to a summary of the Commonwealth finances in June of this year. This document contains a great deal of information which I desire should be recorded in Hansard. The statement is as follows : -
Balance-sheet. A balance-sheet of the transactions of the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Commonwealth in the current and preceding financial years may be submitted in the following simple form : -
Though the surplus is ‘set down at £126,886, it must be remembered that, omitting the £3,000,000 brought forward from the previous year, there is a deficit of £2,873,114 on the transactions of 1916-17.
Customs and Excise Revenue. The Customs and Excise revenue of the Commonwealth has been: -
In the first months of the financial year which ends on the thirtieth of the present month, the Customs and Excise revenue showed remarkable increases over the revenue of the corresponding months of the previous financial year. The revenue, however, subsequently began to fall, and is expected to be about £1,823,000 less than in the year 1915-16. The revenue still continues to fall. The lower revenue is due chiefly to the decrease in the number of ships arriving from oversea ports, and to theover-stocking which previously occurred in some classes of goods. Another factor is the restriction of exportation of goods from the United Kingdom. In a few classes of goods, of which there is a small imported supply, orders have been placed for supplies of Australian manufacture.
The Government have recently appointed a Luxuries Board, whose duty it is to inquire into and make recommendations in relation to goods which, during the war, should not be imported, as being articles of luxury or articles which are not essential to the general comfort, health, or welfare of the community. The recommendations of the Luxuries Board, if given effect to, will cause a further falling off of imports, and at present it cannot therefore be said that the outlook of the Customs revenue is satisfactory.
Direct Taxation. Until the year 1910-11 the Commonwealth had no direct taxation. In that year a graduated land tax was introduced, and produced a sum of £1,370,345. The number of direct taxes was not added to until 1914-15,. when £39,646 was collected from probate and succession duties. The total direct taxation of the Commonwealth now amounts to: -
The entertainments tax has been dis appointing inits results, and it would now appear that, in the half-year ending on the thirtieth of this month, only £100,000 will be received from that source.
When the “ General View of Commonwealth Finances “ was presented to the House in March last, there was a possibility that the war-time profits tax would soon be in operation, and there was included in the estimated revenue of 1916-17 an amount of £800,000, representing the estimated tax for the years 1915- 16 and 1916-17. The Bill is now prepared and will be immediately introduced. It seems likely that the revenue (£800,000) estimated for the year 1916- 17, but not received, will be collected during next year, and the tax for 1917- 18 during the following year.
It is interesting here to note that the war expenditure which has been paid out of ‘the Consolidated Revenue Fund is: -
Direct and Indirect Taxation. From direct and indirect taxation, the Commonwealth in the year 1916-17, which is about to close, will receive the estimated revenue of £23,110,300. This compares with £23,533,529 actually received in 1915-16.
Revenue of ‘Postmaster-General’s Department. In Post Office revenue also there have .been large increases, as will be seen in the following table: -
Though increases have occurred, it must not be supposed that the Post Office has assisted the Treasury, and this aspect of the case will be dealt with when reference 13 made to the expenditure of the Department.
Silver and Bronze Coinage. In considering the financial outlook, sight must not be lost of the fact that the Commonwealth, since the war broke out, has been earning a large revenue from the issue of silver and bronze coin.
This revenue represents the difference between the face value of the coins and the cost of the bullion. The whole amount ia not profit, because there is some expense (£16,584 in 1915-16, and an estimate of £26,510 in 1916-17) in making and distributing the coins. This expense is included in the expenditure of the Consolidated Revenue Fund. It is thought that much of the revenue in 1915-16 and 1916-17 has been caused by the abnormal conditions brought about by the war, and that the revenue may be greatly diminished after the end of the war.
Miscellaneous Revenue. From miscellaneous sources, in 1916-17, it is expected that the Commonwealth will receive a revenue of £3,587,300, in comparison with £1,815,371 actually received in the previous year. This is an increase of £1,771,929, made up as follows : -
Total Revenue. In all, the Commonwealth revenue in 1915-16 was £30,762,216, and it is expected that the revenue for the current year, including £3,000,000 surplus brought forward from 1915-16, will amount to £35,575,300. The Commonwealth has therefore a total of £35,575,300 with which to meet all the revenue charges of the present year.
Defence Expenditure. The expenditure on Defence, not including war expenditure, has increased considerably during the last eight years, as will be seen from the following figures: -
From the beginning of the war, namely, in 1914-15 to 1916-17, the ordinary military and naval expenditure has been £9,426,355, and the expenditure on works, arms, equipment, Naval Bases, construction of fleet, &c, has been £5,606,838, making a total expenditure in the three years of £15,033,193. In addition, £103,102,120 has been expended from the War Loan Fund, Interest on war loans, totalling £6,893,604, war pen- sions and sundry other war services totalling £4,085,289, have been paid from revenue. The total expenditure during the three years of war is £129,114,206. During this period of three years £1,371,631 has been provided from revenue towards a Sinking Fund for the redemption of war loans. The expenditure is so great that the most careful business management is required as well as the most careful scrutiny.
The Treasury has made an attempt in this statement, and also in the Estimates, So show a clear cut division between war expenditure and ordinary expenditure. Honorable members will have no difficulty inseeing at once how much we have spent this year on the war from loan and revenue and how much in ordinary expenditure.
Position of Postmaster-General’s Department. Except in the years 1905-6 and 1906-7, when there were balances of £40,249 and £163,434 in favour of the Post Office, the Treasury has expended for the Post Office not only all the revenue earned by that Department, but has pro vided the Department in addition with the following sums out of the ConsolidatedRevenue Fund of the Commonwealth : -
Some of the revenue moneys provided for the Post Office in excess of its own revenue might have been charged against Loan Funds. It is useful, therefore, to compare the revenue of the Department with the expenditure provided for on ordinary estimates of the Department. These ordinary estimates include approximately what is required for the main- tenance of the Department. The figures in the last five years are -
The financial position’ of the Post Office is improving.
Expenditure on New Works, Etc. Under the heading of New Works, &c, the Treasury usually includes new buildings, new works, plant, ships, and purchase of land. Reference to the first paragraph of this paper will show that the expenditure on New Works, &c, in 1916-17 is estimated at £4,914,307, while the expenditure of the previous year was £2,940,835. It is important’ to note, however, that the latter figure represents only the amount expended out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund. In addition there was expended, in 1915-16, an amount of £2,458,418 out of loan. The total expenditure on new works, &c, in 1915- 16 was therefore £5,399,253, and the estimated expenditure on new works in 1916-17 is really £484,946 less than the amount expended in 1915-16. Early in the present financial year it was decided that the circulation of Australian notes had reached such dimensions that further increase for the purpose of” works was undesirable. For some years it had been the practice to pay, out of moneys borrowed from the Notes Fund, for all the Commonwealth works which were payable from Loan Funds. Owing, however, to the financing of the States from the Notes Fund to the extent of £20,634,000, this legitimate source, from which the Commonwealth works chargeable to loan were paid, is not now available. The Commonwealth has crippled itself in its desire to help the States. The whole expenditure on Commonwealth new works in 1916- 17, namely, £4,914,307, has, therefore, been met out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
Expenditure on Federal Capital. The expenditure in connexion with the Federal Capital began in 1901-2, and up to the year 1910-11 £23,914 was expended in choosing the site.
The actual expenditure in establishing the Capital at Canberra, including the acquisition of private lands, is as follows : -
Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway. The cost of the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway, including survey, is £6,537,971, including the estimated payments up to 30th June, 1917. Although the work is nearing completion, the expenditure necessary to complete it will be considerable. The expenditure each year is -
This railway, so essential for the real federation of Australia and for its defence, connecting by rail, as it does, the eastern and western sides of the Australian Continent, must be of immense benefit to the Commonwealth. It has, however, for various reasons cost an immense amount more than it should have done - which I, as one of those who so strenuously urged its construction, very much regret.
– How much do you expect to have to spend yet ?
– I think that there will be a good lot.
– A couple of millions?
– I hope not; there will be a good deal.
Northern Territory. The following is a statement of the revenue and expenditure of the Northern Territory since its transfer to the Commonwealth. Payments for redemption of loans and for sinking funds are omitted from the expenditure.
Port Augusta to Oodnadatta Railway. In connexion with the transfer of the Northern Territory, the Commonwealth also took over the Port Augusta to Oodnadatta Railway.
By arrangement, the State of South Australia works the railway. The Commonwealth makes good the loss on working, and provides, in addition, for extraordinary maintenance. The revenue received by the Commonwealth, £12,741, is made up of wharfages and shunting charges on the railway in connexion with the wharf at Port Augusta. In 1914-15 an unusual receipt of £4,500 for sale of storage tank is included.
The total loss has been: - Interest. £530,820 ; Extraordinary Maintenance and loss on working, £146,056; New Works, £13,114; making a total, less £12,741 received for wharfage, shunting charges, &c, at Port Augusta, of £677,249 exclusive of loans.
The following is a statement of the receipts and expenditure: -
This seems a disastrous financial undertaking.
Naval Bases. The works in connexion with the establishment of naval bases have added considerably to the expenditure of the Commonwealth.
The expenditure in 1915-16 was £470,921, and the estimate for 1916-17 is £589,602. Although these works have been in hand for only six years the expenditure totals £1,440,399, and the yearly rate is increasing.
The expenditure up to the 30th June,. 1917, is as follows: -
Quarantine. The taking over of the quarantine services from the States has placed an additional burden upon the revenue of the Commonwealth.
The revenue and expenditure are as follows: -
War Expenditure Out of Revenue. The time has come when we are compelled to pay for the whole of the war services out of Loan Funds, except those services which, from their nature, should be charged against the revenue. The following table shows the burden upon revenue in respect of war : -
Unfortunately, the amount to be provided for in next financial year for interest, sinking fund, and war pensions will be several millions more than the amount paid this year. Moreover, the amount of revenue now being collected is less than the expenditure, the deficit in 1916-17 being £2,873,114. It is clear that the task of making ends meet in 1917-18 will not be easy.
War Expenditure Out of Loan. The expenditure on war has been: -
In the “ General View of the Commonwealth Finances “ of 6th March last, I included a proposed payment to the British Government of £32,000,000, being the estimated cost of maintenance of Australian Forces at the front up to 30th June, 1917. Owing to delay in obtaining statement of sums due to the British Government, and owing to the difficulties of exchange, payments to the British Government did not begin until 1st May, 1917, when arrangements were made to pay £8,500,000 at the rate, of £500,000 per week. It is intended :o arrange further payments to the British Government as soon as possible. Tie postponement of payments to the British Government has considerably reduced the estimated expenditure during this financial year on .the war, but the expenditure has been incurred and the payments are merely postponed.
The British Government have been most generous in the matter. They have merely told us our liability and have never asked us for payment. Therefore, the payment of £8,500,000 has been a spontaneous act on our part, and we may pay more just as it suits us. The British Government do not harass us for payment) of the liability.
Total Expenditure, not including Payments to States and not including War Expenditure. For a considerable number of years the outstanding feature of Commonwealth finance has been the continual increase in the annual expenditure. Until a recent date, however, there has not been any great difficulty in finding money to meet the expenditure. The immense and increasing burdens of the war, and the inflated expenditure on ordinary services, have brought us to the time when the financial position has become very difficult. No longer can proposals involving large expenditure be lightly adopted as heretofore, and a return of easy financial conditions seems far off. < An analysis of the “ Interim Financial Statement ‘ ‘ presented to Parliament on 27th September, 1916, shows that (omitting payments to the States and omitting war expenditure) the estimated expenditure for 1916-17 was £23,785,798. Between that date and 6th March, 1917, when the “ General View of the Commonwealth Finances “ was presented to the House, the Estimates had been re’duced, at the urgent request of the Treasury, to £22,341,955. Further reductions since, of £1,222,970, have resulted in the estimated expenditure for 1916-17 being £21,118,985. Notwithstanding the immense reduction of £2,666,813 in the
Estimates since 27th September, 1916, the Treasury officers expect that when the accounts of the year have been closed, a further reduction will be found to have taken place.
The total expenditure of the Commonwealth, omitting -payments to the States and omitting war expenditure, but including loan expenditure on works, &c, has been : -
As to the estimated increase of £1,023,724 in the expenditure of 1916-17, compared with that of the year before, it may be pointed out that the increase in old-age and invalid pensions alone is £800,234. The increase apart from such pensions is £223,490. This comparison of totals is, to some extent, misleading, because, as already stated, there was a decrease in New Works, &c, of £484,946. Omitting the following, namely, New Works, &c., Invalid and Old-age pensions, and interest paid for States, as well as the payments to States and War Expenditure previously omitted, the estimated Expenditure of 1916-17 exceeds the actual Expenditure of 1915-16 by £603,436.
The successive and accumulative increases of expenditure are alarming, and require the most careful consideration. It is not possible, nor would it be opportune for me, here to indicate what mustbe done in order to provide for the financial arrangements of the year 1917-18, but the situation will have to be faced and dealt with when the Budget proposals of the ensuing year are placed before Parliament. The matter is receiving my earnest attention, and I shall be disappointed if the immense increase of expenditure necessitated by the war is not accompanied by considerable reductions in current Departmental Expenditure.
Australian Notes Fund. On the 5th
June, 1917, the position of the Australian Notes Fund was -
Loans to States. Loans made to the States before the war out of the Notes Fund, and still outstanding, amount to £2,634,000. These loans are repayable at various dates between 1919 and 1926.
Soon after the outbreak of war, the Commonwealth lent to the States out of the Notes Fund -
The money was lent under agreement to repay it three years after it was paid to the States, and the dates of repayment run between November, 1917, and De*cember, 1918.
On 6th November, 1915, the Commonwealth entered into an agreement with the States (except New South Wales). The agreement includes the following: -
The foregoing arrangements do not apply to renewals by the States of their existing loans. The moneys referred to in the agreement are for the ordinary public works, &c, of the States, and are not for the settlement of returned soldiers on the land or for other repatriation purposes.
At the Premiers’ Conference in January, 1917,. the agreement of 6th November, 1915, was modified as follows: -
In pursuance of the agreement of 6th November, 1915, the Commonwealth, in June, 1916, raised £4,000,000 for the States in London at 5¼ per cent., the price obtained being par. The loan is redeemable in 1920-22. In April, 1917, the Commonwealth raised another loan of £3,500,000 in London for the States. The price of issue was 98, and the rate of interest 5£ per cent. per annum. This loan is redeemable in 1922-27. The Imperial Government has agreed that the Commonwealth may make advances to the States, totalling £3,000,000, out of war funds supplied by the British Government, in anticipation of the issue of a further loan for the States, out of which the advances will be repaid to the War Funds. Some of the States have already been paid their proportions of this £3,000,000, and it is expected that the whole amount will be advanced to the States before the 30th June, 1917. The amount of £3,000,000 is being paid to the States as follows: -
The summary of amounts lent by or through the Commonwealth to the States is : -
The position now is that, on the one hand, the Commonwealth has undertaken to raise money for the States, and, on the other hand, there will shortly be large sums due by the States to the Commonwealth. These two equally binding obligations must be set against each other, and this fair and reasonable arrangement has been communicated to the States concerned. Queensland did not receive any portion of the £18,000,000, and New South Wales is not a party to the agreement of 6th November, 1915.
Public Debt of the Commonwealth. The public debt of the Commonwealth at 30th April, 1917, was £165,544,532. This amount includes subscriptions to the Fourth War Loan, the due date of some of which has not yet been reached.
The public debt is made up as under : -
The following are particulars of the war loans raised in the Commonwealth : -
The following are details of the war loans from the Government of the United Kingdom : -
There is Parliamentary authority to borrow £2,000,000 more from the Imperial Government, which has agreed to lend the amount.
The total amount authorized to be raised in the Commonwealth for war purposes is £88,000,000. Of this amount £80,209,610 has been raised at 30th April, 1917, by the issue of Stock and Bonds; and £132,587 by the issue of War Savings Certificates. The balance authorized to be raised is £7,657,803.
At the 29th May, the amount received from the sale of War Savings Certificates had increased to £348,939. These certificates are being sold at the price of 17s. 6d. for each £1 in the face value of the certificates. The interest is included in the face value of the certificate, which is redeemable, in every case, three years after the date of its purchase. The interest works out at 4½ per cent. per annum, compound interest.
It! is estimated that the war loan moneys in hand on 30th June, 1917, will amount to £19,400,681. It is intended to continue the issue of War Savings Certificates.
The stock and bonds issued in Australia, still outstanding and amounting to £79,838,840, bear interest at the rate of 4½ per cent. per annum, and are redeemable on 15th December, 1925.
Control of Businesses. Owing to circumstances brought about by the war, it has been considered necessary that Commonwealth activities should be extended to matters not previously subject to Government management. The
Commonwealth has now assumed more or less control in each of the following businesses, viz. : -
Wheat, sugar, shipping, butter, rabbits, rabbit skins, metals, wool, hops.
The financial responsibilities of the Commonwealth in relation to these businesses are important, and in the Budget Speech of the coming financial year these several matters will be fully dealt with. In the “ General View of Commonwealth Finances,” presented to the House on 6th March last, particulars were given of such of those businesses as, at that time, had come under Commonwealth Government control.
Repatriation of Soldiers. The Government intends to make liberal and generous provision for returned soldiers. The financial and other features of the scheme are receiving close attention, and will be placed before Parliament at an early date.
Invalid and Old-age Pensions. During last financial year, Parliament in- creased the payments to invalid and oldage pensioners by half-a-crown a week in the case of each pension. It is estimated that this increase involves the Commonwealth in an annual extra cost of £800,000. In the present financial year the payments to invalid and old-age pensioners are estimated at £3,660,000, being an increase of £800,234 on the expenditure ofthe previous year. There will be a considerable increase again next year, because the increase of. half-a-crown a week began on 1st October, 1916. and the full effect of the annual increase will not be shown in the expenditure until the 30th September next. Moreover, experience shows that year by year the number of pensions increases owing partly to increase in the number who are of. pension age, and partly because many qualified persons who are reluctant to draw pensions ultimately overcome their disinclination. There are now 93,572 old-age pensioners, who represent slightly more than 34 per cent. of the total population of pension age. It is a sad fact, difficult even to realize, that in this new country, with all its possibilities, one-third of the population of pension age (women 60, men 65) are in circumstances which require the payment of old-age pensions. There are 26,476 invalid pensioners. The number of invalid and old-age pensioners is 120,048. This represents nearly 4½ per cent. (one out of every twenty-two) of the total adult population of the Commonwealth.
Frauds on the Commonwealth. During the last few months public attention has been drawn to two cases of fraud of a very serious nature in the Defence and Navy Departments in New South Wales and Victoria respectively amounting to £67,000 and £8,600. The Government is at present considering what steps must be taken to strengthen the Departments, and thus prevent repetition of such a serious and disastrous state of affairs.
Tables. The following tables show concisely the receipts and payments of the Consolidated Revenue Fund and the War Loan Fund: -
Conclusion. In concluding the “General “View of Commonwealth Finances,” presented to Parliament on the 6th March last, I stated my belief that the requirements of the year ending 30th June, 1917, were provided for. That forecast has been verified, and the current year 1916-17 will, it is estimated, end with a credit balance of £126,886.
It is not possible, nor is it expedient, to deal with the estimated revenue and expenditure of the coming year, or to indicate the measures that will be imperatively necessary in order, to provide the immense sum required for the energetic prosecution of the war, and to assist in every way possible the Mother-land and her brave Allies in” securing victory and peace.
The Budget of next year will have to be framed so as to meet these difficult circumstances, and it is clear that a very large additional revenue will be required, limited, I hope, by a considerable decrease in Departmental Expenditure.
The season throughout the whole Commonwealth has been good, and the production and prices obtained have been very satisfactory.
I thank honorable members for the patience which they have exhibited in listening to this long statement, but I thought that at the end of a year during which there have been many changes, and during which the Estimates have been dealt with by two or three Treasurers, it would be well to make a clear statement of the position of the finances from the Treasury stand-point, aided by some remarks of my own, which honorable members might accept as their financial bible up to 30th June of this year. They may rest assured that tie facts embodied in this statement are accurate, and cannot be refuted. Again I thank them for the courtesy which they have extended to me in listening so attentively to my remarks.
.- I desire to preface my remarks with just one observation, sir, in regard to your election to the office of Chairman of Committees. I wish to say that the incident which I related earlier in the afternoon I now regard as closed, and to assure you of my support in the discharge of the duties of your high office. It was not my intention to speak on this occasion but for a statement made by the Prime Minister. The Financial Statement of the Treasurer, though a very interesting one, I do not propose to criticise at the present time. But I do feel it my bounden duty to make a few observations concerning the suggestion of the Prime Minister that we should meet him in secret session to-morrow. What is the reason for this secret session ? Is the press of this country to be excluded from the deliberations of this Parliament? We have recently heard a good deal about secret juntas. Of what is the National party afraid, that it desires to meet in secret? I appeal to the press of this country - although we have not received a very fair deal from it - to take notice of the action of this socalled National party in attempting at so early a date to conduct their business in secret. Of what are its members afraid?
– Was not the honorable member a Minister when the previous secret session was held ?
– I did not attend the secret session, and I shall take into serious consideration the question of whether I ought to attend any secret session. Honorable members opposite have their mandate from the country. We have been smashed at the polls-
– Does not the honorable member recognise that it may be desirable to place honorable members in possession of certain ‘facts in relation to the war which the public ought not to be told ?
– I draw the attention of the right honorable member to a statement made recently by Mr. Lloyd George, the Prime Minister of Great Britain, who, in speaking of the submarine menace, said, ‘’ I publish the figures to the world, because I want the public to know that the Government is keeping nothing from them.” He added that the best was never got out of the Old Country until its people knew the worst.
– He also had a secret sitting.
– If the Prime Minister of Great Britain sees ho reason why anything should be kept from the British public, I see no reason why anything should be withheld from the public of Australia. The people have been kept too much in the dark. What is the reason for this censorship? Why was the press atRockhampton instructed that no reference by Higgs to Japanese trade should be permitted? Why was that action taken by the censors, no doubt under instructions from the Prime Minister? I see no reason for the suppression of facts relating to the war-
– But the honorable member might after a secret meeting had been held.
– We have been told by the Prime Minister that we are to be called in to advise the Win-the-war party how to win the war. We, who have been slandered and defamed from one end of Australia to the other, are to be asked to do this. Only the day before polling, the Minister for the Navy, who, I regret to say, is not in his place, told the people to “ beware of their homes and their pockets.” Yet we, who were charged with being I.W.W. men, who were accused of being disloyalists and pro-Germans, are to be asked to meet the National party in secret, and to tell them how to win the war. If they do not know how to win it, they have obtained their mandate under false pretences. It is amazing impudence on the part of the Prime Minister and his followers to ask us to tell them how to win the war. I have here a letter which the Prime Minister sent out to the relatives of soldiers at the front. It bears the Commonwealth coat of arms, and is dated the 25th April. It reached the Rockhampton district on the 3rd May - just two days before polling. It reads : -
Dear Mrs Kirk,
I am writing to you personally, because I know you have a direct interest in this war.
He went on to say that the Labour party were people - who care nothing for the war, for Australia, or for the Empire. They have made no sacrifices; they have in many cases taken the war as an opportunity to further their own selfish’ sectional ends. To them duty, honour, patriotism, are empty words. To them the sacrifices at Gallipoli, Pozieres, and Bapaume mean nothing. And now, when the opposing armies are girding up their loins for the final struggle, when every effort is needed, when the Australians at the front can emerge successfully only if the nation is behind them, this band of disloyalists has forced the country into an election.
He went on to say -
You are directly interested in this election because you are directly interested in this war. Strike a blow for those who represent you at the front by voting against that disloyal element who would desert them in their hour of need.
We members of the Labour Party, who have thus been described as disloyalists, and as men who would desert our soldiers in the hour of need, are now asked to meet the Government and their supporters in secret session and to tell them what they should do to win the war. The Government and their supporters know very well that they can do no more than we were able to do when in office. They have no new proposals to make. The honorable member for Flinders holds certain views which he would like the Government to adopt. The only action which honorable members opposite could take that we did not take when in office is that of bringing in conscription, and to introduceconscription in this country would be to bring about a great deal more harm than good. The Daily Telegraph was quite right when, on the return of the Prime. Minister from the Old Country, it asked in a leading article, “Is it worth while, for the sake of the few extra men that would be obtained for our forces as the result of conscription, to introduce the social and political unrest that would follow the adoption of conscription in Australia ? ‘ ‘ When the Government went to the country they said they were going to “ Win the war,” and, in making that statement, they deceived the people, as the electors will eventually discover. What can the Nationalist party do to win the war that we did not do when in office? Did we not equip the troops? Did we not raise the necessary funds? Did we not work to the very best of our ability and also work longer hours than other Ministers have ever done?
– That was because honorable members opposite, having the command of a great deal of money, were able to print and to circulate in every home, statements such as those to which’ I have just been referring. Having the command of ample funds, they even exhibited on railway stations huge iron sheets on which were painted the words “ If you vote for the Nationalist party you will vote for the soldiers at the front. If you vote for the Labour party you will vote for the I.W.W., sabotage, the destruction of property,” and so forth.
– You ought to dissociate yourselves from those fellows altogether.
– It is absurd to say that we associate with them. The Nationalist party used the forces of government, and the immense sums of money that interested parties placed at their disposal, to circulate the vilest slanders concerning our party. Those who provided the funds will, no doubt, get their reward from the Government in being allowed to raise the prices of commodities, and escape taxation. If honorable members opposite want to know how to win the war let me tell them they can do so by taxing the people who ought to bear the taxation of this country. I shall be interested to learn what the Treasurer proposes in the way of war-time profits taxation. We received such a smashing blow at the polls, and honorable members opposite were returned with such a huge majority to win the war, that I feel it is our duty to stand aside and to let them show what they can do to win the war. We should occupy the time of this House as little as possible, intervening only, as I am doing now, to make a protest when a protest should be entered. I protest against the secret session which it is proposed to hold to-morrow. We have nothing of which to be afraid. Since the honorable member for Flinders has spoken of certain secret information, let me say that some of the information which is given at these secret meetings is of a bluffing character. It is pure bluff on the part of the Prime Minister to tell us that so much depends upon Japan; it is pure bluff to influence the public of Australia to adopt conscription by alarming them in this way. Who believes for one moment that Australia should be placed under the heel of Japan in such a way that the National Parliament dare not deal with the Tariff ?
Why was the press prevented from publishing statements that I made to the people of Queensland that no Japanese statesman would object to our attitude in regardto the
Tariff ifhe once investigated our factories, saw our wages sheets, learned of the hours of labour and the way our workers lived here? No Japanese statesman with such knowledge in his possession would ask us to grant a preferential rate to Japanese goods which had been made by children receiving 4½d. and 5d. for twelve hours work per day. That was all that I said on that subject to the people in my electorate, yet such remarks were censored. Why does the Prime Minister suggest in secret session that there is anything to fear from the Japanese nation ?
It is for this reason, amongst others, that I object to the secret session being held. The Treasurer interjects that the Prime Minister was my colleague when the last secret session was held. The right honorable gentleman knows very well, however, that without a certain measure of harmony no Cabinet can exist. He knows, too, that a Prime Minister, as the head of a Government, has necessarily a certain amount of power which he is entitled to exercise, although his colleagues may not always agree with him. I imagine that the Treasurer will not agree with all his colleagues in the present Ministry.
– Perhaps not.
– I should like the Treasurer to state whether it was the deliberate decision of the Government that a secret session should be held to-morrow ?
– I think there was something like that.
– The Treasurer cannot say that it was. What sort of Government have we in power?
– I think something was said about it.
– Is this the Prime Minister’s own proposal to hold a secret sitting?
– I think it is.
– After all, it may be a kind of “ try on.” The Treasurer, I suppose, will decline to take the responsibility for such a session if the people show any opposition to it; but if they do not, the position will be different. I wish to know whether it is the proposal of the Government, as such, that they should endeavour to ascertain from members of the Parliament what to do to win the war. If it is, then the Government have obtained their majority under false pretences. As one who is still smarting under the defamation and libel and slander of the
Nationalist party in the literature they sent out to the country, I object to it, and doubt whether I will attend it. I did not attend the last secret session, because I like to be free to tell my constituents all that takes place in Parliament, and if I attend the secret session to-morrow, I suppose I shall place myself under such a bond that I cannot tell my constituents what takes place there.
– Regarding the Oodnadatta railway the Treasurer, unwittingly I am sure, conveyed a false impression.
– The Treasurer vouched for the truth of every item in the statement he submitted.
– The figures in the Treasurer’s statement are correct as they stand, but the position is that the Oodnadatta railway just about pays its ordinary working expenses. In this statement, however, the extraordinary working expenses are also included, because such things as relaying and resleepering are paid for by the Federal Government. Roughly, there is a loss of about £100,000 a year on the running of the railway, which is about 500 miles. I would remind some of my honorable friends, who thought that this was almost unique, that there is not a Government in Australia to-day which hag not some section of its railways losing as much as is lost on this particular section of the Port Augusta to Oodnadatta railway.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Sir John Forrest) agreed to-
That there be granted to His Majesty for the service of the year ending the 30th day of June, 1917, a sum not exceeding £244,594, for the purposes of additions, new works, buildings, &c.
That the House will, at its next sitting, again resolve itself into Committee of Supply.
Motion (by Sir John Forrest) agreed to-
That the House do now resolve itself into a Committee to consider the Ways and Means for raising the Supply to be granted to His Majesty.
In Committee of Ways and Means:
Motion (by Sir John Forrest) agreed to-
That towards making good the Supply granted to His Majesty -
For the service of the year ending 30th June, 1917. a sum not exceeding £181 be granted out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
For the service of the year ending 30th June, 1918, a sum not exceeding £750,000 be granted out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
Motion (by Sir John Forrest) proposed -
That towards making good the Supply granted to His Majesty for additions, new works, buildings, &c, for the year 1916-17, a sum not exceeding £244,594 be granted out of the ConsolidatedRevenue Fund.
.- I understand that it is proposed to hold a secret session of both Souses to-morrow. Will the Treasurer state if that is correct ?
– A secret meeting of honorable members to talk over things.
– Then it is to be a secret session ?
– A meeting, not a session. The press will not be present, and you can talk as freely as you like.
– Then will Hansard be present?
Question resolved in the affirmative.
That the House will, at its next sitting, again resolve itself into Committee of Ways and Means.
That Sir John Forrest and Mr. Hughes do prepare and bring in Bills to carry out the foregoing resolutions.
Bill presented by Sir John Forrest, and read a first time.
Motion (by Sir John Forrest) proposed -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
.- I understand the Treasurer to state that the meeting to-morrow will be a joint meeting of the two Houses, and secret, in that the press will not be present. Does the. Treasurer know definitely whether Hansard will be present or not ?
– I do not think so; they have never been there before.
– I should like the Treasurer to ascertain definitely from the Prime Minister whether it is intended that Hansard shall be present. Even though no Hansard record is published, if a record is to be kept of the speeches to be used afterwards-
– If they are not to be used, there isno advantage in having the speeches taken down. Will the Treasurer, on behalf of the Government, give the House the assurance that Hansard will not be present, and that no record will be kept?
– I will.
.- The point raised by the Leader of the Opposition is extremely important. I understand from him that if Hansard is present it will take a record of the speeches, but that no report will be published.
– That is only an assumption. Hansard was never present before at such meetings.
– What are we afraid of ? Do the Government propose that no record of honorable members’ speeches at the joint meeting shall be taken, and that then members of the House shall be allowed to go abroad and charge other members with having uttered statements that they did not utter?
– That was the result of the last secret session.
– It is a mistake to hold a secret session. If, as the right honorable member for Flinders states, there is certain private and secret information to be given by the Prime Minister, or some other member of the Government, to members, well and good; but if speeches are to be made on both sides, if debates are to take place as to the future action or policy of this country- speeches upon which laws are subsequently to be based - there should be some record. The public have a right to know what transpires; and if debates take place the press ought to be allowed to come in. I object altogether to secret sessions, and if there is to be a session at which honorable members make speeches, then the Hansard reporters at least ought to be present, and their reports ought to find a place in the Hansard volumes.
– There seems a good deal of misapprehension as to what is proposed. Honorable members talk about “ secret sessions,” but the meetings held in England are not sessions of Parliament. The simple fact is that, after Parliament has adjourned, as in this case, an invitation is given to a number of gentlemen, who are more or less interested in public matters, to meet together and have an opportunity to hear confidentially certain statements that the Leader of the Government desires to make.
– Bound on their honour not to repeat those statements.
– Quite sonot to reveal anything of a character which they cannot, and do not, obtain from the usual sources of public information. Matters which they do obtain, or are obtainable, from the usual sources, they are perfectly at liberty to use after the secret session, just as they were before. Surely there need be no difficulty about the matter. Any gentleman who finds he has conscientious objections, or apprehends any danger from the course proposed, can save himself by staying away from the meeting.
.- The honorable member for Flinders has paved a way by saying that those whose con-; science might be strained by attending the secret conference may stay away. But I hold that every man who is elected, whether on this or the other side of the House, has as much right as another to know what is going on in public affairs. Many of us who attended one of those conferences know, to our sorrow in some instances, that Ministers of the Crown when they got on the hustings twitted members of the Labour party with not doing anything during the last three years with regard to the Tariff. I was so accused myself, but honorable members know very well why the Tariff was not proceeded with. I held my peace, although I was taxed on the matter in my own electorate, because every man who attended that secret gathering was bound to hold his tongue as to what took place. Personally, I told the electors on the platform that my tongue was sealed in regard to the Tariff, and ‘that I would not say a word one way or the other. I think, however, that the position I and others held was pretty rough, considering that it was well known why nothing had been done during the last three years in reference to the Tariff. So far as the proposed secret conference or meeting tomorrow is concerned, I propose, as a member of Parliament and as a member of the Labour party, to attend and take part in it as a representative of the people.
– It would seem that in Australia, in this Commonwealth or National Parliament, we are called upon by the leaders, socalled, to maintain secrecy or silence in regard to subjects that are being discussed and have been discussed in the public journals of other countries nearly ever since the war began.
– That .is a misapprehension.
– We are asked to be silent, although if we go into the library we find in the magazines there articles contributed by some of the best brains in the world, including the brains of Japan, dealing with the very subject which we are not allowed to discuss. These matters are dealt with elsewhere in the most open manner, and without any apology; and, altogether, I think that there is too strict a censorship in Australia. Take up any British journal, whether it be the Times, a Labour paper, a Socialist paper, or a magazine, and we find that almost unlimited latitude is allowed in the discussion of questions in relation to the war. Public addresses by public men in Great Britain, no matter to what party they belong, have the freest possible circulation. I agree with the honorable member for Capricornia, who quoted Mr. Lloyd George as saying . that Great Britain - and I presume this includes the overseas Dominions - is most prepared to do its best when the worst is known. In reference to Japan, particularly amongst writers and editors, a triangular controversy has been going on ever since the war began in respect, to trade and treaty questions, and this controversy has been contributed to by Japanese, British, and American writers. If these questions are discussed in the journals to be found on the table of the Library, and in every library in the world, why should secrecy be observed here ? In my opinion, this hush-up business makes the public suspicious that there are being kept from them things they ought to know. If the meeting to-morrow is to be similar to that held some time ago, I believe that a large number of members will not attend, because they will refuse to be bound in regard to subjects which are freely dealt with in other countries, and the facts in regard to which the public ought to know. Before the previous meeting was held
I had discussed the questions from the platform–
– The honorable member is in error.
– I did not disclose subsequently anything discussed at that meeting, but, prior to the meeting, I had dis- cussed subjects in regard to which I was asked at the meeting to hold my tongue.
– It is not intended at all to do that to-morrow.
– I do not know what is intended; and if the right honorable gentleman will throwsome light on the -matter I shall be much obliged.
– I rise only to make clear what the object of the meeting to-morrow is. I thought. I had already done so. I distinguished the meeting from a secret session, applying that termto the kind of meeting ofbothHouses which was held in the last Parliament, and to which reference has already been made. At that former secret session or meeting honorable members were taken into the confidence of the Government, and matters were discussed which, upon a fair interpretation, it was generally agreed could not be openly spoken of in this place or anywhere else. I do not agree with the honorable member for Maribyrnong that licence or liberty, if you like to put it so, is given to journalists or the public generally in Japan, Great Britain, or elsewhere, to speak of matters which are calculated to endanger the safety of their own country. The honorable member is confusing two entirely different things. Although I may not publicly show by way of illustration - because, in order to give that illustration I should have to explain exactly the difference between the position we occupy, and that of Japan in regard to this particular matter-
Mr.Fenton. - Is- not the honorable gentleman of the opinion that there is freer discussion in connexion with matters relating to the war in other parts of the world than is allowed here?
– No! The less we have to say about the matter the better, and I shall now drop it. At to-morrow’s meeting it is not proposed to deal with any facts that need involve honorable members in any sort of secrecy.
– Why not invite the press?
– The Treasurer, answering me on behalf of the Prime Minister, said the Hansard reporters would nob be present, and that the press would also be exclude d
– Very well. That may be so. Has the honorable member never attended a meeting to which members of the press were not admitted?
– Yes, often.
– The honorable member has sat with me, and I with him, for years in meetings to which the press were not admitted. The meeting to-morrow will be such a meeting as that. We propose, instead of having a party meeting, to have a meeting of all parties, and to discuss a matter of interest to every man in this Parliament. What the honorable member for . Maranoa said is perfectly right. He will go there as a representative of the Parliament, and not as a representative of any particular party; and it is in that spirit that we invite all honorable members, so that we may discuss the matter free from all party ties and bias.
– When you invite us to the meeting, you want to put us in a bag.
– I shall say nothing about the size of the bag into which the honorable member could be put except that it would clearly be beyond the regulation size of 200 lbs. We have no desire to. do anything of . the sort. What we desire is, to take advantage of honorable members’ advice, hear what they have to say, let them hear what we have to say. How on earth can any one be affected by that? There is not a man on the other side of the House, if he belongs to a union, who does not know that this is . the way union business is conducted. We propose to-morrow to have a meeting at which every man may speak frankly, but not talk to the gallery, or enable the press to record their orations, possibly for use elsewhere. If we allow that, we shall not get what we want - the counsel of members of all parties with regard to the recruiting movement. I think it is not too much to ask members to accept that invitation in the same spirit in which it is given. I do not think any one can cavil at the invitation. It is extended to every member of . this Parliament, without regard to party. We ask every representative of the people, at the earliest possible moment, to tell us what they think ought! to be done. Members cannot be prejudiced by that, and they are not bound. If af terwards, they care to shout from the housetops what transpires at the meeting, that will be their business, not ours.
.- If I understand the Prime Minister aright, I take it that the question of Japanese relations will not be brought in at all at the meeting to-morrow. If I am wrong, I enter my protest at once, and object to a noble ally beng insulted, not so much by actual statements as by innuendoes. My lips were not sealed by what was said at any previous meeting, because I was quoting the words of the CommanderinChief, as well as the words of one of the great statesmen Premiers of Japan. It is impossible ‘to compare this Parliament with an industrial union. Members of Parliament are paid by the people, and they are in a very different position from that occupied by the members of a union, who are struggling against evils which have come down to them from primeval days, antl thus have to conducttheir meetings more or less in secret. The people of Australia should know the worst, so that they may face it. If it is that Japan is a danger to Australia, let the people know it. I do not think she is, and I protest against any insult being offered to her. If I thought that this would be done, I would not attend any private meeting. If, on the other hand, it is to be a meeting at which members will be free to make suggestions, as is the case at, say, a meeting of directors, I can understand the reason for the gathering. We might well follow the example of Japan, which at the present moment has the most up-to-date Tariff in the world. That is the only nation which has beaten the American Tobacco Combine. I do not wish it to be said, after to-morrow’s meeting, that I have betrayed any confidences. No man, living or dead, can truthfully say that of me. The Tariff can be properly dealt with if the Government will only take a manly course ; but we have one fool censor here who permits statements to be published, while another fool censor in New South Wales will not pass them. We do not know which is right. Some censors will even censor statements which have appeared in England, which is much nearer to the danger zone than we are. In this matter of censorship, the newspapers have been badly treated. I am not say ing this to curry favour with the press; but I repeat: they have been treated scandalously, and that it is. not right to tell the people - “ Oh, if you only knew what was said at the private Conference, you would act differently.” This is all “tommy-rot.” Let us be straightforward. If there is danger to be faced, let the people know it, and I am sure that more men will join the ranks than are coming forward at the present time. I accuse the Defence Department, by mismanagement, of doing more to prevent enlisting in Australia than any other Department in the Commonwealth, and it is no wonder that one of the brainiest members in the legal profession in New South Wales spoke of it as the Department of “ muddledom.” Can any one who has had experience say that six returned soldiers have been settled on the land with the chance of earning their living ? I do not know of one in Victoria.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages.
Bill presented by Sir John Forrest, and passed through all its stages without amendment.
Mr. SPEAKER reported the receipt of messages from His Excellency the Governor-General, transmitting Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure, and Estimates of Expenditure for Additions, New Works, Buildings, &c., for the year ending 30th June, 1917, and recommending appropriation accordingly.
The following papers were presented: -
The Budget, 1916-17 - Papers prepared by the Right Honorable Sir John Forrest, P.O., G.G.M.G., for the information of honorable members, on the occasion of the opening of the Budget, 1916-17.
Ordered to be printed.
Sitting suspended from 6.37 to 9.10 p.m.
Bill returned from the Senate, without request.
Bill returned from the Senate, without amendment.
– I move -
That the House at its rising adjourn until Wednesday next, at 3 p.m.
The intention of the Government is to recommend His Excellency the GovernorGeneral to issue a proclamation proroguing Parliament before that date.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Private Meeting of the Houses - Second Session of the Parliament - Northern Territory : Development : Appointment of Administrator - Federal Capital : Expenditure - Sydney Post Office - “Walking Delegates “ : Incitements to Strike - Australian Imperial Forces : Transfers to Infantry - Liverpool Camp : Rations.
– I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
The Government suggest that members of both Houses shall meet here to-morrow, at 11 o’clock in the forenoon. I have only toremind honorable members of what I said earlier in the day - that it is the intention of the Government to recommend His Excellency the GovernorGeneral to call Parliament together for a new session on 11th July, when the Government will submit the Ministerial programme.
.- I take it that the meeting of Parliament on 11th July will be at the usual hour in the afternoon, and not, as to-day, in the morning.
– And I further understand that there will be no meeting of the Parliament on Wednesday next, the prorogation taking place in the meantime.
– That is quite clear.
Mr. RICHARD FOSTER (Wakefield), regard to the development of the Northern Territory, which is a matter of very grave importance to the people of the Commonwealth. For some years past we have had an administration in the Territory which has been marked particularly by expenditure of an excessive and very wasteful character. I do not propose to occupy many moments debating this question, though it is one, as I say, of great magnitude. It is understood that the appointment of an Administrator is shortly to be made; but, seeing that the Government have deferred an appointment for many weeks, I ask the Prime Minister not to make one until the House meets again. In the interest of the Northern Territory I urge that, before such an appointment is made, there should be a full and complete statement by the Minister controlling that part of Australia. It is a matter of general opinion that the Territory can only be properly developed on practical lines in two directions - pastoral development first, and almost entirely, and then mineral development.
– How shall we get population there if people can only select holdings not exceeding 20,000 acres?
– I suggest that the question of populating the Territory should be thoroughly discussed by this Parliament before another appointment to the office of Administrator is made, and if the development of the Territory is to be principally upon pastoral lines, I wish to urge upon the Government the advisability of appointing an Administrator who is a practical man, with a practical knowledge of pastoral matters. I contend that such a man can be found. The Northern Territory is to be developed only by pastoralists who have plenty of capital at their disposal, and if pastoralists are to be attracted to the Northern Territory they require sympathetic administration by a man who knows something about pastoral development. The administration of the Territory in future ought to be very different from the past administration, and if the Administrator whose term of office expired a few weeks ago is responsible generally for the policy in the past, he is not a fit man for re-appointment. If he is not responsible, it is about time this House knew who is. If the Ministerial party is true to its declared intentions to follow the path of economy, it must be prepared to apply commercial principles to the development of this vast Territory, into which we have been pouring money as if into a sink, having nothing to show for the expenditure. This Parliament has never had sufficient information submitted to it on many matters, and that complaint is particularly true in respect of the Northern Territory. For the last thirty years I have been brought into close contact with men who have spent ten, twenty, and even thirty years there. Being resident in the northern part of South Australia, I had opportunities of constantly meeting men who were going to and coming from the Territory - not only those who were interested in pastoral pursuits, but also men who had spent a life-time travelling to and fro as drovers. Those drovers, as many honorable members know, have, by reason of continually passing up and down the country year after year, a thoroughly practical grip of existing conditions, and all the opinions I have heard them express -are to the effect that, whatever the Government do to amend the blunders of the past, they should certainly Secure a thoroughly practical pastoralist to take charge of the Northern Territory. I ask the Minister for Home and Territories whether that is not the impression of South Australian pastoralists?
SirJohnForrest. - How many of them have been to the Territory?
– Many of them.
SirJohnForrest. - Why did they leave it?
– They are hoping for railway communication to give them opportunities and encouragement they have never had before to take their capital into the Northern Territory. Pastoralists will never be induced to expend capital in the Territory under an administration such as has obtained there for the last seven years.
– South Australia had charge of the Territory for fifty or sixty years.
– Yes; and for every shilling South Australia wasted, this Parliament has wasted forty shillings.
In spite of all the expenditure that has been incurred in the Territory by the Commonwealth, I challenge any honorable member to say that development is any further advanced than it was when South Australia handed over its responsibility.
– South Australia built up a good old debt.
– South Australia did nothing of the kind. Relatively speaking, this Parliament has built up tie debt of the Territory at ten times as great a rate as South’ Australia did. Honorable members know well that the South Australian accumulated debt on the Northern Territory was largely due to the White Australia policy, and South Australia ought to havethe sympathy of the House rather than its condemnation for having stood true to that principle. In the name of the pastoral and producing interests of Australia, I ask the Government to defer the appointment of an Administrator until they receive representations on the subject. Those representations will be soon forthcoming, because I know that the people interested in pastoral pursuits throughout Australia would never dream that af ter the experience of the last seven years a Government would think of the re-appointment of an Administrator whose term of office from beginning to end has been a signal failure.
.-The remarks of the honorable member seem to have been principally directed against the re-appointment of the present Administrator.
– I do not care who ha is.
– So far as my common sense guides me, I . take the brunt of his statement to be that the only man responsible , for the failures he has mentioned is the present Administrator.
– I do not say that; but this House ought to know who is responsible.
– Then, if the present Administrator is not responsible, past Administrations are. The honorable member’s request is that the Government should defer the appointment of an Administrator in order to allow a full investigation of the position of the Territory. That suggestion practically means that this House is to sit as a commission of inquiry into suggestions that the present Administrator has been mainly responsible during the last five or six years for what has occurred in the Territory. I do not care to speak at length on this question so late at night; but if the honorable member desires to know what is the position of the Territory, I am prepared to submit at once a memorandum on the affairs of the Territory, dealing with pastoral’ pursuits, mining, finance, and everything else relating to its development. I assure him that I do not intend to sleep on the question of the development of the Northern Territory.
– Will you listen to pastoralists who are practical men?
– Who has repudiated the influence of the pastoralists? I will show the honorable member the voluminous evidence I have taken with my own hands in regard to the development of the Northern Territory. I have taken statements from pastoralists on both sides of this matter.
– A good many have protested against the past policy.
– I know that there is an immense difference of opinion- amongst them in regard to the development of the Northern Territory. I have investigated the pastoral question, and development during the last six years has been mainly along pastoral lines. The so-called agricultural experiments were not begun since Dr. Gilruth went to the Territory.
– He is not a practical man.
– I had not been in office as Minister for External Affairs for six months before I turned , down the expenditure which was fostering what the honorable member for Wakefield regards as futile experiments in agricultural development. I proceeded also to draw up a new Bill, which has not been laid before the House yet, covering on new lines the whole of the agricultural and pastoral development of the Territory. As a matter of fact, there have been no cash advances made since I turned down the proposals in connexion with agricultural development. There, are only ten agricultural settlers left, and if the honorable member for Wakefield asks me why, I will say that it is mainly due, not to the failure of agricultural development, but to the fact that the wages at Darwin are so high that men are attracted from the land to that ‘place. Twice this week I have been before a
Judge in connexion with serious wages disputes. I was there to-day, and I tell the honorable member that the pastoral wages demanded now run from about £4 to £6 per week. I am not forejudging the question of fair rates; but when men will not work under about £4 a week, it is difficult, if not impossible, to develop the agricultural industry in the Territory, and the matter is, therefore, really in abeyance. Let me now look at the state of the pastoral industry. From certain remarks one would imagine that all I have to do is to turn a handle and that immediately there will be an exuberant state of paradise in the Territory. It costs from ‘£1,000 to £1,200 to put down a bore. It takes some time to get a bore put down.
– We know that perfectly well.
– When we hear the Utopian suggestion that we should encourage small men in the Territory, it must be remembered that Vestey Brothers, who have established freezing works at a cost of £600,000 since the contract was signed by me, and have spent nearly £500,000 on their stations, still find it difficult to get on. Honorable members, knowing that, can imagine what a state of affairs exists at the present day. There is a meeting called for next Monday in the Territory by 500 men, who seem to have repudiated their unions and asked for conditions of employment which justified my intervention in the disputes, not merely because, the Commonwealth is attached as a litigant, but on the broader question of whether it is possible to continue on reasonably settled lines the administration of the Territory as things are developing there now. I only want to point out to the honorable member for Wakefield that things there are not quite so smooth as some persons imagine.
– In the case of my Department unionists are striking against one another.
– Vessels have had to go from Darwin without delivering cargo because the wharf labourers refused to discharge them except there was an immediate increase in their wages. One company refuses to allow any of its vessels to go there. The freezing works of Vestey Brothers, as I have said, cost about £600.000, and the development of their stations has been proceeding fairly satisfactorily owing to the establishment of an outlet for the meat. I had in mind when I left office the possible establishment of other freezing works on the Gulf of Carpentaria, and if I had been as successful in doing that as I was in connexion with the works of a great English company, it would have been done without the expenditure of a single penny by the Commonwealth. It is something to have done for the Territory.
– The rise in the price of their cattle will pay for that.
– I do not for a moment say that it may not be so. I do not wish to go into too much detail. I ask the House not to imagine from the remarks of easy-going critics that the condition of affairs in the Territory is quite so simple and capable of solution as they think. I ask for the co-operation of honorable members in an honest endeavour to get things straight. The main difficulty which besets us is that with unregulated labour the men are practically pitching aside their unions and running riot.
– The award has expired.
– No. I can assure honorable members that it should not be assumed that any of the so-called evils are primarily, if not mainly, due to the Administrator of the Territory. That is not the case. As regards his knowledge of pastoral affairs, I can only say that he was in New Zealand for ten years before he was appointed to the position of Administrator.
– Did he not control the meat export trade from New Zealand?
– He was connected with cattle there. He is a doctor of veterinary science, and hia engagement to New Zealand for ten years was based on his knowledge of the cattle industry. He has an exceptional knowledge of freezing works, one of the chief instrumentalities with which we hope to develop the Northern Territory. The question of the appointment of Dr. ‘Gilruth or any one else to administer the Territory will depend upon a very exhaustive consideration of the whole question.
– We want a business man up there.
– I am not going to say any more. The matter will be decided shortly, and it will be decided upon considerations to which the honorable mem ber for Wakefield has drawn attention, and which, I assure him, have not escaped my notice.
– There is a matter which I wish to bring under the notice of the Government, and that is the question of the Federal Capital. I hear from a Victorian an interjection, “Where is it?” I know where Victorians would like to have the Capital. I remind the Government that we have been in Melbourne for sixteen years. Although the Victorian people have been very good to us, and we are well housed and well treated, I think it is time that we went into our own home. I read in the press lately that one of the Ministers has been to the Federal Capital, and that he looks upon it as a dream. I will interpret that dream to him in a very unpleasant way unless we get from the Government something practical as regards the Capital. What is the useof spending over £1,700,000 at Canberra and then talking about going to Sydney ? A number of honorable members seem to treat the question of the Capital as a joke. I know the question from A to Z. I have been talking to many business men, and they agree with me that the Capital could be made to pay if it were entrusted to practical men. If the Government would only take’the matter in hand earnestly and seriously, there is no reason why this should not be the last Parliament to sit in Melbourne. The next Parliament might sit at Canberra in the inside shell of the permanent building. I have mentioned what business men say on this question. With Melbourne or Sydney men it is nearly always a case of Sydney or Melbourne. When some honorable members climb up the Post Office tower in Melbourne or Sydney, they imagine that they see the whole of Australia. It is time that the Government gave over laughing and chaffing upon this question, and made . up their minds as to when they will go on with the Capital on common-sense practical lines. When the House meets again, it is my intention to take a division upon the matter, because it is no party question. Over £1,700,000 has been spent in the Territory.
– The expenditure has been- nearly £2,000,000.
– I hope that the Treasurer will take an interest in the question - such an interest as he takes in regard to the Transcontinental railway. There seems to be no end to the money required for that railway or for the desert railway in South Australia. The people of South Australia ought to appoint a day of annual rejoicing to commemorate the time when they passed that railway over to the Commonwealth. Honorable members are too ready to treat questions of this kind with levity. We have at Canberra a great Territory, which should be suitable for the settlement of returned soldiers. It belongs to the Commonwealth; and, at. the price at which it has been resumed, the land is returning 6 per cent, and 7 per cent., though it is held on very short leases. I feel sure that it would be made a reproductive concern if men could take up the land on fair tenures, so that they could establish homes. I appeal to Ministers to look into the matter during recess. The Minister for Home and Territories has seen at Canberra the great potentialities of the Territory, and he quite realizes what can be done with common-sense administration. It is useless to leave the development of the Territory only to officials. I have nothing to say against the officers of the Department. Certainly mistakes have been made, but a good deal of the money has been well spent. The Government have a good field to work in. I hope that they will not adopt the policy of their predecessors. I hope that they will show us that they mean real business. A large section of representatives of New South Wales and Queensland and other States strongly favour this Parliament getting to its own home. I fail to see where we could spend money better. Of course, in war time we cannot expect the same expenditure that we could expect in normal times…
– I think that the honorable member would get more money spent at Canberra if he refrained from saying that he would- be making his home there.
– Men are settling down in Melbourne and making their homes here, whereas we should endeavour to get into a Federal atmosphere. It cannot be denied that we are dominated in Melbourne, to a very large extent, by the daily press of Victoria. One honorable member says, “ Speak for yourself.”
I have a very great respect for the press. I doubt the seriousness of those who profess that they do not care what the presssay. However, we are not in a Federal atmosphere in Melbourne. I hope that the Ministers will take advantage of the information gained by the Minister for Home and Territories. He is anxiousto do something, and if he puts the development of the Capital on business lines I feel sure that it can be made practically self supporting. At any rate, we should build the kernel of Parliament House, so that we might meet there.
– What means would the honorable member suggest forthe adoption of a business-like scheme?
– The honorable member has spent weeks, in the -Federal Territory on Committees of Inquiry, yet roundly and soundly condemns it, as nearly all Victorians appear to do.
– Where has the honorable member seen a statement of mine condemning the Federal Capital?
– I have heard the honorable member condemn it. I hope that the Government will not persist in treating the matter as a jest. Otherwise they may find themselves where they will regret the jest. I have seen big majorities crumble very rapidly. But this is a question in which there is no. party unless it be that there is a party determined to make its home in a proper place. If the Minister for Home and Territories does not give attention to this matter, I warn him that he will be in trouble.
.- This afternoon I endeavoured to elicit from the Postmaster-General his intentions in regard to the Sydney Post Office. The information that I sought was in the interests of the public, and was intended to prevent waste of money. I believe that it is the intention of the PostmasterGeneral to remove some of the lower walls of the building and place girders in position, with the object of adding two stories to the structure. When the right honorable member for Parramatta was PostmasterGeneral in the State of New South Wales, we were informed that the lower walls of this building were not fit to carry additional stories, and even prior to that it was announced that the walls would not stand any alterations to the roof. My idea is that if the PostmasterGeneral wishes to make alterations to the Sydney Post Office to give additional convenience to the public, he should carry the back portion of the building right through to King-street, and make an arcade. The public want to do their business on the first floor or the ground floor. The provision of lifts will not be at all suitable. When the first General Post Office was built in London all business was transacted on the lower floor, and the clerical portion of the work was moved to the other side of the thoroughfare, in order to give additional room on the lower floor for the transaction of public business. That is the only way in which to meet the needs of the people of Sydney. It is not a matter of the present needs - we must look to the demands of the future. They will necessitate the ground floor space of the General Post Office being increased to a considerable extent, and any other proposal will simply mean a waste of- public money. If I consider that, the proposals of the Postmaster-General will lead to waste of public money, I am right in exercising my privilege as a member to protest. before too much expenditure is incurred. I hope that the Minister will allow the people of Sydney to gain some idea as to what he intends to do, and I hope that he will pay some attention to their requirements. No one will say that the prospects of Sydney do not exceed the prospects of any other city in the world; and in any provision we make, we must be prepared for the great increase of population that will take place. Sydney will be the commercial centre of Australia.
– Who owns the land of which the honorable member is speaking?
– There are several owners - I can get their names. Mr. King O’ Malley made a proposal to take up the whole block. Mr. Fisher, the Prime Minister and Treasurer of the day, made a great mistake when he refused ‘to agree to that proposal. I believe that influence was brought to bear upon him to induce him to turn down that proposal, because it was thought that it would lead to a decrease in the income of the City Council of Syd ney. But Mr. King O’Malley’s proposal would have left rateable property in the area in addition to .that used by the postal authorities. If the Postmaster-General will seek the advice of architectural experts and men engaged in the building trade, he will find that the Sydney Post Office will not carry an additional story. I have felt justified in calling public attention to this matter because the PostmasterGeneral is so inflated with the idea of his own importance that he will not permit any one to reason with him.
– I do not need advice on this matter.
– The honorable gentleman’s interjection shows the spirit in which he listens to advice. The public interests must give way to the honorable gentleman’s opinion. He is, of course, entitled to his opinion; but honorable members are equally entitled, in connexion with a matter involving the expenditure of public money, to see that that money is not wasted. I should like to say that I am one of those who have visited the Northern Territory, and- I quite sympathize with the Minister for Home and Territories in the difficulties of its administration. I do not decry the Northern Territory. I believe that it has a great future, and were I a young man it is the first place in Australia to which I would go. Unfortunately, there are interested persons, in the Territory and outside of it, who are continually endeavouring to belittle it. I believe that the development of its mineral resources would give settlement such a good start there that people from other parts of Australia would rush to it. There is a fine opening there for the young men of the Commonwealth. If they settled in the Northern Territory, their future would be assured if they possessed the energy which characterized -the original settlers of. Australia. There are friends of the Territory who are prepared to assist the Minister in making it what it ought to be. On the other hand, I know of persons who will be anxious to invade the office of the Minister for Home and Territories to belittle the place. There is also a journal published in Australia which endeavours to belittle it from ulterior motives. The object is to secure the introduction of coloured labour into the Northern Territory. Any one occupying the position of Minister for Home and Territories must expect to have to combat the influence of these people. I hope that the present Minister will have sufficient spirit and backbone to tell these persons that Australia will not /tolerate coloured labour in the northern portion of -the Commonwealth. People have endeavoured to persuade me that the Northern Territory is not a white man’s country. In the interests of the future of the Territory, we should determine that it shall be a white man’s country. When the persons to whom I have referred approach the Minister, he should let them know that the spirit of Australia is against their ideas. I know that honorable members now on the Government side have been more associated with the people who would like to see the introduction of coloured labour than honorable members on this side. With a Labour Government in power in the Commonwealth there would be no fear of such a thing; but I suppose that we must expect that the gentlemen now occupying the Treasury bench will be more easily persuaded by people who desire the introduction of coloured labour.
– And this is what we get for giving the honorable member a walk-over.
–Does the honorable gentleman think that I am to be sold like a sheep? I did not ask for a walk-over. The people in my electorate know when they have a Democrat to represent them.
– Surely the honorable member has a little gratitude.
– Does the PostmasterGeneral claim to have had anything to do with giving me a walk-over?
– The honorable member got it. He need not blow about it.
– I do not blow about it. If I did get a walk-over, that is no reason why I should not exercise my rights as a member of this House. I hope the Postmaster-General willtake the advice of other people in connexion with the proposed expenditure of public money on the Sydney Post Office. What he proposes is something like putting an elephant into a rabbit hutch. Room will still be wanted to meet the requirements of the Sydney Post Office. The people of Australia expect members of this National Parliament to be, not merely politicians, but statesmen, and a statesman is one who looks ahead. I ask the Postmaster-General to look a little ahead in this matter, and not to insist that the public interests shall give way to the accomplishment of a pet scheme of his own.
.- I wish to say a few words in answer to the remarks which were made by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro. This honorable gentleman advocates a line of policy which received no sort of indorsement by the people at the recent election. The expectation of the electors is that this Parliament will devote all its energies to the successful prosecution of the war and the securing of financial support to that end.’
– Why do not honorable members settle these matters in Caucus instead of dividing the House on them ?
– It is not desirable that men who. have no real interest in the welfare of the country, and are prepared to sell themselves to its enemies, should throw . out meaningless interjections when the situation is grave in the extreme. It has been suggested that the expenditure on the Federal Capital shall continue. Nothing could be more disastrous at the present time than to pursue such a policy. It will be our duty to oppose the efforts of a section of the people to obtain the expenditure of money on unnecessary public works. Of what use is it to say that soldiers are needed ifwe pursue a policy which must mean the offering of higher wages and better conditions for remaining here than can be obtained by going to the front ? It has cost something like £1,750,000 to do mere foundation work at the site of the Capital, and at least double that sum will have to be spent to provide even the temporary accommodation of which the honorable member for Eden-Monaro has spoken. He would be a bold man who would say how many millions will be needed before the Parliament can meet at the Capital. In the meantime, we must finance the war, and do it largely by borrowing. The Prime Minister proposes next week to inaugurate a scheme for inducing persons of small means to assist in the financing of our war expenditure. Those who are well-to-do have already been asked to contribute, and it is hoped now to get contributions from persons who have but little to invest. The public has agreed to large increases of taxation for war purposes, and, in addition, is lending what it can to the Government, and while the war continues to impose a great strain upon our finances we have no right to increase the expenditure on public works. I enter a vigorous protest against anything of the kind being done. Among the other expectations of the electors in regard to this Parliament is the expectation that this Government, if it is without the power needed to put down certain lawless acts, will obtain that power by means of an Act of Parliament. There fare men in the community who are inciting the workers to make demands with which no industry can comply. Because of the incitement of walking delegates, who make it their business to create discontent among men who are earning good wages and are otherwise satisfied, demands are being urged which, if insisted on, will be fatal to many industries, and the country will lose faith in the Government, strong though its present majority may be, if it fails to suppress these things. I hope that Ministers, will seriously consider the position. I was not satisfied with the answer of the Prime Minister to a question which I asked as to the powers of the Government for dealing with the grave evils which these walking delegates are seeking to bring to pass.
– -I am not surprised that the honorable member for Echuca, like many other Victorian representatives, should urge that a constitutional compact should not be kept. It is a fundamental article of the Constitution that the Federal Capital shall be in New South Wales, but whenever the matter is discussed Victorian representatives express a narrow, parochial view, and the honorable member for Echuca has distinguished himself by his efforts to keep the Parliament in Victoria. Is effect to b<>. given to the. Constitution? That is the question.
– We intend to give effect to it. .
– Effect is not being given to that provision which says that the Seat of Government shall be in New South Wales.
– The Constitution does not say when.
– This Parliament was made the judge of that question, and honorable men will insist that the agreement entered into by those who voted for the Constitution shall be kept. I am sorry that the Minister for Works is not here. He has said that the Federal Capital is a dre’am. When a motion is made for the printing of a certain paper I shall expose that statement. How can it be a dream when all the preliminary ‘ work for providing a water supply has been done and the service almost completed? You cannot have a city until you have provided an adequate water supply.
– It is good water, too.
– Yes. The expenditure on the provision of the water supply was necessary, and so, too, with the expenditure on other public works. Future generations will say that it was justified. I refer to the expenditure on the laying out of the city, the building of a powerhouse to provide light and motive power, and the opening of brickworks. It would be impossible to carry bricks to . the Capital site from Sydney, or Melbourne, or Goulburn; for economical building it is necessary to make them on the spot. Yet the Minister for Works says that the project is a beautiful dream. He is one of those who a few years ago tried to prevent this Parliament from giving effect to the provision in the Constitution in regard to the fixing of the Seat of Government at Canberra, and he is trying now to raise another ghost by suggesting that Parliament should meet in Sydney. Although I represent a Sydney constituency, I do not desire this Parliament to sit there. My wish is that the Constitution shall be observed, and the Seat of Government fixed in New South Wales. We have spent millions in buying up the land within the Federal Territory, and although that is good land and the climate is beautiful, it is not producing anything.
– Lease it out in farms.
– I shall assist the honorable member for Eden-Monaro, and if he divides the House on the question we shall see who. are the friends of New South Wales, and who are those who are not prepared to give effect to the Constitution.
I believe that the Commonwealth Parliament could be established’ at Canberra within a period of three years.
– Does the honorable member seriously think that the people of New South Wales desire ‘to spend a heap of money on the Federal Capital just now ?
– I ask the Minister for the Navy whether he honestly thinks that we should observe the compact that was made with New South Wales?
– I do; but I believe that it would be wicked to spend a lot of money on the Federal Capital while the war is in progress.
– I know that money is very scarce, but I need hardly ‘ remind honorable members that expenditure in the Federal Territory does not go out of the country. There we have all the raw material that is necessary to build a city. The heavy expenditure on preliminary works is almost complete, and yet year after year we are continuing to pile up new buildings in Melbourne, and also to pay increased rents for office accommodation. I know that the prospect of this Parliament removing to Canberra is not a pleasant one to Victorian representatives.
– Do not make any mistake about that. I have always been ready to go.
– I hope the honorable member for Eden-Monaro, who knows more about this district than does any other honorable member, will test the feeling of the House with a view to ascertaining whether the Government are really sincere in their desire to give effect to the Constitution. Now is the time to undertake the work, seeing that men are out of employment, and that the necessary raw materials are available on the spot. I hope that an early start will be made to establish the Commonwealth Parliament in the place where the people of Australia have decided that it shall be established.
.- This morning I asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence for some enlightenment concerning an order which was issued by the military authorities in Sydney on Saturday last under which men in the technical branches of the service - I refer to the artillery and the engi- neering sections - were to be compelled to enter the infantry. This order created a storm of unrest and discontent amongst the men, so much so that within fortyeight hours of its issue it was cancelled. It seems to me that there are some officers in our Defence Department whopossess a perfect genius for issuing orders which have an irritating effect on the troops, and which are, therefore, prejudicial to recruiting. This particular order has left a feeling of grave doubt in the minds of the men in the two branches of the service I have mentioned. They are under the impression that the cancellation of the order is merely a subterfuge, and that on their arrival in England they will be drafted into the infantry. Many of these men have been in the artillery for six or seven months. They have been trained in gun and battery practice, and have qualified in this very important arm of the service. They affirm that all the money that has been spent on their military education will, under this order, be wasted. To my mind more discrimination should be exercised by officers before orders of this character are issued. I ask the Government for some assurance that these men will not be drafted into the infantry after they leave Australia.
– And after they have enlisted under a distinct agreement.
– Exactly. To draft these men into the infantry would be a definite breach of faith, because the Government have told them all along that they were free to select the branch in which they desired to serve.
– If that system were adopted we might have all artillerymen, or flyirigmen, and no infantry. What would the honorable member do then ?
– The Government should honour the agreement which they made with the men. We know that reinforcements for the infantry are urgently needed. But the Government have no right to induce men to join the colours by representing that they are free to select the particular branch of the army in which they wish to serve, and afterwards to go back upon them.
– But a man is not allowed to enlist on the understanding that he will be drafted into the artillery.
– That was one of the inducements held out to men to enlist during the recent recruiting campaign
– Then it was wrong, cause every man has to enlist in the Australian Imperial Force.
– Special inducements were offered on behalf of the military authorities during the recent recruiting campaign. The men were told that they were free to serve in whatever branch of theforce they chose to select. Another matter to which I desire to refer has reference’ to the rations that are being issued to our troops in camp. In the Liverpool Camp, as honorable members are aware, there have been quite a lot of New Zealanders lately, and the same remark is applicable to Victorian camps. Now, in the ration supplied to the New Zealanders in the Dominion, butter and milk are included. These articles, however, are not issued in Australia, and yet we have canteens which have been “in. by the Government, and in regard to which no balance-sheets are available. I have been informed upon very excellent authority that the profits from these (;anteens are being invested in the war loan. It that be so it is an outrage on the men.
– Invested for whom ?
– That is what I cannot ascertain. The profits from these canteens essentially belong to the men in the camps, and should be spent upon those men. If that were done it is reasonable to assume that the ration issued to ihe troops in New Zealand could be issued to the troops in Australia.
– Does the honorable member say that our troops get no milk or butter!
– Yes. If these canteen funds were properly utilized they would go a long way towards providing these articles.
– The men ought to have them apart from the canteen funds.
– These are matters which are becoming generally known, and which exercises a prejudicial effect upon recruiting. I sincerely hope that the Government will inquire into these matters, and see if more satisfaction cannot be given to the troops. Further, I hope that an assurance will be given to the men in the artillery and in the Engineers Corps that, the cancelling of the recent order was not a subterfuge, and that they will not be compelled to serve in the infantry.
– I can indorse what the honorable member for Nepean has said as to the .men in the artillery. I have here a telegram sent to me by a Melbourne man who went to Sydney in reference to the position of his son, who enlisted on the understanding that he should serve with the Sapper Field Engineers, and should go to the
Engineer Officers College at Randwick. In this telegram he inquires whether his son is to be diverted to the infantry, and says that if that is so a breach of faith will be committed. These may be small matters from the point of view of officers, but. they count; for much in the minds of the men, and certainly interfere with recruiting. Some time ago I made a proposal that the honorable member for Maranoa, together with a representative of the Government side of the House, should be appointed to visit the Defence Department, and go into questions relating; to the payment of the women and children. The Prime Minister promised that my suggestion would be adopted, but the promise has not been fulfilled. I disagree with the criticism in which the honorable member for East Sydney has indulged in regard to the Postmaster-General. Accompanied by an architect of high standing, I visited the new postal building in question.
– Who was the architect?
– I have not permission to give his name.
– He thinks it was Mr. Griffin.
– I can assure the honorable member that it was not. I should not mind going with Mr. Griffin to. inspect that building at any time. He occupies one of the highest positions in the whole world of architecture, and there is not an architectural journal published in English, French, or German that does not contain allusions to him. I have to thank the Postmaster-General for what he did in regard tlo Mr. Griffin. When the time comes for dealing with tip reports made, by Mr. Blacket, K.C., we shall have to . sack a lot of highly-paid officers, the majority of whom do not hold any diploma secured as the result of examination. One of the officers in question was appointed to his present position simply because he happened to be in the service of the New South Wales Government. He never passed an examination of the English Association of Engineers. He had not the brains to do so, but he has had the brains to waste money in the Federal Capital. I shall always be prepared to vote for the removal of the Parliament to Canberra. I think it would tend to the better transaction of parliamentary business,’ and would do away with the unfair domination exercised on this Parliament by a section of the press in this State. “The Northern Territory has cost us £6,000,000, and that should not he too much to pay for 523,000 square miles of territory. The Northern Territory is the last to be held by Australia as a national territory, and I should like it to be so proclaimed. While it is true that Dr. Gilruth holds the highest diploma in veterinary science, of what use is he to the Territory when he remains down here for eight months at a time? He leaves the Territory for the better climate of Victoria, ‘ and, I understand, receives £2 2s. a day travelling expenses while here.
– That is so, but it will not apply to any future appointment.
– I want to know why he should receive £2 2a. per day travelling expenses if he leaves an unhealthy territory to come down here. I think he ought to pay £2 2s. a day for the privilege of coming here. Men who claim £4 per week for working up there are sharply criticised. Would any honorable ‘member like to have his son working on the coast near Darwin for £4 or £5 a week? The land rises gradually as you penetrate the interior, and when you reach the tablelands you come to what will ultimately be one of the healthiest areas in Australia. I had the privilege of examining some members of a family, two generations of which had been reared in the Territory, and I never, examined better Australians in my life. Their physique was magnificent. The mother of an 18-year-old boy told me she was going down to Sydney to find a wife for him. Although only 18 years of age, he was 5 ft. 11 in. high, measured 40 inches round the chest, and weighed over ll£ stone. No one could say that there had been any deterioration in that family, and two generations of them had been reared in the Territory. I have no desire to criticise Dr. Gilruth. I would extend him every consideration, but I do not think his heart is in the Territory. I am inclined to think that he does not believe in the policy of a White Australia as applied to that area. The people up there have never been permitted to exercise the franchise as citizens of the Commonwealth, except in connexion with the conscription referendum. Why have they no representation in this Parliament, and why should we deprive Australians of the right to vote when they go to the Territory ? Furthermore, residents of the
Territory have not the right of trial by jury. Why should that old British right be denied them? I do not believe that the Northern Territory has ever had a fair chance. Reports that would fill a fair-sized library have been collated and printed on the subject, but before finally appointing an Administrator, would it not be worth while for the Ministry to pay a business man, or some one with a wide knowledge of pastoral pursuits, to visit the Territory, and to report as to the possibility of its use for the growing of meat food? A gentleman connected with the Department of Agriculture has drawn my attention to the fact ‘that in America a cross has been made between the buffalo and the domestic cow. Might not such a crossing possibly go a long way to free stock up there from pests and diseases, and so make the Territory a great meat-producing country for the future of Australia?
– It was the buffalo that brought the tick pest into Queensland.
– If Dr. Gilruth returns to the Territory, would it not be possible for him to establish up there a branch of the Institute for the study of tropical diseases which is now carried on at Townsville?
– I laid on the table of the House to-day a report on that subject.
- 1 have not had an opportunity of reading it. It is useless to place a man in charge of a territory which he does not believe he can carry on, Ir Dr. Gilruth does not favour the policy of a White Australia up there, he should decline to accept re-appointment as Administrator.
– He has never said that he does not believe in such a policy.
– I can only ascertain his views on the subject by putting a question to the Minister or by making a statement, subject to correction by the honorable gentleman in the House. I shall be very pleased to know that he does believe in a White Australia, and if that is proved to mv satisfaction I shall be glad to correct any statement to the contrary made in my presence.
– In that identical report, he said that a particular thing would affect the White Australia policy, and therefore, of course, did not recommend it.
– Is it a fact that he does not think his fellow white men worthy of being employed, but prefers to employ Chinese?
– I believe he is a believer in the White Australia policy.
– I ‘ am receiving communications in which it is definitely stated that he is not. I assure the honorable member that my letters come from men who I think are good and trustworthy.
– I gathered just the opposite impression when I was there. I understood that he was a firm believer in white labour.
– He was not there when I was in the Territory, sothat I could not make personal inquiries. Does the honorable member say that he does not employ Chinese?
– Chinese and , native blacks are employed by most people there.
– He is the highest paid official there, and should set a good example.
– He employs Chinese as servants in one or two instances where the others are not available.
– Why are they not available ?
– They are not there.
– Are they not sometimes sent up herded in a vile steerage in those eastern ships ? I have been a medical man on ships going up the coast right up to the east, and I say it is an infamy for the Department to ask any white woman to travel there in the steerage.
– You cannotpossibly get domestics, and where he employs aboriginal servants it is out of sheer necessity.
– The Minister may talk that way until doomsday.
– I have gone into it recently.
– If the Minister went there as the highest-paid official, would he not try to set a good example? Let the Minister ask this official the reason, or let me ‘show him a letter which will tell him the reason that he employs coloured labour. The reason is that it is cheaper. Do we not want white people to go up there and marry?
– I wish married people would go up there, in preference to single men.
– Give them better accommodation on the ships. The Minister is not aware of the conditions or he would never permit people to be sent up in that way. The second class accommodation is bad enough, but I would not send a Newfoundland dog up by the steerage.
– The Pine Creek hotel is splendidly conducted by white people.
– How many miles is that from Darwin ?
– About 60 miles.
– I could tell honorable members something that would rather astonish them. I believe that when this House has a vote on the matter it will decide that no alcohol shall be sent into the Territory. I believe the Creator never created a curse by itself, and I do not think that drink is a curse, but the abuse of it is, just as over-eating is; but although I hold that view I willvote to eliminate alcohol from the Territory. I am making no personal attack on Dr. Gilruth. He holds the degree of doctor of veterinary science, which is the highest that can be held in that profession; but- men of the highest attainments frequently have not the business instinct or power of adaptation necessary to carry on big undertakings successfully. I am proud of the Commonwealth having the Northern Territory, a country 500,000 square miles in area. Only two States in Australia are peers to it - Western Australia and Queensland. I hope it will be kept as a national heritage, but there is very wide and seething discontent, in it. As one who has visited the place, I do not blame the men there. Every month I dine with an officer of one of the ships that go there, and receive continual reports and letters from the Territory. The place will never have a dog’s show until it is represented here, and its inhabitants are made real citizens of Australia, as they should be. If trial by jury is not enforced there, let us have common sense and grant it.
– It is there.
– It was not some time ago.
.- The honorable member for Wakefield has introduced to-night a subject which I am sorry the House has not had an opportunity to deal with before an appointment of Administrator is made for the Territory. As the Treasurer’s statement shows, the Territory has already cost us £6,000,000, and. in addition, we are liable for an expenditure of between £500,000 and £600,000 a year. I look upon further expenditure there to induce population as equivalent to expenditure on defence. It is quite as necessary to spend money to induce population to go there as to carry out the works at the Flinders Naval Base, Cockatoo Island, and other places. The fault committed by the Federal Parliament in dealing with the Territory is that we have failed, although we have held it for seven years, to bring forward and pass anything like a continuous policy. As soon as we took it over, we should have laid down a policy which should have been continuous for twenty years, and involving an expenditure of, say, £1,000,000 a year, in order to induce population to go there. The present Minister, during his last term of office, introduced two very important pieces of developmental policy, one giving permission to Vestey Brothers to erect the large meat works which are now nearing completion; and the other authorizing the putting down of bores to find water within the Territory. I myself believe that the country can be developed in many directions, but I am satisfied that it will never carry a large population by pastoral development alone. No doubt pastoral development will do much to induce a big export trade.
– The same argument was used against Northern and Western Queensland thirty years ago!
– I suppose it was. By running railways south from Darwin, as now, and by the erection of freezing works, much may be done to induce a large export trade at Darwin, and bring large sums to Australia that may be used for further developmental work; but this policy will not induce the settlement of a large population in the Territory, without which we cannot lay the foundation of a proper defence system. It has been brought home to me during the war that we are not able, with our population of 5,000,000, to solve the problem of the settlement of this large territory and the development of its resources.
– What has brought Australia to what it is to-day ?
– We are only a handful of people, and two-thirds of our lands are without population; indeed, we have 520,000 square miles under the control of the Commonwealth in the Territory, and practically without people. My opinion is that the problem will have to be solved iu conjunction with the Imperial authorities, whom we shall have to take into our confidence at the next Imperial Conference, in order that large capital may be transferred to Australia to undertake developmental work in the Territory. Viewing as I do the possibilities of the Territory, I am quite certain that we ought to be able to induce a large agricultural population, just as in Queensland we find large numbers of people settled on small holdings-
– That is up against . nature !
– It is not. Provision will have to be made in the same way as in some of the southern parts of Australia.
– It is a tropical country.
– Certainly it is; but in Queensland, where there is a more copious rainfall, the sugar industry has been developed. The Northern Territory, tropical as it is, has one of the lowest rainfalls of any area in the Pacific. In Java, where they grow sugar and other tropical products, there is a rainfall almost every month, whereas in the Territory it prevails for only five months in the year, with 60 inches as against 125 to 130 inches in parts of Queensland, and falling to as low as 4 or 5 inches at Oodnadatta. The only way in which to develop agricultural industry in the Territory is by the conservation of water, which would have the effect of giving rise to small holdings. With the development of deep lodes we should probably have a mining population in the.’ Territory, but to establish tropical agriculture we must have the artificial conservation of water. In the constituency of Herbert, I think, sugar is grown by such means, for Otherwise’ the rainfall would be too slight. I hope that when the Minister for Home and Territories brings down his proposals in connexion with the Territory, he will be able to lay before us a complete policy covering a considerable number of years. About £500,000 has been expended by the Vestey Brothers in the erection of large freezing works at Darwin, and more than that has been spent by the Government in building a railway.
– Vestey Brothers have spent nearly £1,000,000. . ‘
– I am speaking of the amount expended on the works, which., in the first instance, were estimated to cost £260,000, and it is labour troubles which have nearly doubled the cost, thus throwing a permanent burden on the pastoral industry.
– Vestey Brothers have spent nearly £600,000 on, the works.
– The Commonwealth has spent £500,000 or £600,000 on a railway from Pine Creek to the Katherine, and men, brought from the countries of southern Europe, by engaging in shifting earth on the butty-gang system, have been able to earn from £50 to £55 a month, two-thirds of which is sent to their friends abroad. The Administrator laid down a policy, which might well be taken note of by the Minister providing that all who came into the Northern Territory, and were employed on public works, should not be allowed to send their money away, but should use it to bring their families to this country. As a matter of fact, these men, after using the Northern Territory as a sort of gold mine, return to their own homes with a competency; and this is the most difficult problem we have to deal with. In the interests of defence it is essential that we should regard the Northern Territory as a national and Imperial problem ; but, whatever we may do in the way of getting money from the Imperial Government after’ the war, we ought, in the meantime, to lay down a national policy covering, perhaps, twenty years, in order to promote production there. Unless the matter is dealt with in a comprehensive and practical manner, under a complete scheme of pastoral and mining development, and land settlement, the Northern Territory will continue to be a burden and a menace to the wellbeing and integrity of the Commonwealth. I hope, therefore, that the Minister, before making his proposals, will evolve a comprehensive policy to be laid before the House on the earliest occasion, and that, as a result, the Territory may be placed under competent business control - the appointment of a board of commissioners, similar to those which govern the railway systems of Australia, might be considered. We would then have the benefit of the advice of experienced men in various directions, and not only the advice of such men as Dr. Gilrutn, who can deal, for example, with the tick trouble. We know that for 200 miles inland the country is infested with tick; and if that pest could be dealt with successfully we could, perhaps, have reasonable pastoral development on the coastal fringes. Whatever authority may be created, I hope we shall have some kind of coordination. In the past, the Administrator has had his efforts rendered largely ineffective owing to the division of authorities, postal matters being under one authority, the Customs under another, and the railways under another. The result has been confusion, and the expenditure of £500,000 or £600,000 per annum, without any practical result in the way of making that provision which is necessary for the safety of the country.
– The honorable member for Nepean raised one or two questions with regard to recruiting which I promised to inquire into. There seems to be some misunderstanding concerning recruiting for certain branches of the Forces. All members who are recruited generally enlist for the Australian Imperial Forces, but they may indicate preference for particular branches, and, as far as possible, the Department will faithfully observe those wishes. With regard to the canteens, I might state that all profits belong to the men, and are .used for their benefit. I am informed that the authorities are not. aware of any money having been invested, as was suggested, in war loans.
– Do you know of any balance-sheets that have been issued in connexion with the canteens?
– I have seen some balance-sheets.
– In New South Wales?
– I refer particularly to Queensland. As regards the other matter referred to - the Engineers and the Artillery - all men who go away as engineers and artillerymen are generally recognised a.s such.
– Is there any danger of these men being afterwards drafted into the Infantry?
– No; but cyclists, machine-gun section, and trench-mortar men are members of the’ Infantry, and go away as such.
– Do you know that posters are being displayed all over New South Wales at the present time calling for volunteers for the Cycle Corps?
– I am not aware of that. Can the honorable member say by whom they have been issued?
– By the Recruiting Committee.
– Members of the Cycle Corps are members of the Infantry.
– That is not explained to the men. They think they are going away as cyclists, and the Secretary of the League of Wheelmen organized the corps, so those men have been obtained under false pretences.
– Any promise as suggested is distinctly contrary to the general announcement, which is to the effect that all persons enlisting generally may indicate a preference for a particular branch of the Forces, and the Department will, as far as possible, honour that preference. As a matter of fact, the branches referred to by the honorable member are pretty full, but there is a shortage of Infantry, so naturally there is a desire to increase enlistments for the latter.
– I believe a number of recruiting sergeants, in their anxiety to get recruits, do not make this point particularly clear.
– That is quite possible, and cases which have been brought under my notice seem to indicate an excess of zeal in that direction, but that has been done without the authority of the Department.
– Can you give me a reply to the question I asked this morning?
– As regards these Engineers and Artillery, yes; they will be recognised as such.
– Then if there was a necessity for the order to be issued on Saturday morning, why was it cancelled forty-eight hours later?
– I told the honorable member I would inquire into that matter, but I was not aware he would bring it up again this evening. I shall bring the honorable member’s request, to know who was responsible for the order, under the notice of the Minister.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House “adjourned at 10.50 p.m.
By His Excellency the Right Honorable Sir Ronald Craufurd Munro Ferguson, a Member of His Majesty’s Most Honorable Privy Council, Knight Grand Cross of the Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George, Governor-General and Commander-in-Chief in and over the Commonwealth of Australia.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 14 June 1917, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1917/19170614_reps_7_82/>.