7th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. W. Elliot Johnson) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– I propose to issue, on Tuesday next, a writ for the election of a member to serve for the electoral division of Grampians, in the place of the Honorable Carly Salmon, deceased. The date of the issue of the writ will be Tuesday, 25th September, 1917; the date of nomination, Thursday, 11th October, 1917; the date of polling, Saturday, 27th October, 1917 ; and the return of the writ must be made on or before Saturday, 10th November, 1917.
– Yesterday the honorable member for Nepean asked me a question about the closing of the refreshment room at Seymour. Ihave inquired into the matter, and have ascertained that there was no need to close the room; the public could have been allowed the usual facilities for obtaining refreshment. But the Minister haspower to order the closingof the bars of refreshment rooms when troops are passing through a town, and a regulation has been issued requiring that to be done. A justification for this regulation s that, after an inquiry into the death of a soldier, the coroner who presided spoke strongly against the former practice. The closing of the liquor bars is necessary in the interests not only of soldiers, but also of civilians.
– At Seymour the bar is in the refreshment room.
– Still, travellers could have been supplied with refreshment,although liquor could not be served. The general regulation of the railway refreshment rooms in this State is in the hands of the Government of Victoria.
– I have been informed that, as the result of instructions received from the civil police, the refreshment room keeper, under some misapprehension, closed the doors of the refreshment rooms absolutely to the public, instead of merely taking measures to prevent the’ sale of alcohol while the troops were at ‘the station.
– Last week I asked the Prime Minuter to supply information regarding the membership of various Boards, and a reply has been laid on the table. I wish to know whether the information is to be printed in Hansard, and, if not, whether the right honorable gentleman will move thatthe paper be printed?
– I shall take whichever the honorable member thinks the better course.
– It would be better to have the information printed in Hansard.
– That would be the cheaper thing to do. I ask you, Mr. Speaker, if that may be done ?
– In order to insure the publication of this information in Hansard now lay it on the table. The information referred to is as follows: - Commonwealth Shipping Board. Chairman; Prime Minister, or such other Ministerashe may appoint toact in his absence.
Senator E. J. Russell (Assistant Minister). Rear-Admiral Clarkson, C.M.G., deputy - ch airman. Colonel W. J. N. Oldcrsh’aw. Mr. W. J. Young. Mr. Alfred Bright. Mr. Malcolm Brodie. Mr. C. M. Newman. Secretary, W. Heale.
Members of Central Wool Committee.
Chairman and Government nominee - Mr. John Michael Higgins; wool-growers - Edmund Jowett, Franc Brereton Sadlier Falkiner; wool sellers - Walter James Young, Andrew Howard Moore, Wm. Stevenson Fraser; wool buyer - Robt. Bond McComas; manufacturer - Burdett Laycock; scourer - Fredk. Wm. Hughes.
State Wool Committees.
New South Wales.
Growers’ representatives - Owen Esmond Friend, Alfred Edgar Hunt; selling brokers’ representatives - Kenneth DeLacy Cudmore, Duncan Carson, Frank Young; manufacturers’ representative - Robt. Vicars (chairman) ; scourers’ representative - Peter McWilliam; buyers’ representative - Harry Austin.
Growers’ representatives - John Cox Ritchie (chairman), Theodore Beggs; selling brokers’ representatives - William Alexander Eades, Norman John Carson, James Francis Guthrie; manufacturers’ representative - Charles E. Denniston ; scourers’ and f ellmongers’ representative - John Fox; buyers’ representative - George Kettelwell.
Growers’ representatives - Honorable Arthur Herbert Whittingham, M.L.C., William James Hooper; selling brokers’ representatives - Alfred Degilbo Walsh, Daniel Mactaggart, Walter Page Devereux (chairman) ; manufacturers’ representative - Franklin Robinson; scourers’ and fellmongers’ representative- John Stitt; buyers’ representative - James Robert McGregor.
Growers’ representatives - Edward ‘ Howard Bakewell, Albert Maynard Dawkins; selling brokers’ representatives - Edward Willis van Senden, George Jeffrey (chairman), Alfred Horseley Chapman; manufacturers’ representative - Charles Ernest Moore; scourers’ representative - George Henry Mitchell, jun. ; buyers’ representative - James Wigham McGregor.
Growers’ representatives - William Thorley Lot on, Frederick Francis Burdett Wittenoom, Alexander Joseph Monger, William Burgess; selling brokers’ representatives - Arthur George Leeds (chairman), Thomas Ernest Field, Charles Holder Fielding; buyers’ representative - Henry Wills Reischbeith.
Growers’ representatives - Charles Thomas Jones, Louis Manton Shoobridge; selling brokers’ representatives - George Cragg, Gerald Alleyne Roberts, Edwin Herbert Webster (chairman); buyers’ representative - Herbert William Lee; scourers’ representative - Joseph Cook ; manufacturers’ representative - David Johnston.
Right Hon. W. M. Hughes, president.
Hon. F. Hagelthorn, Victoria, vicepresident.
Hon. W. C. Grahame, New South Wales.
Hon. Sir Richard Butler, South Australia.
Hon. H. B. Lefroy, Western Australia.
Clement Giles, growers’ representative.
Advisory Committee to Wheat Board.
Geo. Bell (Jas. Bell and Co.).
Chief Prices Commission.
New South Wales - Valentine Ackerman.
Queensland - Richard Sumner.
South Australia - R. Davidson.
Western Australia - GeorgeRae.
Tasmania- George Frederick Martin.
Northern Territory - Roland James Evans.
Percy Whitton (chairman), Chief Prices Commissioner.
Rabbit Skins Acquisition.
Percy Whitton (executive officer), Chief
New South Wales. - H. W. Matthews, Commonwealth Authorized Officer; G. R. Dawson; W. A. Anderson; L. M. Triggs.
Victoria. - E. R. White, Commonwealth Authorized Officer; W. G. Berrill; J. W. Ladson; E. Bardsley.
Tasmania. - E. J. Sidebottom, Commonwealth Authorized Officer; H. W. Lee; G. E. Harrap; J. Newton.
South Australia. - H. W. Crompton, Commonwealth Authorized Officer; J. E. Edmunds; S. Wilcox; E. Leaver.
Commonwealth! Leather Industries Board.
Representative of the Commonwealth GovernmentRowland Joseph Anderson (chairman).
Representative of the Tanners of the Commonwealth - Henry Peter Zwar.
Representative of the Boot Manufacturers of the Commonwealth - Arthur Whybrow.
Representative of the Brokers and Pastoralists of the Commonwealth - James Row.
Representative of the Hide Exporters of the Commonwealth - Erskine Lindesay Armytage.
Representative of the Meat Exporters of the Commonwealth - Robert Ferguson.
Leather Industries Board. members of state committees.
New South Wales.
Master tanners’ representatives - Edward Farleigh, Clifford Bunce; boot manufacturers’ representatives - William Edward Bailey, Llewellyn John Bowen.
Master tanners’ representatives - Edward Seligman Hallenstein, William Arthur Gardiner; boot manufacturers’ representatives - Thomas Davies, James Beauchamp.
Master tanners’ representatives - Robert Turner, Joseph Gibson, junior; boot manufacturers’ representatives - Honorable Alfred Allen Davey, Frederick Thomas Morris.
Master tanners’ representatives - Richard Colling Paltridge, John Marshall Reid; boot manufacturers’ representatives - William David Roberts, John Frith.
Master tanners’ representatives - Benjamin Rosenstamm, Alfred George Pearse; boot manufacturers’ representatives - Arthur William Berryman, Robert Taplin.
Master tanners’ representative - Herbert Henry Cook; boot manufacturers’ representatives - Frank Byron Cane, Philip Oakley Fysh.
Rabbit Skins. members of state committees.
New South Wales.
George Richard Dawson, Louis Milton Triggs, William Aloysius Anderson.
William George Berrill, Joseph Walter Ladson, Elijah Bardsley.
Joseph Charles Edmunds, Sydney Wilcox, Edward Leaver.
Herbert William Lee, George Edward Harrap. James Newton.
Australian Metal Exchange.
Two Sections - Melbourne and Sydney.
Representing producers - G. C. Klug, D. G. Lumsden, W. S. Robinson (deputy chairman), and J. L. Wharton; representing buyers - A. E. Bright, A. T. Danks, A. Fraser, and W. L. Raws (chairman).
Representing producers - C. L. Garland (deputy chairman), R. T. Thompson, G. P. Carter, and Keith Brooks; representing buyers - C. E. D. Rodgers (chairman), W. H. Cawsay, W. G. Crane, and G. W. Thornton.
– It is stated in today’s Melbourne Age that Great Britain has agreed to the appointment of an American Shipping Dictator, who will control all Allied shipping. Will that control apply to Australian shipping?
– I have not seen the paragraph referred to, and, in the absence of official confirmation, am disin clined to accept it. In any case, such control would be limited in two respects. Great Britain has requisitioned practically all the shipping which flies her flag, and while British legislation governs British shipping everywhere, it does not. interfere with our jurisdiction over shipping in Australian ports. Furthermore, it does not interfere with ships interned here or with the vessels ofthe Commonwealth Government line.
– The information received by the Prime Minister regarding the arrangements for the exchange of Australian prisoners of war in Germany has given satisfaction to a good many people. Will the right honorable gentleman now make representations to the British Government on behalf of Australian civilians who have been interned in Germany ?
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral if steps have been taken to bring about the resumption of the running of the Rotomahana in the mail service between Australia and Tasmania?
– The question should be addressed to the Minister in control of shipping. My Department is anxious for the restoration of all mail services at the earliest possible moment.
– I ask the Prime Minister the question that I have just addressed to the Postmaster-General.
– I do not consider the question an urgent one, the matter to which it relates having been dealt with, and all information regarding it having been published in the press. Every effort has been made since the outbreak of the present unfortunatetroubleto maintain a service for mails, passengers, and cargo between Australia and Tasmania, and the extent to which we have succeeded has been made public in the newspapers. On Monday I saw the Premier of Tasmania, and made arrangements with him for the despatch of another steamer to carry cargo and passengers. It is hoped that the whole trouble will come to an end in the immediate future, when the present difficulty will cease.
– Is it the intention of the Government to postpone its arrangements for the repatriation of Australian soldiers until next year, or does the Government intend to finish theBill providing for repatriation before the proposed adjournment?
– The Government intends to go on with the Bill, which it regards, not only as important, but as urgent. If necessary, we shall sit longer than was originally proposed in order to finish with it. We have to pass the Bill.
– Seeing that the Minister for Works and Railways is calling for tenders and accepting contracts for public works, is he allowing his own Department to tender? If not, will be allow the Department to do so in the future, in the same way as is done in some of the States ?
– I do not think that that is a business proposition. Our method is to compare the estimates of the Department with the tenders. I should not let a tender if it were much in excess of a departmental estimate.
– In view of the aid that the exhibition of moving pictures has given to recruiting on the plan adopted at my suggestion, I should liketo know whether in the future these splendid exhibitions will be intrusted to Mr. Herschell in orderthat they may be conducted with the most beneficial results. I am alluding to the pictures that were recently shown in this House.
– I shall submit the suggestion to the Minister for Defence for his consideration.
– Canthe Assistant Minister for Defence inform, the House when the medals will be ready for the mothers of soldiers who have fallen at the Front, and when they will be distributed?
– I understand that this matter is being expedited, and I shall endeavour to give the exact dates to the honorable member.
– When the Minister is making inquiries into the matter just mentioned, will he also ascertain whether a mother who has lost three sons will receive three medals?
– In such case a mother will get a medal, and a bar for each of the other two sons. Distinct recognition is given for each son who has done service.
– Does the Prime Minister anticipate that the wheat storage silos will be available for the approaching harvest?
– That is one of those questions easier asked than answered. 1 wish I could say that the silos will be ready, but there has been considerable initial difficulty, both in this and other States. While I believe that many of the country silos will be ready, the (terminal silos most certainly will not. The question of foundations and other considerations make it impracticable to have these silos ready for the harvest.
– I have had brought under my notice the case of a man who enlisted in December, 1915, and allotted 3s. a day to his relatives. Those relatives, however, have not received one single penny piece, and the man, who is at the Front, has been falsely accused of being a deserter. Will the Minister inquire into the case if the facts are laid before him?
– If the honorable member will give me the name and number of the man, so that he may be identified, I shall have inquiries made. It seems extraordinary that the allotment has not been paid from the beginning, but some offence committed subsequently may have caused the forfeiture of the man’s pay.
– What do the Government propose to do with all the damaged wheat which is useless for consumption and export?
– The honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lynch) mentioned the matter to me last week, and made a suggestion, which I asked him to reduce to writing with a view to laying it before the Wheat Board.
– It is in your office now.
– It is alleged that a considerable quantity of wheat is damaged and unfit for four, and will be wasted unless arrangements are made of a general character to bring about its distribution and sale. I shall place the matter before the Wheat Board, and consider what can be done.
– Has the Minister for the Navy in contemplation the appointment of some one to take the place of Captain Morgan, Commandant at the Naval College? If so, will the Minister take into consideration the claims of some Australian officers for this appointment ?
– We have been in negotiation with the Imperial Government for a Commandant for the College, but with no result to date. In the meantime, the College is doing very well under the capable control of Commander Grant.
– Has the Prime Minister’s attention been called to the fact that difficulties are placed in the way of bakers who desire to supply their customers with bread at a fair price, but who are prevented by some ring, combine, or association from obtaining flour? Will the Prime Minister, when Parliament is in recess, take some action in the matter?
– My attention has been called to a number of combinations which restrict the freedom of action of other citizens in one way or another. I have been told, and I verily believe, that a number of citizens, desirous and anxious to carry on the work of the country, have been threatened that, if they do so, something rather serious will happen. The common rule which ought to be applied to all sorts and conditions of men is that everyman’s freedom of action shall be limited only by those restrictions necessary for the welfare of the general community. Just precisely how far a man can be allowed to sell bread at a price less than does another who employs labour, and has to pay Wages Board rates, and who buys flour at a price fixed by the Government, is a question for argument. All I have to sayis that, on the one hand, we cannot have sweated labour; and, on the other, we cannot have bakers exploiting the people; and we have to steer between the two. I am not going to say that a baker, if he does not employ labour, cannot produce bread cheaper than one who has to pay for labour. Everybody knows that he can. I do not propose to say that legally a baker or a combine has any right to boycott any person or firm.
– I was alluding to the supply of flour.
– I know precisely how it operates. These things are as impalpable as a shadow. They are there, very much there, but one cannot get hold of them. This is not the first case that I have seen nor the first that the honorable member has seen.
– Will the Prime Minister prevent the holders of flour from refusing to sell flour to any person who tenders the price fixed by the Government for the selling price of the commodity ?
– We cannot compel people to sell things if they do not wish to do so. I am a little astonished at the honorable member putting this question to me, because he knows perfectly well what the law is. The law says that a person must not charge more than suchandsuch a price, but it does not saythat he must sell to Jones, Smith, or Robinson; he may sell to Jones, or he may refuse to sell to him. Do not members of unions exercise the same right? Is there not now a spirited controversy in the Courts as to what constitutes a strike - whether it is a mere cessation of work, or whether it is the right of any free man to decline to “ turn to “ ? These are very interesting psychological discussions, and they fall into the same class as the honorable gentleman’s question relating to flour.
– As in one case the Ministry have set up a Government agency to provide labour where it is refused, will the Prime Minister do the same thing in regard to flour?
Mr.SPEAKER (Hon. W. Elliot Johnson). - I cannot allow this subject to be pursued any further. This is an instance illustrative of irregular procedure. An answer to a question is immediately used as a pretext for the asking of other questions on the same subject, thus initiating an irregular debate by means of a series of questions and answers, without notice, which is not allowable under the privilege of asking questions.
– In view of the adverse comments in this House upon the condition of the Richmond Main coal mine, 1 wish to ask the Prime Minister whether he has seen the report submitted to Mr. Fuller, the Acting Premier of New South Wales, in which it is stated that this mine is the most up-to-date in the southern hemisphere, and that special precautions are taken to insure the safety of the men employed in it?
– I am utterly unable to answer that question. I know less, perhaps, of coal mines than any other human being does, and I cannot say whether the Richmond Main mine is safe for working in ornot . I understand that the Government of New South Wales, in making a statement through the head of the Ministry to the effect that it is a safe mine, is acting upon expert opinion from those qualified to express it. The honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton) has expressed an opinion to the contrary. I am unable to judge between the two.
– Has the Minister for Home and Territories any information to give me in regard to the question I put to him concerning the delay of twelve days which occurred in the deliveryof a lettergram which I sent to Darwin ?
– As I have mentioned previously, the control of the censorship is in the hands of the Defence Department, and the Administrator of the Northern Territory is not in a position to interfere with it. I asked the honorable member to furnish me with a copy of the lettergram in order to enable me to find out where the delay occurred. If he does so, I shall have the necessary inquiries made.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : - 1 and 2. The reference to the New Zealand Government agent is, apparently, taken from an answer given by me on the 24th August last, relating to metal filament lamps.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: - 1 and 2. In such cases, the source of any information supplied by the Government is not disclosed.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Whether he has received any answers to the inquiries which he promised to the honorable member for Maranoa on the 23rd August last he would make re the treatment of the sick returned soldiers who had to go to the Launceston Hospital for treatment, and had to pay their own fares?
– The answers to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
The military authorities are prepared to give free treatment in a military or dental hospital to discharged returned soldiers, who subsequently may require treatment in consequence of the development ofold troubles. The question of providing railway travel in such cases is now under the consideration of the Government.
The following papers were presented : -
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired under, at-
Cockburn Sound, Western Australia - For Defence purposes.
Lytton, Queensland - For Quarantine purposes.
War Precautions Act - Regulations Amended -Statutory Rules 1917, Nos. 207, 212, 213.
In Committee of Ways and Means: (Consideration resumed from18th September, vide page 2175, of motion by. Sir John Foreest) -
That a tax he imposed on incomes derived from sources in Australia . . .
– Tax Payable in Certain Cases by Male Persons between the Ages of Twentyone Years and Forty-five Years.
There shall be payable by every male person . . . who, on the first day of July, 1917-
was unmarried or a widower without children; and
was not under the age of twenty-one years and was under the age of fortyfive years, income tax to the amount of Ten pounds or 10 per centum of his taxable income, whichever is the greater . . .
The preceding provisionsof this subdivision shall not apply to a person who satisfies the Commissioner -
.- The Treasurer announced his intention of adding to the resolution a new proposal to take 10 per cent. of any money won in a lottery. This Parliament, by another Act, made lotteries illegal, and the Postal Department will not even transmit correspondence that is connected with a lottery.
– Income tax is paid now on money won in lotteries.
– By one Act we have made lotteries illegal, and now the Government propose to take money from what may be described as a tainted source. Something we have done with one hand we are asked to undo with the other. The Government’s attitude on this matter is most inconsistent.
– We collect taxation on lottery money now, and this will provide a simplemeans of collection.
– I wish to direct my remarks principally to division F of the resolution. The Treasurer informed us that, whilst this special tax is the policy of the Government, he personally is keenly in favour of it, and that though at times a Minister may disagree from a proposal which has been adopted by Cabinet, he, in this instance, is a strong advocate of the policy which the Government have submitted to the Committee. It is very interesting to compare the Treasurer’s enthusiasm in regard to this tax with his wobbly attitude in regard to the war-time profits tax, and I judge that, in connexion with the latter impost, he, as Treasurer, was advocating something agreed to by the Government, but not favoured by him personally. In connexion with the war-time profits tax, the Treasurer did. not know where he was until the Caucus met upstairs to decide what the Government should do.
– The honorable member’s remarks are not pertinent to the proposal now before the Committee.
– I am comparing the attitude of the Treasurer in regard to this new tax with his attitude on another measure. The right honorable gentleman informed the Committee that the tax is to apply to everyman who was unmarried on the 1st July of this year, and to every widower without children . Presumably, a Bill will be introduced to legalize this proposal.
– What we are now dealing with will form the schedule of a Bill to be introduced later.
– The effect of the Government’s proposal is that, even if a man has married since the 1st July, he will still be liable to pay this tax in years to come. I know of no tax that will be more difficult to collect. The earnings of many men in the community have not averaged 30s. per week throughout the year, and they are to be asked to pay about 4s. per week in taxation. No more iniquitous proposal was ever submitted to Parliament. The Treasurer quoted a passage in which the Prime Minister said that the Government intended to accept the verdict of the people on the 28th October last, and appealed to the patriotism of the people to uphold the honour of Australia by maintaining the Australian Divisions at their full fighting strength by voluntary enlistment. If the Government had this taxation in mind when they discussed the points of the Prime Minister’s policy speech, why did they not candidly tell the people that it was proposed to impose a special tax of 10 per cent., with a minimum of £10, on every unmarried man between the ages of twenty-one and forty-five? The Treasurer states that the Government are carrying out their electionpledges, but we know that if the Government had announced this tax as portion of their policy, many honorable members who are now on the Government side would not have been elected. Not one Nationalist candidate advocated this tax on the election platforms.
– Do not worry. The Government will withdraw the Bill.
– No good would be done to anybody if we did withdraw it.
– I do not ask the Government to withdraw the Bill ; but I hope the measure will be defeated.
– It will not be.
– I suppose the Treasurer knows that he has the requisite support behind him to insure the carrying of the Bill. Did any honorable member opposite even hint, during the last election compaign, that taxation of this character was proposed by his party?
– Supposing none did - what then?
– Then the Government and their supporters have gone back on the promise of the Prime Minister that’ their party would accept the verdict of the people on conscription, as given on 28th October last. I say deliberately, that this is an evasion of the promise to accept that verdict. The Treasurer himself said that this tax was brought forward as a means of compelling men to enlist.
– I did not say that. The honorable member has my speech before him; why does he misquote me?
– I have no desire to misquote the right honorable gentleman. In bringing forward this proposal last night he said -
The Government, is actuated by two principal reasons in Bringing forward this proposal. The first is that we believe it will stimulate and increase recruiting-
What does that mean ?
– Read on. ^
– I shall do so. This is the bludgeon tha* the Government intend to use to stimulate recruiting. It is not “a transparent bludgeon” like that referred to by the honorable member for Cook (Mr.- J. H. Catts) last week in a statement which was attributed to me by the Argus - which, by the way, was only another sample of Argus misreporting - but something more substantial.
– The honorable member should complete the sentence that he quoted from my speech unless he desires to misrepresent me.
– I have no desire to misquote the right honorable gentleman. He said -
The Government is actuated by two principal reasons in bringing forward this proposal. The first is that we believe it will stimulate and increase recruiting, not so much, we hope, by the fear of having to pay the tax, as by bringing prominently, before those who have not yet volunteered for service what is not only their duty to their country, but their paramount duty to themselves.
The principal reason for this tax is put in the very forefront of that statement.
– Does the honorable member think that the tax will stimulate recruiting?
– I believe iti will have the opposite effect.
– Then that does away with the Opposition cry that this is a form of economic conscription.
– I take the view that there .will be such an outcry against this form of taxation that the Government will be ashamed of having introduced it. The possible effect of the tax cannot in any way alter its character. Here is a proposal, one reason for which, according to the Treasurer, is that it will stimulate recruiting.
– The honorable member might just as well say that the maternity bonus stimulates the birthrate.
– It is all very well for some honorable members to sneer at what they choose to term the maternity “ bonus,” but which I prefer to speak of as the maternity grant. That is its proper title.
– The honorable member would not be sorry if this tax did stimulate recruiting.
– I would not. I have done my best to stimulate recruiting.
– I know that the honorable member has.
– I did my best bo encourage recruiting until a crowd, both inside and outside the Melbourne Town Hal; howled me down. As I said at the time, those who attacked me in that way were a lot of dingoes, prepared only to hunt in packs. I certainly hope this tax will have the effect of stimulating recruiting,
I should like the Treasurer to answer my question as to what will be ‘the position of men who have married since 1st July this year?
– They will have to pay this tax.
– Both in respect of this year and succeeding years ?
– This is not like a law of the Medes and Persians. We have to pass an Income Tax Bill every year.
– I have heard that said in connexion with every income tax proposal, and I am not unmindful of the way in which legislation of this sort is put through. We are called upon to deal with this proposal, the Defence Bill, the Repatriation Bill, and the Senate’s amendment in the Railway Bill by Friday next. This is one of the most important taxation proposals ever submitted to this House providing, as it does, for a system of taxation such as does not exist, so far as I am aware, in any other civilized country.
– It is a class tax.
– It is purely class taxation designed to penalize some people who, in the opinion of the Government, have not done the right thing. On the occasion of the conscription referendum the Government announced that “ only sons “ would be exempt. There is no such exemption from this tax.
– That was in connexion with a proposal to conscript men for active service. This has nothing to do with the sending of any man to the Front.
– It is for repatriation purposes.
– When a wealth levy was proposed’ to raise funds for repatriation purposes, a meeting was held in Western Australia , at which an honorable member of this House promised to give £100 to a fund to defeat that impost.
– That is absolutely incorrect.
– I did not say it waa the right honorable gentleman who made that offer.
– The honorable member knows that he was referring to me. He is very unfair. His statement is unjust and absolutely untrue.
– The Treasurer must withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw it. I say that the statement of the Leader of the Opposition is most incorrect and a scandalous ona.
– The right honorable gentleman must withdraw the remark that the statement is scandalous.
– I withdraw it, and shall not further interrupt the honorable member.
– I am much obliged to the Treasurer.
– Was not the wealth levy proposal dropped out of the honorable member’s own party manifesto?
– It was not dropped out of the policy of the Labour Government while I was a member of it.
– Order ! That is not the question before the -Chair.
– The Treasurer estimates that this tax will yield only £500,000 per annum, and we are asked to accept it because the money so raised is to be used for repatriation purposes.
– That shows the equity of the tax.
– Did any question of equity affect Ministerial supporters when they were dealing with the War-time Profits Tax Assessment Bill ? The estimated revenue of £500,000 to be derived from this tax is to be ear-marked, we are told, for repatriation purposes, and, that being so, we’ may reasonably assume that it is the intention of the Government to continue it for more than one year. Does anyone say that it will be fair to tax, for as long as the repatriation fund may be in existence, every man who happened to be unmarried and between the. ages of twenty-one and forty-five on the 1st July last’? What will repatriation cost the Commonwealth ? An estimate of £22,000,000 has been made. How far will the £500,000 that is to be got from this tax go to provide that amount? Every one knows that the repatriation schemes will cost more than £22,000,000; they will cost countless millions. Honorable members cannot justify their action in voting for this proposal by saying that they did so because the tax was intended to provide for repatriation. They know that the intention is to get at some of those whom they think did not vote for them at the last election. This is a vindictive proposal, intended to punish certain persons for not doing as the party opposite thinks they should- have done. When conscription was proposed last October, only sons, among others, were exempt from service. Why are they not exempt from the proposed tax ? Certain persons engaged in farming and shearing were also exempted. Why are they not exempt now? Persons likely to suffer serious hardships owing to domestic find financial obligations, sole remaining sons the sole support of aged parents or of a widowed mother, or of orphan^ brothers and sisters, the sons of a family of which half the members had enlisted, ministers of religion, and others were exempted under the conscription proposals, but they are not exempted from this tax. The only persons who are exempted now are the sole remaining sons of families of which all the other brothers have been on active service outside Australia. This proposal goes back on the Bendigo policy speech and on the conscription proposal. Every honorable member must know of cases in which sons have been compelled to stay in Australia to support their parents. I know of men who are single and are supporting younger brothers and sisters or parents. In some ,cases the parents are entitled to apply for old-age pensions, but the sons prefer to support them. Why should we tax such men in the way proposed ?
– They are not worse off than married men with families who have gone to the war. 1
– It has never been proposed to compel married men to go to the war, although many have volunteered. As many married men have gone to the war from my electorate as from that of the honorable member. Within a hundred yards of where I live is the home of a married man with eleven children, eight of whom are under sixteen years of age. who, with one of his sons, has gone to the war. I do not say that that is right.
This is a class tax. It is proposed in defiance of the decision of the people, and it will be difficult to collect. I cannot conceive of any that would be more difficult to collect. Many single men move frequently from place to place. Had the Treasurer proposed to tax all single men of every age, the proposal would be different. By confining the tax to those eligible for active service, he shows that his sole purpose is to force men to enlist.
– He has denied that.
– I have quoted his own words. He gave that as the first and principal object of the tax. He says that it will, stimulate recruiting.
– Will it have that effect?
– It will set young Australia against the Government.
– I feel that that will be its effect. I trust that the proposal will be defeated, and, failing its defeat, that it will be amended in such a way as .to exempt all who were exempted under the conscription proposals. Anything else would be unfair. The Government, not. content with breaking its pledges in regard to war profits taxation, is again breaking its election promises by imposing a class tax of a vindictive character in order to punish individuals for not having done something which Ministers think they should have done.
-[11.58].- I think that the country will be greatly surprised by the proposal of the Government, in view of the fact that during the recent electoral campaign no word was said about it on the public platform. To my mind, the effect of this proposal will be disastrous, and it will nob yield the revenue which is estimated. Once it is put into operation, the public will quickly show its resentment against what is obviously class legislation. Some honorable members may think that to tax single men between the ages of twenty-one and fortyfive years, and widowers between those ages who are without dependants, may induce young fellows to enlist, but I assert that the effect will be to make the public antagonistic to recruiting. You cannot drive young Australians, though you may lead them. Do the fair thing by them, and they will respond; but endeavour to bludgeon them, and they will resent it and their parents will resent it. A large number of those who voted for Ministerial candidates will resent this proposal as keenly as any other electors. None of them anticipated such legislation. Honorable members should take into’ consideration some of the effects of this uncalled for and ill-considered proposal.
– Unjustifiable proposal.
– No one can justify it. In Australia there are hundreds of young men who are articled to some profession. Probably many of them will enlist when they have served their articles. There are young men serving articles in every town in the Commonwealth. They do not enlist when in articles because no allowance is made for the time they are absent, and because of the difficulty of adapting themselves to study oh return. In many instances these young men are the sons of fathers who, though poor, are careful, and are doing what they can to give boys who have shown marked ability the chance to enter professions. The fathers have paid the necessary premiums, and are keeping their sons going while they are serving their articles. The sons are not earning more than 10s. or 15s. a week, and many of them will not be out of their articles until they are twenty-five years of” age.” They know that if they went to the war before they were through their articles their fathers would not be able to do anything for them later. Therefore, they wish to get out of their articles before enlisting. The Government proposes to tax young fellows like this £10 a year. Is that fair?
Mr.mc Williams. - Those who have gone to the Front have made greater sacrifices.
– That is not a reason for penalizing those who are here. This Parliament should not legislate to the detriment of persons such as those to whom I refer.
Then we have to consider that there are many callings in Australia in which the work is irregular, providing employment for, perhaps, only three or four days a week. In coal mining, for instance, there are men, such as wheelers, whose earnings are 10s. a day, and, with four days available, this means £104 per annum. Is it likely that these men will continue to earn up to £100 if they are tobe called upon to pay this tax ? The chances are that instead of speeding up and helping the work of production, we shall bring about a system under which men will determine to earn only a certain amount, and thus avoid this imposition.
-Men must be a poor lot of “ rotters “ to do that sort of thing.
– We have to face the facts as they are, and, if this Bill be passed, the Government will ‘‘later on realize that what I am now saying is true.
– Men with such incomes have to pay a tax now.
– In any case, it would be very difficult to get £10 from a man who does not possess it; and we know that a young fellow with £100 a year, who has to pay, perhaps, 25s. a week for his board and lodging, and has to provide clothing and so forth, cannot save £10 in a year. What are the Government going to do with such a man?
– Send him to gaol !
– There is nothing else for it.
– We cannot do that.
– The Government will have to do something. A single man with £100 a year has much difficulty in living decently at the present time.
– Such a man has to pay an income tax under the present law.
– There is no doubt that this Bill, if passed, will create con siderable outside opposition to the Government and their supporters. The Treasurer tells us that this Bill does not mean conscription in any shape or form, but I think he would have great difficulty in making the general public believe that it is not really economic conscription.
– It is not, for all that!
– The Bill specially applies to men between twenty-one and forty-five who have not enlisted, and who, according to the Treasurer, ought to go to the Front. Why apply this tax only to eligible men if it is not for the purpose of economic conscription ? We cannot escape the logic of facts. The Treasurer himself tells us that the Bill is to stimulate recruiting; and if recruiting is to be stimulated by enforcing enlistment, what does it mean but economic conscription? The right honorable gentleman never at any time during the election campaign told the people that if he were returned he intended to introduce a tax of this kind. No leader or any person of authority amongst honorable members opposite foreshadowed such a measure to the electors, and I venture to say that had they done so they would not be where they are today in this House. This one measure is sufficient to damn the Government in the eyes of the people for having broken faith.
– That is only an assertion.
– That may be, but I believe that the future will prove the assertion to be correct. I feel sure that there are many of the Government supporters who do not approve of legislation of this kind, and on the simple ground that it is unfair. If it is necessary to repatriate our soldiers, and to impose taxation for that purpose, why does the Treasurer not takethe wealth of those people who can afford to give it?
– We are taking it, not by confiscation, but by taxation.
– If that is the position of the right honorable gentleman, I point out to him that he can tax incomes to an extent sufficient to raise the necessary money, and, therefore, there will be no confiscation. The Treasurer is the very man who has said that, so far as he is concerned, he does not believe in imposing any more direct taxation on the wealthy people of this country. Now, however, he proposes to tax the poorest class in the community, who are struggling for their livelihood; and all for the purpose of bringing in conscription without referring the question to the people. The Government and their supporters, when before the country, promised that conscription would not be introduced unless the people were consulted ; and the people accepted the assurance.
– And we are going to adhere to the pledge we gave.
– I contend that this Bill is. u breach of the pledge the Government gave, because it affects the poor people, while allowing the rich people to go scot-free.
– Do you not think that the rich people will have to “ stump up “ eventually?
– I say that eventually the great masses of the people of Australia will have to carry the whole load in connexion with the war. A Government capable of rising to the occasion, and especially a Government which has advocated conscription, should realize that it is necessary to call upon the wealthy of the country to pay for the war. If they conscript manhood, they ought to conscript wealth, instead of piling up a huge national debt. I have said previously, both here and elsewhere, that this war is a national crisis, and at such a time we not only ought to call upon men to sacrifice their lives, but ought to see that the wealth and property of the country, for the protection of which the men are fighting, pays its proper share of the cost. But when I put that position, the Treasurer is the first to resent it.
– I do not believe in robbery or confiscation.
– Then it is not “ robbery “ to take £10 a year from a man who earns £100, but it is “ robbery “ to ‘ take away half or three-parts of the income of a man who earns up to £4,000 a’ year? Legislation of this kind cannot be tolerated by any fair-minded person, and if the Government persist with it they will find themselves faced with considerable trouble in the collection of the tax.
The Commonwealth Parliament have declared lotteries illegal, and have denied the use of the Post Office in their promotion. Yet the Government propose now to ask those who have benefited by something that is illegal to pay in taxation 10 per cent, of their gains for the purpose of assisting the repatriation scheme. I venture to say that a big section of the community will resent any attempt on the part of the Government to get money from lotteries for repatriation or any other purpose connected with the war. It means, if we once enter on this plan, that in the near future we may expect to find Government lotteries instituted. While the Government profess to be very desirous to put down the spirit of gambling, they do not mind gambling going on so long as they get their 10 per cent.; they do not mind Adams getting his 10 per cent, so long as they are similarly benefited.
– The Post Office will not carry lottery communications.
– I should say there will be a little laxity in the future, if the Government pursue their present policy. Personally, . I can see nothing but difficulty in the administration of this Bill. We are . all anxious that there should be more recruits, but I do not think that a measure of this kind will assist recruiting.
– Then where is the economic conscription?
– My contention is that the Bill is intended to apply economic conscription, and it is because honorable members opposite cannot see the force of their own legislation that they are blindly following the Government. This is a placard to inform the public that the Government have done something towards winning the war. I am anxious to do everything possible, short of conscription, to help the Government to win the war; but what have the Government done ? What measure have they proposed in this Chamber to help in winning the war?
– What have you done? This war is not a party matter, surely?
– It is not a party mutter.
– Well, what have you done?
– I would not like honorable members on this side to be a party to economic conscription. The Government were returned to win the war.
– Were you not?
– Yes ; and I would do everything possible to help to win the war.
– What are you doing?
– But I refuse to pass legislation detrimental to the winning of the Avar.
– Tell us what you will do.
– When the Government introduce measures that are beneficial, they will find me supporting them, but up to the present the Government have failed to introduce such measures.
– The trouble is that the Government are likely to continue to fail to satisfy the honorable member.
– My contention is that the Government have not “ made good.”
– Have you over there “ made good “ with the Germans ? .
– I have no tame for such innuendoes. They are too frequently heard in this chamber. It seems to me that, because there has been a difference of opinion amongst honorable members, and certain gentlemen have changed their positions in the House, great, bitterness has been engendered, but that does not help us, and it would be better if honorable members would refrain from many of the interjections which are thrown out for the purpose of giving insult:
– What about the honorable member’s jeering about winning the war?
– I am perfectly entitled to allude to that matter as it is part of the Government’s policy.
– The honorable member claims that it is part of the Opposition’s policy.
– So it is, but there is a difference between the Government and the Opposition. The Government think that this Bill will help to win the war, though it was never placed before the people, and they do not know that the people approve of it. On the other hand, I say that it will be detrimental to winning the war. There are certain young men who are articled in the legal profession, and are desirous of enlisting immediately they pass their examinations. If we tax them to the extent of £10 per annum, shall we get them to enlist when they have finished their articles? That is only one of many difficulties which will be encountered in applying this tax.
I oppose the Bill because I realize that it. will not help to win the war. I have no desire to say one word against the policy of the Government more than I am . entitled to say, but I contend that this Bill will not give effect to the decision arrived at almost unanimously at the recent elections.
– Nob unanimously.
– At any rate, by a large working majority. If the Government had submitted this proposal to the people, they would be justified in bringing down a Bill to carry iti into effect, but the people knew nothing about it ; it has been- brought forward unexpectedly, and it will have the opposite effect to what the Government announced as their policy when they were before the electors. 1 consider that Ministers should give the matter further consideration. I am not in a position to claim that they have not given it mature consideration, but there are times in the history of Cabinets, as well as individuals, when hasty conclusions are arrived at, and certain measures are put forward in order to secure a direct cut to the object sought after. Possibly the Government, seeing that certain young men have not enlisted or done their duty to the country, have come to the conclusion that a tax will compel them to do so. On the surface of it the proposition may be all right from the point of view of the Government, but there is another side to the question. Consideration must be given to the effect that such a tax will have in practice. In my opinion, it will work no good for Australia. In fact, I think iti will be bad for Australia. We are all desirous of seeing these young men volunteer to go to the Front if they can possibly get away, but the effect of this Bill will be to sour them. We can hardly find any man in an industrial centre with £10 to spare at the end of a year. The young fellow who earns £100 in a year has to spend the whole of hia earnings in order to keep himself decently.
I would like to know how the Government propose -to collect the tax from those who have not the money with which to pay it. , If the legislation is passed, it will be necessary to take measures to enforce the collection of the tax. What will those measures be? Will steps be taken to prosecute those who cannot afford to pay the tax ?
– They will be put in gaol.
– ThisBill is quite unnecessary. It will not attain the object that Ministers have in view, that of helping to win the war. Its effect will be just the reverse. Among the men who were sent into camp before the military service referendum’ there were hundreds who were examined and found medically unfit. Yet they all come under this Bill.
– Not if they are medically unfit.
– They will be required to make a fresh application under the provisions of this Bill.
– There will be no great hardship entailed in securing a rejection form.
– I know that there will be no hardship attached to it, but unless persons already rejected areagain rejected they will be called upon to pay this tax. There is no escape for them under the form in which the Bill is drafted. All these matters are worthy of consideration. The Minister for the Navy says that this is not a party question. If he will relieve honorable members on his side from making it a party question-
– It will not be a party question.
– I am glad to hear the honorable member say that. I have always found that he is one to stand up to his opinions. If other honorable members take the same view and apply their thoughts to the Bill and give consideration to its possible effect, the Government will not carry the measure. Most of the arguments we have heard are strongly against the Bill. The only point in favour of it is the sentimental one of endeavouring to force young men to go to the Front. I hold that the Bill will have the opposite effect, and if we cannot force men to go by this method, there is nothing to be gained by passing the Bill. I have had some dealings with the industrial section of our community - and I think what applies to them applies to all sections. My experience is that if we are reasonable with them and put forward fair proposals, we can get them to respond, but that they resent any endeavour to bring pressure to bear on them. Not only will the young fellows resent this tax; parents also will resent it. If the Government would undertake to refer this
Bill to the people on a referendum it would be turned down by as big a majority as Ministers received at the recent elections. Thousands of people in Australia who opposed conscription voted for the Government, believing that they would not attempt to enforce it in any shape or form. If those people were given the opportunity of dealing with a measure of this description and the Government which brings it forward, they would reject the proposal and deprive the Government of the support given to it at the recent election. In the Hunter district conscription was turned down by a majority of two to one, yet the Nationalist candidates for the Senate scored a majority, showing that there were thousands of votes against conscription which were afterwards given to the Nationalist Government on the assurance that if the Nationalists were returned to power they would not introduce conscription without referring the matter to the people again. For that reason I venture to say that if this Bill were placed before the people they would interpret it as an effort on the part of the Government to bring in economic conscription or as an effort to bring pressure to bear for the purpose of forcing young men to enlist.
– Order. The honorable member’s time has expired ,
.- I regret exceedingly that on the first occasion on which I have summoned up enough courage to address the House I am in a position in which I feel forced to oppose the proposals of the Government as set forth in this Bill. I was exceedingly pleased to hear the Minister for the Navy interject that this is not regarded as a party question. It leaves honorable members on this side of the House absolutely free to exercise their own judgment, and in exercising my best judgment in regard to subdivision F I am compelled to vote against it.
-I said that the winning of the war was not a party question.
– Whether it is a party question or not, the fact does not influence my judgment one iota. If it is a party question, then I regret that I have to oppose my party on the matter. I gave no pledge to my constituents that would necessitate my voting for a measure of this kind. The first thing that excites my suspicion is the fact that the Bill starts by announcing that it is a tax upon incomes, whereas subdivision F proposes that certain classes of men are to be taxed whether they have incomes or not. One
Outstanding fact that colours all my views on any taxation proposals coming from the Government is the fact that over 300,000 men have gone from Australia to the Front, giving up all that they hold dear here, leaving their country and their friends and going to the seat of war and risking death for the sake of their country. From my point of .view every man who does not go to the Front, for whatever reason, should pay instead. My point in regard to this Bill is that it cannot be contended that it is a bona fide measure for raising funds for the purpose of repatriation or anything else.
Opposition Members. - Hear, hear!
– See where the ap plause come from.
– I do not care where it comes from. I am expressing my own views, and my reading of the Bill leads me to the conclusion that it proposes a penal » tax pure and simple. It is a tax for the purpose of punishing men who, in the opinion of the Government, should have gone to the Front, but have stayed at home. We have only to read the exemptions to be sure that the tax is penal in intent and effect. Of course those men who have gone to the Front or who are preparing to go are exempt. But the Government then propose that those who since the 1st of January of this year have endeavoured to enlist but have been rejected purely on the ground of physical unfitness shall not be called upon to pay this tax. Why should such men be exempt? If the object of the Government is merely to raise money for the purpose of repatriating our soldiers, why should those who are anxious to go to the war, but because of physical unfitness cannot do so, be allowed to go scot-free? I see no justification for such an exemption. On the contrary, I should say that a man who had testified his willingness to go to the Front, but was not accepted, would be only too glad to make a financial contribution instead.
– Would that argument apply to men over the age of forty-five years?
– My view is that there should be no age limit at all. If our object is to raise money for repatria tion purposes it does not matter what the age of a man is, or whether or not he is physically incapable of active service. A man who is physically incapable of serving at the Front may be physically capable of making a very’ handsome income. He may be a bachelor earning a large income, but simply because he has offered for active service abroad he is to be exempt. Compare the cases of two bachelors, aged 45 and 46 years respectively, and both without dependants. The man who is only 45 is to be compelled to pay at least £10 in taxation, whilst the man of 46 who may be entirely opposed to the war and using all his influence to prevent men from going to the Front, is to pay nothing. If our object is to raise funds and lay the burden of taxation on those best able to bear it, let us wipe out the age limit altogether and make every man who has not gone to the Front liable to the tax.
– Will the honorable member support that proposal ?
– I will. The next man exempted is one who, notwithstanding that he has not endeavoured to enlist, is obviously unfit for any naval or military service. Why should the Government absolve such a man of the responsibility of contributing to a fund for the repatriation of men who have gone to the Front? There are in the community many men occupying splendid positions and making handsome incomes, and who are physically unfit to fight. Their very unfitness for active service affords a greater reason why they should pay this tax, unless, of course, the Government admit this to be a penal tax.
– The honorable member may call it what he likes.
– I say that, in effect, it is a penal tax.
– The physically fit men must pay for the repatriation of those who have gone to the war.
– From the Treasurer’s point of view, if this is a penal tax. the exemptions are perfectly justified.
– Every compulsion to pay is penal.
– I do not think it is. Many men who cannot go to the Front will be only too glad to pay, and will come to the Treasurer and say, “Why are you exempting me? I am anxious to serve my country, and as I am physically unfit to render service by fighting, I wish to do it by paying.”
– The reason I gave for the tax is perfectly straightforward.
– The Treasurer said that the tax is not to force eligible persons to go to the war, but to compel those who have not gone to assist in the repatriation of the men at the Front. This tax will not do that. It will compel only some of those who have not gone to pay, and I object to selecting a certain section of the people to make this special contribution. In view of the fact that when the people of Australia were appealed to by referendum they refused to sanction the principle of compulsion, a man who declines to go to the war is acting quite within his right, and we ought not to punish him for exercising that right.
– Have we not a right to say that he shall help to repatriate the men who have gone?
– We would be right in saying that to all men who have not gone to the Front.
– We say that those who are not physically unfit and have failed to volunteer shall pay a special tax.
– That provision makes this tax obviously a penal one. I am. an out-and-out conscriptionist, and I advocated the cause of conscription on the public platform, but I abide by the decision of the people. I shall not be a party to the introduction of conscription by a side wind, and taking a course which is equivalent to endeavouring to force men to go to the Front, or, alternatively, to pay for remaining at home. I agree with the honorable members who have argued that if we desire to enlist more men this is not the way to do it. There is still some sense of honour in the men who have remained in Australia, and I believe there is a method of appeal that will secure a response if it is only applied in the right way. We promised the last man and the last shilling, and I am afraid there will be a good deal of competition for the distinction of being the last man to go to the war.
Another equally absurd provision is the exemption of the man all of whose brothers have gone to the Front. Why should a man whose brothers are fighting be exempt from paying a contribution to the repatriation of those brothers and other men. In one house there may be two sons, one of whom has gone to the Front, while the other remains at home and makes a handsome income. He will pay no tax.
– In many instances that man is working for the brother who is away.
Mr.MAXWELL.- To some extent that may be true, but the principle is not fair. 1 In another family there is only one son; he remains at home, and he has to pay this special tax whether he has an income or not. I know of a young man who is doing his University course. He is over twenty-one years of age, but he is not earning a penny; in fact, his father and mother have been scraping and saving for years in order to pay for his University education. But because he has not volunteered for active service he must pay £10.
Mr.mc Williams. - Why does he not work and earn some money ?
– Why does he not fight for his country?
– The latter interjection emphasizes the point I am seeking to make. If the Government will frankly admit that this is a penal tax we shall know where we are, and I shall vote against it. They do not admit that it is a penal tax, but every line of subdivision F is eloquent of punishments and penalties.
– What does the honorable member mean by a penal tax ?
– I meana tax which punishes a man for not doing something which in the opinion of the Government he ought to do, but” which, in his own opinion, he ought not to do. A man may be a conscientious objector, remaining at home because his conscience will not permit him to engage in warfare.
– He can show cause.
– No provision is made for him to show cause.
– Yes ; the GovernorGeneral will have power to grant special exemptions.
– When we speak of eligibility we must remember that Parliament itself has imposed upon volunteering for active service the restrictions in regard to physical fitness and age. A man who is notwithin the military age, and does not reach the physical standard which has been arbitrarily fixed, is entitled to go free of any obligation to render military service; yet the Government now propose to penalize that man. I am unable to understand why policemen are to be exempt.
– They are already exempt under the Defence Act.
– Why should a man, merely because he happens to be a policeman, be exempt from paying his share of the cost of repatriation? Why should a minister of religion be exempt?
– He is exempt under the Defence Act.
– What has an income tax to do with the Defence Act ?
– It has everything to do with the Defence Act.
– The Treasurer seems to have resolved to introduce this penal provision in an income tax Bill, and he has referred to the Defence Act to find out the conditions of eligibility. He has then decided that every man who can comply with the conditions of eligibility, but has not volunteered for active service, shall pay a special tax, whether he has any income or not.
– How is he- to pay the tax if he has not got the money ?
– The collection of the tax. will be the Treasurer’s funeral, not mine.
– These continued interrjections are entirely disorderly, and I remind honorable members that there is a custom, sanctioned by long practice, of allowing a new member to be heard in silence when making his first ‘speech to the House.
– I had practically concluded my speech. This is the first occasion on which I have been able to screw up my courage to address honorable members. .1 am painfully conscious of my newness here, for, although I am old in years, I am young in experience of this House, and I am exceedingly obliged to honorable members for the attention they have given to me.
.- After the very able speech just delivered by the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell), I feel sure that the Treasurer will withdraw this proposal. If ever a clean knock-out blow was given to. any Bill the honorable member has just administered one-
– Give him a little poetry.
– Poetry is all very well in its place, but when we have to deal with the practical things of life, the mere spinning of phrases will not help us. In October last the people were invited to adopt the principle of compulsory military service beyond the seas. That proposal they turned down. The electors said that Australia was prepared to do her best by voluntary methods to assist in bringing the war to a successful conclusion ; that she was prepared to assist with her man power, on a voluntary basis, and financially, to the best of her ability. The implication was that the Government’ should not by any side wind attempt to introduce compulsion, or impose conditions which the people had thus decided should not be imposed. Under this proposal, however, the Government say that every eligible who has not enlisted or attempted to do so shall pay a penalty of £10, irrespective of whether he has earned that amount or not during the year. On the other hand, they say to those who have a fair banking account, “You can buy yourselves out of military service.” If the Treasurer will look closely at this proposition-
– I should never see it from the honorable member’s point of view, even if I did look closely into it.
– The Treasurer will recognise that we have here a proposal to revive the old and rotten principle of militarism in Great Britain, under which men were able to purchase commissions or to buy themselves out of the Army. Under this proposal a single man without income - a man who has been merely scratching along, but is eligible for military service - must either get . into khaki or go to. gaol.
– That is not right; there is no question of gaoling.
– Does the Treasurer suggest that a man who is’ not prepared to pay this tax will be able to snap his fingers at the Government, and that the authorities will be unable to do anything with him? The right honorable gentleman cannot convince me that there will be no penalty in such circumstances.
– We shall make them pay.
– A man’s wages will be gar.nisheed.
– And if he has no wages to be garnisheed-
– The Government will “ garnishee “ him.
– That is the point. He will either have to get into khaki or go to gaol.
The Treasurer has said that this is not a measure to force men into khaki or to introduce conscription by a side wind, but merely a means of raising revenue for repatriation purposes. He has said that those who have not gone to. the Front should be prepared to pay this tax to assist in the repatriation of those who have. I believe that all who have not gone to the Front must be prepared to pay, according to their means, their share of the cost of repatriation. We should not, however, heap the burden upon the backs of those least able to bear it. Those who, have the money, and can best afford to carry the burden, should be required to bear their proper share. A week or two ago we had. the War-time Profits Tax Assessment Bill before us, and Ministerial supporters advanced all sorts of arguments in opposition to it. Many of its provisions were declared by them to be iniquitous, and calculated to hamper the development of new businesses. Honorable members opposite were practically tumbling over each other in their anxiety to provide for further exemptions, and, in the end, it was provided that a man should be allowed to make excess profits to the extent of £1,000 per annum before being called upon under that Bill to pay a penny towards repatriation. Their attitude reminds me very forcibly of the story of the Yankee who, when told that he was unpatriotic, and had no love of country, replied, “ Why, my bosom is swelling with patriotic fervour! I am prepared at any time to sacrifice all my wife’s relations upon the altar of my country!” Ministerial supporters are taking up very much the same attitude towards repatriation. They are prepared to sacrifice all their poor relations - all the working classes - but are not prepared to call for any sacrifice on the part of those best able to make sacrifices. I hope the Treasurer will see his way to withdraw this proposal altogether.
– The honorable member knows that the Government will not do so. This is all bluff.
– I regret to hear such an expression coming from the Treasurer, because he is, after all/ a big-hearted gentleman, and I am sure that in his calmer moments he will recognise that this measure will put an absolute injustice upon the country. I am confident that he will see his way to withdraw this measure, and to allow the Parliament to impose legitimate taxation upon those who can afford to bear it.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.80 p.m.
.- I move -
That all the words after the word “ That “-
– Does the honorable member desire to stop the general discussion ?
– Discussion can proceed on my amendment; and, should that be defeated, can be continued on the motion. My amendment is -
That all the words after the word “That” be struck out, with a view to the insertion of the following words: - “this House has no confidence in a Government which breaks its election pledge not to introduce conscription without reference to the people, a proposal to im- pose a penalty tax upon single men eligible for military^ service who do not enlist to fight oversea being a most obnoxious form of military conscription.”
– I submit that any amendment must be specifically directed to the motion before the Committee, and should be in perfect consonance with the motion, although it may try to modify its effect. The amendment which the honorable member wishes to move contains a general expression of political opinion rather than something germane to the subject under discussion.
– I submit that the amendment is not in order, as being entirely irrelevant.
– I am of opinion that the amendment is not in order because it is not germane to the question before the Committee.
– I am compelled 1o accept your ruling, sir. Apparently, the Minister- and Government supporters do not wish for a direct vote on this question . They desire-. to hold another Caucus meeting first.
– I thought you said that you did not wish to make this a party question ?
– I said nothing of the kind. It is a party question. The Government pledged themselves not to introduce conscription without reference to the people.
Mr.mc Williams. - By this action, the honorable member will lose a few votes.
– That is the remark of a mere party hack. It is for honorable members to square themselves with their constituents in any way they please. The proposal of the Government directly attacks the single eligible men of this country who have not enlisted to fight oversea. If this is not a party question, conscription is not a party question.
– It never was a party question.
– Then, on what grounds did the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lynch) leave the Labour movement?
– Because the Labour party denied liberty of conscience and freedom of opinion. I am an anticonscriptionist.
– The division in the Labour movement was occasioned by the question of conscription. If conscription does not divide the so-called National party from the Labour party, what issue divides the two parties? The honorable member may say that he is not a conscriptionist.
– I said when the word first came into the caucus room that I would not accept conscription.
– The honorable member, like the Treasurer, will do a thing and say that he is not doing it.
– The honorable member ran upstairs on the 14th September, and then ran away again.
– If the honorable member refers to my attitude on conscription, he knows the insinuation of indecision to be absolutely untrue.
– The honorable member for Cook must withdraw that statement.
– I withdraw it, though I am sorry that I cannot think of an expression which so accuratelydescribes what the honorable member has said.
– I ask for that remark to be withdrawn, too.
– I withdraw it, in accordance with the Standing Orders, but I shall consult certain records and refer to the matter again to-morrow.
I have opposed military conscription from the jump, and everywhere. The honorable member for Werriwa may say that he is opposed to conscription, but he is supporting conscriptionists in the control of this country.
– I am supporting freedom of opinion and liberty.
– What freedom is there under the War Precautions Act as administered by this Government? The honorable member defines freedom in a way that suits himself.
– The honorable member belongs to the party that carried the War Precautions Act.
– That party was tricked into doing so by the statement that the Act would not be used as it is being used to-day. Had the members of the party thought that it would be used as it had been used, the measure would never have been placed on the statutebook.
– That does not say much for the intelligence of the party.
– We had more trust in the Leader of the Government then than the honorable member has today. When it was proposed to send the right honorable gentleman to the Imperial Conference, his supporters took care to appoint two others to accompany and watch him.
We have had several declarations by the Prime Minister regarding conscription. On the 19th September he said -
Whilst I live I shall go on with conscription, and the only way to stop me going on is to stop me from living.
Evidently that is the pledge which he proposes to honour; he has thrown overboard the pledge which he gave later, when seeking election, that he would stand by the mandate of the country given on the 28th October, and would not introduce conscription by regulation or by legislation without reference to the people.
– The honorable member does not say that this is conscription ?
– It is conscription, naked and unashamed.
– Will it make men enlist?
– It imposes a penalty on men who refuse to enlist. We shall see whether the Government will carry the proposal. It is a good thing that we have got a direct issue. The Imperialistic jingoes who are running the Government are attacking the young men of Australia, and we shall see whether these young men will knuckle down to that sort of thing.
When we were dealing with the Wartime Profits Tax Assessment Bill, the honorable member for Flinders (Sir William Irvine) was at some pains to point out thatthe measure was not in keeping with the pledges of the Government. This is the second occasion on which the Ministers have broken their pledges.
– The statement of the honorable member is not quite accurate. What I said was that the pledge to the country was to introduce the Bill which the Government had introduced, but that the essence of the pledge was a tax on war profits. I did not say that the Bill was inconsistent with the pledge of the Government.
– I have read very carefully the Hansard report of the honorable member’s speech on the 5th of this month, at page 1667, and although I am not allowed to quote it now, I shall do so on another occasion, when the honorable member will have difficulty in showing that he did not attack the Government for refusing to carry out its election pledge. We shall see whether on this occasion he is prepared to require the Government to keep another election pledge.
Mr.JosephCook. - Was this question before the people at the last election ?
– The question of conscription was before the country, and the honorable member and others are pledged not to introduce conscription without consulting the people. As the honorable member for Fawkner has pointed out, conscription is now being introduced, not in a straightout, honest, British way, by requiring eligibles to go tothe Front, but in a backstairs method. A waddy being used to bludgeon men into enlisting. The Prime Minister, speaking in Melbourne on 16th March, is reported to have said -
The Government does not contemplate reviewing the conscription verdict or disturbing it, and the attempts of certain personsto persuade the electors to the contrary could only he regarded as a mere electioneering dodge.
On the 20th March he said, speaking again in Melbourne -
Let me say definitely as a Democrat, I shall abide by the decision given on 28th October.
The Treasurer sent a message to New South Wales during the election campaign saying that the decision of the people on the question of conscription would be adhered to.
– When did I say that? I was in Western Australia during the election campaign.
– Could not the honorable member communicate with the press? It was published throughout New South Wales that he would be no party to disturbing the decision regarding conscription come to on 28th October.
– I do not remember sending any message to New South Wales.
– Did not the honorable member make that statement?
– I have no recollection of it. I was in accord with what the Prime Minister said at Bendigo.
– The Treasurer never believed in conscription, but the Caucus dragooned him into it.
– That is absolutely incorrect.
– The honorable member for Flinders, speaking at Dandenong, on 22nd April last, said -
He stood as strong a conscriptionist as ever he did. Nothing that happened on the 28th October last, and nothing that had happened since, had diminished one iota the necessity for conscription. In fact, everything that had happened since the 28th October had made the necessity for conscription more urgent.
I am reminded that when it was pointed out by the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) that this is neither more nor less than a penalty tax on those who refuse to enlist, the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Heitmann) stated that he would be prepared to go so far as to impose a penalty tax, and that the motion contained nothing objectionable from that point of view.
– He did not say it exactly like that.
– I have not the honorable member’s exact words, but they were to that effect.
– The honorable member for Kalgoorlie is opposed to this Bill.
– The honorable member stated that he was prepared to support a penalty tax.
– He said he was prepared to support a penalty tax on single men.
– On single men who did not enlist.
– He did not speak of single men who did not enlist.
– I notice that the resolution provides that the GovernorGeneral may grant exemptions. Who is the Governor General but the Minister? This is really a powerto be taken by the Government to institute a system of favoritism, so that any person whom the Government do not desire to be penalized may be granted an exemption. It is time that our motions and legislation were so drawn that people can understand them. Outside it is thought that these motions represent something that the GovernorGeneral does as the representative of His Majesty the King, whereas they mean nothing but the exercise of the whims and fancies of the Government for the time being. This, in my opinion, is one of the most obnoxious features of the Bill.
– All legislation represents the “ whims and fancies of the Government for the time being.”
– This proposal is so objectionable that the young men of Australia should burn in effigy every member of the House who votes for it.
– I think that is a very improper remark to make.
– As you object to the remark, Mr. Chairman, I withdraw it. The Treasurer stated that there are only three classes of people who will be affected, namely - 1, those who favour military and naval service in time of war; 2, those who favour compulsory military and naval service in time of war; and 3, those who have gone to the war, or who have offered to do so. How are persons who favour compulsory service to be exempted ? Do the Government propose that their supporters who are in favour of compulsion shall be exempted ? Is that how the power of the Government is to be used, through the medium of the GovernorGeneral ? There are any number of people who are nominally in favour of compulsion, and vote for it, but who themselves do not go to the war. How, then, are the Government going to discriminate through the Governor-General in the matter of exemptions?
Though the Treasurer went to great pains to read his speech, so that every word of it must have been carefully studied-
– We have heard the honorable member do the same thing.
– Yes ; I have attempted on occasions, when a more than ordinarily difficult subject has been before us, to prepare a speech, but when I have tried to read portions of it, some one like the honorable member who interjects has promptly risen to object.
– Because it is against the Standing Orders.
– Are we to understand that the system of favoritism the Government are now seeking to institute by this motion operates on the floor of Parliament? Are we to understand that the Treasurer may do that which another honorable member may not?
– The honorable member should have taken exception at the time.
– I never take exception to an honorable member reading his speech, but I do take exception to the different treatment meted out to me from that which is meted out to others.
– The honorable member is not in order in making that remark.
– The Treasurer, in his carefully prepared typewritten statement, said that the first and principal reason of the Government for introducing this measure wasto stimulate recruiting. What does that mean ?
– Read on.
– The second reason was that it would make a contribution towards the repatriation of the soldiers. This is the only tax introduced by the Government to deal with repatriation’; there is not another penny piece of that taxation with that object. The policy of the Government is to find the money for the repatriation of our soldiers from two sources, one of which is the single men who refuse to enlist, and the other is posterity, who find both principal and interest on loans. Babes yet unborn are to find the interest on the loan money, the only other class to contribute being the single men who refuse to enlist, and who, presumably, are opponents of this Government.
We over here have waited for some time to hear the apologists for the Government explain the reason for this policy. The Treasurer thinks that because he has sugar-coated the pill with a reference to repatriation, the country will swallow it. He evidently thinks that the reference to the soldiers will operate as a kind of threat, so that, if any opposition is raised to the proposition, those who raise it will be pointed out as being opposed to finding money for repatriation. However, both the House and the country can see through that transparent device.
The Bill provides a minimum tax of £10 a year on every single man of military age, and every widower without children. It has been pointed out that some men are in such a poor position that they are unable to save £10 with which to pay the tax. What will the Government do ? All that the Government can do is to gaol these men.
– The Bill does not say so.
– But what can the Government do to give effect to the measure ? Is the Bill to be merely a pious expression of opinion, that may be obeyed or disobeyed according to the caprice of the individual? The honorable member knows that there must be a penalty. If a man refuses to pay the £10, the Government, if in earnest, must send him to gaol. Of course, if that does occur, then, I suppose, the Government will do what has been done in other cases - the man will be let out of gaol on condition that he goes to the Front. By this means will be brought about that form of conscription which the Government and their supporters pledged themselves would not be introduced.
– Is that the opinion of your supporters? Will they dodge payment like that?
– Evidently the honorable member thinks he is taxing only my non-conscriptionist supporters.
– I am taking your word for it.
– Evidently the honorable member thinks that my supporters voted against conscription, whereas his voted in favour of it, and, therefore, my supporters should bepenalized. The Treasurer, in introducing the Bill, said that those in favour of compulsory service for duty oversea should be exempt from the operation of the tax. This Bill proposes a tax of 10 per cent., or 2s. in the £1, as a minimum, andthis is equal to the income tax on an income from personal exertion of £4,000.
– How do you make that out?
– I have not the details, but I give the result as it has been worked out. At the £4,000 level of income from personal exertion the tax is equal to 2s. in the £1. This Bill will operate in the case of young men who are just starting in life, and whose incomes are small; and we are told by the Treasurer that if a man marries after 1st July he will still be compelled to pay the tax. This special tax, I may point out, does not exempt any young man from ordinary taxation on all the commodities he uses.
In his Budget statement on the 8th of last month, the Treasurer stated that there were 233,716 persons paying income tax, of whom 167,853 were in receipt of incomes of less than £200 per year. We see, therefore, that the proposed tax is to fall on the majority composed of those whose incomes are less than £200.
– A man who pays the tax under this Bill will not be subject to income tax.
– The honorable member is wrong, because the ordinary income tax has to be paid in addition - this is a super-income tax.
– If a man is not called upon to pay income tax, he will not be called upon to pay this tax.
– Certainly he will. Apparently the honorable member does nob know the nature of the proposal he is supporting.
– I think there ought to be an exemption in the case of a man who is not called onto pay income tax.
– I think the party opposite ought to have another Caucus meeting, to agree as to the legislation to be introduced. So far from stimulating recruiting, I believe that this Bill will have the very opposite effect. The people who say that they are most in favour of the prosecution of the war are those who have introduced all the discord which has lessened the efforts of Australia in connexion with the war.
– How can the honorable memberargue that it is, economic conscription when he says that the Bill will fail to force anybody to enlist ?
– I hope to hear the honorable member giving reasons for this iniquitous proposal of his Government. It is an attempt at economic conscription, but it will have a boomerang effect, and will come back and hit those who have set it in motion.
.- The principal abjection voiced on both sides of the House is that this Bill is a form of economic conscription ; tut that argument is defeated when it is also claimed that it will conscript no one. If the argument of honorable members that the Bill will not force one person to join the ranks of the Army be correct, the Government cannot be said to have been false to any pledge given at the recent; election. But if this is economic conscription, if the liability to pay a tax of £10 will force men into the ranks of the Army, I am glad of it. By saying that men are willing to risk their lives and limbs in order to avoid the payment of £10, which they can earn very easily in this country, honorable members opposite set a value of £10 upon a mam’s life and limbs. During the election campaign I said that I would endeavour to place the inevitable taxation that would have to be imposed on the shoulders of those best able to beaT it, and when speaking on the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply I advocated this same tax long before the Government foreshadowed it. I knew that, while very many families were doing their share in the wax, other families, many of them of German extraction, and some of them sympathizers entirely with our enemies,, were getting rich at the expense of those Who were fighting at the Front, and were not paying Id. towards repatriation, or helping in any way. I have seen in my electorate - .what is typical of many districts throughout Australia - a family with half-a-dozen 30ns, all of them at home, making hay while the sun shines, taking advantage of the fight that is being put up by others, and not subscribing Id. towards any patriotic fund, while next to them is a family in which all the sons have gone to the Front, while the old people remain at home to-run the farm. I want to place taxation on the shoulders of those best able to bear it and who are better able to bear it than single men Without dependants, possessed- of their full strength and manhood?
– Most of them are now engaged in “ scabbing.”
– What are these. men doing whom this taxation will hit? They are scabbing on the men at the Front. I. received a letter yesterday from a unionist in la country district, telling me that he has been called upon to pay a levy of a day’s pay a week, in order to help the strikers who are out of work.
– ‘Does not the honorable member consider that the unions are justified in calling for assistance to feed women and children who are starving?
– Those who object to this tax abject to helping those men who are making a great “ strike “ for Australia at the Front. The honorable member is a great example of the “ starvers.” Instead of the “poor widow,” he is taking up the case of the poor, strong, healthy, rich bachelor, who it is said cannot afford to pay £10 towards repatriating the boya who are fighting for him at the Front. It is claimed that there are many single men, between twenty-one and forty-five years of age, without dependants, who are not earning £2 a week. I am very sorry for them. But they can earn that wage at any time, and especially now, if they will only work. Thousands can get work at the present time, but they will not work.
Oases of men who will be penalized because they have dependants have been brought f forward ; but I am sure that the Treasurer will be willing to amend the Bill so that those who have dependants absolutely depending on them may be exempted, lt would he quite in accord with the principle of the Bill to do so. It is also said that it will be hard to collect the tax. Honorable members have talked about nomads, the men who are drifting about, who are here to-day and in another place to-morrow, earning wages wherever they can find work, but that is just the type of man who is the very first one to enlist, and who, if rejected by a medical officer, will apply again and again until he comes to be regarded as a nuisance. The man who is stopping at home is the man who is in a comfortable billet, usually a Government billet, and can well afford to pay the tax, and should be made to pay it.
It is also said that this is class taxation. So far the interpretation bestowed by honorable members upon class legislation is legislation that discriminates between working men and capitalists, or between the well-to-do classes and those not so well off ; but) this Bill makes no such distinction. Each man will pay according to his income. The rich man will pay, perhaps, twenty or even forty times as much as the poor man will pay. Can any one tell me that the young single eligible man, with all his health and strength, should not be called upon to pay something to. help the men at the Front 1
– This is a new scheme for helping the unemployed.
– There is employment waiting for all who are unemployed. They can go into camp and earn 6s. a day, and be kept. This tax will be the easiest one in the world to avoid. Any one can avoid it by walking down to the Melbourne Town Hall, and doing his duty to his country.
– And the honorable member can get out of the other taxes by dropping his profits.
– Does the honorable member object to any one going down to the Town Hall and enlisting?
– No; but I want some” of the honorable member’s crowd to drop their profits.
– They will drop some of their profits under “this taxation. They will lose 10 per cent, of their income. It is said that there are members of families who are earning nothing. In the country many farmers’ sons receive no wages. It is one of the worst features of Australian life, and I would like to see it remedied. There are cases where the sons are anxious to go to the Front, but they are threatened by their parents that if they enlist they will receive no benefits from them now or hereafter. As these young men receive no wages, if the parents are anxious to keep them here, they will have to pay the tax proposed in this Bill. As I have already said, there are families in which not one son is doing his duty to the country, while in the case of neighbouring families the parents have given up all their sons, and everything they hold dear, have subscribed liberally to patriotic funds, and worked past the allotted span of life ,in order to keep the farms going until the boys come back from the Front. When I think of these things, I question the sincerity of men who claim that this is a class tax, that it is inequitable, and that it is economic conscription. If the Bill will force one>man into the ranks of the Army I welcome it. Honorable members are asking for consideration for the’ poor strong healthy bachelor, who does not deserve any consideration whatever if he has not gone to the war.
– The honorable member looks fit enough.
– I may look fit enough; but I have offered myself and been rejected.
– The honorable member knew beforehand that he would be rejected.
– I am aware of that; but I will go before any tribunal that the honorable member chooses to name and offer myself again. I have my rejection certificate in my pocket. I have done everything that I possibly could to enlist. However, I do not wish to be led aside by that argument, and I have no desire to glorify my patriotism at the expense of my physical unfitness. Not only as a member of this House, but also as the Chairman of the Recruiting Committee in Victoria, I have, in justice to the men whom I have induced to enlist, said that no matter what the cost to Australia would be, they would receive fair treatment. Even if it costs the last shilling the men who have gone to the Front are deserving of it. I donot see that this paltry taxation of £10 per annum is inequitable, or an injustice, because those who are in the full enjoyment of their health and strength arte the very men who can afford to pay the tax. Therefore,* this Bill meets with my hearty and earnest approval.
– In placing this Bill before us, the Treasurer, in his usual nice manner, tried to make us believe that it was an innocent little measure that would hurt no one, but during the last threequarters of an hour he has been in solemn conclave with those honorable members who have expressed their opposition to it. I hope that they have been able to comfort him a little. Somewhat like the War-time Profits Tax Bill, this measure is a supreme farce. We were told by the Government that they were going to do certain things to win the war. We were told, among other things, that those who made money out of the war would be compelled to pay for the cost of- the war, but the exemptions put into the Wartime Profits Tax Assessment Bill made the War-time Profits Tax a farce. The Bill before us, in seeking to penalize those who do not come under . the provisions of the W’ar-time Profits Tax Assessment Bill, is also a farce. I smiled when I heard the honorable member for Indi expressing his desire to got at the stalwart bachelors, and when I thought of how the married men talk about doing one’s duty to his country. One would think that men married for their poor dear bleeding country’s sake. Why did these men get married? Be-‘ cause they saw a “ little bit of cuddle” they liked. They spruced themselves up, wore a nice tie and tight boots, acquired a sickly look, and said they could not sleep at night. They tell us all this was done for their bleeding country. The truth is that they did it for some “ tarts.” We are justified in ridiculing the whole of this proposal. Some men are to be fined £10 because they will not go to the war, whilst other men are making hundreds of thousands of pounds in war profits. How can honorable members opposite know the financial position of bachelors? Many of them have responsibilities as great as married men, and are we to force them to marry? Suppose those men are womenhaters. The women are far better off single than they would be if married to some of the men who will be liable to this tax. I cannot approach this Bill in a serious spirit. We are supposed to be logical, and to give the people legislation which has been duly considered in all its aspects. Every form of taxation bears hardly on somebody. I know thousands of men who are unmarried, and if the Treasurer knows how to get £10 out of them he is wiser than anybody else. Many men who offered to enlist, and were rejected, have since made arrangements to get married. Now they are told that because they were not married before 1st July they will be penalized to the extent of at least £10.
– If they have been rejected for military service they are exempt.
-That is not so. If they are fit. for military service to-day they will be required to pay this tax. We know that thousands of men married in order to evade this taxation, because its introduction was anticipated. And a lot of them would have been better unmarried. The Treasurer and the Government know that this taxation will not be worth collecting if exemptions are to be allowed to anything like the extent proposed in connexion with the war-time profits tax; and surely if the men who have made a lot of money out of the war are to get exemptions for reasons, a man who is earning only £100 per annum ought also to get exemption for reasons. The Government are not candid in saying that this is merely a measure of taxation to raise funds for repatriation purposes. It is intended to be a form of economic conscription. The Government hope that men who cannot pay the £10 will be forced into the ranks.
– Would this tax force anybody to go to the Front ?
– Most men who reach the age of thirty-eight years without getting married are not necessarily waiting for the girl they want; they have found the girl, but their wages will not permit them to maintain a wife as they think she should be maintained. Men earning £126 a year have not saved enough money to pay this tax. Lots of men do not earn anything like that amount, and for that reason they will not marry. Now the Treasurer says to them, “ As you will not marry and’ drag some poor girl into misery, we shall make you pay £10 per annum.” If that is not economic conscription, I am a Dutchman. 1 hope the Government will succeed in carrying this Bill, because it will help, with their other actions, to so discredit them that their chance of getting a renewal of their term of office will be very small.
.- This proposal is one which finds me without very much enthusiasm. In fact, I might describe my attitude as one of absolute indifference. To my mind, the measure is defective in two respects: it goes too far, and yet it does not go far enough. If this-Bill is intended to produce revenue for a very worthy object, namely, the repatriation of our soldiers, and if it is intended to apply to a certain section of the community that has failed in certain respects in its duty to the soldiers, I cannot see why it should stop at persons of the age of forty-five years. If we are to raise revenue by a bachelor tax, there are many men in this country over the age of forty-five years who have not yet done a great deal in regard to war matters. I may be wrong, but my impression is that in this community there is a remarkably large percentage of bachelors of middle and elderly age, many of whom are rolling in wealth. They have declined all the responsibilities of marriage, they have lived selfish, miserable lives, and rarely subscribe a pound or a solitary half-crown to any charitable or philanthropic object. I know a good many individuals of that kind, and. judging from the applause in the chamber, I am inclined to think that other honorable members know many of the same variety. Why should such persons escape a tax in regard to their lack of national service as men? If there is one public duty of more importance than another in a country like Australia, it is marriage. Australia requires population, and if these men have refused a duty and responsibility in this regard, the Treasurer is failing in his duty to the country in introducing a proposal of this kind which stops short at men of the age of forty-five years.
I have explained how, in my opinion, the Bill does not go far enough. I shall now explain how, in my judgment, the measure goes too far. If, as the Treasurer says, the tax is intended to stimulate recruiting, this is an indirect and wholly insincere method of achieving a worthy object. I wish to say here and . now that, so far as I am concerned, the Government will have to introduce soon some proposal more thorough and straightforward than any measure of this kind for reinforcing our men at the Front. One honorable member on this side waxed very earnest over the fact that the measure will penalize certain individuals who have refrained from doing their duty by enlisting. There are far too many such men in Australia. We hear of families with four or five men, not ohe of whom has gone to the Front, and near ‘by are other families in which every son has offered himself, and some have paid the supreme sacrifice. Does any honorable member pretend that the payment of £10 or a little more per annum is an adequate sacrifice on the part of those who have refrained from going to the Front? lt is the merest mockery to suggest that a tax of this kind is anything in the nature of a levelling up of the obligation of those who have so deplorably failed to do their duty. There is only one method by which that can be done, and I say now, in all earnestness, that it is time the Government seriously considered the necessity for adopting that method, and giving the country something more effective than this miserable and hypocritical proposal.
– The attitude taken up by the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Fowler) is understandable, and quite consistent with the ideals he has advocated. I find myself in considerable agreement with him, especially in regard to the last point he made - that the suggestion that a tax of £ 10 per annum is the equivalent of enlistment is one of the greatest insults that could be offered to men who do enlist. To say that the payment of a £10 tax is to be accepted as a quid pro quo for enlistment is a proposition that one cannot understand, having regard to the policy promulgated by this Government. The young men of the country have had before them two alternatives in connexion with the war. They have had the opportunity either to enlist or to decline to do so. I am not going to inquire into the reasons that have actuated those who have refused to enlist. They have been insulted and abused by my honorable friends opposite, and their supporters, from every platform. Even the recruiting platforms have been used to insult them. I do not think a mistake oan* be more easily made than in trying to determine the reasons that actuate men in doing, or failing to do, certain things.
– Does the honorable member say that in time of war every man should please himself?
– The principle of compulsion for military service overseas is foreign to our form of government, and to all our ideals. The conscription referendum proved, if proof were wanted, that the people of this country considered that there should be no compulsion for military service overseas. The point with which I am immediately concerned, however, is that for some reason or other - and the reasons are immaterial to my argument - there are in Australia a number of young men who have not enlisted. That they have the right to refuse cannot be successfully refuted, and the country itself has supported them by its refusal to adopt the principle of compulsory military service overseas. In this proposal, however, the Government are giving these young men a third alternative. Previously it was open to. them to enlist or not to enlist. The Government now say to them, “ If you do not enlist you must pay up.” Thus the payment of a tax df £10 may now be accepted by the young men of Australia as a justification for nonenlistment.
– That is not the intention of the Bill.
– Certainly not; but will it not be the real effect of it?
– Revenue has to be raised, and this is one way of raising it.
– The Treasurer says that this Bill is not primarily for the purpose of raising revenue.
– He has not said that.
– I do not wish to misquote the Treasurer. I have here a copy of the speech delivered by him in submitting this proposition, and on referring to it I find that he said -
The Government is actuated by two principal reasons in bringing forward this proposal. The first is that we believe it will stimulate and increase recruiting–
That is the first reason.
– Read further; complete the sentence.
– The Treasurer, dealing with the reasons for this Bill, went on to say that -
The first is that we believe it will stimulate and increase recruiting, not so much, we hope, by the fear of having to pay the tax, as by bringing prominently before those who have not yet volunteered for service what is not only their duty to their country, but their paramount duty to themselves. The second reason is to provide funds towards the repatriation of those who have returned from the war after having served their country.
Where are the additional reasons for which honorable members have clamoured? The Treasurer admits, as i said before, that primarily this Bill is not for the purpose of raising revenue, but to increase recruiting.
– It is also for the purpose of raising revenue.
– I do not think the honorable member should shift his ground so quickly.
– I say the Bill is for revenue-raising purposes as well as to stimulate recruiting.
– Honorable members have heard me quote exactly what the Treasurer said. The primary reason for this proposal is the stimulation -of recruiting.
– Not the “ primary “ reason, but one reason.
– The first reason given by the Treasurer - which is the primary reason-
– The Treasurer did not use the word “ primary.”
– I do not say it is the best reason; I say it is the first reason. The Treasurer says he wishes to stimulate recruiting. He can stimulate it under this Bill only by making the tax payable such a hardship that, to escape it men will think it worth while to enlist. The argument advanced by the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Fowler) is unanswerable. I refer to his contention that ‘ to compare the risk to life and the hardship involved by active service, on the one hand, with the payment of a tax of £10 and the right on payment of that amount to remain in Australia, is to insult those who have enlisted. This will not help recruiting.
– I do not think any one will say it is the equivalent of enlistment. .
– That is the argument involved in the Treasurer’s statement.
– No; that is an exaggeration of his argument.
– If this proposed tax is to be used as a means of forcing men- into the ranks, then it is altogether too small. I object to the whole thing, since we have no right to force men into the ranks, either by .financial or economical pressure, or by statute law.
– We cannot force men to enlist by calling upon them to pay a tax.
– That is the weakness of the Bill. Australia has said that there shall be no conscription for service oversea; and the Government have said in this House as they said during the campaign, that they will honour their pledge to the electors not to introduce conscription during the lifetime of this Parliament.
– There was a big qualification : not without another referendum.
– The point I wish to make here is that this Bill is designed to operate as a form of conscription, so that the Government are in spirit violating the pledge they gave to the constituencies. Although they can honestly say that they are not introducing con.scriptive military service for overseas, and that they are not going to re-submit the question to a referendum, it cannot be denied that this is part of an effort to force into the ranks men who; for some reason or other, have so far refrained from enlisting. As I said before, 1 am not concerned with the reasons that have led men not to enlist. I confess I find it difficult to understand why a number do not. What their reasons are, I do not know, nor do I think it any part of my duty to inquire. After all, the question of service to one’s country is above either statute law or personal opinion. It depends entirely on a man’s conscientious recognition of what he conceives to be his duty.
– Supposinghe has not a conscience.
– The honorable member cannot establish that suggestion by any argument.
The second reason given for this Bill is that it is to raise revenue for repatriation purposes. The single men remaining in Australia are now to be taxed to raise money for the repatriation of soldiers. This is open to two objections. I do not think it fair to select any individual section of the community upon whose financial support the repatriation of our soldiers should to any extent depend. , The repatriation of our soldiers is a duty devolving upon the whole country. We have no right to select any particular class of the community to carry the burden, or to bear any special shareof it. How much does the Treasurer hope to gain from this tax ?
– This year, £500,000.
– Then the right honorable gentleman expects it to apply to only 50,000 eligible men.
– There will be some trouble in gathering it, and in providing the necessary machinery.
– The Treasurer must have had some statistical information to enable him to arrive at that estimate.
– It is a moderate estimate.
– From most of the recruiting platforms, we are told that there are 150,000 fit single men in the country, and that they are shirkers.
– What about the exemptions? There are the police and the military.
– The police, the military, and the clergy do not count. If there are so many men of eligible military age, I cannot understand why the Treasurer agrees to an exemption which must deprive him of two-thirds of the possible tax. We have been told that there are 150,000 fit men of military age. Either those figures are inflated or the Treasurer’s estimate of revenue is too small.
– In the Budget I pointed out that the difficulties in making a start were allowed for, and that the estimate is a moderate one. The tax should yield more than has been estimated, certainly in another year.
– The- Treasurer has tried to protect himself from criticism by saying that only £500,000 is to be obtained from this tax, and that therefore the number of men affected is too small to be worthy of consideration. So far as I can see, no allowance is to be made for single men - fit or unfit - whose income is not sufficient to enable them to pay a fine of £10 without suffering serious hardship. The Treasurer says that the Commissioner will have authority to discriminate in: this matter. There should be a special clause in the Bill to protect those who cannot pay the tax. If the Treasurer would exempt young men who are not earning a certain amount, he would avoid a considerable amount of hostile criticism.
– Would the honorable member then support the motion ?
– I shall not support the motion, but I shall support every exemption that can be proposed. The honorable member for Hunter, mentioned that there are many young men who are articled and learning their business who are practically dependent on their- parents. To fine these young men £10 would really be to fine their parents that amount.
– Consider the sacrifices of those who have gone to the Front.
– I am prepared to assist in relieving those at the Front of every kind of taxation.
– I refer to personal sacrifices.
– Revenue must be obtained somewhere.
– If the Treasurer needs revenue let him say so.
– He does say so.
– No; he says that this tax is imposed for repatriation purposes. That is a sprat to catch a mackerel. No one believes that the real purpose of the tax is to provide revenue for repatriation, but it is a convenient argument to say that the money should be raised from those who have not enlisted, to be used for the benefit of those who have enlisted. The yield from this tax will be as a drop in a bucket to what is required for repatriation. When it is said that the repatriation scheme should be dependent on the yield from this tax one wonders whether ‘honorable members opposite are in earnest.
– No one has suggested that the Repatriation Fund should be dependent on this tax.
– I suggest that the honorable member should read the Treasurer’s speech. The right honorable gentleman said that the object of the tax is to provide funds for repatriation.
– The revenue from the tax would be a contribution to the Repatriation Fund.
– To make the tax tributary to the river of revenue required for repatriation is a belittling of the repatriation proposals and an unfair subterfuge.
– The tax will be appreciated by those at the Front. Mr. FINLAYSON.- I do not think so. Another objection I have to the tax is that which I had to the War-time Profits Assessment tax, namely, -that it introduces a new method of taxation, requiring reports, returns, and much additional machinery and expense. We irritate and harass the electors by continually opening new’ sores and tapping them in fresh places. It. would be better to say to them straight out, ‘ ‘ We require a certain amount o’f money, of which you must contribute so much.” Instead of doing that, we get at them in one way, grab at them in another, poke at them in a third, and draw at them in a fourth.
– There is .a multiplicity of taxes in other countries.
– That is not a reason why there should be a multiplicity of taxes here. ‘If this tax be imposed, new officers must be appointed, and new methods adopted, which will stir up opposition. The people are prepared to contribute all that is necessary for the war and repatriation. Every section of the com- munity is willing to do that. . But it is irritating to have taxation imposed in. so many different ways, and to find that those who are most able to pay are not adequately taxed. The honorable member for Indi expressed the view that taxation should be imposed on those most able to bear it. Honorable members admit the fairness of that, but evidently fear to put it into practice.
– Every one should pay according to his ability.
– That is so. We have machinery in. our income tax legislation for making people pay according to their ability.
– This tax will get at many who would not have to pay income taxation.
– That is an admission that this is not a tax, but a fine.
– It is a poll-tax.
– It is not an income tax, because it is levied on persons who have no income. Persons whose income is not sufficient to give them a comfortable and decent living should not be taxed. When you tax such people, you tax them merely for living in the country, irrespective of ability, to pay. This proposal requires new taxing machinery, which is unnecessary. There are other ways of raising money for repatriation.
The great objection to the proposal is that people will regard it as aimed at the single men who have not enlisted. It says to them, “ Whether you earn income or not; whether you are doing your duty to the country or not; whether you are accepting your responsibilities as a citizen or not, you must pay this tax.”
– It will reduce the number of marriages. ,
– I have the opinion that the shirkers in regard to marriage are not the men only. Many women in Australia are shirkers, and they are not all single girls. The honorable member for Perth said that we needed population. So we do. The biggest shirkers in this respect are the married women, who dishonour their obligations by refusing the duties and responsibilities of motherhood.” We now make certain allowances in respect of income taxation to married men with families. That, in itself, is a sufficient penalizing of the single men, who, of course, do” not get such allowances. Apart from the financial and moral objections to the proposed tax, there is the objection that, in the minds of the people, it is proposed as a conscription measure. The Government is keeping its election pledge in this matter to the letter, but violating it in spirit. I would rather see a straightforward proposal for conscription, so that, as the honorable member for Perth says, we may know where we are. This measure cannot commend itself to honorable members opposite. It is not honest or consistent.
– The honorable member for Perth says that it is hypocritical.
– I say so again.
– -The honorable member for Perth cleverly protected himself sufficiently to enable him to vote for the second reading, and see the Bill through.
– Oh, did he?
– I take it so.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Honorable members seem to lose sight of the fact that the motion is in the main one to reimpose taxation, to add a supertax, and, in addition, to bring within the taxable area a class of people who, although they have all along enjoyed the freedom and privileges of citizenship, have never yet been called upon to pay taxation. The honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. Finlayson) spoke of the fairness of income taxation ; and I think it is a sound principle that in war time all who enjoy the protection of the Government should pay according to their means. I think, however, that in preparing the necessary machinery the Government should draw a line between those who have offered their services in the fieldi and those who have remained at home. I entered Parliament as an advocate of income taxation, and I was an advocate of the principle years before it was thought of in connexion with the Commonwealth. Hitherto honorable members opposite have forgotten to describe an income tax as a class tax, but on the present occasion they so describe it; but seeing that the whole discussion has ranged around paragraph /, it may be taken that the Committee, as a whole, are agreed on the soundness of the principle. This Bill proposes, as I have said, to bring in a great new body of taxpayers; but I regard it as merely an instalment, and a small instalment, of what is due to the men who are fighting our battles abroad - as the first instalment contributed by those who are equally capable of serving, but who have elected to remain in Australia.
There is one objection, and a strong one, that I have to the Bill in its present form. No distinction is drawn between families which have contributed one or more sons to the Forces, and families all the sons of which have remained at home. There may be families of five sons and two aged parents, and three of these sons, after a family council, may have gone to the Front; yet the sons who remain at home will” be called upon to pay this taxation equally with, perhaps, a neighbouring family of five sons, none of whom have offered their services in the Forces. There is a provision in which exemption from the liability to pay is limited to one remaining son, but my contention is that where the majority ofa family of sons have gone to the Front, the rest of the family ought to be immune from this taxation.
– I will agree to that.
– If that is not done, a family which has” largely participated in the war will be in no better position than that of a family which has entirely neglected its duty in this connexion.
This Bill has been subject to much criticism, but not an honorable member opposite who has spoken has submitted any concrete alternative proposition for the raising of £500,000, although the obligation to do so rests on them.
– I showed how we could raise more money.
– I do not think so; but if the honorable member can show any means, consistent with the principle of this measure, of raising the money required, J shall support him. As I have said, I accept this Bill merely as an instalment of justice to those at the Front, and I think it will be welcomed by thousands who. are unable to serve abroad, but who recognise their financial obligations. It has been said by honorable members opposite that the payment of this tax will have the effect of enabling a man, by means of a payment, to escape his duty. That may be argued; but it cannot satisfy his conscience.
– It provides a salve for his conscience.
– I do not look upon this as a punitive measure, but as securing the fulfilment bf part of the obligation which every citizen owes his country. The obligation to find the necessary money for repatriation rests on the whole community, and this Bill, as I say, brings in a class of taxpayers who hitherto have escaped, although they have “bossed” the country politically, and had tribunals created for the regulation of their wages and conditions.
I say frankly that I should vote against this measure if I thought that the direct taxation proposals of the Government were going no farther. I do not advocate raising all the money that is necessary for repatriation by means of loans, for I do not wish the soldiers to return here and find themselves faced with heavy financial burdens. I am prepared to so widen our policy of taxation as to embrace the- whole community. The argument as to this being a form of economic conscription is not worth the time it - has taken to advance; indeed, the Leader of the Opposition has expressed the opinion that it will not induce one man to enlist.
– That is the reason for the introduction of the Bill, though.
– Of course, if honorable members opposite impute to the Government the motive of imposing penial taxation, their argument is quite logical ; but they must recognise that the responsibility of finding the money for repatriation is the duty of every non-combatant. It is for this reason that I suggest a strong line of demarcation between the participants and non-participants in the war. The settlement of the repatriation question has been too long delayed ; it has not been properly handled, and I can only hope that a well-thought-out financial scheme will be placed before the country, so that when our soldiers return they will not find themselves called upon to bear taxation in common with non-belligerents.
– Let everybody pay.
– ‘That is the proper principle - all (should pay according to their capacity; but I do not believe that any decent Australian man or woman expects, or desires, to have their lives and homes defended without contributing to the cost.
.- I do not think that ‘any honorable member in this House possesses as much knowledge of repatriation matters as the honorable member for Wannon possesses, and I commend him for what he has done in the matter of repatriating our soldiers, but he is all at sea in regard to this tax. I was very much struck by the fairness of the remarks of the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) this morning, especially when he spoke of the penal effect of the Bill. I do not believe that there is a single man or widower, or, in fact, any man in Australia who would seek to avoid taxation which is imposed with the object of securing the repatriation of our soldiers. The Treasurer has told us that the money to be raised by this tax will be used for that laudable purpose; but what a mean,’ contemptible lot we should be if we called upon our soldiers on their return to help to pay interest and repay principal on the money that we borrow for repatriation ? Many men who have gone left positions in which they were earning over £3,000 per annum, and after all their deeds, about which we ^ are so proud to express our admiration, are we to ask them, and their children, and their children’s children, to pay back the money that we borrow for repatriating them ? I hold that every one who stays at home should put his hands into his pockets as deeply as possible in order to provide funds for repatriation. It is shameful that any Government should introduce a proposal to borrow money for the purpose. If we can raise £100,000,000 in Australia for war purposes, surely we can raise £30,000,000 for repatriation purposes.
– If the Government had allowed the community to raise the money, £10,000,000 would already have been subscribed on which no interest would be paid.
– If the scheme introduced by the honorable member for Wannon had been applied to the whole of the Commonwealth, we would have already been on the high road to the repatriation of the whole of our troops, but we have been tinkering here and. tinkering there, and we ase still tinkering with the question. The Government should come down with a settled policy of repatriation, and tell the House what they propose to do. There is not one honorable member who would. not willingly agree to do everything possible without our having ‘to go upon the market to borrow the money required for repatriation purposes. ‘
Notwithstanding what the honorable member for. Wannon has said, I look upon this tax as a class tax, because the Bill picks out single men and widowers between twenty-one years and forty-five years of , age, and asks each to pay £10,. no matter what his income is. In the electorate which I have the honour to represent there are from 12,000 to 15,000 single men, and they are principally nomads. The Treasurer will have the opportunity of a life-time in trying to collect the tax from those men.
– They are mostly good- hearted fellows, and when they know that the £10 will go to the soldiers I guarantee that the great majority of them will pay.
– I do not suppose that one could find a better-hearted man on- the face of the earth than the Australian bushman. We can tax him to. the extent of £50 indirectly and he will not growl, but if we ask him to pay 10s.-,in the shape of direct taxation he will buck. We have been long enough at the game to know which is the easier and better method of imposing taxation.
– Which is that?
– Indirect taxation through the Customs. The Australian bushman does not mind how much indirect taxation is placed on him. He growls for a few days, .but after a while it comes to him like mother’s milk. In Queensland, a few years ago, every single man who earned £1 per week and over had to pay,, at least, 10s. per annum as a poll tax; but when I had a conversation with Sir Robert Philp, who was ‘Premier of the State, and asked him how he got on with the men out West, he said that it cost £5 to collect every 10s. the Treasury received from those fellows. That is the position in which, our Treasurer will be placed in regard to .the collection of this tax in the outlying portions of the different States, where the population is nomadic.
The Treasurer’s speech was so poetical, and contained so much flowery language, that it -should have been set to music. The right honorable* gentleman said that the Government were under the impression that this form of taxation would stimulate recruiting. If there is one thing more than another that will not stimulate recruiting, it will be the passing of this Bill. The only persons from whom the tax will be recovered will be those who are in permanent jobs and those who are living in towns. There will be no chance of collecting it in the country. When an endeavour was made to collect the poll tax in Queensland, as soon as the men in a shearing shed saw a policeman’s blue coat, or got the whisper that something was being done, they hung up their shears or became sick and were paid off, and cleared out before a garnishee could be put in. ;
– The tax could be collected through .the employers, just as in some countries the social insurance contributions of workers are collected.
– What may be done in older countries cannot be done in this new and ‘beautiful country of ,ours. Perhaps the honorable member for Wannon does, not know that the Maranoa electorate is as large as the whole of New South Wales. Just imagine .the tax collector roaming from creek to creek, and hill to hill, over that vast extent of country;, in order to collect the £10 from men who know every inch of it. What a merry dance he would be led.
– We should place the liability on the employer to furnish returns.
– Does the honorable member think that the employers will allow themselves to be tax -gatherers for the Commonwealth ? Tie man who proposed to make .himself .a collecting officer for the Treasury would get no one to. go to his shied for work. ‘ . A Mulga telegram would be circulated warning men not to approach the station because the boss would- collect for the Commonwealth £10 from each man. The consequence would be that no> men would go near the station, and the employer could, not get his work done.
– Most of the mem in the honorable member’s district have gone to the. Front.
– A few are left.
– They are generousminded -men, I expect.
– The bush workers oS Queensland are the most generous-hearted men in the world, and if the Treasure] asked them for £10 each for repatriation purposes they would give it to him.
– They will not be affected by the tax.
– They will be affected, because most of them are single men, and the reason why many of them do not marry is that they do not earn enough money to enable them to keep a wife. This tax really means veiled conscription.
– The Leader of the Opposition said that the tax will not have that effect.
– The Treasurer said that the Government hoped it would have the -effect of stimulating recruiting, and that remark was no slip of the tongue, because the right honorable gentleman was speaking from prepared notes. If this is to be a class tax, it is wrong. In regard to raising money for repatriation, any direct taxation is preferable to- borrowing money on the London market for that purpose. I agree with the honorable member for Fawkner that if we are to pass taxation of this character, it should not be a penal tax on the single men and widowers between the ages of twenty-one and fortyfive,’ but should apply to all men.
– Would you make the old-age pensioners pay ?
– How could we expect a man receiving a pension of 12s. 6d. per week to pay £10 per annum in taxation? There must be some exemptions, and the Treasurer is proposing to remove from the scope of the tax a number of people. Where there are two sons in a family, both unmarried, and one has gone to the war, the one who remains at home is to escape taxation. But another family may have only one son and five or six daughters, and that son is to be compelled to pay at least £10 per annum. Is that fair? Some families have given all their sons, and also the father, to their country; and yet the Treasurer would give exemption to the stay-at-home brother of3 & man serving at the Front. On the other hand, a son who is maintaining his widowed mother and several young sisters must pay this special tax in /addition to ordinary income ta.x. That is a most unjust proposal. If we cannot defeat this Bill, we should, at any rate, insist upon some modification of its provisions. All should pay this tax or none should pay it. I again entreat the Government to set their face against the flotation of loans for repatriation purposes. This country can find the money with which to do a fair thing to our soldiers, and every man who can afford to pay should pay. For that purpose, the Government may have every shilling of which I am possessed, because I realize that if it had not been for the action of our men in going abroad to fight for this country, my worldly possessions would be no good to me or anybody else.
.- I cordially agree with the concluding remark of the last speaker that the cost of repatriation ought not to be debited to Loan Fund. I believe, also, that it is possible to make a workable measure of the proposal which the Government have submitted. It is no new phase in Commonwealth legislation to recognise that the single man has not the same’ obligations as the married man. Laws already on the statute-book make a distinction’ between married men with dependants and single men without dependants, but I have a decided objection to the Government’s proposal in its present form. The first fault in it is that it proposes to take £10 from a man who has no taxable income. That’ penalty, which is equivalent to 4s.’ a week, is entirely disproportionate to the man’s proper liability. We should reduce the minimum tax payable by those who have no taxable income, and then the impost should increase on a graduated scale. I also favour the abolition of the age limit in regard to this tax. The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) very pertinently asked why a man ‘over fortyfive years of age should be freed of any obligation to contribute towards the fund3 required for the repatriation of our soldiers. Why should a single man of sixty-five years, without dependants, be exempt? Many men of sixty years of age are in an infinitely better position to pay taxation than is a youngs fellow of twentyone years- of age. Whilst I believe that young men ought to pay some taxation for this purpose, I do not believe in making the tax penal. We might very well abolish all the exemptions. I see no reason for exempting the man who has remained at home, and has the pleasure of enjoying a good billet, because of his physical unfitness for active service. Although this tax will not force men to enlist, it has the appearance of economic conscription, and I am certainly opposed to any legislation of that kind. I have no doubt that greatly increased revenue will be earned by the tax if we remove the age limit and the exemptions, even if we also reduce the minimum amount payable. Even the men out back, on whose behalf the honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Page) spoke, would not object to pay a tax based on equitable principles, if they knew that everybody was making a contribution, and that the money was to be earmarked for repatriation purposes. The difficulties of collection mentioned by the honorable member could be overcome by a system of stamps, which the employer would cancel when paying off his men. In that way the tax could be collected from men who are in irregular employment. There would not be the same difficulty in collecting from men who are regularly employed. I ask honorable members not to reject the Bill, but to try to mould it into a fair and equitable measure. What honorable member will say that a single man, whether young or old, has anything like the same obligations as a married man ? Even a special bachelor tax of £10 would not nearly equalize the obligations of the bachelor and the benedict.
– Unless, of course, the single man has others dependent on him.
– Such circumstances can be provided for. In connexion with the income tax, we allow a deduction from income of £26 for every child under sixteen years of age. I do not say that the waiving qf the tax payable on that £26 is a sufficient concession for the increased responsibility borne by the married man; but, at any rate, Parliament does recognise the principle of granting assistance to a man who has others dependent upon him. We could make the tax apply in a general way, and so remove from the Bill the suggestion that this is a penal provision. Some young men might be foolish enough to think that because they had paid the tax of £10 there was no obligation upon them to serve their country. No man could seriously contend, however, that the payment of such a tax is the equivalent of active service, where a man takes his life in his hands. If this tax were applied on broad, general lines I have sufficient faith in the young people of this country to believe that they would cheerfully pay it. On the other hand, if we select a section of the community, and say, in effect, to them, “ Because you have not gone to the Front you shall pay this tax,” we shall only raise their ire.
The Bill as it stands is not in accordance with our distinct and emphatic pledges to the people. No one can say that I am opposed to conscription ; I think I was the first in this House to speak in favour of the principle. But while I am a conscriptionist to the backbone, I am not in favour of the introduction of conscription by a side wind, nor shall I support^ anything savouring of economic conscription. If necessary, I would vote tomorrow for conscription, but I am not prepared to bring it in by means of a side wind. This proposal will not induce any man to enlist, but, on the contrary, will do much damage to voluntary recruiting. I have Indicated the way in which I think the Bill can be so amended as to make it a useful means of raising revenue for repatriation while removing from it the sting that it at present contains.
.- In the course of hig speech last night the Treasurer (Sir John Forrest) said -
I wish to inform the House and the country that the compulsion proposed in this measure is not to force eligible persons to go to the war, but to compel those who have not gone to specially assist in repatriating those who have done so, on their return to Australia. That is the only compulsion which we seek to exercise.
Any proposal for the assistance of our men and their dependants on their return from the Front will find in me a strong supporter, since I recognise that the Labour party more especially owes a duty to those men who, because of their representations, were induced to enlist for service oversea. For that, if not for any other reason, it is the duty of the Labour party to stand by these men, and to look after their interests when they return. I would strongly support the im- position of a graduated income tax upon those who are benefiting, as the result of the war, or who have made profit out of the war, in order to raise funds for the repatriation of our soldiers.
The one redeeming feature of this obnoxious measure is that under it parliamentarians are not exempt. The Treasurer mentioned last -night that several exemptions from the Defence Act had been introduced into this Bill, but that he had not included the exemption of members of Parliament.
– Does not the honorable member think it reasonable to ask a single man to pay more than a married man?
– I do not. Even although it would affect me personally, i should strongly support the imposition of a graduated income tax to enable us to do justice to those who, rightly or wrongly, were induced to fight for us oversea. I have no objection to a repatriation measure to help them and their dependants; but I am in absolute opposition to this proposal to penalize those who for one reason or other have not volunteered. I am among the number, and have nothing of which to be ashamed.
– The honorable member is not going to apologize.
– I have no apology to offer. My attitude is determined by my conscience. I honestly believe that no war has ever ‘been fought in the interests of the working classes of either this or any other country. The workers were never benefited in any way. They have everything to lose and nothing to gain by war, and as the intelligence of the workers of every country develops they will refuse to fight in any war.
– If a man hit the honorable member in the face would he not hit him back?
– If the honorable member chooses to rake the risk I shall not hold myself responsible for the consequences. I do not wish my position to be misunderstood. My objection to war is not based on ethical grounds. It is not because I object to the taking of human life or favour a policy of non-resistance that I, have not enlisted. I have not volunteered because I am opposed to war, and whether my view be right or wrong, it is shared by an increasingly large number of working men in this country. I hope that number will grow. The workers have nothing to gain but everything to lose by warT
– Assuming the honorable member is right in that view, what are we to do with an aggressive nation that does not entertain any of these high principles ?
– The honorable member overlooks the fact that in every war each belligerent claims that the other is the aggressor. The workers in this or any other land have no voice in the making of war. They are not consulted as to the declaration of war, and have no voice in the secret diplomacy leading up to war, or as to the control of industries which benefit by the waging of war.
– The honorable member is now going beyond the discus, sion of the question before the Chair.-
– I was merely replying to an interjection and giving reasons why, as a single man, I have not enlisted. As such I am one of those who were described by a Nationalist newspaper as “ criminals, who, by virtue of the mistaken generosity of the Prime Minister, were allowed to be at large.”
It has been said that this Bill means the introduction of economic conscription. That, in my opinion, is the motive behind it. It is designed to penalize those who do not enlist. The intention of the Government is to exercise in this way financial pressure on those who have not volunteered. Like others on both sides of the chamber, I do not think it will have that effect, and in introducing it the Government are doing themselves more harm than good. We are told that those “ whom the gods wish to destroy they first make mad,” and I think the Government are justifying that saying.
– Then why worry about this Bill ?
– I am not. If the honorable member is a supporter of the Bill he will be put! to a great deal of trouble in justifying it. I am surprised that so much heat should have been engendered by the contemplation of the number of eligibles in Australia who have taken advantage of the decision of the people that compulsory military service for oversea shall not be brought into operation, that no compulsion shall be applied, and that the right of individual conscience shall be safeguarded. Apart from those who share my views on this question, there are many who, on conscientious religious grounds, object to active service. The Quakers and others believe that it is contrary to Biblical teaching to take part in the shedding of human blood, even in self defence. I may not agree with such a ground of objection to compulsory service, but) I can well understand a man being true to his conscientious convictions and being prepared, as I am, to suffer, if necessary, for them. I respect and honour those whose opinions differ from my own. Even those who, on religious grounds, object to the taking of human life are to be unfairly dealt with under this Bill, notwithstanding that the people have said they shall not be penalized or coerced. This is an attempt to go behind the verdict of the people. It is a vindictive and cowardly attack on certain citizens. The honorable member for Indi (Mr. Leckie) stated that thosewho have gone abroad deserve Australia, because they have fought for it ; but how much of Australia will fall to their share? The wealth census, taken a year or two ago shows that about2,750,000. persons are entitled to vote, and that of these 2,000,000 do not own an inch of land. Of the remaining 750,000, only about 400,000 own £200 worth of property. Those who owai Australia are the people who are making huge profits out of the rest of the community, who are fighting for Australia,and making the products which keep Australia going. There is no attempt to make the profiteers shoulder the burden of those who have gone to fight for what honorable members opposite say is liberty and freedom. Personally, if you also taxed fully those whohave madeprofits out of the war, who own the mines, factories, and workshops, and enjoy all that is worth enjoying in life, I should be prepared to give up all that I have.But no such thing has been proposed.We hear about the shirkers. Those who do not volunteer to go to the Front are called shirkers bythe loudmouthed advocates of leaving well alone, and taxing “the other fellow. ‘ ‘ What have the 2,000,000 landless persons in Australia’ to lose but their lives ? The proposal of the Treasurer is the good old bushranging demand, “ Your money or your life.” “ Go to the Front, or pay £10.” I admit that no one should be forced by this tax to go to the Front. The Treasurer waxed poetical when making his speech. He said, “ We do not want to be ungenerous; we do not want to ignore any real or valid reasons for not going.” Will he say that those who conscientiously object to military service have no real or valid reasons for not going to fight? He said, further -
Our general feeling is the same as that so strongly expressed in the imprecatory words of Macaulay -
Shame on the false Etruscan
Who lingers in his home,
When Porsena of Clusium
Is on the march forRome.
The right honorable gentleman was rather unfortunate in quoting the eulogy of the invader. He did not, however, quote the lines in which Macaulay refers to the fact that -
Lands were fairly portioned,
Their spoils were fairly sold,
The Romans were like brothers
In the good days of old.
– The “brave days of old.”
– They were good days, too. There was some incentive to fight then. Those who fought had something to fight for besides the shadowy thing that is offered to our fighters now. While our men are fighting for what honorable members opposite term liberty and freedom, what has become of liberty and freedom here in Australia ?
– In those days every man had to fight; there were no exceptions.
– Because they were all slaves; now we claim the rights of free men. But in the old days those who made the wars took the risks of the fighting. Nowadays those who make the wars take good care not to light. They sit at home, andmake profits out of the sufferings of the fighters, and out of their dependants, by raising the prices of commodities.
– The wealthy classes have done their share of the fighting in this war, as the honorable member knows.
– I do not suggest that there are not wealthy men who are honest in their beliefs, as I claim to be inmine. But thereare very few who take the risks of war. We have got past the stage when the aristocrats of England, France, and other countries led their men in battle and shared the risks.
– The aristocrats of England have paid a heavier toll in this war than any other section of the community.
– What I said was that we had got past the stage, when the aristocrats led their forces. I do nob accuse the aristocrats by birth of having made the war. It is the international financiers, whose interest it is to make wars that I accuse of that ; those who are interested in armament trusts and similar corporations in every country in the world, who benefit by war, and whose business it is to make profits without regard to the flag under which they live.
– The honorable member is now talking German Socialism.
– I ask honorable members, not to interject. Interjections lead speakers to go beyond the question.
– I do not believe in being forced to go to the Front, nor do I believe in putting pressure on other men to go. As the workers understand more and more the causes of war; as they securemore and more control, and share in the government of the country, they will alter conditions so that every man shall have his share of the wealth produced.. There will then be no need for compulsion. Every man will be prepared to defend the country when it belongs to him. But while it is being used by a handful of people to exploit the rest of the community, and to add big profits to swollen fortunes, I shall oppose any attempt, no matter how made, to penalize those who are trying to obey the dictates of their consciences.
– I suggest to the Committee that we should pass subdivisions a to e of the motion, and then report progress. There is a considerable difference of opinion among members as to the age limits which should be fixed in subdivisionf, and I wish to have an opportunity to consider the proposal further. Every member who has not spoken in regard to this matter will have an opportunity to do so when the decision of the Government in regard to it has been announced.
– Should we not stop before we get to subdivisione, which is contentious?
– It is only a re-enactment of the present law.
Mr.lamond.-Could we not take subdivisiong?
– I do not propose to deal with subdivisions g and h to-day. I propose to leave the consideration of subdivisions f, g, and h until a future occasion, but to deal with subdivisions a, b,c, d, ande now.
– When shall we have an opportunity to discuss the whole measure?
– When the Bill is before us. If honorable members do not care to agree with what I have suggested, I shall move that progress be reported.
.- The Treasurer has made a most unusual proposal.
– What is the difficulty about it?
– If you object, I shall withdraw the suggestion.
– I have not risen to object, but to suggest that the right honorable gentleman withdraw the whole message, and come down with an amended message dealing with subdivisions a, b, c, d, and e, if he desires to abandon subdivision f.
– I have no intention to abandon subdivision f.
– So long as this message is before us, there is absolutely nothing to prevent any honorable member discussing subdivision f, even if it is the intention of the Treasurer to postpone its consideration.
– I am opposed to the motion as it is presented; but, seeing that the Treasurer is going to withdraw it, and to propose something else-
– I did not say that.
– I understood you to say that you. would withdraw, at any rate, part of it.
– What I suggest is that we pass part of the motion, and then report progress.
– The part which has caused all the discussion, the Treasurer says he will recast.
– I said the Government would reconsider it.
– You may call it what you like, but the same debate will go on, unless we know what change is to be made. I think these income tax proposals might well have been put in a better form. Why cannot we have a simple Bill providing that the tax shall be so much in the £1 up to a certain amount?
– I promised to look into the matter and see what I could do.
– I regret that the income tax system is such that hundreds, and probably thousands, of men who ought to pay are not sending in any returns. Is this fair?
– I rise to a point of order. If I heard the Treasurer aright, he at the conclusion of his remarks, moved that progress be reported.
– He only threatened to do so.
– I should prefer to do a little more to-day.
– I certainly understood that the right honorable gentleman moved that progress be reported. It is true that the motion was not put from the Chair; and it is not your fault, Mr. Chanter, if you did not catch the words.
– What is the objection of the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Kelly) to dealing with part of the motion to-day?
– It is a question of fact, and if it were moved that progress be reported, is this discussion in order?
– That is not a point of order, but a question for the Chair. The Treasurer did say something about, reporting progress, but it was impossible for me to clearly understand what was meant owing to the buzz of conversation. I asked the Treasurer whether he proposed that subdivisions a, b, a, d, and b should be passed, and that progress should be reported, and he intimated to me that he desired those subdivisions only to be submitted from the Chair; the question now before us is that those subdivisions be agreed to.
-I accept the Treasurer’s assurance that the Government intend to see after those people who are not paying their income tax as they ought to do. 1
– We are doing that, and I have said so a dozen times.
– Because , if these people are made to pay, we might, probably, raise as much money as we require. Then, again, there ought to be some uniform system as between the Commonwealth and the States.
– That matter has also been discussed and promises given.
– It has been discussed for the last twelve months, and the Commonwealth and the States mutually blame each other for the fact that nothing is done. The present system, or want of system, entails much expense 0on taxpayers; indeed, there are scores in my district who pay more for making up their returns than they do in taxation. My own opinion is that, there ought to be only one income tax collected by the Commonwealth, who should hand over so much of the revenue to the States, instead of two staffs, and duplication of returns.
– The. States have to agree to an arrangement of that kind, and we are trying to get them to agree.
– And the States say they are trying to get the Commonwealth to agree. I feel sure that if proper representations were made, the States would fall in with the idea.
– There was a conference on the subject the other day, and the report is now ready.
– What we want is to have something done.
– I have already told honorable members that I shall do my best. «
– I accept that assurance?
– It appears to me there is little probability of making much progress to-day in connexion -with this proposal, though I should have liked to see the Committee put it through, considering that, after all, it is only a motion binding the House in no way in regard to the Bill. The only effect of discussing the motion in detail-though that is quite proper from the point of view of parliamentary procedure - is that it will duplicate the debate on the Bill. Frequently a motion like this is accepted, and a Bill founded on it introduced, when the whole measure is open for detailed consideration, and honorable members lose not one jot or tittle of their rights. If honorable members will agree to the suggestion ofthe Treasurer, we could at once report progress, and come down with matured proposals.
– Can you let us know what you are going to propose?
– It is always better to be frank with honorable members; and I wish to say that the Government will reconsider one or two aspects of this matter. As I have already said many times over, these measures which have to do with the war, and with taxation consequent on the war, ought in no sense to be regarded as extreme party measures. The Government, in this case, do not take up the attitude that any proposals they bring down must have every “ t “ crossed and every “i” dotted by the Committee. I suggest that honorable members allow tie motion to pass, when the Government, before submitting matured proposals, will consider the differences that have been revealed in Committee.
– Why not save time by reporting progress ?
– That would not save time, because the same discussion would have to be gone through again. I say frankly that a mistake has been made in putting alf this elaborate detail into the motion.
– The forms of the House make it necessary to do so.
– I do not know that I have ever seen a motion put to the Committee with so much detail as to make it an exact replica of the Bill. If honorable members will not agree to my suggestion there is nothing left to us but to report progress at once.
Bill returned from the Senate with amendments.
Motion (by Mr. Joseph Cook), by leave, agreed to -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until 11 o’clock to-morrow morning.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 18th September, vide page 2188) :
Clause 2 (Amendment of section 4).
.- Instead of defining “ active service,” as having a meaning corresponding to that of the same words as used in sub-section 1 of section 189 of the Army Act defining the expression “ on active service,” we should incorporate in our Defence Act the actual definition in the Army Act. It will save a great deal of trouble. Honorable members know the difficulty that there is in searching for anything in the Army Act. By the process of incorporating amendments as they are made with the principal Act, we have reduced the size of our volumes of Statutes very considerably, and have rendered the task of studying the Commonwealth Act a comparatively easy one. In the same way it would be much better to have the actual definition of “ active service” in our Defence Act, where it can easily be found. It would probably not occupy any more space than will be taken up by the proposed new definition in the Bill before us, which refers us ‘ to the definition in the Army Act, and at the same time it will be an advantage to have everything in the one Statute.
– I appreciate the spirit in which the honorable member is making his suggestion, but I can assure him that the Parliamentary Draftsman, after having considered the point that he has raised, has decided that the course adopted in the Bill is the best one to follow. The Army Act applies to Australian Forces who are on active service, and the definition of “ active service “ is easily ascertained by a perusal of the Statute under which our Forces are working. Furthermore, it is desired, by adopting the proposed new definition to avoid the necessity for legislating every time the definition of “ active service “ in the Imperial Act is amended. If the Imperial authorities alter their definition, the alteration is adopted immediately by the wording of the definition in the clause. Those who work every day under our Defence Act under peace conditions are not called upon to consult the Imperial definition of “ active service.” That is only necessary where our Forces are working under the Army Act when they are on active service,, and the definition is then easily ascertained from the Statute under which the Forces are working.
– If the British definition is amended, our Act is automatically amended ?
– For the purposes of our Act the amended definition is accepted.
.- I object to the proposition of the Government on principle and on constitutional grounds. In this clause, “ active service’* has a meaning corresponding to that of the same words as used in sub-section 1 of section 189 of the Army Act defining the expression “on active service.” In section 4 of the Act, “Army Act” is defined as meaning the Imperial Act called the Army Act. Clause 12 of the Bill proposes to amend section 47 of the Act by rendering the Citizen Forces liable to be employed on “ war service,” instead of “ active service.” “ War service “ is defined in the Bill as meaning “ active service.” Thus we have this position: The Citizen Forces of Australia are liable to be employed on war service; war service means active service; “ active service “ means what the Army Act says; and the Army Act is an Imperial Act; therefore, the Citizen Forces of Australia are liable to be employed as the Imperial Government may decide’ under their Act.
– The honorable member is wrong.
– Then this Bill does not mean what it pretends to say.
– Active service is already defined in existing law, but we are now adopting the Army Act definition.
– We are proposing to accept the Army Act’s definition of active service, and the Bill says that war service is to mean active service. We are substituting the words “war service “ for “ active service “ in controlling the Citizen Forces. I am not referring to men sent overseas, because I believe in the principle contained in the Bill that when men go overseas they must come under the control of the Army Act.
– The conditions under which the Army Act applies to Australian Military Forces are set out in section 55.
– I am complaining of the Army Act’s application to section 47, and I am contending that our Citizen Forces should be controlled only and absolutely by laws made in Australia by Australian representatives, and not in any way should they be under the jurisdiction of the Imperial Act, so far as their control within the Commonwealth is concerned. I do not think that the Minister would be so unpatriotic as to desire to hand over the Citizen Forces to the control of some outside authority. But he must see that the actual effect of the amendment now proposed is to make the Citizen Forces in Australia subject to any amendment of the Army Act which the Imperial Government may consider necessary in connexion with the Imperial Forces. I object to handing over the Government of Australia, either in part, or in whole, to the Imperial authorities. That is not expected of us. I am sure that this amendment has not been suggested by the Imperial authorities. It can only have been suggested by some sort of slavish desire to manifest a jingoistic patriotism. We have had several rather severe experiences lately of the foolishness of following the Imperial lead in legislation. The necessities of Great Britain demand an entirely different outlook and application from those demanded in Australia. Simply because the Imperial authorities adopted daylight saving, the Australian Government thought it necessary to do the same thing. That Act proved unworkable in the Common-, wealth. We have had an even worse experience in connexion with the War
Precautions Act, which was simply a slavish copy of the Imperial Defence of the Realm Act. If members had had any suspicion that that Act was to be used as it has been used, it would never have been agreed to. In that and other ways we are simply abandoning our rights of self-government, and placing our feet in the footprints of the Imperial Government. To that principle I ‘am entirely opposed, not because of any lack of regard for the Imperial Parliament. The mother of Parliaments is a very safe and salutary institution for us to take cognisance of, but to do things simply because the Imperial Parliament does them seems to be an abrogation of every constitutional privilege we enjoy. I refuse to hand over the control of the Citizen Forces or the defence of Australia to any authority but the Australian Parliament. The Imperial Parliament may at any time alter the definition of “ active service” or “war service,” and the Government are asking us to say that whatever amendment is made in the Army Act shall automatically become part of the Australian Defence Act. In effect the Australian Defence Force will become an integral part of the Forces controlled by the Imperial Government. Already we have gone a very long way in that direction. We have said that, in time of war, our Fleet shall pass automatically under the control of the Admiralty. We have provided, also, that when Australian Expeditionary Forces are outside of Australia they shall pass under the control of the. Imperial authorities. In that direction we have gone further than the Imperial Government asked us to go, and I am sure the British Government is not asking us to provide that alterations of the Army Act shall necessarily and automatically become part of the Act controlling the Defence Forces in Australia. I object most strenuously to giving the Imperial Government the right to amend our Defence Act, and say what shall be done in peace time with our Defence Forces.
– The honorable member seems to be under the impression that we propose to hand over to the Imperial Government the control of the Citizen Forces of Australia. The principle of Australian control of Australian soldiers is not being violated in the slightest degree by this clause. Section 47 provides that Citizen Forces shall be liable to be employed on active service, and section 49 says distinctly that members of the Defence Forcesshall not be required, unless they voluntarily agree, to serve beyond the limits of the Commonwealth, and any territory under the authority of the Commonwealth. Therefore all we are concerned with is that our Citizen Forces may be called upon to be employed under the existing law on active service in Australia. Does the honorable member object tothat?
Mr.Finlayson. - No.
– We are proposing to use the term “ war service,” which has a wider meaning than “ active service.” If thisBill is passed, “active service” will mean -
Whenever he is attached to or forms part of a Force which is engaged in operations against the enemy, or is engaged in militaryoperations in a country or place wholly or partly occupied by an enemy, or is in military occupation of any foreign country.
Citizen Forces in Australia may be called upon to take up arms in operations against an enemy attacking our shores, but they cannot be sent beyond the limits of the Commonwealth or its territory without their consent. We are simply adopting from the Army Act the definition of active service.
– And we are giving the Imperial Authorities power to change that definition at any time.
– We are entitled to say that “active service” shall have the same meaning in Australia as it has in the United Kingdom. At the present time, the Australian Imperial Forces are operating in conjunction with the Imperial Forces and troops from South Africa, New Zealand, and Canada.
– But our Citizen Forces are not doing that, and the Defence Act draws a clear distinction between Citizen Forces and Expeditionary Forces.
– Our men are fighting oversea side by side with Forces from other parts of the Empire, and it is necessary that all there should be under the one Act. The object of adopting this definition is to secure for our Military Forces, when they are operating outside Australia, the same definition of active service as applies to troops from other parts of the Empire. The Imperial Government is not seeking to interfere with our rights of self-government in any way. We are simply adopting an Imperial definition of “ active service,” providing, that, for the purposes of our Act, it shall have the same meaning as under the Army Act.
.- I join with the honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. Finlayson) in offering the most strenuous opposition to the principle embodied in this clause. The Minister said that we are not, at the request of the Imperial Authorities, sacrificing any of our rights of self-government. The trouble in Australia is thatthe Imperial Authorities are more considerate for the self-governing rights of the Commonwealth than are many people in Australia. Unfortunately, many of our people seem to kow-tow to the British authorities by continuously surrendering Australia’s right of self-government. I am quite sure that the Imperial Authorities charged with the administration of the oversea Dominions would not have attained the success that has marked their policy in dealing with different parts of the Empire if they had followed the system which a number of persons in Australia wish adopted. The Minister says that the same principle of reliance upon an Imperial Statute is operating in many other Acts. That admission shows that, although we have full self-governing powers conferred upon us by the Imperial Authorities, we are not prepared to live up to the lull measure of our rights and privileges. The Government seek to commit us to something indefinite and unforeseen. Not only do they wish us to adopt the definition of active service at present contained in the Army Act, although they have not got that definition, but. they ask us to agree . to be bound by every twist orturn that may take place in the Army Act in the future. But the most tyrannical Government that ever existed in Great Britain might come into power and introduce intothe Army Act provisions for disciplining its troops abroad, to which our men fighting side by side with them would be amenable. I absolutely object to that. I have spent some time in the Library endeavouring to ascertain, by reference to the Imperial Army Act, what these various alterations mean. Evenwith the assistance of our experienced Library officials, however, it is almost impossible to trace the many amendments of the British Army Act, and so to discover the true purport of these alterations. We have provided for the consolidation of our Statutes, but that system does not obtain in Great Britain, and in order to find out what is the meaning of these references in the Bill to the British Army Act, one wouldprobably have to look through fifty different amending laws. A skilled lawyer alone could trace them.
– What does the honorable member suggest?
– That we should embody in this Bill whatever definitions we desire to take f rom the Imperial Army Act, instead of making a mere reference to them.
– But this is only to apply in time of war.
– That is quite immaterial. The point is that we have no right to give up our self-governing powers.
– We could not have two or three differing sets of conditions applying to troops fighting side by side.
– That is bunkum. I have before me an index to the public Acts of Great Britain, in which there is a whole page devoted to the British Army Act, and amendments of it, with twice as many references to them in other parts. If the Honorary Minister endeavours to follow up the various amendments of the Army Act in order to trace the references in this Bill to the Imperial law, it will not be long before he finds himself in an inextricable maze.
– Our men do not bother much about Army Acts when they are in the trenches.
– Do they not? Is the honorable member aware of some of the treatment that has been meted out to our soldiers at the Front? I have seen letters from soldiers at the Front stating that they have been cruelly punished for the most trivial offences. If the people of this country knew of all the punishments that are inflicted at the Front, we should not get our present rate of enlistments.
– We must have discipline.
– But the discipline imposed by a Tory Government in Great
Britain might be altogether different from what an Australian Democracy would have its men subjected to. - Let us set out in the Bill itself every provision to which our men are to be subjected, so that our soldiers may read them for themselves.
– The honorable member realizes that the provisions in this Bill in regard to the Army Act are substantially the same as have beenfollowed by the Commonwealth for a long time?
– That is no answer to my complaint. There is too great a readiness to fall down on our faces and to bow to whatever the Imperial Government does, without considering whether we desire to apply to this country the principle involved. We have here some gentlemen from Great Britain who spent the first half of their lives in Australia in repudiating all the conditions existing there, while in the second half they are getting down on their stomachs abjectly following the British Government.
– Would not the British troops have to conform to our laws if they were fighting here?
– Is not the honorable gentleman aware that in the Balkans troops representing the whole of the allied nations are under the control of a French General? Because of that fact would the honorable member have us insert in this Bill words to the effect that the French Army Act shall apply to those of our troops who are under the control of a French General ? I do not think any honorable member would be prepared to agree to any such provision. It is absurd to say that because our men are fighting side by side with the British Forces they should be subjected to the same conditions. In one of the most vital respects our men are not fighting under similar conditions to them. The Imperial soldier receives 1s. a day, whereas the Australian soldier draws 6s. per day. The conditions of service in that respect are altogether dissimilar.
This principle of simply declaring that such-and-such a provision of the British Army Act shall apply to our soldiers is wrong. The particular provision sought to be applied in this case may be good or bad, but no honorable member knows what will be the effect of it.
-It is English money that is enabling us to pay our soldiers 6s. per day.
– It is Australian money - every penny of it. Let not the efforts ofthis country be decried in that way. Doesnot the honorable member think we are doing a fair thing in return? That argument may be carried a little too far. Because a boy is the son of his father we do not expect him to remain throughout life the slave of his father. We recognise that he must have a little opportunity to set out for himself.
– Would not our soldiers receive 6s. a day even if they were fighting under a French General?
– Yes. I repeat that there is a difference between the pay of our men and that of the British troops, and there should also be dissimilarity in the administrative conditions. I assert, with some knowledge of what I am speaking, that some of the administrative conditions of the British Army are positively injuring recruiting in Australia. I have seen letters from Australian soldiers at the Front dealing with the way in which they are treated by some of the British Generals. Some of the British Army conditions to which they are subjected are totally foreign to Australian ideas, and must have a detrimental effect upon recruiting.
The Government are here proposing to expand the ‘ principle of declaring that such-and-such a provision in the British Army Act shall apply to our Forces. The Imperial Act may be amended from time to time, and we shall not have an opportunity to review the amendments so made and applying to ourtroops at the Front. Such a principle is absolutely bad, and I most emphatically protest against it. I would strongly urge the Government to embody in the Bill itself any provision of the Army Act which they desire to apply to our Forces. / Whenever any alterations in the conditions of service are to be made, let this Parliament have an opportunity of considering them. Whilst the war exists, we are continuously in session, so that, if at any time the British Government wish to amend the Army Act, it is open to them to cable to us the alterations they propose, and we can simultaneously amend our Act. There is no difficulty in the way of so amending our law, but the principle of committing Australian soldiers to alterations made in the Imperial Act after they have enlisted in Australia - amendments the effect of which even the Honorary Minister cannotforesee - is a vicious one. This principle was strongly objected to in another place, and it should be reconsidered. This is not a mere matter for the Parliamentary Draftsman. Draftsmen do not govern the policy of this country. It may be easier for a draftsman to simply provide in a Bill of this character that such-and-such a provision of the Army Act shall apply to our Forces, but it is infinitely better that there should be direct legislation by this Parliament.
This principle, as I have said, was strongly opposed in another place, and it is strongly objected to here. If the Government persist in following it in respect of this and other clauses of the Bill, I can only say that the measure will have a very rough passage.
– It would be quite impracticable to carry out the suggestion just made by the honorable member for Cook (Mr. J. H. Catts). We must act upon the fundamental principle that our soldiers, when serving with the Imperial Forces outside Australia, and while travelling to and fro between Australia and the scene of conflict, must be subject to the one law, and that the British Army Act.
– Because it would be impracticable to have our soldiers working under one set of conditions side by side with the Imperial Forces controlled by quite a different set. When they are fighting side by side against a common enemy, it is essential that they should all be under the same law. Discipline demands that they should be. This is a fundamental principle which we have acknowledged from the very inception of our Defence legislation, and it is rather late in the day to suggest a departure from it. I can appreciate the view of my honorable friend that we should embody in the Bill itself the actual governing provisions of the Army Act that we desire shall apply to our Forces while oversea. That undoubtedly is desirable, but there are many difficulties in the way. His object might be achieved by attaching to every copy of the Bill a copy of the provisions of the Imperial Act applying, under it, to our Forces. The trouble is that if, during the war, amendments of an urgent characterwere made in that Act by the Imperial Parliamentwhile we were not in session, an undesirable state of affairs might arise. Proposed new section 54a makes evident the outstanding object of the contemplated alteration, and that is that the British Army Act shall be applicable to our soldiers while they are serving . overseas, and also whilst they are going to the Front and returning to Australia. The honorable member for Brisbane drew attention to proposed new clause 55, which provides that -
The Military Forces shall at all times, whilst on war service, whether within orwithout the limits of the Commonwealth, be subject tothe Army Act, save so far as it is inconsistent with this Act, and subject to such modifications and adaptations as are prescribed.
That was the deliberate determination of this Parliament when it framed the Defence Act, which says that the Military Forces shall at all times, while on active service, whether within or without the limits of the Commonwealth, be subject to the Army Act, save so far as it is inconsistent with this Act. We are not altering the law in this respect,but are protecting ourselves by getting power to modify these provisions by regulation. As an honorable member has pointed out, it is necessary that we should have this power. If we had not this power our men might be required to accept the rate of pay given to the British Forces. As’ to the definition of active service, about which the honorable member for Yarra spoke, it is to be provided that the term shall have a meaning - corresponding to that of the same words as used in sub-section 1 of section 189 of the Army Act defining the expression “ on active service.”
This binds us to the definition now contained in that Act. It is true that the Bill defines the Army Act as the Imperial Act called by that title, and any Act amending,or in substitution for it, and for the time being in force. The Minister would better achieve his end by striking out the words “ sub-section 1 of section 189 of “, so that the proposed provision would read - “Active service” has a meaning corresponding to that of the same words as used in the Army Act defining the expression “ on active service.”
If that be not done, it may happenthat the Army Act may be so amended that the definition of “ active service “ will not occur in section 189.
– I shall look into the matter.
. -I did not follow the honorable member for Kooyong in the contention that it is necessary to adopt the British Army Act and apply its provisions to Australian soldiers on their way to the Front or returning to this country. I have no wish that necessary discipline shall be lessened, but some of us have suspicions of the Army Act, and are afraid of whatmay be done under it. Our Defence Act is couched in very differentterms.
– Our transports touch at South Africa, India, Egypt, and other countries, and it is necessary to have uniformity.
– But they carry only Australian troops and equipment and, are under Australian officers. Some very serious complaints have been received from our men regarding the treatment meted: out under the Army Act.
– The complaints may be against the actions of individuals. An Act is not necessarily bad because badly administered.
– Officers who have inflicted heavy fines or sentenced men to long terms of imprisonment, claim to have been acting in consonance with the provisions of the Army Act. No doubt, when our men are transferred to the control of British officers in Great Britain, Egypt, Mesopotamia, or elsewhere, they must come under the Army Act; but they should be kept under our Defence Act as long as possible. I see no reason why those on board Australian transports, under the control of Australian officers, trained under the Defence Act, should not remain under our Act until handed over to the control of British officers. And why should men on their way back to Australia be under the Army Act?
– Under our Defence Act the Army Act applies to men going to. and coming from active service abroad.
– Well, why should we perpetuate this arrangement? The honorable member for Kooyong said that when the Defence Act was passed certain principles were laid down, but that was fourteen years ago, since when we have learnt many things, particularly by the experience of this war, and should, therefore, be able to model our Defence legislation on lines more in consonance with Australian conditions.
– How could we control by our legislation men beyond the territorial limits of Australia? The Imperial Parliament could legislate for the whole Empire if it chooses, but we can legislate only for Australia.
– The people of Australia are opposed to undue interference in defence matters.
– The Imperial Authorities are very careful of the rights of our soldiers.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.
– When the House adjourned for dinner I was referring to the desirability of men on their way to and from the Front being under the Defence Act instead of the British Army Act; but I understand from the Minister that the Commonwealth has no control outside the 3-mile limit of Australia.
– Irrespective of that fact, we are adopting the right policy. Most of the complaints to which honorable members have alluded refer to individuals rather than to the system.
– I understand from the Minister that this is a matter in which we cannot interfere, and, therefore, unfortunately, I have to desist in my effort.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 3 to 5 Agreed to.
Clause 6 (Amendment of section 31).
– I move -
That the clause be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following: - “ (1) Section 31 of the principal Act is amended -
by omitting from sub-section (1) thereof the words ‘ for a term ‘ and inserting in their stead, the words during the continuance of their engagements ‘ ;
by inserting in sub-section (2) thereof, before the words ‘ No Permanent Military Forces,’ the words ‘ Except in time of war’; and (c)by omitting from sub-section (2) thereof the words ‘ or except Expeditionary Forces in time of war.’
This section shall be deemed to have commenced on the first day of August, 1914.”
Section proposed to be amended- 31. (1) The Permanent Military Forces shall consist of officers who are appointed officers of those Forces, and of soldiers, ‘who are bound to continuous military . service
No PermanentMilitary Forces shall be raised, maintained, or organized except for Administrative and Instructional Staffs, including Staff Corps, Aviation, Survey, Army Service, Medical, Veterinary, and Ordnance Corps, Artillery, Fortress Engineers, and Submarine Mining Engineers, or except Expeditionary Forces in time of war.
Under the present law no permanent military Force can be raised, maintained, or organized except for Administrative and Instructional Staffs,including the Aviation Staff, and so forth. During the progress of the war it has been found necessary to organize fresh branches of a permanent character not covered by that section of the Act, and so we seek to provide in this Bill that in time of war such Forces may be raised. The Bill validates what we have already done in this regard.
– It is only a validating
– The Bill empowers us to continue what we have already been doing.
Amendment agreed to.
Proposed new clause agreed to.
Clauses 7 to 41 agreed to.
Clause 42 (Employer not to prevent employee from serving).
– As I mentioned, when moving the second reading, this clauseprovides that where a man is called up under Parts III. andIV. of the Defence Act he must not be penalized by his employer. It is exactly the same provision as that in force in regard to the compulsory training clauses.
– But employers do penalize their men.
– I am sorry to say that some cases of hardship have been brought under our notice, and it is desirable to prevent their recurrence. It was found that when men had been called up for service of short periods, and had been some time in camp, they were not able to regain their old positions.
.- What the Minister says is quite correct. When the compulsory service proclamation was issued the men who were called up found, after the training was over, that others had been engaged in their places in private employment. I understand that this clause will prevent any recurrence of that in the future.
– That is so.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 43 to 48 agreed to.
Clause 49 (Amendment of section 134).
.- I understand that this is one of the principal provisions in the amending Bill, and its object is to compel employers to pay for the time in which cadets are drilled. Last night I asked the Minister why the same provision was not made for all our citizen soldiers up to the age of twenty-one, and the reply was. that these soldiers were paid. I should like to hear from the Minister the exact difference there is between cadets under eighteen years of age, who, I understand, do seventy-two hours’ drill per annum-
– They do four whole days’ drill, twelve half days, and twenty-four night drills, amounting in all to sixtyfour hours.
– How much are the Citizen Forces paid when they attend drill? I understand that they are paid only when in camp.
– I have made inquiries, and I find they are paid according to the number of days, or portion of days, they serve. After eighteen years of age, cadets come under the ordinary law of the” Citizen Forces, and are paid for all drib.
– Will that recompense them for the time they lose ?
– They are under the same law that applies to all others.
– I admit that that is a step in the right direction; but I think the system ought to be extended to all members of the Citizen Forces until they are twenty-one years of age.
.- Provision should be made so that cadets in the employment of the Commonwealth shall have the same protection as is extended by this Bill to those who are employed by private individuals. In the case of a telegraph messenger in the General Post Office, Brisbane, who was prosecuted for failing to attend the drills, the .only way in which he could make up his time was by attending at his work early in the day, though he did not reach his home from his employment in the post-office until close on midnight. The magistrate, on hearing the circumstances, refused to record a conviction against him. Reasonable discretion should be given to meet such cases, and I hope that the Minister will take the matter into consideration. In Richmond, Victoria, a boy was convicted for having failed to put in the required number of drills. His defence and that of his parents was a conscientious objection to military training. I do not wish to raise the whole question of how far conscientious objectors may go in refusing to undertake military service, though the matter might properly be discussed, but the Minister will not disagree with the fact that there are people who have honest, conscientious objections on this score. . The fact that the Act does not allow the magistrate to exercise any discretion is an atrocity in a country like Australia. Conscientious objection to military training does not appeal to me, but I know that there are people who are intensely in earnest in regard to the matter.
– They can be put to noncombatant work.
– It was understood that conscientious objectors would be given non-combatant duties in the Citizen Forces, but how far that principle can be applied to cadets is not quite clear.. Their duties are neither combatant nor non-combatant. I am anxious to know what provision can be made to meet the case of boys who have conscientious objections to military training.
– What would we do in the event of all of them having conscientious objections ?
– The remark of the honorable member is open to two objections. Such a state of things is not likely to arise in Australia, and in the second place people who have conscientious objections to “ military training are just as good citizens as those whose consciences do not trouble them in that respect. In fact, the higher the conscientious scruples of a community are the better the community is. *I notice that no effort is being made in this Bill to alter the hours during which cadets’ are drilled. I commend to the notice of the Minister a motion which I have on the business-paper urging the abolition of night drills. I hope that the Government are giving the matter consideration.
For some years I have been urging that compulsory, training should not be confined to boys, but that girls should be trained in nursing, hospital, and Red Cross work. The war has shown what many of us were quite well aware of, that we had latent in Australia an enor mous source of valuable assistance to our Military Forces in the shape of the girls of the community whose adaptability to nursing and hospital work is remarkable. Unfortunately nothing has been done to recognise the Red Cross system in Australia. The Army Medical Corps is recognised by the Defence Act, but after all the magnificent service rendered by the Australian nurses during this war, they are still left outside the pale of the measure. Sooner or later we must provide, not only men fit to fight, but also girls who are ready to nurse our wounded. I am sure that the Minister sufficiently appreciates the value of the work done by the nurses at the Front to insure that a ‘nursing corps will be made a permanent feature of our Defence system. It is just as necessary to have nurses to. nurse the wounded as it is to have men to do’ the fighting. The fact that we have been spared serious losses of men through sickness has been mostly due to the thoroughly well-organized nursing corps which is attached to the Australian Imperial Force. But it had to be scraped together at the last moment, with the result that every capable nurse who went to the Front left behind her a vacancy, mostly in the hospitals, which could not easily be filled. i hope that something will be done to insure that the Australian girls will be trained in nursing just as the boys are trained for the defence of the country.
– In regard” to the question of cadets employed in the Commonwealth Service, my view is that if the Commonwealth requires’ private employers to allow their employees to be trained in the employers’ time, the Commonwealth should endeavour to arrange its services so that its employees can do their military training in the Commonwealth’s time. I do not know what the Minister’s view is, but I shall submit the matter to him. Sections 61 and 143 of the Act exempt, to some extent, conscientious! objectors from duties of a combatant nature, but that exemption does not extend to the training of junior cadets.
– The objection is to military training.
– That training is disciplinary, physical exercises, and so on. Conscientious objectors object to something that ends in the taking of life.
When the principal measure was under discussion Parliament gave serious and sympathetic consideration to the case of conscientious objectors.
The very reason- that the honorable member has advanced in urging the abolition of night drills is that which has induced the Minister for Defence to bring forward the amendment which will enable drills to be held during periods which are not half-holidays, when boys should have their recreation. It will also enable the Department to avoid night, drills.
– Where does the Bill say so ?
– It does not say so. At present the boys must be trained outside their hours of work, and the regulations have to be framed to meet .that condition of affairs. We are now amending the Act in order to enable the Department to have the hours of drill either at night or during hours when the boys are required to be at work. The scheme has not yet been worked out, but we are asking for the power to do what the honorable member suggests - that is, to have the drills during such time as the boys are ordinarily employed at work, and to meet the objections that have been raised by parents to night drills. It is about the only objection that parents have raised to compulsory training. They do not raise any objection to Saturday afternoon drills. The boys themselves have raised that objection. I quite agree with the honorable member in regard to the fourth point that he has raised. After the war is over, we should do all we possibly can to form Red Cross branches in Australia as was done in the United Kingdom before the war broke out. In the United Kingdom, a large number of societies have been formed to carry out this work, and fortunately those societies were in operation, and were able to do much valuable work in connexion with the war. I agree with the honorable member for Brisbane that after the war. something on the lines he has suggested must be done. It is a matter of very great importance, and ought not to be lost sight of.
.- This clause provides that a senior cadet shall be paid by his employer for any time he is absent from his employment for the purpose of training, but that the employer shall not be liable to pay for any time when, the employee is absent from his . employment for the purpose of training in the Citizen Forces. There is a risk of the whole training being done either at night or on Saturday afternoons. The Minister admits that the Department has not yet worked out a scheme for training the boys on. other than Saturday afternoons. I know the boys have felt keenly the loss of their ordinary recreation on that afternoon. In many cases, the officers have done their best ‘to meet the wishes of the boys by avoiding, as far as possible, training on Saturdays. ‘ The boys are required to parade at 2 o’clock in the afternoon, and very often it is impossible for those living m my electorate, and working in the city, to get home from their occupations, have their meals and change into their uniform in time for the parade. No doubt, the same disadvantages are experienced in other electorates to a greater or less extent. Boys -living at Brighton or Sandringham, and working in Melbourne, would find it impossible to be back in. their suburbs much before the time for starting drill. Often on the days appointed for whole-day training boys can be seen going to work in. their uniforms, so as. to be able to go straight from, their place- of employment to the drill-hall. Often they have been obliged to go to drill without lunch. That system is not good, and I ask the Minister to see if it is not possible to amend the law so that all drills may be done during the day- time, and without depriving boys of their only afternoon for recreation. I am reminded that the large public schools have companies of their own, and boys attending those institutions are allowed to drill on an afternoon to suit themselves. That concession is the cause of much heart-burning amongst other boys who have to leave their employment on Saturday at midday, and give up the afternoon to their drills. I have no very great objection to the night drills, although in some cases it may be difficult for the boys to attend their drills and return to their homes at a reasonably early hour. But I ask the Minister to see that, as far as possible, the drills are carried out in the day-time, and without entrenching on the Saturday afternoon recreation of the boys.
.- I have pleasure in congratulating the Government on amending the law so as to prevent boys from losing their wages for the time which they have to devote to drill. I know that boys employed by the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, and receiving only 7s. 6d. per week, have to suffer deductions of. as low an amount as one penny on account of the loss of working’ time caused by their military training. One would think that a large company which has so much property to defend would not be so mean as to make such deductions from the wages of cadets on account of the time given to fitting themselves for the defence of the country.
– If this amendment is agreed to, the employers will not any longer be able to make deductions when their employees are absent at drill during hours of employment.
– We must encourage the boys to give attention to their military braining. At the present time, they are making all the sacrifice. It is only fair to ask the employer to bear part of the burden of their training.
.- The Defence Department has abolished distinctive national uniforms and insisted on all cadets and members of the Citizen Forces wearing khaki, and. we should be careful that there are no differences in the treatment of the boys in connexion with their training. Many of my constituents strongly object that whilst their boys, who work in factories to earn something towards the up-keep of the home, are obliged to devote their Saturday afternoons to drill, young lads of the same age in the various colleges are offered facilities by the Defence Department to do their training at times convenient to them. Military training of our boys is a national undertaking, and I hope that the Government will insist that in the metropolitan areas, at any rate, all boys, whether they are the sons of workers or the sons of swells, shall be trained on the same days. I desire to eliminate every cause of friction between the boys of different classes. -Honorable members will agree that each college is entitled to have a company of its own, but let the training throughout the community be uniform, and let all the boys in the big centres of population be trained as far as possible together. On Saturday afternoons the thoughts of boys in peace time turn naturally to football and cricket, and it is very hard on working-class boys that on those days they should be required to drill.
Many boys have not sufficient time to return from work to their homes, get their meals, and change into uniforms in time to be on parade at 2 o’clock.
– My boys come into the city in their uniforms on Saturday.
– I suggest that in such cases the uniform should entitle the boys to free travelling.
I wish to say a few words in regard to nurses. Sir Herbert Sieveking said that any women who took up the God-given task of nursing would shorten their lives by from five to ten years. Nurses have to serve three years to obtain a diploma, whereas a medical diploma can be obtained in three years and nine months. I maintain, therefore, that nurses have not been given under our Defence Act the status they should have.
– The honorable member, I am afraid, is now departing from the question before the Chair.
– I am very sorry. I thought that other honorable members had been allowed to discuss the position of nurses.
– I allowed the- honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. Finlayson), in reply to the Honorary Minister (Mr. Groom), to make an incidental reference to the training of nurses.
– Very well, sir, I shall endeavour to speak when you are not in the chair.
– I hope the honorable member will not make such observations. They are very offensive.
– Then I regret the expression, and withdraw it; but this is the third time that I have been interfered with.
– I cannot allow this to pass. The honorable member seems to be determined to come into conflict with the Chair, and seeks to avail himself of every opportunity to .do so. He has just said that this is practically the third time he has been deprived of his privileges. On several occasions, with the object of facilitating debate, I have allowed a little latitude to honorable members, and advantage has been taken of it. When I interrupted him, the % honorable member for Melbourne was proceeding to deal with the whole position of ‘ nurses, his remarks being based upon an incidental reference to the subject by the honorable member for -Brisbane, which, perhaps, I ought not to have allowed. If I were to confine honorable members strictly within the bounds of debate, as laid down by the Standing Orders, it would give rise to irritation, and that I desire, as far as possible, to avoid, The honorable member’s reflection on the Chair - his suggestion that I extend to him treatment different from that given to any other honorable member - is most objectionable^ and I ask him not to persist in such observations.
– If the observation, offended you, Mr. Chairman, I withdraw it.
.’ - I desire to refer briefly to the question of night drills. Cadets living in some of the more remote suburbs of Melbourne are required to travel to given centres to attend .drill, and, although the parade is over soon after 9 o’clock, in some cases,the railway- service being poor, it is1 10.30 p.m. before they can catch a train, with the result that .they do .not reach home until 1L30, .and sometimes nearly midnight. ‘Many of these boys are apprentices, and if they are late in getting to work next morning they are likely- to be reprimanded.
– What does the honorable member suggest?
– That the area officers, instead of compelling these boys to attend at certain centres, should visit the remote suburbs and train them there. Parents, who are quite willing that their lads should attend drill, and whose lads are enthusiastically in favour of drill, complain to me .that this system under which they are called upon to travel to town, and under which they are unable sometimes to. reach home until nearly midnight, is objectionable and irritating. I hope the Minister will ask his officers to make the change I suggest.
– I am anxious to hear what the Minister proposes to do for country cadets. We have just heard a wail regarding the position of boys living in the suburbs, because they have to travel a couple of miles by train to attend drill. It is a wonder that the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) has not suggested that motor cars should be provided for them. I wish to put in a plea for boys living in country districts who have to walk 4 and 5 miles along muddy roads in winter time in order to attend drill. Will the Minister do something to facilitate their training?
– I indorse all that has been said by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Austin Chapman) in regard to the disadvantages under which country cadets labour. As the representative of a rural district, I have often seen lads travelling at night along muddy roads for some” miles in order toattend drill, and I hope the Minister will sympathetically consider the representations that have been made by my honorable friend.
– I would remind honorablemembers that the Act applies uniformly to cadets living in town and country districts. We have already made concessions to country cadets, inasmuch as in section 127 of the principal Act we have legislated that -
Provided also that in the ease of Senior Cadets who reside over 2 miles from the place appointed for training, attendance for a less number of hours than prescribed above may be allowed to count as prescribed for the full statutory duration of drills, and power may be given to the prescribed officers to grant leave of absence from training required by this Act when the conditions of the weather, by reason of excessive rain or heat, would render attendance a hardship, and equivalent attendance as prescribed may be required in lieu thereof.
– It would seem that the country cadets have the best of it.
– No; but we cannot do too much for these boys. The desire of the Government is to do justice to both city and country cadets.
.- I am afraid that the provision just quoted by the Honorary Minister is not strictly observed, with tile result that attendance at drills in many cases is extremely unpopular. We should do everything possible to popularize the work of training our youths in the defence of their country. I have only to add that I was pleased to hear the honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney) say that the kilts which have been so long taken away from Scottish soldiers in our Forces should, in his opinion, be restored.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 50 -
Section 138 of the principal Act is amended by inserting after sub-section 3 the following sub-section: - “ (3a) Persons who have served on war. service may be exempted from the prescribed training for such period and under such conditions as are prescribed.”
– I move -
That all the words after “ amended,” line 1, be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following: -
Under section 138 of the principal Act it is provided -
The following shall be exempt from the training mentioned in Part XII. of this Act in time of peace, so long as the employment, condition, or status on which the exemption, is based is still continuing.
Under this amendment we are proposing to omit the words “ in time of peace,” because the exemptions provided for are found to be necessary in time of war as well as in time of peace. The further amendment of the principal Act for which I am now providing will meet the case to which reference was made last night in regard to exempting from the prescribed training persons who have served at the Front.
.- We are indebted to the honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Manifold) for having brought forward last night the position of young men who have served at the Front, and who, without this amendment, upon their return to Australia, would still be required to serve as trainees. The honorable member desired to know, and rightly so, why a man who had gained a captaincy at the Front - who had won his spurs on the field of battle - should have to revert bo the position of a trainee and a private in the ranks on his return to Australia.
– The original Bill contained a clause which enabled us to make service oversea equivalent to service in Australia.
– This amendment, however, will go further, and allow such a man to retain his rank.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 51 (Amendment of section 148).
.- This clause raises the question to which the honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Manifold) referred a few evenings ago. It appears to be an anomaly that men who have gained their commissions on the field have no opportunity to secure appointment as officers in the Permanent Forces. I notice that, under this proposed amendment of the principal Act, power is given to appoint such officers to positions in the non-combatant branches of the Permanent Forces. Why should they not be eligible for appointment in the combatant forces, since they have gained their commissions in the most practical way 1
– Section 148 of the principal Act was inserted on the recommendation of Lord Kitchener, for reasons which still prevail. It really relates to staff appointments, -and it is the staff officers who deal with the whole science of warfare. It is not the fighting forces alone with which they are concerned. A man might be a first class regimental leader, and yet, by reason of not having the requisite technical training, would not be suitable for a staff appointment.
– Hear, hear ! He must have technical knowledge.
– That is so. In cases where officers of the Citizen Forces have been appointed to the command of regiments or battalions, they have asked that their adjutant should be a member of the Permanent Staff. One of the objects of the Act is that our own boys who have been trained at the Military College, and who, from their school days, devote themselves to a military career, shall be appointed to permanent positions on the Instructional Staff, the duties attached to which necessarily ‘involve training and study over a long period. The record by the officers from the Duntroon Military College made in this war is one. of which Australians should be very proud. About 140 lads graduated, and went from there to the war; thirty-one of them have fallen, while forty-two others have been wounded or are missing, fifteen have gained military crosses, as many moi a have been mentioned in despatches, and generally, they have been praised in the highest terms by Commanding Officers at the Front. Their training has stood them in good stead; they have shown individual bravery, skill, and ability under the actual conditions of war fare, and thus the value of the College training has been proved by the hardest of tests. Some of the lads went away to the war before they had completed their courses. Staff officers have functions and duties entirely different from those of other officers.
The Government has at heart the wel* fare of those who have won promotion on the field, and their rank will be preserved when they come back to Australia. Particular inquiries which I have made into this subject confirm everything i said regarding it last night. The official list published on the 1st July last gives the record of all our officers, with the ranks they have gained, and honorary rank is retained when they cease to belong to the Military Forces. While men are under training they cannot assume the rank which they may have won abroad, but directly their training is finished that rank is confirmed to them. We have provided that service across the seas may be taken as equivalent, in the case of trainees, to training in Australia, and we have also provided that privates who have won distinctions may be promoted and made officers in the permanent service of the Commonwealth. Then we have amended section 63 to give preferential treatment in defence appointments to our military, and naval men. Now we are dealing with staff appointments. The necessities of the case require that these should be filled by trained men.
.- I think that the Committee should pass the clause as it stands. For staff positions educated and highly-trained men are necessary, to control the technical work of the Army. However brave a man may be, or however good a leader in the field, he may be Al at sea in regard to the technical business of the army. The clause, however, gives the Government power to appoint men who have served with a satisfactory record, but are not graduates of the Military College, to be officers of the non-combatant branches of the Permanent Forces, including the medical, veterinary, ordnance, survey, and clerical branches. It also provides that warrant and non-commissioned officers of the Permanent Forces may be appointed to the commissioned rank for the ‘ position of quartermaster to units of the Australian Military Forces. That is a wise provision. The Minister has told us that if a man has to put in drills as a trainee he will, after his return, still have a chance to be promoted as high as a warrant officer or quartermaster. In regard to the Duntroon officers, all I haveto say is that when the College was established we were told that it would turn out men possessed of great technical ability. As one of those who framed the original Defence Act, I venture to say that the College has done even better than we hoped that it would do. As the Minister has said, the boys from Duntroon have made a name in this war which will be ever memorable in the history of Australia. If in the future the College turns out officers as good as these have proved themselves to be, wo need not fear for our military prestige, nor dread that our officers may not possess sufficient technical ability.
.- I indorse what has been said by the Minister and the honorable member for Maranoa regarding the Duntroon officers. General SirIan Hamilton declared at Gallipoli that every one of them was worth his weight in gold. In every Department they have made good on the battle field. Some of the lads practically went on strike because they were not permitted to go to the Front, and I believe that the regulations were altered slightly so that they might leave aftera three years’ instead of a four years’ course. The students at the College are instructed in every branch of military science. They learn strategy and tactics, and are thoroughly drilled. The training at the College is, I believe, equal to that in any college in Europe or America, and compares favorably with that at Sandhurst., The Minister is right in saying that the graduates of the College should be the future officers of our Permanent Forces.
Clause agreed to.
– I move -
That the following new clause be in serted : - “ 50a. After section 139 of the principal Act the following section is inserted: - 140. The Governor-General may, in time of war, by Order published in the Gazette, suspend in any year the whole or any portion of the training prescribed by Part XII. of this Act, and all persons liableto be trained under that part in that year shall not be required at any subsequent time to undergo the teaming so suspended.’ “
It has been found necessary during the war to suspend these provisions. Circumstances have compelled these suspensions, although the law does not provide for them. Now, power is being taken to make such’ suspensions.
.- This is virtually locking the door after the steed has been stolen.
– The war is not over yet.
– The proposed new clause gives power to do what has already been done. The training of the cadets was suspended for, I think, six months, but the boys were compelledto make up the time lost. I understand that the suspension was due to the lack of necessary officers.
– It was only in some cases that they were compelled to make it up.
– Probably some officers made a mistake in interpreting the instructions.
Proposed new clause agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments.
Standing Orders suspended, and report adopted.
Motion (by Mr. Groom) proposed -
That this Bill be now read a third time.
.- I did not speak on the second reading, or in Committee, and I desire to say a few words now in regard to the proposed new section 73c, which provides that any contractor, purveyor, or other person, or any employee, who fraudulently supplies to the Commonwealth, or any officer of the Commonwealth, for the use of the Defence Forces, inferior food, or food less in quality than that specified in the contract, shall be guilty of an offence. Then proposed new section 73d provides that the punishment for any such offence, if the proceedings are taken summarily, shall be a fine not exceeding £20, orimprisonment for a term not exceeding six months ; and if the prosecution is upon indictment, the punishment shall be imprisonment, with or without hard labour, for any term not exceeding three years. I welcome these provisions, even if they do not go so far as I would wish. Under the Code Napoleon, the punishment for such offences is not fine or imprisonment, but fine and imprisonment, thus preventing the escape of wealthy offenders. When the present Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Jensen) was Minister for the Navy, he informed me, in reply to questions, that bullocks’ livers, supplied for the transports, had been found to be infected with hydatids. Luckily, an officer of the. Department found that this meat was diseased, or there is every likelihood that our men, who were going abroad to offer the supreme sacrifice of their lives in defence pf their country, might have been infected with the disease.
As I am speaking, there is possibly a riot outside on the question of cheap food. The people are meeting in the street ; and I am sorry to say that possibly the gaols to-night may be filled with men who are as earnest as are members of this House in their desire to right the wrongs which, unfortunately, prevail in our midst.
On the 15th February I asked the then Minister for the Navy whether he could inform me who the men were who had supplied this diseased meat, and the reply was, “ I shall tell the honorable member next week.”” Week after week I could not get the information, owing to the fact that the then Minister for the Navy had been transferred to the office of Minister, for Trade and Customs. Ultimately, in March last, I asked the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Joseph Cook) whether he would state the names of the contractors who had supplied the meat and bullocks’ liver for transports from 1st January, 1916, to 31st December, 1916, and the names supplied to me, in reply, were those of W. Angliss and Company Proprietary Limited, T. K< Bennet and Woolcock Proprietary Limited, and F. Watkins Proprietary Limited. It was then my duty to find out who were the guilty ones, and when I referred to. the matter in the House I quoted from the Graphic newspaper, which I compliment for having exposed this infamy. What came out in the press was a mere bagatelle compared to what was done, and if there were a commission of inquiry, it would be found that diseased meat has repeatedly been supplied; and yet the offenders go free. Angliss and Company, if there had been such a law as is now proposed, might possibly have been fined a paltry £20. When speaking on Supply on 7th March last, I quoted from the Graphic showing that, on 2nd March, 1916, 6th March, 8th May, and 26th May, livers infected with hydatid cysts and fluke had been rejected by the inspectors, and, to the credit of the then Minister for the Navy (Mr. Jensen), he insisted that no more livers should be supplied to the Naval Department. I point out to honorable members that if Messrs.’ Angliss and Company sent out such meat for . general consumption, the public would not have the benefit of a second examination by a departmental officer. On the 8th March, 1917, I put further questions in the House regarding the supply of diseased meat for the troopships, and I was informed that Messrs. Watkins Proprietary Limited had not supplied any of these livers, but that -
On the 25th May, 1916, T. K. Bennet and Woolcock Proprietary Limited tendered ox liver which was diseased, and it was rejected. This meat had been previously inspected and passed at the abattoirs, and it is not considered that the firm deliberately attempted to supply diseased meat.
And that -
On the 6th March, 1916, and 3rd and 4th May, W. Angliss and Company Proprietary Limited tendered ox liver which was diseased, and it was rejected. This meat had been previously inspected and passed at the abattoirs; and it is not considered that the firm-, deliberately attempted to supply diseased meat.
Subsequently the Angliss Proprietary Limited tried to throw a slur on the Melbourne Municipal Council, but it was resented “and repudiated by that body. .
– I ask the honorable member to say how he connects his speech with the Bill ?
– I am referring to the proposed new sections 73c and 73d, in order to show that nothing short of imprisonment ought to be inflicted when offences of this kind are repeated. The Melbourne Municipal Council denied that they ever sent out from their abattoirs any livers except for pigs’ food and dogs’ food ; so that, if the livers in question did come from the municipal abattoirs, their destination must have been changed to the troopships. W. Angliss and Company Proprietary Limited have their own abattoirs, and they have repeatedly been found guilty of .breaking the Factories Act. I cannot accuse the company of having supplied this diseased meat designedly, but when it happens repeatedly in .the case of our soldiers, I ask what chance the general public have of escaping? Under the Bill .as it stands, the wealthy offender may escape on the payment of a fine, and even if a wealthy purveyor gives £500 to a patriotic fund, the public ought to know that it is possible to realize thousands of pounds by the supply of inferior and diseased meat.
– I know of a case where a wealthy offender was imprisoned- in England.
– A wealthy offender can always escape if the penalty is fine or imprisonment, whereas he cannot escape if it be fine and imprisonment, as under the Code Napoleon. However, the provision for proceeding by way of indictment may meet such cases as I have cited. It is always difficult to sheet home a charge of the kind to the wealthy proprietor of a large factory, but when we find diseased meat supplied two or three times, it ought to be regarded as primâ facie evidence of guilt.
.- I would like the Minister to explain what is meant by the word “ detention,” which occurs in several clauses. It seems to me that it opens up the possibility of discrimination. If a court martial finds any one guilty of an offence there should be no difference in the punishment meted out. One man should not be subjected to detention while another is subjected to imprisonment.
– The word “ detention “ is used not with the object of assisting any one to escape punishment or for the purpose of giving preference to any one,but because it is thought desirable that military offenders should be subjected to military detention rather than be confined in gaols, where ordinary offenders against the civil law are undergoing imprisonment.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
In Committee (Consideration of Senate’s amendments resumed from the 24th August, vide page 1469).
1 ) The Minister may remove any Commissioner from office on an address praying for his removal being presented to the Governor-General by the Senate and the House of Representatives respectively in the same session of the Parliament or by the House of Representatives alone in two consecutive sessions thereof: Provided that not less than six weeks have intervened between such addresses when made by the House of Representatives alone. . . .
Senate’s Amendment. - After “ Parliament “ leave out “ or by the House of Representatives alone in two consecutive sessions thereof : Pro vided that not less than six weeks have intervened between such addresses when made by the House of Representatives alone.”
Motion (by Mr. Watt) again proposed -
That the amendment be agreed to.
– Many of the amendments made by the Senate are mechanical, and do not involve matters of material substance, but one or two may be regarded by some honorable members as debatable. The first amendment deals with clause 12. As the clause left this House the Commissioner of Railways could be removed from office by the Minister on an address praying for his removal being presented to the GovernorGeneral by the Senate and the House of Representatives in any one session, or by the House of Representatives alone in two consecutive sessions. The effect of the Senate’s amendment is that an address for the removal of the Commissioner must be passed by both Houses in one session. It is the practice that is adopted in most of the States, and I propose to accept the view taken by the Senate.
Motion agreed to.
Clause 21 -
Senate’s Amendment. - At the end of subclause 3 add “ and may provide house accommodation for employees on such terms and conditions as he determines.”
– Before the Bill left this House I introduced an amendment atthe request of the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Higgs), giving the Commissioner power to provide house accommodation for the employees on terms and conditions to be determined by him. The amendment simply alters the position of the provision, and involves no substantial change. I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
Motion agreed to.
Amendments of clause 29 and the omission of clause 38 agreed to.
Senate’s Amendment. - After “ report “ insert “ and balance-sheet showing stocks on hand, depreciation of property.”
.- The object of the Senate’s amendment is to render more explicit the provision dealing with the production of balance-sheets for submission to the Minister. It is not the most convenient method of doing it, but I propose to accept the Senate’s amendment. I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
Motion agreed to.
Consequential amendment in clause 42 agreed to.
Senate’s Amendment. - After clause 47 insert the following new clause : - “ 47a. The Arbitration (Public Service) Act 1911 shall apply to the Railway Service in like manner as it applies to the Public Service of the Commonwealth:
Provided that in its application to the Railway Service any reference in that Act to the Public Service Commissioner shall be read as a reference to the Commonwealth Bail ways Commissioner.”
Act is to apply to the Railway Service in ‘like manner as it applies to the Public Service of the Commonwealth. Some honorable members may consider that we should not give the railway employees the right to appeal to the Arbitration Court of the Commonwealth. I have never hidden my view that it is a point of doubtful expediency and wisdom to give employees of the Commonwealth generally the right to appeal to an Arbitration Court, but the law of the Commonwealth makes that right perfectly explicit and beyond any doubt, and as iti is the established policy of the Commonwealth, there is no reason why officers of the Commonwealth Rail way Service should be denied a right which, is extended to officers of the Commonwealth Public Service. Until the Commonwealth revises the whole procedure, .there is no legitimate reason for making fish of one set of employees and flesh of another set. In that spirit, I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
– I congratulate the Government on adhering to the principle of arbitration. In view of the attacks made recently on Mr. Justice Higgins and on arbitration work generally, it is pleasing to hear that the principle of arbitration is not yet to be jettisoned, so far as the Commonwealth public servants are concerned, but the attitude of the Government is rather a peculiar commentary on the action of the New South Wales Government, which brought about the present industrial trouble in Australia.’ It is well known that the refusal of that Government to employ the arbitration laws of the State to settle an industrial dispute brought about the present regrettable disturbance of which we have had evidence in the streets of Melbourne tonight.
– It is not so.
– I am content to hold more’ firmly to my own opinion, that if the New South Wales Government had been willing to accept their own arbitration laws, and adopt the arbitration method of settling an industrial dispute, we would not have had the trouble which we have had during the last month.
– The honorable mem-, ber knows that the matter did not come within the purview of the State Arbitration Court.
– If that is so, why have we had all this denunciation of the Arbitration Courts which we have heard from Mr. Cuming and others? Rightly or wrongly, but in my opinion rightly, the Commonwealth has adopted conciliation and arbitration as a means of preventing and settling industrial disputes, bub the system has largely failed, not because the principle of arbitration is wrong, but because the machinery of the Arbitration Court is unable to deal with cases quickly enough to prevent a dispute taking place.
– It has failed because the organizations will not observe the awards.
– The honorable member knows that his statement cannot be substantiated by facts. There are on record more cases of violation of awards by employers than by employees.
– I am speaking of what the records show. The Arbitration Court has always had more difficulty with employers than with employees. I believe in the system of conciliation and arbitration, and I congratulate the Minister who, in spite of his personal predilections in the matter, bows to the will of Parliament, and evidently, to the will of the Government, that, in the matter of approaching the Arbitration Court, the railway servants of the Commonwealth shall be given equal facilities to those already’ extended to officers of the Commonwealth Public Service. This is a step that will commend itself to the railway employees, and will also have another effect of considerable value; it will offer a guarantee tol the employees now in the Commonwealth service that there is no immediate intention of taking from them their right to approach the Arbitration Court. One can only hope that this principle may be extended until we can have an effective arbitration system to deal with industrial troubles, and I offer a suggestion to the Government, believing that both parties in the House, and the community at large, are anxious to arrive at some system whereby we can avoid the ever-recurring industrial disputes. Would it not be possible to appoint competent men, especially those who have had experience in the Arbitration Courts of the State and the Commonwealth, to prepare a- comprehensive arbitration scheme that will enable us to deal quickly .and effectively with industrial troubles 1 Once -we have overcome the war nervousness, which makes everybody unsettled, .we shall. desire to settle down to some system which will prevent these interferences, come from whatever source they may, with the continuance of our industrial activities. The system of arbitration, which we here recognise should be applied to every section of the Commonwealth Service, without restriction and distinction, should be extended generally throughout Australia,’ and would, I believe, commend itself to the great majority of the people.
– I am very strongly opposed to this amendment. The Minister has mentioned, as the particular reason why the Senate’s wishes’ should be conceded, the fact that the Commonwealth Public Service generally has the Arbitration Court available to it. I do not believe in that principle. The alteration in the administration of the Public Service was resisted very strenuously by a considerable number of members now sitting on this side of the House, but was carried by an overwhelming force of numbers, at a time when a good many vicious principles were introduced into the legislation of this. Parliament. In my opinion this amendment does not stand on all fours with the privileges enjoyed to-day by the Public Service, because a Railway ‘‘Department is distinct from every other Department. It is supposed to be removed from political control. In the States there are Railways Commissioners whose business it is to administer the railways on commercial principles, and they are charged with the responsibility of making the systems pay. It is a well-known fact that whoever deals with the payment of employees, and fixes their wages and conditions in any business,- controls that business to a large extent. The purpose of appointing . Railways Commissioners is to insure that the railways shall be managed free of political control. Unfortunately, that object is not always attained, but a Railways Commissioner cannot be made responsible for the successful manage-, ment of .his Department if he does not control it.
– I am afraid we cannot make this Department pay.
– It cannot be made to pay in any case, whether the employees have the right to approach the Arbitration Court, or not, and we cannot have more industrial unrest in connexion with the Commonwealth .Railways than we have had up to the present’ time. Therefore, in those respects, the intervention of the Arbitration Court cannot make the position any worse. But I wish to say broadly that the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act has not operated in the direction of ‘promoting industrial peace. That fact has been demonstrated abundantly during the last three months. The Court has become the storm-centre of industrial unrest. It has promoted a condition of affairs in the industrial life of the community which has been most disastrous. It has been a curse to Australian industries, which can never be built up, so long as we have a continuance of the conditions which have ‘obtained in Australia since we have had the present arbitration influence in the Commonwealth.
I maintain that there is a distinction between the railway services and the ordinary services of a Government. , The Railway Service under the Commissioners has special privileges which no other Department of the Public Service enjoys. It has an Appeal Board, for instance, to which men may resort if they aredissatis ‘ fied with the dictum of the Commissioner. In the interests of the Railway Service, and ultimately in the interests of the men, it would be better for them to continue as they have done in Victoria and South Australia without the right of appeal to the Arbitration Court. In the South Australian Railways there has never ‘been a strike, and there is more satisfaction in’ that service than.’ in . any other Railway Service in the Commonwealth. No doubt this amendment will be agreed to, but I express the hope- that before long there will be considerable revision of the conciliation and arbitration legislation of the Commonwealth.
Motion agreed to.
Senate’s amendment in clause 51 agreed to.
Clause 52 (Rights of employees previously employed by Commonwealth or State). ‘
– The amendments to. clause 52 are those which the honorable member for Maribyrnong endeavoured to have inserted in this House,, and, broadly speaking, they provide that in reckoning the length of service dealt with in this clause, service during the construction period shall count equally with service under the Commissioner. No objection to the amendments is offered by the Department or the Government. I therefore, move that -
The amendments, be agreed’ to, with- consequential amendments.
Motion agreed to.
Senate’s amendments in clauses 53 and 58 agreed to.
Senate’s Amendment. - In lines 3 and 4, leave out “ public parks, recreation grounds,”
– This amendment was the result of an unhappy accident in another place. The matter of invasion of parks and recreation grounds was raised by the honorable member for Brisbane, and I promised to have additional safeguards inserted when the Bill was before the .Senate. Around the suggestions for protecting public parks and recreation grounds from invasion by the Commissioner or Minister arose considerable debate, and the amendment ultimately agreed to achieves the opposite effect to what was desired. By deleting the words “public parks, recreation grounds,” the Senate has weakened the clause as originally introduced. I move -
That the amendments be agreed to, with the following -consequential amendment : -
At the end of the clause add the following new sub-clause1: - “ (3) Nothing, in this section shall be deemed to empower the’ Commissioner, without the authority of the Parliament, to acquire any lands dedicated, reserved, or set apart for public parks or recreation grounds.”
That amendment will, I think, afford the protection to these public dedications, which I think, honorable members almost unanimously desire. If in the construction of a line, it should be necessary to acquire any of these lands, in the Constructing Act itself will have to be embodied explicit power to invade the particular scheduled lands.
.-While the amendment will give Parliament the last word in- regard to any invasion. 6f public parks or recreation grounds; I again remind the Committee that it is impossible to get out of some cities without traversing parks. I suppose I am safe in saying that two-thirds, if not three-fourths, of the traffic of the Victorian. Railways has to pass, through public parks.
– That also applies to Adelaide.
– There the hulk of the suburban traffic is carried by the tramways. Two-thirds of the suburban traffic of Melbourne, however - the Brighton, Caulfield, Camberwell, Kew, and Heidelberg railway services - have to pass through park lands. In some cases, it might be quite impossible to obtain the consent of Parliament to a, railway running through a park, and, in that event, it would be necessary either to tunnel it or. to forego the projected line. This provision, however, would not apply to-day, so far as our big cities are concerned.
– It is quite safe.
– I did not agree with the amendment made by the Senate deleting the word “ parks.”
– I think, from what I heard of the debate, that it was made under a misapprehension.
– Perhaps so. While it would be safer to leave the power with Parliament, it is possible that Parliament might not always be prepared to do quite the right thing.
– I am glad that the Minister has taken this action with regard to the Senate’s amendment. As amended by another place, this would be a general provision, but with the further amendment which the Minister has proposed, each individual case will have to be determined on its merits by Parliament. From that point of view, the Minister’s proposal meets my objection to a greater extent than did the alteration made by another place. I am pleased that the question is to be settled in thisway.
Motion agreed to.
Senate’s Amendment. - Leave out “ and on the request of the injured person, where reasonable, such examination shall he held in the presence of the private medical practitioner of such injured person,” insert “ and, unless the examination would thereby be delayed for a period of at least twenty-four hours, the person may require that the examination shall take place in the presence of a medical practitioner to be nominated and paid by the person.”
.- This amendment makes more explicit the procedure to he adopted with regard to the medical examination of passengers in the event of accident: The honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney) suggested the insertion of the original provision, and it was made rather hurriedly. The clause as amended will be better, and I, therefore, move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
– I agree with the amendment, believing that it will carry out more effectively the suggestion I made when the Bill was originally before us.
Motion agreed to.
Resolutions reported; report adopted.
In Committee (Consideration of GovernorGeneral’s message) :
Motion (by Sir John Forrest) agreed to-
That it is expedient that an appropriation of moneys be made for the purposes of a Bill for an Act to amend the Audit Act 1901-12.
Standing Orders suspended; resolution adopted.
That Sir John Forrest and Mr. Joseph Cook do prepare and bring in a Bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented by Sir John Forrest, and read a first time.
– In moving -
That this Bill be now read a second time,
I desire to give honorable members a brief explanation of its provisions. Clause 3 contains the most important provision. It relates to the transfer to the’ Consolidated Revenue of moneys standing to the credit of the Trust Fund established by the Treasurer under section 62a of the Audit Act, and known as the London Liability Account. In introducing the Budget I explained that for some years it had been the practice of the
Treasurer when goods were ordered in Great Britain to transfer from the Consolidated RevenueFund to the credit of the London Liabilities Account moneys to pay for those goods on delivery. In this way money has been carried forward from year to year because in some cases two or three years have elapsed between the setting aside of the money and the time of payment for the goods.
It is the usual practice for a Government, unless its Treasury is overflowing, to provide in each year for the expenditure of that year. I referred to that fact in my Budget Speech, and also informed honorable members that under the financial arrangement for this year it was proposed to transfer £825,355 from the London Liabilities Account to the Consolidated Revenue Fund, that transfer being necessary if further taxation was to he avoided during the financial year.
This amendment of the principal Act provides that the Treasurer may at any time pay into the Consolidated Revenue Fund - in reality, pay back to the Consolidated Revenue Fund -
Any moneys standing to the credit of the trust account established by the Treasurer under this section known as the London Liabilities Account, except moneys which have been paid into the London Liabilities Account out of the Loan Fund.
In other words, it is only in respect of moneys belonging to the Consolidated Revenue that the Treasurer is to have any control under this Bill. The balance of moneys lying to the credit of the London Liabilities Account on 30th March last was £4,591,776. Of that amount £2,925,291 belonged to the Consolidated Revenue and the balance of £1,666,485 was derived almost entirely from the Loan Fund, and therefore, will not be interfered with in any way under this Bill. Part of the £1,666,485 which was not derived from the Loan Fund consists of small amounts such as deposits for the completion of contracts. We propose this year to take from the London Liabilities Account £825,355 of the moneys rightly belonging to the Consolidated Revenue Fund. We think it better to do that than to impose fresh taxation this year.
– Some part of this Bill is to be retrospective.
– That relates to quite another matter to which I am about to refer. Clause 2 involves no ques tion of policy. It relates only to bookkeeping. Under the law as it stands, moneys received in respect of the hire and earnings of any vessel used as a transport should be credited to revenue if the expenses are charged to revenue; but as the cost of transports is charged to the Loan Fund, clearly such a procedure would be wrong. The Treasury has been crediting to the Loan Fund moneys earned by transports, since transports are paid for out of Loan Account. It is desired now to legalize that process. It would be wrong to credit to revenue moneys received in respect of the hire and earnings of a vessel used as a transport, seeing that the cost of that vessel is being paid for out of Loan Fund. Such earnings should be credited to the fund from which the cost of the vessel is provided. This is merely the legalization of a bookkeeping practice which the Treasury has followed, and which is clearly the correct course to adopt.
.- When I held office as Treasurer, the amount to the credit of the London Liabilities Account varied from £900,000 to £2,000,000, or more. I should like to ask the Treasurer whether it is not a fact that the bulk of the money standing to the credit of that account is not operated upon by the Commonwealth Bank, which lends it out on short-dated loans, with the result that it earns something like4¾ per cent. Is not the Treasurer proposing to borrow from that fund, and will he not have to replace it later on?
– We are proposing, not to borrow it, but to transfer it to the Consolidated Revenue, to which it belongs. We shall have to replace it, of course, when we have to pay for the goods in respect of which money was put to the credit of the London Liabilities Account.
– What will happen when the Treasurer requires to replenish that fund?
– We shall have to find the money.
– That will mean that the money will have to be cabled from Australia.
– I do not know that that will be necessary.
– Cannot the requirements in London be estimated?
– Not very well. A certain amount of revenue is received from the ships, but we do not know how much will be received. On one occasion, when Treasurer, I was asked by the Commonwealth Bank to make arrangements with the Imperial Government to increase the fund by £2,000,000.
– Because it was considered that there was not enough money to go and come on.
– We have other moneys there.
– Yes, but the sums vary. This seems to me a patched’-up way of meeting our liabilities.
– We thought it better to take this money than to raise more by increasing taxation.
– This arrangement will only tide us over for a year, and should the money be needed, the Treasurer will have to find it.
– So we shall.
– There never was a more favorable time for meeting our requirements by the imposition of taxation.
– Would the honorable member tax before the money is needed ?
– Why is the Commonwealth now asking for a loan of £20,000,000 if money is not needed?
– That is for war purposes. Should we allow money to lie idle?
– This money is earning interest, being out on short-dated loans. There is more money now available for taxation than there has’ been at any other .period, and taxation is expected. The Treasurer is only postponing the evil day by filling up a gap for this particular year. Next year he may have to make good what he is now taking. By using this £800,000, by gaining £700,000 by a reduction of the sinking fund, with the amount carried forward by way of surplus, and with the £2,000,000 saving on works, the Government has avoided taxation this year to the amount of £6,000,000.
– Is not that a good thing?
– But we cannot go on doing that.
– We shall go on doing it as long as we can.
– Would it not be better to raise money this year ? Next year the season may be bad.
– But will the money have run away?
– The fact that we may strike a bad year is a reason for getting what we can this year. It would be better to finance the country by increasing taxation than to borrow a little here and a little there.
– But why take money out of the pockets of - the people if it is not needed ?
– It is needed. We , are giving a post-dated cheque, and making no provision, to meet it. If a bad season occurs it will be more difficult to raise money than it is now.
– The honorable member is a croaker.
– I believe in making provision to meet our liabilities as we go on. If I were in office I would propose an increase of taxation, because there was never a time more favorable than the present for imposing taxation. However, I shall let the measure go with this protest. I do not think that we are meet- ing our liabilities as we should meet them.
.- I regret that, because of indisposition, another ex-Treasurer, the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Higgs) is not here. The Treasurer, in his Budget statement, told us that he is going to make a transfer of £825,000 to the Consolidated Revenue Fund. Is that what is provided for by the Bill.
– I understand that there is £4,591,000 at the credit of the London Liability Account, of which £2,925,000 came from Consolidated Revenue, and that from the latter amount it is proposed to transfer £825,000 to the Consolidated Revenue.
– Certainly. It is money Which we put to the credit of the account to pay for commodities whichhave been ordered, or might be ordered.-
– Surely it is possible to estimate our commitments within a million or so. Do the Treasury officials recommend that what is proposed shall be done? Do they say that there will be a sufficient margin in London to work on ?
– Proposed new section 58a provides that the Treasurer may take various receipts in reduction of expenditure charged to the Loan Fund. I suppose that the chief of these will be the moneys received in respect of the hire and earnings of vessels used for the transport of Expeditionary Forces. When the Treasurer was in opposition, he questioned the present Prime Minister regarding the purchase of ships for the Government, and wished to know when a Bill would be introduced to legalize this transaction. May I ask him his own question? When will such a Bill be introduced ?
– I do not know that a Bill is absolutely necessary. The Treasurer of the day said there would be a Bill, and I thought then that a Bill was necessary; but I am informed that by making the account a trust account under the Audit Act it is not necessary to have a Bill.
– If the AuditorGeneral is of opinion that any Minister may, without the authority of Parliament, make a purchase of this kind, the Audit Act should be tightened up. Parliament has not ratified that purchase.
– I think that it would have been better to have had a Bill at the beginning.
– I was given to understand that the Audit Commissioner was pressing for a Bill.
– It was the Government of which the honorable member for Yarra was a member that made the purchase. What authority had it for doing so?
– The purchase was a wise one.
– The ships are being paid for out of their earnings.
– No doubt the fleet is worth to-day probably twice as much per ton as when it was purchased, and the enterprise will pay for itself.
– Now that the matter has been brought under my notice, I shall look into it carefully.
– It has been stated in this House that every penny of Government expenditure is shown in the Estimates. A former member for Gippsland used to declare, whenever the Estimates came up, that millions were expended on contingencies of which Parliament had no knowledge. Ministers know that a voucher has to be signed for every departmental expenditure over 5s., but over £2,000,000 was spent on the purchase of these ships without reference to Parliament.
As to the Bill, the Treasurer says that it is necessary, and certainly money, should not be allowed to lie idle in London when a use can be found for it. Like the honorable member for Grey, I regret that a more comprehensive scheme of taxation is not being brought forward.
– It will come in due course.
– Next year.
– Next year! You are making the mistake of your life in postponing this matter. We are borrowing to-day when we could raise a great amount by means of taxation. Of course, I can only incidentally mention the matter on this Bill. I have no objection to the amendment proposed.
– I should like to refer to the sale of the effects of deceased members of the Expeditionary Force, and to suggest that some consideration should be given to the ability or inability of the deceased person’s relatives to obtain the goods before they are sold.
– That is not a Treasury, but a Defence, matter. The Treasury does not sell the effects, but merely gets the money.
– Some effort should be made to discover the relatives of the deceased persons before the goods are sold. The Treasurer, in his grasping after cash, should not overlook the rights of relatives.
– We do not keep goods or proceeds from any relatives who are entitled tothem. The Treasury merely banks the money.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages.
– I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
The business to-morrow will be the further consideration of the measure to tax eligibles, and I hope sincerely that we may finish it without much controversy. After that we may have a little time to clear off the Senate’s amendments, which are not so very important, in the Wartime Profits Tax Assessment Bill. I should like to say how much. I appreciate the working attitude of the House this afternoon after the stormy time of this morning.
.- Whether there are any serious amendments to be proposed by the Government in the measure to impose a tax on eligibles - or, as some member has suggested, on bachelors - I do not know; but I presume it will depend largely on the suggestions made by the Government whether the Bill has an easy or a rough passage. The Minister for the Navy has spoken of the amendments from the Senate in the War-time Profits Assessment Bill, but what about the Repatriation Bill? Shall we deal with thab tomorrow ?
– If we can, yes.
– Apparently the Government expect the time to-morrow to be taken up with the two measures they have mentioned, but the Repatriation Bill is one of the most important we have ever had before us in the life of this Parliament!, and it calls for most careful consideration.
– The land robbers are in the job !
– I am sorry to hear that, and, if it is true, these robbers will have to be watched. This is a measure which will be very far-reaching in its effects, not only in regard to this, but in regard to future Governments. If it is intended to finish up the business this week, I earnestly urge the Government to give honorable members a fair opportunity to discuss the Repatriation Bill.
– Whether it lakes this week or next week, that Bill will not be skimped.
– I am very glad to hear that.
.- I wish to protest against the way in which the censorship is being manipulated at the present time to prevent the publication in Labour journals of articles which deal with industrial matters, and have no relation whatever to the war. I have here an article that has been refused publication in the Melbourne Socialist. It is extracted from an American publication, The International Socialist Review, and deals with the matter of shop and factory control. It begins -
The war has precipitated a new discussion in the British Labour circles. This time it is the part that Labour is to play in the management of industry. The syndicalist movement, which had made many gains prior to the war, finds a partial expression in this new development, which will, no doubt, increase in force as time goes by, and the necessity for the reorganization of industry at the close of the war becomes more pressing. When Mr. Lloyd George went to the Clyde last year to deal with the trouble in the work-shops, he returned with the conviction that the controversy, in its essence, was not between the Government and the workers, but was the evidence of friction between fractions in the trade unions.
– The honorable member cannot get a fair hearing for that kind of argument at this time of night.
– That is not my fault.
– Prudence should dictate some other kind of action to the honorable member.
– Prudence tells me that I shall not get any other chance. The article continues -
This irritation does not appear to have diminished, for the Durham miners stated very plainly in a recent meeting that they had no confidence in their parliamentary delegates.’ There is, without doubt, much fermentation in the British unions at the present time. The new spirit will manifest itself more fully at the close of the war. Then the controversy and conflicts will take many and various forms, but the earliest appears now likely to be that concerning the part of organized labour in management.
This was actually projected into the Law Courts last February, when several of the Clyde strikers were charged with violation of the provisions of the Munitions Act. On that occasion Sheriff Fyfe was inspired by the typical magisterial spirit to say, “ You(i.e., the accused) have taken the attitude that a certain shop steward is to manage the works.
I do not wish to detain the House, but I desire to have this article printed in Hansard in order to show how the censorship is used against the Labour press.
– The honorable member will have a far better chance next week, at latest.
– I understand that next week we shall not be sitting.
– We mustget supply before we rise.
– While the honorable member for Barrier (Mr. Considine) is making an important statement, honorable members opposite are not here in force to listen. I think there ought to be a quorum present. There is not a single member on the front Opposition Bench.
The bells having been rung, and there not being aquorum present,
Mr. Speaker adjourned the House at 10.45 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 19 September 1917, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1917/19170919_reps_7_83/>.