7th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon W. Elliot Johnson) took thechair at 11 a.m., and read prayers. ‘
– Does the Prime Minister know whether a conference is being arranged between the Government of New South Wales and representatives of’ the coal miners?
– Yesterday I received a telegram from the Acting Premier of the State to the effect that the holding’ of a conference was being considered, and as the. . honorable member knows, I received a message from Mr. Baddeley to the effect that the members of the miners’ council were available for a conference. I assume that I shall be advised to-day of the intentions of the Government of New South Wales, and I shall communicate the information to the honorable member.
– Has the Prime Minister received a reply to the request which I made to him privately that he would ascertain whether it is a fact that the Colonial Sugar Refining Company is compelling its employees who receive daily or weekly wages to withdraw their money from the provident fund, threatening that unless they do so they will be dismissed ?
– A letter in which- the statements of the honorable member are set out has been sent to the company, and the company has been asked to say whether these statements are accurate, and to furnish an explanation regarding the whole matter. So soon as a reply has been received, I shall let the honorable member know its contents.
– Has the Prime Minister seen the cabled report that a person named Holman, who apparently has taken it upon himself to represent Australia abroad, has been telling the people of the United. States that, it is their, duty to carry on this war to a- finish ? Will the right honorable gentleman inquire- if this Mr. Holman is the politician who, a ‘ few months ago, before the last State election, entered into an agreement, in order to save his political hide, to oppose under any circumstances the introduction of conscription into Australia? Further, if this is the same politician, will the Prime Minister cable the information to America, so that it may have the incidental effect of suggesting to Mr. Holman the propriety of lapsing into an honorable silence?
– No one can present the views of the people of Australia in regard to the war unless speaking with the authority of this Parliament Mr. Holman has not that authority, and therefore, speaks merely as a private citizen. I have read a report of his speech, in which it is said’ that we are going to fight to a victorious finish. Probably we have- all been guilty of little indiscretions, which after luncheon must be regarded as mere peccadillos. I see- no: useful purpose to be served by cabling to America, because I apprehend that there they discount all. such observations, and making such a discount in this case; there remains little in the- speech to which exception can be taken.
Parliament House Plans
– I ask the Minister, for Home and Territories if he intends to ask the ‘adjudicating board of architects to proceed with their work during wartime in connexion with the- judging of plans for the proposed’ parliamentary . buildings at Canberra, and’ if he will inform the House what is the present position regarding “the competition?
– I do not intend to ask the adjudicators to come together and deal with this matter, until I have received fuller information. In November last the Cabinet suspended the competition because a communication had been received in the previous month, from the head of the British Institute of Architects to the effect that, it was undesirable to go on with it at the present time. This morning I gave, instructions for a cablegram to be sent to inquire what’ is the position, and I shall be guided by the reply.
– The steamer Port Kembla disappeared the other day as the result of an explosion. Is it true that the hold in which, the explosion occurred was loaded by volunteer labourers?
– I am unable to say, nor do I know whether the Port Kembla was sunk through an internal explosion, or from some other cause. As three vessels have lately disappeared from this coast, of which two were certainly not loaded by volunteer labour, it is obvious, adopting the methods of deductive reasoning, that voluntary labour is not the explanation of the sinking of the Port Kembla.
– Is the Prime Minister aware that corn and wheat sacks are higher in price now than they were before the 10 per cent, import duty was remitted ? Will the right honorable gentleman look into the matter, to prevent exploitation?
– I am not aware that the facts are as stated, but’ as I have investigated the subject closely I am sure that- no exploitation can take place. . The price of bags here is regulated by the state of the jute market in Calcutta. . To warrant the cry of exploitation it is not enough to discover that the price of an article has increased; everything is dearer now than it was. The Government is watching ithis matter most vigilantly, and intends to take every step necessary to prevent the farmers from being exploited or hampered in any way; but it cannot regulate prices on the Calcutta jute market. The farmers, however, are threatened with a more serious inconvenience than an “increase in the price of hags. Owing to the war, it may happen that we shall not be able to get bags brought here. Then the -trouble will be not the high price of bags, but bags at any price.
Motion (by Mr. Hughes) agreed to -
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act, the following members be appointed members of the Joint Public Works Committee!; - Messrs. Gregory, Mahony, Mathews, Sampson, Sinclair, and Laird Smith.
Motion (by Mr. Hughes) agreed to -
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Committee of Public Accounts Act, the following members be appointed members of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts: - Messrs. Atkinson, J. H. Catts, Charlton, Fenton, Poynton, and John Thomson.
Motion (by Mr. Hughes) agreed to -
That the House at its rising adjourn till Mon day next, at 11 a.m.
– Will the Minister for Works and Railways consider the desirability of referring to the Public Works Committee at ‘an early -date the works necessary to be put in hand at Port Stephens ? ,
Mr.WATT.- It is not proposed to refer any works at Port Stephens to the Committee during this session.
– Is the Prime Ministeraware that it is freely alleged that Mr.. Bowden Ball, the baker who stated that’, he could sell bread at a profit at6d. perloaf, is sweating his employees?
-I do not knowwhether that statement is true, but ai most extraordinary allegation was madeto me yesterday in’ the form of a statutory declaration which, without comment,. I shall put before the House for what it: is worth. If the statements contained.! therein are ‘true they certainly disclose ‘a. most extraordinary state ‘of affairs -
I, Edward ‘Thomas Tucker, of 35 New-street; Armadale, in . the State ‘of Victoria, do solemnlyand sincerely declare that I was in the employ of F. Bowden Ball, baker, of Malvern-iroad,. Hawksburn, in . 1913. I was employed as . a baker and pastrycook at a weekly wage of £2 15s. The hours I worked were as follows: -
From 3 a.m. until 3 or 4, and ofttimes 5 p.m. on Thursday nights, starting at midnight. T worked continuously, meal hour excepted, and’ did not finish until 3 o’clock the next day, resuming again on the Friday night at 10 o’clock, and finishing at 2 o’clock on Saturday afternoon. Towards the end of my employment my hours were somewhat changed. My startingtime was then 5 a.m., and my finishing 4 p,.ni., excepting Thursday and Friday,, “which., began at 12 and 10 p.m. respectively, until 2 p.m. the next day. The reason my leaving his employ was he wanted to reduce , my wage, to which 1 objected. The reason he gave was that he could not afford it.
The declaration is signed by the depon- erit, and witnessed by John H. Pittard, J.P.
– Is this statutory declaration not a most extraordinary document, having regard to the fact that there are no fewer than five erasures and additions to it. In one case six words havebeen struck out and five inserted in their place, and the alterations are not initialed by either the signatory or the magistrate before whom the’ declaration was made.
– Those defects do not invalidate the document; the signatory is liable for it as it is. The onus rests upon him to show that the emendations were made either by him or by some other person. The document must be taken for what it is worth, and the signatory is liable if he has made a false declaration.
– In connexion with the inquiry into the cost of bread production, is the Prime Minister aware that the Commonwealth Prices Board investigated this matter in every State in the Commonwealth, that the State Food Prices Commissioners have inquired into it, and that the New South Wales Prices Commission probed the question exhaustively, and that the- evidence taken by all those’ bodies is1 available ? What purpose is to be served by an inquiry by the Inter-State Commission, covering a limited area, when all the information that can be obtained in reference to the conditions throughout Australia is already accessible to the Government?
– All I know is that there was an almost unanimous desire by all sections of the House that an inquiry should be made. It does not necessarily follow that facts elicited a year ago are sufficient to-day.
– The information has been broughtup to date within the last few months.
– I will call the atten-. tion of the Inter-State Commission to this evidence, and ask them to take official notice of it. They can incorporate it with the evidence they have obtained, and only to the extent that it requires supplementing, need it be supplemented.
– Have the Government yet received any report from the Inter-State Commission in regard to the price of bread production’, which was the first’ matter inquired into by that body ?
– I have not received any report, yet. I spoke to one of the Commissioners a few days ago, and urged that a progress report should be placed at the disposal of the Government at the earliest possible moment. I shall mention the matter again.
– On 3rd August, I asked the Treasurer if he would lay upon the table the report and recommendations of the conference of Commonwealth and State officers in regard to the adoption of a uniform system of taxation. The Treasurer promised that he_ would do” so. Is he now prepared to fulfil that promise ? / ‘
– I am quite prepared to do so, but there is some objection on the part of the Government of Victoria. I am trying to remove the objection, but I have not yet had a reply from the State Government. I will make further inquiries at once.
– Will the Prime Minister promise that the . matter of establishing a Supply and Tender Board will be considered by the Government during the period over which Parliament will stand adjourned?
– We seem not to get any “ forrader “ with that proposal. The matter was discussed very generally at a recent meeting of the Cabinet, but no decision was arrived at. The Treasurer has made a proposal that there shall be placed at his disposal a number of officers, whose functions will cover a much wider field than those of his present officers, and it is ‘thought that if that proposal is adopted the functions of the Supply and Tender Board could be performed by those officers. The matter is receiving careful attention. I hope to be able to make a definite announcement shortly.
– Can the Minister for Works and Railways inform the House when the Kalgoorlie-Port Augusta railway is to be officially opened ?
– The railway “is to be opened by the Governor-General, but the date has not yet been decided upon. I am hopeful that the line will . be completed in time to get a share of the eastward traffic in connexion with the Melbourne Cup. I am not yet certain whether we shall be able to have the official opening before that time or later.
– In view of the injury caused to recruiting by the breaking of. pledges and promises solemnly given to soldiers, will the Prime Minister request the Cabinet to consider the advisability of exhibiting a list of dishonour, to be placed in a permanent place on the walls of the post-office in the locality wherethe dishonour occurred, showing the names of all employers who have broken the promises made to their employees when they enlisted that their positions would be available for them on their return, and the difference between the army pay and the civil salaries made good ?
– I quite appreciate the spirit underlying the question, bub if my power were as limitless as some people seem to imagine it is, and I were to exercise it one-thousandth part as often and severely as I am asked to do, this country would be too ‘hot for any man to live in. However, I think that any employer whobreaks the promise he gave . to an employee who has gone to the Front is a most dishonorable man. A man guilty of that sort of action can hardly hope to keep the matter secret. It is not necessary to placard his default on a wall. It will be branded in the hearts and minds of his fellow citizens, and the most effective way to deal with such a man is to treat) him as a pariah, and place him outside the pale.
Effectiveness of the Law.
– Will the Prime Minister state whether the law relating to disturbances such as that witnessed in Melbourne on Wednesday evening is defective, and, if so, whether the Government intend so to’ amend it as to enable thorn to deal drastically with the principals in any future disturbance 1 .
– The Commonwealth has no law, nor do I think it has , power to enact a permanent law, dealing with such street disturbances or riots which burst out suddenly, and have for their object, perhaps, the wilful destruction of property. I would point out, by way of answer to those who censure the Govern ment for failing to take action, that none of our laws have been broken. Such a disturbance is an offence against the State law. As to that, there is no doubt whatever. It is not an offence against the Commonwealth law. Unless and until a meeting is held within the proscribed area there is no breach of the Commonwealth Unlawful Associations Act, or of any regulation under the War Precautions Act. The disturbance in Melbourne last Wednesday night was not of the character covered by these, but was in the nature of a general disturbance. While I regret it extremely I cannot say’ that it came within the ambit of the Commonwealth’s jurisdiction. The State laws are ample to deal with such disturbances and should be enforced.
Inquiby as to Cost of Living.
– In view of the statement in this morning’s newspapers that the Inter-State Commission has adjourned ” nine die,” I presume that it has concluded its investigations into the question of the cost of living referred to it by the Government. I ask the Prime Minister whether he can say when a report will be furnished by the Commission 1
– My honorable friend’s acquaintance with the classics has been evidently of the slightest description. He has misunderstood the meaning of “ sine die.” What has been done involves no vital and permanent departure on the part of the Commission, but merely a temporary adjournment for an unknown period. When I’ was a member of the old ‘ Labour party, we sometimes adjourned a meeting upstairs “ sine die “ and within half an hour were back again.
Complaint of Bad Language
– I ask the Minister for Works and Railways whether he has settled the reported strike which took place on the East-West railway because of the indecent or vulgar language said to have been used by one of the gangers! Further, have samples ‘of the language reached him. If so, did he consider they were a sufficient excuse for the dispute, and what is the nature of the settlement arrived at?
– I know that the honorable member is interested in bad language, and it is in that spirit that I propose to answer his question. I thought it was improper to suggest that the language alleged to have been used should be telegraphed to me since it might fuse the wires and the Postmaster-General might refuse to transmit it. What really happened was that certain strong language was used by a ganger and certain very offensive language was used in reply.
– Can the Minister tell us what it was?
– Yes, but I shall not do so, except in camera. I entirelyresent the suggestion of one of the newspapers of this city that on the receipt of the official report the Minister should hire an expert to enable him to properly adjudicate on the question. I think most of us are sufficiently expert in that direction.
– The honorable member admits that he is?
– I do. The trouble has been settled. The ganger is still in possession, but some of the men who complained have been removed to another quarry, with the result that everything is now going on as merry as a marriage bell. The superintending engineer, reporting in final terms, says in effect that in his judgment, after hearing the evidence, the ganger did not reflect on the legitimacy of any of the men engaged in his gang, nor did he suggest a course of conduct which a navvy would consider indelicate.
– Will the Minister for the Navy state whether it is correct that he was interviewed yesterday by a man who, until Tuesday last, was working on one of the Commonwealth boats; and that this man informed him that the present system of protecting or guarding ships at the wharfs, and of searching those who go on hoard, is defective? Did he also ask the Minister to authorize him to make a test as to the effectiveness of the means taken to prevent the introduction of bombs or other dangerous articles on board? If so, has the righthonorable gentleman taken into consideration the seriousness of the statement made by this individual, and will he arrange for the test suggested by him?
-Evidently the gentleman who saw me has also seen my honorable friend. It is quite true that, he made some suggestions as to the necessity for tightening up the guard on thewharfs, and more particularly with respect to the searching of persons going on board ship. I promised him I would give the whole matter further consideration.
– When the Minister for the Navy is inquiring into the danger of workmen and others placing bombs on board ships at our wharfs, will he make inquiries as to the danger of bombs being included in cargoes submitted for consignment and transport?
– I suggest to honorable members that this is not theplace to investigate a matter of that kind.
– On Wednesday last the honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. Finlayson) asked me a question in regard’ to the release of Australian civiliansinterned in Germany, -and I promised tomake representations to the British Government for their release. It escaped my notice at the time that the scope of’ the agreement between the nations coverssuch cases. An agreement is in force between Great Britain and Germany under which the following classes of civiliansheld as prisoners of war are being repatriated, viz., women and children, males under seventeen years of age, interned” males over forty-five years of age, and incapacitated or invalid males of any age. Australians are included under the agreement.
– Has the Prime Minister received a reply to his representations to the Governor-General with regard to the imprisonment of the old man Montague Miller, who was convicted under the War Precautions Act in New South Wales a few days ago, and whose case I recently brought under his notice?
– Ihave not, but as HisExcellency has received my recommendation there can bo no objection to my stating that I recommended the release of this man. Mr. Miller has friends in Western Australia, and the only condition I made was that they should provide for his going over there.
asked the Minister for “Home and Territories, upon notice -
– May I invite the honorable member’s attention to the report of the Advisory Council of Science and Industry of 2nd July, 1917 - printed paper C.7963 - where, on page 34, he will see that the matter has been fully investigated ? The council have gone very fully into this particular question, and appointed a special Committee, with a salaried scientific investigator, for the purpose of conducting experimental work in regard to alunite. Reports have been submitted, and the Committee now state that no serious technical difficulties stand in the way of producing sulphate of potash and alumina from Australian alunite. The Commititee consider that sulphate of potash could be manufactured with, profit if done on a sufficiently large scale by means of modern appliances, provided that a local market could be obtained; in other words, they state the difficulties (if any) in the way of developing the alunite industry are now economic rather than technical. I am further advised that, as a result of the , investigations referred to, arrangements are now being made by the owners of certain of the deposits in question to carry out trials on a large scale in order to ascertain the commercial prospects of utilizing the alunite for the production of potash.’
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The following information has been supplied by the Departments concerned: -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
In view of the probability of a. large surplus crop of pineapples in Queensland in the coming season, will the Prime Minister endeavour to procure an order ‘ for canned pineapples from the British Government, so that the growers may be assisted?’
– An offer of 200,000 cases of canned fruits has been made to the- British . Government, which still has the matter under consideration.
“Argus’” Leader - Appointment of J ustice Higgins.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Will he cause to be laid on the’ table of the House the Melbourne Argus article of the 17th instant attacking the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, and also the reply of the Judge of the Court thereto?
– Copies of the Argus are available in the Library.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Minister for Works and Railways, upon notice- -
Mr.WATT. - The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
Can he say when the last soldiers’ parcel mail left Australia, and did it contain part or all of the 900 tons of mail matter that he lately said had accumulated!
– The honorable member will appreciate the undesirability in present circumstances of making public the dates on which vessels leave Australia. The 900 tons of soldiers’ parcels he refers to have all been despatched.
Federal and State Finances: Increases in Departmental Expenditure : Consideration of Estimates of Expenditure: State Public Works Expenditure - Industrial Crisis : Conference of Coal Miners and Employers : Settlement of Strikes - Unemployment - Duty on Picture Films - Expenditure on Naval Bases - Post and Telegraph Department : Reduction of Services : Preference to Unionists - Censoring of Press : Suppression of “The Fiddlers” and “Defeat?” - Return of Troops to Australia on Furlough - Cost of Living : Food Prices and Price Fixing - Prohibition of Luxuries - Treatment, of Returned Soldiers and Soldiers’ Dependants : Separation Allowance : Overpayment : Delays in Payment - - Commonwealth Merchant Fleet : Receipts and Expenditure : Ports of Call and Freights - The War: Ministerial Policy: Proposed New Minister : War Cabinet - Repatriation and Land Settlement - National Economy and . Industrial Development - Taxation and Conscription of Wealth - Wheat Pool: Rust Affected Wheat : Storage Accommodation - Australian Workers : Wages and Output: “Slow-down” Policy - Federal Capital : Expenditure : Erection of Houses of Parliament - Joint Federal and State Electoral Rolls - Recruiting and Conscription : Deterrents to En listment: Non-Reinstatement of Returned Men : Victorian Railways Department - Dismissal of Naval Rating Barry - Amalgamation of Taxation Departments - Australian ‘ Imperial Force: Re-enlistment of Returned Men: Recovery of Rank - Returned Officers: Purchase of Uniform by Soldier: Demobilisation of Mr. Holland - Northern Territory: White Australia PolicyCase of Josel Slipshinsky.
In Committee of Supply:
– I move -
That there be granted to His Majesty for or towards defraying the services of the year 1917-18 a sum not exceeding £3,487,200.
I should like to. make a few observations for the information of honorable members on this Supply Bill and the finances generally, though I have not been able to give much attention to the matter, owing to the Bill having been introduced sooner than was expected. This Bill is to provide for expenditure out of revenue on war services and ordinary services under annual votes for three months. The total amount of the schedule is £3,487,200, and omitting refunds of revenue, £150,000, the total is £3,337,200. Supply has already been granted to 30th September of this year, the amount, omitting refunds of revenue and Treasurer’s Advance, being £3,576,186. Excluding Treasurer’s Ad-, vance and refunds of revenue, the total provision which will be made to meet expenditure up to 31st December, 1917, is £6,913,386. The total provision, excluding special statutory appropriations, in the Estimates for 1917-18 is-
From this we have to deduct large sums for which no provision is made in Sup-
This leaves a balance of £14,129,852. I do not wish to say that these figures will be absolutely realized, because expenditure and revenue are not uniform throughout the year. One-half of this balance is £7 ,064*976, ^ & ^ thus te seen that tie provision for expenditure for the first six months of the year in tho two Supply Bills, namely, £6,913,386, is’ less than one-half of the amount included in the Estimates for the current year. No provision is made in the Bill for any service which has not previously been approved _ by Parliament. With regard to salaries, provision is made . for increases which are automatic under the Public Service Act, or due under Arbitration Court awards. No increases of salaries in the higher divisions will be paid until the Estimates are passed by Parliament.
I now desire to place before the Committee the actual transactions for the two months ended 31st August last, as compared with the same period of the previous year. These transactions are disclosed in the following table: -
– The Treasurer is not inviting the Committee to enter on a general financial discussion 1
– No, but I think it desirable to give honorable members all the information that is in my possession, though not necessarily as an indication of the transactions for the whole of the year.
– The. figures do . not give much indication of retrenchment!
– That iB a matter on which honorable members will themselves be able to express an opinion. The war expenditure, as I have shown, has increased in the two months within a few pounds of £200,000.
– I am referring to the civil expenditure.
– I have submitted the figures, and I shall be obliged if honorable members’ will allow ma to finish my remarks, when I may be able to afford them any further information they may desire.
It must be remembered that practically all the revenue from direct taxation is received iu the later months of the year. The decrease of £47,897 in the revenue of tHe current year is made up of a decrease in the Customs and Excise revenue of £425,227, less sundry increases under other heads .of revenue totalling £377,330. Tho decrease under Customs and Excise revenue is a very serious one, and it would have been worse but that we received a good deal more in July than we might have expected. Possibly, expected alterations in the Tariff induced a larger withdrawal of goods from the Customs than might otherwise have been the case.
Pending the passing of the Loan Bill for works, the expenditure on works provided in the Bill has been defrayed from Treasurer’s Advance.
The foregoing statement of expenditure will, I think,, be found a true comparison of the expenditure of the two months of each year. The increase in the expenditure for the two months of the current year is £136,8.63. The increase in the expenditure for war pensions is £217,000, and a further £122,000 is accounted for by the increase of 2s. 6d. in the weekly rate for old-age pensions. These two items alone account for an increase of £339,000.
As I Bald just now, it is not claimed that’ the experience of only two months of the year is necessarily an indication of the transactions of the whole of the year. I hope, however, that honorable members will take the figures as an indication that every effort will be made, notwithstanding the statutory increases of ex- penditure over last year on tho Estimates, amounting to £909,656 - an immense . amount - to keep- the expenditure within bounds. ‘ It is very difficult to speak with any great confidence regarding . the Customs and Excise revenue. As honorable members will realize, the absence of shipping has a very depressing effect. Last year, in July, the revenue was £1,365,386, and in July of this year it was £1,628,169. In August,. 1916, the revenue was £1,547,074, and in August, 1917, it was £859,064, showing a decrease on the two months of £425,227. The expenditure made from the War Loan Fund in July and ‘August of this year was £10,285,930, as compared with an expenditure of £7,283,713 for the corresponding, period of the previous financial year, an increase of £3,002,217. This increaso is wholly made up of a payment to the British Government for the maintenance of Australian troops in France. No corresponding payment was made in the two months of the previous year.
Honorable members may recollect ‘that there was some controversy recently between the State Governments and the Commonwealth Treasury in reference to advances to be made by the Commonwealth to the States. An agreement had been entered into with all the States except New South Wales by which’ the Commonwealth undertook to provide them with so much money, and they agreed not to borrow in Australia. Under that arrangement the Commonwealth was to provide £7,450,000 for the year 1917, but that proposal was afterwards modified, and the Commonwealth undertook to provide £5,400,000. When I came into office I thought that as the agreement had already been modified there should be a still further modification, seeing that the war was lasting . longer than was” anticipated and that the difficulties of financing had considerably increased. The States had previously undertaken to repay to the Commonwealth the £18,000,000 which was advanced to thom out of the Australian Notes Fund soon after the war broke out, in which arrangement New South . Wales participated but Queensland did not, and as some of the bonds’ that the States gave were falling due, I thought that the Commonwealth might be able to set the one thing against the other, the money that we had agreed to advance to the States under the later agreement against the money that the
States had previously agreed to repay to> the Commonwealth’.’ But the proposal did not meet with the wishes of the States. They expected us to keep; to ourundertaking, but they, did not care about keeping to theirs. They advanced all: sorts of pleas, . which, if correct,, would have put the Commonwealth Government in a very unenviableposition. They claimed that they had not undertaken to repay the £18,000,000’ until after -the war, and that the money had been borrowed from the Imperial Government and that, as the Commonwealth were not obliged to. repay it, they should not be asked to repay what was. -advanced to them. For these statements, there was no foundation, because the £18,000,000 was borrowed from the Australian Notes Fund and the States gave bonds which were to be met in two years. When the period of two years had expired a further extension for ‘another year was given. However, I have not the slightest doubt that the States did not expect the war to last so long when they entered into the first agreement > but though that may be the case, it does not decrease the difficulty encountered by the Commonwealth Government in finding -money for the States, or the difficulty in which the Commonwealth Treasury is placed by the fact that themoney advanced to the States is not being repaid.
The Commonwealth has always adopted a generous attitude towards the States,, and I have agreed, on behalf of the present Government, to pay to the States during 1917, not only the £5,400,000 which I have already, mentioned, but also £1,440,000 unpaid last year, or a total of £6,840,000.
– ‘Why has the righthonorable gentleman been so soft hearted t
– When I found that the States could not repay us, I thought that it was the best course to follow. What will be done next year has yet to be determined. Seeing that we propose to pay tbem up in full I hope that some mutually satisfactory arrangement will be made.
The Commonwealth Government have been able to do a great deal of good in connexion with the unusual circumstances brought about by the waT, by taking an active part in connexion with the disposal of the great products of Australia and the financing of the producers of wheat, wool, sugar, butter, cheese, and hops, and the exportation of metals, rabbits, and rabbit skins. Pools have been created in regard to wheat and wool. They have cost.the Commonwealth nothing as yet, but there is always the liability to loss in the event of its mot being possible to ship our produce. If we do not sell and receive payment before shipping some one has to’ find the money, and the only Government in Australia that is capable of giving a guarantee to find the money for this purpose is the “Commonwealth Government. The other clay we had to come to the assistance of the producers of butter and cheese, because they were unable to ship their produce. If shipping were available the producers could receive payment for their produce as soon as it is on board ship, but when it is not available, and the produce has to he put into cold storage here, something must be done to finance the producers. It is in this way that the Commonwealth Government have had to come to the assistance of the producers of butter ‘ and cheese. We are financing them until they can ship their produce. I hope that it will not be long before shipping will be available, so that our liability on this account will not be very great. Our .proposal is to advance ls. per lb. on butter in cold storage, and 7d. per lb. on cheese. The produce is ours until we are repaid. A big business is being done in rabbits and rabbit skins, but the banks are financing that arrangement with the assistance of the Commonwealth Government. Honorable members must always keep in mind the difficulty of shipping our produce. If that difficulty is increased, it will be necessary to find money for our produce before we receive payment for it from overseas. Hitherto the banks have been in a position to make the necessary advances, because there has not been a very long interval before shipment or between the <late of the advance to the producer and the date of payment from overseas. If that interval is extended, money will be necessary to carry our producers over that . longer interval, and the only authority which has any money in Australia is the Commonwealth Government. All these commodities that I have named are being looked after by the Commonwealth Government, and I have no doubt that the list will extend very soon.
The revenue has been depleted to the extent of £200j000 this year by the remission of the( duty formerly received on cornsacks. I am glad to say that hitherto we have been able to make all the necessary financial arrangements with the Commonwealth Bank and the Associated Banks generally. They have been most willing and anxious to do everything they possibly could to assist us in this matter,” and have made the Commonwealth Treasurer’s difficulties very much less than they would otherwise have been..
– Can the Treasurer give us the total of the list of advances made to industries?
– The Commonwealth Government have not made many ‘advances. The industries have been helped mostly by the banks. In a few cases the Commonwealth Government have guaranteed a few advances for a limited time, but, generally speaking, almost all of the guarantees have been obliterated by the shipment’ of our produce in response to purchases from abroad. Nevertheless,- the Commonwealth Government stands behind the banks in this matter.
– Can the Treasurer tell us* what share the Commonwealth Bank has had in these advances?
– The Commonwealth Bank is working harmoniously with the other banks.
– That costs nothing.
– The honorable member knows that I am not in the secrets of the Commonwealth Bank. So far as I can see from the quarterly statements that are published, and which the honorable member can peruse just as well as I can, the Bank is doing its best, together with the other banks, in financing all these transactions. In fact, it is taking a leading part in doing so.
– What proportion of the guarantees does the Commonwealth Bank bear?
– I cannot say. I think that the banks have come to an arrangement, and that they are all working, in harmony in financing these matters.
– I did not gather from the Treasurer what is the total amount that he is asking for.
– It is £3,487,200.
– It seems to me that we should enter a protest against any increase in expenditure.
– What expenditure would the honorable member cut down?
– There is some expenditure proposed atCockburn Sound about which the honorable member has spoken with a very loud voice.
– That is not provided for in this schedule. It is in the Loan Bill.
– It is not with any pleasure that I criticise the Treasurer; it is more congenial to me to praise than to condemn him. As a Government supporter, I owe a certain allegiance to Ministers, but I have also a duty to my constituents and to the country. Wte should ask ourselves, “Where are we drifting ? How are our liabilities to be met ? The country will become almost insolvent if we continue to expend money at the present rate. Public expenditure is being increased, high salaries are beingraised, and there is extravagance everywhere, the war and the need for defence preparations being used . as a stalking horse behind which proposals for expenditure1 are advanced.’ The Treasurer is a man who ought to have his foot hard’on the brake. I am told that the work to which I have just referred is not provided for in this Bill.. So many different financial proposals have been brought before us that it is difficult to know where we are.
– That work was provided for in the Loan Bill, which we havepassed.
– In the Loan Bill no provision was made for expenditure at Port Stephens, in New South “Wales, but plenty, of money was made available for expenditure at Cockburn Sound, in Western Australia, and at the Flinders Naval Base, in Victoria.
– That is defence expenditure. What about the Arsenal?
– Why has not the Government the courage to say where the Arsenal should be put, and thus prevent many months’ delay? It is proposed to create a hew Minister, with a salary of £1,650 a year. Tears ago, when the work was very hard, we got along with seven Ministers. Then the number was raised to eight, a Minister for the Navy being appointed at a salary of £1,650. Now we are to have still another Minister.
– There is no provision for that in this Bill.
– No doubt this Bill makes provision for expenditurein connexion with the’ proposal. The new Minister will have a Department with a suite of offices. In reply to questions by the honorable member for Calare, we have been informed that thousands . of pounds have been spent in Victoria in paying rent on Government offices.
The repatriation proposed by this Government will be a failure. People everywhere are offering to sell, as holdings for soldiers, land on which a bandicoot could not make a living. The ‘Government are finding money for this. I know of estates which are being offered for sale for the repatriation of soldiers on which no individual has yet been able to make a living. When the people understand this proposal to pay £1,650 a year for an additional Minister, they will rise . in revolt against it.
-Is the honorable member going to propose the reduction of the salaries of members?
– The honorable member for Fawkner, being well_ provided with this world’s goods, may be in a position to talk of others who are not so well off. If he thinks that members’ salaries should be reduced, let him advocate it from the public platform.
– I do not advocate it.
– None of. us makes anything out of his parliamentary allowance. It is not until we get to Canberra that the Victorian representatives will know what it is to have to attend a Parliament some hundreds of miles distant from home, that attendance requiring two nights a week to be spent in the, train. We have been passing taxation measures which the Government say they cannot enforce, and which will greatly inconvenience the people. From one such measure a yield of £500,000 is estimated, but more than that is being spent extravagantly. The Postal Department was never in so rotten a condition as it is in now. There is dissatisfaction everywhere. Conveniences are being taken away; the public was never so badly served, or charged so much. They. talk about making savings by giving isolated districts one mail instead of three mails a week, and by closing country telehone bureaux at 6 p.m. in places where the convenient hours for business are between 6 and 8 p.m.
– What about the expenditure at Canberra?
– There is no expenditure there. Were the Federal Capital in Western Australia, it would be different. Two Ministers are quarrelling and nothing is being done at Canberra. Last month the recommendation was made that a number of returned soldiers should be employed in the public nurseries at Canberra, but some of our public servants have since put in their word against the opinion of the experts, and the men have been taken away. Why cannot these be employed at Canberra, which is a healthier place than Cockburn Sound, and some of the other places where, money is being expended 1
– If there is to be economy, it must apply all round.
– We cannot get economy anywhere from this Government. Does the Treasurer deny that extravagance is rife, and that the Government is increasing the salaries of highlypaid officials?
– I do not think that we are.
– Will the right honorable gentleman say that it is not intended to appoint another Minister at a salary of £1,650?
– If you want another Minister, you must pay for him.
– Commercial men are doing a lotof work for repatriation in honorary capacities; why then should it be necessary to increase the large sums now paid to Ministers to provide an additional Minister. I shall be glad to hear the justification for this proposal.
– Why not wait until the Bill comes before the Committee?
– I hope that that Bill will be kicked out or altered. Although I am a Government supporter, I shall feel obliged to alter it or vote it out.
– It would be interesting to read the speech delivered by the PostmasterGeneral against the last proposal to increase the number of Ministers.
– Yes. Why has not the Treasurer standardized the income tax forms, and made the financial year of the Commonwealth and the States end at the same time ? He tells us that these things are being seen to. If he had courage, he would sack half the officials who are not needed, and establish one Department instead of several to deal with income tax matters. If we appoint a Minister for Repatriation, “our expenditure on his Department will run into many thousands a year. The Treasurer has told us that the revenue of the Customs Department is decreasing by many thousands of pounds. Where, then, is revenue to be obtained 1 Our men, when they return to this country, will be ground to the dust with taxation.
– You cannot carry on war without spending a lot of money.
– I am willing to vote any. sum for war expenditure. Parliament has ‘ not refused a penny for the war, but, as I have said, this has been used as a stalking horse for extravagance. Although a supporter of the National Government, I say that it will find itself on the high road to political ruin if it continues on its present course. It is with no pleasure that I take the Treasurer to task. He is so well liked and respected that no one cares to say hard things of him. I have supported him, not only when he has been right, but probably when he has been wrong.
– What items in this Bill does the honorable member consider extravagant ?
– I ask the Treasurer to justify the proposed appointment of a salaried Minister for Repatriation at a salary of £1,650. I fear that the repatriation scheme will be a huge failure. The Commonwealth must exercise greater caution. Instead of indulging in extravagant expenditure, we should retrench and economize in every way possible. I resent the suggestion that in making this protest we are interfering with the conduct of the war.
– The land bought by the Government of New South Wales for returned soldiers is amongst the best land in the State.
– Has the apologist for the Government read the statement made in the Victorian Parliament the other day about one estate which was purchased?
– That estate was purchased nine years ago.
– But similar mistakes are being made at the present time.
– What about the statement of the Farmers and Settlers’ As.sociation regarding some of this repurchased land?
– There is 1 a statement .in this morning’s paper about a Committee of Inquiry being appointed in connexion with one of the purchases.
Too little care is exercised by the Government in regard to the proposals for the expenditure of huge sums. If we do not change that policy the country will be pretty well bankrupt before the soldiers return. I am told that the direct taxation to-day is greater in Australia than in Great Britain.
– On land-owners it is heavier in Australia.
– The taxation on, some classes is heavier, but general taxation is not- as heavy in Australia as in Great Britain.
-At any ra*e, we have reached the breaking point, and I again protest against extravagance and expenditure that can well be avoided.
Mr. CHARLTON (Hunter) [12.35’J.- The Treasurer is asking for Supply to last him till the end of this year. Once again I enter my protest against the practice of constantly coming to Parliament for Supply without affording honorable members an opportunity of dealing with ;the Estimates. When we meet again, (probably in the middle of November at the earliest, after sitting for a couple of weeks we shall be asked to pass another Supply Bill, and, early in the New Year, yet another one. The result, of this system is to undermine parliamentary control of the finances. Instead of Parliament dealing with the Estimates before the money is expended, the whole of the money is spent before Parliament has a chance of sanctioning expenditure. No one will contend that that is a sound system of parliamentary government. No doubt the Treasurer thinks that he is justi./A in asking for Supply from time to time, but to me it is strange that this House, after sitting only a couple of months, should be working now at break>neck speed to pass certain legislation and grant Supply, in order that we may ad journ for a month or two. I do not wonder that the health of honorable members is impaired when, as happened yesterday, we commence our sitting at eleven- o’clock in the morning and continue until after midnight. Such prolonged sittings must have a detrimental, effect on the health of those honorable members who give close attention to their business, and also attend to their correspondence. The practice of which I complain is not peculiar to the present Government. It was adopted by Governments of which I have been a supporter, and I objected to it then. I can understand that there are difficulties in dealing with the Defence expenditure, but there is no genuine reason why, even in time of war, we should not deal with the ordinary departmental Estimates. The Treasurer made a good commencement by delivering his financial statement early in the financial year, and I was hopeful that the consideration of the Estimates would follow soon afterwards. It is useless to say that Parliament has control of the public purse when the money is actually expended before honorable members are asked to sanction it. What power have we in dealing with the Estimates when the money has been spent and the works have been completed? Parliament is asked only to indorse what has been done. Probably, had we had an opportunity of discussing the Estimates in reasonable time, some alterations would have been made. But, not having that opportunity, we are committing the country to expenditure to which, perhaps, we would not have agreed.
– This system of frequent Supply Bills gives many more opportunities to honorable members to state their views than would the system the honorable member advocates. ‘
– Whilst this system gives us more opportunities to voice our grievances, a great deal of the time of Parliament and the country is occupied in the consideration of Supply Bills when Supply for the whole year could be granted at ong time.
– That has never been done in any Parliament.
– The proper time’ to deal with the Estimates is not later than October or November. Only in recent years have we departed from that practice. .
– Does the honorable member wish to give more than three months’ Supply to the Government when Parliament is sitting?
– My desire is that the Estimates shall be dealt with early in the financial year.
– The sanctioning of the Estimates would have to be followed by Supply Bills.
– I. admit that; but my complaint is that at present we have no opportunity to effectively deal with the Estimates.
– This procedure may not be advisable, but it gives more opportunity for discussion thanwould the system which the honorable member suggests.
– In the interests of the House and the country, we should be better off with fewer opportunities. .
– The honorable member would not give us an appropriation to last till the end of the financial year.
– The Treasurer knows that a great deal of time is occupied in the discussion of Supply Bills. That means extra printing and extra cost in the running of the parliamentary establishment, and honorable, members are often detained longer than they otherwise would be.
– We must have temporary Supply Bills.
– I admit that. But we cannot be expected to agree to Supply Bill after Supply Bill before we have considered rhe Estimates.
– The. honorable member would not advocate giving the Government appropriation for the whole financial year?
– No. However, I have entered my protest.
I wish to make a brief reference to the industrial trouble. I was pleased to hear the Prime Minister say that there is a possibility of a conference taking place between the coal miners and the employers. During the last few days, I have been much disturbed in mind because no move in that direction has been made by the Government of New South Wales. A conference having been arranged, my remarks will be such as not to interfere in any way with it. This industrial dispute is essentially a Commonwealth matter. It has extended beyond one State, and I am at a loss to understand why the Commonwealth Government have not intervened.
– Every great industrial disturbance is a Commonwealth matter in time of war.
– Quite so. From Tasmania, Western Australia, South Australia, and Queensland, appeals are reaching the Commonwealth Government in regard to the stoppage of supplies, and they plainly show that, on account of the industrial trouble, the Commonwealth is suffering considerable loss. Yet, no genuine effort has been made by the Government of New South Wales to settle the dispute. I can say, with authority, that had a conference met on Thursday or Friday last, as I anticipated, and had the Government been reasonable, every colliery in New South Wales would have been producing coal on1 Monday.
– What does the honorable member mean by “ reasonable “ ?
– I shall explain. The original strike is over, and the railway men, having agreed to the Government’s terms, are back at work. The coal miners, who struck merely out of sympathy with the railway and tramway employees, are quite prepared to return to work, and they are not asking, as has been said, that certain unreasonable things shall take place. Some> honorable - members have said that the coal miners do not desire to pay any penalty. They are paying a very heavy penalty. They have lost the best industrial tribunal that has ever been in existence in the Commonwealth, namely, the Coal Board, and I admit that, in that respect, the Prime Minister treated the coal miners very fairly. The loss of that tribunal is a heavy penalty, which the miners have paid for their action dn stopping work. I am not going to utter a word th,at would interfere with the conference, but, in fairness to a man who is standing his trial, there is one matter with which I must deal. It has been argued that this strike was premeditated - that the men had decided upon a general stoppage of work in order to show their disapproval of the action of the Government. Let me say at once that I . do not think there is any foundation in fac* for that statement.
– There is none.
– It has appeared in the public press:
– As on© who has been in close touch with the coal miners, I am absolutely positive that there was no intention of any strike on the part of the coal miners. What happened was this : I was approached by the leaders of the men in regard to the large quantities of coal that were being accumulated, and was asked to see the Prime Minister with respect to it. It was quite unusual to have such a large quantity of coal lying at grass. Coal, as every one knows, is liable to spontaneous combustion, and, in justice to the men, I must say that they were uneasy about the matter. I saw the Prime Minister, and he informed me of the purpose for which this coal was required. I then met the leaders of the men, and when I. informed them of what the Prime Minister had said, they replied at once, “ If that is the case, we shall do all we can to see that there is no disturbance in the industry* We shall do our best to keep the men at work.” They carried resolutions to that effect, and I have in this House copies of those resolutions. They wanted to keep the wheels of industry going.
– That was before the present trouble 1
– Yes. One of those men is on trial to-day, and I make this statement in justice to him.
Many, perhaps, have been biased against the men because of the belief that the strike was premeditated. As a matter of fact, at the time to which I refer there was not a man in Newcastle who thought of striking.
– Were there, not at this time a series of strikes, which interfered with the production of coal?
– I was coming to that point. It has been urged that even after the appointment of the Coal Tribunal, for which the Prime Minister arranged, there were a series of strikes, and that the miners from time to time ceased work. The average man, who is not conversant with coal mining might naturally come to the conclusion, on reading the reports that appear in the press from time to -time with respect to disputes in the industry, that there was a multiplication of strikes in connexion with it, and that these were carefully organized. As a fact, the executive officers of the Coal Miners Federation have endeavoured again and again to prevent such disputes, and such as have occurred have not amounted to strikes in the sense in which we understand the term. Dozens of these disputes occur in a way that I shall illustrate. The miners employed- at the Burwood colliery, for instance, have to travel by train five or six miles to reach the mine. On reaching the pit some morning they find perhaps that the wheelers, because of some dispute, are not prepared to go down that day. The wheelers probably are not members of the Miners- Federation, but the result of their stand is that no men are available to wheel the coal, and the miners themselves cannot work. Such an experience is a hardship to the’ miners, since they have to walk all the way back to their homes, a distance of at least five miles. Such an incident would be described in the newspapers as a strike. It is promptly settled, but next day there may be trouble with the top-men, and again, the miners have to return home, and lose a day’s work. A day or two later, perhaps . the clippers - the boys who are putting the ropes on the skips - decide to go home for the. day, and once again there is no work for the miners. Each of these incidents would be reported in the press as a strike in the coal mining industry, and that is howthe so-called strikes are multiplied.
Since the last stoppage of work, when the Prime Minister intervened, the miners have been supplying coal far in excess of the requirements of the Commonwealth, and this notwithstanding the allegations that) during the time they have been striking again and again. It is admitted by the State Government that we have in New South Wales to-day 300,000 tons of coal lying at grass. Such a thing was never before known in the coal trade of New South Wales, That coal has been cut by the miners in a short space of time, while, in addition, the demands of the Commonwealth have been supplied and provision made for what little export trade there is. All this coalhas been won by the miners of Newcastle and other parts of New South Wales during the very period in which we are told there have been so many strikes.
– It has accumulated because our export trade has been cut off.
– That is not the reason. The miners have been supplying the requirements of the Commonwealth, and those of the small export trade now open to us, while, in addition, they have 200,000 tons of coal at grass inthe Newcastle district and 100,000 tons at grass in other parts of the State. How can it be said, then, that the coal miners have done anything to interfere with the progress of the Commonwealth?
– What has the honorable member to say regarding the steam-ships that have been held up because of their inability to obtain coal supplies?
– There has been no slackness so far as coal is concerned. There has been coal for every one.
– The honorable member is not speaking fairly when he makes that statement. He knows that steamers have been , held up lately because of the inability to secure coal for them.
– The honorable member is not- fair to me in making that interjection. I was clearly speaking, not of the present moment, but of what had been done ‘by the miners at a time when, it has been said, there was a multiplication of strikes in the industry, and when it is also said a general stoppage was premeditated. I was explaining that the so-called strikes were only small disputes that were quickly readjusted, and that after the appointment of a coal tribunal a large quantity of coal had been won and was- now lying at grass. That is a fair statement, and the honorable member’s interjection was not at all pertinent to the point with which I was dealing. Every one knows that at the present moment the whole of our shipping is held up. I do not deny that, nor have I ever done so; but no one is more anxious than I am to bring about a settlement of the trouble in the interests of the Commonwealth and the successful prosecution of the war.
– Why. do not the leaders allow the men to have a secret ballot ?
– We have passed the stage at which any good would result from a discussion of the merits of the dispute, because the men have agreed to return to work on the terms laid down by the Government. We have to deal with the immediate “present. The question is whether the Commonwealth is suffering in consequence of the strike. The coal miners are prepared to go back and cut coal as before, notwithstanding that they have lost their tribunal; and we should ask ourselves whether we cannot do something to settle the strike. I believe we can. I believe that, with a little reason on both sides, we could settle it thisi week-end so that on Monday next coal would be drawn from every colliery.
– Would that settle the seamen’s strike?
– Yes. Once the coal miners’ trouble is settled the industries of Australia as a whole will go on as before.
– The honorable” member is making out a strong case for amending legislation.
– I am speaking of the facts as they are. There is no escape from the position, as I put it, that if the State Government fails to bring about a settlement of the trouble, then the Commonwealth, which is the paramount power, should intervene and endeavuor to settle it in the interests of Australia as a whole. ,
– Is it now a question of volunteer labour?
– We will deal with them later on.
– We shall see about that.
– In regard to the point just raised, let me say that last week only a few of these volunteers were > working in the Newcastle district, and most of them had left their ordinary occupations. At the Catherine Hill Bay mine, where there are 200 volunteers, not more than 50 would desire to remain. That would be no obstacle to the settlement. Since then large numbers have gone into the mines. . Therein lies the danger of delay. The larger the number 1 of these men employed the more difficult a settlement will be. It would be better to settle the matter this week-end than to allow it to continue any longer. At pre- . sent there is no difficulty at all in regard to the aspect of the question raised by the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Bamford). I believe the Government will find’ the men amenable to reason. They wish to go back to work. They have no dispute with their employers, and now that the railway strike is over, why should this struggle continue? Wise counsels should prevail.
– But what about the interjection of the honorable member for Darling as to dealing with the volunteers later on ? 1
– I did not hear it. My sole desire is to settle this strike.
– Every one believes that.
– For many years I have been doing my utmost to prevent such troubles, and to settle them when they have occurred. I believe that a little reasonableness on the part of both sides would secure an immediate settlement. If the State Government will not meet the men and do the fair thing, surely it is my duty, as the representative of the men, to plead with the Commonwealth to intervene, more especially as this industrial trouble affects not only New South Wales, but every part of the Commonwealth. If New South Wales is able to get sufficient coal to carry on, it will have an advantage over the other States. It will ‘be impossible to obtain the coal in the other parts of the Commonwealth, since there are no ships to carry it there. It is therefore essential, if the State Government will not settle the matter, that the Commonwealth should take control; and try to bring about a satisfactory termination of the dispute in the interests of the successful prosecution of the war, and the. true welfare of Australia.
.- I have had a very short and somewhat’ checkered political career, so that I am not well versed in the usages of the House so far as financial measures are concerned, but it seems to me that the Treasurer should give us an opportunity to deal with the Estimates.
– That is what he is doing.
– He is merely giving us an opportunity to deal with them piece-meal.’
– But the Estimates have been presented.
– I am in no hurry to proceed. The Minister for Works and Railways is dreaming, as usual.
– If the honorable member had been longer at the game, he would know more about it.
– Unfortunately, I have not been so successful in the choice of electorates as the Minister has been.
– Look after yourself and leave me alone, or you will get into trouble.
Mr.FALKINER.- I shall take the risk, even with the political heavyweights. Since I have been in the House it seems to me that public moneys have been constantly expended before we have had an opportunity to disc.uss the expenditure’.
The Treasurer, in introducing this Bill, showed that economy was absolutely necessary, but there was no evidence of economy in his remarks. . The right hon orable gentleman pointed outthat, owingto the shortage of shipping, imports were decreasing, and that there was a consequent falling-off in our Customs revenue. He said, also, that we should have to find the’ money to make advances against wheat, butter, rabbits, cheese, and other produce that we are unable to send away. There is a limit to what the banks can do, for out of their deposits they have to find the whole of the money for our war loans and for our taxation.
– To which banks does the honorable member allude?
– The Associated Banks. The Commonwealth Bank is not financing anything; but, with the aid of the present Government and past Administrations, it has been securing thebenefit of all the exchanges and picking up other little perquisites. The Treasurer has given us no indication as to where themoney we shall require is to be found. If the British Government had not paid for our last clip, and promised to pay us for the present season’s clip before it is shipped, we should have been in financial! difficulties.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.15 p.m.
– As I was suggesting before we adjourned for lunch, thereis a limit to what the banks can do, and that limit is being rapidly approached. Besides the instances I have alreadygiven, we have to face the cost of repatriation. After all, the RepatriationBill is only a rough outline of the scheme, and makes no pretence1 to deal with the financial liabilities that will be incurred. These liabilities, in my opinion, will not mean £20,000,000 or £30,000,000, but,, possibly, £100,000,000, exclusive of the cost of lands which the States have to acquire. I dp not agree with all that might bo inferred from the remarks of the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Chapman) on repatriation. I know that he is of my opinion that Senator Millen, personally, is the most fitted of any one on either side for the position of Minister of Repatriation; and, . therefore, I am pleased to understand that he is to have the appointment. I suggest, however, that, asan evidence of the bona fides of the Ministry, the salary for the position ‘ should be made up out of the present Ministerial salaries. So far as the supporters of the Government are concerned, we as yet se© no sign of any decrease in tha expenditure - of any decrease such as that which must inevitably be made in the’ near future. The electors of Australia, or some of them, at any rate, will live to regret that they supported the Labour party when it exploited our credit in the shape of the note issue, and did nothing with the money but spend it on day labour in times of peace and prosperity. There is nothing now to show for that expenditure, which would have paid the wheat-growers of Australia for two years’ crop, besides meeting the claims of those engaged in the butter industry.
The expenditure has risen from £25,300,000 in 1913-14 to £130,000,000 in this financial year. The latter period, of course, includes war expenditure, to which no exception can be taken.
– The war expenditure is the principal reason for the increase.
– Every year, apart from war expenditure- and no matter which party is in power - the civil expenditure increases regularly by £2,000,000 or £3,000,000.
– I do not think that is so. Give us the figures.
– I shall’ give figures when we discuss the Budget; indeed, I shall have much pleasure in doing so, though, no doubt, I shall incur the displeasure of the Treasurer. Although we have been only a couple of years or so at war, the revenue from direct taxation has risen to £10,650,000. There are people who are paying 6s. 3d. in the £i for income tax alone, besides the land tax; and yet it is said by authorities like the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Watt) that taxation in Australia does not equal that of England. A man who has the misfortune to be a land-owner, and has to pay land tax to the extent of 9d. in the £1 on any extent of unimproved value, knows that taxation in Australia today is heavier than it is in England - that it reaches to 45 per cent, of the income.
– The honorable member ought to thank God he is in Australia!
– From the way in which some supporters of the honorable member have been going on lately - attempting a general strike - one might be inclined to think Australia a good place “ to be out of. Those supporters, single men, according to ‘the Opposition, apparently, will neither fight, work, nor marry, and when they reach the age of sixty-five those who. do work have to provide for them, in addition to having, in the meantime, paid for the maternity bonus.
– The honorable member could not take his land away with him.
– That is so, but land, without money to stock and utilize it, and brains to work it, is no good; we cannot live on grass, not even the. members of the Australian Workers Union.
The Commonwealth indebtedness to-day is £239,000,000, and that of the States £377,000,000, a total of £616,000,000; while the note issue of £49,000,000 shows an excess of at least £30,000,000 more notes than are required/ which one day will have to be liquidated. . In the face of these facts, the Government put their supporters in the position of having to protest against an absence of economy.
Before I sit down, I should like to suggest ‘.that the probate and income tax returns ought to he uniform. If reform in this respect were carried out, we should require practically only ‘one Department. Thi Federal Department was created by the official Labour party, wno desired that more people should be dependent on them for their billets; and it is time that this sort of thing was put an end to. The State machinery is ample to collect this taxation, which ought to be levied on a uniform basis, with extended time for payment.
I regretted to hear the interjection this morning of the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley) that unionists would deal with the present volunteer labourers in due course. As a follower of the. Government, I suggest that the time has gone by when a volunteer labourer can be made the back log of a fire;’ if that time has not gone by, I shall vote against the Government if they tolerate it.
Before we como to discuss the Budget in November, I hope that the Government will see their way to cut down the proposed expenditure by £2,000,000 or £3,000,000, and so relieve their supporters from the obligation to consider their position.
– I wish the honorable member would tell me how to do it.
.- I have listened with much interest to what the last speaker has said respecting the establishment of the note issue, . but I think that the days of doubt as to its utility and value are’ passed. It is admitted by the financiers of this country that it is a good thing for Australia that we have such an issue at the present time, for without it there is no doubtthat chaos would have reigned in the banks of Australia, whereas by’ its means we have been considerably helped in the financing of the war and in other ways.
– That is a pretty broad statement!
– It has all been used to finance day labour, and nothing else.
– I am supported in my position by the Treasurer, who’ has told us that the note issue has benefited the country to the extent of no less than £30,000,000.
I should like now to refer to the industrial trouble that has paralyzed the country during the last few months, with a view to suggesting Federal action if the State Government will not confer with the men. I do not propose ‘to go into the past history of the struggle; the fact remains that the railway employees have agreed to return to work, and it only requires an arrangement to be made with the Coal-miners Federation . in order to end the strike. Whatever may have been the reasons of the miners for joining the other unionists, I wish honorable members to understand that all attempts at Government assistance with volunteer labour in the mines will not break the Miners Federation of Australia. Whatever may be said to the contrary,, the placing of inexperienced men in some of the Maitland mines is trifling with life. Not very long ago in the mine adjoining that which the Victorian Government have taken over there was a fire and explosion, which resulted in the loss of five lives.
– Which mine?
– In the mine adjoining the Pel aw Main mine; and it is exactly the same ground with only a barrier pillar between. The two mines work a similar measure at a similar depth, and if one mine is subject to fire, so is the other.Isay nothing about the equipment of the mines, but merely refer to their natural conditions, and I am sure that- the owners in the Maitland field will not welcome inexperienced labour. There is practically very little difference between the miners’ executive and the Government of New South Wales, and when we reflect that that difference might be settled in conference in half an hour, it is appalling that there should be any hesitation in this regard. As I say, I do not desire to refer to the past, but I must remind honorable members that in this dispute we havenot to “deal with the Industrial Workers of the World, or with extremists. If the men do break the law, the law will punish them. But it is quite a different thing for a Government to step in and “ put the hoot in “ on men who are the unhappy victims in the present unfortunate struggle.
– They will not be able to do that too often with the miners.
-No. I was pointing out that it is a thing that may recoil upon the Government if they go too far in that direction. The books of the miners’ unions show that prior to the Military Service Referendum, one out of every five had volunteered to go to the Front.
– The miners have done very well in the matter of recruiting.
-Since that referendum the Recruiting Committee has given the district two flags for having secured the most recruits of any district in the State, oneflag being for the recruits for the Sportsmen’s Battalion, and the other being for recruits generally. Yet we are led to believe that these men are not loyal, and will do nothing to assist towards winning the war. If the Government of New South Wales take no action towards settling this dispute, then the Commonwealth Government would be wise, if it is anxious to carry out its policy of winning the war, to take steps towards getting these men to return to work, in order to produce the coal that is necessary for the prosecution of the war and the carrying on of the industries of the country.
One could say many things in respect to this unfortunate trouble, but perhaps they are better left unsaid from the point of view of both parties to the dispute. Much could : be said in respect to what the intention of the State Governments may be, hut there is no need for recriminations at this juncture, or for re-opening the sores that have been occasioned by this unfortunate dispute. It is fair, however, to claim that there should be a settlement of the dispute on a basis which is fair both to employers and to employees. We are not dealing with a foreign, element in dealing with the large bodies of men who were working in these mines, and they will not be frightened by a few outsiders being placed here and there in tie mines. We are dealing with Britishers, and the fathers of boys who are fighting in the trenches, and. they should be treated as Britishers and loyalists and in a way. which is honorable to both parties. Should no settlement be arrived at during the next week or two-
– “ Next day or two “ the honorable member should say.
– Yes, the matter could be fixed up this week, and the men could go back to work on Monday; but should no settlement be arrived at, the delay will be dangerous, because the more volunteers that are placed in the mines, the more difficult will a settlement become, and instead of the production of coal being resumed at an early date, the trouble may go on, perhaps, until after Christmas, or until such time as the terms of the men are satisfied.
– What stands in the way now?
– ‘Nothing, so far as I know, ‘except clause 4 of the State Government’s proposals, and a chat over a table could settle that point in half^anhour.
– What is that clause?
– It relates to the appointment of a Government manager over the whole of the mines, with the right to employ volunteers and unlimited unskilled labour. The men do not object to Government control.
– The clause provides that the Government may appoint a manager, but the difficulty arises inregard to the re-employment of all the hands who are out. The men are prepared to go back in a body. There is plenty of room for all of them, as well as the men who may be working in the mines now, but (the clause provides that the manager has the right to re-employ what men he requires now, and to give priority, later on, to those who do not secure reemployment now. The men are prepared to return as if there were no dispute between them and their employers.
– I understand that the men raise no objection to those who are now working in the mines. They claim that there is- room for all of the members of the federation without any victimization. Every practical man knows that there is room for all’ of them because of the number of men who have gone to the war from -those districts.
– In view of thereduced < export of coal, is the honorable member sure that there is room for all in the mines ?
– Yes. I know that the mines are preparing for an increased output. In’ the case of one mine, which had an output of 2,000 tons per day, preparations have been made for an output of 5,000 tons per day. We know that the mines are developing, and that there is room to re-employ every man who went out at the beginning of this dispute.
– In the event of there not being sufficient room, it is the men who suffer, and not. the mine. When there is no trade for the mine, there is no work for the men.
– The coal-mining industry differs from other industries, because when there is no trade the men do not work, and receive no pay.
– I do not understand why the miners should apprehend that the New South Wales Government will not be anxious to get every man at work at a time like this.
– The honorable member knows that it is a question of non-unionists.
– But that has been denied.
– If that is the case, why do not the State Government meet the men ?
– That is what I want to know.,
– That is what we want to know. The State Government have not met the miners in conference.
– These men went on strike . without cause, and upset the whole country, and yet they seem to think that the Government are to blame for. it.
– I do not blame any one. I am trying to keep my remarks clear from anything of that nature, and I hope that the right honorable gentleman will not lead me info any recriminating talk.
– The honorable member is making a very temperate speech, judging byhis remarks, and those of the honorable member for Hunter, the trouble ought to be settled tomorrow.
– We should not talk so much of what has been done in the past. Our thoughts should be turned to what is the best tiling to do in the circumstances now presenting themselves to us. I do not think that there is any honorable member who is not anxious to see some settlement brought about, so that our ships may be going roundthe coast again, and Our industries may . be working at their fullest capacity. Nothing can be gained by prolonging this’ trouble simply for the sake of persecuting men when they are anxious to go back to work, and do what is right. ,
– If a conference be held, what guarantee could be given that the men would adhere to the decision arrived at?
– No one can foresee what the result will be absolutely. The difference between the parties is so small that I cannot see any difficulty in the way of an agreement being arrived at, or any danger of the non-acceptance of that agreement.
– Have the men said that they will abide by whatever is decided by their executive at a conference?
– The officials of the miners’ unions have informed the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton) that they will agree to certain terms. Prom what one can see, the points of difference are so small that they ought to have been bridged over, but there seems to be an attempt to carry out a system of persecution or punishment of which I do not think any Government should be guilty. However, I do, not wish to be drawn into saying anything that would prevent a conference being held, because I believe that such a conference,, would settle the matter very speedily.I hope that if it is not settled next week, the Commonwealth Government will take the matter in hand, and bring about a settlement.
– Does the honorable member suggest that the Commonwealth Government should supersede the State Government in regard to this matter?
– I think that the question involved is something bigger than the functions of a State’ Government. This unfortunate ‘ trouble has reached beyond the limits of any one State, and if the miners are out for the next three or four months the result will be to paralyze industry in all the States. So far the Commonwealth Government have not intervened in this dispute, and perhaps they have been right in adopting that attitude, but when we know that the transports are being hung up for want of coal, surely it is their duty to take action with a view to having the coal” supply restored. I hope that action will be taken to secure fair treatment for these men, that they will be able to return to their work as they came’ out, and that this trouble will be ended for all time.
I wish to say a word or two now in regard to the loan expenditure set out in the schedule to the Loan Bill. The Minister for Works and Railways proposes to refer to the Public Works Committee for inquiry certain expenditure on the Flinders Naval Base and the Cockburn Sound Naval Base. Not a penny is provided in the Estimates or in the Loan Bill for the most important naval base in- Australia, that which lies next door to the coal fields of this country. I am not objecting to the expenditure on the other Naval Bases, but I assert that this base, should not be neglected. Port Stephens is probably the best harbor in Australia, and a base could be made there for a tithe of what is being spent on the other bases. “ “
– If Port Stephens is such a good place, why is there not population there?
– I am not making, this appeal for expenditure at Port Stephens in order to get votes. The fact that there is not a large population actually at Port Stephens is immaterial. With a very small expenditure, a naval base could be made there with a harbor that would accommodate the whole of our Australian Fleet and many British warvessels in addition. Port Stephens must be the base for the vessels that in the future will protect our eastern coast as far asNorth Queensland, and it is close to the main coal supplies of Australia. I do not know whether supplementary’ Estimates are to be introduced, but I hope that the work begun there will be completed.
– What has been done there?
– Some clearing and road-making, and there has been expenditure on wharfs. ‘
– And the survey has been completed.
– Unless the work be finished, the money already spent will be wasted. We were told some time ago that expenditure would be stopped on all the Naval Bases, but it was at Fort Stephens alone that it was stopped, * I ask the Government to take into consideration the need for completing the work at this base.
– The request for three months’ Supply to enablethe House to adjourn for a considerable period is one which under normal conditions would rightly arouse a good deal of criticism, but, I think, it is justified by the circumstances. My own regret is that the Government has not taken honorable members into its confidence by giving fuller reasons for the course proposed. I think that the adjournment is justified, because certain momentous matters with which Parliament must deal are becoming imminent, and it is manifest to all who have had much parliamentary experience that if well-considered and matured plans are to be placed before us, the Government must have an opportunity of preparing them in an interval when Parliament is not sitting. The will of the country was never expressed more clearly and emphatically than on 5th May last. Its mandate then related to three principal matters. First, there was a trust reposed . in us to see that Australia’s part in the war should be continued, and that our fighting forces should be maintained at their full strength. The second matter is of not much less importance, being indissolubly connected with Australia’s part in the war; it was that we should set our financial house in order. The third was thatwe should endeavour to introduce order into the industrial chaos that hasprevailed.
I agree with the criticism from both sides that we have been compelled to pass Supply without an opportunity to discuss the general policy for which the money is asked. In postponing the debate on the Estimates to a late period of the session the Treasurer is only following a practice which has been adopted in every Parliament with which I have been connected, here and in the State, though the right honorable gentleman made his financial; statement at an earlier period of the session than is usual. For that I feel thankful to him. To postpone the general discussion of the financial position for sevenor eight weeks is a course that requiresjustifying, and, in my opinion, it is justified by the necessity, which all reasonablemembers will admit, of giving the Government the fullest opportunity tomature for submission to Parliament proposals relating to ‘ the matters which I have mentioned.
– On Supply it isopen to an honorable member to discuss* the financial position.
– I do not wish to be drawn aside from the mailt purpose of my speech. I have said that I did not blame the Treasurer, and that, the course that he has pursued wiih regard to the -Estimates is sanctioned ‘ by practice and experience. But it is essential that we should have a full discussion of the financial position before the session closes. The postponement of this discussion is justified only by the real and urgent necessity for allowing Ministers to* deal with matters of imminent public importance.
With regard to the first -of these I donot propose to say anything that will in the slightest degree embarrass the Government. We know the pledge on which Ministers were elected, and to which they have adhered. I take it that an opportunity was to be given to the voluntary system to meet the necessities of the case. About that I have only to Bay that the reduced estimate of the number needed to> maintain our divisions at the Front, namely, 7,000 a month, or less, than onehalf of the estimate of the Imperial Government, which was probably too high,, cannot be realized now by the voluntary system. When, a few weeks ago, an exceptional effort was made to secure volun-. teers, the recruits offering rose to about 5,000 per month, but the number has since dwindled to between 2.000 and 3,000, and does not appear likely to increase. It must be apparent to everyone that the action which Australia must taketo maintain her, forces at the Front demands the immediate and earnest attention of the Government and of Parliament. Further than that I shall not go- to-day. I hope that when the Government has an opportunity to devote its–’ whole attention to these matters, Ministers will evolve some definite proposal to which they will ask Parliament to assent.
I wish now to say a few words - and at this stage I do not intend to anticipate the ultimate discussion on the Budget - regarding the financial position of the country. Let me prelude my remarks by saying that in this Parliament we are, under present conditions, concerned with not merely the expenses of the Federal Government, but also the finances of the whole continent. I am now not harking hack to the theory which I put forward on more than one occasion some years ago, that we should have constitutional control of the whole borrowing and taxing authority ; the time for considering that will come later. The circumstances of the war have given us financial control without an alteration of the Constitution.
– The honorable and learned member did not always advocate Federal control of the finances of the whole of Australia.
– I have done so consistently for the past six or seven years.
– The honorable member was on the other side once.
– When I was Premier of Victoria, I fought for theState as hard” as the honorable member fights for the Commonwealth. But I do not know that that fact is to be debited to my charge, as evidence that I am not sincere in the views I now express. I am not now advocating a referendum in time of war for an amendment of the Constitution ; I say that the expense of this war and the circumstances in which we now find ourselves have practically given us controlof, and placed, upon us a responsibility with regard to, the whole financial position, not merely of the Commonwealth, but also of the States. The circumstances which the Treasurer has related to us mean that we are financing the States with a greater or less hope of being repaid. We are enabling them to carry on their ordinary works and functions, but whether we shall “ever be repaid in full is a matter in regard to which I should not like to adopt the role of prophet. If the Treasurer were to adopt that role, his prophesies wouldbe rather in the nature of the gloomy anticipations of Jeremiah. The fact that we are, through our credit, financing the States places upon us a re sponsibility with regard to both their ordinary expenditure and their expenditure on public works. I remember that not long ago a very important argument with regard to fixing the price of bread took place in the Supreme Court, and in the course of it, by way of illustration, the Chief J ustice, presenting the view for the Commonwealth as against the argument of counsel who was opposing the Commonwealth powers, put this question - “ Would you’venture to say that in time of war, when the whole existence of the community is at stake, there is any limit to the power of the National Government for the conservation of the financial resources of the country ? “ The opinion of His Honour was clearly expressed in the form of a question, and with great respect I entirely concur in his view. No matter what the constitutional limitations may be, one of the most essential, if not the most essential measure for the defence of the Commonwealth, is the maintenance, by all means that are necessary, of the full financial power and strength of the community.
– That would not extend to the States’ power of taxation.
– Usingthe language of the Prime Minister in reply to a similar question, I say that he would be a bold man who would place any limit to our powers. In other words, I believe, speaking with some experience of constitutional views on these matters, that “ it will be held - indeed, it has been held by the highest judicial authority - that the Defence power of the Commonwealth is one which overrides, if necessary, all constitutional limitations.
– That is not according to the law, but, notwithstanding “the law; it is not in the Constitution. Fiat justitia, ruat caelum.
– I am not now relying upon the doctrine of solus’ populi suprema’ lex est. I am not referring to those ultimate rules of selfpreservation which are, said to justify any departure from law in extreme cases. I am dealing with the constitutional power expressly given to the National Parliament of Australia to defend the country, against danger, and which, in itself, is a law that, when the circumstances arise, overrides all constitutional limitations that interfere with it.
Mr.Fenton. - In peace time a different decision may be given by the Court on the same question.
– I cannot answer the honorable member’s question. It is enough to point out the decision given in a matter that concerns us now. We cannot, even if we would, shelter ourselves behind the States, or evade our responsibilities, by saying, “ We are not our brothers’ keepers. These are matters entirely confined to the States; it is their business, not ours.” The whole financial position of Australia at the present moment is essentially and primarily the business of the National Parliament.
– Hear, hear! I said that two years ago.
– Almost immediately after war began, the honorable member was able to explain to the country the whole constitutional aspect of the position, and -in that respect he anticipated the Pull Court by at least eighteen months. I am glad to find the honorable member entirely in accord with the constitutional position I am stating. We find ourselv.es in this amazing position : Like every other part of the Empire, this country is called upon to produce an enormous amount of money for the conduct of the war, and’ to that end we are pledging our credit and taxing our people. Notwithstanding all that, we find at the same time, when we might expect that the energies of the governing authorities throughout the continent, which, after” all, has only 5,000,000 people, would be directed to confiningour normal expenditure within as narrow limits as possible in order to leave room for further taxation, that the ordinary non-war departmental expenditure in the “Federation, and in all the States, has, since the. outbreak of the war, increased by leaps and bounds. That is an appalling circumstance.
– That statement is rather wide.
– When the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Falkiner) was speaking the Treasurer asked him to give figures in* support of his statements. I propose not to give figures now, hut when the general Budget debate is resumed >. I shall be prepared to support my statements with facts and figures.
– The “ordinary expenditure has not diminished.
– It has in«reased hugely within the last three years. As showing the immediate relation there lis between the financial position of the States and that of the whole Commonwealth as represented by this Parliament, it cannet be denied that any one State which goes upon the market and borrows money from any source does so, not upon its own credit, but upon the credit of the whole Commonwealth.
– The New South Wales Government does not think that.
– There can be no question upon that point. The National Parliament could not for one moment venture to allow any debenture, bill, or bond of a State Parliament to be dishonored. Every State that goes on the market and borrows on its own credit and solidarity is really pledging the credit of the whole Commonwealth. Up to the present time we have had no great difficulty in finding the money we required by borrowing and taxation. But we shall experience very serious difficulties before very long. The sources from which we can borrow money are practically reduced to three, namely, the issue of paper money, the flotation of loans outside Australia, and borrowing from our own people within Australia. The first source is already completely exhausted. I shall say nothing about the controversy that raged this afternoon in regard to the initiation of the note issue, but I do assert, and all honorable members will agree, that that well is drying. We cannot get any more money from it. We have actually raised £49,000,000 from the note issue, and with a population of only 5,000,000 not one honorable member would suggest that we should raise another £1,000,000 in that way.
– And the note issue is backed up by £10,000,000 of gold borrowed from the banks.
– In regard to the second means of raising money, borrowing from abroad, Great Britain has acted towards this community in this as in all other matters in our whole history, with extreme generosity. Even in its hour of terrible stress it exhibits a generosity which enables us to continue living and carry on our public works. I feel, sure there is enough justice and keenness of perception in the minds1 of all sections of the community to recognisethat fact. That source of supply is not yet dry, thank Heaven. If drawn upon through the proper channel, which, in my opinion, ought from this time forth to be the Commonwealth, it will continue to yield us considerable sums of money. But we cannot . expect anything like the free use of borrowed money from that’ source we have had in the past. With the whole credit of the Empire pledged and immense calls upon its financial resources, we cannot ask for further very large sums from the Mother Country. In regard to the third source, we have already ‘borrowed considerable sumsof money in Australia.
– I have no doubt that the Treasurer is acting upon the advice of financial experts, and that he thinks it safe to go as far as he proposes, but he will agree with me that “with a population of 5,000,000 people, no- matter how rich they are, or what the resources of the country may be, we cannot continue depleting the ‘ nation of a large proportion of its working capital without introducing conditions which’ would be equivalent to cutting down the tree, instead of climbing it, to gather the fruit. ‘
– There is a good deal of wealth created every year.
– Quite so, and I do not wish to press this point further than , it should be carried. I am sure that the Treasurer has better information than I possess, and that he will be able to obtain the money he requires. We . appear, however, to be pushing on to future borrowings the liabilities of the present. This is a source to which we are bound to go with the utmost care; in this terrible time of war it is fraught with great danger, - and we must curtail the operation as much as possible. Borrowing within a country, although it has many advantages in giving the people of that country an interest in its own funds, has also the great disadvantage that it tends gradually, and, if carried too far, suddenly, to withdraw from the working capital of the community money that should be available for all its industries, and as a means of giving employment and creating and producing further wealth.
– While that is so, where could the- Government now obtain money elsewhere?
– The honorable member must not think that I am condemning the policy of the Government.I am not. I am merely showing that this policy, which is inevitable in this time of war, is getting near the point at which it will mean the withdrawal of capital from the industries of the country. ‘ That danger should not prevent us from endeavouring to raise money in Australia, but it should make us very careful not to withdraw from the working capital of the country more money than is necessary..
– But does the honorable member think that we really do withdrawit ?
– Not the whole of it. A good deal of it goes round.
– The right honorable member is referring to the old idea of money going round - of borrowing capital and spending it on something that is reproductive. As long as the money is used for the purpose of creating productive industries, and as long as the Government management of- those productive industries is as economical and effective as private’ management, then local borrowing by the Government does not take away from the capital of the country. Without those conditions it does.
– Then, again, in war time the whole of the capital so borrowed is not always retained in Australia.
– Even if the , war loan expenditure does take place within Australia, unless it is in respect of permanent defensive works, such as Naval Bases, which have to be built at some time, it undoubtedly means a withdrawal from the working capital of the community.
– Is not some of the war loan money paid outside Australia, although the interest on those war loans raised here is retained ?
– I do not desire to enter into the minutise of the whole question. I think the Treasurer will, admit that the old idea of money going round is a very fallacious one. This is a question more of credit than of money - a question of withdrawing from that portion of the credit, or money, or capital which supports existing industries, and (of expenditure on non-productive purposes, especially warlike purposes. However inevitable it may be, we do,_ by that means, withdraw from the funds’ of the community capital which supports industry.
– War destroys wealth.
– That is so.
Leaving this rather academical discussion, and coming to the actual position now before us, it seems to me that the only way in which we can overcome the terrible dilemma which confronts us and all the other belligerent nations, is to set about a rigid and determined examination of expenditure in all public Departments, both Federal and State. In that way alone can we succeed. The position reminds me of an account I read many years ago of the cause leading up to the sinking of the training ship Eurydice. That vessel was overturned as the. result of what sailors call “ a masked squall.” All the conditions of that squall were to be seen, but those on watch on the vessel failed to observe the approach of the squall, because a terrific hailstorm shut it off completely from them. It seems to me that our internal danger - the cancer which is growing and may be our ultimate ruin - is masked from us by the torrential expenditure of the war. When we are dealing with war. expenditures of £40,000,000, £50,000,000, and more, it seems a very small thing to talk of saving £500,000 here or £1,000,000 there; but it is only by having regard to such savings - by carefully reducing the normal expenditure in all channels of expenditure controlled by Government agencies throughout the Commonwealth - that we can possibly keep the ship of State on an even keel. ‘
– I quite agree with the honorable member.
Extension of time, granted.
– I thank honorable members for their consideration. They will recognise that I have been asked a good many questions, which has had ,the effect of prolonging my speech. I sincerely hope that when we meet again we shall be prepared to deal with what I call the second of the great objects and purposes for which the people returned this Parliament a few months ago, and that is the bringing about of a condition of . sound finance in this community. I hope the Government will be prepared when’ we meet again to bring forward well-matured and considered proposals which will not involve the mere shutting of our eyes to what is going on in the States. We cannot say of them and their doings, “ We are not our brothers’ keeper; it is their affair.” The Government have immense powers and immense responsibilities in regard to State finance. The States cannot finance without- our aid, and they ought not to finance without our approval. That is the plain position.
– In other ‘words, the honorable member says that this Parliament must be the judge of expenditure.
– That “ the man who pays the piper calls the tune.” We are in that position. We cannot and dare not in the present condition of Australia shut our eyes to our responsibilities so far as the States are concerned. We cannot take up an attitude like that of Pilate of old; we cannot say that it is not our affair, and that we have nothing to do with it, when we see some of the States extending their taxation, drawn from! the same sources as our own; when we see them pledging our credit, and gradually diminishing, for their own purposes, the sources upon which the whole of the people of Australia have to rely.
There is only one other point - it is the third in the mandate which we received from the people - with which I now desire to deal. I refer to the question of the settlement of industrial troubles. On that subject I shall say but little. I have no desire to utter one word likely to arouse any feeling of hostility. But I do say that, at this time, the existence of war invests this Parliament with a power and responsibility in respect of industrial matters which, it does not possess in ordinary times. Just as it is inconceivable that a community of 5,000,000 people, such as we have in Australia, could conduct the war without some central power to regulate all its financial resources, so it is inconceivable that we can conduct this war without the power to prevent, by just means, or by any means that have been -adopted, those internal disruptions of industry which tend more than anything else to paralyze the effectiveness of the country^ efforts. It is only a matter of how this can be justly and effectively done.
I bring before the Government to-day the fact that, whatever may be our constitutional limits in ordinary times, there is practically no limit, during this period of war, at all events, to the power of industrial regulation which the Commonwealth possesses. I commend to the attention of the Government, as earnestly as I can, the imperative necessity for this Parliament moving forward in each of the three directions I have indicated. It is with that view that I, for one, cordially support the motion which the Treasurer has placed before the Committee, and which practically asks that the Government be enabled to take a few weeks to deal with the great matters which are now before them, and with which they cannot effectively deal whilst Parliament is sitting.
.- The honorable member for Flinders (Sir William Irvine) has brought prominently before the Committee the question of finance, and has made certain statements with which I entirely agree, having myself endeavoured to get Parliament to take more interest in finance. Borrowing which is of an unbusinesslike character must have an injurious effect on the whole of Australia. If a State pays a high rate of interest for money, that musthave a prejudicial effect upon all Australian borrowing. Every one will agree with me that no more unbusinesslike agreement for raising money was ever made than that into which the Government of New South Wales entered in connexion with’ what is known as the NortonGriffith scheme. To show how incompatible it was with the principles of sound finance, I have only to mention that the New South Wales Government is now paying over £700,000 to rid itself of it.
I take the view that the Commonwealth should be the sole borrowing power in Australia. According to the press, the Premier of New South Wales has been visiting Great Britain and the United States of America - and we do not know where else he will go - with the object of raising money so that his State may not have to avail itself of the services of the (Commonwealth in obtaining financial assistance. The matter is worthy of the consideration of this Parliament, which has to do with the control, in this time, of war, of the finances of Australia.
The honorable member for Hume seems to have a great 1 antipathy to any man who’ has to work . for his living, and especially to those employed on the day-labour system. If honorable members were fully informed of the facts relating to day labour, they would admit that their sarcasm and condemnation are entirely misplaced, for the system has proved-of much benefit, inasmuch as it has resulted in work less costly, more substantial, and better fitted for the requirements of the people. Complaint has been made that the Estimates are usually delayed until nearly the . end of the session. But those with any parliamentary experience know that this is pretty well inevitable. The Estimates, of course, are of no use until the Appropriation Bill is passed, and Parliament, as a rule, is very loath to pass the Appropriation Bill until it can be no longer delayed, for the reason that immediately it is passed the control passes out of the hands of honorable members, and. the Government may end the session when they choose. I do not pretend to say how that difficulty can be avoided. I should like to know, however, when we may expect the report of the Auditor-General.
– We should have it when we meet again.
– This report should certainly be presented much more promptly, than it is. The financial year ends on the 30th J une, and . the accounts ought, like those of any private business, to be kept up to date, so that the audit may he entered upon at once. Year after year we pass Estimates, and yet we< do not get the Auditor-General’s report for. months after the next year has been entered upon, The country is indebted to the Fisher Government for the note issue, the Commonwealth Bank, and the institution of borrowing in Australia, all of which measures have proved of material assistance during recent years. As to money borrowed in Australia, it really does not matter whether it is repaid or not, for the interest circulates amongst our own people. It has been pointed out this afternoon that the note issue represents some £49,000,000; but we must not forget that there is still the margin between 33 per cent, and 25 per cent, which may be used for borrowing purposes, though the present Treasurer sees no necessity for such a course just now. The Treasurer, in one respect, is depleting his own revenue. In December, 1914, the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Tudor), when Minister for Trade and Customs, was the means of having a duty of l½d. per foot imposed on films; and in answer to a question put by myself, it vvas stated here not long ago that the revenue from this source up to 30th June of this year was £211,233. That duty has been reduced; and I wish to emphasize the fact that the representations which were made to the Minister for Trade and Customs by a deputation which waited on him on the subject have never been published, so that we do not know what was urged in favour of the removal. The duty was imposed with the idea of encouraging a local industry; and there is no doubt that, had it been continued, it would have had the desired effect, inasmuch as it would have meant the employment of many writers, artists, actors, and others.
– And it would have advertised Australia.
– Quite so. There are enough beauty spots in Australia to supply the moving picture business for years. The Treasurer has sacrificed a revenue of £30,000 a year, and yet during the past three or four weeks this Chamber has been engaged in a discussion upon the best means of raising additional revenue. The people who have benefited by the reduction that has been made in the duty upon cinematograph films show nothing but American pictures here. Indeed, they have a monopoly of the moving picture trade in Australia. The magnanimous treatment that has been accorded to them is absolutely ridiculous. Day after day the Treasurer assures us that his -great aim is to raise revenue”, and yet we find him making a present to these individuals of no less a sum than £30,000 a year.
– Twenty thousand pounds, I think.
– I cannot understand how the Treasurer has been gulled in this way. The people to whom I have referred will not allow Australian pictures to be exhibited in the Commonwealth, simply because they can make more out of the imported -films. They control practically every building in Sydney in which pictures are shown. They make huge profits - so huge that an American firm alone recently contracted to pay a popular picture actor a salary of £40,000! a year.
– Why cannot moving pictures be produced in Australia?
– Because the people to
Whom I have been alluding possess a monopoly of the buildings in which pictures are shown. I have been assured that, owing to the atmospheric conditions which obtain, in Australia, pictures could be produced here which would attract attention in any part of the world.
– Why do we not produce them?
– Because we cannot get Commonwealth authority to raise the necessary capital. Reference has been made to the approaching adjournment of Parliament. My own opinion is that, during the war, Parliament should sit almost continuously. This Bill, I know, provides only for the ordinary services of the Commonwealth. But it affords me an opportunity to direct attention to the careless way -in which our finances are being managed. It must be apparent to everybody that the time is rapidly approaching when our borrowing operations will- have to be severely restricted:
– What ought we to do?
– We ought to take over the whole of the banking institutions of the Commonwealth. By doing thatwe should gain possession of £179,000,000, and would be able to secure in addition a credit equivalent to at least 50 per cent: on that sum. I hope that my remarks in reference to the Treasurer’s gift of £30,000 per annum to a combine will have more than passing comment, and that- when the Minister for Trade and Customs receives a deputation on any point of the kind he will give the other side . an opportunity of ibeing heard before he comes to a decision. If anything should pay taxation during thewar, it is amusements, but the combine controlling the importation of films will put this money in their pockets. They are not fools. They will not throw away the concession they have gained. The people generally will gain no advantage from the remission of this Customs impost. I trust that what I have said in regard to the finances will not be allowed to pass unnoticed. I believe that honorable members are beginning to awaken to the fact that they hare been too much inclined to neglect this important matter. The party to which I belong has not hitherto interested itself very much in questions of finance, but the time is coming when it must look into the matter, and when that time comes the finances of Australia will, I hope, be placed on a higher and better plane.
.- I desire to enlist the support and cooperation of honorable members on both sides of the House in making an appeal to the Government on behalf of the men of the First Anzac . Division, who are still in the firing line, still actively engaged in a struggle for supremacy. No doubt honorable members have read heartrending appeals in the newspapers from the wives and mothers of these men. To-day, I have letters from officers who have been with the men, and can speak as to their physical condition when they were with them. The first letter is from a captain chaplain, who has just returned from Palestine. He writes -
I would like to enlist your influence in a matter which will gain your sympathy, as it affects the well-being of the men now serving Australia on the Palestine Front. There are men who have served from the commencement of the Dardanelles campaign, and who have, without flinching, stood to their duty through all the difficult conditions of desert experiences. Many of these have refused to report sick, and have endured the discomfort and strain of the life there with very few visits to “the base, and these very short, while they have been on the verge of breakdown. A- complete change of scene, with needed rest, would enable them to return to duty without the breakdown that must follow, if something is not done at once; and this could best be done by bringing them back to Australia for a time. I understand that the matter has been discussed, but would ike to direct attention ‘to the urgency of the case. If they were slackers or complainers, the case would be different, but they represent Australia’s best, and, therefore, should have Australia’s best treatment. It may be observed that leave to rest camps in rear of the front line will never restore to them the cheerfulness and sense of “ fitness “ that rest in the homeland will effect. I have (unofficially) the support of various officers in the Light Horse Regiments in stating that this matter needs early attention; and I hope that your effort to obtain this relief for them will succeed. It will have a good effect in stimulating interest and in recruiting men for service when these men from oversea are here.
I may add that the number of the originals is not great, owing to the casualties .among their former comrades.
The next letter is from Captain Kane attached to the Medical Corps, he was in Gallipoli, and is in Australia now. He writes -
I am stimulated by the frequent appeals of letters to the press sent by fathers, mothers, and other relatives of soldiers, members of the First Australian Division, who left on the 18th . October, 1014, to write to you and ask you to use your best endeavours to obtain for the remnants of that division a furlough to their homeland, Australia.
I may mention that one father, writing, stated that he had two sons, . who departed on the date mentioned above. One has been killed at Gallipoli, the other is still fighting. This, I may say, is a parallel case with my own, as I also had two sons, one killed at Gallipoli, and the other son fighting still. He is at present in Palestine, and from news I have had from him and from other members of his regiment, they say they do not mind if they could only have, to use his own words, “ a ‘ scrap ‘ -monthly; it would relieve the monotony.” But there are such long waits” in between that’ a ‘ great many of the old hands are getting absolutely nervy.
These members of the First Australian Division served in Gallipoli, many of them from the landing to the evacuation, then remaining at the Isle of Lemnos, and then going from there to Alexandria, thence to Sinai Peninsular. After frequent engagements there, they were months on the solitary Canal guard, thento Asia Minor, where they fought at El-Romani,. El Arish, El Gaza, and many similar engagements. The only relief that these men are ableto obtain ib something similar to that which the men on Gallipoli had, namely, a few milesaway from the trenches, where they areshadowed all day by taubes, firing on them asthey fly aloft.
We are appealing to the eligible manhood of Australia to answer the call for more men. We have said that if 7,000 men will respond and enlist each month, we shall be in a position to give the men of the First Division the much-deserved and thrice-earned rest that their war-wearied bodies are in need of; Obviously, we have neglected our duty in this respect by bargaining for the return of these men. The duty is too sacred to be made the subject of barter. They have been away fighting for nearly two and a half years, and the time has come when it is absolutely necessary to give them furlough. Great Britain and France treat their men quite differently. Realizing that no man can stand the strain of modem warfare indefinitely? after twelve months they take a man away for a long period far from the firing line, and the change of scene restores his nerves to> a normal state. These boys of ours, on the other hand, have been almost constantly fighting. In Egypt they are sent to rest camps, amidst the sorrow and sane? of that ancient country, but there they »are- continually attacked by enemy aircraft, and they say. there is little difference between the life at those camps and the nerve-racking strain of the trenches. Australia believes that no men could have done better than these men of ours; the world has indorsed the glory of their achievements; and we public men have expressed on hundreds of platforms our appreciation of their deeds at Gallipoli, Lone . Pine, Armentieres, Bullecourt, and ‘Pozieres. Here is a practical way of showing our appreciation of their services to the Empire by returning them to their homeland. The value of such a step to recruiting’ cannot be estimated. They have earned their furlough, for no other troops have been subjected to the strain they have had to meet for the last three years. With them also went a band of nurses, many of whom have paid the penalty. They, too, have been away for just on three years, and it is not fair to keep them at the post of duty, running such continual risks, for so. long. We ought to bring these girls back with the boys, and give them the blessing of a triumphant return to Australia on furlough.
A few days before I left London last -September, I met one of the Anzac Division near Horseferry-road. The lad had just come out of a convalescent hospital. He was to have a fortnight, and then be sent back to the firing line. He still looked unwell” and anaemic. He told me he had been wounded four times - twice at Gallipoli and twice in Flanders. He had done more than his bit, and it was not right to send him back to run a risk for the fifth time. His plea to me was, I should like to see this job through ; but I do think I have earned a rest in Australia.” I hope honorable members will assist in a combined appeal to the Government. We should bring these lads back, if possible, for Christmas. No doubt we cannot do so with the men in Flanders, they may come at a later date; but we can bring the First Division troops hack from Palestine for Christmas. Why not give them the Christmas they have been yearning for? Do not let us wait until it is too late. Many of these men were mere boys when they left Australia; to-day they are old beyond their years. The magnificent physique so frequently referred to by General Birdwood and others has undergone a change. Their constitutions have become enfeebled and exhausted by the awful experiences through which they have been passing, and if they have to see the war through without being brought back to Australia for a rest, many of them will return physical and mental wrecks. If we succeed in getting, them back, we shall not only have the gratification of knowing that we have done the right thing, but we shall have earned their gratitude, and the gratitude of the loved ones in Australia who are waiting to welcome them. ,
– I wish to make a personal explanation. During my few remarks on these proposals I claimed that there was no necessity for the expenditure of ‘£1,650 for a Minister of Repatriation, and the consequent departmental expenditure this would entail, and the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Falkiner) has since said that he understood that I inferred something against the present acting Minister - Senator Millen. This is absolutely incorrect. -As a matter of fact, I have the highest regard for Senator Millen, and as repatriation is necessary I know of no one in the Senate, ot even in this Chamber, who would, in my opinion, fill the position or carry, out the duties better than Senator Millen, who has the necessary ability and enjoys the reputation . among us who know him best of being absolutely fair. He has the advantage of that practical knowledge and experience as a Minister which fits him to carry out this work, to’ the inauguration of which he has already successfully devoted a good deal of time and ability. I indignantly deny the imputation that in any way, directly or indirectly, I made any reflection on Senator Millen, whom I, with. many others, hold in the highest esteem and regard. I have consulted a number of other honorable members who had heard . my speech, and they agree with me that the honorable member- for Hume could not have heard what I said.
,- I strongly support the appeal made to the Government by the honorable member for Nepean, (Mr. Orchard). While indorsing the very urgent reasons he has, placedbefore the Committee, I would point, outthat an announcement was made by the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) that the men who first went to the warI understand there are only about 5,000 of them left - were entitled to furlough in Australia. That announcement was accompanied by conditions, as, for example, whether certain numbers of other men volunteered, which: had nothing to do with the men at the Front. But the fact remains that it was officially announced by the member of the Government who is charged with the responsibility of Defence matters that these 5,000 men should be returned to Australia for’ a rest. He gave reasons’ why they should . be returned.
– “ Would “ or “should “?
– He said that under certain circumstances they would be returned; that if a certain number of men volunteered to take their places they would be brought back. The number of men concerned is not large, and, as the honorable member for Nepeah has stated, the bringing of them back should not be the subject of bargaining. If any men have ever earned a rest, it is they. The statements of the Minister have been published abroad, and have raised hopes in the’ minds of the relatives of these lads, and of the lads themselves. When, at the outbreak of war, these young fellows rushed to the colours, it was not anticipated that they would be away longer than twelve or eighteen months. As an Australian, I know the effect of long absences from this country. We here are accustomed to sunshine and freedom’ of action such as are not to be obtained in other parts of the world.
– Even had they not been fighting, they would have found the long absence depressing.
– Yes. When in America during a dull winter, although away only a few weeks, I wished myself back in Australia. It is extraordinary how one misses the sunshine. Those of us who come from Sydney, which is sunnier than Melbourne, find it quite a punishment to have to stop here over the week-end ; how much more must our Australian soldiers be depressed by the gloom of long winters in England and France,and the long separation from their loved ones. I urge the Government to take into consideration the appeal of the. honorable member for Nepean, and have those 5,000 men brought back for the furlough that has been promised to them.
.- I wish to put on record my views concerning the proposal toappoint an addi tional Minister. Some honorable members have spoken against the increase of expenditure which this will involve, but I, for my part, think it justifiable. Since the war broke out the Government have taken over the control of wheat, metals, shipping, sugar, and many other things, all adding to the work of Ministers, and these obligations will increase the work of their successors. Any one who watches the Prime Minister must be aware that he is an overworked man. He has hardly a moment to himself. He comes into the chamber at the opening of the sittings, and then returns to his room to receive deputations all day long. Parliament should not be stingy in this matter. Although a. member of the Opposition, I say that the additional cost of another Minister is justified. The repatriation of our returned soldiers is a big enough subject to occupy the whole time of a Minister. The best brains of Parliament must be given to the- formulating of a scheme, and a Minister must give the whole of his time to the administration of it. It is believed that millions of pounds will be spent on repatriation, and it would not be sufficient to have the scheme supervised by an Honorary Minister in the spare moments that he’ Could allot to it. Some honorable members object to the creation of new Departments, forgetting that, as the Commonwealth grows and . takes over new utilities, it must increase its expenditure. Hitherto, Ministers have had too much to do, and should ‘be relieved.
Some honorable members ‘ of opinion that the Commonwealth Bank has not fulfilled any very important functions, but I am ‘very pleased that the Commonwealth Bank has been established, and that the Government controls the note issue. The Bank has saved the country thousands of pounds in connexion with the flotation of loans, and has enabled the Government to carry on the war successfully. The fact of its existence has also kept down the rate of interest. In some of the countries now at war banks have closed their doors, and the rate of interest has gone up, but no Australian bank has closed its door, and the rate of interest has remained normal here. It should be some consolation to the people ‘of the Commonwealth that they can depend upon the Commonwealth Bank’ to render great service to the community.. I hope that no parliamentary action will interfere with the good work done by the Commonwealth Bank and our note issue.
With respect to money lent to the State Governments, it is said that some have been wastingit. The honorable member for Hume (Mr. Falkiner) said . they wasted it on day labour, but that is a very old gag. Before the last State election, the Government of New South Wales spent borrowed money on the duplication of railway lines to increase facilities for the transport of goods from the country to the seaboard, and as a result of this expenditure they were returned with a substantial majority. That money spent on reproductive works hag been very profitable, because it was borrowed at from 4½ to 5 per cent., and the duplication works upon which, it was expended are returning over 8 and 9 per cent. No one can say that that money was wasted. It was spent in progressive development. The, New South Wales Government have not troubled the Federal Government very much in asking for money, and if Mr. Holman gets his own way, the State will borrow on its own account. I am sorry that the honorable member for Flinders (“Sir William Irvine) is not present. I am always very interested in what he has to say, but the speech which he made this afternoon , would have been more appropriately addressed to a meeting of manufacturers, chambers of commerce, and those concerned in banking institutions. His advice is, in effect, that we should stop public works. What are the resources of Australia? Are we up against a dead end? Only a few months ago the Prime Minister stated that he had completed deals for the disposal of our wheat and wool which would mean a return of £90,000,000 to the producers of the Commonwealth. That is wealth to be derived from only two of our raw products. We are also great exporters of meat, minerals, fruit, jams, and butter. A country so rich in natural resources need not be unnecessarily concerned about the expense of government.
I trust that the war will soon terminate, and when it is at an end, I believe it will be found that Australia will right itself more quickly than will any other country engaged in the struggle. I hope that, before our. men return from the Front, the Government will have devised some means to employ’ them’ in the production of the wealth which we have in abundance in our natural resources. There is no black cloud hanging over the Commonwealth, and I hope that honorable members will not be influenced by the pessimistic views which have been expressed by the honorable member for Flinders.
.- I rise . to protest against the action of the Postmaster-General in depriving, people in the back blocks of Queensland of pro- per post and telephone communication at present enjoyed. That State is a country of great distances. In it a small population is scattered over 429,000,000 acres, and the State has sent quite an average contribution of men to the war. It is only fair that the parents and relatives of these lads should be able to hear from them, or their doings through the press, at least once or twice a week. From information which I have received, the . Postmaster-General proposes to reduce existing postal facilities in the remote districts of Queensland, because it is held that the services are not payable.
– No; because of the abnormal increases in the charges demanded.
– I am informed that the Government can secure, in the districts to which I refer, the carrying out of mail services on conditions similar to those prevailing during the” past three . years, but that it is1 contemplated by the Department to cut down the services on the ground that they are not payable. One has only to go through the large cities, such as Melbourne, to notice the great ‘conveniences given to their citizens as compared with the conditions with which people in the back blocks, have to be satisfied. It is only right that greater consideration should be shown for people living in remote districts. We have a good . Deputy Postmaster-General in Queensland, but he has always been known to be very economical. Having been told that he must exercise the strictest economy, he has now gone beyond all reasonable bounds in that direction. The people of Queensland are in this manner being penalized. , “ We have heard to-day two very good speeches from the honorable, member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton) and the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Watkins), in connexion with the strike. They pleaded that we should try, if possible, to put an end to a trouble . which is so disastrous to the Commonwealth without penalization. I believe that every member of this House earnestly desires that it should be brought to an end. I regretted to hear the honorable member for Darling, when the question was being discussed, say that the unionists would deal with the free labourers later. That is holding out a threat that free labourers will be penalized by unionists when, in the same breath, honorable members oppositeask ‘ that the men on strike should not be penalized. This is not the ‘ spirit which should be displayed if we desire to bring, the strike to a termination. There is too much at stake, particularly in Queensland, where, owing to the strike of seamen, not an ounce of sugar can be transported. In the north of Queensland no less than 40,000 tons of sugar is awaiting transport. Every wharf-shed and mill is full, and at Mackay last week three mills were shut down, and it is intended next week to close six more if they cannot get relief, in order that they may have space in which to place their sugarcane cutters, and other men are beingdischarged. I hope that a settlement of the strike will be effected very soon.
Although I did not agree with the speech of the honorable member for Flinders in its entirety, I acknowledge that, from his point of view, he delivered a very able address in advocacy of economy. His contention for a unification in finance will not be indorsed by many of the States. Western Australia and Queensland will be very reluctant to intrust their destiny to a Commonwealth Parliament the majority of members of which represent the southern and south-eastern States. It is difficult enough now to get honorable members in this House to understand the conditions in a State like Queensland, and if further powers were taken from the State Parliaments there would be little hope of settling that great territory. All that Queensland requires is good government and a larger population, and if it cannot be developed by the State Parliament I am sure that it will be governed even less effectively from Melbourne. The conditions in that State are absolutely different from those in any other part of the Commonwealth ; but many southern members know very little about Queensland, and instead of travelling through the
State and ascertaining first hand its conditions and observing its industries, they are content to sit in Melbourne and look at everything from the Victorian point of view
– This Parliament has done very well for Queensland.
– I fail to see that. I am not aware of anything for which Queensland has had to thank the Federal Parliament until the last few months.
– But for this Parliament Queensland would not have its sugar industry.
– Queensland’ is the most pampered State of the lot.
– No industry in Queensland is pampered as much as are many industries in Victoria. I refer to the jam, wine, spirits, and dried-fruit and other industries. The people in the northern States remember that they, in the past, have had great, difficulty in securing fair treatment from the Federal Parliament under existingcircumstances. How much worse would their position be if ‘ this Parliament controlled their finances. If Queensland could not build railways where and when they were ‘ required, and could not manage its own finances, it would have very little chance of making progress, although it is capable of producing almost any commodity that can be raised in any other part of the Commonwealth.
– The climate broke the hearts of the best Victorians who went there
– A large number of men from Victoria, New South Wales, and South Australia have done remarkably well in Queensland,1 and would not be willing to return to the States from which they came. Some of the most successful men in the closer settlement areas came from the southern States, and they are satisfied that the State Parliament is better able to control local affairs than the Federal Parliament would be.
– Does the honorable member indorse the State administration in Queensland to-day?
– Until the present Government came into power a couple of years ago, Queensland affairs had been administered for thirteen years without putting an extra’ penny of taxation on the people. For eleven years the finances of the State showed an annual credit- balance.
And it is only since a different class of politicians came into power that Queensland has had a big deficit. However, I am certain that before long ‘ the people will return to their normal senses, and place a Liberal Government in power.
– I wish to complain once more of the operation of the censorship in Australia. Unfortunately, although the Prime Minister promised months ago that the utmost latitude would be allowed to the press and the public, there is increasing evidence every day of the expansion of the powers of the censor, and of a more severe limitation being placed upon the freedom of the press and freedom of speech. We have an illustration of this fact in articles that have been allowed to appear in the ordinary daily papers, such as the Age and the Argus in Melbourne, and ithe Telegraph and Sydney Morning Herald in Sydney, as well as . in some of the other cities of the Commonwealth, but which have been refused publication in such papers as The Socialist, The Labour Gall, The Worker, and other similar papers. Some time ago I also brought under the notice of the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) the fact, which he unfortunately denied, but which I happen to know is true, that information which had been allowed circulation in Melbourne and. Sydney regarding the late strike was refused publication in a Labour paper in Brisbane. As that has occurred in* other States as well, it is evident that there is a desire on the part of the censor, either with the permission of, or under instructions from, the Government, to prevent the Labour newspapers from enjoying that freedom which is allowed to other sections of the press.
Nor is this matter now confined to the press. I want particularly to call the attention of the Committee to an exercise of censorship, which, in my opinion, is outrageously foolish, and cannot be supported on any ground whatever, and which, quite apart from any political consideration, is causing a considerable amount of concern to a large section of the community. I refer to two books printed in Australia, for circulation in this country, entitled Defeat? and The Fiddlers. Both have been written by Arthur Mee, who is prominent in his association withthe “ Strength of Britain “ movement. Both books have enjoyed free and extensive circulation in Great Britain, and both deal with the same question, The Fiddlers being a sequel to Defeat? Although, as I have shown, the Imperial Government placed -no restriction on the circulation of these books in Great Britain, the censor in Australia has absolutely prohibited the publication of The Fiddlers, and has instructed also that Defeat? shall be withdrawn from circulation.
– Both ought to be read by every man and woman in Australia. >
– I will tell the Leader of the Opposition why they have been withdrawn from circulation. Defeat? has already had a large circulation in Australia, and there are not many copies lying in stock, but officials from the Censorship Department have been visiting various places from which the book has been obtained to instruct that it be withr drawn. Every member of the Federal Parliament has received a copy of The Fiddlers, and will be able to judge for himself as to whether or not the book deserves suppression on the ground that its circulation would prejudice recruiting. I admit that that is a very sound reason, and, if the statement could be substantiated, the Government would be justified in prohibiting the circulation of the books; bub I can say definitely that those who are interested in their circulation would refuse to be associated with anything that would prejudice recruiting or interfere in any way with the successful prosecution of this war. I am certain that the books were not written with that object in view. On the contrary, there runs right through both publications, from beginning to end, a , strong chord of patriotic sentiment and enthusiasm for the principle which actuated the British Empire in entering upon this conflict. Therefore, whatever else those people may be accused of, they certainly cannot be charged with any hostility to Great Britain, lack of interest in the prosecution of this war, or a desire to see anything but victory crowningthe’ arms of the allied nations. ‘ They are, however, vitally and entirely concerned in. the effect of the liquor traffic on the efforts of the Allies engaged. For the information of honorable members I will quote1 the headings of the various chapters in Defeat? They are as follow: - 1.- The Great’ Betrayal. 2.- The Tragedy of Man-Power. 3.- The Soldier’s Peril. 4.- The Menace to the Empire. 5. - Let us call the Witnesses. 6. - The Destruction of Food. 7. - The Lost Hundred Days. 8. - Interfering with the Navy. 9. - Our Wasted Millions. 10. - Ships, Docks, and Trains. 11. - Winning and Losing. 12. - Fooling with the Enemy. 13. - The Mobilization of Alcohol. 14. - The Only Way. 15.- The Strength of Britain Speaks. 16. - What is to be Done?
May I now read two short extracts from the book, one taken from the beginning and the other from the end, in order to acquaint honorable members with the character of the publication? I take the following from the beginning of the book : -
There does not beat a human heart in Britain, worthy of the freedom it enjoys, that does not throb with pain at the thought that perhaps we may be beaten. In all the range of human thought, in all the emotions that’ stir the life of man, is nothing more terrible than the thought that, perhaps, by some unspeakable calamity, this land of Drake and Nelson may Buffer defeat.
It cannot be. It shall not be. We dare not think of it, and the word will not come to our lips. There is not in these islands a soul so dead that he dare talk of our defeat.
It is time, surely, with the war far into its third year, that we took our part in it at home. The power of a nation is not in its materials. Behind its guns and shells, behind its wealth and visible powers, is. the soul of the people, without which all is in vain. And the soul of our people, deeply stirred in that faroff autumn of 1914, has lost touch with those “ great heights it reached, when the Prime Minister led us to believe that no sacrifice was too great with freedom and honour at stake.
We believed it then ; our men went out believing it; they went to their graves, believing it. But it is not true.We have lost our belief in sacrifice. We have believed that we could pull through without it. What has happened is that the Government of this country, in the gravest crisis with which we were ever confronted, declared to our people that, whatever they might have said on our platforms’, whatever glowing phrases they sent ringing round the world from the Mansion House, the supreme act of sacrifice we called for abroad was not called for at home. ‘ It is pitifully true, and in it lies the secret of the lengthening war.
The war goes on, and will go on, because we have not paid the price of victory. We are shirkers yet.
I will now make a short quotation from the last chapter -
The nation generally has refused to follow the lead of the King in banishing drink. Will that true Church of Christ, which has its members within every religious body and outside of them all, refuse likewise to follow him?
Or, bearing “ the sword bathed with Heaven,” will it unite to spend its every strength in this battle for a liberated land? ^
Away with indifference and apathy! Away with political and ecclesiastical insincerities! Away with the idea of an apathetic God, acquiescent in a nation losing its soul, caring only tosnatch a few from ultimate disaster! Away with the . paralyzing’ cant of an uplifted voice and a down-hanging arm! Away with the worthless prayer of a people which calls on Heaven for victory against our outer foe, and regards this profitable iniquity in its heart!
The argument running through every page of this book is that every nation engaged in the war has more or less realized that the presence and the operation of the alcoholic liquor traffic have stultified its efforts, have endangered its safety, and have seriously interfered with its efficiency. Russia, in its absolute prohibition of the traffic ; . France, in its very severe and effective restriction; and even Germany in its restriction of this ‘traffic have so recognised its effects. We have, on the part of the whole of the belligerent nations, this recognition of the presence of an evil which Mr. Lloyd George said was a more serious enemy to the Empire, and was. doing more damage than all the > enemy submarines of Austria and Germany.
– The statements made at the time in regard to drink and the working classes . were also exaggerated.
– They were made, not by Mr. Lloyd George, but by interested parties, who, for political purposes, wished to make ‘the people believe that the working classes of Great Britain weredrunkards. I do not want to go into that matter.
– I should think not.
– If the honorable member challenges me, I shall do so. He says that Lloyd George accused the British workers of getting drunk instead of making munitions.
– That was the general charge, but it was untrue. The trouble in regard to munitions was due to the muddling of the authorities themselves.
– The. statements to which the honorable member refers were not made by Lloyd George. They are not minimized or cloaked in this book. It is. said that, in many cases, war work - work in connexion with the transports ‘ generally - was seriously interfered with. The work of munition making in Great Britain now is seriously interfered with by. the alcoholic traffic.
Mr.corser.-Does not the honorable member know that all the distilleries in Great Britain are now ‘under the control of the Government, and that the spirit produced by them is used’ for munition making purposes, and not for human consumption?, , .
– I am aware of that, and also of the restrictions that have, at long last, been imposed.
– Two years ago.
– The honorable member doesnot think-
Mr.FINLAYSON.- These two honorable members are firing interjections at me, and have not the courtesy to let. me reply. I shall, therefore, ignore their interjections. I propose now to deal with another little book entitled The Fiddlers. This is a later publication which has recently reached Australia, and. the circulation of which has been entirely prohibited by the censor on the ground that it would be prejudicial to recruiting. The honorable member for Cook (Mr. J. H. Catts) put a series of questions to the Prime Minister in regard to this publication, and received answers indicating that the only reason for its prohibition was based upon a regulation issued under the War Precautions Act. Regulation No. 28 provides -
No person shall, by word of mouth, or in writing, or in any newspaper, periodical, book, circular, or other printed publication’ -
spread false reports or make false statements, or reports, or statements likely to cause dissatisfaction to His Majesty, or public alarm, or to interferewith the success of ‘ His Majesty’s Forces by land or sea, or to prejudice His Majesty’s relations with foreign Powers; or
spread reports or make statements, likely to prejudice the recruiting,’ training, discipline, or administration of any of His Majesty’s Forces.
I invite honorable members to consider whether, under that . regulation, this book can honestly be prohibited from circulating in Australia. I shall quote the titles of the several chapters which it contains. They are as follow -
The Shadow of Famine, The Drink Trade and our War Services, Australian Incidents, The War Work of the Food Destroyers, The Tunes they Play, The Hide-the-Drink Press, How the Allies did it, The Soldier’s Home, The Roll of the Dead, The New Drinkers, Back to the Homeland, Into the Firing Line, Drink and the Bed Cross, Stabbing the Army in the Back, The Price the Empire Pays, Your Share in the Food Crisis. How the Brewer Gets our Food, The Way for the Government.
The first page of this book is headed, “ The ‘wages of sin.” It reads as follows -
The time has come when it should be said that those responsible for our country now stand on the very threshold, of eternal glory or eternal shame. They play and palter with the greatest enemy force outside Berlin. The news from Vimi Ridge comes to a land whose rulers quail before an enemy within its gate. Not for one hour has the full strength of Britain been turned against her ‘enemies. , From the first day of the war, while our mighty Allies have been striking down this foe within their fates, Britain has let this trade stalk through h er Streets, serving the Kaiser’s purposes, and paying the Government £1,000,000 a week for othe right to do it.
She has. let this trade destroy our food, and bring us to the verge of famine; she has let it keep back guns and shells, and hold up ships : she has let it waste our people’s wealth in hundreds of millions of pounds; she has let it put its callous brake on the merciful Bed Cross; she has let it jeopardize the unity and the safety of the Empire - for it may yet be found, as Dr. Stuart Holden has so finely said, that the links that bind’ the Pax Britannica are solvable in that great chemists’ solvent, alcohol. ,
The witnesses are too great to number; We can only call a few. There is no room for all those witnesses whose evidence is in the House of Commons Return 220 (1915), showing the part drink played in the great shell famine, in delaying ships and guns, and imperilling the Army and the Fleet.
But the indictment is heavy. I charge this trade with the crime the King laid at its door two years ago, the crime of prolonging the war; and the witnesses are here at the bar of the people. The verdict is with them, and the judgment is with those who rule.
The wages of sin is death ;What are the wages of those who fail in an hour like this?
This book is particularly concerned with the interruption of the food supply, and the . effect, both potential and actual, of the drink traffic on the food supply of Great Britain during the war. That is undoubtedly, as honorable members will admit, a most serious and important question.
– Are you trying to get . the book into Hansard?
– No. I intendto quote just one short passage, and then I shall have finished with the book as far as quotations are concerned. In dealing with the food supply, it says -
It is a crime against the Navy and against the nation. Think of all the hazard at which our food comes to us in these days - through mines and submarines, guarded . and . protected on long journeys at the risk of brave men’s lives, and brought at last to a faminethreatened land to be handed over to a brewer’s destructor. Take a cargo of sugar from the
Philippines, ordered for a restaurant proprie-tor who provides 40,000 meals a day -for working people in. London. The sugar arrived at the London docks, and the caterer sent for it; but instead of his sugar he received from the Port of London authority a note saying, “ Delivery of this sugar stopped by Food Controller, unless for brewers.”
In another case a caterer in the provinces, who had actually paid for his sugar, and received a similar note from the docks, wrote to the Food Controller, whose Department replied that the sugar could only be released “ if it were sold to a brewer.” The caterer, whose conscience would not allow him to sell food for destruction, asked ‘if the Food Controller, in such cases, arranged for the sale; but wast informed that the transaction’ must be left to the owner. It has not been sold, and the sugar, is still at the docks - though since the exposure v of this outrage, steps have been taken to release this sugar under certain conditions.
So we see the British Government holding back sugar from a people waiting for it in queues outside our shops; holding it. back from its legal owners in order to hand it to the food destroyers. If the sugar brought at such a hanard must go straight to a brewer’s destructor, wo might surely have saved our sailors and our shipping all this bitter peril. ‘
The book tries to establish the argument that the liquor traffic is interfering so seriously with the food supply of Great Britain that it is affecting detrimentally the operations of the war. Honorable members must have already perceivedthat, so far from’ the aim ‘of the writers and publishers of either Defeat? or The Fiddlers being to jeopardize the chances of success, their whole argument is to minimize those things which are likely to bring about defeat, and, if possible, eliminate them. And in order to arouse the sense, the conscience, and the enthusiasm of the country, they published thi»statement, particularly in The Fiddlers, in regard to the effect of the traffic on the food supply. The main reason given by the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) for the refusal to allow The Fiddlers to be circulated, was because of two statements it contained. One statement appears on page 10, under the head of “Australian Incidents,” and is simply a reprint of a number of extracts from a speech delivered in the Melbourne Town Hall some time ago relating to some Police Court incidents.
– What was it?”
– It was in reference to incidents about drunken soldiers and to the wives of soldiers who are at the Front indulging in drink. On page 54 of the book there is a part headed, “ Anzacs in Agony.” “ Brave Anzacs be come Victims of Liquor Sellers’ Greed.” It contains extracts taken from papers in the Old Country as to the effect of the liquor traffic on Australian soldiers. The Min*ister for Defence, when I saw him with some friends interested in this matter, took this ground : That if these two pages relating to Australians were eliminated, the prohibition against the book might be withdrawn. But subsequently he stated that he had perused the book, that he had referred it to several of his colleagues, that he had submitted it to the Director-General of Recruiting, and that they were unanimously of the opinion that the publication of the facts in’ the book might prejudice recruiting in Australia. The ground of their contention is that the relation .of these facts in regard to the effects of drink on the men over there - not only the Australians, but the soldiers generally - that statements reproduced in -the book from the press of Great Britain, that the collection .of various items from Police Courts and other sources in regard to the drinking among soldiers, the effect on their homes, the tremendous amount of drinking which, unfortunately, is going on among the wives of soldiers who are at the Front, and the moral degradation which is creeping into the home life’ of Great Britain, that all these things were likely tq« create an impression in the minds of the people here that for a man to enlist practically meant that he would become a drunkard, and that while he would be absent at tha Front, his home would be in danger of degradation and disintegration. That, I think, was en- tirely an exaggeration of the position.
The statements in this book are wallknown facts. They Are facts which are known more or less by anybody who takes an intelligent interest in the operations of the war. Those who see the Home papers cannot ‘fail to be aware of the facts. Those who’ read the current literature in Australia get occasionally glimpses of them. All of us who receive communications from the other side are well aware that the statements made in the book are merely a statement of things which are known to exist - a statement of things as they actually are. One wonders, therefore, why it is not thought better that the people of Australia and the people of “Great Britain should know, the facts, and the facts only, if by that means we can raise them to a sense of their danger, so that the war may be all the more speedily brought to a successful issue. The regulation under which these two books are prohibited from circulation contains ‘these words -
Spread reports or make statements likely to prejudice the recruiting, training, discipline, or administration of any of His Majesty’s Forces.
On any one of these grounds the conduct of the censorship could -be successfully attacked, if the conditions were such as to admit of a proper discussion of the position. Every honorable member, I think, will be willing to admit that nothing is more damaging to discipline than the presence of alcoholic liquor. In Australia we recognised that fact to this extent, that the military camps were made dry, that the sale of liquor within a certain radius of the camps was prohibited.
– They close up the hotels at the ports.
– As the honorable member reminds me, the hotels at the ports are closed on the departure and arrival of troopships. The surprise of the people of this country is that such an unreasonable discrimination should be shown in this matter. Take Melbourne, for instance. The hotels at Port Melbourne are closed when a troopship comes in, but the men are brought almost directly from the ship’s side by motor cars to Melbourne, where the liquor bars are open with absolute: freedom. Why hotels should be closed at Port Melbourne and’ left open in Melbourne is difficult for an ordinary man to understand.
– The hotels are closed in Adelaide as well as in Port Adelaide.
– The hotels are not closed in Perth as well as at Fremantle?
– No; but when they were open at Fremantle the publicans wanted the Government to run trains.
– One can easily see by the relation of these very facts that the military authorities recognised that a danger existed in Australia in regard to the drink question; and they tried to meet the situation by a certain application of the law. The people of Australia will get to know these facts in spite of the censor. The people of Great Britain are being told the facts every day. In Canada’, . the circulation of this book has been prohibited, and that very, fact is making men inquire what is there in the book, what is there about this question that the people of the Dominion cannot be allowed to know the truth, and face the facts as they are. I am sure that the spirit of the people of Australia is no less courageous than that of the people of Great Britain. To know the facts will not make us careless or indifferent to our interests in the war, but will, if anything, inspire our courage, and, whatever difficulties or obstacles may stand between us and success, make us more determined than ever to remove them and do our duty as Australians.
– I desire to say a few words on the necessity for exercising a rigid but discreet economy in public expenditure. Reference has been made by one or two speakers this afternoon to the statement of the honorable member for Flinders (Sir William Irvine) ; and, at least in one instance, it has been characterized as a very pessimistic setting of our conditions in Australia. I maintain that the reference to Australia’s present conditions was not of a pessimistic character. In every part of the honorable member’s address there was an evident desire’ to impress on Parliament the necessity for the greatest possible caution because of the increasing burdens that have been placed on the people of the country, and that are likely to be still further increased. ‘ I need not refer, because we all know the facts, to the orgy of public expenditure during the last seven or eight years. I am quite sure the Minister for the Navy will agree with me as to that matter; indeed, he must, . in view of the very fine’ articles from his pen which appeared in a Sydney newspaper, and were subsequently, published in pamphlet form, and which I myself had the pleasure of distributing largely in South Australia with excellent effect. I am quite satisfied that we have been indulging in unjustifiable extravagance for a good many years, and that the last thing thought of has been the question of efficiency in public administration. I do not advocate for a moment a ruthless and unreasoning cutting down of public works - I do not advocate a policy that would mean the filling of our- streets with unemployed- but I do urge that, stringent as our financial conditions are becoming, and increasingly stringent as they must become in the very near future, we should. with, the utmost care, set aside all undertakings that are not immediately necessary. There are sufficient matters that are immediately necessary to demand the . appropriation of all the money that is likely to be available. If the ‘ Government proceed on these lines they will not have any undue opposition, from me at all events; but I wish to distinctly give the Government to understand - not as a carping, but as a friendly, critic, and as one who feels his responsibility as a representative of the people in this Parliament - that we must pay more attention to every detail of public expenditure, not only during the war, but for a very long time after ; indeed, we ought always to do so’. I am quite sure that there is not an honorable member who can justify much of the extravagance that has marked public administration inthe past. When we meet again I presume we . shall have the Estimates before us ; -and I express the hope that Ministers in all Departments will carefully revise their Estimates. There are many items, representing considerable sums , of money,, that should be cut down or set aside; and my feelings in the matter are shared by many of my friends on this side of the House, who are determined to submit to very. rigid detailed scrutiny the Estimates for this year - to a , far more rigid scrutiny than has been applied for a good, many years past. On the present occasion I wish to refer to some loan items, though, really, it makes no difference, from my point of view, whether the money comes from loan or revenue. I refer to the Department of the Navy ; and Iask the Minister whether he has given consideration to the proposed expenditure in connexion with Naval Bases in different parts of the Commonwealth?
– I have.
– Does the honorable gentleman agree with , the idea that public expenditure incurred on such works now may, to a large extent, be thrown away, in view of the possibility of considerably revised opinions on naval matters in the future?
– I have satisfied myself on that point ; and iny only fear is that the items have been cut down too much, in view of the international situation.
– Is it not a fact that in the Old Country many such works have been set aside because the ideas which prevailed ‘prior to the war have been considerably revised?
– I should like to tell the honorable member that, since the war broke out, three or four Naval Bases have been established, and carried to completion, on the small coast line of Great Britain.
– That does not touch the point I desire to raise. Is the Minister for the Navy satisfied that . the plans developed before the war will, be approved by naval experts after the war?
– So far as the work we are doing is concerned, yes. The bulk of the money we propose to spend on the Henderson Naval Base is for bridging the channels - a work absolutely* necessary at any kind of base - ‘and the building of quay walls.
– I am glad to have that information; but it does hot alter my earnest desire to scrutinize other proposals which might be cut down or set aside. I now wish to say a few words - and only incidentally, because we shall have a measure before us in a few days - on the proposal to create another Department with a paid portfolio. I was surprised to hear condemnation of the pro; posal to make the Minister responsible for repatriation a paid Minister instead of an honorary one. The very fact that in the future repatriation will involve an expenditure of many millions of pounds, demonstrates the necessity for having, not merely an adequately paid Minister, but the best possible man whose services can be secured, to preside over the Department. I believe that in the person of Senator Millen, who is at present dealing with this matter, we have the very best man that is available . in the Parliament, both on account of his unbounded energy . and industry? and because of his brain power. Before many years have passed, I venture to say that this Department will be found to be the most difficult to administer of any of the Commonwealth’ Departments, not even excepting that of the Postmaster-General. But while it maybe, necessary for the Minister of Repatriation to have associated with him one specially qualified man as Secretary, I do hope that the Department itself will’ be built up with employees from other Departments of the Commonwealth.
– So far as my Department is concerned I would not make an appointment without reference to the Board of business men appointed ‘to inquire into the Navy and Defence Departments, and it has compelled me, by means of special reports, to appoint six new clerks lately.
– Very well. Those six new clerks should be secured from other Departments, which seem to ‘me to resemble rabbit warrens, and to contain about one-third more employees than they should. If I know anything about public administration, I know that our Departments are considerably overmanned. I never knew .Government offices to be so overrun with officials as some of our Commonwealth offices are to-day. If we could get only one-half of the efficiency that characterizes the conduct of some of the big commercial houses of Australia we should effect immense savings, and we should satisfy the people who are a, long way from being satisfied at present.
.- I heartily indorse the sentiments which have been expressed by the honorable member who- has just resumed his seat, in regard to the necessity which exists, for exercising the utmost economy at the present juncture. We have been expending money at a rate that if continued will presently compel us to call, a’ halt. It is just possible that we have now reached a stage when we are paying 4% per cent, on our note issue to other people instead of the Treasurer. I throw out this hint to the Treasurer in order that he may’ make sure that some of these notes, do not come back on him in a way that they ought not to do. I regret that Parliament is about to adjourn for some weeks without private members’ business having been first disposed of. That business includes three Orders of the Day and some sixteen notices of motion. Unless some of those motions are dealt with immediately they cannot have the effect which their authors intended they should have. Motions for the disallowance of regulations, for example, should be decided as early as possible. When we re-assemble after about a six weeks’ adjournment, we shall have a lot of pressing business to put through. The whole of our time will be occupied in transacting that business till within a week or two of Christmas, and then there will be the USUal rush to get home. Thus private members’ business will not receive the consideration it deserves. The sixteen motions on the business-paper will be amongst the “ slaughtered x innocents” which will disappear in the course of an hour or so on the last day of the session.
I wish now to refer breifly to a cruel movement that is ‘in progress both .inside and outside of this chamber, and which is deluding a section of the public in respect to the high cost of living. I admit that very much might be done towards reducing the cost of living if the subject were tackled in a business-like way. But many people are being led by the press to believe that the prices of foodstuffs are being artificially inflated. I refer more particularly to the agitation for a reduction in the price of bread. ‘ This agitation is costing the country some thousands of pounds, and that money is being absolutely wasted. The people are being assured by the, press, and particularly by the Age, that the price of bread could be considerably reduced. Now, there was a Prides Adjustment Board appointed by the late Government to inquire into this question. I had the honour to occupy a .seat upon it. We went thoroughly into the whole question of the cost of producing bread. We fixed, its price at the lowest possible rate consistent with allowing the master bakers an opportunity to secure a reasonable livelihood* To institute further inquiries into ‘ the matter now will merely induce many people to believe that it is possible to reduce the price of bread, when, as a matter of fact, it- is not. There are only two ways in which the price of bread1 can be reduced at ‘ the present time. . One is by reducing the price of wheat, and the other by reducing the wages paid to the operative bakers. We went thoroughly into the - matter, and took evidence all over Australia. We’ found, in regard ‘. to flour, that fifty bushels of wheat make a- short ton of flour, and that, at 4s. 9d. per- bushel, the wheat-cost of a ton of flour is £11 17s. 6d. We allowed £1 10s. per ton for gristing. It is a fair price, not an extortionate one. Thus, it costs the miller £13 7s. 6d. per ton of flour for his wheat and ‘gristing. We fixed the price of flour at £10 15s. per ton, and the price of offal at £5 10s. per ton; and as the product of fifty bushels of wheat is one ton of flour, at £10 15s., and half-a-ton of offal- ‘bran and pollard - at £2 15s., the total income to the miller is £13 10s. per ton of flour, against a cost of £13 7s. 6d. Therefore the miller, after paying for his wheat and paying for the working expenses of the mill, makes a profit of 2s. 6d. per ton, which the Prices Board considered was a fair thing in war time. The position in regard to bread is as follows :- Each ton of flour, on the average, produces 660 4-lb. loaves, or 1,320 2-lb. loaves. With bread selling <-at 6½d. per 4-lb: loaf, the income derived by the baker for the ton of flour converted into bread is £17 17s. 6d. Against this income, he pays £10 15s. per ton for his flour, and the Board found that a fair, average to be taken from the evidence . tendered by forty-five witnesses showed that the cost .of labour and other expenses attached’ to the production of ‘bread was £7 per ton, ot a total cost, for flour and working expenses, of £17 15s. per ton of flour, leaving a profit to the baker of 2s. 6d. per ton of flour. These prices cannot be cut in any way. The only means by which the price of bread can be reduced is by going down to ‘ bedrock and reducing the price of wheat.
I wish to show that no advantage will be gained^ by any further inquiry into the matter, unless the Government . are anxious to secure the advice of another Board, such as the Inter-State Commission, or some committee, independent of the Prices Board, which was rather ruth- lessly booted out of existence some time ago, and, in order to do so, I shall briefly state ..the thoroughness with which the matter of the price of (bread and flour ‘ was gone into by that Board. It came into existence early’ last year, and, from the 28th March to the 10th August, it held sixty-five meetings, and made fortyfive prices recommendations’ to the Government, ‘ covering flour, bran and pollard (wholesale and retail),, self-raising flour (wholesale and retail), and bread (shop and delivered prices), for Australia. It visited, and took evidence in, the capital -cities of the States, and in other large centres, and called for returns from, and dealt with, 3,000 bakery businesses and 300 flour mills, fixing prices at 3,150 centres- 250 for flour, and 2,904 for bread. In connexion with the investiga tion of bread prices, 2,500 police reports were sent in, at the invitation of the Board, and dealt with. There was some unfinished business when the Board passed out of existence, but the work was pretty thoroughly done. . I may say that the chairman asked Mr. Brewer to prepare an estimate of the savings effected to the people of Australia by the fixing of prices by the Board. The figures are not mine, nor are they the chairman’s; they are figures prepared by a gentleman who had no interest in falsifying them, and they show that, as a result of the operations of the Board, the ‘people of Australia were able to save annually, as compared with the prices existing before the appointment of the Board, to the following extent: - Bread, £432,566; bran and pollard, £198,000; flour, £273,216; or a total of £803,782.
– Tha(; is assuming a standard value for wheat.
– The Prices Board had nothing to,.do with the fixing of the price of wheat. That had already, been done by the Wheat Pool.
– If the price of wheat had varied that calculation would not stand.
– The price of wheat is the same now as it was” before the Prices Board ‘made its investigations. I hope that honorable members will give this matter the fullest consideration. There are thousands of people crying out for cheaper bread and cheaper food, and I am anxious to show them that the price of bread is now at the very bedrock, and that their agitation can ‘have no effect, unless they propose to seize the farmers’ wheat. It is cruel to lead the people, to believe that the price of bread can be reduced. The members; of the Prices Board were anxious to get to the very bone, and their figures were very carefully prepared. The price of- wheat still remains the same as it was . when our investigations were made, and if labour conditions have altered since then, they have altered on the upward grade, so that trie cost of producing bread to-day is at least no less than it was twelve months ago, when we took evidence. The Government should get from the Prices Board the. evidence and particulars they collected, and submit them to the Inter-State Commission, if they wish that body to come to a decision. ; but, above all, let the Commission come to a speedy decision. Where we fail in the effectiveness of bur. work in Australia is that we take too_long to do it. We ought to step in and do something at once; let the people know exactly where they are, and where the blame should be –really placed, instead of leaving them to believe that they can reduce the cost of living by marching the streets and breaking windows.
– We are indebted to the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Sinclair) for giving the official figures of the investigations of the Prices Board, but all this only proves, in connexion with bread as with other articles, that we need a committee in existence . practically all the time ready to investigate on the spur of the moment, as it were, and give a speedy decision, so that the minds of the people may be satisfied, and necessary reforms effected at once. The honorable member’s speech bears out some of the apprehensions that some of us have had about the slowness of the Inter-State Commission in coming to a conclusion. Without desiring, to criticise unduly or unfairly the , body that has been inquiring into food prices recently, I may point out that we have had some experience of it in the past, and have become tired of waiting for its decisions. These questions having been remitted to it, we have been anxious for the result of its inquiries, but up to now no result has been forthcoming. Did the Prices Board investigate the question of the distribu - tion of food supplies?
– Decidedly we did in the case of bread.
– Is the cost of distribution included in the £7 15s. for the cost of labour?
– No. Those were shop prices.
– Then the Board’s investigations were not complete, because one of the great leakages that take place in big centres of population,- for which the public have to pay, is in the cost of distribution.
– One man cannot deliver more than 300 loaves a day on the average.
– Because he spreads his delivery over an unduly large area. .
– That is the key to the problem of our economic arrangements.
– I know, but if we were a better ordered and more commonsense community the distribution of our foodstuffs would cost far less than it does now. What applies to bread applies to meat, milk, and other things. Sitting these late hours, when one desires a little extension of the morning Bleep, it is rather disconcerting to find so many milk and other carts coming into one’s street, when one might do the delivery for each trade from house to house. The peculiarities of the’ customers, of course, have to be satisfied. The customers themselves are often largely to blame for bringing a baker or butcher, say, from North Carlton to Kensington or Flemington, miles away from his depot.
Mr.Sinclair.-We went thoroughly into that question, and remedied it in some instances so far as bread is concerned. .
– I do not see how the Board could do much more to remedy it. What is required is better organization and the education of the public.
– In some cases we got the bakers to co-operate in their deliveries.
-Undoubtedly a great saving could be effected to the public in that direction. While the . honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Sinclair) has given information for which all honorable members will thank him, there is still the necessity for investigation. He may have proved to the satisfaction of everybody that under present arrangements we cannot get the 4-lb. loaf cheaper than 7d. ; there are so many other items that go to make up the expenses of the household that, it cannot be denied that in many cases prices are altogether too exorbitant.
– One of the chief difficulties which our wives and daughters have to avoid when shopping is the risk of buying goods which, judging by the brand, are, made in other countries under such conditions that no Australian ought to purchase them. The mother and father, who are conducting a home on an ordinary wage, deserve our most serious sympathy and support, in view of the way they have to “battle” simply to provide for the wants of their family. In hosiery, for instance, costs have gone up almost out of recognition.. It is marvellous to me how many careful housewives, working week by week on the ordinary wage of their husbands,’ are able to carry on the home so faithfully and well. Whatever our political opinions may be, if we can - cheapen the cost of the household, and increase the comfort of the people in town or country by bringing about better organization with regard to distribution and matters of that kind, we^ ought to bend our best energies to the task. I gladly welcome any discussion in the press or on the platform that will help us to a goal of that kind.
I should have liked one of the Defence Ministers to be present, because I-wish to speak of the hardships imposed on quite a number of wives of our soldiers, and upon our. returned soldiers themselves. Mistakes have been made, and overpayments have occurred. . I have - obtained redress in some cases, but in two I cannot, It happens occasionally that promotions are made abroad of which the wives are not informed by the men themselves, and of which the Defence Department here takes no notice, allowing the wives to go on drawing separation allowance to which they are not entitled. In one of these cases the wife was thus overpaid £60, and when the husband came back, hoping to draw ‘a handsome sum in deferred pay, he was told that, although his deferred pay amounted to £43, he was in ‘debt- to the Department for the difference between that and the £60 overdrawn by his wife. In another case - that. of a widow with a young. family - the Department saw the justice of relieving her of the . repayment of £14. It might mean some expense to the Department and to the country not to require the repayment of sums that have been overpaid, but I think it would be better to treat the men generously. These injustices create an unpleasant feeling among the soldiers themselves, and, on the facts getting known, prejudice recruiting. I was under the impression that £12,000 had been made available to meet these cases.. Very- great hardship is often created by the’ present arrangements.
– We all have such cases.
– If a united representation were made concerning them,’ the , system might be altered. Many of the men who are returning now have been away for nearly three years, and come back physical or nervous wrecks. It is a great disappointment for them to find that deferred pay, which they thought they could draw on their return, has been overpaid to their wives as separation allowance.
– Has not the Department ruled . that it will stand the loss of mistakes made by its own officers? ^
– Yes. In one case Senator Pearce intimated to me. that where it was considered that the Department was to blame, it would bear the brunt of the mistake that had been made. One man who has come to me told me that on one ‘ occasion eleven of them passed through a kind of school while away, and were . promoted. They never thought of informing their home folk of the fact.’ When a man is promoted from private to corporal, he has his work to think of, and can easily forget to mention the promotion in his letters home. A private’s wife gets a separation allowance, but no separation allowance is given to the wives of those drawing 10s. a. day.
– That rule does not affect corporals.
– It does not affect any one below the rank of sergeant.
– At any rate, these men have done their duty worthily, -and’ should be specially well treated on their return. In a case which has come before me, the1 man has had over twentyfive/ years’ service. He was in some of the( leading regiments in the Old Country, went through the South African war, and has been to the present war. While abroad this time he was promoted, but did not mention the fact to his wife,who went on drawing her separation allowance without interference by the De-; partment. We can afford to be generous in these cases. It will injure recruiting if a large number of men get to thinki that they have been unjustly . treated. Even if the whole of their claims cannot be met, but some concession is made, I dare say it will satisfy them.
We are still awaiting a statement concerning the expenditure of £2,050,000 on the purchase of fifteen ships for the Commonwealth service, and a balance-sheet showing the results of the enterprise. I understand that the vessels are earning a large amount of revenue, and have been of great service to the Commonwealth in this time of shortage of freight. We should, however, have a Bill ratifying the purchase.
– I am not sure that a Bill is necessary, but information regarding the enterprise should be supplied. There is a Trust Account now to deal, with the receipts and expenditure, but, as the honorable member knows, communication with England is not very good just now.
– Surely the manager for the Commonwealth has supplied full information regarding the arrangements made in connexion with the purchase. We should from time to time, as in, the case of the Commonwealth Bank, have a balance-sheet, showing the, results of the undertaking. The purchase of a Commonwealth fleet of ships was part and parcel of the platform to which I subscribed, although the purchase of vessels was left, rather late. However, the Prime Minister, when at Home, saw an opportunity, and took advantage of’ it. France has set us an example in this matter. Early in the war,-commis8ioners of foodstuffs were appointed, and, as it was seen that there would be a difficulty of transport, vessels were commandeered. If we had been wise enough to get in earlier, we could have purchased the ships at their normal value. As it was, we had to pay a big price for them, and it is only because of the high rates of freight that we are making money on the deal.
Speaking again on the question of the price of bread, let me say that the high cost of living is behind most of the present unrest. I suggest that, in the matter of the price of bread, we should take a leaf out of the book of France. We grow more wheat than we require for our own consumption, but France finds it necessary to import a very considerable quantity of wheat. In the first year of the war, she had to import 1,400,000 tons; in the second year, 1,600,000 tons; and in the present year it is estimated that 2,500,000’ tons will have to be imported to meet the local, demand’. In spite of this disability, the French Government were determined that their people should have bread at the same price during the war as’ before the war. 1
– Doesthe honorable member refer to wheaten bread 1
– I saw a great deal of rye bread there.
-The honorable member would see more rye bread in Germany, even in normal times. The bulk, of the1 bread supplied in France is wheaten bread. According to the latest figures I have seen, France supplies about twothirds of her requirements in wheat, and imports about one-third. The point I wished to make was that the price of the quartern loaf in France is the same to-day as it was before the war.
– The quality is coming down all the time.
– The French people may not have the same choice of flour today as they had before the war. In -the matter of shipping, and the supply of foodstuffs, France sets an example to all the other- countries engaged in the <war. In connexion with the price of foodstuffs, I may say, and the honorable member for Illawarra can, bear me out in this statement, that the last Government of New South Wales appointed a Judge to make an inquiry into prices, and in the course i of the inquiry a baker in a big way of business said that he was losing about £30 per week. Under cross-examination, he said that he would require another½d. per loaf in order to make his business pay. The Judge looked into the evidence as to his turnover, and he found that, in asking for an additional½d. per loaf, this man wanted £150 per week to make up a loss which he estimated at £30 per week. Unfortunately, when there is a rise of . 5 per cent, in wages, it is often followed by a rise of from. 20 to 30 per cent, in the price of the commodity for the manufacture of which those wages are paid.
– The. Civil Service Stores, in Melbourne, lost heavily at 6½d.. per loaf.
– That may be due to the fact that they deliver bread all over Melbourne. I have used their bread for years, and they turn out some of the best bread made in Melbourne.
Criticism has been levelled against our Naval Bases, and, in respect of some of the expenditure, there is no doubt that, it is deserved. Sometimes, however, the critics go the length of saying that we do not now require Naval Bases, and expenditure upon them should be deferred. There is no possibility of deferring it. A good deal has been said about the Flinders Naval Base. In Westernport we have one of the finest ports in Australia. I believe that the whole British Navy could be accommodated there in water from 50 to over 100 feet deep.
– I do not think so.
– If the right honorable gentleman will consult the Navy Department, he can secure full information on the subject. The advantages it offers no doubt supplied the reason why it was selected by Admiral Henderson for a Naval Base. It ought not to be forgotten that, at the present time, arrangements are being made at the Flinders Naval Base to establish schools for submarines and destroyers, and for the training of seamen for our Navy in every part of. the Commonwealth.
– A Naval Base should not have been built at a place where there is no water to get the ships in.
– 1° admit that there is not deep water at Hans Inlet, but dredging operations can be carried out very cheaply there. Very deep water is not necessary for a base for submarines and destroyers; but in Westernport there is water deep enough for the largest ships in the world. Owing to the importunities of the Treasurer (Sir John Forrest), I will resume my seat without referring to some matters which I intended to discuss.
.- We were told when this debate commenced U] at the Supply Bill afforded honorable members the same opportunity to criticise the financial measures of the Government as they have when the Estimates are before them. The opportunity seems to me to be limited to about half-a-dozen speakers, with continual importunities that they should refrain from saying anything on the finances of the country. I do not wish to detain the Committee, but the problems with which the country is confronted are of sufficient importance to demand the attention of this Committee for at least one day to a proposal -to vote £3,500,000. So far as we know we shall have no further opportunity of discussing these matters this year.
The honorable member for Flinders (Sir William Irvine) called attention to some of the larger problems with which this Parliament and the country will be confronted in the future. We are rapidly approaching the time when Australia W1 begin to realize that the Empire is at war. So far we have been able to conduct our every-day operations as though such a thing as the war hardly existed. In the course of a few weeks we shall see in Melbourne one of the great social functions of the year, that will be very much the same as its predecessors before the war, and almost every expenditure in connexion with it will represent useless and unproductive expenditure of money that will be required in the course of the next year or two for the vital industries of the country.- We shall find as time goes by that the sugges-tions of the honorable member for Flinders represent sound statesmanship. The proposal that is made .constantly from this side of the House that there should be economy in the public administration -is always in order, but every proposal to reduce expenditure is not economy. The real problem that confronts Parliament at this time is the reduction, of expenditure upon unnecessary things, and at the same time insuring that the avenues of employment in useful occupations are extended to the very uttermost. Of that phase of, the problem we have heard nothing so. far. The question of.’ what is to be done to find employment for those who will be thrown out of work when the’ pressure upon ‘the people is such that all useless ‘expenditure will have come to an end and every man must, of necessity, be usefully employed, has not been dealt with by those who are the leaders in this Parliament. Some honorable members seem to think that so long as the money is raised in Australia borrowing does not matter. It must be remembered that for every pound we borrow we are undertaking to find so much interest per annum over a course of years, and every loan we raise places upon the industries of the country the burden, of maintaining increased production in order to pay the interest bill. A bigger problem than the war problem is how we are. to maintain in Australia the high ‘ social conditions that existed before the war, alongside of this increasing interest bill, and the resultant increasing pressure on the people to bring them down to a lower standard of living. I entirely indorse the opinion of the honorable .-member for Flinders, that these times require that Ministers shall have a good deal more leisure for -consultation than they can get while Parliament is sitting. Throughout the election campaign I pointed that out. I hope that the Ministry will soon give some consideration to the reorganization of the system of conducting the govern. ment of the country. Nowadays we have a Cabinet that consists entirely of administrators who are burdened with the care of Departments. What is needed more than anything else to-day is that there shall be established a body on the lines of the British War Cabinet, comprising three or four Ministers, whose duty will be to attend to the big principles of government and have nothing to do with the petty details. Some Ministers, who were quite content at the commencement of this day’s sitting to answer questions as to whether some one had sworn at a navvy, or in regard to some other things utterly useless, complain when members desire a little time ‘to discuss the bigger problems of government. I suggest that our need to-day is a body of two or three Ministers, relieved of the petty details of administration, and able to give the whole of their time to a consideration of the larger problems that confront the country during the war, and will require attention after the war. I shall be glad to find when Parliament meets again that some system has been devised that will enable these big problems to receive a little more attention than is possible under present conditions.
– I have been in my coal yard all this afternoon.
– That should not be. The remarks of the honorable member for Flinders in regard to the constitutional reconstruction - which everybody believes must follow this wai: - seem hardly to go far enough. We cannot say that, while the war exists we should give no consideration to this problem. Honorable members overlook the important fact that the pen which signs the treaty of peace at the end of this war will strip this Parliament of most of the functions it has been exercising during the last three years. The moment peace is proclaimed ‘the whole of the powers we are exercising because a war is in progress will cease to be inherent in this Parliament, and all the laws and regulations centering in them will pass into the waste-paper basket, and the Parliament will be as powerless as it was before the war to do the work which is so necessary in Australia if reconstruction is to take place. , Therefore honorable members should give some consideration to the lines upon which the Constitution is to be re-cast, so that Australia may have a system of government capable of bearing the burdens that will be placed upon it, and of doing the work that will fall to the lot of this Parliament. These are matters of transcendent importance to every individual in the community. I hope that there will be no further meeting of Parliament this year, that Ministers would have two or three months in which to devote themselves to the work of administration, and that a little of the time would be applied to the consideration of those larger problems of government which, so far, we have neglected at the risk of finding ourselves in a most deplorable position when the war ends.
.- Notwithstanding my disinclination’ to do anything that might hamper the Government, 1, too, think that a little time might be devoted to that question of pre-eminent importance, the finances of the country.In fact, if the whole week were devoted to a review of the present position the time would not be wasted. When a Sup”ply Bill involving £3,500,000 is of so little, importance that it does not arouse very much interest amongst the people outside we have an indication of how close we are to the dizzy edge of a precipice. With our small population, of less than 5,000,000, we are spending at the present time considerably over £200,000,000 per annum, and are being taxed by seven taxing factories, which are in full blast, to the extent of £80,000,000 or £90,000,000 per annum. During the next five years, if no other loans are issued, we shall have to arrange renewals of existing loans to the extent of about £30,000.000 per year, taking the Commonwealth and States together. We have to remember also that 350,000 of our men are at present being paid - and rightly so - on a scale hitherto unheard of in military history, and that a considerable portion of the money spent on public works alleged to be reproductive is really going into a sink; so that, to a large extent, we are living upon posterity. Taxation is on a scale hitherto unattempted in the history of the country, but- our ability to bear it speaks well for the productive capacity of our country. We must realize, however, that we cannot go on indefinitely at the present pace, borrowing huge sums of money. Unfortunately, we are compelled to follow the precedent established by the Fisher Government, of exempting bondholders in bur war loan from our taxation, and thus the area for the liquidation of these huge liabilities is being dangerously restricted.
As a worker on the land, I know only too well that we are not developing, the hinterland of this country to the extent that is absolutely necessary if we are to discharge . our loan obligations. Our people seem to be afflicted with an insane tendency to congregate in the cities of the Commonwealth; and live under purely artificial conditions, with the result that this problem of the repatriation of our soldiers is only one of, many which confront us, and, unhappily, it is rendered all the more difficult in view of our experience of closer settlement schemes launched in the past. I am afraid, therefore, that any attempt to settle our returned soldiers on the land will not be attended by any greater success than has been achieved by those who have faced this problem on the closer settlement system. This proposal for extensive land purchase for the settlement of our soldiers should be looked at very carefully, and the principle applied’ as sparingly as possible. Our pressing financial problems are rendered the more difficult by the fact that we have a very large number of our ablest and best men engaged, not in productive enterprises, but in the’ destruction of wealth overseas, and, meanwhile, discontent is rampant in our community, and is paralyzing all our productive agencies. This is the problem that confronts us at the present moment, and I cannot help thinking there is some analogy between it and the military situation in the world before the war broke out. The statesmen of our Empire were not able to offer any solution. They could only say, “We must build two ships to Germany’s one”; and the statesmen of Prance could only say to their groaning taxpayers, “ We must try to keep pace with the huge expenditure in Germany.” It was not possible, then, to> offer any solution of the world problem, but it was known that the breaking point would be reached sooner or later, when the groaning taxpayer could no longer stand the strain caused by the withdrawal of huge armies of men from productive occupations. We _ are all hoping, however, that- a solution will be evolved from this terrible holocaust of blood and privation.
What is the position to-day in the industrial world? People grouped into unions, in the belief that Arbitration Courts would solve their problems, are faced with the phenomenon that, whilst the labourer obtains an advantage in the price paid for his labour, there is a corresponding, or an even greater, advance iri the price of commodities, until, as in the case of Victoria, the wage earned to-day has a purchasing capacity of from 10 per cent, to 11 per cent, less than that of a wage of fourteen or fifteen years ago.’ Where is the solution to come from 1 Large numbers of people all over the world are losing their faith in existing methods for the improvement of social conditions, and all sorts of dangerous doctrines - doctrines which we must always oppose with the full strength of our being - are being subscribed to. And these doctrines are being preached in Australia. What are we doing to discharge our tremendous obligations? As far as I am able to judge, every second or third person nowadays wants to get into a Government job, in order to escape the responsibility of his own existence. The old sturdy feeling of independence that marked the career of our pioneers in the bush is fast disappearing.
Sitting suspended from 6. SO to 8 p.m.
– The Fisher Government, in my opinion, largely missed the finest opportunity that ever presented itself to deal with the problems of unemployment, high cost of living, and excessive profits that have now become acute in Australia. I am a believer in the doctrine that prevention is better than cure. It is impossible to devise any system for taking war profits from those who have been lucky enough to make them which would operate with perfect equity and justice, and would not interfere with permanent industries which it is necessary to foster. But the Fisher and succeeding Governments did much to deal with the farmers’ difficulties. During this tremendous conflict, Governments all over the world, many of them antagonistic to governmental interference, have been compelled, in the interests of self-preservation, to control production and distribution, the old method being manifestly unable to bear the strain that was put upon it. One! of the chief duties of this Government, apart from the pressing need for practising economy, is to develop our industries so .that employment will be found for all returned soldiers able to- work, and for the whole of the civilian population, and that, at the same time, everything will be produced that we need for local consumpton and use. If our primary industries are properly treated, they will provide’ raw products to be sent oversea to meet our obligations, and thus our prosperity will be assured.
As one who for twenty-seven years has earned his living by growing wheat, I say that what the Government has done for the farmers has been of incalculable value. If a referendum of wheat-growers were taken, and the farmers were asked whether, in the event, of the Government not only guaranteeing them 4s. a bushel f.o.b. for this and next season’s wheat,’ which means an obligation’ of about £40,000,000; they would allow the people of Australia - who would consume about one-fifth or one-sixth of the wheat produced - to get it at 4s. a bushel while such quantities exist, I believe that the farmers would unanimously say “ yes.”
-Why not give cheaper wheat to those who are fighting for us abroad ?
– We can meet our obligations to those at the Front by looking after those they left behind. If wheat could be obtained for local consumption at 4s. a bushel f.o.b, the price of flour could be reduced by 30s. a ton.
– By how much would that reduce the price of a loaf of bread ?
– I cannot say offhand; but it should be possible, without doing injury to the farmers, to sell a 2-lb. loaf for 3d. anywhere in Australia.
A matter to which I wish to call attention is the possibility of great loss 1 being caused to the farmers and to ‘the community generally in connexion with the marketing of inferior, rust-affected wheat. I tried to. “draw public attention to the matter in’ December last, when the wheat was being harvested. We practical farmers know that had the rust trouble developed so largely in a normal time, we should have had no market for inferior wheat. The wheat certificates, especially in New South Wales, will show, that a large proportion of the wheat is either of no milling value or of very low milling value. We have received as an advance 2s. 6d. per bushel for such wheat, but not one pound of it has been sold either here or abroad, and heavy charges are being paid, not only for interest, but also for its reconditioning, bagging, and other treatment.. When the Wheat Storage Bill was under consideration, honorable members were told of the need for storage accommodation. It was made plain that if we go on producing wheat at the normal rate, five or six(years must elapse before the last of our surplus can leave these shores, even should the war end within a few months. Are we to go on paying for . storage and other expenses on wheat that - has - little or no milling value? Would it not be better to adopt the suggestion which I made in December, and allow this wheat to be sold at its real value for the feeding of pigs and poultry, thus assisting the growers to get rid of an asset of questionable value, and allowing the community to get useful food more cheaply? I foresee a huge loss on the inferior wheat, and this loss will have to be made up out of the returns from the f.a.q. wheat. My suggestion was that the inferior wheat should, be kept apart from the1 other wheat, and the position put before the farmers. Hundreds of growers who were opposed to the Wheat Pool have learned from experience that its establishment was their salvation. These men would be willing to deal practically with this question, if the matter were put clearly to those who hold certificates for wheat of this class. My estimate, . going on what I know of New South -Wales, is that at least 10,000,000 bags of wheat are either worthless for milling purposes or of small milling value in Australia. I suggest that when the actual quantity of this wheat has been ascertained from the certificate deductions, and an opinion has been given by expert millers as to the lowest grade that might be milled, ‘ a conference of those interested should be held, and a plebiscite of certificate holders taken to decide what should be done’.
– Are not all kinds of wheat mixed up now?
– The mice plague resulted in the opening of bags and the reconditioning of the wheat, and thus much grain has been mixed. Had my suggestion that the inferior grain be kept separate from the good grain been adopted, the difficulty which has arisen from this cause would not have occurred. But a large proportion of the inferior grain can still be separated from the good grain.
– How do you suggest it can he classified?
– We are told that most of. the agents can pick out the greater proportion of the inferior wheat. It will have to ‘be separated from the good wheat. If we attempt^ to foist the inferior wheat on people overseas, we shall ruin our reputation as being amongst the premier wheat-growing peoples in the world. If it is sold inextricably mixed up with the good wheat, it will mean that’ a larger proportion of the latter will have to be sacrificed for the adjustment to take place. I do not wholly blame, the Wheat Pool. I believe that the farmers were the greatest objectors at the beginning. They can see now what it. means, wherever wheat is stored. I hope that the Government will take steps to consult the farmers, and evolve a scheme which, even at the eleventh hour, will prevent us from being mulcted in, perhaps, millions of pounds. I am sorry to say that in New South Wales we have a huge quantity of inferior wheat. This is a matter which should be attended to.
Notwithstanding the passage of a Wheat Storage Bill, we are now told that there is very little probability of the silos being made available for the coming crop. We ought to benefit by our experience during the disastrous years of storing wheat in the open, with abnormal rainfalls. I hope that an early start will, be made with the work of providing proper foundations for the wheat, dunnage, and some system of roofing that will not lead, to a repetition of the disastrous conditions which obtained with many stacks in New South Wales. It is a big question, involving the safety of millions of pounds. I hope that amongst th? great questions which are now treading on one another, so to speak, for attention by the Government, this one will not be overlooked.
It is not my intention to discuss the questions involved in the huge expenditure which other honorable members have made pointed reference to. We are all declaiming against a huge expenditure. Yet I think that most persons since the beginning of the war have really raised their home standard of living. What is being done in the home is being reflected in the States and the Commonwealth, and the self-denial weeks, months, or years which we all reckoned the war would call for have not yet arrived on the premises, so far as I can see.
– But the Government is going to set a good example.
– In December last I made a suggestion here, which, I believe, if adopted, would have resulted in a huge benefit to Australia. I suggested that if a tax of from 1½ to 2 per cent, on all wealth, including salaries of, from £500 to £2,000; in accordance with the pro posals of the Government, were collected for a . term of years, and 10 per cent. 1 of all wealth over £2,000 were conscripted for the purposes of repatriation - in short, to make the men who are fighting for our liberty and the freedom of the world co-partners in the whole concern to the extent of 10 per cent. - a greater spirit of patriotism would have animated our people, and we would not be lacking the recruits whom it is so hard . to round up. I think that the selfish enjoyment which we see predominating everywhere is one of the chief reasons why our depleted ranks at the Front are not being filled up to the extent we all desire. I felt that I had no right to ask other persons to go to the Front and fight for me unless I was willing to give a proof of my sincerity, and I made that suggestion in all earnestness.
I trust that a solution will be found for the huge problems which face us everywhere, not only the problem of meeting the tremendous obligations I called attention to at the beginning of my speech, but also the problem which has always remained unsolved in Australia, and that is how to live within our means. A solution cannot be arrived at unless a spirit of enthusiasm, a spirit of selfreliance, and an honest belief in the capacity of our country and ourselves animate the people. However feebly my arguments may appeal to honorable members, I hope that that spirit will arise, and that we will show an inclination to throw in our all, as itwere, since it is an all-in matter. If it is held to be a question on which ‘we can pick and choose, then We will subscribe to the doctrine of selfishness until we find ourselves submerged, by . the very evils we help to create around us.
.- I did not speak when the Bill was introduced to-day, as I knew that Inter-State members onboth sides of the chamber desired to speak before they had to leave to catch their trains. No one spoke from this side except those honorable members who wished to leave Melbourne. I desire to say a few words now, as this is the last Supply Bill which will be presented before the proposed adjournment takes’ place. What I stated on the first Supply Bill in this Parliament is borne out by the presentation of this one. I said then that if the Government had brought forward a BiU for six months’ Supply, it would have gone through with very little criticism. The Budget statement was’ delivered a few weeks ago, but there was no discussion «on its contents, and, if we may judge from the way in which Parliament has been proceeding, it is quite likely that we shall get to the end of the financial year before a discussion can take place.
The National party has been occupying the Treasury bench for nearly five months since the general election. Had our party won at the elections, done as little, and neglected to do as much as the Government has neglected to do, we would have been denounced by every newspaper in Australia. I ask Ministers, or any of their supporters, what have they done to justify their existence, to justify the promises they gave to the electors as to what they were going to do to win the war? What have they done during the past four months and a half ? The Government cannot point to one single measure. Their taxation proposals, as I have said before, are a farce and a fraud on the public. The Wartime Profits Tax Assessment Bill has been denounced by supporters of the Government as inadequate, and by no one more strongly than the honorable member for Flinders (Sir William Irvine), who pointed out that the great shipping, mining, transport, manufacturing, and other large companies will all escape. The Treasurer (Sir John Forrest) in introducing the income tax on eligibles, said that Ministers often had to stand up in Parliament and support measures with which they are not in agree;ment, but that this ‘ particular measure had the whole-hearted support of every Minister. However, in less than twenty-four hours a change came over the scene, and, as the Argus told us to-day, it is freak legislation which no one can justify.
The Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) in ,.his Bendigo speech told us that we were to have prohibition of the importation of luxuries, and’ we may all admit that such prohibition is more effective than even a Protective Tariff. But is there one honorable member now sitting behind the Government who is- satisfied with the prohibition that has been proclaimed ? Is there one member, who claims to be a Nationalist and a Protectionist, who is satisfied with that meagre fulfilment of the Bendigo promise? There are only two items in regard to which the prohibition can be said to be effective, namely, motor bodies and confectionery; and as to motor bodies, we are told it is being re* considered. As to spirits, seventenths of the previous importations are permitted, so that the dealers in liquor practically will be in no worse position than they were before. The only effect of the prohibition in regard to spirits is that the price has gone up; but, like the honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. Finlayson), I am not much concerned about that. To-day, we had the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Sinclair) dealing with the question of the high cost of living. The Board of which that gentleman is a member did excellent work, though whether the powers of the Board were great enough is another matter. It was the first Board of the kind, I believe, appointed by the Commonwealth, though the States had taken some steps, and, in my opinion, their inquiries might have been extended.
– And have we not been told to-day that, as a result of the investigations, we cannot reduce the price of bread ?
– I have said on the platform outside, and I repeat here, that the increase of prices in regard to bread, sugar, and butter combined, does not : equal half of the increase in the case of meat. It is proved by the figures of Mr. Knibbs that the increase in the price of meat is more than double that of those three articles put together.
– Itf can hardly ‘ be claimed, as in the other cases, that the increase in the price of meat is due to excess of exports.
– I believe there may be other causes. However, the increase has not been so great in any of the articles I have mentioned as in those articles which are used and worn by the people, such as hosiery, clothing, boots, and piece goods such as calico, linen sheetings, &c,. Let any honorable member ask his wife, and he will be told that hosiery to-day is at least three times dearer than it was before the war, while* the quality has deteriorated; and the increase has also been very great in the other items I have mentioned.
– I do not know.
– It is because hosiery is unobtainable, . ‘
– That may be one reason. But we must not forget that wool, which is produced in Australia, and is being made into knitting yarn here to-day for the purpose of making socks for our relatives at the Front, has more than doubled in price. There is no reason for some of the increased prices from which we suffer. For instance, market gardeners’ produce, in the metropolitan area of this State, has doubled and trebled in price compared with two or three years ago; and it is such increases as these that have caused the outcry. At a meeting in Melbourne I made a remark, which did not find favour with the audience, to the effect that the people here do not realize the nervous condition to which this war has brought us - they do riot realize that, owing to this, we cannot think and reason so clearly as we did before the war started.
– That is just what I have been thinking all this week!
– That is quite possible, because it is only what I thought about the honorable member when he was in Opposition.
Another matter to which I should like to refer is the proposed appointment of an additional Minister. It is my intention, at the proper time, to read the re-: marks which were made by the present Postmaster-General (Mr. Webster) when the last additional Minister’ was appointed, and to ask him whether he is still of the same opinion. What that gentleman said was that an appointment of the kind would be useless, and that the object of the proposal to provide an additional salary was merely to save Ministers from dipping into their own pockets.
– You did not agree with that criticism.
– No; and I do not agree with it now. I have never been found objecting to men being paid for the labour they perform.
– The proposed new Minister will easily earn his salary.
– If there is a position which needs the most . capable man that Australia can produce it is that of the Minister for Repatriation. Further, if there is a position that will kill a Minister sooner than any other it is this. The problems to be solved are most diffi cult, and will probably wreck many a Government before the whole’ of our returned soldiers are settled.
There is just one other matter to which I desire to refer, namely, the taunt that is continually being hurled at tie workers that they have adopted a slowing-down policy, and that they do not produce as much to-day as they a little time ago.
– Does not the honorable member think that that is so?
– In rebuttal of that charge, I propose to give the figures supplied by the employers themselves to~the State Statisticians. These figures are clearly set out in the monthly volume published by the Commonwealth Statistician, Mr. Knibbs. I assume that the employers are not likely to lie by affirming that they pay the employees less wages than they really do pay them. They may state that they pay more, but they are not likely to say that they pay less. These figures show that in 1913, the wages paid in the whole of the factories throughout Australia amounted to £33,606,000, whilst the output of the factories was worth £161,560,000. . Consequently, the wages represented 20¾ per cent, of the value of the output. That is equivalent to a little more than 4s. in the £1. In 1914, the wages paid totalled £34,103,000, whilst the output of the factories amounted to £166,450,000. In that year,’ therefore, wages represented 20½ per cent, of the value of the output. In 1915, the wages paid amounted to £33,210,000, and the output of the factories had increased to £169,086,000. Thus, in’ that year, the wages represented only19½ per cent, of the value of the output. I have supplied the Committee with the figures relating to the last three years for which they are available. These figures convincingly prove that, instead of wages costing more than the value of the output, there has been a decrease in the wages paid in proportion to the value of the output, from 20¾ per cent, to 19½ per cent.
– Have I not always told the honorable member that labour fared worse when there were Labour Governments in power?
– The Minister for the Navy may say what he chooses. But it is abundantly evident that the wages cost in the production of manufactured commodities is gradually becoming less. I admit that raw material is costing more, but that does not explain why wages have decreased. If the honorable member for Kooyong (Sir Robert Best) desires it, I shall be happy to give the whole of the figures contained in the tables from which. I have quoted. From those tables I gather that in 1913 the employers’ share in land and buildings, and plant and machinery, amounted to £76,000,000, that in 1914 it had increased to £80,500,000, and that in 1915 it had still further increased to £81,500,000, and this is apart from the share which he takes from the value added during the process of manufacture. The employers’ share is thus becoming larger, whilst the workers’ share is becoming smaller. ‘
– In order to be fair, will the honorable member now tell us what was the return on capital?
– That information is not given. The headings of the different columns read - Factories, number of hands employed, wages paid, fuel used, materials, amount added in process of manufacture, land and buildings, -output. In die first year when the wages paid amounted . to £33,606,000, the amount added in process of manufacture was £65,153,000, so that the amount appropriated by the employers was nearly as much as was the whole of the wages.
– What does that prove?
– It proves that the workers are producing more instead of less, which is the stock argument of honorable members opposite.
– Unless the honorable member can show that there has been a bigger return on capital, he is proving that the workers are going slow.
– Not at all. It is idle for the Minister for the Navy to argue in that’ way, seeing that the worker in 1915 was getting only £19 10s. for every £100 worth of commodities he produced, whereas in 1913 he got £20 10s. out of every £100 worth of the goods manufactured.
– Is he getting lower wages ? . ‘
– No ; but he is receiving a smaller1 percentage on the value of the commodities which he produces.
– Machinery and raw material are responsible for the difference.
– The employers’ share is getting - larger each year, whilst the workers’ share is getting smaller. In. 1914, when the wages paid amounted to £34,108,000, the amount added in process of manufacture was £66,681,000, so that the employers received £32,500,000 as their share of this production, whilst the workers received £34,000,000 as their share. The following year, when the wages paid amounted to £33,210,000, the amount added in process, of manufacture represented £66,310,000. So that in 1915 the manufacturers were getting nearly as much for ‘their share as the whole of the wages paid to their workmen.
– Is the interest on the capital employed given in the figures which the honorable member has quoted?
– No: but judging by the increase which has taken place in the amount invested in land and. buildings, and plant and machinery-
– Thatis due to the increased cost of machinery.
– Why, my honorable friend knows perfectly well that out of the sum of £42,900,000 which has been spent upon plant and machinery in factories, throughout the Commonwealth) probably less than £1,000,000 has been expended since the outbreak of war. The honorable member, having been in the Customs Department, knows that, although not2½ per cent, of machinery, finished or unfinished, has been imported during that period, the employers have inflated the value that they put on their land, buildings, and machinery by about £5,500,000. Instead of there being, a goslow policy on the part of the workmen, it is quite the contrary, and the refutation of. the honorable member’s statement that the workers of . this community adopt a “ go-slow “ policy is to be found in the figures that he has given us.
– Why did the Minister for Defence go down to the Clothing Factory?
– I do not know; I was not in the’ Ministry at the time. I suppose that the honorable member means that the workers were not compelled to work at the rate of speed which private employers impose upon their workmen.
– Uniforms are turned out as cheaply as in other parts of the world.
– We know that articles are turned out from Government factories as -cheaply as they are produced under contract by theprivate employer or manufacturer. That is stated in the report of the Minister, for Defence (Senator Pearce), whom honorable members opposite condemned, but still keep in office.
– The honorable member kept) him in office.
– Of course; the party elected him to the position. I do not know whether honorable members opposite elected him Minister for Defence, or whether they had to keep him at the Defence Department as a part of the bargain they made. If they claim that the Clothing Factory is not being ‘ properly conducted, they have the power to close it. , /
– The quality of the uniforms has deteriorated considerably.
– I do not think that the whole of the cloth is produced from the Commonwealth Woollen Mill. Some of it is purchased under contract from other woollen manufacturers. ‘ Our Australian factories can turn out quite as good a cloth as can be produced in any other part of the world. If the Australian worker has a chance, he can turn out just as good an article as the worker of any other country can produce. I am not one of those who are continuously decrying our factories and our workmen.
I regret that we have not the opportunity of dealing with the full financial proposals of the Government. We have been in session for about eight or ten weeks, and for some reason or other best known to Ministers we are now asked to close down after passing a Bill for three months’ .Supply. When we meet .again, it will be so close to Christmas that we shall be asked to pas3 another three months’ Supply, so that it will be well towards the end of the financial year, when most of the money has been spent, before the opportunity will be presented to deal with the financial proposals of the, Government. Ministers, apparently, say that they have no other business for the time: being. If they have completed the whole of their win-the-war policy, upon which they were elected, well and good; but the people outside who supported them are not proud of their work here. The Treasurer (.Sir John Forrest) ‘tells us that no further taxation proposals are to be submitted to Parliament at present.
Apparently the men who are making huge profits and who, as the _ Prime “Minister says, give £50 to patriotic funds and sob the people of £5,000, are to escape taxation.
– The honorable member is howling for more taxation, yet on Monday night he will be down at the Town Hall arguing for a reduction in the cost of living.
– I shall take, every opportunity that is available to me to deal with the inaction of the Government in regard to fulfilling the promises they made to the people. I feel” sure that notone honorable member sitting behind them is satisfied with their attitude, or with the proposals that they have laid before Parliament.
.- The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Tudor) has pointed out that the increase in the price of meat has * been simply abnormal, but any one who has studied the position knows that the price will probably go higher, because it depends upon the law of supply and demand. During the years. 1913, 1914, and 1915, when Australia was passing through the severest drought that has ever taken place in its history, graziers suffered heavy losses. There were no calves born in 1915, and those which were then funning at the feet of the mothers were practically all lost. It is impossible in Victoria to-day, and almost impossible within reach of Victoria, to buy any cattle of fattening ages, and graziers have gone right throughout the country, even as far as the Queensland border, and at considerable expense have brought down cattle to Victoria in order Ihat they ‘may be able to have cattle fattening -in readiness for next year’s market. All this loss of stock has made it impossible for any decrease in the price of beef to be brought about for nearly twelve months. The peculiar thing about this question is that whichever is the most plentiful, whether it be beef, lamb, or mutton, the demand for that article is not nearly so great as it is for the article which is not so plentiful. At present the demand for beef in Australia is greater than it has been in the past, and I believe that the demand for prime cuts is greater than it has been for some time past. As a rule, when beef “is at a high price, and wages are at a low standard, the butcher is able to sell all. the cuts on the beast, because the people . go along the animal according to ‘ the state of their purees; but when wages are high, as they have been in Australia for the last two years, everybody wants beef, and everybody wants -the best cut. They all want beef, which is not to be got. Many fatteners of cattle in the more settled parts of Victoria have given up the idea of getting any cattle, and are going in for breeding sheep. All this means a considerable scarcity. I am not interested in the cattle industry, but I know people -who are going into the northern part of New South “Wales and buying 3^-year-old store bullocks for £14 and £15 per head, and paying truckage on them, to fatten, and then they are asked to sell them at the old rate of £12 to £14 a head.Rather than do that they had better stay out of the business. Store cattle in Northern Queensland are worth as much as that. People selling cattle in the market to-day are getting £22 a head for an 8-cwt. bullock - a wonderful price - yet they are losing money on it. Are they going to continue to lose money? Prom the Imperial point of view it is very serious that we are not able to send more beef overseas, but we cannot do it until we have caught up. the losses we have sustained. The honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr.Fenton) wants to know what they are doing with the calves. I believe every dairyman is keeping his calves, although, as a rule, they are not of great value ; but they have been at a wonderful price. All that sort of thing would help to a considerable extent.
I hope the Government are going to overcome the difficulties in the way of amalgamating the State and Federal Land and Income Tax Departments. We could save a considerable sum that way, not only to the Government, but to the public. Any one who is acting for people fighting abroad has so many taxation forms to make up that he is almost compelled to keep a clerk to do that work alone. I know there are difficulties in the way of. this reform, but I understand the Government themselves are agreeable, and that something in the Departments is sticking it up. I would, therefore, urge the Government to press the thing forward. It only wants a bit of “ sticking “ to get it through^
– It means uniform legislation.
– What does a slight difference in the exemptions allowed by one taxing authority or the other matter in the long run? We can surely allcome into line.
– There are six authorities, and you cannot easily get them in the one mind.
– We shall never get them in the one mind unless we stick to them. If the Government go to sleep another election will be on us before we know where we are.
– We have been in Parliament for six weeks, and have had no time to do anything. Some people seem to think Ave are machines, . to sit here all day and night, and look after these things as well.
– It is going to be a great task, but it is worth tackling.
– What about uniform valuations ?
– We want uniform valuations and methods.
– There is an exemption of £5,000 under the Federal land tax.
– Does that really make any difference? We value properties now below £5,000 in value under our Federal land tax system, because we have to see whether they will come within the taxable area.
– We can do it if we can get them all of one mind.
– Hitherto the State and Federal authorities have had two valuers going round in many cases valuing the same property, and differing just about as much as it is possible for any set of men to differ. There is no insuperable difficulty in the way of arriving at a system which will cover, not only Federal and State, but municipal taxation.
I direct the attention of the Government to the question of the pay of the troops as they come back. I was successful in getting the pay of one man, to the extent of £17, after sticking to the matter for eighteen months. It was a complicated case, because he had lost his pay-book when he was wounded “at Gallipoli. He was taken to Egypt, where they issued him a new pay-book. He landed in Western Australia, because he had enlisted there. When he arrived there they took his pay-book from him, and would not give him any deferred pay. They said his payment had to be finalized. Prom the time I took the case up it took me eighteen months to get the man’s pay, because the returns had to be sent from London.
– What was he doing all that time?
– He had to live somehow.
– I suppose he was drawing pay.
– He was a crippled man.
– Then he was drawing an allowance.
– He was getting about 14s. a week from the Defence Department, but he did not desire to live on its charity. He wished to take up business and use his deferred pay.
-How much did it amount to?
– Seventeen pounds. The Department was going to pay him only £7, but when we shook things up we found that the returns were wrong, and he ultimately got his full amount. This is a letter referring to another case. It was ‘written on the 4th September by the District Paymaster of the 3rd Military District : -
In reply to your letter of the. 27th ult., relative to the balance of military pay owing to you in connexion with your services in the Australian Imperial Force, as above, I have to advise you that I cannot adjust the matter until the statement of your account in the field is received from the Chief Paymaster abroad.’ Three to six months from date of your return will necessarily elapse before the statement can be expected to arrive here.
It probably took the transport on which that man came from England ten -weeks to get here, and yet he is told that he must wait from three to six months longer before he can draw his deferred pay, which, he claims, amounts to £80. He has a pension,’ but he does not wish to live on it. He wishes to take up a’ small business.
– Cannot you work this case as you worked the other?
– Yes; but I shall take a different course of action. I am trying to shake up the Government, so that Ministers may do something. I do not blame the local pay office. I say that something should be done to alter the system in the Old Country. - All the information regarding adman’s pay should be made up and sent to Australia within, at least, a fortnight after the man himself has left to come here.
– A number of vessels have been torpedoed, and the mails which they, were carrying destroyed.
– I never knew a man so full of excuses as is the Treasurer.
Coming to’ another matter, I wish to know where the Commonwealth mercantile fleet is trading at the present time ?
– I do not know. The vessels are managed by some one in London.
– Privately-owned vessels trading out of Great Britain have been commandeered by the British Shipping Board, but our Government vessels are under the sole control of the Australian Government I wish toknow why they are trading to other than Australian ports. They were bought to bring cargoes to Australia, and to carry away Australian produce, but they are not coming to Australia.
– Yes, they are. There are five or six here now.
– The honorable member for Wide Bay is confusing the Commonwealth Government merchant steamers with the interned steamers. ‘
– Why has not the honorable member asked a question on this subject?
– I am asking a question now. The excuse for the purchase of the vessels was that they were needed to’ move Australian wheat and other produce, and they should be used to move it.
– The honorable member cannot expect us to tell him where these vessels are.
– What I wish to know is what they are doing? I believe that they are trading to ports in other parts of the world where they can’ get freights higher than the Australian freights, and that they are thus making a large profit. But that is not what they were bought for. No doubt they will pay for themselves if the war lasts long enough; but they were purchased, not as a commercial speculation, but to carry Australian produce and to bring goods to
Australia. Why’ are they not trading to Australian ports? I have been told that the whole fleet has only lifted about five Australian cargoes since it was bought.
– The ships have carried more Australian cargoes than that.
– I understand that some of them have never been to Australia, and are trading, not to Australian ports, but to ports where freights are higher.
– There is no point in what the honorable member is saying unless he can show that the ships would be better employed in the way he suggests than in the way in which they are’ employed. In connexion with the war there is another point from which the question may be viewed besides that of the transport of our produce. It is as well that honorable members should begin to recognise that.
– I quite admit that, if the Commonwealth steam-ships were commandeered by the British Shipping Board they would have to go where they were told. But we know that they are not.
– They may not be commandeered, but may still be serving a very useful purpose in connexion with the war.
– Perhaps the Minister for the Navy will make some inquiries into this matter. If he does he will find that the statement that the Commonwealth steam-ships are trading to ports to which the freights are higher than are freights to Australia is substantially true.
– That may very well be correct, and yet these vessels may be used in the best interests of the Empire.
– I think that Australia should be given the preference in connexion with their use. If they are being sent on voyages as long as the voyage to Australia, why should they not be sent to Australia instead of to other parts of the Empire?
I again express the hope that the Treasurer will press the matter of bringing about an amalgamation of State and Commonwealth Taxation Departments. It is of no use for the right honorable gentleman to communicate with the State Premiers, asking them to do something in the matter. Such requests are shelved. The question should be forced.
– I did not communicate with State Premiers.
– I hope that/ by whatever channel of communication the Treasurer is able to take advantage of, he will endeavour to bring this matter to a satisfactory . conclusion.
.- There is a matter which I wish to bring under the notice of the Assistant Minister for Defence. I desire to put in a plea on behalf of a certain class of returned men who, having been, discharged, find it very difficult, if not impossible, on reenlistment, to recover the rank they previously held. The particular case on which I base my statement is that of a man who served for two years and seven months in the Forces abroad. He commenced as a private, and won his way upwards by various stages . to about the highest noncommissioned rank he could hold. As the result of illness he was obliged to return to Australia. Fortunately, he has so far recovered as to be able,’ as he is very willing, to return to the Front. In these circumstances he finds that he cannot rer cover the rank which he won by his diligence and comparatively long service abroad.
– If the honorable member will give me the name privately I shall make inquiries into the case.
– I intend to put on ‘ record the circumstances of the case as supplied to me. My informant writes -
I received a “Good” discharge from the Australian Imperial Force on the 6th April, 1917, after I had been away on active service since the 1st Contingent left Australia in October, 1914, and had been a warrant officer for’ thirteen months when discharged. Soldiers returning from active service are now discharged as soon as possible after their return, and are told that if they re-enlist they will get back their rank. I was officially informed to this effect by the Staff Officer for Invalid and Returned Soldiers, and this letter is now with my file at the Defence Department. In addition to this, War Financial Instruction, issued by the Minister for Defence on March, 1917, No. 19, page 11, reads -
In the event of any member of the Australian Imperial Force who was invalided to Australia, and afterwards discharged as medically unfit for active service; applying for re-enlistment for active service, he will, in- the event of being accepted, be granted the noncommissioned rank held at date of his discharge. (Circular 145, of 20th July, 1916.)
Relyingupon the Defence Department carrying out their promise, I re-enlisted a month after my discharge (May, 1917), but I have not yet got my old rank back. I attach copy’ of a complaint I have sent in.
Here is where the bitterness comes in -
But I have been told that, in all probability, the position I held on the Australian Imperial Force Head-Quarters Staff in London has been filled.
– That office could not be allowed to remain vacant.
– That is so. He says further -
I, however, am. not particular about the position oh the Head-Quarters, as I am capable of holding same in the field (Infantry), and would have done so on leaving the Head-Quarters. I feel that if I could get the matter placed before the Minister he would not allow a returned soldier to be penalized in this way when he is ready to risk, his life again after being away on active service as long as I was.
I really came back to Australia on escort duty, just for the sea voyage, as I became run down in health, and this sea trip has been given to many members of the Australian Imperial Force Head-Quarters, who always returned with their rank.
– Has he been to the Front?
– Yes, he has.
– I asked the question because there are some men who do not appear to get to the Front at all.
– The quickest way in which to get at the facts is for the honorable member to give me the name, so that I may make inquiries.
– Is this man in the Forces now ? …
– Yes, he is.
– And he is seeking to use parliamentary influence instead of making his complaint direct?
– As many other good men have felt themselves compelled to do. 1
– I think that is against the regulations.
– Apparently the Treasurer, by interjecting, is going to treat me as he treated the honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Manifold). This man further says -
What I want the military people to do is to reinstate me in my old rank as warrant officer, and send me to the Australian Imperial Force Head-Quarters, England, to be disposed of by them.
– He wants to go back to the same position.
– Or to a similar position, as he says in another part of this letter which I have quoted. He is not particular.
– We shall have the whole lot of these men coming to Parliament.
– Only yesterday I heard an honorable member on the Government side voicing a very similar complaint. ^
– The honorable member refers to the honorable member for Nepean (Mr. Orchard).
– I think so.
– I had that’ case investigated, and the officers were perfectly justified in the course they took.
– I hope that the Assistant Minister for Defence will look into” the case I have mentioned, and will let me have his reply. I wish to say a word for the special edification of the Minister for the Navy, and I ask him to give me a fair hearing on behalf of another man. I mention this man as being a representative of a certain class of persons who are ‘ likely to suffer by reason of their attitude in regard to this disastrous strikei although not them-: selves on strike, or being in any way active or militant industrialists. I refer to the case of Denis Barry, in. respect of whom questions have been asked of the Minister for the Navy. Barry is really a soldier or a sailor, rather than an industrialist. He served in the China war, and has been for some years in the Navy. His. record during the last six years is shown by his papers to be as follows : - A.I. Staff, Victoria, instructor, 1st July, 1911, to 14th January, 1914; A.I. Staff, Thursday Island, instructor, 15th January, 1914, to 29th August, 1915 ; A.I. Staff) Victoria, instructor, 29 th August, 1915, to 31st October, 1915; A.I. Staff, Victoria, general workman, 1st November, 1915, to 10th September, 1917. ‘
– I do not think I should, worry about his record, if I were you.
– I am giving the man’s record as it appears on his papers, and if the Minister can give me an answer on the merits of this case, either privately or in any other way, I shall be content. His record appears to me to . be unblemished.
– Is he still in the Service f
– No; he was dismissed because, while in his ‘last position of general workman, he was asked to take a position on the Bulla vacated by a stoker who had gone oh strike,.
– Has the honorable member made any inquiries as to why this man, who was an instructor, is now a general workman?
– I take his record as I find it, and his word to me. Having for a number of years done his work well and faithfully, not being on strike or desiring to go on strike, not being associated in any way with any industrial troubles, he was asked to take the place of a stoker who was on strike, and declined. That offence - if it ‘is an- offence - might well be treated with leniency. Allowing for differences of opinion in regard to striking, I submit that going out on strike, and declining to do the work of another man who had gone on strike, are two different actions. Barry’s attitude was, “ I have not been in this industrial trouble; I have’ been doing my own work. I am not involved in the dispute, and, therefore, I think it is unjust that, because somebody else has struck on another ship, I-should be dragged into the trouble and asked to take that man’s position.” If the Minister knows of any good reason, apart from that action, why the man. should have been dismissed, I shall be glad if he will inform me of it. . On the face of the facts I have related, it seems very harsh to dismiss a man after a number of years of good service, and leave him without employment.
The only other matter to which I wish to refer relates to the PostmasterGeneral’s Department. It is very evident that there is in the Commonwealth Public Service at present an agitation to break down the . policy of preference to unionists in the . Service, and that that agitation is altogether irrespective of the principle of preference to returned soldiers. It is quite clear that a special effort in that direction has been made in the Postal Department, and from the answers I have received to questions addressed to the Postmaster-General, we must conclude that he has been privy to it. If there is one thing that has been made more clear than another by the Prime ‘Minister (Mr. Hughes) since the present Government came into power, it is that not one stone of the temple of Labour shall be disturbed, and that whatever legislation has been passed, whether by regulation or Act of Parliament, it shall not be tampered -with’ during the currency of this Parliament.
– The men have pulled the whole edifice about their own ears.
– It is quite useless to raise a side issue of that character.
I hold in my hand a letter addressed by Leslie G. Ogilvie, telegraphist, to his fellow-officers in these terms: -
Chief. Telegraph Office,
Sydney, 11th July, 1917.
Dear, Fellow Officer,
A fortnight ago I had an interview with the Honorable the Postmaster-General on the subject of preference to unionists, at the conclusion of whichhe requested me to get him into touch with all known to me who are affected adversely by. the introduction of . preference to unionists into the Department, and request them to put their cases in concrete form, and submit for his consideration, with a view to a satisfactory adjustment of this anomaly. My own case has been submitted as follows: - “ The Hon. the Postmaster-General, Commonwealth of Australia, . . “ Sir, - I desire to call your attention to the anomalous ‘ position in which ‘ preference to unionists’ has placed a few loyal and faithful servants of the Commonwealth Government, who are employed in the Postal Service. My own case is a fair sample. My position is that of a telegraphist in the Fourth Class. I am a capable and trusted officer, with a clean record,’ and have in many ways proved my loyalty to the Department and the public. Because of conscientious scruples “-
– Hear, hear!
– Is this possible?
– This is a joke.
– Conscientious scruples by a conscientious scrupler !
– The letter con tinues^ - “ I am unable to affiliate with the Post and Telegraph Association, and, because of this, I am not only receiving £25 a year less than the other Fourth Class ‘officers on my grade, although doing the same work to the satisfaction of my superiors, but am actually receiving £2 a year less salary than those on the maximum, of the Fifth Class. If Fourth Class work is worth £255 a year when performed by ‘unionists,’ it is worth an equal amount when performed’ by non-unionists, and in common righteousness it should be paid. As you are aware, partly because of this, I tendered my resignation ‘ for the present, in order to give’ you an opportunity of adjusting this grievance. Have communicated with several others . known to me, who are similarly affected by ‘ preference to unionists,’ informing them of my interview with you, and requesting them to put their matter on paper in concrete form, and lay it before you without delay. In adjusting this matter, I trust you will arrange for the_ payment of back money due from the 1st November last, so. as to do away with any charge of injustice against the Department. Thanking you in anticipation, I am, sir, yours faithfully,
Leslie G. . Ogilvie, Telegraphist.”
Mr. Webster’s reply, received on the 7th inst., is as follows: -
Sydney, 7th July, 1917.
Sir, - I am in receipt of. your letter of the 4th inst., relative to the question of preference to unionists, as it affects officers of the Commonwealth Public Service, in connexion ‘with which you cite your own’ case, and refer to several others. When I receive the particulars from, the other parties to whom you refer, I shall then be in a position to consider the matter generally, and will endeavour, to see what can be done in- the direction already indicated to’ you.
Of course, it is perfectly plain” that before this letter was written at all the PostmasterGeneral had given this telegraphist to understand that he would do all he could to break down this principle of preference to unionists to which he and his Government were so strongly committed.
– That is a lawyer’s contortion. V
– But I am quoting the Minister’sown words.
– And I am referring to your remarks.
– Why did the man not resign?
– That is an interesting subject, because for some more or less mysterious reason he seems to have remained in the Department after tendering his resignation. 1
– The Postmaster-General knows why his resignation was withdrawn.
– What is the date of that letter? .
– It was written on 7thJuly.
– This is September, and you say that the Minister was going to break down the principle. Well, how do you account for the delay ?
– Because the Prime Minister was in such a difficult position by reason of the repeated pledges he had given in this House, that he had to get the Postmaster-General by the ear and say to him, “ William, not just at present.”
– I never approached’ the Prime Minister.
– At the time a copy of this communication came into my hands a letter went out to every employee in the Postal Service asking if any had communicated the contents of certain correspondence to a member or members of the Federal Parliament. A sort of inquisition was established to trace the source from which this information reached honorable members. The letter continues - -Besides the interview above alluded to and the foregoing, there has . been much more correspondence between Mr. Webster and myself, but this should be sufficient to show you how the case stands. “Might I suggest that, if you are still suffering loss through “ preference to unionists,” you will write up your case, and send it along to the Postmaster -General without delay? If you do so, I have every confidence that we shall, in the” course of a few weeks, receive the back money due to us from last November, and be paid the same rate as unionists in future. Added to this, I feel that what is now being done will have the effect of smashing up this iniquitous combination, which will rob us of , our conscience and our living. Would be glad if you will let me know what you are doing in the matter, and if you know of any others who are similarly affected, send them a copy of this circular, requesting them, if any further’ information is needed, to communicate with me. Better act promptly, and strike while the iron is hot.
– Hear, hear ! Why not to-night ?’
– This forced hilarity is, of course, very unconvincing. The reading of this correspondence has brought in the Postmaster-General, and even the Prime Minister, who rarely graces the chamber with his presence. To this document is appended a short foot-note in language not nearly so diffuse as that of the letters to which I have referred, but in these terms -
You will see from the above that there is an effort to form a “ scab “ union, the main plank of which will be increased wages and better working conditions, which can only be accepted when they are obtained at the expense of other people. Mr. Ogilvie objects, on the grounds of conscience, to join a union, but he is forming a union himself, and has already taken action to secure certain results by collective bargaining, which is the basis of trade unionism. Conscience is, however; an elastic thing with these people.
As the writer of the footnote says, it is curious that whenever an attempt is made to break down unionism, the first action on. the part of the person proposing to break it down is to form a union. Following the usual course, this man is doing his very best to form a union to break down what he describes as the iniquitous union system. . He gets into correspondence with the Postmaster-General.
– That is not quite fair. He is trying to get his back pay as from November.
– That is what the right honorable gentleman’s friend is doing. The Postmaster-General - this great protagonist of unionism, who professes unionism - enters into correspondence with a subordinate officer, a telegraphist, behind the back of the union, and asks him to send along the names of these people who are going to form what is unkindly spoken of here as a “scab” union - a term which the PostmasterGeneral, I am sure, has never used in his long experience. I leave this case to the Postmaster-General.
– Ask him about the letter he sent on 2nd June.
– I do not wish to embarrass him too much. I want to temper justice with mercy, as far as I can.” But as we are about to enter into a recess, after the unproductive labours of the last few weeks in regard to winning the war, I merely wish to warn . the PostmasterGeneral that it is not safe for him, in the comfortable seclusion of his departmental boudoir, to issue circulars to subordinate officers, and to make arrangements with them for the purpose of breaking down a principle which the Prime Minister ‘ at the same time, from the various platforms of the’ country, is assuring the people will remain inviolate.
– I wish to reply to the question raised by the honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Manifold) with reference to vessels belonging to the Commonwealth Government line. I was not in the chamber when he spoke, and so have but a general idea of what he said. Shortly put, I am given to understand that he 1 wished to know where those vessels were and what they were, doing. I shall answer that inquiry in half-a-dozen words. The vessels are engaged, and have been, since the day they were made available to the Commonwealth, in doing the Commonwealth’s business. With one exception, so far as I know, they have been carrying wheat and flour to Great Britain and France.
There are powerful interests that are endeavouring, perhaps, to interfere with or hamper the operations of the Government line of steamers, and I warn ‘honorable members not to accept every idle story as truth. If this Parliament wishes to know what’ these ships are doing that information will Be made available. I can say, generally, in regard to these vessels of the Commonwealth line, that they have been trading to and from Australia. I am given to understand that the honorable member said that only five of them had been to Australia once. As a matter of fact, there are five or six of them here now.
– I said, when, the honorable member was speaking, that I was sure there had been more vessels ‘ here than he mentioned.
– There are six in the port of Melbourne or in Australian waters now. It is perfectly absurd to say that these vessels, from the day that they were purchased until now, have been doing anything but carry wheat and flour. They have been doing that with” one exception, when, at the request of the British Government, a load of copra was carried.
– That information was given by the Prime Minister in answer to the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Mathews).
– I think it was.
I repeat that there are very powerful interests that are affected, or think they are affected, by the Commonwealth’s intrusion into a domain which is purely their own. Whatever party we belong to, these, after all, are Government vessels. Whatever they earn goes into the Commonwealth Treasury, and I look to honorable members to support the Commonwealth in this matter, and not to be made mere pawns and instruments of a great corporation. The interests of the Commonwealth have to be safeguarded. , These vessels have done good work. They have carried cargo cheaper than others; and were the means of keeping down freights before the British Government i came . in and requisitioned all freights. I expect honorable members not to accept every story which is put forward as gospel truth. All these vessels have been doing good work for the producers, and I venture to say that, when the war is over, if it shall please Providence . to spare the vessels, they will be of, the utmost possible value to this country.
The Government’s proposal is ito build more ships, in order to enable Australia, after the war is ended, to be outside the grip of any great corporation that could’ levy toll on its producers. So long as I live I shall stand for that principle. The honorable member for Corangamite could not have been made aware of the-facts. But I know perfectly well the name of the corporation which gave the information,” the channels through which it came, and the motive for which it was circulated. These vessels are about the business of this country. Every one of them has been to Australia. Only one of them has left this country carrying a load of copra. Hitherto they have gone between Australia and the Continent. I think that one of them went to Italy.
– It is only fair to say thatat one time copra was as much needed as anything else.
– It was. Of course, after all, the British Government dominate this matter. If they tell us to load copra, we must load copra, or if they tell us to load oil for making soap we must load oil. We must do as we are told, because they are running the war. But, as a matter of fact, all the time the vessels have been in commission they have been carrying wheat and flour, with one exception. That is all that I rose to say, and I think that “my honorable friend will accept my statement.
– By way of personal explanation, sir, I wish to say that I had not the opportunity of hearing the remarks of the Prime Minister in the early part of the debate. I was not approached by any corporation or trust or anybody in this matter. I simply desired, for my own information, to find out what the ships were doing. I know that the Prime Minister did not intend what he said as regards my being approached by a trust or a corporation. No person came near me.
– I do not say that, but I say that these rumours are circulated in the city, and I hear them.
– The honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) drew my attention to the observation of the right honorablev gentleman, and unless it was contradicted it might have meant that I was approached by a trust or a corporation. Nothing of the kind.
– No, I did not think that.
– I accept the explanation. I simply wanted the information for my own personal benefit. I desired to know where the shipping was and what it was doing. I am not” opposed to this shipping enterprise. I am sure that the Prime Minister did not mean to impute that I was approached by any trust, or that the information came to me from any trust.
– Will you, sir, permit me to ‘say now that nothing was farther from my mind than to think that the honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Manifold) was an agent in this matter. All that I say is that this great corporation - it is the greatest shipping company on” earth-has its grip on a great ocean which - 1 say is our heritage. It has dared to say, in effect, that we must not sail the ocean.’ I do not propose to take that lying down. I tell honorable members honestly that, whatever they say or do, while I have the honour to represent the people of this country, this corporation is not going to say to them, “ Thus far and no farther.”
– I desire to reply to the statement by the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) ‘with regard to Mr. Barry, He has mentioned the matter twice in the House, and I think that I should now state the simple facts. The record . of Barry as read out by the honorable member we will take to be correct. When I asked him by interjection why it was that this. man had been an instructor and was now only a general workman, I meant to give him a hint that there was a reason for his disratement. It is true that he was engaged in Queensland on instructional work, but it is true also *that he was removed from that instructional work for incompetency. It is true, too, that he was an instructor down here, and was again removed and disrated for the same reason, so that at the time of- . this occurrence he was a general workman. In that capacity I am told that’he was doing his work satisfactorily.
The other day there was a ship loading , provisions for the war. The men working on her struck at a moment’s notice, and the question arose of whether we were Ito let the steam go down or not. Had we allowed the boilers to cool down it would have taken from twelve to twenty hours, according to their condition, to get steam up again. We therefore asked one of our own naval ratings to go -and work the donkey engine for an hour until we could get labour -from the Bureau, and he did so. We then wanted a man to trim some coal for him for an hour, until we could get a trimmer from the Bureau. First of all, a reserve man was asked to take on this work. * He said to Captain Richardson, “ I am a unionist, Captain Richardson, but if you order me to -do the work I shall obey. I only want you to know that I am a unionist. If I do the work it may mean trouble for me afterwards with my mates : I shall be called a ‘ scab.’ Having made this explanation, if you order me to do the work I shall do it.” Captain Richardson said to the man, “ In the circumstances, I will not order you to do the work,” and he did not. He then asked Barry, who was a permanent naval rating, and not a unionist, to go and do the work for an hour. This permanent naval rating refused to do the bidding of his superior officer, and was therefore dismissed.
.- I wish very briefly to support the earnest appeal made to the Government by the honorable member for Nepean (Mr. Orchard) on behalf of a number of the first) Anzacs, particularly the sections who are in Egypt, and in respect to whom he read to the House a very interesting, but certainly a very disheartening, letter. Recently I had a chat with a medical officer who had just returned from Egypt, and he referred very regretfully to the state of health of many of the boys there. The authorities, no doubt, are giving the boys every assistance they can, but the terrible climate has left many of them in such a state that it would be a very merciful act if they could be returned for a spell or changed to some other theatre. I do not wish to refer to the correspondence I have here, because I do not think it would be right to’ do so, but I most earnestly support the appeal made by the honorable member for Nepean.
From the time ‘ the Treasurer (Sir John Forrest) laid his Estimates on the table to-day we have had very many lectures addressed to ‘the Government on the need for economy. I do not propose to join in the lectures, but I think that a fair description of the modern economist in the House is a man who can detect some opportunities for saving in the other member’s constituency, and particularly in the other States. I wish to draw the attention of the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) to the report of an interview between a member of the Ministry and about thirty members of , the House, who made a special appeal that another Parliament House should be built at ‘the present time, and that! at Canberra. This is a departure from their advocacy of economy. The deputation was headed by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Chapman), who, in the House, lee-. toured the Treasurer on the score of economy, who would cut ‘ down the salary , for a new Minister, but who would spend £300,000 by one stroke of the pen in the Federal Territory.
– To .be fair, you ought to mention that he said it would be a good place for the repatriation of returned soldiers.
– I know he did; but if it is proposed to repatriate men by sending them to a place with the climate and conditions of Canberra, we might as well send them on another campaign at the Front.
– Was the honorable member with the deputation ?
– No, I was not.
– The object of the deputation was not the spending of money.
– I am speaking on the authority of the press report.
– The object was to get the plans fixed up, and nothing else.
– Had it been a deputation from outside, I should have raised no objection, but it was a deputation consisting of members of Parliament ; and therefore I take this opportunity to submit that Parliament is the place where such questions ought to be decided. At the present time there are seven Houses of Parliament in0 Australia ; and a pro.posal, when the Empire is fighting for its existence, to build another at Canberra is one that the people of the country will not relish, especially when it is made by an advocate of economy.
– The honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) and the honorable member for Nepean (Mr. Orchard) have spoken of a case of alleged unfair treatment of a returned officer who, when he applied to return to the
Front, was unable to proceed with the rank he had obtained abroad. I have an official paper here, which the honorable member for Nepean may see if he chooses, showing that the Department was justified in the action taken. I should like to say that, in the interests of those concerned, - it would be better for members, when they have cases of particular individuals in their minds, to submit them to the Department and first obtain an official statement instead of making ex parte statements in the House, and possibly, in some instances, giving to the public an unfair impression of the administration. . The honorable member for . Nepean also said that there were eleven officers in good military positions in New South Wales who had never been to the Front, while there were returned officers without positions. Inquiries have been made, and I am able to say that, of the eleven officers, three are returned men, and two are medically unfit for active service. These men are in positions, and we cannot remove them, because they are unfit for active service. Another of these officers is over the military age, and also unfit for service, while four are fit for service, and, in these cases, steps are being taken to replace them with returned soldiers.
– Perhaps those four desired to go . to the Front, and were stopped by the Department.
– There are instances where the Department has had to stop men going to the Front.
– Why introduce a system of conscription in the Department?
– That is not being done ; but I am now merely answering the allegations of the honorable member for Nepean. “ As to the eleventh man, we have not yet been able to ascertain anything in connexion with his case.
– I quite agree with the honorable member for Corangamite as to the inconvenience caused by the multiplicity of taxation returns, and suggest that something should be done to remedy the evil. I know that it is difficult to get six State Governments all to agree to a proposal by the Federal Government, but it is worth while trying to . induce at least some of the States to agree, with a hope of the advantages appealing to the others. If, of course, the State Governments refuse to even consider the question, we can only trust that their constituents, who are the same as our own, will deal with them in due time.
– We might have a joint electoral roll.
– We have been waiting for a joint electoral roll for some time, and* certainly it is very necessary, for, as things are at present, it is quite, possible for a man to be on the State rolls and not on the Federal rolls. Several of my constituents - who, I may say, are not my political supporters - represent to me that they are put to a lot of unnecessary trouble in the preparation of their taxation returns. There is a multiplicity of taxation Acts, and they complain that they are not given that information which is necessary to enable them to prepare to meet the demands made upon them. We are told now that there is to be a supertax, and these people would like to know the particulars so that they may. make provision. For instance, I know of one man who is administering an estate of £27,000, in which there are several in- . terests, and he cannot allocate the money because he is not sure what taxation he may be called upon to pay.
Perhaps the most significant address in this debate was given by the honorable member for Flinders (Sir William Irvine) , who referred to the fact that, under the voluntary system, we are not enlisting sufficient men to fill the blanks at the Front. He told us, however, that with a superhuman effort, only 5,000 men over a certain period had been recruited, whereas 7,000 were necessary; indeed, the whole trend of his argument was that the Government would have to consider the question of conscription. It is generally understood in circles in which inspiration is not received from the Government side of the Chamber that the honorable member for Flinders would have been’ included in the present Ministry if he had been willing to allow the . question of conscription to be dropped and to abide by the decision of the electors at the recent referendum. It is said that he intends to persist in his attitude until he secures what he desires, namely, conscription in Australia. I quite believe that he is. a thorn - in the side of the Government. We all know that the continual dropping of water will wear away a stone. At the same time, I do not say that the strong-minded . member for
Flinders will eventually wear down the strong will of the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), but that is nevertheless a possibility.
I desire to tell the Government that the experiences of 90 per cent, of the soldiers who return from the Front are a strong deterrent to voluntary enlistment. I am sorry to admit that. Although our Defence Department has accomplished wonderful work, there are in it individual officers who, by reason of their incompetency, have been greater obstacles to enlistment than any . pro-German could be. Having said so much, I may be asked to give specific instances. During the past two and a half years I have, day after day, poured into that Department legitimate complaints, which I have been quite unable to get remedied. Each of these complaintshas acted as a deterrent to enlistment. The statement has been made here that private employers are not keeping the compact which they made with their employees who enlisted - the compact t to reinstate them upon their return from the Front. I admit that the employer who respects his promise, and re-engages men whose nerves have . been utterly shattered, must necessarily be placed at ‘ a disadvantage as compared with other employers. But surely the Commonwealth and State Governments can keep the compact which they made, with their employees. .
– And, what is more, they must.
– But the Railways Commissioners in Victoria are not keeping the compact which they made with their employees. In this connexion I intend to -place on record certain facts, which I challenge the Premier of this State to disprove. Only the other night I was approached by an old gentleman, who is not a political supporter of mine, but who is a real old Conservative and a conscriptionist. He placed before me a particular case, and subsequently wrote me, as follows: -
You will please find enclosed a copy of the notice given to- ‘- -
– We cannot control the Victorian Government.
– It is not conscription that is necessary in Australia, but fair treatment to our returned soldiers.
– I agree with the honorable member that employers ought to keep their, promises to former employees who have returned from the Front, but I do not see how we can force them to do so. I expect that the Victorian Railways Commissioners would be able to give very . good reasons for their action.
– The letter reads-
You will please find enclosed a copy of the notice given to- , the returned soldier of whom I spoke to you’ last night. He was one of the first seven who enlisted from the Newport Workshops, leaving Australia with the First Contingent, and was invalided back twelve months ago last . August. He resumed duty in the shops in January last, receiving 9s. 4d. per’ day, with 2d. per day allowance, making his wages 9s. ‘ 6d. per day. He was’ notified this week that he was to receive an increase of 6d. per day, to date from 1st August last, this being an increase due to him having been agreed to by a conference ‘ of employers . and employees in the’ wood-working industry, ‘ thus, bringing his wages up to 10s. per day. To- . day he received the enclosed notice.
Another case is. that of a returned man, who enlisted later than the individual of whom I have just spoken. He is a wood machinist. The notice to him from the State Government reads -
Newport, September 19, 1917.
I regret having to inform you that, owing to a shortage of work for wood machinists, and a general reduction in the staff, your services as a wood machinist will not be required . after Saturday next, 22nd inst. Your services, however, can be retained on and from Monday next, 24th inst., as a super, labourer at 8s., and1s. per. day, if you are willing to accept such work.
Because a Wages Board had raised the wages of these men the Victorian Government repudiated the promise they had given to them when they enlisted. That is ‘not the way in which to increase recruiting. The treatment of ninety-five men out of every hundred who have returned is sufficient to reduce enlistment. It is no wonder that those who work side by ‘side with men who have been treated in the manner I have described refuse to enlist. They know that on their return they may be subjected to a reduction’ in wages.
– The honorable member should have given the Department an opportunity of explaining the matter before he made it public.
– When we make general statements we are told to give particular cases. On Tuesday evening last, when dealing with this matter, I made the statement that the1 Federal Government would not act in the same way, but a man chuckled. I asked him what he meant, and he said, “Your own Government does the same thing.” He told me afterwards that men on their return from the Front had gone back into Federal Departments, and . been refused their holiday allowance in the first year, because they had already enjoyed a holiday for eighteen months at the Front. To-day the honorable member for Flinders rang a note that the horror of conscription would . come to Australia. If it does it will only come because the Federal G overnment have not looked after the men who have already enlisted. Neither private employers, nor the State Governments, nor the Federal Government, as employers, are keeping their contracts with the men who have enlisted.
In the Defence Department men who were desirous of doing their share in the defence of this country are receiving most unfair treatment. The Honorary Minister (Mr. Groom) has told us that certain men are to be demobilized because they have not gone to the Front. Why have they not gone? They were anxious to go at a time when commissioned rank was open to them, but they were, not permitted to go. They were kept here because their services were required for training the men whom we . were sending away, and now when they are told that they can go to the Front they refuse to go, and take low rank under men whom they have trained for the positions which they are now occupying. The fault lies with the Defence Department. The same thing is occurring in the pay office. The newspapers speak of single men in the Defence Department who ought to be at the Front, but these men were anxious to go away during the first twelve months of the war. They were all trained men, and they would have received commissions, but they were not allowed to go then. Today, when there is no opportunity open, to them to secure commissions, they are told that they can enlist, but if they do so they will leave as privates.
– The honorable member draws attention to the fact that two honorable members of this House who have enlisted and are anxious to go to the Front are kept here for some reason or other. It is unfair to condemn men who will not enlist now, seeing that when they were anxious to go they were not given the opportunity to do so. The honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Fleming) has a certain rank now, but the moment, he lands in England he will get what the soldiers call a ‘ ‘ gutser. ‘ ‘ He will lose his stripes. ‘ These others are in the same position. They were anxious to go before, and now they are called “ cold footers ‘ ‘ because they refuse to go. In this House honorable members in a most indignant manner have charged them with being pro-Germans,- and have said that they should have gone to the Front long ago. They did not get the chance to go. A Mr. Holland, who was a lieutenant in the South African war, holding a Queen’s commission, offered.his services to the Government in the latter. part of 1915, and was sent into camp at Queenscliff at once, in the Army Service Corps. He carried out his duties so well that he was placed in charge of the Army Service Corps in the Broadmeadows Camp.- He was physically fit, able, and a good organizer. He could do anything with his men, and I have received letters from the Front from men who were under him, and will never forget ‘him. But he fell foul of some of the “ Johnnies “ at the Barracks’, who will not go to the war, and, in spite, they demobilized him, and would not even pay him the money it cost him to get his uniform. I have tried to get justice for him, but 1 am told that it is impossible, because . there are returned men who can do the ‘Work he is fitted for. He would have been an ‘ornament and of some assistance to the Australian Army if he had got the opportunity; but he fell foul of one Butters, a “gilt-spurredrooster” in the. Army Service Corps, who is not fit to lace his boots. Butters has nothing like the knowledge of Army Service Corps work that he has, but, while he was turned down, Butters is in a good position at the Barracks, and will not go to the Front. Those are the things that spoil enlistment in Australia. If everything was carried out properly, and it was not possible to besmirch a good name in this way, we could’ have got plenty of men to enlist voluntarily. The bad treatment they receive while they are abroad, and the unfairness meted out when they ‘come back, must have a bad effect on enlistment..
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- On the question of the treatment meted out to our soldiers when they have enlisted, I received a day or two ago a letter from the secretary of one of the unions in Adelaide which I wish to place on record, so that the Assistant Minister for Defence may look into the matter. If the facts are as stated, an injustice is being done to the men who have done their duty at_ the Front. I oan hardly believe that it is correct, but I have been assured by others that these things happen, and the Leader of the Opposition in the New . South Wales Parliament tells me that his son had the same experience. The letter is as follows : -
Adelaide, 18th September.
I have received a letter from one of our members who is away at the Front. He informs me that after he came out of the Somme business his uniform waa in a most deplorable state, and he had to be supplied with a new uniform, for which he had to pay 30s. He further states that, hundreds of others have had to do the same. I hope you will ascertain from the Minister for Defence whether soldiers, as stated above, have to pay 30s. for a new uniform, when the previous uniform lias been damaged in the service of their country. If this is. correct, well, enough said.
Those words are pregnant with meaning, because such things, if they are correct, must have a bad effect upon recruiting.
– There must be something wrong, because provision is made for giving the men uniforms when they are damaged and worn out, across the seas, both in France and England. I believe that a dep6t was recently opened up in London. ,
– That is correct.
– It is all very well for the late Assistant” Minister for Defence (Mt. Laird Smith) to interject as if he possessed knowledge. He once said that if he had remained Assistant Minister he would have sent me abroad long ago. I challenge him to tell the House by what process he would have accomplished it. It is no good to talk in a “ hifalutin ‘ ‘ manner as he does, unless he ‘ can do something. He challenged me on my age, and I challenge him .to tell the House what his age is. I guarantee that mine exceeds his. He also said when I was speaking on the last occasion that when I approached him in Melbourne he made it quite clear to me that he was dealing with me as Private Yates, and not as the member for Adelaide. On the only occasion1 on which I saw him in his office I had two or three other matters to attend to in the Defence Department and left my wife in the vestibule, waiting until the Minister was disengaged. When I returned, he was in conversation with my wife in his office, so I had a witness to the conversation that took place on that - occasion, and nothing of the kind he describes occurred. I take very little notice of what the honorable member says when he makes wild statements by interjection.
– I intend to treat you with the silent contempt you deserve.
– I do not care what the honorable member does. He could never hurt me, unless by some Ministerial subterfuge. What the honorable member says hurts no one except himself; it gives him a bad name with all those who love justice. I wish to give the Department an opportunity to look into this case.
– Would it” not have been looked into if the honorable member had submitted it to the Department 1
– Possibly. I submitted a case to the Postmaster-General respecting telegrams at Maribyrnong, and received a reply, every line of which was incorrect, as I was able to prove. I was told afterwards by the gentleman who made the report that he had had to eat every word of it; that every word of it was wrong. I have that on record, and can prove it. I wish to place this case on record, so that the Department may see . that the matter has been brought under notice. Men who have* been through the heat of battle, and have escaped with the loss of a uniform have been charged 30s. for a new one, if the statement in this letter is correct. The case is not a solitary one. Hundreds of men have been similarly treated. I have in corroboration of ‘what I say .a statement made byMr. Storey, a member of the New South Wales Legislature, who said that this has. happened in the case of his own son. No doubt the Honorary Minister will look into the case, and if this injustice is being done, will have it stopped, and will see that it does not recur.
– On 10th August, during a discussion on the adjournment of the House, the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Kelly) interjected while I was speaking -
If your action is entirely non-party, why do you give countenance to the obviously untrue statement of Mr. Bedford that any member of this House wishes to infringe the White Australia policy for the Northern Territory?
Mr. Bedford sends me the following comment on that interjection -
Under cover of privilege, Mr. W. Kelly has made certain statements on which there is no evidence. The “statement” attributed to me is. not “ obviously untrue,” because it was never made. I said that . 1 believed “ many of the Liberals “ of the new Parliament to be suspect of complaisance or agreement in this matter “ of getting rid of the Territory at a bargain sale. I repeat the statement of that belief, and, in. support of it, have only to cite the earlier statements and attitude of Messrs. Cook, Bruce Smith, and W. H. Kelly.
Mr. Bedford, in the affidavit which I have read to the House, said, . referring to a conversation with Dr. Gilruth regarding a proposal to sell the Territory -
I have not, so far, published the conversation, and would not now make this declaration did I not believe many of the Liberals of the now Parliament to be suspect of complaisance or agreement in this matter, and did I not apprehend danger to Australia’s development and Australia’s ideal destiny of a highwage country for the white man.
Mr. Bedford has thus answered the challenge of the honorable member for Wentworth.
On the 10th of this month, I read to the House, and submitted for -the con-, sideration of the Minister for Home, and Territories, a lettergram which I received from Darwin. I wish to read now another lettergram that I have received from the secretary to the Russian association in Brisbane. It is7 as follows: -
Darwin branch, Russian Association, wired to Central Russian. Association, Brisbane - Following wire was forwarded by secretary. Australian Workers Union to Russian ConsulGeneral, Melbourne, viz., “ Much indignation here over Russian subject, called Josel Slipshinsky, being fined £50 and three months’ imprisonment for posting unlawfully letter to a person in Germany contrary to War Precautions Regulations. Facts Slipshinsky, brotherinlaw Russian Pole, prisoner war’ in Germany, wrote to him on behalf of his sister. Letter addressed quite openly to German war camp, where prisoners kept. Contents of letter never disputed. Nothing showing treason; never suggested same. Offence purely technical. Defendant wanted get information for sister from her husband. This explained Court, when defendant pleaded guilty. No evidence called by prosecution. Russians and
British here want Crown approached and sentence remitted. Punishment out all proportion. Nominal fine would have met case. Slipshinsky unjustly dealt with. Advise you, in interest justice, make further representations latter. Following reply- was received from Russian Consul to Nelson, secretary Australian Workers - Union: - “Regret have nopower interfere with administration local justice.” Nelson now wiring Attorney-General and members Parliament. Russian Association, Darwin, after considering this, Central Russian Association, Brisbane, passed resolution: - “We protest against imposing on Slipshinsky such heavy, out-of-proportion punishment.” And executive was instructed to lay the matter before you and Mr. Tudor.
Obviously, an outrageous sentence has been imposed on a man who has acted innocently, and has done only what many other citizens of Australia are doing.
– Has the honorable member seen the Attorney-General about the case?
Mr.FINLAYSON.- No; but I have seen the Minister for Home and Territories regarding it. The- case calls for immediate intervention, and I hope- that the Treasurer willassist me in getting’ justice for this Russian, and that it will not be necessary for me to again direct attention to the case before the adjournment of Parliament.
.- The honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Rodgers) made some references, in his absence, to a personal friend of mine, Mr. Austin Chapman, the honorable member for Eden-Monaro. I was a member of the deputation to which the honororable member for Wannon referred, and I amin a position to say that, unintentionally no doubt, he did the honorable member for Eden-Monaro an injustice. He was. led to do so by founding his remarks upon a newspaper report of what took place at an interview with the Minister for Home and Territories (Mr. Glynn). I was a member of the deputation, and spoke in the course of the interview. I wish to say that the honorable member for Eden-Monaro did not ask the Minister to spend a shilling beyond the amount already on the Estimates. What he asked him to do was to expedite as much as possible the plans of the parliamentary buildings’ in order that ‘the foundations might “be gone on with. One member of the deputation advocated that the brickwork might be gone on with as early as possible.
– At what cost?
– At a cost of from £250,000 to £300,000. It was the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Bruce Smith) who advocated that.
– I thought that he was economical.
– I am glad that the Treasurer made that interjection. What the honorable member for Wannon said will appear in the next issue of Hansard, and will represent the honorable member for Eden-Monaro as talking with his tongue inhis cheek, professing to preach economy in this House, and going behind the back of the House to ask Ministers to spend more money.
– I think he is rather dissatisfied that more money is not provided for on the Estimates.
– I am also dissatisfied that there is not- more on the Estimates for theFederal Capital.
– I think the honorable member for Eden-Monaro wants more expenditure there. >
– No, he does not. All that he asked was that the plans of the parliamentary buildings should be expedited. He asked that work should be undertaken that would give employment to general labourers, as, if that were done, many returned soldiers could be employed there in connexion with the repatriation scheme. I say, emphatically, that he never asked for the expenditure of one penny beyond the amount on the Estimates. I am sure that the honorable member for Wannon has no desire to do the honorable member for Eden-Monaro an injustice in this matter.
Mr.RODGERS (Wannon) [10.54].- I am pleased to have heard the remarks made by the honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Page). When I read to the Committee the paragraph upon which I based those remarks, it will -be conceded that I was quite moderate in what I said. In to-day’s Argus there appears the following paragraph : -
Parliamentary Buildings. erection advocated.
A deputation consisting of several members of the House of Representatives and the Senate from the six States, introduced by Mr. Chapman, M.H.R. (N.S.W.), yesterday asked the Minister for Home and Territories (Mr. Glynn) to take steps to expedite the erection of the parliamentary buildings at the Federal Capital. Various speakers pointed out that the Commonwealth had entered into a contract that the Federal Capital should be in New South Wales, and that contract should be fulfilled without further ‘delay. The Minister in charge of repatriation had said that returned soldiers, who were unskilled workers, would be available to carry out the groundwork of the pTOiposed new parliamentary buildings. Sufficient accommodation that would enable the Commonwealth to remove the seat of government to Canberra could be provided at an initial cost of about £300,000. Several of the speakers asserted that their health was being impaired owing to the want of proper ventilation of the present Commonwealth Parliament buildings.
I am pleased to learn from the honorable member for Maranoa that no such request was made by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Austin Chapman). I assure both members that my desire in speaking as I did was to see that no one went behind the back of Parliament to secure the expenditure of £300,000 when requests for . expenditure should be made on the floor of this House.
– I wish to give a few’ more reasons why it is difficult to induce men to voluntarily enlist. ‘ The honorable member for Flinders (Sir William Irvine) is hankering after conscription. I know the honorable gentleman, and know of his tenacity. Like the Prime Minister when he sees a light, he intends to get to it, and the light which he sees is conscription.
– What has that to do with other honorable members?
– I think that the Treasurer is still keen on conscription, and- I am not sure that the honorable member for Flinders will not win him over to his side. I persist in this matter, because I know that by voluntary enlistment we can get the men we require. We cannot get the 16,500 per month that we were told by the Prime Minister were wanted, nor can we get the 7,500 per month that we are told are necessary now for filling up gaps, because that is asking Australia to do more than she can afford in men or in money, considering her isolated position. If the Government look after the voluntary enlistment system properly, we can meet all our obligations in connexion with the war. I had occasion to attack the present Minister for Defence, not to-day, but six years ago, because he allowed the officers to run the show, in spite of the fact that evidence of their inefficiency and unfairness had been brought under his notice. The high cost of living is preventing recruiting. According to the Commonwealth Statistician the purchasing power of the sovereign has been reduced from £1 prior to the war to 14s. -at the present time - a reduction of about 33 per cent. When our men enlisted to go to the Front, the sovereign was worth 20s., and it is now worth 14s. We made provision for paying a private 6s. per day, including1s. deferred pay. God knows when they come back that Is. per day deferred pay will not be too much to give them. Of the other 5s. per day a man might keep1s. for himself, and 7s. per week is not too much to give to a man fighting his country’s battles to spend on what he regards as the necessaries of life. A separation allowance of 10s., with 4½d. per day for each child, was provided for in the case of married men with families. If we treated our men fairly, and desired to obtain recruits by the voluntary system, we would raise their pay in proportion to the reduced purchasing power of the sovereign at the present time, as compared with its purchasing power previous to the’ war. The Treasurer (Sir John Forrest) wrinkles his brow at the suggestion that the soldiers’ pay should be raised, and I freely admit his difficulty in securing necessary revenue for the present and also for the expenditure which will be necessary in the future. Still, we made a Compact with those men when they enlisted to pay them 6s. per day, and they are not receiving its present equivalent. There would be no need for conscription if the Government would give the soldiers adequate payment, and have regard to the diminished value of the sovereign to-day as compared with 1914. There is no scarcity of -patriotism amongst the people of Australia. It is all ..very well to ask the lowly-paid men to be patriotic while the well-paid people are showing no patriotism except in the form of talk and the waving of flags. If the Government, prodded on by the honorable member for Flinders (Sir William Irvine) and other honorable members who believe that voluntary enlistment will not suffice to fill the vacancies in the ranks, propose conscription, it will be the duty of myself and others to point out that there is another method of stimulating enlistment, namely, by giving those who have gone to the Front a fair remuneration. If we ask men to be patriotic enough to risk, their lives, we ought to allow them sufficient money for their own pocket expenses as well as for the upkeep of their dependants. I appeal to the Government,, and especially to the Treasurer, who is supposed to have a large heart, to investigate the facts which have been placed, before the- Committee this evening, in - order to ascertain if there is not some* reason for the falling off in enlistments, other than lack of patriotism on the part of the young men. If the Government will adopt my suggestion there will* be no shortage of men to fill up the vacancies caused in the ranks of our fighting; Forces by casualties and sickness. If, on the other hand, the Government, are looking for trouble, they will deserve all they get. With the aid of the War Precautions Act they may be able to> carry on without consulting Parliament, and, but for the arguments used by thehonorable member for Flinders, I would have thought that the Government were* proposing the adjournment of Parliament for some purpose which I do not wish* them to have the opportunity of effecting.
– Have a little trust in yourfellow creatures.
– Eleven years ago when I entered this. House, I was the- _ biggest optimist in Australia. To-day,, there is no greater pessimist than I. I shall not trust my fellow creatures anymore than I am trusted, and I do not trust the present Ministry in? regard to the question of conscription, because I know that in theheart of every honorable member on theGovernment side is a desire to see that system introduced. I have indicated othermethods which will give an adequatesupply of recruits while obviatingthe necessity for introducing conscription.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Standing Orders suspended, and resolution adopted.
Resolution of Ways and Means coveringresolution of Supply reported and 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 Forres - and passed through all its stages without!, amendment.
Assent to the following Bills reported : -
Naturalization Bill. War Loan (United Kingdom) Bill. Public Works Committee Bill. Committee of Public Accounts Bill.
Bill returned from the Senate without request.
House adjourned at 11.10 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 21 September 1917, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1917/19170921_reps_7_83/>.