7th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon.W. Elliot Johnson) took thechair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– Has the Minister forWorks and Railways seen the statement in to-day’s Age that the opening of the East-West Railway will take place in the first week in November? Are the Statement and the indication of the locality, at which the opening ceremony will take place correct? If not, will the honorable gentleman tell the House the date of the opening and the place where it will take place!
– I glanced at the paragraph this morning. Many of the statements in it are. incorrect, and it was not authorized by the Government. I do not think that the railway oan be opened before the second week in November at the earliest. We are of opinion that the best place for the ceremony of cutting the first ribbon is Kingoonya, about 40 miles further from Port Augusta than the place mentioned in the Age. A platelaying gang, whose work has been discontinued during the strike, will recommence on the eastern end on Saturday.
– Will the Minister see that the date fixed for the opening is one on which it will be convenient for members to attend, and not one on which mem-‘ bers are likely to be scattered all over the Commonwealth ?
– No date has been fixed, . but so soon as it can be fixed I shall acquaint honorable members by telegram, so that they may make arrangements to be present.
-Has the attention of the Treasurer been directed to a statement, on the subject of allowances under the excess profits duty for wear and tear, depreciation, and obsolescenceof assets, prepared by the Board of Inland Revenue in the United Kingdom) which has been presented to the House of Commons?
Will the Treasurer indicate the extent to which the decision of the Board will be followed here in the administration of the War-time Profits Tax Assessment Act?
– The informa tion supplied is as follows: -
The Commissioner of Taxation has directed my attention to a statement prepared by the Board of Inland Revenue in the United Kingdom, entitled “ Statement respecting - .
Proposals as to valuation of stockB; and
Allowances for wear and tear, depreciation, and obsolescence of assets,” which was presented to the House of Commons recently, in which the Board of Inland Revenue lays down certain rules of interpretation of theparts of section 40(3) of the Finance (No. 2) Act, 1915, which are identical with section 11 (1, b, c, and d) of the Wartime Profits Tax Assessment Act 1917, which relate to the modification of the provisions of the Act in regard to the pre-war standard, the computation of the profits of the war-time period, and to the calculation of capital, on account of -
the postponement or suspension, as a consequence of the present war, of renewals or repairs; or
exceptional depreciation or obsolescence of assets employed in the business due to the war; or
the necessity in connexion with the war of providing plant’ which will not be wantedfor purposes of the business after the war.
The principal part of the statement by the Board of Inland Revenue has relation to paragrapho.The interpretation given to that paragraph by the Board is liberal, and will operate to the interests of businesses which have acquired material assets, by construction or purchase during the war, at inflated prices, and which will sink in value to a lower level, or even to scrap value, at the end of the war. The Commissioner of Taxation proposes to follow the lead of the Board of Inland Revenue in this matter, which has been expressed by the Board in the following terms: - “ (3) The allowances extend to any material assets employed in a business, and not merely to machinery and plant. Where these assets have been constructed or acquired during the war at an inflated price, and will sink to a lower level of value, or even to scrap value, at the end of the war, full relief oan be claimed. The measure of the allowance to be made in respect to such assets will be the difference between cost and post-war value. An allowance of the like nature is, of course, applicable also to assets in use before the war, the value of which has fallen owing to war causes. The measure of the allowances in such cases is the difference between the value of the assets (depreciated, or written down for wear and tear) at the date when liability to excess profits duty began and their post-war value. “ (4) Inasmuch as post-war value and the, duration of the war are unknown, the Board of Inland Revenue have been unable, in most cases, to make final allowances of the foregoing character, but where the necessary evidence is furnished that depreciation is taking place, or is inevitable at the end of the war, they are ready to make provisional allowances, subject to subsequent correction. “ (5) Asa general rule, these allowances, whether provisional or final, will be spread,’ i.e., granted by instalments in successive accounting periods during the lifetime of the duty; but in exceptional cases, where new assets are being regularly acquired during successive accounting periods, and the taxpayer desires that the allowance (whether provisional or final) for each asset or group of assets should be wholly or mainly granted in the accounting period in which the asset is acquired, the Board will not object to that course being taken. “(6),. (7), and’ (8) relate to controlled establishments and ordinary wear and’ tear. “ (9) Generally speaking, the ordinary allowance for wear and tear in the case of excess profits duty is of comparatively small importance in so far as it relates to plant and machinery which may be the subject of an allowance for special depreciation owing to the war,as explained above. In such cases the difference between war value and post-war value necessarily includes the ordinary allowance for wear and tear. “(10) This relates to postponement of repairs, &c. “ (11) Reference may also be made to the following points on which questions sometimes arise:-
Where pre-war machinery or plant has become obsolete from causes not actually relating to the war, but arising during the war, and is then replaced, an allowance for the difference between the writtendown value and the scrap value is admissible, and where the replacement is not effected during the war but shortly after, a like allowance may be claimed under section ‘ 40(3) of the Finance (No. 2) Act 1915.
Special depreciation of pre-war buildings due to the war may be allowed for under the same subsection. Normal depreciation taking place equally in the past and in the present, if allowed, would not, in most cases, affect the liability to excess : profits duty.
It will happen, from time. to time, . that a manufacturer will purchase machines, &c, for the purpose of specific contracts, and will wish, from motives of prudence, to write down the value of the machines to a low figure out of the profits of the contracts. In cases in which purchases of this character have regularly occurred, both in the past and in the- present, the nonallowance of a special depreciation beyond the ordinary wear and tear allowance would not normally affect the liability to excess profits duty. Where, on the other hand, purchases of this kind take place only during war periods, they would usually be attributable to war conditions, in which event a special allowance can be claimed under section 40(3) of the Finance (No. 2) Act 1915.”
The High Commissioner will be asked to forward, as soon as possible, full information, showing how the Board of Inland Revenue is applying the foregoing ruling.
– As the second term for which Mr. Justice Higgins was appointed does not expire before September, 1921, will the Government give sufficient time this session to enable the House to consider the desirability of dispensing with that gentleman’s services as President of the Arbitration Court?
– I have not read the whole of the judgment of Mr. Justice Higgins, being too overcome by what I did read to proceed further. Should the last part of it be as bad as the first, I may, in the near future, fall in with the wish of the honorable member, and afford him an opportunity to make such suggestions as he evidently has in his mind.
– Can the Minister for the Navy give the House information as to the decision of the Board that sat to consider the re-arrangement and increase of pay to the men of His Majesty’s Australian Squadron?
– The report has been presented, and, as the result of it, there are upon the Estimates to be laid upon the table a sum of between £50,000 and £60,000 for increased pay and allowances to the men of the Fleet.
– On the 6th inst., the honorable member for Echuca (Mr. Palmer) asked -
The information supplied is -
– In reply to a question asked by the honorable member for Barrier, I have had a return prepared giving particulars of the prosecutions under the War Precautions Act. I lay the paper on the table.
– The honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney) recently asked a question, based on statements, in the Sydney Bulletin, regarding the conduct of medical men at a military hospital in Melbourne. The DirectorGeneral of the Army Medical Service says that he feels sure that the statements are not correct, but that without particulars he cannot make a definite reply. It is asked that the ‘ honorable member shall name the specific hospital in regard to which the complaint was made, so that definite inquiries may be instituted.
The following papers were presented : -
Defence Act.- Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1917, Nos. 225, 226, 230.
War. - Report on the administrations of the National Relief Fund (up to 31st March, 1917) - Paper presented to British Parliament.
War Precautions Act. - Regulations amended- Statutory Rules 1917, Nos. 229 and 243.
– Is the Prime Minister yet able to give me a reply to the questions which I asked last week regarding the arrest of certain men at Port Pirie?
– I have asked the SolicitorGeneral to supply me with information on the subject, but he has not yet done so.
– I ask the Minister for Works and Railways, as Chairman of the Murray Waters Commission, whether, before the adjournment, he can inform the House regarding the progress that is being made in the selection of sites for storage works at the head of the stream, and whether investigations will be made to ascertain also the possibility of storing what would otherwise be waste flood water in depressions adjoining the river ?
– The delay in inspecting and finally selecting the site of the Upper Murray River reservoirs has been due, in recent months, as the Honorable member is no doubt aware, to the flooding of the river. I had a conversation this morning with the Victorian representative on the Commission, who informed me that it would not be possible to inspect the upper river for three weeks at least. As soon as possible the Commission is to be summoned, and will proceed with its officers to the site. I shall see that the honorable member’s further suggestion as to natural reservoirs is also considered by the experts.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Whether within the last two months any persons have been deported, or have been arrested for the purpose of being deported?
– It is considered that, in the interest of the Commonwealth, no information should be given on this matter at present.
Mr.FENTON asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
Whether he has noticed that the New Zealand Government have increased their war pensions by 20 to 25 per cent. ?
Will the Treasurer take similar action so far as Australian soldiers are concerned?
– Inquiries will be made.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Will he ascertain and inform the House what is the proportion of justices of the peace to the adult male population of the various States ?
– The Commonwealth Government has nothing to do with the appointment of justices of the peace.
Scholarships at English Universities.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Minister representing . the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Whether he will bring under the notice of the Commonwealth Advisory Council of Science and Industry the advisability of making inquiries into the claim of Mr. Munro Hull, of “ Cudgeree,” Eumundi, Queensland, to have established a “ tick resistant” breed of cattle?
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– Provision already exists under the War Pensions Act for the grant of pensions to nurses appointed to the Australian Imperial Force.
asked the Minister for Works and Railways, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 25th September, vide page 2703) :
Clause 1 (Short title).
.- I am surprised beyond measure that the
Honorary Minister (Mr. Groom) who is in charge of this Bill did not rfply to the debate on the motion for the second reading, and deal at length with the very many arguments advanced during the discussion.
– The honorable member could not have been present when the debate closed, otherwise he would know that the Minister desired to do so.
Mr.- RODGERS. - I was not present at the moment. I am surprised, however, that the Minister in charge of a Bill which Senator Millen, in introducing it in another place, said, in one aspect! alone, might involve the Commonwealth in an expenditure of £60,000,000-
– Order! The only question before the chair is clause 1 - Short title.
– It has been the invariable custom to allow in Committee a general discussion on the first clause of a Bill.
– Itf has not been the practice to allow such a discussion on the first clause of a Bill of this character, but if it is the desire of the Committee I shall allow if. Is it the wish of the Committee that that course should be followed in this case?
Several honorable members objecting,
– Then the honorable member must confine himself to the clause.
– I take this as a deliberate attempt to stifle a general discussion.
– What! After thirty-one speeches on the motion for the second reading.
– That is immaterial. On the motion for the second reading, many reasons have been advanced why the Bill should not be passed in its present form, and although the Honorary Minister gave close attention to the debate, he has not uttered a word in answer to it. We have had on two occasions the assurance of the Deputy Leader of the Government (Mr. Cook) that the fullest opportunity for the discussion of this measure would be allowed. I do not ask for any repetition of the debate, but I do wish to hear the reply of the Government to criticisms that have been offered. Many ex-Ministers have spoken in opposition to the form in which this measure is framed and there should be some reply on behalf of the Government. I tell the
Minister straight out that he will not lessen the discussion of this Bill in Committee by withholding information that is in his possession. He may have an excellent answer to the arguments that have been advanced. If he can show that there are good reasons why this Bill should be passed in the form of a blank cheque to the Commission - if be can show that the Commission alone should be intrusted with this work - then he may satisfy myself and others that the Bill is drafted in the best form.
– Why attack the Honorary Minister seeing that his own side compelled him to sit down last night when he proposed to reply to the debate on the second reading motion ?
– That might have been a matter of Ministerial tactics, but we are at least entitled to have from the Government a reply to the two day’s debate on this most important measure. The fact that certain honorable members do not desire the Minister to make such a reply does not absolve him from his responsibility .
– Order ! I cannot allow the honorable member to proceed on these lines.
– I have gone to considerable trouble in ascertaining that the practice of this Chamber has been to allow in Committee a general discussion on the first clause of a Bill.
-The honorable member is under a misapprehension. The procedure he mentions has been allowed in the past, with the consent of the Committee, on a clause that is considered vital to the Bill. The only question involved in the clause now before us is whether the title should be the title of the Bill, and it is usual tlo pass such a clause without comment.
– I notice in to-day’s papers some very excellent remarks made by the women of Australia with respect to the non-inclusion of nurses.
– Nurses are included in the scheme, as I have pointed out over and over again.
– Then I submit that the title of the Bill is misleading, because it has caused women who have taken a prominent part in politics in Australia to believe that their sisters at the Front have been deliberately excluded from participation in any repatriation provision. Of course, I feel certain that that is not the intention of the Government, but rather that they desire to treat all our oversea forces in the most generous way. The nurses have stood the brunt of battle, and, in their sphere, have rendered most distinguished and noble services to the men who are actually bearing arms.. I hope we shall have from the Minister a very clear and definite assurance that nurses have not been deliberately excluded.
– I have already said that nurses are deliberately included.
– This is a point on which we ought to be very clear. Up to the present, the Minister in charge has not answered the objections that have been raised to this measure, and has thus departed from a time-honoured custom when Bills of this magnitude are under consideration. Probably a long, detailed debate in Committee would have been avoided if the Minister had taken a different course.
– I rise to a point of order. I submit that what the honorable member is saying has absolutely nothing to do with the particular clause under discussion.
– I have already called the attention of the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Rodgers) ‘to the fact that he is not in order in his remarks regarding the inclusion of nurses. In my opinion, which I think is shared by .every member of the Committee, nurses are included within the title. If the honorable member for Wannon desires to discuss certain matters, he will have an opportunity later on, and I ask him to allow this clause to pass without comment. It is not a matter of the Government departing from the custom, but of the Committee itself doing so. It has been decided that the custom which has been referred to shall not be observed on this clause.
– I respect your view, Mr. Chanter, and also the ruling previously given. I set out to show that the title of the Bill has misled the women of the country into a belief that their sisters serving abroad are not included. However, I accept the assurance of the Minister that these ladies are included, and that the fullest possible provision will be made for them.
– That assurance has been given to the country time and again.
– However that may be, I will not be drawn from an examination of the title of the Bill. I regret that the able speech that the Minister had prepared has not been delivered, and point out that the reasons for this, while known to this House, are not known outside.
– The honorable member is under a misapprehension. As regards the principles of the Bill, he will later on-
– I submit that the Minister ought to keep to the short title.
– I am dealing with the short title. As to the method of procedure, the questions the honorable member wishes to discuss will come up specifically on the various clauses as we proceed, and we shall follow the course constantly adopted.
– But as each clause comes up it will exclude all that is not included in it.
– The honorable member will find that the questions he has raised will come up as we proceed with the Bill, and there will be ample opportunity for full discussion. Of course, we do not propose to traverse the debate of yesterday and discuss the suggested details of the scheme.
– Have you no answer to make to the speeches that ‘have been delivered ?
– I offered to make a reply last night, but the honorable member was not present to hear it. I was blocked by the House.
– That was most unfair.
– I think that the criticism of the honorable member is most unfair. The Minister in charge of the Bill rose last night, intending to make a detailed and lengthy reply, in the firm belief that it would help the Committee stages of the Bill.
– What prevented him?
– No sooner had he begun, than the House unmistakably manifested an indisposition to hear him.
– Order !
.- The title, in my opinion, does not accurately describethe Bill, which is certainly not a soldiers’ repatriation Bill.
– It “ fills the bill.”
-The Bill is nothing but emptiness - only a hollow sham.
– The honorable member may not discuss the Bill.
– I submit that the title should be altered to indicate that this is a Bill not containing a general repatriation scheme, but merely one for the purpose of abolishing an existing committee, and setting up another in its place, and for abolishing the presiding genius in the person of the Prime Minister and setting in his place Senator Millen.
– Order! The honorable gentleman is going beyond the title.
– I cannot see in the Bill any definition which provides that the term “ soldiers “ includes nurses.
– Paragraph (a) of subclause 2 of clause 4 provides that an Australian soldier is a “member of the Forces” within the meaning of the War Pensions Act, and that measure defines a “member of the Forces” as including “ a member of the Army Medical Corps and Nursing Service, who is accepted or appointed by the Director-General of Medical Services for service outside Australia.”
– In order to embrace every person to whom the measure is to apply the short title should be amended to include the Instructional Staff and men attached to embarkation and disembarkation work.
– The definition of “ Member of the Forces” in the War Pensions Act covers “Members of the Commonwealth Naval and Military Forces enlisted or appointed for or employed on active service outside Australia, or employed on a ship of war, or enlisted or appointed for service in connexion with naval or military preparations or operations.”
– Many men have been retained here for work on the Instructional Staff. I am anxious to see that they are not overlooked.
– The matter can best be discussed when we are dealing with the definition clause.
– I understand that provision is being made for the repatriation of Imperial soldiers who wish to settle in Australia.
– It is intended to move an amendment to make the measure apply to Imperial reservists who were settled in Australia before the war broke out.
– I understand that provision is being made in some of the Repatriation Bills of the States to meet the ease of Imperial soldiers who wish to settle in Australia.
.- The Repatriation Bill before the Victorian Parliament provides that any member of the Imperial Forces, no matter where he enlisted, will come under its provisions. The Honorary Minister now tells us that we are making provision in this Bill to advance to each settler, under any State land settlement scheme for soldiers, up to an amount of £500 for the improvement and equipment of his farm. . What will be our position in respect to advances which the States may wish to make to Imperial soldiers who settle on the land under the provisions of their legislation ?
– The honorable member’s remarks are entirely beyond the title. ;
Clause agreed to.
Clause 2 (Commencement).
.- This clause provides that the Act shall come into operation on a day to be fixed by proclamation. Is there any valid reason why it should not commence forthwith?
– The Act cannot be brought into full operation until the Commission which is to be appointed has met and framed regulations to give effect to its policy. A certain amount of time will be necessary before the Act can be proclaimed for the organization of a Department, for the preparation of regulations, and for deciding as to the personnel of the Commission. Similar provision had to be made in the Navigation Bill and in other measures of a similar character passed by this Parliament. However, I can assure honorable members that there will be no delay. From the date of his appointment to the control of this work’ Senator Millen has taken the matter in hand and done much of the detail work preparatory to bringing the measure into operation at as early a date as possible.- We must allow breathing time in order to, make the ordinary preliminary arrangements. The honorable member for Yarra piloted through Parliament a Navigation Act some years ago, and it has not been proclaimed yet. Of course, he is not re sponsible for the delay; what he did was quite justified.
.- Whilst I agree with the Minister that the Act must commence to operate on the date fixed by proclamation; his comparison of this Bill with the Navigation Act was most unfortunate. The Act was passed in 1912, and had to be sent to England for the Imperial assent, because a navigation law can only be assented to by the King. Unfortunately, owing to the outbreak of war, the Imperial Government asked that the proclamation of the Act should be postponed. By reason of the. Navigation Act not being in force, some men were prosecuted in the city last week under the Merchant Service Act of 1854. It may be quite right to defer the proclamation of this Bill until all the preparations are complete, but I hope there will be no undue delay. If the Act is not brought into operation the Government will have no legal power to appoint any Commissioners. The Minister may continue his work and make all preparations, even to the extent of choosing the persons who are to be appointed to the Central Commission. I doubt whether the Government could appoint better men that those’ who have served on the existing Board of Trustees, namely, Mr. Hordern, of Sydney; Mr. Denison Miller, of the Commonwealth Bank; Mr. Baillieu, of Melbourne; Mr. Williams, of the Melbourne Branch of the London Bank; Mr. Garvin, the manager of one of the insurance companies ; and Mr. Grayndler, representing the workers. Those are all men who rank high in the business world of Australia.
– The honorable member is anticipating a latter clause.
– I am merely reminding the Committee that until the Bill is proclaimed the Government will have no power to appoint any Commission, and that is why I urge that there shall be no undue delay in issuing the proclamation.
– I rise to make a personal explanation. I was not aware that when the Minister rose to speak last night the House unanimously expressed a desire that he should not make a speech. The . remarks I made a few minutes ago had no personal relation to the Minister, whom I recognise to be one of the most conscientious workers in the chamber.
-43].- We are informed that Senator Millen has been considering this matter ever since he was placed in charge of repatriation. He has been in charge of the scheme for five month’s, and the sum total of his hard work and investigation is this Bill which proposes to substitute a Board of Commissioners for a Board of Trustees.
– After all, this is a party matter, is it not?
– There is only one new feature in Senator Millen’s speech, and that is the proposal to subsidize private employers for employing men who are partially incapacitated. This is not a party matter, as the Minister for the Navy suggests. The uncertainty and delay in regard to repatriation are being commented upon all over Australia, even by the great journals which support the Government, The Sydney Daily Telegraph, of the 29th March, said in the course of a leading article headed “Repatriation “- -
The country is being periodically assured that the Government is “ dealing with the various other phages of the problem, and that it hopes to settle a virile population upon the lands of Australia.” If the Government has been dealing with “ phases “ of the subject for the last twelve months, it is no wonder that it has made such’ little progress, and that the realization of its laudable hope is still a matter for a remote future.
If the Minister in charge of repatriation has any scheme - and, so far, he has revealed none - he ought to have it ready now. -If he has no scheme ready, what is the purpose of the Bill ? The introduction of the measure could have been delayed, and the activities of the Repatriation Trusees and the State War Councils could have proceeded undisturbed.
– flow long is it since the Government appointed a Secretary of the Repatriation Department ?
– Probably, twelve months; and that man and his staff have been sitting practically in idleness for months at a stretch, because the Government have not been ready to proceed with the repatriation work.
– Does the -honorable member intend to vote against the clause ?
– No. I am trying to hustle this sluggish Government into doing something effective in regard to repatriation.
.- Will this Bill have a retrospective effect? Many cases have been dealt with up to the present time by the existing repatriation organization, but dealt with only im perfectly, and partially. Will a retrospective view be taken of such cases ?
.- The Bill will come into operation on a date to be fixed ; but nothing contained in it precludes a review of the cases already dealt with. It will give the Commissioners an absolutely free hand to deal with a case on its merits. .
Clause agreed to.
Clause 3 agreed to.
Clause 4 -
For the purposes of this Act -
– - I desire to include a definition of the word “child “ in this clause, because in clause 8 the word “children” is used. According to the definition in the War Pensions Act, ““child”, means any dependant under the age of sixteen years. The Minister, on considering the matter, felt that it was desirable to increase the age, and, in another clause, we intend to bring the age up to eighteen years, because it is realized that a great deal of the work of repatriation will relate to education. It is desired to continue education and apprenticeship. For girls and boys the age will be the same. The relief to be given in all cases will be discretionary. We wish the provision to be so wide as to cover all cases up to the a?e of eighteen years. . There will, of course, be children coming up to that age who ought to be dealt with. The question of age can be dealt with on the clause fixing the age of the children. I move -
That the following definition be inserted: - “ Child “ means a son, daughter, stepson, stepdaughter, adopted son or adopted daughter.
– I should like this definition to be as wide in its. scope as the definition in our State Workers’ Compensation Act, by providing also for the cases of illegitimate dependants. The Minister will recognise at once, I think, that if it has been found necessary to make that provision in a,Workers’ Compensation Act it is more necessary in a measure dealing with the dependants of persons who will come under the repatriation scheme. Does the Minister appreciate the point I .am putting ?
– I will get an amendment put in to include children born out of wedlock. The term generally used is exnuptial.
– No; plain language is used in the definition in the State Workers’ Compensation Act.
– Several honorable members have taken exception to the use of the phrase “ ex-nuptial. V
– I am not particular as to the phrase, so long as the Commissioners understand clearly that children who are dependent on a soldier must be provided for. Take, too, the case of a soldier who, himself, was born out of wedlock. His dependants would not come under the ordinary interpreta1tion of the provision. He may have a mother or a father dependent upon him.
– I ask the consent of the Committee to alter my amendment to read as follows: - “ Child “ means a son or daughter, whether ex-nuptial or not, stepson, stepdaughter, adopted son, or adopted daughter.
.- I would prefer the Minister to introduce those words at the end of his amendment. In its present form it may suggest! that there is a tremendous number of such children in Australia, and that we are dealing primarily with them.
– Oh, no!
– While, of course, we are all anxious to see that justice is done to ex-nuptial children, we do not wish to adopt any words which would brand the children as being different from other children in the community. It is not the fault of the youngsters that they were born out of wedlock. We do not desire to use any words in the provision which would be offensive to children, or to suggest to the community that we are legislating primarily on behalf of such children.
– What about the case of a child who was born, say, twelve months after the mother’s husband left for the Front? Will such children benefit under the Bill .
– I candidly admit that difficulties will arise, as any honorable member will understand who has had any association with the administration of a benefit fund or funds collected for the relief of widows. I have been treasurer for two or three funds. The widows of men who have been killed receive benefits from the funds, but difficulties arise on account of children.
– If the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Tudor) likes, T shall add to my original amendment the words “ and includes an ex-nuptial child.!’
– That will do.
– I ask leave, sir, to alter the amendment accordingly. It may not be the usual form of drafting, but, still, it will suffice.
Amendment amended accordingly.
Mr. HEITMANN (Kalgoorlie [11.58]. - This matter is more important than many honorable members seem to imagine. While we naturally do not wish to publish the fact that such children exist, still, I would rather publish the fact a thousand times than that no provision should be made on their behalf. Our State Workers Compensation Act contains this provision - “ Member of a family” means wife or husband, father, mother, grandfather, grandmother, stepfather, stepmother, son, daughter, illegitimate son, illegitimate daughter, grandson, granddaughter, stepson, stepdaughter, brother, sister, half-brother, half-sister ; and, with respect to an illegitimate1 worker, includes his mother, and his brothers and sisters, whether legitimate or illegitimate, by the same father and mother.
In Western Australia this provision has proved to be very useful, and a benefit has resulted in a number of cases. If I could rely upon the power of the Commissioners being sufficiently elastic to deal with the cases of illegitimate children, I would not mind the proposed definition being inserted in the clause. But I find that the officers of the Defence Department are continually hiding themselves behind the Defence Act and the regulations. Knowing full well that acts of injustice are being done, they will simply tell one if he inquires, “ That is the Act, and there it is.” Let me give an instance. Time after time I have been to the Department to find out why the wife of a soldier who lives in some other part of the world cannot receive a separation allowance, and the only reason I can ascertain is that the Act does not provide for her case. I have never got further than that, either with the Honorary Minister, who at all times endeavours to give me all possible information, or with the Minister for Defence or any of his officers. In this case I am not prepared to give an opportunity to the Commissioners to escape from the provision of assistance for the class of children whose cause I am advocating.
– You are getting what you want in this amendment.
.- Apparently the difficulty of drafting an amendment to meet the cases he wants to provide for has induced the Honorary Minister to prepare an amendment which, being rather wide in scope, may cover more cases than ought to be covered. It also includes cases which should not be covered.
– But the parentage must always be traced to the soldier.
– Let us take the cases of some soldiers who have been on active service for three years. They each left here a wife and a family, but two years after their departure for the Front the family increased. I suppose that such children will be included in this definition. I presume that the children have as much claim to be considered as a child who was born out of wedlock.
– No, because the child is not the offspring of a soldier who is at the Front.
– That is true, but the mother of the child is the wife of an absent soldier. If it is intended to provide for children born out of wedlock, that is prior to the marriage of the soldier before he went on active service, we may have to deal with the cases of children belonging to the wife of a soldier, but not his children. Again, children may have been adopted by a soldier.
– In that case the children are provided for.
– Yes; but those children are just as much illegitimate as a child who is born to the wife of a soldier after he has gone to the Front.
Mr.Wise. - That is a different thing altogether.
– What about the case of an illegitimate child born to a woman after her marriage? We cannot treat a mother of that type in the ordinary way. Where a man has been away from Australia on active service for a period, say, of one year, there can be no doubt as to the paternity of a child that is born to the wife afterwards. How are such cases to be dealt with?
.- I should like to know whether provision has been made for the appointment of trustees for children, not only in cases where they are without guardians, but also in cases where the natural guardians are entirely unsuitable to have control of the children.
– That question will not arise under this provision.
– There is no such provision in the Bill, so far as I can see.
– Still, the measure is wide enough to allow regulations to be framed to meet such cases.
Amendment agreed to.
.- If I have an absolute assurance from the Honorary Minister that this course will be adopted, I shall not move an amendment which I have prepared, and which is to insert this definition : - “ Repatriation “ includes all matters and things pertaining to the care of the sick, the maimed, and the afflicted on their return to Australia. ‘
I think that such a definition ought to be included in this clause. I wish to feel absolutely certain that when any soldiers come back, are put into a sanatorium, and need training, everything in connexion with that sort of work will not come within the scope of the Defence Department. With a huge Department to control, the Minister for Defence has no time to look after such matters. And what is more, from what I have seen of the administration by many of his officers in regard to the welfare of those who have been left behind by soldiers, the dependants have not received that care and attention which they ought to have received. I am not satisfied that anything which comes within the sphere of repatriation should be left to the control of the Department. If, however, the Honorary Minister will give me an absolute assurance that all the matters I allude to will come under the control of the Repatriation Commission, I shall not move the amendment I have prepared.
– I can give the honorable member a definite assurance. The intention is that, generally speaking, the injured and maimed men, on discharge, will pass under the Repatriation Department. This is what he contemplates : - Suppose that a man has been in hospital suffering from shell shock or wounds or other serious injury, and has obtained his discharge from the Department. The military hospital has done all it possibly can for him, and has finished with him. After discharge the principle will be that he will come under the scheme of repatriation. The honorable member has touched on the very point that Senator Millen puts as one of the most pressing questions of all, that is, affecting the injured and disabled men. .A great deal of the discussion has been devoted to the question of dealing with the healthy and the strong.
– We read in the press the other day that, as a matter of administration, the Minister for Defence was making arrangements for some persons to come here to start the manufacture of artificial limbs.
– That referred to preliminary negotiations. It is necessary to deal with the healthy and strong, but we must also deal with a large number of men who are returning disabled, having lost limbs or suffering from shell shock. Many of these will require special treatment. Senator Millen is giving a great deal of his time to the question of dealing with those men. In the Old Country that matter was the subject of special care by Mr. Barnes, the Minister for Pensions.
– Would it not come under the heading of curative workshops?
– Partly. When a soldier is discharged he passes out of the control of the Department, and the matter of providing for him comes distinctly under the repatriation organization.
– Automatically ?
– Yes; but while the injured man is still in the military hospital, and before he gets his discharge, he may be subjected to treatment for the use and training of the muscles. So far, certain forms of treatment have been provided, such as the use of the bicycle. Experience has shown that if similar exercises can be given in curative workshops, instead of being in a way which has no purpose and leads to nothing, they give the man a sustained interest in life.
– The honorable member is a long way outside the question before the Committee.
– I was trying to show that for the reason I have mentioned some of the training will have to be given in the military hospitals.
– Why not let the repatriation department take over the military hospitals when the men come out here?
– These cases must remain under .the Defence Department, because the men are not discharged, and are receiving military pay, and are entitled to military rights, while still subject to military discipline. The honorable member can rest assured that the Minister for Defence will be only too pleased to allow the Minister for Repatriation to take over these men as soon as they can be discharged. The Defence Department has quite enough to do without retaining unnecessary branches of work. I am sure that is the line on which the two Ministers will co-operate to work the scheme.
– Although the speech of the Minister (Mr. Groom) would occupy a page of this Bill, I do not know now what his criticism is of the suggestion of the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. “ Gregory) that we should include in the Bill a definition of repatriation. I take it that the honorable member for Dampier is a little afraid that, by-and-by, cases may be held to be outside the province of this measure, and that he wants to take care that every possible happening to a man who does us the great service of going to the Front shall be comprehended in the measure. That ia the very essence of the Bill - that we should know who is to come under it and who is not.
Therefore, one of the first definitions we want is one showing what repatriation means. What better tribunal could we have to settle that on behalf of the Commonwealth than this Committee? Unless the Minister (Mr. Groom) can improve on the definition suggested, he ought to adopt it.
– i do not think the honorable member for Dampier intended his to be a comprehensive definition of all phases of repatriation.
.- The honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) and the Minister (Mr. Groom) are just beginning to conceive the difficulty they are in because they have not dealt with fundamentals. i have given notice of an amendment to include a schedule to deal with some settled principles of the Bill, one of them being -
Full responsibility for therestoration to health of our oversea Forces shall rest upon the Federal Parliament under this Bill.
That embraces everything.
– That only includes onehalf of repatriation. When you try to make a definition, the result often is to limit.
– Discussion may result in a more comprehensive definition. Already cases are occurring of men having gone back somewhere up country and suffering a relapse. They have to receive nursing and medical attention, and are landed with a bill which they have to pay out of their own pockets. Unless some definite responsibility is undertaken, we shall find that repatriation will not cover cases that certainly should come under the Bill.
Mr. Mcwilliams (Franklin) [12.14]. - I hope the suggestion of the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) will be accepted. It is one of the most important matters with which we have to deal. There will be very serious difficulty, confusion, and conflict between the two Departments if soldiers returning here maimed or ill have to go into military hospitals and remain under the control of the Defence Department for a certain period, and then be transferred to the Repatriation Department. What I think the honorable member for Dampier wants, and certainly what I want, is a complete divorce of the Repatriation Department from the Defence Department. Immediately the returned soldier lands in Australia he should automatically pass under the control of the Repatriation Department.
– But he has not been discharged when he lands.
– There is no reason why an arrangement should not be made by which these military hospitals shall be under the control of the Repatriation Department. These are two friendly Departments, acting under Ministers responsible to the House.
– Military discipline is essential in the hospitals, but immediately a man is discharged military discipline ceases.
– There is no reason why the man should be discharged, or why he should not remain a soldier, but be subject to, and dealt with by, the Repatriation Department. From one end of Australia to the other a feeling of distrust and dissatisfaction is growing up about the manner in which returned soldiers are being dealt with under the Defence Department as it exists to-day. One cannot shut one’s ears to it, and every honorable member knows it is a fact. Now is our’ chance to remedy it. We are attempting to make a machine as perfect as possible to deal with returned men, and the first great step in the reform should be taken the moment a wounded soldier lands in Australia. He should then be taken in charge by the Repatriation Department, instead of being allowed to remain under the control of the Defence Department for an indefinite period. If the Repatriation Department is to be the success we hope for, it must have full and complete control of the returned soldier from the day he lands here. I hope the Committee will see that some definition is put in the Bill, or some assurance given by the Minister to insure this being done.
– I agree with what is in the minds of both the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Rodgers) and the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory). The Committee must start to construct a scheme into the Bill, and those honorable members are beginning the right way to do it, but the ideas of both are too limited. The honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Rodgers) puts forward a definition which charges the Federal Parliament with the responsibility of restoring returned soldiers to health. We must go far beyond that, and re-habilitate and establish them in civil life.
– I come to that afterwards.
– We cannot lay down the scope of our work in a number of definitions.
– I do not propose it as a definition. I propose in a schedule to set out briefly some of the fundamentals of this scheme, one of which is restoration to health, another restoration to civil life, and so on.
– No doubt there is a great deal of merit in the honorable member’s complete proposal. But where is it? Perhaps when the Treasurer has finished trying to persuade the honorable member for Dampier to withdraw his amendment I may be allowed to make a suggestion to the honorable member.
– The honorable member is a very bad guesser.
– I would suggest to the honorable member for Dampier that while his amendment is good as far as it goes, he should extend it to include the dependants of soldiers.
– I do not anticipate that they will want wooden legs or arms, or nerve treatment.
– I understood that the honorable member wishedto put in a definition of repatriation.
– I suggest that we should say that repatriation includes certain things.
– If we say it includes certain things, then by inference it excludes what is not mentioned. The amendment should be more comprehensive, to include other purposes which every member has in mind. The honorable member is on the right track, but I ask him to include in the definition of repatriation activity the widows and dependants of soldiers.
.- I do not approve of inserting definitions in the Bill unless they are absolutely necessary, because it is likely they will hamper the repatriation authority in the work which lies before it. It seems to me that it would be wise to gather experience as time goes on, and subsequently to review and, if necessary, improve this measure. Honorable members who desire these definitions to be inserted would do’ well to wait, because it is possible their insertion would limit the powers of the repatriation authority instead of est ending the scope of the Bill.
.- If any attempt is to be made to define the scope of the repatriation scheme I hope, at all events, that the authorities will be allowed to take preliminary steps in England after the consummation of peace, There seems to be an idea that it is possible to define clearly where the responsibility of the Defence Department ends and that of the Repatriation authorities commences. After the declaration of peace many thousands of our soldiers will necessarily be obliged to remain in England for some time, and ifthis country has any national sanity at all it ought to provide facilities for those men to get experience in some specialized calling, so that upon their return to this country theymay be of addedvalue to it. I have had certain correspondence with the Minister for Repatriation on this matter, and I should like to have it ventilated now that this question of definitions is under consideration. The military authorities even now should be considering the possibility of arranging for the apprenticeship in England of suitable men, who, after the declaration of peace, may be required to remain in England for some time awaiting transhipment to Australia. It should be the object of this Government to see that after peace has been declared certain numbers of our soldiers in England will have the opportunity of gaining knowledge of such specialized industries as may be established in this country upon their return. For that reason I do not desire to see any attempt made at definitions in this clause, and I view with suspicion any attempt to limit the scope of the measure.
– If I can get an assurance from the Minister that the men will be under the control of the Minister for Repatriation I will be satisfied.
– One cannot be too careful when dealing with definitions, which, in themselves, suggest a limitation of the scope of the measure. With the honorable member for Illawarra (Mr. Lamond), I think that at present we are in a somewhat hazy position with regard to repatriation. When this involved problem receives consideration by thf authority to be constituted, new aspects will be presented, and we should not in any way prejudice that consideration by inserting in the definitions anything of a binding nature.
– Do you suggest that all the men should remain under the control of the Defence Department until they are discharged?
– I do not see how that ‘ can be avoided.
– Until the repatriation scheme is in operation they must remain under the Defence Department.
– Until a man is discharged we will not be in a position to know if he is to be repatriated. For instance, a man might return to Australia convalescent after an attack of typhoid fever, and might be more fit to return to ‘ the Front after the voyage than a man who bad been slightly wounded. I regret that this question of the definitions has been introduced at this stage.
.- I am rather surprised at the suggestion that there should be a departure from the principle laid down that a soldier will come under the jurisdiction of the Repatriation authorities when he is discharged. There now appears a disposition to load the Commissioners with other duties, notwithstanding that the Defence Department has had considerable experience in this matter.
– The work has been done very badly.
– I disagree entirely from the honorable member’s statement that the general public of Australia are dissatisfied in this matter, and I recommend the honorable member to inspect some of the hospitals that have been established by the Department.
– Some of the officials ought to be in gaol for neglect.
– General statements of that nature are wrong. Under this scheme it is proposed that returned men shall come under the Repatriation authorities after their discharge. That is the best line to adopt. If, however, we are going to ask the Repatriation Commissioners to take charge of men who come out on hospital ships, and whose health has not been re-established, it will simply mean that they will be handed over from an authority which has all the machinery in work ing order to another body probably totally unfitted to control. If, as has been suggested, officers of the Defence Department have not shown themselves efficient in their work, what guarantee is there that this new and inexperienced Department will prove more efficient? That seems to be a point which has been entirely overlooked. The Honorary Commissioners for Repatriation will have enough work to do in arranging for the future of a soldier according to his circumstances and his means, without having these extra duties cast upon them. Definitions always narrow the scope of. a measure, and I should like to see plenty of room for the Commissioners to gather experience as they go along.
– I agree with “what the honorable member for Illawarra (Mr. Lamond) and the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Kelly) have said with regard to the inadvisableness of hampering the Commissioners, and I think, also, the criticism of medical men in the Defence Department is altogether too sweeping. Everybody knows that mistakes have been made. Necessarily, in a huge organization like the Defence Department mistakes will occur, but I invite honorable members to go out to the Caulfield Hospital and there see what is being done for our returned soldiers. And that hospital is not the only one of its kind. Others in the various States, I presume, have been organized in the same way. We cannot be too grateful for the splendid work which our medical men and nurses have done for our soldiers.
– That is one branch of the organization which reflects credit upon the Department.
– In addition, all branches of our military organization are entitled to credit for the manner in which they have organized in connexion with our overseas army, but we must remember that defects and blunders will occur in the working; of a new system, although these are being rectified as time goes on. After the war is over it is likely that the military hospitals will become too large for administration by the Defence Department, and perhaps they could be made better use of as part of the great organization for repatriation. As has been stated by the honorable member for Illawarra, we shall probably require to amend the
Act every twelve months, but, in the meantime, it will perhaps be advisable for the Repatriation Commission to get into touch with the Defence Department in order that these hospitals may be passed over to that body at the end of the War.
.- All those who have been at close quarters with this subject of repatriation for some time are anxious that some definite scheme shall be laid down. There were on the Central Board which dealt with this question, brilliant men of great business capacity who had been drawn from all parts of Australia. They were presided over by the Prime Minister, and their object was to do their utmost in the direction of repatriating our soldiers. But they had no definite plan before them, and, consequently, their labours were practically futile. I am satisfied that not one of those gentlemen would accept a trusteeship under this Bill for all the tea in China. Yet honorable members who have not come into close touch with the subject of repatriation are desirous of leaving the entire scheme to members of the Central Commission which is to be appointed under this Bill.
, - I can assure the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Sampson) that after a soldier has been discharged maimed and injured, he will pass from- the control of the Defence Department to that of the Repatriation Department. The manufacture and maintenance of artificial limbs is an essential part of the repatriation scheme. In reply to the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory), I would say that general allegations against our military hospitals are very difficult to sustain. As a matter of fact, the administration of these institutions has been exceptionally good, and We are under a deep debt of gratitude to the medical men who, in many instances, have rendered magnificent service by devoting the whole of their experience and knowledge to the inmates of these hospitals. They have made great self-sacrifice, which should be recognised. The position is that a soldier returning from the Front maimed and injured, will be met on his arrival and taken immediately to one of our military hospitals, where he will be subjected to treatment. The treatment which aims at restoring the use of his limbs will be started as early as possible, immediately upon his discharge he will pass under the control of the Repatriation Department. Effect will, therefore, be given to the desire of .the honorable member for Wimmera.
– I desire, by way of personal explanation, to say that so eager am I that all these men should be placed under the control of the Minister for -Repatriation, that I was obliged, to some extent, to reflect on the Base Hospital. The incident which I am about to relate came under my own personal notice. A lad was sent from Seymour to ‘ Melbourne by an early train, which arrived here about midday. At 3 o’clock the same afternoon a friend visited the Base Hospital for the purpose of seeing him. At that time there was no record that the boy had arrived there. At 4.30 o’clock there was still no record of his admission to the institution, ‘and he had not then been examined by a doctor, although he was supposed tlo be suffering from meningitis.
–Surely he was not sent down by train if he Were thought to be suffering from meningitis?
– Certainly he was. How else could he be sent 1
Mi-. FENTON (Maribymong) [12.42]. - Reverting to the point raised bv the honorable member for Wentworth, I should like to know whether, when the battle flag has been furled, the large number of Australian troops who will be obliged to remain on the other side of the world for some time, will automatically pass under the control of the Repatriation Department ?
.- Our soldiers overseas have- enlisted for service abroad, and it is our obligation to return them to Australia. But they will not pass from the control of the Defence Department to that of the Repatriation Department until they have received their discharge. The idea of the honorable member for Maribyrnong is that there will be a certain number of men who will be obliged to remain in England, and who may desire to secure a training in some particular avocation before their return to Australia. I will submit that point for the consideration of the Minister.
.- I think that a selection ought to be made of the men overseas for the purpose of giving them a training in England. Some of them may have to remain in the Old Country for two years. The suggestion made by the honorable member for Maribyrnong is a very valuable one. If men are given a training such as has been suggested, they will be of greater value when they return to Australia.
.- It is estimated by those who are in a position to judge that, after the war has terminated, at least two years will elapse before the last Australian soldier can be shipped from the Old Country. If in the interval our men can be usefully employed, that will be infinitely better than keeping them in camp. We all know that recruits who have been kept in camp in Australia for several months become very discontented. They say, “For Heaven’s sake, give us our discharge unless you are prepared to send us away.” When the terrible struggle which is now in progress has concluded, and our men are returned to England,those who are familiar with Australians know what they will be likely to do if they are kept idly in camp. This problem will be a most difficult one to solve. But if whilst they are in England they are able to supplement their knowledge of any particular trade or calling-
– I am afraid that the English workers will have something to say about our full-grown men butting in as apprentices.
– My only desire is to make the Bill as perfect as possible, so that we may give effect to the desire of every person in Australia.
. -I move -
That all the words after “ Act” in sub-clause (2) be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following paragraphs : -
Any person who is or has been a memberof the Commonwealth Naval or Military Forces enlisted or appointed for or employed on active service outside Australia or employed on a ship of war ; or
who is or has been amember of the Army Medical Corps Nursing Services accepted or appointed by the Director-General of Medical Services for service outside Australia; or
is serving or has served during the present war in the Naval or Military Forces of any part of the King’s Dominions other than the Commonwealth, who proves to the satisfaction of the Commissioner that he had, before his enlistment or appointment -for service, settled in the
Commonwealth; shall be deemed to be an Australian soldierwithin the meaning of this Act.
– Will that include a nurse who has been accepted by the Red Cross Society and afterwards moved into the Imperial Service?
– I am afraid that this definition does not quite cover the case of the nurses to whom the honorable member for Parkes has referred.
– They should be included. Some of them passed into the French service as well as into the Imperial service.
– I am prepared to include all Australian nurses who have served with the Imperial Forces in connexion with the war. Tha exact terminology necessary to cover the case of the nurses referred to by the honorable member for Parkes can be settled later. I suggest that, in the meantime, the Committee might accept the amendment as I have submitted it:
– Will this definition include the soldier and his dependants, as set out in the War Pensions Act? We should avoid the necessity of the soldier or the public requiring to consult the War Pensions Act, this measure, and also the
– This will cover what was contained in the Bill by reference to the definitions of the War Pensions Act. But, as regards dependants, this Bill dealing with repatriation will cover the soldier, the children of deceased and incapacitated soldiers, and in special cases the widow. It will not include other dependants, such as the mother, father, stepmother, and so on. Their case is met by the War Pensious Act, which applies to them to the extent of their dependence on the soldier.
– Will this include the widowed mother?
– No; she is provided for under the War Pensions Act.
.- I wish to direct the attention of the Honorary Minister to the legislation that is being passed by the Victorian Parliament. This Bill deals exclusively with Australian soldiers, but the Soldiers Settlement Bill, which has just passed the Victorian Legislative Assembly, deals with all soldiers. One definition in that measure of the persons covered by it reads -
Any person not having been a resident in the Commonwealth who served in such war as an officer or member of His Majesty’s Naval or Military Forces, other than any Naval or Military Forces raised in the Commonwealth, and has come to Victoria, and whose appointment has terminated, or who has received his discharge.
I should like to ask whether the Minister does not consider that it would be advisable to secure uniformity between the Commonwealth and State legislation in this connexion?
– Repatriation covers an enormous area, and is limited only by what is contained in this Bill providing for assistance and benefits to returned soldiers as set out in clause 8. It would be a very serious matter to throw upon the Commonwealth the burden of a repatriation scheme to cover all persons throughout the Empire who have served in British Naval or Military Forces, and who choose to come to Australia. That may be legitimately done by State legislation intended to provide for land settlement by soldiers. The idea of that legislation is that discharged soldiers may become permanent residents in the Commonwealth, and that immigration may be promoted.
– It would be altogether too big a burden for the Commonwealth to provide for the repatriation of all soldiers dischargedfrom British services on the same terms as those provided in this Bill for returned Australian soldiers.
– The repatriation contemplated by this measure is confined to Australian soldiers.
– Is it not somewhat anomalous that the legislation in this connexion of the Commonwealth Parliament should be less comprehensive than that cf a State?
– No, because the two authorities are dealing with different problems.
Sitting suspended from1 to 2.30 p.m.
– With the consent of the Committee, I shall substitute the following amendment for that previously stated from the Chair: -
That sub-clause (2) be omitted and the following sub-clause be inserted in lieu thereof : - “ (2) For the purposes of this Act any person who -
is or has been, during the present war, a member of the Naval or Military
Forces enlisted or appointed for or employed on active service outside Australia or employed on a ship of war; or
That amendment gives effect to the promise to include in the definition women residents of Australia who enlisted in the Army Medical Service Corps of other parts of the Empire. As to the definition contained in the Victorian measure for the settlement of discharged soldiers, it includes any person who has served in the war, even though he may not previously have been a resident of the Commonwealth. We cannot make our definition so wide. Presumably each part of the Empire will provide for the repatriation of its own returned men, and for “their employment. The State measure covers men from other parts of the Empire who wish to settle in Victoria.
– Certain training establishments are to be used in connexion with the settlement scheme.
– Yes, but largely for the training of men of the class to which I refer. I spoke to the Minister in charge of Repatriation on the subject, and he told me that the immigration of such men is now the subject of correspondence between this Government and the Imperial Government. Under the circumstances it is wise for us to confine our legislation to the problem that we have to face - the repatriation of our own men.
– Under our scheme why should not a British soldier - say a mechanic - have the same opportunities to engage in work here as an Australian soldier ?
– That question opens up a bigger problem, which will face us after the war. It concerns immigration rather than repatriation.
– The State authorities are already dealing with this matter.
– Only as regards land settlement. I do not think that we are in a position at present to consider it. Mr. MoWilliams. - We shall have quite enough to do to provide for our own men.
– That is our first obligation. Personally, I should view with satisfaction the advent in Australia of any person who has risked his life in the defence of the Empire, and I am sure that such persons will receive sympathetic treatment.
– If what the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Sampson) suggests were done, reciprocal arrangements between the various parts of the Empire would be necessary, and in making them the measures passed by other parts of the Empire would have to be considered carefully. It is estimated that we shall have to provide for the repatriation of about 250,000 men. If it is going to cost anything up to £100,000,000 to provide for them, no Government can be expected lightly to agree to the opening of the door wider. Naturally, if soldiers get better conditions here than elsewhere, they will come here. But we have quite enough, to do in providing for those who went from Australia. As the Minister says, any others who come here will receive sympathetic treatment. The task of repatriation will tax the energies, not only of Ministers,” but of every man who sits in this Parliament for the next ten years.
.- In February, 1916, there was a Conference between the Commonwealth and the States, which preceded the introduction of the Victorian measure to which reference has been made. I do not know whether the Minister has since had a conference with the Victorian Minister for Lands (Mr. Hutchinson), though there has been opportunity for it while the Bill has been going through the Victorian Parliament. I raised this question on clause 1, and raise it again now for this reason : When Sir Rider Haggard visited Australia and New Zealand some time ago he arranged with the various Governments that in land settlement the same treatment should be accorded to soldiers who had enlisted in any other part of the Empire as was given to our own soldiers. A tentative arrangement was made, and Sir Eider Haggard cabled it to the Old Country and elsewhere. The Victorian measure honours the compact which was then made. Under the Bill as it stands, the Commonwealth will provide for the granting of sums up to £500 to any Australian soldier settled on the land of this country, but no provision will be made for a soldier from any other part of the Empire who has elected to throw in his lot with us. As the Minister has pointed out, a much larger question than repatriation is being opened up - the readjustment, after the war, of the population of the Empire. I hope that the Ministry will endeavour to bring about reciprocal arrangements between the various parts of the Empire, particularly in regard to land settlement, so that the same provision may be made for soldiers from other Dominions as for our own.
– There is a doubt which I should like the Minister to settle. Under the Bill, the Commonwealth assists the States , by way of loan, for their expenditure on land which is to be given to returned soldiers. The States are also carrying on schemes of their own for the settlement of men on the land. I wish to know how we have limited the obligations of the Commonwealth in regard to those advances. Is a careful distinction to be made between Commonwealth and State undertakings ?
– In January of this year a Conference was held between the Premiers of the States, in which the question of repatriation, including land settlement, was discussed, and this definite agreement was come to -
That this Committee recommends to the Conference that the Commonwealth Government should agree to provide the necessary money on loan to the different States for the purpose of the settlement of returned soldiers on the land, such moneys to be advanced to soldiers for land “settlement purposes on the terms and conditions of the following resolution of the Conference held in Melbourne in February, 1916:- “9. That loans to soldiers for land settlement purposes, as. provided by resolution 3, will be advanced at reasonable rates of interest, not exceeding 3£ per cent, in the first year, increasing by I per cent, each subsequent year to the full rate of interest at which the money has been raised, plus working expenses; the difference between these rates and the cost to the Government of the money to be borne equally by the Commonwealth Government and the State Government.”
The Commonwealth has agreed to lend money to the States. No limit has yet been placed on the amount.
– For what precise purpose is the money to be lent?
– So that it may be loaned out by the State authorities to returned soldiers to pay for fixed improvements, stock, the purchase of plant, and other things.
– Is there anything in the agreement relating to soldiers who are not Australians?
– The agreement’ apparently refers only to the settlement of Australian returned soldiers.
– What check has the Commonwealth on the judgment of the State authorities in respect of advances ?
– Only to see that it is applied to advances for the purposes specified. The States have control of the land.
– I ask the honorable member not to debate, that matter.
– Perhaps I can deal with it on another clause.
– Is not this the place to discuss it?
– Our definition of returned reservist soldier restricts the application of the measure to persons who resided in Australia. The question raised is: Does the agreement with the States cover, so far as land settlement is concerned, soldiers who before the war were not residents of Australia? On the face of it. that agreement appears to deal with the settlement of our returned soldiers on the land. Mr. Sampson. - This agreement applies to all the States except Queensland.
– To all who decide to come under it, but for the time being Queensland has not done so. . For the purposes of the working of this scheme a Board, consisting of a Minister from each State and a Commonwealth Minister, to be known as the Soldiers’ Settlement Board, is to be constituted.
– Is not the money to be loaned for the specific purpose of repatriating our soldiers?
– The Victorian Bill does not make any provision for the Board mentioned by the Minister.
– Order !
– I am afraid I would not be in order in going into these details at the present stage.
– We want to know what limit there is to our liability, and what control we shall have over the judgment exercised by the States in making advances.
– We shall be able to discuss the whole question at a later stage.
.- This is a question that sooner or later must be discussed. I raised it in the course of my second-reading speech, when I said that if the Commonwealth had to provide the money and the States were to spend it, I could not think of anything more likely to lead to extravagance. I do not know, Mr. Chairman, whether you will allow us to discuss this question on the clause now under consideration, but I am anxious that we should have an opportunity ito discuss it.
– This Bill does not give authority for lending any money to the States.
– But the basis upon which this Bill is to rest is well known.
– Before the Commonwealth Government advances any money to the States for this purpose, the authority of the Parliament must be obtained.
– The honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) reminds me that advances have already been made.
– Order ! The Standing Orders provide that when an amendment is moved to a clause the discussion must be confined to that amendment. The discussion now taking place relates to something that is really outaide the scope of the Bill. This is really a machinery measure. I ask the Committee to assist me in upholding the Standing Orders.
– On the point of order, sir, I am -sure we shall support you in your endeavour to keep the debate within the Standing Orders; but I venture to think that you have not quite recognised that in this Bill we have a proposal to guarantee to the States money to be expended as part of the consideration which our soldiers are to Have provided for them on their return, and that in the particular clause now under consideration we are attempting to define what people shall enjoy the benefits of the Bill. Part of those benefits will be the participation in certain expenditure to be made by the States, and we are endeavouring now to ascertain what limitation there is to the responsibilities of the Commonwealth, which is ultimately to pay the cost. The honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Rodgers) has just told us that, in one of the State Bills, no provision is made for any check by the Commonwealth authorities on the State activities, in advancing money, nor on the good judgment of the State authorities in making advances. Under this arrangement we shall be paying while the State is expending; and as the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Tudor) has said, such an arrangement might lead to endless extravagance.
-.- Order ! I regret again to intervene, but I would point out that this discussion arose as the result of a question which the honorable member put by way of interjection, to the Minister in charge of the Bill, and to which I allowed the Minister to make a passing reply. No one is more familiar with the principles of parliamentary procedure than is tine honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Bruce Smith) ; and he knows that when an amendment to a clause is moved the discussion must be confined to the amendment in connexion with the clause to which it applies.
– You are quite right, Mr. Chairman. I admit that I was straying from the point of order into a general debate. I should now like you to consider whether the question of what provision is made in this Bill for the limitation of our responsibilities in respect of the advances to be made to the class of persons whom we are defining under this clause is not relevant to the discussion of the clause itself.
– I cannot help thinking that perhaps you, Mr.
Chairman, do not entirely appreciate as yet the fact that if the scope of this measure is not defined in the clause before us there is no other clause in which it can be defined. By way of illustration, I would point out that an agreement has been made under which we are to advance certain moneys to the States, and that in one if not more of the State Parliaments legislation has been introduced providing that the money, or some portion of the money so advanced shall be used in assisting, not merely our own soldiers, as defined in this clause, but soldiers of the Empire other than Australians. As you have pointed out, this is merely a machinery Bill. It provides for the erection of certain classes of machinery the operations of which are by this clause to be limited to Australian soldiers. After the clause is passed we shall be precluded from dealing with the question of whether the machinery created by this measure ought to apply to other than those defined in the clause. It may be a very material matter to determine whether the machinery should not be large enough to include other than Australian soldiers; but if the question cannot be raised under this clause I do not think it can be discussed on any other provision in the Bill.
– It is not usual for the Chair to indicate where certain amendments may be made or questions discussed. This point, however, has been raised in a spirit which I much appreciate and I would point out ‘that the question of the responsibility of the States to the Commonwealth, and vice versa), may be raised, in my opinion, on clauses 10, 11, 15, and 21. ‘
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 5 -
The Minister shall be charged with the general administration of this Act.
– I desire to raise a very important question, which has up to the present been only slightly touched on, that is, what the Government propose to do, ami how far the powers of the Minister extend, in dealing with the situation that we shall inevitably have to face in connexion with the soldiers who, after the war, will be waiting to return to Australia. With the shortage of shipping, and other existing circumstances, it has been estimated that it will take at least two years - and, indeed, the Minister for Defence at- one time estimated the necessary time at three years - before our men are all returned. ‘ I presume that the men will be brought back in the order in which they went away - that the first to go will be the first to return. There is also the question of preference to married men in this connexion. After the men have had the holiday, to which they are justly entitled, and are ready to come to Australia, the very worst thing that could happen to them would be to be left out of employment while waiting. The Minister for Defence has stated that the pay of these men will continue until they receive their discharge, and that, of course, will be given here. I do not think that much can be done in the way of securing our soldiers industrial and technical training at Home, in view of the fact that there are some 4,500,000 people employed in the munition factories there, a large percentage of whom are women, and that there has been considerable dilution of labour in the artisan trades. The Old Country would have a big enough problem to face in finding employment for her own people, without our asking any favours for our soldiers, though, of course, if such training could be obtained it would be of considerable value to Australia. I fancy, however, that we shall have to look in some other direction, and my suggestion is that there is more likelihood of suitable employment being found for our waiting soldiers in the war areas of France and Belgium after the war is over, with less probability of interfering with the labour market.
The problem is one that presents very many difficulties, and the Government should at once get to work, because there will have to be much negotiation and inquiry. I understand that the Minister for Defence has taken some steps, but there ought, I think, to be cooperation between the High Commissioner’s Office, the Minister for Repatriation, and the Defence Department, and some Australian Commission, to obtain all the necessary information as to the chance of suitable work for our men while awaiting their return home. Of course, we wish all our boys to come back, and there may be a percentage of men who will elect to remain in Great Britain. That percentage will not be a large one, for we may presume that no Australian would care to stay very long in the Old Land.
– What is the rate of wages in Belgium ?
– I do not know; and I do not think it matters much, for, in any case, Australian wages would be paid. We take it, I think, that Germany ought to make good the cost of rebuilding and restoring the war areas in Belgium and France; and, if our men were engaged, they would, of course, as I say, be paid at Australian rates. Before our soldiers arrive in Australia, it is desirable, according to the Minister, that there should be a proper registration of them, so that there may be no delay on that score after their arrival; and from now on, there should be some responsible body in England devoted to that work. We do not know, of course, what the fortune of war may be, but we ought to be- preparing now, so far as we can, for the future of our men in order to avoid delay in the future. Nothing would be more regrettable than to have our men kept idle in camp; and I think it would please them to . assist in rebuilding the homes of the people of France and Belgium. It is to the brave soldiers of Belgium and France that we owe the fact that we are not living under the German flag to-day, so that there is some sentiment in the matter. Even if the return of our men occupied only a year, the problem is still a serious one, and as England will have enough to do in transporting home her own troops from abroad we shall have to make our own arrangements, which may occupy some time. As I say, the whole matter is one for careful and immediate negotiation and consultation.
– The question raised by the honorable member was discussed .this morning. He is, of course, looking a long way ahead, but, at the same time,’ there is no reason why the matter should not be considered now. I shall place the suggestions made to-day before the Minister for Defence, and I am sure they will receive his sympathetic consideration. The question of registration is being attended to. The Minister for Repatriation, when he introduced the Bill, said there would be no difficulty in securing the necessary registration after the soldiers return, but it was being considered whether registration could not be secured prior to the departure of the men from England. That, of course, was with, a view to the people here being ready to receive them.
– Is there any idea as to the order of their coming back?
– It is impossible to have any idea at this stage, but the feeling is that those who were at Gallipoli should have the first consideration. The men must also be dealt with according to their physical condition.
– What about preference to married men ?
– -That also will have to be considered. One case brought under notice was that of a man who has done over 1,000 days at the Front.
.- I move -
That the following words be added to the clause “ and with the supervision of the expenditure of all funds provided by the Commonwealth for the States for the purposes of the settlement of returned soldiers upon the land.” It seems to me that the principle of transferring land settlement to the States is an entirely vicious one; it places on the Commonwealth the responsibility of finding money to be expended by the States without any supervision on the part of the Commonwealth. My own view of repatriation by means of land settlement is that too much reliance is placed upon schemes which are not schemes for repatriation, but schemes, either to promote some particular fad of settlement entertained by sections of the community, or to get rid of unsuitable land, or designed by the States to secure settlement in a way they have found impossible by ordinary land legislation.
– Will not the amendment have the effect of limiting the Minister’s powers ?
– I do not think so. If the Bill is passed as it stands, the Minister will have no control over the expenditure of the £2,000,000 already voted by the Commonwealth Parliament.
– The money has not yet been voted.
– I understand that some agreement has been arrived at between the Commonwealth and the States, but the bodies created under this Bill will have no control over the money provided for the States for settling soldiers on the land. It is a responsibility that rests on this Parliament to see that the soldier who is anxious to take up land does it under the most favorable conditions that can be secured for him; and it is a responsibility that should not be handed over to the States. Responsibility should rest on the bodies constituted under this Bill to make full investigation, not only into a soldier’s qualifications to earn a livelihood on the land, but also into the suitability of the land itself for the purpose that he has in view. But that responsibility is now placed beyond the control of this Parliament. The proposal we have before us from the Minister is that we should meet our obligations to the soldiers who wish to go on the land by handing them over to the tender mercies of the different States. The Victorian Bill uses the term “ Victorian soldiers.” It is doubtful whether the State will display the same amount of interest in soldiers who come from other States, wishing to settle in Victoria, as will be taken in soldiers who belong to Victoria. On the other hand, the Commonwealth is interested in the welfare of all soldiers, no matter from what State they come, who indicate a desire to settle on land in a State to which they do not belong.
The whole principle of repatriation should be the assistance -of our returned soldiers, to get back to the work they are anxious to do, and for which they are best fitted, and we could have aided them better by more fully recognising our responsibilities to them, that is, by paying pensions adequate enough to enable those who return in sound health to resume their ordinary occupations and still be in a better position than when they left them. So long as they are enjoying an adequate pension - which they have fully earned - they would be better fitted to accept the re1sponsibility for their own futures if they were left free to, follow their own courses.
Without consulting Parliament, the Ministry have already bound the Commonwealth to finance the ‘States to any amount they choose to spend upon schemes that their Parliaments decide upon as being suitable for the repatriation of soldiers. I object to anybody spending money provided by this Parliament when that expenditure is outside the control of the Commonwealth. For example, a huge system of purchase of estates has been proposed in some States for the purpose of settling soldiers on them. In my opinion, each soldier should be free to buy land from the State or from private individuals as he likes ; he should be able to claim the assistance of the Committees appointed under this Bill to enable him to choose the land which is best fitted for his purpose; he should be able to claim such financial assistance as may be necessary for carrying out his purpose in his own way. It is the only method by which we can secure the effective settlement of soldiers upon the land. Any proposal to draft them all on to big estates or to distinguish between the civilian and the soldier population will be a great mistake. The object of any repatriation scheme should be to convert the soldier into the civilian, and to get him back to the occupation he followed before he enlisted. The sooner the soldier becomes a citizen of the Commonwealth the better it will be for himself and the community generally. There has been talk of establishing community settlements. I am afraid that the Minister in charge of this scheme has too much in mind the idea that this is an opportunity for enforcing intense culture on men who may not be too anxious to be forced into the adoption of that method of cultivation. It would be a mistake to attempt to force fads upon our soldiers. What we should attempt is to assist soldiers to make their livelihood in the way that they think best and in whatever part of Australia they choose to settle in. Above all things, in the interest of the soldiers themselves, I object to any money being provided by the Commonwealth for expenditure by the States or any other bodies over which this Parliament hasno control.
– I agree to a great extent with all the reasons advanced by the honorable member for his amendment. At the same time, I have come to the conclusion that his proposal will createa considerable amount of embarrassment in dealing with this Bill. It is really tantamount to saying that the Commonwealth Parliament should not advance moneys to the States without retaining the control ofthe expenditure of that money. I cordially agree with that proposal, but the better time for discussing the question of advances to the States for this purpose, and the conditions that should be attached to those advances, would be when we come to deal with the particular matter as it comes before us on the annual Estimates.
– When shall we get them ?
– We have been promised that the House will have the opportunity of. discussing the Estimates before Christmas. There is some misunderstanding as to whether any moneys have already been advanced.
– A definite statement was made by the Prime Minister at an InterState Conference. He told the State Premiers that the Commonwealth were prepared to make available a sum not exceeding £2,000,000 for the calendar year ending 1917.
– I am quite aware of that promise, but, of course, it was subject to ratification by Parliament, as all such promises are. That ratification will be secured when we agree, to the item in the Estimates to which I have just referred. It will lead to a great deal of embarrassment in debating the matter of repatriating our soldiers if we attempt to introduce into it a discussion as to the terms and conditions upon which we should advance moneys to the States. This Bill makes no provision for advancing moneys.
-Does not the agreement with the States arise out of the Bill ?
– As I understand it, the agreement already entered into is a matter of which we have no cognisance. We have not been asked to authorize it or the conditions under which the money is to be advanced. We shall be asked for that authority when the Estimates come before us. If we are to enter upon an extremely important discussion now as to how we should hand that money to the States, instead of allowing the matter to be discussed in the ordinary way when the Estimates come before us, we shall have practically a financial debate on this clause of the Bill. I do not know whether it would be strictly relevant, but it would certainly be highly inconvenient.
– The matter arises in an indirect way, because the supervision of land settlement will practically amount to authority to control the expenditure.
– Until I hear arguments to the contrary, I feel strongly disposed to support the honorable member’s general contention that if we are to provide loan moneys for the
States to spend in settling soldiers on the land, we should have, through the State Boards to be appointed by us, andnot by the States, a supervision and control over the expenditure of that money.
– It would be a system of joint control over a, very difficult business.
– I know that it will be extremely difficult. In the first place, the States will claim the complete control over the disposal of their own land. Although in Victoria a very small area of Crown land is available for the settlement of returned soldiers, in other States considerable areas are available. The States naturally claim that right, and we cannot deprive them of it. They propose to appoint their own officers for making advances to the soldier settlers, and I understand they desire to obtain the money for such advances from the Commonwealth under the agreement which has been made. That is where the difficulty arises. The Commonwealth ought, through its own authorities, to exercise supervision, and determine the conditions upon which such advances shall be made. Those conditions ought, as far as possible, to be the same all over Australia, and subject to the same general control.
– -Would such control go as far as the superintendence of the whole scheme, or only the supervision of the advances for improvements?
– That is a difficult question to answer now. The ultimate form in which this expenditure, for which the Commonwealth has to pledge its credit, shall be incurred, should be controlled by the Commonwealth Parliament. It might be highly desirable in connexion with many matters - Crown lands for instance - to delegate to the State Parliaments such authority as we think wise to delegate, but that would be very different from handing over to their uncontrolled discretion the expenditure of these large sums.
– That is not the case. Under the supervision of the Commonwealth advances will be made to the
– First of all in this Bill we are providing the Federal machinery, including State Boards appointed by the Governor-General in Council, to control the expenditure of moneys under the authority of this mea sure. Apart from that, there is another kind of expenditure. We shall be lending to the States large sums of money- £2,000,000 is provided on the Loan Estimates this year - which will not be distributed by the Boards appointed by the Federal authority, but by ‘the States according to their own ideas.
– Does notthatnecessarily involve different treatment of the soldiers in different States?
– I admit that we cannot have absolute uniformity of treatment, because the conditions in the States vary. The State Governments may be of great help in determining the conditions of settlement, particularly on Crown lands.
– The States have a lot of experience which we lack.
-I concede that, but we ought not to advance to the States large sums of money for the settlement of soldiers without taking responsibility for the conditions under which that money is to be expended. Therefore, I am inclined to agree witu the views put forward by the honorable member for Illawarra (Mr. Lamond), but I feel very much embarrassed by finding this subject grafted on to this Bill for discussion. The proper time to discuss it will be when Parliament is asked to give authority to advance these large sums.
– I ask the honorable member for Illawarra not to press his amendment. The matter of land settlement in connexion with repatriation was the subject of a definite agreement between the Commonwealth and the States, and must come up for discussion on the proposal to appropriate £2,000,000 for this year to give effect to that agreement. Already the Loan Estimates’ have been tabled in, this chamber.
– By virtue of that arrangement the States have entered into commitments.
– Such expenditure as has been incurred has been in accordance with the provisions of the agreement, and has been in the form of advances for improvements, purchase of stock and plant, or for other developmental purposes. A sum of £20,000 was advanced to the States during the last financial year, but no money has been advanced in the current year. Yesterday I submitted to the House a return which showed that the applications by- returned soldiers for land had been confined to the number of 295 in Victoria, 124 in New South Wales, 224 in South Australia, 16 in Western Australia, and 25 in Tasmania. All those applications involve a liability by the Commonwealth.
– Can you state, approximately, the extent of the committments ?
– The sums in connexion with the applications referred to are not very large yet. I ask honorable members to remember that we are dealing with sovereign States, which have full powers in regard to land settlement. Under the Constitution, all Crown lands belong to the States, and are at their disposal, and any other lands they acquire for purposes of land settlement will be paid for out of moneys they will raise independently of the agreement with the Commonwealth. We have made a definite agreement as to the terms upon which we shall lend money to the States, and that money is to be lent for specific purposes. That is to say, advances for fixed improvements, plant, et cetera. The Minister is now exercising supervision over the money advanced in order to see that it is being expended for the purposes for which it is lent.
– We should have some assurance that when the matter comes in proper form before Parliament our hands will not be tied by huge commitments.
– We are bound by the arrangement we have made.
– We cannot be bound to finance the arrangement if Parliament has not given the authority.
– A large number of soldiers had returned and were waiting for land. It was not desirable that the granting of their applications should be de- layed. We must not forget that the States are just as heartily in sympathy with the soldiers as we are. They represent the same people, and are just as keen upon repatriation as is the Federal Parliament. The Commonwealth is merely co-operating with the States, which have their own Lands Departments, and agricultural banks, and also staffs with a complete and intimate knowledge of their own areas. We must make use of that State machinery. It is not desirable that we should duplicate that machinery just for the purpose of settling the returned soldiers on the land.
– The honorable member does not suggest that £18,000,000 is to be finally handed over to the States without any supervision at all by this Parliament ?
– We are bound to see that the money is expended for the purposes for which it was borrowed, but the conditions upon which each of the six different States will lend the money out to the individual soldiers must, to a great extent, be left to be determined by the States according to their own land laws. There is a fair division of the responsibility between the Federal- and State authorities. 0
– It is the sort of division in which the States have the whole of the responsibility.
– We have not thrown the responsibility on the States. This agreement was arrived at by arrangement with representatives of the States, who are eager to accept this liability, and anxious to co-operate with the Commonwealth.
– And they knew that land settlement could not be undertaken in any other way.
– We could not ignore the States in this matter unless the Commonwealth acquired land; such a course is unthinkable. We must contemplate this scheme being carried out under the normal terms and conditions of the Constitution. We clearly realize that the States are the custodians of the land, and we are anxious and willing to cooperate with them, and, with a view to the Commonwealth exercising some supervision and control in this matter, an agreement has been arrived at. The Minister, in his negotiations and dealings with the States, is supervising the expenditure in order to insure that it is applied to the purposes for which we intend it. As regards the conditions of the individual allocations, it must be remembered that in the six different States the lands vary ; there are different land laws and different forms of administrative machinery, and it would be most difficult to have a uniform system throughout the Commonwealth. So long as we find that the States are honestly striving to carry out the arrangement made with us, and that the Commonwealth is retaining control under this agreement,what honorable members desire will be effected. However, the whole subject can be more properly discussed when the Bill containing the appropriation for this purpose is before the House. I ask the honorable member not to press his amendment. The matter can be fully and properly discussed on the Estimates.
.- I should very much like the Commonwealth to take charge of the whole matter if that were possible ; but, having been associated with repatriation work in New South Wales, I know it to be utterly impracticable. Unless the Minister interferes too much with the arrangements now in existence, the Commonwealth will have a direct check upon all the expenditure. The Bill provides for State Boards to deal with repatriation. At present there are State War Councils and special Repatriation Committees of those Councils.
– These Councils will disappear when the Bill becomes law,
– The machinery provided for by the Bill will be similar to that now in existence; in fact, I cannot conceive that the Commonwealth will throw away the existing machinery. If it gets rid of those who have so far been handling the repatriation question, and begins de novo, it will lose valuable experience.
– If there are to be honorary Boards, some are now in existence which are as good as can be got.
– The State Repatriation Committees are composed of representatives of the Commonwealth and of the States concerned. Any question affecting land brings a consultation with the officers of the Lands Department of the State, and when expenditure is made on improvements, the Committees’ inspectors keep continuously intouch with the work that is being done. As a matter of actual practice, all the expenditure on improvements is being checked and watched by officers directly associated with the Repatriation Committee of the State War Council, which operates under the Defence Department. To change the names of the governing bodies need not make any alteration in the procedure. Repatriation Committees are so closely in touch with the State Departments, and work in such harmony, that any disturbance such as might be caused by a more hard-and-fast arrangement would probably destroy the direct check upon expenditure which now exists, and the States might insist on doing the whole of the land settlement business themselves. The making available of land for settlement is entirely a matter for the State authorities, which either repurchase private estates or provide Crown lands for the purpose. Itdoes not seem possible to demand Commonwealth supervision of that business. We do not pay for such land, and the matter is one entirely for the States. In. New South Wales, at any rate, the expenditure on improvements is supervised by the Repatriation Committee, which is really a Commonwealth Committee, and takes its directions from the Commonwealth authority. The extent to which that State allows the supervision by what is really a Commonwealth authority is remarkable. Of course, the State is represented on the Committee. The Secretary for Lands is a member of the State War Council, and, through the Minister, the State exercises authority sufficient to meet its requirements.
As to the statement of the honorable member for Illawarra (Mr. Lamond) that men should be allowed to earn their living where they like and under any circumstances, that they know best what their needs are, the experience of the New South Wales Repatriation Committee does not square with it. Many returned men who have never been on the land desire to take up land, and to put them there without expert advice on assistance would be to commit an absurdity.
– No one would be so foolish as to suggest that.
– That is the effect of the honorable member’s remark. He ridiculed the idea of group settlements. What is a group settlement? Many men desire to start poultry farms without knowing anything about poultry farming. If a group settlement is to be provided for, the State grants land suitable for the purpose, and appoints a poultry expert to live on the spot, and to supervise and instruct the settlers. He practically teaches them poultry farming. Departmental machinery isavailable to procure the latest information. Many of those who have started poultry farming would have failed had it not been for the group settlement system. The same thing might happen in respect of other industries.- If there can be group settlements of farmers and fruit-growers the States will be able to train and help the settlers, who will benefit by each other’s experience, and will be more likely to succeed than if settled in various districts. There is a practical difficulty in the way, of the Commonwealth handling these matters. The States have departments of experts who have specialized in certain branches of knowledge. If the Commonwealth were to take over the work it would have to ask the States to lend them their officers and their machinery, or set up machinery of its own, and import experts from other parts of the world, which would cost as much as the actual settling of the soldiers on the land.
– That would be quite impossible.
– It would be an absolute impossibility.- Although I should like to see the land of Australia controlled by the Commonwealth, and everything done for returned soldiers under Commonwealth control, I feel that, so far as land settlement is concerned, under existing circumstances, that is a practical impossibility. Therefore I shall vote against the amendment, because I feel that it was moved without a true appreciation of the facts.
.- The amendment anticipates one of the items in the schedule in regard to which I have given notice of amendment.
– I have not seen the honorable member’s proposal.
– It is that the Commonwealth shall assume entire responsibility for the repatriation of the Australian soldier, but that the Minister may enter into arrangements with State, municipal, and private agencies to give effect to it. I take it that we are entering into a partnership with the States. It has been asserted all over Australia that as our Army was raised” under Federal control the responsibility of repatriation belongs to this Parliament. Without the submission of the matter to this Parliament a compact was made under which the States were to take charge of land settlement. My suggestion is that the Prime Minister should be empowered to agree with the States for the supervision of the arrangements between themand the Commonwealth, and that is, I think, what the honorable member for Illawarra wishes to achieve. South Australia has appointed a Minister for Repatriation to administer its measure. Victoria has put through a separate Bill. This Parliament has provided for advancing £500 per man to 40,000 returned soldiers for land settlement purposes, or £20,000,000. If that money were all used it would, as things stand, be spent without our having any control. In my opinion, we should assume responsibility for repatriation, as we did for the enlisting of an army, farming out responsibility in respect of land settlement to the States, but with a clear arrangement between the two authorities. Each State, of course, has sovereign power, and may do as it pleases in these matters. But there are agencies through which Commonwealth control could be exercised. The only clause of the Bill that fixes definite responsibility for repatriation on this Parliament is clause 5. Nothing that we could put into the Bill would affectthe sovereign power of the States. Queensland proposes to use her sovereign power, not only in respect of land settlement, but in other matters. She has set apart £900,000 for land settlement.
– An election is pending there.
– I think that the present opportunity is not the most favorable one for making the amendment which the honorable member for Illawarra seeks to effect. We are obliged to him for pointing out the absence of joint control and joint responsibility in respect of the expenditure of a very large sum of money. I shall seek a later opportunity to test the matter further.
Mr.FENTON (Maribyrnong) [3.59].- If the honorable member for Illawarra wishes to test the feeling of the Committee - and I think it should be tested - he should move his amendment on clause 15. The discussions in this chamber on this measure will, no doubt, be scanned by those who will havethe administration of it, and they should thus be able to get at the heart and will of the Parliament with respect to this question. At the Conference of State Premiers in January last the Prime Minister anticipated the position with which we are dealing today. He pointed out that the Commonwealth would be called upon from time to time to raise large sums of money, and to lend iti to the States, who would have much to do with its expenditure.
– The States are only to receive this money by way of loan. We could not expect them to borrow the money from us, to pay interest on it, and to have no voice in its expenditure.
– I do not think any one entertains such an idea. I do not question the solvency of the States, or their willingness to repay what they receive from us, but I think it will be many a long year before we shall get this money back.
– It is a Commonwealth as well as a State responsibility which the money is being found to meet.
– That is so; but if I were a member of a State Parliament I should regard the arrangement as an excellent one for the States from a financial and land settlement point of view.
At the last Premiers’ Conference, held in January la&t, the representatives of Queensland stated that they had already drafted a scheme of their own, and that it was in partial operation. Mr. Hunter, the Minister of Lands in the Queensland Government, as reported at page 36 of the report of the Conference> said -
Why should not each State be able to come to the Federal Government with their proposal and say, “Here is the area-of land we propose to settle. This is what it is going to cost, and we are prepared to carry out the settlement of the soldiers on these terms”? The Commonwealth Government would satisfy themselves whether the proposal was a sound one, or whether there were a better proposition. Theycould either agree to it or turn it down. If -they turned it down, that would be the end of it. ‘
Mr. Hunter was fighting strongly for his own State’s scheme, and urging that the Federal authorities should not unduly interfere with it, yet he recognised that the State would be expected to go with its scheme to the Commonwealth Government, and say, in effect, to them, “ Come and have a look at our scheme, and if you think it is a good one, lend us the money we require to give effect to it.” The Prime Minister, in replying to this statement, said -
All I have to say is that a condition precedent to the granting of any sum for any scheme is that the scheme shall be satisfactory to the Commonwealth Government.
That is the principle, for which the honorable member for Illawarra is contending, and it appears to have been considered a satisfactory one at the Conference of Premiers. Honorable members will find, on reference to the report of the proceedings, that the Prime Minister said again and again that since the Commonwealth Government would- have to find the money it could not be expected to hand it over to the States without retaining the right to say whether or not advances should be made on certain propositions.
– Like many other honorable members, I am in complete accord with the principle of the amendment submitted by my honorable friend (Mr. Lamond).
– But it is totally at variance with the agreement made by the Prime Minister with the representatives of the States.
– The agreements arrived at by the Conference have been in many respects largely departed from. They have been found to be utterly impracticable. That being so, the fact that such agreements were made cannot be quoted as a reason why we should not in the formulation of our scheme provide for the effective protection of Commonwealth interests. In view of the general consensus of opinion on the subject the Government should at least give us some assurance that this principle for which we are contending will be substantially observed. I am aware that both the Prime Minister and Mr. Watson fought for it strongly in connexion with various questions that were dealt with by the Premiers’ Conference. It was felt that, since the Commonwealth was to provide the money, it was only reasonable that it should have a substantial, if not a dominating, control over the expenditure of that money.
There is a feeling that in connexion with the scheme foreshadowed by Senator Millen, in regard to the settlement of our returned soldiers on the land, we are evading our responsibilities and delegating to the States the whole of that work. Such an attitude on the part of this Parliament would certainly be unreasonable, and do us no credit. The scheme covered, by this Bill provides for the appointment of State Boards. What the functions of those Boards will be, we cannot say; but the general idea in the minds of the.
Conference was that .they should consist of Ministers of the several States and a representative of the Commonwealth. Is there an honorable member who considers that would be a satisfactory Soldiers’ Board 1
– No; I do not think there should be a Minister on it.
– Quite so; there is not an honorable member who would stand by a Board as constituted at the Conference. The Government themselves have departed from that proposition. They simply announce that they propose to constitute a corporate State Board the functions of which are to be decided later on.
There should be in each State an expert Board to deal with the expenditure of the moneys we are to provide for the resumption of land. We should also have a man of wide experience in land settlement to guide every State Board, and the Commonwealth should have the dominant representation on the Board of experts. According to the present idea, money is to be found by the Commonwealth to improve the soldier-settlers’ holdings. I do not think it requires very much foresight to see that if not the whole, at least a vast portion, of the money required for land resumption will have to be provided by the Commonwealth.
– And the Commonwealth will have no power, under the Bill as it stands, to see that the best land is secured.
– The principle of my honorable friend’s amendment is that of Commonwealth control or supervision, and it is the principle for which we are contending. Instead of such a Board as that to which the Conference agreed, there should be a Board of- experts representative of the Commonwealth and the States, the Commonwealth having the dominant representation. It is also important that a Commonwealth officer of great experience should be the chief executive officer of the State Board. If he is not made a member of the expert Board, he should at least be closely associated with it and should supervise its work. In that way, we should have an immediate link between this particular Board and the State Boards for which the Bill provides. I hope that the opinion which honorable members have expressed on this phase of the question will be recognised by the Government in the formulation of their scheme.
– Unless there is some form of co-operation, a member of the Federal Parliament will not be able to, go to a State Department for information.
– That is quite true. The Minister must realize that the Committee is unanimous on the point that there must be cordial co-operation between the Commonwealth and the States. The Commonwealth has no desire to constitute a separate Department of Lands. I am sure our desire is to make the fullest use of the State Land Departments and the land settlement machinery in operation in the States; but surely if, realizing that the repatriation of our soldiers is a Commonwealth responsibility, we are to supply the necessary funds, we should be directly represented on these Boards. I hope that in formulating their scheme the Government will, at least, provide that the Commonwealth shall have the dominating control in the expenditure of these moneys. It is hardly reasonable to expect the Government to be able, at this stage, to submit its scheme. . We know, however, that land settlement is going to be a vital part of our repatriation scheme, and before that scheme is actually brought into operation, it should be submitted to the Commonwealth Parliament for approval. We should then be able to go fully into it, and to take the responsibility for it. It is quite possible that my honorable friend’s amendment might be made in a more convenient part of the Bill, but the principle of it is one that accords with the general opinion of *he Committee.
.- I am entirely in sympathy with the amendment moved by the honorable member for Illawarra (Mr. Lamond). I believe that the Minister for Repatriation should supervise the spending of - the money which this Parliament is to provide. He should be the connecting link between the States, who will have the spending of the money, and the Parliament that will have to find it. The States should be intrusted with the work of settling returned soldiers on the land, but if they have an unlimited supply of money it is just possible that LaG land settlement phase of our scheme may be overdone. I fear very much that it will be. , There are many who wish to go on the land because they do not know what it really involves. Many of those who go on the land, and obtain practical experience of the drudgery, hardship, and isolation which the life involves, soon become disillusioned, and get off it again as soon as possible. Many of our returned soldiers, who do not understand what it means, will probably desire to go on the land, and will soon tire of the life, I fear, with the result that immense sums will be wasted in the experiment. There ought to be co-operation between the State add the Federal Government in connexion with the whole scheme of repatriation.
I want to point out to the Minister a very important feature of repatriation in which the Commonwealth Parliament can, I think, play a useful part. It is a branch of the scheme which should prove reproductive; and I am convinced that if money were spent in the direction that I propose to suggest, it would return ;to us a very high rate of interest. When a start was first made with the construction of the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta railway, large sums of money were wasted because no plant was available. The men had to work without the necessary plant, , and without an adequate staff. That great railway project is now on the verge of completion. In the course of a few months, ‘the line will be completed, and the Government will have on hand an effective railway plant and an efficient staff, with no employment for them. It is recognised that we shall have to link up the continent from south to north, as we have done from east to west, at the earliest possible moment. This war has made it apparent that we shall have to develop our northern’ and interior country, or we have no right to claim such large unoccupied areas.
One of the methods which could be adopted by the Government for the repatriation of thousands of men would be to put them to congenial work, employment to which they are accustomed ; and there must be amongst them hundreds of navvies, hundreds of men accustomed to cattle, horses, and sheep, and hundreds of miners. A railway has already been surveyed, or is in the course of being surveyed, from a point on the east- west line, right through Oodnadatta to ‘ the Macdonnell Ranges; and if the Government would spend one or two of the millions that are to be devoted to repatriation on the construction of that line, they would be able to utilize the plant and staff to which I have alluded. Work could be provided for our returned men, and this would open up large tracts of country suitable for settlement, though not, perhaps, altogether for closer settlement. In the Macdonnell Ranges, however, there are large tracts of land where small settlers could grow vegetables, fodder, and so forth, for the soil there will produce anything that can be’ produced elsewhere in Australia.
Further, the construction of such a line would enable the Government to enter into a project which I advocated in another place as far back as eleven years ago. I refer to the horse-breeding industry in Central Australia; and when I then spoke on the subject, I produced figures showing that the South Australian Post and Telegraph Department had, for a number of years, bred all the horses they required in that part of Australia. This is admittedly the finest horsebreeding country in the world, and hundreds of thousands of cattle, and millions of sheep, could be carried there if the railway I mentioned were carried through to the Macdonnell Ranges. Further, the whole of the Northern Territory would be made accessible. We should then be able to wipe out the present deficit on the Territory, and also on the Oodnadatta railway; and, instead of having to meet a loss, I firmly believe that we should find it a most profitable undertaking. Our returned men could be put on to navvy work as they offered themselves; and I am quite satisfied that there are thousands of them who do not desire to be spoon-fed, or require any’ Board to tell them how to earn a living, but merely wish to be placed at employment which they understand. I ask the Government to consider whether the two suggestions I have made would not, if adopted, afford suitable avenues of employment. Thousands of the mounted infantry have been accustomed to horses all their lives. After all great wars, there is a great scarcity of horses; and I think that after this war there will be a greater scarcity than ever right throughout the world. If this industry were taken up by the Government, we could every year sell thousands, if not tens of thousands, of suitable horses to the Indian Government; there are enormous possibilities in this connexion. The Government would, at the same time, be assisting in the great repatriation movement in a way not only profitable to the country, but suitable to our returned men. The honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Rodgers) reminds me that at this particular time the very best blood horses can be obtained at a low price in the Old Country; and the present is a unique opportunity for the Government, even beforethe railway is made, to establish horse-breeding centres, and thus render it possible, within a few years to provide thousands of animals not only for Australia, but for export.
– The subject raised by the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Sampson) is of great importance, and was one of those dealt with, to some extent, at the Premiers’ Conference in January. The honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) has said that if he were in a State Parliament he would regard the States’ offer as a liberal one; as a member of the Federal Parliament, I may say that I regard it as exceedingly generous. Provision for our returned soldiers is a Commonwealth responsibility. Whether we have to provide a man with an artificial limb, give him money to enable him to go into business in the city, or settle him on the land, the responsibility is national. The States, recognising that they are the owners of the land, offered to conduct this land settlement, and, if the Commonwealth will lend the necessary money, to make themselves responsible for whatever rate.of interest, was charged, advancing the money to the settlers at the same rate - in short, the States offered to take the whole responsibility of the land settlement off the shoulders of the Commonwealth. The honorable member for Illawarra (Mr. Lamond), and, to some extent, the honorable member for Kooyong (Sir Robert Best) contend that, while the States borrow this money, pay interest, and make themselves entirely responsible, the Commonwealth ought to have the whole say as to how it is to be expended. In my opinion, this is a matter in which the Federal Government and the State Governments can go hand in hand, as, indeed, they must if this project is to be a success; that is the only spirit in which the business can be approached if the result is to be as we wish. The States not only own the land, but practically every instrument for dealing with land; they have their Survey Departments, Agricultural Departments, experts, and so forth; and at the Premiers’
Conference the representatives of every Government in Australia practically placed the whole of this machinery at the disposal of the Commonwealth in order to make provision- for our returned soldiers. At that’ Conference the Prime Minister agreed to provide £2,000,000 for land settlement in the various States, half of the amount to be made available up to June, 1917. Therefore, I gather that £1,000,000 has already been drawn by the States.
– So far the States have not drawn more than £20,000, but by granting applications for assistancethey have incurred liabilities which exceed that sum.
– I have no objection to the promise that the Prime Minister made.Pending the meeting of the Commonwealth Parliament, it was the only position that he could take up, that is, in saying to the States that, so long as they were prepared to set about the work of settling soldiers on the land, he would see that they did not suffer any financial loss. This matter is surrounded with very great difficulties, and it will call for the closest attention on the part of those best able to guide the Minister, namely, the Agricultural Departments and Survey Departments of the various States, and the practical men who are placed in charge of the work in the States.
There is a general impression that practically all the men who are applying to be settled on the land are citizens of the towns, but such is not the case. About twelve months ago the War Council issued forms to every soldier at the Front and in the different camps, and the men were asked to fill in those forms stating the occupations they followed before enlistment and the occupations they wished to follow on their return. As a member of the War Council, I had an opportunity of going through some of the forma which were filled in in this way, and I found that in the great majority of cases the men who expressed a desire to go on the land were those who, prior to enlistment, were sons of farmers, agricultural labourers, or casual employees on farms. If a man who was in an office prior to enlistment expresses a desire to follow an agricultural life, for which he has not shown any fitness, the greatest care will have to be exercised before he is allowed to take financial assistance for the purpose of carrying out his wishes, because if he is allowed to squander the money he may not remain three months on the land.
Much can be done in the direction of closer settlement, and where a large estate is purchased it will be a good thing to establish a community settlement, in which the men can assist one another in the initial stages of the development of their farms. In this connexion I am speaking only of men who are returning to the land and have a practical knowledge of farming. The suggestion for establishing community settlements is well worth consideration on the part of those who will be responsible for carrying out this scheme of repatriation. I would not make it compulsory for men to be settled in this way, but at the same time a great deal can be done in this direction.
I ask those who are anxious that the Commonwealth shall have almost the whole control of the expenditure of this money to remember that they cannot expect the State Governments to pay interest on the money advanced by the Commonwealth, and lend it on exactly the same terms to the soldiers, without having full and predominating control of the expenditure of the money. The probability of there being any division between Commonwealth and State control is a bogy that should not have been raised. From what we know of what has been done in the different States already, and from the unanimity of the proceedings at the various conferences between the Commonwealth and the State Premiers we know that we shall have the most hearty cooperation from the States, and that the States will receive the most complete cooperation from us. Therefore, it would be very inadvisable to insert an amendment which would practically take from the States the whole of the control of’ the money for which they are asked to accept full and complete responsibility.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 6 agreed to.
Clause 7 (Appointment of Commissioners).
– I move as an amendment -
That sub-clause 2 be left out, and the following inserted in lieu: - “ The Governor-General shall appoint six other persons to be Commissioners, such persons to be first approved by the Commonwealth Parliament, and on the happening of any vacancy in the office of Commissioner, the Governor-General shall appoint a person approved by the Commonwealth Parliament to the vacant office.”
My object in moving this amendment is to keep repatriation a live question before this Parliament, and not let the entire responsibility in connexion with the matter pass to a Commission outside this Parliament, which, although it may be presided over by a Minister, may not respond to the will of that Minister. I do not think that the question of the appointment of Commissioners should be made a party matter. It is quite possible that appointments which may be made by the party in power for the time being may have a party complexion, but if there is one subject uponwhich all parties in Australia should agree, and upon the arrangement of which all parties should be represented, it is this question of repatriation. We have “ downed tools “ upon it. Our soldiers have been drawn from every shade of political thought, and it is only right and fitting that the matter of the creation of a Board of Commissioners to control their future destinies, and help them to enter a new sphere of life, should come under the notice of this Parliament. I do not say that we should make the actual selection of Commissioners, but we should certainly approve of the appointments before they are confirmed.
– It will be the same thing.
– No. If it were a matter of selecting Commissioners, suitable persons would have to submit their chances for public discussion in Parliament, and there might be competition for selection.
– I can assure the honorable member that the matter would be fixed up at the party meetings.
– So far the Minister has shown commendable wisdom and judgmentin keeping his own counsel, and the members of our party have in no way sought information from him or attempted to embarrass him in this matter.
Perhaps one reason for that attitude on our part may lie in the fact that the Minister has announced that it is intended that the positions shall be honorary.
– Except his own.
– The salary to be paid to the Minister will be a mere bagatelle compared with the gigantic undertaking confronting him.
– Does not the honorable member think .that we should have some statement in regard to whether these positions are to be honorary?
– I agree that no gentleman should be expected to place at the disposal of this country for a number of years the abilities which will be required from a Commissioner without having some return from the State. I do not suggest that the Commissioners shall draw salaries, but I propose that they shall occupy the position that directors of a huge business concern occupy, and draw daily allowances for the sittings when they may be engaged in carrying out the duties with which they are to be intrusted.
– In those circumstances they would sit every day regularly.
– When repatriation comes to be a reality, it will be found that the bodies which are really doing the work are the State Boards and Local Committees. I hold that the members of the State Boards should also be treated as boards of directors of huge concerns, and be paid allowances. From the fact that the Minister suggests a body of six Commissioners I take it that he proposes to follow the practice of selecting one man from each State, but I do not know ‘ that it is a good course to follow. Geographical lines should not be consulted in choosing the best men for this work.
– Except that men from different States will understand local conditions better.
– What Queenslander understands the local conditions of every part of his State?
– He would know the conditions in that State better than would a man from one of the southern States.
– In the one State are to be found mining, pastoral, agricultural, and manufacturing industries. We are all subject to the influence of local environ ment, and no man can claim to understand the local conditions in the whole of his State when he has lived .all his life in one particular district. My chief reason for moving the amendment is that I think Parliament should have more control over repatriation than this measure proposes to give. The confidence of Parliament in the administration of this Bill lies entirely in the knowledge that Senator Millen will be in charge of it, and that he possesses the ability to create an organization which may carry the scheme to a successful issue.
– It is a pity that he is not in this Chamber.
– It would be convenient if an arrangement could be made by which, when we are dealing with an important Bill, the Minister who will administer it could accompany the measure from Chamber to Chamber. I shall’ make this amendment a test question, as to whether Parliament desires to retain any control over the Commission. The debate on the second reading showed that the Minister will have very little say in regard to land settlement, which has been made a responsibility of the States. In connexion with repatriation, we may also have to deal with education and health, both of which are under the control of the States. If those activities, also, are taken from the Commonwealth, what will be left for this Parliament to control ? It may be said that we shall have the right to refuse appropriations, but what Parliament will take the responsibility of refusing a grant for repatriation when the expenditure is practically a commitment before an appropriation is asked for? Under the existing Act there was appointed a very able Board of trustees, including the proposed Minister for Repatriation, and the fact that this Parliament had no direct control over that body, other than through its representatives on the Board, is probably the reason why it was allowed to lapse.
– That Board was constituted on altogether wrong lines.
– Its members included four Ministers of the present Government, four ex-Ministers, two other members of this House, five financial and commercial experts, and one industrialist, but, notwithstanding the ability of those men, the Board did not fulfil its functions. What guarantee is there that any better result will be achieved by the new Commission, which will not be responsible to this Parliament or under our supervision in any way ? So far as I can see, there is not in the Bill even provision for a yearly or half-yearly report to Parliament. Except the central figure of the Minister, there is nothing in the proposed constitution of the Commission to assure to it Vital force and activity. I believe’ Senator Millen is more qualified than any other man in Australia to carry out a repatriation scheme, and this Parliament looks to him to vitalize the project that is before us. I would prefer to see the Commission dispensed with altogether, and the Minister made absolutely supreme and responsible to Parliament. He could administer the Act with one Federal Commissioner, and in each State .a Deputy Commissioner.
– It is impossible to accept the amendment. The principle which the honorable member has raised is whether the Executive or Parliament shall make appointments to the Central Commission. The honorable member stated that he saw no difference between this scheme and the previous one. If that is so, he has missed the whole spirit of the Bill. The previous Act was not intended to place on a special Minister responsibility for the administration of a scheme of repatriation, with a Department under his control, and himself directly responsible to Parliament, like the Minister for Defence or any other Minister of State. The original scheme was based on the idea that we should have a body of trustees who would collect a great deal of money from the public, and that such collections should be subsidized by the Commonwealth. From the money thus raised the trustees were to make grants for repatriation, purposes.
– The Prime Minister presided over the Board of Trustees.
– The mere fact that the Prime Minister was a member of the Board does not alter its essential character. This Bill embodies quite a different principle. Repatriation has developed to such a vast extent that it has become a national responsibility, which can only be discharged by having in charge of it a
Minister directly answerable to Parliament and operating a scheme on certain defined lines. The honorable member for Wannon said he would prefer the control to be in the hands of a Minister without the aid of any Commission, Again the honorable member misconceives the scheme. Whilst laying down the principle that there should be a responsible Minister for repatriation, with a department under his control, in order to secure uniformity, continuity, and regularity in expenditure, the Bill endeavours to get outside the ordinary routine red-tape methods of a department, and invites the voluntary cooperation of all sections in the community.
– Could not the Minister do that without having a Board beside him?
– The voluntary cooperation of the community is vital to the scheme, and we are* inviting the services of honorary Commissioners, such as the gentlemen who throughout Australia did splendid work under the existing Act. The supply of honorary assistance is no* yet exhausted. From the assurances which have reached the Minister we know that men representative of the highest capacity are still willing to assist in the work of repatriation. In connexion with the State Boards and the Local Committees also, the Bill seeks to make use of voluntary cooperative effort. Every honorable member knows how well the State War Councils have operated. The Central Commission will frame uniform regulations for the whole of Australia. Under those regulations the State Boards ‘ will make grants to soldier applicants, and the personal sympathetic touch which will be essential to the success of the scheme will be supplied by the Local Committees. In order to get the best men available for the work, the proper authority to make the appointments to the > Commission is the Federal Executive, which will be responsible to Parliament. If the men appointed are not acceptable to Parliament the Government can be held accountable. It would not be fair to the men who have already rendered good service to institute a sort of competition in Parliament for the right to serve on the proposed Commission. It will be the duty of the Government, in selecting the members of the Commission, to have regard only to their fitness for the work. I think honorable members will find that this scheme will work out very well.
– I think this is an opportune place to raise the question of whether the Minister should be Chairman of the Commission or whether we should appoint a permanent Commissioner who shall be Chairman.
– The amendment of the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Rodgers) was for the deletion of words following the word “ shall “-
– The chairmanship of the Commission is provided for in subclause 1; the amendment already moved was in sub-clause 2.
– Then I shall move later for the recommittal of the clause.
– I move -
That after the word “Commissioners”, in sub-clause 2, the words “three of whom shall be persons recommended by a bonâ fide organization or organizations of returned soldiers and sailors.”
I shall not occupy much time in speaking tothe amendment, because, when addressing myself to the second reading yesterday, I gave reasons why I considered it desirable that returned soldiers and sailors should have representation on the Commission and on the State Boards. Members have been eloquent respecting the ability and wide experience of our soldiers and sailors, but no provision is made for securing the voicing of their opinions by direct representation. The Bill provides for a Commission of seven, of whom the Minister is to be the chairman, the other six to be appointed by the Government. I think that the recommendations of the soldiers and sailors made through their various organizations should be accepted in respect of at least three of the Commissioners. In the administration of the Miners’ Accident Relief Fund in New South Wales, the workmen have representation equal to that of the employers, and the principle is the same in this case. The soldiers and sailors, being directly and vitally interested in the repatriation scheme, should have a voice in its administration. Their representatives will be more directly in touch with their aims and objects than others can be.
– Would it not be belter to have returned soldiers on the Boards ?
– That is what I desire, but we should leave it to the returned men themselves to say who shall represent them. I assume that they will select representatives from amongst themselves. I have used the words ‘ ‘ organization or organizations “ so that, if necessary, more than one organization may be consulted, and to allow for the possible formation of organizations not now in existence. These organizations would determine, by conference or otherwise, what theirrecommendations should be.
– Mv amendment left it open to the Committee to indicate that returned soldiers and sailors should be entrusted with the administration of this scheme.
– I voted for the amendment, but, unfortunately, it waa not carried. The Government will fall short of its duty if it does not accede to the express wish of the returned men that they shall be directly represented on the Commission.
– I cannot accept the amendment, but the honorable member mav take the assurance of the Minister for Defence, given in the other Chamber, and repeated here by me, that two returned soldiers will be members of the Commission.
– Why not provide for that in the Bill ?
– It is not necessary. I cannot agree to the acceptance of the recommendations of organizations.
– My view is that the men should select their own representatives.
– I realize the honorable member’s point of view, but the Government thinks that the Executive should be responsible for the appointment, and has promised that two of the persons who are appointed shall be returned soldiers.
Question - That the words proposed to be inserted be so inserted - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 20
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I think that we should put into the Bill a provision which will give effect to the promise of the Minister. I therefore move -
That after the word “ Commissioners “, in sub-clause 2, the words “ two of whom shall be returned soldiers or sailors” be inserted.
– I accept the amendment.
– I do not think the amendment would meet the purpose we have in view. The Returned Soldiers and Sailors Associations should have, the right to appoint these men.
– That is the question we have just decided.
– Then I. shall vote against this amendment. The Returned Soldiers and Sailors Associations should have representation on this Commission. Unless two representatives are appointed by them, the Commission will not give satisfaction.
– Every soldier represents his colleagues.
– I can assure the honorable member that rather than be represented by some returned soldiers the’ associations would prefer to have no direct representation whatever. Some returned soldiers and sailors are unworthy of the uniform they wear, and it would be unfair to foist such representatives upon the associations.
– The honorable member does not think that men of thatclass would be selected ?
– I do not desire to import party politics into this discussion, but I am satisfied that if two returned soldiers of strong Conservative leanings were appointed they would be utterly useless from the point of view of the associations. The two representatives should come from the lower ranks. Men of the higher ranks will have representation even if no soldiers are appointed to the Commission. I shall vote agains* any representation of returned soldiers and sailors on this Commission except that of men selected by the associations themselves.
.- It seems to me that the Government might very easily concede in a practical way the wishes of the Returned Soldiers and Sailors Associations. It is difficult for the associations to definitely nominate to a body of this kind, because they might nominate persons possessing qualifications similar to those of other members, with the result that there would be overlapping. I fail to see, however, why the Government should not accept from the associations a number of nominations, and from that number select the two to be appointed.
– That would meet my desire.
– I do not know what objection the Government could have to that suggestion. They certainly desire that their nominees shall have the confidence of returned soldiers and sailors generally. I can see difficulties in the way of these men being directly nominated by the associations, but I fail to see why the Government should not be content to select from a number of nominations by these bodies the two to be appointed. That would give the Government a wide choice. I do not think it necessary to move an amendment to carry out my suggestion. I am not here with’ any new-born zeal to denounce the Government. I am anxious to assist them, and I shall be perfectly satisfied if the Minister in charge of the Bill will say that, generally speaking, the Government will act upon the lines I have indicated.
– I hope that honorable members will not press this point. Any Minister pretending to administer this law with a desire to make it successful would feel that one of his first duties was so to administer it as to serve the interests of returned soldiers and sailors generally. He would be quite aware that unless he did so another1 difficulty would do? his steps in the shape of friction between himself and the Returned Soldiers and Sailors Associations. . I think, therefore this matter might very well be left to the Minister.
– Would there not be less possibility of friction if the Government had the choice, of two representatives from a number of men selected by the associations ?
– I do not know that we should necessarily secure the best returned soldiers’ representatives by such a process of selection. The Minister has put himself in touch with these associations; he has already consulted them in every way, and I think he should continue to do so in the administration -of this scheme.
– Will my honorable friend say that he is satisfied in his own mind that the Minister would seek to work with: the Returned Soldiers and Sailors Associations ?
– I am perfectly sure that that would be his chief desire.
– There has been an attempt to create in the minds of returned soldiers the suspicion that he will have no desire to work in harmony with the associations.
– No such thing has been hinted at.
– I merely suggest that the Committee might well leave this question to the Government, feeling sure that we shall do our best to see that the law is so administered as to meet with the approval of the Returned Soldiers and Sailors Associations.
– I am satisfied with that assurance.
.- This is a matter that is absolutely in control of the Government and their supporters, and I do not suppose that any amendment has a chance of being carried. I draw attention to the fact that the men in the trenches, and in England. and elsewhere, were distinctly promised by the Government manifesto issued during the last contest that they would be permitted to have their representatives in the management of any repatriation scheme.
– I hope they may.
– That promise was made to the men on active service, was it not ?
– I presume the men were on active service.
– The promise has been kept to the men who have been on active service.
– If that is so it is all right.
– That question is not involved in the point under discussion.
– Yes, it is. I rose, not with the expectation of being able to do any good, but merely to draw the attention of the Chairman, if of nobody else, to the fact that this Government during the last contest distinctly promised, in writing, that in any repatriation scheme the men should have ample re- ‘ presentation.
– Has the honorable member got that statement?
– I have just made one of my unexpected appearances here, and I did not know this subject was to be discussed.
– 1 mean to say that, if such a promise were made, I have no doubt it will be carried out.
– I distinctly remember dealing with the matter of the manifesto on several occasions during the election, and I am quite satisfied that I could very soon lay my hands on it. The men were distinctly promised that they should have representation.
– And they are going to, are they not?
– I say they are not.
– I say they are.
– That is where we differ. What the Minister for the Navy does say .is that the Government will select persons, and call them returned soldiers.
– I do not .say any such thing.
– There is nothing inthe Bill about any representation of the men, and representation, we know, means really the right of ‘ appointment.
– Notwithstanding that, I say that they are going to have representation .
– Then I disagree with the Minister.
– How does the honorable member interpret the amendment, which the Government are willing to accept ?
– I understand that the Government are not willing to accept any . amendment.
– The amendment is that the men shall have two representatives. ,
– What that really means is that the Government will propose nominees of their own; but that is not keeping the promise made. How can the men be said to have representation when they have no voice in the selection of their representatives ? The Government propose to appoint the whole seven Commissioners, and to appoint others to represent the men. Those concerned consist of private soldiers and the deck hands on board ship, and it is clear that the Government propose to nominate a couple of high-ups - a couple of officers in high social positions-
– Why make those reckless statements?
– If the Government were determined to give to common soldiers and sailors any representation; they would not have any objection to the suggestion of the honorable member for Wentworth, that the Soldiers and Sailors Association shall be allowed to make a certain number of nominations. That is a suggestion from one of the Government’s own supporters, and does not even impose on the Government the obligation to accept the nominations.
– Is not Lt-Colonel Bolton, the head of this Federal organization, selected by the returned soldiers themselves ?
– Why not provide that the returned men shall appoint their own representatives from time to time? The Government are dodging and evading tho promise they -made, but it is only one amongst many others which they had no intention to keep.
.- Mr. Chairman-
– Why make party capital out of this ?
– No one can accuse me of making party capital, because I have always been against the nominee system - lock, stock, and barrel. -We are helpless over here, and I recognise that Democracy outside is helpless in regard to the price of food and many other matters; the Government is the power that controls’ everything at the present time. This Parlia-ment is getting into the position of the Long Parliament, and it will have the. same end. I regard the proposal as the thin end of the wedge for the introduction of the nominee system. The idea of talking about “ tha common soldier “ - the “ Tommy “ ! I shall tell the returning soldiers what I think of what is occurring here to-night - tell them that they are simply rank staring fools if they accept nominee representatives. Who is the “Governor-General”? Is he the £10,000-salaried man in the big place beyond the river?
– Order !
– I am asking, Who is the “ Governor-General “ ? Does it mean a highly-paid officer elected by the people of Australia ? No ; it means a nominee appointed from England.
– You know perfectly well that it means the Governor-General in Council.
– We all know that the phrase “ Governor-General “ means the Governor-General as advised by the Cabinet, and I resent the proposal to have these nominee bodies, because I fear that the system may’ be extended, ‘and that we may lose further rights. I see much of the returned soldiers, and I propose to meet 300 of them to-morrow night; and I shalT ask them whether they would rather have the right of appointing their own representatives or have them appointed by the Governor-General in Council, possibly from the wearers of frills and feathers. . All the men in -uniform’ have not the same privileges as those enjoyed by others .who have enlisted from this chamber. Some men, though equal to others in brains, have not got commissions, because they were in disfavour by the present Ministry.
Mr.- Joseph Cook. - Does the honorable member suggest that the Government gives commissions to persons not qualified for them?
– There is one honorable member on the Government side of the House - I am not speaking of the present moment - who has appeared here in uniform, and I should like the Minister to ask that man if he thinks he has had the same fair play as another who got a commission. If the member I refer to will give me permission-
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN__
The honorable member must confine his remarks to the proposed amendment.
– It is difficult to do that in face of the interjections.
– I ask honorable members to cease interjecting.
-I recognise the good intention of the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Mcwilliams), who has moved this amendment, but I think words ought to be added providing that the representatives shall be elected by their fellow soldiers and sailors. What can be the objection to such an addition ?
– The amendment does not preclude that being done.
– No; but promises made on the floor of the House have often, through unavoidable circumstances, to be broken. When a distinct provision is made in a Bill, however, there can be no possible mistake.
– Do not jeopardize the amendment by any additions.
– I do not wish to imperil the amendment, but if a division is taken I shall be very much inclined to vote against it, as I have always voted against the nominee system.
.- While I am desirous of seeing that the promises made by the Government to returned soldiers are carried out, and while I voted with that object on the last division, I see difficulties in the proposition that the representatives ofthe men shall be elected. For one thing, we are anxious to create the Commission straight away. Are we merely to take a vote of the handful of returned soldiers who are at present in Australia?
– They are representative of the men who are at the Front.
– Would it be fair to those who are returning at a later date that only a small section who are here at the present time, and many of whom have returned from less arduous conditions than those which are now being faced at the Front, should have the privilege of electing the men who are to represent all the soldiers who ultimately will come back to this country? We cannot carry out the vote on anything like a democratic principle. Honorable members who have spoken in support of this proposition probably mean that the representatives of the soldiers shall be voted for in Sydney and Melbourne. How can we get a representative vote of all the States in that way. Is the matter to be determined practically by the members of the larger associations?
– Is there no association of returned soldiers in Western Australia?
– There are several such associations in that State, and it is on their behalf that. I suggest that the Government should bind themselves either in the Bill, a method which I prefer, or by a promise, which will be equally satisfactory, to appoint only returned soldiers who are nominees of organizations of returned soldiers. Such a procedure would shut out the possibility of men being appointed who might not be representative in many respects of the majority of the soldiers.
– The very same objection applies to that proposition as to the other. How would the honorable member propose to get the nominees of the men who are now at the Front?
– I admit that my suggestion is also open to objection, but as we cannot overcome all the difficulties, my idea is to overcome as many as possible. It will be impossible to do more than get the nominees from the existing associations of returned soldiers at the time when the machinery of the Bill is being brought into existence, and it is the very minimum that we should expect in regard to the representation of soldiers on the Commission.
– In his manifesto to the soldiers at the Front, the Prime Minister said -
The Government scheme will provide for the direct representation of the. soldiers themselves.
The least that this Parliament can do is to endeavour to honour the pledge given by the Prime Minister. He went on to say in his manifesto -
It is significant that the Returned Soldiers’ Association are supporting the National Government.
He thus connected these associations with direct representation on the Commission which was to be entrusted with the work of administering the repatriation scheme. In these circumstances we are in honour bound, as a Parliament, to carry out the pledge thus given.
– We say that the pledge is to be honoured.
– Then let us do it in the Bill, because very manypromises have not been fulfilled. I wish to add to the amendment the words “from recommendationsmade by the Returned Soldiers and Sailors Associations”.If these words are added, the amendment will then provide that there shall be appointed two soldiers, representing the returned soldiers, “from recommendations made by the Returned Soldiers and Sailors Associations”. As this : is a nonparty measure, Ministers might accept the suggestion from those sitting opposite to them. I believe that honorable members generally wish to honour the Prime Minister’s pledge. At any rate we on this side of the House wish to do so. Will the Minister for the Navy accept the amendment?
– I am surprised that this Parliament, so early in its history, is prepared to turn its back on a solemn pledge given by the Prime Minister to the soldiers.
– One would imagine that there was a monopoly of sympathy for our soldiers on the opposite side of the House.
– There is not, but we wish to remind the honorable member of his pledges.
– On both sides of the House there is a genuine desire to do the best for our soldiers, and a recognition, not only of our responsibilities in that regard, but also of the merits of a repatriation scheme from a business stand-point. After listening to the honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney) one would imagine that behind every clause in this Bill there was a plot to deprive soldiers of some of their rights, or of something that is due to them. The pledge given by the Prime Minister is to be honoured, but honorable members opposite will admit that there will be great difficulty in allowing soldiers to select their representatives on the Commission.
– It should not be difficult to fix a day for the selection of the representatives of the men.
– We would be following a great democratic principle in allowing them to elect their representatives on the Commission, but it would be a most difficult problem to get the majority of the men to estimate the value of the individuals for whom they are asked to vote for this particular purpose.
A man’s qualifications to be a Commissioner should not rest simply on the fact that he is a soldier.
– I recognised that fact when Istipulated that the men should have the right to choose any person to represent them, whether he happens to be a member of their association or not.
– If ever there will be positions in which the men occupying them will require to display considerable ability it will be in connexion with the work of administering this scheme. There are occasions on which it is not possible for the multitude to select the right man for any particular task. If we were about to appoint a Commission to inquire into tuberculosis among soldiers, would the honorable member for Melbourne suggestthat, because the matter affected soldiers more than any other section of the community, they should be asked to select a representative on that Commission ?
– I would seek assistance from the men who would be attending the soldiers affected.
– It will be almost impossible for the soldiers to express a judgment as to the special qualifications that would fit men to be intrusted with the work that will have to be undertaken in connexion with the repatriation of returned soldiers. I agree with the majority of honorable members that the soldiers should be represented on the Commission, but I hold that it is essential that the man who will have to undertake the task of building up this scheme should havethe privilege of selecting as Commissioners those whom he considers most fitted to help him. There will always be opportunity afforded to the soldiers, the public generally, and members of this House to criticise the actions of the Commissioners. I do not see that it will be possible to apply the principle of electing representatives of the soldiers, firstly, because so many soldiers are away at the Front, and so many of those who have already returned are scattered all over Australia, and, secondly, because few of the men will be in a position to estimate the value of those for whom they will be asked to vote for the special work to be undertaken.
.- I strongly support the amendment moved by the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) on behalf of this side of the House. It provides that the representatives of returned soldiers, which the Government now agree should be placed on the Commission, shall- be chosen from recommendations made by the Returned Soldiers and Sailors Associations. The associations can meet together and decide upon those whom they will nominate, and it will be left to the Government to choose from the four, five, six, or a dozen names -submitted those whom they now agree should be placed on the Commission. It is said that there will not be time for these organizations to consult; but we are told that the Act is not to come into operation immediately, but upon a date to be proclaimed; that in the meantime it is necessary for the Minister to make his machinery arrangements, and that will take some time. In the interregnum there will be an opportunity for a consultation of the Returned Soldiers and Sailors’ Association.
Then, it is urged that as a large number of soldiers are still at the Front, it would not be fair to nominate representatives of the soldiers until all have returned. That is not a valid objection. The men nominated on the Commission will not keep their seats for life. They will be there for a period to be determined by the Government, and the Government could arrange that the first nominees shall hold office for twelve months or two or three years. At the end of that term, when the bulk of the soldiers have returned, the representation on the Commission could be subject to revision, and, if the larger body of returned soldiers and sailors thought an alteration necessary, they could choose other representatives..
It is argued that the election of representatives by the organization would give no voice in the selection to the soldiers who are scattered throughout the country. That ‘ difficulty is to be met with every day in other spheres. ‘ In the selection of candidates by the Liberal or Labour . leagues, all Liberals or Labourites do not have a say. But those who are organized have an opportunity of making a selection. The same principle can be operated in connexion with the representation .of the returned soldiers. It is the only practicable method available of obtaining direct and responsible representation. The honor- able member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Heitmann) contended that in selecting a body to deal with tuberculosis we should have to appoint experts. It is ridiculous to attempt to draw an analogy between such appointments and those we are now, considering. The Repatriation Commission will be dealing with the ordinary affairs of every-day life. No doubt, amongst its members will be men who are experienced in regard to mortgages and securities and other special matters, but we shall also require on that body ordinary practical men.
A promise was made by the Government to the soldiers in the trenches that they would have direct representation, on the Repatriation Commission, and those words were used in conjunction with a reference to the Returned Soldiers and Sailors’ Association, which was said, although, I believe, wrongfully, to be supporting the Government. That promise surely implied that the members of the Association would be able to select their own representatives. At any rate, members on this ‘side of the House propose to take the amendment to a division. If it is defeated, I shall support the amendment moved by the honorable member for Franklin.
– That amendment does not involve the same principle.
– It does not, but I would rather that there were two soldiers on the Commission without consulting their Association than that there should be none. It is not desirable that this power of patronage, should be placed in the hands of the . Government. If the two men to be appointed are simply to be favorites of the Minister-
– Are all Government appointees favorites?
– Most of the men appointed by the present Government have been favorites.
– There is not an atom of truth in that statement; but that is a mere circumstance to the honorable member.
– The present Government have made a large number of appointments. Will the Minister for the Navy inform the Committee of any appointment made from amongst others than supporters of his own ‘party? He is silent. He cannot refute what I say by giving a concrete case. I have no doubt that the appointments to the Commission will be made in the same way. The selection of some returned soldier who is barracking for the Government will not be giving the soldiers fair representation. This power ought to be taken out of the hands of the Government so that the nominees to the Commission will not be mere pawns in the game of electioneering.
.- I regret that the discussion has degenerated from the high plane on which the secondreading debate was conducted. It is unfortunate that honorable members become heated in their desire to see justice done to the returned soldier. I think that greater justice would be done if honorable members would consider the question dispassionately. If there are any men who are specially entitled to representation on the Commission they are those who have made it necessary for a repatriation scheme to be evolved. Whilst I supported the amendment moved by the honorable member for Barrier (Mr. Considine), I do nob see altogether eyeto eye with honorable members opposite in regard to the amendment now before the Committee. Probably the bulk of returned soldiers in Australia to-day are outside the associations.
– Why did the honorable member vote for the amendment of the honorable member for Barrier ?
– I voted for the proposal to give the returned soldiers three representatives on the Commission. Whilst I agree that the returned soldiers should have the right to submit nominations for the consideration of the Government, we must not overlook the fact that the great number of the men are outside the associations, and will not be represented in any way. under the system which the honorable member for Maribyrnong has proposed.
– Give every man a vote.
– That would compel every man to go into the associations, and honorable members opposite are opposed to compulsion.
– I understand that the Ministermet the returned soldiers in conferencethe other day and came to a satisfactory arrangement.
– I know nothing of what took place at the conference, but, as a member of the Returned Soldiers Association, I do not believe that that body alone should be given the right to speak for the whole of the returned soldiers in Australia.
.- In view of the clear and definite promise made by the Prime Minister I cannot understand why the Government should hesitate to accept the suggestion that provision for the representation of returned soldiers on the Commission shall be inserted in the Bill.
– The promise of the Prime Minister will be honored in full.
– I agreed to accept an amendment! that two members of the Commission shall be returned soldiers.
– I am glad to hear that.- There are at least two associations of returned soldiers, and, as the honorable member for Corio has pointed out, all returned soldiers are not included in them. But we should encourage every soldier to be a member of a legitimate returned soldiers’ association. In the Returned Soldiers and Sailors Imperial League of Australia you have an organization whose constitution is broad enough, and whose objects are sound enough, to attract every returned soldier.
– Unfortunately, it does not.
– The prestige which the Bill would give to it would, I think, be reflected in a greatly increased membership. I am, unfortunately, acquainted with the Returned Soldiers and Patriots League in Brisbane, which it would be wrong to recognise in any way under the Bill, it being an organization formed by disgruntled men who, not getting their way in the other League, left it to establish a rival organization, the greater part of the members being civilians, coming under the denomination of “ patriots.” This association is a well known and declared active political organization, and the fact, that it is political should debar it from representation on the Commission. I am as desirous as is any honorable member to keep the Commission free from political influence, and I do not think that any member wishes to use returned soldiers for party purposes. The suggestion that I offer is that the president and secretary, for the time being, of the Returned Soldiers and Sailors Imperial League of Australia should be, by virtue of their office, members of the Commission. My reason for that suggestion is that the League holds annual conferences, at which its officers are elected, and that it would be a most salutary recognition of the League by Parliament, and would add to the dignity of the offices I have named, if the holders of them for the time being were accepted as representing and speaking for the returned soldiers of Australia. Such appointments would save trouble to members of Parliament, and would avert the suspicion that the Ministry of the day was making a party selection, while the returned soldiers would have their say in the administration of the scheme.
– Does the honorable member think that the officers whom he has named could find time for the work of the Commission, in addition to that of a growing organization?
– I think so. The Minister (Senator Millen), in introducing the Bill in another place, said that the members of the Commission would not :need to sit continuously; that the meetings of the Commission would be at long intervals. Therefore the work of a Commissioner would not be a serious tax on any man’s time.
– That would be after the scheme had been fairly launched.
– Yes. But the. representatives of the returned soldiers are not likely to be able to afford to give their time without remuneration. They, at least, should be paid for their work as1 Commissioners.
.- The assurance of the Government that representatives of the returned soldiers’ associations will be acceptable, may be taken to indicate that the appointments will be such as will be approved by the organized bodies of returned soldiers. But there are difficulties in this connexion of which any one who knows anything of the organization of the returned soldiers’ associations must he aware. What has happened in connexion with the returned soldiers’ association in Sydney does not encourage one to think that the interests of the soldiers should be left to the hazards of any of the proposals which have been put forward. We must remember ‘ that most of the soldiers who have returned to Australia are sick men, who do not wish to be worried with the affairs of organizations, and most of whom take no interest in, and refrain from attending, the meetings of such bodies. In Sydney there was a heated contest for the office of president of the association, and shortly after the election was made the association, for obvious reasons, changed its opinion regarding the propriety of its choice, and an eminent cleric took charge with a view to smoothing out matters. Within a few months things were in a very bad way, and criminal proceedings were taken against one of the officers who had been elected. When I interjected to the honorable member for Cook (Mr. J. H. Catts) that wo know something of the way in which selections are brought about, I spoke from ripe experience. I know how persons in ill-health have been persuaded to vote this way or that by others wishing to gain advantages at their expense.
– The honorable member has had a long experience in these matters.
– Yes. I have seen tickets hawked round for sale at election time at ls. a head, and have known this to be done on both sides. Every member of Parliament knows of it, though some pretend to ignorance. The responsibility for securing the effective administration of the scheme should rest on the Ministry. Every attempt to take away that responsibility from Ministers weakens the ability of Parliament to criticise the work of the Commission. Were the Commissioners selected by outside organizations, the Minister of the day could always shield himself from parliamentary criticism behind that fact. The promise made by the Ministry must, of course, be kept, but that promise is a promise to the men at the Front. To allow the representatives of the soldiers to be chosen by the men now here would not give fair representation to the great body interested in this scheme. The majority of those whom the scheme will affect are not now in Australia, and will not return for a year, and, perhaps, not for two years. The concerns of injured and disabled soldiers may safely be left in the hands of any Committee that may be appointed; but the fit’ men still at the Front have also to be considered, and it would c be exceedingly unwise to allow a permanent representative of the soldiers tobe chosen before the great body of the men had returned, so that there might be an opportunity to select the ablest administrators among them. If there are able administrators among those who have already returned, they are either too ill to perform the work to be done, or are already employed in necessary work in connexion with the war. In the interests of our soldiers at large, most of whom are still at the Front, the Ministry is bound to see that no permanent appointment is made to represent them until the bulk of them have returned. Then every man who has done his bit will have an opportunity to secure the representation of his views.
Sitting suspended from 6.28 to 8 p.m.
.- Before we adjourned for dinner we werediscussing the question of the representation of returned soldiers on the Commission, and the argument had been advanced that direct representation had been promised. The adjournment, I think, was not altogether an unmixed evil, because we were developing some feeling and a party attitude in respect of the question which we should be slow to encourage. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Tudor), in his opening speech on this measure, set us an excellent example, which I hope we shall follow throughout.
I have availed myself of an opportunity to examine the promise made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), and published in the Anzac Bulletin of 4th April last, and find that, dealing with the policy of the National Government, he wrote -
Ithas agreed with the States upon a scheme of land settlement, and is now dealing with the various other phases of the question. We are doing this on a basis at once comprehensive and pquitable. We propose to raise £2,200,000 -
That is a misprint. The amount should be £22,000,000- for the purpose of settling soldiers on the land, and to raise an additional £10,000,000 by a special tax upon incomes for other forms of repatriation. The welfare of the soldier, who has done so much for his country, is being effectively cared for. The Government scheme will provide for the direct representation of the soldiers themselves.
With that promise the House and the country are concerned; but it should not be made a question of party interpretation. The Deputy Leader of the Government has reaffirmed it by saying that our sol diers will have direct representation upon this scheme. That statement should be accepted. The mode of. determining how that representation shall be secured is quite another matter. It will be for the Minister in charge of the scheme to confer, if he so desires, with the returned soldiers, either through their organizations or in some other way, to try to ascertain what form of representation would be most acceptable to them.
– To those who have come back ?
– The Minister cannot confer with those who have not yet returned from the Front. What we are concerned with is the fulfilment of this promise by the Prime Minister. It is for the Government to try to fulfil it in a way that will guarantee satisfaction.
– But not to disfranchise 200,000 men.
– I have not suggested anything of the kind.
– The honorable member is proposing that it should be done. He would allow the minority to choose.
– There is no justification for that statement. I have not said how the selection should be made. I have sufficient confidence in the Minister to believe that he will take what steps are necessary to give effective direct representation to our returned soldiers.
– How would the honorable member interpret the word “direct”!
– The honorable member asks me to interpret a promise that I did not make. I am anxious to see this promise fulfilled, and the responsibility for its fulfilment will rest upon the Government. It is one of many promises that have been made to our men, and it is up to the Government and the House to see that it is carried put. I am satisfied that the Government will give effect to it; when I feel that they are not prepared to do so they will have no support from me. Any attempt,, however, to give a party interpretation to the Prime Minister’s” pledge is quite wrong.
In granting to the returned soldiers direct representation on both the Commission and the State Boards, regard must be had to the fact that the soldiers so appointed cannot afford to give their services gratuitously for a term of years.
They might have to come from other States, and remain for some time at the Seat of Government, to assist theMinistry in carrying out this scheme. It is unthinkable, therefore, that they should be asked to give their services continuously or periodically without any reward. Unless provision is made for their remuneration the representation will be drawn only from a class of men already well cared for. Whether the Government give direct remuneration to the representatives of the soldiers or allow them, by way of fees, so much per sitting, I do not care ; but if we are going to secure on the Board representation that will fairly reflect! the great mass of the men who have fought for their country, we must provide for their remuneration.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Mr. Fenton) proposed -
That the following words be added after the words just inserted: - “from recommendations made by the recognised associations of returned soldiers and sailors.”
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 18
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I intend now to vote against the whole clause. In my opinion, it would be better that we should do without any repatriation scheme than that we should have a Repatriation Commission constituted in the way proposed. Unless returned soldiers and sailors are represented on the Repatriation Commission the scheme, in my opinion, will be practically useless.
– Has the Honorary Minister (Mr. Groom) considered the objections that were urged to the appointment of the Commissioners during the pleasure of the Governor-General in Council ? It was suggested that it would be advisable to limit their tenure of office, and that they should be appointed for a definite period of three years. That would give the Government full opportunity to displace men found to be unsuitable.
– They will have that opportunity under the Bill as it stands.
– The Government have considered the point, and prefer to stand by the Bill as it is.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Assent to the following Bills reported : -
Daylight Saving Repeal Bill.
Bill returned from the Senate without request.
In Committee (Consideration of Senate’s requests) :
Clause 6 -
There shall be payable by every male person (whether in receipt of a taxable income or not) who, on the first day of July, one thousand nine hundred and seventeen -
was unmarried or a widower without children; and
was not under the age of twenty-one years, income tax to the amount of Five pounds or five per centum of his taxable income, whichever is the greater: (.2) Sub-section (1) of this section shall not apply to a person who satisfies the Commissioner -
that he is permanently incapacitated for work; or
that he is in receipt of an invalid or old-age pension…..
Senate’s requests -
No. 1. - Sub- clause 2, paragraph c, after “ work “ insert “ and is in receipt of a gross income not exceeding one hundred and fifty pounds.”
No. 2. - Sub-clause 2, paragraph d, after “ pension “ add “ or that he is over the age of sixty years, and has a gross income lessthan one hundred pounds.”
– The Senate has made two requests for amendments to sub-clause 2 of clause 6. I intend to move that the Committee agree to the Senate’s requests. It will be seen that if the first request is agreed to, paragraph c of sub-clause 2 of clause 6 will read -
That he is permanently incapacitated for work, and is in receipt of a gross income not exceeding £150; or
– What was the position as the Bill left this Chamber?
– The position was that a man permanently incapacitated for work was exempt from the tax without any qualification. If the Senate’s request be agreed to, such a person will not be exempt if he has an income of more than £150 a year. That seems reasonable. I move -
That requested amendment No. 1 be made.
.- This House made any person permanently incapacitated for work exempt from this tax. The Senate suggests a modification, that if such a person earns over £150 a year he must pay the tax.
– He might have an income of £10,000 a year.
– I admit that I am more concerned about quite another class. I stated that in dealing with this measure I would do what I could to add to the number of those exempted from it, and, consequently, I shall oppose the request.
– The paragraph proposed to be amended does not provide for a general exemption, but only for the exemption of those who are totally incapacitated for work.
– That is so.
Question-That requestedamendment No. 1 be made - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 23
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Requested amendment made.
Motion (by Sir John Forrest) proposed -
That requested amendment No. 2 be made.
– I move-
That the word “ sixty “ be omitted from the requested amendment, and that the words “ twenty-one “ be inserted in place thereof.
The object is to exempt everybody over the age of twenty-one who is not in receipt of an income of over £100. Since the Bill was sent to another place I have received a communication from a constituent to the effect that he is fifty-nine years of age, in ill-health, and unable to add to an income he has of 15s. per week, which is merely sufficient to enable him to eke out an existence. This income of 15s. amounts to £6 10s. per annum more than he would receive if he were getting an invalid or old-age pension; and yet, he is called upon to pay £1 poll tax and £5 under the Bill. This means that out of £6 10s., which represents the difference between his present income and an old-age pension, he has to pay £6, leaving him an advantage of only 10s. What will probably happen in such a case is that the man will not continue as at present, but will apply for an old-age pension, so that the State, instead of receiving £6, will find itself to the bad to the extent of £32 10s. per annum.
– That is an isolated case.
– I venture to say that hundreds of such cases could be found.
– A man of fifty-nine years of age cannot draw an old-age pension.
– He may draw an invalid pension. The fact that this man is in ill-health, and has an income of only 15s., shows that he is unfit to earn an ordinary wage.
– He must be permanently incapacitated in order to get an invalid pension.
– It seems to me that the Bill levies a tax which the Government will be unable to collect, particularly in the case of nomads who wander from place to place; and if machinery has to be established to effectively collect the tax, it will cost more than the revenue received. The Government might well accept an exemption of £100; and the only way that I can see to accomplish this is by an amendment such as I have proposed.
.- If the amendment be carried the procedure adopted as between the two Houses will lead to a most extraordinary bull in the Bill as presented to the public. It is provided that the taxpayer shall pay £5 or 5 per cent., whichever be the greater; but if the amendment be carried, £5 will be the least that a man can pay, because it will start at 5 per cent, on £100. I do not know what the Government propose to do in regard to this amendment. Unless the mover desires to make the Bill an absolute farce, he ought to .start somewhere about £99 19s., or the public may indulge in many witticisms at the expense of Parliament.
– I hope that the amendment will not be pressed, because it is plainly quite inconsistent with the Bill, which contains the provision that it applies to all persons not under the age of twenty-one.. I think that the honorable member cannot have fully considered the effect of his proposal before he submitted it. The request of the Senate seems to have a very good object in view, in that it proposes that an exemption shall be made in the case of any one in receipt of an old-age or invalid pension who is over the age of sixty years. There are many people over that age who have been unsuccessful in life, and who are incapable of paying any tax at all, and I am sure that no one desires to tax those in that position. We considered this Bill very exhaustively, and I hope that the Committee will not agree to the amendment.
.- I trust that the amendment will be pressed, and I feel confident that the majority of honorable members, if they were to vote as they think, would vote for placing a minimum below which the tax could not be levied. If ever legislation deserved the description of “ freak “ legislation applied to it by the Argus, this does.
– What did the Agc say ?
– I have no idea, and I take no notice of what either paper says; I mention the Argus merely because it is the journal which supports honorable members opposite. The request by the Senate, which is receiving the praise of the Treasurer, was put in only as an afterthought by a private member.
– That is not accurate.
– The request was inserted on the motion of Senator Fairbairn, and it is not the proposal of the Government. Here is a “well thought out, matured measure, of which every member of the Government is in favour,” to quote the .Treasurer a week ago; and yet he now finds two requests made by the Senate such an improvement that he desires them to be accepted.
– The Senate’s request is that there be added to paragraph d certain words which are an amendment of the Bill itself. The honorable member for Henty (Mr. Boyd) now. proposes to delete the word “ sixty “ with a view to insert “ twenty-one “ ; but “ twenty-one “ is already in the Bill, and therefore the amendment is not in order.
– According to your ruling, Mr. Chairman, we cannot amend the Bill at all, so far as the age is concerned.
– Move the substitution of “ twenty-two.”
– Is it competent to move an, amendment with regard to the age figure in the clause as sent down from the’ Senate ?
– I did not rule as the honorable member has stated. I ruled that the honorable member’s amendment would only leave the Bill as it is. and. therefore, it is not in order. If ‘‘the hon- orable member chooses to move another amendment, thatis in his discretion.
– Would the honorable member be in order in simply moving to omit the words, “ is over the age of sixty years, and “ and thus make the request read, “ has a gross income less than £100 “ ?
– If the honorable member chooses to do that, he will be in order.
Amendment (by Mr. Boyd) proposed -
That the words “ is over the age of sixty years, and “ be omitted from the requested amendment.
– I hope the Committee will not agree to this amendment, which would only have the effect of defeating one of the objects of the Bill. There are a large number of people in the country strong and well, and who-
– Are without means. The honorable gentleman ought to be ashamed !
– Unless they have an income of £100 a year the honorable member will exempt them all. Men will live with their families, who are really affluent. I hope that the Committee will not think of adopting the amendment to the request.
– I ask your ruling, sir, as to whether the question of exempting all the persons taxed in the Bill which was decided when the Bill was previously before the House can be raised again in the form of an amendment to the request of the Senate?
– The Committee are empowered to amend the requested amendment of the Senate. The proposed alteration of that request is the deletion of certain words. Whether that would have the effect which the honorable member suggests, I am not in a position to state, nor do I think that the Committee desire me to do so. I am of the opinion that the amendment is in order.
.- As an earnest seeker after justice, I find myself in a considerable difficulty. The Treasurer (Sir John Forrest) has just informed honorable members that the particular bachelors for whom an exemption is asked are really prosperous bachelors living with their families. I have some doubt as to what my right honorable friend means by that remark. But apart from that, I am placed in a greater difficulty by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Tudor), who has implored us to vote for the amendment to the request because of something which his friend, the Argus, has stated quite recently. I am still more loath to follow my honorable friend, because on the last occasion he invited us to follow him,to my own knowledge, he asked for an exemption for a totally incapacitated acquaintance of mine whose income is between £50,000 and £60,000 a year. I find that the Leader of the Opposition is a somewhat unsafe guide. I am really amazed at the disclosure of the Treasurer as to the position
– How are you going to de cide between us?
– I do not know; I am in doubt.
– The remark of the Treasurer was a lapsus bachelori.
– I think that the Leader of the Government has put the whole matter in a nutshell, and I will leave it at that.
Question - That the words proposed to be left out of requested amendment No. 2 be so left out- put. The Committee divided.
Majority . .19
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment to requested amendment negatived.
Requested amendment made.
Resolutions reported; report adopted; and Bill returned to the Senate amended accordingly.
Motion (by Sir John Forrest) agreed to-
That leave bc given to bring in a Bill for an Act to amend the Estate Duty Assessment Act 1914-16.
– I move -
That in accordance with the provisions of the Commonwealth Public Works Committee Act 1013-14 the following works be referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works for their report thereon, namely: - Flinders Naval Base - Erection of workshops, hospital, detention barracks, quarters for married officers and warrant officers, water, sewerage and stormwater reticulations, electric distribution system, and accessory works for that establishment. Henderson Naval Base - Two breakwaters, excavations, reclamations, basins or quaywalls, floating dock, administrative buildings, permanent railways.
I propose, with the consent of the House, to regard the submission of this motion as a formal matter, and only to give the bare essential facts within the knowledge of the Department which the Act prescribes shall be given. The works proposed to be referred to the Committee are situated at Flinders Naval Base, Westernport, Victoria, and Henderson Naval Base, Cockburn Sound, Western Australia. Some of the works at the Flinders ‘Naval Base were referred by the previous Parliament to the old Committee, but at the dissolution of that Parliament the inquiry had not been completed. It is proposed, now that a new Committee has been constituted, to refer to it the works not then reported on, with some additional ones at that Naval Base. The works proposed for the Henderson Naval Base stand in a different category. They were not referred to the old Committee. In both cases a section of the works it is contemplated effecting will not, for obvious reasons, be referred to the Committee. These are works which national interest and safety, particularly at Naval Bases, dictate should not be so referred.
As regards the Flinders Naval Base, the works to be referred are workshops, primarily. These consist of two large wings to the power-house building, -to be used respectively for a machine and fitting shop and a boiler shop. The late Committee partly reported on ‘these workshops to the last Parliament. The total estimated expenditure is £26,350.
– Are these works on ‘the Estimates of this year ?
– Lump sums are on the Estimates. These also include a hospital, consisting of a surgery depot, two ward buildings, and the operating building, with necessary kitchens.- The construction will be partly brick and partly wood. Accommodation will be provided for thirty-seven patients, and the estimated cost is £8,842.
– Why should an item of £8,842 be referred to the Committee? It is only works estimated to cost £25,000 and over which can be referred to iti.
– These items are embraced in a lump sum on the Estimates, and we are following the usual course in regarding them as part of one work.
– If you lump a sufficient number you can find useful work for the Committee to do, of course.
– If my honorable friend were ,a member of the Committee doubtless he would advocate that course, but I can assure him that we are not doing it for that reason. It is being done simply because some of these matters have been referred already to a Committee. This reference includes a detention barracks, in which my honorable friend will probably be interested, and which’ is estimated to cost £5,715. As he has been so recently an expert on the taxation of bachelors he will be interested also in the quarters for married officers, which are estimated to cost £18,809. The water reticulation and fire service is estimated to cost £25,000, the sewerage reticulation £12,570, the storm water reticulation £7,300, the electric distribution system £16,200, and various accessory works which are now in course of preparation £46,172, making a grand total of £168,845.
The figures, for the works at Henderson Naval Base are very much larger. The first section of the works is a foreshore breakwater. Honorable members will be more interested in a report of the Committee on this important work than they will be in any of the few facts I give. The southern breakwater is to be constructed of stone quarried at the Base and from Wungong quarry.
– Why are you “ stonewalling “ ?
Mr.- WATT.- According to the Public Works Committee Act, 1 have to give these facts to the House on this occasion. I will lay them on the table if honorable members prefer me to take that course.. I should prefer it, personally, if I have their consent.
– Put them in Hansard.
– I will put the facts in Hansard, sir, with your consent, and submit the motion.
– I object to that, sir.- The Minister is doing the right thing in giving the information’ tlo the House. If he does not supply .the information we shall be asked to vote regarding a matter about which we will not know anything.
– Seeing that objection has been raised to the course that the Minister has suggested, it would be as well for him to give honorable members the full information now.
– I put the suggestion forward because I knew that honorable members were anxious to get on with the important subject that has been under discussion during the last two days. In addition to the figures that I am now furnishing, honorable members will have the opportunity of inspecting ‘the plans that I shall lay upon the table. The southern breakwater is estimated to cost £61,200. The northern breakwater is estimated to cost £316,000. The main basin is in the form of a rectangle 2,000 feet long by 1,500 feet wide, with a projecting reinforced concrete jetty and two openings in the north wall to form entrances to the floating dock berths. The walls will be built of concrete blocks, the stone for which will be obtained from the Wungong quarry. The estimated cost of the whole of this work is £1,840,365.
– Is it an open roadstead?
– I thought that my honorable friend really knew the geography of Cockburn Sound. I am particularly anxious not to detain the House, and I thought that this information was gene rally known to honorable members who have .studied Admiral Henderson’s report. This is not an open roadstead. The inner works to which I am now referring are known as the Henderson Base, and that is surrounded by reefs and is guarded by islands. Anchorages will be necessary in Cockburn Sound proper. In addition, channels will- have to be cut through the banks which lead from the islands to the mainland. In regard, to the excavation and reclamation, the latter will be equal to about 10,000,000 cubic yards, and as the greater part of the quantity will be obtained from the sand dunes or hills to the east of the Base, the necessary excavation will give, a good width of level land back from the existing foreshore to form the dockyard. The total cost of these earthworks is £578,343, according to the estimates of the officers of the Department. A provisional amount is set aside for permanent yard railways, namely, £20,250. The administrative block and other buildings are estimated to cost £53,250. Provisional amounts, totalling £120,000, have also been put down for the construction of workshops. For various other dockyard buildings, including training schools and various accessory buildings, the estimate is £360,750. For sewers and drains a sum of £10,000 has been allocated. When the Base is completed there will be three floating docks of 6,000, 20,000, and 35,000 tons respectively, and arrangements have been made for inviting tenders’ for the smallest of these three. The total estimated cost of the floating docks at the main Australian Base is £1,342,000.
– Are these new /references to the Public Works Committee?
– The works at Henderson Base have not yet been sent to the Public Works Committee for consideration.
– Has any money been spent there?
– A fair amount has been spent in connexion with foreshore work, but the matter has not been under the control of the Department of Works and Railways, and I cannot tell the honorable member how much has been spent by the Naval Board. I think that honorable members should welcome a reference of this, the most important of all the public works of Australia from the point of expenditure, to our own statutory Committee. Some matters are reserved from reference to that Committee, and in due course will be exempted by Order in Council. The most important of these reserved works are naval magazines, oil fuel, storage tanks and depots, water storage and supply, all works and buildings in connexion with submarine bases, torpedo stores and workshops, naval barracks and training schools, naval stores buildings, dry dock pumping stations, electric generation stations, and the dredging of approaches to the Base. These are works that are regarded by the Government, after consultation with the expert in whose hands the planning of these important works has been placed, as proper for exemption from reference to the Public Works Committee at this stage. The Government are advised that no works connected with Naval Bases are treated by the British Admiralty as we propose to treat the works that I have outlined to-night; that is to say, none of them are subject’ to inquiry even by statutory Parliamentary Committees. We are carving out our own track in that respect, as we have carved out one previously in regard to the Flinders Naval Base, but I think that we are well advised in adopting the suggestions of our Admiralty experts to exempt those matters which we think should not be subject to public inquiry.
– How much land has been resumed ?
– I cannot tell the honorable member. There are various ‘areas now in process of acquisition, and in all probability others will have to be acquired for railway works and quarries, from which the bulk of the stone for concrete will have to be obtained.
– The Government have not acquired as much land as it was originally intended to acquire?
– I understand that the original ideas of the naval experts have been reduced somewhat.
– Is it intended to acquire the Quarantine Station site at Woodman’s Point?
– That site has already been acquired, but the buildings are still standing there, and the Customs authorities have decided to allow the station to remain where it is for the present, seeing that the land will not be im mediately required for6 the purposes of the Naval Base, and that it would entail an expenditure of about £200,000 to remove the station to Garden Island, as has been suggested. I hope that honorable members will treat this, matter as formal. It is in that spirit that I have introduced it. In accordance with the Public Works Committee Act I lay on the table the plans and specifications in connexion with the works referred to in the motion.
– If this motion had been brought forward at another part of the session I should certainly have raised the question of the appropriateness or opportuneness of voting the whole of the money that will be required for the works referred to, at this time, and if the honorable members for Eden Monaro (Mr. Austin Chapman) and Newcastle (Mr. Watkins) had been here to give expression to their opinions, which are the same as my own on this matter, I should have felt more disposed to do so. These works were reported on long before the wa’r began by the experts referred to by the Minister. It will be impossible for them to be of any use during this war, which has come upon- us; and no one is prepared to say what extraordinary changes will take place in the naval defence of the British Empire after the war. At this time, when we are taking on our shoulders stupendous undertakings of another kind, and when we should endeavour to save every penny and every pound, we are asked to proceed with works, which, according to the Minister’s own statement, will cost over £1,000,000. My own impression - and I do not think I am in the clouds in saying it - is that when this war is over, and some great international compact has been entered into between the British Empire, the United States of America, Russia, Italy, and France, some great tribunal will be brought into existence which may alter- the whole of the system of defence of the British Empire, and absolutely change the system of defence of every individual country. I do not think that it is visionary to believe that it will come about. The international situation when the war is over will probably involve a complete transformation of that which is now existing, and that change may render the whole of ‘ any expenditure which may be incurred upon the works set out in the motion an absolute waste of money’. My belief is that the Navy by which the British Empire will then be defended will be one corporate body, managed, as Sir Joseph Ward once said, by “ one set of brains,” and it may happen that in the international arrangements by which the individual rights of different nations will be secured, the works proposed to be undertaken here will become absolutely unnecessary.
The honorable member for Hunter and the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Watkins) have frequently referred to Port Stephens, which is contiguous to the greatest coal supplies in Australia. That port has been absolutely left out of these calculations. Yet, as a site for a Naval Base, iti is not inferior to Cockburn Sound or Westernport, or ‘any other port which is contiguous to a coal supply.
We are, in short, asked to continue expenditure upon, two proposals which must be absolutely useless in this war, and which may be absolutely useless afterwards, and at a time when we should save every possible pound for the great obligations that will fall upon us in carrying out a scheme of repatriation which is estimated to cost at least £50,000,000. I am told by people who have lately come from the Old Country that the British Government and all the great corporations of Great Britain have absolutely closed down on half-completed works which have no bearing on this war.
– That is not the case.
– My authority is Sir William McMillan, who recently returned from Great Britain.
– The British Navy are asking for new schemes on the lines of these works.
– I am not talking about the Home naval works. Great Britain is still in the war, and is still adding to her docks, her warships, and her mercantile shipping; but here, on the outskirts of the world, we propose to build Naval Bases which probably will never be required for naval defence, and to embark on an expenditure of a million pounds, when Ministers in a corporate body tell us, again and again, that every sixpence must be saved. The proposal is quite unjustifiable, and if this were the middle of the session I would raise Cain over the matter, and ask hon orable members to help me in preventing this expenditure which., may well be left until after the war if we find then that the conditions are just the same as they are to-day.
.- If the House were being asked to consider whether these works should be undertaken or not, or whether any money should be spent on them, I could understand the attitude of ‘ the honorable member, but he seems to have misconceived the purpose of the motion.
– I am aware that by agreeing to this motion we will not be voting any money, but I took advantage of the opportunity to express my opinions.
– That is a very strange confession to come from the honorable member.
– The works were before the House when the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Watkins) and the honorable member for EdenMonaro (Mr. Chapman) spoke, and I knew it was no use then.
– I should think it would be much less use now. If there is any ground for supposing that any works proposed to be submitted to the Committee may be found unnecessary after the war, I can conceive of nothing that would help Parliament better to come to a decision than the report of a Committee appointed by the House. The instruction to the Committee, and their duty to the House and the country, is to make inquiries into proposals, and advise Parliament whether the work should be done or not. While I sympathize with the view of the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Bruce Smith) that we should not commit ourselves to any heavy naval or military expenditure until the war is over, in view of the revolutionary changes that will probably ensue, that is no reason why. we should refuse to make inquiries into this particular business, at any rate. Has the honorable member forgotten that the construction of the Cockburn Sound Base was a distinct recommendation by Admiral Henderson, an expert sent out to report by the British Admiralty?
– Long before the war.
– Whatever the war may change, it will not seriously change Australia’s duty to defend its own shores. Our defence will be more and more upon the sea, and the Bases and Naval Depots round our coast will be the most effective defence we can have; but the question whether the whole of this work at Cockburn Sound should be pushed forward or not is a matter for the Committee to consider and advise the House on. Later, when the report is considered, or the Government bring forward a proposal to go on with the work, will be the time for us to make our complaint in the light of the teachings of history, and to -preach economy.
I am somewhat opposed to the Minister’s idea that certain works ‘ should be exempted from reference to the Committee. The fact that certain works can be so exempted is one of the deficiencies of the Act. While there are a few things that ought to be kept secret, if there is any expenditure at all on public works which should be the subject of the closest scrutiny and inquiry, it is that controlled by the Defence authorities, both military and naval.
– The honorable member does not realize the effect the war is going to have on international affairs.
– I have an idea, at any rate. I cannot conceive how the reference of this work to the Committee is going to affect in the slightest degree our future action in regard to these Bases. It does not commit or tie us to anything, or make us do or say anything ; it simply says that we want some information.
– It forms the preliminary to expenditure, and the Government can expend money afterwards.
– It does nothing but obtain for us advice as to whether the expenditure should be undertaken or not. I have the utmost confidence in referring the matter to the Committee, because Parliament will get the advantage of the Committee’s advice and assistance regarding it.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Joseph Cook) adjourned until a later hour of the sitting.
– We are in the unfortunate position of having two of our temporary Chairmen away and another sick. To meet the emergency, I move -
That the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr, Wise) be appointed a Temporary Chairman of Committees for the remainder of this sitting.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move -
That the Tariff proposals, as defined in the Customs Validation Act 1917, as amended by resolution proposed by the Minister for Trade and Customs- on the tenth day of August, One thousand nine hundred and seventeen, be further amended as hereunder set out, and that on and after the tenth day of August, One thousand nine . hundred and seventeen, at I. o’clock in the afternoon, Victorian time, duties of Customs be collected in pursuance of the Tariff proposals as so further amended.
This is a very small item. The article at present bears duty at the rate of $d. per lb. We are making it free at the request of the Government of the United States of America. They are allowing our wheat and flour and wheat extractions to pass through America free to get to the United Kingdom, and we have to reciprocate in regard to everything connected with wheat. Semolina is an extraction from wheat, and the reciprocal arrangement is tli at any wheat, flour, or article that is an extract of wheat shall come into this country from America free.
– What does it compete with here?
– There is very little coming in or going out. The proposal is really only a matter of form,and very little will be lost by way of duty.
In Committee (Consideration of GovernorGeneral’s message) :
Motion (by Mr. Groom) reported -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of a Bill for an Act to increase the maximum number of Ministers of State from eight to nine, and to increase the amount appropriated for their salaries from £13,650 to £15,300.
.- The Minister might have given us a little fuller explanation on this matter.
– I was going to do it on the second reading.
– It is immaterial, perhaps, when it is done; but it would be as well for the Minister to make his speech now.
– If the Leader of the Opposition desires it, I will explain the Bill now. The object is to enable the appointment of a Minister for Repatriation. I fully explained the necessity for this appointment on the Repatriation Bill . We wish to enable the Minister to apply the whole of hia time and energies to the purpose of repatriation. The Constitution originally provided for seven salaried Ministers of State. In 1915 the number was increased to eight by the appointment of a Minister for the Navy, and it is now proposedto appoint a ninth Minister. In many parts of the King’s Dominions, owing to the burdens created by the war, it has been found necessary to increase the number of salaried Ministers. The list of the last Imperial Ministry, appointed in December, 1916, shows that the Imperial Cabinet has grown considerably, and that salaries have been provided for the newly appointed Ministers.
– And they took in men from outside Parliament.
– That is so. Nevertheless they created additional salaried port folios. On the 22nd December, 1916, the Imperial Parliament passed a general Act for the creation of certain new Ministers, and, of course, provision was made for the appointment of a parliamentary under-secretary for each Minister. In this Parliament we have not yet attained to the dignity of having parliamentary under-secretaries. Under that Act the offices of Minister of Labour, Minister of Food, and Minister of Shipping were constituted, and provision was made for the general appointment of Ministers and under-secretaries. each Minister to receive a salary of £2,000. On the 22nd. December, 1916, the Imperial Parliament appointed a Minister of Munitions and a Minister of Pensions. Mr. Barnes was appointed Minister of Pensions, and he took over the duties in connexion with’ pensions, and, in addition, the care and treatment ot disabled soldiers, which is regarded as the most important work of his Department. In Australia the pensions matters are dealt with by the Treasury, but the Minister for Repatriation will, in addition to having the care and treatment of disabled soldiers, have the entire responsibility of the bigger problem of repatriating the soldiers who return healthy in body and mind. Honorable members will see, therefore, that we have a good precedent for what we are doing. Even New Zealand, the population of which’ is comparatively small, has increased the number of its Ministers. Up to 1915, New Zealand had eight salaried Ministers and two native Ministers. In 1915, the Dominion Parliament appointed two additional Ministers, at a salary of £1,000 each, to cope with work arising out of the war. The Prime Minister of the Dominion received a salary of £1,600, the Minister for Railways £1,300, and the six other Ministers each received £1,000. These, in 1915, were increased to eight. Therefore this Bill only proposes to increase the Commonwealth. Ministers by the same number as the Dominion of New Zealand already has.
– How are the salaries of Ministers allocated at the present time ?
– Ministers of State have allocated to them £1,650 each, and the Prime Minister draws a salary in excess of that - I forget the exact amount. The total amount of the Ministerial salaries is that mentioned in the Bill, and we are proposing to increase it by £1,650.
I ask honorable members to consider the enormous growth of Commonwealth administration since the outbreak of the war. I have here a rough summary of the increased activities which have devolved upon Ministers. For instance, there are all the .problems connected- with shipping - the provision of freight for wheat, chartering, &c, the control of freight rates in Australian waters, the purchase and management of the Commonwealth Government line of steamers, the establishment of a Shipping Board to control all freight matters, and the management of ex-enemy and interned ships, which are now being used for commercial purposes in the interests of the Empire. A tremendous amount of extra work arises out of the control of industries. There are the management and control of Australia’s production of wheat, wool, sugar, and metals, the supervision of .the coal trade, and the regulation of prices. If honorable members would spare the time to visit the Defence Department occasionally, they would realize the wonderful expansion of the functions of that Department. There are not only the control and management of all the camps, and the enlistment and discharge of men, but there are the clothing and equipment of the soldiers and the management of the Clothing, Wool, Harness, and Cordite Factories, the establishment of an Acetate ot Lime Factory, and the control of the military hospitals. A visit to the Base Records Office alone would reveal what a tremendous amount of war work is being done. In the Attorney-General’s Department the additional responsibilities include the watching of enemy activities, and the handling of enemy shares. Then there is the administration of enemy territory in Commonwealth military occupation. The work of the Treasury has been vastly increased by the administration of the war loans and waT pensions, in addition to carrying the financial responsibility of all the other Departments.
– It is a pathetic picture to see the Treasurer (Sir John Forrest) suing for an increase in “ screw.”
– I do not think the honorable member is serious.
– I am serious. The ‘ Treasurer ought to be ashamed of himself, having regard to the measure that he forced on this House a little while ago.
– I am sorry that the honorable member has thought fit to make such a remark in connexion with this Bill. The Treasurer has a record that will endure in Australia, and will be honoured. If at the end of his career the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) has an equally good record, he may be proud of himself.
Another new activity is the control of the Science Bureau. I need- not go into all the details of the increased functions which devolve upon Commonwealth Ministers, but the matters I have mentioned indicate in general outline the vast amount of extra work that has devolved upon the Administration. If honorable members will compare the activities of Australia with other parts of the Empire and will realize that a burden is being carried by practically the same number of men as - managed the affairs of the country .before the war, they will acknowledge that the Ministers have been trying loyally and faithfully to do their duty. A new sphere of duties covering a vast area is to be undertaken and a special Minister is necessary. The Bill proposes to create the office of a responsible Minister of State, to be vested with the duty of repatriation. We consider such an appointment absolutely necessary. There is not the slightest doubt that when the Minister is appointed, his Department will be one of the heaviest and most anxious in the Commonwealth. He will be dealing with hundreds of thousands of persons distributed throughout the Commonwealth, and the work will require his closest personal attention. I commend the resolution to the Committee.
.- This is not the first. motion of the kind which has been moved in this Parliament. At the commencement of Federation, when Sir Edmund Barton was Prime Minister, there were seven salaried Ministers. In 1915 Parliament created a Minister for the Navy, and I well remember that the present Postmaster-General (Mr’. Webster) delivered an illuminating ‘ speech upon the proposal. He said that the new appointment was be- ing made only for the sake of Ministers’ pockets. Of course, the honorable member for Gwydir was not Postmaster-General then. I realize as well as any other honorable member that the duties of Ministers are heavier than they were before the war, particularly those of Ministers who are directly affected by the war. Prior to 19 5, we had only one Minister for naval and military defence. There was practically little or no Navy Department before the war, the Minister for Defence merely visiting the Navy Office as often as was necessary. No doubt the present Minister for the Navy (Mr. Joseph Cook) and his predecessor will assure us that the Department could not be administered in that way today. There is certainly enough work in the Navy Department to occupy the time of one Minister, particularly if there is to be an expansion of the fleet and of other activities and establishments connected with the Navy. I am not sure whether the interned enemy vessels are still under the control of the Navy Department, but they were at the commencement of the war.
This Bill proposes to create a Minister of Repatriation, and I do not know of any Minister who will have a harder or more difficult ‘ob. Whether or not the Ministry could evolve some scheme other than the appointment of an additional salaried Minister I do not know ; that is a matter for the Ministry to determine. But I do know that the present Government were returned to power, not for the purpose of increasing expenditure. If there was one thing for which the party I have the honour to lead Was denounced it was the increase of expenditure during the Labour régime and I am confident that had the Labour party been successful in the last election, a great number of honorable members who are sitting on the Government side to-night, and who will be silent in regard to this Bill, would have been loud in their denunciation of any proposal for increasing Ministerial positions and salaries in this time of war.
– We did not make much objection to the increase proposed by the Labour Government.
– I think we supported the appointment of the Minister for the Navy.
– I do not intend to vote against the appointment of an additional salaried Minister.
– How can you say that if the National party had been in opposition, we would have voted against the proposal ?
– I am judging from the speeches which were made during the election in denunciation of the extravagance of the Labour party, and the duplication of Committees, not one of which has been altered or abolished. Today we see not only an increase of Ministerial positions, but also an increase of Commissions and Boards, and every honorable member knows well that whether we appoint an honorary committee or a paid committee, the cost is much the same. In fact, sometimes honorary committees cost more than those which are paid. However, I shall deal with that phase of the question when we resume the consideration of the Bill, which provides for the appointment of honorary committees to work under the , direction of the Minister for Repatriation. If the Ministry say that the work has grown to such an extent that it is absolutely necessary to appoint another paid Minister, I merely wish -to point to ‘ the inconsistency on the part of certain honorable members who, not only on the platform but in this House, denounced the Fisher Government for having increased the Ministerial portfolios on the occasion to which I have referred, because, in regard to this Bill, they are not only accepting the position as created by the Fisher Government, but are indorsing the policy for a further increase.
– Like the honorable member who has just sat down, I do not intend to offer any opposition to this proposal; but the manner in which it has been introduced suggests one or two reflections. The Min- %ister (Mr. Groom) in support of the measure, quoted the position in Great Britain, but we all know that the Imperial Government of the day enlisted the services of some of the greatest specialists in trade, commerce, and finance that the world could produce, even from America; and we must remember also that, in consequence of the chaotic condition of affairs in Great Britain, that country is now by no means a community working upon individualistic principles, but a great commune in which the instruments of almost every industry have been commandeered in order to complete the defensive system of the Empire. Great Britain, therefore, furnishes no parallel.
One could look to England before the war and find greater justification for even greater expenditure upon Ministerial salaries. I do not know whether all members are aware that the Speaker of the House of Commons, after one term of office, retires on a pension of £5,000 a year, and is translated, to the House of Lords; that the Lord Chancellor receives £10,000 a year, and that every senior Minister is paid at least £5,000 a year. Even Mr. John Burns, who came from the Labour ranks, after a little trepidation accepted his £4,000 or £5,000.
– Why does the honorable member say “ even John Burns “ ?
– Because we have heard so much talk about men from the Labour ranks not desiring to takefilthy lucre, and not wanting the baubles which other classes are supposed to be looking for.
Referring to the’ question under discussion, I think the Ministers are too poorly paid. If Ministers were all living in one State and could reach their homes nightly, the position might be different; but it has become a tradition in the Federal Parliament that every State shall be represented in the Ministry, and so we find that certain members are perennially in the Government, simply because they happen to be the most suitable members from their part of the Commonwealth. As the result, of this practice certain Ministers find it necessary to leave their homes in distant States and establish duplicate homes in Melbourne, thus doubling their domestic expenditure without receiving any higher salary than is paid to Ministers in some of the States. A man like the Treasurer (Sir John Forrest) is by no means compensated with a Ministerial salary of £1,800 or even £2,000 a year.
– It is not so much as that.
– And I want, to remind the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan), who made some personal remarks concerning the Treasurer, that Sir John Forrest is entitled to an
Imperial pension which, I think, is nearly as large as his Ministerial salary, but that the moment he touches his Ministerial pay he forfeits that pension.
– A horrible sacrifice!
– Well, it ia asacrifice which the honorable member would not make in similar circumstances; but, in the first place, the honorable member would not be likely to obtain an Imperial pension; and if he did, I am sure he would take good care to hold it.
– I thought the Treasurer’s Imperial pension was £100 a year.
– My impression is that it is nearly £1,000’ a year.
– No; it is £500.
– At all events, it is only fair to the Treasurer that it should be known that what remains to him of his Ministerial pay after he has been deprived of the extra £200 a year which private members enjoy is most inadequate for the work he is called upon to do.
It is common knowledge to many of us that, in the distribution of Ministerial pay, ‘ a groat variety of allocations are made. The Minister who will be in charge of repatriation has, hitherto, been receiving only that salary which is allocated to the holder of the position of Vice-President of the Executive Council.
– How much is that?
– I do not want to go into details, but my impression is that the Vice-President of the Executive Council has hitherto received an allocation of about £750 a year. The Constitution provides for a certain amount of money to be disbursed amongst the Ministers. This amount has been increased for the Minister for the Navy, and is now being increased for the Minister for Repatriation; and, although the Honorary Minister in charge of this motion spoke of the multifarious duties which are now imposed upon Ministers, I want the Committee to remember that all the work necessitated by the policy adopted in regard to wheat, metal, sugar, and shipping, is carried out by the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), who has thus taken a herculean task on his shoulders. ‘
– He is assisted by Senator Russell in some of that work.
– Notwithstanding all that has been said, I think this is an occasion upon which the Government might well have struck a note “for the benefit of the general public, by declaring against any increase in Ministerial salaries. The Government have been preaching economy right and left, and, as we have been reminded aci nauseam by members on the other side, the Government came in to carry out a policy of economy and to win the war. In view of this fact they might, very well, have declined to appropriate any more money for Ministerial pay for the extra work which has been thrown upon them. Apart from that, there can be no objection to the motion.
– That has not been done in any other part of the world.
– The Minister told us of the amounts paid to Ministers and under-secretaries in Great Britain, but I again point out that the Imperial Government approached the heads of great industrial organizations, involving millions of working capital, and asked them to leave their own businesses and concentrate the whole of their attention on Government activities. This has involved private undertakings in serious losses; but, in our own case, we are selecting an extra Minister from within the Parliament; and I repeat that it would have been more laudable for the Government to strike a note of economy in support of the policy which they have been advo-1 eating.
.- I desire to say something in opposition to the proposal. As the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Bruce Smith) has pointed out, the Government might very well have practised economy in this matter, especially in view of the fact that they struck an entirely different note when it was a question of imposing taxation upon men earning less than £100 a year in order to insure the success of the repatriation scheme. In the present instance they do not propose to give up anything. One would have thought that a Minister enjoying something like £32 per week would have been prepared to practise war-time economy. During the course of the debate we were informed that the Prime Minister receives about £2,500 per an- num. while the rest of the Ministers get about £1,650, and it is now proposed to appropriate money “ to pay the salary of another Minister to insure the success of the repatriation scheme. In my judgment, Ministers might very well have reduced themselves to a “ starvation wage ‘ ‘ of £24 per week, or £1,200 a year, by dividing the present amount provided for Ministerial salaries. If they had done that they would have pioneered the path in this war-time economy. ‘ It appears, however, that, after all, the workers outside will always be called upon to do the sacrificing. Men with small incomes are to be taxed to the extent of £5, or 5 per cent, of their incomes, to find the money necessary for the repatriation scheme, while the man who is ito control the Department is to be kept from want on a salary of £1,650 per year.
– He is worth it, too.
– But does not the honorable member think that the man outside is worth his wage?
– Of course I do; but you want to deny it to the Minister.
– The honorable member for Kalgoorlie says you want to reduce his wages.
– I do not wish to reduce wages. My desire is that some of the wordy patriotism of this place shall be translated into action. Ministers should give the people a lead by showing that, as practical patriots, they are willing to sacrifice part of their salaries. We hear about making sacrifices for the men who have gone to the Front, but when it comes to a financial reduction, none of us likes to give up anything. So far as I have been able to discover, all Governments are alike in objecting to a reduction of the« salaries of Ministers, which are well above the bread line, though they are prepared- to get at the chap outside. I shall oppose the attempt to increase the total appropriation for the salaries of Ministers, but I shall support an increase in the number of Ministers, because I think that there is sufficient work for all that are proposed, although a re-allotment of the total appropriation would provide adequately for the present Ministers and the new Minister as well.
– I shall support the proposal, and shall give a few1 reasons for doing so. Up to the present time our Ministers have been much overworked, and have not been able to give, that close attention to the affairs of the Departments which they administer that those affairs ought to receive. A Minister who. has the time to devote to the duties intrusted to him, and does his work effectively, can save ten times his salary. While Assistant Minister for Defence, I learnt that my predecesssor, having a great deal to do, had not been able to look into a particular matter. When I investigated this matter, I discovered that probably from the outbreak of war the operations of the Clothing Department were being conducted in such a way that the expenditure was much greater than was necessary. After a thorough investigation, I wrote this minute -
It would appear that a considerable saving in expenditure may be made in connexion with the production of certain articles of clothing in the factory by the adoption of an improved pattern, the more extensive use of the sewing machine, and the abolition of “ final pressing “ of some garments. “ I approve of the proposal being carried out immediately.”
Estimated saving, £39,260 per annum.
The saving, I believe, will be oyer £40,000 a year. Had I had time to visit Sydney, I venture to say, from what I was able to learn, that I could have saved another fair sum. In another instance I was able to save £1,400 a year. In making these statements I am not blaming Senator Gardiner, who, I believe, did his work conscientiously. He may not have had time to look into the matters to which I have referred. I discovered that a final pressing, such as in ordinary tailoring is given only to suits for which £10 10s. is charged, was being given to clothing that was being put into bales to go to France. Such, a pressing is as useless as would be the wheeling of sand from one part of the beach to be washed back on another part. The proposed new Minister will be able to relieve his colleagues of some of their arduous duties, and will probably make considerable savings. It is suggested that tonight we should sit after midnight to help the Government to get its business through. Well, on every occasion that either House sits beyond midnight the Ministers have to put their hands in their pockets to pay £25or £30.
– To hire taxis in which to take home honorable members who have missed their trains.
– How much does that amount to in a year?
– These expenses mount up considerably. There are shopwalkers in Melbourne who receive, higher salaries than Ministers. Suppose the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) had purchased on behalf of a private company the steamers which he bought for this Government, and which are earning such large freights, what bonus would he have received ? Would he be getting a paltry £2,000 a year for his services to the company? I do not think so. Those who have been on deputations know how arduous is his work, and that of the Honorary Minister (Senator Russell). It is not what is paid in salary that is of much consideration, but the return that is received for the expenditure. I always said, when in charge of workmen, that I would never employ a man at low wages. It is not wise to pay sweating rates. That is why I shall support this proposal. I said on the hustings that I would do what I could to curtail expenditure, and, therefore, I am explaining to my constituents my present attitude. The honorable member for Barrier would reduce wages. Does he not know that when you make a reduction at the top it goes on until the lower-paid man suffers ?
– The honorable member does not adopt the same principles when the workers ask for increases.
– The honorable member never knew me to refuse increases to workers. The Prime Minister has done more for the workers in increasing their pay than the honorable member will do if he lives to the age of Methuselah. It illbecomes any honorable member to adversely criticise the salaries which Ministers receive, in view of the vast amount) of money that they control, and the great Departments they have to administer. I shall support the Bill.
.- In ordinary circumstances I would offer no opposition to this proposal. But it is most unfortunate that the Government should seek to increase their Ministerial salaries in a time of stress like the present. The honorable member for Denison (Mr. Laird Smith) has referred to the great work that is performed by Ministers, and to the service which he himself rendered as an Honorary Minister. His argument, if pushed to its logical conclusion, would favour the payment of public men by commission on the value of the work which they perform.
– The honorable member objects to speeding up.
– I do not. There is no man in this chamber who works harder than I do. The honorable member for Denison has stressed the saving which was effected during the period that he. filled the position of Honorary Minister for Defence. Need I remind him that for a few months I was chairman of the Prices Adjustment Board, and that it has been shown by a Commonwealth accountant that as a result of its work during that period nearly £2,000,000 was saved to the people of this country. Yet its members were paid no- salary.
– They were kicked out in the end.
– My honorable friend sat with me on that Board. We were not exactly kicked out, but we resigned in a body because the Government asked us to work under regulations which would have foredoomed our labours to failure.
I hold in my hand the report of the Repatriation Committee in New South Wales. It is dated 30th June, 1917, and covers the work performed by the Committee during the previous year. This body consists of two business men and one member of the State Parliament. It comprises Mr. Willington, chairman o* the Chamber of Manufactures; Mr. Parkes, a member of that organization; and Mr. McGirr, who is a Labour member of the State Parliament. During the past twelve months the Commission has held 161 meetings. The average duration of these ‘meetings was two hours in the morning on five days of each week, but on many occasions the chairman attends to special business on Saturdays. Here are men who are probably devoting as much attention to repatriation as does the Minister himself. Yet they receive no payment for their services whatever.
Then we have a Parliamentary Recruiting Committee, of which I am a member. Its members receive no payment for their services.
We have a Public Accounts Committee, of which I am a member, whose members act in an honorary ‘capacity.
Similarly, the members of the .State War Council, of which I am one, receive no payment for their services.
– There is also a Public Works Committee. -
– Its members do receive some payment. But most bodies associated with patriotic work are acting in an honorary capacity. The Hospital Advisory Committee, of which I am a member, and which has been asked to con- .. duct an important defence inquiry, receives no payment.
But what is the position occupied by Ministers? The public of this country do not know the extent of their allowances. They are under the impression, no doubt, that the Vice- ‘ President of the Executive Council (Senator Millen) receives no allowances beyond his parliamentary salary. That is not so. At the present time the Ministerial allowance totals £12,650, in addition to which the eight Ministers each receive £400, or £3,200, as their ordinary parliamentary salary. Their total cash payment in salaries, therefore, is £16,850. lt is necessary to explain that under Statute Ministers each receive only £400 as their parliamentary salary when in receipt of the salary of a Minister of State. But under the proposal before us the Ministerial allowance will be increased to £15,300, and as the nine Ministers will each receive £400 as their parliamentary salary, their total emoluments will be increased to £18,9”00. The total Ministerial moneys are apportioned as follows: - The Prime Minister, £2,000, with £400 parliamentary allowance, or £2,400. 1 Eight Ministers, at £1,000 each, with £400 each for their parliamentary allowance, £11,200.
The Vice-President . of the Executive Council (Senator Millen), £900 from the Ministerial pool, and £600 as his ordinary parliamentary allowance. The last-named thus receives a total payment of £1,500. As he has not’ hitherto occupied an office called “ Minister of State “ under the law, no deduction is made from his parliamentary allowance.
Two Honorary Ministers each receive £450 from the pool, and £600 as their parliamentary allowance, or £2,100. Then the Whip in each House is paid £400 from the pool, with £600 parliamentary allowance, or a total of £2,000. These amounts / aggregate £29,200, which is the amount that is divided between the Prime Minister, eight Ministers, the Vice-President of the Executive Council, two Honorary Ministers, and two Whips.
Then it must be recollected that Senator Millen, who is acting as Minister for Repatriation, and who receives £1,500 a year, receives allowances on the Ministerial scale whenever he travels on Ministerial business. Yet these Ministers have ju%t succeeded in passing a Bill which will impose a tax of £5 per head on single men, irrespective of whether they have an income or not. , If they have an income of only £5 per year, they will be called upon to pay that amount by way of income tax.
– Order! The honorable member must not discuss that question.
– I merely desired to make a passing reference to it.
At a time when the necessities of this country, according to the dictum of Ministers, demand ihe imposition of a tax upon men who are hungry ‘and have insufficient clothing, when the cost of living is soaring, and families cannot procure sufficient of the necessaries of life, when through unemployment and want disturbances are breaking out in our cities, a proposal is put forward to increase Ministerial salaries. That is what the Bill amounts to. lt is really a proposal to add to the Ministerial pool the sum of £1,650 per year. It is thus equivalent to an increase of £200 each in the salaries of Ministers. But at the present time it is an absolutely iniquitous proposal, and if there be another member of the Committee who will join me in calling for a division, I will insist upon a vote being taken upon it. At a time when Ministers are prepared to increase their salaries by £200 per year, they have imposed a poll-tax of £5 per head on persons who are unable to pay it.
.- I do not think the honorable member for Cook (Mr. Catts) has quite fairly set forth the position. The Minister for Repatriation is doing not merely the work of a Minister, but a work which is peculiarly the responsibility of this Parliament. We are all responsible for repatriation; but this one member of the
Parliament has taken upon his shoulders the whole burden of responsibility. If there is to be any sacrifice, let it be on the part of members of Parliament generally. If honorable members of the Opposition wish to have this work done without any increase in the public charges, let us all contribute out of our allowance to the salary of this new Minister.
– The honorable member is opening up a rather funny trend of thought.
– I admit my proposal is not likely to be popular-
– The honorable member is reversing the policy of his great namesake, who would rob the rich to give to the poor,- He would rob the poor to give to the rich.
– We apparently are the poor. After all, the Minister for Repatriation will be doing the work of all of us, and if we wish to prove that we are patriots w.e can, by each contributing some £15 a year, put this new Minister in full, possession of the salary of an ordinary member of the Cabinet without making the public one penny piece the poorer. If my honorable friends of the Opposition are prepared to tackle the question in that light, I shall be glad to help them. I am sure honorable members on this side will agree to any patriotic suggestion of the kind.
– Nobody seems to be rushing the idea.
– Quite so. If honorable members of the Opposition are not prepared to do anything of the kind, let them give up slinging mud at the Minister who has taken this responsibility upon his own shoulders, and at the Government who, after all, are only doing what any Ministry would do in the circumstances.
– I think we should go further and expel from our union the honorable member for Barrier (Mr. Considine), and the honorable member for Cook (Mr. Catts). They want to bring down wages.
– I do not think they do. The Minister for the Navy has exaggerated the pretensions of both those honorable members. Had the honorable member for East Sydney, or any other - prominent occupant of the front Opposition bench, made this suggestion, I should have regarded it as somewhat in the nature of a sacrifice, in view of their future prospects; but we know that the two honorable members who made it have no anticipation of at any time being asked to make such a sacrifice.
– At all events we shall not be asked to act as strike breakers.
– My honorable friend recognises that he and the honorable member for Cook (Mr. Catts) are never likely to be put into the absolutely horrible position of doing any such work for nothing. What they are suggesting, therefore, at the expense of the Minister for Repatriation, is not with a view to any future sacrifice.
– This is a very weak defence.
– This measure does not require any defence.- I wish now to make a few observations of a perfectly nonparty character with reference to Federal administration generally. We have had from the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Bruce Smith) a perfervid defence of Commonwealth Ministers. We heard from an honorable gentleman (Mr. Laird Smith) that he saved the country no less than £40,000 in one deal. He was an Honorary Minister at the time; and earned every penny he drew in that capacity. We have heard other Ministers also defending the Commonwealth administration and asserting that Federal Ministers are grossly underpaid. I do not know of any clerk in the Commonwealth, who is paid as much as a Commonwealth Minister. Despite the great capacity of these honorable gentleman individually, our Acts of Parliament and their system of administration - I am referring -now to all Commonwealth Governments - practically turn every Commonwealth Minister into a sort of superior- clerk. Let us see what happens. If anything is going to happen in any great public Department of Australia it starts at the bottom rung. A telegraph messenger,, let us say, for the sake of argument, recognises that something should be done. He sets out his recommendation on a piece of foolscap and sends it on to the chap . above him, who approves it. . It then goes from the manager of their branch to the chief clerk in the sub-department, and he, too, approves it. From him the paper goes on to some one - else, who, seeing attached to the recommendation the signature of the man below him, also approves it. From him it goes to the Deputy PostmasterGeneral, from the Deputy to the Secretary to the Central Administration, and from the Secretary to the Minister. Every one of them approves it in turn,because he sees on it the signature . of the man immediately below him.
– Is that how the honorable member came to let the TeesdaleSmith contract?
– That is how the honor- , able member when he held office administered his Department, and how all other Ministers administer their Departments. All the Departments are administered in that way.
– And especially the Department of Trade and Customs.
– -Exactly. That is why the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Tudor) when Minister for Trade and Customs allowed thousands and thousands of Germanmade gas mantles to come in, through Holland, to the ultimate horror and indignation of the people of Australia. He had never examined the matter for himself. He had acted upon some one’s signature on the papers referring to the matter, and that somebody signed them because some one else’s signature appeared upon them. And so it goes on.
These honorable gentlemen, no matter to what party they belong, are satisfied that they are doing their duty. We find Ministers busy in their’ Departments. Few, like the ex-Honorary Minister (Mr. Laird Smith), have done good work by getting on to individual troubles. It is work, however, which they should not be calle’d upon to do; if the men in their Departments did their work properly there would be no such tangles to be unravelled by a Minister, who, after all, is only an amateur.
– We have not heard the other side.
– I absolutely believe, from what I have seen of Federal administration, that the statement, as put forward by the honorable member, is literally correct; I have not the slightest doubt of the actual truth of every part of it. But I do say that this system of transferring responsibility from the bottom to the top makes every person in the long list responsible for .the crime that has been committed. Then, again, there is no real supervision. Every Minister is a sort of superior clerk.
What do we get from the Cabinet? The man outside the Minister’s room walks about with a look of awe on his face, and says, “Good Heavens! be respectful ! that man is a Cabinet Minister.” What is a Cabinet Minister? In this country he is not, as he is in England, part of the brains of the nation, free from the responsibility of superior clerkship in any Department. In Australia a Cabinet Minister has to administer a Department.
– We are a very common people out here.
– The honorable member is always decrying his own country and his own people. I appeal to him not to do so now. Ministers meet in Cabinet, not to considerthe general policies that are best in the country’s interests, but to solve some tangles confronting individual members of the Government in connexion withthe administration of their respective Departments. It is then devil take the hindmost, and the man with the loudest voice has his grievence first heard. The Cabinet is now used simply as a means to settle departmental difficulties, and is not what it ought to be, and what it is in England, a thinking machine for the consideration of the country’s destinies. In the Commonwealth the ship of state is rudderless. The Cabinet is no longer at the helm.
I hope that if Ministers can secure the time for the consideration of the matter, they will think out some means for rearranging the system under which the Cabinet works, in order that, as in England, we may have men responsible for the administration of Departments who will not necessarily sit in Cabinet.
– The honorable member refers to under secretaryships.
– Yes. I would suggest to the members of the present Government that the Cabinet should be a thinking machine, and not merely a registration body for independent departmental administrators. We have some big problems ahead of us which must be solved, and the solution of which will demand careful and collective thought. They cannot be properly solved by the haphazard consideration which the Cabinet can give to such questions under the present system.
– Wait until we get there ; honorable members will have something done then.
– I am speaking perfectly frankly, and in the full belief that it applies to every party and every Government taking office under our present administrative system.
– Was that the honorable gentleman’s experience?
– It has been practically my experience, and the experience of all other Cabinet Ministers since the Federal authority expanded some ten or twelve years ago. A lot of our trouble is due to the fault of this Parliament, which puts a great deal of the labour of superior clerks upon the shoulders of Ministers of State. I hope that in due course Ministers will consider the whole question of Commonwealth administration. I believe that by doing so they may render Australia great and valuable service. I think that they could reduce the size of the actual Cabinet, whilst in no way interfering with direct parliamentary control of the Departments. Let the Cabinet be free of departmental entanglements to consider the future destiny of the Commonwealth.
– It is my intention to support this Bill. The honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Kelly) has suggested the necessity for a rearrangement of Cabinet positions. I believe that nearly every person in Australia who desires to obtain anything through Parliament, or through the Government, thinks that it is necessary to see the Minister in charge of the Department concerned. Rightly or wrongly we have built up a practice under which people are not satisfied unless they can place their case before the Minister. It is useless to hide the fact that unless there is some rearrangement of Ministerial positions, at least five of the present Ministers will have too much to do. I do not wish to make invidious comparisons, but it will be agreed that the work of the Departments controlled by the Prime Minister and AttorneyGeneral(Mr. Hughes) has grown enormously. There has been some rearrangement whereby an Honorary Minister, who is a member of the Senate, undertakes certain duties connected with the Department of the Prime Minister.
– He might have economized wisely by leaving a lot of his mischievous work undone.
– I am not dealing with that question to-night. I know that work is behindhand in all Ministerial Departments. It seems impossible for Ministers to overtake their work. We are building up a system under which every day greater responsibilities and additional work are imposed upon Ministers, in connexion with such organizations as the various pools, the shipbuilding policy proposal, and now the great work of repatriation. The work of repatriation will certainly be so great as to require that one Minister shall devote the whole of his time to it. I do not know whether it is possible for present Ministers to allow one of them to confine himself to that work and let the rest share the work which he has previously performed. Every one recognises .how necessary it is that the work of repatriation shall be carried out in a comprehensive manner, and in my view it requires the sole attention of a responsible Minister, and one holding full Cabinet rank. I was one of those who supported the increase in the number of Ministers upon the establishment of the Navy Department, because I thought that desirable and necessary.- We are going to spend more money in connexion with repatriation than is spent in connexion with any present Department of the Public Service, and, as I believe that one’ Minister must devote the whole of his time to that work, I support the Bill.
.- I rise to repeat a suggestion which I made during a previous debate, that the time has arrived when ‘the Cabinet should give some consideration to the question of securing greater efficiency in the Government. The remarks of the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Kelly) indicates the direction which reform should take. There are two things which the Cabinet should consider in this regard. The first is the establishment of a Cabinet in the sense suggested by the honorable member for Wentworth when he described it as the thinking part of government. Attention can be given now to principles and policies of government by members of the Ministry only at intervals between deciding whether another shilling shall be given to some one in the Public Service, or the illimitable ssmall complaints which honorable members are continually bringing before them.
There is a proposal now to establish a Department . of Repatriation, under the control of Senator Millen, and that suggests another matter which I should like to see fully considered. No better man could be found in the Parliament to control the work of repatriation than Senator Millen, but there is this disadvantage attached to his appointment to such a position : We should then have both the great spending Departments of the Government represented outside this House. I cannot see why we should not introduce a new method by which the Minister responsible for a particular measur’e should be entitled to speak in either House.- Perhaps a better plan would be to arrange that big speeches - like the Budget speech of the Treasurer, or a speech in explanation of a Bill like the Repatriation Bill - should be made to a joint sitting of members of both Houses. We should have been better equipped for the work in which we have been engaged during tho past two or three days if we had had the advantage of listening to Senator Millen’ s address to the Senate upon the Repatriation Bill. In considering the finances of the country, I believe that members of both Houses would be placed in a better position if the Budget speech of the Treasurer were delivered to a joint sitting. These are two matters which, I think, should be considered in connexion with Cabinet re-adjustment. Whether the cost be £5,000, £10,000, or £15,000 - whatever we pay for the work, if it is done efficiently, it will pay this country to spend thousands of pounds where we are now spending hundreds. Efficiency in the control of the Commonwealth means the saving of hundreds of thousands of pounds that now are lost, because the system under which we work is a time-wasting one, that deprives Ministers of the opportunity to consider problems calmly. as they ought; and any reform in this direction will be worth ten times the amount it may cost.
– I shall not detain the Committee more than a minute or two, but I think that some figures, showing _ in a fairly definite way the extent to which the responsibilities and work of the Government have increased, and the extent to which the cost of administration has trodden on its heels, might with advantage be given to honorable members. My honorable colleague, who has charge of this measure (Mr. Groom) has already dealt with a number of matters, connected with wheat, shipping, wool, and so forth, with which every honorable member is quite familiar; but I desire to set out in detail some figures showing the turnover per annum in regard to them. I wish to show that the Government, as a business concern, has so grown that it would be safe to say that it now has, at least, one thousand per cent, greater turnover than when Federation was established. The values of the commodities handled by the Government during last year were’:- Butter, £8,500,000; hides, £2,760,000 ; leather, £3,500,000 ; boots and shoes, £4,500,000; rabbits, £1,500,000; rabbit skins, £600,000; hops, £110,000; wheat, £30,000,000 ; coal, £192,600 ; ships, £2,052,000; metals, £15,000,000; fruit, £262,000; sugar, £8,000,000; wool, £25,340,540 ; or a total of £102,317,140.
All these, with the exception of boots and shoes, as to which it is fairly open to argument whether they ought to be included, are under the direct control of the Government - things we really buy and sell, handle and deal with on a business basis. In addition, there are a number of other commodities with which we deal, but in an indirect way, such as freight, for example, which, if added, would present a very much more formidable total.
The increase in the cost of the administration of all the Departments in the year 1916-17, as compared with 1914-15, is £672,625, while the increase in the cost of war services proper in the same period - which is not included in the cost of the administration - is £47,168,125.
I venture to say that a business house which could put before the shareholders a statement such as this, showing that the business had increased to such an extent, would have no difficulty at all in securing permission to engage another manager. After all, every honorable member who has had experience as a Minister, or who has given the matter two minutes’ thought, will realize that the Government has a difficult task to control the work that has now come to us, even with the number of Ministers at our disposal. I take my own Department as an instance, and I venture to say that its activities could easily be divided amongst five men. It has been my fortunate lot to secure the services of a number of very able men, who have given their work to the Commonwealth, some of them for nothing, and others for a mere pittance; and if they left my Department it would be absolutely impossible for me to carry on. I repeat that, looking at the position fairly, there would be enough work for five men to-day in the Department which I have the honour to control, and I am speaking only about the Prime Minister’s Department, and do not allude to the Attorney-General’s Department, upon which the war has also, placed increased work and responsibilities.
The tone of the speakers I have been fortunate to hear show conclusively that there is a recognition of the fact that the proposed expenditure is nothing so long as we get good value for it. If we mean anything at all by the repatriation scheme it is going to be “ the job “ beside which all others sink into comparative insignificance. We have to “ make good “ ; and to intrust this work to an Honorary Minister is clearly not the way to establish our bond fides with the people. I shall say no more ; but I feel certain that the Committee recognise that the Government are making an honest attempt in this direction, at any rate, to carry out its pledges, and I also feel perfectly sure that we shall have the assistance of honorable members.
.- I should like to know from no less a distinguished person than the Prime Minister how much honorary work, or how much work, is being done for the Commonwealth for what he describes as a “ mere pittance “ ? The curious thing is that, where so many people are ready to render such distinguished services for such small sums, the Government, who preach loudest .the doctrine of economy, should be the only exception in failing to put it into practice.
– What do you mean by that?
– I mean that the Prime Minister has just stated that he received a great deal of valued assistance, which he could riot do without, from men who do the work for a “ mere pittance.” I do not know whom he referred to. but I take his word for it, on this occasion .at all events.
– The statement is quite true. In my Department I have men working fourteen hours a day for nothing, and doing it well, too.
– There are men outside the Departments who are working many hours a day for nothing. The honorable member for Cook (Mr. J. H. Catts) cited a good many cases. Indeed, cases might be cited in every walk of life. In short, I understood, and I have been given on all hands to understand, that this is not only a time for economy, but a time for economy to the very bone, when every man who is charged with public responsibilities is called upon to act in a spirit of sacrifice, recognising the sacrifices which were made by others, some, of them compulsorily and many of them voluntarily, on the other side of the world.
According to the honorable member for Illawarra (Mr. Lamond), it matters not, apparently, what we spend on these services to insure that they are well done. It does not seem to occur to the honorable gentleman, or to the Prime Minister, that it would not be unreasonable to expect, not only that the services should be well done, but that they should be well done at least for the emoluments Ministers have been receiving up to the present. We are told that this increase of expenditure is for repatriation, a matter of the greatest and gravest moment, and so it is. But let us not disguise the real facts in connexion with the proposal. It is not because it is for repatriation that there should be no additional work performed by Ministers for the same pay, but rather the contrary, because it is to be done for the soldiers who have suffered all and done everything. It is because of that very reason that Ministers should set an example, and come here and say, .” Whatever the burden we have to shoulder, it will be shouldered without increased taxation and without setting an example which we would not have followed in other walks of life in the Commonwealth.”
The honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Kelly) gave us some interesting sidelights on Cabinet life, which those of us who have not been privileged to occupy that honorable position did not fully ap preciate before. His complaint is that in the past there has been a mistaken policy of a telegraph messenger, or some other subordinate underpaid officer, making a report to the person immediately above him, and of that person making a report to some sub-manager or senior officer above him, and so on till through various mystic grades it reaches a Cabinet Minister, and then, according to the exMinister, he does the wrong thing.
– He puts a rubber stamp on the document.
– Yes. But, apparently, in the wielding of the rubber stamp, according to the honorable member for Wentworth, the Minister does not always exercise ordinary wisdom- The corrective to that policy, I suppose, is that we should commence with a recommendation to the Minister, and by successive grades go downwards till the telegraph messenger approves of something less disastrous than the Teesdale-Smith contract. Possibly by that means we would achieve better results.
The honorable member urged, too, that the appointment of a Minister for Repatriation is to remove responsibility from honorable members in this House, and that, therefore, it rests with honorable members to provide, if necessary, the emoluments of the new Minister, because, forsooth, their responsibilities are to be less. I would be very sorry to think that, Dy adding another member to the Ministry - the greater part of whose policy every honorable member on this side dissents from, as being in a large measure dis1astrous to this country - we would lose any of our responsibility. But if it pleases the honorable member to make the suggestion,. I am quite prepared to follow him. I think that it is up to us to set an example, but particularly ia it’ up to the members of the Cabinet.
– No, equality of sacrifice. Mr. BRENNAN.- Absolutely. Mr. Wise. - No; you said “particularly.”
– Yes, particularly.
– That is not equality.
– This is almost as interesting as one of your bills of costs.
– The right honorable gentleman has had some painful experience of bills of costs, and the less he says about them the better.
– I have, indeed:
– I was answering the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Wise), who did not seem to be quite equal to the simple sum in arithmetic involved in the fact that Cabinet Ministers are paid at a rate about four or five times as high as that of an ordinary member of the House.
– They do four or five times the amount of work.
– That is too thin in these days of levying a £5 tax on men who earn nothing. It is too thin for these Ministers who come down with a tax on poverty.
– I think, sir, it ought to be permissible to make that reference by way of comparison between the proposal involved in this message and the taxing proposals of the Government. My object in even distantly referring to the matter was to answer the criticism which has been levelled at me.
I have been accused by the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Bruce Smith) of having made a personal remark reflecting upon the Treasurer (Sir John Forrest). It is very far from my desire or my practice to introduce personalities into the discussion of these questions. But I am justified, I think, in pointing out so gross an anomaly as the right honorable gentleman’s policy in connexion with another matter when compared with the proposal involved in this motion. In condoning this proposal to come in war time for increased emoluments, the honorable member for Parkes said, “ Consider what Ministers have to do. They leave their homes in other States, and have to make new homes in Victoria, away from all family ties.” Generally the honorable gentleman seems to think it is monstrous that members of Parliament and Ministers should suffer discomfort at this time. I find difficulty in dealing patiently with this suggestion when lives are being sacrificed, when it is not too much for the right honorable gentleman to commandeer the very lives of people. For the honorable member to say that Ministers’ comfort is being molested by the fact that they have to leave their homes, and come all the way from adjacent States to reside in Victoria to carry on the work for which they are paid-
– This comes well from a man who lives on the spot here, and has the whole day to himself.
– The right honorable gentleman was good enough to refer in terms of contempt to the side of the profession in which I am a worker.
– My branch does not have a chance to be generous, because your branch takes the lot.
– May I take this opportunity of reminding the right honorable member that even the lawyers, as well as the doctors and others, are rendering a great amount of valuable service in connexion with the soldiers and with repatriation, and do not charge for the work they do. In these circumstances, therefore, it comes with a very ill-grace for the Government to come down, particularly to-night, after the measure which it forced upon us against our will and our vote-
– Order ! The honorable member is now reflecting on votes of the House.
– I am sorry, sir. I withdraw anything that’ is out of order. It comes with a very ill-grace that the Government should come down with this proposal. I do not question the work which is being done. I know that there is a great amount of work to be done. Possibly the Prime Minister was right when he said that there is work for many more hands than those at present being employed. Very well; let us have the hands and the brains. I presume that he would not think that they have them there ad lib. Let us have the bands and the brains to do this work.
– Come along to my Department, and I will keep you going.
– No. There is not room in one Department for myself and .the right honorable gentleman. I can assure the right honorable gentleman of that. Let us have from this Ministry, and in connexion “with this measure, and the new office to be created, some earnest of their election protestations; some earnest of the sincerity of their pledges. “ Wealth must bear its part,” were the magic words of the right honorable gentleman, but in the matter of this Bill he sits side by side with the Treasurer, a gentleman whom he once insultingly referred to as a troglodyte, who had never conceived any new idea, or attempted the execution of one, and, like an inquisitive spaniel, applauds everything that he proposes for saddling taxation on the poor, whilst seeing that the wealthy are left exempt from it.
– Order ! The honorable member’s remarks are entirely disorderly.
.- The party, vindictive speech of the honorable member was in interesting contrast to that of the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Tudor), who, having had experience of Ministerial life, and knowing the burdens that Ministers have to bear, said quite frankly- that he was prepared to support this proposal. To-day we have been dealing with a measure that is of the greatest importance, the administration of which will take a supreme position in the work of this country for many years to come - over £20,000,000 will be spent in connexion with it - and whether it will be a success or a failure will depend entirely on the men who are administering it. There will be Local Committees, State Boards, and the Repatriation Commission, but, above all, the Minister at the head, and the work will occupy the whole of the time that he can devote to it. What do those who are opposing this proposal claim ? That the Minister should not be paid for doing the work? No. They will not say that, but they turn round and say that eight men in this community should find his salary. It- is the country’s work that the Minister will be doing in connexion with the greatest obligation that the Commonwealth can have, and his salary should be paid by the people. The sincerity of honorable members opposite in regard to this matter was clearly shown when the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Kelly) made the suggestion that, if honorable members were so considerate about saving further expense, they should all contribute towards the Minister’s salary instead of asking members of the Government to provide it. The suggestion of the honorable member did not meet with a solitary response, but when the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) was speaking, he suddenly announced that he was prepared to join in contributing towards the Minister’s salary. He said that he was prepared to make an equal sacrifice in these times of making sacrifices, but he immediately added that Ministers should pay a bigger share, because they were receiving bigger salaries.
– That is the principle laid down in the Income Tax Act.
– But Ministers do ten times the amount of work .that private members do. The honorable member sneered at the references made by the honorable member for Parkes to the salaries drawn by Ministers whose homes are in other States. What I said when members’ allowances were increased from £400 to £600 per annum, I say again. It ill-becomes a member representing a Melbourne constituency to cavil at the salaries that are paid to country representatives or men who come here from other States. Melbourne men live in their own homes, and have no extra expenses to pay. They attend their businesses practically the whole of the day, and they make no sacrifices through having to attend in this building. On the other hand, honorable members who represent country constituencies sacrifice three or four days a week from their businesses, and those who come here from other States are away from their businesses altogether. Let us put an end to this hypocritical, canting talk and deal with the matter in a proper way. The whole of the responsibility for the administration of this important repatriation scheme will fall on the head of one man. If he does his work well, he will be worth far more than the salary that he will be paid, and that salary should be found by the whole community, and not by a few individuals in it.
.- During the elections I claimed that the present Government was a Win-the-war Government and an Economy Government. The (proposal now before us involves the payment of ‘an additional Ministerial salary, but we must remember that we have been dealing with a very important Bill, which will authorize the expenditure of many millions of pounds, and that the Government might have made provision for the appointment of an outside man as manager. What salary would we have had to pay to an outside man, who would be an adept in matters of finance, and in the control of huge concerns, such as this our repatriation scheme will be? Last night I said that I would approve of such an appointment, but inasmuch as the Government have decided in favour of placing a Minister at the head of the scheme, we must consider the difference between the £1,600 that he will be paid and the salary, probably £3,000, that we would have to pay in order to secure the services of a man under the other method.
-Before the war broke out the honorable member was always complaining about Ministerial allowances.
– But before the war broke out there was not one half the business to be transacted that there is now. Although there is a disposition on the part of people outside to cavil at this additional expenditure, it is. a matter very easy to explain and justify. We could not get a man outside Parliament to undertake the administration of this repatriation scheme for at least twice the money that the Government propose to pay.
– Some time ago, in Queensland, they gave the manager of the Chillagoe mines £10,000 a year.
– I do nob know that to get a thoroughly efficient and able manager from the highest ranks of business men to do this work properly would cost much less than £1Q,000. Seeing that there is a Minister of the Crown prepared bo take up the work, and that the total additional cost is a matter of £1,600, we are perfectly justified in presenting the proposal to the public as one of economy, and not of expense.
– I intend to oppose this proposition. If the Ministry had come down to-day, as they did two or three years ago, and asked for another portfolioed Minister, and money for the purpose, I should have been found supporting it, because I considered that some addition was necessary; but that addition was made two or three years ago, and it ought to hold to-day. I was prepared to fight immediately after the 1913 elections for twelve Ministers. I did not fight to have the salaries increased, but I believed there was work for twelve Ministers in the different Departments. When one finds now that eleven Ministers will draw about £1,700 each, I see no reason for the expenditure of this extra sum. The Prime Minister sought to-night to convince the Committee that Ministers and Departments were overburdened.
– I wish you were right about the £1,700 each !
– I am including the proposed increase, and dividing the amount by ‘the number, of Ministers. I am open to correction, and I know that there is expenditure that has to be met. The proper note in the debate was struck by the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Kelly), I do not see how things are to go on as they are doing. We in ‘this Parliament and- people outside are demanding from Ministers too much attention to detail. They are slaving at work that ought to be done by some one else in the Departments.
– I am running a coal yard for nothing now.
– One would think that the whole responsibility for running all these Boards and pools fell absolutely upon the shoulders of Ministers who conduct the Departments in which, they are found.
– If they did not give some personal service, you would be the first to complain, >
– If the honorable member had any experience of the new Departments created and brought under the control of certain Ministers for the sake of convenience, he would find that if he required any details about the operation of these undertakings he must go to somebody other than the Minister.’ The Prime Minister’s contention will not bear scrutiny in that regard. If one requires to know anything about sugar or ships one mud not go to the Prime Minister, although there is certain information which he alone has authority to divulge, and it is necessary to have some one in supreme control of these big commercial operations. If I want to know anything about the way the sugar business is being managed in the Commonwealth, J go to an officer under the Prime Minister. He understands all the ramifications of the business, and is, therefore, placed in charge of that particular branch. He can give me all the particulars, because he understands his business, and, I understand, the Commonwealth is paying him handsomely. Where, then, is the justification for increasing Ministerial salaries on that ground ?
– Does the honorable member suggest that the Minister is there merely to answer his queries?
– I did nob say so. No one man could possibly do what is supposed to be done by the Prime Minister. He has under him a man who understands all about metals, another who understands about wool, another about wheat, or sugar, or shipping, and in most cases, fortunately, there is a Board of experts under that man who is the chairman.
– Who carries the responsibility ?
– Technically, every member must bear a certain amount of responsibility, and the Minister a little more. The long list recently published in Ilansard shows that a large number of the members of the boards or pools are doing good work in ‘an honorary capacity. If a number of these leading commercial men are doing this work for nothing., it is surprising to me. Are the Government bringing men from every State in connexion with the Wool Board and the Wheat Board, and so on, without the Commonwealth having to pay them for their services, and repay their travelling expenses? As a rule, there is a head man under the Minister for each: of these commercial enterprises, and he is well paid for the work he is doing. It is, therefore, of little use for the Prime Minister to tell the Committee and the country that the salaries of Ministers and the number of portfolioed Ministers should be increased simply because of this extra work. I should be the last to depreciate in any way - I could not even if I wanted to - the splendid merits, gifts, and abilities Of Senator Millen. We have in him one of the best men for the work; but when the Ministerial salaries are pooled, and he can obtain the fair salary of, I should say, £1,500 from that pool, I fail to see why, , in these stressful times, Parliament should be called. upon to vote more money to pay for another portfolioed Minister. . The work has increased in this war time, but we have engaged experts and increased our officers. If we make any appeal for some poor unfortunate public servant who lias waited a long time for his increment, or needs a little more to add to . the very poor salary the Government pay him for the work he does for them, we are told that any increase of that sort must wait until the war is over. This proposal is not required to wait until the war is over, because it applies to somebody high in rank and in Ministerial circles, and we are requested to vote a salary for him accordingly. And experts have been engaged in all directions. Take the Attorney-General’s Department, for instance. By the passage of a Bill a year or two ago we created Sir Robert Garran, one of our eminent lawyers and public servants, Solicitor-General, and since that date he has been occupying ti position to all intents and purposes equal to Ministerial office. He is now able to do, with his own signature, things about which formerly he had to consult the AttorneyGeneral. For almost every big undertaking in which the Commonwealth has been engaged since the war began, an expert has been appointed. One of the faults of the present Administration is that the. Prime Minister loads himself with too much responsibility, and very often matters are delayed until his sanction is obtained. If he would transfer some of his responsibility to his Ministers or officials, he would relieve himself of a considerable amount of work, and the country would be equally well served. Very often when finally his sanction is given to a matter, or he makes a statement in the House, he acts on information supplied to him by one of the gentlemen he employs. In control of the Central Wool Committee is Mr. Higgins, who, I suppose, receives a big salary. Colonel Oldershaw is in charge of Commonwealth shipping business, and I assume that he is not kept exclusively in the Prime Minister’s Department without receiving a salary commensurate with the work he is doing. I admit that the Prime Minister’s range of knowledge is wonderfully wide, but in regard to many matters he is absolutely dependent upon the advice of his subordinates. In regard to sugar, that commodity is controlled by Mr. Knox, of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, as much to-day as ever it was. The Government cannot take a single step in connexion with the control of sugar without the consent of that gentleman, and the same old business arrangements are in operation to-day as in the past. The Commonwealth Government have had an opportunity to make the conditions in regard to the sugar supply much better, but they have ‘ not availed themselves of it.
– Why not stick to the Bill?
– The honorable gentleman is not so wonderfully good at keeping to his text, and when he was sitting on this side he wandered from Dan to Beersheba in every speech he made. The honorable member for Denison (Mr. Laird Smith) mentioned that the House would be kept sitting to-night until the business-sheet is cleared.
– I hope so.
– It will be a disgrace if we are obliged to sit here all night. There is plenty of time in which Parliament can do the business of the country without asking members to sit here in a state of physical exhaustion and brain fag. It is distinctly unfair to keep honorable members out of their beds at this hour of night. However, I have no desire to further delay the passage of this Bill. The honorable member for Cook” (Mr. J. H. Catts) and others have shown that the Ministry cannot justify themselves before the House in regard to this proposal, and I feel certain that in the times in which we are living they will not be able to justify this increased expenditure in the eyes of the country. I shall vote against the Bill at every stage, although I know that my opposition will be futile.
– The last speaker failed to convince even himself that there has not been a vast increase in the work of Ministers during the last two years.
– Nobody denies that.
– The honorable member occupied a quarter of an hour in showing that all the new functions of administration are being performed, and all added responsibilities carried, by public officers, although he must know that the officers would be helpless unless they had Ministers to formulate a policy for their guidance. During the thirteen years I have been in public life, I have periodically heard members of Parliament, generally when sitting in Opposition, placing a very low estimate on the value of the work of Ministers. By doing that, honorable members under-estimate the value of their own work. The great increase in the responsibilities of Commonwealth Ministers has rendered additional assistance necessary, and I think every member will agree that, if we are to appoint another Minister, he must receive a salary. Then the question arises as to whether the salaries at present paid to Ministers are too high. Those who have been long in public life will agree that very few men in Australia have made money out of politics. As a rule, they leave political life considerably poorer than they were when they entered it. I have been long years in parliamentary life, and have devoted the whole of my time to the interests of the people I represented, and to-day I have not even a home of my own. When we find that business, men are paid salaries higher than the Commonwealth pays the men who manage the affairs of Australia Unlimited, £2,000 a year is not too much to pay a Minister who is fit for his work.
– Why preach economy to the other fellow?
– It is not economy to have a cheap Minister. In my electorate fs a mine manager who for the last fifteen years has enjoyed a salary of nearly £5,000, and his responsibilities are not nearly as great as those of ca Cabinet Minister. I am prepared to give Ministers of the Crown considerably more, generally speaking, than they are getting to-day, because L believe that if. a man spends some years in Ministerial office it will take him a good long time afterwards to recover his position if he has devoted himself to his public duty as he should have done. I believe in economy, but it is not true economy to reduce the salary of the Ministers when so much is expected from them.
– I am amazed at the amount of bitterness that has been introduced into this debate by some honorable members, because, after all, it is simply a business proposition. If, because of an immense increase in the amount of work to be done, the appointment of an extra Minister is absolutely necessary, the question is: By whom should that Minister be paid ? Honorable members who are opposing the motion do not for a moment suggest that the Minister to be appointed should not be adequately paid.
– Certainly not.
– Very well; that is agreed. Now, by whom should he be paid? Honorable members opposite, appear to think that the present Ministers should pay the extra salary. That is an extraordinary proposition. I understand that when the Labour Government were in power, Ministers were then receiving the same salary as Ministers of to-day; but I would point out that, from the purchasing-power point of view, the salaries of to-day are very much less than they were then, and, consequently, Ministers of to-day are receiving less remuneration than they were when the Labour party were in power, and Iam not aware that a single voice was raised in protest against the salaries when the Labour party were in occupation of the Treasury bench, or that it was suggested that Ministers were receiving more than they were entitled to.
– On the same ground, the wages of our soldiers - 6s. a day - have come down.
– From my point of view, this proposal resolves itself into the question : Who shall pay the salary of the additional Minister? and, in my judgment, it should be paid by those for whom the work is being done.
– The soldiers?
– No. The work is being done for the people of Australia, and the people ought to pay. I am sure they will not, for a moment, object to an adequate salary being paid to a man like Senator Millen, who is acknowledged on all hands to be the man for the position.
.- As one who has had a good deal to say on another measure having relation to this Bill, I should like to remark that the Minister selected for the position is undoubtedly the most suitable man in the Commonwealth. The duties in connexion with this Department will involve a tremendous amount of work from the hour that the Minister wakes up in the morning until he goes to bed at night.
– Has the Postmaster-
General been converted to the proposal yet?
– The honorable member for Cook (Mr. Catts) remarked on the fact that several months had elapsed since the Minister in charge of repatriation had given his attention to this matter, and that very little had been done so far, but I venture to say that if, during that time, the Minister has comprehended all that repatriation means, it will have been time well spent.
.- From the remarks made by the last speaker, one would conclude that it would be a great misfortune if ever anything happened to Senator Millen. I hope that no misfortune will befall him, but that, on the contrary, he will live long. I could not help thinking, however, while the honorable member for Wannon was speaking, that this country would be in a truly deplorable state if anything should happen to Senator Millen. He is undoubtedly an able man, but it is buncombe to say that he is the only man in Australia who could manage this Department. That statement is, indeed, a very poor compliment to some honorable members on the other side of the House, as well as to some persons outside the House, to say nothing of the Labour party. Senator Millen has yet to prove his suitability for this office. Make no mistake about that. And it has occurred to me that the administration of this Department will involve certain peculiar work which Senator Millen, in any of his previous responsibilities, so far as I know, has not given evidence of his ability to carry out successfully. I hope he will be successful, but it is absurd to bolster up this proposal for an additional £200 a year for each of the Ministers - because that is what it amounts to - by saying that Senator Millen is the only man for the position.
The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) said that under this proposal a new Minister would be appointed. But is it not a fact that Senator Millen is already a Minister? He takes part it Cabinet meetings. All this talk about Senator Millen doing the work for nothing, and the creation of a new portfolio, is so much balderdash. He is at present a Minister in receipt of pay at the rate of £1,500 per annum.
– It suits the honorable member to say so.
– It cannot be denied; and the honorable member is denying it merely in order to square himself with his constituents.
– No allowances have been drawn since the Labour Government were in power.
– I was referring to pay. Allowances are paid to Ministers when they are outside their State.
– They are not drawn.
– Ministers are entitled to draw them, and I know certain expenses are paid. An honorable member stated that the purchasing power of the salaries of Ministers has diminished. But has not the purchasing power of the earnings of the people outside, and of the pay of the soldiers been diminished] According to the Statistician, it has gone down to the extent of 33 per cent., and this Government has done nothing to prevent the high prices which have caused the reduction of the purchasing power of money.
– I mentioned the matter to show that the members of tha present Ministry receive actually less in value than the members of the Labour Ministry which preceded them.
– That applies to all of us. That is an argument for a general increase in salaries. At a time like this, when there are demonstrations of the people against the high cost Of living, and the mass of the workers are struggling to make ends meet, being unable to get sufficient of the necessaries of life, it is most unfortunate that it should be proposed to increase the salary of each individual Minister by £200 a year; because the additional sum that it is proposed to vote will be put intothe pool which is divided up between the whole of the Ministers.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 27
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Standing Orders suspended, and resolution adopted.
That Mr. Groom and Mr. Joseph Cook do prepare and bring in a Bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented by Mr. Groom, and read a first time.
Motion (by Mr. Groom) proposed -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
.- I am opposed to the Bill for reasons some of which I set out on the motion that we have just been discussing. Having regard to the circumstances and the time, the Bill is little less than an affront to ‘the people.
– To say that is rather rough on the Leader of the Opposition, who voted for the motion.
– Among the circumstances to which I refer are the composition of the Ministry which has introduced the Bill and its policy. For these my honoured leader has no responsibility. If he had, he would not have associated this measure with proposals of a kind which place it in a particularly invidious light. Hisposition in regard to it would have been different from that of Ministers. I do not propose to say anything which could be construed even by Ministerialists as “ stone-walling “ or factious opposition; I merely take the opportunity to pointout that the Bill, proposing as it does an increase of expenditure on Ministers of State when these Ministers are pledged to the hilt to reduce public expenditure in every direction possible, is objectionable, invidious, and not to be passed without severe criticism. It is a curious thing that none of the taxation proposals of this Government place the burden of taxation on those best able to bear it. The measure cannot be divested of its personal aspect, though I should be glad to discuss it apart from that aspect. I have never had sympathy with attempts to embarrass members or Ministers vexatiously by the criticism of financial proposals ; but this measure is a direct slap in the face for the people who are’ sacrificing all that they hold nearest and dearest for the safety of the country. At a time when we are told that all our strength and substance is required for our preservation, it is in the highest degree discreditable that a Government should propose to create another paid Ministerial position, and as the honorable member for Cook says, increase the emoluments of all the Ministers.
Question - That the Billbe now read a second time - put. The House divided.
Majority . . . . 27
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment.
Sitting suspended from 12.2 to 12.32 a.m. (Thursday).
General Report of Standing Committee on Public Accounts presented by Mr. John Thomson, and ordered to be printed.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from page 2778) :
Clause 8 -
The Coin-mission may make recommendations to the Governor-General for . regulations providing for the granting of assistance and benefits to Australian soldiers upon their discharge from service, and to the children of deceased or incapacitated soldiers, and may advise upon such matters as may be expedient for the purpose of giving effect to this Act.
– I move -
That all the words after the word “ Commission “ be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words: - “ shall be bound by and shall carry out the provisions of the repatriation scheme set forth in the schedule to this Act, and may, while Parliament is not in session, make recommendations to the Governor-
General, but during the session of Com monwealth Parliament may make recommendations to the Parliament for the enactment of such regulations as the Commission may deem necessary for the effectual carrying out of the purposes of this Act and may advise the said Parliament, or when not in session the GovernorGeneral, upon such matters as may be necessary and expedient for the purpose of giving effect to this Act.”
I intend to propose the insertion of a new clause containing a schedule to the measure. My object in submitting this amendment is to test the question whether the Committee desires to inform the Repatriation Commission as to the policy or lines of policy that should underlie this scheme, or whether it desires that this Bill should go out in its present form as merely an authority to a Minister and a Commission, the members of which are as yet unappointed and unknown, to take from the control of this Parliament the whole matter of repatriation. Periodically we place policies before the country, and make appeals to the people to elect a Parliament, whose chief function is, in the daily presence and sight of the people, before the representatives of the press and the community, to enact the laws of the country. If this Bill goes through in its present form it will be an indication that there is a body outside Parliament much more competent to frame a policy, or a repatriation scheme, than are the members of this Parliament. I have not the slightest objection, after this Parliament has settled a policy of repatriation, and laid down the fundamental principles of the return to their native land of the men who* have fought for and redeemed it from the enemy, to the appointment of a Commission to give effect to the will of Parliament in the matter. After the Boer war, the Imperial authorities determined and laid down the basis of the restoration to their country of those who, for a time, were ejected from it. The essential business of Parliament is to lay down the policy of the country, and, having done that, in the matter of repatriation, we may farm out, or pass on to a Commission, under the control of a responsible Minister, the work of carrying that policy into effect. In this way, there would be a perpetual link between the Repatriation Commission and. Parliament, and the work of repatriation would be kept continuously before Parliament as a live question for its consideration.
I propose to ask Parliament to affirm certain principles as the basis of repatriation, and incorporate them in the Bill.
The first is that the Commonwealth Parliament shall accept the entire responsibility for the repatriation of Australian soldiers and their dependants, and shall for the purpose of giving effect to such responsibility enter into such arrangements with other governing activities of this country as may be necessary for the utilization of their existing machinery, such as land settlement laws,, health activities, and educational systems, co-operating with them, as it were, in a great national partnership, with the object of utilizing to the fullest extent the industries and organizations of Australia for the absorption of our returned soldiers. ,
By “ other governing activities,” I mean State Parliaments and local municipal bodies, whose political purpose it is to render services to the community. We should ask them, not only to bring their Public Services to the assistance of the soldier, but also to find employment for him in their spheres of activity.
The second (principle that I wish to see affirmed is the establishment of the principle of preference of employment to returned soldiers right through all the public activities of the Commonwealth, whether in respect to the Public Service or in respect, to the construction of public works. I know that we cannot lay down this principle in relation to the activities of State Parliaments or municipal authorities, but we can do so in regard to Federal activities. The Bill before us contains no provision to carry out the principle that has been laid down since the beginning of the *war, namely, that preference in employment should be given to the men who have defended this country.
– To what extent does the honorable member propose to carry the doctrine of preference to returned soldiers? Seeing that we have already passed and dealt with laws providing for that preference in Commonwealth employment, does the honorable member mean that the Commission must require the exercise of it in private employment?
– The honorable member knows that the measure of preference to which he refers imposes no obligation to employ returned soldiers on any Minister controlling public works. I want the principle embodied in the Bill as a guide.
– The Bill has no relation to the terms upon which returned soldiers will be employed.
– It has everything to do with the terms upon which the soldiers will be restored to this country. If ‘ we give the Minister power to enter “ into arrangements with State activities and municipal activities it will cover the point raised by the honorable member for Illawarra (Mr. Lamond) to-day. We are beginning with an expenditure of £20,000, incurred without the authority of this Parliament. The honorable member has spoken of State Parliaments incurring expenditure to be met by this Parliament though we may have no cognisance of that expenditure ; but the affirmation of the principle of the existence of a partnership between the Commonwealth and States in regard to land settlement matters will imply a right on the part of the Minister to bargain with the States for terms in regard to mutual supervision of the work.
The third principle that I would wish to see embodied in the Bill is that no Australian soldier shall for a period of three years after the declaration of peace be liable for the payment of Commonwealth’ or State taxation imposed during the period of the war for war or repatriation purposes. We have already enacted, though somewhat imperfectly, a provision that while he is away on active service the. soldier shall not be liable to taxation, but I am anxious to see that for three years after peace is declared he will not be called upon to bear a share of taxation imposed in regard to a war in which he has risked his life. That is a matter of policy which no Commission outside this Parliament could settle.
I had intended to ask for the affirmation of other principles, but if I attempted to do that I would have to deal with the whole scheme, and start right from the beginning. I shall not do so» because I understand that the charter given to the Minister in this regard is very wide. I would like to have laid down the principle of responsibility for, dealing with the sick and blind, and the totally incapacitated, but the debate that has already taken place has shown very clearly that this Parliament recognises its duty in that respect, and although the Bill is not definite on the matter, the.
Minister has given a sufficiently definite assurance to the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory). I shall not ask for these further principles to be affirmed in the Bill. I shall content myself with testing the feeling of honorable members as to whether they still choose to hand over to the Government a blank cheque, or whether certain principles shall be affirmed and incorporated in the Bill. There is a very vital difference between the laying down of a policy for a scheme and the administration of it. How can any Commission, no matter who may be presiding over it, settle a definite line of policy upon a matter with which Parliament alone should deal? Ifc is only with a view of testing this point that I have gone to this length to-night. If honorable members still adhere to the opinion expressed earlier in the day, that the whole question of administration and policy should be left to an outside Commission, they will not be able to tell the people when they meet them on any platform that they have discharged the promises made to Australian soldiers.
– I thoroughly appreciate the efforts which the honorable member is making to improve the Bill. Although we have not been able to accept his suggestions, his efforts have resulted iri bringing into clear relief what the Government’s proposals really are. We are all, as it were, groping to find the exact rock upon which we are standing, and the honorable member has moved his amendment in the same spirit. The point that he raises as a definite issue is whether this Parliament should now lay down as a direction to the Commissioners what it wishes to have carried out under this repatriation scheme, whether we should now frame a complete scheme covering the whole of the activities in connexion with repatriation, or follow the principle laid down in the Bill.
– That is not quite a fair statement, because I draw .a line between administration and policy.
– The honorable member’s amendment is to contain a schedule setting out what should be the scheme for repatriation. He also says that that scheme should indicate the principles which the Commission should follow out in administering repatriation.
– That is what I would like, but I do not go quite so far.
– When the honorable member set about the task of framing the scheme, he began to see the difficulties which have presented themselves to us in preparing the Bill. The honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Bruce Smith) had the same experience when he tried to set down an all-embracing scheme within the four corners of the measure. Experience elsewhere has been the same. The underlying principle of the Bill is to provide assistance and benefits to Australian soldiers upon their discharge, in order to re-establish them in civil life.
– Would the power you are vesting in a Commission enable the Commission to ‘go so far as to say that these men shall not pay Federal taxes for three years after they return?
– No, nor should it do so. The next point is, how are we to give that assistance and those benefits, and how re-instate the soldiers in civil life? The Minister was immediately faced with the problem that that, involves ever so many means, methods, and institution’s to- Barry out the object we have in view. Take disabled soldiers, the first class to be dealt with. They are included in -this Bill, and we lay down the principle that they shall be re-established in civil- life. Then comes in the question, How is that to be done? They are injured in body or limb, and we must establish curative hospitals or take advantage of State institutions, or do as was done in England - adopt special hospitals and various institutions such as those for the blind. Those are the means or agencies which the Commission will adopt in carrying out that purpose.
– I do not go so far as to indicate the direct means, but I give you the power.
– The next aspect is the case of men, perhaps not completely cured, .but restored to health, though maimed. They have to be trained to earn a livelihood. They ought to be reestablished in civil life by training them to follow some civil occupation. Immediately comes in the question, How shall we train them? Shall we take advantage of technical institutions, or establish our own work-shops, or put them in private employment? We cannot set out all these details now in any scheme in a schedule to this Bill, or lay down a hard-and-fast rule. Take another class, the men who come back healthy in body and limb, but are apprentices. Their case raises all the problems of the employment of apprentices. We lay down the principle that assistance shall be given to returned- soldiers, and we then’ leave it to the Commission to work out all the agencies; and so the principle is followed right through the. whole scheme.
– It is a blank cheque.
– Yes, as it must be. Every honorable member admits that we are making a tentative scheme, to a certain extent, which will have to be elastic enough to adapt itself to conditions as they change from day to day, and to the difficulties that are bound to arise. Take the question of. employment mentioned by the honorable member for Cook (Mr. J. H. Catts). In England, they had to solve the’ question : Ought private employers to be allowed to exploit these disabled men ? To meet such cases, they arranged for joint panels of employers and workers, to be set up in the form’ of local Committees, not only to advise a disabled man as to the prospect of getting into a trade, but to define how far, owing to his disability, the wage rules of his trade union should be relaxed in his case. Those panels judge entirely on the man’s earning capacity, so that there is no danger of his being exploited at a cheap rate by a bad employer on the ground that his pension already gives him a livelihood.
– That principle was settled in Australia years ago under the arbitration law.
– In Australia, the Commission, when dealing with the question of employment of disabled men, will be able to consider State machinery where it exists for that purpose, and, where it does not exist, they will be able to consider the matter of arrangements between unions and employers. But. we do not want to stereotype that in the Act at present. It is a development that will have to wait for the Commission to work out. The honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Rodgers) proposes three principles. The first is that the Commission be empowered to make arrangements with the State Governments.
– No; the first affirms the principle that this Parliament assumes the whole responsibility for repatriation.
– The Bill already assumes that responsibility. That is the very essence of the Bill, and there is no need to declare it. Under the Bill, we are taking all the responsibility for repatriation. The Commission cannot enter into agreements with State Governments.
– That would be more objectionable than Governments doing ib.
– The Government alone can do that. . In that matter we are dealing with sovereign bodies, and the States are very sensitive on the matter of arrangements being made by their own officials without the cognizance of those charged with the control of affairs of State. But the Commission will have power bo report to the Minister, and he will make arrangements with the States to utilize all State agencies for the purpose of carrying out their proposals. There is no doubt that that will be done, and there is no necessity to pub it in the Bill. That is not a principle of repatriation. It is only one of the agencies by which we give effect to the principle of repatriation. The next point the honorable member makes relates to the question of preference. We could not give the Commission power to dictate bo all the Commonwealth agencies and undertakings the terms and conditions of .the employment of their public servants. That is not their function. It is the duty of Parliament, and Parliament has already laid down, in a Public Service Bill, the principle of preference of employment to returned soldiers in the Public Service, and last week we passed a Defence Acb which gives them preference of employment in certain Defence positions. The third point! the honorable member raised was that no Australian soldier shall be liable for Federal taxation for a certain period after his return. We could hot delegate to the Commission powers relating to taxation. Those powers have to be exercised by Parliament, and Parliament in its taxation schemes sets out who shall and who shall not be taxed. When you try to set down a complete scheme in a schedule, you find that you may limit it; and make it more difficult for the Commission to carry out the real intention of Parliament.
– Later on, somebody will have to put his hand to the pen, and take that terrible responsibility.
– In the United Kingdom they had to face exactly the same problem of repatriation.
– That is hardly repatriation. It is preparatory work to re- 1patriation,
– Is restoring a disabled man to civil life preparatory work 1 That is the one problem facing us now, and wanting to be dealt, with immediately. Sir Arthur Griffith-Boscawen, M.P., Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Pensions, gave an address to the Allies’ Conference on this subject. Honorable members will find this publication exceedingly useful in studying the question. It is a journal called Recalled to Life, and is “ devoted to the care, reeducation, and return to civil life of disabled sailors and soldiers.” I shall get the Minister to have a copy of it placed in the Library for the use of honorable members. The number from which I quote is dated June, 1917. The Secretary for Pensions -‘said -
The Pensions Minister recognises that the . most important part of his work consists in the’ after-care of the disabled men, their final restoration to health, so far as is possible, and their re-education, so as to fit them once again into the useful industrial and social life of the country.
When the Imperial authorities came to deal with this question, they did not attempt to set out the whole scheme in detail in their legislation. Their provisions dealing with this subject are two small sub-clauses - “ To make provision for the care of disabled officers and men after they have left the military service, including provision for healthy training and employment,’’ and then “ To make grants in special cases for the purpose of enabling widows, children, and other dependants, of deceased officers and men to obtain training and employment.”
– Does it not go beyond that?
– No; nor do they attempt, in so dealing with the question, to lay down the whole scope of the undertaking. They do what we propose to do ; they constitute a Department for Repatriation - of course theirs is limited, and ours is° extended- lay down the principle that assistance and help should be given to returned soldiers and sailors, and then allow the Commission to develop its scheme and regulations in order to meet the conditions of the returning men.
– I agree with that.
– It would be wiser for Parliament at this stage to do as is proposed in the Bill. The Commission will not be a body beyond the control of Parliament. The regulations framed by the Commission will be recommendations to the Governor-General. These will be promulgated as regulations, and they will be subject to disallowance by either House of Parliament. But the whole scheme of repatriation depends upon annual appropriations by Parliament,” and each year there must , of necessity be on the Estimates a review and criticism of the whole operations of this body. I agree with the suggestion made by the honorable member for Kooyong (Sir Robert Best), that it may be advisable that, after the Commission has got to work and framed regulations, Parliament should be given a specific opportunity to discuss the whole question, review the regulations, and, if necessary, make suggestions for their improvement.
– That promise ought to settle the whole controversy.
– At any rate, I shall make that recommendation to the Minister; I think such a procedure would be helpful to him and ‘the Commission. In that way the whole scheme can come under review,
– This is the first Announcement we have heard that Parliament will have an opportunity of review..
– Will not these regulations be framed from time to time as the scheme develops? It would not be possible for the House to review the whole of the regulations at .one time, because it may be twelve months before they are all framed .
-As soon as the Commission meets a certain number of regulations must be framed, at once. But there is a good deal in repatriation beyond the mere framing of regulations. There are the treatment of discharged soldiers, the provision of artificial limbs, and the establishment of training institutions and of sanatoria for consumptives. All these activities will not necessarily be embodied in the regulations, but they will contribute to a complete system of repatriation. Then regulations will be required for securing uniformity throughout Australia in regard to grants. If a man is killed at the Front and leaves a widow we shall make her an allowance in addition to th« pension where the special circumstances justify that course. She may have a daughter thirteen or fourteen years of age whom she desires to have trained as a school teacher, and she may ask the Repatriation Board for assistance in connexion with the child’s education. We must have uniform regulations to govern the treatment of applications of that character. The Minister has said that he would be a bold man who would undertake to lay down at once a complete scheme of . repatriation, and he admits that even his own, proposals are more or less tentative.
– Is there any objection to quarterly or half-yearly reports being furnished ?
– The Minister will, undoubtedly, make an annual report, just as the Postmaster-General does; and he will require monthy or quarterly reports to be sent from the State Boards to the Central Administration. He quite agrees as to the necessity for having regular reports aud of keeping Parliament informed of the progress made.
– Could that not be provided in the Bill ?
– There is no need to do that.
– I knew the honorable member for Wannon (Mr, Rodgers) intended to move an amendment to clause 8, and I understood that he had a schedule framed which would furnish a text to his scheme. Now the honorable member desires to take a test vote as to whether certain principles should be incorporated in the Bill. I tell the honorable member frankly that, whilst I am favorably . disposed towards his amendment, and towards the principle he wishes to establish, namely, that the experience which many of us have had in connexion with repatriation, has convinced us that some outstanding principles can be incorporated in the scheme of repatriation, I am disappointed with the honorable member’s scheme, or, rather, his failure to produce a scheme. Although nobody can doubt his enthusiasm in regard to repatriation, apparently the honorable member has not studied the matter with a view to putting forward a scheme, and he is not dealing fairly with us when he proposes to move a test amendment in regard to the incorporation of a schedule when he has no schedule. The honorable member could have prepared and circulated a schedule for the consideration of honorable members, but he has done nothing of the kind. It is not fair to ask us to vote on something he has not drafted and in which there is no principle that can commend itself to honorable members. He desires a test vote on a phantom principle. Amongst ‘the headings he has verbally given us are - (1) to accept entire responsibility for repatriation; (2) mutual understanding with the various public bodies in Australia - those are two nice principles to pub before a Commission - and (3) preference of employment for returned soldiers. Effect can be given to the last-named principle by this Commission only so far as the Commission has control of employment.
The next principle which the honorable member wishes to incorporate in the Bill is that, for three years after the declaration, of peace, no Australian soldiers shall pay any Federal tax for war or repatriation purposes. How we are to single out any person in the community and say that he shall nott pay any taxation for war or repatriation purposes I cannot understand, because every man will have to pay for the war expenditure through the general taxation of the country. He cannot avoid that. With our huge commitments of loan money, the interest on which must be paid from general taxation, it is impossible to say that the soldier or anybody else can avoid the general share of the taxation, which is passed on to the users of all goods.
– Could not the soldier be specifically exempted from direct war taxation ?
– We have no direct war taxation.
– We have the assurance that a special tax on bachelors is to be ear-marked for repatriation.
– The assurance of the Government cannot be accepted in lieu of what is contained in an Act. We know perfectly well that the talk of repatriation in connexion with the Income Tax Bill was a blind to cover the imposition of a special penal tax directed against one class of people who are thought to be mainly opponents of the Government. The Minister has admitted that the Government have no scheme of repatriation.
– I did, not say anything of the sort.
– The Minister criticised the schedule outlined by the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Rodgers) and added “ the honorable member now finds out the difficulty there is in framing a scheme, and the Government find# themselves in the same quandary.”
– I spoke of the difficulty of placing a complete scheme within the four corners of an Act of Parliament.
– Some principles can be put into a fixed mould in every Act; others must be determined by the changing circumstances. The statement that the Government have no scheme of repatriation based on our experience to date is a shocking confession.
– No one has said that. Senator Millen’ s speech outlined a complete scheme.
– Nothing was proposed in the speech that is not already in existence, as I pointed out in a critical examination of the speech on the second reading debate. It is a proper thing for any one in charge of a matter like this to ascertain the experience of the existing organizations, and from that experience to deduce principles. The State Repatriation Committees, working independently of each other, except for a slight oversight by the Central Board of Trustees, have discovered certain general principles, and these should be adopted in the carrying out of any scheme. Great Britain has been referred to, but in regard to repatriation, that country is behind all its Allies. France is greatly ahead of Great Britain in that matter, and so is Canada. The Minister has obtained reports on the schemes that have been established in other countries, and has had them analyzed by his officers. To say, therefore, that it is impossible to evolve a general scheme embodying principles which have been proved in this and other countries, is incorrect. We could have had a scheme embodied in the Bill, instead of being asked to do what has been described as the signing of a blank cheque.
– Mention some of the principles which the honorable member suggests could have been embodied in the Bill.
– I do not wish to anticipate the discussion of my amendment, and to take up time by going over the same matters twice. I have no special desire to insist upon my own proposals, and would have been prepared to withdraw them, had the honorable member .for Wannon been ready with a scheme containing general principles which might have taken their place. I thought that he had something more comprehensive that I had.
– So I have ; but the House would be kept sitting for a month if it dealt with my scheme in detail.
– It does not matter how long we are kept. It is our duty to go into this matter thoroughly without regard to personal considerations. The Government is keeping us here to-night sitting continuously for nearly twenty hours, not so that the measure may be dealt with intelligently, but in order that we shall be gagged by physical exhaustion, and prevented from doing full justice to our soldiers.
– I listened attentively to the speech of the Minister, and to the comments of the honorable member for Cook (Mr. J. H. Catts). The Minister set up a number of cockshies, merely to knock them down again. I did not suggest that Parliament should attempt to deal with details in any branch of repatriation, and withdrew from the gigantic task of preparing a schedule, because I did not think that it would do so. If the Government have taken my criticism as captious, I regret it.
– We have not done so.
– I have a complete scheme, which is in operation. It was the production of a meeting of fifty men, over whom I had the honour of presiding, a resolution being carried respecting every detail of administration. From those resolutions, I drafted a scheme.
– Then, let us have it.
– It would take probably a month for honorable members to deal with every detail. It was evident tome that the Government would not allowthat to be done. The Bill excludes theconsideration of a scheme now ; it merely authorizes the Minister to prepare a . scheme. The honorable member forCook (Mr. J. H. Catts) has not the- slightest chance of carrying his amendments, or of putting into the Bill anything in the nature of a scheme.
– The honorable member should put his scheme on record, so that the country may know what it is.
– My scheme is under the control of the Auditor-General. There are forty and more branches by which it is being operated. The branches in the Wannon electorate are actively operating. At Hamilton, we have appointed a returned soldier, who, as part of our repatriation work, we have made secretary of a National Bureau. He deals with every complaint brought under his notice by a soldier, or the relative of a soldier, in the town in which he is located, and sends them on here. For that he is paid a salary. Then we have a claims Committee, a works Committee, and a defence Committee. He gets communica-tions from all these. What we have done is in defiance of the law, and a proclamation has been, issued preventing us from using the word “ repatriation.” We are merely using funds that we have collected, and have not completed our organization. Some nien have been started on share farming. The branch has bought for them teams of horses, and has arranged for district farmers to provide them with land. Plant has also been arranged for. Soldiers have been set up as tobacconists, and in other businesses.
– What principles are involved in these instances which you would like to see embodied in the Bill?
– The first principle is the eligibility of the soldier to come under the scheme. That is provided for by the Bill, subject, I presume, to something in the nature of a Qualifications Committee, which will act in the same way in regard to the central scheme as the State Qualifications Boards act in respect of land settlement. Another principle is the classification of soldiers and . their dependants.
– That is not a principle. All these instances are merely details. The words in the Bill providing for the granting of benefits and assistance, implicitly contain everything that the honorable member is explicitly referring to.
– If the argument of the honorable member is correct, we have wasted time, and what we should do is to sign a cheque and hand it over to the Repatriation Commission. I have indicated the scheme that we have in operation in Wannon and Corangamite, and it is based upon a body of resolutions affirming principles.
– Would it be adapted to the whole of the Commonwealth ?
– The scheme we have would not be applicable to the whole of the Commonwealth.
– What is the scheme which the honorable member proposes for application to the whole of the Commonwealth ?
– One of the principles of our scheme which would not be applicable to a Commonwealth scheme is that of unpaid officers. ‘ We have central trustees, and up to date the administration, of our scheme has cost nothing to the returned soldiers. It would not be. possible to carry out a Commonwealth scheme in that way.
– Is all the clerical work in connexion with the honorable member’s scheme done voluntarily?
– This Bill must contain a complete scheme, - or must be merely a skeleton.
– I knew that there was no prospect of getting a detailed scheme adopted by the Government, and what I set out to do was to see whether the Committee, would affirm some principles.
– If that were agreed to by a vote of the Committee, is the honorable member prepared with a scheme of his own ? ‘
– I have the material in the shape of resolutions from which I could very quickly formulate a scheme.
– I should like to know in what way those resolutions would indicate to the Minister the sort of scheme the honorable member would set before him.
– They provide for land settlement, employment, sharefarming, a committee to see that the scholastic course of a student’ might be completed,, provision for homes for the soldiers, their children, the aged . mother of a soldier, and in general they deal with every branch of land and business activity. Provision is made for funds in the hands of central trustees and the necessary organization to carry out the scheme upon voluntary lines.
– Could that scheme be put into operation in Collingwood?
– That question was put to me before. The industrial, employment, scholastic, and business pro- visions of the scheme could be put into operation in Collingwood. Only quite recently we placed a young fellow in an engineering business in the city, undertaking to pay for his training” for three years. Ours is a scheme of local cooperation, under which successful landed men and business men undertook first of all the keeping of a complete register of every man leaving particular districts to go to the war. Records are kept of their return and discharge, and the immediate task undertaken is to get into touch with their relatives and endeavour to do something for them. In fact, the purpose is to restore returned soldiers to the districts which they left. However, it is of no use to go into the matter further, but I rather resent the remark of the honorable member for Cook (Mr. Catts), which suggested that I had not any scheme in contemplation.
– The honorable member has not carried the matter any further now.
– I think -the honorable member has given a very clear statement of a scheme adopted for the districts of Wannon and Corangamite.
– And he has told us that it would not apply to the Commonwealth.
– In addition to what I have said, we undertake the raising of all money, and its banking, and we meet the soldier and keep in touch with him. What more does the honorable member for Cook want?
– No doubt it is a’ good local scheme; but the honorable member admits himself that it could not be applied to the Commonwealth.
– I did not say it could not be applied to the Commonwealth. That is an example of -the unfair inter jections which the honorable member for Cook is in the habit of making. He should at least give us credit for what we have been able to doP When the Govern-1 ment decided to raise an army of 50,000 they divided the Commonwealth into a number of divisions, and required each of those divisions to be responsible for sup? plying a definite quota of men to make up the army. We adopted those divisions, and put upon them the responsibility of registering all the men leaving them to go to the war. I should mention that members of the State Parliament cooperated with Federal members in carrying out the work in Corangamite and Wannon. Certain of the State members piloted us through the district, and they contributed largely to the fund. I can refer in particular to the honorable member for Hampden, who, with his family, did magnificent work, and called forth an admirable local spirit, which led to the contribution, of several thousand pounds. I had intended to put forward a complete and definite scheme, but it has been evident from the disposition of the Honorary Minister and the temper of the Committee that such a scheme would not be accepted. I have, therefore, desired only to test the feeling of the Committee on the adoption of a few principles. In the circumstances I resent very much the insinuation of the honorable member for Cook that I am not prepared with a scheme.
Mr. HEITMANN (Kalgoorlie) TI .52 a.m.]. - With all his experience of repatriation work the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Rodgers) has been faced with the difficulty of embodying within the pages of the Bill the principles which should underlie a repatriation scheme, in order to meet the various wants of. returned soldiers. With regard to the attitude of the Government generally on the Bill, and the holding of an all-night sitting, I assume that it is not desired to prevent a full discussion of this very important matter. If that were the desire it would have no effect upon me. It is of the greatest importance to members and to the country generally that as much light as possible should be thrown upon this matter. We may not be able to lay down fixed principles in the Bill, but we may indicate the directions in which the Minister controlling repatriation should move. I assume that under clause 8 it is permissible for honorable members to discuss any scheme they may have in mind. We have been told that the intention is to settle soldiers on the land, and by adopting methods of training to make use of those whose capacity is limited as the result of injury. It should be remembered that a vast number of soldiers who have not yet been referred to will have to be provided for. There will be many thousands of returning soldiers who will find when they get back that their places have been filled by female labour. If the Government will call expert advice to their assistance much may be done by extending existing industries and developing new industries in Australia. With the advice and guidance of the Council of Science, many workmen should be employed in new industries and in the extension of existing industries, and possibly by adopting lines followed in Germany, having the State always behind the industries, we may be able to provide work for those thousands who will return, only to find that others have displaced them from the positions which they formerly held.
– Prom the initiation of the debate upon this Bill, the question of whether there should be some solid principles embodied in the measure has been uppermost in the thoughts of honorable members. We have had many demonstrations of the difficulty that will be encountered in administering the scheme, but greater difficulties would be created if principles for the guidance of the Commission were incorporated in the Bill. The wiser course would be to accept the assurance given by the Minister that regulations will be framed at the earliest possible date, and opportunity given to honorable members to debate them.
– If by regulations the honorable member means those which embody the scheme of ‘ operations, certainly opportunity will be afforded to debate them.
– It is the wiser course to follow to -have a skeleton Bill for the time being, and not tie the hands of the Minister or the Commission. Honorable members should accept the assurance that the Minister has given. We all recognise the necessity for prompt action, but I hope that Parliament will be able to deal with the regulations in four or five months’ time, and see whether they need alteration.
– - It seems to me that we are in danger of confounding details with principles. There are two or three fundamental principles already embodied in the Bill, skeleton though it may be, and really they are generic in their kind, and cover all the ramifications that may here after be developed. The so-called principles which we have heard enunciated tonight from various quarters in the House are merely details of administration when they are analyzed into their constituent elements. The speech of Senator Millen made clear what it was the intention of the Government to do, and that speech in itself was only a skeleton. To encompass all that is intended to be done and to include all the details and une history of the scheme in all its manifold manifestations, would require many volumes.
If ever there was a matter to which the sound constitutional principle of responsible government should be applied, it is this. Let us leave our Minister free. We have selected him, and now we are engaged in choosing the machinery which he is to operate. Leave him free from time to time to sketch his own plan of operations in the light of experience, but hold him responsible, sternly and clearly responsible, for all his actions to this House. We do not wass this Bill on, and then for ever cease to have any control over the operations and activities of the repatriation scheme. Prom time to time we shall review it by reviewing the regulations as we are entitled to do.
– If that is so, they will be the first regulations with which this Parliament has ever had the opportunity of dealing.
– It is Parliament’s fault if it does not deal with all regulations.
– I have motions on the business-paper for the disallowance of regulations, and the Government will afford me’ no opportunity to deal with them.
– But the honorable member is not the Parliament. If the Parliament chooses to discuss regulations it can find ways and means of doing so. If the regulations to which the honorable member, refers are not discussed, it is because Parliament does not wish to discuss them. The honorable member must not confound the individual member with the House as a whole. Parliament’ will still continue to have this matter under its hand. From time to time it will vote supplies for the work, and so long as ,it has control of the financial side it has the very essence of full and complete command over the whole of the details of the scheme. All we can do is to send the Minister off to work, and, the Bill being merely machinery* let him operate it. The speech he delivered is only a sketch of what is in his mind, or in the minds of the Government. The rest must be filled in from time to time by the experience gained of the soldiers as they come and go. That is all we can do. We might as well say that in passing a Bailways Bill every railway that is to be constructed and operated throughout the length and breadth of Australia should be mentioned in it.- We set up a Commission to go to work and ascertain what should be done, and when they ascertain what these things are they will come to Parliament and ask for authority to carry them through.
– Give us the assurance that we can get at the regulations at a later date.
– The Government will welcome the assistance of the House in perfecting any regulation or in the general control of the scheme. I go further, and say that they are utterly unable to prevent the House having full and complete control over the scheme, because as long as Parliament has control over the finances of the scheme, necessarily it must have control of the scheme itself.
– That is not quite correct, because all Parliament can do is to refuse funds, and that will simply lead to a deadlock.
Mr.- JOSEPH COOK. - The honorable member knows that Parliament can do a great deal more than that.
– The right honorable gentleman means that Parliament could throw the Government out; but that is not the method of dealing with such a matter as this.
– In a matter involving scores of millions of pounds, there is only one sound principle that we in this House should adopt, and that is to hold the Minister and the Government to their responsibilities. Having done that we can do’ no more. We can no more lay down the full details of this great perplexing problem than we can pull down the moon.
.Speaking on the second reading, I said that the Bill was a matter of dry bones, and that it would be the task of the Minister or the Commissioners to give life to them. It will be almost impossible to attach a schedule to this Bill to say how fax’ it shall extend. I disagree from the contention of the Minister for the Navy that Parliament ‘ has the opportunity of considering regulations. During the sixteen and a half years that this Parliament has been in existence not a single regulation has ever been discussed in this Chamber.
– That is not the case, because I have discussed regulations in this Chamber.
– They are never discussed unless the Government are willing that they shall be discussed, and I cannot recall a single case in which one has been discussed.
– The Government have given us two special promises to-night,
– I am well aware of that fact, but I am also well aware of what has happened during the past sixteen and a half years. I am one of those who believe that an ounce of experience is much better than a ton of promise. The success or failure of this scheme will depend not so much on regulations as on administration. In dealing with returned soldiers we are dealing with human factors, and with a problem that we have never faced before. Even if we should find it possible to “draw up a schedule of what should be done, it would be unwise to include it in i the Bill, because it would limit the power of the Commission. I am anxious to see the scheme come into operation, because, after a while, the Commission may discover that it has been proceeding on wrong lines, and that it is necessary to make a fresh start.
The honorable members for Wannon (Mr. Rodgers) and Corangamite (Mr. Manifold) did excellent work in their particular districts in connexion with the scheme with which they were associated of getting money for the men when they come back from the war; but what might suit purely country districts might not suit a metropolitan area. While in some of the wealthier districts it may be possible to find money, other districts, where it will be almost impossible to find money, have found the men. As for tracing men, it is pretty difficult to trace some people. I trust the Government will accept some amendments, such as those of the honorable member for Cook (Mr. Catts), by which we may widen the scope or the Bill, and lay down certain definite principles regarding the responsibilities of Parliament, not only to the soldiers, but to the widows of soldiers. When starting a scheme like this, no one can tell where it will end. We shall have to leave it to work out, and if it does not work out well, no member of the House should get up and say, “ I told you so.” No matter who is placed in the position of dealing with this matter, it is quite possible that mistakes will be made. we can only learn by experience, and make up our minds to avoid in” future the pitfalls that we discover as we go along.
– I am glad to hear what the Leader of the Opposition said, because he has followed exactly on the lines I took when speaking on the second reading. When I first approached the Bill I took the rather sanguine view of the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Rodgers) that the House should formulate broad principles as guides to the Commission, but I very soon recognised that I had no data upon which to base my general principles.. I then felt that we should have to take the skeleton Bill as a basis, and let the Commission discover in what directions it was necessary to supplement its provisions by rules and regulations and general principles as they went along. I said the measure was tentative, meaning that we should very soon have to call on the Government to introduce another measure embodying the inductions derived from experience.
On the third clause a matter came up which you, sir, said we could deal with on the eighth clause. While we are trying to create a tribunal with power, ability, and money to begin the repatriation scheme, more than one of the States is starting an attempt to settle these people on their own land, and it has occurred to me more than once that, whilst we are undertaking to lend the States money, there is an arrangement of a rather loose character by which the Commonwealth is undertaking to recoup the States for the disbursements they make to help the men to settle on the land with which the States provide them. What is the nature of the compact entered into between the Commonwealth and the States in that regard? Are we under any obligation to recoup the States for the advances they make to settlers for improvements? If so, what opportunity has the Commonwealth of supervising and criticising the judgment of the State Committees in the advances they make? If they are to make the advances, and we are to do the paying, and there is no bridge by which we shall be able to criticise their judgment, and check it in some cases, where they are liable to be a little lavish, I- do not see where the liability of the Commonwealth is going to end.
– That matter is now dealt with in New South Wales by a Joint Committee of the Commonwealth and the State.
– That is not done in Victoria.
– If there is such a Joint Committee in New South Wales, so far so good; but the honorable member for Wannon says there is no such Joint Committee in this State, exercising supervision over the expenditure of the Victorian Government for which we shall be responsible.
– I understood that it was so in every State.
– The Victorian Act makes no provision for a Joint Committee.
– The honorable member was in error in stating that I said the discussion on this matter could take place on this clause. I referred to clauses 10, 11, 15, and 21, which deal with the matter of finance.
– I simply want to pin the Minister down to the absence of such provision. I do not see where the expenditure is going to end. If we allow the States to embark on a wholesale and indiscriminate system of advances for improvements, and there is no tribunal which can check the judgment of the State Committees in the expenditure, we are practically handing our purse over to irresponsible people, and undertaking to pay for whatever they do.
– It is the best guarantee we can have of extravagance.
– I think so, too. Will the Minister tell us what he has done or proposes to-do in this direction?
– This matter was discussed for a very long time earlier in the sitting, and a definite answer was given to the question now asked. I read the terms of the contract, and pointed out that later a Loan Bill, appropriating £2,000,000 for this specific purpose, would come before the House. This matter will probably come up for discussion then, but this Bill deals generally with the question of repatriation, and not specifically, with the contract between the Commonwealth and the States. 1 showed that a Board had been constituted, consisting of the Commonwealth Minister and the State Ministers. That body deals with certain details in connexion with the loan, and makes recommendations. The agreement does not provide that the Commonwealth will be responsible for the selection of the areas of land. The State has that power, and also the power for the acquisition of land, because the State has to pay for it. The State also allots the land to the soldier.. All these are matters of State jurisdiction.
– The Minister has not touched my point. I am not dealing with the advancing of money by the Commonwealth to the States for providing land, because I know the Commonwealth will get its money back from the States; but we are authorizing the States to make advances for improvements generally, and undertaking to pay. for them. What guarantee have we that good judgment will be exercised by the States in authorizing that expenditure ?
– The money that is being lent .by the Commonwealth to ,the States to advance to the settlers will be spent upon fixed improvements, plant, and for other purposes. There is no obligation on the Commonwealth except to advance the money. The Commonwealth has agreed to advance the States the money required for advances.
– Then it is only an advance? We do not recoup the States for the expenditure?
– We simply lend the money to the’ States to enable loans to the soldier settlers, and if the States make a bad investment they have still to repay us. They take the whole responsibility.
– If they make lavish disbursements of the character I have mentioned, are they liable ?
– According to the agreement with the Commonwealth, they cannot grant more than £500 to any individual settler.
– 1 can give the honorable member for Parkes some information from the State War Council of New South Wales in regard to the question he has asked. Following upon the original appeal of the Labour Government for a new army of 50,000 men, the whole Commonwealth was organized into State Divisions under State War Councils, which had committees dealing with repatriation, amelioration, and’ various other matters. They .organized both central and local bodies. The Councils are still in existence. They are working under the jurisdiction of the Minister for Defence; they are subject to his instructions, and they are governed by regulations made by him ; and on them and the Repatriation Committees are representatives of both the Commonwealth and the States.
– Will the honorable member say that there is no liability on the part of the Commonwealth that will not be checked by the State War Councils or Repatriation Committees?
– I can say, of my own knowledge, that these bodies have been established in all the States. I am not conversant with the practice in other States, but I do know what is done in New South Wales, where I attend meetings of, the State War Council once a fortnight.
– Is the same check upon disbursements made in other States as the honorable member knows are made in New South Wales ?
– I believe the same principle has been adopted. I have visited every State, and have been into some departments of the War Council in each. I cannot speak specifically of repatriation, but, in regard to all other matters into which I have had an opportunity of inquiring, I have found, in every State, the same organization as is operating in New South Wales.
– The honorable member is dealing with advances made before the contract was entered into between the States and the Commonwealth.
– I am dealing with what is being done in New South Wales to-day. There has been no alteration in the practice in New South Wales from the very commencement of this work. The State Government purchases land and cuts it into blocks; and then the Repatriation Committee of the State War Council, which is really a Commonwealth institution, sends out State inspectors by arrangement to make reports and consult the intending soldier settlers. Upon the reports received from the inspectors the Committee decides.
– Do the advances made by the Committee come from money provided by the Commonwealth?
– The improvements on the land are paid for out of funds provided or guaranteed by the Commonwealth, but capital land expenditure is from State funds, the Commonwealth assisting the State by raising the necessary loans.
– In the honorable member’s opinion, is the expenditure sufficiently checked?
– From the fact that Mr. George A. Parkes and Mr. W. T. Willington are the moving spirits in this work, the honorable member will know that this expenditure is kept under close review. I have here a summary of a report by a Special Committee of the State War Council of New South Wales, covering the period from 30th August, 1916, to 30th June, 19.17, and one paragraph reads -
Land Settlement. - About ninety-six men have received assistance for the purpose of improving or further equipping and stocking their holdings. About seventy of these are poultry-farming propositions. Experience shows that an expert staff is now required to afford instruction and advice to the men already settled. Suggestions regarding extension of land settlement by the Repatriation Fund are mentioned in the detailed report.
To the report is attached the following table covering the twelve months ended 30th June. 1917 : -
– Do the War Councils in the other States exercise the same functions?
– So far as the activities I have investigated are concerned, they do ; but I cannot speak specifically of repatriation. It would be a great mistake if the Minister attempted, by some hard-and-fast rule, to interfere with this part of the scheme now in operation, because, without any such rule, there seems to have been a successful co-operation of the Commonwealth and State agencies.
Amendment (by Mr. ‘ Groom) agreed to-
That in lines 4 to 6, the words “ to Australian soldiers upon their discharge from service find to the children of deceased or incapacitated soldiers,” be omitted, and the following words inserted in place thereof : - “ (a) to Australian soldiers upon their dis charge from service;
to the children, under the age of eighteen years, of deceased or incapacitated soldiers; and
where, by reason of special circumstances, the Commission considers that assistance and benefits should be granted, to the widows of deceased Australian soldiers.”
– I move -
That the following sub-clause be added : - “ (2) The Commission shall, amongst other things, provide in such regulations for the recognition of the following principles: -
making up the difference of military and civilian pay;
There can. be no denying that these suggestions represent guiding principles, and that they have developed during our experience in dealing with returned soldiers and their dependants.
In regard to paragraph a, the Government of New South Wales has so far housed in that way about 300 widows of deceased soldiers. This matter has been considered by the State War Council in each State, and a request by them has been made to the Commonwealth Government that this principle shall be adopted throughout Australia. I believe that the principle which is in operation in New South Wales should be made to apply generally.
In reference to paragraph b, we have had cases of men who, having been wounded or incapacitated,have been discharged before any provision had been made to enable them to earn a livelihood. In most cases, the men are drawing pensions, but the pensions are altogether inadequate for their maintenance, and it is necessary that they be provided with employment. It is undeniable that, up to the time when the Commonwealth provides them with employment, it is our duty to see that they are maintained as ordinary citizens, and not left dependent on a paltry pension. That pension should be supplementary of other assistance that can be given. Until we can provide them with either a pension sufficient to support them, or employment, we should care for them. I have here, from the State War Council of New South Wales, particulars of cases which came under notice from time to time, and which show that we are unable at the present time to provide for these men. I noticed in the Age yesterday a statement that there are in Melbourne 500 of these men who cannot be provided with employment.
– Are you speaking of disabled men.
– I am speaking of all classes of men. In most of these cases the men were incapacitated to some extent. At one meeting of the War Council a statement was placed before it which is typical of those that are received fortnightly by that body. In that statement were the names of no fewer than 112 persons, returned soldiers) who, before going to the war, had followed various trades and callings, which were enumerated, but for whom work could not be found. Such cases are continually coming under notice. We are not keeping our promises to our soldiers when we do not look* after them, and provide them with employment on their return.
– Do you not do anything for them while they are awaiting employment?
– They draw a small pension.
– But does not the Repatriation Committee do something for them.
– If they are in very bad circumstances, the amelioration Committee may do something for them, but everything, apart from the pension, is really in the nature of charity, and the men should not be forced to seek and accept charity.
It has been said that the propose’d Commission may find employment for the men which they will refuse to accent. I know of no way out of that difficulty, except by leaving the matter to the discretion of the Commission, upon which I urge again that there should be representatives of the returned soldiers, and therefore I have inserted the words “ until, in the opinion of the Commission, means of earning a livelihood have been provided.”
In connexion witih the proposal for the registration of promises, I wish to give instances in which promises to soldiers have not been kept. The State Railways Department of NewSouth Wales promised its employees to make up the difference between the civil and military pay of all who enlisted, and this was done until the present year. Now, when the men at the Front cannot make a protest, the amount necessary to pay this difference has been withdrawn from the Estimates, the promise of the Department being dishonoured. Let me mention a case which shows the extent to which this dishonouring of promises can go. Good Friday is not recognised by the Department as a holiday to be paid for, and ah employee who enlisted when he was drawing 9s. 6d. per day from the Department subsequently received 6s. per day from the Military Department, and 3s. 6d. from the Railway Department, but the latter stopped, not 3s. 6d., but 9s. 6d. out of his pay in respect of a Good Friday. I thrashed out the case with the Commissioners, but they refused to go back on their decision.
The promise was made to pay the insurance policies of men who would enlist; but I had a case in the Postal Department in which, after the enlistment of an employee on the promise that his insurance policy would be kept going, the Department failed to keep it going, and I have been unable to induce the Department to keep it going.
Another promise was to keep positions open; but I know of a big institution in New South Wales, from which a number of menhave gone to the war, which is giving young women two, three, and four years of training to qualify them to take the positions of those at the Front. That institution evidently has no intention of replacing in their positions those of their employees who have become soldiers. I will mention the name of the institution to any honorable member, but I do not wish it to go into our published record.
In the Sydney City Council it was mentioned that certain employers were refusing to honour their contracts. In some cases soldiers have taken their employers into Court, and have obtained a verdict requiring the employers , to reinstate or to compensate them.
The bank deposits of Australia have, according to Mr. Knibbs, increased to £58,000,000 since the commencement of 1914, the year of the outbreak of war. This increase has ‘been twice as great since the war broke out as it was for a similar period before the war. This fact shows that there has been a large increase of wealth. It was urged by those who favoured conscription that the men who remained at home benefited by the shortage of labour created by the absence of those who had enlisted, and that this increased the wages and bettered the conditions of the stay-at-homes. If thosewho go away have to lose opportunities for bettering themselves which are open to those who stay, surely the soldiers should at least be reinstated on their return. In many cases men, having served a certain number of years in an institution, or in certain employment, have become qualified to earn more than they could earn in any other occupation, and it would be unfair to compel such men to start all over again.
– Cannot the honorable member give us names?
– I can do so.
As to the financial assistance necessary to re-establish returned soldiers, I say that it is not a fair thing, when capital is advanced to enable a man to make a start, to require him to repay the principal and interest. In doing that, we place ourselves on the footing of an ordinary Jew institution, which exacts its pound of flesh.
– How far should we go in affording the returned soldier an opportunity of improving his position?
– It is at least not too much to ask that the returned soldier shall be put into a position to earn the living for an ordinary family.
– It might not be necessary to advance capital to do that.
– Where it is necessary to do it, the man should not be expected to repay principal and interest.
– Not unless his position was vastly improved. We cannot pick out a few men and greatly improve their positions.
– The principle that we must act on is that every soldier must be re-established in civil life, and rendered capable of earning and providing a living for his family.
– We should first endeavour to re-establish the man in the position he left.
– That is recognised by calling on the institutions that have promised to re-appoint their men to carry out that promise.
– That is a very limited view of repatriation.
– It is only one, but yet one most important aspect of repatriation. These matters have been discussed by those (who are vitally concerned in the raising of further reinforcements, and it is generally admitted that if definite principles were settled once and for all by Act of Parliament, and it was known throughout the country that they would be followed, recruiting would greatly improve. The fact that the promises made to soldiers are being dishonoured is becoming known.
– The names of those responsible should be made public.
– They are made public. When the matter referred to in the Sydney City Council was mentioned here, the Prime Minister said that the employers should be pilloried, but we have heard nothing further about them. Such men cannot be pilloried every day. That is an impracticable and impotent remedy for a proved injustice. Promises to soldiers should be treated as con- tracts which have been registered in the Courts, and are enforceable, and the Commonwealth should enforce them. Many returned men are nervous wrecks; they are in no fit condition to fight wealthy corporations.
– Men who are nervous wrecks are not capable of. taking up the work which they left to go to the war.
– Many of these men are capable of doing light work, and so gradually baking up their usual employments .
– The honorable member should state the name of any employer whom he knows to have gone back on his promise.
– In addition to the cases which I have mentioned. I could name that of a man who, although he was discharged fit to take up his ordinary work again, could not get re-employment from the Railway Department. This happened long before the strike. So far’ as one could see, .there was no justification for the departmental attitude.
– What about the big institutions to which the honorable member referred ?
– I am prepared to mention the name of the institution ‘ to any honorable member privately, but 1 do not think it should go into Hansard. I do not wish to press my statement too far until I have further evidence. I refer to an institution that is training young women.
– We cannot know what that is being done for.
– We know that they are being trained to take the positions of men who have gone to the war.
– Those men’ may be away for years, and the business must be carried on.
– That is quite right; but there is some fear that after these young women are trained for the work they will not be put off later to find room for returned soldiers. While the enthusiasm aroused by the war is undiminished, all sorts of promises are made, but they may be soon forgotten.
– Is it not better that some persons should be trained to carry on a business than that those conducting . it may secure the name of being patriotic by overworking a reduced staff?
– It is very well known that there are instances in which employers have not been keepin” ‘ lr contracts with’ men who have enlisted.
– I never came across any.
– Did the honorable member read the reports of what was said in the City Council, Sydney.
– I read the first statement on the matter.
– Was there nothing in that? There should be some authority charged with the duty of having such cases investigated and seeing that these promises are kept.
– That should be a part of the re-employment policy.
– I should be agreeable to making such contracts with enlisted men valid agreements.
– That is what T propose should be done.’ Will the honorable member vote for it ? I want the Repatriation Commission directed by this Bill to 1 deal with such cases. They could provide 2824 Australian Soldiers’ [REPRESENTATIVES.] Repatriation BUI. by their own regulations the method in which the matter should be dealt with. They might appoint a Board to which soldiers having grievances on this score might apply and have their complaints investigated. I have had cases of the kind brought before me. I know what is going on, because I am taking part in the administrative work of the State War Council. I know that it is the opinion of the bulk of the public men in this country that these outstanding principles which I have embodied in my amendment should be given effect as a matter of justice to the soldiers, and also as a means of promoting voluntary enlistment.
– The honorable member proposes that financial assistance shall always be by way of gift, and if that were so every one of the soldiers would want financial assistance.
– To the extent of equipping them to earn a living for a family, yes. We are dealing already with these cases by the hundred, and it is not always found possible to give the men just what they ask. They make their requests, and then an investigation takes place.
– There have been some very curious refusals of assistance. I know of a perfectly good business proposition that involved very little expenditure which was turned down in Sydney.
– There have been cases with which I have not been satisfied, but it is impossible to set up any Board to whose decisions some objection may not be taken. That is a difficulty that cannot be overcome. But, in such a case, I fight the matter out, and if unsuccessful bring it to Parliament and demand redress.
– That is why I think all this criticism of the Bill is super-criticism.
– I am not merely criticising the Bill. I am making constructive proposals to deal with groups of cases where experience shows definite action is necessary. I am asking that there shall be incorporated in it definite directions for the Repatriation Commission to give effect to certain principles shown to be necessary by the groups of cases that have already been dealt with. There should be some guarantee in this Bill that the promises made to men who have enlisted will be fulfilled.
-t- The fact that existing Committees have dealt with these cases is an indication that the Repatriation Commission will do the same thing, and will be more free to deal with them.
– Some of the eases I am referring to have not been dealt with by anybody.
– I certainly think that where promises have been made to men who have enlisted, the Repatriation Commission should take up the cases of soldiers who believe they have been badly treated by employers in this regard, in order to see that justice is done them.
– But the honorable member refuses to give a vote to carry out what I have now convinced him requires attention. If the Commission does not deal with such cases, the honorable member for Illawarra (Mr. Lamond) will have lost his opportunity, if he does not make provision in this Bill to secure that such cases shall be dealt with.
– That opportunity will be available to honorable members every time Parliament meets.
– It is of no use to tell that to those who have had parliamentary experience. We know what occurs when the House is . moved to direct attention to particular grievances.
Wie find that matters are decided in Parliament by the numbers of the different parties, .and if Ministers object to the discussion on any particular matter, honorable members desiring that it should be discussed have no redress.
– If the matter is continually talked about, - it will be remedied in nine cases out of ten if it is a public scan dell
– The honorable member suggests that any injustice must be so great as to be a public scandal before it can be dealt with. If we desire that these principles should be given effect in connexion with the repatriation scheme, there is no way of escaping our responsibility in the matter if we do not incor.porate them in- the Bill”.
– The honorable member is discharging a very valuable duty in pointing out that a record of promises should be made, and a tribunal created to investigate them. ‘ That is something definite.
– It is impossible for Parliament to inquire into all these cases in detail as they individually arise. We can decide that they should be dealt with along lines laid down by us, and the Repatriation Commission may be left to devise means to give effect to the principle. There are many. factors affecting recruiting, and one is that promises made to men who have enlisted are not being honoured. It is of no use saying that we can do our best with the voluntary system -while that is the case. I do not say that broken promises are general, but the less scrupulous employers should, in this matter, be made to do what is done by decent employers. We cannot expect to secure further enlistments unless we show that we are prepared to deal with these urgent matters, which it is recognised by those who are engaged in recruiting are seriously affecting the number of enlistments. I hope that the amendment willbe carried. In submitting it, I have at least discharged my responsibility to the men who have gone to the Front, and the Committee have now the responsibility of accepting or rejecting the amendment.
– I ask the honorable member not to press his amendment. The objection to it is very much the same as that urged against the amendment ‘ submitted by the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Rodgers), who sought to establish the principle of incorporating a scheme in the Bill by way of a schedule. We do not want to put just a few isolated principles into this Bill. The idea is that the scheme will be developed on the lines I have already referred to. The honorable member proposes that the Commission shall provide in their regulations for the housing, free, of’ totally disabled soldiers, widows, and dependent children of. deceased soldiers. That makes it mandatory.
– It does.
– That is to say, that in every case a disabled soldier must be” provided with housing free for life, and so also must the widow and’ dependent children of deceased soldiers. Under the scheme proposed by the Bill, it will be left permissive to develop a scheme for providing housing in those cases where it is found to be necessary.
– - A house would not be provided for a man who did not “want it. That would be absurd.
– TEe honorable member
Bays in his amendment that it shall be done. Senator Millen, in his speech on the Bill, referred to what is known as the Voluntary Workers Association of New South Wales, which is doing splendid work, and that body is to be allowed to continue- its good work under the scheme of this Bill.
– They do not deal with the majority of these cases. They are not dealing with widows. Widows are dealt with by the State Governments.
– I think that the honorable member will find that they make provision to obtain cottages. Senator Millen explained that the members of the Voluntary Workers Association, though they at present confine their operations to the neighbourhood of Sydney, form themselves into working bees, and make their labour available for the building of houses.
– They do that for returned soldiers, but not for the widows of deceased soldiers.
– They do it for widows also.
– The honorable member will see that this matter “is not being overlooked.
– The Voluntary Workers Association, if the honorable” gentleman relies upon them, would be entirely inadequate to deal with all the cases.
– I am not relying upon them. I am only showing that it would be open to the Repatriation Commission to take advantage of their services. With respect to pensions, the pensions of widows and the pensions of disabled soldiers are permanently fixed by the War Pensions Act, and cannot be altered. Under the scheme of the Bill it will be possible to give assistance to disabled men to fit them for work, and provide them with work when they are able to perform it.
– Why not adopt that as a principle of the Bill?
– I have said that the Government do not attempt in this Bill to set out a scheme complete in all its details. To- do so might lead to limitations which might prove prejudicial. The honorable member next, refers to a very difficult question - that of compelling employers to fulfil their promises to soldiersThere may be cases in which employers have not honoured their promises, but, as a general rule, it will be found that they have done so. No one can do anything but condemn employers who act dishonestly. I doubt very much whether the Commonwealth has power to compel a State Railway Department to fulfil promises made to its servants who have enlisted.
– It is a war matter, if anything is.
– I doubt whether it would be a desirable thing to do. The State Government is chosen from Parliament, which is elected by the people of the State to manage the affairs of the State. Surely a matter of honouring promises given to a section of the people may very well be intrusted to. the representatives of the people in their own Parliament.
– But if action taken is injuring recruiting the Commonwealth should have power to prevent it.
– If the honorable member proposes to stipulate that every person who makes a promise should register it and be subject to penalties for breaking his promise, the effect might be to prevent people from making promises. Therefore what the honorable member suggests might be a deterrent rather than an aid to the soldiers. If any man does not honour the promises he has made he should be exposed. What remedy does the honorable member suggest - that the employer should be compelled to re-employ the soldier whose position he has promised to keep open for him ?
– Certainly, or be amenable to the law, just as he would be for the breach of a civil contract.
– If we attempt that method it might do more injury than good to the cause of the men. A few dishonorable men may be roped in, but a great many honorable men might be affected though they regard it as a matter of honour to carry out their promises to the full.I will, however, ask that the matter be considered.
The next point aimed at by the honorable member is the establishment in civil life of all returned soldiers. That is the very principle of the Bill itself. He also aims at rendering financial assistance where necessary. The question of providing that the amount necessary to enable a returned soldier to support a family shall not be subject to the payment of interest or repayment of principal may be considered under the regulative power. The advances to be made to returned soldiers are subject to very many conditions, but the honorable member is anxious to provide in the Bill for portion of the principle of rendering financial assistance to them being fixed by Statute. It is unwise to insert in the Bill a few matters of principle only. It is far better to leave the provision in the Bill to stand as it is, and deal with the matters by regulation in the way best suited at the time.
Question - That the amendment (Mr. J. H. Catts) be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . 21
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 9 (State Boards).
– In view of the fact that the State Boards will actually deal with concrete cases and will be constantly engaged in revising the work of the Local Committees, and that the soldiers would rather approach them than the Commission, which may be termed the “ policy Board,” will the Minister make provision that the returned soldiers who will be selected for appointment to these Boards shall receive remuneration fortheir services? They cannot be expected to give their services continuously until the job of repatriation is completed without some sort of remuneration,
– It is not proposed to pay the members of these Boards. When the scheme gets into operation there will not be continuous sittings of the Boards. In each State there will be an executive officer appointed by the Government, with officials, whose duty it will be to co-operate with the Board. One officer will, in all probability, deal with disabled soldiers, another officer’s duty will consist of dealing with land settlement claims, and so with other branches. Many applications will be quite easily dealt with. The Minister believes that through the appointment of a staff of trained officers we shall save the Boards and the returned soldiers a considerable amount of time.
– It, is to be hoped that the officials will be trained a little in courtesy.
– I agree with the honorable member that unless this scheme is administered with intelligent sympathy it will break down. Particularly will that sympathy be required from Local Committees.
. -The Ministerneed not be afraid as to the attitude of the Local Committees. I am sorry that he has not grasped the full activities of State Boards. The Central Commission will determine matters of policy. The State Boards, like Boards under land settlement schemes, will be in almost continuous session. It has been estimated in this Chamber that less than 10 per cent. of the soldiers are likely to go upon the land, yet there has been a Board under our State law continuously dealing with applications.
– These Boards are meeting nearly everyday now.
– Before the Bill was through the State House, there were 680 propositions by land-owners, all necessitating inspection and minute investigation. Then there will be the claims of soldiers for land, and all this is involved in the land settlement question. What will be the position regarding the other 90per cent. of the returned soldiers ?
– What should be done?
– There should be either a fixed remuneration or a fee per sitting for at least those members of the Board who are returned soldiers. Otherwise only those of independent means can possibly apply for positions on the Board.
– Honorary Boards are very often more expensive to Governments than paid Boards. I would provide for the payment in the Act.
– There will be an absolute flood of propositions to the State Boards, which will take the place of the State War Councils. The premises of the State War Councils are now overflowing at any hour of the day, not only with soldiers but with propositions and details. If the State Board is to dischargeany duty worth while it will have to give decisions. There will be officers whose duty it will be to prepare each individual soldier’s case and land-owner’s proposition for submission to the Board, which will have to decide thereon. I appear to be flogging a dead horse on this Bill, for I cannot get the Minister or the Government to agree with me on one detail. ‘ In this case, if the work is to be effective, it has to be continuous. What will happen when demobilization takes place and the great body of men come back? We have 25,000 men back already, and have dealt only with a smaller proportion of them. Repatriation has meant only £5 5s. per head to the soldiers to date. Will the Minister make representations to the Minister for Repatriation to see that if the soldiers are to provide representation on the Board a minimum remuneration is given to their representatives to enable them to discharge duties which Parliament intended them to discharge ?
Clause agreed to.
Clause 10 -
Amendment (by Mr. Groom)proposed -
That after the word “ persons “ in subclause 1 the words” two of whom shall be returned soldiers or sailors “ be inserted.
-. - I gave notice of an amendment to insert after the word “ practicable, “ in subclause 1 the words “ subject to the approval of the Commonwealth Parliament.” As the principle involved in this has been decided in connexion with the appointment of the Commission, I shall not move in the direction I indicated.
Amendment agreed to.
– I move-
That after the word “ sailors “ in subclause 1 as amended, the words “ recom mended by the Returned Soldiers and Sailors Association or Associations of that State “ be inserted.
– The statement of the Leader of the House applies to that pro-‘ posal also. We could not accept those words.
– Why not say “ from recommendations of the returned sailors and soldiers associations “ ? That would give the Government the chance to make a selection.
– That is what I desire.
– The honorable member for Wentworth suggests that you put it in the form that the returned soldiers should recommend a number of persons, and the Government should make a choice.
– I accept that suggestion.
Amendment amended accordingly.
– Now will the Government accept it?
-I quite understand why the Government will not.
– Why not take a vote at once ? I will vote with you if the amendment is to be “ from recommendationsof the Returned Soldiers and Sailors Association.”
– The Minister’s attitude proves that it is not the intention of the Government to give the soldiers and sailors the representation that we claim they should have. Even though the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Joseph Cook) suggested that the amendment should be amended as indicated by the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Kelly), the Government still refuse to accept it.
– Your proposition is not excluded, although it is not definitely included.
– It is excluded from the Bill. If. the Government are prepared to give anything tangible to these men, they should be prepared to put it in the Bill.
– It may be ultimately put in on the same lines.
– It may be, just as I may be in the same position as the honorable member - beating the air all day. I am seeking to establish the principle that the returned soldiers and sailors for whom this scheme is being evolved shall at least have some voice in the choice of the men who will represent them on the Commission and on the Boards. We failed to secure the insertion of a provision for the direct representation of those men on the Central Commission, and now we desire that least on the State Boards, by which most of the work will be done, the men shall have a say as to who their representatives shall be. I believe that, in connexion with all such matters as this, the majority of persons who are most closely interested should have representation by men of their own choice. I have modified my proposal considerably by proposing that the Minister shall pick and choose from a number of men selected by the returned soldiers and sailors. In my opinion, the Government should be obliged to accept the associations’ nominees.
.I fail to understand why the Government cannot accept this amendment. Possibly, there will be very great difficulties in the way of selecting a number of men from whom the Government shall choose two. I realize also, that, up to the present time, only a small number of the men who will be interested in the scheme have returned to Australia ; but I believe that if the returned soldiers had an opportunity of nominating a dozen men from whom the Government could choose the two representatives, more satisfaction would be given than if the appointments were made entirely by the Government.
– The time has arrived to point out to the country that the Government are determined to make the repatriation a distinctly party matter.
– The last honorable member to speak in support of the amendment was a Government supporter.
– The division lists will show that the Government are voting down every suggestion that emanates from this side of the House-
Several honorable members interjecting,
– These interjections are entirely disorderly, and I ask honorable members to discontinue them. I cannot allow the honorable member for Cook to continue the discussion on the lines he has been following.
– Is there no stage of the Bill at which we can show how we are endeavouring to help the Government to fashion a repatriation measure that will give due consideration to all interests in the country?
– The honorable member must confine himself to the amendment.
– This amendment is put forward by a party which represents 1,000,000 voters at the ballot-box, and a considerable number of the soldiers in the trenches. In regard to this matter, as well as others, the Government have not met honorable members on this side in a non-party spirit.
– I ask the honorable member not to persist in those remarks after I have called him to order.
– If there existed any organization that was fairly representative of the returned soldiers, there would be a great deal in the claim made by honorable members opposite; but the returned soldiers who are members of the association represent such a small percentage of the total, that the association is not justified in claiming the right to nominate any representatives on the bodies to be established under this Bill. The Government, however, are representative of the whole of the people.
– They are not. A million voters are represented on this side of the House, and the Government are disfranchising them.
– Order! I shall not continue calling honorable members to order. I ask them to refrain from interjecting, and confine their remarks to the amendment.
– I maintain that there is no organization that is truly representative of the soldiers, and therefore there is no justification for the appeal made by honorable members opposite.
– I am surprised at the concluding sentence of the honorable member for Echuca. He must know that he sits in caucus with the chairman of the Returned Soldiers Association. I assume that, next to this Parliament, it is to their returned comrades that the men at the Front are looking for the protection of their interests. I remind the Committee of the earnest and solemn promise given bv the Prime Minister that the soldiers would have direct representation upon the Repatriation Boards.
– And so they will.
– Then why not allow them to obtain that representation by first submitting a number of names to the Minister in order that he might make a choice amongst those approved by the Association ?
– The trouble is that the Association might select privates as their representatives.
– The honorable member desires to drag unionism into this scheme.
– I again ask honorable members to cease from interjecting. I shall be obliged to name the next honorable member who interjects.
– I see no reason why we should not allow the Returned Soldiers and Sailors Association to submit a number of names from amongst which the Government could select two to represent the men. The adoption of that course will result in a smoother working of the scheme, and will give greater satisfaction to the soldiers than if the Government make the appointments on the recommendation of the Minister.
– I hope the Government will not succumb to the oleaginous appeal made by the honorable member for Maribyrnong, who spoke with an affectation of the Democratic spirit. The honorable member absolutely ignores the 250,000 men at the Front, who would have no voice in the selection of the soldiers’ representatives.
– The honorable member is proposing to still further ignore them.
-I am not. I am satisfied to leave it to the Government to make a choice. The honorable member desires that 50,000 men should decide a matter which he admits ought to be decided by the whole of the soldiers when they return.
.- The proposal before the Committee is to give representation to returned soldiers, and we do not repatriate men until they do return. The Government have agreed to give the soldiers who are already back amongst us an opportunity of being represented on the Commission and the State Boards. I do not think that they would propose to send overseas to select a representative of the soldiers. They will desire that the representatives shall be the best men available in Australia, and on that point the returned soldiers themselves will be’ the best judges.
– Are the returned soldiers generally members of the Association?
– I do not know. Many returned men wear a badge indicating that they are members of some association.
– I understand that in Western Australia there are three associations.
– Then they could each make two recommendations, leaving the selection to , the Government. It was suggested in the Senate that business men should be appointed to the Board. I plead for the appointment of at least one representative of the workers.
– The Minister has promised to make the Board as representative as possible.
– I ask the Minister to consider the propriety of paying the members of the Board.
– That matter was discussed on a previous clause.
– Can the Leader of the Opposition discuss the question of payment before the amendment has been disposed of?
– The honorable member will not be in order in doing so.
– I trust that the Minister will accept the amendment. I shall raise the question of payment later.
– I shall support the amendment, though I do not want it to be thought that I doubt thebona fides of the promises of the Government. We have heard that these associations are not representative of the men at the Front. Of course, they do not represent the sum total of our Forces, but they are the only organizations of those who have returned, and I should be happy to see them make recommendations which the Government will accept. The Government will have to take this course ultimately to avoid trouble and friction. When I had the duty of selecting an architect to a Board of Adjudication which has never materialized, I came to the conclusion that endless discussion could be avoided only by calling a conference of architects, and asking them to make a selection. That was done, and the selection that was made is the only subject on which there has been no criticism since. If the Government does not adopt this proposal, God help them.
– The attitude of the Government towards the amendment and the arguments of its supporters indicate that if there were in existence a body representative of all our soldiers, its recommendations would be accepted. Obviously it is impossible that all the Forces could be represented at the present time, as only about 30,000 have returned. Until the men get back, it will be impossible to have an organization representing the whole of the Forces. That is an argument in favour of the suggestion that no permanent appointments shall be made at the present time. A permanent appointment would’ disfranchise the men at the Front. It would prevent them from having a say in the appointment; of any representative. The State Boards, whose composition we are considering, will be purely advisory bodies, to deal only with such matters as have been referred to them by the Commission, though they may have the power to make suggestions to the Commission. There is in each of the States a branch of a recognised association of returned soldiers, and it is proposed that this association should make recommendations, leaving the final selection to the Government. That is a fair suggestion. The Returned Soldiers and Sailors Imperial League of Australia represent at least 75 per cent. of the returned men. It would be wise for the carrying on of the work of repatriation for the Government to officially recognise the existence of some such organization. Certainly the Returned Soldiers and Patriots League should not be so recognised, because it is neither one thing nor another. If the Government is not satisfied with the association that I have named, it should state what it requires of the association it needs.
All the amendment does is to provide that the associations shall be empowered to submit n’arnes. Unfortunately, the superior officers are moving to form organizations apart from those formed by the privates and junior officers. Reginald will not play with Jack. The inevitable outcome willbe that some popinjay officer will be selected by the Government, the ordinary private, who has done the work of the campaign, being put aside. I am satisfied that neither on the State Boards nor on the Commission will there be found a returned soldier below the rank of sergeant. The Government know their own friends. Our hope is that there may be later an opportunity to amend the law, and to give the returned soldiers the advantages to which they are entitled.
– I am inaccord with the amendment. There is a wide difference between it and the proposal made regarding the Central Commission. The duty of the Central Commission will be to settle the policy of the scheme ; that of the Boards will be to administer the policy that has been settled. We have precedent for the appointment of a representative of the Australian Soldiers and Sailors League in this State. In Victoria there is on the State War Council a direct representative.
– Not a direct representative, but appointed by the Government.
– Is not that direct representation? The man is selected be cause he is chairman of the Returned Soldiers and Sailors Association of Victoria. There is a complete and definite recognition of the organization. The Government will make a mistake if it passes by the only organizations of returned soldiers and sailors in the various States. These bodies are fairly representative. Will any one say that Senator Colonel Bolton cannot be fairly said to reflect the views of the men in the trenches ?
– Almost every proposal he made in the Senate was turned down.
– The Minister is entitled to a wide power of selection for the Repatriation Commission, which will be intrusted with the work of determining policy. But here we are dealing with a Board whose duties will be defined by the Repatriation Commission, and if there is anything in the promise of the Government that there is to be direct representation of the returned soldiers, by what better means could it be secured than the inclusionof these returned soldiers’ organizations? They are the only organizations in Australia, so far, dealing with the interests of returned soldiers that have been brought into existence by the men who have come back from the Front. I remind the Committee that the branch of the association in thisState has decided that politics shall not be brought into the work of the organization.
– The association is running a candidate at Kalgoorlie.
– The Governor in Council has approved of the association by appointing the president of it to the State Board.
– The president of the association in New South Wales takes his seat on the State War Council by virtue of his office.
– The president of the branch here has shown a very active interest in repatriation, and I know of no man who has done more work for the returned soldiers. The principle of the amendment of the honorable member for Barrier (Mr. Considine) has been approved by the highest authorities in the appointments which have been already made of representatives of these Returned Sailors and Soldiers. Associations.
– I cannot understand the honorable member for Barrier moving such an amendment when he knows that the Minister is continually in consultation with the Returned Soldiers Associations. The Returned Soldiers’ Association of “Western Australia has met and discussed this Bill, and has passed the following resolutions : -
That this branch of the Returned Soldiers Association heartily indorses the general principles laid down in Senator Millen’s repatriation scheme, believing it to be a broad and generous measure, designed in the best interests of the returned men.
That is the only guidance as to the views of the returned soldiers that honorable members have before them at present. In tho face of that the honorable member for -f Barrier asks us to take his word on the matter. What for? It is in order that he may put us on the party grid-iron; that he may make a hero of himself, and place honorable members on this side in an invidious position. If the amendment was agreed to, it would delay the operation of the Bill, and the honorable member would then go out into the country and say that, although we had passed a Bill to deal with the matter of repatriation, nothing was being done under it. I regret that honorable members opposite cannot restrain their party feelings. They take advantage of every opportunity to try to put honorable members on this side in a hole, but they will not be able to do so in this instance, because the returned soldiers are an intelligent body of men, and are carefully watching what is going on in this Parliament. They know the game of party politics as well as does the next man, and will not be fooled, as some honorable members opposite think they will. I prefer to be guided by their opinions as expressed in the resolutions which I have read, in preference to the advice of the honorable member for Barrier.
.At first glance, the amendment might be considered worthy of acceptance, but when it is realized that if it were agreed to it would involve the disfranchisement of a considerable number of returned soldiers, we should turn it down and support the Government. We might just as well, should the necessity arise for securing a number of nominees from the working men of Australia, decide that the unions should be the only organizations qualified to nominate.
– -So they should.
– The honorable member, by his interjection, shows that he would be prepared to disfranchise all working men who did not belong to unions. The Government, in holding to their original plan, have in view the fact that every returned soldier is deserving’ of representation on the Boards, whether he belongs to a returned soldiers association or not.
– It will take me only two minutes to reply to the statement of the honorable member for Denison that- the Returned Soldiers Association have expressed their approval of the Government repatriation scheme. I make another quotation from the Soldier, which is stated to be a “ Journal of Australian Nationalism and the Official Organ of the Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League of Australia.” “Under date 27 th July, it published the following statement: -
The repatriation scheme finally formulated by Senator Millen reveals an incompetency to grasp, and an incapacity to deal with, a problem bristling with complexities.
It is little better than the hastily composed, tentative scheme presented as a pre-election measure, upon which a sympathetic press discreetly withheld criticism. The scheme even fails in conception, apart from execution. It is flatulent, futile, and, in parts, foolish. There is complete lack of vision in the framing, and the psychological aspect has been altogether ignored.
Millen has conjured up a confusion of ideas, and chaos is the inevitable result. The whole business demands instant revision by men of vision combining the practical element in their mental make-up. Such men are to be secured, but, apparently not within the Federal Capinet or from among its present advisers.
And the article concludes -
Generally, the scheme, as we see it, fails. It now devolves upon Parliament to turn the failure into success. If Parliament is incapable, then others fitted for the task must be summoned in the interests of those whom service and sacrifice have made our wards.
In the same publication of the 17th August the first paragraph of an article dealing with repatriation says -
The transparent hypocrisy of the men in authority in regard to repatriation is fast growing nauseous.
It is unnecessary to make any further quotations to show that these organizations, through their official publication, express their dissatisfaction with this scheme,and that the Government will have to go a long way further in order to meet the men’s ideas.
– Is it because of that paper’s antagonism to Senator Millen that the honorable member is anxious tohave these men on the Boards?
– I answer the right honorable gentleman’s query by another. Is it because of the alleged antagonism to Senator Millen that Ministers refuse to recognise the associations and give them a place on this scheme?
– That paper is merely voicing the opinion of the organization in Sydney, where it was published.
– It is the official organ of the associations throughout Australia, and is sold in every State. I merely rose for the purpose of pointing out that our attitude and that of the Returned Soldiers Associations, so far as it is expressed in their official organ, are in concurrence.
– Immediately politics are introduced into those associations it will break them up.
– I say “Hear, hear “ to that interjection. Throughout this debate I have maintained that the Returned Soldiers Association is the only organization of returned soldiers that is not political.
– If they publish such articles as that which the honorable member has read they will very soon become political.
– An organization does not become political simply because it criticises the Government that happens to be in power.
– Is that the organ which called Mr. William Holman a rat?
– I do not know; but if it were I would not be prepared to condemn it on that score. I do not think that the Government should class any organization as being political becauseit criticises the actions of Ministers. I hope that the Government will not take up the attitude expressed by the State Governor at the Show to-day, that the actions of a Government should be above criticism.
– The honorable member is not in order. He is dealing with a matter that has no bearing on the amendment.
– The Returned Soldiers Associations are frankly opposed to the scheme of the Government, and when their views onour proceedings here to-night become known, it will be found whether the Government or the Opposition more truly represent them in this matter.
– Anything that we do in connexion with this Bill must be of a temporary character, and whatever proves to be wrong we can amend at a later date. As honorable members have now had a very good innings they should let us make some better progress.
Question - That the amendment (Mr. Considine’s) be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 13
Question so resolved in the negative.
.Do the Government intend to pay the members of these Boards)
– No ; the positionswill be entirely honorary.
– Will the Government pay them travelling expenses and living expenses?
– They will probably draw as much in the shape of expenses for travelling as they would have drawn if salaries had been provided for them. By paying salaries we would enable the people to know what the members of the Boards receive, instead of their getting recompense for their labours in another fashion.
– Would it not be wise to make provision so that the Government could pay a salary later if it be found necessary ?
– The honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Bruce Smith) has raised another phase of the question. We are to create a Department that will be spending millions of pounds, yet we are insisting that all these posts shall be honorary.
– The Advisory Boards) may be honorary, but the Departments, will not be honorary.
– In my opinion, we would better safeguard the interests of the men who wish to go on the land if we made provision for the payment of salaries to the members of these Boards.
– The idea of the Government is that the gentlemen who have been doing excellent work in the past without payment shall be retained under this Bill. I refer to the Trustees and the State War Councils. What will develop should be left to the future to determine. It may be found better later on to appoint a smaller Commission, and it is well to make provision for any change that may be thought necessary. For the present we propose to continue on lines which have already proved thoroughly sound and successful.
– In constituting the State Boards, could not some of the many noble and capable women, who have been such enthusiastic workers in Red Cross and other work during the war, be given positions?
– Do not take any out of the Patriotic Funds Committee here.
– I do not care where they are taken from. Women are occupying a much larger and more important place in the community than ever they did before.
– Are you referring to Adela Pankhurst?
– No ; but I think she would make a very capable lady on a Board. Will the Minister give some well-deserved recognition to the ladies in appointing the State Boards, in view of the fact that administrative ability (has been shown to be so strongly developed among Australian women?
– I will bring the matter under the notice of the Minister.
– I am opposed to the appointment of these Boards for life. In these public matters experienceshows that, after a while, enthusiasm wanes, and the same energy is not put into the work. I foresee awkward situations arising when this work becomes so routine that it is left in the hands of paid servants. It would be much better to fix a time limit to the appointments, and then if the Government were satisfied with the work of the Board it could be re-appointed. We cannot afford to neglect any reasonable precaution in connexion with this scheme. I therefore move -
That after the word “ office “ in sub-clause 4, the words “ for a period of three years or “ be inserted.
Mr.GROOM (Darling Downs- Honorary Minister) [4.44 a.m.]. - I trust the honorable member will not press the amendment. These positions are not permanencies, but are terminable at any moment by the Governor-General in Council. The members of the Central Commission are also appointed during pleasure.
-They will ibe kept up to their work by the fact that they are in touch with the Commissioner.
– The State Boards will come into contact with the individual cases, and if there is any slackness we shall quickly hear of it. It is better to leave the clause as it stands, so that if any difficulty arises the Government may have the power to deal with it immediately, instead of having to wait three years to make fresh appointments.
. -I agree with the suggestion to place ladies on the State Boards so long as they deal only with cases relating to returned men. I would not allow them to have anything to do with the oases of widows or mothers of soldiers.’ If the cases of widows and mothers are handed over to some ladies I know of, they will be very hardly dealt with. There is never any sympathetic feeling shown by one woman to another in that position, and. I object to handing over any women who need assistance to any body of other women to deal with.
– The honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Sinclair), instead of improving the clause, would make the positions more permanent. The Board may be removed nosw in a day or an hour, but the honorable member would insist on their holding office for three years, and as much longer as the Government like to continue them. I regard the, whole scheme as really temporary, with a view to obtaining information and experience that will enable a permanent scheme to be created to deal with the big problem that will arise when the great bulk of the men come back.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 11 to 14 agreed to.
Clause 15 (Moneys to be appropriated).
– Seeing that the Commonwealth is supplying money to the States, we should have some supervision over the way in which it is expended. At the Premiers’ Conference the Prime Minister emphatically stated that the States must get the consent of the Commonwealth to the spending of the money,and Mr. Hunter, Minister of Lands for Queensland, said that if the States had a proposition, and the Federal Board did not agree with it, it would be practically turned down. I do not want any undue interference with or hampering of the States, but as the Commonwealth is providing a great deal of the money for these big schemes, it should certainly have some oversight over State expenditure in this regard.
– Will the expenditure of the Central Commission or State Boards be subject to audit by the Auditor-General ?
– No money will be spent by the Central Commission, and the State Boards will simply have to consider applications and decide whether they should be granted or not. All the accounts of these bodies will be kept by Commonwealth officials and. be subject to Commonwealth audit. The Local Committees will have power to raise money, and their accounts will also be subject to audit, as will any other fund. All moneys expended under this Act will be subject to Commonwealth audit.
.There seems to be some lack of understanding of the agreement between the Commonwealth and the States. I take it that the Commonwealth is going to raise the money necessary for the States to buy the land and advance £500 to each settler.
– The States advance the £500 and the Commonwealth will advance the capital to the States.
– So that the Commonwealth is not really putting in any money at all?
– We are only lending the money. The only payment we make will be the difference between the rates of interest during the first years.
– Then the Commonwealth is not actually advancing money to settlers on the land, but the States are responsible for the money, and the Commonwealth looks to them to pay it back ?
– The Commonwealth is not advancing money for the acquisition of land, but only for advances to settlers to the extent of £500 each.
– Thenthe additional £1,000, which the settler is to get, must be advanced by the States?
– And the Commonwealth does not advance money to the States for the acquisition of land for the settlement of returned soldiers?
– No. We take no responsibility for the acquisition of land.
– Then how did Senator Millen arrive at his estimate of £60,000,000?
– That is the whole financial liability of the scheme, including the acquisition of land.
– The Minister mentioned that 40,000 soldiers are expected to go upon the land, and that would involve an expenditure of £1,500 each, making a total of £60,000,000. Now we are told that we have no responsibility for a great portion of that expenditure, and that we have no right to deal with it at all. In saying that the Commonwealth takes the whole responsibility for repatriation the Minister was not stating a fact.
– I did not say that.
– The Minister said that the Commonwealth takes no responsibility at all for the land settlement portion of the scheme.
– Not beyond the raising of the money.
– Fully seven-eighths of the debate has related to the settlement of soldiers on the land, and a lot has been said in regard to the supervision which the Commonwealth should have over the expenditure of the £60,000,000 mentioned by the Minister. If the Minister had told us we had no responsibility for settling men on the land, and that we are not lending money for the acquisition of land, we should have had a different conception of the scheme.
– I have stated that over and over again.
– I think the scheme is being stated differently from what we have previously understood it to be.
– During the evening, in reply to the honorable .member for Parkes (Mr. Bruce Smith), I stated that the Commonwealth will have no responsibility in connexion with land settlement beyond the finding of the money for improvements to the extent of £500 for each settler.
– Are we to accept the definite and absolute assurance of the Minister that the Commonwealth takes no responsibility for the settlement of soldiers upon the land?
– Senator Millen, in the course of his speech, said -
The Commonwealth Government undertook, therefore, to make advances to the States, to be in turn advanced by them to the settler to enable the latter to effect improvements, purchase plants, seed, stock, &c. The limit in any’ case was to be £500. The advances to the settler were to “be upon favorable terms as to interest and repayment. The States undertook the” responsibility of paying to the Commonwealth the interest, and repaying the principal of the amount so advanced.
A copy of that speech was sent to every honorable member. I repeated the statement it contains, and several times during ‘ the debate I read a paragraph from the agreement.
– What did the Minister mean in the following paragraph?
– That paragraph reads-
The financial liability which is involved in a proposition to provide farms and furnish working capital for such a number, or even a much reduced number, is serious. Although large areas of Crown lands are still available in certain of the States, very considerable resumptions of private property will be necessary in others. It is, therefore, difficult to state the average amount required per holding, but if the present forms of settlement are continued, it may be estimated at £1,000. If to this is added the £500 for improvements, &c, then a total of £60,000,000 is involved.
The Minister is there dealing with the position of the States which acquire land. The Commonwealth accept® no liability in connexion with the acquisition of land. It undertakes to raise loans for advances to settlers, but not for the acquisition of land.
– I will bet that the States do not think that.
– They do. The matter was discussed fully at the Conference, and on page 60 of the report it was mentioned that the States estimate that they will require £18,942,000 for the three years,
– Will not the Commonwealth lend them that money?
– The Commonwealth will only lend money for advances for improvements, et cetera, but not the money required .for the acquisition of freehold properties. It is distinctly understood by the States that the money to , be loaned to them by the Commonwealth is for the purpose of advances to be made to the settlers to the extent of £500 each.
.- I confess that I am entirely surprised by the explanation of the Minister, and I am also disappointed. The returned soldiers were assured by the Commonwealth that it accepts full responsibility for their repatriation. But, as a matter of fact, the Commonwealth is not accepting responsibility for the most expensive portion of the repatriation scheme.
– Did nob Senator Millen say that the alternative was to purchase smaller holdings?
- Senator Millen said that the scheme would cost some £60,000,000. But, as a matter of fact, it will cost the Commonwealth nothing. The Minister went on to say that the financial liability is’ serious. What guarantee has tha Commonwealth that the States will undertake this land settlement, and that the men who desire to settle on. the land will be settled?
– We have the guarantee of a signed agreement.
– A signed agreement that the States will find sufficient land to -settle the returned soldiers ?
– That they will find as much land as is wanted for the soldiers.
– I do. not accept any blame for having misunderstood this scheme, because I think every honorable member understood that the Commonwealth was to be responsible for the raising of the money to be advanced to the States for the financing of the settlers to the amount of £1,500 each. We have discussed whether the Commonwealth should not exercise supervision over the expenditure in connexion with land settlement, and the Minister has been answering arguments expressing that point of view. If, as now appears to be the case, the States are to find all the money, what right has the Commonwealth to impose conditions upon them in any way ?
– The States are finding the land.
– We understood that the Commonwealth was to find the money for the purchase of the land. How are the States to find £60,000,000?
– The States are not to find it. 0
– The Commonwealth does not take any responsibility for land which is bought, or for the making of advances in regard to it, or for placing men on the land.
– Is it clear that the Commonwealth’ does not provide the States, with money for the purchase of land ?
– Is £20,000,000 the whole of the Commonwealth’s liability for settling 40,000 men on the land ?
– The States will be required to find £40,000,000 at least. We have understood that the Commonwealth would have to provide the full £60,000,000. The latest announcement that the Commonwealth takes no responsibility for the settlement of soldiers on the land is widely different from the assurance that the Commonwealth would accept the whole responsibility in that connexion.
.Current public opinion has been that the Commonwealth was to raise the necessary loan money on behalf of the States, to enable them to purchase land where necessary for the settlement of returned soldiers. Although the Commonwealth was to raise the money, the States were to be wholly responsible for the repayment of the loans, and the interest thereon. But in addition to financing the States in that way, the Commonwealth undertook to supply the money, and ‘ to be’ responsible for the expenditure connected with the effecting of improvements. On page 61 of the report of the Premiers’ Conference, the Prime Minister said that the States would require £1,250,000 by the 30th June, 1917; £8,447,000, for the year ending 30th June, 1918, and £9,245,000 for the year ending 30th June, 1919, or a . grand total for three years of £18,942,000, which would be sufficient to deal with 27,000 cases. That for 1917-18 the scheme should cost £20,000,000 for improvements alone seems ridiculous.
– That is on the assumption that there will be 27,000 cases.
– We are told that it will take two or three years to bring back our soldiers .after the war has ended. Therefore, this expenditure will not apply to the great bulk of the men. It is stated in Senator Millen’s speech that to settle 40,000 soldiers on the land will cost £60,000,000. The cost will be £20,000,000 for improvements and £40,000,000 for the capital value of the . land.
– Under the conditions which he sets out.
– If the financing of this part of the scheme is to be left to the States, our promises to the soldiers will not be honoured. We are told by a representative from Western Australia that that State is so impecunious that; its Government cannot find the money necessary to connect the transcontinental line with its own system, in pursuance of an agreement entered into by that State with the Commonwealth . The Minister in charge of the Bill has made one statement on this subject, but it was contradicted by the Minister for the Navy. We wish to know whether the States themselves are to raise the money needed to pay for the capital value of the land that will be required for the settlement of returned soldiers.
– This is the resolution of the Premiers -
That bonds given for the. purchase of land for the settlement of returned soldiers shall be issued on the terms that they shall not be negotiable for the period of five years, that they may bear such rate of interest as the States may determine, and that bonds so issued shall not be included in the amounts to which the States are limited in regard to local borrowing. That makes iti clear that, the States are going to do the borrowing.
– In view of the fact that New South Wales has an immense volume of debt falling due, and will be put to great straits to raise the money to meet it, and that the State of Western Australia is without money, we shall not be able to settle many soldiers on the land.
– Money will be needed only for the re-purchase of private estates.
– While the honorable member for Cook (Mr. J. H. Catts) was discussing the matter, I hurriedly looked . through the Bill which has just passed through the Victorian Legislative Assembly. I find that by that measure Victoria takes the whole responsibility for the acquisition of land, and. provides machinery by which that land is to be paid for, that is to say, it takes to itself the borrowing power. This measure is to be read in conjunction with the memorandum quoted by the Minister for the Navy. The Commonwealth is to be relied upon for advances up to £500 for improvements, stocking, machinery, and so forth.
– If what has been said is correct, and the Victorian Government) is to be intrusted with the settlement of soldiers on the lands of this State, it is good-bye to the repatriation scheme so far as they are concerned. The Bill referred to has had great difficulty in passing through the Legislative Assembly, and it will be blocked in the Council, which has entered a strong protest against the usual methods of acquiring land and settling people on it. I do not blame the Commonwealth Government for accepting, in good faith, the promises of the representatives of Victoria, but if our repatriated soldiers are to be left to the care of the Government of Victoria to the ex tent indicated, nothing will be done for them in the matter of land settlement. Even if we pass this Bill, nothing will be done until we are well into next year, so far as this State is concerned. It will be well into ‘next year before the matter can be reopened and considered, and that means that there will be a block. We are told that £60,000,000 will be required for the land settlement of 40,000 soldiers. That seems to be an enormous sum. If the expenditure is to be in the same proportion, how much will be required for the repatriation of all the returned soldiers who will not be settled on the land ? I think that the repatriation of our soldiers is likely to cost a very great deal more than some of us imagined it would. The land settlement of soldiers can only be accomplished if the Commonwealth Government come to the assistance of the State Governments in this matter. If the Victorian Government are to be charged with the settling of returned soldiers on the land in this State, that will not be accomplished for some time to come.
.I fail to see why so much pessimism should be expressed as to what the States will do in this matter. The Parliaments and Governments of the States are as anxious as we are to do the best that can be done for the returned soldiers. There will be co-operation between the Commonwealth and States Governments in the matter, and I am confident that the settling of the soldiers on the land can be carried out. The New South Wales Government have? for some time been resuming land for settlement, in order that it might be put to proper use. This was done before the war, and without any reference to the settlement of soldiers. The tight little island of Tasmania passed legislation for settling soldiers on the land and giving them assistance before this scheme was brought forward, and the Government of that State are not very flush of money. All the State Parliaments and Governments have shown the right spirit in this matter. It is right that the State Governments should be held responsible in this connexion, because it does not do to have people spending other people’s money without responsibility. Honorable members may, perhaps, have forgotten that we have been reminded that there is a risk that soldiers may not be given the best quality of land. There, should be some supervision by the State Boards to secure that the soldierswill be settled upon land upon which they can make a living. I have heard of some lands being set apart for the settlement of soldiers upon which they would have no chance of making a living. I think that the arrangements that are being made are the best that could bemade, and I have no doubt that the State Governments will do all that they can to make the scheme a success. The Commonwealth cannot deal with the lands, and we. know that the State Governments have the departmental machinery necessary for doing so. They will be interested in securing the return of their own soldiers and their settlement in their own States. There is no occasion for the pessimism which has been expressed.
– It is as well to direct the attention of honorablemembers to the views expressed at the Premiers’ Conference on this subject. I find that Sir Elliot Lewis said -
Mr. Hughes has stated that the schedule moneys are not to be expended on public works. He has not said that they are not to be expended on the purchase of private properties for land settlement. Is that understood ?
– Dealing with the point that Sir Elliot Lewis has raised, the purpose for which this money is to be used is the improvement of lands which are to be acquired, or which are now the property of the State.
Mr. VAUGHAN. ; It is something more than improvements.
– What else?
Mr. VAUGHAN. ; Stock, for instance.
-Yes ; say “ as per schedule.”
This has reference to the settlement of British soldiers. The Prime Minister made a special plea for that at the Premiers’ Conference. He said -
The question of the land settlement of British soldiers has been decided. All the States, I understand, now propose to extend the same facilities to them as to Australian soldiers.
A discussion took place, and Mr. Hughes finally said -
I advise the States to do all they can in this matter. The scheme will not break down for want of money for the British soldiers.
To that Mr. Fuller replied -
Solong as that is quite understood, we will let it go at that.
– Surely the resolution carried at the Conference is definite enough.
- Mr. Hughes insisted on provision being made for British soldiers, and it would seem that the Pre miers of the States fell into line with that idea. We are to understand, I suppose, finally, that the States are to borrow this money through the Commonwealth. The whole scheme is absolutely dependent on the Commonwealth providing the money. If the Commonwealth Government do not supply the money to the States, God help our repatriation scheme.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 16 to 18 agreed to.
Clause 19 verbally amended and agreed to.
Clauses 20 and 21 agreed to.
The Governor-General may make regulations not inconsistent with this Act, prescribing all matters which by this Act are required or permitted to be prescribed or which are necessary or convenient to be prescribed for giving effect to this Act, and in particular for providing for the granting of assistance and benefits to Australian soldiers upon their discharge from service and to the children of deceased or incapacitated soldiers.
Amendment (by Mr. Groom) agreed to-
That the words “ to Australian soldiers upon their discharge from service and to the children of deceased or incapacitated soldiers “ be left out, and the following inserted in lieu thereof : - “ - (a) to Australian soldiers upon their discharge from service;
to the children, under the age of eighteen years, of deceased and in-‘ capacitated Australian soldiers; and
where by reason of special circumstances the Commission considers that assistance and benefits should be granted to the widows of deceased Australian soldiers.”
– What provision is to be made for annual reports?
– It is the intention of the Minister to have periodical reports forwarded from the State Boards to the Central Commission. These he will be able to present to the House, with his own report, so that Parliament may be advised from time to -time of the progress of the scheme.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments.
Standing Orders suspended, and report adopted.
Motion (by Mr. Groom) proposed -
That this Bill be now read a third time.
– I take this opportunity of saying something which I was prevented from saying at a previous stage of this measure. The time has arrived when the people of Australia should know that this Government, which has made so many protestations as to its desire to work amicably with this side of the House in regard to matters connected with and arising out of the war, has refused to accept a single suggestion from us, although we represent about 1,000,000 voters.
– It has equally refused to accept suggestions from me.
– Not only in this Chamber, but also in the Senate, any suggestion from the Labour party in regard to the repatriation of soldiers has been practically treated with contempt.
– That statement is not correct,
– We have stopped here patiently for many weary hours following the Bill line by line.
– So have we.
– Yes, with intermissions. Government supporters come in by relays, whilst the Labour Opposition party has to sit tight right through. We have now been sitting in the chamber twenty hours following this Bill line by line.
– You have had overtime in the shape of supper.
– The House adjourned for half-an-hour at midnight, when I paid for my own supper. We have had that same remark in the chamber already to-day. Ministers can take this from me, that they need not pay for supper on my behalf.
– There is no sense in talk like that.
– The matter has now been mentioned twice.
– But only in a jocular sense.
– Unfortunately a little incident occurred in 1908 which caused more ill-feeling in this Parliament than anything else has caused.
– It should not occur again, because there is no sense in it.
– It is paltry and contemptible, and is not a subject that should be discussed in the House.
– Order! The question before the Chair is the third reading of the Bill.
– Mr. Speaker directs his remarks to me. I am not responsible for the interruption. The Minister was allowed to interrupt.
-The honorable member must not argue with the Chair. I have alreadycalled honorable members to order.
– I was merely pointing out that the Minister-
-I ask the. honorable member to address himself to the Bill.
– I am interrupted when I proceed to do so.
– If the honorable member is interrupted, I shall call the House to order, as I have already done more than once. Will the honorable member proceed to discuss the question before the Chair, or resume his seat ?
Mr.Fenton. - This is pretty hot at this time of the morning !
– The honorable member is out of order, and must not pass reflections on the Chair.
– It is with the greatest difficulty that the representatives of nearly a million voters can place their case before the House. I represent a constituency from which as great a proportion of men have enlisted as has gone from any other constituency, and consequently a great many grievances of soldiers and their relatives are brought under my notice. I have had to deal with hundreds of cases, and have had to communicate with the Defence Department concerning them. This experience is general amongst Labour members, yet in spite of all this experience the Government have absolutely refused to accept a suggestion of any kind from the party to which I belong.
Our proposals put before honorable members were first of all submitted to a committee of the Political Labour organization of New South Wales, and were subsequently revised by the Labour Conference of New South Wales, after being dealt with by special committees in each case. Then they were brought to the Federal Parliamentary Labour party here and considered. In turn a special committee investigated them, and adopted the principles contained therein. They were then placed before Parliament on behalf of our 1,000,000 supporters at the ballot-box. A request was made that an effort should be made to have some of the principles enunciated in them incorporated in this Bill. However, the sum total of all this effort on behalf of organized labour in Australia is that not one single line or suggestion from us has been accepted. Yet ve are told that this question is not a party one, and that the Government is not considering this legislation on party lines. It has dealt with the Bill on party lines absolutely, and it has refused to allow this side of the Chamber to be associated with the work of repatriation.
– The honorable member has said this six times already.
– I ask honorable members not to interrupt. Repetition may be avoided if honorable members will refrain from interjections.
– At the next election the present Government will seek to make out that the Labour party does not wish to be associated with the work of repatriation. No doubt the Minister will go carefully through the Hansard reports of the speeches of honorable members on this side of the Chamber and pick out from them suggestions we have put forward and use them as his own. Then the country will be placarded with circulars informing people that the Labour party has made no effort towards repatriation. It is about time that all this hypocrisy about members of the Government wishing members of the Opposition to join with them in administering the affairs of the country was exposed. Their protestations are shown to be nothing but mockery. It is no wonder that Australia is slipping back and not doing as well as it did before in war work. All this discord, lack of unity, and lack of amity which is now prevailing in the community is largely due to those bitter feelings which have been displayed by the present Government, and to the general desire on the part of Ministers to “rub it into Labour.” Protests seem to make little difference. Honorable members on the Government side simply wear us out physically by long sittings, while a few of us on the Labour side are struggling hard to secure some recognition of the interests of our constituents.
– I have been listening to the honorable member’s remarks and I have heard nothing in regard to the third reading or the policy of the Bill. The honorable member has indulged in reflections upon other members in the House and in general criticism of the Government, which, however appropriate on some occasions, the honorable member has not so far shown to be connected with the question before the Chair.
-I am very much obliged toyou, sir, for your very kind remarks. I wish to point out that as a result of the policy of this Government, the Bill goes to its third reading a mere empty shell, containing no scheme of repatriation. It merely abolishes one commission and sets up another, and abolishes the Prime Minister as the presiding genius and replaces him by Senator Millen. That is the sum total of the Government’s scheme for the repatriation of our soldiers. Throughout the discussion upon this Bill, Ministers have refused to recognise principles asked for by a large section of the community. So far as this Bill is concerned, they have practically disfranchised this large section of voters. Their attitude on repatriation has brought upon them, as shown in The Soldier, the odium and contempt of the organized returned sailors and soldiers of Australia, and this feeling is becoming general amongst all classes of the Commonwealth.
– I should apologize for speaking at this late period in the sitting, but I rise because I think it is unwise to allow the statements of the honorable member for Cook to go forward to the public, as they are intended to do, as a fair comment upon the proceedings in the Chamber during the last two sittings.
– They are absolutely true.
– They were not true.
– If I may be permitted to proceed without interruption I shall point out some respects in which the remarks of the honorable member were absolutely incorrect. The statement has been made several times during this sitting that all the divisions were on party lines, and that this Bill has been treated absolutely as a party one. I wish to give that statement an emphatic denial. Party lines have been departed from in every division but one, and the departure from party lines has been due to honorable members going over from this side to help honorable members opposite. The only occasion on which the party line of the Labour party was broken was when the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Mathews) crossed the chamber to vote with us. It may be that the principles that honorable members advocate bring them together naturally on the principles of the
Bill, though they are hardly principles upon which one might expect absolute unanimity ; but it seems to me grossly unfair, after their ranks have remained unbroken from the beginning of the debate on this Bill until now, that, in a fit of pique, at the end of the discussion upon the measure, it should be said that the Ministerial proposals have been accepted in their entirety, not because the majority of honorable members approve of them, not because we on this side have a mandate from ‘the soldiers at the Front to do this work, which mandate was not given to the honorable members opposite, but because the divisions have been on party lines. The statement is a gross misrepresentation of the facts. That the honorable member for Cook should be disappointed in not having had his scheme accepted in preference to that of the Government, is only natural, and it may be equally natural for him to express that annoyance after a protracted sitting in -which we have had division after division unnecessarily - because they were upon practically the same question. There were calls for divisions time after time with no other object than to delay the Bill and to weary honorable members who wished to see the business through.
– We could have counted you out at any time during the night.
– Order !
– The honorable member knows he could not, or he would have done it. I rose simply to protest against the misrepresentation of the attitude of members on this side, who have just as keen a desire as any one opposite to see a Bill fair to the soldiers emanate from this sitting. The Bill as it stands now, notwithstanding the criticisms launched against it, is a fair attempt to meet the circumstances of the case as they are presented to us to-day. What appearance it may bear two or three months hence, no honorable member can say, but the Bill is in such a form that, as accumulated experience indicates amendments, they can be readily made, and a more permanent organization established when the necessities of the case call for it.
– If the honorable member for Illawarra (Mr. Lamond) had said that the Bill was practically the same as when it. came here from another place, he would be nearer the mark than to say that the Bill has been so improved as to give us a substantial measure.
– I did not say that.
– The honorable member inferred it. So far from his criticisms of the attitude of this, party being merited because of any feeling of pique on our part through our amendments not having been accepted, amendments have been moved from the honorable member’s own side which we have supported, and members from that side have supported ours. The divisions have not been at all on party lines, and therefore the honorable member’s suggestions are uncalled for and wide of the mark. It is very evident that we have some grounds for complaint. I do not suggest that the party on this side have a monopoly of the brains or wisdom of the House, and I hope honorable members opposite do not claim it for their side. In all humility and with the utmost respect, we submit our opinions for what they are worth. We do not expect the Government to see much wisdom or. virtue in our suggestions, but we are sent here representing a large number of people to do what we think right, and voice their opinions. In our attitude to this Bill we claim that we represent the mind of the people, and we certainly represent the views of returned soldiers and sailors, who are the principal parties interested in it.
The Argus. of Wednesday, 26th September, published the following report: -
Women’s National ‘League.
Mrs. I. H. Moss, President of the Armadale Branch, . said that, in the Repatriation Bill, not a word was said about the war-worn Florence Nightingales who had gone to the Front as a fitting complement of our brave soldiers. Provision should also be made for them.
– She apologized afterwards for having overlooked the fact that nurses are included.
– I am glad she made the amende honorable. I want to claim no virtue or credit because I suggested that nurses should be included. The fact is, that I raised the question in the discussion on the Public Service Bill, and on the second reading of this Bill on Monday afternoon last. Mrs. Moss was evidently judging from a condensed newspaper report of the debates of Parliament. The papers report only what suits their own point of view, and honorable members on this side are subjected to misrepresentation because the papers do not faithfully report what actually takes place. I have no objection to the papers criticising and abusing us, but when they report the proceedings of the House they ought at least to record fairly what does take place, and state the actual facts. The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) has handed me to-day’s Argus with the following item of news : -
A letter was read from Senator Millen, Minister in charge of repatriation, in regard to Mrs. I. H. Moss’s statement that in the Commonwealth Repatriation Bill not a word was said about the Florence Nightingales who had been to the Front. As a matter of fact, Senator Millen said, the Bill safeguards the welfare of repatriated nurses, just as it did the welfare of the soldiers. Mrs. Moss apologized for her inaccurate statements, and Mrs. Matthews explained that the clauses relating to nurses had been inserted since the Bill was introduced.
But the lady’s first statement got a start, and it is open to question whether the correction will catch up with it. She was unfair not only to me but to the honorable member for Corio (Mr. Lister), who also raised the question of the inclusion of nurses.
– How unfair?
– Because the papers did not report that the question had been raised, and Mrs. Moss, basing her estimate of the Bill on the newspaper reports, made a statement which was not correct.
– It is only a condensed report.
– I am complaining that the fact was omitted from the condensed report.
– But you are also unfair, because you are interpreting the condensed report of her speech.
– As the lady withdrew the statement, the first report was evidently a fair one. The contentions of the honorable member for Cook (Mr. Catts) are absolutely sound, and those of the honorable member forIllawarra (Mr. Lamond) are quite unfair. If the press on both sides would take the trouble to give people an accurate report of what actually does take place in the House, the public would not be led astray, and persons like Mrs. Moss would not be obliged to apologize for having made misstatements.
– I should not have risen but for the smug Pharisaical utterance of the honorable member for Illawarra (Mr. Lamond), who said that honorable members on this side had hung up the Bill. That statement is precisely on a par with the utterance of a Nationalist senator during the Darwin election campaign in June last, that the Repatriation Bill would have been passed long ago but for the Labour opposition. That was purely an election lie.
– I rise to a point of order. The honorable member for Yarra has said that a statement made in the Darwin electorate was a lie, and he likened my statement to it.
– I do not understand the remark of the Leader of the Opposition to be applied to the honorable member for Illawarra.
– I was referring to a statement by Senator Bolton. Electioneering lies were uttered in the Darwin electorate. The honorable member forIllawarra was absolutely inaccurate when he said that honorable members on this side were hanging up this Bill.
– I said that honorable members opposite were delaying it.
– We did not delay the Bill. The Government Whip will credit me with having done my best to facilitate the transaction of business.
– I willingly do that.
– I was not criticising the honorable member for Yarra.
– The honorable member was criticising the party which I have the honour to lead. Had we so desired, we could have held back the Bill, but we had no wish to do that. We were anxious to have certain principles incorporated in the measure, but, as the honorable member for Cook (Mr. Catts) has said, we did not succeed in carrying one amendment. So long as the Government have a majority they will see that no proposal by their political opponents is carried into effect. I am not surprised at the attitude which the Government have adopted. The same lack of consideration has been shown to those of us who have been anxious to assist them in every possible way. So far as I can remember, not a single suggestion or amendment made by the Opposition during the eight weeks Parliament has been sitting has been accepted by the Government. Now the Government are adjourning Parliament because they are so bankrupt of ideas that they have no other measure to bring forward. However, I trust that when this Bill is agreed to it will fulfil the wishes of all honorable members in this House. No matter how the Government or their supporters may attempt to flatten us out, we are desirous of doing our best for the soldiers.
– They have flattened us out. We should rub in that fact.
– I know they have, and they will continue doing so, but I hope we shall be able to show a better spirit towards them. If the operation of the measure discloses any defect in its provisions, I trust that the Ministry will lose no time in introducing an amending Bill, so that we may have on our statute-book the best possible law for the accomplishment of the object which we all have at heart.
– I very much, regret the tone of the remarks ofthe honorable member for Cook (Mr. Catts). He would have the people believe that honorable members on this side of the House have approached this Bill in a party spirit, and have declined to consider any suggestions for its improvement which came from the Opposition side. That statement is inaccurate. What were the amendments moved by honorable members opposite? On a measure dealing with the enormous subject of repatriation only two amendments as to principle were moved by Opposition members during the whole discussion. One emanated from the honorable member for Cook, and the other from the honorable member for Barrier (Mr. Considine).
– I wish I had known the honorable member intended to make this speech.
– The honorable member invited it by the remarks he made. I have nothing but gratitude to express for the attitude adopted by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Tudor) throughout the consideration of this Bill. The honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Rodgers) raised a question as to whether the Bill should contain a complete scheme. I opposed his amendment on the grounds which I gave, and the Leader of the
Opposition also declared that the honorable member was adopting a wrong method of dealing with this Bill. Later» the honorable member for Cook came forward with four isolated suggestions of alleged principles, and I told him that we should have to treat his amendments in the same way as those of the honorable member for Wannon had been treated. Both sides of the House were treated impartially, and in the case of both amendments the Committee decided against the -movers. Then the honorable member for Barrier initiated a discussion in regard to the representation of the returned soldiers. Senator Millen announced in another place, and I in this chamber, that the Government were in favour of two returned soldiers occupying seats on the Central Commission and the State Boards. The only question at issue was the method of appointment, and that issue was raised by the honorable member for Barrier (Mr. Considine). Throughout the discussion there have been no party politics; not one division was taken on party lines. Yet the honorable member for . Cook (Mr. Catts) has endeavoured to convey to the public that on his side they came forward with a sheaf of amendments intended to build up this scheme, and that the Government deliberately turned them down. The answer to the honorable member for Cook was given by the honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. Finlayson), who said that there had not been a party division throughout the sitting. Every suggestion was fairly and honestly considered on its merits.. After all, if honorable members opposite cannot suggest reasonable amendments the Government cannot be blamed. We are not responsible for their lack of ideas acceptable to the Committee. - Throughout the Government dealt with this BiU on non-party lines and considered on its merits every proposal brought forward from either side of “ the House.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Debate resumed (vide page 2786) on motion by Mr. Watt -
That in accordance with the provisions of the Commonwealth Public Works Committee Act 1913-14 the. following works be referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Pub- lie Works for their report thereon, namely : - Flinders Naval” Base - Erection of workshops, hospital, detention barracks, quarters for married officers and warrant officers, water, sewerage, and storm-water reticulations, electric distribution system, and accessory works for that establishment. Henderson Naval Base - Two breakwaters, excavations, reclamations, basins, or quaywalls, floating dock, administrative buildings, permanent railways. i
– I shall not detain the House long - I do not know that I should have the physical strength to do so, if I had the inclination - but I cannot help feeling that this Government, like its predecessors, is going ahead with the construction of Naval Bases as if no war had affected the classic, academic proposals made by Admiral Henderson a few years ago. Instead of an inquiry by the Public Works Committee into the particular features of the proposed works, I should like an expert and scientific revision of the scheme, to discover whether at this stage it is advisable to construct these works at all.
– The Government have not neglected that matter.
– I cannot believe that, if the circumstances were truly investigated, we would be advised by the Home authorities, under present circumstances or until the war be decided, to proceed with the Flinders Base, even though we might go on with the Henderson Base.
– We should do nothing but what the Home authorities tell us to do.
– That is so, in these matters. The honorable gentleman must realize, as freely as I do, that the question of sea command is now being decided. , Heaven only knows what the terms of peace will determine as, tlo the future control of sea communications.
– The question of Japanese control is being decided,,
– Those are considerations which only the enemy would want us to discuss in this place at this time. But. if, for the sake of argument, we anticipate trouble with some Asiatic people- I hope we shall never have to face it - we should have to follow the practice of every European country in which there are Naval Bases, and extend our bases as far as we could towards the territory of our enemy.
– While the war was raging.
– So far as one can understand the existing scheme, we are building Bases now to protect Australia’ from some attack from the South Pole. When Admiral Henderson, a retired admiral, came to this country, he was not asked to advise what we should do “to protect Australia against this or that possible enemy. I believe that the gentleman who was then in control of the foreign policy of England would have deprecated any such thing being done.
– The foreign policy of England! The foreign policy of the Empire.
– I am talking of the foreign policy of the Mother Country. I believe that the dangers which might conceivably confront Australia were not considered by this retired sailor in making his report, but that he was asked to advise how to establish the Australian naval organization, and that he set himself to establish1 Bases about the Australian coast. The grounds for my belief is the manner in which his proposals shaped themselves in contrast with similar practices in England. Around the coast of England - -
– Of Britain.
– There is a place called England, and around its coasts you have separate naval establishments side by side with great commercial ports. With so large and so numerous a Navy as that of the Mother Country, you cannot afford to make use of commercial ports, and must have separate naval ports. You could not afford to have the hundreds of vessels belonging to the Imperial Navy running in and out of Southampton. For that reason there is established close by the purely Naval Base of Portsmouth. Since the German menace, the British Navy has deliberately established Bases as far towards Germany as it can get; not as far behind, but as far in advance as possible. Germany, on her side, has not gone as far into the Baltic as she could to avoid us, but to meet our naval command has advanced as far into the North Sea as she can, and has fortified Heligoland. That is the practice all the world over. The reason for separate naval ports in Europe is that the fleets there are of such a magnitude that the naval and mercantile marine cannot use the same ports.
– I rise to order. The question is shall certain works be referred for report tlo the Works Committee, not shall these Bases be constructed?
– I take it that the honorable member is endeavouring to show reasons why these works should not be referred to the Committee, or should not be gone on with. To that “extent he is in order. He would not be in order in opening a general discussion regarding Naval Bases.
– I can understand the anxiety of the honorable gentleman to get these proposals through, and the public grounds that actuate him.
– That is worthy of the honorable member. I shall make an explanation directly.
– Our Fleet is ‘ a small one, and with the load of expenditure in ‘ front of us, with, the doubts in connexion with the whole crisis through which we are passing, I do not see any excuse for establishing new harbors alongside existing serviceable ports used by the mercantile marine. At Westernport we have been actually digging out the mud to make a Naval Base for our smaller ships, although there is a great harbor within fifty miles of the place. At the Henderson Base we are doing largely the same thing, although within a few miles there is Fremantle harbor, which is used by the mercantile marine.
– And which is full of trading vessels.
– No doubt, the two Bases are not on a par. I do not express a rigid view regarding the Western Australian Base, but the whole subject needsreview. I do not think that the works should be proceeded with automatically. If you feel that the proposals must go to the Works Committee, let them go, but I ask you to consider what is to be the position of Australia after the war, and whether we can afford to spend money now, and whether we shall want to spend iti after the war has been finished.
– This subject has caused the Government considerable anxiety, and we have given a great deal of attention, to it.
– Has the Government come to a decision on itf
– Yes. Hence this reference of the works to the Public Works Committee.
– These works have been proceeding calmly ever since the war started. We might very well be taken into the full confidence of the Govern ment so far as the suitability and desirability of the Flinders Base is concerned. The other Base offers some difficulty, because it is aimed at the protection of the trade routes.
– Both Bases should wait over until after the war.
– I think so. The Committee of Imperial Defence, which is the proper authority to refer these things to, if asked would not advise the continuance of this project at this time.
– The Minister for the Navy (Mr. Joseph Cook) will explain that.
– I shall be happy to hear him. I have risen only to express my earnest conviction that the Government is making a very serious move, involving this Government in the expenditure of millions of pounds, which within a year or two we may — has been wasted.
.- A grave responsibility rests on the Ministry in connexion with this expenditure. I do not think that any Ministry would come down with a reference to the Works Committee like this unless they had fully considered it. The Works Committee is not a body to advise on the strategic importance of the proposal, or whether the war has altered conditions so much that these Bases are ‘more or less necessary than when recommended by Admiral Henderson; ‘that is a matter for Ministerial decision. If the Minister says that there is no person in Australia who can advise on this matter, the Government should obtain advice from oversea. In all probability they will be told, if they asked for advice, that no advisers are available to come to Australia at’ the present time’.
– To properly consider these proposals, the Works Committee should go to the other end of the world in order to obtain some standard of comparison.
– One member of the Ministry was in England about twelve months ago. He and the Government must know something of what the Ministry of Great Britain are doing in this matter. This must be part of their definite programme. Our Government are referring the proposals to the Works Committee, to get information as to certain phases of the work. Since we have a Works Committee, I think this is the wisest course to pursue. While responsibility rests on every private member, it rests much more heavily on the Government. Ministers must know more about these important proposals than any private member, because they are closely in touch with what is going on on the other side of the world. That, being so, it is my intention to vote for the motion.
– Some time ago a Loan Bill was before this Blouse, and I moved for a reduction of the amount proposed to be expended in connexion with these Naval Bases. I thought that their construction might well be delayed, because, as the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Kelly) has pointed out, we do not know yet what lessons are to be learned from the war. I received no support on that occasion from the honorable member. He was very, silent when the appropriation of the money for these works was proposed. The expenditure has been authorized, and we are committed to it. I object to the gross insults the honorable member for Wentworth has been throwing at me, not only to-night, but on a previous occasion.
– I rise to a point of order. The honorable member accuses me of hurling gross insults at him. I submit that he is not in order in attributing such behaviour to me. I have not hurled insults at the honorable member, as the cold pages of Hansard will show.
– I ask the honorable member for Dampier to, as far as possible, refrain from personal references which, the honorable member for Wentworth considers offensive.
– I have not forgotten the statement made by the honorable member for Wentworth when he pointed out that the honorable member for Parramatta (Mr. Joseph Cook), when he was the Leader of a party that had a majority of one, saw fit to introduce the Bill for the appointment of the Public Works Committee. There was only one inference to be drawn from that. When it is remembered that at the keel end of that Ministry the honorable member for Wentworth was drawn in-
– You mean that I was the rudder.
– We found out what the honorable member was when the elections came on, because the one thing that helped to destroy the Liberal party throughout Australia was the Teesdale Smith contract.
– Order I
– Although 1 desire that money should not be expended on these works, if they are not referred to the Public Works Committee, the Government will have only one duty, and that will be to proceed with them without any investigation whatever. The difficulty with which we are confronted now is that, if the Public Works Committee do not make an inquiry into these proposals, the Government will have to go on with the work, because Parliament has approved of the expenditure of the money.
– I should like to say one or two words about this matter, though I am sure that honorable members will not expect me to deal with it) at length. I have looked into the matter, and intend to look into it much, further. The Minister for Works and Railways (Mr. Watt) ‘has also looked into iti. We have consulted the officers who we think are best able to form a judgment upon it. We have several men now in the Department who have but lately come from the Old Country, including Mr. Settle, who has been constructing Naval Bases all bis life. The second naval member of the Board is but recently from the Admiralty, and there are other officers of the Department, who have also but recently come from the Admiralty. They are competent, capable men, and they are agreed that there is only one course that should be taken at the present time, and that is to “ carry on “ in connexion with these works. What the developments of the future may be no one can at the moment foresee, but it is plain that in every other country they are rushing forward their naval preparations, not retarding them. It seems to me an almost incredible suggestion that, in the middle of a great war like ‘this, there should be any easing down of our war preparations., There may be modifications, but there is surely no reason for the complete cessation of these works until the’ war is over. Nothing has occurred during the course of the war, so far as I can find out, which would in any way modify the necessity for these Bases. Moreover, the work that is being done is foundational and common to any Naval Base.
– Does the Minister know of any nation in the world that puts
Naval Bases behind the country it has to defend ?
– The question of location was fixed by Admiral Henderson.
– But location without any view to a policy of defence.
– Who says that?’
– I say it.
– The honorable member should read Admiral Henderson’s report again.
– It is rather too late to re-open that question now.
– Not if there are millions to be saved.
– I want to say, so far as the Naval Bases generally are concerned, that the only thing I am uneasy about is whether we are getting on with them sufficiently fast. I intend to be quite clear on that point before very much longer.
– The Minister said that he intends to have a searching inquiry made into the matter, and he now says that the trouble is that the construction of these Bases is not going on fast enough.
– I hope the honorable gentleman will not try to twist my words.- I said no suchthing; What I said was that, so far as my information has proceeded, the advice I have received is that we should proceed in the course already laid down. I say that, despite that advice, I have my own ideas on the matter, and I should like to be more certain than I am.
– Is it not a question more of statesmanship than of engineering, as to whether it is opportune to continue these works ?
– It seems to me that all the argument is in favour of proceeding with the construction of vessels and Bases as well, and with the rapid multiplication of all our enginery of war to the fullest extent, having regard to our position after the war, and the possibilities that may then arise. I ask honorable members in the meantime not to hold up these works, but to let them proceed. The Henderson Naval Base when complete is estimated to cost £9,500,000.
– That is for the double programme.
– The Minister should not spoil his speech by saying how little the Government propose to do.
– That is precisely what I am going to tell the House. Proceeding at the rate at which the works are now being constructed, it would take about a hundred years to complete the Naval Bases.
– The honorable gentleman is spoiling the effect of his speech.
– I hope not. I want honorable members to understand that if, as the result of the inquiries I propose to institute, I am satisfied that this work is urgent, and should be continued, I shall ask this House to do it, if it costs millions of money. We cannot tamper with the matter of defence. If it is not to be adequate, it had better not be undertaken at all. It is of the utmost consequence that we should be sure that we are proceeding on right lines.
– And the Government go to the Public Works Committee to obtain their information.
– The Public Works Committee will not be asked to give that information. Certain definite proposals are to be submitted to that Committee, and the members of it are asked to say whether from a structural point of view those are sound propositions. That is the duty laid upon the Public Works Committee by the Act under which it has been appointed.
– The Government believe that the Naval Bases should be proceeded with.
– We unquestionably believe that there should be no curtailment of the amount proposed to be expended on these works. We believe that we have submitted to Parliament the minimum vote which should be authorized for the purpose.. In the meantime, no step will be left untaken to clear this matter up at an early date.
– I wish to make a personal explanation. It would appear that after he took a point of order to preventme discussing a certain aspect of this question, a remark I addressed to the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) offended him. I said, in effect, that I gave him credit for public reasons for desiring at once to get to a consideration of this matter.
– With a sneer; and that is what hurt the honorable member for Dampier.
– If that hurt the honorable member, I withdraw the sneer and the remark.
– That being so, I shall be only too glad to withdraw all that I said.
– I hope the honorable member will do so.
– It was not only to-night but the other night as well that the honorable member made offensive remarks.
– I do not withdraw one word of what I said the other night. I do believe that in the appointment of such committees as the Public Works Committee and the officers connected with it-
– Order ! The. honorable member is going beyond a personal explanation. He is supplementing a speech he has already made.
– I want to say that, as regards the sneer, to which the Minister for Works and Railways (Mr. Watt) has directed attention, but which is not recorded in Hansard, I withdraw it unreservedly. But, so far as my general criticism of the Public Works Committee is concerned on another occasion, to which reference has been made by the honorable member for Dampier, . 1 do not withdraw a single word of it. That criticism was made honestly. The views I expressed are honestly held, and I believe they would be more widely held if honorable members generally considered the situation more closely.
.- I should not have risen but for a remark which was made by the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory). He said that the money for the works proposed to be investigated by the Public Works Committee has already been authorized by this Parliament.
– The appropriation has been made, and the Public Works Committee Act prescribes what shall be done after the investigation by the Committee.
– It prevents the money being spent until the investigation is made.
– And until after the passing of a substantive resolution has followed the investigation.
– This seems to me like putting the cart before the horse. The Public Works Committee should report upon these works before the money for their construction is passed.
– As a matter of fact, if the motion now submitted is defeated, the works cannot be proceeded with.
– They can be proceeded with if the Government take the responsibility of exempting them, by Order in Council, from investigation by the Committee.
– It seems to me a peculiar procedure to follow to investigate a matter after it has been practically authorized by the House.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I ask leave to make a statement in reference to some charges made a day or two ago by the honorable member for Cook (Mr. Catts).
– It will be remembered that the honorable member for Cook made two statements, which he admitted were given on hearsay evidence only. One was answered very promptly by the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, but I was not able to get the full information in order to reply tothe other statement until the early portion of this sitting. The statement of the honorable member was that a gentleman named Lahyer had applied for work as a fireman on a steamer, that he had intimated that he was a German, and that notwithstanding this he had been offered employment. The statement was forwarded to the gentleman representing the Commonwealth Government in the control of the National Service Bureau, Sydney, and he was asked to make inquiries. His reply is as follows: -
Re Lahyer, nothing known of such a man at O’Connell-street. No trace of such a name on records. Strict inquiry made before accepting any one with foreign name or foreign suggestion. No unnaturalized German will be passed.
– Will the Minister swear that this man is not in the employment of the Government to-day ?
Mr.WATT. - I swear to nothing except what is in this telegram. Unlike the honorable member, I do not rely on hearsay statements. I prefer to wait until I can have any matter brought under my notice authenticated.
– I ask leave to make a statement.
– In the short adjournment that is to take place I shall make further inquiries into this matter. I am not yet satisfied that these so-called “ loyal bureaux,” where men are being engaged to take the place of strikers, are exercising strict precautions against the employment in steam-ships of persons of enemy origin.
-The Governmentwill be pleased to learn the result of the honorable member’s investigations.
– I can give the Minister another case which will show that there is some ground for inquiry. It is the case of William Dedloff Emil Assmus, a fireman employed on the auxiliary schoonerCavan. He was serving as a member of the crew on that schooner on the 24th of this month, and that was during the continuance of the strike.
-Is he a German or an Austrian ?
– I do not know, but he is an enemy alien. The schooner has been trading on the coast during the strike, and at a period when no member of the Seaman’s Union would accept employment. ‘ He must have been employed by the so-called “National ‘Strikebreaking Bureau” of the Government.
– ‘I do not think that the honorable member should make that remark just now.
– These men are being employed through that agency.
– Is the honorable member sure that the schooner was manned through the Bureau in Sydney?
– I am sure that the whole of the shipping on the coast is under the control of a Committee appointed by the Commonwealth Government. There is a paragraph in the Argus this morning which deals with this matter, and states that the man is a naturalized enemy subject of enemy origin.
– Is the honorable member quoting from a telegram from Sydney?
– I am quoting from a police court case at Newcastle. Evidently there is something very peculiar going on in connexion with these so-called National Bureaux.
Another case into which the Government might inquire is that of a German fireman who was employed on the s.s. Port Kembla , and was among the survivors from that vessel. He was arrested in New Zealand.
– The Port Kembla was not manned by the Sydney Bureau.
– From what bureau was it manned? It is the duty of the Government to see that. Germans are not employed on these boats.
– We shall see to it if the honorable member will supply us with particulars of that case.
– I have given the Minister two further cases, and I shall make inquiries into the Lahyer case, and furnish the House with the result of my inquiries when we return after the adjournment. It might be pointed out to the organizations which are supporting this Government-
– Is not the honorable member going beyond a fair statement? I made no allusion beyond the facts in regard to his statement concerning the man Lahyer.
– I do not wish to take any advantage of the honorable member when he cannot reply. I shall reserve my further remarks on this subject until the adjournment of the House is moved.
– I ask leave to make a statement in reply to some statements’ made about the administration of the Victorian section of the Australian Patriotic Fund, made in the House by the honorable memberfor Melbourne Ports (Mr. Mathews) on the 18th inst.
– The statements made by the honorable member were : -
The Lord Mayor. (Sir David Hennessy) has been good enough to forward a reply to the charges made by the honorable member, and says: -
At the present time we are paying grants at the rate of £1,250 per week to 2,964 wives with one or more children. These children number nearly 9,000. This represents roughly £60,000 per annum, and expenses and administration, you will observe, are less than 1 per cent.
– I ask leave to make a statement.
– Yesterday an officer from the Repatriation Office waited on me in regard to the statements that I had made in this chamber, and I referred him to the office of the State War Council. When he reports to his Minister I am sure that he will prove my charges. I said that I had sent five persons to the office of the Patriotic Fund and that they could not obtain relief. One was the case of a man with six children. In another case there were five children; in two other cases there were four children, and in another case there were two children. They could not get relief until last Monday. I am assured by those who have seen them that there ave dozens of similar cases that have come under the notice of the State War Council. I am sure that the report that the officer from the Repatriation Office will obtain from the State War Council will prove the accuracy of my statement that these men. and women and children were not receiving support.
– I suggest to Mr. Speaker that he might leave the chair until 4 o’clock p.m., when we may expect to receive messages from another place. I must express the deep sense of gratitudethat the Government feel towards honorable members for their real kindness in sticking closely, and with so much patience, to the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Bill. They- have rendered a service to their country in assisting the Government to get that very important measure through, and Ministers are under a great obligation to them.
– As it appears to be the desire of the House, I shall suspend the sitting as the Minister has suggested.
Sitting suspended from 7.10 a.m. to 4.24 p.m. (Thursday).
Bill returned from the Senate with a message intimating that the Senate had agreed to the Bill as amended by the House of Representatives at the request of the Senate.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
Message received from “the Senate intimating that the Senate had agreed to the amendments made by the House of Representatives in this Bill.
Motion- (by Mr. Hughes) agreed to -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until 3 p.m. on a, date to be fixed by Mr. Speaker, which day of meeting shall be notified by Mr. Speaker to each member by telegram or letter.
Motion (by Mr. Hughes) agreed to -
That leave of absence be granted to every member of the House of Representatives from the determination of this sitting of the House to the date of its next sitting.
Resumption of Session - Petherick Collection - Divorce Legislation - PRICE Fixing - -FEDERAL Capital. Administration - Censoring of Correspondence - Taxation of AGRICULTURAL Societies - Sale of FLOUR and Bread- Loss of STEAMERS “ Cumberland “ and “ PORT Kembla “ - COUNTRY Mail Services - Electoral Law - Sale of Enemy Shares.
Motion (by Mr. Hughes) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- Can the Prime Minister give honorable members any idea when they are likely to be called together again? I understand there is a desire that we should meet some time in November, at such a date as will probably fit in with the opening of the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta railway. Honorable members, particularly those who come from distant States, have- to make’ arrangements some time ahead, and I shall be glad if the Prime Minister can state whether there is any special reason for an adjournment for anything from five to eight weeks so soon after the last elections. The last Parliament met in, I think, September, 1914, but there was no adjournment so early after its first meeting. Honorable members would not like anything sprung upon them, or any action to be taken by the
Government, while they are away, when they have no opportunity to discuss matters that may have an influence, not only upon this country, but upon others.
.- The other day I went down to the archives with a friend to see the collection of Australian books there. They appeared to me to have been neglected for some time. I was not aware then that the late Archivist, Mr. E. A. Petherick, had been ill. I hope that now, after the regrettable death of the old gentleman, every care will be taken of this very valuable collection, that it will be properly housed, and kept, as far as possible, intact. I hope you, Mr. Speaker, will have time to see that this is done.
– Mr. Petherick had for some considerable time before his lamented decease been ailing, and unable to attend in his usual place in” the Petherick Collection Library, but during that period an officer of the House was appointed to look’ after it temporarily, _and assist Mr. Petherick generally in any way he desired. Since that time I have asked the cataloguer, Mr. Binns, to take charge of the library, and henceforth it will be under his direct supervision, with the assistance of Miss Pooley, who has been assisting Dr. Watson in the compilation of the Australasian historical records. I have given instructions that every care is to be taken of the collection, that it is to be properly catalogued, and, generally, that it is to be under the strictest supervision of a competent officer of the library. I have also provided additional accommodation for further probable additions to the collection.
.- I am very glad to hear from you, sir, what you have done in regard to the Petherick collection. I always felt when Mr. Petherick was put down in that part df the building that it was like putting a man at the end of his years in a cellar. I therefore was very pleased . when he was given a chair in the south library.
- Mr. Petherick had been offered ‘that long before, but declined to take it.
– It may not be generally known that Mr. Petherick, who made this munificent gift, not only to this Parliament, but to Australia, left one relative, if not more, in extremely straitened circumstances. I hope that you, sir, as Chairman of the Library Committee, will make inquiries to see if something cannot be done to ease the latter days of the relative or relatives I have mentioned.
A considerable time ago the Prime Minister promised that a Divorce Bill would be brought in te amend the existing law, particularly in relation to the question of the domiciles of parties. I hope during the recess he will be able to devote a few minutes to looking into the injustice which in that regard presses heavily, not only upon men, but upon women in the community.
I recently asked the Prime Minister a question with regard to the prices fixed, or to be fixed, for foods and other goods. When the information is ready, will the Prime Minister make it public through the press ? What I want is information as to ohe prices fixed and the changes made in those prices from the time the first fixing was done.
Will you, Mr. Speaker, see that the reports of Mr. Blacket with regard to the Federal Capital are distributed to each honorable member, so that during the recess we may have an opportunity of studying one of the most important reports ever made upon the lack of economy in a Department?
.- Will the Prime Minister give consideration during the adjournment to the conduct of the Censor and the general management of the Censor’s Department? It is becoming every day more irritating and stupid. Private telegrams and letters, and business letters and communications generally, are now being interfered with. It is no uncommon thing now for a business firm to receive letters that have obviously been opened by the Censor. A particularly stupid instance was brought under my notice this week, where communications posted in Adelaide addressed to a firm in Adelaide, and obviously dealing with purely local( matters, had been interfered with. On the face of it, if anything detrimental to the country’s interests was passing or likely to pass in these communications, people living in the same city would not risk using this means of communication when they had the opportunity of seeing each other. Here is the envelope of a letter addressed to Messrs. Challender and Company, Tucker-street, Adelaide, and posted from Echunga. The envelope bears obvious marks of interference. Here is a more stupid thing still - a letter-card addressed bo the same firm, posted in Adelaide and opened, with the Censor’s stamp upon it. To show how utterly foolish the whole thing is, the writing inside is “ Please send me a fresh supply oi whole wheatmeal, the same quality as before.” .Nothing could be more eloquent of the stupidity and foolishness of the censorship. The Prime Minister was good enough bo promise some time ago that the censorship would be administered fairly, and merely for the purpose of preventing the circulation through the post and the press of information likely to be of use to the enemy. The censorship is obviously being used now for a purpose quite foreign to the intentions of the Government”, and in contravention of the promise given by . the Prime Minister. Will the right honorable gentleman promise that he will give the people of this country some protection from abuses of this kind that recall the most despotic forms of government the world has ever known, and are not at all reasonable in a country like Australia
– I have received from agricultural societies in my electorate letters stating that they have been called upon by the Commissioner of Taxation to pay income tax. These societies are not conducted for purposes of profit. They are encouraging a healthy competition amongst the people engaged in the primary industries, and the prizes distributed amongst the exhibitors cannot be regarded as profits. In the .small districts, the shows serve a useful purpose in stimulating the rural industries, and I am sure that when Parliament passed the Income Tax Bill there was no intention that it should apply to such useful and educational institutions as agricultural societies.
– Cricket clubs also have been asked to pay income tax.
– Cricket clubs are run for purposes of amusement, but agricultural societies do work thorn is educational and instructional in character, and I am sure that Parliament does nob wish them to be taxed. They have only a small revenue, and often, if the weather is bad on their show day, they find themselves in debt.
– This matter was brought under my notice by the honorable member for Perth, and others, and I was surprised to find that agricultural societies are not exempt from taxation. I believe that none of them has yet paid the tax.
– The Western Australian Agricultural Society has paid it under protest.
– I am not aware of that. In the Income Tax Assessment Bill, which will be dealt with soon after Parliament resumes ite sitting, provision willbe made that agricultural, horticultural, and other similar societies which do not operate for profit shall be exempt. Therefore, there should be no trouble in this regard in future.
– I should like to bring under the notice of the Prime Minister the following printed slip, which I understand is attached tlo every lot of flour delivered by flour millers: -
This delivery of flour is sold and accepted subject to the following conditions: -
The buyer undertakes not to sell any broad, either wholesale or retail, or for contracts, at a less price than that fixed by the Victorian Master Bakers Association, and which must not be above the price fixed by the Government.
Any breach by the buyer of the above undertaking shall be deemed a failure of due fulfilment of this contract, and shall give the seller a right to cancel this contract in respect of any undelivered goods, or a right to sell out such goods at the risk of and against the buyer, and the buyer agrees to pay the seller all loss and expenses of resale as liquidated damages, in addition to the agreed price for all goods previously delivered.
If the buyer, being a baker, offers for sale as flour any of the flour comprised in this contract, the seller shall have the first right to repurchase such flour at the then market price.
If the buyer, being a grocer or pro duce merchant, after being notified that any baker has committed a breach of the conditions mutually agreed upon and specified above, sells flour to such baker, he shall render himself liable to a penalty, to be fixed by the committee.
– That is only asking a unionist to obey the law.
– That may be so, but the honorable member knows that, in his own constituency, there are hundreds of homes in which the high cost of living is a very serious problem.
– That is altogether a different point.
– I understand that the Prime Minister employs quite an army of detectives, who are supposed to discover and report actions which are detrimental Co the public interests. Those officers might wellbe employed in investigating the conditions surrounding the sale of flour and other commodities.
– That note says that the purchaser shall not sell bread above the price fixed by the Government.
– But, in addition, it says that nobody shall sell at a lower price. I have called attention to this matter solely in order that the Prime Minister may know that certain things are being done in restraint of trade. I hope that, during the period over which Parliament will be adjourned, the Ministry will employ their well-earned respite in trying to formulate measures that will lead to the better protection of the public.
.- I should like to ask the Prime Minister whether the Government are, in receipt of any information in regard to the loss of the steamer Cumberland. That vessel was partly loaded at a port in my electorate, and the people there are extremely anxious to know if the Government are in possession of information which would throw any light on the circumstances surrounding the sinking of the steamer. As at least some members of the crew of the Port Kembla were detained on their arrival in New Zealand, I ask the Prime Minister to inform the House whether he has received any information from the Dominion Government regarding the loss of that vessel.
.- Country people received very favorably the recent announcement of the PostmasterGeneral that he intended to extend the closing hour for telephonic communication from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. The people in the country would welcome anannouncement from the PostmasterGeneral that, during the recess, he would have a thorough investigation made into their representations, with the view of preventing any hardship by a further reduction of the mail services.
– That is being done every day.
– Yes- in the direction of cutting down the services.
– No; with a view to bringing the expenditure within reasonable limits.
– Personally, I think it is impossible to give any kind of an efficient service to people in the back country and at the same time to make it pay. I may quote a case in point by referring to the mails from Bourke to Wanaaring. At present the service is a weekly mail, and I understand it is the intention of the Department to further reduce it if the tender for next year’s service is not sufficiently low. This policy wall inflict great hardship upon the people. I might alsorefer to the condition of the post-office at Coonamble, which is a large and important town in New South Wales. The officials there are so overcrowded that they have to borrow portion of the footpath from the local municipality for the transaction of postal business.
– I have had no complaints in connexion with that matter.
– I have no doubt the Postmaster-General is surprised to learn of the Teal state of affairs in that office. Electricity is available at 8d.per unit, but, because it would cost £24 to install the light in the post-office, the departmental officials decline to adopt this course, with the result that the local officials have to work at night by the aid of kerosene lamps.
– We do not supply either gas or electricity to the occupants of the office. That is the trouble the honorable member speaks about.
– The trouble is the office is overcrowded, and the climatic conditions are bad enough, Heaven only knows, without requiring the officials to sweat at’ night in a crowded room lighted by large kerosene lamps. I hope the Postmaster-General will give consideration to this matter during the recess.
.- I should like to know from the Minister for Home and Territories (Mr. Glynn) if, during the recess, he will take an opportunity to review the recommendations made by the Select Committee of this House with regard to the administration of out electoral laws. Some of those recommendations were unanimously arrived at, and I should like to know if the Minister will endeavour to bring the Government policy into line with them.
Mr.GLYNN (Angas - Minister for Home and Territories) [4.51]. - I have been giving consideration to this matter during the past few weeks, and I hope soon to be able to consolidate the amendments and submit them to Cabinet, with the view, if an opportunity presents itself, of introducing a Bill at an early date.
.- I should like to ask the Prime Minister if he is prepared to make a statement in connexion with a regulation which was laid upon the table of the House dealing with the disposal of German shares. This regulation states -
Notwithstanding anything contained in these regulations, the Attorney-General may, if he thinks fit, exempt from the provision of any or all of these regulations any or all of the shares in any Australian company held by or on behalf of any bank, or branch of a bank,’ situated in the United Kingdom, the assets of which bank or branch are under the control of a controller appointed by the Treasury of the United Kingdom, subject to the following conditions: -
That as regards shares in any mining or metallurgical company within the meaning of the War Precautions (Mining) Regulations, the. shares are sold or disposed of by the controller only to a person who is, within the meaning of those regulations, either a natural-born British subject or a person other than a natural-born British subject to whom the AttorneyGeneral has granted consent, in writing, to acquire shares in that company; and
that as regards shares in any other company, the shares are sold or disposed of by the controller to a person other than - (1) an enemy subject; or (2) a naturalized person of enemy origin to whom the AttorneyGeneral has not granted an exemption from the provisions of these regulations.
Does that mean that the English Public Trustee can dispose of shares to anybody, irrespective of nationality? Are we to understandthat the control exercised by the English Trustee over the disposal of German shares is subject to certain conditions which the Attorney-General lays down, and is it correct to assume that one of the conditions is that the Trustee must dispose of enemy shares to a person who is a natural-born British subject, or that if they were sold, to anybody else the transaction may only be completed with the consent of the AttorneyGeneral? Who is the controlling agent? Is the English Trustee agent for” the Australian Government, or is the Australian Government subject to the English Trustee?
-I am informed that a copy of the report referred to by the honorable member for Melbourne has been sent to every member who has asked for it, and if other members desire copies of it they may obtain them.
– The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Tudor) is Tight in supposing that the date of the re-assembling of the Parliament will depend to some extent upon the date fixed for the opening of the railway from Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta. As the latter date has not been definitely settled yet, I can only say now that we shall probably meet again in the second or third week of November; but honorable members will receive ample notice of both events, and Mr. Speaker’s summons will follow on the heels of the notice regarding the railway ceremony.
The Government does not propose to do anything during the adjournment which it would not do if the House were sitting. If the honorable member for Yarra fears that we intend to bring in conscription by regulation, I give him the positive assurance that we do not. When we meet again, Parliament will be asked to deal with such measures as the circumstances may demand. I shall, before resuming my seat, indicate some of these.
I join with those who have paid a tribute to the worth of the late Mr. Petherick.- He was one of those unobtrusive men who spend their lives in the service of the State, giving to the community what others give to themselves or their own people. I did something to recognise his merits, though no honour that could have been conferred on him would have been adequate recompense for his life of labour on behalf of the community. The value of the gift he has bestowed on us will increase as time goes on. My tribute to Mr. Petherick’s memory was published in the press, and had I been able to_ ascertain that he had left any relatives, I should have expressed to them directly, on behalf of the Government and this Parliament, my appreciation of his services and his gifts.
– He left a brother.
– If there is a relative, I shall send to him, on behalf of the Government and this Parliament, testimony of the high appreciation of Mr. Petherick’s services, and of the value of his gifts to this Parliament and to the Commonwealth. If necessary, I shall be only too glad to join with any other member to assist the ‘ declining years of any relative of so worthy a man.
The honorable member for Melbourne referred to domicile in its relation to divorce. The reform of the law on this subject has engaged the attention of many Governments. The consensus of opinion is that uniformity is most desirable, and that technical and vexatious hindrances to divorce proceedings, such as are sometimes caused by the question of domicile, should not continue. Without pledging myself or the Government to the introduction, when the House reassembles, of a Bill to legislate for marriage and divorce, I promise that the matter will receive earnest consideration, and in any measure that is introduced the law of domicile will be re-adjusted.
As to the complaint of the honorable member for Brisbane, I can only say that the censor, in the case referred to, seems ,to have acted entirely beyond his instructions. I am not aware of any reason why that official
Should open letters passing from one person to another in the same city, unless there be good reason for suspecting some conspiracy against the- State. It was not alleged by the honorable member that the circumstances justified such suspicion, and therefore I am at a loss to understand the censor’s action. The general pledge that I have given still stands. The censorship must and shall be continued for the protection of the State, but the communications of private individuals will be respected, and there will be no interfering with that freedom of discussion in the press and elsewhere which, to a democratic people, is natural and proper.
The honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Penton) drew attention to an agreement regarding the price of flour. The agreement, perhaps, is not in strict accordance with the common law, and, for aught I know, may violate the statute law of Victoria, but as to how far it “would be void as against public policy I am unable to say. Unhappily there run through almost every stratum of our economic life agreements which ignore the law. The honorable member has not had as much experience of unions as some other members, but he must know that unionism is based on such agreements. To unionists no offence is so rank as that .’committed by the- man who seeks to sell his labour for a lower price, or under other conditions, than set down in the bond of making of which frequently only one party is consulted. The honorable member’s complaint would be entitled to more consideration if it could be shown that the pUblic interest suffers by what is being done. That does not appear to be so. The Government has fixed a price for wheat at 4s. 9d. per bushel, and the price of flour is also fixed. Unless, and until, it can be shown that the. price fixed for wheat’ is excessive, I cannot see how the agreement that has been complained of can be regarded as seriously affecting the welfare of the people. The honorable member for “Werriwa said the other day that the farmers are willing to sell their wheat for 4s. per bushel. If he can get a substantial number of farmers who will sell for that price, I, like other flour eaters, shall rejoice, but my experience of farmers during the last three years does not lead me to expect any movement in that direction. I think that the farmer is tarred with the same brush as we all are. I have never met a member of Parliament who has suggested that his salary should be cut down–
– Oh, yes.
– The case which the honorable member has in his mind was the result of inexperience.
– The honorable gentleman himself was one of those who wanted to cut down our salaries to £100 a year. _ Mr. HUGHES. - Of course. At one time, when there was talk of economy, I made a suggestion upstairs that we should cut our salaries down to £100 a year.
But I could not get anybody to support my proposal.
– What about me?
– The honorable member possesses a very good voice, but I never heard a word from him in reference to it. Coming back to the wheat question, I have merely to say that unless and until the farmers are prepared to cut down their price, I can do nothing. I say that 4s. 9d. per bushel is only a fair return to the farmer. As a matter of fact, he receives only 4s. 1½d. per bushel at the best. Considering the expense that is attendant upon the sowing and harvesting of wheat, and taking one season with another, that price is riot too high. Of course, the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lynch) is a big farmer, who has waxed fat and grown opulent, with the result that he has extravagant ideas about things. The honorable member for Maribyrnong spoke about the high cost of living in relation to this and other matters. I trust he will not forget that one of the factors in the high cost of living is high wages.
– It is a very small factor.
– It is one of the factors. We cannot have high wages and, at the same time, cheap commodities. There is an entirely erroneous idea prevalent - based, I think, upon the returns which are sometimes issued by the Government Statistician - that if the increased cost of living represents, say, 36 per cent., and wages have increased by 21 per cent., the workers are 15 per cent, worse off. That is not necessarily true. It may be, and probably is, a fact in any country where the standard of living is high, as it is in Australia, that the whole increase in the cost of living is not covered by the increase in wages. The margin between the two is such that an increase of 21 per cent, in wages may be equivalent to an increase of 36 per cent, in the cost of living. But notwithstanding this the Governemnt will exercise its powers to protect the community from exploitation, and also to insure the payment of a fair and reasonable wage. Yesterday I took the opportunity of expressing my strong disapproval of such wages as have recently been referred to in the press. I will be no party to paying girls 14s. a week. So far as I am concerned, any industry which is paying girls a wage of only 14s. a week will get no protection from this Parliament, whether it be engaged in white work or the manufacture of confectionery, or anything else. It will pay a decent wage, otherwise the flood-gates will be opened and foreign goods will be let in.
– The honorable gentleman said that before he resumed his seat he would outline the measures with which the Government proposed to proceed.
– There are some measures of which notice has been already given by the Treasurer,
– I would like to be permitted to , make an interjection. The Prime Minister is labouring under a misapprehension. I am not imbued with the full measure of generosity with which he credits me. I wish to say that amongst all the farmers in Australia there is not one who is more fully convinced of the great benefits that have been conferred upon them by the pooling system and the fixing of a minimum price for f.a.q. wheat than I am. It is because I am fearful of the future of the wheat guarantee system - fearful lest the final clean-up will show that we have obtained a smaller net price from the foreign consumer than we exacted from the local consumer,, that I have taken up the attitude which I have adopted. Should it transpire that my fears are well founded, the result will be that we shall lose lie safeguard of the guarantee system, which I hold to be essential to the prosperity of the Australian farmer. I have only to repeat, therefore, that if the case be fairly put before our farmers, they will be willing to allow the Australian consumer to have sufficient wheat for our local milling requirements at 4s. per bushel, a price which will entail no loss to the Australian grower.
– I accept the honorable member’s tribute to the “Wheat Pool, but I still say that when Horatius can get others to stand on the bridge with him, and say that they will accept 4s. per bushel instead of 4s. 9d. per bushel for their wheat, I, too, will stand with him thereabouts.
In reply to the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Tudor), I desire to say that we shall, on re-assembling, deal with certain financial measures; as to other measures, these will depend upon circumstances. It would be premature to speak of measures that have not been considered by the Government.
I come now to the regulation to which attention has been drawn by the honorable member, for Bourke - I refer to regulation No. 20 under the War Precautions Act. I would like to point out the sale of enemy shares in England is governed by the English law, and if we are going to do anything with them, we shall have to dispose of them subject to the English law. The effect of this regulation is to facilitate the sale of these shares, and to enable us to get rid of them as speedily as possible. I am unable, therefore, to see in it anything that is open to objection. Whereas, under our law, we cannot sell a share to any one but a natural-born British subject, there is no similar limitation under the English law. It, therefore, follows that if we are to sell the shares we must act under the English law. We are in the predicament that we must conform to the British law or hold the shares. If. we hold them it is perfectly clear that they will revert to the Germans after the war. All that we are doing is to make it possible to sell them.
– I do not raise any objection. I wanted an explanation. If we are subject to the English law, and must sell them, I wanted to know whether any conditions are imposed, or whether there could be any exemptions under the English law.
– We cannot impose any conditions, but we can withhold the sale of the shares. Although their sale is subject to the English law, they cannot be put on the market at all unless by our permission, because we control the company. On the whole, I think that the best thing to do is to get rid of them.
We make representations to the Imperial Authorities, who know our law and our objection to selling these shares to anybody but a British-born subject, and we ask them in the sale of the shares to have regard to that objection. We cannot do anything more.
Reference has been made to the loss of the Cumberland and of the Port Kembla. The destruction of these vessels is receiving the earnest consideration of the Government. We have decided to offer a reward of £5,000 in connexion with the sinking of the Port Kembla. The sinking of the Cumberland has been the subject of a very searching inquiry. It would serve no useful purpose at all to declare the finding of the Commission appointed to make the inquiry.
– Something has been published in this morning’s newspapers in regard to that.
– The full report of the Commission ha9 sot been published. The vessel could have gone down in a hundred different ways, but it probably went down in one of two ways - either it was blown up from within or from without. If its loss was due to either of these causes it may have been the work of an enemy. The same remarks apply to ‘the loss of the . Fort Kembla. Inquiries are being made, and no time is. being lost. The loss of these vessels is, of course, a very serious matter. Three ships have now disappeared about our coasts within a period of a few weeks, and it is obvious that whatever caused the destruction of these three vessels threatens the destruction of others. The loss of one of these vessels was certainly not effected by an exterior agency. Searching inquiries are being made, and if, as is possible, and. perhaps probable, this is found to be the work of an enemy, the Government will take such action as will, it is hoped, prevent a recurrence of such disasters..
I desire to thank honorable members for the advice and assistance they have given the Government during the session. Meeting as we did after a very hotly contested electoral campaign, I can only say that the Government have no reason whatever to complain qf the attitude of the majority of honorable members opposite. Human nature will be human- nature, and on behalf of the Government I thank honorable members- on both sides for their assistance. They have brought to the consideration of measures submitted much thought and argument, which, perhaps, may sometimes have been unduly prolonged. By way merely of passing comment, it is curious to reflect that the gentlemen is another place contrive to do the business sent up to them in about one-tenth of the time it takes us to do the same business here. Whether time or public opinion will eventually determine that they are unnecessary, or that we are, is a matter for speculation. I again thank honorable members, and I hope that during the short adjournment they will be able to take advantage of -the opportunity to consult their constituents. I trust it will be remembered that we are at war, and that the greatest business of all is to bring home to tine hearts and minds of the people of this country, that supreme fact. I shall not attempt to prophesy when this dreadful struggle will come to an end, but until it does we .must go os. I hope that honorable members in the interval will take every opportunity of endeavouring to arouse the people of the Commonwealth to a sense of their duty, and that we shall. meet in November with renewed health and vigour, determined to do that which has to be done.
Question resolved is the affirmative.
House adjourned at’ 5.23 p.m. (Thursday).
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 26 September 1917, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1917/19170926_reps_7_83/>.