7th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. W. Elliot Johnson) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr. TUDOR presented a petition from persons resident in Australia, protesting against the forcible deportation for military service overseas of Italians resident in the Commonwealth and praying that no such deportation may take place, but that these Italians may be allowed to naturalize themselves, if they so desire.
Petition received and read.
Mr. WATT, on behalf of the Standing Orders Committee, presented the following report, which was ordered to be read by the Clerk: -
The Standing Committee on Standing Orders has the honour to report to your honorable House as follows : -
The Committee recommends to the House of Representatives that the initial Prayer read at the opening of the House he amended so as to read as follows : -
Almighty God, we humbly beseech Thee to vouchsafe Thy blessing upon this Parliament. Direct and prosper our deliberations to the advancement of Thy glory, and the true welfare of the people of Australia.
The Committee further recommends that, during the continuance of the War, the following additional Prayer be read before the Lord’s Prayer : -
Strengthen, O Lord, the sailors and soldiers of our Commonwealth, our Empire, and our Allies; protect them from all dangers; give them speedy victory over their enemies; and grant that an honorable and a lasting peace may result from their valour and their sacrifices.
Motion (by Mr. Watt) agreed to -
That the report be considered forthwith.
Motion (by Mr. Watt) proposed -
That the report be adopted.
– I do not approve of this matter being dealt with until honorable members havehad an opportunity to consider the report.
– The report embodies the unanimous recommendation of the Standing Orders Committee.
– That does not sufficiently influence my mind.
– The honorable member is not on the Committee.
– I am not on the Committee. There is in the report the suggestion - perhaps I may flatter myself that it is due to an interjection made by me - that we shall embody in the opening prayer a petition for peace. I am glad to know that my suggestion, even though made in a disorderly way, has received favorable consideration by the Standing Orders Committee. But I should like more time for considering the report of the Committee before indorsing the prayer which they recommend. We are to be asked to pray that victory may be achieved by the Allied arms.
– The honorable member surely wants that?
– Does the honorable member desire that we shall be defeated ?
– I have already, in this Chamber, protested against any resolution declaring that the war shall not end in any other way than by a victory of the Allied arms. I am favorable to its being ended by the peaceful negotiations of sane and reasonable men; I am not favorable to the continuation of the war until such victory has been gained as seems to be contemplated in the proposed prayer. I am profoundly convinced that two great disasters menace the world - one being that Prussian militarism may end the war by force of arms, and the other that militarism other than Prussian may temporarily end the war by force of arms. So far from holding the view which some have expressed, that peace can be brought into the world by military victory, I think that had honorable members enlightened their minds by even a cursory study of history, they would be aware that a lasting peace has never been, and is never likely to be, achieved by force of arms.
– There was peace after the battle of Waterloo.
– Yes ; for a time. But that battle and preceding battles laid the foundation of Prussian militarism. They joined the limbs and wings of the great Prussian military system. At that time, we were sympathetic with, and lent our support to the Prussian arms. Whatever other results may have followed from those battles, it is abundantly clear that they stimulated the growth of Prussian militarism. Many years later came the Franco-Prussian War, out of which grew in France the party of la revanche. It is that party of revenge, working in the midst of a great Democracy, together with the Prussian militarism working on its own, which has been a very potent factor in bringing about the present war. I would welcome an amendment of the Standing Orders which would permit us to offer up a prayer for peace, but I would ask that that prayer be offered up in the Christian spirit, and not in any pagan spirit. We are developing a state of mind in regard to this war in which Christianity is going out of fashion. The Minister for Defence is permitted to say, and does say amidst the applause of his followers, that he brackets together pacifists and traitors; in other words, that he brackets traitors with those who are still proud to follow without regard for any religious sectionalism or denominationalism, the principles laid down by the founder of Christianity.. I protest against this pagan opinion that peace is to be brought into the world by the crude and cruel method of force of arms, and I oppose any amendment to the Standing Orders which will alter the prayer offered up in this House at the commencement of our deliberations in any direction which is not consistent with the faith of the great majority of honorable members of this Chamber, namely, the Christian faith.
:- I am surprised that the Acting Prime Minister has departed from ‘his very admirable procedure in fully acquainting honorable members as to the business of the House, and at no time, so far as I have observed, since the departure of the Prime Minister has he endeavoured to take advantage of honorablemembers by bringing forward such a measure as an important amendment of the Standing Orders without giving duenotice.
– I am merely the mouthpiece for the time being of the Standing Orders Committee, because the Chairman of that Committee is Mr. Speaker, who is in the chair.
– If the Acting Prime Minister had followed his usual practice, and placed this motion on the businesspaper, I am sure the honorable member for Batman, who has felt it ‘his duty to draw attention to the strange happenings with regard to Christianity, would possibly not have made his speech, or might have made it in a somewhat different way. What mustappeal toall honorable members is the factthat the proposed prayer contains allappear onbehalf of our sol - diers and sailors whoareat the Front - and Idare say that itswording will be found inalmost any Church serviceduringatime ofwar- that is, a prayer for victory overour enemies.
Mr.J owett.- Quite right, too !
– I cannot help drawing the attentionof the honorable member to the fact that the same prayer is probably uttered throughout the churches of all the belligerent nationsto-day, and though I do notdesire to introduce any humour into a debate on what ought really to be a very Serious matter, I cannot help thinking of a most humorous story concerning the Prime Minister’s ‘reference to the difficulty that must face the Almighty in deciding which prayer he ought to grant.
– If our enemies pray for their soldiers, whyshould we not do so?
– I am sure the honorable member for Batman does not take any exception to that suggestion.
– None whatever; I indorse it absolutely.
-I hope that the speech of the honorable’ member for Batman will not be distorted by any one so as to give it an unworthy aspect never intended by the honorable member. Evidently the Ministerial members who are on the Standing Orders Committee at last realize the position - because now they are askingthe Almighty to grant an honorable and lasting peace as aresult of the valour and sacrifices of oursoldiers and sailors.
.- As a member of the Standing Orders Committee, I did not dream that there would be any discussion on this matter. When the existing prayer was adopted by our first Parliament, there was no discussion upon it.
– And there was no notice given, either.
-Icertainly thought that the matter would have gone through without discussion. It is hot a nice subject to debate; it is not easy for any person to claim to be an authority as to the form in which a prayer should be offered; ‘but that which has beenrecommended to the House to-day is a more fitting one than that which has been in use hitherto, even apart from the second portion, in which there is an appeal that an honorable and lasting peace may soon be obtained.
– And the honorablemember also hopes for victory.
– I do; but I have no desire to enter into any discussion on ‘that matter. I regret exceedingly that there has been any discussion, and I feel that if there is any great body of feeling in the House against the proposed alteration, the better course would be to refer the prayer back to the Standing OrdersCommittee.
– One would suppose that it was a matter of urgency, seeing the way in which it is sought to rush it through.
– I do not think that there is any such desire. I do not think thatany member of theStanding Orders Committee realized that the matterwould be discussed.
.- The proposed alteration of the prayer should be discussed. If, as most people believe, there is an Omnipotent Power who controls the destinies of mankind, it is ludicrous, absurd, andeven insulting to address a prayer to Him asking Him to give victory to one set of combatants as against the other in this war.
– Is not that an argument against prayer as a whole?
– To my mind it is not. If there is an Omnipotent Power who. controls the destinies of mankind, then the cataclysm in which all mankind is now engaged has come about with the cognisance, and even at the wish, of Providence. Some schools of thought in Australia and elsewhere tell us that it has. overwhelmed humanity as apunishment. I do not hazard an opinion as to whether it is a punishment of the people for their particular mode of life, or falling away from the Throne of Grace; but if honorable members believe that there is aDivine Power which guides the destinies of man, it is a piece of impertinence on the part of any portion of humanity to address a prayer or petition similar to that pro-: posed, suggesting to the Almighty how Hie should conduct His business.
– You will not find one religion in the world support that view.
– Even if that be, so, it does not prove that the idea is wrong.
– Perhaps not, but that is plain.
– Before my time - and possibly after - people have had and expressed, or may continue to have and express, opinions or ideas contrary to the opinions held by the majority of humanity at a given time, so that such criticism is of no avail. If there is an Omnipotent Being who looks after the destinies of human kind, war or any other calamity that afflicts mankind will end in a way satisfactory to that Omnipotent Being, irrespective of the wishes of mankind.
– If that is the honorable member’s view, he does not believe in the efficacy of prayer at all ?
-I think the honorable member believes in the sentiment expressed by, perhaps, a greater than he a long time ago - “ Trust in God; but keep your powder dry.”
-Do you say that Cromwell was a greater man than the honorable member for Wannon?
– I do not wish to pose as an authority, and allocate the credit as between the honorable member and Cromwell. But the honorable mem ber for Wannon is alive, whereas Cromwell is dead. And I believe that the honorable member “ cuts more ice “ at the present time than does Cromwell.
– The suggestion is that Cromwell is down below !
– It is a matter of profound indifference to me where Cromwell is. Apart from the views held as to the rights or wrongs of the present conflict, it seems to savour of impertinence on the part of anybody, who believes in an Omnipotent Being as guiding the destinies of mankind, to pray to that Being to take part in the conflict - to throw His power and influence on the side of the Allies, as against the Central Powers, or vice versa. It reminds one of the controversy in Australia some time ago, when all the various religions were besieging the Throne of Grace in order that the Almighty might send rain on the droughtstricken areas of Australia. They all had a try at it, but, whether it was in answer to their prayers or not, when the Chinamen appealed to their joss, I believe the rain came. However, to my mind, such prayers as are addressed by the various sets of combatants, might just as well be addressed by various political parties to theThrone of Grace, in order to induce the Almighty to use His influence on the part of some particular section or clique in the political life of the country. If we are to have any particular prayerin connexion with the proceedings of this House or Parliament, the one that is in use at the present time is sufficient for all those who feel the need of prayer.
.- I intend to approach this question with all due reverence. In my opinion, the Committee have done very well, and deserve our thanks for improving the wording of the prayer. In order that any reader of Hansard may follow the discussion, I propose to read the prayer as it is at, present, and the prayer as proposed. The present prayer is as follows : -
Almighty God, we humbly beseech Thee at this time to vouchsafe Thy special blessing upon this. Parliament, and that Thou wouldst be pleased to direct and prosper all our consultations, to the advancement of Thy glory, and to the true welfare of the people of Australia.
– They have cut out the word’ “ consultations “ because they thought the Almighty would not understand’ it.
– Please let me proceed. In my opinion, a great improvement is suggested in the following: -
Almighty God, we humbly beseech Thee to vouchsafe Thy blessing upon this Parliament. Direct and prosper our deliberations, to the advancement of Thy glory, and the true wel fare of the people of Australia.
I only wish that the words had been added “ and send us immediate peace,” which would be a prayer in which every one in the House could take part with a full heart. The report proceeds, making this addition -
Strengthen, O Lord, the sailors and soldiers of our Commonwealth, our Empire, and our Allies; protect thom from all dangers; give them speedy victory over their enemies; and grant that an honorable and lasting peace may iv.-ult from their valour and their sacrifices.
In this very House, as a member of the State Parliament, I had an experience on which I sometimes look back with astonishment. At that time, a serious position had arisen in reference to the teaching of religion in State schools, and I thought it would bo a wise thing to bring all the clergymen together in order to evolve a simple prayer and hymn. I received the thanks of the late Sir George Turner for my suggestion; but I may say th at the meeting of the clergymen did not end in peace, and culminated in the issue of a large book, half-an-inch thick, published at about 18s. However, I should say that or similar suggestion made at the present time might have good results. How would it be, in this terrible time of war, if we were to induce every religious denomination, in all the States, to send a representative in turn to read the prayers in this House, when, perhaps, we members might find that there are good men in all faiths, even in those in which we do not believe? It would be an attempt to carry out what the Emperor Akbar centuries ago did in India; though on that occasion the professors of religion could not agree. We might, by this means, create a better feeling in divergent sections of the community, and end this cursed sectarianism, which at the present time holds too much sway.
– I do not know whether the Standing Orders Committee consulted those who generally draw up prayers, but I am of opinion that portions of the proposed prayer cannot be properly regarded as being in the form of a prayer. I refer to the words “ that an honorable and lasting peace may result from their valour and sacrifices.” I do not wish to detract from the valour or sacrifice of our soldiers, but, with all due respect to the laymen and clerics who may hare had a hand in the framing of this prayer, I submit that we detract from the virtue of it if we place reliance upon anybody but the One to whom we address our prayer. The inculcation of the spirit of the Saviour of the World is* the only means by which wo may expect an honorable and lasting peace.
– God helps those who help themselves.
– We recognise that in the earlier part of the prayer. The prayer of this Parliament should be complete, and in proper harmony with the spirit of a prayer. Of course, if those who framed this supplication are prepared to abide by the. opinions of those whom they consulted, we’ll and good ; but, in my humble judgment, nothing should be said in a prayer which would detract from the Supreme Being to whom the prayer is addressed.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– In this morning’s Argus appears the following cable from Hobart -
Messrs. Henry Jones and Co., jam manufacturers, who have uncompleted contracts for 7,000,000 lbs. weight of jam, yesterday discharged 400 employees owing to the lack of tin plates.
Will the Government do everything possible to expedite the importation of tin plates into Australia?
– The tin-plate problem is very difficult; we have been dealing with it for many months. The Director of Munitions is thoroughly seized of all the requirements of the canning trades, and the understanding now arrived at is that we shall not be able to get tin plates except for Imperial uses. We are selling a great quantity of tinned jams, fruits, and meats to the British Government, and we have an assurance that we shall have sufficient tin plates to enable us to supply the Imperial requirements. Beyond that, we shall have to submit to a little embarrassment. The Director of Munitions is aw fait with the whole situation, and is doing everything possible to secure further supplies of tin plates.
– I rise to make a personal explanation. The Age of Saturday last, in reporting the debate in this House on the previous day, published these words -
– During the war the poor of Australia were becoming poorer and the rich richer. A glance at the share quotations showed that companies were in a better position now than they were before the war.
Mr. TUDOR (Victoria) . -Two-thirds of the shareholders are working people.
In the first place, I was not in the chamber when that statement was made by the honorable member for Capricornia, and in the second place I could not have made the interjection, because I know it to be absolutely contrary to fact. The wealth census proved that two-elevenths of the people who sent in returns receive’ more than half the total income of Australia, and that nine-elevenths receive less than half.
– In view of the ex pressions of opinion in this House on Friday last, particularly by Ministerial members, has the Acting Prime Minister anything further to say regarding the Government proposal for the enlistment of minors?
– I should like to ask the Assistant Minister (Mr. Greene) if the report of the Inter-State Commission upon the fixation of the price of meat has been handed to the Government; if so, when may we expect it to be laid on the table?
– The Government are considering the report at the present time.
– In view of the intermittent character of work at some of the coal mines in New South Wales, have the Government taken any further action in regard to the apportionment of coal orders amongst the various mines?
– A deputation from certain coal miners in the Newcastle dis trict waited upon me, and pointed out the disability they are working under in consequence of the shortage of shipping and the stoppage of the oversea trade. I am collating particulars in relation thereto, and hope to place the facts before the Acting Prime Minister at an early date. As this question is one of policy, the Acting Prime Minister will deal with it.
Concrete Ships - Arrangements for Australian Construction
– Has the Acting Prime Minister seen in the press a cable to the effect that the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) has entered into an understanding with certain persons in the United States of America to pay a royalty in connexion with the construction of concrete ships in Australia? Has the Prime Minister authority, during his peregrinations abroad, to enter into arrangements that may bind the Commonwealth? - Does this or any other matter require to be remitted to the Cabinet for consideration and indorsement?
– All important undertakings will be dealt with by the Government as a whole, perhaps, in cases such as the honorable member has mentioned, on the recommendation of the Prime Minister. Cabling from Washington last week the Prime Minister intimated that he had had the advantage of consultation with the company and engineers who had launched the concrete ship Faith, of which honorable members have heard. He had been able to arrange for one of the chief engineers to be sent to Australia to consult with the Government regarding the construction of concrete ships in this country, and he asked for Cabinet’s approval of his action. That we promptly gave.
-(By Leave).- Work has been proceeding for some weeks at the Williamstown shipbuilding yards, which were recently taken over from the Government of Victoria. Two Isherwood standardized steel ships, each of 5,500 tons, are being constructed at these yards, and six others are to be subsequently built there. Some delay has been caused by the late arrival of shipbuilding material from America, but a shipment which has come to hand during the past few days will enable more rapid progress to be made. A contract has been let with the New South Wales Government for the construction of six similar standardized vessels at Walsh Island, Newcastle. Mr. A. M. Bomphrey, who was brought out by the Victorian Government to manage the Williamstown yards, has now been transferred to the New South Wales service, and placed in charge of the building of these six ships at Walsh Island. Operations have been commenced there, and the work is proceeding with all possible speed.
Arrangements have also been made for the building of two Isherwood ships at Cockatoo Island Dockyard, Sydney. One of these, it is expected, will be put in hand about two months hence.
Two standardized steel vessels are to be built at Devonport, Tasmania, under an arrangement made with a private firm, backed by the Government of Tasmania. The preparation of the shipyard is now proceeding.
Arrangements are being made for the building by a private firm, with the cooperation of the Government of South Australia, of steel ships in South Australia. In this case the construction and equipment of a shipbuilding yard will be required before the actual building of the shipscan be undertaken, and some time must necessarily elapse before the vessels are put in hand.
Negotiations are proceeding which, it is hoped, will lead to a contract for the construction of several ships in Queensland.
The engines and practically all of the material for constructional purposes are being manufactured in Australia, with the exception of the large plates for the first six standardized ships, which were unprocurable here, and were ordered from America.
In order to utilize the available skilled labour, and to increase the new tonnage, it has been decided to build wooden ships as well as steel. Two contracts for the construction by private firms in Australia of wooden ships to be fitted with auxiliary engines have been completed - one for six ships of 2,300 tons and the other for six of 2,600 tons. In the former case a commencement has already been made with the provision of the necessary buildings, wharf, &c;
Mr.Fowler. - In what States are these contracts being carried out?
– In New South Wales, in both cases. A definite proposition has now been submitted to the Commonwealth Government for the construction of six wooden vessels in Western Australia. This offer is now receiving consideration, and I am ready to consider any offer for the building of ships of the tonnage required at prices stipulated.
The Government has experienced considerable difficulty in obtaining suitable men, namely, patternmakers, moulders, &c.
An investigation of shipbuilding facilities at Geelong has recently been made, particularly in connexion with the building of concrete ships.
The Government is in close touch with the Broken Hill Proprietary Company in regard to shipbuilding plates, and every effort is being made to expedite the supply of this material in the quantities and sizes required.
Ships- under construction in the United States of America for the Commonwealth Government. The ships under construction in the United States of America on account of the Commonwealth Government comprise fourteen vessels, viz. : - (a) Four first-class- wooden cargo motor ships of about 3,200 tons. capacity dead weight; (6) ten first-class wooden cargo steamers, twin screw, of slightly larger capacity thanthe motor ships.
Particulars re. the four- motor ships. The four motor ships are being built at Olympia, in the State of Washington, United! States of America, by the Sloan Shipyards Corporation, the contract having been entered into on the 5th June, 1917. These yards have now been taken over by the United States Government, which is completing the vessels, and will make delivery of them to the agents of the Commonwealth Government. The dimensions of the vessels are as follows: - 280 feet in length over all, 46 feet beam, 24 feet moulded depth. They are to have a dead-weight carrying capacity of 3,200 tons.
The vessels are to he equipped with two full Deisel engines, each of 500 horsepower. Apparently, the speed is to be about 10 knots, though this is not mentioned in the contract. The names of the four motor ships areCethana,Culburra, Challamba, andCoolchu.
– Can the honorable gentleman give us the contract price per ton?
– Speaking subject to correction, I think the price works out at about £31 per ton dead weight, including engines and fittings.
– That is cheap enough today.
– The price here is a gooddeal less.
Particulars re the ten steamers. - The ten steamers are being built by the PattersonMcDonald Shipbuilding Company at their yards at Seattle, in the State of Washington, the contract having been entered into on22ndJune, 1917. These vessels are to be 281 ft. 6 in. in length, 48-ft. beam, and 26-ft. moulded depth. They are to be equipped with two triple expansion engines of 1,500 indicated horse-power, capable of giving a speed of not less than 10 knots an hour. These vessels are being named after the following postal towns in the Commonwealth, viz., Bellata, Bundarra, Birriwa, Berringa, Bethanga,Benowa, Babinda, Balcatta, Boobyalla, Borrika. The whole of the steamers are expected to arrive inAustralia before the close of 1918.
The following cablegram,dated 21st May, 1918, has been received from the Prime Minister -
Visited our ships at yards to-day; everything satisfactory,though great delay through lack material and skilled labour. Second steamer - Bundarra - very sucessfully launched. Four Ships - twomotor, two steamers -now in water, fifth launched fortnight, thence, say, one ormore a month. First motor ship sails early June; first steamer, say, 1st July; second motor soon after. After careful inquiry am satisfied our contract price compares most favorably with American Government contracts and generally.
Steel shipbuilding. Visited large yards today. Steel ships, 8;800 tons; splendidly organised yard. Ship launched fifty-two days from laying keel, and fitted with engines in seventy-five days from laying keel.
Concrete ships. Saw Comyns who built concrete ships just launched. Discussed matter fully, and am satisfied we should build same. Have arranged Comyns’ expert engineer visit Australia early date, advise, organize, superintend, if and as required by Commonwealth. Commonwealth Government appointed sole agent for this system in Australia. Size ships proposed - 7,500 tons deadweight. Time of construction - 5,000 tons ships just launched, ninety days fitted ready for sea, of which thirty - ninety days are needed for cement to dry. Six ships could be built in year subject to engines being ready.
The ‘following statement shows the total number of ships under Commonwealth ownership and control -
Ships purchased in England by Prime Minister (Austral line)- thirteen, 54,900 gross tonnage. 2.Ships building in America- Motor, four; steam, ten: total deadweight capacity, between 45.000 tons and 47,000tons.
Ships to be built in Australia - (Agreed) Steel, eighteen: 00,000 tons deadweight capacity. ( Under consideration) Steel, four; 22,000 tons deadweight capacity. (Agreed) Wooden, twelve: approximately, 27,000 tons. (Under consideration) Wooden, six.
Under control -
Ex-enemy ships (interned) utilized by Commonwealth, eighteen; 88.940 gross tonnage.
John Murray, one: 1,183 gross tonnage.
Shandon, one; 1,307 gross tonnage (ready 14th June) .
When all contracts are completed the Commonwealth will have under its control a total fleet of eighty-seven ships.
I am considering a proposition that is before me of building composite ships, but I am not in a position as yet to give any definite information regarding it.
Whereverpossible the material re quired is being, and ‘will be, placed in Australia. So far the following orders have been placed in this country : - Sectional ‘material and portion of the plates, stem frames, stem bars, rudders, tillers, rivets, blacksmiths’ steel, and engines and machinery. In England the following orders have been placed: - Cable outfits, outfits forwarps, outfitforrigging, and cargowire rope, compass outfit, signal lamp outfit, and special parts of water-tube boilers. In the United States of America : -Steel plates which could not be rolled in Australia.
Williamstown Dockyard. - So far the section material delivered into the Yard is 641 tons; plates delivered into the Yard, 184 tons; material prepared ready for assembling, 75 tons.
Work on the frame turning for No. 1 ship is well advanced. All the sectional material associated with the transverse framing of the bottoms is finished, and work on the floors that have come to hand is being pushed forward with all despatch. A quantity of the side transverse framing is ready for assembling immediately on the arrival of the plates.
Work has been commenced on the keel plates and centre girder which have just come to hand, and it is anticipated that the keel for No. 1 ship will be laid in the course of a few days.
A contract for the supply of three sets of engines and boilers has been let to Messrs. Thompson and Company, of Castlemaine, who have made a commencement with the preparation of patterns. The contract price is £130,000 for the first three sets, and if an order is placed within twelve months for a further three sets they are to be supplied at a cost of £120,000. The first complete set is to be delivered and installed within fifteen months, and the second complete set within eighteen months, and the third complete set within twenty-one months.
Walsh Island. A contract has been let to the New South Wales Government for the building at Walsh Island of six steel vessels, each of 5,500 tons dead-weight capacity. The first steamer is to be delivered within twelve months, and each succeeding ship not later than four months from the date of the delivery of the preceding one. The price mentioned in the contract is £28 per ton dead-weight capacity, but may be increased to an amount which shall not in any case exceed the lesser of the two following amounts: - (a) the actual average cost to the State of delivering such steamers; (b) the total dead-weight capacity of such steamer multiplied by the actual average cost per ton deadweight capacity of all similar steamers constructed and completed at Williamstownup to the date of delivery by the State of the last steamer delivered by it.
The sectional material so far delivered at the Walsh Island Yard is 431 tons; plates delivered into the Yard, 100 tons. Work has been commenced on the framing Tlie engines for the vessels to be constructed at Walsh Island will also be built there, and patterns for these engines are being made.
Oversea deliveries. A consignment of 146 tons of plates are en route from America to Australia, and a further 1,000 tons of steel plates are at present ready for shipment from America Shipping space for 1,690 tons, for which export licences have been granted, has been arranged during the present month. Arrangements have been made for the total purchase of 6,000 tons of plates from America.
The unsatisfactory delivery of plates, which, of necessity, had to be ordered in America, is the sole reason for the delay in the progress of construction. This difficulty is due to lack of tonnage space, but it is hoped that arrangements will be made whereby the difficulty will be minimized.
Negotiations are proceeding with steelmakers in Australia for the supply of the necessary steel plates of suitable dimensions and thickness. The steel-makers expect that the essential plant will be installed in from two to three months, when it is hoped a continuous supply of plates and sectional material will be available.
As opportunity occurs with material arriving in the yard, extra labour is immediately started on piece-work, and every effort is made to facilitate progress of work.
Practically the whole of the! piece prices for boilermakers and caulkers have been fixed in conference. Negotiations are now proceeding in regard to prices for riveters and drillers. .
I have collected a few facts concerning the shipbuilding that is taking place in other parts of the world, and the loss caused by enemy submarines.
According to the Nautical Gazette, it will be seen from the following, the total tonnage sunk by the German U-boats for the year of 1917: -
According to the German Admiralty reports, and a similar estimate of monthly tonnage losses emanating from Allied sources - German claim 9,470,500 : Allied claim 6,445,000. If we take the Allied claim as merely approximately correct, it will give one some idea of the enormous losses of shipping through submarines
In round numbers, therefore, the total new tonnage produced in the world in 1917 was 3,000,000 tons, or less than onehalf of the tonnage lost from war or natural causes.
American shipping for 1918. - In a recent Shipping Board inquiry, Chairman Hurley informed the Senate Investigating Committee that for the year 1918 there would be constructed, or under construction, 1,427 ships of 8,573,108 deadweight tons. To do this there will be a total of 132 shipping . yards, seventy-four of which have yet to be constructed. The latest information shows there are 157 yards and 753 slipways operating.
Summing up the various classes of shipping now in the service of the Government for national purposes, or due to be launched, the’ American merchant marine should show by the end of 1918, less losses by submarines or from other causes, a total number of vessels of 1,902, with total tonnage of 11,835,7.41 dead-weight tons.
To enable this work to be done, provision is being made for the housing of 250,000 volunteer workers for- the shipyards, and the Shipping Inquiry Board are waiting for an appropriation of 50,000,000 dollars for this purpose. (A scheme of registering all the classes of men required for this work is in hand.)
There is further provision made for the training of officers with free schools in navigation and marine engineering at various ports in the Atlantic.
At these schools about 600 men a term are being trained. By this method enough American officers have ‘been trained in six months to keep pace with the demands arising from their increased merchant tonnage. Already 3,000 licences have been issued by the Steam Boat Inspection Service, which examines all candidates for licences.
Japan’s shipbuilding programme for 1918. According to latest reliable information, Japan’s building programme for 1918 is the construction of ninety-one ships, with a tonnage of 549,694 tons.
In addition the contracts of the Nippon Yusen Kaisha Company’s programme for 1918 is fifty ships (cargo steamers).
Style of Ships.- United States. The ships constructed in America consist of steel ships, wooden ships, composite ships, and concrete ships.
Canada. The Government’s own shipbuilding programme signalizes one of the most important moves by the Canadian Government in promotion’ of Canada’s foreign trade after the war. No new shipyards will be constructed just now, but existing yards will be kept going to the utmost capacity.
Within the Dominion ship-building facilities provides for the accommodation of more than 130 new keels at the present time.
Canadian shipbuilding hitherto has not been of great importance, and in no year exceeded 55,000 tons. In 1914 steam propelled vessels aggregated only a total of 450,000 tons.
In a recent interview, Hon. C. C. Ballantyne, Minister of Marine and Fisheries, said that the Government had reached the position to utilize the fullest capacity of existing shipyards in the production of modern vessels of the most approved type, for the use of the Government and for registry in Canada.
According to the Nautical Gazette it may be estimated that Canada will turn out about 275,000 to 300,000 tons annually. _
It is further announced that during the continuance of the war, and for some time after, the construction of steel ships in Canada for foreign registry will not be permitted.
This policy is in line with that adopted by Great Britain and United States.
The type of ships will be from 3,000 tons to 7,000 tons, while one type will have a deadweight capacity of from 8,000 to 10,000. In addition to this the Canadian Car Company have a contract for supplying steel ships to the United States to ‘the value of 10,500,000 dol.
This work is to commence in May, 1918, and will occupy the plant; for two years.
German Shipbuilding Subsidies. - In a recent Act passed by the Reichstag, the Federal Council, consisting of fourteen, i3 provided for, which will have full control, and deal with subsidies and monetary assistance in shipbuilding, and it is estimated from 375,000,000 dols. to 500,000,000 dols. will be required to restore German shipping to its former position. From this sum there will be advanced from 50 per cent, to 70 per cent, off cost for the delivery of ships from one to four years after peace, and from 20 per cent, to 25 per cent, for ships delivered in from five to nine years after peace.
The Act further provides for advances for the upkeep and maintenance of ships interned in other countries.
Cement-concrete ships’ displacement as compared with steel ships. - In a barge carrying, say, 500 tons, the weight of the ship will be practically double that of the steel ship. This means that the linear dimensions of the concrete barge will be about 8 per cent. greater than those of the steel barge.
The walls of the concrete ships, being thicker than steel, will result, to a great extent, in loss of cargo space.
The cost will be about four-fifths of the cost of a steel ship.
In steel ships quite a loss of strength results from rivet holes. There is no such loss in reinforced concrete vessels.
The construction of concrete ships has taken place in various countries. Lloyd’s Register, particularly, has approved plans for the construction of Dumb barges’ up to 500 tons dead weight, also motor vessels. They are building in the United States of America, the United Kingdom, France, and Scandinavia.
The shutters in which concrete is enclosed in the original construction of the first ship are fairly expensive. The labour required for construction is not necessarily highly skilled labour.
On 16th May itwas reported that a trial of the concrete steamer Faith, under the supervision of the United States of America Government, was a decided success, and she was then despatched to San Francisco with 3,000 tons of cargo, subsequently proceeding overseas.
The trial being so satisfactory, the American Board of Trade decided to appropriate £10,000,000 sterling towards the further construction of concrete ships.
Germany’s plans to build concrete ships.Captain Persius, who writes in the Berliner Tageblatt, states that, owing to prospective shortage of wood, steel, and iron for shipbuilding after the war, leading German and Austrian dockyards are preparing to use ferro-concrete on a large scale. Yards are now being constructed to that end.
Captain Persius takes the view that all the great shipbuilding countries will be put to the same necessity as Germany to find substitutes for wood iron, and steel.
Germany, he says, will be in a better position than any of the rest for ferro concrete construction, because of the reason that they possess the most important cement industry in the world. They claim to have outstripped France, which country was formerly at the front.
They also claim to have given the English, the inventors of cement, the fiercest competition in the markets of the world.
Further commenting on the position, this officer thinks that there is every reason to hope that in future the largest ships flying the German flag will be partially of ferro-concrete.
American ambition. American ambition is to expand in three years a merchant marine equal to that created by Great Britain in the course of halfacentury, and, in addition, is building several hundred naval vessels of all types, from submarine chaser to battleship.
Royalties paid to Isherwood. Fees are payable to J. W. Isherwood, the patentee of the system of longitudinal framing that bears his name, for the use of his system and his services for the preparation of classification plans and information. By the adoption of this system the amount of steel required in the hull is reduced to the extent of from 8 per cent. to 12 per cent.
In the case of the ships at present under construction for the Commonwealth, the saving amounts to about 120tons, compared with a similar ship built with transverse framing. The dead-weight carrying capacity is also increased by this amount. In addition, there is a reduction in the amount of highly skilled labour required in the construction. The great advantages associated with a reduction in the amount of iron and steel, in addition to the increased dead-weight, will be apparent to all. Royalties have been paid by shipbuilders in Great Britain, United States of America, Canada, Germany, Holland, Belgium, France, Sweden, and Italy. The patent rights for Japan have been sold outright to the Osaka Ironworks, Osaka, Japan.
Isherwood’s system of ship construction. ( Extract from the Nautical Gazette. ) No less than 180 vessels, aggregating in dead-weight carrying capacity about 1,334,000 tons, have been ordered to be built on this system since the end of 1917. The grand total since 1907 now stands at800 craft, aggregating 6,000,000 tons dead-weight carrying capacity, and honorable members will be interested in the following statistics relating to the manner in which the system has made its remarkable progress in the comparatively short period of ten years: -
September,1907, to December, 1908 - 6 ships, aggregating 31,608 tons dead-weight carrying capacity. 1909 - 36 ships, aggregating 212,992 tons dead-weight carrying capacity. 1910 - 76 ships, aggregating 484,752 tons dead-weight carrying capacity. 1911 - 140 ships, aggregating 958,795 tons dead-weight carrying capacity. 1912 - 240 ships, aggregating 1,777,348 tons dead-weight carrying capacity. 1913 - 270 ships, aggregating 1,993,034 tons dead-weight carrying capacity. 1914 - 311 ships, aggregating 2,351,322 tons dead-weight carrying capacity. 1915 - 468 ships, aggregating 3,548,221 tons dead-weight carrying capacity. 1916 -620 ships, aggregating 4,666,000 tons dead-weight carrying capacity. 1917 - 800 ships, aggregating 6,000,000 tons dead-weight carrying capacity.
Whilst the Isherwood system has been adopted almost universally for oil-tank steamers, and to a very large extent in the case of general cargo vessels, it is eminently suitable and advantageous for all types of boats, as is evidenced by the following analysis of the800 craft referred to above: -
General cargo vessels, colliers, ore steamers, and passenger vessels - 386, aggregating 2,891,600 tons dead-weight carrying capacity.
Great Lake freighters - 24, aggregating 279,600 tons dead-weight carrying capacity.
Oil-tank steamers - 310, aggregating 2,800,000 tons dead-weight carrying capacity.
Barges - 77, aggregating 26,800 tons deadweight carrying capacity.
Dredges - 2, aggregating 760 gross register tons.
Trawlers - 1,570 gross register tons.
In the United States, and also in Japan, the growth of the system still goes on with great rapidity.
Assent to the following Bills reported -
Lands Acquisition (Defence) Bill.
Loans Sinking Fund Bill.
Inscribed Stock Bill.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
– A statement has appeared in the press to the effect that a certain gentleman has agreed to purchase Studley Hall from the Victorian State Government for the purpose of handing it over to the Defence Department for use as a convalescent home for soldiers. I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Defence if it is true that the Defence Department has refused the offer?
– I have no knowledge of the matter.
– In view of the high prices which are being charged for secondhand bags, has any arrangement been made by which the price of this commodity will be fixed ?
– Bags of all sorts have been declared a necessary commodity, and inquiries are now proceeding with a view to fixing prices.
The following papers were presented : -
Defence Act - Regulations Amended, &c. - Statutory Rules 1918, Nos. 110, 113, 114, 115, 117, 119-125.
Northern Territory - Ordinance of 1918 -No. 8. - Liquor (No. 2).
Public Service Act - Promotions of -
R. W. Soutar, Department of Trade and Customs.
F. R. Sinclair, A. B. Cooney, H. L. Ferns, Department of Defence.
– In fulfilment of the promise which he made last week, has the Minister for Home and Territories any statement to make in regard to the question of afforestation in the Federal Capital Territory?
– The honorable member for Eden Monaro (Mr. Austin Chapman) and the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Bruce Smith) having asked me to make a statement with regard to this matter, by leave of the House I am prepared to make it now. (Leavegranted.)
Afforestation has been practically confined to nurseries at Acton and Westbourne Wood established since 1912, in which large stocks of trees, ornamental shrubs and plants are raised; and to planting, which has been in progress for about two years, chiefly at Mount Stromlo, where last year a fair area of commercial soft woods was planted out.
The nurseries, about 20 acres in area, are useful in connexion with fruit culture and the raising of cereals as well as plants for ornamental and for forest trees. In the opinion of an expert the great similarity of the hills of about the same altitude, though of different geological formation, makes the same system of planting applicable to all. Planting from the nurseries has been mostly of pinus insigns and deodar (Indian cedar). The suitability, as to which experts are somewhat doubtful, of California redwood, possibly better known as sequoia sempervirens, is to be tested by the placing out of 60,000 plants from pots in the Acton Nursery, at an estimated cost for holes, planting, and clearing, of £450. For these trees a high rainfall, considerable humidity during the dry period of the year, and good soil conditions are conducive, if not essential, to success. The commercial redwoods of the humid coast region of California, the country of the sequoia, grow in districts of high rainfall in winter and heavy fogs in the dry season. There the redwoods taken are trees of probably over 400 years of age, but much younger trees are of commercial value. “ North-westward of Queanbeyan,” to quote from a report, “ a suitable area has been selected for a plantation of sequoia semper-virens, the site being undulating, with a suitable sandy soil surface overlying a free sub-soil, but I would not recommend the planting of any extensive forest area of this tree, as the climate does not meet the requirements of California redwood.”
There are specimens of this tree in the Territory - one at Ginnendera Homestead”, 60 feet high, and about fifty years old, growing on a river flat, on good black soil; another at Duntroon College, smaller, not so favorably placed. At Acton Nursery are some of about six years’ growth .
Nothing has yet been done in the greater rainfall areas, where indigenous forests, according to the opinions of some experts., are worth consideration.
In the higher regions the bulk of the timber is, and will be, found; but there, without provision for extraction and transport, the existing timber would be practically inaccessible. The building of the Arsenal at Tuggeranong may help use and afforestation. The heads of a policy for a purpose of use and development of timber in these regions have been drawn up, and subject to financial arrangements permitting, may be initiated this season. The matter, so far as it relates to the employment of returned soldiers, has been considered by me with the Minister for Repatriation. “Within the Territory there are places where the greatest care must be taken in forest work, which entails the establishment of exotic trees or forests; and places with obviously fine forest rainfalls, where forestry is bound to be more productive than within the lower rainfall areas.
For commercial tree planting the quality of the locality must be tested. Outside the species of pinus insignis there are hardly sufficient data available to make an accurate assessment of the possibilities of certain localities within the Territory. From expert observation it seems possible to gather that well laid down insignis plantations might yield up to 6,000 cubic feet of merchantable timber in thirty years on the acre basis. For a definite statement as to other species more data are required. Without careful assessment there is a risk in introducing species which are not assessed from woods already existing in the neighbourhood. The course, therefore, is to establish, on areas of about 5 acres ‘each, more or less experimental woods of numerous species, for the purpose of assessing the quality of the locality.
Working plans, a vital necessity, will be required for the whole Territory, and for different localities, and pan only bo finally settled after considerable investigations by a forester.
Within the Territory local-grown timbers have been used only for firewood, fence posts, and, in the case of the Mount Domain district, to a aci all extent for sawing purposes. It may be optimistic to say so, but, in the opinion of an expert, there appears to be no reason, if opportunity be afforded, why a large part of the timber required within the Capital territory, with the exception of certain soft woods, cannot be taken from the natural forests in the high ranges. Though local-grown soft wood may not be available for some years for Australian purposes, plantations of soft woods skilfully made would soon make the Territory in that respect self-supplying. Unless forests are used there will be great waste.
If future plantations of such pines as the insignis are put down and the trees spaced 6 feet by 6 feet, thinnings will be available in about eight or ten years, for round scantlings, panels, and many other purposes, in the Territory. I mention this as one of several lines likely to be productive of early commercial returns.
In parts of higher regions of the Territory, where timber is more or less satisfactory at present, there is, according to a report, subject to transport facilities, wealth immediately obtainable.
Areas to be controlled as permanent forests must be definitely marked out, set aside, and placed under proper forest administration.
The following are suggested preliminary considerations for a working plan: -
It should be evident from this statement, deduced by me from reports and considerable discussion with the writers of such reports, that, so far as the finances permit, systematic development in accordance with a scheme laid down and controlled by- an expert, is sound policy. The” report of a Reconstruction Committee recently presented to the Home Government, and which suggests Imperial activity in forestry, supports this view.
– In relation to the proposed Press Conference in Great Britain, I desire to know from the Acting Prime Minister how many representatives will be sent from Australia, and who will select them, aud also whether the Labour press will have an equal representation with the press on the other side 1 We, on this side, represent half the people.
– The Labour party have not so many newspapers,
– We have not, but we managed to beat the other side in December last.
– The glory of the honorable member is that his party wins with the press against him. I may say that twelve men were invited to the Con- »ference, and twelve men will be sent if we can get them in a satisfactory way. In order to provide for a proper basis of representation, I invited the whole of the editors, and, I think, the owners of the ° journals in Australia, either directly or through their organizations, to give me some suggestions as to how the Government could best respond to the wishes of those at Home. In reply, I have received quite a sheaf of letters and telegrams, and . it is safe to say that no more than two or three agree with one another. Therefore, the responsibility comes back on. the Government, and we shall have to assume it in the end, and select all the representatives, assigning them on some geographical basis, and keeping in view the various interests, political and otherwise.
– And industrial.
– And also the industrial interests. I desire to see a proper and fair Labour representation in the delegation, though I do not know how far we shall be able to secure this with the concurrence of the various journals. It is because I believe that the Labour press requires more education than the other that I desire it to be represented in the delegation.
Repression in Australia.
– Has the Acting
Prime Minister read the following cable which appeared in the Herald on the 27th of this month : -
Referring to the Irish issue, the Evening News writes-“ The Colonial Office has received a report from the Governor-General regarding the measures taken for suppressing inn Fein propaganda in Australia. Apparently, Sinn Feinism already has done ranch mischief in Australia by discouraging recruiting and seizing upon every opportunity to manifest its hostility to the Empire “?
I ask the Acting Prime Minister whether we are to gauge the information of the pro-German Sinn Fein revolution in Ireland, as per cable, by the information, per cable, to Britain of its revolutionary acts here? Does he not think it will discount considerably the cabled information of the supposed revolutionary desires of the people of Ireland ?
– Who wrote that for you ?
– I wrote it myself.
– If the honorable member wrote that himself, it is positively his best effort since I entered the House. It is too much of a puzzle to answer offhand; but I will say that if the cables from the Old Country are true, Sinn Feinism in Australia would have been much more dangerous here if we had not taken measures against it.
– The Governor-General would do well to mind his own business !
– Do not drag the GovernorGeneral into this; he was bound to do what he did.
– In view of statements as to the proposed erection of -eleven large stores for wool in New South Wales, to cost, approximately, £165,000, I should like to know whether the funds for this purpose are provided by the Im perial Parliament or the Commonwealth, or whether the cost is to be defrayed by the owners of the wool ?
– I understand that the money is not supplied by the Imperial Parliament, and it certainly is not supplied by the Australian Parliament. The matter is arranged by the Wool Committee here, doing its business, as it does, with the British wool authorities.
– Has the Government determined to restrict investment of capital outside the country until such time as we have all the money we require for war loans?
– The question is an important one, and I have recently considered it with the aid of a Finance Council. We have received information as to the exact nature of the British regulation against the exportation of capital for investment abroad, and when we are satisfied as to how it is operating, we propose to consider the application of it to Australia.
– Will the Acting
Prime Minister lay on the table of the House the statement with regard to prosecutions in connexion with the entertainments tax?
– I see no reason for refusing the information. I shall inquire from the Department whether it. is possible to compile it for honorable members;
– On the 24thinst. the honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Moloney) asked for a return showing -
I Lave now received information as follows : - 1 and 2. The total amounts paid in the various States arc as follow: -
Notes. - Victoria. - Inclusive of services rendered additional to first-year contract, also of mouse-plague costs, 1916-17.
Western Australia, 1915-16. - Inclusive of £8,700 caretaking commission. Amounts arc exclusive of porthandling charges.
The States have been asked to indicate the sums paid to individual agents. This information will be published as soon as received. 3-7. These amounts arc unknown, and can only be estimated. The agents arc contractors, who perform specified services for a certain remuneration. Their costs and their profits are known only to themselves. For the first year - 1915-16- representatives of farmers’ organizations agreed with wheat shippers as to the handling charges to be paid. These rates, however, were reduced at the instance of the Ministers contituting the Wheat Board. The rates for 1916-17 were still further reduced. Owing to the length of time it has become necessary to store wheat, a different arrangement for 1917-.18 was decided upon. The rates for that year arc so low that it is considered that some contractors will make little, if any, profit. There is a point below which it is unwise, in view of the magnitude of the interests at stake, to reduce profits. lit is considered that that point has now been reached in regard to the handling charges.
– A short time ago the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Falkiner) and the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. McGrath) asked whether it was not possible for the Defence Department to send consignments of Australian tobacco for the use of the boys at the Front, and I promised to make inquiries. The answer is -
The Controller of Shipping who was ap proached as to the possibility of special freight being provided for the purpose of forwarding a monthly consignment of tobacco and cigarettes for the Australian Imperial Force troops in France and England, advises that, owing to existing shipping conditions, the proposition is quite impracticable.
– Last week the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fen ton) asked: - Owing to the proved suitability of Australian timber, will the Minister representing the Minister for Defence see that an endeavour is made to use Australian woods in the manufacture of aeroplanes ?
The reply of the Minister for Defence is “ Yes.”
– A few days ago the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Corser) asked a question with reference to delayed cables to and from our soldiers at the Front, and asked whether they could not be expedited. The answer is -
The matter is being gone into with a view to ascertaining whether a better system can be devised which will expedite the transmission of soldiers’ cables.
– On Thursday last, 23rd May, the honorable member for Cook (Mr. J. II. Catts) asked the Assistant Minister for Defence -
I replied to questions 1 and 2, and stated! that inquiries were being made in connexion with question 3. Further inquirieshave been made, and the Department is not aware of any request having been made to the Women’s Volunteer Corps with regard to accepting duty at the Molonglo Concentration Camp.
Broken Hill Prosecutions
– Some time ago the honorable member for Barrier (Mr. Considine) asked a question with reference to fines inflicted on lads at Broken Hill for failure to attend the requisite number of drills. The Minister’s reply is -
The Minister has investigated the cases of the Cadets recently fined at Broken Hill for failure to attend their requisite number of compulsory drills and has gone into each individual case. He finds that there has been justification for the actions taken, as a result of which there is now far greater efficiency and better discipline in this district.
Mr.WISE. - Last Wednesday the honorable member for Boothby (Mr. Story) asked a question in reference to the establishment of an Ordnance Corps. The answer is as follows: -
Early in 1917 the Army Council accepted the offer of the despatch of an Australian Ordnance Company for service abroad with the Australian Imperial Force. It was, however, found impracticable to form the complete Ordnance Company, but a tradesmen’s section, called the I.O.M. Section, was raised and despatched. Arrangements have also been made whereby members of the Australian Ordnance Staffs enlisting in the Australian Imperial Force are allotted for Ordnance duties abroad. As regards the formation of a Local Ordnance Corps, that is for service in Australia, this matter is at present under the consideration of the Business Board.
– With reference to the telegram from Mr. Holman, read by the Acting Prime Minister last Thursday, I should like to know whether the honorable gentleman is aware that amessage has been received in Melbourne stating that Mr. Holman proposes to re-register only fifteen unions, leaving fourteen unions out of the re-registration scheme, if I may so put it. The information we have is that included in these fourteen unions are the railway unions, the wharf labourers’ unions, the coal lumpers’ unions, and others. Will the Acting Prime Minister represent to the Premier of New South Wales that all unions should be placed on an equality ?
– Since the receipt of the telegram from Mr. Holman which I read in the House on Thursday night, I have not been advised by the Government of New South Wales of any further action on their part. I assume, however, that the Government have determined to summon Parliament, and to proceed with the re-registration of the unions, as in that telegram they announced their intention of doing. Many times during the last few weeks I have been requested to bring pressure upon, or make representations to, some State Governments, chiefly that of New South Wales, in regard to this matter, and I have declined. This is the State Governments’ ‘ job. They know that we are sympathetic towards the proposal for the re-registration of unions, and they know that we desire to keep to the spirit of thecompact made at the Recruiting Conference. Beyond that I can say nothing at the present time.
– Will the Acting Prime Minister expedite the printing and distribution of the report of the Recruiting Conference? For several weeks I have tried to get copies, but without success.
– I understood that honorablemembers had received their copies long ago. I instructed that as many copies as were likely to be required by honorable members should be printed. If there has been any difficulty in obtaining copies I will see that the trouble is rectified.
– I wrote to the Acting Prime Minister a couple of weeks ago on the subject.
– I have not received the letter.
– Is it a fact that the aeroplane which caused so much commotion and speculation in Gippsland recently, and which was supposed to be connected with an enemy raider, has been ascertained to be a machine from the Flying School at Laverton?
– I have not heard any statement to that effect.
– I rise to make a personal explanation. During the debate on the Lands Acquisition (Defence) Bill I used the words, “ We are not like mere aldermen, trying to make what we can out of our positions; we are men above reproach.” The Waterloo Council, New South “Wales, has taken exception to those words, and has written to the
Speaker a letter on the subject. In reply, I am sure that members of this Parliament will be pleased to know that Hansard is being read by the public, but the words complained of did not apply to the members of the Waterloo Council.
– Is the Assistant Minister for Defence aware that when privates return from active service their kit bags are overhauled, and any souvenirs are removed by the examining officer, whilst officers are allowed to bring their souvenirs ashore without any interference ? Will the Minister see that privates and officers are placed on the same footing in this regard ?
– I will bring the matter under the notice of the Minister for Defence.
– On Friday, the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan), asked me the following questions:-
This matter comes under the control of the Defence Department, but I have obtained the following replies for the honorable member: - 1 and 2. Three persons, of the name of Gaetano Carra, Michele Capicchiano, and Antonio Bongiorno, are recorded as naturalized British subjects, and no action is being taken to arrest them. 3 and 4. The enlistment of Italian subjects is governed by Italian law, and Italian subjects liable for service under that law must enlist.
asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
If, In view of the predominance of Stateowned railways in Australia, he will request the State Governments to assist in making a zone system for the carriage of wheat, whereby all wheat-growers could be paid the same rate per bushel for wheat landed at all sidings or stations?
– Under the present practice each grower is charged the rail freight from point of delivery. The proposal is not regarded by the Wheat Board as being either practicable or equitable. The matter is one for the consideration of the State Governments.
asked the Assistant Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice - .
Will he state what rail, freight, and handling charges amount to per bushel on the 1915-16 wheat crop?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Payment or Masseurs and Masseuses
asked the Assistant Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
In view of the large number of returned soldiers and other workers who will be out of employment after the conclusion of the war, and also the necessity for reducing the cost of clothing, which is ever increasing in consequence of the shortage of shipping, will the Government consider the urgent necessity of at once making full inquiry in regard to the establishment of works in Australia for the manufacture of the raw material for clothing, and thus provide employment, and also reduce the cost of living?
– There are already a large number of mills manufacturing clothing materials, and the Government have recently been able to arrange for the establishment of a plant for manufacturing yarn from raw wool.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
With reference to applications for old-age pensions and invalid pensions, where a claim is not allowed and the applicant is unable to earn a living, will the Minister instruct his Department to arrange for such applicants to enter the Benevolent Asylum at Cheltenham, or any similar institution, where the applicant could be under supervision?
– The Commonwealth Government have no power to compel charitable institutions to accept such per sons, and it is not considered that the Commonwealth Government can undertake any responsibility for the maintenance of persons who are not eligible for Commonwealth pensions.
asked the Assistant Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– Where damage or loss to ship-owners’ stores has occurred, which is proved to be the result of wilful or gross carelessness on the part of troops, a charge is made to cover such deficiencies. The money is paid by the Officer Commanding troops direct to the master of the vessel concerned before disembarkation. However, in order to minimize the possibility of hardship in this connexion, the Minister recently approved that where such damage does not exceed an average of 6d. per head, the cost is to be borne by the Commonwealth.
.- As a matter of privilege, I desire to bring under the notice of the House the interference of the military censor with the correspondence of members of this House. On the 23rd May, the following telegram was despatched from Broken Hill at 4.45 p.m.:-
Posse of police arrived this morning rounding up Italians. Made inquiries from captain. No naturalized men taken; others with wives and families being yarded up. Can you do anything in matter? Reply.
The message was received at the Melbourne General Telegraph Office at 6.50 p.m. on the same day. It was delivered to Parliament House, and, according to information I have since obtained, was received by an attendant, and placed on my box in the Labour room. While the House was sitting, the censor sent for that telegram. .It waa, delivered to his messenger, and held up until after the House adjourned on Friday evening, 24th inst. On the same date, the following telegram was despatched from Broken Hill at 7.40 p.m. :-
Military authorities arrested Italians here to-day. Big batch.
Entered in E.T.O. and issued 4.15 p.m., 24th.
It was received in Melbourne at 9.37 p.m. Both, telegrams were delivered to me after Parliament had adjourned on Friday, 24th inst. There are certain peculiarities in connexion with the messages, inasmuch as the first bears the ordinary post-office stamp, and is printed in ordinary typewritten characters, whereas the second telegram bears no post mark, is differently typed, and has the words : “ Entered in E.T.O., and issued 4.15 p.m. on the 24th inst.” Presumably that message came to me direct from the censor. The peculiarity I see in this action of the authorities is that whatever military reason existed on the 23rd May for interfering with the correspondence sent to me by my constituents should have held good on the 24th May. The obvious reason for the use of the censorship was to prevent me from bringing the matter referred to under the notice of members before the House adjourned on Friday. This is a scandalous abuse of the censorship. Honorable members, no matter on what side of the House they sit, cannot fail to resent such a gross interference on the part of the military authorities with correspondence addressed to members by their constituents. “We are told that the German Reichstag is dominated by the military, and we are rapidly learning that the military authority in Australia is being used, apparently, for the purpose of political party advantage. I am expectantly waiting for an explanation of this incident. To me there can be no reason for holding up these telegrains over Thursday and Friday, until Parliament had adjourned, other than a desire to prevent me bringing before the House the information they contained.
– I say that a telegram was placed on my box, and that on being sent for, presumably by the military censor, it was handed over to a messenger.
– Who took it from thebox?
– A messenger of this House.
– Under instructions from whom ?
– That is what I desire to ascertain.
– Such action should have been taken only by direction of Mr. Speaker.
– Quite so. A messenger of the House has no right to take instructions from any one outside this ‘building.
– No matter with whom the responsibility rests, the fact remains that the military authorities have interfered with my correspondence, and that they are able, apparently, to control the actions of individuals who should be under the control of Mr. Speaker alone.
– How does the honorable member know that?
– It is shown by the fact that a telegram addressed to me, after being delivered here, was removed from my box at the instance of the military censor. It is for Mr. Speaker and his officers to ascertain upon whom the responsibility rests. I shall ‘be interested to discover by what right the military authorities can obtain control of my correspondence once it has been delivered to officers of this House.
Wie have had forcefully brought before us another case where the military authorities seized and removed from the precincts of this House a reprint from Hansard. The time has come when honorable members, irrespective of their political differences of opinion, must take a firm stand against this arrogation of power on the part of the military. Is Australia ruledtoday by its duly-elected parliamentary representatives or by a military junta, with Senator Pearce at its head? When we ask a question in thi3 House in regard to the military censorship, we are told quite blandly that it will be looked into; but still this abuse of power by the military authorities goes on continuously. If this country is not to be absolutely, under tlie control of the military, this sort of thing must be stopped. If honorable members are not to be free to exercise their rights and privileges without such military interference as has occurred lately, then there can be no civil government; Senator Pearce and his military satellites must be the real rulers, and it is but a bit of make-believe that we are here as representatives of the people.
The telegrams which were interfered with referred to the seizure of forty-three Italians at Broken Hill on the 21st inst. ; but because of the interference of the military authorities with my correspondence I was unable to draw attention in this House to that scandalous abuse of the military power. The following is a translation of a letter from one of the fortythree Italians seized at Broken Hill: - “ Italians have been arrested from their homes without warning. Some were seized as they came off shift from the mines. Some of the men seized are married, with large families. They desired to, communicate with their wives and families. This was refused. One man who made application to see his wife was granted five minutes to settle all his family affairs. He was not allowed to go to his home, but had to see his wife at the prison.”
When the men arrived at Adelaide they were escorted from one train to another by Australian soldiers with fixed’ bayonets. At the present time the men are held under guard at Broadmeadows Military Camp as prisoners. Among the men are at least fifteen married. One is more than forty-six years of age. In two instances at least the wives of these men are Australians. These men, too, were torn from their families without ceremony.
When these men attempted, through their political representative, to bring this scandalous misuse of military authority before Parliament - the highest tribunal in the land - the military again interfered and, abusing their powers, seized a telegram on the subject addressed to me. Honorable members opposite will not always be in power, and if they wink at this abuse of military authority, I hope to be in this House when the Labour party returns to office-
– Do not make threats of that kind. Appeal to justice without making threats.
– I am not indulging in any threat. I am not assuming the role of dictator, but I hope I shall’ be in this House when the tables are turned.
– The honorable member is spoiling hi3 case in speaking like that.
– The honorable member is assuming that he knows what is in my mind and what I am going to say. What I was about to say when he interrupted was that I hope to be in this House when our party return to power, so that I may assist in clipping the wings of these military dictators, and in preventing a repetition of this kind of thing. If the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Fowler) had not tried to anticipate what I was about to say he probably would have agreed with instead of dissented from my statement. I hope that honorable members, no matter how their political prejudices may warp their sense of justice at the present time, will recognise that united action is necessary to stop this abuse of military power.
– Why does the honorable member assume that we .are against him?
– I can only judge people by their actions and utterances. 1 hope honorable members opposite will discuss this question, free from party considerations, and will recognise that the accumulated encroachments of the military authorities upon the civil power are alarming. As tlie elected representatives of the people, we should protect the rights and privileges of this House, and so insure the supremacy of the civil as opposed to the military power. The supremacy of the people’s representatives must be established. The military authorities should be put in their proper place. They should be under the control of the representatives of the people, and we should permit no interference with our rights and privileges. I move -
– Did I understand the honorable member for Barrier to say that correspondence addressed to him, and placed in his box in Parliament House, was demanded by the Censor, and that one of the House messengers, on such demand being made to him, handed over that correspondence to the Censor?
– I am not clear for the moment as to whether the two or only one of the telegrams to which I Lave referred were delivered here in the first instance. One, at all events, was sent here in the ordinary course, and delivered to one of our messengers, who, according to his own statement, as made to me in the presence of witnesses, pinned it on my box. Subsequently a messenger arrived, and asked for the return of the telegram. The telegram was handed to him, was sent back to the Telegraph Office, and held there until Parliament had adjourned on Friday afternoon.
– I can only say that this is the first I have heard of the incident. Whilst the honorable member was speaking I asked the responsible officers of the House if they had heard anything of it, and they informed me that until the honorable member had now brought it forward they knew nothing of it.
.- I desire to support the motion of the honorable member for Barrier (Mr. Considine), whose statement, I am sure, will be accepted by the Minister in charge of the House. There can be no doubt that a telegram addressed to him from Broken Hill has been intercepted by the Censor ; that it was sent to the House, and pinned to the honorable member’s box; and that subsequently a messenger of the House, when a telegraph officer asked for its return, handed it back to him, taking the request apparently as an instruction. What military necessity could demand a procedure of that kind? The Acting Prime Minister, when questioned recently in this House as to the right of individuals to petition Parliament, said that that right still existed, and I gathered from his remarks that he would resent any attempt to interfere with that right so long as the petition was couched in proper parliamentary language. It is the right of every elector to approach his parliamentary representative with a view to having a matter brought before Parliament. Certainly, it was irregular for an official of this House to return to a telegraph messenger a telegram which had been placed on a mem ber’s box. But the state of mind into which the officials of this House have got is due to the militarism of the administration. W)ill honorable members credit the statement that the reprints of a speech of the honorable member for Cook (Mr. Catts), which were seized by the military authorities, have never been returned to him, although a Court has decided that the honorable member was guilty of no offence in connexion with their publication ? The censorship which is being exercised amounts to tyranny. I believe, with the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey), that the censor, acting under instructions from the Minister for Defence, has listeners engaged, to intercept the telephone conversations which pass between members of the House. On one occasion, when I asked the telephone assistant for “ Brunswick 197,” there was a delay of a minute or two, and then the official inquired, “Did you want Brunswick?” I replied, “Yes, Brunswick.” Then came another wait, when the official asked again, “You wanted Brunswick 197?” The only explanation of that occurrence is that time was being wasted while a listener was being got to hear what was about to be said by the honorable member and myself. The censorship is being abused, and the best way to put a. stop to this abuse is to appoint the Select Committee asked for. I cannot think that the Government would oppose the motion. The honorable member for Barrier (Mr. Considine) does not wish to make this a party matter, and has proposed, so that there may be no party colour to the Committee, the appointment of three members from each side. I am prepared to go further, and, as one of those who have been nominated from this side of the House, to retire in favour of a member of the party opposite, ‘0 that the Committee ma)’ consist of four Ministerialists and two Oppositionists. All that we desire to ascertain is under whose instructions the Deputy Chief Censor acted, so that we may impeach the Minister who is responsible for what has occurred.
– The honorable member for Barrier (Mr. Considine) has failed to make out any case for his allegation of breach of privilege, and has given no reason why the House should take the action he proposes. What are the statements which he has1 put before us ? He alleges that, for purely political purposes, telegrams addressed to him were delayed so that he might not be able to use them in debate here.For that statement there is no foundation of fact; no Minister, and no one connected with the Government, gave any instruction concerning, or knew anything about, what was done. That there was Ministerial interference is the imagination of the honorable member.
– It is my charge.
– No evidence has been given to support such a charge, as the honorable member himself must admit.
– I do not admit it.
– What evidence is there to support the honorable member’s statement?
– The honorable member asked for an inquiry.
– That is not evidence in support of his charge. I say that there is no foundation for the statement that what happened was due to political action. The honorable member said that, in the ordinary course, certain telegrams were received by a messenger of the House and pinned on his box, and that, later, a messenger - probably a telegraph messenger - asked to have these telegrams given back, and the messenger gave them back. That is the whole case. What the reasons were for what was done I do not know They may have been purely departmental. There is nothing in the honorable member’s statement to show that the censor had anything to do with the matter. I do not know if he had anything to do with it.
– How do you explain the absence of an office stamp on one of the telegrams ? Does that not show that the telegram came direct from the censor’s office?
– I have not seen the marks on the telegrams. But no evidence has been put before us to show that the censor has done anything constituting a breach of the privileges of the House.
– It is known that the censor interfered in this case. Give us an inquiry and we will prove that.
– I have shown that the charge that what happened was done for political reasons is unfounded. Now let us consider the charge that there was a breach of the privileges of this House. Every member of the public has a right to communicate with members of Parlia ment. That right, however, does not diminish the right of the censor to exercise his powers in proper cases.
– Does the censor interfere with the honorable member’s correspondence ?
– That I do not know.. He may, or he may not; certainly he has the right to do so. Do honorable members claim as a matter of privilege that any communication sent to them from any source is exempt from the censorship ? I am not now discussing whether the exercise of the censorship in any particular case is wise or not. When the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Tudor) and the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Higgs) were Ministers, the censor had the right to interfere with members’ correspondence. He has had that right since the beginning of the war, and has it now.
– It has never before been exercised in the way complained of.
– I ask, Of what privi lege has there been a breach?
– Our correspondence should not be interfered with once it hasbeen delivered at this building.
– The privileges of honorable members are known and definite, and are not to be confounded with theconvenience of honorable members, or with their ideas of what is proper. An inquiry is asked into the breach of a privilege.
– Interference with the officials of the House.
– To constitute a breach of privilege such interference must be an interference with the officials of the House in the performance of their official duties. The honorable member for Barrier (Mr. Considine) has merely stated his suspicions.
– He has made out a prima facie case.
– He has not made out any case. I have shown that his charge of political interference is unfounded, and he has not established the existence of any privilege of which there hasbeen a breach.
– Why oppose the inquiry ?
– It is not usual to appoint Select Committees to deal with every little matter of this kind. The messengers of the House are under the control of Mr. Speaker, and their conduct can be inquired into by him. From what
I know of them, I say that not one of them would wilfully commit a breach of the privileges of honorable members. We have every confidence in their loyalty to us, irrespective of party.
– My charge is against the authorities outside.
– The honorable member said that a messenger came here and asked that a telegram which had been delivered might be given back to him, and I presume it was given back in perfect good faith.
– The charge is not against the messenger of the House.
– The telegram was got from the House messenger by a trick.
– There was no trick. According to the statement of the honorable member for Barrier (Mr. Considine) the telegram was asked for, and
Was given back. There is no need for an inquiry by a Select Committee in circumstances such as these, and there has not been shown any breach of privilege concerning which a Select Committee could inquire. To prove a breach of privilege you must first establish the existence of the privilege that has been broken. Honorable members opposite seem to claim for their correspondence, as a matter of right, exemption from censorship; but from the beginning of the war the censor has had the right to examine, in the interests of the nation, any correspondence of which he may be suspicious, and in this particular the correspondence of a member of Parliament is no more privileged than that of private persons. Is it necessary for the discharge of his parliamentary duties that a member’s correspondence should be treated differently from that of a private individual?
– But surely Parliament House is not in the same position as an ordinary building.
– My point is that, so far as their correspondence is concerned, members are in the same position as ordinary citizens. There was no breaking open of the doorsof this building, no raiding of the place, to get this telegram; according to the statement of the honorable member for Barrier (Mr. Considine), it was asked for and given back in the ordinary course.
– There might be a breach of a member’s rights without the breaking open of the doors of this building.
– What privilege has been broken?
– The withdrawal from this building, by some outside authority, of a member’s correspondence.
– That is a question of the authority possessed by the particular person who took it, to act in the way he did. The honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Tudor) says : “ Have we not the right to say what we like in this House? Of coursewe have. But that matter has nothing to do with the question at issue.
– My interjection was in answer to the statement that we did not possess any privilege over that of the public outside. I maintain that we have.
– Of course we have. At the time I was dealing merely with the. legal rights of censorship only. Honorable members have the right to say anything they like in the chamber, and they have many other rights which are the privilege of Parliament.
– Is it not an interference with (the privileges of the House when the papers or documents of members which are necessary for the discharge of their duties here are seized and carried away, so that they cannot be made use of?
– There was no seizure or taking away. The telegram, we are told, was sent up here and delivered to a messenger of the House, and a messenger came up and asked that it should be redelivered to him, and this was done.
– The telegram was put on the member’s box and seized.
– It was seized at the dictation of the military authorities.
– There is no charge of seizure. What evidence is there to show that what was done was done at the dictation of the military authorities?
Several honorable members interjecting,
– Order! Will honorable members allow the Minister to make his speech?
– The censor was entitled to see that telegram. He is entitled to see all telegrams that are passing through. The power to see such things is one that must be exercised in the national interest, and when it is exercised it cannot be regarded as a breach of any of our privileges.
– When a telegram has left the post-office to be delivered here, has it not already been passed by the censor?
– I do not know whether this telegram had passed the censor, but in the exercise of the powers vested in him, the censor is entitled to see these things. The honorable member has alleged that this action was taken for political purposes.
– The conduct of the censorship during the last few years has shown that it is political in character.
– So far as the Government are concerned, there was no political reason for the action taken. As a matter of fact the Government knew nothing about it. Whatever was done in this particular matter presumably was done by whoever did it in the ordinary course of carrying out his duties. It was not done by the instructions of the Government Olof any Minister of it. Therefore there is no necessity for the appointment of a Select Committee. The honorable member’s claim is based purely on the question of privilege, but no breach of privilege has been shown justifying the request for the appointment of a Commit-, tee. We have had a lot of wild talk from the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Higgs), who spoke of the tyranny of the censorship, but it is a very easy matter to make wide, vague statements, and use all sorts of epithets. We have had no illustrations put forward in proof of such assertions. Surely honorable members realize that there must be a censorship. All parties in this House agreed to the continuance of the exercise of the powers of censorship.
– That is not true.
– Every Government that has held office on these benches since the war broke out has exercised the authority of censorship.
– That is a misrepresentation.
– The honorable member knows that it is not a misrepresentation. It is to the credit of every Government that has held office that it has properly exercised the censorship.
-. - The honorable member is trying to represent that matters of this sort were agreed to by all parties. That statement is not true.
– I am trying to represent nothing of the sort. I am pointing out that the power of exercising a censorship has existed from the beginning of the war, that it is an inherent power, and that no person in the community is exempt from it if, in the interests of the public safety, it is considered necessary to* exercise it. This exercise has been acquiesced in. The request for the appointment of a Committee seems to be based by some on a vague idea that this building has a sort of sanctity about it, immediately any person steps into it he is free from the operation of the law, and is a superior person, possessing greater rights and privileges than belong to persons outside. Parliament is certainly a body of very high standing, and it has very great privileges. It must have them, otherwise it could not carry out its. duties properly. An honorable member cannot in certain circumstances be threatened outside in order to compel him to take certain action here. He cannot -be attacked or assaulted in. order to compel him to any course of action. The absolute freedom of his conscience and judgment in this Houseis secured to him. People outside have no right to threaten or compel by force honorable members t» exercise their votes in - this Chamber in. any particular direction. Some of my friends opposite ought to be asking whether interference by outside bodies with their duties here might not be a breach of privilege. However, I do not wish to take up the time of.’ the House unnecessarily. The honorable member has failed to make out any case for the appointment of a Select Committee. Furthermore, he has not proposed to constitute the Committee in the ordinary way, upon the representation of parties in the House.
– Is that the only objection t
– No; that objection does not count. The real substantial reasons against the motion are those which I have already given. Thehonorable member has made out no. case whatever justifying the appointment of a Committee. He has failed, to establish the elementary facts which are* generally required before a Committee of. this kind is appointed.
– I regret exceedingly that the Ministry will not grant this inquiry. It is all very well for the Minister to say that no case has been made out. Any person can make out a case against the censorship as it is being administered at the present time. I regret the absence of the PostmasterGeneral. He might explain why one of his officers, at the dictation of the censor, has come to this House and received a telegram back. If there was anything wrong in the telegram, why was it not prevented from being delivered ? Honorable members know what happens when a telegram is delivered during a member’s absence. If the House messenger has reason to believe that the member is likely to return soon, he does not telephone the message to his private house, but puts a pin through it and places it outside his correspondence box, so that it may not be covered up by any other documents, and so that it will be seen at once on the member’s return to the House. That practice has been followed by messengers of the House for the last seventeen years, and, so far as I know, all the messengers in the employ of Parliament are absolutely impartial, and their dealings with honorable members have been absolutely free of party considerations. Had that telegram been delivered at the private home of the honorable member for Barrier-
– His wife would have opened it, would she not?
– I do not know.
– Order ! It is impossible for me to follow honorable members speaking when honorable members generally continue to make audible comments. Sometimes the honorable member speaking is unable to get out a single sentence without a series of audible comments from one side or the. other being made. I hope that this practice will cease.
– Before leaving the House I have often asked messengers to open any telegrams that might come addressed to me, and repeat them over the telephone to me, so that I could be in a position to deal with them at once. Probably other honorable members have adopted the same practice. The telegram to the honorable member for Barrier could have been repeated over the telephone to his home.
– I was in the chamber at the time.
– I am rather surprised that the telegram was not sent in to him in the chamber. Probably the messengers thought that the honorable member was out of the building, and they placed the message in his box, believing that he would soon return and get it. The Minister claims that the Committee, as proposed, does not represent the proportion of parties in the House. I think I can say, on behalf of the honorable member for Barrier, that the Government can appoint their own Committee. So long as they appoint the honorable member affected on the “Committee they can appoint all the other members of it from their own side.
– The Government might be able to ascertain the facts without the appointment of a Committee. As a matter of fact, the honorable member for Barrier might first have asked a question in regard to the matter.
– While a Minister was reading a statement this afternoon I saw the honorable member for Barrier in consultation with the Acting Prime Minister. They were sitting together for at least ten minutes, and I understand that the honorable member supplied the Acting Prime Minister with a statement of the case. I do not know what the Acting Prime Minister said in reply.
– He could not give an answer straight away.
– I am aware of that, but I do not think that the Government would do themselves any injury if they acceded to the request which has been made. The Minister for Works and Railways has said that it is purely a departmental matter - that if the postal authorities thought they had wrongly delivered the telegram, they should have power to recall it. But if the telegram had been wrongly delivered, why should it be redelivered to the honorable member for Barrier (Mr. Considine) next day ? I myself have a telegram which came from Sydney yesterday, mutilated in transmission, and bearing an ordinary rubber stamp of the words “ Correction to follow.” However, there is no doubt that this telegram was withheld for some reason, and if it was a military reason, why should not the honorable member for Barrier be informed what it is?
– I do not desire a private explanation.
– No ; I can quite understand that the honorable member desires to have a statement made on the floor of the House. If the military authorities will not allow any telegrams referring to - I do not want to say the “ rounding up “ of Italians;-
– I do not .want to use that word either; but if the Department will not permit any telegrams referring to this seizure of Italians, with a view to sending them overseas, let the fact be stated. The Minister for “Works and Railways (Mr. Groom) says practically that the censor is right in doing all thing3 of this kind.
– I do not say that.
– At any rate, the Government are backing up the censor in what he i3 doing, although the other day the Acting Prime Minister admitted across the table that the way in which the censorship is being administered is absolutely foolish.
– I pointed out very distinctly that I was discussing the legal question as to right; but not the question of the exercise of discretion.
– Some common sense 13 wanted in the censor’s office.
– It is badly wanted, for it is one of the worst-administered sections of the Defence Department; and that is saying a great deal. A conference of editors was called by the Government, and it was decided that the only pews prohibited should be military news which might prove advantageous to the enemy or hurtful to our Allies ; but immediately after that conference I showed in this House that the censorship was being used for personal military reasons - militaryfriendship 2’easons, as they might be called. The statement I made was censored; but when I handed it to the Acting Prime Minister, he said there was absolutely nothing in it that was not innocuous. At the Conference at Government House, when the question of the censorship was under discussion, and several cases were cited, the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) said he did not stand there as a protagonist for the censor, and that if he had been in my position he would have said much stronger things than I had done. On that occasion the Premier of New South Wale3 instanced a case where the censorship had been used for political reasons, and a further instance was provided later by the Prime Minister himself, who had caused a statement made in the Senate by. Senator Millen to be censored because he, the Prime Minister, wished to deliver it himself subsequently in the House of Representatives. At the Conference Mr. Holman asked the Prime Minister whether it was true that he had used the censorship for such a purpose, and the Prime Minister admitted that he had. It is safe to say that there was not one man at that Conference who could defend the action of the censors. If there is a vote taken on this motion, I hope it will not ‘be on party lines; but that honorable members will act iu accordance with what they consider to be right. As to the case cited particularly by the honorable member for Barrier (Mr. Considine), the censor could easily have obtained a copy of the telegram from the postal authorities.
– Was the telegram subsequently delivered ?
– What is the explanation ?
– There is no explanation ; and now the Government refuses an inquiry.
– How many days .afterwards was the telegram delivered?
– Not until after the House adjourned on the Friday.
– And it was received on the Thursday night. For the benefit of honorable members, who were not present when the honorable member for Barrier made his statement, I may say that the telegram, consisting of thirtyseven words, was despatched from Broken Hill on the Thursday at 4.45 p.m., and was received here at &.50 p.m. That was in the dinner-hour, when, I believe, the telegraph office in the building is open. At any rate, even if the telegram had to come from the General Post Office, it ought to have been here before 8 o’clock but, as we know, the honorable member did not receive it until the following day. The telegram was taken by a messenger here in the ordinary course of his work, and pinned on to the door of the honorable member’s locker. If the censor .did think it necessary to keep a copy of the telegram, surely the member for the district had the right to know what was going on, so that he might make inquiries from the Acting Prime Minister or the Minister for Defence? In these matters, we should do everything to avoid creating cases of hardship, and causing dissension in the community. Here, however, these miners, in their working clothes, were seized, and, without being given an opportunity to go to their homes, sent away by train on to Melbourne, and, I presume, on to Sydney. Surely all the circumstances show good reason for inquiry.
– Was it the censor who did all this?
– There was no one else who could have done it. We all know that not a word that is said here or elsewhere in reference to the seizures of Italians is allowed to appear in any newspaper in Australia. The reporters upstairs, and in the Inter-State press galleries, will not report one line of this debate; and that is according to the instructions that have gone forth. All the same, the whole* of the debate will appear in the 7,500 copies of Hansard that are circulated. It would appear really that all this is done by direction of the_ Minister for Defence, because it is a military matter; but in the case of a member’s telegram, it is surely not for the Minister to act in the way he has.
The Government really make a confession of weakness when they refuse an inquiry, because this shows that they feel there may be something to hide: The Minister for Works and Railways ‘ takes the attitude that there is no need for an inquiry, and speaks of the composition of the suggested Committee; but if the honorable gentleman likes, let him stipulate for five members of the Committee from the Government side, always provided the honorable member for Barrier is appointed with them. What has occurred in the case of the honorable member for Barrier to-day may occur to any honorable member to-morrow; and I ask the House to approve of a Select Committee, so that we may have an inquiry, and, perhaps, some commonsense instilled into the censor’s department.
.- If the honorable member for Barrier (Mr. Considine) has made no mistake about the information he has placed before the House, I have no hesitation in saying that there has been a breach of the privileges of members. I cannot understand how a telegram delivered to a member’s private box can be withdrawn by any authority outside Parliament. I understand that not even the Postmaster-General or any of his officials can demand back a letter or telegram that has been handed to the person to whom it was addressed. Therefore, if any House attendant gave out a telegram to anybody he committed an error of judgment. But the ugliest feature of the case is that the telegram could have no military significance whatever, and if the censor has prevented the telegram from being delivered to the honorable member it would appear that either he has been acting outside his definite instructions, or for some reason or other those instructions have, in this case at any rate, exceeded what are usually regarded as the directions to be followed by the censors throughout Australia. To my mind, it is a very serious matter indeed that a telegram sent by electors in any part of Australia should be withheld from their member in the manner in which this telegram is reported .to have been withheld. Therefore, I feel that some inquiry into this matter is highly necessary. I do not wish to discuss the censorship at large. Undoubtedly it has not been too well managed in the past, and blunders and excesses have been committed which in ordinary circumstances would not be tolerated for a moment. Many instances of the ineptitude of the censorship have been brought under my notice, but I have refrained from dealing with them, except to make a protest privately in regard to some incidents. But the matter before the House is one which we cannot afford to ignore altogether. I do not agree, however, that an inquiry such as has been suggested is the proper course to adopt. You, Mr. Speaker, are the custodian of the rights and privileges of Parliament, and I feelsure that if the matter is left in your hands you will inquire into it and report upon the facts as you find them. If you report that an outrage such as the honorable member for Barrier has complained of has been committed, I shall’ be prepared to take such action as is necessary, and I presume that the majority of members will be prepared to assert the privileges of Parliament, even against the Government, if necessary, though I do not think that the Government has anything to do with this matter. The incident which was related to us to-day is but another illustration of the officiousness and ineptitude of this wretched branch of the Defence Department, which apparently is allowed an almost unlimited length of rope* I shall not vote for the motion for the reasons I have stated, but shall await with interest the report of Mr. Speaker, and if he advises to the effect I have indicated I shall be prepared to take any steps that may be necessary to vindicate Parliament against outrages of this kind.
.- I should have thought that if there is any matter at all that might be discussed apart from the limitation of party bias, it is the question of the privileges of honorable members, not because of the special claims which honorable members make for themselves, but because of their representative character, and because - and this is a reason which should appeal to the Government - the preservation of parliamentary privileges is one of the oldest and most highly respected traditions of British parliamentary government. If the facts stated by the honorable member for Barrier are correct, does the action of the censor Constitute a breach of parliamentary privilege ? I cannot but believe that the Minister addressed himself to this question as though he sat at the table with a brief handsomely marked to expound the views of the party which had retained him rather than as one in whom was reposed the trust of putting the question fairly before honorable members. It is alleged that a telegram addressed to an honorable member was conveyed by the ordinary and proper methods to this House, and placed on the private box of that honorable member by a House messenger. For all practical purposes the telegram was delivered to the honorable member in the House for parliamentary use. Subsequently that telegram was taken from off the honorable member’s box, and we are told that that action was not a breach of privilege. I do not believe that the Minister would stake his legal repu tation on the contention that the removal of that telegram does not constitute a breach of one of the recognised privileges of Parliament. One of the basic privileges of honorable members is that nothing must be done within the precincts of Parliament to interfere with the deliberations of honorable members. To-day we have an allegation that a document which might have been, and probably was, of the first importance to the deliberations of honorable members was impounded by » some exterior body, purloined, and taken away. It is quite clear to me that if correspondence may be taken from the box of an honorable member, members themselves may 1 be intercepted on their way to the debating chamber, and documents which they hold for reproduction in the House may be impounded, their remarks made sterile and useless, and members themselves rendered in that way incapable of stating the views of themselves and their constituents. Nothing, can be clearer than that the action of the censor was a direct interference with the fundamental right .of honorable members to address themselves to any question in this House. It is said that we have not proved that the telegram was removed other than perhaps in the ordinary way by a representative of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department. All that the honorable member for Barrier has to do is to make out a good primâ facie case in order to establish his right ‘to an inquiry of some sort.
– Who restored the telegram ?
– I do not know; it was in my box.
– Has the honorable member a good primâ fade case ? A telegram came to the House relating to a matter which the censor says may not be referred to outside of the House, namely, the forcible deportation of Italians. We have protested against the refusal of the authorities to allow the matter to be discussed outside of Parliament; we have said that it ought to be so discussed. But the censor, in the exercise of his autocratic powers, and utilizing a subservient Minister for his own purpose, has decided that the matter must neither be discussed outside nor referred to in’ any publication other than Hansard. That was the subjectmatter of the telegram which was addressed to the honorable member for Barrier. That is the first suspicious fact in establishing the honorable member’3 primâ facie case. The second fact is that, with but one precedent in this House, a document belonging to an honorable member was seized and taken away, and this constitutes the third ground of the honorable member’s case, and it is, that the only similar abuse that has been perpetrated was when officers of the censorship removed from this building the papers belonging to the honorable member for Cook (Mr. Catts).
– We do not have a war like this every year.
– We do not. And, as another honorable member interjects, “Thank the Lord for that” - for many reasons, and, amongst others, for the fact that this war has been made by members of the present Government the excuse for the exercise of party politics through the censorship in a peculiarly ignoble way. The three points I have mentioned are the basis of the honorable member’s prima facie case. The mere fact that a document belonging to an honorable member has been taken away is in itself ground for inquiry. The matter referred to in the telegram is one which the censorship had prevented from being mentioned outside of Parliament; that is another ground for inquiry. And the delivery of the telegram was delayed until after the House rose on Friday last, and until the work in connexion with tha arrest of Italians had been accomplished. I should like very much to have the history of those telegrams placed before the House. Might we not well know who came to the House and took away a document belonging to the honorable member for Barrier ? Might we not well know where one of these telegrams was typewritten, and where the mysterious words, “Entered E.T.O. and issued 4.15 p.m.” were written upon it ? I think it is clear enough that one of these telegrams was issued from the censor’s office. What we have to submit to at the hands of the censor in connexion with non-parliamentary publications is bad enough, but it is useless for us to blame the censorship staff. I do not blame them. I know that some honorable members have applied to the censor for permission to print certain things. I shall never demean myself bv approaching the censor for permission to print anything. I hold the Government entirely responsible for all that the censor has done, and for having for the first time in British history played the party game by the exercise of the military machine. And the most potent arm of that machine is that by which they have hidden away the opinions of men who differ from them. The Minister has said that the honorable member for Barrier has not technically made out a case of breach of privilege, and that he could quote page, section, and verse from May to show that the honorable member has not proceeded in the proper way to establish the charge which he has brought forward. Whether that be so or not, is it not worth while to get at the history of a matter that threatens the basis of parliamentary government and the rights of the people outside? After all, we are only the spokesmen of the people: We do not ask for privileges for ourselves, but we do ask for them as representatives of the people, and for that reason I hope that the Government will drop their severely technical attitude on this matter and endeavour to arrive at the truth of a scandal that threatens the. well-being cf our parliamentary institutions.
– The honorable member who has just resumed his seat went far beyond the question which is directly involved in the case mentioned by the honorable member for Barrier; indeed, the motion itself exceeds the particular allegation of breach of privilege which the House has been asked to consider. The honorable member for Barrier has assumed two things: firstly, that the action complained of was taken by the censor; whether that is so or not I cannot say, and he cannot give us any information on the subject. His second assumption is that there was bad faith on the part of the Government.
– I say that they are responsible for the action of the censor.
– The honorable member seemed to go further, and to directly charge the Government with bad faith in the’ matter. He seemed to charge them with having, for their own purposes, deliberately delayed the delivery of . this telegram. To that extent he has largely spoilt his case. In the discussion of this matter we are very much in the dark. It seems extraordinary that such an incident should have occurred; and I quite agree that it should form the subject of “ inquiry, so that we may ascertain what the facts are. I understand that Mr. Speaker is prepared to make an inquiry, and after we have received his report on the facts, we ‘should be able to decide whether a breach of privilege has been committed.
– But Mr. Speaker’s jurisdiction does not extend far enough.
– His jurisdiction would enable him to ascertain the facts with regard to this telegram, and it is the facts that we desire to elicit.
– But he cannot inquire into the actions of tlie censor.
– He could ascertain the time at which the telegram was delivered, the reason why it was taken away, by whose instructions it was removed, and whether or not there was direct intervention on the part of the censor. .These are all matters upon which we need to have some information before arriving at a determination. The honorable member for Barrier (Mr. Considine) desires, however, to go far beyond tlie facts relating to his own particular case. His motion is a distinct reflection upon the Government, and one that they could not in any circumstances accept. It proposes, not a direct inquiry as to whether a breach of privilege has taken place in his own case, but an inquiry into the whole question of the censorship, for which the Government are directly responsible.
– And I also want to know why my letters from Broken Hill are not delivered in the morning instead of in the afternoon.
– We are entitled to know whether any breach of privilege has been committed. If there has been a breach of privilege, then the honorable member has, of course, a right to complain. His motion, however, is in direct contravention of the decision of the House upon a motion submitted a little while ago, in which a similar inquiry was demanded. If my honorable friend desires an inquiry into his case, which seems extraordinary and anomalous, he has a right to have it. Mr. Speaker has undertaken to make an inquiry, since th’e matter comes directly within his jurisdiction.
– His inquiry will only substantiate my statements with regard to the action of officers of this House.
– But the honorable member has gone further, and has charged the censor with having removed his private correspondence from this House. We have a right to learn whether the seizure was by direction of the censor or not. On the face of it, the telegram seems to be quite innocuous ; but before we can arrive at a determination, the facts must be ascertained. I would therefore urge the honorable member to withdraw his motion, and to leave the making of the inquiry to Mr. Speaker.
– What inquiry could he make into the censor’s actions ?
– He could report whether or not the telegram was handed back by direction of the censor.
– And if it were found that such was the case, would honorable members opposite support the request for a Committee of Inquiry ?
– I would.
– In that event there would be cast upon the Government the responsibility of giving the matter very full consideration. I understand that the Acting Prime Minister has already made such a promise in regard to the censorship. ‘I can only say, in conclusion, that this House has a right to be placed in possession of the facts before it is asked to determine whether or not any breach of privilege has been committed.
– Apart from the matter . of complaint which is the basis of the motion now before the House, I have no hesitation in saying that once a letter or telegram has been placed in any honorable member’s correspondence-box in this House, no one i3 entitled to interfere with it without the consent of the Speaker or of the honorable member to whom it is addressed. Whether there has been such interference in this case, I am unable at present to say; but, quite apart from any decision which the House may arrive at concerning this motion, I shall deem it my duty, in the light of the honorable member’s statement, to have an independent inquiry into the whole of the circumstances, so far as the officers of the House are concerned. Beyond that, of course, I cannot go.
.- It cannot be denied that once a telegram has been delivered, and has so passed out of the custody of the telegraph office, it is the property of the individual to whom it is addressed. In this case the telegram was delivered to a messenger in this House. Subsequently a telegraph messenger, I understand, was sent along by some one to ask for the return of the telegram, and by this trick it was secured. If it had been delivered to the honorable member’s private residence, iit would, no doubt, have been opened. immediately, and action could have been taken upon it. When honorable members are away from home they usually arrange for some one to open any telegrams addressed to them. The return of this message was secured by a trick worthy of the vile system of censorship in operation here. I do not blame the officers. They have to carry out their instructions; it is the vile system of censorship of which I complain. We all know how strict is the control exercised by the Post and. Telegraph Department over a letter or any postal matter intrusted to it for delivery. On two occasions I have had to take action to secure the return of a letter after it had been posted. In one case it was most important that the letter should not be delivered. I secured its return to the person who had posted it, but only with the greatest difficulty. The sender had to make a sworn declaration before he could have it handed over to him, and, having made the desired alterations in it, he once more posted it. If the PostmasterGeneral’s Department exercises such strict control over a letter once it is placed in a pillar box, is it not reasonable to expect equal care in the delivery of a telegram ? In this case the telegram had been delivered. The Minister for Works and Railways (Mr. Groom) indulged in a legal quibble-
– I suppose the honorable member is aware that the law holds that the posting of a letter is proof of its delivery to the person to whom it is addressed?
– I thank my honorable friend, whom I regard as a jurist, for his interjection. The safe custody of letters intrusted to it for delivery i3 regarded by the Postal Department as a sacred duty. When two Italians lost their lives owing to interference with letters in the British Post Office, the late Mr. Gladstone, in a most eloquent speech, declared that he would take steps to see that the proper care of a letter, once it was posted, should be regarded as a sacred duty of the Department. I do not know of what the Government .are afraid in this ©ase. Are they seeking to hide something of which they are ashamed? Honorable members will admit that the censorship is at times not only cruel but absolutely idiotic. The censor in Sydney will allow newspapers to publish matter which the censor in Melbourne will not permit to be published here, and vice versa. Sometimes the great daily newspapers publish a paragraph in defiance of the censor, and not much notice is taken of their action; but if some little newspaper, struggling for existence, dares to do anything of the kind, its publisher is fined. The managers of the Sydney Bulletin recently said to the censor, “ If you will not allow thi3 matter to be published, our paper will not go out.” The result was that the censor did not dare to carry out his threat. I recognise that in time of war a censorship may be of great use; but it ought to be administered in a sensible way. The Minister for Works and Railways cannot, - by mere sophistry or legal quibbles, get away from the facts. There can be no doubt that two mistakes have been made in thi3 case. Every honorable member will agree that censorship of any postal matter should take place before delivery of that matter. If the censor found he had made a mistake, and did not want the honorable member for Barrier to have this information, there was a certain course open to him. These Italians have been treated in an infamous way. It is an infamy that they should have been removed from Broken Hill without preparation, herded in second class carriages without any attention being paid to their food requirements, and not allowing their wives, possibly Australianborn girls, to have five minutes in which to say good-bye to them. This is what has happened in a country which on two occasions has declared against conscription, and will, when it has the opportunity, replace members opposite by others of a different opinion. The Government has allowed itself to be made the tool of the Italian Government.
– I ask the honorable member not to go into that question.
– The importance of the telegram is known to every member who heard it read. Could any more generous offer be made than that of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Tudor), who said, “ Let the Government appoint a Committee of six members, choosing if it likes five of its own supporters, the sixth to be the honorable member for Barrier (Mr. Considine).” Sooner or later the party of the minority becomes the party of the majority, and what members opposite do now may recoil on them in the future. A Government supported by a large majority does not always hold the balance level, and of late this Government has not been doing so. I remember the days when Liberalism was honoured in the Parliament of Victoria, and every member of that body would have supported the Speaker in such noble and splendid action as yours, Mr. Speaker, in connexion with the recent case of privilege; but the majority differed from me on the occasion to which I refer. I do not know what will happen in this instance ; but members will regret any whittling away of the privileges of Parliament. I do not look at this matter from a party point of view. At a time like this, much should be excused, but that should make the Government the more careful to do justice to all. If it were widely known that telegrams and letters are not safe from interference after delivery to the addressee, the public would complain bitterly. Even, the press has spoken definitely, though guardedly, of the infamy, of the censorship, although the large newspapers have been given privileges which have been denied to the small newspapers. Members generally will admit that all newspapers should be treated alike ; but the small newspapers have been rigorously kept down. I know from actual knowledge that the officers of the Censor’s Department in Victoria and in New South Wales regret some of the orders which’ they have to obey, and would not act as they do except under compulsion. But they have to carry out their duties. I have never received anything but the utmost courtesy from these officers, who have not personally resented criticism in most severe terms. They have told me that the orders which they receive are sometimes such as they think should not be given. I was* glad to hear you say, Mr. Speaker, that you will have an inquiry made. I corrected the honorable member for Kooyong (Sir Robert Best), because I knew that he was speaking in error. I shall vote for the inquiry, as I shall always vote for an inquiry where a wrong is alleged to have been committed. Every member, without regard to political opinions, should support the proposal of the honorable member for Barrier. To-morrow it may be a member opposite who may have cause for complaint. Should the motion not be’ carried, a majority of the House may, after your inquiry, Mr. Speaker, feel that a further inquiry should be made to ascertain who used a telegraph messenger to regain by a trick a telegram which had been delivered at this building.
Sitting suspended from 6.28 to 7.45 p.m.
– I was very pleased to hear Mr. Speaker define his duties in respect to guarding zealously the privileges of honorable members of this House, and his statement concerning the limitations of his power to deal with the matter raised by the honorable member for Barrier (Mr. Considine). It makes the case of the honorable member all the stronger, and shows that the honorable member’s motion should command the sympathetic support of honorable members opposite. The suggested personnel of the Committee indicates that there is no intention of making this matter a party question; and as the expressions of honorable members con’cerning the censorship show that there is general dissatisfaction in regard to it, it would be a wise step on the part of the House to have an inquiry into it based upon the grievance set out by the honorable member for Barrier. ‘ The honorable member for Kooyong (Sir Robert Best) seemed to be under the impression that Mr. Speaker had adopted a certain attitude which really was not the attitude assumed by him. Mr. Speaker has intimated that he merely intends to make inquiries regarding the fact that an officer of the House may have had something to do with the removal of a telegram from the box of the honorable member for Barrier, and find out who is to blame in that regard. But there, so far as he is concerned, the matter must stop. We want it to go further. Our complaint is not against a messenger of the House, who may have done something on the spur of the moment.
– Mr. Speaker’s investigation would indicate who directed the messenger to take away the telegram again.
– The suggestion of the honorable member seems to be a method of side-tracking the real issue. It also means delay, one of those delays which are dangerous. Even the honorable member will admit that he is not satisfied with the manner in which the censorship is being conducted. I know that he will not commit himself to an affirmative reply to my suggestion, but I can take it that his silence and his smile mean his consent.
– I doubt very much that the censor did anything such as the honorable member for Barrier claims he has done.
– I have not much doubt about it. At any rate, the truth could very easily be elicited by the proposed committee, and whatever may be done will be done not only in the interests of honorable members of this House, but also in the interests of the public generally. Every reputable journal in Australia has complained from time to time of the peculiar methods adopted by the censor, and yet the Government allow him to continue in his course of action, not only robbing honorable members of privileges, but also robbing the public and the press of privileges which they have enjoyed from time immemorial. Of course, every one admits that there are things which should not be published from the house-tops, and that the publication of things “which would help the enemy or injure us in the conduct of the “war should not be allowed, but it seems to many of us that the censor is employing certain methods as if he were using a political arm. It is strange that all the complaints come from this side of the House; it is strange that if any documents are scrutinized or detained the sufferers are always members on this side of the House. Outside it is just the same. All the prosecutions are against men on our side of politics. Everything is done to deprive us of privileges which we have enjoyed. If honorable members opposite were on this side of the chamber they would be much more vociferous in raising complaints than we are against the treatment which is being meted out to us. The honorable member for Barrier has brought forward a substantial grievance. More than that, it is a substantial wrong against an honorable member on this side of the House, and it is the duty of every honorable member to come to his assistance and release him from the position in which he has been placed by the censor. We never know when the censor may make a slip. I could understand the honorable member for Kooyong making things very lively if a letter of his were detained. Things are done in Australia which are not tolerated or done in Great Britain. The freest discussion is permitted in New Zealand, not only inside the Dominion Parliament, but also among the public outside. Advice was recently given and published at Christchurch to men who had been called up in batches which, if it had been given in Australia, would have been called’ sedition, and would have led to arrests all round. The freest discussion is permitted in New Zealand. Itis the safety valve of every community.
It is time we inquired into the peculiar fashion in which the censor has dealt with many of the matters that have come before him. I complain of the light and airy way in which the Minister for Works and Railways received the motion. He tried to side-track it. He tried a form of special pleading. He tried everything except arguments dealing with the special point at issue. When such an important motion was submitted to the House, if the Minister in charge for the time being was not prepared on behalf of the Government to consent to the request put forward in that motion, surely he could have suggested some other method of inquiry but that of referring the matter to Mr. Speaker, whose powers in that direction are so limited. We believe that the Speaker will zealously guard the privileges of the House so far as he is able to do so, but his arm is not long enough nor is it strong enough to go outside the House and bring the censor to book.
– He can inquire into the facts.
– Only into a small portion of them.
– The officer of the House can say where he got his instructions.
– Butwe must go further than that. The honorable member in making his suggestion admits that there is something in this matter beyond the mere action on the part of a messenger of the House.
– The honorable member could have obtained that information by applying for it at the Postal Department.
– It is not the post office that is concerned. We believe that the Defence authorities had something to do with the matter. The censor* is under the control of the Minister for Defence.
– There is no evidence that the censor did -it.
– If the honorable member will do us the justice of voting for an inquiry he will very soon ascertain who was responsible, and when he does I believe that he will be one of the first to say that the main who would do such a thing should be displaced from his position.
– Mr. Speaker will find it out just as quickly.
– I have endeavoured to point out that Mr. Speaker by his clear and concise statement has shown that he was prepared to inquire fully into the matter, because a complaint had been made in regard to an officer of the House, but that all he could do was to report that an officer had done something at the request of some other person’.
– That is what the honorable member wishes to ascertain.
– We wish to ascertain who that other person is. If it came to the point that some person - the censor, to wit - was responsible -for a certain official, either of the Defence Department or of the Postal Department, making a request of a messenger of the House, would the honorable member be prepared to vote for another Committee to take further action 1
– I think it is very probable that further ‘action’ would be taken.
– There should be no indefiniteness about the nature of the action to be taken. We are in possession of certain knowledge which shows that there is need for further inquiry than that which Mr. Speaker jean make, and that the House should consent to the proposal put forward by the honorable member for Barrier, or amend it so that the information we desire to obtain may be elicited. A very magnanimous and generous offer has been made by the Leader of the Opposition. We are so far removed from making this a party question, and so de sirous of having a proper inquiry made in regard to this very unjustifiable interference with a member’s correspondence, that he has told the Government that if they make the committee a committee of six they can have five members on it, or that they can have six members if there are seven members on the committee. If honorable members are desirous of putting a stop to interference with members’ correspondence, -they should certainly assent to this proposal. Nobody i can make a party question out of it.
– It is not a members’ question so much as it is a people’s question.
– That is true. We are here as representatives of the people; we are their mouthpieces. If we are denied the right to receive information sent to us for the purpose of ventilating certain grievances and hardships inflicted on any section of the community, surely it is a serious interference with the deliberations of this House.
– The honorable member is premature. The case has not been proved against the censor.
– Is the honorable member prepared to consent to such a condition of affairs? Surely the morale of our Parliament has descended to a low ebb when we are ready to allow an outside man, under the control of the military authorities, to do what he likes with our correspondence.
– Let us first have Mr. Speaker’s report.
– That is the proper method.
– It is not the proper method. Mr. Speaker has already pointed out how far he can go.
– Then we can go further afterwards.
– Will we? The honorable member thinks that if he can put this off a day or two that the honorable member for Barrier may forget to bring it up again, and as the time is so short before the end of the present sittings of the House, he may let it go altogether.
– He may be censored himself by that time.
– There is no telling. An honorable member who may be coming into the chamber with- a letter or a piece of information in his hand, which has just reached him in the previous postal delivery from his constituency, may be accosted in the “corridor, and told that he has a letter in his hand from suchandsuch a person, and must deliver it up. He may be compelled to do so by moral suasion, or by force, or perhaps a military contingent may demand its surrender. We are frittering away our privileges, and we are very foolish if we permit it. From every section of the community there is a cry for delivery from tile iron heel of the censor. The censorship was one of the matters dealt with at the recent Conference at Government House, and a promise was made that the community would be delivered from its undue rigour ; but, so far from there being any relief, it is found that members’ telegrams and letters are not safe, although these may be necessary in the performance of their parliamentary duties. We are com>ing to a sorry pass when this kind of thing is tolerated. The Minister for Home and Territories (Mr. Glynn), who is at present in charge of the House, is admittedly prepared to deal out even-handed justice; and I appeal to him, as a member of the “ Cabinet of all the talents,” to see that the promise made at that Conference is kept. It is about time that the Ministry set out to honour some of their promises, and this promise in particular. We on this side seem to be the chief sufferers, since the great volume of criticism and complaint comes from the Labour side. I do not know whether we are made the special subjects of the censor’s efforts, but it would appear that the honorable member for Barrier, who has often complained, is being made to “ sit up.” Personally, I cannot account for the way in which that honorable member has been treated.
– They have made me <c stand up.”
– And the honorable member has stood up, not only for his own rights, but for the rights of every member of the House. I hope that the Ministry will not treat the matter lightly and that honorable members on both sides will, in fairness to the House and the public, make an effort to mitigate the unjust methods of the censor by sanctioning a thorough inquiry.
– I am glad to hear the announcement of Mr. Speaker that, now the matter has been brought under his notice, he will have it sifted, so far as his powers go, and make a report to the House. Undoubtedly, the facts as disclosed by the honorable member for Barrier (Mr. Considine) involve a breach of privilege; and as to the justification or otherwise of that breach, it i3 for the Government to explain. The Ministry, or some one on their behalf, should have immediately shown a disposition to guard the interests of members, and show how far we are protected by our privileges. A telegram attached to the private locker of a member must be said to be in lids possession, and, if it is removed, it is taken from his possession. Two courses were open to the honorable member for Barrier : one to get in touch with Mr. Speaker and the Leader of the Government, or with the Deputy PostmasterGeneral, whose contract it was to deliver the telegram, and ascertain why the delivery had been cancelled. I do not say what course the honorable member should have taken, but these were the two open to him.
– I did the same as did the authorities - I took direct action.
– That I can quite understand, seeing that the honorable member is an apostle of “ direct action “ ; at any rate, he should have taken steps to vindicate the rights of honorable members. This is not a party question, for what is the case of the honorable member for Barrier to-day may be the case of any other honorable member tomorrow. I do not know the circumstances under which the telegram wa3 withdrawn.
– Neither do .we.
– That is all the more reason why we are all interested in seeing that, if the privileges of members are transgressed, there should be good reason given. If the subject-matter of the telegram was in any way suspect, it is for the censor, through the Government, to say so here. There is no honorable member worth his ‘ 1 salt ‘ ‘ who would allow a telegram to be taken from his private box without “raising Cain,” for if such action is not a breach of privilege, I do not know what is. However, Mr. Speaker, I accept your assurance that you will have the matter fully investigated, and report to the House. I shall anxiously await the result, expecting that if those investigations are not satisfactory from the point of view of this Chamber, the Governmentwill take some action to maintain our privileges.
Question put. The House divided.
Majority . . . . 15
Question so resolved in the negative.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 24th May, vide page 5139) :
Clause 2 -
The Treasurer may from time to time, under the provisions of the Commonwealth Inscribed Stock Act 1911-1915, or under the provisions of any Act authorizing the issue of Treasurybills, borrow moneys not exceeding in the whole the sum of £80,000,000.
.- I move as an amendment -
That the following words be added to the clause : - “ Provided that no further flotation shall take place until it has been ascertained, by proclamation or other effective means, what amount of money is obtainable for war purposes free of interest.”
We have not been given any information by the Government as to the conditions upon which this money is to be raised, except that the interest earned by the subscribers to the loan will be subject to income tax. No information has been given as to the rate of interest.
Mr.Corser. - Can the honorable member say what will be the state of the money market at any particular time?
– No ; but the honorable member and others have voted for a fixed rate of interest from time to time. For all loans but the last, the rate of interest was fixed at 4½ per cent. free of income tax, and the last was floated on the alternative conditions of 4½ per cent. free of income tax, or 5 per cent. subject to taxation. Honorable members know if we had had to go upon the London market at any time during the last twelve months we should have been obliged to pay more than 4½ per cent., and I contend that the Government should intimate to the House what rate of interest they propose to allow, and not wait for the interest to be fixed by the fluctuations of the market. If honorable members will peruse some of the recent legislation in New Zealand, they will see that the Dominion Government propose much more rigorous conditions in connexion with finance than have been attempted in Australia. In the course of his 1917 Budget, Sir Joseph Ward, the Treasurer of the Dominion, said that if rich people did not contribute according to their means compulsory conditions would be introduced. Evidently he has not been satisfied that many rich people have contributed as generously as they should have done, for in his latest Finance Bill he has included a provision which will make it compulsory for persons receiving more than a stated income to contribute, and such compulsory contributors, instead of receiving 4½ per cent. interest, will be allowed only 3 per cent., and will be charged double income tax and land tax as a penalty. We do not hear of any such legislation being proposed in this Parliament, but a fear has been expressed that the withdrawal of immunity from taxation will make this loan less attractive, and that it may not be fully subscribed. We can relieve ourselves of all trouble and anxiety on that score by adopting the method proposed in New Zealand, and if rich people will not come forward with their money we can compel them to do so.
– The honorable member supported previous loans to which was attached 4½ per cent. free of income tax.
– There is no reason why a man who finds that he has made a mistake should not retrace his steps.
– What rate of interest would the honorable member fix ?
– My amendment will give the rich people of the country an opportunity to show their patriotism by lending money to the Commonwealth free of interest. To-day Australia is in serious financial straits, but much blacker times are ahead of us, and we have a right to ask some of those who can best afford to do so to come to the assistance of the Government, in this time of storm and stress, by subscribing generously out of the abundance of their riches, without asking for an interest return. If they will not do that, their professions of patriotism must be regarded as only so much froth. I know that I shall be reminded of the total sum contributed voluntarily to the patriotic funds. But the time has come for us to put a straight-out proposition to the people: “Others are going to the Front, and endangering their lives. Some have already made the extreme sacrifice. What are you prepared to do?” The amendment will afford an opportunity for the Treasurer to say that he will endeavour to raise the next loan free of interest.
– How much is the honorable member prepared to subscribe free of interest ?
– As much as any other member of the community, according to my means.
– I believe that every member on this side of the House would contribute to a loan on those terms.
– I do not believe in people boasting of their patriotism in subscribing to war loans when they are earning 4½ per cent. free of income tax. Australia could have no better advertisement than that millions of pounds had flowed into a war loan upon which no interest was to be paid.
– The honorable member has even now an opportunity of surrendering his interest.
– Yes; but I am afraid that, unless some pressure is brought to bear, the people will not respond. In
New Zealand, no man receiving less than £300 a year is called upon to pay income tax, and no man with land of an unimproved value of less than £500 is required to pay land tax. Sir Joseph Ward said, when speaking on ‘his Finance Bill, that no man receiving less than £700 per annum would be brought under the compulsory clause, but all in receipt of incomes above that amount, if they did not contribute a fair quota to the loans, would be called upon to do so compulsorily. And, as far as I am able to judge, the financial position of New Zealand is much better than that of Australia. Dark times are ahead of us, and now is the time for us to commence to make sacrifices. I submit my amendment to the Committee with confidence. I hope it will be carried unanimously, and that we shall all go out recruiting for money, as well as for men to go to the Front.
.- I agree with the mover of the amendment that we ought to have a statement from the Treasurer as to what rate of interest the Government propose to allow in connexion with this loan. When considering previous Loan Bills, honorable members had the advantage of having the prospectus before them. During the discussion on the last Loan Bill, the advisability of making the income from interest free of taxation was questioned, and probably as a result of the views then expressed the Treasurer announced that the most recent flotation was the last to which that inducement would attach. Later, he repeated in this House that the Government did not propose to float further loans the interest upon which should be free of income tax. I think that something might be done in the direction suggested by the amendment.
During the debate on the second reading, the honorable member for Grampians (Mr. Jowett) referred to the dividends paid by certain companies, and the number of shareholders who participated. It is well known that one of the companies to which he referred, namely, the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, has a provident fund to which every permanent employee has to contribute on a percentage basis, and the bulk of the fund is invested in shares in the company. The chances are that few, if any, of the employees would hold one full share, yet every employee who is a registered member of the provident fund would probably be accounted a shareholder. The honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Corser) and others interested in the sugar industry know that what I say is correct.
– Each employee is not a shareholder, but holds an interest in the company. He gets no dividends.
– Quite so. The dividends payable in respect of their shares go into the provident fund. It will probably be found, however, that in the return read by the honorable member for Grampians (Mr. Jowett) all the registered members of the provident fund appear as shareholders.
– Has the honorable member any information to that effect, or is it a mere suspicion that he is voicing ?
– I am basing my statement on information obtained by the Sugar Commission.
There has never been such a complete return of the income and assets of the community as that made in connexion with the war census in 1915, when it was said that something might be done in the direction of a levy on the wealth of the community. At page 107 of Mr. Knibbs’ Pocket Compendium of Australian Statistics for 1918 it is stated that 2,191,945 residents of Australia made returns of wealth and income under the War Census Act. If I ‘remember rightly every person over eighteen years of age was required to furnish a return, and only those under eighteen who were in possession of either income or of a certain amount of assets were compelled to do so. Of this total of 2,191,945 persons only 381,558, or a little less than, one-fifth, were in receipt of £156 , per year and upwards; more than four-fifths were receiving less than £3 per week. I find, on analyzing the figures given by Mr. Knibbs, that of this total 840,400 males malting returns were receiving over £100 a year, and 539,808 were receiving under £100 per annum, and only 92,563 females’ were receiving over £100 a year, while 719,174 were receiving less than £100 a year. At page 108 Mr. Knibbs gives the aggregate income of these ‘2,191,945 persons at £240,163,204. Of that amount £124,567,113 was enjoyed by persons who were in receipt of over £156 per year, or, in other words, twoelevenths of the persons making returns got more than one-half of the income of this country, and nine-elevenths - the great bulk of the people - had less than one-half of it. At page 113 of the Compendium the total assets of the community, as shown by the war census returns, are given. The return sets out the aggregate net assets of persons resident in Australia, exclusive of the value of interests in trust estates, insurance and annuity policies, and prospective benefits from friendly societies and trade unions, which are included under another heading. Mr. Knibbs shows that the aggregate net assets of the community at the time the census was taken were of the value of £1,216,231,662. Of that amount £1,062,648,708, or more than five-sixths of the total, was held by persons possessing assets of the value of £500 and upwards. In short, less than one-sixth of the total number of persons making returns held more than’ five-sixths of the assets. The bulk of the people of Australia, however, did not make returns. When you want to find large families you do not go to Toorak or Malvern, Hawthorn or Kew, but to the- industrial suburbs, of Footscray, Collingwood, Fitzroy, and Brunswick.
These figures constitute one reason why I urge the Treasurer to do something more than is being done by this Bill to finance our vast undertakings. When the right honorable member for Swan (Lord Forrest) was Treasurer last year I asked him in this House, “ Why do you not increase the income tax?” His reply was, “ We have plenty of money,” but at the same time he introduced a Loan Bill for £40,000,000.’ If there is plenty of money in the community, let us take a reasonable proportion of it by way of taxation from the people who have it. Do not let us go on piling up a vast indebtedness for posterity to pay. The Treasurer has told us that we shall be owing presently £309,000,000, and no provision is being made for its repayment.
Tlie income tax has not been increased for two years. Some two years ago it was increased bv 25 per cent. ; but if our income tax rates be compared with those of other countries, it will be seen that the wealthy people of Australia are escaping practically scot-free from direct taxation. We have had bountiful harvests, and the prices of wool, wheat, and other primary products are phenomenally high.
– Does the honorable member object to that ?
– I do not object to the producers receiving high prices, but I blame the Government for not increasing its taxation in proportion to the increase in the wealth of the community. I am satisfied that if another War Census were taken to-morrow, the margin as between the rich and the poor would be found to be wider than ever. It would probably be found that less than one-eighth of the community owned seven-eighths of its assets. It might also be found that a slightly larger proportion of wage-earners than was the case in 1915 were in receipt of £156 per annum and upwards; but every one knows that the purchasing power of the sovereign has substantially decreased since the war began. Therefore, while it might appear that more people had come within the scope of our income tax laws, they have been wrongfully brought within it. They may be, nominally receiving slightly better wages : but in reality, having regard to the reduced purchasing power of the sovereign, they are not.
I presume that the honorable member for Maribyrnong is not wedded to the strict form of his amendment; and honorable members opposite will be lacking in their duty if they do not compel the Government to deal with this question of increasing the taxation of those who ought to pay more than they are now called upon to do.
– The honorable member is not alonein the opinion that more of out current obligations should be met out of revenue.
– I am sure of that,
– But we cannot deal with that matter under this Bill.
– I am confident that unless the supporters of the Government voice the opinion that taxation should be increased, no attempt will be made in that direction, notwithstanding that the wealthy people of this community, owing to increased prices, are making huge fortunes.
– I expect a big increase of taxation.
– A big increase should have been made last year.
– Why not talk about increased production instead of increased taxation ? How can there be more taxation without more production ?
– The production of the last few years has been absolutely phenomenal. The wool clip for the calendar year 1912 was worth about £22,500,000, whereas last year’s clip was worth about £50,000,000, and this notwithstanding that the number of our sheep had been reduced by 20,000,000. The pastoralists had fewer sheep to shear, yet they received £50,000,000 for their clip, as against £22,500,000 in 1912.
– The production was less and the value greater.
– Quite so.
– It was about £45,000,000, not £50,000,000.
– Including the returns for sheepskins, it was probably more than £50,000,000. Taking the honorable member’s own figures, the value of the wool clip last year was double that of 1912, yet the Government have done practically nothing to secure, by way of taxation, any proportion of these increased profits. The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Livingston) has asked why I speak of increased taxation. I have no hesitation in doing so when we have men risking their lives while others are not asked to contribute anything like their fair proportion to the cost of government. Before introducing this Bill, the Government should have told us definitely what they propose to do in the way of increased taxation. Having regard to the phenomenally bountiful seasons we have enjoyed, we have a right to pay a little more of our current expenditure out of revenue, and not to go on piling up a huge debt for posterity to bear. I was led to analyze the War Census figures as the result of an interjection wrongly credited to me by the newspapers last week, and I was surprised to find that one-sixth of the community in 1915 held more than one-half of the country’s assets, while the remaining five-sixths were simply struggling along. The five-sixths really represent a larger proportion of the community, because there are very many people who do not send in income tax returns. I hope that the Government will make a definite statement of their proposals in regard to interest, and in regard to future taxation.
– The honorable member does not think that we could raise money free of interest, and still carry on our industries !
– The honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney) has set a good example which those who can afford to do so might well copy, by lending money to the Government free of interest. Long before the banks determined to encourage investment in war loans by offering overdrafts to those who would invest, private persons were borrowing from the banks by way of overdraft to lend to the Government.
– If many persons had not done that, they could not have taken up war stock.
– We are told that these sittings will close next week, and that before then we shall have a Supply Bill for three months. I have not the slightest doubt that that Bill, like others that have preceded it, will pass without a word of objection from members opposite, whose desire is, apparently, that there shall be no criticism of Government policy or administration.
– It is impossible to accept the amendment; I do not know whether the honorable member who moved it is serious in regard to it. There are many objections which could be urged against what he proposes, but it is hardly necessary to mention them. The Bill is like -the other Bills of the same kind that have preceded it.
– Have the speeches been the same? ‘
– No. When the early War Loan Bills were introduced members opposite were on this side of the chamber, and supporting the measures.
– The war has been going on for nearly four years. Must ve take the same views now as we did at the beginning?
– I merely point out that the suggestions which to-night have been made by honorable members opposite were not considered necessary on previous occasions of this kind, and they are not necessary now. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Tudor) . asks for a statement regarding proposed taxation, but he knows that the usual practice is to make announcements concerning taxation in connexion with a general review of the financial position.
– The Treasurer said that that is the course which he will adopt.
.- I shall not add much to what I have already said on the subject of finance. Members now, as on former occasions, seem to re gard the proposed loan as a matter of little interest, although £80,000,000 is to be borrowed. Many persons think that there is money stored up in large tanks, which can be drawn on by way of loan just as goods might be taken out of a store; but this is not so. The workers, however, naturally ask, when they find a Government loan over-subscribed, why are not those who possess so much wealth subjected to proper taxation. The wealthy have proclaimed their anxiety to assist in winning the war, and why are they not taxed to that end? Within the last few days the Broken Hill Proprietary Company has proposed to increase its capital of 1,500,000 shares paid up to Ss., to the same number of shares paid up to £1, taking the necessary 12s. per share from their reserve. They propose, also, to give every holder of ten 8s. shares fourteen £1 shares. That is the position of one of our companies. When the sons of the industrialist section of the community are away at the Front, why should not the wealthy, if they cannot send their sons, make some monetary sacrifice? There should be equality of sacrifice. This is the only portion of the Empire which is not imposing taxation to meet the expenses of the war. That is what New Zealand and Great Britain have done. According to a balance-sheet issued on the 16th March, the British Government paid £1,714,233,808 from revenue to meet the expenses of the war, and raised by taxation during the week between the 9th and 16th March £22,438,895. We are not imposing taxation in the same way, although the Broken Hill Proprietary Company, the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, and every bank in Australia have increased their reserves. Why should not those who are benefiting by the expenditure caused by the war contribute towards its cost? Their position would be different if the Government were not borrowing and spending so much. Those who benefit by the war are the people who should pay taxes. If peace were declared at the end of this year, many thousands of men in Australia who are now employed on war industries would be thrown out of work, and would be unable to contribute to the revenue. When there is general unemployment, it is impossible to increase taxation. New South Wales was saved on one occasion when there was much unemployment by the action of the late Mr. E. W. O’sullivan, in spending about £8,000,000 of borrowed money on public works. If we neglect to raise revenue by taxation while we are able to do so, we shall be unable to do’ it later. Had the Labour party come into power after the last election, one of its first duties would have been to see that as much revenue as possible was raised during the Avar, when there was so much money in circulation. That would have been the common-sense arrangement. The financial editors of our journals know that what I am saying is gospel truth, but as their newspapers support the Government, they are cloaking the real issue. Those who know what is sound and just and right know that the way to finance this Avar is to do what I suggest; but my words are so much wind to honorable members opposite, who will not face the inevitable position, although the Treasurer has told us plainly how much money has been borrowed for Avar purposes by Commonwealth and State Governments. The position is a very serious one in the eyes of all who desire the prosperity of this country. Honorable members opposite must either admit their inability to grasp the situation, or their fear of taxing those who have the money to pay taxation. There might be reason for ridiculing what I say if the history of the past did not furnish facts which bear out my statements. But honorable members cannot ridicule the position, and the longer the matter is delayed the worse the damage that will result. There is no attempt to rise to the occasion. I have not that implicit faith in the Government that will lead me to believe that they will not be driven into giving a higher rate of interest than that which it is the opinion of this House should be paid. Are Ave dumb dogs? Are Ave afraid to approach those Who are in power, and ask them to give us such information as that when we leave this Chamber after they have got three months’ Supply, and can tell us to go to a warm place, we Wil know what rate of interest is to be paid? We know that as long as Ministers get sufficient Supply to enable them to carry on they Will not worry about the VieWS of honorable members. I am not one of those who believe that almost everything in the form of war liability should be handed down to posterity. I am of opinion that we should so act as to prevent those who come after us from condemning us. As a young nation we should be laying down those high and noble principles which are the essentials of good government, and nothing is more essential in that respect than good finance. But Ave are making no attempt at good finance. Unfortunately the pres3 of Australia is behind the Government. There has been a Conference of editors, and now twelve representatives of the press of Australia are to go Home and interview the representatives of the press in England. Heaven only knows what will happen when they come back!
– Who is to pay for the trip? .
– I do not worry about that, but I hope that they will have a good, voyage and come back safely, and that on their return we will have in Australia a press fearless in their advocacy of the interests of Australia. If that end be achieved, it Will have been a cheap trip, whatever the expenditure. - This continual raising of loans is doing no good to the industrial section of the community. The class Avith whom I have been identified all my life know the position. The belief that there are people in Australia who are increasing their wealth beyond all reason cannot be removed from their minds. And why should it be when some sections of the community are reaping such large benefits in the war ? Try to realize the position when one is addressing a meeting of thousands of people, and the interjection comes, “Where are they going to get this loan money from? “ What can one say, except that the wealthy people are shelling out their wealth at 4-J per cent, and 5 per cent.? Now avc have nothing authentic to show that the Government Will not give more than 5 per cent. It is the people who have to pay the interest, and the representatives of the people ought to be in a position to know what rate of interest is to be paid. A dumb Parliament, in a democratic community, is a matter for ridicule.
– What rate of interest does the honorable member suggest?
– None, at all!
– No one has ever heard me say such a thing. I have endeavoured to be practical. I base my statements on my long knowledge of Australian affairs, commercial, industrial, and otherwise; and I am endeavouring to get honorable members into a sane frame of mind. Every one knows that when the Fisher Government issued a loan at 4£ per cent., free of taxation, an endeavour was made to instill into the minds of the people the idea that Australia was a nation which should be selfcontained, and that nothing would be more pertinent towards achieving that end than lhat those of her citizens who held wealth should contribute to the loans raised by the National Government, on which the National Government should pay interest. But I am sure that no one thought then that we would ask for £43,000,000 within three months. I do not know what the press would have said if I had made a statement to that effect. I see that there are no pressmen in the gallery now. It shows what interest they take in these matters. There are two -sides to every question, and whether my side is right or wrong the people who support me are entitled to know what my views are. However, the Government have taken a certain course, and the people who have put them in power must accept the responsibility. I hold that Australia made a mistake on 5 th May, 1917, but the supporters of the Government include many gentlemen who have large vested interests, and, when they ousted the Labour Government,’ they naturally expected that their interests would be better protected. I have always maintained that when the industrial section of the community is prosperous, when the landlords can collect their rents, and when the workers have , sufficient to pay their butchers’ and grocers’ bills, and to clothe themselves and their families decently, those gentlemen who have vested interests are more likely to be more prosperous than when the opposite conditions prevail. I have already said that this Parliament has not risen to the occasion, or to the expectations of the people, irrespective of those whom we may offend or please, in the matter of raising money for the purpose of carrying on the war in a practical and statesman-like manner.
.- The note struck by the honorable member is the necessity for taxation, and particularly the necessity for increasing taxation on those who are making huge profits, and who, being fortunately placed in Australia, so many miles away from the terrible turmoil of war and bloodshed existing in Europe to-day, are able to make such large profits that one is staggered to think that members of Parliament will not continue to sit till they place on the statutebook an effective war-time profits tax. In this very year, with very few exceptions, numbering about four, I think, according to the Bulletin, huge profits have been made. The history of the Broken Hill Proprietary is almost like the story of - the wonderful cave of Aladdin in the Arabian Nights. Up to the present time the Proprietary has paid £10,400,000 in dividends. The contributing shares are paid up to 8s., and the price quoted has been £3 10s. 3d., though later it was 74s. If we divide the 74s. by 8, it shows over 900 per cent, as the selling value of the shares. The wealth of the Proprietary has increased in a way that the mind fails to grasp. I always thank Mr. W. L. Baillieu, who is reputed to be a millionaire making a second million, for being man enough to declare that the war-time profits tax does not touch men like himself. When men of wealth speak in that way to the people of Australia, the Government would do well to continue this Parliament in session until reasonable measures of taxation have been passed. We here are paid a very good minimum wage for our attendance, and members must be getting tired of being ruled by War Precautions Act Regulations. While, however, the newspapers may be muzzled, we are free to speak what we think within these walls.
The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Tudor) told us that the wealth census returns, so far as incomes are concerned, showed that two-elevenths, or two out of every eleven, who send in returns, receive more than half of the income of all Australia, leaving nine out of every eleven with less than half the income. This leaves out of account all those unfortunate enough not to have sufficient income to require the sending in of returns.
– Do not forget that included are all the big companies and banks, such as the Australian Mutual Provident, with a revenue of millions.
– The honorable member is quite right, but the income of mutual companies is always added to the insurance on the lives of the various policy holders.
– Quite so; and the honorable member must be a sharer in that income.
– I am glad to say I am, and I wish everybody else was. Some time ago a return was issued at the instance of Sir Alexander ‘Peacock, which I regard as one of the most important ever issued from any Parliament in the world. To keep within the income tax law, which prevents the divulging of names, Sir Alexander Peacock had the various incomes simply numbered, and the highest income dealt with was £300,000, so that the big companies referred to by the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Boyd) could not have been included. .
– That is so.
– In the same wealth census returns, dealing with assets, it was shown that one out of every six persons who sent in returns owned five-sixths of the assets of Australia, while five-sixths of those who sent in returns only owned one-sixth of the assets. Let us see what was done in the matter of taxation in England in the time of the continental wars,’ at the close of the eighteenth century. The facts may stagger honorable members, but my authority is one that will bear reference to, namely, The Dictionary of Political, Economy, edited by Palgrave. On page 582 of that work dealing with the year 1798, we find the following: -
Pitt now divided the assessed taxpayers into two new classes - those who were assessed to the duties on houses, windows, dogs, or clocks, or watches, and persons who were assessed to the duties on male servants, carriages, or pleasure horses.
Persons of the first of these classes, assessed to an amount less than£ 1, were to he exempt from any additional duty; but if to that or a greater amount, they were to pay as follows: -
If the existing amount was -
Under £2, one-quarter part thereof additional.
If : £2 and under£ 3, one-half part thereof additional.
If £3 and under £5, three-quarter part thereof additional.
If £5 and under £7 10s., the amount additional.
If £7 10s. and under £10, one and a half times additional.
If £10 and under £12 10s., twice additional.
If £12 10s. and under £15, two and a half times additional.
If £15 and under £20, three times additional.
If £20 and under £30, three and a half times additional.
If £30 and under £40, four and a half times additional.
If £40 and under £50, four and a half times additional.
If £50 and upwards, five times additional.
That was 500. per cent., and it will be seen that if, under the taxation law of the period, a man paid £1,000 in the taxes, he was immediately taxed £5,000 in addition. A very large proportion of our loans could be obtained in Australia to-day if we went as far as they did in England during the war times of the century before last. However, let us get down to the present day; and, in this connexion, I have again to thank that wonderful paper, the Bulletin, for its publication of the balance-sheets of the various companies. The name of the National Bank of Australia brings to mind Sir John Grice, the chairman of directors of that institution, who, at the last half-yearly meeting, was frank enough to say that a man of wealth who invests in our war loan receives equal to 7 per cent., while the man who invests his small savings receives only 4½ per cent. I have said” before, but it will bear repeating, that Sir John Grice did not make that statement to give Labour members a peg on which to hang arguments, but because he fears the debacle that will follow the end of the war. While the war continues we must go ahead full belt until we break the Prussian military autocracy, an end we all hope may be accomplished so that peace may quickly come. Like Sir John Grice, I fear the debacle that will follow, for I was seared in the crash of the boom, and do not wish to go through the same experience again. I have no desire to see it necessary, as then, to have organized effort at the Trades Hall to provide over 300,000 meals and from 30,000 to 40,000 beds for those who were rendered destitute, and when it was necessary to prevent auctioneers selling furniture under distress for rent. That is why I have such a dread of unemployment; and this calls to mind the fact that the Melbourne Municipal Council, although there are epidemic fevers about, has sacked fifty men, who, with their families, represent some 250 human beings, now within a week or two of dire want. In the meantime, this, my native city, is left to become, not only one of the dustiest, but one of the dirtiest of cities, although the salaries of the higher-paid officials of the municipality have been 1 increased during the last twelve months.
– The. sanitary service has been reduced.
– That is so, and it is a sin and a shame. Nothing destroys credit so quickly as unemployment. The small landlords and shopkeepers first feel the effects, and as soon as there is any disturbance of credit, the banks, as now, held aloof from making advances. They fear the withdrawal of so much money into loans, the interest of which is free from taxation, and which, therefore, offer a better investment for the moneyspinners of the community, “for which I. for one, do not blame them. In 1913, the National Bank paid a dividend of 7 per cent, on both ordinary and preference shares, and its reserves were £451,208. In 1918, while still paying the same dividend, the reserves were £718,303. That represents a profit of over a quarter of a million pounds made in war-time. Students of finance know that the financial condition of a country may be judged by the bank balances. The Colonial Sugar Refining Company is another institution the riches of which can be accounted for only by the use of Aladdin’s lamp. In September, 1913, when the company had capitalized £250,000 of its reserves, the remaining reserve was £52,019, and the dividend was 12i per cent. In 1915 the company wrote up its assets to £3,250,000, and that meant that it required almost the same amount to pay a 6i per cent, dividend as it required previously to pay 12£ per cent. In other words, £203,000 was re-: quired to pay the dividend of 12i per cent., and in 1916, after the assets had been written up to £3,250,000, a dividend of Gi per cent, absorbed £211,250. In March, 191S, when the company was still paying the same dividend - nominally less but actually the same as in 1913- the reserves had increased to £430,879. The Fiji branch of the company reveals similar profits. In three years the disclosed profit of the two companies has been: Colonial Sugar Refining Company, £829,155; do. (Fiji and New Zealand), £1,007,178; total, £1,836,333.
The Bank of Australasia in April, 1913, paid a dividend of 17 per cent., and had a reserve of £2,089,000. In April, 1917, the reserve totalled £2,997,000, and in October of the same year £3,028,000, and the bank was still paying a dividend of 17 per cent. There we have an increase of nearly a million pounds during wartime. The “Western Australian Bank, which is perhaps unique inasmuch as its reserve fund is nearly four times as much as its paid-up capital, has been paying a dividend of 20 per cent, for many years; in other words, for every £5 invested the shareholder receives £1 per annum.
– There are not many of the original shareholders left. The honorable member must consider what the 20 per cent, dividend represents on the present-day value of the shares.
– In September, 1913, the “Western Australian Bank’s reserve fund was £684,000, and in 1918 £719,000. And so the list of companies and profits continues.
In regard to the fixation of prices, we have been told that the Emperor Justinian tried the system, and it proved a failure. Times have changed since the days of Justinian. The printing press has done more to educate the people than has any other movement; it was unknown in those days. If one is to be guided by the experience of Justinian in the matter of price’ fixing, we might just as well follow him in the use of chariots instead of trains for travelling. I thank the Age for dealing with that argument in its issue of the 13th May -
Yet if Mr. Lloyd George, Mr. Wilson, and M. Clemenceau and the other law givers had not quite forgotten their schoolboy history, they would not have attempted to limit the profit, even if the consumer, like Job’s behemoth, ate grass “as an ox.” . . . . It is as absurd to quote the individualistic fallacies of other days as it is to seek examples in the age of Justinian for a world whose modes of life, thought, and action have since undergone a series of revolutions. Prices are being fixed successfully, and, therefore, they can be fixed. In Australia the fixing thus far has been, for the benefit of the wholesale traders. In jus- tice to the retailer and the consumer the Government must see that it is just.
Is it just? Prices have been rising continuously. I ask the Government if any merchant or property bolder in those districts which the German brutes have torn from France, Belgium, Serbia, Albania, and Russia, would not thank his Creator morning, noon, and night if he could return to the position he was in before the war, having lost nothing but the profits that he might have made in time of peace. I have previously urged that we should not allow any profits to be made * in excess of those that were made before the outbreak of war. Any man who raises rents during war time - and there have been instances of terrible usury - are enemies in our midst. I have appealed to the Prime Minister from time to time to issue a War Precautions Regulation to prevent such exploitation. He would not do that, but he was mean enough to pass a moratorium regulation for his own personal benefit.
– That is not fair. The Prime Minister is not present.
– It is the truth, and I am merely repeating what I told him to his face. I allude to the case of Smith v. Hughes.
The ACTING CHAIRMAN (Mr. Atkinson). - Does the honorable member propose to connect his remarks with the question before the Committee?
– I was about to say that if the Prime Minister had made a regulation to prevent the raising of rents in war time he would have enabled those who benefited by it to lend their small savings to the community.
In regard to wheat, honorable members well know that mice and weevils are permitted to eat the good food which God has sent us in one of the most bountiful harvests on record rather than that the grain should be sold. Anybody who will consult The Trusts of Australia, written by Wilkinson, a bright student, whose genius illumined the Melbourne University, will see that when there was a scarcity of wheat, bread was being sold in Melbourne at a lower price than that obtaining to-day. Do the people know how much is being paid to the Wheat Pool ? According to an answer furnished to me to-day by the Acting Prime Minister the total amount proposed now to be paid in the various States was £4,141,605.
The ACTING CHAIRMAN.- The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I have not yet heard where the money to pay the interest on this loan is to be obtained. I suppose I ought to accept the statement that it will be met, as all past loan obligations have been, from taxation. But I believe that we shall nob be able to do that, because the sum required will be too great. I shall be told, of course, that the usual methods will be resorted to, but, knowing that the working section of the community have always paid it while the wealthy section have taken the profits, I had hoped for a change. I can see, however, that no attempt is to be made by this Government to force the wealthy to pay their fair share of taxation. Let us see where we stand with regard to our war loans. The Treasurer has told us that already about £145,000,000 has been raised by way of loan in Australia, and over £4,000,000 by means of war savings certificates, while in Great Britain we have ..raised £47,000,000, making a total of £196,000,000. In addition to that we owe the British Government £30,000,000 for the maintenance of our troops at the Front. The people are not aware that, so far as Australian troops are concerned, the war is being conducted on a different basis from that adopted with regard to the troops from other Dominions. We pay for every shot fired by our men, every tent used by them, and every particle’ of food they consume. Canada, on the other hand, is not doing so. Having enlisted and trained her men, she sends them to the Old Country, and thereafter they are maintained by the British Government.
– I suppose the honorable member knows that Canada has lent Great Britain £60,000.000.
– If Canada has lent Great Britain £60,000,000, she will get interest on her money. I should like to know whether the £30,000,000 mentioned by the Treasurer is all we owe to the British Government in respect of expenditure incurred by it on behalf of our troops. I think the indebtedness is larger.
– Great Britain has given us £100,000,000 of credit for wool. wheat, and metals which we have not yet delivered.
– The honorable member will insist upon giving me facts with which I am already conversant.
– I want to sandwich in these facts with the statements made by the honorable member so that his constituents may read them.
– My constituents will not appreciate the honorable member’s effort. In addition to the obligations to which I have already referred, we must not lose sight of the fact that the deferred pay due to our soldiers will exceed £10,000,000. Who is to pay the interest on these huge war raisings ? Are the workers expected to do so? The Government and their satellites outside are taking good care that the workers of Australia shall be unable to pay.
– If you propose not to pay interest on future debts, why worry about their amount?
– The wise man from Parkes is at it again. If he thinks that my constituents will appreciate these “ sandwiches “–
– Do the honorable member’s constituents care anything for the honorable member for Parkes ?
– He once aspired to represent a part of my electorate.
– That was in the last century.
– It was certainly a long time ago, and the people then gave him a bath. They admired his appearance, but not his politics. The Government and their supporters outside are taking good care, as I have said, that the workers shall not be able to pay any portion of the interest on these war loans and at the same time live in reasonable comfort. There is apparently a desire to lower wages as a means of paying interest on these loans. In proof of that statement I point out that the “scab” unions outside are trying to beat the legitimate unions.
– The workers will soon get better wages if we get loans without interest !
– I wish the honorable member would not interrupt me. We have in our midst what are known as “ scab “ unions, which are fostered by the present Commonwealth Government and the State Government of Victoria, notwithstanding the recent promise that there should be no more victimization. The present conditions of labour in Australia were built up- by unionism. Trade organizations, built up by the Workers themselves, succeeded in wresting from the employers better conditions. Last year, however, we had a strike, fostered and engineered by the Employers Federation, and our legitimate unions “ fell in.”
– Who are financing the “ scab “ unions ?
– The Employers Federation. As the result of the strike we have the unfortunate spectacle of one section of the workers, “scabbing’’ against the other. We have to-day two “ scab “ unions, one known as the Wheat and Flour Union and the other as the Australian Ship and Wharf Lumpers Association, which have been created to break up the genuine unions. We are. told by the Government that there will be no more victimization, yet no genuine trade unionist can obtain work on the wharfs or at any of the wheat stacks unless he joins a “scab” union. In the end, no doubt, when the. “ scab “ unions have wiped the genuine trade unions out of existence, wages will come down. The Government will expect the workers to pay their share of interest on our war loans, and yet they are engineering and encouraging a system which will reduce wages and make it impossible for the workers to do anything of the sort. I ask the Government to honour their promise to the unions of Australia that victimization would be abolished, and that every man would get his share of work. It isnot palatable to have to state these facts, but it is necessary that they should be given. Having regard to the high cost of living, is it possible for the workers topay anything like the taxation which will be necessary to meet interest and sinking fund charges in connexion with these loans and at the same time to live under anything like reasonable conditions? What will happen when wages come down as the result of the “scab” unions, fostered by the Government side of the House? If the Government will show any genuine desire to make the wealthy pay a reasonable share of taxation I shall be satisfied, but the position’ is that they have not attempted to extract from those who have made huge war-time profits anything like a fair share of those profits. Ifc is estimated that a paltry £500,000 will be collected annually by way of war-time profits taxation, and the war profiteers do not even want to pay that amount. They are engineering to induce the Government to reduce the amount by one-half. How can we go on borrowing money with these facts staring us in the face? Taxation will be necessary to provide money to pay interest on the loans, and if the workers are to contribute their fair share, they must have employment. That being so, why does not this Government endeavour to force the Government of Victoria to keep the promises that were made on its behalf at the recent Conference summoned by the GovernorGeneral? The Conference was called because of the difficulties of the present position, and because of the industrial turmoil that has taken place of late. It was an attempt to ease .the position created by the war and to help the finances of the country, the two things being so wrapped up together that they cannot be separated. “We w<ere given to understand that certain things were to be done. 2sTow, however, we find that unionists are not being allowed to work on the wharfs and on the wheat stacks in “Victoria unless they, join the “ scab “ unions. Does not the Government intend to make the Victorian Government, which is responsible for this, keep its promise that this would not be allowed to continue? I understand that the Premiers of the other States are keeping their promises. About a fortnight ago the Age said that the Premier of Victoria was going to confer with the Minister of Agriculture regarding my complaint that men seeking employment on the wheat stacks were being compelled to join the “ non-union union,” and that he had stated that his Government was anxious in all matters to work in accordance with the promises given at the recent Conference. Yet nothing has been done. On the Yarra bank those who select the men employed by the Yarra Stevedoring Company are penalizing the real unionists. If that is to continue, how will these men be able to contribute their share to the revenue? If Ministers are wise, they will see that the “ scab “ unions are not allowed to carry on in this way. The unionists were asked to drop their attacks on the employers, and they wish for the present to abide in peace and get on with their work. “We have been told that it is always the fault of the unionists when trouble occurs, and now we have the spectacle of unionists being willing to work and being denied employment. The unionists can still put up a fight if they wish to do so, and can make it unpleasant for the Government. Threats of what may be done under the War Precautions Act would not have much effect on them. It is for the Government, therefore, to see that the Government of Victoria endeavours to keep its promise. I wish to know if anything can be done to make the Government of Victoria insist that the unionists of Australia shall get their fair share of work. If that is not done, the sooner those who are recruiting come off, and we get back to the position in which we were before, the better. The Government will then see that they cannot do without those on this side as easily as they think they can. I am not making a threat; I am merely warning the Government that there are difficulties ahead. If they want to present a united front to the enemy, they must give consideration to this matter. If they do not, they are foolish, and later will suffer for their folly. I am not much concerned about their sufferings, but I am concerned about the sufferings of the wives and families of those who were asked to sink their difficulties on the promise that there should be no victimization, and yet are now penalized by the action of the “ scab “ unions,” which are supported by the Government of Victoria. I ask the Commonwealth Government to see that the State Government puts an end to victimization. If it does not, I shall expect the Leader of the Labour party in this House, and other Labour men who are now assisting recruiting, to come off, and to tell them again what Ave have told them before when the Government were supporting the “ scab “ unions and downing the real unions.
.- The honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) is to be complimented upon an amendment which is really a challenge to the Government and their supporters. One must be struck with the startling difference between the attitude of members opposite towards the question under discussion, the conscription of wealth, and their attitude towards the conscription of men for active service at the Front. Had I been more sanguine concerning their patriotism, I should have expected from them a glowing enthusiasm for the proposal to obtain money free of interest for war purposes. We have our recruiting committees, some of which are active, and some less active. I have received a letter from a committee in my electorate, insisting, for the second time, that I shall take my place on the platform, in order that my enthusiasm may inspire others with a desire to lay down their lives on the other side of the world. For one quite sufficient reason I have not taken any part in recruiting for men’s lives, that reason being that I could not conceive any ground for others going to fight which would not apply to my own case, and as I was not prepared to go, I was not justified in urging others to do so. The reasons why I would not go are personal and private, but I should be willing, if it were relevant to the motion, and any one desired to hear them, to state them at length. But while I have not taken an active part in the recruiting of men, I suggest to those who have entered into that work with unbounded enthusiasm that it would not be unbecoming for them to join a movement for the recruiting of the means necessary to carry on this war, as those zealous patriots conceive that it should be carried on.
It has been said that it is practically and economically impossible to raise money without interest. I do not know that an amount sufficient for the carrying on of the war could be raised in that way, but it is for us to ascertain, by proclamation, or other effective means, what is the measure of sacrifice of mere material things that men of substance are prepared to make to back up their enthusiastic interest in the war. It is useless to say that money cannot be obtained without interest. In this Commonwealth there are some rich men, and many of moderate means, and there is hardly one who could not lay something aside, and say, “ That money may be used in this war for a period of two or three years, and then be returned to me.” The war loan advertisements tell tlie people that they are not asked to give their money; that they are asked merely to invest in a gilt-edged security. As one advertisement says, “‘You are asked to exchange one kind of Government money for another kind of Government money.” You are invited by these advertisements to take the view that, while some men are doing their duty by surrendering their lives on the other side of the world, you may do your duty by investing your money at attractive rates of interest. The honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Higgs) has pointed out that for the first six months the interest is at the rate of a little less than 11 per cent, per annum, and as the interest is exempt from income taxation, very rich men get the equivalent of a perpetual return of 6, and even 7, per cent, from their investments in the war loan. There are many men in the community who have money lying idle. I know prosperous business men who have considerable sums to their credit in current accounts. Then there are banking, institutions, insurance companies, including the mutual “companies, financial institutions of various kinds, and many private individuals, who could lay 0 their hands on a substantial sum of money, and put it aside for two or three years, without reducing one of their activities, without dismissing one of their employees, or without reducing in any particular the production of the community as a whole. To do this would be a genuine sacrifice. It would not be a sacrifice comparable with that made by those who are asked to go across the seas and fight and die in this great war, but at least it would be some sacrifice, and we would not have this ghastly mockery of men declaring that duty may be done by an investment in the war loan.
It is said that Australia has not found her soul in this great war. I do not quite know what that expression means, but I venture, to suggest that Australia will have found her soul to some extent when in the time of struggle, stress, and sacrifice, such as this is, she is prepared to cease the worship of Mammon, and embrace the duty of sacrifice, not a vicarious sacrifice, a sacrifice on tlie part of others, but a sacrifice on the pant of those who have material things to give.
I commend the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton). I am glad that he has proposed this amendment, and I . am surprised beyond expression to find that, though member after member on this side of the chamber rises to speak to this amendment, it does not evoke a single word of serious comment, or comment of any kind, from members on the other side of the House. What can they expect when the next war loan is floated? They will be told, and rightly told, that they were not prepared even to make an inquiry - because that is what this amendment asks for - as to what funds are available, as to the extent of idle wealth, as to the extent to which we may relieve the burden posterity will have to bear in connexion with this huge war debt. They will not even take an amendment of this kind seriously. They sit apathetic, uninterested, and forgetful of the fact that the proposal now before them is’ an integral part of our whole war policy. It is a question of how to pay, how to keep the fight going, if they want to keep it going, or how to keep this country solvent in the future, if it is to be kept solvent. But they have not a word to say upon it. They can parade up and down the country almost frothing at the mouth when it is a question of seizing the bodies of their fellow men, and say, You must go; you must fight; you must die; the whole country is in danger. The’ honour of our womenkind is in danger. The land is threatened with devastation.” Yet we find 4£ per cent, the minimum, and that 11 per cent, is to be paid for the first half-year, and 6 per cent, for the balance to the very wealth secured by means of these investments, lt is a hollow mockery, and I can assure honorable members that they may prate about enlistments and recruiting as much as they like, but if they ask me the real reason why there is less enthusiasm to-day about recruiting than there was when the war broke out, my answer is that it arises mainly, though not solely,, from the fact that those who are, as they say, ineligible for enlistment have failed to respond to a request for sacrifice a ny thing like parallel to the sacrifice made by those whom they are seeking to force to fight in this war.
– When my time expired previously, I had not concluded the remarks I intended to make. I was speaking about the price of wheat, and showing how unjust the Government were in not treating the farmers fairly. In Canada, America, and Argentine the price of wheat is much higher than the price paid here, and the farmers believe that they are not being treated fairly. I have ascertained from an honorable member sitting on the other side of the House whose opinion on this question I prefer to that of any other honorable member, that a price of 4s. per bushel delivered at the railway station would pay the farmer well, but that the State railway systems charge freight according to the mileage. My suggestion is that the Acting Prime Minister should recommend the States to adopt the zone system, so that the freight charged on wheat should be the same, no matter how far removed from the seaport the farmer may be situated. The zone system is in use in other parts of the world. In Holland, one can buy a railway ticket from frontier to frontier.
I thank the honorable member for Maribyrnong for moving his amendment. I shall vote for it because I am certain that if the Treasurer would make it widely known throughout Australia that the nation is asking her children, in her hour of need, to give their money free of interest, the wealthy men and women would gladly respond to the call. But they have to be asked. When that great general, Belisarius, was begging at the gates of Constantinople for daily food, one of his former officers stopped, and said to him, “Why do you not ask.” Throwing aside his rags, he said, “ Am I not asking with a thousand tongues from every rag that is hanging from me.” People have to be asked. All the Red Cross and other button days recognise this fact. If our Government would only ask the patriotic people of Australia to lend their money free of interest, I feel sure that a large sum would be received. Certainly only £1,120 has been lent on those terms. Two unions have lent £100 each, six or seven citizens have lent £10 each, and the largest sum lent in this way has been £400; but something like £60,000 has been handed to the nation as a gift. Every honour should be paid to those who have made this gift, if we could only know who they are. The amendment will allow those who love their country, who have the wherewithal and cannot possibly go away to fight on account of age, or for religious reasons, to give their money to help the Government. I have always advocated that principle, in season and out of season, and, therefore, I shall have pleasure in voting for the amendment.
– The honorable member has set an example in this matter.
– My contribution is so small that I am ashamed of it. However, I hope that it will be more at the end of the year. We are not asking the Government to make any new departure or inaugurate a new Department. We are simply asking them to send out a request. We have had the example of the splendid gift of the late Mr. Knox, by which the name of every person who voted for the Federation of Australia was inscribed, and every person who so voted could apply to the Government and be furnished with a splendid certificate bearing on it the portraits of the Premiers of the various States at the time of the inauguration of Federation. In the same way, a certificate could be furnished to those people who lend their money to the nation free of interest. The honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) has said that men have offered their lives. Upwards of 800,000 Australians have offered their services for fighting, and over 400,000 have been accepted. Over 50 per cent, of the men in Australia of the fighting age have offered their services. Will any one say that 50 per cent, of the rich men of Australia have offered all their money ? The suggestion made by the honorable member for Maribyrnong should receive attention. If the Government cannot accept the amendment, they can at least consider the suggestion, and, possibly, the Treasurer may be induced to issue an invitation to the patriotic people of Australia to lend their money free of interest.
.- The honorable member for Maribyrnong intends that an effort should be made to ascertain to what extent the financial men of Australia are willing to volunteer financial means for the carrying on of the war, and that only after there is failure on their part to provide the necessary wherewithal shall there be an attempt to raise further large sums with interest charges. This is a legitimate proposal to place before the wealthy who constantly assert that they are ready to make great sacrifices in the Empire’s cause.
Undoubtedly the people of. this country are running heavily into debt at a rapid rate. The present position is approximately as follows : -
This is equal to £5 per head, or £25 per family of five persons - roughly, 10s.. 2>er week.
We are not yet at the end of our loanraising and commitments in interest.
I was interested in learning how much coin of all descriptions there is in Australia at the present time, and I find the position to be as follows: -
Coin and bullion in all banks, 30th September, .1917 -
The coin and notes amount to only £71,000,000 odd ; and yet we . are told that we have to expend £80,000,000 of loan money this year for direct war purposes, besides having agreed to provide- £76,000,000 for the purpose of paying for our primary products.
With only £70,000,000 odd in circulation, we have undertaken to spend £156,000,000.
I made an effort to find out where this money was to come from, and to that end last week I asked a series of questions of the Acting Prime Minister and Treasurer in relation to the payment of certain instalments on account of the Wheat Pools. The Government had just decided to pay £4,750,000in instalments, and we were informed that this was by arrangement with the banks. I asked what banks had agreed to provide the money, what was the nature of the correspondence and negotiations, and what was the agreement. How did the Acting Prime Minister and Treasurer answer, or, I should say, side-step the questions I asked? He said on the 23rd May this year-
Much of the information sought would take a considerable time to compile, and would have little bearing on the problem of wheat finance. The provision of the sum named was arranged by my predecessor as a part of the agreement made between the Commonwealth Treasury and the banks of Australia in relation to the financing of the primary products for the current year, estimated to total £76,000,000.
There is not much illumination to be got from that reply. We are told that our Treasurers are great financial men, but I have been in this Parliament about thirteen years, and in that time there has never been a financial speech by any one of the Treasurers.
I believe that the men who pose as great financial authorities and Treasurers are vastly ignorant on the question of finance. There has never been any justification for their system of finance, and they have never dealt with its principles.
No member in the House can point to one speech made here by a Treasurer which dealt with the principles of finance, and justified his operation of the finances of the country.
At one time, when I heard these men spoken of as possessed of great qualifications, as having examined all the financial systems in existence, and as knowing everything to be known on the matter, I used to believe what I was told ; but I h ave been here long enough to be convinced that those men know little about it, and are afraid to open their mouths because the moment they do they show how destitute they are of knowledge.
– How can you criticise if you do not know?
– All I am saying is that never since I came into this Parliament, thirteen years ago, has any of the various Treasurers shown any evidence of his knowledge, and I invite the honorable member, who also has been here a long time, to refer me to any speech which shows to the contrary. He is silent now. For he cannot answer my challenge.
The Treasurer usually comes down to Parliament with a typewritten statement prepared for him by an official. To show how much Treasurers usually bother themselves about understanding what is in the prepared statements, I may point to the present Treasurer, who read to us a typewritten document, which, on being examined by the newspapers outside, was found to show a discrepancy of £19,000,000. We were told by the Treasurer that this was due to a mistake on the part of the typist; but if the Treasurer had known what he was reading he would have corrected that mistake before presenting the document to the House. I sometimes think that the officials put in these little errors merely to find out whether there is really anything in the Minister, who merely acts as a rubber stamp when he reads the prepared document.
– That is very rough on Labour members as well as others !
– No official ever prepared a written speech for me.
– Any one who has read the productions presented by the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Higgs), as Treasurer, must recognise the literary finish of the honorable gentleman, and it is quite evident that his statements were not prepared by officials.
– You complimentedme on my financial statements.
– What I said about the honorable gentleman was that his was a very clear statement of income and expenditure. Some Ministers do seek to get such information and give it to us; but what I have said is still correct’, namely, that not one Treasurer in the history of the Commonwealth has ever dealt with the principles of finance.
– I think you. ought to tell the House what you consider to be the principles of finance.
– Some of the principles are :
I do not know how far the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Higgs) might have gone, but he was not long enough in office to feel his feet properly.
– The honorable member is getting altogether outside the question.
– This loan raising and interest paying is very largely a financial system of fooling and robbing the people. It is not a borrowing of money, because the money is not here. Not one man on the other side will say that money is being borrowed.
– What do you call “money”?
– I call coin or bullion “money” - some exchangeable form of currency is what people understand as “ money.”
– If I want to borrow I have to produce money or its equivalent, and I think the honorable member must have the same experience.
– Like the honorable member, I am a victim of the vicious system of private persons operating the public credit to the public detriment. I am not now referring to private loans for private enterprise.
In order to show how this fooling goes on I should like to read a little extract from the House of Commons debates of the 13th August, 1917, as follows : -
Mr. Snowden asked the Prime Minister if the Government have any official knowledge to the effect that a secret conference has recently taken place in Switzerland, at which French, British, and German financiers were present, the purpose of which was to aim at an immediate peace, such as would arrest the growth of international Socialism, and the rising tide of revolution throughout Europe-
– What has that to do with the Loan Bill?
– I wish to show that there is a combination of financial magnates and experts, the whole world over, for the purpose of robbing the great mass of the people, and that it is about time this kind of thing was stopped.
– The question is the clause and an amendment thereto, and the honorable member is going outside both.
– Apparently, Mr. Chanter, you will not allow me to quote from the House of Commons debates about this meeting of financiers in Switzerland ?
– That is because the quotation is not applicable to the Bill.
– Then will this be applicable to the Bill? It is now proposed to raise ?80,000,000. What is to be done with the money ? Is it to be lent to Germans in German New Guinea at certain rates of interest, and is the Prime Minister then to go to England, and say that he has effectively wiped out German traders in this country ?
– We have not reached that stage in the Bill yet. That is not relevant to the clause before us.
– I submit that I am entitled to discuss the purpose to which the money is to be applied.
– The honorable member will be entitled to do that when we reach the next clause.
– This is a proposal to raise money for Avar purposes.
– It is not a proposition for lending money to Germans.
– But money has been lent to Germans, and I wish to put a stop to that sort of thing. Do you say, Mr. Chairman, that I am not entitled to urge that money raised under the authority of this Bill should not be advanced to Germans?
– The disposition of the money is not yet before the Com- mittee.
– Very well; I shall have to return to this matter at a later stage.
The Treasurer, in his advertisements asking for subscriptions to the last war loan, gave the whole show away. In the Sydney Daily Telegraph of 20th April last appeared this advertisement above the signature of the Treasurer -
You, who go about your ordinary daily work, comfortable, sufficiently fed, safe in the time. of war - surely you will not hesitate to exchange one kind of Government money for another kind of the same Government’s money.
You are not asked to give your money away, not to sacrifice it, but merely to exchange it for other money, bearing interest - a kind of money that is a first mortgage on everything in this country.
Your money is as safe in the form of a War Bond as it is in gold - and you will have done your duty.
Buy a Bond. Buy all the Bonds that, through sacrifice, you can buy.
Meet this, your country’s appeal. Closing date extended to 24th April.
Turn Your Money Into Bonds.
Commonwealth Treasury, April, 1918.
Change one form of money for another form of money! The public are told, “ You have Government bank notes in your pocket, and we will give you in exchange for them other bank notes, called war bonds, and because you change one piece of Government money for another piece of Government money we shall pay you interest to the extent of nearly £9,000,000 per annum. That interest shall be raised from or passed on to the great masses of the working people and shall be given to or received by the financiers of the country for exchanging one piece of Government paper for another piece of Government paper.”
That argument shows, as a matter of fact, that if these war loans were handled in a proper and intelligent way by the authorities who operate the public credit, the Commonwealth Bank could be placed in a position to provide the whole of the loans or credits on behalf of the Government without paying any interest to private individuals. A little over £80,000,000 a year is required to be exchanged for war purposes. This could then be provided by the Commonwealth Bank by merely an extension of credit to the Commonwealth Government, and, instead of paying interest on this money, an income tax should be paid by the wealthy people, equal to, say, 2½ per cent. of the loan money, which would wipe out the debt in forty years.
If £80,000,000 is required each year, £2,000,000 raised by a tax on incomes and paid into a sinking fund will liquidate the £80,000,000 is raised, the wealth of the years. Every time a war loan for £80,000,000 is raised, the wealth of the country ought to be taxed to provide a sinking fund that will liquidate the debt over a period of years or other number of years. We should be taking nothing from anybody; we should be simply operating the credit of the Commonwealth.
What is done to-day is that the Go- ‘ vernment go to the private banks and private financiers, and say, “ Each of you advance us this credit.” The banks and financiers do not advance a single penny of money. They advance credits only.
We are now told that these credits cannot be advanced except by persons who have tangible securities behind them. As a matter of fact, every form of security in this country is really owned by the Commonwealth itself. No man owns an acre of land, a bushel of wheat, or a bag of flour that does not belong in the last resort to the Commonwealth as a whole. Every bit of wealth is subject to any form of taxation. If the Commonwealth wished to go to that extent - I. do not say it ever would - it could confiscate every form of wealth from one end of the country to the other.
– If that statement is true, the Commonwealth could take the suit of clothes from the honorable member’s back.
– Even that farfetched illustration is perfectly true. But, because the credit of the Commonwealth is divided up among a number of private, individuals by the present system of operating these credits, the great bulk of the people are being fleeced the whole time.
– According to that argument, nobody has any money at all.
– The honorable member knows a little better than his interjection indicates. He was pledged to inaugurate a Commonwealth Bank of issue, deposit, exchange, and reserve, and he knows that if the Labour party’s scheme for a Commonwealth Bank had been carried out the whole of these credits could have been provided without interest cost to the great mass of the people, and could have been liquidated from direct taxation.
There is no justification for building up a huge war debt when there is no tangible asset behind it.
Senator Millen is reported in the Age of the 29th January last to have said -
Regarding the question of public credit and of capital, we had in Australia raised £200,000,000 from Australian people, the interest to be paid by Australia. If in pre-war days he had hinted that we could, with safety, have raised half that sum, to stimulate and develop the latent resources of our country, he would have been regarded as a most reck less promoter of wild-cat schemes. When, in connexion with the River Murray, a financial scheme amounted to £4,000,000 there were those who wondered whether, in a few years, that Amount of money could be raised - an amount which we were now spending every few weeks inthe maintenance of our Army. We hoped, in the future, there would be an entirely new and less Conservative view taken in connexion with the public credit.
Senator Millen admits that the force of circumstances brought about by this war has compelled him to review the opinions of a lifetime in regard to public finance, and that if any one had mentioned such a thing as this before the war his remarks would have been parodied and caricatured throughout the country. Further on, Senator Millen said -
The tiling which stood between working farmers and the land sellers was the capital necessary to provide the former with plant and equipment. He would offer a suggestion. Seeing that the land was there, and that the men desirous of working the land were there, might they not utilize the public capital for bringing the two together, thus giving the land settlement of Australia a new and distinctive life? “ Utilize the public credit,” says Senator Millen. I also say, “ Utilize the public credit.” But this House does not. It has utilized it to a small extent. It has compelled the banks to lodge some £10,000,000 or more of gold with the Commonwealth Treasury, and, as against’ that gold, it has issued about four times the amount in paper money.
– Did it ever occur to you that if we utilized the whole of the public credit what a sorry position we would be in ?
– If we utilized the whole of the public credit, there would be no public credit of any description left. There is only one fund of credit in this country. There is a totality of credit. Whatever it is, it is an ascertainable amount, if the matter be thoroughly investigated, and whether it is utilized, as under the present system, by a number of people becoming guarantors, or whether issued by the Commonwealth itself, as required, it will not be used up with any greater rapidity. As a matter of fact, there is absolutely no sense in the honorable member’s interjection. My time has expired. I protest against a perpetuation of the present method of providing the necessary credits for carrying on the war.
Question - That the words proposed to be added be added (Mr. Fenton’s amendment) - put. The Committee divided’.
Ayes . . . . . . 10
Noes . . . . . . 26
Majority . . . . 16
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 3 -
The amount borrowed shall be issued and applied only for the expenses of borrowing and for war purposes.
.- In this clause there is a fruitful source of discussion which might well engage our attention for some little time, although the hour is late. It opens up the question. “ What are the purposes for which this war is being waged, and for which it is proposed that we should raise the large sum mentioned in the previous clause?” I propose, by way of dealing with one of the purposes of this war, to move an amendment and call attention to one of the war purposes which has been in- dicated by those gentlemen tourists, the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) and the Minister for the Navy” (Mr. Cook), who, affecting to represent, but really misrepresenting, Australia, recently set out on their way to London for the purpose, amongst other things, of declaring that Australia had made up her mind that she would hold until the last gasp the German colonies in the Pacific, which have been acquired by Australian endeavour. As this represents a very striking departure from what was originally stated to be the war aims of the Allies - as it represents a departure entirely inconsistent with the aims for which, I think, a just war may be waged, and is inconsistent also with the best interests of the Commonwealth - I am whole-heartedly opposed to what is stated to be oneof Australia’s war purposes, and I think the present a convenient time for registering my opposition. I therefore move -
That the following words be ‘added to the clause: - “Provided that ‘war purposes’ shall not include the acquisition or retention by the Commonwealth of additional territory.”
The principal of the islands in the Pacific which it is now declared we must retain, and the retention of which, apparently, is to be a condition of peace, is a very extensive territory, and almost only a few degrees sub-tropical. That portion of New Guinea which, until recently, was possessed by the Germans, is merely equivalent in area to Victoria, the garden State of the Commonwealth, in which our Parliament meets. It was acquired by Germany in 1884, so that Germany has been in possession of it for thirty-four years.With German New Guinea, of course, we have the Caroline Islands, Samoa, and some less important territories taken from the enemy, and it is said that we must retain these territories until “ the last gasp.” How curious it is that the Government should - and apparently those two tourists, the Prime Minister and the Minister for the Navy, speak for the Government - have come to the conclusion that Australia should be the only one of the independent self-governing Dominions, and the only country amongst the Allies, to make a declaration that annexation of territory must be a condition of peace. President Wilson has declared for “No annexations; no indemnities.” Russia has de clared against indemnities. Lloyd George has declared that the question of the retention of the late German islands in the Pacific is a matter for the Peace Conference.
– “What does Timbuctoo think of it?
– I should have thought that the opinion of the PrimeMinister of Great Britain would have appealed more to the honorable member.
– Not after 11 p.m.
– This question is far more important than any consideration of time. In any event the Government might well have seen fit to adjourn, and to devote to-morrow tothis important matter of land-grabbing as a condition of peace. I am totally opposed to theseterritories being saddled on Australia. Quite apart from the possibility that the claim for their retention might prolong this war, they would mean additional expense and danger for the Commonwealth, which is already unable to cope with the vast spaceswhich it is supposed to govern. If the safety of the Commonwealth depended upon the defence of its shore line by arms or by a fleet it is quite obvious that we should be unable to defend the tremendous coast line which Australia. already has. It has been said by an honorable member of another place that, in order to preserve the principle of a White Australia, we must not renounce our right to these islands in the Pacific. When we come to examine the population of German New Guinea we find that it consists of 500,000 blacks and? some inconsiderable number of hundreds of white men. It is by saddling ourselves with this vast new territory, so a speaker in another place has said, that we are to safeguard our White Australia policy. This is what I have described on a previous occasion as the new Imperialism. We are to be the first protagonists of new and extended territories. We are the first, and, indeed, the only, country amongst the Allies to claim our pound of flesh as the result of this war. I do not declare by any means that it would be necessarily desirable that the German people should retain possession of these islands in the Pacific. That is not necessary to my case. What I do protest against is that while this war is being waged at its very height, while the issue is still unhappily only too uncertain, while thousands of lives are being lost in the fearful contest, and while the genius of wise men is likely to be strained in determining the conditions under which the war may be brought to an end’. Australia alone, and in advance, stipulates that she must have additional territory to that which she is unable to adequately occupy, use, or securely defend. An honorable senator has remarked that a resolution of the kind that he proposed in another place would have the effect of “putting starch into the collar” of the Imperial Government, since it would be a, declaration that we must not, under any conditions, surrender these islands. And it is because a declaration on the part of the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Cook) and the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) at the heart of the Empire is likely to have some effect, is likely to be listened to, and to be believed in, and that it will be believed that they do represent the people of Australia - while in truth and in fact there is no warranty forthat assumption - it is because they may be believed, that their wanton declaration in that regard is peculiarly mischievous and should be heartily condemned.
– They represent Australia, all right.
– They may represent those interests in Australia in. which the honorable member is pecuniarily interested . But they do not represent Australia in regard to Australian Imperial policy - if there is such a thing - and they certainly do not represent Australia, so far as her war policy is concerned. That was decided in an efficient manner in December last, and in October of the previous year.
The Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), speaking at a suburban gathering somewhere or other recently, said that Germany - Germany alone - had been preparing for this war for forty years. Germany, as a great military Power, had been preparing, no doubt, for war. Prussian militarism had been developing both in and out of Prussia during that time. But it is a very curious thing that if Germany has been preparing for this war for forty years she should have ‘ safeguarded her interests in the Pacific in such a manner that although she has been in possession of certain of the Pacific Islands for thirty-four years she had only entrenched herself there to such an extent that when the war broke out we were able to send a single battleship and take possession almost without striking a blow. There was some little skirmishing, but it was hardly worth mentioning. Practically, there was no resistance at all, notwithstanding that it is alleged that Germany had been preparing for the war for forty years, and has even been accused of “ nesting “ her whole fleet in one of the rivers of German New Guinea.
Motion (by Mr. Groom) put -
That the question be now put.
The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 18
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment (Mr. Brennan’s) negatived.
.- I desire to speak against this clause. It says that the amount borrowed shall be used and applied only for the expenses of borrowing and for war purposes.
– I move -
That the question be now put.
– Cannot I speak to that question?
– I desire to speak against the clause being carried by the Committee.
– The honorable member is not entitled to do that.
– The amendment has not been put.
– The amendment has been put, and dealt with.
– It never was dealt with.
– The amendment was not read out.
– The amendment has been dealt with.
– I did not hear it put.
– The question that clause 3 be agreed to was submitted from the chair. The honorable member for Barrier (Mr. Considine) rose to speak to that question when the Minister for “Works and Railways . (Mr. Groom) moved “ That the question be now put,” and under the Standing Orders there can be no further debate.
– I understand you to rule, sir, that the amendment has been dealt with.
– It was never seconded, or even spoken to, by the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan).
– An amendment in Committee needs no seconder. The, amendment was dealt with by the distinct vote of the Committee.
– There appears to be a misunderstanding. “We have been “ jockeyed “ out of our vote.
– There is no misunderstanding. Every member of the Committee should be familiar with the Standing Orders, of which No. A b says -
When the motion “ That the question be now put “ has been carried, and the question consequent thereonhas been decided, any further motion may be at once made which” may be requisite to bring to a decision any question already proposed from the Chair; and also if a clause be then under consideration, a motion may be made, “ That the question, ‘ That certain words of the clause defined in the motion stand part of the clause,’ or ‘ That the clause stand part of or be added to the Bill ‘ be now put. “ Such motions shall be put forthwith and decided without amendment or debate.
– I take it that the division was on the question “That the question be now put,” not on the amendment. If you, Mr. Chairman, state that the Committee voted on the closure, and that then you put the amendment, and it was voted on, we must take your word.
– But several of us called out.
– There was no vote on the amendment, so far as I know. The division was on the closure motion, after which the amendment had to be put. Of course, the Government has a sufficient majority to win every time, but the question is, Had the Committee an opportunity to vote on the. amendment of the honorable member for Batman ? I did not hear the amendment put frorn the Chair. It was on the “gag” question that I voted.
– I give the Leader of the Opposition my assurance that the amendment was put. Immediately the division on the closure motion had been taken, and before members had crossed the chamber, I submitted the amendment, “ That the words proposed to be added be so added,” and that was negatived on the voices, there being no call for a division.
– You did not submit the amendment to the Committee.
– The honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan), and I called for a division.
Mr.Wise.- You did not.
Question - That the question be now put - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . .18
The CHAIRMAN (Hon. J. M. Chanter) . - I appoint the honorable member for Cowper and the honorable member for Boothby tellers for the “Ayes,” and the honorable member for Cook and the honorable member for Melbourne Ports tellers for the “Noes.”
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question - That the clause be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 18
– I appoint the honorable member for Cowper and the honorable member for Boothby tellers for the “ Ayes,” and the honorable member for West Sydney and the honorable member for Darling tellers forthe “Noes.”
– I decline to act, Mr. Chairman.
– I decline to act, Mr. Chairman.
– Then I appoint the honorable member for Calare and the honorable member for Werriwa tellers for the “ Noes.”
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause agreed to.
– The question is-
That the title he the title of the Bill.
.- I object to the title of the Bill, because it is inadequate to meet the situation.
Motion (by Mr. Groom) put -
That the question be now put.
The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 18
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question - That the title be the title of the Bill - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 18
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Title agreed to.
Question - That the Bill be reported without amendment - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 18
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill reported without amendment.
Motion (by Mr. Groom) proposed -
That the report be adopted.
.- Mr.. Speaker-
Motion (by Mr. Groom) proposed -
That the question be now put.
A division having been called for,
– I appoint the honorable member for Cowper and the honorable member for Boothby tellers for the “Ayes,” and the honorable member for Darling and the honorable member for Maribyrnong tellers for the “ Noes.”
– I decline.
– I decline.
– As the honorable member for Darling is a new member, I direct his attention to standing order 55, which provides that -
If any member shall wilfully disobey any lawful order of the House he may be ordered to attend in his place to answer for his conduct; and, unless his explanation be deemed satisfactory, the House may direct the SergeantatArnis to take such member into custody.
It has been held by the House of Commons and other authorities that a direction by Mr. Speaker to any honorable member to act as teller is a lawful order of the House, through the Speaker as its mouthpiece. I direct the attention of honorable members to the standing order I have quoted, and to the fact that they are bound by that standing order. A refusal to abide by their own Standing Orders is a reflection on themselves, and an affront to the House. I ask honorable members not to take up that attitude. Of course, honorable members will understand that if they decline to act as tellers for the “ Noes,” there will be no division, and the question will be declared resolved in the affirmative. I appoint the honorable member for Melbourne Ports and the honorable member for Dalley tellers for the “Noes.”
– I must decline.
– I must also decline.
– Is there any honorable member willing to act on the side of the “ Noes “ ?
– I refuse to be any party to the German methods that are being carried on in this House.
– There being no tellers for the “ Noes,” I declare the question resolved in the affirmative.
– I rise to a point of order.
– There is no point of order. I know exactly what I am doing.
Opposition Members. - The “ Noes “ have it.
– That could only be disclosed if honorable members agreed to act as tellers. They have chosen not to do so, and as there were no tellers willing to act on the side of the “ Noes,” I have declared that the question is therefore resolved in the affirmative. The question now is that the report be adopted. I appoint the honorable member for Mel bourne Ports and the honorable member for West Sydney tellers for the “ Noes.”
– I must decline, Mr. Speaker.
– I must decline, Mr. Speaker.
– Are there any tellers to act for the “ Noes “ ?
– Not after the Prussianism of to-night !
– The question is resolved in the affirmative.
– I rise to a point of order.
– What is the point of order?
– My point of order is that there is no precedent for declaring that the mere fact of no tellers being appointed from this side entitles the Speaker to say that the question is carried in the affirmative. Nor, Mr. Speaker, have you attempted to justify your position. The reason for that is probably that the proceedings were interrupted by the unseemly conduct of the Acting Attorney-General (Mr. Groom), who has been disorderly throughout the evening. I submit - and if you disagree with me, I shall move that your ruling be disagreed with - that you are not justified in contending that the absence of tellers from this side justifies you in declaring the question resolved in the affirmative.
– I am acting in accordance with the precedent of the House of Commons, the practice of which governs our procedure when we have no special standing order dealing with the matter before us. If there are no tellers willing to act on one side, there can be no division. I quote from May, 11th Edition, page 361, or page 341 of the 10th Edition -
The Speaker directs the “ Ayes “ to so into the right lobby, and the “ Noes “ into the left- lobby, and then appoints two tellers for each party; of whom one for the “Ayes “ and another for the “ Noes “ are associated, to check each other in the telling. If two tellers cannot be found for one of the parties, the divisioncannot take place: and the Speaker forthwith announces the decision of the House.
Motion (by Mr. Groom) proposed -
That the Standing Orders be suspended, to enable the remaining stages to be passed- without delay.
– I rise to a point of” order. This motion is down in the name of the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), and 1 submit that an honorable member cannot submit a motion standing in the name of another honorable member.
– What if the Prime Minister died?
– If the Prime Minister died, somebody ‘else would have to give notice of the motion. The notice of motion in the name of Mr. Hughes is as follows : -
Contingent on any report being received from a Committee, or on any report being adopted, Mr. Hughes : To move, That the Standing Orders be suspended to onable the remaining stages to be passed without delay.
I submit that that motion being on the’ business- paper in that form, and in the name of a particular member, it is not competent for some other honorable member to move it without notice.
– In the case of a particular Minister’s name being mentioned in this connexion, I point out that whoever is Minister in charge of the business of the House acts on behalf of the Minister in whose name the motion stands. Therefore, the Minister for Works and Railways is quite in order.
– Under what standing order?
– Under the ordinary practice of the House, it is always done.
– Then there is no standing order? The practice and procedure of the House is equivalent to a standing order.
– The question is: That the Standing Orders be suspended.
– I object.
Question put. The House divided.
Majority . . . . . 18
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr. Groom) proposed) -
That this Bill be now reada third time.
– Mr. Speaker-
Motion (by Mr. Groom) proposed -
That the question be now put.
Honorable members having taken sides for a division,
– I appoint the honorable member for Cowper and the honorable member for Boothby tellers for the “ Ayes,” and the honorable member for Cook and the honorable member for Darling tellers for the “ Noes.”
– I decline to he a party to the Prussian methods being carried on in this chamber.
– I object to take any part in the infamous proceedings.
– Are there any honorable members willing to act as tellers for the “Noes”? There being no tellers on the side of the “ Noes,”I declare the question resolved in the affirmative.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question - That the Bill be now read a third time - put
Honorable members having taken sides for a division,
– I appoint the honorable member for Cowper and the honorable member for Wilmot tellers for the “Ayes,” and the honorable member for Melbourne Ports and the honorable member for Barrier tellers for the “ Noes.”
– I must decline to act.
– I also decline.
– There being no tellers for the “ Noes “ the question is resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.’
Loans to Germans in New Guinea.
Motion (by Mr. Groom) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– I wish to complain about the action of the Government in lending the money of the people of this country to Germans. I find, according to the Journal of Commerce, published in Melbourne on the 13th March, 1918, that up to the 28th January lastthe Government had lent various sums of money to German settlers in New Guinea as follows-
– As this is a most important matter I think we should have a quorum present.
There being no quorum present Mr. Speaker adjourned the House at 12.34 a.m. (Thursday).
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 29 May 1918, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1918/19180529_reps_7_85/>.