7th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr.Speaker took the chair at 9.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– Iwish to know from the Treasurer how long it issince the Government decided to tax entertainments got up by committees for saying farewell to soldiers going to the war or receiving back men from the Front?
– I have no knowledge of the matter, but if the honor- . able member will place his question on the notice-paper, I shall be prepared to answer it later.
– Has the Treasurer seen the report in to-day’s Age of a debate in- the Legislative Assembly of Western Australia, at Perth yesterday, during which the statement was made that the Statehas been required by the Commonwealth Treasury to redeem certain Treasury bonds? Does the right honorable gentleman regard this as an act of repudiation, which it is alleged by the exTreasurer of Western Australia to be. Is there any understanding concerning the non-payment of these bonds during the war ?
– I have seen the paragraph referred to. The statement made in the Legislative Assembly of Western Australia was not sufficiently clear, and was not based on facts. The ex-Treasurer of the State in using the word “ repudiation “ did ‘ so improperly, and without justification. I cannot understand the use of such an expression by men who have had responsibilities. The Commonwealth has lent about £30,000,000 to the States, and under an agreement about £3,800,000 more should be paid to them by us during the present year. But the difficulties in the way of borrowing money should be’ as well known to those who spoke on the subject in the Legislative Assembly of Western Australia as theyare to honorable members and to me.
The Commonwealth has behavedmost generously to the States. It wentonto the London market to borrow £7,500,000, and also borrowed £3,000,000 more,with the consent of the British Government, from the War Fund, in order tofulfil its obligations to the States, and to enable their public works to be continued. As I have said, £3,800,000 remains to be paid to the States during this calendar year under the agreement between them and the Commonwealth. When I came into office Idiscovered that the States had borrowed £18,000,000 from the Commonwealth on the understanding that they would pay the money back within two years, it being thought, no doubt, that the war would then be over. At the end of two years, the period of the loan was extended for another year, which has now nearly expired. The obligation to pay this money is as binding on the States as the obligation to advance them money is binding on the Commonwealth’, and a reasonable understanding might be arrived at regarding the two agreements. “A week ago the Treasury telegraphed to the Government of Western Australia, through the Prime Minister, saying that we should do our best to fulfil our promise to advance £3,800,000 more this year, and we hope to find the money to do that. The market is perhaps a little better than it was, but it is not advantageous to go on to the London market for small amounts. Although that telegram was confidential, those to whom it was sent might have prevented the statement which was made about repudiation.
– Has money been raised for the States which the Treasurer refuses to pay to them?
– No. We have paid to tie States all. the money borrowed on their behalf. To comply with the letter of the agreement, we must raise a loan of £6,800,000 to repay the £3,000,000 borrowed from the War Fund of the British Government and to provide £3,800,000 more for theStates this year. I believe that we shall be able to do that, though there are difficulties in the way.
– I understand that the Treasurer is asking the States to pay up?
– Honorable members have been given all information concerning this matter in the Treasury statements that have been published. I think that the obligation of the States to pay us the money that they have borrowed under the promise to pay it back is as binding as our obligation to advance further money to them. The two agreements should be looked at together, and an understanding should be come to with regard to th’em. lt is my desire to be generous to the States - and that we have been - but we should be treated generously, too.
– Is the Minister for Home and Territories prepared to make a statement concerning the oil finds in Papua ?
– I can make known the general position. Oil’ was discovered in Papua about 1911, and in 1913 bores were put down under the advice of an expert. When Dr. Wade took charge in May, 1915, five bores had been put down, and although oil has been obtained from them, they ceased to be used because of the mud that rose with it, and it was thought better to put down other bores. The plant that was used in the first instance was rather small, and the bores too narrow for deep sinking. Two more bores have therefore been put down, and one of the old bores has been redrilled. Of the new bores, No. 6 was commenced in 1915, and No. 7 iri October, 1916. Bore No. 6 is down to a depth’ of about 500 feet.
– What is the size of the bore ?
– I forget the size for the moment. The No. 7 bore is wide enough to get down to at least 4,000 feet, and is now down to about 1,700 feet, at a point determined by the geological knowledge of the expert, Dr. Wade. It has been successful in respect of quickness of boring, and the fact that as greater depth is attained there is a comparative absence of mud; and there are other indications that the bore will develop well. The actual cost of No. 7 is about £1 16s. per foot. Case artesian boring in Australia costs about 30s. per foot, and when
I remind honorable members of the exceptional conditions in Papuan - the distance from the source of supply, the fact that the boring is done at places where rain falls every day and averages from 150 to 200 inches per annum, that the natives are attacked by pleurisy and pneumonia, that the site is approached through an almost impenetrable jungle, and that it takes several months to make a road to the site from the nearest point at which the vessel touches - ‘they will understand that the enterprisers attended with great difficulty. One cannot compare the outlay from ‘the beginning of the enterprise because that might run to about £25 per foot, but comparing the actual cost of drilling with the cost of similar work on other fields in Australia, America, and Russia, the result of No. 7 bore is good. Up to the present time there has been an expenditure of about £65,000. The last bore has been put down at a rapid rate, a depth of 300 feet having been reached in the first month. The cost compares favorably with that on other fields, and at present we have about 2,000 gallons of oil, but commercial quantities cannot be touched until we get down to a greater depth. The oil is of first class quality, and compares well with that from Sumatra and other parts of the Dutch East Indies. If the boring is successful the results will be of great advantage to the Commonwealth.
– Has the Minister been approached by any person or persons representing private enterprises with a proposition to develop the Papuan oil fields?
– There have been many suggestions from the United Kingdom and other places in regard to allowing private persons to engage in this enterprise, but I have not felt justified in acceding to the suggestions.
– Is the Treasurer aware that under the present law soldiers’ pensions are subject to income tax ? If so, will he introduce an amending law to exempt them from taxation ? ‘
– I believe the House has already been informed that it is the intention of the Government to exempt soldiers’ pensions from taxation. A Bill for that purpose will be introduced shortly.
– I should like to ask you, Mr. Speaker, if the Standing Orders impose any limit on the length of an answer which a Minister may give to a question, and whether you will allow questioners to ask questions of the same length as some of the answers that have been given this afternoon ?
– It seemed to me that the answers referred to were of somewhat unusual length, but the matters to which they related were certainly of very great importance. I would suggest: to Ministers that when a question involves the making of a long statement in reply, it would meet the wishes of the House if they would first obtain leave to make a statement.
– Will the Assistant Minister for Defence make inquiries into the remissness of officials at thedifferent camps in giving soldiers their leave too late to allow of them leaving camp? Many receive their leave after thetrain . has left, or so shortly before the departure of the train that they have no time to catch it.
– The honorable member’s question is very vague. If he will give me specific cases I shall make inquiries. The intention of the Department is that every man entitled to leave shall get. it.
– When passes are issued at the Seymour Camp, the men sometimes have not the opportunity to catch the train to Melbourne unlessthey travel by motor car. It would seem that the officials at Seymour are in collusion with the proprietors of the motor cars. Will the Minister look into that specific case?
– I shall certainly ask that inquiries be made into the case to which the honorable member has drawn attention.
– Has the Prime Minister readin the press a report of statements made by members of the Council of the Employers Federation in New South Wales in criticism of a Judge of the High Court? Have members of the Council of the Employers Federation greater privileges in that respect than are enjoyed by other members, of the community ? If not, what authority exists for protecting High Court Judges from attacks of this kind ?
– I have not seen the report; but I shall look at it, and answer the honorable member later.
– Is the Minister for Home and Territories in a position to give the House the information he promised in regard to the expenditure in the Northern Territory?
– At the request of the honorable member, I personally prepared a statement on the finances of the Northern Territory, and it has been ready for some time. I thought, however, that I would make two or three additions in regard to agriculture, pastoralism, and mining. I hope to be able to complete the statement next week, and lay it on the table.
– Will the Prime Minister make available the recommendations of the Advisory Council of Science contained in the papers now lying on the Library table? If not, will be explain why the documents are marked “ Confidential”?
– The papers we’re marked “ Confidential and Secret,” as all similar papers are marked whenthey are handed to me in the usual way by the Secretaries of Departments. When the Leader of the Opposition asked for the papers, I handed them to him without any alteration of the indorsement. From him they passed on to the Library table with that indorsement, which appears on all official papers. There is nothing confidential or secret about them. They are public property, and may be used as honorable members see fit. I read in the press a criticism in regard to the matter, and I am glad that the honorable member for Wimmera has afforded me an opportunity of explaining that, in an effort to comply with the request of an honorable member, without waiting to remove the red tape, I handed over the papers in the state in which I received them. For that I have been condemned.
– I wish to know whether the papers are now available, or whether the embargo that any honorable member who wished to peruse them must give his word of honour not to communicate any of the contents to the press still remains on them.
– I have not seen the papers. I handed them over as they were handed to me. I have tried to explain how it came about that the words “Secret and Confidential” appeared on them. They were on them when they were handed to me, and every honorable member who has held Ministerial office knows that papers are usually so marked when sent to me by departmental chiefs. No doubt the Librarian, on seeing that inscription upon them, was quite right in demanding from any honorable member that the documents should be read with the qualification to which the Leader of the Opposition has referred. I know ofno reason why the contents should not be published, but I confess that I have not seen the papers and cannot express any opinion until honorable members give me a few moments in which to peruse them.
– I have received the following telegram from the Queensland Recruiting Committee: -
Committee instruct me to state that the cost of recruiting in New South Wales, as given in the House yesterday, was totally wrong and misleading. The Queensland figures given include salaries, recruiting employees, office expenses, travelling allowances, rail, steamer, and coach fares of recruiting employees and recruits, also recruits’ meals, medical examinations, printing, stationery, advertising, and all the other many contingencies. The New South Wales figures as given cannot possibly cover all these items. Will you please correct.
Will the Honorary Minister inform the House whether the figures that he gave yesterday in regard to the cost of recruiting in the different States were correct?
– The figures given by me in answer to the question submitted by the honorable member for Kalgoorlie were supplied by the officials of the Department. The honorable member for Moreton has already handed me a copy of the telegram in which my figures are criticised, and I shall have the matter inquired into in order to see whether the statements made are in any way accurate.
– Can the Prime Minister tell me why Mr. P. J. Brookfield, the member for Sturt in the Legis lative Assembly of New South Wales, has been prosecuted for an alleged offence in March last, and why such a long period was allowed to elapse before the prosecution was instituted ? I would like to know, also, whether the Prime Minister is aware that the repeated prosecutions of Mr. Brookfield have created an impression among the workers of Broken Hill that he is being treated very unfairly, in fact persecuted, and that this feeling has grown to such an extent that there has been a total cessation of work in Broken Hill to-day as a protest against the prosecutions ?
– Until I saw a paragraph in the press this morning I was not aware that Mr. Brookfield had been prosecuted. I confess that as a citizen I frequently wondered why he had not been prosecuted, but as Attorney-General of the Commonwealth I was not officially aware of the fact that he had been. Probably the prosecution referred to is being dealt with by the State magistrates. It may even be that the offence is against a State law. If that is so, the more credit falls on the State law and the greater criticism descends on the Commonwealth law and the Department over which I have the honour to preside. I am not aware that Mr. Brookfield has been treated unjustly. If he has been treated so, he shall have justice. He deserves justice, but he certainly does not deserve mercy. He will have what the law gives him, but no more. I am not surprised to learn that the men at Broken Hill have ceased work; I should be surprised to learn that they work for any length of time continuously. I am aware that they have threatened to do certain things. I am perfectly aware that it is their practice to do so, and I am sure that when the honorable member for Barrier has been a little longer in this Parliament he will learn that the rumblings which disturb him so greatly affect us not at all.
– Last year the Treasury undertook to pay the salaries of officers in the Public Service in regular fortnightly payments, but since then there has been a considerable hitch. I understand that the Treasurer has appointed a Board to overcome the difficulties raised in the case of the Postmaster-General’s Department, and I would like to know from the right honorable gentleman whether he has in his mind any probable date by which his Department will be able to keep its promise?
– I have not heard lately the progress that has been made. I may say that the desire is to meet the wishes expressed by the honorable member, and I am hopeful that the difficulties that have arisen will be overcome; i? the honorable member will place his question on the notice-paper for “Wednesday next it will give me time to supply him with full information on the matter.
-I desire to ask the Minister representing the Minister for Defence whether he will have very distinct instructions sent direct to area officers and others controlling the ‘ training of cadets in order that parents may be relieved from harassing notices. I have here a third notice which has been addressed to a lad, the father and mother of whom told the officers concerned, months ago, that he was dead. - This last notice was received only the other day, and threatened the lad with prosecution if he did not make good his drills. Such notices are both harassing and hurtful to parents, and I ask the Minister to see that officers are instructed to exercise greater care in this respect.
– The honorable member asks that because of this specific case a general instruction Should be issued ‘to all area officers throughout the Commonwealth. Definite instructions are given as to the procedure to be adopted, but the honorable member must recognise that individuals sometimes fail to accurately carry out the directions received. If the honorable member will supply me with the particulars of the specific case to which he has referred, I shall be glad to make it the subject of special inquiry.
Purchase of Land at Sydney. - Board of Control.
– Will the Treasurer state whether it is true that the Governor of the Commonwealth Bank has recently purchased, at a cost of £70,000, a block of land adjoining the bank’s present premises in Sydney ?
– I have no knowledge of the matter.
– Last session, and early in the present session, I asked the Treasurer whether he would give consideration to the desirableness of appointing a Board to control the Commonwealth Bank. Will the right honorable gentleman state whether he has considered the question, and if so, with what result ?
– I forget for the moment the answer that I made to the honorable member’s question on a. previous occasion, but if it was that the matter would be considered, I can only say again that it will be considered.
– It is announced in the press that the Imperial Government have appointed a Select Committee to inquire into the medical inspection .of recruits for the army. Will the Minister representing the Minister for Defence see that” copies of the report of that Committee are made available to members of this Parliament?
– I shall look into the matter and see what can be done.
– I desire to ask the Minister for Trade and Customs whether he is aware, and if so, whether it is by his direction, that the PostmasterGeneral’s Department is demanding duty - in some cases up to 12s. per catalogue - on illustrated circulars sent through the post by English houses to Australian citizens ?
– I shall make inquiries and will endeavour to supply the honorable member with an answer to his question to-morrow.
– Is the Treasurer aware that income tax forms are not available at the different post offices throughout the Commonwealth, and will he see that they are, as many applicants for them are being disappointed ?
– I am not aware that they are not available, and will take steps to have them provided.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
control. - Supply of Iron and Steel Plates.
asked the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
– The answers to. the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Mr. PAGE (for Dr. Maloney) asked the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
– Arrangements are being made by which it is believed that plates suitable for shipbuilding will be available.
asked the Treasurer, upon, notice -
On what date does he propose to introduce a Bill for an Act to impose a tax upon profits?
– As soon as the War-time Profits Tax Assessment Bill is passed, I propose to move in Committee of Ways and Means for the imposition of the tax, and to introduce the necessary Bill.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice - .
In view of the fact that more than twelve months have elapsed since £2,068,000 was expended on Government . steam-ships, will the Prime Minister explain the cause of the delay in the introduction of a Bill to legalize the said expenditure?
– I refer the honorable member to my reply to his previous question on this subject.
Punishment for Neglecting to Salute. - Men in Maribyrnong Camp.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
Mr.FINLAYSON asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Whether he has received any official intimation of the appointment of a special Commission by the Imperial Government to inquire into the possibilities of cotton-growing within the Empire?
Whether he will advise the Imperial authorities of the special advantages possessed by Australia for cotton culture?
Whether he will invite the Commission, when appointed, to visit Australia, so that full inquiries may be made into the question?
Whether the sum of £500, which was set aside for this purpose in 1912 by the Fisher Government, is still available, and will it be utilized in advancing the interests of Australia in regard to cotton-growing?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are - 1, 2, and 3. The British Board of Trade proposes to appoint a special committee to consider the question of increasing the supply of cotton in the Empire.
The Government has asked the High Commissioner to act as its representative on the Committee. I have asked him to keep the Government fully advised in regard to the matter.
The Science Council has been granted a sum of money to inquire into the possibilities of cotton-growing in Australia. The matter is now being taken in hand.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– Inquiries are being made, and replies will be furnished as early as possible.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
In reference to a statement made by him at Bendigoon the 27th of March last, concerning the Tariff, viz., “ It is the intention of the Government to develop Australian production and industry, and to proceed with such amendments of the present Tariff as may be necessary to attain this end.” - When does the Government intend to proceed with the said amendments?
– The policy of the Government in regard to alterations of the Tariff has already been declared.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– Yes. The sugar used in New Zealand is duty free, and is produced by black labour in Fiji.
asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice -
Whether he will cause a return to be prepared and laid on the table of the House showing
The number of prosecutions under the provisions of the War Precautions Acts and Regulations for offences under Regulations 28, 28a, 28aa, 28b, 28c, and 28d?
The name and address of each defendant.
The name of the person authorizing such prosecution in terms of section 6, sub-section 3A, War Precautions Act 1914-16.
The result of each such prosecution, setting forth -
Whether the defendant was convicted or acquitted.
If convicted, what penalty was imposed, and whether he was bound under section 8, War Precautions Act 1914-16.
Whether the fine (if any) was paid or whether imprisonment was suffered.
Nature and . description of the offence charged, with full particulars of words or statements alleged to have been made, reports alleged to have been spread, and particularsof written articles, sufficient for identification, not submitted to the censor.
If defendant was charged with making statements or spreading reports likely to prejudice recruiting, particulars of circumstances under which the statements were made, or reports spread?
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
In reference to his statement of the 16th of March last, to the effect that the Government had resolved to prohibit the importation of luxuries into Australia, when does he propose to prohibit the said luxuries?
– As already stated by me, in reply to a question by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, this matter is receiving the most serious consideration of the Government. It is most complex, and is full of difficulties. I hope to be able to make a further statement shortly.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Whether any precautions aTe being taken to guard against an outbreak of bubonic plague supervening on the present plague of mice and rats in Australia?
– The responsibilities of the Commonwealth in this regard are limited to guarding against the introduction of plague from overseas. The precautions against such introduction are continuously and rigorously taken under the Quarantine Act. Any dangers likely to arise from the plague of mice is a matter for State control.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Whether any arrangementhas been made to secure bags for next season’s ‘harvest of wheat and maize?
– Arrangements are being made.
Cost of Construction
asked the Minister for Works and Railways, upon notice -
When will the inquiry into the cost ofconstruction of the east-west railway, promised to the House by the Prime Minister on the 14th of February last, and recorded inHansard on page 10512, vol. lxxxi, be put in operation?
– In February last the Joint Committee of Public Accounts intimated to the Department their intention of inquiring into the expenditure incurred in connexion with the east-west railway, but they did not proceed with the investigation prior to the general election, which took place shortly after. The
Public Accounts Committeefor this Parliament has not yet been elected.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
Whether any one, in addition to the Governor of the Commonwealth Bank, inspects or reports on securities offered by clients negotiating loans from the bank?
– The Act places the responsibility on the Governor alone, and it is not known in the Treasury what methods are employed by ‘him in the cases referred to.
The following paper was presented : -
The following Sessional Committees were appointed (on motion by Mr. Hughes), three to form a quorum: -
Standing Orders Committee.
Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister, The Chairman of Committees, Mr. Charlton, Mr. Fowler, Mr. Poynton, and Mr. Tudor.
Mr. Speaker, Mr. Anstey, Mr. Archibald, Mr. Glynn, Mr. Higgs, Sir William Irvine, Mr.McDonald, Mr. Bruce Smith, and Mr. Wise.
Mr. Speaker, Mr. Richard Foster, Mr.
Livingston, Mr. Mathews, Mr. Page, Mr. Rodgers, Mr. Laird Smith, andMr. Watkins.
.- I have received several complaints from people who have sons at the Front, and one of those complaints is very serious. A lady in my electorate had. two sons on service, one of whom was killed and the other sent home wounded. She received information from the Defence Department that she had to apply for the deferred pay in respect of the son who was killed. She filled in the necessary papers; but, after all the arrangements had been made, an order came to her from the Treasury or the Defence Department to the effect that from the amount due there would have to be deducted £18. I have in my possession two letters, one from the sergeant-major of the company, and the other from the lieutenaut in charge, giving the soldier a splendid character, and speaking generally in the highest terms of him. The amount deducted is for fines, and the mother is quite at a loss to know what these fines can be for. I made inquiry at the barracks, and was informed that since the present Government came into power, the policy of the Department has been altered. Previously when a soldier was killed, any fines there might be against him were wiped out by the fact of his death.
Mr.Groom. - Who told you the policy had been altered ?
– If she got the full military pension, the old-age pension would be cancelled.
.- I move -
That all the words after the word “ That “ be struck out, with a view to the insertion of words to cause the motion to read as follows : - “ That a Royal Commission be. appointed to investigate and report upon the publication, issue, distribution, and financing of the Critchley Parker election pamphlets.”
Every honorable member is aware that during the last Commonwealth election the country was literally flooded with pamphlets and other printed matter of a sectarian character, all issued over the name of Critchley Parker, at 376 Flinderslane, Melbourne.
The price of printing paper has increased greatly of late. The newspaper proprietors of Australia, notwithstanding their immense resources, are complaining of this increase in price, and are finding it necessary to place a restriction on their issues; but during the last) election no restriction was placed on the issue of the kind of literature to which I am drawing attention, which strewed the Commonwealth almost knee-deep. There was widespread circulation in every State, showing that powerful organization was behind it. It must have cost an immense amount of money to distribute that literature. Where did the money come from ?
– The National Government had nothing to do with Mr. Critchley Parker.
– Why do you not make an . inquiry, and pay for ib?
– As a matter of fact, the Post and Telegraph Act prohibits the transmission of scurrilous and offensive matter of that kind.
– The general secretary of the Australian Workers Union admits that the Industrial Workers of the World is ‘a very dangerous organization.
– Are you sure that he did not say he would refuse to allow them to become combatants?
– Why not read the Prime Minister’s reply?
– The honorable member is aware that the Prime Minister, who is attacked in that statement, was absent from Australia when the regulation was made.
– The Prime Minister deliberately contradicted that.
– Critchley Parker got £600 out of the Commonwealth Government for some printing.
– I was merely repeating a statement made by Dr. Mannix in Melbourne. Surely he ought to know.
– You are aware that Dr. Mannix complimented the Labour organizations on issuing this literature.
– On whose side was it put up?
– Were they issued by Mr. Critchley Parker?
– The honorable member is slandering his own supporters by saying that they were bought with our money.
Mr.J. H. CATTS.- I have said nothing of the kind. The honorable member knows that the whole scheme of the Commonwealth electoral legislation was framed with a view to preventing the corruption of the electors by the expenditure of large sums of money. Each honorable member returned to this House is called upon to submit a return showing that he has not spent more than £100 on his election.
– Will not the honorable member take off £1,000 ?
– The amendment will not cover the point to which the honorable member is now alluding
.- Having listened attentively to the honorable member, and being entirely in accord with the principle which, with much fervour and beating of the breast, he would have us think is actuating his action - that all local discord should be buried at this time - I was trying to find some possible excuse for this digging up of dead history other than a design to inflame those very passions that he pretended to be deprecating. If honorable members opposite, who are of all denominations, seek to get out of this business a solid church support for their political candidates, or if they wished to prevent this sort of thing in the future, I could have understood action being taken in this House. But are they endeavouring to find some explanation of an election that is past, and endeavouring to give te this particular incident of the election a weight which it certainly does not deserve? The secretary of . my campaign committee was a Roman Catholic, and in the Wentworth electorate it was noticeable that the people who were getting the pamphlets referred to were Roman Catholics. We waited for a long time, and then we found that Dr. Mannix, in Melbourne, actually congratulated the party which honorable members opposite represent for- its cleverness in reproducing and circulating the pamphlets in question. If it is a matter for contempt for any man at such a time as this to try to make political capital out of those religious differences that are buried down in the hearts of the majority of every people, how much more contemptible, and how degrading it is beyond all words when men come forward beating their breasts and proclaiming their own rectitude, while they are quietly circulating and thriving by the things that they profess to dislike?
– My majority was increased by 2,000 as compared with the result of the previous election.
– The honorable member went round spelling my name “Katz.”
– But the honorable member did it very cunningly, suggesting that I was a, German.
– It was not “ playing the game.”
– A little bib over the Hilt, waa it not?
– A recommendation of the Prime Minister’s services to the Labour movement, by the honorable member for Wentworth, is a recommendation indeed.
– Who are the judges of that?
– Nothing of the sort.
– Was that the branch that the honorable member formed in his constituency ?
. -It is refreshing to hear the honorable member for Wentworth, who, one can well understand, desires that many of the facts of the last general election should be buried and forgotten. Such a desire is natural on the part of honorable members on the Government side of the House.
– The honorable member had the narrowest squeak of his life.
– What didthey do?
– Does not the fellow who is “ licked “ always squeal?
– That is in opposition to your previous statement.
– The only one I saw had no reference to political parties at all.
– Surely no one doubts that?
The National Campaign Council,
National Mutual Buildings, 395 Collins-street, Melbourne, 29th March, 1917.
Dear Sir, - During the present Federal elections, it is the intention of the National Campaign Council to circulate to the country newspapers of Victoria a daily budget of brightly written matter bearing on the question. A copy will be forwarded you each day, and the Council will be grateful if you will find room in your journal for such extracts as meet your views.
Mr. Whyte is a very estimable gentleman, and a very capable journalist.
– Are you accusing Mr. Whyte of being associated with these pamphlets ?
– The insinuation is entirely unjustified. It is not the same building either.
– No, he didnot.
– You made that suggestion a little while ago.
– You suggest that the Campaign Council had some connexion with these pamphlets?
– Then, as Chairman ofthe Campaign Council, I saythat that statement is entirely untrue
– Hear, hear ! We did that.
– That was public news long ago.
– You know you subsidized the thing- why run away from it?
– I withdraw it, but I can believe it.
– I withdrawit. I shall have a word or two to say on the subject presently.
– That is why you turned us out of the Labour party.
– They would have been tossed out. A motion for their expulsion was moved by the honorable member himself.
– The Prime Minister was removed from the chairmanship of the Labour party on the motion of the honorable member.
.- After the fine moral lecture that we have just heard, I feel that the Church of Scotland lost a great minister in the honorable member for Brisbane. His prophecies concerning what will befall the Nationalist party if it does not support the amendment were very painful. I have been in public life in this country for nearly twenty years, and have never yet found it necessary to publicly discuss the religious opinions of any member of the community. During the last electoral campaign I was, for the first time in my political career, asked my views on a religious question, and I replied to the questioner that, as I had never yet felt it necessary to discuss religious matters in public, I did not intend to commence to do so. To the Roman Catholic, the Protestant, the Jew, the Gentile, the Buddhist, and every other person in the community, religion, like politics, is purely a matter of conscience. But when a man drags his religion into public life, he must expect it to be criticised. Were I to discuss my religion publicly, I should expect it to be criticised. I have had no connexion with Mr.- Critchley Parker nor with the pamphlets which have been issued under hi3 name, and knew nothing about them until they had been printed and distributed. I believe that their distribution did not assist this party one iota. The stirring up of religious strife does not help anybody. This literature was printed, and distributed to set certain sections of -the community at each other’s throats, and I deprecate all such action.
– Did not the honorable member read the evidence of the Postal Commission ?
– And whose members wished to go to England.
– That is quite wrong.
– I regard tEe question before the House as very important. Most of the preceding speakers have dealt with it from a political and party point of view. This Chamber ought to rise above that level, and in. this time of national stress the national view should predominate. It must be admitted that the circulation, at a time like this, of offensive literature and cartoons respecting an important section of the community is not calculated to promote the best interests of the nation. Honorable members have often said that when the country is at war it is necessary to have unanimity, and to avoid discord. Yet to-day there is circulating throughout the Commonwealth literature which is most) insulting, and is doing much to retard recruiting. For my parti, the late election is past, and counts for nothing. Like the honorable member for Plenty, I have fought all my campaigns, seven in number, without ever having once raised the sectarian issue, and I have never permitted it to be introduced at anymeeting that I have addressed. Therefore, I can put aside all consideration of the last election when dealing with the matter now before the House.
What honorable members should consider is whether the person responsible for the circulation of this offensive matter should be permitted to continue his propaganda, or whether he ought not to be dealt with because of the great injury he has done to the Allies’ cause. On the first day of the session I asked the Prime Minister certain questions, and to my surprise his answer left me in considerable doubt as to whether the Government, which claims to have sufficient power to do almost anything under the War Precautions Act, could deal withCritchley Parker, who issupposed to be responsible forthe circulation of the sectarian pamphlets referred to. The question I put to the Prime Minister was this -
– Other papers come within the same category.
.- I agree with the general position taken up by the honorable member for Hunter, and I congratulate him on the unique fact that in his speech he carefully and intentionally refrained from identifying honorable members on this side of the House with the issue of the pamphlets referred to. In that regard he stands on a very much higher plane than his colleague, the honorable member for Brisbane, who made an effort, with a disingenuousness which almost appears to be part of his nature, to identify the National Federation with, the issue of these wretched pamphlets.
– Do you think that that is the point? Is not the point “ who printed them?”
– I understand that this literature was nob sealed up.
– I can show the honorable member one pamphlet bearing the postmark on the document) itself.
– That is a matter for the Government to decide.
.- I do not know whether the honorable member for Cook is willing to accept the suggestion of the honorable member for Perth, but I am agreeable to it. We should have an investigation in order to ascertain who issued the cartoons and who printed them. Every one will agree with me that they were absolutely disgraceful. They were certainly very insulting to a very large section of this community. In my opinion, they were issued with the deliberate intention of alienating one section of the community against those who were named in them, and creating bitter feelings in both sections, and inflaming the passions of the people. The honorable member for Perth has deprecated the party issue being brought into this matter. Other honorable members have claimed that members of the Labour party were responsible for having circulated the pamphlets. But if they will look at’ the Victorian newspapers issued before the elections,- they will see that the cartoons were advertised for sale, in papers which were not Labour papers. These advertisements advised people to hurry up and buy No. 2 cartoon as No. 3 would soon be out, and No. 1 was all sold out. Let honorable members turn back the files of the Argus, and see if they cannot discover that advertisement. Is the Argus a Labour newspaper? It may be said that the newspaper was paid for the advertisement. It certainly did its best to boom these cartoons. I understood that, after a time, this particular advertisement was stopped. I suppose it was stopped because the injury that the cartoons were doing was seen, or because it was thought that they were not having the desired effect.
I have been in public life a good number of years, but I have never on any platform descended to sectarianism. Sectarianism is a descent, but do honorable members wish to know who started the sectarian question at the recent election ? If so, they can find it in Hansard of the 23rd February of this year, page 10639. When we were discussing the postponement of the parliamentary elections, I was twitting the Prime Minister with having run away from conscription. Previously he had said that he had “ seen the light,” and on this occasion, I said that he had “ seen the light,” that it was not a fixed light, but one of those revolving lights used in lighthouses which sometimes flash red, and sometimes-, and then the Prime Minister interjected, “ The honorable member has seen green.”
What did he mean ? Was he referring to the green light of a railway signal or was he seeking to introduce sectarianism ? It cannot be denied that the Prime Minister then started the sectarian cry so far as the last elections were concerned. We have this record in Hansard to prove that he fanned the flame on that occasion.
– In my electorate they were circulated with good effect from the point of view of my opponent.
– I defeated Mr. Mahon in that particular part of my electorate.
– Mr Whyte might have been identified with the Mining Standard and yet not identified with the matter of which the honorable member complains.
– Does the honorable member say that the National party issued them in any district?
– I know exactly the opposite.
– What Nationalist newspapers’?
– The honorable member should give us the names of these gentlemen.
– Does the honorable member include himself among the number?
– The honorable member expects us to believe that statement, and I hope he will believe us when we say that in no case has an election cost us £100.
– In the honorable member’s case there .was practically no election.
– The speech just delivered by the Leader of the Opposition does him no credit. We could have understood a man like the honorable member for Brisbane trying to make party capital out of this sort of thing, but the honorable member for Yarra would have done well had he approached the consideration of the question from the stand-point adopted by the honors able member for Hunter. No good purpose can beserved by these attempts to throw mud. I should like, for a moment, to put before honorable members my own position. For a long time after setting out on the election campaign, I was not aware that this literature was being circulated. Indeed, I was half way through the fight when I first learned that sectarian pamphlets were being sent through the post, principally to Irish people in my district, and, as the result of it, I lost many good friends.
-It got too “hot,” did it?
– You know the electors!
– Immeasurably !
– I said so at the time.
– Of course, he did !
– Not in Queensland.
– Nor in New South Wales.
.- After the remarks of the honorable member for Eden-Monaro, I feel quite confident that the House will appoint a Royal Commission. I lay no charge against honorable members opposite. In my own electorate I took no notice of the pamphlets, which I do not think affected us as a party one way or the other. Efforts were made to injure the Labour party by declaring that it was dominated by Rome, and the people were asked whether they were prepared to trust members who were controlled by the Pope, and so forth ; and while the pamphlets may not have injured the Labour party, the intention was to interfere with that party’s chances at the election. If, as stated, the National party have suffered, there can be no harm in instituting an inquiry with the object of sheeting the blame home to the proper people. I hope that in Australia we shall never reach the position that we find in Ireland, where the people are rent in twain by sectarianism, but that in all future elections pamphlets of this kind will not be permitted to go through the post. In this young country we have no room for sectarian bigots who desire to stir up strife amongst the people. In political matters we can afford to be generous to one another; but if the sectarian feeling is allowed to grow we shall find ourselves confronted, not with political, but with religious, issues. I remind honorable members opposite that, while they may have won at the last election, we may win the next, and that the party which relies for successon sectarianism can last only for a short time. No matter what a man’s religion may be, he ought to be judged on his political policy and character. I do not happen to be a member of the Church of Rome, but I have many good friends who are, and I find them as honorable and as straightforward as any in the community. I resent the fact that such insults should be thrown at our follow citizens, for there is no doubt that if we allow 25 per cent. of our population to be thus treated, there will be created a bad feeling which will be very hard to eradicate. I appeal to both sides of the House to allow a Royal Commission to be appointed - either a Commission consisting of the Chief Justice, or an unpaid body of men - for we really ought to get at the bottom of this matter, with a view to preventing any recurrence of such issues in the future. The Prime Minister and his colleagues, and the members of the National party, say they had nothing to do with the issue of these documents.
.-While I feel that a great grievance exists in consequence of the publication of these pernicious pamphlets, I think the discussion has within iti a strong element of insincerity. I am proud of my race and creed at all times, but I must say .that I felt humiliated during my campaign ‘ when I had these things pushed under my nose by my co-religionists, and some of the members of the old Labour party. I only discovered the circulation of this literature when the campaign was half over, and I never opened my mouth regarding it at any time - the thing was really too dirty to refer to. We have very small pretensions to be considered a democratic community while it is possible for gutter-sniping tactics of this sort to affect us. When our very existence, involving not only our religious liberties, but our every other prized liberty, is in the balance; could there be suggested a greater reflection on . our democracy than the idea that tactics of this kind can really settle the fate of parties and principles so vital to us? It is true that even in this fair land we have literary prostitutes engaged in their despicable work - human blowflies not content with battening on their natural element, filth, but equally ready tq pounce on what is pure and true. Unfortunately this sort of thing has its effects. We find men on all sides who have such a poor conception of higher principles that they are willing to descend into the gutter, and plant in the minds and hearts of ignorant! but honest people feelings of antagonism and antipathy towards those with whom they should be standing shoulder to shoulder in the preservation of all our rights and liberties, and the material prosperity of the country. That sort of thing is going on now, and it will never be extinct, even if we appointed a dozen Royal Commissions, until education Has made such progress that no self-respecting man would connect himself with this sort of thing under any circumstances. My co-religionists in hundreds were influenced by this literature to vote against me, but I would rather have to dig out rabbits for a living than be elected by the votes of those to whom such filth could appeal. The Government of which I am a supporter should provide for an inquiry to purge itself of the charge made against it. Let us find out who circulated this literature, and who paid for its circulation. It seems to me that money can command anything. But if our Democracy is to attain the ideals that we seek, it is essential to purge ourselves of sectarianism. When in Victoria a dominant and militant body were excommunicating from the Labour party a section of Catholics because of the opinions they dared to hold I was in arms against that, as I was against the action of the same body when it expelled the ablest and best members of the party for holding other opinions. Whether literature of this kind be issued with the object of gaining political power or with the desire to injure the religious feelings of others, we should prevent it. I trust that an inquiry will sheet home the blame to the persons responsible for what we deplore, and that our desire for liberty and toleration will have a foundation on actual fact. I believe that there are criminal zealots on both sides of politics, and I hope that those who have been responsible for the publication of this literature will be discovered, and the rest of the community purged of the gross reflections upon it which their action has caused.
.- I agree with much that was said by the last speaker. The ‘demand for the stoppage of the circulation of sectarian literature of the kind complained of comes not from a small section of the people, but from a very large body of the community, who feel that they were grievously insulted by what occurred during the last electoral campaign. The circulation of political literature at election times is to me not a matter of much concern. During nearly a quarter of a century of political experience I have known such literature to be circulated by every political party; but sectarianism should not have been allowed by the powers that be to intrude into the recent contest. Under the War Precautions Act the Government had full authority to prevent that. This is, I suppose, the freest Democracy in the world, and no more serious harm could be done to it than to divide our people -with religious dissension. In this country, persons of every creed are inter-married, and religion is in no sense a party matter. Any political party that sought advantage by stirring up sectarian feeling should be sent into political oblivion. We know who printed the publications of which complaint has been made, but there is some question as to who distributed them. The distribution cannot be considered as blameable as the original production.
– But surely the man who circulates counterfeit money is as bad as the coiner.
– I saw in. my district one of the circulars to which reference has been made, and during the electoral campaign repudiated it from every platform. I found, however, that this literature was being circulated wholly among Roman Catholics, which is a very significant and damning fact. I did not meet one Protestant who had received it-
– Who was responsible for the original circulation?
– How many “wowsers”’ went the other way?
– Declared disloyal to what?
– So you are.
– They wanted the job for their fellow-men.
– Well, you support a Royal Commission, and prove that statement.
– Did I not follow your advice? Then, why have the Government not sent me away?
– Are you coming down to the level of Boyd and Palmer?
– But you will know me before I go out of this Parliament.
– Look at the serried ranks on the Ministerial side.
.- I desire to approach this question with all seriousness. Looking back over a long political life, I believe there was more bigotry and sectarianism introduced in the last election than in any other in my recollection. That was so, not only in Victoria, but in other States that I have visited. What has happened in the last few months makes one wonder whether this accursed sectarianism, which is the flaming sword of what we call bigotry, will ever be eliminated. I take it that the honorable member for Grey wishes the light to be thrown on this matter, the truth found, and the fault exposed. If so, he will vote for the appointment of a Royal Commission; but if he is supporting the issue of this scurrilous matter - and I should be sorry to believe that of him - he will vote against the proposal.
What were these pamphlets? Those who take an interest in caricature must have smiled when they found the authors diving back into the early part of last century to find something with which to lash a section of the community. They went back to the time of Daniel O’ Connell, when no Catholic in Ireland had a vote. Very few people in Ireland have votes now, because, according to the latest issue of Whittaker’ s Almanac, only one man in three in Ireland has a vote. Critchley Parker is a man of great mentality.
– You mean that he has lucid moments?
– He is paid; that is the trouble.
.- In my political career I have always denounced sectarianism. It is a matter that should not be introduced into politics. Holding these views, I am certainly in f avour of this matter being settled, and settled, I hope, once and for all. I shall support the amendment .put forward by the honorable member for Perth.
During the recent elections hundreds of the electors of Wide Bay, men who had voted for me time after time in the State elections, turned against me, because they said that, the Nationalist party was responsible for the circulation of Critchley Parker’s literature to which reference has been made to-day. Of course, I denied it, and I had every reason to do so, because I recognised that if the pamphlets had been circulated by the Nationalist party, they would not have been sent to the people to whom they were sent in my electorate - the majority of these diabolical circulars were sent to Roman Catholics. Not a twentieth part of them went to the Protestants in Wide Bay. I found afterwards that these men to whom I have referred, in very many cases, got these pamphlets through the circulation of them by the Labour party. For example, a railway guard who delayed his train in order to distribute them at different spots, was a strong Labour man. Another strong Labour agitator not only circulated the pamphlets, but also put his initials on the back of them. If a Royal Commission is appointed, I trust that this man will be called upon to show where he got them, and why he circulated them.
– Let us have them.
– I desire to support the amendment for the appointment of a Royal Commission to inquire into the issue and distribution of this sectarian literature during the election campaign. I do so, not on the basis of the faith or religion that has. been attacked in these publications, but on the ground that they were circulated with the sole object of causing dissension amongst the working classes. ‘ I do not know by whom they were circulated, but I do know that no one connected with the Political Labour League on the Barrier had anything to do with their distribution there. These pamphlets and newspapers were printed and circulated for one purpose only-
– Does “ ism “ include anarchism ?
– What newspapers? I did not see any of them.
– But the honorable member spoke of newspapers. The newspaper he has named is circulated in Victoria, not in New South Wales.
– Would you like to see all prosecuted who make statements detrimental to recruiting?
– I thought not!
– Are you against recruiting ?
– Is that the reason you organized the Labour Volunteer Army on. the Barrier?
– Because you said you would not volunteer, and that you would not ask anybody else to do so.
– You said you would not fight for your country.
– That is the effect of your statement.
– That is the “won’t fight army.”
– That is what was said before the last election.
– What was the object of its formation!
– This is all very interesting, but what has it to do with the motion ?
– I have not had the advantage of listening to this debate from its inception, but if what I have listened to is a sample of what I have missed, I arn not sorry that circumstances prevented me from being present. Of all the impudent and audacious efforts ever made in this or any other Parliament to fasten on their opponents the sins and guilt that belong to the accusers, this is the most audacious and the most impudent. Those gentlemen, who are now posing as the victims of the methods to which they take exception, wish the public to believe that they .themselves went through the election dressed in spotless garb, their bro.-s garlanded with emblems of purity, and that their methods were unstained by slander, abuse, ot vile innuendo. Their conduct, it would appear, was such as to be a very pattern for lesser men to follow. They fall upon this literature of Mr. Critchley Parker as if it was a thing foul beyond the power of words to describe - a thing against which their very souls revolt, and but for which they would have won the election. Sir, this is so much canting humbug. Why, I say deliberately that there is not a sink of iniquity that they did not bottom, not a term of foul abuse to which they did not resort, not a device at their disposal which they did not employ. They denounce the literature as sectarian ; but they have omitted to mention that before Mr. Critchley Parker appeared on the scene a banner-bearer from the other camp carried the oriflamme of sectarianism throughout the country, inviting the disloyalists to rally round his flag. This man, for political and sectional purposes, abused and debased his high position. Now, those who sought to shelter under his wing, and found too late that it was one from which the feathers had moulted, come whining about the sectarian literature of Mr. Critchley Parker. Having been beaten with ignominy by an indignant people, they ask for the appointment of a Royal Commission into this matter as though this literature, and not .their own conduct, was the cause of their defeat.
These gentlemen would have the public believe their methods during the campaign were above criticism. Sir, the truth is, they were beneath contempt. I have a file of extracts from the journals which supported them, but I have too much respect for this Chamber to lay them on the table. Their press reeked with abuse of me, and they lived on this vilification during the election. Had I been a Lucifer dipped in the seven hells, I could not have been so bad as .they represented me to be, nor has my life been long enough to have committed one-twentieth part of the crimes with which they charged me. Now, having had the worst of the contest, they complain of Mr. Critchley Parker’s literature, but for which, they, say, they would have won the election.
Let me now say a word on these cartoons. So far as Mr. Critchley Parker’s loyalty to the Empire is concerned, I respect him, and would have honorable members of the Labour party emulate him; but, so far as he is responsible for raising, the sectarian banner, I condemn him.. What is more, I condemned him during the election campaign, and did what I could to suppress the literature about -which complaint was made. This I did in terms so emphatic and unambiguous as to leave no room for misunderstanding as to my views concerning it. This is what I said at Bridgewater -
I have endeavoured to fight my political battles treating as sacrosanct the religions actions of my fellow citizens. I do so now, and I want to say authoritatively that I have noticed with considerable pain that certain literature is being circulated in this district, and throughout the rest of Australia, which is giving offence to certain of my fellow citizens of the Roman Catholic faith. I care nothing what the religion of a man is. He is free to worship God in any way he pleases. That is one of those privileges that our fathers have won for us, and I should be the last man to infringe that right. So I want to repudiate this literature, and say that it is as offensive to me as to those who belong to the Roman Catholic Church. This literature can serve no useful purpose in this campaign. It misunderstands entirely the issues with which the people are confronted. This campaign has nothing at all to do with religion. It haseverything to do with principles, political, economic, and national. It is a question whether a man is for Australia or against her. I do not deny that there are some men in Australia who are not loyal to Australia; but the fact that they are not loyal to Australia has nothing to do with their religion. Therefore, I want emphatically to repudiate this literature, and I will see, so far as I am able, that Australia is purged of it for the rest of this contest.
Subsequently, Archbishop Mannix, speaking of the Critchley Parker literature, the circulation of which the Labour party now denounce, said that -
He was glad to hear that the Labour party in Bendigo had been wise enough to buy the cartoons and distribute them to the Catholic people and every honest man in Bendigo.
My reply was - and I now repeat it - that that was a shameful and abominable thing to do. It would have been dishonorable in a Protestant, but it was contemptible and treacherous in a man professing the religion, of the Archbishop. What shall we say of men who, to gain a political or sectional end, distribute literature which insults their co-religionists? In the repudiation that I have read, I stated that I would take action, and I instructed the Solicitor-General to notify Mr. Critchley Parker that under no circumstances would this literature be permitted to be circulated. But, as I told the honorable member for Hume, in reply to a question which he put to me in the House, there is no law in force in Australia under which this literature could be suppressed. It could be suppressed only by the exerciseof our powers under the War PrecautionsAct, and therefore, short of raiding the office, nothing could have been done regarding it. Now, will any one say that this literature prejudiced recruiting ? It was an appeal to sectarianism, and for that I condemned it; but it certainly did not dissuade men from enlisting. On the other hand, it strongly urged them to fight for their country. In any case, in what way does this literature stand out amongst that circulated during the electoral campaign which might affect recruiting ? Had it been the only literature of its kind, I should have been to blame for not having suppressed it. But the pledge I gave in Parliament before the campaign opened is a sufficient answer to the charge now brought against me. I said to honorable members opposite, who strongly urged that no censorship be imposed on free speech, that they might say what they pleased. Honorable members opposite, and those who supported them, took full advantage of that assurance. If there was anything that they could thenhave said that they did not say, I invite thom to say it now. But they are like squeezed lemons. They exhausted their venom during the campaign, and anything that they might say now would be but the pale ghost of their electoral utterances. They were given a fair run. The Censor did not interfere with them, and there was no depth of abuse to which they could descend into which they did not plunge, so far as personal abuse of myself was concerned.
– As usual, the Prime Minister’s speech was characterized by a good deal of wit and a good deal of threatening language. He told us that he would like to see this matter elucidated, and finally intimated that the Government will not agree to any investigation. In asking for a Commission of inquiry, our purpose is to find out in whose interest the putrid pamphlets were issued. I make the statement that they were issued in the interests of the so-called National party and are being so issued at the present .time in connexion with the Macquarie by-election. Here is one pamphlet, which has on it these words -
Mr. Doyle, President of the Political Labour (Caucus) Party, New South Wales, said, “ The National party’s success at the last election was due to the raising of the sectarian issue.” Of course it was. Who made it necessary to raise that issue? Critchley Parker, 376 Flinderslane.
Critchley Parker has himself answered the question. At the bottom of the pamphlet is the advice, ‘ ‘ Vote for McLeod.” He is the National candidate.
The Prime Minister and the honorable member for Grey fried to saddle the Labour party with responsibility for everything that Archbishop Mannix has said. Every politician knows well that time after time the whole effort of Archbishop Mannix has been thrown against the Labour party in Victoria. He takes his stand on whichever side he thinks fit, and he is quite justified in doing that. We were told that the pamphlets were not issued in the interests of the National party, but that members of ‘the Labour party scattered them abroad in order to help their candidates by showing that these publications were an attack on their religion by the National party. Is there anything wrong in showing men how brutal and dirty their own political side can be ? Any political party that would father that rubbish is unfit to be in power in any Parliament.
This trouble is political* and not religious. I have as much respect for Roman Catholicism as for any other religion, but I have no desire to be a Roman Catholic. And I say that without any repugnance for the Roman Catholic faith. The statement has been made in my electorate that I am a Roman Catholic; that was done for no other purpose than to raise the sectarian issue, and so get .Protestants to vote against me. As a matter of fact, if there is any man in Melbourne Ports who should not receive the Roman Catholic vote, it is myself, for many reasons.- I was born and reared in an atmosphere that is repugnant to Roman Catholics, but I have always allowed every other man to choose his own religion, whilst I choose mine, and when my religion is attacked I fight for it. Throughout the length and breadth of Australia every Orange lo-lee or ultraProtestant Association, invariably chooses the more conservative of two candidates. Consequently, the Labour movement has always been attacked by the Orange lodges. Like myself, the Prime Minister has suffered from such attacks, and. has been charged with being pro.-Roman. That has been done in order to deprive the Labour movement of the votes of the church-going portion of the Protestant community.
That was why the sectarian issue was introduced iu the last election - but not by Critchley Parker. Does any man or woman in the community believe that, on his own initiative and at his own expense, Critchley Parker produced this literature and sent it broadcast for the mere fun of the game? I am quite willing to believe that he is making a business of it, and that is the peculiarity of the Orangeman in Australia. In Ireland the Orange and the Green have been fighting each other for generations, but the Orangeman in Australia is an Orangeman for pounds, shillings, and pence, and nothing else, and is always against the ultra-Democrat, whoever he may be. In the last election he was fighting for the flag, he said. Every utterance of that statement was an act of disloyalty, because ft was not meant. There is always some other purpose behind these actions, and in the last election the object was political gain. It was evident throughout the Prime Minister’s speech to-night that he was concerned about the issue of these pamphlets, and during the election he went out of his way at Bridgewater to explain that he was not responsible for them. Why did he take the trouble to make that explanation if he did not realize that there was something heinous in the very fact of their issue? He pretended to wish to have elections purified in future. Every one admits that the sectarian propaganda was a dirty business, and must tend to generate in the community feelings which we, as civilized beings, do not wish engendered in Australia^ That being so, are we asking too much when we request that there shall be an opportunity given to discover who was responsible for the issue of these offensive pamphlets? The Prime Minister said that no language he could conceive - and that is saying a good deal - would express what he felt regarding those pamphlets. If that is so, why does he not) allow us to go into the matter and find out who did it? Are the National party proposing to hide themselves behind the fact that Archbishop Mannix said that he applauded the Labour Leagues at Bendigo for their action in securing these pamphlets and distributing them ? I do not1 know that he said so, but the. Prime Minister says that he did. We are told that there were men in the Labour movement who showed their co-religionists that this form of putrid stuff was being spread abroad with a view to beating the Labour party, and bringing the Roman Catholic religion into contempt. But who could blame them for it, when those who were associated with the issue of the pamphlets were endeavouring to hold up their religious beliefs to contempt?
– It is like the man passing on the spurious coin.
– The honorable member is welcome to say anything.
– I am here by a good, clean majority.
– Would it not be better to amend the Electoral Act, and make the issue of such pamphlets an offence ?
– There was nothing of that sort in Western Australia.
– The honorable member and his party to-night are doing what he is condemning. He is raising the whole question.
The House divided.
Majority … … 10
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion agreed to; debate adjourned.
Bill returned from the Senate, with the message that it did not insist on the amendment to which the House of Representatives had disagreed.
In Committee (Consideration of GovernorGeneral’s message) :
Motion (by Mr. Watt) agreed to -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes ofa Bill for on Act relating to the Construction and Management of Commonwealth Railways.
Resolution reported, and adopted. Second Reading.
Debate resumed from 25th. July (vide page 445), on motion by Mr. Watt -
That this Bill be now read a secondtime.
.- I shall not detain the House at any length in dealing with this measure. As the Minister for Works and Railways said when introducing the Bill, the career of the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway, from the time that the original survey was undertaken, has been a varied and chequered one. The honorable gentleman was good enough to make available to the
House and the country certain information which, I think, will remove a misapprehension on the part of a large section of the public in regard to the cost of that railway. We have been told again and again in the press that the construction of the line which, it was originally estimated, would cost a little over £4,000,000, had already involved an expenditure of over £6,600,000. The Minister, however, has given us an interesting explanation of the several reasons leading to the increased cost. In the first place, an important factor is the use of heavier rails than were at first proposed; while secondly, the cost of material, owing to the outbreak of war, has been largely increased. Then again, wages have increased, the additional expenditure involved under that heading, according to the Minister, being something like £400,000. We find that, allowing for all these factors, the original estimate, instead of being exceeded by some £2,600,000, has in reality been increased by only about £600,000. That section of the press which is opposed to the Labour party and to the day-labour system, for which we stand, has declared again and again that 50 per cent, of the increased cost has been the result of the adoption of the day-labour system in the construction of the line, and that if a contract had been let the whole1 work, including the ballasting and complete equipment of the railway, could have been carried out at a cost well within the original estimate. -
– Yes; involving a cost of £500,000.
– That had to be within five years, but the Bill was withdrawn.
– I admit the pledge.
– Exactly; and I complained about it.
– To other than railway men.
– It is not such a never-never country as all that. There will be a number of people travelling on the line.
– There will be soon.
– At present the policy is to put married men near the schools, and the single men elsewhere, and it is proposed to have a sort of travelling school.
– The men on the telegraph line receive all the news every night.
– Like the Australian soldier, I shall be there.
– In listening to the speech of the Minister for Works and Railways yesterday, I could not help wondering what he would have said of this work had he expressed his opinion regarding it when a private member in pre-Federation days. I remembered, too, what I had read of the call of the desert to the Bedouin. Evidently the call of the desert has been heard by the honorable gentleman. During his recent trip he seems to have swallowed everything that he heard in its favour. In the early days of Federation I opposed this giant enterprise, and have been in opposition to it ever since, both in Parliament and out. I have discussed it frequently with the Treasurer, and when the great drought occurred in that part of Australia I told him that it would be impossible for the line to pay, because, the kangaroos and emus having been killed off, there would be no traffic at all in the country. However, as we have been “ let in “ for the building of the line, or, as” Parliament, in its wisdom, has decided to build it- whichever phrase may be acceptable - I hope that when I cross the country I shall be able to swallow as much as the Minister has swallowed, and to wear a similar pair of glasses to see the beauties of the landscape, and to find the population that has been spoken of. I trust that that population is not entirely black. Although the finances of Australia are in a bad way, we ought to try to reduce the breaks of gauge, and certainly should not have more than one break between Adelaide and Perth. I do not wish to tread on any one’s corns, but I cannot help feeling that the Government of Western Australia has not carried out the agreement into which it entered, even though it may have had a right to impose a time limit.
– I say so, too.
– I shall have an elephant cage constructed for him.
– And it will not pay for the axle grease on the wheels.
.- While I join in congratulating the Treasurer on the approaching completion of the transcontinental line, I do not indorse the suggestion that the right honorable’ gentleman should be placed in an elephant cage in front qf the engine. By placing the tender first, the honorable member who made that suggestion, and a few of his genial friends, could be given a ride free from the smoke of the engine, and could see the country far better than in an observation car, which is generally placed at the rear end of the train, where it draws up in its course the whole of the dust along the track.
– Would not the doctors all agree?
– The honorable member’s suggestion may be generally right; but the accident may take place in the centre of Australia.
– We may have to despatch two doctors specially, and may not be able to get all the advisers of injured people there; but I will note the point.
– But the market was a paying concern from the day it was opened.
– I wish to take this opportunity of congratulating the Minister upon the fair and lucid manner in which he explained the measure, as well as upon the fact that he will, no doubt, have the honour of being in office at the completion of what will probably be one of the most important works carried, out in the Commonwealth for very many years. As one who has occupied a seat in this Parliament since its inception, I confess to a feeling of very great satisfaction that this scheme, which Western Australian members have, advocated for so long, is now nearing completion.
In the early days of Federation I regarded the construction of this line as a sine qua non for the entry of Western Australia into the Union. It has taken a good deal of persuasion to get the Federal Parliament to agree to the undertaking, but we have the satisfaction of knowing that the history o’f this line is merely the history of all large railway schemes throughout the world. The great transcontinental railway across America, for instance, waa scoffed at for the same reason that still seems to influence some honorable members here in their attitude towards the Australian project. I may inform the honorable member for Corangamite, however, that while he stall regards the country through which this line passes as desert land, it is only desert country in the sense that the Victorian Mallee was desert country thirty years ago, and in the sense that the Camperdown country was regarded as a desert 100 years ago. Thirty years back, the effective development of the Mallee country, from the agricultural stand-point, was considered to be quite as impossible as the development to-day of country through which our transcontinental line runs; but we are not without proof of faith in the land, as there is a regular scramble for a great deal of the country affected by the line. Large tracts have been taken up - I regret to say the areas are too large. - and much more of it will be taken up in the near future. I feel sure that while the land may be occupied in the first instance for pastoral purposes only, it will not be long before it will be found fit for closer settlement. Indeed, a good deal of it is of very fine quality, and though the rainfall may be somewhat scanty, we must remember that country alleged thirty years .ago to be unfit for agriculture for this reason is now occupied to advantage, the rainfall having been found sufficient for agricultural purposes under- a modern system of cultivation.
– Will the honorable member state what is the lowest rainfall in the districts on which wheat can be grown ?
– In Southern Cross?
– You are referring, I presume, to the Western Australian side?
– I shall be glad to confer with the representatives of Western Australia on that question.
Australian Imperial Force : . Transfer of Recruits for Training Purposes: Pay - Citizen Forces : Pay and Technical Training of Trainees.
Motion (by Mr. Watt) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- I desire to bring under the notice of the Minister representing the Minister for Defence a . practice that has been adopted by the military authorities of bringing recruits from New South Wales to Victoria for training purposes. I had occasion to bring the matter under the notice of the House about sixteen months ago, and there was then some little improvement effected; but the Defence Department are again drifting back to the old method. lt is unfair to the lads who enlist in New South Wales to drag them to Seymour to be trained. I would not complain if there was any good or sufficient reason to advance for this action, but I am assured by the recruits that they get no drill that they could not secure in their own State. This system causes a good deal of dissatisfaction, which does not tend to help recruiting. On the last occasion on which I brought the matter forward, mothers who had come all the way from New South Wales to Melbourne to see their sons before they embarked, called to see me. To-day I find that the same practice is followed as much as ever. The New South Wales recruit runs a very great risk when he is brought to Victoria and is kept here for several months for training purposes. The climate of New South Wales is much warmer, and there isless rainfall in that State. At Seymour the rainfall is fairly constant, and there are different samples of climate every day. The result is that lads from New South Wales contract colds, and probably pneumonia and other complaints. The people over there get to hear about these things, and when they realize that there is a chance of lads having to leave New South Wales and come to Victoria for training, it retards recruiting. Parents are opposed to the transfers that have taken place. They claim that the lads should be permitted to remain in their own State until they have to embark. It is of great advantage to a soldier to remain in his own State when he is undergoing his training, because there he is among his own people and his own friends, and when he gets leave at the week-end he can return to his home and see his parents or his wife and family. I have heard several complaints on this score. A recruit from New South Wales has pointed out that he hae to be back in Melbourne on the Monday. Leaving on the Friday night he gets to his home at 6.30 p.m. on Saturday night,’ and he must leave on his return at 2.30 on the following afternoon. If he is not back in Victoria on the Monday he is fined. In the case of another recruit from Maitland, he gets to his home at 8 o’clock on the Saturday night, and he has to leave on his return at lunch time the following day. There is no good reason why men who enlist in one State should be dragged to another for the purpose of being trained. I ask the Honorary Minister what justification there is for this practice that is now growing up again? The Government should instruct the military authorities that men who enlist should be trained in their own State until they embark, unless some good reason is advanced for taking them into another State. If there is any special reason, of course, we must give weight to it, but, in the absence of any such special reason, I can see no justification for the practice that is followed. It is a great injustice to the parents of the recruits and to the soldiers themselves.
.- I wish to bring under the notice of the Honorary Minister the case of a number of apprentices at the naval establishment at Garden Island. These boys were called out for a compulsory- parade on Anzac Day for the purpose of stimulating recruiting. On previous occasions when they were called out for a compulsory parade they received a day’s pay, but on this particular day, when one of the most glorious things every member of the community could do was to stimulate recruiting, the Government stopped the pay of these boys. It amounted to ls. 8d. per day. I am referring to the Naval Workyarda at Garden IslandT Sydney. There are only about half-a-dozen boys concerned, and the expenditure involved in making the alteration which I suggest would certainly not strain the financial resources of the Commonwealth. Indeed, the matter is such a paltry one that I do not suppose the Minister has any knowledge of it. These boys certainly ought not to be penalized when called out on compulsory parades for the purpose of stimulating i recruiting. I may also mention that these workyards were taken over by the Commonwealth from the Imperial authorities. In the days when they were under the direct control of the Admiralty the apprentices employed there were, privileged to attend technical classes at night-time, and to permit of them doing this they were allowed to catch an earlier boat from the island to the mainland - a boat which left at 4.20 p.m. This privilege has now been withdrawn, and they are compelled to wait for a boat till about 5.15 p.m. They have then to go home, and effect a change of dress, by which tame it is too late for them to reach the technical schools to resume their duties. The country is thus being deprived of a distinct’ benefit, inasmuch as these apprentices were gaining technical knowledge, and fitting themselves to become skilled tradesmen.
.- I desire to support the remarks of ‘the honorable member for Hunter in regard to the granting of leave of absence to recruits who hail from New South Wales. I placed myself in’ communication with the Defence Department upon this subject, but the replies which I received were very evasive.
– I am advised that men are not sent into training camps outside their’ own State unless there is some good and valid reason for doing so.
– When I spoke to an officer on the subject on one occasion he said, “ What do the men want to see their mothers for ? ‘ ‘
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 26 July 1917, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1917/19170726_reps_7_82/>.