7th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker(Hon. W. Elliot Johnson) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– Is the Treasurer yet in a position to state the amount of the payments which will be made in the respective Wheat Pools, referred to by him last week?
– Yesterday the Cabinet dealt with the recommendations ofthe Australian Wheat Board’, and approved of them, subject to the concurrence of the bankers with whom we have to do business. I have hadno opportunity, so far, of conferring with these, but hope to finalize the matter early next week.
– On the 18th March the manufacturers of tobacco increased its price to retailers from1s. to1s. 6d. per lb., and subsequently the Government decided that the increase of price should not continue after the 23rd April. As during the interval between the dates mentioned, many retailers bought at the higher price, I ask the Minister concerned with the fixation of prices if the Government will compel the manufacturers to give to them rebate of the difference between the original and the increased price charged to them?
– The changes in price occurred before I took charge of this Branch of the Department of Trade and Customs, but I understand that it was considered that the Government had given the retailers reasonable notice of. its intention to reduce the price of tobacco, the retailers having bought in comparatively small quantities. It must be borne in mind that probably every retailer had a small amount -of stock of whichhe increased the price when the manufacturers’ price was increased. The whole matter is still under investigation’. I shall give careful consideration to the honorable member’s question, and see whether it is necessary to take the action he suggests.
– Will the Minister personally look into the admission into Australia of magnetos covered by a trade name which before the war was of German ownership; I refer to the Bosch magnetos made in America? I ask the honorable gentleman if he will give expression in his administrative action to the will of the House, that goods covered by a German trade name and trade description shall be kept out of the Commonwealth.
– I shall have much pleasure in doing what the honorable member asks me to do.
Mr.FENTON.- Is the Honorary Minister able to give me an explanation now of the reason for the serious bungle which occurred last Friday in connexion with the Anzac Day procession?
– Ipromised the honorable member that I would make inquiries and inform the House to-day regarding the arrangements which were made in connexion’ with the Anzac Day Remembrance Procession by the Department, and the reason for there being such a large interval between the rear of the military column and the procession organized by the Returned Soldiers Association as to cause His Excellency the GovernorGeneral to think that the procession had terminated after the military column had passed the saluting base at Parliament House. I desire to say that in connexion with the parade of troops through the streets of Melbourne on Friday last, the Department made full and complete arrangements for the procession, and ‘the returned soldiers were provided for in this respect. The secretary of the Victorian branch’ of the Returned SoldiersAssociation, however, made representations to the- Commandant to the effect that it waa desired that the returned soldiers should march at an interval following upon; that of the military parade, inasmuch as- it was- proposed by the’ League to introduce various- items which- it- would not be proper to- sanction in a. purely military parade. This request the Commandant, agreed to, and it was arranged that, there should be an interval between the rear of the: military column and the procession organized by the Returned Soldiers- ‘Association, which, it is- understood, was in charge of Senator Lt.-Colonel Bolton. The Commandant thus had no control over the second portion of the procession, and was not aware that a hiatus had occurred, causing the rear portion to be considerably delayed, and it was considered (erroneously as it now appears) that when certain vehicles completed the procession at Bourke-street, these terminated the display. The occurence was a most regrettable one, and an explanation on the basis of the above has been made to His Excellency.
– Have- arrangements yet been come to between the Queensland and Federal Governments, in connexion with the purchase of next year’s sugar crop?
– No; the matter is still the subject of negotiation. Quite a number of important subjects have to be determined, which it seems almost impossible to settle by correspondence. It is therefore proposed to confer with the Premier of Queensland regarding them at the Premiers’ Conference, which is to meet in. Sydney at the end of next week.
– In the absence of the honorable member- for Macquarie, I ask the Minister if he is aware that, although the strike, or lock-out, whichever it- was, at the Small Arms Factory, Lithgow, has been settled, there are still” 950 men out of employment, and that married men with large families are being asked to produce reject papers before- being employed. It is stated that victimization’ has been indulged in very largely of men who were officials of the union. Will the’ Minister ascertain whether theses allegations! are; true, and, if so, whether the position isnot contrary to the promise made by the: Prime Minister to the Conference which recently sat to endeavour to bring about, harmony in the community?
– I shall bring the question’ under the notice- of the Minister for Defence;
– Has the Acting PrimeMinister any information to give the House concerning the proposed purchase and’ distribution of cornsacks for the ensuing year?
– The matter has been finally shaped and approved, and I hope to be in. a position, to make a statement through the honorable member for Richmond either later to-day or to-morrow.
– Has the Minister for Recruiting inquired into the statement* which I made last week concerning: Captain Carmichael’s launching of hisfirst recruiting meeting ? The honorablegentleman promised to do so.
– The honorable member’s remarks were a great, surprise to me. On my return to Sydney last week-end’ I made inquiries into the matter. I found that something in the nature of the proceedings referred to by the honorable member was resorted to, but not on the scale1 suggested in the honorable member’s statement. I had’ no prior knowledge of theo employment of these methods’, and’ I willnot countenance them. I have taken, steps to prevent their repetition.
Re-registration of Unions, “ Etc.. - Printing of Report.
– Will the Acting:: Prime Minister inform the House what’ steps the Government have taken to carry out the promises made by the Prime Min*“ister at the Conference at Government House, and in the House, quite recentlyalso, wiE the Acting Prime Minister procure information from the different States regarding the fulfilment of promises made by delegates in reference to> the re-registration ‘of de-registered unions^. and the discontinuance of the victimization of unionists?
– This is hardly a question that one can be expected to answer offhand, but, broadly speaking, the Government have been paying the closest attention to the undertakings and promises of consideration made at the Conference on behalf of the Commonwealth and State Governments.
– Was it only consideration that was promised?
– In some cases, yes. The spirit of any promise that was made will be observed by the Commonwealth Government. Honorable members need have no apprehension upon that point.
– Not in the spirit of the Prime Minister.
– We are not dealing with different classes of spirit. If the honorable member will not accept the spirit of tho Prime Minister I ask him to accept mine, and I give my assurance that it will not intoxicate him.
-Your spirit is certainly better than that of the Prime Minister.
– That is an odious comparison which we, on this side, do not care for. We were in consultation with a representative of the Government of New South Wales for two days last week in regard to that Government’s part in the undertakings, and I have reason to believe that those undertakings will be faithfully observed. However, that is not the responsibility of the Commonwealth Government. Whatever influence we can bring to bear on any Government to have the promises made at the Conference kept will be exercised. So far as the Commonwealth Government’s undertakings are concerned, the Departments are preparing proposals for the consideration of the Government, and those matters which are being dealt with by the Law Department are nearly complete. In regard to the repeal of objectionable War Precautions Regulations, I a.wait consultation with the Leader of the Opposition, and I shall be glad to meet him at a time convenient to himself.
– Has the Acting Prime Minister any information as to when the printed reports of the proceedings at the recent Conference at Federal Government House will be available? I have received many requests for copies of the report. Has the Acting Prime Minister given consideration to the suggestion that the type should be kept standing, and that a. fair number of copies should be made available for distribution by honorable members?.
– There has been some delay in the printing of the report, and I did not receive an advance copy of it until last night. I gave instructions that the type should be kept, and that 1,500 copies of the report should be printed. The usual number required for parliamentary and public necessities is 900, so that there will be a balance of 600 available for distribution. If more copies are needed, the Government will consider the printing of them.
– I should like to bring under the notice of the Treasurer a letter Ihave received from Adelaide with reference to the prosecution of taxpayers for sending in their income tax returns after the due date. The letter states -
In our State returns, if aman is default he is fined according to the regulations. This is bad enough these times, but the Commonwealth procedure is much harder. Nothing will satisfy them but the man must go to Court, be fined, pay Court fees, and have the bad advertisement.
I ask the Treasurer if he cannot see his way clear to arrange that defaulters be fined according to the regulations, and not be hauled before a Police Court magistrate?
– Having given some study in other circumstances to income tax collection, I assure the honorable member that there are certain classes of offences in regard to which a Police Court advertisement is desirable. The attitude of the Department depends on the nature of the offence. I do not believe in taking a nian to Court for a purely technical or inadvertent default, but evasion and attempts at evasion are so common that the Department must beleft tolerably free to exercise its discretion.
-I ask the Assistant Minister for Trade and Customs whether the usual method of distribution will be adopted in connexion with the cornsacks for the next harvest?
– The honorable member having indicated his intention to ask this question, Senator Russell, the Minister dealing with the matter of cornsacks, has supplied the following answer: -
Owing to the difficulty of securing freight last year, tho Government found it was necessary to take action much earlier this year to secure an adequate supply of cornsacks for the coming season. The Indian Government have placed the services of their Jute Controller at the disposal of the Commonwealth Government to purchase this year’s requirements. Sixty million bags have been purchased at a very reasonable price, and. conferences are now taking place with the shipping authorities to secure the necessary freight. An early announcement will be made as to prices and details of the scheme for handling the goods.
– Has the Acting Prime Minister had an opportunity of considering the release, for public information, of such official news concerning the war as will not prove of advantage to the enemy?
– The honorable member asked me a similar question last week, and I promised to give it consideration. I have taken steps to advance the matter, but it is not yet complete. Perhaps within a week I may be able to make an announcement.
– I ask the Minister for Trade and Customs whether it is a fact that the Western Australian fruitgrowers are given, by the Commonwealth Government, a bonus of 9d. for every case of fruit landed in Sydney? If so, why is that done? If such a bonus is given, will it not militate against the settlement of soldiers in the Adelong district, which is further away from the market than are the Western Australian orchards?
– This matter has not come before me or my Department, but I believe that some request of that kind was made to the Prime Minister. I shall endeavour to obtain for the honorable member information regarding it.
– I desire to ask the Acting Prime Minister whether it is the intention of the Government to deal at an early date with the question- of the reform of the Commonwealth and State Taxation Departments, so as to secure a uniform system? The Government, I am sure, appreciate the friction, trouble, and expense incurred under the present diverse systems of State and Federal assessments. The report of the Conference which dealt with the subject urged that action would have to be taken at an early date if the reforms were to be made before the next returns were required.
– We hope to deal with it in a Bill which will be before honorable members within ten minutes.
Penalties and Fines
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Defence state whether fines and penalties imposed on men on active service who may be subsequently killed are being deducted from moneys held by the Department and payable to their relatives?
– I shall make inquiries, and acquaint the honorable member with the result.
– Is the Acting Prime Minister aware that the Censor has prohibited certain Sydney newspapers from publishing a speech made by me? If so, is not such prohibition contrary to the promise of the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) that all censorship of political matters would be withdrawn?
– I am not aware of this, since, as I intimated last week,. I have no knowledge of what the Censor is doing. If, however, the honorable member will give notice of his.question, I will have inquiries made.
– On two occasions last week, I asked the Acting Prime Minister whether he would publicly state the need for the proposed calling up of so many men for home defence, and for taking them away from their ordinary occupations, and putting them into camps around the coast. Will the Acting Prime Minister make a public statement on the subject?
– In accordance with the promise I gave the honorable member, the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) has made to the press, this week, a full and complete statement of the whole situation. I suggest that the honorable member should read it.
– I understood that the- Treasurer proposed to havea consultation with the Minister for Defence, and make a statement to the House, giving honorable members full particulars of the Government’s proposals.
– I have informed the honorable member for South Sydney that a full statement of the position appeared in the press this week.
– That was not an answer to my question. I asked what was the urgent need for calling up the men.
– All that the Government care to say in regard to the matter has been said fully in the report to which I have referred, as coming from the lips of the Minister for Defence.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Defenee spe that each honorable member is supplied with a copy of the fulldetails of the local training scheme outlined by the Minister for Defence?
– Is the Acting Prime Minister aware that the increasing shortageof native timbers is giving great concern to those who have to deal with them? The State Governments are interesting themselves in the matter, and I wish to know whether the Commonwealth Government intend to provide for reafforestation?
– Forestry is a purely State matter, and so far as I am aware, no Commonwealth Government has given attention to it.
– It should be a Commonwealth question.
– It may become so.
– I desire to bring under the notice of the Minister representing the Minister for Defence a document left in one house out of six in a certain street, and in which the male occupier was requested to supply his name, address, occupation, age last birthday, and to state whether he was single, married, or a widower. Will the honorable gentleman make inquiries and ascertain whether this is a form of conscription?
– I will.
– Has the Acting Prime Minister any answer to give in regard to the deputation that waitedon the Minister for Defence relative to the deportation of Italians - a question which, I understand, was considered yesterday by the Cabinet?
– The answer I could give now would not be satisfactory or final, but for the information of honorable members interested I may say that I am conferring to-night with the ConsulGeneral for Italy upon the matter.
Refusal of Leave to Taxation Officers,. Brisbane
– According to the Brisbane newspapers, some regret has been occasioned by the refusal of time off to officers in the Taxation Department there on Anzac Day, although employees ins other public Departments, as well as persons in private employment, were given leave off. Will the Treasurer ascertain why leave was refused, and take steps to avoid any such invidious discrimination in the future?
– The honorable member courteously gave me a few minutes’ noticeof his question, concerning the subjectmatter of which I previously knew nothing. The authorities of my Department gave the fullest allowance to officers here to enable them to see the big ceremonial, in Melbourne. The same leave should have been allowed in all the State capitals. I shall give instructions that in future this must be done.
– On 10th April last the honorable member for Dampier (Mr.
Gregory) asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
Will the Minister have inquiries made regarding the arrest of a returned soldier named Walter Farnham for illegally wearing his uniform, which resulted in his being imprisoned for nearly three days and then fined1s., with a view (a) to amend the regulationso that proceedings in such cases should be taken by summons instead of arrest; (b) to find out who was responsible for the arrest and imprisonment of this man; (c) to prohibit “coldfooters “ from wearing a uniform which a returned soldier is not permitted to wear?
I promised that inquiries would be made, and I am now in a position to give the following answer : -
The returned soldier referred to had been cautioned on several occasions for illegally wearing uniform, and these warnings were disregarded. He was arrested in uniform on Saturday, 22nd March, and the case was disposed of on Monday. Farnham had been discharged, and no longer being a member of His Majesty’s Service, was not entitled to wear uniform.
As a rule the name of the offender is taken, and this warning has usually been found sufficient except in this case. Instructions have, however, been issued that future proceedings against discharged soldiers should be by summons, and not by arrest.
A returned officer gave the information which led to Farnham’s arrest, and the arrest was effectedby the Assistant Provost Marshal.
This question appears to refer to the military police in Western Australia. Tills force consists of - 14 rejects, 17 over military age or obviously unfit, 28 returned soldiers. These men are all enlisted, and arc entitled to wear uniform.
– Will the Acting Prime Minister consider the matter of issuing a regulation under the War Precautions Act limiting the interest chargeable by money lenders, and compelling all money lenders to use their own names in their transactions?
– I promise to consider the matter, but it is a very large order to say that at this particular stage one can fix the price of money just as the prices of many other commodities are fixed.
– Is the Acting Prime Minister yet in a position to give me any information in regard to a queston I asked last week concerning the contract between the Commonwealth and the
Imperial Government for tha supply of rabbits, which is being carried out by the Rabbit Combine ?
– As answers to cables which have been despatched to Great Britain in regard to the matter are not yet to hand, I suggest that the honorable member should place a question on the business-paper for a later day in the week.
– While a woman was recently in the Women’s Hospital undergoing a very serious operation, her furniture was seized for payments due to a person who had sold it to her on the time-payment system, and who, not content with having removed her bed, demanded from her the payment of the balance of the money due to him when she came out of the hospital. Can the Minister representing the Minister for Defence tell us in what way soldiers’ wives can be protected from the actions of such harpies?
– If the honorable member will supply me with the particulars of the case, I will have inquiries made into it.
– Is it a fact that German internees are being brought from England to be interned in Australia at the Federal Capital site?
– I am not aware of it.
Discharge of Married Men
– In view of the promise made by the Minister for the Navy when he was Acting Leader of the House, that married men who had volunteered for service abroad and been rejected, and men over military age, would not be discharged from departmental positions in order to make way for returned soldiers, and in view of the many cases in which that opromise has been broken, will the Treasurer say whether the Government intend to adhere to the decision announced by the Minister for the Navy, or whether their policy in that respect is to be changed?
– I have no recollection of the promise referred to; but whatever promise this Government makes, it will endeavour to keep. I shall see if the cases mentioned by the honorable member are really breaches of any promise given.
– In regard to the war-time profits tax, is there any arrangement in existence between the Imperial Government and the Commonwealth Government as to how the respective Acts are to apply to firms with offices in Great Britain and in the Commonwealth ?
– I am afraid that I am unable to give a very clear answer in regard to the matter raised. There are many cases of overlapping in taxation between Great Britain and the Dominions, and in all probability they will occur in regard to the war-time profits tax. However, I will see that the matter is considered when we are dealing with the finances next year.
– On Thursday last the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Livingston) asked -
I ask the Minister who is in charge of recruiting ifhe will take into consideration the advisability of restoring the Scottish Regiments. A proposal to that effect was carried in this chamber without a division, but was lost in the Senate.
The Minister for Defence has supplied the following answer: -
I assume this request refers to Citizen Forces. We are now working out a scheme by which the identity and numbers of the battalions and brigades of the Australian Imperial Force will be. linked up with and perpetuated in the Citizen Forces so as to associate the glorious traditions won in this war with our Citizen Forces. It will be seen that with such a scheme, the honorable member’s proposal, contemplating as’ it does the formation of units upon a different basis to that upon which both the Citizen -Forces and the Australian Imperial Forces are constituted, could not be fitted in.
– On Friday last the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Falkiner) asked the following question: -
In view of the many complaints about the poor quality of the tobacco obtainable by our boys at the Front, is it not possible for the Defence Department to send Home 10 or 12 tons of tobacco for sale through the canteens?
The Minister for Defence has supplied the following answer: -
Australian tobacco is already on sale at the Australian Garrison Institutes in Egyp’t, but no demand for Australian tobacco up to the present has been received from the Australian
Garrison Institute representative in England. A cablegram, however, has been despatched to the Australian Imperial Force Head-Quarters, London, asking whether the Troops are specially desirous of obtaining Australian smoking tobacco.
– I would like to offer a few words of explanation in regard to the matter of tobacco for soldiers. I am a great tobacco smoker, but about the only crime that I did not commit in the Army was the smoking of cigarettes. I stuck to the old pipe. The great cry among the Australian soldiers in France is for Havelock or Vice-Regal tobaccoes. Tobacco is not sold to the troops; it is issued to them; and that which is supplied is almost unsmokable. If we could send supplies of Australian tobacco to the boys at the Front they would appreciate it very much.
– If I find that the honorable member’s statement is correct, I undertake to have the matter remedied.
asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice - 1.. Is it a fact that senior officers of the Prime Minister’s Department have stated that their instructions are that followers of Dr. Mannix are not to be allowed to remain in the Department ?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Prime Minister approved of the suggestion of the Minister for Defence that the Acting Public Service Commissioner bo suitably directed, and the necessary authority given him, to select experienced officers, and place them at the disposal of the Defence Department. The Acting Commissioner was communicated with accordingly.
On 20th March, 1917, the Acting Public Service Commissioner advised, in this connexion, that he had approved of the transfer, temporarily, to the Defence Department of an officer (whom he named), and requested that arrangements be made for his services to be made available as soon as possible. This was done.
On the 11th March, 1918, the Acting Public Service Commissioner advised, also in this connexion, that he had approved the temporary transfer to the Defence Department of a second officer (whom he named), and requested that arrangements be made for the services of this officer to be made available as early as possible. Effect was duly given to the Acting Commissioner’s decision.
With regard to the third officer, representations had been made by the Audit Office that additional staff was needed. A senior 5th Class officer was employed in the Central Staff, Prime Minister’s Department, on duties which could be (and since his transfer have been) discharged by an officer of lower classification, and it waa considered that his services could be utilized to better advantage in the Audit Office. He was, therefore, temporarily loaned in October, 1917, and subsequently the Acting Public Service Commissioner approved his definite transfer to fill a vacancy in the Audit Office staff.
Mothers of Ex-Nuptial Sons
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
Whether, in the case of an ex-nuptial son being killed at the Front, it is the intention of the Government to penalize the mother by paying 7 s. a week pension, instead of 20s. allowed in other cases?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
The Treasurer, who administers the War Pensions Act, advises that the War Pensions Act does not provide a pension of 20s. per week to all mothers of deceased soldiers, irrespective of the question of dependence on the soldier. This provision applies only to “ widowed mothers “ of deceased unmarried legitimate sons. In all other cases, whether the sons are ex-nuptial or not, the rate of pension is based on’ the extent of- dependence during the twelve months prior to enlistment.
Hindoo Labourersin Fiji
asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
The following papers were presented : -
Inscribed Stock Act - Dealings and transactions during the year ended 30th June, 1917.
Ordered to be printed.
Commonwealth Line of Steamships - Return showing Voyages made and Cargoes carried from October, 1916, to date.
Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Fund Act - Report of the Board of Trustees. March, 1918.
Defence Act - Regulation Amended - Statutory Rules 1918, No. 102.
Lands Acquisition Act-Land acquired under, at Mont Park, Victoria - For Defence purposes.
Norfolk Island - Ordinance of 1918 - No. 3 - Patriotic Funds.
War Precautions Act - Regulations Amended -Statutory Rules 1918, Nos. 100, 101, 103. 104.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
This is a Bill to amend the Income Tax Assessment Act, dealt with as the principal Act in this amending measure. Such a Bill as this is necessary for four main reasons - firstly, to adopt the main recommendations of the Conference of
Commonwealth and State Commissioners of Taxation, which met in Melbourne in March and April last year for the purpose of drafting, amongst other things, a uniform Bill for levying and collecting Commonwealth and State income taxes; secondly, to prevent leakages of revenue which have been detected ; thirdly, to fit certain provisions of the principal Act in with the War-time Profits Tax Assessment Act; and, fourthly, to allow the better general working of the principal Income Tax Act. All the recommendations of the Taxation Commissioners’ Conference have not been embodied in the Bill, because it was found that some could not be adopted in view of the general scheme of Commonwealth income taxation, but as many as possible of the recommendations have been incorporated. The Bill, as presented here, is mostly a machinery measure, and I shall first try to explain in due order what the various alterations are designed to achieve. After that, I hope to enumerate the ‘suggestions of the States which the Government finds it cannot accept, and I shall then endeavour to show how far our proposals will lead us in the direction of uniform income tax returns, and a unified collection of the direct taxes of the Commonwealth and the States. If honorable members will follow me, I think this seriatim explanation will be found the simplest I could give.
Clause 2 contains seven amendments of the principal Act. The first two amendments, a and b, widen the definition of “ agent,” in order that persons outside Australia who receive income from Australia may be more effectively reached for purposes of collecting income tax from them.
Amendment c, definition of “business,” is proposed in order that section 21 of the principal Act (which deals with deductions of losses from profits) may operate to allow a deduction of a loss in a business to be made from a salary or wage. This has not hitherto been possible, because “ salary or wage “ is not in the strict sense profit derived from a business carried on by the recipient.
Amendment d, relating to companies, is a drafting amendment only. It does not alter the original definition, but merely clarifies it.
Amendment e is a re-cast of the definition of “income.”
Paragraph a is the original definition-, of income, and paragraphs b and c are? new. They aro proposed in order that a. recent judgment of the High Court as tes the incomes of clubs may not deprive the* Treasury of necessary revenue, and also to* prevent the possible los3 of revenue from tax on the incomes of co-operative associations.
– Do you propose any amendment in regard to clubs, some of which are not carried on for profit?
– It is proposed to bringthe subscriptions of members into, the receipts for the purpose of ascertaining the* profits.
– That was the practice until the decision of the High Court.
– It was thought to be the>. right law until- the High Court said otherwise.
– Did that decision of the High Court have any reference to cooperative societies?
– Nc; only to clubs. I ami now dealing solely with an amendment relating to clubs.
– Are you including agricultural and other associations?
– At a later stage of the Bill, I shall explain how we propose to> exempt agricultural societies.
– Then I shall suggest a few other exemptions. Why should a.swimming club, with a subscription of 2s. 6d. per annum, have to pay taxation?
– That is a question that, could easily be answered in Committee, but if I stay to deal with such matters now I shall never reach a conclusion.
– Such a swimming club would not have revenue enough to be taxable.
– I am not speaking of taxation of revenue, but of taxation of profits; and, with, the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Boyd), I think very few swimming clubs have profits large enough to be taxable.
By means of the amendment in .paragraph / of clause 2, it is proposed that the personal exertion rate of tax shall apply to an employee who occupies business premises rent free, and who is therefore required by section 14, e, of the principal Act to include in his income the rental value of the premises. In such a case, that value is to be treated as not being income from an investment; it is an emolument of office arising out of the services rendered.
Definition of partnerships is the last amendment proposed .by clause 2. It has enabled the draftsman to simplify the wording of the new section 25 of -the principal Act relating to partnerships.
Clause 3 is a machinery clause that will facilitate arrangements between the Commonwealth and the States for the collection by the Commonwealth of State income tax. ‘Under such an arrangement each taxpayer would lodge only one incometax return each year.
Clause 4 contains three amendments of section 9 of the principal Act. That in paragraph a will penalize any officer for disclosing information contained in the income return of any person who is not at present a taxpayer.
Paragraph 6 is proposed because cases have come under notice in connexion with the Commonwealth law relating to pensions, in which it would have been been of great assistance to the Commissioner of Pensions in arriving at decisions if he could have obtained information concerning ‘the incomes of persons connected with the persons applying for the pensions. Notwithstanding a .provision in .the . Pensions Act requiring any person to furnish information required ‘by the Commissioner of Pensions, the Commissioner of Taxation is advised that section 9 of the Income Tax Assessment Act will not permit him to disclose any ‘information to the Commissioner of (Pensions. In view of the very clear intention of Parliament to place the .’Commissioner of Pensions in possession of the ‘fullest possible information, it ‘has been decided to amend section .9 of the Income Tax Assessment Act to authorize the Commissioner of ‘Taxation to disclose information in his possession to the Commissioner of Pensions for the purpose of the administration of the Pensions Act.
The last amendment, c, in this clause is proposed for the guidance of Courts, who are sometimes asked by parties to an ordinary civil action to nave the incometax returns of either party produced in Court. A case recently occurred in Sydney which ‘indicates a doubt in the mind of the Supreme Court there as to its power to insist upon the production of these returns. The ‘Government takes the view that no taxpayer’s return should be produced to a Court unless a taxpayer’s assessment is before the Court on appeal ‘or the Department is suing for recovery of tax.
Clause 5 contains an important drafting amendment. The words proposed to be omitted have, been held by some taxpayers .to mean that if the Department fails to make an assessment before the close of the financial year for which the tax has been assessed, it cannot do so at a later date. This would, of course, permit the escape from taxation of all persons who “have not yet lodged returns, but who are liable to do so. The Department, I may say, takes the view that reading the Act as a whole it has power to make an assessment at any time. The amendment will, however, remove all doubt on the point.
Clause 6 deals with three amendments in the principal Act, two of which, a and 6, are of considerable importance.’
The first amendment deals with the tax on interest from investments in Commonwealth war loans, and will exempt the interest to the extent to which the prospectus for each loan declares it to be free from Commonwealth tax.
The amendment in paragraph d will definitely exempt war pensions and the income of agricultural societies and similar bodies established for the purpose of encouraging the development of primary industries.
Clause 7 contains a re-cast of section 13 of the principal Act to express the recommendation of the conference of Taxation Commissioners, .and to make the intention of the original section clearer. The original law enabled a person to escape income tax on all his past income as soon as he enlisted, notwithstanding that he might soon afterwards be discharged as unfit for active service. Business income which .might accrue to a soldier after his enlistment and during his active service has always been and still is exempt.
Clause 8 deals with six amendments in section 14 of the principal Act. That section provides for the assessment of shareholders in companies on their dividends and interest. No alteration is proposed in connexion with the main principle of the original law under which shareholders in companies are taxed on their dividends and interest when received. Paragraphs a, b, and c deal with formal machinery matters. Paragraph d represents the amalgamation of the first and third provisos to subsection b of section 14 of the Act, with the addition in lines 9 and 10 of the paragraph of the words, “ Appropriation Account, Revenue and Expenses Account or any other account similar to any of the foregoing accounts.” These words have been rendered necessary by a High Court judgment in order to prevent great loss to the revenue. Paragraph e is merely a drafting re-cast of the present law to make the intention of the law clearer. ‘ Paragraph / is inserted to prevent injustice to many employees who are obliged to, reside in business premises, and who are required by the present law to include 5 per cent, of the capital value of the premises occupied by them. The amendment requires the inclusion of the annual rental value of the premises occupied. In. many cases this will be less than 5 per cent, of the capital value of the premises.
Clause 9 deals with a matter of interpretation only. It expresses in legal form the present departmental practice.
Clause 10 deals with the assessment of companies. It does not alter the present rule under which companies are ih.-.id on their undistributed profits. T’. ip not proposed to tax the whole of a company’s profits at the source.
Paragraph a represents a re-cast of the present law relating to the special tax of 6d. in the £1 on dividends and interest paid to absentees, with a reference to interest paid on debentures payable to bearer. The principal portions of this particular amendment are the four provisos to paragraph a. They authorize a company to retain out of the dividend or interest sufficient to pay the tax due by the absentee, and to prevent double taxation when the absentee includes his dividend or interest in his return of any other Australian income derived by him. The provision regarding payment of interest to absentee holders of bearer debentures will require the company to pay tax on the total, of such payment at the graduated rate applicable to the total payments as if that total were the income of an individual. There *is provision in the third proviso to the amendment for refunds to those of the debenture holders who prove to the satisfaction of the Commissioner that they are not liable to pay tax.
Paragraph b amends sub-section 2 of section 16 of the principal Act, which is a penalty clause on companies that do not distribute a reasonable proportion of their income to shareholders. At present if a company finds it necessary to retain the whole of its income of the year, not only must the company .pay tax on it, but the shareholders are deemed to have received their shares of that income, and are assessed individually, in addition to the assessment of the company. This provision has operated with great severity and injustice in some cases, and it is, therefore, intended to amend it, so that the income shall be deemed to have been distributed to the shareholders if the tax then payable by the shareholders would exceed. that (payable by the company. If, however, it is less than the company’s tax, the latter tax only will be collected. If the shareholders’ tax happens to be greater than the company’s, the company will not he assessed, but the tax will be collected from the shareholders in their individual assessments.
Provision is made also to prevent double taxation of companies’ profits when they reach, the shareholders in some subsequent year as dividends. At present the company pays tax on undistributed profit, and if that is, in a subsequent year, distributed to the shareholders as dividends, the shareholders are taxed on it again in their individual assessments. This double taxation is being removed from the Act. This amendment should be considered in conjunction with the immediately preceding amendment to section 16(2), in order to understand that the revenue is fully protected against undue retention of profits by companies in the hope that some large shareholders might escape part of their responsibilities.
Clause 11 provides that the public trustee may be authorized and called upon to pay the income tax on dividends received by him on shares of enemy aliens which have been transferred to the public trustee. Under the present law there is no power under which the Commissioner may demand the trustee to pay this tax, or under which the trustee could pay the tax if it were demanded.
Clause 12 amends section 17 of the principal Act in the case of mining companies so as to bring that section into line with the War-time Profits Tax Assessment Act on a similar point.
Clause 13 merely removes a section which has been found tobe unnecessary.
Clause 14 deals with eleven amendments of section18 of the principal Act. Under that section all the ordinary, and some of the special, deductions common to income taxation are mentioned. Paragraph a deals with employers who employ their children over fifteen years of age in their ‘business. The effect of the proposed amendment is that where the employer bonâ fide pays his children wages, he will be allowed to deduct them, but not otherwise. Paragraphs b, c, d, and e are not important. Paragraph f remodels the present law in regard to deductions for gifts to charitable institutions and patriotic funds. In future all cash contributions to patriotic funds will be deductible irrespective of amount. The third part of this paragraph provides for deductions of contributions in cash or kind to the Department of Repatriation or to any public authority for the purpose of being handed over to that Department. Paragraphs g and h are not important. Paragraph i is important to all lessees, inasmuch as they will now be entitled to deduct the sinking fund required to recoup expenditure on improvements in which they have no tenant rights.
– . Would that apply to capital invested in premises that ceased to belong to the individual, and had to be provided for at determination?
– It would apply to all lease tenancies.
– Even against the Crown?
– I am not sure about that point. As honorable memibers are aware, we are having many difficulties in connexion with other taxes in regard to the taxation of Crown leases.
The last amendment of all was recommended by the conference of taxation officers for the purpose of completely remov ing inequities in connexion with the deductions to be made from income from personal exertion and property in the case of mixed incomes.
Clause 15 contains the provision relating to the general exemption of £156 in the case of persons having dependants, and of £100 in the case of persons without dependants. The Conference of Commissioners of Taxation recommended that a fixed general exemption should be allowed from each assessment in order that taxpayers might the more readily calculate their ‘taxable incomes. This recommendation has been very carefully considered with a view to its adoption. It was found that the only general and fixed exemption which could be allowed without serious loss to the revenue would be £100. In view of the present cost of living, it is not considered desirable to materially alter the general exemption allowed to persons having dependants. At the same time it is not desirable to increase the exemption allowed to persons without dependants. A further objection to allowing the general exemption of, say, £150, in each assessment is that it would mean exempting an additional £14,000,000 of taxable income over and above the amount now exempted by the existing general exemptions. The average rate of tax applicable for 1916-17 (1s. 5d. in the £1) applied to this sum would represent practically £1,000,000 of revenue which would be lost. This would not be the only loss, because the general exemption would, of course, reduce the rates of tax in all assessments (except those of companies) and so cause further loss of revenue.
Present necessities forbid any such arrangement. It is, however, very desirable that the present operation of the vanishing exemption should be simplified. The amendment by the Senate in December last in this connexion has proved to be most difficult to apply. It has also entitled taxpayers with mixed incomes to a total exemption of very much more than £156. In some cases the exemption has actually been twice £156. The amendment now proposed will vanish in every case when the taxable income reaches £624, except in the case of unmarried persons without dependants, when the general exemption of £100 will vanish when the taxable income reaches £600.
– That is very unfair. Because a man receives £600 he is to get noexemption at all.
– The honorable member must know that there are only two ways ofdealing with exemptions - either to let them persist to the highest incomes, or shade them off. Experience has shown that it is fairer to shade them off. The equity of the arrangement depends on the gradual diminution of the exemption. Aman who has a taxable income of £600, and is without dependants, cannot grumble at losing the final shade of exemption.
Clause 16 contains some unimportant amendments of section 20 of the original Act. Paragraphs a, b, c, d, and e are unimportant. They do notalter ithe present law, except consequentially upon the amendment to allow deduction pf the sinking fund to recoup expenditure on improvements on leasehold lands. Paragraphf is the most important of the amendments to this section. Payments made by husband to wife, and wife to husband, will now be deductible if the Commissioner is satisfied that they have been made bonâ fide in the course of business or for services rendered.
By clause 17, section 21 of the principal Act is being amended so as to remove an Snjustice under which some soldiers on active service suffer. Some soldiers have left behind them businesses which are being managed by other persons for them, and they also have income from property. The latter income is taxable, but there is no power to deduct any loss in the business from the income from property. This has proved to be a real hardship is several cases. It will also apply to persons remaining in Australia and similarly situated as to income.
As to clause 18, on the recommendation of the Conference of Taxation Commissioners it is proposed that the taxable income of shipping companies whose head offices are outside Australia shall be 10 per cent. of freight, &c., instead of 5 per cent., as at present.
Clause19 repeals section 23 of the principal Act. That section deals with exported goods, and has proved to be cumbrous in its operation and detrimental to the revenue. The provisions of the common law, as laid down by the Privy Council, will guide the Department in future.
By clauses 20 and 21, the schemeof the principal Act in regard to the assessment of partnerships and trust estates hasbeen remodelled, on the recommendation of the conference of Commissioners of Taxation. At present, a partnership or a trustee is taxable on undistributed income at the rate applicable to the total income of the partnership or the trust estate. Thishas worked inequitably in many cases, and it is now proposed thatthe taxable income of a partnership shall be deemed to have been distributed to the partners, and that the whole of the taxable income of a trustestate shall be deemed to have been distributed to the beneficiaries where therearebeneficiaries entitled to receive it as income or to have it credited as income. In order to protect the revenue against the formation of bogus partnerships to escape the tax, the amendment relating to partnerships provides that where any partnership is formedafter the commencement of the amending Act,and any part of its income isapportioned toa person who is not a taxpayer, tax shall be paid on that part of the income at the rate applicable to the total income of the partnership remaining after allowing all deductions allowed by the Act, unless the Commissioner is satisfied that the partner is in full receipt and complete control of his share of the income. In that case, the penalty clause will not operate.
Clause 22 deals with an amendment which is consequential upon the revised law relating to partnerships and trust estates.
Clause 23 merely re-states section 28 of the principal Act, with the addition of the words “ a company or “ in paragraph b. A company is taxable on the whole of its undistributed profits, irrespective of their amount.
By clause 24 it is proposed to place a limit of two years as the period within which a taxpayer may apply for a refund of tax found by him to have been overpaid. This has been done on the recommendation of the conference of Taxation Commissioners.
Clause 25 deals with machinery matter only rendered necessary by the appointment of the Assistant Commissioner of Taxation.
Amendments are made in connexion with the collection and recovery of tax, viz. :
In the past there have been troublesome cases of visiting artists and others, who have “scooped” large incomes, and have departed without paying income tax, or have been made to pay only after very great trouble and difficulty. In such cases, I presume, the Commissioner will use his discretion.
– That is pretty strong.
– It is strong, but necessary.
– An employer, to safeguard himself, would have to keep back part of the moneys coming to his employees.
– That would be necessary if this were a general, instead of a special application of the principle. As it is, the clause simply requires that the employer, upon receipt of a demand from the Commissioner, shall take this action in regard to future payments.
– An employer has to do that to-day in connexion with a garnishee order issued by the Court.
– Which is a civil process. Power is also taken by this clause to require any person who holds money payable to another person, who is in arrears with his income tax, to deduct the tax from that money, and to pay the tax to the Commissioner. This is a healthy provision that will prevent evasionof payment.
– But what if the person does not hold enough to meet the tax ?
– Then, of course, the tax cannot be paid in full in that way. It is assumed that the Commissioner will be wise and vigilant. There is no imposition of liability on the employer or person holding the money.
– The employee concerned might have left his employment before the demand was made.
– In that case, it would be impossible for the employer to comply with the demand. It is only where it is possible for the employer to comply with the demand that this summary method of securing payment of the tax will apply. Clause 33 deals with an unimportant amendment of section 51 of the original Act. It was suggested by the Conference of Taxation Commissioners to fix a time for the notification of the appointment of a public officer of a company. Clause 34 deals with an amendment designed to assist the Department in collecting tax from business incomes derived by resident principals through their agents. The clause also provides, a new section to meet the case of absentee principals deriving income through agents in Australia. By clause 35 it is intended to tax at the source, and before payment, all cash prizes in lotteries. It is intended that 10 per cent. of the cash prize shall be retained by the prizegiver and paid to the Commissioner as tax on the prize. This will be the only tax payable in such amounts, and it will not be necessary any longer for the prizewinner to bring the prize into his return as part of his income. This tax will apply to all cash prizes in lotteries, some of which now escape owing to their amount or their distribution between non-taxpayers.
– Under the Post and Telegraph Act we prohibit Tattersalls consultations, while under this measure we shall deduct 10 per cent. from prizes won in them.
– That may be so, but it is quite irrelevant.
– In other words, the Government proposes to go to an illegal font from which to obtain revenue.
– But some lotteries are not illegal.
– Tattersall’s lottery is the only one in Australia from which revenue will be derived under this provision.
– I am not sure that that is so. Under the State laws three or four different kinds of lotteries are permissible with the consent of the Attorney-General of the State concerned.
– Why not legalize these lotteries ?
– I am dealing at present with a taxation measure. Clause 36 contains an amendment which all the Commissioners of Taxation in Australia have found to be necessary for the more effective working of income taxation laws. It deals really with an internal matter. By clause 37, section 56 of the principal Act has been re-cast. Paragraph a of the amendment is cthe only addition to the original section. This, too, was recommended by the Conference of Taxation Officers. Clause 38 recommends an amendment suggested by the Conference of Taxation Officers in order that Courts may be compelled to impose reasonable penalties on defaulters. For the protection of the Department against negligence or wilful delays in lodging income-tax returns, it is proposed, in clause 39, that a penalty of £1 for every month, or part thereof, during which the failure or neglect continues, shall be charged to the taxpayer ; but power is given to the Commissioner to remit this penalty wholly or in part if the circumstances warrant it. If the circumstances of any case justify prosecution for neglect, the cumulative penalty of£1 per month is not to be applied. At present trouble arises in regard to the use ofth e word “wilful” in the principal Act. Some delays are negligent, and some are wilful, and it is proposed that a penalty of £1 for every month or part thereof during which the failure or neglect continues shall be chargeable to the taxpayer. AsI have said, however, power is given the Commissioner to remit the penalty, wholly or in part, if the circumstances warrant it.
– Would it not be better to give the Commissioner power to deal with the penalty on a percentage basis according to the amount of taxation which the person concerned is trying to evade?
– That is not done under the criminal law. If a man steals a hat or a chair the penalty is not graded according to the offence.
– The other side would apply the third degree.
– I remind my honorable friend that we are not now discussing a measure that is likely to cause irritation on either side. There are no politics in this Bill. It simply represents an endeavour on the part of the Government to obtain payment of money that is rightly due to it.
– Where a man, owing to a mistake, omits to pay his tax, could not the Commissioner be given power to fix the amount of the penalty payable by him, without requiring him to go into Court ?
– The Commissioner has that power under the principal Act. This clause will make that abundantly clear.
– He refuses to exercise the power.
– In individual cases he may not be satisfied that the neglect has not been wilful.
– The trouble is that in such cases he does not take the defendant to the nearest Court; sometimes a man has to go before a Court 200 miles from his home.
– That is an objection to which the honorable member has previously directed attention. I asked the Commissioner to consider the provision of a new method under which, as is the practice in the State Departments, a man shall be dealt with at the Court nearest his home instead of being taken, as in some cases, from Northern Queensland to a Court well into the south of Queensland. If the circumstances of any case justify a prosecution for neglect, the cumulative penalty of £1 per month is to be applied. It is also proposed to amend the Act to give the Department power to prosecute where the circumstances justify, in cases in which a return, which is false in any particular, has been lodged, or a misleading answer has been given. At present it is necessary for the Departmen to prove wilfulness, and, in most qases, this is impossible, although its presence is obvious. We have all heard of cases of the kind. The proposed power is similar to that contained in the Customs Act. By clause 40 it is proposed to amend the law to empower the Commissioner to prosecute with greater hope of success in cases where persons have lodged false returns or given false answers to questions. At present it is necessary for the Department to prove intent to defraud in every case. In many cases such intent, while obvious, is extremely difficult to prove. Paragraph e of this proposed amendment is copied from the provision in the Customs Act authorizing prosecutions for false entries.
– The provision will be all right while the present Commissioner is in office. He is a fair-minded man.
– I believe that as great a degree of guilt and danger exists in respect of false answers supplied in income tax returns as exists in false Customs entries.
– But this provision is a reflection on the Courts who try these cases.
– Not at all. The law as it stands compels the Commissioner in every case to prove wilfulness or intent. The Commissioner now asks that he be relieved of that requirement, andthat the Court be invested with a discretion in the matter. In view of the great lack of uniformity in the penalties imposed upon taxpayers, by Courts of summary jurisdiction throughout Australia, for neglect to comply with the law in any particular, a minimum penalty of £2 has been fixed, on the recommendation of the conference of Taxation Commissioners. The maximum of £100 previously in the Act is retained. This is to secure something more approximating to uniformity of penalties.
– But it leaves the Court no discretion.
– That is not so. The maximum penalty of £100 is still retained, and the Court, where it holds a case to be proved, may roam from the minimum of £2 to the maximum penalty of £100.
– Even if the Court thought the offence trivial, it would have to impose the minimum of £2.
– So many trivial fines have been imposed for what have been regarded as comparatively serious offences that we think we should have a minimum penalty fixed by law.
– Could not the magistrates be left to determine what should be the minimum fine?
– The trouble is that different magistrates have different ideas as to what should be the minimum fine. A Victorian magistrate might regard as a trivial offence what a Queensland or New South Wales magistrate might consider to be a serious offence. Coming to clause 41, on the recommendation of the Conference of Taxation Commissioners the penalty for omitting income from a return, for failure to furnish information when called upon, and for claiming excessive deductions, or for deductions which are not allowable, has been fixed at a minimum of £1, or 10 per cent. of the total tax payable - whichever is the greater - when the offence is neglect to furnish information, and at a minimum, of £1, or double the tax payable, in respect of omitted income and deductions not allowable, whichever is the greater.
– Surely it is not fair to penalize a man who includes as a deduction in his return something which is not lawfully deductable. It might be a matter of opinion whether or not the deduction was allowable.
– That again will be a matter for the discretion of the Commissioner.
– The power is far too wide.
– The Commissioner already has far larger powers in other respects. He has power to say whether a man ought to be prosecuted or not, and this provision merely amplifies and particularizes the kind of offence that may be dealt with in a certain way.
– But it might not be an offence.
– The magistrate, after all, must determine the issue.
– As to whether or not the man is guilty?
– The magistrate will determine whether the prosecution is justifiable, and whether the person charged is guilty.
– But if a man includes in his return a deduction which is not properly allowable, is he to be fined?
– Order ! I ask honorable members not to debate in detail the clauses of the Bill. The clause may be considered in detail in Committee.
Mr.WATT. - I appreciate very much Mr. Speaker, the consideration which you and the House have so far extended to me. I am anxious not to transgress, but this is a very technical measure, and it is almost impossible to deal with it other than as I have done. I shall ask honorable members to leave for the Committee stage the refinements of discussion.
Clauses 42 and 43 provide minimum penalties for attempts to defraud the revenue. In connexion with cases of hardship, two additional reasons for remission of tax by the departmental. Board have been inserted. This is provided for in clause 44. The reasons are -
Clause 45 expresses a recommendation by the Conference of Taxation Officers for power to fix penalties for breaches of the regulations made by the GovernorGeneral.
It has also been decided to allow refunds to those agents for absentee principals who are assessed under section 15 of the 1915 Act, and who prove to the satisfaction of the Commissioner that they paid the tax out of their own moneys, and’ have not been able to recover it from their principals. This is dealt with in clause 46. There are some cases demanding treatment in that way.
Clause 47 merely deals with the definition of “ income “ in section 19 of the principal Act. This definition is in favour of taxpayers in the great majority of cases, but is never against the true interests of a taxpayer.
Clause 48 merely deals with the time of commencement of the amendmentsbeing made by the Bill.
– That is the most serious clause in the Bill.
– I hope that the honorable member will be prepared to show that it is. If he does, I will be prepared to consider any representations he may wish to put forward.
– Does it mean that the taxpayer may have to pay on the schedule which has already been sent in ?
– It is retrospective.
– I do not wish my friend to convey to the House that the clause makes the whole of the Bill retrospective. A few cases where special reasons can be given for retrospective action are provided for in that clause. There are only two other things upon which I wish to deliberate with honorable members, because when they read the report of the Taxation Commissioners, they may hold strong views in regard to certain of the recommendations of the Commissioners which have been omitted from the Bill. I am bound to inform the House that the representatives of the State Governments have, I think almost without exception, expressed disappointment that this measure does not contain more than it does. Seeking, as they apparently did, quite bonâ fide to lead up to a system by which we could have one return per annum from each taxpayer for all purposes of income taxation, and seeking also- as I shall have occasion to criticise - to collect that tax forus through the State channels, they still believe that we have not gone far enough in accepting the recommendations in certain vital respects of the Taxation Commissioners’ Conference..
The method of taxing a company’s profits is one of the principal points of difference between the Commonwealth and the States. We omit the recommendation of the Taxation Commissioners’ Conference respecting this matter because, in our judgment, it is inconsistent to, on the one hand, define a taxpayer as a person in receipt of an income exceeding a givensum, and on the other hand to make taxpayers out of shareholders in companies irrespective of the amount of their dividends, and notwithstanding that the shareholder in his own right might not be a taxpayer. If we tax dividends for income taxation purposes at their source, we inevitably tax numbers of people whom the law describes as being exempt from taxation. The proposal to tax a company’s profits in the hands of the company would penalize shareholders with small incomes, and, at the same time, greatly benefit shareholders with large incomes by allowing them to escape tax by payingat greatly reduced rates through the companies.
I admit that that is not inevitable, because it cam be presented ; but, as the recommendaition is framed, it would be a distinct benefit to private companies, and wouldbe a premium to the formation of such companies out of existingfirms. At the same time, it would result in a considerable loss ofrevenue.Those are the guiding principles, shortly described, upon which we havedecided to differ fromthe States, preferring to take the Line of taxing the incomeof the individual.
If honorable memberswilltake the trouble to read through the report of the Taxation Commissioners’ Conference, they will see that itwas not always unanimous. At one time the. Commonwealth representativewould be with one parcel of Commissioners, andat another time with another group. In manycases the States unanimously differed from the Commonwealth on matters which, I hope, will be the subject of discussion at the approaching Premiers and Treasurers’ Conference inSydney, where, if we can give this Bill reasonable expedition, I hope to be able to arrange or propose a modus vivendi with the States which will be satisfactory to all concerned.
The Commissioners recommended the elimination from the field oftaxable income of 5 per cent. onthe capital value of the taxpayer’s own residence. Our idea is that if a man invests £1,000 or £2,000 in a dwelling, it is a legitimate thing, especially in war time, to ask him to put a fair rental value on it, and assess it for the purposes of taxation.
– Not when it is owned by a woman with no income.
– I am talking of taxpayers, not of non-taxpayers. The exemption would still hold with regard to a person with no income. A person who has an income is fairly called upon to include a fair rental value ofhis own residence as portion of his income. The principle has been admitted in almost all the income tax systems throughout the world.
We differ from the Commissioners with regard to the taxation of sales of assets. TheCommissioners recommended, by one vote, after a very prolonged discussion, that all realized assets shouldbe throught to account inan income tax schedule, and that profits upon themshould be made the subject of taxation; but the contention of the highest form of income taxation thought is that the realization of assets is a return to thepool of the original capital, and that it is an impropriety to tax it. Although I admit that the point is arguable, yetI believe that the Commonwealth is taking the correct view inopposing this proposal fromthe States.
The Commissioners also propose to fix the taxable income of insurance companies at a percentage of premiums received. This is what the Taxation Office says in regard to the proposal -
This was clone at the request of the States, so astofacilitate theircalculation of taxable income in this case, seeing thattheinsurance businesses are carried on in each State. There isno necessity for such a provision in the Commonwealth law, and equity forbids any differentiation between insurance businesses and any other businesses in the ‘matter of arriving at their taxable incomes. The former provisions of the Commonwealth law relating to life insurance business have not been disturbed inthe amending Bill, andthese businesses will continue to be non-taxable.
– That relates to mutual companies ?
– Yes, and even to those wiich are not fully mutual to the extent to which they are mutual. It is debatable as to how we should deal with the insurance companies making gains - fire, life, marine, accident, and industrial. But putting aside fire companies, which should pay as any ordinary company should if it is trading for a profit, and taking only life assurance companies, and assuming them for the moment to be all mutual, the real position is that these companies do not make a profit in the ordinary sense. What they have done is to take their actuarial valuation of assets and liabilities, and if there is anything of a present value distributable, they give to it a future value, and add it to the credit of the policies existing. It is known as the reversionary bonus value. It is conceivable that, either in war time or in time of peace, that reversionary value could be regarded as a fair field for taxation; but, assuming that we take it at its present value - and it is payable in cash in certain circumstances - we would be doing what I suggested should not be done in regard to companies’ dividends - we would be taxing, in a large number of cases, people who are beyond the . reach of income taxation. If we tax these people’s income at its source, the man with a policy of £200, who would be getting £2 or £3 worth of reversionary bonuses, would be brought within the scope of income taxation, whereas the law says that he shall remain exempt if his income does not bring him within it.
If, on the other hand, we tax insurance companies on a percentage of their premium receipts, we do not properly tax those old-established firms - big, powerful companies - which have huge incomes from investments. I do not like to name any particular companies, but honorable members who are familiar with insurance life know’ fairly well the names of the companies who derive two-thirds or threequarters of their incomes from invest? ments. Why should the premium results, which are not the company’s activities, be taxed while allowing the big earnings from investments to be exempt? If the reversionary values of policies are brought into the schedule of the individual taxpayer, let it be done; but, if we seek to tap the income from reversionary bonuses at the source, it would mean hurting mutual provident companies, or the individuals associated with them, which are undertaking something which we should encourage, whether their operations be extensive or small.
Another recommendation deals with reciprocal deductions in connexion with the Federal and State taxes, but I need not bother honorable members with that matter at the present time.
The Commissioners propose to withdraw the deductions allowed for calls to mining .companies. We .have omitted their recommendation, because we say quite plainly that the policy of the Federal Government, as far as it is able to have a policy on this matter, should be to encourage investment in mining companies, and not discourage, it. I admit that it is an arguable question as to how far mining is to be advantageous to Australia. I come from a corner of the continent where it has always been regarded as most important to do everything possible to encourage the production of gold and other metals. We have found that to be a correct principle, and have not lost much revenue, while promoting,- maintaining, and preserving important industries.
– Many people throw their money away in mining concerns.
– I have done so myself; though I do not say that mining is wrong simply because I have not made money by it, any more than. I say that Tattersalls sweeps are right because I know a man who once won a prize.
I have shown the principal differences between the Commonwealth proposals and those of the States, and I do not think the difficulties presented are insuperable. Although the Acts may differ, I think that we could still provide, if the States are willing, for a uniform return; and the question is, Who shall collect the taxes if the States and the Commonwealth come to an agreement? The proposition of the Treasurers of the States is that we should scrap our taxation officers, and hand the work “over to them because they were first in the business. In this connexion I am a half-and-half Federal and States man - I do not mind saying I am “ shandygaff “ on the question. The bulk of my experience and my work, legislative and administrative, has been in the State; and I do not believe that- the change in arena has changed my feeling. But, looking at the question from the stand-point of simplicity, economy, and convenience to the taxpayers, I have no doubt as to what should be done. I can see, for example, that, even if we agreed to the States collecting the taxes, it would be impossible to destroy the Federal taxation machinery that we have erected. In my dual experience, I have been able to take both spheres into account, not unduly weighed in favour of either ; and we are now looking for a track which the people of Australia would most approve. There are many people who, like most companies, do business all over Australia, or in many of the States. If we decided to allow the States to collect the taxes to-morrow, there would still have to be a Federal office to collate those people who make, perhaps, £1,000 in New South Wales, £2,000 in South Australia, or £500 in Victoria, and graduate their taxation in the Federal account. It is impossible for us, if we are in the direct taxation business, to delegate our authority to the States, and hope to do so eco- nomically. On the other hand, it is possible for the Federal machinery to be mobolized and organized so that the State machinery may disappear.
– Does that apply to land taxation, as well as income taxation?
– It applies to all taxation in which the Commonwealth and the States coincide; it could apply, for instance, to stamp duties. The Commonwealth has three fields of taxation similar in many respects to those of the States, namely, income, land, and estate duties. We could collect all these, and, if a proper agreement were made with the States we could, in addition, collect the stamp duties for them. At the present time the cost of collecting the direct taxation of the Commonwealth is, according to the Commissioner, 2.63 per cent. - about 2½ per cent., or 6d. in the £1. I am speaking from memory when I say that in some of the States the cost was not regarded as high when it was 4½per cent., and it generally averaged about 6 per cent. I have not refreshed my memory in this respect recently, but that is my impression.
– What does this 2½ per cent. amount to, and how many employees are there?
– I am dealing with one phase of the question, and, as I have not a duplicate intelligence, I propose to confine myself to that phase. After a close study of the question, I believe that, with our present machinery, we could collect the taxation of the States for half what it costs the States, and I would be prepared, on investigations already made, to guarantee that very substantial saving. It would be a great gain to the taxpayer if we could have one return, due once a year, for all purposes of direct taxation, a conservative estimate showing a saving of £1,500,000 over Australia. And it is not only the money saving for which the taxpayers would feel grateful; for, at present, there is the irritating interposition of the tax-gatherer two or three times a year, with the resulting upset in both business and private life. We have all felt this inconvenience, whether our incomes be large or small ; and we should be very glad if one return were sufficient. I take leave to believe that if the States were assured of one thing, they could not argue against the proposition of the Commonwealth in this respect. As an old State Minister, I know that in the minds of the State authorities there is the idea that, if the Commonwealth were given the handling of this direct taxation, the time would shortly come when the States would never see any of the results. Al- , ready one Treasurer, a personal friend of my own, has said, in the utmost good spirit, that a proposal of the kind means financial strangulation for the States. ‘ If this question is dealt with, it should be dealt with without prejudice as to the final destination of the money; in other words, amalgamation for the purpose of economy and simplicity of offices should not be made an indirect way of hurting the States financially. I would have no hesitation whatever, with the full approval of Parliament, in assuring the States to that effect. I intend, with the concurrence of the Cabinet, and of the House, to make a serious attempt shortly to get the matter straightened out, so as to secure one return and one collecting agency.
– I think the latter may prejudice the proposal.
– I do not think so.
– How much additional revenue do you hope to get under the new proposal ?
– This Bill does not deal with the question of revenue.
– But it will make a difference in the revenue.
– It is a give-and-take Bill, and the honorable member will see when we come to deal with it, that about as much is given as is taken. At a suitable time in Committee I shall be prepared with figures on the point. I am grateful for the attention with which honorable members have listened; and I hope they will bestow earnest thought on the Bill, because there are proposed many important reforms which will smooth the working of the Act, and give the greatest satisfaction to the people.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Higgs) adjourned.
– I move -
That this Bill be. now read a second time.
The measure does not require any very long explanation. .It .deals with the vesting of :the land on which the Kalgoorlie ;to Port Augusta .railway .line iB built, and also .with the acquisition of land not yet acquired for .the purposes of the railway. Under the agreement set put in the schedule between the Commonwealth and the .States of South Australia and Western Australia, provision is made for the grant of Crown lands, or, as they are called in Western Australia, “ waste lands,” for the line. This is to be a free grant, and, as interpreted by the States, ;and, I think, acquiesced in by the Commonwealth, it means a grant subject to any leasehold interests created under the Crown. There is also .provision in the South Australian Act that the State will grant whatever other lands may ‘be re<quired if, in the opinion of the Government of the ‘State, they are necessary for the purpose. No grant has yet been made under the ‘terms of the agreement, the chief reason being that the route of the railway could not be absolutely determined until it was surveyed, and it was necessary that the survey should be ‘made only ,as the line was constructed. Under the circumstances, plans could -not be prepared indicating the lands to ,be conveyed, which were defined in the agreement with -South Australia as one-:eighth of a mile on either side; and, in the Western Australian agreement, as a quarter of a mile along the whole length of -the line- a precisely similar area in either .case. It is necessary, pending the grant .under agreement, that, now the railway is completed, the land and buildings shall be vested by *he State in ‘the ^Commissioner of .Railways, and that, as clause 3 shows, is the chief -object of the Bill.
There is -another provision in regard to lands -to ‘be acquired, the total area thus affected being, I think, about 35,500 acres of leasehold. For about 260 miles on the South Australian side, all the lands are leased from the Crown, or, in other words, are under pastoral leases. Beyond that point, however, there are no, or few, leases. In Western Australia, all the lands affected are, ,1 think, unalienated. As a matter of fact, the Bill applies only to the pastoral leases to be hereafter acquired; it will not affect Western Australia, because there the lands are “.waste,” or-Crown, lands.
On the whole, it iis better, TE think, that we should have one tribunal to decide what compensation shall be paid to ‘the lessees. Under the existing Lands Acquisition .Act .of 1906, .there may -be three kinds of tribunal. There may be a Court of inferior jurisdiction of the State if the amount claimed be small - a provision that, under no circumstances, would probably apply in .the present case - a Supreme Court of the .State, or a Justice of the High Court. At present, the nature of the tribunal is at the option, first, of the claimant, who, within six months after a claim becomes .disputed, may exercise that choice, .after which it rests with the Commonwealth. As I say, .however., it is .desirable that only one tribunal should decide, so that there may be .some uniformity .of principle in the assessment of the leaseholds; and the -Bill, provides that, where no agreement is come to between the claimant and the Commissioner, the matter shall be referred by the Minister .to a Justice of the High Court of Australia as arbitrator. The principles by which this arbitrator will be .guided are, in the main, .similar to the principles under the existing Lands Acquisition Act. It is provided that if a man is to be paid for land taken over, account should be taken of the effect of severance upon his adjoining land, which may be enhanced in value by the construction of the railway. The general principle of the measure concerning compensation is that an owner cannot make any claim in respect of the enhanced value of land through the construction or the prospective construction of public works. That is the principle which runs through all our legislation regarding land acquisition, but I think in this case it is necessary to provide against excessive claims - claims which really ought not to be carried to the point of litigation. “The Bill provides, therefore, that if a man’s adjoining land has become .enhanced in value to a greater extent than the amount of compensation claimed, that is to say, if the Court finds that, instead of loss having been incurred, advantage has accrued to the owner of the land, the amount of excess ought to be paid to the Crown.
– That’ is creat-i ing a new precedent, is it not ?
– I have already mentioned that the principle is in existing legislation, but in different terminology. It is applied to the Bill, which deals with land affected by the construction of the Port Augusta-Kalgoorlie railway, at present the only railway within the scope of our national activities.
– It is confined entirely to land taken over for the railway ?
– To be taken over. The honorable member is very right in emphasizing the point. It would be unfair to bring in legislation that would affect pending claims, though some of them, as a matter of fact, must be decided by the tribunal as it now stands, that is to say, by the High Court. They are pretty big claims. I think the Minister ought to see that the claims to be made hereafter are at least within the bounds of reason, and the best way to attain that object is to say that if a man chooses to go to Court, and takes the risk of. Stating that he has suffered great loss, and if the Court finds that he has gained, through the construction of the railway, by the enhanced value given to the remaining portion of his leasehold, he ought to be prepared to “ stump up “ and pay the Crown, just as the Crown would be prepared to pay him if he could show that he had suffered loss.
– Will that principle apply to the present claims?
– No. Up to the present, between 34,000 and 35,000 acres have been acquired chiefly for water purposes, and something like 28,000 acres of that area have been either paid for or arrangements made with the owners in regard to compensation. There are one or two outstanding claims that are not affected by this measure. It is only right that we should not interfere with existing litigation.
– I do not think they should receive the compensation, because leaseholds have been improved by the construction of the railway. You have already paid money to some of these people.
– But that was for some consideration, such as water rights, received in exchange.
– I thought the Commonwealth Government were entitled to go anywhere within a reasonable distance without let or hindrance for the purpose of getting water.
– We have that authority, but are required to pay compensation when a claim is made. In this Bill, however, we are not dealing with any thing that has been done in the past, and I am only introducing a modification of the existing principle applicable only to future acquisitions.
– Can the Minister say that that principle has been adopted anywhere, at any time, by any Government?
– I do not know, but it is right, so far as this Bill is concerned, and, of course, we would not exist as a Parliament if we had reached a counsel of perfection in our social and political affairs. I do not think it is necessary to say any more upon the Bill. It is a short measure, containing the essential provision I have mentioned, and I shall content myself with moving the second reading.
– In the absence of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Tudor), who has had to leave the chamber, I do not know whether any other members on this side of the House desire to discuss the measure. I was rather surprised to learn that anything in the way of compensation has been paid to leaseholders along the route of the railway because of the greatly enhanced value given to their properties by the greater facilities provided by the Government. When men took up that land many years ago they never anticipated conveniences such as they now enjoy. I presume the carriage of stock is now being undertaken by the railway.
– When the Bill is in Committee, I should like to know the amount of compensation already paid to leaseholders through whose land the line passes. One of the conditions under which a railway is constructed, in this State at any rate, is that the leaseholders of country affected have practically to make provision for the purchase of the land, and it seems to me anomalous that in a big national undertaking, such as the Kalgoorlie-Port Augusta railway, which no State would dream of putting in hand for a great number of years, there should be any claim for monetary consideration in respect of land necessary for its construction. Has it been settled, once and for all, that the Commonwealth is the possessor in fee simple of land 440 feet wide along both sides of that railway? Is it not part and parcel of the conditions under which the line was constructed ?
– For one-eighth of a mile wide on each side. That, however, refers to Crown lands, or waste lands, and is subject to leases existing upon them.
– And I presume that all the other lands automatically become the ‘property of the Commonwealth of Australia?
– In regard to the Crown interest.
– It comes as a great surprise, and, indeed, a rude shock, to me to know that any compensation has been paid; and it is a pity that the Bill is not retrospective in its operation. Because of the great benefit conferred upon two States by the construction of the line, I think that if any compensation be paid at all the obligation should be upon the States interested, and not upon the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth Treasury has already been drawn upon to the extent, I suppose, of £5,000,000 or more for the construction of the line. That seems to me to be a very fair amount to be paid even for a line of national significance, and I think that any compensation to leaseholders should be a burden upon the States referred to.
– Compensation to the amount of £4,860 has been paid in respect of 2,798 acres.
– If the compensation had amounted to only £5, the principle would be there. I presume the Bill contains nothing contentious, and that the object is merely to make the Commonwealth position more secure than it has been in the past. I thoroughly agree with the principle regarding the enhancement in value of lands included in a lease - though the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Foster) seems to take some exception to it - ‘because if benefits have accrued to leaseholders, it is only fair that a deduction should be made in the claim for compensation. I gathered from what the Minister said that some lessees have already received too much, and that, instead of the Commonwealth paying out money to them, they should be called upon to recoup the Treasury if it can be shown, before a duly authorized tribunal, that they have benefited to an extent greater than their claim for compensation.
– Leases have been improved by the railway going through the land.
– Yes; and the Minister has informed the House that the Government have already paid over £4,000 in compensation for the right to run the line through certain properties leased to the holders by the State Governments.
– That amount of compensation was in respect of claims for over £40,000.
– I think that, in view of the costly nature of the railway, it was unfair on the part of either of the States to allow compensation to be claimed by State leaseholders. I do not know whether this is the proper stage at which I may ask for information, but I should like to know whether any arrangement has been made requiring the Government of Western Australia to give effect to their agreement; because it was part of the bargain that, when the Port AugustaKalgoorlie line was under construction, the Government of Western Australia should almost simultaneously extend the 4-ft. 8^-in. gauge from Kalgoorlie to Fremantle, instead of allowing the traffic from Kalgoorlie to be carried over a 3-ft. 6-in. gauge railway. It seems to me that, up to the present, all the bargaining has been on the part of the States, and at the expense of the Commonwealth, and it is about time that we asked both South Australia and Western Australia to give effect to their agreement.
-They are generally very slow in the matter of railway promises.
– I am aware of that, and it is all the more objectionable that we should be required to pay leaseholders compensation in respect of leases given by the different States. However, I am glad to know that, even at the eleventh hour, some provision is to be made whereby, in the case of enhancement in value of leaseholds, the lessees may be required to pay the difference to the Commonwealth, instead of receiving compensation.
– If the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) were better acquainted with the nature of the country through which the East-West railway passes, he would be in a better position to discuss the Bill now before the House. It is a very satisfactory proposal, and I hope it will be passed. The Port AugustaKalgoorlie railway, on’ the South Australian side, passes through pastoral country, some of which has been resumed for the purposes of the railway. I do not know how many resumptions were authorized while I was in office, but I know that some heavy claims were put in by lessees on the South Australian side, because the railway encroached upon their water reserves and interfered with the carrying capacity of their leases.
– Where is that?
– That is at Wilgena. I do not say that that is a fact,’ but that it is alleged on the part of those who have put in claims for compensation. Water is the great difficulty, and not feed.
– They say they are never affected by drought there.
– That may be hardly so. “
– But there is not much saltbush there.
– I have been over it pretty often, and have never seen the country without a fair growth of saltbush. That is just an indication, perhaps, of the real difficulty. There is not sufficient water to carry enough stock to eat down the saltbush. The railway rightly has been consuming a certain quantity of the water available on some of the runs through which the line passes; and it certainly seems arguable, therefore, that the lessees concerned have a reasonable claim for compensation. The railway cannot be said to have increased the actual carrying capacity, for it is not much satisfaction to a man whose stock is depleted by lack of water to know that he has the railway handy.
– Have not the railway authorities found water in new areas for them?
– Not fresh water. A large part of the supply of water, so far as the railway is concerned, is drawn from the tanks and reservoirs which the railway authorities have themselves constructed. The whole trouble, as to that, is that the quantity of water required for the running of the system was not anything like originally estimated. As I understand the Bill, the Government do not take away any legal rights which the lessees at present, possess. That is only just. I do not .know whether the claims of the people in South Australia are just or not. That is for the Court to settle.
Extending from near to Kalgoorlie more than half-way towards Port Augusta, the country consists of the Nullarbor Plain. One of its chief characteristics is that if a man attempts to sink for water he will strike it, but it will be salter than the sea. That, of course, does not improve the carrying capacity’ of the country. Many persons who know/ nothing about pastoral land have said mis country will carry millions of sheep, and will be a perfect paradise. But the pastoralists are not bumping into one another in a hurry to get hold of those parts.
– Has ‘ not Scaddan stocked up his country yet?
– I reckon not. My opinion is that that country can be occupied, but only by pastoralists who own other properties, and who, by shifting their stock when the pressure due to lack of water is on, can get away.
– Is it not a fact that while the Federal Tax Commissioner is putting these extortionate values on the bare leaseholds the country will not be taken up?
– I am not going into that phase of the question. That does not worry me. I am inclined to think, however, that the country will be taken up and profitably occupied; but, as I have indicated, it can only be done by men in possession of other areas who can move from the dry tract when the pinch comes. Let us suppose that a case comes before the Court years hence, after the country has been occupied under the conditions which I have set out. Then I would say that the construction of the railway had improved that country, because it could not have been occupied but for the facility it gave for stock to be periodically shifted. A pastoralist should hesitate, therefore, before approaching the Court to make a big claim, since it is possible that the law may conclude that the line has bettered the carrying capacity by giving facility to occupiers for transporting their stock from one part of the territory to another. It seems to me that the reference to the principle here is perfectly sound. As to the remark that no occupier should seek compensation, I do not hold with that.
– They should get their compensation from the State from which they got their land, and not from us.
– If the country has water, and the railway has taken charge of it and used it, then that interferes with the carrying capacity of the adjacent portion of a run; and if that is not -a matter for compensation from those who have created the trouble, it should be. However, the law is uncertain, and the judicial bench is very uncertain, and it is difficult to suggest how such a claim might be decided. But, in my opinion, there would be a claim. The country on the South Australian side was taken up according to the pastoral laws of that State, and the land was fairly well watered. Then came the Federal Railway authorities, and certain of the lessees were deprived of some of their water. What claim there can be against South Australia, therefore, I am at .a loss to see. The Government have made out a very good case, and I will support the Bill.
– - The case made out by the Minister, together with the necessity for the introduction of this measure, is obvious.. From that point of view I have no objection to offer, but I protest against the provision which imposes on the Federal Government the obligation of paying compensation. Compensation here has its basis upon two different circumstances. There is the question of depreciation of the value of a lease, and then there is the matter of its enhancement by reason of the construction of the railway. I do not object to the principle where a lease has been interfered with, and where it can be shown that the purposes for which the lease was originally taken have been depreciated. A claim on that basis would seem quite treasonable ; but it will come as rather a surprise to this House, and the public, that the payment of the compensation is made a liability upon tie Commonwealth. In a Toughandready way, the understanding has always .been that the two States concerned were providing the land while the Commonwealth was to spend the money on the building of the line.
– So they are.
– And the schedule to .the Bill supports me in that idea, for it states, “ That in consideration of the Commonwealth undertaking to construct the -line,, certain areas along each aide of it shall be .granted m fee simple without further consideration.” The schedule goes on to stipulate, “ The expression other lands to include lands for water catchment and conservation.” The second portion of the schedule sets out that an agreement has been made on the part of Western Australia to grant to the Commonwealth an area of 640 acres at Kurramia and 50’ acres at Bulong; and it is stipulated clearly that these shall be without further consideration. If the land belonged to the Commonwealth, one could understand that the Commonwealth would be reasonably liable for compensation. But the lands are State property. The States, therefore, get all the advantages of the building of the line.
– How does the railway damage the land ?
– The very contrary, of course, takes place, and the rea-, son advanced most particularly for the construction was that it would open up and develop the territory on each side of it.
– Yes; out this Bill does not -deal with that at all.
– Under this Bill we are to understand, however, that we are to -relieve the ‘States concerned of their liability.
– Their legislation provides that if they give a grant we must compensate existing lessees.
– That is not shown in the agreement.
– The agreement was subject in this matter to the action of tho State Parliaments, and that is the stand they have taken.
– How can the States impose on the Commonwealth the liability to pay compensation unless the Commonwealth has expressed its willingness to assume that liability? We have spent ‘between £5,000,000 and £6,000,000 on this railway, and although the other States’: will benefit indirectly by the construction .of the line, South Australia and Western Australia will benefit 4-irectly, and very largely, because of the tremendous enhancement of the value of their public estate. They could, therefore, well afford to pay compensation.
– Why will the value of the land you refer to be tremendously increased ?
– Because the land will be more accessible, and occupation of it will increase. Its value as a producing area will be increased.
– The land must improve in value as1 the years go by. If it cannot do so, one of the reasons for constructing the railway has gone.
– The railway will lessen the cost of carriage to and from that land; that is all.
– The increase in the valine of that land is limitedby its rainfall.
– Iam aware that comparatively and land cannot be changed’ by the construction of a railway into valuable agricultural land. In my opinion, the payment of compensation by the Commonwealth would be wrong. So far as I know, the States have not asked for it.
– It has been asked for. Western Australia is not affected, because in that State there are practically no leaseholds along the route of the line. The Western Australian land is almost all Crown land.
– Then it is in South Australia that difficulties will crop up?
Mr.Glynn. - Yes. There has been a great deal of argument upon these matters.
– Do I understand that South Australia has passed an Act putting the responsibility of compensation on to the Commonwealth ?
– Yes I have a copy of it here.
– The payment of compensation by the Commonwealth, is provided for. in the agreement.
– The agreement provides for the granting to the Commonwealth of a strip of Crown land along the route of the line. In Western Australia that land has notbeen alienated.
– Leasehold land is not alienated land.
– It is in part.
– The agreement also says, “ and grant to the Commonwealth, without, further consideration- such other lands as the Governor is empowered, to grant.”
– That is. the Governor of South Australia. That is where the trouble arises. The State will not do it.
– Then they seem to me to be taking an unfair advantage ofi the Commonwealth.
– They are doing what they undertook to-do.
– Not what the public understood they would do. The pu’blic understood that the States through whose territory the line wouldrun would, without any consideration, and without imposing any responsibilities on the Commonwealth, provide the necessary land. The railway will benefit the State of South Australia to a constantly increasing’ extent as settlement and traffic develop. I wish to refer also to the possibility of a difficulty in arbitration proceedings. Clause 11 provides that the matter of compensation may be referred by the Minister to a Justice of the High Court, who shall act as arbitrator, but clause Instates that for the purposes of this measure, the provisions of the law of South Australia relating to arbitration shall be adopted. As arbitration cases will not arise in respect of Western Australianland, how will the Minister get past the arbitration tribunal of South Australia.?
– Clause 14 merely covers a few incidental matters which are not dealt; with in this Bill, because they would make the measure too elaborate. They merely affect procedure. The South Australian Court will not be invoked; a Justice of the High Court will deal’ with: every case.
– The enhancement in the value of the land isto be made then basis, of the compensation. On what; prospects of development is the estimate of the enhancement of value to be- made ? The Bill says nothing of that, and we have been, given no definite information on the subject. In most cases the imcrease in value will be a slow but con.inuous growth, and the payment of compensation on any other basis, will be entirely in favour of the lessee-. The enhancement in value- as years go by might more than cover any immediate disability which might be suffered by a lessee-. Theenhancement, in value might well be estimated over a period of years, so that the compensation might be. reasonable according to the expectations of development.
– South Australia, under the agreement with the Commonwealth respecting the railway, does not get a penny of compensation, and is not responsible to- the lessees. These lessees however, by. the terms of their leases, have the right to compensation. The railway will benefit this country chiefly by providing facilities for the movement of stock. Those who know this country are aware that it has only a limited rainfall, and it is the -limitation of rainfall that governs its possibilities. Even if railways were made all over it, it could not become rich and prosperous while subject to droughts. In looking through the Bill, it occurred to me that a -new departure had been made creating a precedent in the manner of determining compensation claims. Clause 12 introduces the betterment principle. This would be all very well if done in a proper manner, which would be by the Railway Bill itself. .
– The principle already exists in our legislation. What is new in this Bill ls the provision that if- a man goes to law, and it is found that the land which he retains has increased in value more than will compensate for any loss he may have suffered, he will have to make up the difference.
– A dangerous precedent is being created, because the Commonwealth Government may introduce the same principle into legislation affecting land of considerable value. I want the Minister to consider the equity of the proposal. The honorable gentleman says that if a claimant seeks compensation for property acquired by the Government, and the claim goes to arbitration, ‘and it can be proved that the construction of the railway had increased to an amount equivalent to the amount of his claim the value of the property remaining to the claimant, he will get nothing.
– And if the increase in value is greater than the claim, he will have to pay the difference, which is quite a proper provision.
– But why should the betterment principle be applied only to those who claim compensation?
– That is a point which 1 wish to raise. The Government might say to every land-owner along the route who has benefited by the construction of the line, ‘ ‘ You must pay betterment to the Crown.” But that is not proposed.
– Unless a man chooses to go to law, he will not have to pay anything for betterment.
– But these men have a right to go to law to assert their claims. I wish to know how the Minister can justify. the introduction of this legislation by any that has ever been attempted by any other Government.
– I can justify it by what is occurring now.
– But the honorable gentleman must regard this proposed legislation as embodying an abstract principle, and from that standpoint I want to know whether he can justify it. He is really seeking to introduce the betterment principle, which is not common in connexion with, railway construction, and he is seeking to introduce it after this line has been built, and the necessary railway facilities have been provided.
– It is a very good principle to adopt if we wish to avoid litigation.
– It is a good principle for us to be honest, and to do things at the proper time.
– ‘This is honest.
– I do not see it. I should like the Minister to justify the proposal before the House.
This Bill is an important one, inasmuch as it seeks to lay down practically a new principle. When honorable members were asked to vote ‘for the construction of the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta railway, they were definitely assured that the land held by the States, through which the line would pass, was to be handed over to the Commonwealth as a free gift. In addition, an area upon either side of the line was to be gratuitously vested in the Commonwealth.
– So it was.
– The question of the acquisition of mineral rights over this land was also raised.
– The mineral rights were reserved.
– I cannot conceive how this line can have inflicted any damage upon the leaseholders along the route which it traverses.
Lord Forrest. - It has done them a lot of good.
– I agree with the right honorable gentleman. It has provided them with an opportunity of getting their stock removed - an opportunity which otherwise they would not have’ had. I believe it was the honorable member for Maribyrnong who stated that £4,000 had already been paid as compensation to these leaseholders.-
– That amount is nothing compared with the demands which are being made.
Lord Forrest. - I have heard that one individual has asked for £70,000 compensation in connexion with a drop *of water which he was not using.
-If that be so, it is better that we should be told the exact position.
– It is to be hoped that this line, and the money which has been spent upon it, will help to enhance the public estate.
-It will be difficult enough to make the line pay under the most favorable circumstances; but there will be no hope of achieving that result if the Commonwealth is to be called upon to pay compensation in cases like that which has been mentioned by the right honorable member for Swan. Unless it can be proved that damage has been done to any leaseholder, without any corresponding benefit having been conferred upon him, we have no right to pay a single penny by way of compensation. In regard to the clause mentioned by the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Richard Foster), it does seem inequitable that if a man lodges a claim for compensation he shall practically have a revolver pointed at his head.
– It will make him pretty careful.
– No doubt. That clause, in effect, says, “ If you claim compensation we will see what benefit you have derived from the construction of’ this line.” But, to my mind, the clause is inequitable, inasmuch as it provides only for an investigation into the affairs of the man who claims compensation and does not permit of an investigation into the affairs of thousands of others who make no such claim. A leaseholder whose land is close to a railway station will, naturally, be able to get his stock away more easily than will the individual who is less favorably situated. Consequently, the former will say, “ I will not apply for compensation. otherwise the authorities will inquire into the measure of the benefit which I have received from the building of the line.” -If the provision embodied in clause 12 be a sound one, every leaseholder along the line should be compelled to pay for the benefit which it has conferred upon him.
– That provision should have been contained in the measure authorizing the construction of the line.
– Of course; it should. But we have a right to amend clause 12 in the direction I have indicated.
– How are the honorable member’s friends in the syndicate getting on?
– I do not know of any land syndicate. I know that certain members of Parliament were members of the Labour party at the time this line was being constructed, and the Argus, in ite desire to injure that party, published a map showing that a man named Fisher was one of the leaseholders along the line. That journal -sought to convey the impression that the individual of that name was the then Prime Minister. As a matter of fact, it was not.
– And the Argus knew it.
– It may or it may not have known it. But some other persons who are leaseholders are. now members of the National party.
– What about Mr. Scadden?
– He is a member of the honorable member’s party now.
– Did you mention Mr. W. D. Johnston?
– I did not know that . he held any land along the line. It is significant that the newspapers which were loud in their condemnation of certain men because they were members of the Labour party, have not a word to say against them to-day when they are members of the National party. I say that if any man, because of the position which he occupies in a Government, is able to obtain information of value prior to the general public obtaining it,- he has no right to make use of it. I am glad to know that in Australia we are very free from imputations of improper conduct in that connexion. I hope that we shall always remain so. But public journals ought not to set the bad example of throwing mud at members of a political party to which they are opposed. That is the reason why there hasbeen so much talk of political corruption in America, where, as a matter of fact, there is very little truth in the allegations which are so. recklessly made.
Lord Forrest. - I thought that the newspapers ought to have been dealt with in the case to which the honorable member ref ers.
– I trust that we shall amend clause 12 of theBill. If we are to adopt the betterment principle in it, it should apply, not only to the persons who claim compensation, but to every leaseholder along the route traversed by the line.
.- Under clause 12 of this Bill it is only proposed to assess the value of the land held by such leaseholders as make claims for compensation against the Government. I should like to know whether it is the intention of the Ministry to apply the betterment principle to leaseholders all along the line? If so, they will open up in Australia a very big question indeed. I hope that they do not intend, even by means of the thin end of the wedge, to adopt that principle as a set-off against any genuine claim for compensation.
– I should like to know whether this Bill has been introduced for the purpose of relieving the South Australian Government of responsibility or whether it is a measure which we must pass for the protection of the Commonwealth. So far as I can gather from the remarks of the Minister, we must pass the Bill in some form or other - whether we like it or not - because of the fact that compensation is being claimed by certain stationowners along the route of the railway, and the Bill provides the machinery for dealing with such claims. Were the position otherwise, I would vote to reject the measure in its entirety. In my judgment, the principle which it seeks to introduce here should have been embodied in the measure authorizing the construction of this line. Clause 12 appeals to me as providing really the safety-valve of the Bill. It will prevent claims for compensation being made against the Commonwealth by leaseholders, upon whom the railway has really conferred a very great benefit. This railway has enabled the leaseholder to get his cattle away quickly in time of drought. As I passed along the line
I was told that, that country is. not greatly subject to drought. The saltbush does not die out until the drought has been very severe, and at one wayside station a man said to me, “I have been, years in the district, and throughout the big drought the saltbush lasted splendidly, and the cattle were able to live on it. The trouble has been that previously we had no means of getting our cattle away. Now the railway provides that means, and it will be of great advantage to us.”
– If a man, portion of whose land has been acquired, makes a claim for compensation, theGovernment make a set-off onaccount of betterment. His neighbour may also have received betterment, but, as he makes no claim for compensation, he is not charged anything for betterment.
-The one manis not worse off than is the other. What is taken away from any leaseholder by the construction of the railway? Is it the earth that has been shifted in the course of construction?’ Is the value of the land impaired because the railway is not fenced? Is the claim made because the Government have taken a certain quantity of water? If the latter is the ground of the claim, the Government should pay for the water ; but they should not compensate a land-holder when an enhanced value has been given to his estate.
– I am sorry that it is necessary to introducea Bill of this sort. When the proposal for the construction of this railway was brought before Parliament, we fully understood that the land required for it would be given.. The two States interested - South Australia and Westerns Australia -were only too anxious to give to’ the Commonwealth the land needed for railway purposes! It may be that close to Tarcoola, and. at other places, some land was required by the Commonwealth outside of the area granted by the States. If the Commonwealth desired a larger area that that which the States had given them for thepurpose, I amsatisfied that the State Governments, under the powers they reserve when granting. leases would have been able to resume the land for reasonable compensation, and hand it over to the Commonwealth. The statement has been made that over £4,000 has been paid in compensation claims already, and that there is another claim by one leaseholder amounting to from £75,000 to £100,000. Such claims are so preposterous that they should not be entertained for a moment.
– They were not entertained.
– I quite realize why the Minister has inserted, clause 12 in’ this Bill. I think it is a good clause, and, if possible, it should be made more severe.
I rose to speak only on account of the statement made by the Leader of the Opposition. I wish to do nothing that will deter people from taking up areas along the railway and trying to develop the country. The success of the line will depend upon the -development of the land through which it passes. Pastoralism can only be made to pay by the Government leasing the land in large areas, and by the expenditure of large sums of money by the lessees. There axe a big water difficulty and the rabbit pest to cope with; and these will necessitate heavy expenditure. Whilst I am glad that a provision has been inserted in this Bill in order to prevent people taking advantage of the Government, I warn honorable members that if we carry the betterment principle any further than the Minister _ has proposed, we shall be doing something that will prevent the development of these lands.
– This Bill is accepting the principle of betterment in order to use it as a set-off against a claim for compensation.
– When these extraordinary demands have- ‘been made for compensation, because along the railway the Government nave -utilized water that was of no value to the lessee prior to the construction of the line, we are quite justified in inserting a clause of this character., so that we may say, “ If you are going to claim compensation after we have spent so much money in making the land of value to you, we are going to claim as a set-off against your claim the advantages which the ^Government expenditure has conferred upon you.”
Lord FORREST (Swan) (6.12] . - T should mot have risen to speak on this Bill did I not feel that I had .a -duty ,to perform. Having taken a prominent part in -promoting the construction of this rail- way, I can hardly .ex-press myself sufficiently strongly regarding those persons who are trying -to improperly make money out of the ‘Commonwealth because the Government have .dene a great and beneficent work. The country through which this railway passes was almost, entirely unoccupied and uninhabitable. Through it a railway has - been built by the Commonwealth Government at an immense expense, with a view, firstly, to connect the eastern and western sides of the Common wealth, and, secondly, to facilitate the utilization of those vast unoccupied areas and make them wealth producing.. Now We find that the persons who have been shepherding this land, and putting it to very little use, on account of the absence of facilities of transit, are asking the country to compensate them. ^ For what? What have they done that they should receive compensation? I -can quite understand; this Parliament generously saying to the leaseholders along the line, “ We will not make ,yo.u pay for .the advantages which the line has brought to you, but you must make no claim against us.” That seems to me to be as generous a proposition &s could be made. But when a person tries to get from the Commonwealth money which, he has not earned, a betterment law should be made to apply to such person. I have said for the last thirty years, and I repeat now, that those persons who try to make money out of their country after it has done a beneficent work by which they have benefited, deserve to be .dealt with by every Parliament in a manner that will prevent them cheating the State. I remember that, on the completion of the great gold-fields water scheme in Western Australia, which was projected and carried out by the Government of which I was a member, a gentleman brought an action against the Government claiming that the impounding of the water in a water-course that was not even perennial, impaired some rights he thought he had miles below the Mundaring Weir. I introduced in Parliament a Bill which proposed to prohibit .amy such action being taken, and if taken, being proceeded with. My friends induced me not to proceed with the Bill, bub to create instead a special tribunal of three Judges to deal with any claim that might arise. Although this particular claimant was a friend of mine, I called him all sorts of names. When his claim was dealt with by the Court, the Judges were of opinion that he had been subject to a great deal of trouble, and they awarded him £500, which, in my opinion, he ought never to have received. I thought that we had heard the last of claims of that kind, but those dealt with by this Bill are even more scandalous. I was told by the Department of the case of a pastoral leaseholder on whose land is a well. He was not making use of the water, and the Government utilized it for railway purposes, and subsequently took legal proceedings to reserve it for the Crown. Each month this leaseholder submits his claim, with interest added, and the total now is about £70,000. I shall never be a arty to giving that man a cent. He has benefited very largely by the construction of this railway, and it is scandalous that men who are making a profit in consequence of Government expenditure should try to fleece the public.
– In regard to the question of compensation, which I think is the most important matter discussed by honorable members, I should simply like to say that the majority of the provisions in this Bill are already contained in the Lands Acquisition Act of 1906. They have been adopted in principle from the Acts of the State Parliaments, and I think they run through all the laws for compensation in both the United Kingdom and Australia. Section 2S of the Lands Acquisition Act of 1906 provides that the Court, in determining compensation under the Act, shall take into account -
Therefore, the principal of betterment is embodied to some extent in existing legislation. The only alteration made by clause 12 is that, whereas the existing law provides that, where the remainder of a man’s land has been increased in value by the carrying out of a public work, the amount of such increase may be deducted from the compensation, this Bill further enacts that if the amount of the enhancement is so great as to exceed the claim, the excess, if a Justice of the High Court so orders, will have to be paid to the Government by the claimant. The honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. Finlayson) and the honorable member for “Wakefield (Mr. Richard Foster) asked the reason for inserting this provision. It is inserted to deter persons from ridiculous claims, and, I think, is justified for that reason. Something like 35,000 acres were required, chiefly in order to secure water required in the construction of the railway. As I have already mentioned, the total amount of compensation paid in respect of the 27,918 acres of leasehold acquired is £4,860. I have not all the figures by me, but I looked this matter up in connexion with an existing claim. I looked up the whole business from the beginning.
– Who adjudicated on these claims?
– They were dealt with by a previous Minister for Home Affairs. I do not for a moment say that he did wrong. For instance, in one case £4,050 was allowed in compensation, but the total claim made amounted to £40,000.
– The claimants might not have been justified in making any claim.
– That is another point. The honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Richard Foster) asked me how I justified the introduction of such a provision as is contained in clause 12 of the Bill. He did not think it could be justified by precedent^ but I remind him that there is scarcely a single reform that has been carried in Australia that could be justified by precedent. The first country in the world to introduce an unimproved tax upon land was South Australia. It was introduced by the late Mr. Kingston, and I also had something to do with it; but if Mr. Kingston had been asked what precedent there was for it, he would have had to shut up. South Australia is a State for which it is advisable that I, as well as the honorable member for Wakefield, should show some respect. It was the first State in Australia to establish the principle of women’s suffrage, from which two good- and important results followed - it established a precedent, and secured the return of your humble servant to Parliament. I suppose that I was the first man in the British Empire to be blessed by the female vote.
– The Bill will apply only to claims made subsequent to its introduction .
– I am glad that the honorable member has mentioned that. This measure only applies to subsequent claims. There is an existing claim, upon the merits of which I shall not say anything, but I mention it as a justification for the provision to which the honorable member for Wakefield has referred. It is a claim for £103,000, and I have offered in connexion with it compensation to the extent of £3,230. That should be sufficient to show that there is some justification for the introduction of this provision.
Lord Forrest.- I think the honorable gentleman should mention the name of that claimant.
– No. The merits of the claim cannot be dealt with here, and I have mentioned it merely to show why this provision has been included.
– Have not all the claims likely to be made been sent in before now?
– No, only for lands acquired. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Tudor) mentioned that the States of South Australia and Western Australia had agreed that lands necessary for railway purposes along the route of the line should be given free to the Commonwealth.
– If that be so, should not these claims be dealt with by the State Governments ?
– The honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Rodgers) mentioned the. question of betterment generally, as did also the honorable member for Dandier (Mr. Gregory). But the betterment principle is not to be applied beyond what is provided for inclause 12. I do’ not believe that we have the power to apply it, except as incidental to acquisition. We cannot deal with the land in the same way as the State Governments can deal with it. Our power under section al of the Constitution is to acquire “ on just terms.” No matter what provision we included in an Act, if the High Court considered that it was not just, it could knock it out. With respect to what the
States of South Australia and Western Australia agreed to give us, I may mention that honorable members will see from the schedule to the Bill the reference in South Australia was to “ Crown lands “ and in Western Australia to “ waste lands of the Crown,” which means lands unalienated either in fee simple or under lease.
Lord Forrest. - Does not the term “waste lands” include leaseholds?
– Not under the Statute. I do not for a moment say that we Were wise in the past.
– I think it is clear that the legal men in South Australia got the better of the legal men of the Commonwealth .
– I do not think so.I do not think it can be suggested that there was any deception on either side.
– Leased lands are still Crown lands.
Lord Forrest. - Where is it stated that “ waste lands “ do not include leaseholds?
– I think that is so from the State legislation on the subject. This matter had to come before the State Parliaments, because there is a provisionin the Railway Act of 1911 that certain Crown land grants were to be made by the States. Then we had the Transcontinental Railway Line Grant Act of 1911 passed in the Parliament of South Australia, in which it is provided that -
The Executive may grant to the satisfaction of the Minister for Home Affairs of the Commonwealth such portions of the Crown lands and leases belonging to the Crown in the said State of South Australia as, in the opinion of the Minister, stated in writing by him, and received by the Governor, as are necessary for the purpose of the construction, maintenance, and working of the railway.
There is a further provision that the land granted under the Act shall be subject to all the estates and interests of any person other than the Crown, or any persons on behalf of the Crown, in the land, and that such estates and interests shall be taken over by the Commonwealth under the Lands Acquisition Act of 1906, or any amendment thereof. The matter is also dealt with in a State Act, No. 1079 of 1912. We have gone into this matter very thoroughly, and have had a legal opinion from our own Crown Law Department before any action has been decided upon. I have read all the correspondence on the question, and
I know that the stand taken up by the State Parliaments, particularly of South Australia, was that they undertook only to give “ Crown land.” That is what is meant by their legislation, and by the agreement the Commonwealth Crown Solicitor is of the opinion that that was the view of the Commonwealth also, and in the circumstances we have simply to do what was agreed upon. The honorable member for Denison (Mr. Laird Smith) asked whether in this matter we were proposing to relieve the Government of South Australia of some burden which is properly theirs. I have looked up their legislation, and I find that there was an Act passed in 1893 under which the Government of South Australia might possibly have resumed land for us on better terms than we can resume it under our legislation. I find that compensation under that Act would have to be granted to lessees for leases issued alter a certain date. But the Government of South Australia refused to exercise any of their powers in that direction. We have, therefore, been driven to take this action, and to make the best provision possible in the circumstances for the Commonwealth.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.45 p.m.
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 (Definitions).
.- I desire to ask the Minister whether, under this clause, any new power is conferred upon the Minister in dealing with claims for compensation ?
– Except that the arbitrator will be a Justice of the High Court, the method of procedure will be as before.
– So that, if the Minister and his officers hold that a claim is justifiable, it will be paid without any reference to the Court?
– Yes. If it is not considered justifiable, it will go to the Court at the instance of the Minister.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 3 agreed to.
Clause 4 -
Where any land held under a lease is required by the Minister for the purposes of the railway,the Minister may …. specify the part …. required, and thereupon the lease shall be deemed to be determined. . .
– There are some verbal amendments that I shall have to make in a few of the clauses. Wherever the word “ Minister “ occurs, so as to make him the administrator of the Act, I propose that it shall be left out, and the word “ Commissioner “ put in. The reason for this is that the Railways Act, which was passed last year, makes provision for the Commissioner of Railways dealing with all lands that are in future to be acquired for the purpose of the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta railway, and that I think it better that he should also administer under this measure. I therefore move -
That the word “ Minister “ wherever occuring be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ Commissioner.”
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 5 agreed to.
Clause 6 (Compensation in respect of leases).
.- I believe that we have already paid too much by way of compensation to leaseholders along the route of this railway. I understand that there are at present pending certain claims which will not be affected by this Bill.
– Yes, claims already made and disputed. They are all before the Court.
– And clause 12 will not apply to them? .
– The substance of the Bill will apply to those claims, but clause 12 will not.
– It is to be regretted that thousands of pounds should be paid by way of compensation to leaseholders along this line, the construction of which has cost so much.
– Another Ministry and another Parliament were responsible for that.
– To a certain extent that is so; but surely we should try to recover ourselves, and, if necessary, make tjiis measure retrospective.
– The Commonwealth should have been protected by the original Act.
– We thought that the Commonwealth was protected by it. The general impression wasthat for a quarter of a mile across the line the whole of the land along this railway would be a gift from South Australia and Western Australia to the Commonwealth. I believe every honorable member understood that to be a part of the compact. We now find the Government confronted with claims representing thousands of pounds in respect of land, the value of which has been improved by the building of this railway. I hope that the Minister, as far as his power under the original Act will allow, will see that compensation is strictly limited to what is legally necessary. At a time when every penny counts, we are proposing to pay large amounts by way of compensation to rich men who do not deserve it.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 7 and 8 agreed to.
Clauses 9 and 10 verbally amended and agreed to.
Clause 11 (Settlement of Disputes).
.- Will the Commissioner finally settle all claims for compensation as the result of the substitution of the word “ Commissioner “ for the word “Minister” wherever occurring in this Bill in relation to administration ?
– So that the matter will be taken out of the hands of the Minister altogether.
– The general administration of the Bill will he under the Minister. This clause deals with lands in respect of the railway, and in future all lands for the purposes of the railway will he acquired by the Commissioner. The claims and all dealings with them will be under the Commissioner,but it must not be forgotten that there is over him a responsible Minister who has to watoh what, is going on. The Commissioner administers the Railways Act, and as to lands that are to ibe acquired hereafter, we must apply under’ this Bill the principle that Parliament applied last year under the Railways Act. My colleague, Mr. Groom, as Minister for Works and Railways, will deal with the matter of railway administration.
Clause verbally amended and agreed to.
Clause 12 verbally amended and agreed to.
Clauses 13 to 15 agreed to.
Mr. GLYNN (Angas - Minister for looking through the Bill, this afternoon, I noticed that it did not contain an express provision such as is embodied in the Lands Acquisition Act 1906, giving the right to interest to the person whose property is acquired. I propose, therefore, to make a somewhat similar provision in this case. I move -
That the following new clause be inserted : - “ 7a. ( 1 ) Compensation payable under this
Act shall bear interest at the rate of 3 per centum per annum for the period for interest hereinafter set forth.
The period for interest shall expire -
Proposed new clause agreed to.
Schedule and Title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments.
Standing Orders suspended; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Bill presented by Mr. Groom, and read a first time.
[7.581. - I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
This Bill is necessary,because, under the definition clause of the Lands Acquisition Act 1906, “ land “- does not include public parks vested In or under the control of municipal or local authorities and dedicated to or reserved for the recreation of the people, or such other lands dedicated to or reserved for the use and enjoyment of thepeople as have been specified by proclamation.
Some land at Leichhardt, Sydney, is required by the Defence Department for ordnance stores. The Commonwealth intended to acquire it, but when the Department was about to issue a proclamation for the purpose, it was thought that inquiries should be made as to whether a more suitable site could not be found in
New South Wales. A report was obtained from Mr. Swinburne, and it confirmed the original opinion of the Department that an area of about* 5 acres at Leichhardt was the best from all points of view for the purpose of the ordnance stores. The obtaining of this report delayed the proclamation which was to have been issued on the 28th February of this year acquiring the area of land In the meantime, on the 1st September, 1917, a special Gazette was issued by the Government of the State of New South Wales proclaiming this land as a reserve for public purposes, the public purpose in this case being a public park; but the land had not actually been dedicated and vested in a local authority for that purpose on the 28th February of this year. Therefore, had we issued our proclamation on that date the land would have passed to the Commonwealth under the Lands Acquisition Act, but as the State Government, on the 18th March of this year, issued a proclamation dedicating this land for the purposes of a park, and vesting it in the trustees of the Blackmore Park, we could not acquire it under the Lands Acquisition Act, because that Statute gives the Commonwealth no authority to acquire lands belonging to the State or a local authority which have been dedicated for public purposes. We want the power to acquire this land, and it can only be done by a special Act of Parliament. When the Commonwealth Lands Acquisition Act was under consideration in this House, there was considerable discussion as to whether or not power should be given to acquire land vested as public parks in the various States, and it was decided that when the Commonwealth sought to acquire any park lands for Commonwealth purposes special Bills must be brought in for the purpose. This is one of those Bills. /
There are other places in Sydney where ordnance stores could be erected, but they do not give the accommodation required by the Defence Department. The officials of the Department have submitted a report as to the suitability of this particular block of land, but I do not wish to weary honorable members by going into details. The question is not one of the suitability of the land; it is one of whether or not we should acquire this land by an amendment of the Lands Acquisition Act.
– But it is proposed to take away a public park.
– The land has all the qualifications that are really desirable for ordnance stores. There is a block of 10 acres altogether, but we require not more than 5 acres 3 roods. There are well-formed macadamized’ roads on three sides. It is on the main goods railway line connecting all country centres with Darling Harbor and with Glebe Island. The railway authorities state that there are splendid facilities for railway sidings, and that lt is a splendid site for easy working. There is a. large water frontage, which is navigable for large lighters and punts. It is within 4 miles of the Sydney Post Office, and within 2 miles of the chief manufacturing centre. The president of the New South Wales Chamber of Commerce considers it a tip-top . site for business purposes. It is close to electrical supply, and can easily be sewered. Furthermore, it is within a few1 minutes’ walk of a tramway.
Of course honorable members would like t6 know the position of the State Government in regard to this matter, which has already proclaimed it as a public park. It is not actually a park at present, nor is it likely to be used as one for generations, but I thought it well to have inquiries made on the point. I have not had a letter from the State Government on the subject, but Colonel Sands, who was in Sydney a short time ago, saw both the municipal council of Leichhardt and the State Minister for Lands, and the impression he formed, and I believe it is correct, is that neither the State Government nor the municipal council objects to our acquiring the land. On the 11th April, I received a telegram informing me that there was no antagonistic public attitude likely to be expected from the Leichhardt Municipal Council, whose meeting Colonel Sands attended, that that body intended to approach the State Government for the purpose of getting the purchase money allowed to them in order to enable them to buy another park, and that the State Government will be favorable to this.
This Bill is merely asking for technical power to acquire the laud. I do not think that it is likely the land would be used as a park for a long time to come. It is so close to another park.
– There has been no money spent on it, but it is rather extensively used as a sort of recreation ground.
– I think there are other parks within 3 miles.
– That is not much in a thickly populated and growing district.
– The distance is not given in the particulars before me, but I have been informed that the Leichhardt park is near, and would serve every purpose this park was . intended to serve. If the State Government does not object, and if the Leichhardt Municipal Council is favorable to the acquisition of this land, everything that can really recommend the Bill from a public point of view has been maintained. The land is required for defence purposes, and it is the very best for those purposes that we can possibly get. There is a long report from Mr. Swinburne, who went into the whole matter. He inspected every place that could be recommended, and he considered that this was the best site for ordnance stores. If it were not for the fact that the land was not acquired on the 28th February, it would not have been necessary to introduce this Bill. It was only because we postponed taking that action that the technical necessity for the passage of a Bill has been occasioned.
.- I regret that the Minister should have brought forward such a Bill. I am sure that he has a great deal more sympathy with the general public who have to live in big cities than his proposal would suggest that he has. My experience of public bodies is that they see no reason whatever why their will should not be carried out without any consideration for the feelings of the mass of the people who live in big cities. I enter a strong protest against this proposal on the part of the Government. I suppose that every man who has been called upon to give advice in connexion with it has a’ residence in some aristocratic suburb, where his senses are not disturbed by any city slum. I remember the strong agitation that grew up when it was proposed to take Hyde Park, in Sydney, for the purpose of constructing a city railway, and honorable members who are accustomed to visit Sydney can see that the rapacious hands of people who probably live at Strathfield, Pott’s Point, Mosman, or some other aris- tocratic portion of Sydney are already at work on that green spot in front of the
Central Railway Station, which was formerly used as a park, but is now being used for tramway lines. If no protest is made, and if -an end is not put to this alienation of public land, the weary ratepayer may find no place outside publichouse bars where he may rest his tired limbs. The particular piece of land sought to be acquired has already been dedicated for the purposes of a park, and the argument put forward is that it is within 3 miles of an existing public park ; but, from what I can remember, Leichhardt is very closely populated ; there is an increasing number of small houses, probably three or four-roomed houses, in which people must live, on account of their limited wages. As a rule it is the poor who have large families, running up to ten or eleven children, who are compelled to live in such small places. The Defence Department officers who were intrusted with the responsibility of getting a site for ordnance stores, wander round Sydney and seize on a piece of land which has been dedicated for a public park. As the Minister says, this land may not be used for a long time yet as a park, for the reason, I suppose, that the pressure on the poor people in the neighbourhood is not great enough.
– Is this the only place that the Defence Department can get for the purpose?
– It is the only place equal to the requirements.
– There are very many vacant spaces on the foreshore that could be obtained for this purpose.
– On the Parramatta River?
– Quite so. The Government have plenty of money to spend for Defence purposes, and they ought to select a site away from a thickly populated neighbourhood; it is our duty to conserve the interests of the people who have to live in the big cities of the Commonwealth. Our aim ought to be to breed a race able to continue for all time such efforts as are now being made by those Australians at the Front, who came from the great areas of the country and knew nothing of slum life. If we rob suburban people of little pieces of land of something like 5 acres, we shall surely create slums and place obstacles in the way of the development of the children of the poor. Judging from the attitude of our friends opposite, it will he a long time before we establish the millennium in this country.
– Not at all; the millennium is here.
– It may appear to the honorable member to be here, because high prices reign. Years ago, in the Old Country, people used to be asked to honour the toast, “A long war and a short crop,” though I do not suppose that my honorable friend would be wicked enough to express such a sentiment over his glass of wine. The Defence authorities ought not to be permitted to annex land in this way as a short cut to their own convenience.
– It is only a quarter of a mile away from .the Haberfield Garden suburb.
– Is that suburb across Uie water?
– I do not know.
– The Minister is candid, and he does not seem to appreciate the harm he is about to do with this Bill. We on this side are so grateful to the Government for treating us as human beings, and, when we approach them for information, for not meeting us with a tirade of vindictive abuse, that we are quite willing to help them’ to get through with their legislation.
– Would you mind describing this piece of land?
– I never heard of the Bill until a few moments ago ; and it was sufficient for me to see that the Government are proposing to take a public park. As I move through the various cities of the Commonwealth I find too few parks for the masses of the people, who are too poor to live in aristocratic or outlying suburbs, where the rentals amount to, at least, 25s. or 30s. per week, and where park lands are within easy distance. I view with considerable anxiety the fact that in Sydney there is what is called the Million Club, composed of men whose aim it is to see a population of .1,000,000 in and around that city.
– And they will achieve their aim.
– They will not achieve it - it will come naturally.
– It may bc that we shall see this population in Sydney, for the cities, with their lights and music, are as irresistible to people as the candle to a moth. Nevertheless, we must regard with anxiety this desire to have such immense populations in our big cities, while there are such vast vacant areas in the country. In the more closely-populated suburbs we find no yard space, and the children of the poor are compelled to play on the kerb and in the gutter. This does not, give the rising generation a fair show; it would be a good thing if there were a five-acre park for every half-mile’ square of buildings in city and suburbs. This would be of advantage from many points of view, and one advantage would be the saving of expense in regard to criminology. The Minister must have considered that branch of sociology during his long study of political economy; and I know that he agrees with me, only, he happens to be in charge of the Bill.
– We have plenty of scope for studying it here !
– There is no opportunity to study any branch of criminology in the House, unless it is on the Government side, where we have evidence that pledges are not always kept. The Government promised to resign office, and did not dc* so; and that, in the eyes of a great many people, is a political crime. I do not like the Bill at all, and I propose to divide the House on it. All who have the welfare of the masses of the people at heart ought to set their faces against this proposal to seize land dedicated to park purposes. As I say, there are many large areas of land at Lane Cove, Botany Bay, and up the Parramatta River that might be utilized by the Defence Department for ordnance stores; and we ought to compel the Government to refer the matter back to the Defence Department. It is to be regretted that the Bill has been introduced without due notice, because I should have liked to make some observations at length in support of my argument that we ought, in the matter of public spaces, to protect the people in every possible way.
.-! support the view so ably put forward by the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Higgs). It is ‘always dangerous to> interfere with the facilities provided for the recreation of the children of the workers. This particular park is in my own electorate, and, therefore, I can claim to have some knowledge of the locality. It is in the centre of a thicklypopulated district, mostly given over to the purely working classes. In many of these suburbs the yards are small, and there is very little play-ground accommodation, so essential, not only to the physical, but the mental well-being of the young. This land has been dedicated by the State Government as a recreation ground; and one justification urged for its annexation is that the local borough council has no objection. I am not -at all concerned whether the local council has any objection or no; my concern is for the welfare of the people of the district. The council takes up what seems to me a very mercenary attitude; it is quite agreeable to part with this recreation ground if it is given compensation - if it is able to get some “ boodle “ out of the deal. We ought to be very jealous, and very loath to agree to the disposal of public grounds ©f the kind. In my opinion, not only the people of Leichhardt, but the people of the whole metropolitan area, will resent the action of the Defence Department. I admit that this land is eminently suitable as a site for ordnance stores, but it is not the only suitable land in the locality. All along the foreshore, in a north-easterly direction, there are miles to choose from, without taking away a public park. The Minister ought to consider the fact that this particular site is above what is known as the Iron Cove Bridge. It is a fixed bridge, with no span, and if ordnance stores are established in that locality it will be impossible to bring fully loaded ships alongside.
– The cargo will have to be put on lighters.
– Yes, and that will involve double handling. I speak from an actual knowledge of the locality, and know the particular disabilities attached to establishing stores there, so I would suggest that the Minister temporarily withdraw the measure in order that further inquiries may be made.
– We have had full reports from the Defence Department, and we obtained a special report from Mr. Swinburne to see if it were possible to select any other site, but found that it was not.
– I have a practical knowledge of the district, and. I say that below the bridge there is plenty of good deep-water frontage available,- though I have no particular site in my mind at the present moment.
– There is a site near Elliott Brothers’.
– Yes, as the honorable member suggests, there is a site near where Elliott Brothers have their works, in Rozelle. There is a vast area there, with a good deep-water frontage, so that boats drawing 25 and 30 feet of water could get alongside. If one of these sites were chosen, it would then be possible to eliminate the great cost of handling and discharging from lighters, such as will be involved if the Government scheme is adhered to. In addition to this, the proposal now before the House will deprive the people of that district’ of a public park which has been dedicated to them.
– Is the land being used at present for park purposes ?
– I do not know if any expense has been incurred by the borough council, but the area was handed over by the State Government for park purposes, and .whether there has been any expense or not, the land is being largely used by the children of the district as a playground.
– This Government wants to turn the children out.
– No; I do not think the Minister has that idea in his mind.
– We have had full reports on the subject.
– I quite believe the Minister, but I emphasize the fact that it is proposed to take away a public park, that the site is above the bridge, and thus it will be impossible to bring vessels alongside the stores, and that other and more suitable sites are available below the bridge, where deep-water frontages may be obtained, and so obviate the extra cost of handling.
– Does the honorable member know how the sites below the bridge are held ?
– In all probability they are held privately, but I have no personal knowledge of that matter. I again urge the Minister to temporarily withdraw the measure, so that further investigation may be made.
– There have been special investigations as to the site and as to the Commonwealth view and the State view.
– In my judgment, the people are better able to judge in a matter of this kind, and I believe that if they knew that this public park was being niched from them, there would be largely attended indignation meetings in the district to protest against this course of action. The Government appear to have acted upon a report, and have not consulted the people in any way.
– What is the area ?
– About 5 acres. I would prefer the opinion of the people to the opinion of others. It is quite unfair to spring a matter like this on the local residents. I am the member for that district, and I have not been consulted in any way, nor have I seen the reports. Surely the member for the district should have been consulted in some way. The Government have no right to take away from the people park lauds, dedicated to their use, while other sites adjacent to that area are available. Honorable members have a right to see these reports so that they may understand the whole circumstances in connexion with the matter. I again suggest to the Minister that he withdraw the measure, if only for the purpose of giving honorable members an opportunity of studying the reports. Surely that is not an unreasonable request, because honorable members should be supplied with the fullest information before they are asked to record their votes. In the interests of the people, and of honorable members themselves who desire to do the right thing, it is advisable that the reports should be made available.
– Honorable members should also be supplied with a localityplan as a guide.
– I quite agree with the honorable member. At present we are being asked to vote in the dark, and once more I ask the Minister to withdraw the measure to give the House an opportunity of obtaining further information.
.- I am quite in accord with what the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony) has said. I think that clause 2 of the Bill, which gives the Government power to acquire land, in itself should be sufficient to deter any honorable member from voting for the second reading. It states -
Those words should make the Minister hesitate before proceeding further with this Bill. It should be withdrawn in its entirety, and at once. Surely, as has been said by the honorable member for Dalley, who represents the district, the Defence Department is not restricted to this particular site.- In any case, if the Government have to pay compensation, the amount so paid would probably go a long way towards purchasing some other suitable site that may be available. I realize that the Minister in charge of the Bill has been induced to take this action by representations from the Defence Department; and that he himself knows nothing about the locality, and is not likely to know that the nibbling process has been in operation for some time in regard to private lands in and around Sydney.
– Yea; and in the other States.
– I know that in Queensland very few parks are available, and some of them are being nibbled away. I shall vote against the second reading of the Bill. I think the Minister is ill-advised in seeking to take any part of any park that has been reserved for the recreation of the people, even if any particular park has not been so utilized up to the -present.
– This park was acquired by proclamation; they stepped in before us.
– All the more reason why we should not go on with the Bill.
– I think the point made by the honorable member for Dalley that he has not had an opportunity of seeing the plan of the district or the reports is a very telling argument against the Bill.
.- Before honorable members are asked to vote upon a matter like this, a locality-plan should be made available, particularly when the measure deals with parks in a big city like Sydney. We have been told by the Minister, by way of interjection, that it was only because the local authorities stepped in beforehand that they were compelled to bring forward the Bill, and that they could have taken the park by proclamation. Apparently, after all, some municipal authorities are looking after the welfare of their people by acquiring park lands. While I do not doubt the Minister’s word for a moment, I think we should see the report before’ we can be expected to vote on a matter like this. There can be nothing confidential about it. We are told that the land is required for defence purposes. If it were required for a fort, I would not hesitate for a moment, but seeing that it is merely required for ordnance stores, for holding such articles as boots, clothing, and ammunition, the further they are outside a big city area the better it will be. As the representatives of the people, we should be sure that the people themselves know what is being proposed. The honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony), who represents the district, has told us that he was not aware what was being done until the Bill was brought before the House to-night. If the Defence Department in Victoria were to propose to take away part of Yarra Park for the purpose of ordnance stores that action would be just as much justified as the doing of what is here indicated. Probably it would be more so, because Melbourne is better off for parks, at any rate in the inner area, than any other city. So we should safeguard the interests of the people by seeing that not a foot of their land is taken from them. When the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway Bill was brought forward, it was proposed to take away part of a park in Port Augusta for railway purposes.
– I think I led the opposition
– The honorable gentleman did, and the Bill was postponed, and has never come up since.
– I led the opposition to allowing that land to be taken over under the general Act, and maintained that a special Bill should be brought in on every occasion for such purposes.
– Quite right, too. If tiiere is one man above all others whose name should be revered in Melbourne, it is a former town clerk, Mr. FitzGibbon, who did much to retain to the people the parks dedicated on their behalf. We should carry on that good intent. We are told that the portion of land here involved will not be required for a long term. But every big city of Australia to-day is growing bigger. In Sydney, for example, there is an institution known as the Millions Club; which holds a luncheon every week, and whose members are looking forward to the time when their city will have 1,000,000 inhabitants. Instead of taking away from the public parks, we should be adding to them. 1 protest. There is nothing to stop the Federal Department from taking part of our Fitzroy Gardens next. The Government should postpone further dealing with the Bill, and, at least, permit honorable members to see the report, since it cannot be confidential. I trust that the Government will obtain, in addition to the opinions of the local councillors, the views of the people in the locality. Even municipal councils have made mistakes. Bodies such as that are not always representative of the people who have elected them. They have, in some circumstances, allowed lands to be taken for certain purposes, to which action the ratepayers themselves have later objected. I trust, therefore, that if the Government will not withdraw the Bill, there will be sufficient members on the other side as public spirited in this matter as the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Bamford), who will vote against the public parks being used for any such purpose as this. I had not seen this measure until to-night, and I had no idea of its contents. It is not fair to take away from the people reserves to which they should be entitled for all time, and it is our place here strongly to resent such things. It is easy for the authorities to go about their purchases in this manner, rather than having to go to the expense of buying land in the ordinary way; but the practice is wrong. I, therefore, hope the Government will not put me in the position of having to vote against the measure.
.- Having seen one of the documents in the possession of the Minister, being a report of the Defence Department–
– There is nothing in it that is secret in any sense.
– I do not say it is secret, and I do not know whether I am in a position to use it or not. But, after having read the document, I certainly think it warrants the request to hold the question over for further consideration, or, at any rate, until it has been investigated by the Public Works Committee. It ap pears that the reason why the city authorities stepped in and reserved this park was because just previously they had handed over part of Wentworth Park to the Wool Committee for the erection of buildings for the storage of the wool clip ; and the local authorities naturally became rather alarmed that the acquisition of public parks was being carried on to such an extent that the people might rise in indignation and voice their objections. That document should be read to the House. It is a report recommending the carrying out of the works. The only thing that would constrain me to vote for the Bill would be that it is a wai- measure, and that the stores would only be required during- the currency of the war. I assume that they would be temporary buildings. There is a recommendation in the documents in the possession of the Minister that if they cannot take the land under the Lands Acquisition Act, it should be secured under the War Precautions Act.
– Is it not much more honest to come to Parliament with a special Bill in this manner?
– Yes; but it would also be more honest not to have to use the people’s lands in such a manner at all. I view with grave suspicion the taking over of public parks which have been reserved to the people for all time by far-seeing statesmen of the past. Take the case of the Royal Park, Melbourne. This was reserved to the public, and as it was so big, and the population was so small, portion was sliced off for the erection of the Old Men’s Homes. That was a public institution, and was built on public ground, and there was not much objection at the time. Next a Boys’ Reformatory was built, and, I believe, also a Girls’ Reformatory. During the period when I was in the State House there was still another proposition, to take out a considerable area from the Royal Park, to erect a receiving house. The Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Watt) was one of the bitterest opponents, together with myself ; but afterwards an institution of that nature was constructed there. Another public institution has been recently erected in Albert Park. I refer to the South Melbourne Technical School.
While this manner of procedure is cheaper in one sense, namely, the utilization of public ‘land for public institutions, the policy is altogether bad. The land was originally dedicated to the recreation of the people; not to the construction of public services. The time will come when Melbourne will be a city of several millions. The men who laid out Melbourne set reserves all about it, and to-day one can practically walk around the city within parks. But the suburbs have been rapidly extending in all directions, and it is, unfortunately, almost an exception to see a park in the newer parts.
– Outside the 3-mile radius there is none from Hawthorn Bridge to Ferntree Gully, practically.
– I believe that the Fitzroy Gardens, which are suich an ornament to the city, when first they were taken out of the public estate and reserved as a public park for all time, gave rise to a rumour of a peculiarly petty nature. They were dedicated as the result of the action of the Premier of that day (Mr. J. G. Francis), and it was said that, as he was living in a residence in Albert-street, overlooking the park, the reserve was set aside so that he might have a public garden in front of his own door. Such was the vision of the critics of that day.
– You are not comparing this property with that, are you ?
– I do not know it.
– I do.
– The only inducement which would cause me to give my vote for the Bill would be that it is to have regard to a temporary war measure. If the Government persist in carrying the Bill, they should provide that the buildings to be erected upon the land should be only of a temporary nature, and that when the war is over the domain should be handed back to the present authorities for the purpose for which it was originally set aside; that is for the recreation of the people. I repeat again the opinion that I expressed when a member of the Victorian Legislature, that it is bad policy to take over public reserves for the location of public institutions, removing them from the use to which they were originally dedicated ;. that is, as a playground and breathing space for city populations.
– I do not know the situation of ‘the land that it is proposed to acquire, but if, as the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Boyd) suggests, this is only a temporary measure, I think the Government should refrain from taking over a recreation ground. There is plenty of room close to the present ordnance stores on land re- sinned bythe Colonial Sugar Refining Company. I cannot see why the Government should not erect temporary stores there.
– Why not utilize Darlinghurst gaol?
– There are rifles, and, I think, other military stores at Darlinghurst gaol. Indeed, I believe that Defence material is kept at various places in the city of Sydney.
– The stores are scattered about in several places.
– Is it necessary that the proposed buildings shall have a water frontage ?
– Yes. The possession of a water frontage is one of the chief recommendations of the proposed site.
– Between Sydney and Liverpool, there is any quantity of vacant land close to the railway line which could be bought for perhaps £50 an acre, whereas for this land about £200 an acre would have to be paid.
– The land of which the honorable member speaks has not a water frontage.
– No; but you already have ordnance stores at Darling Island.
– They are very unsatisfactory. We wish to reform the whole arrangements with a view to concentration.
– Then it is not a temporary arrangement that is proposed ?
– In that case, I protest strongly against the taking over of a public park, and against the taking away of any piece of land that has been set apart as a breathing space for the public. Wentworth Park was a few years ago a fine stretch of land; but because the big wool magnates wanted toerect stores with a water frontage, portions of it were filched away, and another piece has been fenced off to accommodate a big kindergarten, so that instead of 50 or 60 acres of recreation ground, the public now have access to only 5 or 6 acres. This is going on everywhere inSydney, although the city is growing rapidly. Darling Harbor and Pyrmont are being occupied wholly with big stores, and in course of time all the population will be driven from that part. I suggest that the Government should resumelandon the northern side of the harbor, somewhere about Ball’s Head, near the Vacuum Oil Company’s works. In one of the bays, there is only a timber yard, with a splendid depth of water in front of it, so that a vessel of any tonnage could go alongside a wharf to load or discharge, and the locality is close to the Milson’s Point railway which connects with every part of the State. The population of the Pyrmont and Darling Harbor district is being forced to move in the direction of Balmain, which every year is becoming more congested, and the need for this park will become greater as the years go by. Up Iron Cove way the water frontages are occupied as timber yards, or sites for factories like that of Messrs. Elliot Brothers, or for other private uses. Land could not be got there for a park except at an exorbitant price. A great deal of park land has been left unimproved, and those in charge of it have allowed it to become occupied for purposes other than those for which it was set aside. Now there is need for more land for recreation purposes. Only a few years ago the Government of New South Wales had to spend thousands of pounds in resuming part of the foreshores of Port Jackson for public recreation spots, the Sydney Ferries Company having bought up practically all the available spaces. The Government will be well advised to hold their hands in this matter until the Works Committee, or some other responsible body, can fully investigate the proposal, and pick a site which will be suitable for the Defence Department, allowing this park to remain in possession of the people.
– As the Minister who visited this locality when the acquisition of the site was under consideration, to inform the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) as to its suitability, I desire to address a few remarks to the House. I do not think even the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony) will say that the site is not a suitable one for a centralordnance store, putting aside the objection on the score that the land is at presentpark land.
– There is other objection to be urged against it, but not much.
– The main objection to the proposal is that it involves the taking away of a park. But members who have had an opportunity to study the difficulties of the Defence Department in the providing of a central ordnance store will agree that the proposal is a right one.
The Royal Commission which investigated the subject pointed to the desirability of meeting the difficulties in the way proposed, and the officers of the Department are clear in the statement that they cannot reform their methods without a centrally situated store in a locality of the kind proposed to be selected.
– Then this is to be a permanent store?
– It is desirable to make it a central store for the distribution of ordnance.
– Was the land offered to the Government for a certain sum of money, to be laid out in the acquirement of another park ?
– No; but it is probable that the New South Wales Government will give a sum of money for that purpose.
– It. is a perfectly good scheme to have a central ordnance store in that district. Save for the park aspect of the question which has been introduced into this discussion, it has not been suggested that the site is not a suitable one, although some honorable members have expressed the opinion that it should possess a deep-water frontage.
– It is not accessible by road either.
– That statement is totally incorrect.
– I know more about the locality than does the Acting Prime Minister. He has been there for five minutes, and I have been there for forty-five years.
– Then I do not think that the honorable member is quick at learning. I am not a lineal descendant of Beelzebub. I cannot take the honorable member to the top of a mountain and show him the countries of the world.
– Do not be insulting.
– The honorable member must not be insulting. I suggest that if in forty-five years he has not seen a perfectly level roadway across the site, he has been there either with one or both eyes closed. There are two roads leading to it - one with a bad level and the other with a perfectly flat level. A man can walk along the new road into the site, which is just as flat as is the floor of this chamber.
– Why not adjourn the discussion ?
– That is another matter. If we could get all this acreage within a reasonable distance of Sydney, with the three facilities for transport, namely, road, rail, and deep water, the site would be an ideal one. But we cannot get it. Even the honorable member for West Sydney has suggested that in order to get load and rail facilities we should have to go back to the Liverpool lands.
– May I suggest that the Callan Park Asylum, which is to be vacated shortly by the State Government, would make an admirable site?
– Does it not occur to the honorable member that it would make a splendid site for a park - perhaps a better site than it would for an ordnance store? Having brushed aside the difficulties attaching to a deep-water frontage and accessibility, let me deal with the park aspect of this question. I am not a believer in stealing public parks, and never have been. I had the honour of introducing into this House last session a Railway Bill, in which I made ample provision to prevent the railway authorities of the Commonwealth from improperly acquiring land which had been reserved for park purposes. The sentiment which was thus expressed is one which we will do well to jealously guard, because although we may now have ample space for recreation purposes, generations unborn will otherwise curse us for our lack of prevision. I confess that I could not suppress a smile when I heard the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Boyd)compare the land at Leichhardt with the Fitzroy Gardens- perhaps the finest gardens of their kind even in all Australia. May I say that, even in the presence of representatives from New South Wales? A big portion of those gardens represents made land. A splendid, noble park are the Fitzroy Gardens as we know them.
– That is very good Victorian sentiment.
– I wish to recommend it to the honorable member as a model New South Wales sentiment too. This land at Leichhardt is not at all suitable for a park as we view it. It could never become a Fitzroy Gardens no matter how much money was expended upon it. It is largely reclaimed land which is as flat as is the floor of this chamber, and is almost upon the water-level. It is not a place which would ever induce any of the large centres of population to send their children or grown-ups there for picnic purposes during their leisure hours. There is no decoration on it, and practically a drain runs through it. I am sure that if the members of the Public Works Committee visited it they could not picture a park there, even with the eye of imagination. Some doubt has ‘been expressed as to the wisdom of this particular site for an ordnance store. There is also a doubt as to what the municipality will do if the State assists it with this money. May I point out that there is plenty of open land all around this site.With the exception of the area which we have purchased, on which a few tenements stand on the road frontage, there are scores of hundreds of acres which are unbuilt on, and which could be acquired for park purposes as easily as this site could be.
– The honorable gentleman speaks as if he had been there.
-Whilst I was Minister for Works and Railways, I thought I would fortify the Defence officers with the views of that Department as to the suitability of the site. I would not have risen to take part in this debate had I not visited the place, and thus ascertained that it was suitable for the big work which we hope to establish in the centre of that district.
-If there is all this other land available, why does not the Government erect its ordnance stores upon it?
– Because it is not suitable, inasmuch as it has not road, rail, or water frontage. All round this area, upon both sides of the arm of the harbor, is vacant land. The population ends where these ordnance stores are to be erected, and beyond there stretches country, some of which is flat and some of which is hilly and very stony. Honorable members cannot contradict my statement, because my knowledge is only two months old, and my memory of the facts is very fresh. I wish to get on with this work. It represents an important defence reform. I am therefore prepared to say that, if the purchase of this land is approved, the Government will make itself responsible for the substitution of a park area.
– This Government?
-It may not be in office long.
-That interjection reminds me of the story of the sceptic and the theologian, who were talking about Jonah and the whale. Wihen the sceptic expressed a doubt as to whether the scriptural narrative represented a parable or a reality, he asked the man of God how he would prove the matter. Thereupon the theologian replied, “ I will wait till I get to Heaven, and ask Jonah.” “But,” said the sceptic, “suppose that he is not there?” “ Then,” said the minister, “ you may ask him.” In like manner, if the present Government is not in office, I suppose that my honoralble friend will be, and he can give effect to my promise.. I am one of those who believe that when a Government makes a promise its successors will honour it. The Government has a continuous being, and I make the statement which I have made with a full recognition of that fact. We shall make ourselves responsible for the substitution of a suitable area for park purposes if this acquisition be authorized, and I say unhesitatingly, after much investigation, the defence officers have failed to find a site as suitable as this within a reasonable distance of the city of Sydney.
– I waspleased to hear the concluding promise made by the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Watt). Much of the land contained in this park has been reclaimed, and before any buildings are erected on it the Public Works Committee should investigate the plans, the stability of the foundations, and the cost of the building, and report to this House.
– The buildings which will carry the heavy weights will be on stony land, before the reclaimed area is reached.
– These stores are to be a large work, and will involve heavy expenditure. If the House consents to the ordnance stores being erected on this site, it almost binds the hands of the Works Committee, when reporting on the plans for the buildings, because the Committee will be obliged to report in favour of utilizing the land that has been acquired. The Government would do well to refer the question of the site, as well as the plans of the buildings, to the Public Works Committee, an independent body elected by the House, and I feel sure that what the Committee recommend this House will adopt.
– The actual work is to be referred to the Public Works Committee, but not the question of site.
– Why not?
– Because the Act does not provide for such a reference.
– This House may refer the whole matter to the Committee. Has the Government anything to hide that they wish to avoid inquiry by the Public Works Committee?
– Even if this site be suitable, I believe there are other sites more suitable. There is Botany Bay, for instance.
– We could not have ordnance stores within range of a cruiser’s shell-fire.
– Botany Bay is very extensive, and there is beautiful level land stretching nearly as far as Lady Robinson’s Beach. It has a water frontage; it is close to a railway; it is suitable for ordnance stores, and it will afford plenty of room for expansion. Before we decide on the site, we should take into consideration the materials that are to be stored there, and how they are to be distributed. It is of no use to erect ordnance stores at one end of the city and to have to cart all the stores backwards and forwards. If the site at Leichhardt is adopted, the water frontage cannot be utilized except by means of lighters. About Botany Bay there is plenty of suitable land.
– The Defence Department would , never agree to place ordnance stores there.
– In regard to the suitability of this land for park purposes, the fact that the State Government saw the necessity for resuming this land for park purposes ought to be sufficient warning to this House not to interfere with a public reserve. The suburbs of Leichhardt and Haberfield are rapidly extending, and the Government will not be justified in taking this land from the people and placing upon it large ordnance stores. University Park was a splendid public reserve, and now it is nearly crowded with buildings. The Commonwealth Government should set an example to other bodies in not interfering with the public parks, and if this
Bill is taken to a division I shall vote against it.
– What about the promise of the Acting Prime Minister to substitute other land for a park?
– That, I admit, is a compromise. I ask the Government to withdraw the Bill in the meantime, and allow further investigation by the Public Works Committee.
.- The speech of the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Watt) has made it easier for me to vote for this Bill. The debate has extracted from the Government an offer which would be of great advantage to the people of the Leichhardt district. I do not agree with the honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. Riley) that the Public Works Committee should have the right to report upon the question of site. When the Public Works Bill was before the Parliament on the first occasion, the Labour Government of the day, supported by honorable members now sitting in Opposition, contended that all works to be controlled by the Navy and Defence Departments should be exempt from the supervision of the Public Works Committee. I think that was a proper provision, and I agree with the Acting Prime Minister that the selection of a site for ordnance stores is a matter for decision by the Defence Department’s experts. This discussion is not by any means a waste of time. In connexion with the preservation ofrecreation reserves and parks in the towns and big cities of Australia, Parliaments should realize their responsibility as trustees of the people. I am invited, by inference, to believe that the governing body in this case might possibly be prepared to make some arrangement with the Federal Government, in the event of this piece of ground being used for the purpose proposed, to apply the money paid by the Commonwealth for its resumption to the purchase of some more suitable area in the vicinity for the recreation of the people. . The description of the site given by the Acting Prime Minister has been confirmed by honorable members who have known the locality for many years, and it is quite conceivable that in the immediate vicinity of this site better sites are to be found for the purpose of a public park. I am strongly of opinion that no portion of a public reserve should be withdrawn from the people except by an Act of Parliament. That is what is proposed in this case, and in view of the statement made by the Acting Prime Minister, that the Federal Government will be prepared to find the money necessary to purchase a site in the vicinity more suitable than this for the purposes of a park, I am prepared to support the Bill.
.- I remember that upon one occasion I strongly opposed a proposal submitted by the Government I supported at the time for the resumption of a public park. The proposal was submitted by the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Archibald), and the opposition to it was so strong that the Bill to give effect to it was withdrawn, and we never heard of it again. The present Government would be wise to follow that procedure in connexion with this Bill. I remind honorable members that this Parliament, in 1906, in passing the Lands Acquisition Act, took care to prevent any Government acquiring any parks whatever under that Act. It is clear that the members of this Parliament at that time had a true conception of the need for public reserves in the interests of the health of the people. The area reserved for parks in Sydney is less than the area reserved in any city of its size in any other part of the world. We had a very big fight in Sydney some time ago to prevent the railway station at Redfern being transferred to Hyde Park. I was secretary to a Committee of which Sir George Reid was chairman, that took an important part in that struggle, and prevented the proposed transfer. I have no great faith in municipal councillors in dealing with such matters. They are not disposed to regard them in the light in which they should be regarded in a National Parliament. I know every foot of the particular site referred to in this Bill, and am aware that a portion of it is ground which was reclaimed at a time when there were a considerable number of unemployed in Sydney. My opinion in connexion with this matter has not been altered in the slightest degree by the statements that have been made by the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Watt). He has tried to make the case for the Government as presentable as possible, but this House should jealously guard every reserve proclaimed for the benefit of the people. We have been informed that land in the vicinity of this site could be obtained for park pur poses, but we know that as soon as the land jobbers learn that the Government are after a site for the purpose they will take good care that it will not be possible to acquire a site of sufficient area except at an exorbitant price. .Honorable members have not been given the information which they ought to have before dealing with the proposal. It involves a principle with which honorable members opposite ought not to agree, and which cannot be accepted by honorable members on this side, who are more directly the representatives of the industrial masses, who make up 95 per cent, of the population. It would be well for the Government to allow this matter to stand over. I have no doubt that in the meantime more suitable sites can be suggested that will be easier of access by road and water. Honorable members would be unwise to run away with the idea that this is to be merely a temporary building. It will be a permanent structure.
– The Acting Prime Minister has said so.
– I am glad to hear that he had so much political honesty. I was rather afraid that he might keep that fact bottled up, and that we should later on find that we had been deluded in giving our assent to this proposal. I shall call for a division on this Bill, even if I should have to vote against it alone. I am confident that the people do not desire that any of these public reserves should be interfered with. We know that in Great Britain, during the last twenty-five years, the people have moved heaven and earth to retain and increase the areas devoted to the recreation of the public. The military gentlemen have no care for the health of the people, but if there is one thing more than another a municipal, State, or Federal authority should look to it is the health of the people. Without a healthy community we* can make no progress. In 1906,. when there were not a great many Labour members here, Mr. Deakin and others had the courage to include a provision in the Lands Acquisition Act withholding from the Government the power to take any portion of a park or reserve under that Act. That, in itself, should be sufficient to cause honorable members to recognise how serious it is to encroach upon reserves intended for the enjoyment of the people. The Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Watt) spoke in the most callous terms of this proposal to encroach upon a public park. In his early political days, he told us, he held up the State House in his determination to prevent any encroachment upon public reserves, but to-day he goes back upon his early traditions. I hope that he will withdraw from that position. As Acting Prime Minister he has done fairly well in his efforts to conduct public business as it should be transacted, and I hope that he will not try to force this Bill upon the House without giving us the fullest information on the subject. The passing of this Bill will mean the introduction of the miserable principle of robbing the people of their recreation reserves. I hope the Minister will agree to the adjournment of the debate.
.- No honorable member desires to cast a vote that would divert to other purposes land required for the recreation of the growing children of a great city. The debate upon this Bill, however, has resolved itself into a conflict between the present-day requirements of a country in the middle of a great war, and the possible needs of unborn generations. We have been told by the representative of the district that these lands are not at present used as a park.
– I did not say that. I said that they were being used for recreation purposes, but no public money had yet been spent upon them.
– We have had it from the honorable member and others, at all events, that this particular area is not furnished as a park.
– It was only proclaimed on 1st March last.
– If it had beenrequired, it would have been furnished and used as a park long ago. I desire to vote on the merits of the proposal, and I think that those who oppose the Bill should make out a definite case against it. As it is, they have merely dealt in generalities in regard to the value of park lands to a great city. Every one recognises that open spaces are most desirable in every city, but here to-day, in the middle of a. great war, the Government tellus that they have searched Sydney and its environments and are unable to find a better site for the ordnance stores.
– Had they asked me, I could have shown them a better site.
– Until the Minister spoke, the honorable member did not even know that there was a road to this particular site. The Acting Prime Minister, who is a Victorian, has been able, as the result of a visit to Sydney, to inform the House and the representatives of the metropolis of Sydney of the exact value of this particular sitefor the purpose for which it is required by the Department. He has also tpld us that it is surrounded by several hundred acres of land which are suitable for park purposes. That statement has not been contradicted.
– Then why should not some of the surrounding land be acquired for the ordnance stores site?
– We have already been told by the Minister that the surrounding land is not suitable for that purpose.
– The unoccupied area, to which the Minister refers, is on the other side of the river. How could the children cross the river to it?
– That difficulty could be overcome. If the Opposition desire support in their effort to preserve this area for the purpose for which it was originally dedicated, they should make out a good case. Speaking quite impartially, I hold that the Minister has made out a better case for the use of this site for ordnance stores at this period in our . history than the Opposition have done in regard to the claims of future generations. As the matter stands to-day, judgment must be given in favour of the Minister and the Government.
– The honorable member (Mr. Rodgers) who has just resumed his seat has advanced just such an argument as has been put forward by every one who has tried to rob the people of public parks in every city. The case for the people, he says, is not strong enough. I doubt if any one could make out a case strong enough to secure the honorable member’s vote against this Bill. I resent the spirit of levity that prompted him to hurl insults at honorable members who know this district well, and who are fighting for the children for whom this area was intended as a playground. The Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Watt), in discussing this matter, suggested that he was a lineal descendant of the gentleman with horns who led our Saviour to the top of a mountain and showed him the dominions of the world. The honorable gentleman said, in answer to an interjection, “ I cannot take you on to a high mountain and show you all the countries of the world.” And then, not content with this Biblical reference, he proceeded to tell an anecdote of a Minister who might gb to Heaven, and of another who might go to Hades. I am astonished that such arguments should satisfy the honorable member for Wannon.
– It was the business side of the question with which I was concerned.
– Anything that suits the honorable member’s purpose would satisfy him. In answer to an interjection, the Acting Prime Minister said that another suggested site could be shelled by the enemy. Does he not know that this site is only 6$ miles from the entrance to Port Jackson, so that it could be shelled by a vessel 20 miles outside the harbor? No one admires Sydney more than I do. I have never gone there without anticipations of pleasure, and have never left it without regrets. Another ridiculous argument advanced by the Acting Prime Minister,- was that the area in question was reclaimed land, and” could not be compared with the Fitzroy Gardens. The Fitzroy Gardens have been carefully tended for half a century, whereas this park was only proclaimed on 1st March last. There are 80 acres in the Fitzroy Gardens, but who can say what this 5^ acres may be in fifty years’ time? I have seen land in Manilla five years after it has been reclaimed, and the Fitzroy Gardens could not surpass it in beauty of verdure or glory of plant life. Two names stand out in the history of Melbourne, that of Mr. E. G. FitzGibbon, whose monument decorates that splendid approach to the city, St. Kilda-road, and that of Mr. G. D. Carter, who prevented the Melbourne Tramway and Omnibus Company from having a right of way over the streets of Melbourne for ever. Mr. FitzGibbon would never permit without a fight any portion of the people’s land to be filched from them. It was owing to the efforts of Mr. Carter, seconded by the late Sir Thomas Bent, that the Melbourne Tramway and Omnibus Company is now defunct. I shall always protest against the filching of land.
Over twenty years ago, I am proud to say, I protested against a robbery by the Church of England, when St. James’ Church, which held 5 acres of land in this city, allowed breweries and wine and spirit cellars to hide the House of God. Where, is that House of God to-day ? It has been taken away, lock, stock, and barrel, from the steeple to the foundations, and on the very site of the foundations the passer-by to-day can see the vile notice, “For sale.” No money in. the world could buy the site of the Temple of Jerusalem should it ever get back into the hands of the Jews. But my voice wasthe only one that was raised in protest against this action on the part of the Church of England. Where public lands are given for church purposes, and they are devoted to any other purpose, they should revert to the State.
– It is very seldom that they do go back. There is an illustration in the Melbourne electorate in the case of Yarra Park.
– I thank the honorable member for reminding me of that incident. A. reserve was made for police purposes, and in the corner a public school was erected, but in time the police were removed, and for the sake of filthy lucre, the Government of the day, to their dishonour, sold the block. The children were thus prevented from getting direct access to Yarra Park, and are compelled to cross a tram line to get to a playground of about half an. acre.
In these days, when education is spreading more world-wide, when every tendency is towards the building of garden cities, and encouraging plant life with all its health-giving qualities, I am surprised that the Acting Prime Minister should take the attitude he has adopted. In England, cemeteries have been resumed so that little feet may play over the graves of dead humans. In Melbourne beautiful building sites facing St. Kilda-road were filched from Albert Park. In Victoriaparade, land has been taken away for the purpose of bowling greens, though I must admit that’ the clubs are compelled to erect low fences, and in any case a bowling green is a health lung, because it is not covered with buildings, and it does grow verdure, which purifies the air of a city. There was another proposed steal when it was sought to build a railway along the parade. A piece of land has also been filched for a bowling green in the Flagstaff Gardens, tout the green is open to the public. Again, in these cursed days of commercialism and love of lucre, it is proposed to shift the honoured dead, so that the voices of a market can be heard, though I am not astonished. After all, the British race seem , to be somewhat careless in their reverence for the dead, or, at least, show to great disadvantage in comparison with the love of the Eastern races for those who have gone before. In the case of this Old Cemetery, with its tombstones lying at various angles, I could imagine the municipal authorities covering it with a beautiful sward and making it a playground for children, because if ever the spirits of the dead come to earth again, no music could be sweeter to them than the laughter and cries of children.
– Lindsay Gordon has said something about children romping overhead .
– Yes, in two of the most beautiful lines he wrote. Melbourne was splendidly laid out by Mr. Hoddle, but any one going into some of the suburbs would be staggered and angered atthe narrow streets to be found there. In Carlton there is a street 9 feet wide, from house to house, and it is said that a very important member of the City Council has buildings there, though better buildings have been condemned and removed. While Melbourne is splendidly laid out, thanks to Mr. Hoddle - to whom I hope we shall see a monument raised some day - the suburbs are not as well supplied with parks as they should be; and the infamy attaching to some of the narrow streets is only equalled by the absurdities on the part of the City Council in allowing buildings of all sizes fo be erected in the principal thoroughfares. As to the particular piece of land under discussion, I at first thought that the Defence Department desired it because of deep water that might be found there, so that they might run up ironclads and place the armament on board, but the fact of the bridge being a fixed structure, and not a drawbridge, removes any idea of that kind. If deep water is the idea, why not find a piece of land in Jervis Bay where many advantages could he found from the point of view of the Defence Department. Again, there is Callan Park, which the State Government are giving up, and which could well supply the requirements of the Department.
As to the filching of park lands, what is the history of the West Melbourne recreation ground? First of all, there were 7 acres allotted on the West Melbourne swamp, and some £300 or £400 was spent in placing the scrapings of the streets on the area in order to raise the level, though the cost, no doubt, would have been over £1,000 had it been necessary to pay for the cartage. One little bit after another of this recreation ground has been filched, the latest by the Railway Department, until now there is not enough on which to make a cricket ground.
As a matter of principle, I shall, on every occasion, vote against the acquisition of land for departmental purposes in this way, especially when it means depriving the children of their playground. We all know that some of the finest plantations in the world have been grown on reclaimed land. I have in my mind that magnificent piece of reclaimed land in Manila which, after only five years, presents a sight that cannot be equalled elsewhere. I trust .that the Government will withdraw the measure; and my suggestion need not mean delay, for it would be possible to enter into negotiations with the New South Wales Government for even 10 acres of Callan Park, thus allowing for future development. A Consul for Nicaragua, who was in Berlin on business, told me he had seen a building in that city with 2 square miles of floor space, and of four stories above, and four stories below the surface intended for the storage of ammunition, to be used only in case of invasion of Germany, and that there were similar buildings in every one of the’ States of that Empire. I thank the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony) for his strong protest against the acquisition of this land; and I warn honorable members who vote in favour of the measure, that some day they may find a’ similar proposal in regard to land in their own constituencies. If so, they should then remember some of the remarks, unwise and illogical, that have fallen from the lips of the Acting Prime Minister, and the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Rodgers).
Debate (on . motion by Mr. Laird Smith) adjourned.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 19th April, vide page 4095) :
Clause 1 (Short title).
– These are the Supplementary Estimates for 1915-16, and are to be followed by the Estimates for the following year, 1916-17. They were discussed somewhat fully on the motion in Supply I moved last week; and it was in order to give honorable members a pause, that progress was then reported. The Estimates mean the ordinary cleaning-up for the two years.
.- I am at a slight disadvantage, inasmuch as when these Supplementary Estimates were considered I was attending the Recruiting Conference at Government House. Does the Treasurer wish to pass both Bills to-night?
– Yes. It is an informal matter.
– I understand that when this matter was discussed on the last occasion, there was no Bill before honorable members, and that the debate took place on the resolution in Committee.
– The Minister gave a full explanation. The honorable member will find it in Hansard.
– I have not had an opportunity of looking at the Hansard debate. All the discussion took place on Friday afternoon, and I presume the House adjourned at the ordinary time. On that day I had to leave the House at 2.20, so that the discussion could not have lasted more than one hour and forty minutes. Though the money has been’ spent, the Bill now before the Committee furnishes honorable members with an opportunity of discussing various items of some importance, and as I desire to do that, I shall object to the Bill being taken as a whole.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 2 agreed to.
Prime Minister’s Department, £9,059.
.- In the Department of the Prime Minister there is an item - “ Expenses of Advisory Council appointed to carry out scientific research, £344.” The Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) informed us the other day that the Bureau was to be restaffed, and that the Government had appointed two gentlemen, one of whom is Mr. Gellatly. Can the Treasurer (Mr. Watt) inform the Committee if that gentleman is a scientist or not, and whether the other gentleman, Mr. Leitch, who, I believe, has done excellent work as director of munitions, will be occupied the whole of his time in scientific research? It is most important, if this work is to be carried out properly, that the men in charge should be able to devote the whole of their time to their duties. These two appointments carry a salary of £1,500 and £1,250 respectively, and I think the Committee should have a full explanation from the Treasurer in connexion with this matter. There are other items which might be discussed, but I have no desire to do so at this juncture. This matter has been sprung upon the Committee, and even if the money has been spent, members should be furnished with the fullest explanation.
.- I am sorry that the Treasurer (Mr. Watt) did not see his way clear to postpone discussion on these Bills, to meet the convenience of honorable members who have been travelling by train, and consequently are tired to-night, because they contain some subjects of importance that should be considered. The Treasurer has told us that these matters were discussed at some length the other evening, and I must say that I was so surprised to find, in 1918, that we were asked to consider the Supplementary Estimates for the financial year 1915-16, that I did not recover myself for quite a while, because I was Treasurer at that time. But of course we made great allowances for the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) then. Honorable members will remember that when I asked him the other day whether he had made an arrangement with the Ministry that no important business was to be taken until his return, he replied that there was no such agreement. We were much kinder to the Prime Minister than his present colleagues are. In fact, we nursed him. The intellect of the Prime Minister is like a sponge - it can absorb ideas very readily. I believe that, with regard to the Science Bureau, some one approached the
Prime Minister and pointed out -what an excellent thing it would be for the Commonwealth to have a Bureau of Science and Industry. I understand that a plan was set out for him. He ably grasped it, and made a great and eloquent speech to a number of visiting scientists, who were subsequently entertained - and rightly so. The Bureau was appointed; but its personnel consists chiefly of University men, and the great fault that the public have to find is that its members, while eminently successful in their particular sphere, cannot hold a candle - the majority of them - to such practical men of science as Mr. Wilkinson, the Federal Analyst. He works in a small office, and is doing the practical work, which members of such a body as that should all be expected to be associated with. I believe, however, that the Federal Analyst and his office have been entirely overlooked by the Prime Minister.
– Mr. Wilkinson is a member of the Council of this institution.
– Does he attend it?
– Your objection is that he has been overlooked, and not whether he attends its meetings. He has not been overlooked.
– He has been ignored by the Prime Minister. His work has been overlooked. His services have not been fully or properly availed of. The theorists have been given charge, for some reason or other.
– I think you are making a mistake.
– I am not. My impression is that, like a great many other things which the Prime Minister has taken up, this Science Committee has not materialized as he had dreamed. Why has not the Prime Minister put the money which he is allowing the Science Committee to spend - and it is somewhere about £22,000 per annum - to really practical purposes? And what is the Committee doing? Its members are investigating the prickly pear, in Queensland. They should ask the Queensland Government how much money has been spent on the prickly pear. The State authorities offered a prize of £10,000 to any one who could discover a method of ridding the land of the pest at £1 per acre. For years that offer was open. The prickly pear is so severe in Queensland, that not only the
Government, but private individuals, have spent great sums upon the problem. There was even a Cactus Company formed. The shares were originally, quoted at £1, but I observe that they have been for some months 2s. 6d., sellers - no buyers.
I have noticed, also, that the Science Committee has been investigating the question of alcohol for power purposes; and something has been written by that body upon the subject. Its members do not seem to be aware that books dealing with the problem have been for a long time available to the public, and that ten years ago evidence was given before a local Royal Commission on the matter of alcohol for power purposes. Had the Science Committee gone to a practical man such as Mr. Wilkinson, he could have given a lot of information. Apparently, however, it did not want that gentleman. I do not know why, but its attitude was such that it will be found, if the Minister concerned cares to investigate, that Mr. Wilkinson ceased to attend the meetings. This is a matter which only those who are prepared to be held in public ridicule and contempt will take up. One does not like to indulge in criticism which may offend the susceptibilities of university men, but in the performance of public duty a member must tell the Committee what is common report, and I have heard that these university’ professors are in the habit of holding two meetings a day, and charging two guineas for each meeting.
– The honorable member is astray in a lot of what he is saying.
– Am I astray in the whole of what I am saying?
– You are not putting things correctly.
– Then the honorable member, who was on the Committee, will have an opportunity to put me right. Does he deny what I have just said?
– They met twice a week.
– Mr. Gellatly, the financial editor of the Sydney Morning Herald, has been made Director of the Bureau of Science and Industry. I believe that he stands high in the journalistic world, but will any one say that his qualifications as a financial editor entitle him to this appointment? One would think that the position needs either a man of scientific acquirements or a leader of industry, such as Mr. McKay, of the Sunshine Harvester Works.
– You would have to pay a big figure to get him.
– We should get the best man obtainable, even if we had to pay him some thousands of pounds. Not a member of the Committee will say that the financial editor of the Sydney Morning Herald is a fit and proper person to be director of this Bureau. Who recommended his appointment? Was Mr. J. C. Watson one of those who did so? And was Mr. Gellatly given the position because of the services of the Sydney Morning Herald to the Prime Minister ? There has grown up in our public life a curious state of things.
– Yes; when you oan make such suggestions.
– Does the Treasurer say that there is nothing in the suggestion?
-Cannot you give the Government credit for decent motives in anything ?
– I presume, from that remark, flint the honorable gentleman has fully considered the qualifications of Mr. Gellatly for this position.
– The Government as a whole did. I quite approved of the appointment, and will defend it at the right time.
-The item on which to defend it is in the schedule to this Bill.
-No; the Bill covers estimates for which the honorable member himself was responsible, and makes no provision for Mr. Gellatly’s salary.
– At any rate, we may not have another opportunity to discuss the matter.
– I promise that there shall be such an opportunity.
– The Committee of Science and Industry had not been in existence very long before I found it necessary to sever my connexion with the Prime Minister. I did not then know that the university professors were overlooking the qualifications and the practical knowledge of the Commonwealth analyst. We cannot know too soon the reasons for the appointment of Mr. Gellatly and his qualifications for the position. Will the Acting Prime Minister, by interjection, name one of his qualifications ?
– I shall do so at the right time. I do not wish to “ stone-wall “ Estimates for which the honorable member is responsible. The honorable gentleman was Treasurer for five months after the period with which these figures deal had closed, and should have got through the Estimates himself.
– I have been waiting for a long time to say something concerning the Bureau of Science and Industry. The establishment of sucha bureau was a good thing ; but the Bureau will not be of much service unless qualified men are appointed to it. I do not suppose that you could get a better man than Mr. Gellatly to edit the financial news of a morning newspaper; but I am not aware that even his studies as abarrister have qualified hirn for the position of director of the Bureau.
– What ishis salary?
– Is he still employed by the Sydney Morning Herald, or does he devote the whole of his time to this work?
Mr.Watt. - He devotes the whole of his time to this work.
– I ask the Acting Prime Minister to defer the consideration of this measure until to-morrow. In the meantime, he can go through the file of papers and ascertain the qualifications possessed by Mr. Gellatly for thisposition. He might also call for a report as to the services rendered to the Commonwealth by that eminently practical man, Mr. Wilkinson. I do not know whether Mr. Wilkinson possesses the same university degrees as do other gentlemen whose services have been requisitioned by the Prime Minister, but I do know that he has rendered great serviceto Australia. If the Government had spent only half the amount that it is proposed to expend in adding to his buildings and apparatus, I venture to say that the Bureau would have grown into an institution of immense service to the Commonwealth. I congratulate the Acting Prime Minister and his colleagues on the attitude which they have assumed towards honorable members on this side of the chamber. If we ask for information now, we are not treated as though we were children.
– Do not build too much on that. They may grow worse.
– So far, they seem anxious to do some business, whereas hitherto we have been accustomed to hear nothing but speeches. Whenever the Prime Minister was asked to do something he would make a most eloquent speech. As the Sydney Morning Herald has pointed out, when we asked for ships he made a speech, and when we said something about wheat, he made a speech.
In this Bill, there is an item relating to the New Hebrides mail service, and as the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Bamford) was somewhat unkind in his references to me the other evening, I intend to give him a little of his own back. When he was acting on a Commission, either in connexion with the New Hebrides mail service or the pearl-shelling industry, and when I filled the office of Treasurer, a request came along for more money on behalf of that Commission. I asked the secretary for the Department to endeavour to ascertain when the Commission was likely to conclude its labours.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– May I say a word or two in reply to the somewhat desultory observations of my distinguished predecessor. I was under the impression that the Committee would be willing to patch up this finance swiftly and decently. The Bill was carried into Committee with satisfactory celerity, and, although I expected opposition from gentlemen who might not approve of items set out in the schedule, I certainly did not expect it from Che man who was chiefly responsible for their inclusion there. The honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Higgs) will admit that when I introduced the Bill, I threw no blame upon anybody.
– And the honorable gentleman threw no roses.
– There were no flowers, by special request. It was not my business to allocate the blame, but to get the business through. When a question was raised as to whether I thought the procedure was a regular one, I felt bound to admit that I did not. But I pleaded for a swift passage of the Bill. The honorable member for Capricornia has suggested, with unaccustomed kindness, that we are endeavouring to do some work. I admit the soft impeachment. I want to get the business through. This Bill was brought forward to give the Senate - which, in consequence of two censure motions, has not been working overtime - something to deliberate upon. That, I take leave to say, is a reasonable ground for passing these measures to-night. Regarding the question which has been raised as to the Science Bureau, it is not for me at this stage, looking back over a period of twenty-four months, to deal with the appointments that have recently been made. There are no sums in these Estimates dealing with the salary of .the Director who has been appointed. Honorable members will recollect that, at an earlier stage of the session, I gave a definite assurance that this year’. Estimates would be dealt with in Committee of Supply. They will come on for consideration before the close of this financial year. Honorable members will, perhaps, get them sooner than they expect if they give a swift passage to other, measures. They will admit that the notice-paper is not a full-dress one.
– Will the Acting Prime Minister compel us to sit up all night to pass these Estimates ?
– I shall not compel honorable members to do so, but I ask for reasonable facilities for doing the business of the country. We have .already remarked that we desire to deal fairly with honorable members opposite. I think responsible honorable members of the Opposition will credit that statement, and they will find that that policy will be persevered in. No tricks on honorable members will be attempted. We desire to get their co-operation in the discharge of business in the manner in which we think it ought to be done.
– The honorable member’s predecessor (Lord Forrest) applied the “ gag “ to me on one occasion when I waa offering some observations.
– There is a temptation to apply the “ gag “ to the honorable member on occasions, but we do not want to gag anybody. We desire the good-spirited co-operation of honorable members in the consideration of business.
– If the Government play the game that way, we shall play it with them.
– I have never played the game otherwise. Therefore, I ask honor- able members to pass these two back numbers to-night.
– Not the two.
– I certainly ask the Committee to pass the Estimates we are now considering, and for which we are not responsible at all. The honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Higgs) must admit that he is responsible for the late appearance of these Estimates.
– I do not admit that.
– We sat here for five months after the honorable gentleman’s sudden and fatal leave-taking of Ministerial office, and we did not do this business. But he ought to assist us when we are trying to do his work for him. Whatever the Committee does with the 1917-18 Estimates which will follow, I appeal to the Committee to pass through those for 1916-17, and give the Senate an opportunity to deal with back finance. In regard to the creation of the Bureau of Science and Industry and the Bureau of Commerce and Industry, the Committee will be given the full opportunity of dealing with them at the proper stage, and the Government will afford honorable members the fullest information in our possession.
– There is in these Estimates an item for payment for services rendered in connexion with the regulations under the War Precautions Act. There has been a good deal of expenditure under that Act, and much of it might be described as having been incurred by unclean methods. A lot of money must have been paid to “ pimps”, who go about looking through keyholes and gimlet holes, and listening to what people are saying in order to prosecute them under the War Precautions Act. Only one section of the community has been selected for such prosecutions, and I do not think that is fair. The War Precautions Regulations ought to be applied to all sections of the community alike.
– So they are.
– I shall point out that that is not so. I hope the Government in future will prosecute persons in all sections of the community, no matter what their social or political position may be. There is one gentleman who holds his head high in this land, and portion of this expenditure ought to be incurred in prosecuting him. I refer to Dr. Leeper, who stated on a deputation to the Treasurer (Mr. Watt) that it would be better that we should lose the war than that gambling should take place in the community.
– He said we should rather lose the war than break the moral law.
– The honorable member for Melbourne Ports has given a free translation of what was said.
– If I were to state that it would be better to lose the war than see a young man walking down the street smoking a cigarette I could be, and would be, prosecuted under the War Precautions Act. Why should one section of the community be prosecuted, when persons like the honorable member for Echuca (Mr. Palmer), the Rev. Mr. Worrall, and Dr. Leeper are continually stirring up ill-feeling by inciting one section of the people against another, and yet are allowed to go scot free.
– I do not think the pot ought to call the kettle black.
– I have never endeavoured to set one section of the community against another, because, as the Treasurer knows, religious differences in a country will cause more trouble than anything else. Once the fires of religious bigotry have been kindled it is difficult to extinguish them. Why are these gentlemen allowed to continue making remarks and calling meetings with the intention of creating disunity in the community ?
There is another item for the maintenance of persons admitted to charitable institutions in accordance with the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act. I ask the Ministry to seriously consider allowing the benevolent institutions the full amount of 12s. 6d. for each inmate. If those persons were not in the institutions the Government would be required to pay that sum. As the Treasurer knows, in these times, when money is being daily collected for the different activities associated with the war, it is very difficult to get subscriptions for benevolent purposes. I should like to know whether the Government have any intention to deal with that question. I hope that, for the reasons I have given, the Acting Prime Minister will agree that the matter is worthy of serious consideration.
Italian Reservists - Compulsory Military Service: Australians in America : Action of Hunter’s Hill Municipal Council - Recruiting and Labour Organizations - Home Defence - Cockatoo Island Dockyard : Engineers.
Motion (by Mr. Watt) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- There are one or two matters upon which I should like to have some information. Eirst of all, will the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Watt) say what, if any, has been the result of certain consultations, which I understand were to take place, in connexion with the conscription of Italians resident in Australia?
The next matter to which I wish to refer is a statement made by Alderman Reid, who is said in the press report to be an ex-Mayor of Manly and a member of the State War Council of New South Wales, when engaged in a recruiting rally at Tamworth. He is reported, in the Sydney Morning Herald of 24th April, to have said that that might be the last chance which his auditors would have of offering their services voluntarily, as the British Government might issue a proclamation conscripting eligibles in the Commonwealth.
– That cock will not fight now.
– No, it certainly will not. The point I wish to make is that these gentlemen! in authority, who are travelling about the country as recruiting agents, should be given some hint that this kind of thing is calculated to do more harm than good.
A statement appeared in the press a week or so ago to the effect that there was a motion before the Senate of the United States of America concerning the conscription of Australians resident in that country. I should like to know whether that matter has come under the notice of the Government, and whether they are taking any action in connexion with it.
In last Friday’s or Saturday’s issue of the Sydney Daily Telegraph a paragraph appeared to the effect that the Hunter’s Hill Municipal Council, in the electorate of the Minister for the Navy (Mr.
Cook), issued a statement that it was proposed to compile some kind of dishonour board, or roll of infamy, in order to place on record in the municipality the names of the persons within the military age who did not within a certain time offer themselves for enlistment. In view of the fact that the Federal representative of this body is seeking to bring about a better feeling in the community, I suggest that the municipal council in question might be asked to fall in with the newer spirit which the Government are seeking to introduce.
– But they are not backed up; that is the trouble.
– Their own supporters are turning them down; that is the trouble.
– I hope that what is generally taken to be the view of the Government, as expressed at the recent Recruiting Conference, will be given effect to speedily, and not insuch a laggard, hesitating, qualified fashion as to create the impression that the Government is acting tardily.
– Is that the suggestion which the honorable member makes?
– No, it is not. But I do say that if, as we are invited to believe, this is a. matter of urgency and a matter of life and death to the Empire, there should be some expeditious means to deal with the situation. Let me inform the honorable gentleman that Mr. Beeby, one of the members of the New South Wales Government, who was present at the Recruiting Conference, is stated in the press to be proposing a new conference in New South Wales with Labour organizations in that State to follow up the matters dealt with at the Recruiting Conference:
– He said it was a failure, and that nothing would come of it.
– No, he did not.
– I did not take that view of what he said. I desire to point out that if we are to have a series of fresh conferences within the States, to wrangle over again about the matters dealt with at the Recruiting Conference, that will be the very way in which to nullify any good effects that might have been expected from that Conference. If the Recruiting Conference has not completed its work, it should be called to- gether again in order that it may do so. No good can result from the cornering of different sections in different parts of the Commonwealth in the hope, possibly held by some people, I was going to say, that a babel of voices would lead to further dissension.
Another matter I should like to mention is that of Home Defence. Surely the Government might take this House into its confidence in this matter. As it has come before the Cabinet, every member of the Government should be acquainted with what is proposed to be done. We were told some days ago by the Acting Prime Minister that he would have a statement of the matter prepared .
– I have had it prepared and uttered.
– If the honorable gentleman refers to a statement which has appeared in the press, I may inform him that we get only an abbreviated report of such utterances. What has appeared in this connexion in the New South Wales newspapers seems to me to be very incomplete.
– There was very nearly a column published here.
– That may be so; but the honorable gentleman does not know what is published in other parts of the Commonwealth. Surely when Parliament is sitting honorable members should not have to go to the newspapers to get information upon such matters.
– I had it done as early as possible for the information of the public as well as of honorable members. Does the honorable member suggest that I might have withheld the information until this week ?
– What has been published is very incomplete.
– The information published was not incomplete.
– There is a suggestion in to-day’s Argus that the Home Service force is to be put on a war footing, and that87,000 men are to be mobilized in this State. Does that mean that they are to be mobilized for the duration of the war,or for some lengthy period, just as men are enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force?
– Will the honorable member read the Minister for Defence’s statement ? As to numbers and time of training it is perfectly explicit.
– It was not explicit to me.
– Then the honorable member must have been half asleep when he read it, just as we all are now.
– I do not wish to detainthe House or exchange compliments. I asked the Assistant Minister for Defence (Mr. Wise) to-day whether it was proposed that these men should go into camp for a limited period of training, or if they were to be kept in camp for some extended time.
– If the honorable member will give notice of a question, setting out the information that he desires, I will see that he obtains it.
– The honorable member for Cook (Mr. Catts) has been an advocate of thesystem he now derides.
– That is absolute bunkum.
– What information the honorable member desires, I will endeavour to get.
– I believe that home defence is rauch neglected.
– Has the honorable member considered that at present the whole is greater than its part?
– If I could see the situation exactly as the honorable member views it, he would be perfectly satisfied. I do not know why the Assistant Minister for Defence could not answer the question I put this afternoon, as to whether these men are to be mobilized for some lengthy period.
– They are not to be mobilized for a lengthy period. It was made quite plain that the mobilization is to be for a maximum of sixteen days, unless the volunteers desire more.
– Probably the statement as published in the New South Wales press was more condensed than that published in the Melbourne newspapers. The only other point I wish to inquire into is as to whether the 4s. per day to be paid these men relates to this limited period of some few weeks. I shall, however, look up the reports in the Melbourne press as to the statement made by the
Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce), and see whether the information is or is not satisfactory.
.- On the day before the Minister for the Navy (Mi-. Cook) left the House he informed me, in the presence of another member of the Government, that he had sent a telegram to the management of the Naval Dockyards at Cockatoo Island, directing that some twenty-eight engineers in all were to be returned to their work. I find, however, that these men are still out of employment.
– I know nothing of that promise.
– It was made in the presence of the Assistant Minister (Mr. Orchard). The Minister for the Navy told me that, in compliance with my request, and on overtures made at the Recruiting Conference by Mr. Storey, Leader of the Opposition in the New South Wales House of Assembly, he had promised that these men should be returned to their work. He informed me, as the’ representative of the district, that he had that day despatched to the management of the dockyard a telegram directing that these men were to be reinstated.
– Did the Minister for the Navy say that men who had refused to sign the agreement were to be sent back to their work ?
– Those are the men to whom he referred.
– Then what becomes of the agreement?
– I know nothing as to that. I can only say that something transpired privately as between the Minister, Mr. Storey, and myself, the object being to secure greater harmony in the community. We now learn that these men have not been returned to their employment, and I ask the Acting Prime
Minister to look into the matter.
– Replying, first of all, to the question put by the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony), I can only say that I know nothing about the matter, but will ask my honorable colleague, Mr. Poynton, who is in charge of the Depart ment concerned, to inquire into it. I am not anxious to detain the House by replying to all the questions that have been raised on this motion, more particularly as some who have spoken have gone away. In answer to the honorable member for Cook (Mr. Catts), I may say in regard to the question of the Italian reservists that I was unable to meet the ConsulGeneral for Italy this evening, but have arranged to meet him to-morrow morning. I had not heard before of the utterance of the “ little boy from Manly.” I do not approve of it. This Government will be no party to the operation of conscription in Australia by means of British Government regulation or edict. As long as we are a self-governing dominion that must be our attitude. As to the gossip - I think, judging by the way the honorable member referred to it, that it could only have been gossip - to the effect that the conscription of Australia was to be undertaken by the American authorities, I do not credit it.
– I said that it was stated that a notice of motion in the United States Senate was discussed.
– The honorable member suggests that it was to be brought about by a convention among the Allied nations. That, however, would not be possible without violating the convention spirit and convention provisions. I know nothing of the Hunter’s Hill incident, but will direct the attention of the Minister for Recruiting to it. I do not believe in black-lists or white-lists in either industrial or national matters. Beyond that I edn say nothing. 1
– Have you read the honorable member’s speeches in Sydney?
– No; I am tired of reading them. They give me indigestion sometimes, because the spirit in them is not always that spirit of good tempered conciliation for which he pleads. I ask the honorable member to meet us in the spirit in which he asks us to meet his colleagues.
– That spirit has not been offered here.
– Yes, it has always been here.
– Not during the last few days.
– It is offered now, and willbe offered indefinitely, and it will be persevered in until failure is visible. Then we must take our own course. As for the action of the Government of New South Wales, represented by the Minister for Industry (Mr. Beeby), I know nothing, except that we cannot control the Government of the Mother State of Australia. They were parties to an importantsection of the agreement or understanding arrived at at the Recruiting Conference, but we cannot do more than endeavour to persuade them in the matter of how they observe it, or operate it. I would have no hesitation in representing to them the Federal view of the spirit of that compact, if needsbe, but beyond that I can do nothing, because they are a sovereign Government, and at liberty to act. However, if I understand aright the spirit of the Premier of New South. Wales and his colleagues in regard to this matter, they are trying to get at a modus vivendi satisfactory to all parties, as we are.
– It is not reflected in Flinders by the movement for which our friend stands.
– I am not throwing stones now.
– I would not like to be responsible for something which it could associate with the Flinders election.
– Speaking of responsibility, the honorable member endeavoured to fix the responsibility on us inferentially for that utterance at Manly. How can we be responsible for the utterance of a man who happens to be a member of a State War Council?
– The honorable member did not suggest it.
– The only notice I can take of it is to express in unmistakable terms the attitude of the Government.
– I did not saddle the Government with the responsibility for the utterance.
– I accept the honorable member’s explanation. When we are endeavouring to get at a rapprochement, I ask honorable members to observe the same spirit which we arc offering. If that is done, I hope there will be a new stimulus to the recruiting movement.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.23 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 1 May 1918, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1918/19180501_reps_7_84/>.