7th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. W. Elliot Johnson) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Purchase -cargoes - Rates.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (for Mr. Hughes). - This information will be furnished in the form of a return.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice-
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (for Mr. Hughes). - The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows : - 1 and 2. To the extent that the statement is not inaccurate, it is misleading. The rate of freight charged by the Commonwealth line has not at any time exceeded that payable at the time for other vessels, even at the comparatively low rates at which freight could be secured. The freight was very much lower than that which would have been payable on the world’s rates. The first charters of the Commonwealth boats were made at 122s.6d. per ton to Franco. This was equivalent to 120s., or even less, on a United Kingdom basis. Practically no charters could be obtained at that time at 120s. on a United Kingdom basis, and as indicated in the list referred to, freights were paid on other vessels for other European ports than the United Kingdom at 130s. Since the first of the Commonwealth steamers left Australia with wheat, no other tramp steamer has been obtainable at 120s., United Kingdom basis.
Isherwoodprinciple - Imported Shipwrights - Mr. Curchin - Fruit Ships
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
-The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (for Mr. Hughes). - The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow. -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
What shipbuilding yards in Great Britain or America did Mr. Curchin, Supervisor of Shipbuilding, have charge of before coming to Australia?
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (for Mr. Hughes). - The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
Mr.Curchin has held the following appointments: - Chief draughtsman with Wm. Harkness and Son, shipbuilders, Middlesborough; chief draughtsman with E. Craggs and Scow, shipbuilders, Middlesborough; assistant shipyard manager with . R. Craggs and Sons, shipbuilders, Middlesborough; manager for J. W. Isherwood, naval architect, London and New York. In the latter capacity he has given technical and practical advice m a large number of shipyards in the United Kingdom and the United States.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Whether, in view of unsuitable shipping facilities now offering to the fruit-growers of Queensland, and after consideration of the great development of trade that is possible with the other States of the Commonwealth, the Prime Minister will authorize the construction of one or more ships suitable for the purpose?
– Every effort is being made to build as many ships as possible in Australia, so as to secure freight space for Australian products.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Whether it is intended to restore the Coal Board to deal with mining disputes?
– It is proposed to make a statement regarding this matter shortly.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Whether the Board appointed to regulate shipping will also control the supply and distribution of coal throughout the Commonwealth?
– The information desired by the honorable members is set out in the statement herewith -
The Commonwealth Shipping Board is composed as follows: - Rear- Admiral Sir William Clarkson, C.M.G., Controller of Shipping (Chairman), Colonel William James Norman Oldershaw (representing Commonwealth Government) , Sir E. Owen Cox (Birt & Co., Sydney), Mr. Audrey Gordon Wesche (P. &O. Steamship Navigation Co.), Mr. Charles Moreton Newman (Howard Smith Ltd.), Mr. David Hunter (McIlwraith. McEacharn & Co.), Mr. Walter James Young( Elder Smith & Co. Ltd.), Mr. Alfred Bright (Gibbs, Bright & Co.), Mr. Malcolm McCaul Brodie (J. Sanderson & Co.), Mr. E. A. Eva (manager in Australia, Commonwealth Government line of steamers), Senator R. S. Guthrie. Its functions are -
The Inter-State Central Committee is composed as follows: - Rear- Admiral Sir W. Clarkson (Controller of Shipping), Mr. D. Hunter (Deputy Controller of Coastal Shipping), W. T. Appleton (Huddart, Parker Ltd.), C. H. Hughes (Union Steam-ship Co. of New Zealand), C. M. Newman (Howard Smith Co. Ltd.), E. Northcote (Adelaide Steam-ship Co.), D. York Syme, junior (Melbourne Steam-ship Co.), J. Turnbull (A.U.S.N. Co.).
The powers of the Controller of Shipping are -
The Committee was established with the object of utilizing to the best advantage vessels engaged in the coasting trade, in order to make more vessels available for the oversea shipping service.
Vessels not requisitioned come under the control of the Commonwealth Shipping Board.
It is proposed to appoint a Transportation Board under a Commonwealth Minister, composed of a representative of the Commonwealth Government (who shall be chairman), and a representative of each of the States concerned, together with a Commissioner of Transportation appointed by the Commonwealth Government.
The Board shall, subject to the control of the Commonwealth Minister, settle, alter, or determine all matters of policy with regard to all transportation questions, and questions Involving equitable distribution of financial burdens involved in the carrying out of such policy within the Commonwealth.
The Commissioner’s duties will be to arrange and regulate on an equitable basis all financial matters which may be referred to him by the Board with regard to the carriage and distribution of coal and goods requiring transportation throughout the Commonwealth; and, in co-operation with the Controller of Shipping and the Commissioner of Railways in the several States, arrange for the equitable distribution of such coal and goods requiring transportation as may be referred to him by the Board.
The Board will be constituted as soon as the representatives of the Governments of New South Wales and Western Australia, which are now awaited, have been appointed.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
Whether he will submit to Parliament a detailed list of Germans who are in the pay of his Department, and showings - ( 1 )How many such were born in Germany and other places outside the Commonwealth.
– The information is being obtained, and replies will be furnished as soon as possible.
Mr. JOHN THOMSON (for Mr.
Heitmann) asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
Mr. JOHN THOMSON (for Mr.
Heitmann) asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
-This information will take some time to prepare, and will be furnished as early as possible.
asked the Minister representing the Minister forDefence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
-This information will be obtained and furnished as soon as possible.
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 -
– Inquiry is being made in the matter.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Whether the Queensland Government has taken advantage of the offer of the Commonwealth Government to afford financial assistance to the States for the settlement of returned soldiers on the land; and, if so, what amount has been advanced or is now available?
– The Queensland Government has not taken advantage of the offer.
asked the Minister for
Trade and Customs, upon notice -
The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
Is it the intention of the Government to introduce a Bill amending the Military Pensions Act during the present meeting of Parliament?
– I am not able at the present moment to definitely reply to the honorable member’s inquiry. So far, I have only been able to investigate the matter in a cursory way, but I hope to have the opportunity in the near future to go into it further, and discuss the problem with the Cabinet.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
Whether it is necessary for members to submit to the Censor and to obtain his permission before they can have reprints of their speeches from Hansard?
– Although Hansard itself is a privileged publication, reprints of members’ speeches, if matter contained in them in any way refers to the war, must be submitted for censorship under War Precautions Regulation 28aa.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Whether his attention has been directed to a reported statement of Mr. Prothero (Chairman of the British Board of Agriculture) on 10th February, 1917, that - “India had sacrificed her profits to feed us, and that Australia had done the same. We hoped last year that Canada would do likewise, but ‘ we were too late, as usual, because the Canadian farmers were beginning to get high profits in Chicago “; and whether this information, if correct, was within the knowledge of the Central Wheat Board when the sale of the 3,000,000 tons of wheat to the Imperial Government was effected at 4s. 9d. per bushel in Australia?
– The information is being obtained, and will be furnished as soon as possible.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Will the Government make an early announcement as to its proposals and intentions regarding the purchase, transport, and distribution of jute goods for the coming season?
asked the Prime Min ister, upon notice -
Is it the intention of the Government to give effect this session to its promise to amend the
Electoral Act, with a view to the provision of preference voting for the election of members of the House of Representatives?
– The matter is under consideration in connexion with proposed amendment of the Electoral Act.
Mr. JOHN THOMSON (for Mr.
Sampson) asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Whether it is the intention of the Government to amend the Audit Act in the direction recommended by the Royal Commission on Defence Administration, which would place the staff of the Auditor-General outside the operation of the Public Service Act and under the direct control of the Auditor-General, and also in the direction of the re-adjustment of the personnel of the Audit Department recommended by the Royal Commission on Defence?
– This question is receiving the consideration of the Government.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as. follows: - 1 and 2. An examination of candidates for appointment as military staff clerks was held on the 7th, 8th, and9th March, 1918, the complete results of which have not yet been received from the examiners.
Can further particulars be made available to enable the matter to be investigated ?
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
A memorandum regarding the treatment of exhibits for the Hokkaido Jubilee Exposition was received from the British Ambassador at Tokio in February last, and the information contained therein communicated to the press for publication. The Japanese Consul was approached, but was unable to furnish any information on the subject.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows : - 1 and 2. There is at present a shortage of methylated spirit, which is due chiefly to the large quantities used in connexion with war contracts, to which priority is given. The Australian distilleries are producing spirit to their full capacity, and it is hoped the shortage will gradually be made good. This matter was previously brought under my notice, and I have already granted permission to distil spirits for methylation at a strength lower than that prescribed by the SpiritsAct of 1906, in order to afford some relief, and with the view of meeting the pressing needs of the industries concerned.
– I beg to be allowed, Mr. Speaker, to make a personal explanation in regard to the purchase of steam-ships -by the Commonwealth. The honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. McDonald), when speaking on this matter, said that he had no desire to reflect upon anybody, but the interjection, “Who was the Treasurer at the time?” may make it appear that I, who was then Treasurer, was responsible for what might be considered irregularities in the transaction, and the failure to legalize the purchase. May I explain the facts of the case? Some time in 1916, Senator Pearce, who was then Acting Prime Minister, informed me that the then Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) desired that a sum of money should be placed at his disposal in London for the purchase of steam-ships by the Commonwealth. And I, remembering that Disraeli had purchased Suez Canal shares without informing the House of Commons about the transaction, and bearing in mind that if the contemplated purchase had been made public it would have been very difficult for the Prime Minister to buy ships, if indeed the prices did not become prohibitive, authorized the Governor of the Commonwealth Bank to place at the disposal of the Prime Minister in London £3,000,000 for the purchase of steam-ships for the Commonwealth.
– With the consent of Cabinet.
– Cabinet was not con-, suited. The only two members of the Cabinet who knew anything about the matter were Senator Pearce and myself, this condition of things arising at the Prime Minister’s request. He did not wish his colleagues to know anything about the transaction. The money was placed at the disposal of the Prime Minister and the ships were purchased. Honorable members will recollect that on the return of the Prime Minister to Australia certain events of a somewhat inharmonious character happened. But .to prove that I am in no way responsible for any irregularity that may have occurred in connexion with this transaction, I ask honorable members to remember that ever since November, 1916, I have been asking questions in this House with a view to legislation being brought before the Chamber to legalize the purchase of the ships and provide for a proper system* of accountancy in connexion with their operation .
– I rise to make a personal explanation. I had no intention of reflecting on the honorable member for Capricornia by any remark I made yesterday. And I would remind the honorable member that, when Disraeli bought the Suez Canal shares, he brought before Parliament, as soon as it met, an Indemnity Bill to legalize his action.
– I, too, wish to make a personal explanation. Yesterday, in another place, Senator Gardiner made some reference to a prosecution launched against me in the Court during this week, and Senator Pearce in offering an explanation of the case said that I had quoted a pro-German publication.
That statement is without any shadow of foundation.
Of the two publications I quoted, one was a magazine called The New Bast, published in Tokio, and edited by Mr. Robertson Scott, who for many years was foreign editor of the Pall Mall Gazette. ‘ As I pointed out, the first number of the magazine contained an article by a member of the Royal Family, Prince Arthur of Connaught.
– In a personal explanation, the honorable member must not go into details at length.
– I am offfering proof that this magazine is not a pro-German publication. It would appear, from the character of the articles published in the magazine, which from month to month is defending the Anglo- Japanese Alliance, that the publication exists with the approval of the British Government, if it is not, indeed, directly subsidized by them.
The other publication from which I quoted was the Chicago Tribune. This is, and has been ever since the commencement of the war, one of the foremost pro-Ally newspapers in America. It is owned by the McCormick family, of Ulster stock. The father of the present chairman of the Board of Directors invented and produced the famous McCormick reaper and binder. The chairman of directors, Mr. Medill McCormick, is a Congressman at large for the State of Illinois - that is to say, he is elected by the whole State. Prior to the German offensive in Italy, he visited both the Italian and French Fronts, and returned to America with complaints that the United States of America was not doing sufficient in connexion with the war, or doing it fast enough. At his instance, a Congressional Committee was appointed for the purpose of making an investigation, and the result was a great speeding up of America’s war preparations.
– The honorable member may make a brief statement to correct a misrepresentation, but he must not go into extraneous details.
– .Some honorable members would like to make these charges against me and then close my mouth, but you, Mr. Speaker, will understand that no more serious charge could be made against a public man than that he has some sympathy with the nation’s enemies. Even in the midst of my personal explanation, there are honorable members who, by half audible references to Germany, are attempting to prejudice my position.
Neither of the publications from which I quoted is on the prohibited list; both circulate freely throughout the country.
I cannot pick up any number of the Chicago Tribune without finding in it most powerful leading articles urging stronger measures by the United States of America to assist the Allies in this war.
Public affairs have reached a deplorable state if a Minister, in another place, after failing in a prosecution, descends to this kind of abuse to justify an action which could not be justified in any other way.
– It would be just as well to remind honorable members that the Standing Orders do not permit’ of any direct reference to the debates and proceedings in the Senate. Therefore, if honorable members have occasion to ref er to anything that took place in another Chamber, I ask them not to do so directly.
The following papers were presented : -
The War- Holland-
Netherlands Government - Correspondence respecting the claims preferred against His Majesty’s Government for damages sustained by the Netherlands Steamships Elve and Bernisse through the action of German submarines. (Paper presented to the British Parliament.)
Transit Traffic across Holland - Materials susceptible of employment as military supplies -
Correspondence (dated 9th October to 6th November, 1917.
Further correspondence, with map (dated 10th November, 1915, to 15th January, 1918). (Papers presented to the British Parliament.)
Motion (by Mr. Glynn) agreed to -
That leave bo given to bring in a Bill for an Act to enable the Commonwealth to acquire certain lands for Defence purposes.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
Want of Confidence Amendment -
Cold Storage Charge by the Queensland Government - Compensation to Commonwealth Seamen Injured by Enemy Action - Repatriation Policy of the Government - War Pensions - Forfeiture of Soldiers’ Pay: Stoppage of Allowances - Provision of Work for Returned Soldiers - Conduct of Censorship - Prosecution of Mr. J. H. Catts, M.P. : SolicitorGeneral’s Advice - Repatriation
Work in South Australia - Tasmanian Shipping Facilities - Shipbuilding - Prospecting for Oil Deposits - Proposed . New Taxation - War Loan - Defence Administration : Commissioners’ Reports - Naval Base Expenditure - Australian Imperial Forces : Desertions - Curtailment of Racing Meetings - Additional Ministers - German Concentration Camp, at Holdsworthy - Wheat Board : Dockage of Wheat - Returned Soldiers and Sailors League and Military Authorities - Defence Act : Compulsory Training Provisions : ‘ Administration at Broken Hill - Recruiting Scheme- Censorship - Commonwealth Police - Commonwealth Expenditure - Control of Racing - Northern Territory Administration - Supply of Meat for Transports.
In Committee of Supply: (Consideration resumed from 10th April, vide page 3770) of motion by Mr. Watt-
That there be granted to His Majesty, for or towards defraying the services of the year 1917-18, a sum not exceeding £5,068,484.
.- I wish to refer briefly to a matter raised in a question submitted yesterday by the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr Corser), and also mentioned in this morning’s Argus, that is, the payment of the sum of £19,627 by the Commonwealth Government to the Queensland Government to meet a claim submitted by the latter for cold storage. The Commonwealth Auditor-General and the State. Auditor-General have both made reference to this item in their reports, and the State Auditor-General, in the course of his criticism, has said -
As no payment was made by the State to the meat companies in that behalf -
That is, for cold storage - the amount remains as a credit to profit and loss account.
That is, the profit and loss account of the State butchers’ shops. The officer in charge of these establishments, when giving evidence before a Select Committee appointed by the Queensland Legislative Council to inquire into this matter, said that-
The meat works did not make a charge for this meat, but the State Government had charged the Commonwealth Government with the amount.
It is abundantly clear that the Imperial Government were entirely responsible for the cost of the adjustments for which Mr. Hunter, on behalf of the Queensland State Government, made a claim upon the Commonwealth Government. The whole of the arrangement concerning the output of meat in Queensland was made by the State Government at the request of the Imperial Government. The meat companies contracted to supply the Imperial Government with all the meat it required, at 47/8d. per lb., but the Queensland Government also made an arrangement with the meat companies by which the State butchers’ shops were to be supplied with 12,000 tons of meat, or one-tenth of the total killings, at the rate of 31/2d. per lb. It seems to me that this was certainly an arrangement which was made at the expense of the Imperial Government, and that the Queensland Government were not out of pocket by it to the extent of 3d. If any person outside a State Government had attempted to submit a similar claim to the Commonwealth Government, I am sure a charge of attempting to obtain money by false pretences could be preferred ; therefore I feel that the matter is of sufficient importance to warrant the Commonwealth authorities going further into it, and, if possible, claiming a refund.
Mr.Watt. -We are investigating it with that object in view.
– I am pleased to hear that assurance from the Treasurer, because this matter attracted a great deal of attention in the State of Queensland during the recent elections there, and citizens there are anxious that it should be cleared up.
Mr.WALLACE (West Sydney) [2.55]. - I am anxious to know whether any portion of the item of £160,000 for contingencies for the Department of the Navy is to be devoted to the compensation of seamen who have lost their effects or have been injured through enemy action. The Commonwealth own, certain vessels and control a number of others which were interned at the commencement of the war. In addition, regulations have just been issued by which shipping generally in Australia has been taken over by the Government. The seamen on the Australdale, a Common wealth steamer which was torpedoed, had their feet severely frost-bitten through exposure in the ships’ boats. They were sent back to Australia, and have been here for about two months, but, as they cannot seek employment owing to the effects of their exposure, an application has been made to the Prime Minister for compensation for them. A promise was given that their case would be inquired into, but five weeks have now passed and nothing has been done.
The Seamen’s Union are anxious to know if the Government will make an addition to the regulations recently issued dealing with shipping, providing for the payment of compensation to seamen for the loss of their effects, or for injuries received by them owing to enemy action. I understand that New Zealand has already incorporated such a provision in her legislation governing the mercantile marine, and, according to a letter printed in the Brisbane Daily Standard, the British Board of Trade, as far back as 1915, made provision to meet the case of seamen who lose lives or limbs throughenemy action. This letter was received from the National Sailors and Firemen’s Union of Great Britain, and explains the position as follows: -
Early in 1915 the Government decided that officers and seamen of British merchant ships should be placed in the same position as officers and seamen of fleet auxiliaries as regards payment of compensation for death or injury caused by war operations. A scheme was accordingly prepared and brought into operation early in 1915. It dates back to the Beginning of the war, and in April, 1917, the amount that was being paid in pensions annually was over £70,000, apart from allowances for children and payments under the Workmen’s Compensation Act. The scheme is noncontributory, and applies to every officer or seaman of a British ship, whatever his nationality. It is administered on behalf of the Board of Trade by the War Bisks Associations,, and, except in the case of ships which are on Government service, a proportion of the cost is borne by the owners, either directly or collectively, through the clubs. The basis of the scheme is that, in case of death, , a pension equivalent to one-third of the pre-war rate of pay is paid to the widow, and one-twenty-fourth in respect of each child up to the number of four up to the age of 16. Since the scheme started various amendments have been ‘made, such as the raising of the minimum pension paid to widows and the minimum allowances paid in respect of children, and the extension of the scheme to cover cases of disability aggravated by the war, or accidents caused by collisions due to vessels steaming without lights.
We have also to consider the position of men who lose their effects. In such cases as I have suggested a man may lose £15 or £20 worth and have no means of replacing them ; and we submit that the Government should be responsible for compensation in the case of a ship being torpedoed. We have a precedent in the action of the British Board of Trade, which makes provision by means of insurance, as the following extract will show :- -
In March, 1915, the Board of Trade established a scheme by which the officers and seamen of British ships could insure their effects against war risks. Insurance certificates were sold at the mercantile marine offices at all the principal ports at a rate of premium much below the real rate. Officers and men on ships on Government service were held covered without payment of premium, and in many cases ship-owners insured the effects of the officers and nien of their fleets.
It has recently been decided to place officers and men on all British ships in the same position as those, whose ships are on Government service, and, accordingly, the effects of all masters, officers and men are now held covered against war risk without payment of premium. The maximum amount of compensation payable in the case of seamen and firemen has been increased from £5 “to £7 10s.
Of course, £7 10s. is not much in such a case, but the -fact that that is the sum given in England should not stand in the way of proper compensation being given here. It would be quite an easy matter for the Government to compensate men without incurring any extra expense. Statutory Rule 87, paragraph 21, provides -
All expenditure involved in the execution of these Regulations shall be defrayed out of revenue derived from the operations ot the vessels controlled by the Committee, and no charge shall be made on the Consolidated Revenue Fund in respect of that expenditure.
I take that to mean that all the expenses incurred in enforcing the regulation will be borne by the vessels themselves, and any surplus in excess of the interest paid to the ship-owners will go into the Consolidated Revenue. We consider that men engaged in conducting the war are entitled to some of the benefits enjoyed by those who ‘ conduct the running of the ships, and it would be quite’ possible for the Government to set aside a sum sufficient to pay this compensation in the case of a vessel being torpedoed or lost through any cause directly attributable to war operations. Amongst the men to whom I particularly refer, those who are not members of the Seamen’s Union are not being paid any wages. The Merchant Shipping Act provides that in case of the loss of a vessel the wages of -the seamen shall cease, but the union has made arrangements for the wages to go on until the men arrive at their own port. There are, however, members of the crew, such as stewards, who have not been able to get this concession from the Arbitration Court, and the result is a gross anomaly, which ought to be removed at once. The men have been kept in Britain and in other places for practically three months, away from their home ports and their families, and all the time have received mo wages j ike least the Government can do is to see that they are paid until they return home. Then some of the men, as I say, have for nine weeks been unable to work in consequence of their feet being frostbitten, and their having to attend the hospital every day; and I urge that they should be treated in the same way as are returned soldiers, and pensions paid until they are fit to resume their occupations. It is a very simple request, which I hope die Minister will see his way to grant. Perhaps I had better read the telegrams which passed between the Prime Minister and the Seamen’s Union on the question. On the 18th February, the president of the union telegraphed as follows to the Prime Minister: -
British Board Of Trade recently made arrangements that every officer or seaman of a ship lost by war risks shall be entitled, as a matter of right, to one month’s wages, or wages until arrival at the home port, whichever is the greater. Will your Government extend these provisions to Australian seamen under the War Precautions Act?
To that telegram we received the following letter, dated 5th March, from the Prime Minister’s Department: -
With reference to your telegram of the 18th February, regarding the payment of wages to seamen of ships lost by war risks, I am directed to inform you that the Commonwealth Government has already adopted the Admiralty policy in this connexion, so far as ex-enemy ships are concerned, viz., payment of all repatriation expenses, and also wages to date of arrival in home port. The question of the inclusion of a provision to this effect in ships’ articles is receiving consideration.
Apparently* the matter is still receiving consideration, and I can only hope that the Minister will give effect to what he has already implied, and see that these men receive justice.
– One of the items we are asked to pass is an appropriation of £1,000,000 for repatriation. I take the opportunity to repeat a suggestion I made when this Parliament first met - that the Cabinet should seriously consider whether an arrangement cannot be made by a Minister in charge of any important matter may deliver his explanation to both Houses of Parliament. There is nothing to prevent the Minister- for Repatriation coming to both Houses to make that explanation, but that would involve two speeches by the same Minister. It seems to me that it would save time, and aid in a ready understanding of the important proposals which the Minister has to propound to the country, if both Houses were to meet together to hear the Ministerial statement. Honorable members would then have an opportunity to put suchquestions as might ordinarily arise, and a great many misunderstsindings, of which there is a danger when information has to filter through two minds before it reaches honorable members of this House, might be overcome. I ask the Cabinet to give consideration to , this suggestion before the important speech of the Minister for Repatriation is made.
– I desire to direct attention to some of the circumstances which appear to me to retard recruiting, because I believe that if those circumstances were taken into consideration in the proper spirit - with the desire to see that justice is done to all sections of the community - there would be a better chance of harmony. In my opinion, a great deal of discontent is caused by the pensions which are given to our soldiers, or rather, by the lack of pensions which ought to be given. In many cases of men who return from the Front, and who have children dependent on them, we find applications for pensions refused on the ground that their incapacity has not been caused through war-like operations, though not caused by the fault of the men. I add those last few -words so that honorable members may not imagine that one of the reasons for refusing pensions is that the incapacity has been caused by the misconduct of the men themselves. After a service abroad for as long, perhaps, as two years, men return broken in health, nerves shattered, and, altogether, physical wrecks; though they may not be actually suffering from a direct wound inflicted on the field of battle, they are enduring all the effects. These men return to us nerve-shattered and physical wrecks, unable to follow their ordinary occupations, and they are politely told that since their incapacity was not caused by warlike operations they cannot receive a pension. Many cases of the kind have been under my own personal observation, and that, no doubt, is the experience of honorable members generally.
The unequal allotment of pensions is another cause of discontent. In some instances men are receiving by way of pension 15s. and £1 a week, while others are receiving as little as 5s. or 7s. 6d. per week. Men who are unable to follow their ordinary occupations are expected to maintain themselves and their families in many instances on 7s. 6d. per week. When men are treated in this way their wives feel aggrieved. They have , allowed their husbands to go forth to fight, and they consider it grossly unfair that they should be treated so unsympathetically upon their return. The news of such experiences spreads like wildfire. Men return from the Front and are refused a pension-
– Who turns down the applications ?
– The applications are made in the usual way to the Pensions Department, and the official reply in each of these cases is that the application is refused on the ground that the man’s incapacity has not been caused by warlike operations.
Lord Forrest. - Can the honorable member give specific cases? If. he can they will be looked into.
– I can give scores of cases.
– The trouble is that the decision is in accordance with the law.
– Quite so. I am not disposed to make public the names of the persons concerned, but am prepared at any time to supply them to the officialsof the Pensions Department. As a matter of fact, I have done so in some cases.
– Has the honorable member tried to put them right!
– A have. I have been led to make this statement because of my experience in many cases that I have referred to the Department. In some instances, it is true, I have been able to secure a slight increase in the pensions granted.
– It ought not to need the intervention of a member of Parliament.
– That is the point I was about to make. Why should it be necessary for these people to obtain the intervention of a member of Parliament to secure justice? Those who are fortunate enough to be acquainted with a member of Parliament are able to obtain justice through his intervention; but thousands have no personal acquaintance with a member, and they have to whistle for justice at the hands of the administrators of the Pensions Department. I have alluded to this matter in the hope that the Treasurer will remedy it at a very early date.
There is yet another matter which gives rise to a great deal of discontent on the part of the dependants of soldiers. I refer to the action taken by the authorities upon the receipt of information from London that a soldier has overdrawn or forfeited his payments in some cases up to £40 and £50. Immediately upon the receipt of such an intimation the military authorities in Australia stop or materially reduce the allowance due to the dependants of the soldiers concerned. This is causing not only a good deal of discontent but a feeling of uneasiness. When we remember the startling revelations concerning the administration of the Defence Department in Australia,’ and particularly the administration of the Pay Branch, we are inclined to ask ourselves, “ Is everything all right, in the pay office in London ?” What guarantee have we that when a cable message arrives in Australia stating that Private So-and-So is overdrawn to the extent of £40 or £50 the statement is correct? Yet on the receipt of such a message the dependants of the soldier concerned have their allowance stopped or cut down. We can have no successful recruiting until these grievances are remedied. The story of such treatmentpasses from mouth to mouth, and door to door. Mrs. So-and-So tells some one else how she has been treated while her husband, her son, or her brother’ is away fighting, and the story spreads and builds up a mass of discontent. In the interests of our boys and their dependants, I hope these grievances will be remedied, and that it will not be necessary for an honorable member to visit the military barracks to secure justice for these people, who, above all others, deserve a fair deal at the hands of the Commonwealth.
The way in which returned soldiers have to walk the streets of our great cities hopelessly looking for employment is also seriously affecting recruiting. At least two-thirds of my time is occupied in trying to find work for such men. Amongst honorable members from New South Wales there is a standing joke as to my having a sort of labour agency. Returned soldiers flock to me. As late as Monday last two boys who had been two years at the Front called on me. They wore their returned soldier’s medals and, pointing to them, one of them said, “ It would seem that these medals, instead of being a recommendation, rather debar us from getting work in Australia.” This is not occurring in isolated cases only, but is fairly general. This thing has to stop. If boys are to be got to respond to the call of the’ Empire, you must be able to show them that when they return from the Front they will have a chance to earn an honest living, that there will be work for them to do if they are willing to take it and able to do it.
– Have the men you refer to applied to the War Council of the State?
– If the right honorable gentleman will inquire at Cockatoo Island Dockyard, an institution which is under his administration, he will ascertain that I have sent there scores and scores of returned soldiers, who, after having tramped themselves footsore in looking for work ‘ about the city of Sydney, had come to me for employment.
– I am glad that the honorable member has a place to which to send them.
-I am indeed pleased to have done service to those brave boys. I consider it an honour to render service to returned men; but I should not be called on to find work for men who have come back from the Front. . Those who, giving up their home comforts and risking everything, have travelled many thousands of miles to fight for the Empire, should, when they return, have the right to live in this country in whose defence they have risked their lives, without humbling themselves to anybody.
– That is so.
– Then it is time that the Government took steps to bring about some improved condition. While thingsremain as they are, the success of recruiting is hopeless.
– Does the honorable member suggest that those whom he has helped to employment have been entirely without income?
– I do not wish to -repeat what I have said on the subject of pensions.
– I refer not to pensions, but to the allowance from the Repatriation Department.
– .Some of the Repatriation Committees, &c - especially the etcetera - want a man to go down on his bended knees to them, and our brave boys have too much spirit to do that.
– The rule has been laid down that until returned men have got a job they shall be paid a living allowance.
– They do not get a living allowance.
– They should do so; it is provided for.
– The reply to that statement is that they do not receive it. You may say what you like, but the fact stands that the boys are not getting, an allowance..
– They can do so by applying for it.
– When was a regulation on the subject issued?
– It is among the parliamentary papers which the honorable member received to-day.
– To-day ! To-day have they come to salvation ; to-day have they seen the light! I hope that they may let that light burn long and well and strongly for the benefit of the boys in the future. Too long have Ministers tarried to do justice. It is time that they got a hustle on.
– The practice has been in vogue for months.
– That is not so.
– In South Australia, before the regulation was issued, single men got £2 per weds and married men £2 10s. per week.
– The rule, has been in existence for month*.
– I am satisfied that what I have been saying is correct; otherwise the Minister for the Navy would not have been so annoyed.
– I am not annoyed; facts seem strange things to the honorable member.
– I am pleased to have the Minister’s) assurance regarding the payment of an allowance. By this time next week I shall have put the matter to a practical test in Sydney.
– I hope that the honorable member will.
– I shall let honorable members know next week whether what the Minister says is so or not. Cer- *tainly it was not so seven days ago.
– Let me put the position quite clearly. The Minister for Repatriation undertakes the responsibility of finding every man who has returned from the Front a job, and of providing him with a living wage until he can get work.
– That may be the statement, but it is not the practice.
– It is the practice.
– I am pleased to have that assurance. It has only just become the practice. By this time next week we shall be able to tell whether what the Minister says is, like many other of the assurances which we have had in this chamber, merely words, or whether his statement is being backed up by actions of practical good to the boys back from the Front.
The unfair application of the censorship, and its partisanship, is one of the greatest hindrances to recruiting. It is causing great dissatisfaction and dissension throughout the country, and great - dislike of the Government. Last week, some of the papers of the honorable member for Cook (Mr. J. H. Catts), within the precincts of this Chamber, were seized by the military authorities. The military, acting under powers conferred by a regulation under the War Precautions Act, violated the traditions of the British parliamentary system-
– Order! That matter has already been decided.
– Let me refer to another matter. The other day, the same honorable member was prosecuted in a Melbourne Police Court.
– That matter kas been decided, too - to the honorable member’s advantage.
– I direct the attention of the Committee to this case, because of the grave infringement of freedom and liberty of conscience involved. I have here a report published in. the Sydney Sun of Tuesday last,, which says : -
The District Court to-day dismissed the charge against Mr. J. H. Catts, M.H.R., of making statements, in a printed publication, likely to be prejudicial to our relations with foreign powers. Costs were disallowed. Mr. Moore, the P.M. who tried the case, said that he could not see how, by any stretch of imagination, the statement complained, of would be likely to imperil His Majesty’s relations with foreign powers.
Mr. Moore is a man whom we all. honour and respect. He has been placed in a position where it devolves on. him to administer .justice without party or private consideration. He says that by no stretch of imagination can the statements of the honorable member be regarded as likely to imperil our relations with foreign powers.
– That is only the opinion of one man.
– But it is the opinion of .a man who holds an honorable position in our land, and whose duty it is to mete out even-handed justice to all. Does the honorable member suggest that this magistrate would violate his oath of office?
– No; but, like any other judicial functionary, he might make a mistake.
– As any other judicial functionary wo aid have said, Mr. Moore said that, by no stretch of imagination could the statements made by the honorable member for Cook be regarded as likely to imperil our relations with a foreign power; yet, a Minister could be found to override all considerations of justice and right by taking advantage of the powers conferred by the Wai- Precautions Act, to haul the honorable member for Cook before a Court for making these statements. Although the case was dismissed because the magistrate would not prostitute himself to carry out the wishes of a political puppet, the honorable member has been mulcted in costs. If the Government desires harmony in the community it must set an example.. Ministers must clean their own doorsteps and put an end to political persecutions. It might well be asked who were the persons responsible for the advice on which proceedings were instituted. If they were officers of the Crown, as I suppose they were,, it is time that we gave them the “ biff out.”
– Is that parliamentary language-?
– i do mot know; but the process to which I refer is the most effective for dealing with incompetence.
– Is the honorable member prepared to vote for an amendment of the Public Service Act in that direction?
– I would vote for any amendment that would get rid of incompetence in the Public Service. In the places in which I was employed before entering Parliament, if an officer kept giving advice that was wrong he was got rid of as not being the sort of man to assist in the carrying on of tilings as they should be carried on.
If the Government desires harmony it should make a move to secure it. When the people see that they are being dealt with justly, and that the evils of which they complain are being remedied, that the boys who return are getting a fair deal, and that the soldiers’ dependants are being fairly treated while their men folk are away at the Front, when “the wholesale, victimization that is taking place is mended, things will be different. If the Government will deal with these matters in a non-party spirit, and be actuated by a genuine desire to benefit the Commonwealth, we may look for peace and harmony to be re-established in the community.
– So many ‘ COmplaintS have been made about the repatriation system that I think it only fair that I should state what I know of what has been done in South Australia for the benefit of the returned soldiers.. If one may judge by the speeches which have been delivered, there have been some very unfortunate experiences in the other States. I am a member of the Repatriation Committee in South Australia, and I have here a report showing the work done by that Committee up to the 5th March of this year under the old repatriation scheme. If after I put the facts before honorable members, on the authority of this document, they will still say that the soldiers in South Australia have been neglected, I shall have nothing further to say. The Committee find employment for returned men in various callings under the headings of building trades, engineering trades, furniture and timber workers, miscellaneous light general employment, clerks, porters, travellers, &c. In all, 2,018 applications for employment have been dealt with.
– Who provides the money for that Committee?
– The Commonwealth provides the money except in regard to the housing.
– How is the Com- mittee constituted?
– The old Committee had at its head Mr. R. Blundell, who was the Minister for Repatriation in South Australia appointed under the Repatriation Act. Serving with him were Mr. Anstey, Mr. 6. Brookman, and a number of other representative men. The Committee succeeded in placing in different positions 1,285 men. Of the balance of 735, for whom no employment was found, no less than 613 failed to answer calls, or refused reasonable offers of employment. Some men were offered two, three, and even five different positions. As a matter of fact, there Were on the 5th March only 122 men out of the total of over 2,000 whom, we had not been able to place in employment in accordance with their own wishes.
With regard to land settlement, we have two training places, namely, Pompoota, on the Murray River, and Mr Remarkable, where men who are without knowledge of work on the land serve a probationary period, during which they are paid so much per week and found. Pompoota gives training in mixed farming and rural pursuits generally, including the growing of lucerne, dairy farming, pig raising, fruit growing, and a little ordinary agriculture. For this place there were 202 applications, ‘of which 195 were approved. Naturally some of these men discontinued the training of their own volition after finding that they were not suitable for the work, and others had to be dismissed for drunkenness or other misconduct. In this way sixty men left the farm. Of the others, fifty -five have been allotted land, and are now at work on their own holdings. The Mr Remarkable property is devoted to agriculture only. The Committee accepted for training there 115 men, of whom sixty-six are now at work on their own allotments.
Apart from the trainees at these stations, the Committee has received applications for land from 119 returned soldiers, and of these 106 have been granted. Fiftyeight of those men have been allotted blocks or assisted financially .
The Committee has tried also to establish men in different forms of business, and this has proved the most difficult portion of their task. The average man thinks he can conduct any business, but when he applies himself to it, he discovers it to be more difficult than he imagined. Thirty-seven men were placed in small businesses, and were advanced a total amount of £2,307. In all, 1,795 applications were received for assistance to enter various businesses, including poultry, fruit and greengrocery, fruit stands, produce rounds, wood yards, dealers,hawkers, carriers, bakers, butchers, tools of trade, furniture, fishing plant, dairy farming, dwellings, and miscellaneous, and the amount advanced was £69,422. Another feature of the Committee’s activities is in the form of advances for furniture and homes. A four-room cottage is furnished free of cost.
– The Committee does not give a cottage to every man.
– This is an arrangement made between the State Government, the Repatriation Committee, and the War Council.
– But the Commonwealth will have to pay.
– No; the cottage scheme is a State undertaking, supplemented to a small extent by the funds of the Repatriation Committee and the War Council. The Committee has approved of 834 soldiers getting houses under the new conditions, and advances to each £75 on loan for two years free of interest, repayment to be made at the rate of 10s. per month. The State Bank advances a certain amount towards the acquirement of homes. Some are new houses built by contract, and others are purchased, after inspection by a valuator acting on behalf of the State Bank, with another valuator representing, the Repatriation Committee. Provision is made for buying houses varying in value from £400 to £685, and they are sold to the soldiers on very reasonable terms. A different provision is made for soldiers’ widows, by which they will have to pay only about 2s. 6d. per week in rent.
By the operations of the South Australian Soldiers’ Fund, the pension allowed to discharged single men was supplemented so as to bring the total to £2 per week, and in the case of married men, to £2 10s. per week. > Under this scheme, the maximum weekly income of the wife of a private soldier with seven children was £2 13s. per week, that amount representing the allotment money supplemented from the Soldiers’ Fund. Under the new scheme, a single man is entitled to £2 2s. per week from the moment he is discharged until the Repatriation Committee finds him employment, or re-establishes him in some kind of business; aud a married nian is entitled to a maximum amount of £3 6s. per week. The only danger connected with this scheme is that there may be some difficulty in inducing men to surrender £3 6s. per week to go to reasonable employment. From the facts I have quoted, honorable members will recognise that, so far as South Australia is concerned, it is unfair to say that nothing has been done for the repatriation of returned soldiers. The particulars I have given show what was done under the old system, and I know that the new scheme also is very liberal. Of course there is an obligation resting on the Government to find work for these men or reinstate them in their former employment, and the possibility of ridding themselves of the liability to pay that £3 6s. per week in the case of married men and £2 2s. in the case of single men will be an incentive to the Administration to find employment for them as soon as possible.
– Is that the rate which applies in New South Wales ?
– That is the rate which applies all over Australia in accordance with the scheme gazetted on Monday last. Every returned soldier who was entitled at the time of his discharge to a payment of £2 2s. per week will still be entitled to draw that sum until he is placed in employment or on the land. The amount goes up to £3 6s. in the case of married men.
– That is more than the pension allowed to the widow of General Bridges.
– I am aware of that, but that is another matter. I pointed out to the Minister of Repatriation yester day that while we made this provision for the returned soldier after his discharge the pensioner would be at a disadvantage - that is to say, the man who was totally incapacitated would receive merely his pension; but the Minister assured me that the totally incapacitated pensioner would be provided for on just as liberal a scale as that which is provided for returned soldiers awaiting employment. When these facts are made known we should not have such a tirade of abuse from the other side of the Chamber with regard to our treatment of returned soldiers.
.- I wish to take this opportunity of drawing attention to the stupidly vindictive manner in which the compulsory provisions of the Defence Act are being administered, particularly in Broken Hill, :is applying to lads who are liable to undergo military training. I have supplied to the . Honorary Minister representing the Minister for Defence iu this Chamber a long list of prosecutions which have taken place at Broken Hill within the last few weeks. The circumstances would warrant my quoting the whole of these oases, but I do hot propose drawing the attention of honorable members to more than a few, which will serve to establish the point that I wish to make. This is an extract from the Barrier Daily Truth of the 26th February, 1918-
Before Mr. H. G. Shaw, S.M., in the Police Court yesterday, a cadet named John Anderson was charged* with having smoked on 26th January last, while on parade. Staff Sergt. Major A. A. Hodges said that the lad, who was liable to military training under the Defence Act, attended the parade on -the day named, and when dismissed in Blende-street, about 5.30 p.m., he took a cigarette packet from his pocket and started smoking. The S.M. pointed out that the charge was that of smoking on parade, and that the rank had been dismissed. The sergt. major (recalled) explained -that a cadet was always on parade when in uniform. The defendant, giving evidence on his own behalf, said he did not know he was on parade after being dismissed. He admitted having smoked, and on being asked by the S.M. as to the time, defendant stated at about 12.45 p.m. The parade on the day had been a morning one, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m, and not an afternoon parade, as the officer had stated. Later Hodges re-entered the witness-box and admitted having made a mistake as to the time; as there were so many parades officers were liable to get mixed, but he then remembered that it was about 12.20 p.m., ‘and not 5.30 p.m., as he had said previously, when he dismissed the lads.
Another lad said it was about 12.30 P.m. when defendant was smoking, and a little after noon, when the parade was dismissed. Defendant was fined 10s., with 3s. costs, in default seven days in military custody.
This lad was fined because he was under the misapprehension that after the parade had been dismissed he was free from military authority and might indulge in a cigarette. The officer, after having sworn definitely as to the time at which the parade was held, was allowed to re-enter the box and take back all that he had sworn to. Evidently the position is that, because officers have very onerous duties to perform, they are allowed to make mistakes and correct them, but because this lad made the mistake of thinking that he was living in a country where he could smoke a cigarette after parade, he was fined 10s., with 3s. costs. Here is another extract from the Barrier Daily Truth of the 28th March, 1918-
A cadet was charged at the Police Court yesterday morning with a breach of discipline. The “ offence “ was that he came to drill “in civilian clothes, and when the squad was doing physical exercises he refused to take his coat off when ordered by the officer. Lieut. Grimm explained that men in training for active service never wore a coat when doing exercise. The B.M. said he could not understand why a lad should refuse to take his coat off. Athletes when training wore hardly anything. Defendant was fined £2, with 3s. costs, in default 20 days in custody.
On my last trip to Broken Hill I made inquiries into the hardships the people there have to undergo on account of the enormous height to which prices of commodities have soared, and in conversation with the manager of the Co-operative Stores in that city I learned that the mothers of some of these lads - and this particular case may have been an instance of it - were in the habit of going to the stores and buying the covers of Hutton’s hams at 2s. a dozen for the purpose of making them into shirts and pyjamas for their children. A lad attending the North Broken Hill Public School was wearing one of these home-made shirts, and possibly the washing of the article had not been done in an efficient manner, but when he took off his coat in the playground he x was branded “ Hutton’s Hams “ across his shirt. The other lads chevied him .to such an extent that he went home crying, and refused to go to school again until he was provided with a proper shirt. It may have been a similar reason which pre- vented this other lad from removing his coat when ordered by the military officer to do so. When I was a lad at school, I would take whatever punishment was forthcoming before I would do something which I thought would hold me up to the ridicule of my mates. One would think from this act of official tyranny on the part of She military authorities, and from the stupid manner in which the Act is administered, that the officers at Broken Hill were actuated by a desire to break down the compulsory clauses of the Defence Act. ‘
– But the honorable member surely does not hold that it is tyranny to insist on .the lad doing what he is told to do when no excuse is offered for not doing it.
– This case and others which I will mention show either that the persons who are administering the compulsory clauses of the Defence Act in Broken Hill are not allowed to use their discretion or that they are too stupid to hold the positions they occupy.
– According to the newspaper report, no excuse was offered by the lad for not taking off his coat.
– It did not come out in evidence why the lad took up the stand he did. The lad was probably actuated by the same feelings which actuated the schoolboy to whom I have referred, and did not wish to show the poverty to which he was reduced. Perhaps he had no shirt on. Perhaps he declined to have his private feelings outraged before his fellows in order to gratify the whim of a jackanapes in office.
– Evidently tie lad’s feelings were not made known to the officer. .
– But should not the officer -have exercised common sense! Should he not have asked the lad what reason he had for his refusal ; should he not have used a bit ‘of common decency in dealing with the lads under his charge?
– That lad should have obeyed the -order unless he had a reason for refusing to do so. The honorable member is not able to say that he had a reason for refusing to do so.
– I am not able to say that the lad had a reason for refusing to obey the order; I am suggesting a probable reason for the lad’s refusal; but whatever the reason was, it seems to me that the offence was not sufficiently grave to warrant the imposition of a fine of £2.
– As the honorable member did not hear the evidence which was given, he cannot say that.
– I do not expect the honorable member for Illawarra to agree with me. I do not care what reason the lad had for not taking off his coat. The fine imposed was absolutely vindictive. Perhaps the honorable member for Illawarra has no idea of what a fine of £2 means to the lads in Broken Hill or to their parents.
– I have been just as poor as ever thatlad might be.
– Perhaps the honorable member needs to revert to that position before he can appreciate these things. Here are other cases reported in the Barrier Daily Truth -
The honorable member for Illawarra will be able to appreciate that fine. There were half-a-dozen others who were fined £1 with 3s. costs, in default fourteen days in custody, for breaches of discipline.
– Is this in Germany?
– No; it is in Broken Hill, where the authorities are setting- themselves to “break the spirit” of the lads, in the. words of one of the officers. The list goes on: -
Robert H. Argue, missing two drills, £2, with 3s. costs, in default 20 days in custody on each charge. Alexander Brown, missing drill, £2, with 3s. costs, in default 20 days in custody.
Why these invidious distinctions?
– How can you criticise the sentences without knowing the facts?
– It is evident that the honorable member for Fawkner has not lived in Broken Hill, or he would be able to account for some of these sentences.
– Some of the boys may be “ first offenders.”
– I know the gentleman who inflicts the fines and sentences - I know his reputation too well - and know how he can make class distinctions. The list goes on -
Cyril Garruthers, Hedley Hall, and Phillip Clark, missing drill, £2, with 3s. costs, in default 20 days in custody. He was also ordered a further 20 days in custody. Alex. Henderson, missing drill, £2, with 3s. costs, in default 20 days’ imprisonment, and a further 10 days. Samuel Martin, missing drill, £2, with 3s. costs, in default 20 days in custody. Bert Manuel, missing drill, £2, with 3s. costs, in default. 20 days in custody, and, in addition, 10 days’ custody. George Richard Mutlow, missing two drills, £5, with 3s. costs, in default 20 days, and, in addition, 10 days’ custody; for the second, 20 days’ custody, with 3s. costs. W.G. Speed, missing two drills: first offence, £5, with 3s. costs, in default 20 days, custody, and, in addition, 10 days’ custody; for a second offence, ordered into custody for 60 days, and to pay 3s., or a further day in custody. W. M. Trengove, missing drill, fined £2, with 3s. costs, in default 20 days’ custody, and, in addition, 10 days’ custody; for a breach of discipline, £5, and 3s. costs, in default 30 days in custody, cumulative. W. H. J. Vale, missing compulsory drill, fined £5, with 3s. costs, in default 20 days’ custody, with 10 days further custody. H. J. Hargreaves, disobedience, and with having cigarettes in his possession on parade, and further, with missing a compulsory parade; first charge, £1, with 3s. costs, in default. 20 days’ detention; on the second, £2, with 3s. costs, in default 20 days’ custody ; on a third charge, custody for 20 days, with 3s. costs. Reginald Patterson, pleaded not guilty to a breach of discipline while on parade. Corporal Whitworth said “ defendant left his rank, stepped on the footboard of a stationary tram, and called out to some one in the street.” Defendant said there was a boy between him and the tram; he had not touched the tram, but had spoken to the driver. Sergeant-Major Guidi stated that he saw defendant get on the step of a tramcar and speak to a passenger. Defendant was fined £5, with 3s. costs, in default 30 days’ custody. -I do hot wish to quote all the cases, but merely to draw attention to those which particularly stand out, and I may say that I have supplied the Minister with a full list. In consequence of the parents or guardians of these lads not being able to pay the fines, the defendants have to go to gaol. The majority of the workers of Broken Hill are on the “bread line,” or near to it, at11s. 3d. per shift; and the cost of living - the prices of the articles in daily use - absolutely preclude the payment of such fines, with the result that the boys have to “take it out.” They are sent to Fort Glanville, where the treatment is such that ‘twenty-five or thirty of them wrote a letter, with the intention to send it to me; but the lad who was bringing it was searched, and had it taken from him. However, I have one letter here, which was sent by one boy to his mother, and was printed in the Barrier Daily Truth on the 4th of this month. On the envelope was this plea, “ For God’s sake, pay my fine,” and the enclosure was as follows: -
Dear Mother’. - Just a few lines to let you know that I arrived here all right. It is. a rotten place, andI want you to pay my fine. You get bread and water, and for breakfast you get bran. For dinner you get stew that is rotten. . . they treat you like dogs here. Remember me to all.
– Do you believe that the boys are fed on bran, and that the stew is rotten?
– I have no reason to disbelieve the lads when they say that they have been under such treatment.
– Do you believe what they say?
– I know from statements which have been made in the past by lads who attended drills that the stew has very often been rotten.
– Move for an inquiry, so that we may get at the facts.
– The Barrier Daily Truth, in the same issue, has the following -
Nice stories come here from Fort Glanville. Talcs of lads being forced out to drill at midnight, driven from their beds at the point of the bayonet; of a boy getting three days’ confinement because, when sent for the tea, he dipped a pannikin full for himself while wait-‘ ing: and that sort of thing.
– Why not have an inquiry?
– I am bringing the matter before Parliament with a view to having an inquiry.
– This is not the way to do it.
– It is my method; it is a way of bringing the matter before the attention of honorable members and the public. I may say, in passing, that, as to representations made by me from time to time to the Defence Department about members of the Australian Imperial Eorce. I have received as much satisfaction as I could expect. The cases to which I am referring now are a standing disgrace, so far ‘as Broken Hill is concerned. The lads have been told that they are a nest of “red raggers” - that they are to be “ taught their place,” and that they must not be allowed to write to the
Socialist organ in Broken Hill. It is certainly an attempt to break down the spirit of the boys on the Barrier. Can honorable members point to any other portion of Australia where lads are fined so vindictively for such trivial offences? Do we find such punishments inflicted in South Australia or elsewhere in New South Wales ? Here is another case which I quote, not from the Barrier Daily Truth, but from the Sydney Bulletin of 21st March last -
The other day an area officer presented to the Malvern (Victoria) Court a lad who had missed some drills, and said, “His father was killed at the war, his mother died from the shock, and he has a delicate young brother to support. I have tried my best to have him exempted from drill, but the Department will not do so.” And the Court being allowed no discretion had to send the lad to Queenscliff for seven days.
If there is to be an inquiry, let us have “ one at once.
– That , case does not admit of inquiry; it is the law.
– The law be hanged ! so far as that is concerned - a law that would send lads to gaol for seven days for such offences. ‘
– It is not a gaol ; and it is the law.
– It is not a gaol?
– You keep misrepresenting things.
– Am I misrepresenting? If the place to which these lads, are sent is hot a gaol, that is merely because it is not called a gaol, for there are the iron bars and all the general furniture of a gaol. I content myself with bringing these cases before honorable members with a view to having the administration of the Defence Act placed in more competent, and, so far as Broken Hill is concerned, more sympathetic, hands. I submit that this Act ought not to beused as an instrument in the Barrier district for breakingdown the spirit of the young lads with a view to making them pliant tools necessary to the working of the mines there. The treatment of these lads at the Barrier, and such isolated cases as that spoken of in the Bulletin, do far more, to discredit and render unpopular the compulsory clauses of the Defence Act than all the antimilitarist propaganda of which the honorable member for Illawarra has spoken.
– I say that the cases you hare quoted are the worst form of anti-militarist propaganda.
– There is an easy remedy, so far as that side of the House is concerned.
– Can you say whether representations have been made to the Minister with regard to the state of affairs in Broken Hill?
– I told the Assistant Minister that I intended to bring the matter before the House, and supplied him with a list of the cases.
– When the Defence Bill was before Parliament some of the dangers in it were pointed out, but your fellows forced it through.
– Possibly; but I am not responsible for what somebody else may have done; if somebody has done wrong, am I not to attempt to put it right?
– I do not mind a bit; but it was your fellows who passed the Act.
– I have not said a word against the Act, but have condemned its vindictive administration. What is the reason for these distinctions at Broken Hill - for these heavy fines and sentences of imprisonment for offences for which, in other centres, fines of 2s. 6d. or 5s. are considered enough. Surely I am not to be told that, because the Labour party inserted the compulsory clauses in the Act, we, on this side, must hold our tongues when there are abuses of the Act from time to time! Let me tell honorable members that if this state of things is not remedied the people of Australia will very soon make short work of these compulsory chiuses - there is no mistake about that. We have had the conscription fight - an attempt to conscript people to fight outside Australia; and if our own lads are to be treated in this way, what is the use of talking about fighting Prussianism, and keeping it out of Australia, when we seek to inflict it on our own kith and kin? Honorable members opposite are trying to break down the spirit of which they boast so much when it is displayed by our fullgrown men while fighting on a foreign shore. ‘ They want to break down the spirit that has helped us to build up Australia. I hope that this matter will not be allowed; to rest. I am not sufficiently conversant with the forms of the House to know what steps I should take to secure a Committee of Inquiry.
– The honorable member would have to give notice of motion, which would be put on the notice-paper, and might not be reached this session.
– I thought there would be a trick in the suggestion. I hope that the supporters of the Government, when they meet in caucus upstairs, will see that something is done. I am not actuated by any desire to- perpetuate the compulsory provisions of the Defence Act, but the Government would certainly be well advised, from their own point of view,- if they refrained from irritating the boys and the people by this display of vindictiveness.
– Do I understand the honorable member to say that he would wipe out the Defence Act altogether ?
– The honorable member is tounderstand nothing of the sort. Some one suggests that there is organized opposition to the compulsory service provisions of the Act. I know of no such organized opposition. Our duty here is to adhere to the Labour platform as it stands until the people alter it. The way in which the compulsory service provisions of the Defence Act are being administered is doing more than anything else to induce the people of Australia to move to abolish compulsory service within Australia, just as they refused to allow compulsion to be applied to service beyond Australia. Incidents of the kind I have cited are calculated to do more to breakdown the compulsory provisions of the Act than anything else of which I know.
– I wish to bring under the notice of the Honorary Minister (Mr. Poynton), who has control of shipping, a subject of great importance. . I understand that the Government intend to re-organize the shipping services, and I would point out to the Minister that he will find it most difficult to reduce the present limited service between Tasmania and the mainland, and particularly between Hobart and Sydney. Quite recently 500 tons of cargo for shipment to Sydney had to be left at Hobart because of more urgent demands on the available shipping accommodation. I am not complaining of the present conditions
I merely cite this case with the object of showing the Minister that it would be unwise to listen to any proposal to reduce the already limited shipping facilities between my isolated State and the mainland. I have repeatedly worked with the honorable member for Darwin (Mr. Spence) with the object of emphasizing this fact. In the electorate of Darwin we have a great potato and cereal-producing country, which is supplied with only a very limited shipping service for getting its produce to the mainland markets. All my fellow-representatives of Tasmania have joined with me in the effort to maintain the existing service. Sydney is our principal market, and if it is closed to us our fruit-growers will feel the pinch most keenly. Their position at present is exceedingly difficult owing to the reduced shipping service between Tasmania and the Old Country.
The timber industry is also concerned in this question. The value of our timber for building, furniture-making, and other purposes, is now being recognised, but’ at present we . cannot send it to the mainland markets. The honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Mcwilliams) has been working with me for some time to secure vessels to carry to the mainland the large stacks of timber to be seen on various Tasmanian wharfs. Then, again, the coal mining industry in Tasmania has also been almost wholly crippled. There is a market for our coal on- the mainland, but we. cannot get it away. These illustrations should demonstrate to the Minister that we are not protesting without cause against any further reduction of our shipping facilities.
– Are not ships being built in Tasmania?
– They are, and I am perfectly satisfied with the shipbuilding programme that has been announced by the Government. The enterprising firm of Finlayson Brothers, of Devonport, anticipating a contract for the construction of some of the vessels required for the Commonwealth, have been making arrangements to start as soon as the word to go is given. I believe that shipbuilding will flourish at Devonport, and that the industry will be materially assisted by engineering firms throughout the length and breadth of Tasmania. I urge the Honorary Minister (Mr. Poynton) to carefully supervise the shipbuild ing scheme, and to see that contracts for machinery required in connexion with it are distributed amongst the workshops best fitted to promptly supply what is required. For instance, Allports, of Hobart, have for some time been specializing in the making of winches, and are as well fitted to build that class of machinery as is any engineering firm in Australia. It would not be necessary for them to make any additions to their plant in order to execute a Government order for the supply of winches required in connexion with the shipbuilding scheme. I hope the Minister will see that the firms which have specialized in the construction of certain classes of machinery will be asked to contract direct with the Commonwealth or State Governments for their supply. Instead of tendering for the supply of this machinery through any particular firm, they should be invited to tender as I ha.ve suggested. The port of Devonport is well suited for shipbuilding purposes. That is the opinion of experts who were brought out here to report on the question, and the people of Tasmania have a right to expect that some, at least, of the ships required by the Commonwealth shall be built there. I do not care in what particular port the ships are built as long as they are obtained as quickly as possible. Devonport might well be used, not only for the construction of hulls, but as an assembling place.
– These wooden ships can be built in every State.
– I am speaking now of vesselsof 3,300 tons which are to be built of steel, manufactured, I hope, in Australia. Devonport might well be used as an assembling place, and various parts of the machinery required for these vessels can be obtained from Launceston or Hobart. The; State Government should be asked to give preferential rates for the carriage of this machinery over the State railways, so as to make it possible for Tasmanian shipbuilders to compete with those on the mainland. I am very pleased that the Government have entered upon the work of constructing ships. I believe that wholesome competition will result.
Knowing as I do the good work done by the Honorary Minister (Mr. Poynton) while he held office as Treasurer, I am convinced that he will see (hat Tasmania is given reasonable consideration so far as its shipping facilities with the mainland are concerned. We have no railway communication with the markets for our produce. All our markets are on the mainland, and I trust that the honorable gentleman will keep that fact in view when re-organizing the shipping services of Australia.
I desire now to bring under the notice of the Minister representing the Minister for Defence a question that is causing rather serious trouble in Tasmania. Owing to what I believe to be a misunderstanding, the Military Commandant in Tasmania has refused, I am informed, to receive a complaint from a returned soldier through the Returned Sailors and Soldiers League. That is a very shortsighted policy. The military authorities in the various States should work harmoniously with tho League. It consists of men who have banded together to conserve their interests, and has submitted many cases to me in a way that has demonstrated its fitness to do so. I have never had a paltry complaint made by it to me. It must be remembered that men who come back suffering from shell shock are not in a condition to put their complaints properly before the Department. I have a brother returning from the Front who, I understand, cannot speak, and may not get his voice buck again, his condition being due to gas and shell shock. Such a man could not go before an officer with a complaint. He could not voice his grievance, and very often would be unable to put -it into writing. Besides, many men get nervous, and cannot make a clear statement when they are before an officer. But let them go before some one with whom they are at home, as returned men are with the members of the society to which I have referred, and they will put their facts clearly. Those who are selected to go into complaints are, many of them, men of keen intellect, being selected for their ability, and the men’s cases are put before the Defence Department in such a way that they can be easily understood by the Minister or officer dealing with them. I hope that the Honorary Minister will use his influence to stem what I say was likely , to grow into a big evil. When Assistant Minister for Defence, I saw every man who wished to come before me, and did my best to put men at their ease by speaking kindly to them, realizing how much we owe to our soldiers for what they have done. We must never forget our obligations to them. When we read of them holding up battalion after battalion of Germans, we should feel that we cannot do too much for them. That is why I am making this appeal to the Minister.
In regard to the Repatriation Department, I have no complaint to make, not because I could not make complaints, and serious ones, too, but because the Minister at the head of it did not, like other Ministers, walk into a “going concern,” so to speak - an established- Department, at whose head was a trained officer of many years’ service; he has had to organize the whole Department. The honorable gentleman has been fortunate in obtaining the services of a man like Mr. Lockyer, who, in the interests of the men returning from the Front, has made, I believe, a great personal sacrifice by giving up a comparatively comfortable position on. the Inter-State Commission to undertake the work with the Minister of organizing the Department. The Minister has asked me, in common with every other honorable member of the Parliament, for suggestions. I have been to his office, and have placed before him my views. I particularly brought under his notice an excellent institution which has been established at Hobart, in my constituency. There ladies and gentlemen have established what is known as the Hostel, an institution in which the life of a returned man is most comfortable and happy, and in which no man can feel himself to be a pauper, because all are asked to pay a small sum for board and lodging, and the place is run on such business-like lines that it is almost selfsupporting. There is no stigma of charity upon it. Ladies who assist to run the institution probably had no experience of such work before the war, but to-day they are working as hard ‘ as any women in Australia, solely to make the lot of returned men more pleasant. I suggested to the Minister that it might be possible to work in the activities of this institution with those of the Repatriation Department, and he promised to give the matter earnest consideration. He asked me if I could suggest a new trade that might be started in Australia without interference with employers of labour or with employees. I find it most difficult to make such a suggestion. New trades may he started with the assistance of a Government subsidy, but should there be overproduction of any article, those connected with the trade, either as workmen or as’ investors, must suffer: The Minister has an arduous and uphill task before him, hence we should try to assist him in every way possible.
From the moment we entered into this terrible war I made up my mind that I would say nothing that would cause dissension in the community. Honorable members of the old Labour party who heard the statement which the Prime Minister made upstairs know how time was his prophecy. He told us then precisely what is happening at the Front to-day. Not a man in this House can say for certain that we ‘ in Australia will be free to-morrow, things at the Front are so serious at the present time.
– We are not free now. The military can stop us from speaking.
– We have liberty to speak, to argue, and to answer freely according to conscience.
– The honorable member has, but I have not. The honorable member should be made to withdraw that statement. He says that we are free to conduct ourselves as we like. I maintain that we are not. I am not allowed to say what is true, and he should not say that I am allowed.
– We have now a freedom in Australia such as does not exist in any other part of the world.
– There is more freedom in England.
– By whom was the War Precautions Act passed 1 Every member opposite is responsible for that measure, because lie supported it. 1 objected to a certain clause, and the honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. Riley) supported me, but not a word was said against the measure bv any other honorable member-
– I held up the Bill for a week.
– I was about to except the honorable member for Melbourne Ports. The Bill passed almost as it was introduced, and honorable members opposite are responsible for it.
– The Prime Minister promised that it would not be used for anything but the defence of the Empire.
– If at this critical time, any of us said something that turned the guns of one nation from one direction to another, it might alter the whole course of the war.
– The honorable member may say what he likes, but I may not.
– I have used my, discretion, and since the war broke out have nol said anything that would irritate anybody. I realize that this is no time for bickering and fighting among ourselves, not in the interests of the country, but for political purposes. I make no charge against any one in this Chamber, but there are those outside who have said things that they had no right or licence to say, and have spoken contrary to the well-being of the country. Why have they done this? In the interests of Australia and the Empire? No; to discredit honorable -members both’ on this side and on the other. A little later, when the selections are being made, some honorable members opposite will find themselves unfairly treated by men who are out now. not in the interests of the Empire and of Australia, to help those who are shedding their blood in our defence, but to get themselves elected to Parliament. In my constituency, a “direct actioner “ - a man who would not have political action at any price - so I learnt the other day, is trying to get himself selected as a candidate for Parliament.
– The utterances of the honorable member for Echuca (Mr. Palmer), and of the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Archibald) have created more dissension than has been caused outside.
– Cruel words create bitter feeling within the Chamber, but that is of no consequence compared with the harm done outside. The honorable member for Cook- (Mr. Catts) yesterday made a most unfortunate speech. I do not accuse him of having intentionally done harm. He mentioned a man who has made a name for himself, Captain Carmichael, as being responsible for certain action that has been taken by His Excellency the Governor-General. I do not believe that the honorable member’s statement was correct. I know the Governor-General well enough to be able to say that he thinks for himself; that he is here to do .the best he can for the Empire; and that he is1 responsible for the calling of the Conference, which I hope will Be held. I do not anticipate that the press will be admitted to the discussions, because the statements likely to be made there may be such as it would be unwise to publish for fear of them getting to Germany rapidly. A man in a responsible position is greatly handicapped these days. He cannot say what he would like to say, nor tell all that he knows, because by doing so he may make public something which it would be against the interests of the Empire to have published.
– Is it a fact within the honorable member’s knowledge that Captain Carmichael has not received an invitation to attend the Conference ?
– I do not know anything about the matter. All I know is that Captain Carmichael’s name will stand well in the annals of Australia, because of his actions at the Front.
-It would be a travesty if he were not invited.
– He has not been treated as he should have been treated since he returned to Australia. I understand that he has been passed out by the Labour party.
– Nothing of the kind.
– I am glad to hear that that is not so; I am merely repeating what I have been told. The honorable member for Cook, however, yesterday referred to him as “ one, Captain Carmichael,” as though he were an unknown and insignificant man, or a man who had been cast aside. I am pleased to know that the Labour party is going to receive him in New South Wales; I am glad to have it on the authority of honorable members opposite that he is to be welcomed with open arms.
– No such thing.
– Honorable members opposite speak with two tongues. They will not allow me to pin them down to an assurance that justice will be done to this man, whohas served so creditably at the Front, and that they will not treat him as they treated a man in South Australia the other day. The honorable member for Darling will not take the responsibility of saying that Captain Carmichael will receive justice, and be indorsed by the Labour League of New South Wales. What do they intend to do with that man? I shall wait and watch.
– Surely the honorable member would not ask Captain Car michael to associate with a lot of pro- Germans ?
– I have never said that honorable members, opposite are pro-Germans ; but I do say, in all seriousness, that very often their speeches give great encouragement to the pro- Germans in our midst.
– That is definite enough; the honorable member’s opinion is the same as that of other honorable members opposite.
– It is not The honorable member may be able to bluff men from country platforms in that way, but he cannot twist my words to suit himself. I repeat that some speeches made by honorable members opposite, particularly since the split in the Labour party, although they may not be made with that intention, are, nevertheless, most encouraging to the enemies of this country. I contrast the remarks- of some honorable members with the attitude of Mr. Samuel Gompers, the President of the American Federation of Labour, who controls about 12,000,000 men. He realizes that in this war we are fighting, not only for our existence, but for the liberty of the world. A scholar once said that he knew two languages, and because of that he had two minds and two souls. Why did. he say that? Because, though a foreign country may have a civilization that is recognised all over the world, yet owing to the environment of its people, and the teaching they have received, that civilization is altogether different from ours.
The ACTING CHAIRMAN (Mr. Atkinson). - Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Mr. FENTON (Maribyrnong) [4.53J.- The references of the preceding speaker to Captain Carmichael’s relations with the Labour party are about as far astray as- his endeavour to explain the movements of that officer since his return to Australia. In my judgment, and I am not divulging any secrets, Captain Carmichael has been the agent of the present Government in endeavouring to bring about the recruiting conference.
I am glad that the Honorary Minister (Mr. Poynton) is present, because early this afternoon he dealt with the South, Australian attitude towards returned soldiers, and concluded by mentioning the new repatriation arrangements. I hold in my hand a circular which has been sent to a number of returned soldiers, and amongst them a young married man who has practically only one hand, three fingers from the left hand having beenamputated. He does not desire to continue to be a burden on the community, and since his return has done his level best to qualify himself to earn a livelihood. He is unable to return to his former occupation, which was that of a plumber in the Victorian Railway Department, and therefore he is getting tuition at the Working Men’s College, with a view to qualifying for clerical employment, and earning a decent living for himself and his wife. He informed me last night that under the new repatriation scheme he and his wife are receiving at least 7s. 6d. per week less than was paid them under the old regime. Formerly they were receiving £3 2s. per week. Recently, he in common with other returned soldiers, received this circular -
In connexion with the sustenance allowance hitherto paid to you by the State War Council, I have to inform you that as from this date, 8th April, 1918, the minimum allowance of 10s. per week has been discontinued, and the regulated scale of sustenance allowance will be for the future as follows: - Allowance for single men. undergoing training, £2 2s. per week; allowance for married men undergoing training, £2 12s. per week. For each child under 16 years of age 3s. 6d. per week additionalallowance is made. The maximum allowance made by the Department for sustenance is £3 6s. per week, and all these foregoing amounts are inclusive of the returned soldier’s pension.
It is important that you should note this change, as the Accountant has been instructed to make the alteration in accordance with the Regulations of the Department of Repatriation from the date of the proclamation of the Act.
for Deputy Comptroller.
Tour weekly sustenance allowance is now 2s. 6d. per weekfrom 8th April, 1918.
His allowance previous to the proclamation of the Act was 10s. ‘ per week, in addition to his pension. Now he and his wife are receiving only £2 12s. per week. Prior to enlistment he was earning at least 10s. per day. I have a second circular, which was sent to a single man, who was receiving £2 2s. under the pensions scheme and 10s. per week from the State War Council. That 10s. has now been taken away; but a single -man, without dependants, is in a better position on an income of £2 2s. per week, than is a married man who is receiving £2 12s.
– The honorable member is proving that we were doing something substantial for the soldiers in the past.
– I am proving that this soldier and his wife are receiving 7s. 6d. per week less than they were receiving under the old scheme.
– Throughout the afternoon honorable members opposite have been arguing that soldiers received nothing under the old scheme.
– That is not my argument. The man to whom I refer is of a type we ought to encourage. Though he has practically lost one hand, he is determined, by his own energy and ability, to qualify for a new position, so that he may not be a drag on the State, and he hopes to be able in time, if given proper consideration meanwhile, to fit himself for re-employment in the Railway Department, in a clerical capacity.
– The honorable member’s complaint is that the pension allowance is not enough for the man and his wife.
– I contend that a man who has served his country faithfully and well is entitled to a living wage in these times of high cost of living, and if the repatriation scheme does not provide that, we shall be failing in our duty to a deserving class of men. The man to whom I refer is not yet established in a home of his own. He and his wife are living in lodgings, and he has to pay £1 per week for board for himself and 15s. for his wife. He and. all others who are situated as he is should be afforded every facility to work up into a higher position. The Railway Department ought to treat such men in a generous fashion. But I understand that this man is required to pay the. ordinary fare when he travels into the city to attend the Working Men’s College ; he is not even allowed to travel at half fare. All departments of the State and Commonwealth should co-operate in restoring these men to a position of usefulness and independence. I am not seeking a special vote for this man; I am asking honorable members to realize the merits of all such cases. Honorable members have only to compare the present price of any article of clothing or food with the prices in the pre-war period to realize how much more it costs now to maintain a household than it did then.
– How long will it take this man to qualify for a new occupation?
– I understand that he is attending all the classes at the Working Men’s College, and also studying at home, in order that he may return as speedily as possible to civil life. It is of no use talking about isolated cases. I have simply mentioned to the Committee two, one a single man, and the other a married man, to show the way in which soldiers are being treated. I do not think the sum of £2 12s. is sufficient for a married man and his wife in these times of high cost of living. While a man is fitting himself for a new occupation he ought to receive additional help, and if he cannot continue to receive the whole 7s. 6d. which has been taken away, at least portion of it should be restored to him. In a note accompanying the circular which this man has sent to me, he says -
It looks as if we had to fight, and on our return economies arc practised at our expense..
Men will ask themselves whether the repatriation scheme will be of any benefit to them when the very first official communication which they receive from the new Department cuts down their weekly allowance by 7s. 6d., and when this information is spread broadcast it must do injury to our war-like preparations, recruiting or otherwise.
The discovery of oil wells or oil deposits in Australia would have a considerable influence on the industrial life of the Commonwealth. We are conducting experiments in Papua now, and they have been rather expensive, though I understand that the ‘recent indications are better than they were some time ago; but a National Government, in looking to the future of our industrial operations - because they are going to play a greater part in our affairs than they have in the past if Australia is to keep abreast of the rest of the world - should undertake a more energetic policy of prospecting for oil deposits. I have gathered from oil experts that we have in various parts of Australia indications similar to those which led to the discovery of oil deposits in other parts of the world. If Dr. Wade is a really qualified man in regard to oil matters,^ he should not confine his attention to investigations in Papua; he should be asked to co-operate with geologists in choosing the most desirable places for boring for oil in Australia. I would be prepared to join with other honorable members in voting £500,000 for this purpose. I know that oil is being extracted from shale deposits in New South Wales and Tasmania, but I should like to see vigorous efforts being directed towards the discovery of oil wells. Australia is rich in nearly all kinds of minerals, and surely there are oil wells here awaiting discovery. We could not spend money in a better way than in seeking for them.
– The Minister for Trade and Customs has the matter under consideration now.
– He brought down a Bill extending .the bounties for oil production, but it is absolutely essential for the Government to decide upon a vigorous programme for prospecting for oil wells. Oil experts tell me that there is not the slightest reason for believing that there are no oil deposits in Australia. If they are discovered they will be an immense boon to the Commonwealth.
When the Treasurer (Mr. Watt) was speaking to this motion yesterday he hinted that fresh taxation would be imposed in the forthcoming financial year. When the honorable member was sitting in Opposition, he said that if the Bill introduced by the Fisher Government imposing an income tax and probate duty were put into operation, it would be the means of driving capital out of Australia, because the rates fixed in the measure were altogether too high. Yesterday he said that no sane man in Australia could expect the present taxation methods to continue.
A condition of affairs which has been puzzling me for years is the fact that we impose taxation from time to time upon those people we consider best able to bear it, whereas in turn they pass it on to others who are least able to bear it. Surely there is in this Parliament sufficient statesmanship to devise means by which those who are called upon to pay the taxation shall be obliged to pay it without being able to pass it on. In this regard, I wish to quote what the present Treasurer said in this House on the 19th August, 1915. I prefer to quote an adverse witness in order to prove my case. The honorable member in discussing Supply Bill No. 2, and dealing with the rates imposed by the Income Tax Bill introduced by the Fisher Government, said -
These rates are going to injure employment. I agree with the subdivision of capital and wealth which the Attorney-General so wisely made in his best economic style. There is such a subdivision, and it is unwise to lay hands on wealth that is devoted to the ‘ production of further wealth. However we safeguard against passing on, there is nothing that so lends itself to passing on in the shape of rents and values as does an income tax. Although competitive forces may not be fully operative during the period of war, yet in the long run these taxes get down to the bedrock of human effort, which is the wages of the manual or unskilled labourer.
– The people pay.
– In that sense I am not advocating any special tax on the ordinary man earning under £156. The Prime Minister denies that these taxes are passed on - we have heard his denial frequently. He said at the opening of this period of taxation that no one would escape. I believe that no one will escape, because taxes are passed on. If I did not know this, I could not believe that no one would escape. Through the varied strata of human activity there is a filtering process down to the bedrock, and ‘that is the unskilled worker. In some shape or other, although it will not be always tangible or provable, his rents and prices will rise or his wages will fall, and in that sense he will be an indirect contributor to the taxation, although otherwise he escapes.
– The greatest amount of wealth in this country is invested in primary production, and any tax on primary production cannot be passed on.
– I admit that an income tax, or a land tax, which rests directly on the back of the producer cannot be passed on with regard to his sales overseas, or even with regard to all sales in this country, and I was speaking with that limitation, which every one recognises; but the ordinary professional man, the manufacturer, the trader, and the distributer on whom an income tax is imposed will try to get some of the money he is paying to the State tax-gatherer from the man to whom he sells his goods or services.
– That quotation would be more appropriate when we were discussing a taxation Bill.
– The Treasurer has notified his intention to introduce fresh taxation in the next financial year - only a few months ahead - and -when he is framing his taxation measures I hope that he will include some provision by which those who are best able to pay the taxation imposed will be compelled to pay it, and will not be allowed to pass it on to the poorer section of the community. People say that the rich are paying the taxation we have imposed. ‘Such ‘is not the case. The man in Flinders-lane, and merchants generally - particularly wholesale men - are not paying one penny of taxation out of their own pockets. They are making more money to-day than they have ever made before, not only in Australia, but in other parts of the world. I have not time to quote the analysis made by Mr. Knibbs as a result of his investigation of the wealth census returns. Mr. Coghlan was not in such an excellent position when in his Seven Colonies, in which he supplied us with most valuable information, he estimated that in 1901 the private wealth of Australia amounted to £900,000,000. Following up that estimate, and realizing that in the succeeding years the private wealth of Australia had gone up by leaps and bounds, I calculated that it was fully £1,500,000,000 at about the time pf the outbreak of wai-; but I find that Mr. Knibbs, as the result of his investigation of the wealth census returns, gives the figures as £1,700,000,000. By means of the wealth census returns, Mr. Knibbs was in a position to prove his estimate to a decimal point, because every person in the .community supplied on the wealth census sards full information as. to his or her wealth. Every person in the country - man, woman, boy, and girl - had to send in returns, and on these Mr. Knibbs has been able to form an estimate of the private wealth of Australia. I find, without going into particulars, that this wealth is held by comparatively few people, and, in view of the Treasurer’s intimation regarding further taxation, I am wondering whether the Government will act upon the suggestion made in the commercial columns of the Argus on the 26th of last month, to spread it over a wider area. The Argus pointed out that the figures disclose the fact that a large number of people in the country are not paying income tax, and it would be interesting to know whether the Government intend to tax incomes of £100 and under. If so, I am wondering how people are to live. I have not time on the present occasion, but I think I could prove to the satisfaction of any honorable member that the great bulk of the taxes, whether through the Customs or direct, are paid by the masses of the people. If a merchant in Flinders-lane receives an income tax assessment calling upon him to pay £5,000, £10,000, or £20,000, he merely smiles, and makes up the amount by increasing the prices of his goods, thus making the general community pay the taxation for him. The time has arrived for us, whatever may be our political inclinations, and if we are to prevent the utter crushing of the people, to place the burden on the shoulders best able to bear it, and not allow a section of the community to become practically the chief taxing authority in Australia, I admit, with the Treasurer and others, that the landholder, as a rule, cannot pass on taxation, though some may be able to do so. A large land-holder in the city, for instance, who owns considerable buildings, may quite easily raise his rents.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I wish to take exception to the manner in which the reports of the Commission of Inquiry in the Defence Department were issued by the Government. The Commission, under the authority of the GovernorGeneral, was required to report “ with as little delay as possible,” and their first report was in the hands of the Government for nearly four months before it saw the light of day. That is a method which hitherto we have not found developed in any other British Dominion. A new method was adopted in regard to’ the second report of the Commission. After having been received by the Ministry, it was sent to the officers who had been criticised, for their reports in reply. In the short half-hour at my disposal, I do not propose to go through the reports, and I merely submit now that the moment they were received by the Government they should have been presented to honorable members. As a matter of fact, they were, as I say, submitted to the offi’cers concerned, and their replies, with comments thereon by the Minister, were issued together to honorable members. Further, the Government went to some trouble, in a letter to honorable members, to point out a number of directions in which the Royal Commission had reported favorably ; but I venture to say that the Defence Department would have been in a very bad way indeed if the Commission found that everything was wrong. As it was, the Commission found sufficient wrong to justify one of the most caustic reports that has ever been presented concerning any public
Department. As a consequence of that report, the duty devolves on the Government to make a fresh arrangement in regard to the position of the Minister for Defence. The Defence Department has become the largest spending Department in the Commonwealth, and the Minister for Defence should be in this chamber.
– That was my contention six years ago.
– It was probably not of so much consequence six years ago as it is to-day.
– Things were just as bad then as now.
– In those days the Defence Department did not spend anything like the money that it spends to-day. We are responsible for finding the cash; we have to levy taxation, and have control of the expenditure - at ‘least, that is the theory. The practice developed in the last few years is that only the Government are responsible for the raising and the spending of money, we merely being asked to say “ Yes, sir,’’ or “ Ditto “ to the Government. When No. 2 report was sent on to the officers concerned, the Finance Member made his comment on it. In reply to the charges that had been levelled against him, he said that immediate steps were taken by him to obtain suitable men for senior staff positions; that he at once recommended that several appointments, of capable men be made to the present staff, but, unfortunately, these were not approved, owing to the Government policy of making no permanent appointments”. When the condition of the Department was as it was reported to be, surely the policy of the Government, who had laid down in the early part of the war that no permanent appointments were to be made ‘because that might unduly swell the Public Service, should have been to make appointments of a temporary nature for the duration of the war, and to obtain good men for the purpose.
– I desire, by consent of the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Boyd), andby leave of the Committee, to make a brief statement as to the result of the war loan. Honorable members will recollect, from the announcements in the press, that the Government asked for a much larger offering from the public than on any former occasion. Most of the first five loans were based on £20,000,000, or in that region; but, as it was felt by the ex-Treasurer and myself that the needs now were much in excess of that figure, we hazarded a request for £40,000,000. Attached to the loan were some novel features, differing from those of its predecessors ; and I desire now to tell honorable members that, so far as we are able to judge from the figures of last night - which, however, are by no means complete - we correctly gauged the feeling of the public of Australia. The figures last night showed a total slightly in excess of £36,000,000. I am advised by the officials of the Commonwealth Bank, and of the Treasury, that, although the loan has nominally closed, business is still rolling in through the post, and that the can /ass system which we inaugurated for the first time on a generous basis for the present loan is still in full operation. A novel, and, I think, beneficial, system was arranged by the banks which advanced money for the purposes of the loan at low ‘ rates of interest, and that system also is still in full operation. Under these circumstances, and at the request of most of those whose judgment is of value to the Treasurer, I have thought it advisable to extend the loan period for another fortnight; and I have every reason to believe that by that time the amount asked for will be either obtained or over subscribed. This, I think, coming at a time when the conditions surrounding the war are pretty black, ought to be an earnest to the people of Australia and the rest of the Empire that this Commonwealth is standing to one part of its work very well; and I am sure honorable members, apart altogether from party divisions, will be satisfied with the result. I desire also to take this opportunity to thank a number of those who have contributed to this result so far as it has gone. . Prominent amongst these are the Lord Mayors and presiding officers of many of our big cities and towns throughout Australia. These were very properly led by the Lord Mayor of Sydney, who, in quite a novel way, made a number of interesting attacks on this capital city of Melbourne, and awoke an interest of - competition which has contributed in a salutary way to the result of the loan.
– How did the competition go ?
– T am not able to give definite figures as to Melbourne and Sydney, but Sydney appears to be a bit in the lead - if I may say so without preJudice We also note with some satisfaction that the armoured tanks propose, with the aid of the Lord Mayors or their representatives, to proceed north and south from Melbourne and Sydney during this week, visiting towns en route, meeting, I believe, midway between the constituencies of the honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Chanter) and the honorable member for Indi (Mr. Leckie), on Albury Bridge, there to fight out the issue.
– That is a most insecure place to fight on just now.
– Does t;he honorable member mean politically or financially? The Government are very grateful to all who are contributing in this way to the success of the loan, and also to a number of other organizations which have fallen into line for the first time, and rendered assistance not before “summoned in the same way. First of all, there is the Commercial Travellers Association, which worked splendidly all over Australia, and in town and country awoke an interest in the issue. . Then there were the insurance agents in all parts of the country, who, sometimes without reward, and sometimes for a mere fraction of a commission, did their level best. In addition, a number of women workers, school teachers, and others, did good work ; and I wish, on behalf of the Government, to thank all for the influence they exercised. I desire also to say, quite plainly, that the banks deserve the thanks of this House. There was not a manager, from the Governor of the Commonwealth Bank, who did not receive the new system proposed with good cheer, and work hard for it. The honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney) knows how powerful they can be in helping or hindering a big financial scheme such as this. The press in all the big capital cities and throughout the country worked, I think, with more systematic vigour than ever they did before for such a proposition. The Government, in expressing its gratification, feels that the chief thanks are due, after all, to the public, who, appreciating the needs of the occasion, and recognising the necessity for doing this’ work, contributed so vast a sum of money- the largest ever raised in this country.
.- When the Treasurer intervened with his very encouraging report in regard to the loan,
I was dealing with the reports of the Royal Commission on the Defence Department.
– Will the Treasurer’s statement mollify the honorable member’s criticism ?
– Not in the least. I was successful in inducing some people at Geelong to put £77,000 into the loan. A comparatively small city like Geelong rose to the occasion with a subscription of over £300,000.
The second report on finance by the Royal Commission was submitted to the officers criticised for their comments, and Colonel Thomas, the finance member, in his reply, said -
Immediate steps were taken by me to obtain suitable men for the senior staff positions.. I at once recommended that several appointments of suitable men be made to the permanent staff, but, unfortunately, this was not approved, owing to the Government policy to make no permanent appointments.
That Government policy, which refused to allow of permanent appointments, led, to jockeys, window dressers, theatrical performers, and others of various occupations far removed from accountancy, being placed in charge of accountancy work. Confusion and disaster naturally followed. It is true that, since this report was issued, the conditions have been considerably modified; but what guarantee have we that, but for the Royal Commission, the same state of muddle would not have gone on indefinitely?
I feel - and it gives me no pleasure to make this statement - ‘that the Minister for Defence has been overstrained by the vast amount of work he has had to undertake since this war began. It is because of a feeling of sympathy for him that I urge the Government to follow out the constitutional practice of appointing members of this House as Ministers in charge of the large spending Departments. The Minister for Defence, whose Department is spending four times as much as all the others, should be a member of this House, which is charged with the responsibility of finding the money - of impos- ing taxation and initiating expenditure. There has been n reshuffling of the duties and responsibilities of Ministers within the last two or three weeks, and I think that if a member of this House holding an important portfolio were to exchange portfolios with the Minister for Defence, the result would be beneficial to the whole
Commonwealth. In that way we should have in this House the Minister directly ‘ responsible for the defence expenditure, and would so be able to get answers to the many questions that are put every day by honorable members.
– The honorable member has not suggested who should be Minister for Defence.
– I do not urge any new appointment to the Ministry; I merely suggest an exchange of portfolios.
– The honorable member is not prepared to suggest what Minister should take over the control of Defence.
– I would if I had the responsibility of making the change; as it is, I do not want it to be suggested that I am endeavouring to put the Government in an awkward position.
Although this Royal Commission, and the Public Works Committee, have reported upon certain questions relating to Defence expenditure it seems to me there is still great necessity for checking the extravagant outlay that is going on. The idea underlying the construction of al] Defence works seems to be that provision must be made for what this nation will require 100 years hence. How many junior officers, for instance, can afford to live in a house’ which cost £1,500 to build, apart from the cost of the land on which it is erected? . How many senior naval officers, if they had to provide their own residences, could afford to live in. houses which cost £2,000 each to build? Why are expensive works of this kind, which will not be required for many years, undertaken while the country is at war, and at a time when all our energies should be directed to the effort of finding the wherewithal to meet our growing obligations ?
Take the Naval Base expenditure. We find that a Committee ‘of this Parliament approved of an expenditure of something like £110,000 on certain works. The responsible officers, however, took absolutely . no notice of the Committee’s report, and expended over £170,000 in carrying out a work for which only £110,000 was set apart.
– And that was in expess of their own estimate.
– Exactly. Is it not time that we had in charge of the Department; some one with a knowledge of business methods, who would be prepared to take the responsibility of dealing with its undertakings in a business way? Have we to appoint another Commission to spend months in investigating what it should be the duty of the responsible Minister to see and reform?
– The honorable member is now referring to Naval work.
– It all relates to our scheme of Defence.
Lord Forrest. - But the particular work referred to is not under the Minister for Defence.
– No; and the Commission would not touch on it. Our attention was called to the expenditure by the report of a Committee of our own Parliament.
The reason given for the adjournment of Parliament in January last was that the Government desired an opportunity to develop a recruiting scheme. Since then we have had, in addition to the scheme itself, a report by the Chief Justice of the Commonwealth as to the number of recruits required from month to month. His Honour, in his report, gave the figures as to the number of men who have been discharged because of unfitness, the number who have died, and the number of deserters. These total nearly one-fourth of the entire enlistments. Seeing that these men enlisted under the voluntary system there ought to be plenty of scope for ingenuity on the part of the Defence Department in rounding up the deserters who must number considerably over 50,000. When I referred to this matter from a public platform, and expressed my opinion as to the number of deserters, the departmental answer was that they had not separated the figures as to the number of deaths from those as to the number who had deserted or had been discharged. It is nearly time that they did so. This reply on the part of the Department was really no answer at all. It was simply an attempt not to give the required information.
– Or another evidence of chaos in the Department.
– That is so. We ought to know the exact number of men who have died, the number who have been discharged as unfit, and the number who have deserted. Are we afraid to give these figures, lest they might prove a bad advertisement? We seem to be afraid to give any information nowadays, because, forsooth, it might get into the hands of the enemy. That plea is a reasonable one Where the publication of information might be likely to do us harm if it reached the enemy, but what is to be said of the action of the authorities in suppressing the news of the sinking of ‘ one of our troop-ships on the ground that the information might get into the hands of the enemy ? The enemy sank that troop-ship. The moment she was sunk, Germany knew it. Germany . was responsible for the action, and the information of the sinking went to Germany. It could not, however, be given to Australia or to Britain. Could there be anything more absurd ? The whole conduct of the censorship, not only in Australia, but throughout the British Empire, during this war, as compared with other wars, has been topsy-turvey. We are suffering the consequences of that topsy-turveydom. Because of it the people are beginning to lose interest. The charge is made that they are war weary. If they are, it is because, for three and a half years, they have been fed up by the newspaper press’ with continual stories of “Victory! victory!” In such circumstances men naturally say, ‘ ‘ What is the good of bothering when we are winning; they can win without us?” As a race we have always shown to the best advantage when we have been confronted with disaster, rather than with victory. That is illustrated in a small way by the increase in the number of recruits coming forward during the lastfew weeks. That increase is due, not to any increased effort that is being made, but to the fact that men are being stirred by the news coming from the scene of conflict. I feel confident that if the Commonwealth were to make representations to the British Government to publish the truth, so that it might be read and known here, . it would more than anything else stimulate recruiting. The constant suppression of information, and the feeding of the people with false information, so as to encourage and keep us cheerful, is not what the British race requires. It is not the kind of stuff upon which our battles have been fought and won. If we want to encourage recruiting we cannot do better than give the public the exact facts as far as we know them, provided, of course, that their disclosure will not benefit the enemy.
Is it not a, strange thing that the information which we got concerning the loss of 600 of our guns and the driving back of the British line a number of miles, with a great many prisoners taken, came from Germany, and was published in our newspapers in the form of a telegram from Germany two or three days after the event ?
– Lloyd George has just declared that the statements are not true.
– A member of the British Government admitted a week after the German statement was published that it was ‘quite a reasonable thing to expect, and that probably we had lost 600 guns. If Lloyd George has said that the statements are not true, why does he not give us the actual facts and tell us what we have lost? How could it help the enemy if we were told what number of guns has been lost? The Germans have the guns, and, therefore, know how- many they have taken. How, then, could the publication of any information on the subject be of advantage to them ? This policy of keeping everything secret, the Cabinet keeping all it can from Parliament, and the Prime Minister all he csm from the Cabinet, cannot do good. Why should information be kept secret that might be made public? Unless the facts are given, recruiting will not be stimulated as we desire. Parliament, was in recess for nearly three months, and the recruiting scheme was two months before it saw the light of day. When it did appear, it was criticised and altered, and finally submitted to a convention of recruiting officers and delegates from different places. Except for an address from the Minister for Defence delivered at the Conference, not one Minister has explained the scheme, and it has not been explained to the House. The Prime Minister made a speech in Sydney, but no information concerning the scheme has been given to the House; it was simply thrown to the wolves to worry. Directly criticism was directed against it, the pro- ( vision criticised was changed. until in the end its own mother would not have recognised the production . Is it to be thought that the appointment of a Minister for Recruiting, be he never so enthusiastic, and the honorable member for Nepean is that, will do what Parliament should do? The Director- General of Recruiting (Mr. Mackinnon) has worked night and day, putting his whole soul into the business committed to him, and travelling throughout the length and breadth of Australia to make the recruiting movement a success. No man could have been more conscientious. He has taken even members of this House to task for having said things prejudicial to recruiting.
– He ‘has said some strong things himself.
– In the heat of debate a man may sometimes say something for which he will be sorry afterwards, and every man may make mistakes.
– I do not know of any statement for which the Director-General of Recruiting need be sorry.
– I do not know that he could do much better, even with the assistance of a Minister. If the Government desires its recruiting scheme to be a success, it should treat it as the main object of its existence, and bend all its energies to the filling of the gaps in the ranks at the Front.
On the 5th May, this party was returned pledged to economy and efficiency.
– To win the war.
– That meant economy and efficiency. I ask, therefore, how much longer are we to have the gross extravagance entailed in the upkeep of, the Commonwealth police?
– Surely that expenditure is not continuing?
– Yes, it is. A Department is being organized, and it will grow. This expenditure is an absolute scandal. Ministers cannot say that they favour economy while they allow that waste to go on, all because of a rotten egg being thrown during the referendum campaign.
The Defence Department has recently taken over the control of racing. No racing is permitted on registered courses except on certain allotted days, and it is published to the world that racing has been considerably diminished. But what are the facts? When one asks for permission to run a race meeting in aid :o£ a charity, he is told, “You cannot rim it on a race-course, but if you can get a paddock alongside you may have the necessary permission”; and, although horses may break their legs or jockeys their necks because of the stumps on the ground, the Department can. say that it is not permitting the use of race-courses. This state of affairs is a pure farce.
Another matter which should be discussed is the appointment of four additional Honorary Ministers. Every one of the gentlemen appointed will, I feel sure, do honour to the position, and perform competently the work intrusted to him. I have nothing to say against any one of them on the score of personal qualification ; but the creation of four new honorary Ministerial positions brings’ about a state of affairs which should makeus pause. This Nationalist party is to-day the biggest party that this Parliament has ever seen,’ numbering as it does fifty-three members. Of these five are away, and of the forty-eight that remain no fewer than twenty-two draw emolument or some pecuniary recompense from the Treasury for services outside their ordinary parliamentary duties. It needs only three more such appointments to make an absolute majority of the party recipients of public money apart from their parliamentary remuneration. The control of the shipping industry is being arranged for, and a commerce and industry scheme is being floated, so that we may, perhaps, have a new Minister to deal with the matters coming under that head, with perhaps a junior to help him. If this party were now only as numerically strong as it was in 1913, when, it numbered thirty-eight, when it was in power, much more than a majority of its members, namely, twenty-two out of thirty-eight, would have been receiving public money in addition to parliamentary salary. The alternatives are to increase the number of members, to which I am sure the country would not agree, or to reduce members’ paid places. It is a menace to free and untrammelled Parliamentary criticism that men who are responsible for the voicing of the opinions of those whom they represent should be tied by any feeling of loyalty to the Government, or feel, bound to support it because of the emoluments which they draw.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
– Then I shall content myself with moving as an amendment -
That the sum be reduced by £1, in order to indicate to the Government that in the opinion of this Committee the portfolio held by the Minister for Defence should be held by a member of the House of Representatives.
– May I suggest for your consideration, Mr. Chairman, that an amendment in that form will not be in order.
– The honorable member for Henty may move to reduce the sum mentioned in the motion, but not in the form it is indicated.
– At your suggestion, sir, I move - as an amendment -
That the sum be reduced by £1.
.- I desire to deal with the administration of the Holdsworthy German Concentration Camp, where the Defence Department has installed a couple of officers who have not been, and are not likely to go, to the Front. They are enjoying the distinction of high positions, and are drawing large salaries, and they spend most of their time in directing the sergeants and other subordinate officers to drill the guards. These guards are drilled with full packs and their overcoats, in the sun’s heat, in the wind, and in the rain. They are made to do the German goosestep, and to walk on their toes with their arms extended, merely for the edification of those who command. I protest against a continuance of this drill. It is now claimed that the camp is a training camp, but, as a matter of fact, no man has left that camp to go to the Front. Most of the men on duty there are ineligible, and many are over the military age. To-day I asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence for a list of offences and punishments at the Holdsworthy Camp, and I asked, also, to what fund the fines were paid. The Minister stated that it would not be in the best interests of the community that the offences and punishments should be made public. Of course, it would not redound to the credit of the Minister for Defence, and most certainly . not to the credit of any of those high, swashbuckling officers, with their Charlie Chaplin moustaches, if the fact were made public that the German concentration camp has been turned into a ceremonial camp, and that, unless the men smoodge and salute from morning till night, they are constantly being punished for all sorts of minor offences. I shall mention a case in point. A soldier, who had received a shrapnel wound in the leg, was ordered by his officer to double, and, because he was unable, by reason of his wound, to obey the order, he was severely reprimanded. One of the highest officers in the camp is a squatter, who, I expect, like most of his class, has a fair amount of this world’s goods, and he receives the pay and emoluments attaching to his rank. Why should not a returned soldier be given those payments? There are thousands of men who are quite competent to occupy many of those positions, but they are not allowed to do so, and when any of them do accept service in the guard under the Charlie Chaplin officers, they are asked to double, in spite of their wounds, or be punished. So great is the dissatisfaction at that camp that it is almost impossible to get sufficient men to do the guard duty. Every week or fortnight the Minister for Defence is advertising for men to do guard duty at Holdsworthy Camp. The men will not remain there, for the reason that they are not content to work under officers whose only desire is that their subordinates should be subservient, servile, cringing, and crawling, and saluting on every occasion. They object to doing the goose-step for any stay-at-home officer.
– How long has this state of things been in existence?
– For three months, to my knowledge.
– Has the matter been brought under the notice of the Minister for Defence?
– It has been brought under his notice by other honorable members, and has been known to an honorable member who is now occupying a Ministerial position. There are about 600 men at Holdsworthy, and they are required to wash their cooking utensils in two troughs, each 4 feet in length. Surely the Defence Department can provide those men with proper accommodation. As honorable members are aware, a large number of good German cooks are interned in the camp, but all such men are employed to prepare the food of the officers, whilst the men have to be content with the cooking of any one of their number who may be appointed to that work.
During a recent tour through the wheatgrowing portion of my electorate, I made inquiries into the handling of wheat by the different shipping agents, who are paid fairly high commissions by the Wheat Board. My investigation had special reference to the matter of dockage, and the powers exercised by the agents who are operating on behalf of the shippers.
Several cases of injustice came under my notice, and I shall mention some of them by way of illustration. Two share farmers sent over 800 bags of wheat into -Gulgong, but the agent representing the shippers said, “ This wheat is smutty, and I cannot accept it.” Each- of the two farmers took an identical sample of the wheat, and went to some pains to get reputable citizens to inspect it. Application was then made to the Wheat Board to sell the wheat elsewhere, and the following reply was received from the State Wheat Office, Dalton House, 115 Pittstreet -
In reply to your letter of the 15th ultimo, regarding a quantity of inferior wheat which you have on hand at Gulgong, I regret to inform you that permission cannot be granted you to dispose of this wheat in Sydney, but you should again get into touch with Messrs. Jas. Loneragon Limited, Gulgong, who have been instructed to receive all wheat at this “ station.
The agent did not know that the whole of the wheat must be accepted, whether it was inferior or otherwise. Many of the agents employed by the shippers thoroughly understand their work, and are honest and conscientious in determining the dockage, and in handling the grain generally. But many other agents have been appointed who know very little about wheat, and the manner in which they conduct their operations is highly suspicious, if not sinister. After the two farmers to whom I have referred had received the above reply from the WheatBoard, they were told that ls. per bag dockage must be paid.
– Order ! With the concurrence of the Committee, I am permitting a general debate on the main motion. An amendment is before the Chair, and if I were to act strictly in accordance with the Standing Orders, I should confine honorable members to it. Each honorable member is entitled to speak twice on the main question, but the Standing Orders state clearly that when an. amendment is before the Chair discussion must be confined to it. I am not observing that rule, with, I hope, the concurrence of the Committee. But if I am to continue to allow a general discussion, it must be understood by honorable members that none of,’them will be allowed to make three or four speeches, first on the amendment, and then on the resolution.
– Does that mean that an honorable member who has previously spoken on the main question will exhaust his opportunities if he speaks on this amendment ?
– May I observe that the former Speaker (Mr. McDonald) ruled that if any honorable member spoke on the motion while a specific amendment was before the Committee he could not speak again on the main question, but if he limited his remarks to the amendment he would have an opportunity of speaking on the general question afterwards. Honorable members then chose to make one speech on the general question and the amendment.
– It is not within the competency of either, the Speaker or the Chairman to make any such rule. Both are bound by the Standing Orders. It is for that reason that I ask the concurrence of the Committee in allowing honorable members to speak generally, although an amendment is before the Chair, each member to have the right to speak twice only.
– The two farmers to whom I was referring were dissatisfied with the charge of ls. for dockage, so one of them sent his sample of wheat to one of the shipping agents in Sydney. He received a reply that the dockage on that wheat would be 7d., or 5d. less “than had been already charged. The second farmer sent his sample to another firm, and received a reply that the dockage would be 4d. Ultimately the wheat was sold f.a.q. That is a state of affairs which could, and should, be obviated by the State Wheat Board laying down definite lines upon which the agents should act; for instance, by the use of the chondrometer. If no scheme can be evolved for providing a basis by which farmers can get a fair deal, experts should be located at certain depots, to whom all samples of wheat could be sent. If a farmer who brings in 900 bags of wheat is docked ls. per bushel instead of 6d. per bushel, the farmers in the Wheat Pool generally benefit to that extent, whereas this particular farmer is robbed. In the case to which I have referred the two share farmers would have been robbed of ls. per bushel. The first agent said that the dockage would be ls. per bushel, whereas the wheat was ultimately accepted as f.a.q. In another case a farmer who took about 200 bags to one railway station and was told by’ the agent the dockage would be 4d., took the wheat home again, and sent a fair sample to another railway station’ available to him, and hadit accepted as f.a.q. In still another case a share farmer and the owner of the land were concerned. The wheat which was sent in by them in separate lots was taken out of the same paddock load by load, yet the owner was docked1d. per bushel only, whereas the share farmer was docked 4d. per bushel.
– What does the honorable member infer from that?
– That there is incompetence and favoritism, and eveu worse.
– Does the honorable member mean bribery?
– Then it is only fair that the honorable member should supply the names of the people concerned.
– I have the cases here, and they are at the disposal of the Honorary Minister at any time.
– Who would benefit by defeating those men of a certain amount?
– I had better explain the whole position. The question of dockage has received serious consideration from the Wheat Board. Honorable members will readily understand that if the agents allowed the whole of the wheat to come in as f.a.q., and portion of it was smutty, bleached, or in an inferior condition, it would operate harshly against those who had put good wheat into the Pool, and the man sending in inferior wheat would be in the same position as would the man supplying good wheat. It was necessary to prevent this from happening, but, unfortunately, quite a number of the agents receiving the. wheat at the different station’s have been taken from the districts surrounding the stations, and in some instances, I understand, have been employed on other occasions by the very farmers whose wheat they are passing. As they will go bank to work for those same farmers after the wheat season is over, it is quite easy to understand that they are likely to give preferential treatment to their former employers. This is a circular which has been sent out by one of the shipping firms to its agents -
Mr. Drummond, of the State Wheat Office, has warned shippers of the necessity of mak- ing adequate deductions on wheat below f.a.q. standard, and hepoints out that it is the intention of the Wheat Office to be very particular in regard to this matter. We have had serious reports from the Wheat Office that several of our agents have been receiving bleached and under-quality wheat without making adequate deductions, and in some cases no deduction. Such stacks ‘have been specially noted by us, and these will be brought to a depot at an early date, and if such deductions are not adequate, debits will be made accordingly against the agents. - We are most anxious that all our agents come out of this . thing with a decent profit after their hard work, and we arc, therefore, again writing you on this subject. We do ask you to see the seriousness of the position, and if you do not take heed of our warnings, we cannot see anything ahead of you but huge losses. There should be no necessity for this. There is no competition this season, and really if an agent comes out of this pool with debits such as we refer to above, it is only through sheer carelessness and irresponsibility. If at all in doubt, send us a sample before issuing interim.’ It will be too late at the. end of the season to argue the point about debits being Bent to you. Now is the time for you to act, and our entreaty is to protect yourself. We do not think we can possibly say more. We shall not warn you again. What we have written in regard to quality applies with equal force to damaged ends and patches.
– There is nothing to take exception to in that communication.
– -It is very good, so far as it goes, but the trouble is that, apparently, quite a number of agents, having already given their friends a good deal by accepting their bleached and smutty wheat as f.a.q., the unfortunate farmers who are now sending in their wheat have to make up for the poor quality that came in earlier.
– You are merely expressing an opinion.
– I have quoted one flagrant case.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.45 p.m.
– I desire to give only two more illustrations of the methods in connexion with the dockage of wheat. I have already pointed out the power held by agents, many of whom thoroughly understand their business, although, as is clearly shown by some of the examples I havegiven, many do not. One farmer brought in two loads of eighty-five bags, and the agent informed him that there would be a dockage of1s. The farmer protested, and ultimately the agent accepted sixty-five bags, with a dockage of 6d. ; that is, the agent bargained with the farmer, and cut down the dockage by 50 per cent. The balance of the wheat was withdrawn, taken to the local mill, and accepted f.a.q. The farmer was at a loss of 6d. per bushel on the wheat which he had put into the charge of the agent. This wheat went through Lindley Walker, whose agent offered a settlement of 8d. per bushel dockage. The farmer made a strong protest, and Lindley Walker decided to let him off with l1/2d. per bushel, though he had stated explicitly that it would be 8d. When there is a condition of affairs in which the agent is allowed to bargain with the farmer as to what the dockage shall be, there cannot be an efficient system - there cannot be a system which is satisfactory to the farmers as a whole. If it is f.a.q. wheat, and it goes into the Pool, there may be1s. dockage on it because of the incompetence of the agent, or because the agent thinks he has too much debited to his account, and desires to come out at the end of the season well covered. The agent thinks, “ Well, here is a chap I can surely put a dockage on,” and he does so. It is all right for people with wheat in the Pool, but it is very unsatisfactory to farmers who have this dockage to pay. If we are to have anything like harmony amongst the farmers, and if we are to give them a fair deal, we shall have . to devise some system for next season whereby the quality of the wheat shall be determined by an expert, with scientific instruments at his disposal. . There is, for instance, the chondrometer, which is accepted in lieu of anything else. When the vessel is levelled off, if two grains are taken out more ‘ than should have been, it means tons of wheat to the farmer; it might mean 2 lbs. in the bushel owing to the out-of-dateness of the instrument whereby the f.a.q. standard is determined. No agents such as now operate should have the power to tell a farmer that the dockage on his wheat is1s., and then agree to let him off at 6d. ; if there is a dockage, there should be no discrimination, haggling, or bargaining. I hope that the Government will exercise their power, and devise a better method of testing wheat by means of proper instruments, for under the present system what is f.a.q. cannot be determined effectively.
. -I suppose that when I have the presumption to speak in favour of the amendment moved by the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Boyd), I must do it with bated breath, and assume a very apologetic tone. There is an impression sought to be cultivated throughout Australia that to criticise the present Government is to show oneself guilty of mischiefmaking, self-seeking, lack of patriotism, or something .of that kind. Apparently the Government is to be regarded as beyond all criticism, and if any little defects are discoverable, they have rather to be hushed up than made plain with a view to improvement.
– That is common with all Governments.
– I know it is; but in all my experience I have never known a Government to be so sensitive to criticism, or to have so many admirers outside endeavouring to stifle comment by hurling anathemas at those who dare to make it. But I am a very old offender in this respect. I have never since coming into this House hesitated to speak my mind, sometimes very much to my disadvantage. At all times the position I have taken up in this regard has been - I take credit to say - due entirely to my anxiety to see that Parliament does its work effectively, and to have the affairs of the country administered in an honorable fashion. It is some considerable time-since I first voiced my objection against the administration of the Defence Department. To-night I wish to say at the outset that it is most unpleasant to me to criticise any one, at any time, who is a member of this Parliament, particularly one with whom I have been associated for many years, and who in many respects I regard with feelings of friendship. But what I have to say must be said in face of the urgent necessities of the country. It is some three years ago since I pointed out in the House that the present Minister for Defence, who was also Minister then, was not the man for the position when we were entering upon a war that would test our energies to the uttermost. He had not the energy, business training, or enthusiasm that a man ought to have for the position at such a time. That he has many good qualities I willingly admit, but nowhere have we found in the administration of the Defence Department that capable business management, capacity for giving a lead, and, above all, the enthusiasm which is absolutely necessary in th’ese times. Undoubtedly the Minister achieved a considerable reputation while in office before the war broke out, but, so far as I have been able to find, that reputation was created very largely by the officers and other officials who worked under him - who were left severely alone, were not interfered with by the Minister, had their salaries increased, their positions improved, and their numbers added to in a very remarkable and quite an unnecessary way altogether. If we speak to any of these officers, they tell us that the honorable gentleman was one of the best administrators the Department ever had, and if we ask for further particulars and reasons for that opinion, they are almost certain to say that he was such an administrator because he left his officers severely alone. If these men had in all cases been entirely competent, if they had achieved their positions through merit, and merit alone, there would have been a great deal in allowing them a free hand. We know, however, that, so far from many of these officers having achieved their positions in the way I have indicated, the contrary in many instances is the case. I do not like to refer to these matters, because the officers so impugned have no chance, or very little chance, of reply ; but there is one particular instance which I venture to put forward by way of illustration of what I am contending for. The Quartermaster-General’s Branch is one of the most important in the whole of the Defence administration. It is a branch in which maladministration is very apt to occur, even under the best of circumstances, and where there is no effective control, then the maladministration assumes almost stupendous dimensions. When I use the word “ maladministration,” I do not mean deliberate evildoing, although we have had several instances of even that. I refer more particularly to lack of capacity in carrying on the work of the Department, and that lack of capacity commences right at the very head. The officer in charge of this branch is a man who had grown old in the military . service when the war broke out. So far as I can learn, he has had no particular experience in connexion with this class of work. Some years before the war he had been superannuated, presumably because he had reached the period when, with advantage to the country, his services could be dispensed with. On the breaking out of the war this officer was recalled from his retirement, and placed in control of the QuartermasterGeneral’s branch, with the charge of work of which he had never at any time, so far as I can learn, been previously associated.
– Old officers ought to be recalled.
– I quite agree that that is so when there is any justification, but I am trying to point out that there was no justification iu this case. This officer was given charge of work of which he was almost entirely ignorant, and the result has been shown in the appalling revelations in connexion with the Department. I am wining to admit that the war has imposed on the Defence Department a severe strain, and that the’ Minister for Defence should not be made responsible for its failures in detail. But when the war broke out we should at least have had in charge of that Department a man capable of infusing some life into it - capable oi re-organizing it to meet the new and trying conditions, and of putting some enthusiasm into it. 1 hold, and believe the majority of honorable members agree with me, that the present Minister did not answer to those requirements. We have had in the Department three years of chaos, more or less, ever since I pointed out in this House what was likely to happen. We have had, as a resure of the revelations that have been made from time to time, a Commission of Inquiry which has revealed a condition of affairs that should not have been allowed to continue so long as it did The Minister for Defence must have known something of what was happening during all that time. He must have known something of what was revealed by the Commission of Inquiry.. But on every hand attempts were made, too often successfully, to hush up these matters. The reports of the Commission came upon the Parliament and the people with something of a shock, and from one end of Australia to the other there was immediately a demand that changes should be made. That demand frequently included a change in the administrative head of the Department. But nothing was done to change the organization at its head. On the contrary, the Minister remained secure, apparently, in his position, ignoring the clamour of the country, and satisfying himself with the changes that were being brought about as the result of the inquiry. He, m fact, took to himself the credit of locking the stable door after many of the horses had been stolen. In similar circumstances in Great Britain no Minister would have cared to hold his position for twenty-four hours after such disclosures had been made. Time after time Ministers have resigned from the British Cabinet for what were trifles compared with that which we have discovered regarding the administration of the Defence Department in Australia. It would appear, however, that the Minister considers that he has something in the nature of a mortgage on his job. At all events, whatever changes take place in the Ministry, Senator Pearce apparently must still retain the office of Minister for Defence. I am revealing no confidences in saying - since the disclosure was made in the press at the time - that when the National party was formed a .demand was made that, as one of the conditions of the coalition, he should’ retire from that office.
– And the discontented ones have not yet ceased firing.
– They will continue to fire so long as there is any justification for doing, so.
– Can they furnish any more justification than exists at present?
– If the honorable member does not think there is more than ample justification for changing the administrative head of the Defence Department, then I regret that he has so Hazy an idea of the duty he owes to his country at this juncture.
– That is worthy of the source from which it comes. The honorable member would never be intrusted with even a seat on a hen roost.
– The honorable member is offensive. I have never since I came into this Chamber at the inception of Federation sought place or pay. I defy any member, of this Parliament, or any one who has sat in this Parliament, to bring a scintilla of proof to the contrary. I have stood’ alone on the floor of this House, more than once, a solitary man, speaking what I believed to be right, and as long as I am here I shall continue to do so, no matter what insinuations ot a personal character may be hurled against me.
We have no right to assume that all the shortcomings of the Defence Department have been discovered by this Board of Inquiry. I have very good reason to believe that they have not been. I was a member of a Committee of Public Accounts, from which I had tlie distinguished honour to be discharged, a little while ago, which, while investigating certain matters in Sydney, stumbled across evidence of the free-and-easy method adopted by the Department in obtaining supplies in connexion with the QuartermasterGeneral’s Department. We had before us a young man who gave evidence that he was the agent of the Defence Department in buying stores in Sydney. His salary was comparatively small; his position apparently was regarded as of little importance. .He told us that he had the buying of all the stores required in connexion with our. Expeditionary Forces. We asked .what supervision was exercised over him, and whether- he had any assistance in or check upon hia operations. The answer was that there was nothing whatever of that kind. If he wanted to purchase, say, a thousand tins of jam, he went into the city, and completed Hie transaction if he thought it was all right. We may reasonably assume that this system was adopted all over Australia. Indeed, if rumour is correct - and the reports that I have heard have come even from men who have participated in these matters - the prices obtained, time and again, for military stores throughout Australia verge on the ridiculous. I have heard of cases where the Department has offered prices even in excess of those which ‘the sellers had intended to ask, although we all know that a man who has anything to sell to a Government Department generally expects a little more than he can obtain from a private individual. I am sure that millions have been wasted in this way, but no investigation has been made in that regard as far as I am aware. There is room for far more investigation than has yet been made, or, I am afraid, is likely to be made.
The all-important duty that ‘ this Department should have performed for the country was the finding of men for our Expeditionary Forces. But what happened ? As soon as the work became somewhat onerous, it was handed over to a layman. That gentleman undoubtedly worked hard earnestly and ably for the country ; but he had the disadvantage of being entirely unacquainted with the duties he had to take in hand. The Minister, as soon as the work becomes of a serious nature - and this is the most im- portant work of his. Department - hands it over to some one else. That is not the procedure associated with capable administration, n6r can it be identified with enthusiasm, but, I regret to say, it is too often adopted by the Minister for Defence in meeting his troubles. When they actually confront him - when he has staved them off as long as he can - a Board or an extra Minister or two is appointed to help him out of his difficulty. Having achieved this wonderful feat, he goes on his way drawing his Ministerial emoluments - what for? I am at a loss to understand the value he gives the country for the emoluments he receives. It is quite time we had a change in the direction indicated in this motion.
– The honorable member knows the reason for that secrecy.
– We are given to understand that this is a necessary concealment of our activities in sending reinforcements oversea. I am sick and tired of these childish pretences of secrecy. On every hand we are up against it.
– We ought to send a cablegram to Germany, I suppose.
– Let me tell the Honorary Minister that when reinforcements are going away, any one can proceed to the wharf and get as much information as would be available if the troops were marched through the streets as I suggest. The secrecy of the Department is a mere sham. It would have been far better had our men been sent off with . bands at their head, receiving the plaudits of admiring crowds. This would have been worth thousands of recruits to us.
But under the childish pretence of keeping information from Germany, they are sent away early in the morning or late at night. On one occasion I saw troops packed into the carriages at the far end of the Flinders-street railway station, but any one who wished to do so could have got any information he needed regarding their despatch. The facts were staring one in the face.
– Any one who might be interested would have to be blind not to notice that a troopship had left the pier during the night.
– All this is characteristic of the Defence Department, which winds everything about in yards of red tape. Its lack of sympathy and of interest brings much dissatisfaction in its train. Take another illustration of it that came under my notice a few days ago. A small number ‘ of soldiers were brought from Western Australia to Melbourne. They were not provided with bunks in the train, and had to sit up for the four nights tha.t they were travelling. When at last they reached Spencer-street railway station, loaded with their belongings - and some of them, having come from ‘good homes, were carrying a considerable amount- they were met by a military officer, and at once ordered into marching column. They were then compelled to tramp, loaded like pack horses, along Spencer-street, Flinders-street, and St. Kilda-road to the Domain, where, I believe, some of them arrived half dead with exhaustion. These things go a long way to kill recruiting, and to destroy the enthusiasm of those who have enlisted. There was no reason why one of the military waggons that were bought in excess should not have been sent to pick up the luggage of these lads, leaving them to march free on their first journey in this. State, which- they were making iri the interests of the country. It is common knowledge and talk that the “ slacking “ in regard to enlistment begins at headquarters. It is astonishing as one goes about the city to find how many of the officers with the red tab of staff service wear no badge of active service.
– They are known as rosellas.
– They look pretty, but I should like to see some of them with the badge of the returned soldier, even though their appearance might not then be so smart and gentlemanly.
– The honorable member has reached the time limit.
– I am sorry for that, because I had one or two other matters to mention. I shall content myself with declaring that I am entirely in favour of an alteration which would bring the member administering the Defence Department into this Chamber.
Mr. MATHEWS . (Melbourne Ports) T8. 201. - I shall vote for the amendment, and am pleased that at last we are to get assistance in laying bare the facts of the administration of the Defence Department under Senator Pearce for now nearly seven years.
– The honorable member was quiet about these matters when Senator Pearce was one of his leaders.
– I have never lost an opportunity during all this time to protest against Senator Pearce’ s administration.
– Except by vote.
– Senator Pearce has never had my vote, and has no chance of getting it. It is foolish to charge me with having supported him. We know that a large discontented body of men, who would like to get on the Treasury bench, have to support those who are there now.
I rose chiefly to refer to the state of things in the Northern Territory. It has been stated in the press that the Territory might be a mere sub-Department of administration. No Minister will ever, obtain universal approval of his actions, nor would any emperor or czar if appointed, but although the present Administrator has now been long enough in office to be able to justify his administration, only a small portion of the population, officials and non-officials, are satisfied with his rule. Charges and counter charges are made by the public servants in the Northern Territory. Two barmen of one of the State hotels at Darwin are being tried for stealing fourteen bottles of beer, but if it be a crime for them to steal beer it must’ also be a crime for the manager of the hotel to do so. There has been no effort made on the part of the Administrator to settle the matter. I wish to read the affidavits of four men, who worked iu the hotel in question, to show how it is conducted. Notwithstanding that these facts have been made known to the Administrator, the same manager, I understand, is still running the place.
– He was not appointed by the Administrator.
– The Administrator is the manager’s boss, and the boss of the Inspector of the State hotels. Let me read the affidavits to which I have referred. This is the first of them -
I, George Close, of Darwin, in the Northern Territory of Australia, harman, make oath and say as follows : -
That I started as barman at the Club Hotel, Darwin, on first day of October, 1915, and was employed there until the 22nd day of January, 1918, when I was dismissed without anything being charged against me.
That, on the eighth day of December, 1917, I entered the bar at 9.15 a.m. in the ordinary course of my duties to get stock for the bar as head barman, when James Dorrity, the manager of the said hotel, entered the bar, and in the presence of Jack O’Brien, barman, conversation took place, when he informed me that he wanted his. percentages in the bar to go up, and pointing to a bucket of slops standing on the cask of Carlton beer, then on tap, he said, “What do you think about putting the said slops in the cask?”
That I informed him that we did not want the said percentages to go up, but that the said slops were not fit to drink, as the said slops contained flies, straw, with a brown scum floating on the top.
That the said manager then informed me that I was to do as I was told, as I was only the paid servant of the Government.
That the said manager then left the bar when, after draining the slops of the filth and scum, I poured the said slops into the cask’ of Carlton beer aforesaid.
That the said slops comprised the- leavings of bottles of beer, stout, lager, and all the soft drinks sold in the bar, in addition to the matter described in paragraph 3.
That this practice continued until the 19th day of January, 1918, duririg which time, with the exception of ten days, when I was ill and away from work, I was in charge.
That I am informed by Jack O’Brien, and John Thomas Murphy, and Frank Patterson, barmen, and verily believe that this practice aforementioned continued during my absence, the manager being present on various occasions when the aforesaid practice was carried out.
That on various occasions I disobeyed the order as to the slops being put in the casks ot beer on draft, and threw it out, and directed the other barman, or barmen, on duty with me to do the same.
That on various occasions I notified customers I knew personally that the beer was no good, and in particular I notified Mr. Stretton, special magistrate, and Mr. Fox, who always made a practice of asking how the beer was.
That customers regularly complained in the bar that the beer they were being served with was not beer, but shandygaff.
That the only beer in casks on the premises of the Club Hotel, between the dates aforementioned, was Carlton beer in casks of 36 gallons.
That on various nights aftermy duties had been finished I have passed the bar when the manager, with yardman, has come out carrying a basket of beer, which he has taken along to his- office - that this was done almost every night; one night in particular the basket contained one dozen of beer and a bottle of square gin.
That, with the exception of three occasions in January, when I rang up on the till, the following sums, 9s. 6d., 10s. 6d., 27s. 6d., at the manager’s request, no money was, to my knowledge, put in the till, although the correct practice is to ring up on the till for all goods sold out of the bar, and the money should have been handed to the barman on duty next day.
That I have spoken respectively with the barman on duty at various times during this period from the 8th December, 1917, to 19th January, 1918, and they have informed me, and I verily believe, that, with the exception of the three occasions mentioned in clause 14, no money was ever put in the till to replace goods taken.
That no drinks were allowed to be booked by customers during this time whether they were hoarders or not.
That all goods, whether bottled or in glass, taken from the bar, had to be accounted for to the barman in chargeand rung up on the till.
That it was customary for the yardman to bring back, during the day, between ten and thirty empty bottles of soft drink from the office of the manager, which said . soft drinks, to the best of my knowledge and belief, was never paid for by placing money in the till, or ringing up the money in the till, and I have been informed by the other barmen respectively on duty- that at no time was any money handed to them to pay for same, nor their tills rung up by the said manager in their presence.
That I, as head barman, took stock every morning for the bar when I noted what was required for the day on the stock-sheet, signed same, and took it to the manager, who then proceeded to the store with me, where he handed out the stores as set, forth in the sheets.
That on various occasions, on coming on duty in the mornings to take stock for the day, I have noticed bottles of different kinds of liquor missing from the bar which had been taken away after I had left the bar at night when the hotel had closed, and before I came on duty in the morning at 9 o’clock.
That the said bottles could only have been taken by the manager, as he was the only person who had access to the bar, that he never at any time rang- up the till in payment of the aforesaid liquor, although I, as head barman, was responsible for everything that appeared on the stock-sheets and came out of the bar.
That every morning I came on duty the bar counter . would contain a large number of dirty glasses which were not there the night before, as the barmen washed all glassesbefore leaving the bar for the night, that no money was rung up on the till for any drinks that had apparently been served out out of hours, nor was any money handed to me for any such drinks, and I am informed by the other barmenrespectively that they received no money to ring up on the till, nor had any been rung up, and I verily believe the same to be true.
That I have been dismissed from my employment at the Club Hotel because, during my week-end absence (a period I am entitled to be away), two barmen were seen bringing beer out of the bar on the Sunday morning, and I, as head barman, have been held responsible, although no charge has been preferred against me, and although I have demanded that an inquiry be held as to any blame that may attach to me.
That the said manager informed me that he objected to the barmen drinking with customers, but that they could have a drink quietly.
That I have had over two years’ service at the Club Hotel, Darwin, with the exception of a period of three months away on an operation south, and that during that period I have had no fault found with my work.
That, on the seventh day” of January, 1918, the supervisor of hotels tookstock about 9 o’clock in the morning, and came into the bar with the manager.
That the slops mentioned in clauses 3, 5, 6 were still standing in the bucket on the cask, under the pump, and had not yet been poured into the cask.
That the arrival of the supervisor prevented the usual practice aforementioned from being carried out. When the manager said to me that the tap of pump Had been leaking from Saturday night.
That the tap’ was turned off, and no leakage was possible, and the contents of the bucket was a deep black colour, impossible to be produced by beer.
That the whole of the facts set forth in the foregomg clauses have come personally under my notice, except where otherwise stated.
Sworn at Darwin this 13th day of February 1917.
Honorable members will notice that the dates are contradictory; evidently some mistake has been made in typewriting the affidavits.
– Why did not the man who brought down those affidavits send them to me with a covering letter, as I requested him to do?
– I introduced that gentleman to the Minister, who said that he would receive the affidavits if they were forwarded with an accompanying letter. The gentleman said that the affidavit’’ would have to stand by themselves ; he would take no responsibility for them ; he had been asked to give them to some member of this House, and he handed them to me. The second of the affidavits reads -
I, Jack O’Brien, of Vesteys, Darwin, labourer, make oath, and say as follows: -
That I was barman employed at the Club hotel, Darwin, on the 8th day of December, 1918, and continued in the said employ until the 31st day of December, 1918, when I left of my own accord.
That I have read the affidavit of George Close, marked “A,” dated the 11th day of February, 1918, and as to clauses 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6, the facts sworn to therein are correct in every particular.
That the practice of pouring the slops into the Carlton beer on draught in casks (38 gallons) continued from the 8th day of December till 31st day of December, 1918, when I left the employ of the Club hotel.
That the facts sworn to by the said George Close, in his affidavit, marked “ A,” of the 11th day of February, 1918, as to clauses 9, 10, 11, and 12, are correct in every particular, save and except that I, myself, informed the said gentleman mentioned in clause 10 on various occasions.
That as to clauses 13, 15, 16, 17, contained in the aforementioned affidavit of George Close, the facts are correctly stated.
That I have at no time received any money to Ting up in the till for anything that has been taken away by the yardman to the office of the manager, either during regular business hours or after.
That the said George Close was, during my employment at the said hotel, employed as head barman, and took stock every morning.
That on various occasions he has drawn my attention to the fact that stock was missing from the shelves in the morning which had been on the shelves the night before.
That I have seen the yardman, Tony, bringing back ten to thirty empty bottles of soft drinks from the office of the manager of the Club hotel in a basket, and that no money has been paid to me either by Tony, the yardman, or the said manager, to ring up in the till for the said soft drinks.
That the best of my knowledge and belief, no one had access to the bar of the said hotel after closing time, except the manager, in whose possession the keys of the said bar alone were.
That the whole of the facts set forth in this, my affidavit, have come personally under my notice, except where otherwise stated.
Sworn at Darwin, this 13th day of February, 1918.
C. P. Bell, J.P.
There are two other affidavits by ‘John Thomas Murphy and Prank Patterson, both barmen of Darwin, and they are to the same effect as those-I have read.
– What sort of men were they to serve to their fellow workmen such drink as they have described?
– I am placing before the Committee the bald facts as they have been given to me. Previously I have complained to the Minister of a system of censorship, not under any War Precautions Act or regulation, which made it impossible for a letter to be sent from Darwin to this part of Australia. Letters were tampered with and censored in order that information might not be allowed to leak out, and men were prevented from getting proper treatment. The interference with the post reached ‘such a state that letters had to be smuggled out illegally through men travelling south, and posted at Brisbane.
– Were the letters of ordinary citizens Opened in the way you pave described ?
– What evidence of that is there?
– Certain documents that were sent to me did not reach me. As a test, two envelopes containing blank sheets of paper were sent to me, and only one reached me. If these things can take place in the Territory, is there any wonder that there is trouble there? I shall hand these affidavits to the Minister for him to deal with as he thinks fit.
It is advisable that during this session there shall be several alterations to the War. Pensions Act. I have received the following letter, which reveals an anomalous condition of affairs : -
I am writing to you to see if you can do anything for my sister, Mrs.- . She has applied to the Pensions Department, and they have refused her a pension. Her son enlisted when he was twenty-one, and, after being two years in the army, was killed last September, and his father died a month before the boy was killed. I must state that the boy was an adopted child, my sister not having any children of her own, and adopted him when he was six weeks old. The boy, before he enlisted, was in the Commercial Bank at- . He would have been able to help his mother by the time he was twenty-three. It seems hard now my sister has lost her husband and son to have to work for herself now she is fifty. If you can kindly let me know if anything can be done I shall be greatly obliged.
– Had she an allotment from him ?
– Yes. She applied for the pension, and was refused. I appealed in her behalf, but without success. Should not the woman receive the same treatment as if she were actually the mother of the lad ? As u matter of fact, he did not know when he went to the war that she was not his natural mother, but because her husband was alive when the soldier left Australia, and she was not at that time dependent on him, she was refused a pension. Foster mothers are not treated as they should be.
– They are treated on the basis of other dependants.
– Yes, but this woman was to all intents and purposes the mother.
– A greater scandal is the treatment of mothers of children born out of wedlock.
– The Commissioner of Pensions has not the power to treat foster mothers as mothers are treated. I think the Government should make some alteration in this1 respect. If it is not possible to amend the Act, they should allow the Commissioner of Pensions to make provision ‘ for them by means of a regulation under the War Precautions Act.. That measure has been used for very many bad purposes; I do not see why it should not be used for one good purpose. The Commissioner should be given power to treat foster mothers just; as mothers are treated in the matter of pensions.
.- Last week the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Mathews) brought to me a gentleman representing the Liquor Association, who presented to me the declarations which the honorable member has just read. I asked him what their import was, and from what” he said, and from a first glance at the documents, I gathered that they contained a reflection upon the character of others. From experience, I know how much time has been wasted on inquiries that. end in proving nothing, and believing it only fair to those whose characters were impugned by these papers, I asked this representative of the Liquor Association, whose name I forget, to present them again to me under a covering letter, so that I would know who was responsible for the allegations made. He did not do so, and now we have the extraordinary procedure of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports presenting them to the House in order that a gentleman who, apparently, did not care to present them to me under a covering letter might avoid any responsibility attaching to them. Why should any one approach the Minister with a series of imputations based upon the loosest information, and upon hearsay evidence - many of the charges were exceedingly weak - and ask for an inquiry into the allegations without accepting the responsibility of signing his name to a covering letter? The Minister controlling a Department has some responsibility to other people as well as to those presenting such documents, and it would be poor business on my part if, when charges of dishonesty are made against a man, I did not regard myself as at least in the position of a police magistrate, and see first whether there was some prima facie evidence before wasting public time and public money in inquiring into them. It was due to the persons possibly maligned in those allegations, that the representative of an association opposed to Government-controlled houses in the Territory should at least on the following morning have forwarded those charges to me under a covering letter. Had he done so I would have seen that a thorough inquiry was made into them.
The honorable member for Melbourne Ports next proceeded to talk about the censorship. I have already told him that should he bring specific charges before me I would have them inquired into. He has not done so. All I have gathered from the honorable member is that on some occasions, when he has sent telegrams to persons in the Northern Territory, they have not been delivered for at least a fortnight. I at once inquired into the cause for the delay. It is not a matter that concerns my Department, but I promised that I would go into it with the Defence Department and ascertain the cause of the trouble. I found that it at times took an official telegram two weeks to reach Port Darwin. If there is anything sinister in the delay occasioned to the honorable member’s telegrams, surely there must be something sinister in the relationship between the, Government and the Administrator of the Northern Territory when official communications at times are also delayed.
– Why should there be a censorship between Darwin and Melbourne?
– That is another matter altogether. Dr. Gilruth is not only Administrator of the Northern Territory in my Department; he is also in time of emergency in direct relationship on some matters, with my approval, with the Defence Department, and under the authority he exercises as an officer acting for the Defence Department, certain telegrams may be censored.
– He used his powers of censorship to prevent letters coming to me.
– I do not admit or deny the honorable member’s statement, but I did find that letters that should not have been delayed in ordinary circumstances suffered some lack of expedition. However, that was not due to the censorship or any act of the Administration. In conclusion, I will only say that if there is a matter of substance to complain of it is due to the Minister that whoever makes the complaint should give particular instances, so that inquiry might be made immediately and accurately.
– I am entirely in favour of the amend-, ment submitted by the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Boyd). It is most regrettable that at this particular juncture there should be such maladministration in the affairs of the Defence Department. In private enterprise a person responsible for blunders such as have been shown to have taken place in the Defence Department would be immediately dismissed; but, notwithstanding newspaper criticisms and the severe censures of the AuditorGeneral, there does not seem to fee any intention on the part of the Minister for Defence to remove himself from office. Where huge sums of money are involved, and when the ‘Department is being run under difficulties, it is possible that discrepancies might occur to the extent of a few thousand pounds; but when they amount to hundreds of thousands of pounds, some one should be held responsible. If the Minister for Defence had taken the right course he would certainly have resigned. But he remains in office, apparently taking no notice of the criticism that has been levelled against him.
– To what discrepancies is the honorable member referring?
– There are so many that it would take me all night to read out the list.
– Mention one discrepancy.
– I have no desire to mention even one, because it may not come ‘into my mind. IfIhad time to read the report of the Commission which inquired into the Department, perhaps the honorable member would understand his position also.
It has been the custom of the Govern ment to preach a policy of economy. The Secretary for Defence has just issued an invitation to.the leading newspapers of the Commonwealth to participate in a conference to be held on Monday next. The invitation reads as follows: -
Melbourne, 4th April, 1918.
Commonwealth Government has decided to hold conference of representatives _ leading newspapers to discuss press censorship generally. Prime Minister will open conference, and Ministers Navy and Defence will attend. Object of conference to insure equal treatment, to obtain co-operation of press to disclose confidentially reasons for restrictions, and to discuss further means for assistance of Allied Governments. The Minister, therefore, would be glad if your editor could represent your journal at an official luncheon to be given by the Government in Melbourne on Monday, fifteenth April, and at the conference, commencing next day, at 10.30 a.m. Officials concerned will be represented at discussion, but will not vote on resolutions of press representatives. An agenda paper will be prepared, and you are invited to make any suggestions for same which you desire. Expenses of representatives will be paid by Government.
Is this conference to be held for the pur pose of trying to induce the newspapers to submit to a policy which will be outlined by the Prime Minister and the Secretary for Defence for political and electioneering purposes ? At any rate, if it is a reasonable proposition to invite representatives of the newspapers supporting the policy of the Government to a conference, it ought to be equally reasonable to invite the representatives of every newspaper in the Commonwealth. The question is whether the Secretary for Defence has invited representatives of the various Labour newspapers to participate. In any case, I am totally opposed to this proposition. It is not a fair thing to invite representatives of the press to Melbourne at the expense of the Commonwealth. The money could be more wisely devoted to giving an extra allowance to the dependants of soldiers. However, I suppose that Senator Pearce is supreme for the present, and will conduct affairs in any manner he desires.
I wish now to refer briefly to an incident in connexion with the Small Arms Factory, Lithgow, where today there are practically 1,000 men idle through no fault of their own. The Minister for Defence has been communicated with time after time on the situation. He was invited to Lithgow to try to settle the difficulty, but refrained, though he certainly did bring a delegation to Melbourne to discuss it. That conference proved futile, and the position now is exactly the same as it was six weeks ago
– Is there not a manager at the factory?
– Of course.
– Then ought not these matters to be left in the hands of the manager ?
– If the manager were a capable man, it would be quite right to leave matters in his hands. The unfortunate position is that the Minister for Defence does not know anything about the management, and has left everything in the hands of the manager, who, as honorable members know, is not in sympathy with the present location of the factory, and has, on more than one occasion, advocated its removal to Canberra. A manager is expected, to administer the affairs of a factory impartially.
– What is the decision of the Government?
– There is no decision of the Government. There was an assurance given by the Minister.
– Is that not sufficient?
– I take it for granted that it is. There was an assurance by ihe Minister that, the factory would not be moved, but that assurance does not help to improve the position as we see it to-day. What I desire is an assurance from the Minister representing the Minister for Defence that the 1,000 men now out of work will be permitted to return at an early date, on the conditions that prevailed previously. The whole trouble arose over one man, a barrel-setter, leaving his work. The manager, as a result of that man’s leaving, saw fit to knock off 1,000 men.
– One man? You know that is not correct.
– One man left his work on the Friday, and two hours afterwards another was absent, and a third was ill. If my memory serves me aright, another man left on the ‘Saturday, making four barrel-setters absent.
– Is it not a fact that two indispensable men left their work - that they, although they were earning from £10 to £12 per -week, made demands on the Government for further concessions ?
– That is totally wrong. The two indispensable men were away when this incident happened, one having leave of absence and the other being ill.
– The whole four barrel-setters were indispensable.
– If I am permitted, I shall explain the circumstances as nearly as 1 can. On the Friday, two men left because they were dissatisfied. On the Monday morning these men were ordered back to work by their union, but the management would not permit them to return.
– There was only one of them in the union.
– They were all in the union.
– I may be wrong, but I have the statements of the men. There were three of them members of the Small Arms Factory Union, and one a member of the Amalgamated Society of Engineers. They were ordered back to work, but when they presented themselves the manager absolutely refused to allow them to start. Day after day they tried to effect a settlement with the manager so that they might return to work on exactly the same conditions as prevailed when they stopped, but this the manager refused point blank. The manager did say that two out of the four might return, but these two would not accept the offer unless the whole four were included. As time went on the other men were prepared to present themselves for work; but, as I have already said, there are to-day practically 1,000 men idle as a result of the mismanagement of the manager. I shall not go into details, but suggest that a Committee or Commission be appointed to inquire into the working of the Factory.
Some time ago the question arose as to the cost of the production of rifles, and we were informed that, while rifles at Enfield and other places in the Old World were turned out at £3, the cost at Lithgow was £9. The responsibilty for this was thrown on the shoulders of the men, who were described as “ slow workers.” “ slackers,” and so forth, but careful investigation shows that the responsibility is wholly and solely with the management. Every day there are incidents at the Factory of a staggering nature. I know of scores of- circumstances that materially increase the cost of the rifles, if my information is correct ; and in order that the matter may be cleared up, I suggest an inquiry.
– You must make a specific statement.
– I do not wish to do so, but ask the Minister to take action.
– The Business Commission has just been inquiring into the management of the Factory.
– So far, I know of no inquiry by the Commission. One man was sent there to make inquiries, and he took evidence, but he certainly was not a member of a Committee or aCommissioner, and the evidence submitted was of rather a curious nature and leant decidedly in favour of the men. Moreover, that inquiry was held under the War Precautions Act, and the officials of the union were told.that everything must be done secretly. What is the use of a Commission if the result of the inquiry is not to be known? I am. sorry for the state of the Factory at the present time, and I ask the Minister to use every effort to get work resumed within a short period, seeing that rifles just now are as essential as men, and even more so in some respects.
I urge that the work of providing proper housing for the men at Lithgow should be advanced as rapidly as possible. Some honorable members may take exception- to the employees at the factory being decently housed, but such accommodation is absolutely necessary. Evidence in this regard was submitted to the Treasurer and the Minister for the Navy some time ago, and both were of opinion that there ought to be a proper system of housing. In many cases three and four families are living in five-roomed cottages, and in one instance forty odd men are accommodated in a six-roomed cottage. For cottages, of three, four, and five rooms, rents are as high as 25s. a week; and in many cases cottages are rented by a certain class of men at £1 per week, and sub-let again at 25s. and 30s. In more than one case two families occupy three-roomed cottages, and, in one, two families are in a two-roomed place.
– Do you suggest that workmen there are rack-renting each other ?
– It is the landlords’ doing.
– Oh, no !
– In some cases, I am prepared to admit, it is a worker who is extracting money under false pretences from his fellow workers, but in nine cases out of ten it is the landlord.
– The forty odd men must have been a poor lot to live in a sixroomed cottage.
– They were compelled to do so by the circumstances.
– Why could they not live in tents, as many have to do in Western Australia ?
– The men at Lithgow cannot live in tents,’ because they have to be in close proximity to their work.
– Seeing that the Government have decided to build homes at Lithgow for workmen, why dwell on the matter?
– You might as well ask why we should dwell on various things that the Government have decided to do. It is the houses we require, not talk.
– The Treasurer gave you an assurance the other day.
– But nothing is done.
– You know that the Government have procured the necessary land.
– Quite so; but we desire to see the houses erected; it is six months since the inspection was made.
– I think it is six weeks.
– I think it is more, but if the Government undertake to have these cottages erected as rapidly as possible, I shall be satisfied.
– The honorable member may take it from me that no time is being lost.
.- At a time like this, in the midst of a grave crisis, a member has to be particularly careful in the statements he makes, and particularly careful about any action he may propose to take. I have considered the present position for some time with a great deal of apprehension, and I regret that the amendment submitted bv the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Boyd) is not a straight-out motion against the Government. I was one of those who contested a seat at the last election as a member of the National party with only one object in view, and that was that the National Government should concentrate all its energies on the task of helping the Empire in the present time of crisis. I am more than dissatisfied, and I intend to speak of my dissatisfaction at a later period of this debate. At this stage I shall confine my remarks to the amendment which has Deen moved by the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Boyd) for a reduction of the Estimates by £1 as an indication to the Government that in the” opinion of the Committee the control of the Defence Department should be in the hands of a member of this House. It is the largest spending Department in the Commonwealth. This year its expenditure amounts to something over £100,000,000, and we are -therefore more than justified in demanding that the Minister controlling it should be a member of this Chamber. I claim that it is the worst administered of all the Commonwealth Departments. One has to admit that, at the outset of the war, grave initial difficulties confronted the Minister. We had no experience of war conditions, and were called upon suddenly to send away large bodies of men. We had to provide outfits and supplies for these men, and there were undoubtedly a great many difficulties to overcome. For some reason or other, however, the Minister for Defence, it seems, could attend to every duty of his Department with practically no control over him by the Cabinet. His appointments were uncontrolled by the Cabinet, and there was but little control over his expenditure. So far as he was concerned, there were exemptions everywhere. He had control of the Defence Department, control of Repatriation, and control of the Navy and naval works, which alone involved a huge annual expenditure. Then, again, he had control of the Cockatoo Island Dockyards and other large avenues of expenditure in New South Wales. He controlled the Lithgow Small Arms Factory and the Arsenal, on which we were asked to expend £2,500,000. The Acetate Lime Factory, on which £80,000 is being spent, is likewise under his control, as well as clothing, woollen, and other factories. As if these were not sufficient, he was given control of the censorship, and even racing was placed under his administration. For a time he was the Acting Prime Minister. It was inevitable that many grave errors should take place, having regard to the multifarious duties which the one Minister had to undertake.
We have had astounding revelations, not only in the reports of a Royal Commission, but in other directions, and they satisfy me that a change should be made in the administrative control of the Department in the interests, not only of Australia, but of those who are at the Front. In the early stages of the war, no doubt, some good work was done by the Department, and in some of its branches we can still point to good work that is being done. But we find permeating the whole Department the taint of political favour and incompetency. Worse still, we have procrastination.
– Can the honorable member give a few instances of political favours f
-I intend to. Unlike some honorable members, I am not going to make charges without proving, them up to the hilt.
– Instances ot-
– The honorable gentleman should not interject. He travelled in the same groove as his colleague when he was Minister for the Navy, especially in regard to the Naval Base at Flinders. I know what it means for officers to be placed in charge of large works of that kind. In’ many instances they are good men, but when they are subjected to constant political interference in the discharge of their duties their ambition is destroyed. I propose to give some evidence of the procrastination - an even stronger word might perhaps be used- of the Department. I have here the papers dealing with the inauguration of the Wheat Pool. Here in my hand are the promises made by the Prime Minister to the producers of Australia. Here, again, is a copy of the Victorian Act passed at the instance of Mr. Hagelthorn, which contained a promise to producers that they would be paid for their wheat on the basis of London parity. A certain number of men in Melbourne, however, put themselves above the law. They said, “ We refuse to allow this wheat to be loaded for the Old Country.” And they delayed the loading of wheat for Great Britain until the Acting Prime Minister agreed to the price of wheat for local consumption being reduced from 5s. 4d. to 5s. 2d. per bushel.
– An awful thing - to reduce the cost of living!
– Does the honorable member suggest that the Minister was justified in committing a gross breach of faith merely to placate his then supporters? There are other cases to which I intended to refer, but in the limited time at my disposal, I wish now to deal with the question of Defence works. The Minister for Defence was in charge of the Cockatoo Island Dockyard, concerning which a Committee, consisting of a majority of the Labour party, has furnished to Parliament a report in which it points to the absolute ineptitude and extravagance displayed, and to the impossibility of the manager carrying out his duties properly under the conditions then applying there. That report reads something like an extract from a comic opera. It tells us that the Melbourne and the Sydney cost £400,000 each, but that the Brisbane cost £600,000; and that tens of thousands of pounds had been expended, but could not be allocated to any particular work. It was found impossible to allocate that’ expenditure. The Committee pointed out further that a launch constructed at Cockatoo Island cost £12,000, whereas a launch built on the same specifications by Robison Brothers, Melbourne, cost only £5,000. On one occasion, there was a strike at Cockatoo Island Dockyard because a carpenter had the audacity to cut a quarter of an inch off some screws which he desired to use, and was said thus to have done work outside his own trade.
– Was that the fault of the Minister?
– Yes; because it was due to political interference.
I propose to give more glaring cases of political interference. Work at both the Flinders Naval Base and the Henderson Naval Base, Cockburn Sound, was started just before a general election, and actually before any plans had been prepared. What is more, the work at Flinders Naval Base was started without the approval of the Naval Board. ‘ Many honorable members have heard of a dry dock, but have they ever heard ,of a dry wharf ? Accompanied by the honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. Riley) and the honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. Finlayson), I visited the Base about two years ago, and saw that, in connexion with the building of a wharf, a huge earth wall had been built to keep out the tide. That having been done, they started to put down the piles on the dry land. That, apparently, was not providing enough labour, so a huge excavation was made. At the time of my visit, it was approximately 600 feet long, 50 feet wide, and 20 feet deep. Some seepage was occurring, and a pump was employed to pump it back into the sea. In this huge excavation, the men were driving the piles. I asked the engineer why the wall had been made, and was then told that it was considered likely to lead to economy. Then I asked why the excavation had been made, and was told that the piles could not be driven through the sand. In support of this, the engineer .showed me a pile that had been broken in two, and I could not help remarking, “ What bad luck you had when you threw that pile off the truck.” I made such an outcry as to the way in which the work was being carried out at Flinders Naval Base that a change was made. Those who care to visit the Base will see that one-half of the wharf was built within this huge excavation, while the rest of it was built without the removal of a yard of earth. I saved the country over £10,000 by doing away with this mere shifting of dirt. Answers to questions that I put in the House show that the shifting of this dirt cost 9s. 4½d. per yard, although it was worth only about ls. 6d. per yard.
– And I dismissed the Naval Director.
– I am complaining of the Minister who gave instructions for that work to be started. The honorable gentleman (Mr. Jensen) was one of those responsible for the drift that set in in connexion with these works. I believe that the engineers placed in charge of these big undertakings are anxious to do their best, and to make a name for themselves, but” if they dismiss men a member of Parliament is appealed to, the Minister goes down to the works, and the men are put back. Then the officer in charge begins to realize that if he dismisses men, or insists oi-i a fair day’s work being done, he will only create trouble for himself . And so the drift’ sets in, and we have the extravagance of which I complain.
The position was the same in regard to the Small Arms Factory, concerning which the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Nicholls) has just spoken. I have gone through all the figures and the plans and specifications for that Factory. Time after time we have asked in this House for a balance-sheet dealing with its operations, and I have made complaints as to the work being done there. I took the honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney), the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Bamford), and the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Mcwilliams) into my confidence some little time ago, and showed them an official report setting out that of some 300 rifles sent from the Small Arms Factory to Perth, over 100 had to be returned.
– And a German officer was the cause of it.
– They would not clear the cartridge, and the rifling was broken in the centre and at the end, Colonel Dodds was sent ‘to Perth to inquire into the matter, and he brought back certain parts. Three of the rifles had the forearm broken in two, like a rotten piece of carrot, and in two, the bolts were so slack, you could release them at any point of their transit. An inspector was sent to Lithgow, and forwarded a report to the Acting Prime Minister. That officer had to condemn hundreds of rifles.
– That was the fault of the expert who was brought out here to look after the work. It was not the fault of the Minister.
– And the fault of political interference. Probably more than one Minister is responsible for this. I have asked time after time that balance sheets showing the operations of the Government factories should be furnished, and they have been promised to me. But the Royal Commission on the administration of the Defence Department, whose reports have recently been published, says concerning the method in which the accounts of the Commonwealth factories are presented -
The simple but absolutely incorrect method of arriving at the products for the purposes of the balance-sheet by estimating their worth at the amount representing the difference between the assets and liabilities, has resulted in various factories being able to square off their accounts at the end of the year, but affords no indication what the profit or loss of their operations has ‘been.
That method of preparing a balance-sheet is certainly expeditious ; but a public company which presented its accounts in that way would be prosecuted for fraud. We were told that the average cost of manufacturing a rifle ab Lithgow would be £3 9s. Id. But, as I have previously stated, I believe that the average cost has been £11 or £12. I should not” have minded that so much had the rifles been good ones. I do not say that all the rifles turned out at the Factory have been bad ; that could not happen ; but I ask how long is it since a rifle made at the Factory was sent out of Australia. The Minister for Defence, in a speech made not long since, spoke of the good shells that have been made here. Some of tha shells made may have been good, but I believe that although £500,000 has been spent in the making of shells in Australia, not one of those made here has gone into a cannon. The Department, after realizing that our shells could not be used, spent money in continuing the manufacture of them, waste for which the country has to pay. The Minister stated, too, that we were supplying not only ourselves, but one of the other Dominions with rifles, whereas it is only within the last three or four months that we have been making a rifle of the British pattern. We have not been sending rifles to the Front since a few months after the war started; we have been making them merely for home defence. , I tam not one who likes to live in a fool’s paradise. The reports of the Commission to which I have just referred are terrible reading. Even about the Clothing Factory some Very drastic things are said.
– I understood that that factory was praised very highly.
– One of the clothing factories was pr;used. We have a right bo demand the fair and proper presentation of the accounts of these factories, so that we may know that we are not paying too much for our whistle. I was promised that early this year balance-sheets showing the operations of these, establishments would be furnished, but of what use will such balance-sheeets be to us if they are made up in the way the Commission speaks of. In its report we read of “ frauds and irregularities,” and of “ irregularities “ in connexion with pay. In one case there were cash, notes, and cheques amounting to £10,000 which ought to have been accounted for. The Minister is not personally responsible for the things of which I complain, but his administration has been futile and intolerable. We have heard from the men coming back complaint after complaint concerning the way in which they have been paid, and the deductions from their pay, and we find that no proper records have been kept, and all sorts of blunders made. Yet the Minister has the assurance to say, “ This is not my fault, it is the fault of the staff that I have had to accept. A previous Administration having forced upon me preference, to unionists, I was compelled to take every incompetent sent by Katz and Swebleses.” Was it necessary for the Minister to accept incompetents? He was a member of the Administration that brought in preference to unionists,’ a most immoral principle, and he fought an election in support of it. Worse still, the system is in force to-day. We yet have preference to unionists in the Clerical Branch of the Defence Department, although the Minister says that it is the ruin of his Department. Some honorable members opposite might consider it good practice to appoint carpenters, blacksmiths, bootmakers, and others to clerical positions, and to put them in charge of pav offices.
– The honorable member would be glad to put them in charge of rifles.
– I would like” to put the lot of them where they ought to be - at the Front. I would not provide them with clerical jobs. The Defence. Department is no place for the cold-footer. I opposed the first referendum on conscription, considering that the question was one for decision by Parliament, and that if Parliament could not decide it, the constituencies should be appealed, to. I believe, however, that conscription would have been carried at the first referendum had it not been for the bungling of the Defence Department, where there are more disloyalists than you will find in any other place in Australia. I could give the names of men in that Department who, oIl the platform, opposed conscription.
– Why not? They have their political rights!
– I would not’ have such men in the Defence Department.
– Why not? They do work for the country as well as the men in any other Department.
– It is such men who advised the Minister, just before the first referendum, to call up for training all eligibles, bringing them from their homes, and farms, and places of business, and causing so much trouble that conscription lost tens of thousands of votes.
– You should blame for that, not the Minister for Defence, but the Government of the day.
– I do not know that it was the Government that was responsible. The Minister for Defence has the right to make appointments without consulting the Cabinet. One or two very big appointments were made, and every one on the other side denied any knowledge of them. I do not know whether they shielded themselves behind the Minister; but in this case the fault was, I believe, with the Department. The second referendum was proposed merely for political reasons. Sir Wiriiam Irvine was making himself so popular by his remarks on conscription in Sydney and Brisbane that the Government thought it best to propose the second referendum, with the result that all hope of conscription, being carried is now gone. The second referendum was arranged for with indecent haste. Members had hardly time to speak on it throughout their electorates.
– The honorable member supported a Government that told the country that it would not bring forward the question of conscription unless the position at the Front altered.
– I went before my electors as a straight-out conscriptionist, and told them that, if returned, I would, if I could, get conscription put through Parliament without any appeal to the country.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
, - I have listened with very great patience to a number of statements that have been made tonight by honorable members on this side of the chamber. The honorable member for Dampier said that he greatly regretted that the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Boyd) had not made this indictment much wider than it is. The honorable member desired it to include the whole Government. May I tell him at once that the whole Government are included. No Government could sit under an indictment like this and attempt to place it upon the shoulders of any ohe member of the Cabinet. The indictment is not of a particular member of the Government; the remarks have been general all through. And the Government are fully aware of the meaning of it all. It is not the blood’ of Senator Pearce that honorable members are after. They know very well that they desire to put this Government out of office.
– A very laudable desire.
– Of course, honorable members opposite think it a very laudable desire, and, notwithstanding that the honorable member for Dampier has been castigating honorable members opposite for their control of affairs, the Leader of the Opposition, of course, will be one of his most loyal and devoted followers on this occasion. There need ‘ be no camouflage about the situation in which we find ourselves. The meaning of this attack is perfectly plain. The Government, and I believe every member of the Committee, quite understand what is taking place.
I desire to say. a few words regarding some of the statements that have been made. In the first place, the honorable member for Dampier referred to the huge expenditure in the Defence Department, aggregating, he said, about £100,000,000 for this year. That statement is perfectly true, and so impressed have the Government been with the magnitude of the operations of the Defence Department, that they have decided to place nearly the whole of this expenditure under the con trol and direction of three or four of the ablest business men they could find in the community.
– Is not that in itself a censure on Ministers?
– The honorable member has a curious way of viewing these things. It has always been the rule in connexion with every Government of which I have knowledge, and it is certainly the invariable rule in the Imperial Parliament, that when the Government themselves institute an inquiry, whatever the result may be, the Government are not necessarily involved in the finding. The position is quite different when such inquiries are forced by Parliament upon an unwilling Government.
– They were forced upon the Government.
-No pressure whatever was exercised upon the Government in these matters.
– There was a motion for the appointment of a Royal Commission to inquire into the administration of the Defence Department.
– Of course: motions are being moved and statements are being made about everything. A statement was made in this House yesterday about the huge commission alleged to have been paid in connexion with the purchase of the Commonwealth steamers. The fact is that no commission whatever was paid.
– Who believes the honorable member ? I have heard that a commission was paid. Read Hansard.
– I have read Hansard, and am stating the facts.
– The Prime Minister, on the floor of the House, said that a commission was paid.
– The Prime Minister said that a payment of £4,500 had been made to one firm, but he also told the House that the ordinary seller’s commission, which we were entitled to pay on a transaction of this kind, had been refunded to the Government, and a purchase involving over £2,000,000 sterling involved a commission of only £4,500.
– Let us have the balancesheet.
– When the honorable member gets the balance-sheet in connexion with theoperations of those ships, he will find that already they are more than half paid for out of their own earnings.
– That is more by good fortune than by good management. The capital value of the ships has increased considerably since they were pur- chase d.
– I entirely agree with the honorable member, but his statement does not alter the fact. There is no doubt that luck has been on our side in this matter.
-If the luck had been on the other side, the Government would not have taken the blame.
– Surely we are entitled to congratulate ourselves on the good luck that has attended this venture.
However, I will not dwell further on this matter.
I wish to deal with the huge expenditures by the Government, and to tell the Committee that we have taken the one course that was open to us, namely, to get the best business ability of the community patriotically pressed into the service of the Government.
– After three years.
– For what are the Government assailed? Because they have rectified some of the things of which complaint has been made ? I am trying to point out to the Committee that many of these- matters have been rectified, and I shall quote to honorable members what the Royal Commission said about the factories controlled by the Defence Department. We have heard certain criticisms by the Commissioners read to-night, and it is surely most unfair to single out the little bits of adverse criticism and suppress all criticism that is favorable. If there is one thing for which the Minister for Defence may take credit, it is the conduct of the factories under his control.
– How long has that been the case?
– I will read to honorable members what the Royal Commission said regarding the factories. Referring to one of the clothing factories, the Commission reported -
Special consideration was given to the quality and finish of the fabric produced, and we consider that the product of the factoryis superior in many respects to the goods supplied to the Defence Department by outside contractors. A striking instance of the high efficiency of the factory is afforded by the fact that it produces a pure wool cloth at a cost which enables the Defence Department to provide returned soldiers with a ready-to-wear civilian suit at the same price as was previously paid for a similar suit made from cotton and shoddy imported cloth.
Mr. Chalmers told me personally that he would like to purchase as much of the output of the ‘factory as he could get at the price it cost to produce.
We were particularly impressed with the capacity and organizing ability displayed by the manager. As far as we are in a position to judge, the fullest possible value is being obtained from the heavy capital expenditure invested. This is very creditable to the manager, as he was the officer responsible for the whole of the inaugural work connected with the establishment of the factory, and the highly successful results achieved are to a very great extent attributable to his zeal and expert qualifications.
This is what the Commission said of the Clothing Factory at South Melbourne -
In our opinion, the factory is well and economically managed, and, in view of the conditions which necessarily obtain in Government undertakings - from which private firms are comparatively free - the highly satisfactory state of affairs reflects great credit on the manager.
Much valuable work has been carried out by the factory in connexion with the equipment of troops for service abroad, and the evidence available indicates that the workmanship has invariably reached a high standard. It is anomalous, however, that the examiner of stores should be required to examine and pass the products of the factory.
That is a matter of accountancy which the Commission very properly calls into question, but is it fair of honorable members to quote only minor criticisms regarding the accountancy, and suppress all the other things which are said in praise of the factories? Why cannot we be fair to the Minister and those who are responsible ? If we must be charged with all these delinquencies, why cannot we give publicity to the testimony as to the efficiency of the factories? The same praise applies to the Cordite Factory. Indeed, the finest chapter in the report is that which relates to the business undertakings carried out by the Defence Department. I say this without prejudice, because I still believe that in normal times this work should be left as far as possible to private enterprise. But today we are at war, and working under the disabilities of war, yet the Commission finds that these factories are the one bright spot in the whole-
– That is true.
– I meant to say, the brightest spot in the whole chapter. I shall conclude on this point by quoting these words -
There is, on the whole, much to congratulate the Department upon with regard to -the efficiency of nearly all the Government factories.
There is at the end of the report a statement of a very eulogistic character, which I shall ask one of my colleagues to read later in the debate. Since the present Government took office we have been trying to grapple with all these huge expenditures. We have worked honestly and unwearyingly at all the problems that presented themselves from day to day, and we claim that immense improvements have taken place even during the last ten or twelve months, as is evidenced by the Commission’s report and by the facts, which speak for themselves. I repeat that these huge expenditures have been given into the control - of course, without losing Ministerial responsibility - of the most capable business men that the Government could find to deal with them.
As to Cockatoo Dock, the honorable member for Dampier was referring to things which took place years ago. I criticised the delay in the construction of the Brisbane, but mayI say on the other side that we have begun to construct the Adelaide at Cockatoo, and that vessel of 5,500 tons we hope to launch within ten months of the laying of the keel ?
– Hope springs eternal in the human breast.
– I am assured that that will be done. I ask honorable members to get into their heads the fact that these matters are under capable control now.
– Why send to America if we can build vessels at Cockatoo Island?
– Because we cannot get enough vessels built here. Flinders Base is under capable control to-day. Mr. Settle, an Imperial man, is in control. Honorable members are aware of the quality of the man. Therefore of what use is it to go back over old history ? Let us rather be glad that these matters are now in capable hands.
– I did not have time to finish my remarks. I was anxious to go right through the history of the matter.
– I admit the vicissitudes through which the Small Arms Factory has passed. I have been a critic of that establishment. But here again I would like to point out that the Government obtained a manager direct from the works where the machinery was manufactured. The man who erected the machinery was kept here to manage the factory, though it seems to be a common opinion that he did not manage it economically or efficiently. After him came Mr. Ratcliffe, an experienced man, an Australian trained in the Old Country, and he is acting manager at the present time. In control of the factory we have one of the most capable managers it is possible to find in Australia, a man w’ho has managed a huge establishment at Maryborough successfully and enabled it to pay dividends and develop an engineering capacity second to that of no other establishment in Australia. What more could the Government do? What more can we do than to put capable men in control of these factories 1 If the concerns are still unsatisfactory the fault must be sought in other reasons than Government inefficiency or lack of control.
The honorable member for Henty (Mr. Boyd) speaks of the position the Defence Department would have been in if the Commission of Inquiry had not been appointed. But the Commission has been appointed, and has reported; its reports are being adopted by the Government, and are being given effect to as far as it is possible to give effect to them. The Government accepts the report. It asked the Commission to report, and it believes that the Commission has done its work well. It will strive to give effect to its recommendations.
– Does the honorable gentleman approve of the statements made by the Prime Minister that some of the comments of the Commissioners were not true?
– I am not here to say that every word in the Commissioners’ report should be adopted any more than I am- here to say that we should pay strict regard to every word uttered by the honorable member.
– That is a nice way of sidetracking my question.
– Does the honorable member mean that any Commission’s recommendations should be adopted in their entirety?
– That is not what I suggested in my question.
– The Government appointed the Commission, accepts its report, and is doing its best to give full effect to it, and as an earnest of its attitude towards the Commission it has invited its chairman to go upon the Business Board connected with the Defence Department and help to carry out his own recommendations. It could not go further than that. It seems to me that because the Government has done all these things and effected all these improvements, and because it is doing its . best to give effect to the recommendations of this Commission, it has laid itself open to criticism on the part of the honorable member.
– Hear, hear! It is the worst possible indictment we could have of the Minister for Defence, but he is still kept in office.
– I am afraidand I have to say it with very great regret and sorrow - the honorable member is not quite a fair judge of these matters.
Reference has been made to the’ Naval Bases, and to the cost of buildings at those Bases. There again I understand that rough estimates were made and submitted to the public Works Committee for inquiry. Those inquiries have been made, and I have no doubt that the Minister for Works and Railways will take care to give full effect to the recommendations of the Committee.
– How can the right honorable gentleman make a statement like that when the Public Works Committee recommended that £111,000 should be spent, and the Department has already spent £170,000 ?
– I tell my honorable friend that that has been changed.
– By Order in Council all the work which is being carried out by the Defence Department is specially exempted from reference to the Public Works Committee.
– That statement is not correct.
– I remind the honorable member for Dampier that one of the first things the Government did on taking office was to place a number of defence works which previously were exempted from reference to the Public Works Committee on the non-exempt list, so that the Committee could inquire into them. It seems that for making this beneficial change the Government are again to be assailed. We try to meet honorable members, and they immediately start to assail us tor doing it. I repeat that the works inquiries which have recently taken place, and as to which all the criticism is now being made, were works which before this Government took office we’re exempt from inquiry by the Public Works Committee.
– It was the Public Works Committee Act passed by the right honorable gentleman’s Government which exempted those works.
– The Act gave the Minister discretion in regard’ to the matter. As to the matter of increasing prices, I can tell honorable membersthat it is part of my duty almost constantly to have to increase prices which have been quoted by tender for all kinds of work.
– That is the case everywhere.
– It is so in every department of life owing to the fact that we . cannot obtain certain articles from the other side of the world, things we cannot make here, machinery of various kinds which we are not in the position to make in Australia. Tenders are invited for these articles, and quotations are submitted, and then we . find that the things cannot be obtained except at a very much higher price than that which has been tendered. Consequently we have to meet these cases from day to day, and do the very best we can with them. It is useless saying to me that more money is being spent than was estimated to be spent.
– Does the right honorable gentleman say that it is necessary to have all these buildings erected at the Flinders Naval Base during a time of war ?
– It is absolutely necessary to hastenthe completion of the Flinders Naval Base, because we want the space now occupied by the depot at Williamstown for shipbuilding purposes, and for other reasons. The Naval Depot is in the way, and we are hastening its removal so as to make the space available at the earliest moment for the building of ships. lt is a matter that cannot wait one minute longer than we can possibly help.
As to the general expenditure on Naval Bases, I know that there wasi some criticism in this regard last year. I have consulted the best, authorities on the naval outlook, Imperial and Australian, and I hope that honorable members will not stintthe spending of money on completing these Bases, or on the building of more vessels. I will say no more upon that point.
– No one is blocking expenditure in that direction.
– I express the hope that the House will not limit naval expenditure, whatever else it does.
The honorable member for Henty (Mr. Boyd) has also referred to the censorship, and the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Fowler) said that he’ was “ sick and tired “ of the secrecy that was being observed. The Government are inviting the newspapers of Australia to a Conference next week.
– Are the representatives of the Labournewspapers also invited ?
– Yes. The honorable member for Henty criticised the secrecy which we observed with regard to the sinking of a troopship. I wish to tell the Committee that the secrecy observed on that occasion was imposed by the Imperial Government.
– That did not make it right.
– I know; but the honorable member went on to criticise Mr. Lloyd George and all the Imperial Government.
– We have the right to criticise him.
– The honorable member has the right to criticise him, it is a matter for his own individual judgment ; but when the Imperial Government ask me to keep a matter secret I decline to takethe responsibility of making it public without their consent. The honorable member for Henty would do the same thing if he were in a responsible position.
– If I were in the position of the Minister I would represent to the Imperial Government the utter absurdity of making such a request.
– Do honorable members imagine that we do this kind of thing for fun ? Do they think that we would not like to make these things public if it were possible to do so? But there are obligations to be honoured, and there are duties which we owe, not only to the people of this country, but also to our Allies who are fighting our battles on the other side of the world, and there are duties which we owe to the Imperial Government, who are intrusted with the responsibility of the direct control of these affairs, far greater responsibilities than we have. When these matters are imposed on us by the Imperial Government, no man realizing his responsibilities will play lightly or loosely ‘ with the exercise of them. I hope sincerely that good will come of the Conference that has been called for next week on this very important matter of the censorship ofnews.
Another accusation made against the Minister for Defence is that he has had no business training. I suppose that he has not, but again the reply is that we have appointed a Business Committee to control these huge expenditures.
– Why should that Committee be necessary ?
– The honorable member might just as well ask why a Public Works Committee is necessary.
– I voted against the appointment of the Works Committee.
– Of course; but, at the same time, you are a member of the Committee.
– Why should I not? Parliament put me on the Committee.
– It is a good Committee to watch Ministers; and they require watching.
– The Minister for the Navy has reached the limit of his time.
– May I be allowed to proceed?
– I am surprised to hear the confession that the only object of honorable members opposite in going on the Public Works Committee is to watch Ministers and Departments. With all its defects, and with a great Want of business ability on it, I believe that Committee is doing good work for this country. Its critical reports that we receive from time to time are the very reasons for its appointment and existence; and, altogether, I believe that the country benefits by what the Committee does in this respect.
Now a word as to recruiting. I regret that the honorable member for Henty should have made such ungenerous remarks - that he, of all others, should criticise what others have done in regard to recruiting.
– The honorable member charges Ministers with not having done anything in the way of recruiting; but I have a distinct recollection of the honorable member himself refusing to again do any recruiting work.
– I have done as much recruiting work as any member of the House.
– I have a distinct recollection of the honorable member declining to go recruiting.
– That was after I was tired of going about, and not getting any recruits. I said in my communication at the time that, if conscription was notbrought in, I would do no more. At the same time, I stated that if it was a matter of canvassing’ for conscription, I was prepared to stump Australia; and I did so every night during the whole campaign.
– The statement still holds good that the honorable member, for that reason, declined to do any voluntary recruiting, and declined more than once.
– No, sir!
– However, so far as the Government is ‘concerned, it. has lost no opportunity to do all that lies in its power to forward the new proposals. I have been in many Governments in my time, and I can say that this Government has worked as hard as, and harder than, any Government that I have been connected with. The work of the Government since the war broke out has multiplied itself four or five times in volume, as well as in importance. While the honorable member criticised the increased number of Ministers - and, again, he put the case very unfairly-
– Was it not true?
– I do not say anything about its being untrue; I speak of the unfairness in the setting of the statement. The honorable member, for instance, spoke of nearly half the House having paid office of some kind or other.
– I did not say that.
– I mean, half the party.
– I did not say that, either; I spoke of nearly half the effective votes on this side of -the House.
-That will do quite well; and included in the honorable member’s list, of course, is Mr. Speaker ?
– Is he capable of being influenced?
– He is a good party man.
– What is that statement ?
– I say he is a good party man.
– In the list Mr. Speaker, the Chairman . of Committees, and four members of the Public
Works Committee are included; and we have just had a specimen of the way in which a man’s vote and attitude may he influenced in the House by reason of the fact that he is getting some “ pickings “ ; weknow how much that has influenced him. Then there are also three members of the Public Accounts Committee, who get no salary of any kind.
– I did not say “ salary,” either.
– I remind honorable members that these are not offices dispensed by the Government, but that those honorable members are officers of the House - officers of Parliament.
– Who elects them ?
– The House, as provided for by the Act.
– After each party has selected their men.
– After the party has made the selection, the House makes the appointments.
– The two party Whips are also included in the honorable member’s list. I wish to say in reply to all this that, although the Government have appointed three additional Ministers, it has been distinctly stated that two appointments are only temporary, to continue during the absence of two Ministers at the Imperial Conference. I may also point out that in Canada there are twentyone Ministers.
– And there are 300 members of the House - I put that point.
-That is so; but the fact that those members are in the House does not influence the work to be done. In Canada there are twenty-one responsible Ministers, the number having been greatly increased since the outbreak of the war. I remember that when we were discussing the question of the increase of honorable members’ salaries a few years ago, there were thirteen responsible Ministers in Canada, the present number showing an increase of eight. I venture to say that the volume of work to be done, and the responsible nature of that work, is not very dissimilar as between Canada and Australia.
-. - In Canada there is a true Federal Government, which takes on more services than this Government does.
-That I know, but whether the Parliaments be similar or not, the work is large, and it is that which governs the necessity for the appointment of Ministers. It is only an incident, or accident, that the number of Ministers ‘ here should be so large relatively to the number of members in the House. I do not know what honorable members think about the composition of the Federal Parliament as to its numbers, but I have a very definite opinion, which I. shall be glad to express at some other time.
– Just give us a forecast of your opinion.
– I am not one who thinks that this Parliament is too large, because I very definitely do not believe that it is; that is as far as I care to go just now. As I say, the work of the Government has increased four or five times since war broke out, and the only addition to Ministers is one permanently and two temporarily, while two of the older Ministers go to the Imperial Conference.
– You will have a terrible row when the time comes to sack these two men !
– Maybe we shall, but that will not be the honorable member’s “funeral;” will it? I desire to say a word about the Commonwealth police. The honorable member spoke as if this were a new matter, but I tell him that there have been Commonwealth police for a very long time, and that all that is being done now is to give them an organization.
– Military police?
– No; not military police.
– You said that you wondered whether they still existed.
– I did not say any such thing, because I know that they do exist, and that for years-
– Spies and detectives, but not police !
– I knowthat for years there have been Commonwealth police at every manufactory in the Commonwealth - State and- Commonwealth, too; and they must be there.
– Are those identical with the recently created new force?
– The whole thing is being systematized, and given an organization for the first time. Honorable members may take it from me that the police would not Toe in existence today if they were not necessary; and they are necessary, and are doing useful work in many ways. I sincerely hope their numbers will be kept as small as possible, because I have no desire to see a huge police force duplicated throughout the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth, however, must have its own agencies to give effect to its own instrumentalities, maintain law and order in the Commonwealth, and do all that is ncessary in these pressing war days.
For the rest, may I ask honorable members to consider very fully the course they are taking, and to remember that that course cannot lead them in the right direction, while it may lead to trouble. I hope that honorable members know what they are doing; “[ hope that, above all, however they may regard our controversies here, they will remember what is transpiring overseas.
– I am as enthusiastic as you are about that.
– I think that we ought to shift failures wherever they are, but we ought first to demonstrate that they are failures. This Government has done an amount of work for which it has never been given credit. During the past twelve months we have had to shoulder responsibilities and burdens that have not been imposed on any Government for many a year past. Honorable members must not forget the strike of four or five months with which we had to grapple, and all the interferences and intrusions made on the administrative work of the Government. Do not forget all that has been accomplished, and, above all, remember the things yet to be done, and the responsibilities yet to be faced. While we give our arguments a party tang the great issues of the world are being decided overseas. I hope honorable members, whatever else they do, will keep that tragic fact in mind. As they cast their votes upon this and other important questions, let them not consider this or that point of criticism; let them not seek points of difference, but rather points of agreement, and bend all .their energies to the service of the Government and the fighting efficiency of the Common- wealth with all the force they are able to command. That is our duty, our first obligation.
– Why not adjourn Parliament, then the Government would have no trouble.
– They could do anything under the War Precautions Act.
– I cannot heed these statements from the other side. They show a wantonness that is tragic. If honorable members see fit to take these burdensome duties from our hands they will be sorry; I shall not be. I shall only be concerned as to whether they can be performed better in the interests of Australia and in connexion with the defence of our Empire. I earnestly ask the Committee to consider all the issues involved in the taking of this matter out of the hands of the Government, and interfering with the financial proposals of the Ministry. Honorable members know perfectly well the responsibilities attaching to such an action. I again ask them to consider this question with ‘ all the responsibilities weighing upon them. The Government will take the decision of the Committee, whatever it may be, but will not accept the amendment that has been proposed by the honorable member for. Henty (Mr. Boyd).
– I wish to make a personal explanation. Both the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Cook) and the Treasurer (Mr. Watt) have challenged the statement I have made that large defence and naval works were exempted from inquiry by the Public Works Committee.
– That was not what the honorable member said; he spoke df the exemption of works conducted by the Defence Department. The Defence Depart-0 ment is not conducting any works.
– I spoke of defence and naval works. I have here a copy of the Government Gazette setting out the works which have been exempted. The acetate of lime factory, estimated to cost £80,000, and to be under the Defence Department, is to be exempt. The Aviation School, to be erected under the recommendation of the Minister for Defence, and also the cordite factory, are exempt from inquiry by the Public Works Committee, as well as the following works: - Naval magazine, oil fuel storage tanks and depots, water supply and water storage, all works and buildings in con- nexion with submarinebases, torpedo stores and workshops, naval barracks, naval training schools, naval stores buildings, dry dock pumping stations, electric generating stations, dredging of approach channels to naval bases, and wireless installations.
. -The speech just made by the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Cook) was not delivered in his best fighting style. He was trying to defend a very weak Minister, and his heart was not in the job. I well remember how he used -to thunder against that Minister in the early days of the war. I wish to bring under his notice the action taken by the South Melbourne Council in regard to a gentleman whom he has more than once defended, and whom he still allows to contract with his Department for the supply of meat. Two serious accusations were made in regard to the selling of diseased and rotten meat at South Melbourne during Christmas week, but the powerful influence of the great Angliss Company caused the council to withdraw the prosecution. The Minister will not be doing his duty to the country and the soldiers, who might have been poisoned by the awful and filthy meat supplied to them if he allows that firm to continue to contract for the supply of meat for our transports. Is there to be no punishment for an offence of this kind? Are men and women to be poisoned by meat sent out from abattoirs owned by this company? The Melbourne City Council denies that the diseased meat to which I have referred on other occasions came from its abattoirs.
The Minister for the Navy complimented the Royal Commission which inquired into Defence matters on its work, and asked what more that Government could have done. Let me tell him that it should not have hidden away, as it did for some time, the report made by the Commission. But for the demand made by the powerful press it would not have been made public.
– Itwas hidden away for months.
– Just as many other things have been hidden away. The right honorable gentleman also spoke of what the Government had done “during the last twelve months.” If he admits that they have been in office for twelve months, then it was a mere farce on their part to resign office after the Conscription Referendum and to return to power on the following day. The Minister for the Navy sought to defend a colleague who has made his Department a department of muddledom. That is the name applied to it. by one of the ornaments of the Sydney Bar.
I have never cared to apply a harsh name to any man, but I have here a letter from a man who speaks of himself as “ a scab.” This letter comes from America, and by some means escaped the Censor. Had the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Jensen) continued to hold office as Minister for the Navy I should not have had to read this letter; but I must do so in the present circumstances. It is as follows : -
United States Marine Hospital,
Portland, Maine, 15th February, 1918.
I left Melbourne, 2nd October last, as boatswain in Commonwealth steamer Australford, bound for Bordeaux, in France. I was a National volunteer, otherwise “ scab “-
– I suppose he got his deserts.
– No, he has been treated badly. He goes on to say - and I can now see and realize the error of my ways, and know what it is to be a National volunteer.
– It serves him right if he was a “ scab.”
– I do not think much of the honorable member for making such a statement. It is not every man who can point the finger of scorn. This man con-‘ fesses the error of his ways. He writes -
The Australford was ordered to the coldest of the Northern States of America. The vessel was totally unfitted for such a climate, leaking in every part of her. Our clothes wet, bedding soaking wet. The night we arrived here, with the glass 20 -below zero, I called the mate to my room and pointed out to him the state of my bedding. Of course he said it was scandalous, and went away. I may point out to you that my room resembled a dog kennel more than the habitation of any human being. I went to my bed that night, and next morning I could not move, and the blankets and bedding were stuck together with ice. The result was that an ambulance was sent for, and I was brought here. And here I am. The captain came up to see if the doctor would allow me to go back in the ship, but the doctor would not hear of it.
Now, dear sir, you will hear what has happened. The ship has gone, and if any money has been paid here for me, it cannot be traced, and I am left here without any means. There was money due to me, and Captain Kydd left without paying it to the hospital or myself. I was also entitled to a passage to Australia. It appears that the ship has no agents here.
A kind lawyer has taken up my case, and he thinks it is shameful the way I am left. My poor wife is in Williamstown. Her allotment will be stopped, and she is not strong, and may be in want. She lives at 52 Thompsonstreet, Williamstown. If I am spared to reach home I will tell you and others something that will make your hair stand on your head about that ship. The captain and officers never had any dealing with white crews before, but coolies. The captain is a half-breed coolie. The sanitary arrangements were loathsome, and the accommodation was the worst I ever met. during the forty odd years I have been following the sea, and I have seen some bad ones. The food was degrading. We were twenty days living on bad biscuit, hard as wood, without a bite of soft bread.
I cannot write it all down, but if I live, and can find my way back to Australia, the whole of the people of Australia shall know how white crews are treated in the Commonwealth ships by nigger-pushing officers. They should have been kicked out with their coolies. Dear sir, I may never get back, but I know that you will see that mr poor wife will get fair play…
Ronald . MacDonald.
This man has departed from the ideals of unionism, in which I believe, but I am going to give him all the help I can. He broke the laws of unionism to help the present Government to man its ships, and he has been left destitute in a hospital, over which, thank Heaven, flies the Stars and Stripes. If the Minister for the Navy does not look after that man at once, he should not go on another platform to ask men to volunteer. ‘
What the honorablemember for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) said is absolutely correct. We went and saw Colonel Bruche, who pronounces his name wrongly to make it rhyme with Brace. When the poor boy, O’Donnell, was crucified by the Defence Department, this officer denied that he had ever been in his room, but O’Donnell described the room, from the ornaments on the mantlepiece to the rug on the floor, and asked, “How could I know all that, if I had never been into the room?” The Judge disbelieved the officer who, when he was asked the name of the house in which he had lived in Melbourne, said that he did not know. I do not blame this man for having been born a German, but I blame him for being a martinet, and for not telling the truth when, we went to see him. One of those who went is present in the chamber now. He will remember that I said, “ I have neither regardnor respect for this man.I will not speak, but I will stay and listen to what he says.”
– That is a fact.
– This Colonel Bruche did not remember the name of the house in Melbourne in which he had lived for years. Like a shot came from O’Donnell’s lips the question, “Was it Breslau?” and the officer had to reply that it was. I think that we three left theroom believing him to be a teller of untruths. The gun he handed to the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory), who is handy with a weapon, bore out the statements in regard to which we called on him. We made a report to the Minister for Defence, who was going to have an inquiry, but, all he did was to give the . officer higher rank, and to send him away to a comfortable position. I understand that General Birdwood knows of the country of his birth, and that he will be looked after. What was the reason for that treatment of him? I can only think that he belonged to the Government House “ push, ‘ and Senator Pearce would do any mortal thing for any one like that. ‘
I charge the Minister for Defence with having unjustly discharged upwards of 2,000 men in New South Wales after a little riot, caused possibly by the visit of General McCay, who shortened their hours of leave, and increased their hours of drill, a nonsensical thing to do. Hundreds of these men havesince re-enlisted under other names. It was ridiculous, at a time when men were wanted at the Front, to discharge these men.
I accuse the Minister (also, perhaps acting under the advice of the woman’s doctor who would not be allowed to practise in the Melbourne or the Alfred Hospital as a surgeon, of having men brought out to Australia unnecessarily. I do not know that Dr. Cuscaden is responsible for that, but I know that if he went to Englandhe would be the laughing-stock of the British Army, because he has neither the diplomas nor the experience necessary for a surgeon’s appointment in it. He has the lowest degree that it is possible to obtain. A surgeon in the British Army must be, generally, a Fellow of the College of Surgeons, or a bachelor or master of surgery of some university. He must also pass a competitive examination, which is much harder than the ordinary examination, and he must go to Netley, or another military hospital, for a year or a year and a half. Where did Dr. Cuscaden go? To the Women’s Hospital. Was it on his advice that Senator Pearce had soldiers suffering from the diseases that are called the red plague brought thousands of miles out to Australia? Was there not some little island in the Mediterranean, or some healthy spot in France, England, or Scotland where they could have been treated even more scientifically than in Australia? There was. I assure you, Mr. Chairman, that rheumatism is a much more deadly thing for a soldier in the matter of preventing him from fighting than either of the two diseases to which I have referred. I say that, as one who for months, had control of the Lock Hospital in London, I know only two other men in Australia besides myself who have had that experience. Armies have swept on their conquering course although riddled with these diseases. To send, men back to Australia over a distance of 10,000 miles, simply to be treated for such complain ta, is a waste of public money.
I accuse Senator Pearce, further, of having wasted £2,000 of the people’s money over the .Gunner Perry case. The honorable member for Parramatta asked in this House if one of the three Ministers of the Defence Department could not go and see the man. One gentleman, who has lately sat on the front bench, went to see him, and his. pity for the man was so great that he helped his wife. Had Senator Pearce gone to see him the country would have been saved £2,000. That brutal scoundrel, Dr. Meade, tormented Perry - the fact was owned to in Court - with an out-of-date frictional electrical machine that, according to a legend in a Melbourne hospital, killed a man in the years gone by. He had the machine applied to the tip of the ear, the tip of the nose, and the tongue, because Perry had beaten him in a court martial by producing Dr. Springthorpe’s letter. When I stood in this chamber in defence of Perry, it was to prevent the man from being put again under that infernal doctor. Yet Senator Pearce has employed that doctor on two separate occasions since, although he knows the evidence ^against him. Senator Pearce lied in the Senate, and he lied in the witness-box.
– I ask the honorable member to withdraw that statement.
– I withdraw ‘it here, because it is contrary to the rules of Parliament, which you, sir, must administer but I shall make it on the first platform from* which I speak. I did not know that the clerk of the Court was a soldier in disguise until two days before the case ended. Perry, poor fellow, had not a single lawyer, but there were four lawyers on the side of Senator Pearce, the object being not so much to hurt Perry as to down me. The very day on which the poor fellow was sent by Mr. Cohen, police magistrate, to the receiving house, on a certificate signed by Dr. Jones, the greatest authority in Victoria on mental derangement, one of these “lick-spittle” doctors went into the witness-box and said that he was able oto earn his own living. Yet Perry was six .and a half months under treatment. Who was the man who took Senator Pearce’s car to kidnap Perry at night time ? A German whose services had been dispensed with prior to his getting into the Defence Department. But nothing was done. Nothing could toe done. When, out of gratitude to me, PerrY’ at the last election tried to get on to my platform, he had developed the most wonderful voice I ever heard in my life. It could be heard nearly half-a-mile away on a quiet night. With that voice he could have addressed a crowd of 100,000 people, but I could not permit him to speak for more than five minutes before he collapsed, and had to be led off the platform. Had another man been in charge of the Defence Department £2,000 of the people’s money would have been saved in connexion with that case.
In regard to Dr. Gilruth, I am sorry that the Minister for Home and Territories is not present. It must be his legal training that spoils the honorable gentleman. I have come to the conclusion that, with very few exceptions, men who are educated as barristers become sophists. Judge Higinbotham was one of the exceptions, and Judge Higgins another. The Minister stated that, because a man did not wish to have his name involved in the matter, the sworn declarations in his possession iu the matter referred to by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports were not good enough evidence. Let me state the other side of _ the picture. I have no personal animus against Dr. Gilruth. I believe that, as a veterinary surgeon, he holds the highest diplomas, and he is a scientific man. But his duty is in tho Northern Territory, not in the City of Melbourne. I believe he remained in Melbourne on one occasion for seven months.
– I do not think that the fault was his.
– If the fault was not his the Government were to blame for allowing a man, who is expected to make the Northern Territory pay, to do his work from Melbourne. The salary of Dr. Gilruth is £1,750 per annum, and, in addition, he receives an allowance of £500 per annum, and £2 per day when travelling. Am I wrong in assuming that, while he was in Melbourne, he drew the £2 per day ‘for travelling allowance?
– I do not know.
– I know that he drew his travelling allowance during portion of his stay in Melbourne.
– Tho Labour Govern- ‘ ment appointed Dr. Gilruth.
– We appointed him to go to the Northern Territory, and not to remain in Melbourne for seven months.
– He must prefer this climate.
-If he cannot remain in the Northern Territory, let him makeroom for a man who will. I believe the people of the Territory are not allowed a vote except in connexion with the conscription referendum.
Now that the Minister for the Navy has entered the chamber, I should like to bring under his notice the case to which I have already referred of a sailor who is stranded in a hospital in Maine, United States of America, through being compelled to sleep in wet blankets. He was taken to a hospital in an ambulance, and he and his wife are left without a penny. The fact that the man broke the rules of his union does not prevent me from asking the Minister to send aid to him and his wife.
– If the honorable member will give the Minister for the Navy the full particulars, he will make the necessary inquiry.
– I am sure he will.
The Minister for the Navy read out a list of paid offices held by members of the Ministerial__party, as follows: - .Speaker,. 1 ; Chairman, 1 ; Ministers of the Crown, 1 1 ; members of the Public Works Committee, 4; members of the Public Accounts Committee, 3; Whips, 2. Thus 22 of the 53 members of the National party in this House occupy paid offices. Deducting the three brave fellows who are at the Front, it would appear that the Government have only to create four more billets, and they will have a majority of the party provided for.
An’ honorable member said that it might be necessary to reduce the amount of money provided for the payment of Ministers. I tell the honorable gentleman that if the people had the power of recall, they would put out of Parliament at least half the members of the Government party. If the Minister for the Navy would care to risk his chance of going to England, and to contest a seat - in a capital city (hat is not divided into four constituencies, as. Sydney is, he can have a fight in Melbourne whenever he pleases. ,If he does not care to accept that challenge, but will put forward his boss, the little chap who pulls the ears of all honorable members opposite, I shall be glad to accommodate him. Give the people the right to recall honorable members, and we shall have honesty in politics. Until the commencement of this war, I was proud of Australia, and gloried in the boast that our politics were free of bribery and corruption, but I refuse to answer for the present state of affairs. I would not be in order if I were to. state my candid opinion, but I shall state it outside. We shall never have honesty in politics until the members who are. Toady to say, “We glory to be the servants of the people,” are really so; until the electors, by lodging a petition signed by 30 per cent, of their number can declare any seat vacant, and require a fresh election to take place in’ three weeks’ time.
I believe that we pay to each of a hundred men in the Department, and in the Expeditionary Forces, more than is received by the commander of the Swiss army of 300,000 men in time of war. By regulation 67 the salary of a LieutenantGeneral has been fixed at £2,000 per annum, in addition to which he is entitled to an allowance of 15s. per day, or £6 5s. per week, making a total of £45 per week. That is more than General von Moltke was paid when he led the Prussians to conquer France. His salary was £1,500 a year. Prom the commencement of this year I intend to advocate that the soldiers, as well as officers, shall receive the same payment and the same food and wear the same uniform, and that the pensions of the dependants of men and officers shall be on the same scale, because I realize that the soldier in warfare occupies the more dangerous place. According to the rules of modern warfare the officer is in a much safer spot, and pay should bear some relation to service rendered.,
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
House adjourned at 11.3 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 11 April 1918, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1918/19180411_reps_7_84/>.