7th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. W. Elliot Johnson) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– Yesterday, when speaking on the adjournment,. I said that the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) had insinuated that the White Australia principle was in danger. The Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Watt) contradicted that statement. He said that he had before him reprints of all the reports of Mr. Hughes’ speeches, and that none of them bore out the construction that I had placed on certain of his remarks. Let mo read a cutting from the Melbourne Herald of the 13th inst., purporting to contain a cabled report from the special representative of the newspaper in London, of certain statements made by the Prime Minister. The paragraph reads-
Addressing a demonstration of 1,000 soldiers in the Young Men’s Christian Association’s Theatre to-night, Mr, Hushes said - “ The Australian soldiers had made a name which would lastaslongas the stories of valorous deeds were told. “ If the Allied statesmen do half as credit ably,” he continued, “ all will be well.. You have fought for liberty, to’ keep Australia white, and maintain your rights of selfgovernment. This must be secured. I know the soldiers and citizens of Australian stand behind me in any action I may take to insure this.”
I need add nothing to that paragraph.
– Has the Acting Prime Minister received through the usual official channel - that is, through the GovernorGeneral - -or in any other way, a copy of the reply made by the British Government, through its official press, to the statement of the Prime Minister that the Dominions had not been consulted.
– A multitude of. official cables have been received by me during the past fortnight, but, so far as I remember, no copy of the official press bureau utterance was contained in them.
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral who was responsible for the mistake made by informing the postal officials at Newcastle that they were to have a holiday on Wednesday last and then countermanding the order, with the result that mails we’re taken out and there was noone to receive them?
– The trouble arose because the Deputy Postmaster-General, without authority; but acting upon a rule which has hitherto prevailed, declared a holiday which was not allowed by the administrative head of the Department. The difficulties to which the honorable member alludes arose out of the intimation to the persons concerned.
– I have.received from the honorable member for Barrier an intimation that he desires to move the adjournment of the House to discuss a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely, “ the incitements to civil disorder and riot that have been made recently in various centres in the Commonwealth, and to the apparent immunity from prosecution enjoyed by the individuals so offending.”
Five honorable members having risen in their places,
– Why didnot the honorable member give the Government notice of his intention to move the adjournment this afternoon?
– I sent the honorable gentleman an intimation before luncheon to-day.
– I have not yet received it. This is the usual discourtesy.
.- The Acting Prime Minister takes exception to what he terms my discourtesy, but he was fully aware of my intention to move the adjournment to discuss this matter, because, on Tuesday night, I was going to raise it on the ordinary motion for the adjournment of the House, but, on the honorable gentleman expressing the wish that honorable members should not be kept here till a late hour, I told him’ that I -would specially move the adjournment of the House next day, which was’ yesterday. However, the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Fowler) got in before me then with a motion to discuss another matter. This morning I informed you by letter, Mr. Speaker, of my intention to move the special adjournment this afternoon, and I sent to the Acting PrimeMinister a copy of my letter. I have been guilty of no discourtesy towards him.
I come now to the subject-matter of my motion. In the columns of various newspapers have appeared from time to time of late accounts of disorder, amounting to riot, in several centres of population, noticeably at Hughenden, in Queensland, and at Dalby. There and elsewhere civil disorder has occurred, sometimes nearly approaching a riot, men being ill-treated and beaton. The latest instance is reported in the Broken Hill Barrier Miner of the 13th November. That newspaper is opposed to the Labour party politically. In a report of a meeting of an open-air demonstration held in Broken Hill on the night of the 12th November, when the news of the armistice had just been received, it says -
Mr. Hebbard, here referring to the summary removal from the precincts of the trolley of an interjector, said that action was typical of what they should have done when they heard talk of Bolshevikism and other things (Hear, hear, and applause. ) They should - have adopted that attitude, and done a lot of kicking out in the early stages of thewar. Very soon the returned boys would have an opportunity of kicking out the Bolshevik element. (Ap- plauBe. ) Thatwas going to happen, as the Bolsheviks were no good to Australia, or any other country, for that matter. He congratulated Broken Hill on the part it had played in the war, both in men and money. (Applause.) He was followed by another speaker, Mr. George C. Dempster, who said -
Reference had been made to the Bolshevik elementthey had in Broken Hill. This should not be ignored. If they had ignored “Fritz” he would have beaten them by now, and it would be the end of them instead of the end of “Fritz.” The “stunt” which had taken place on Sunday night, when the Bolshevik clement sang “ The Red Flag,” was a disgrace to the citizens of Broken Hill. If they could not stop it, they should not be called returned soldiers, but infants still at their mothers’ breasts. . . . The Bolshevik element should not only be put out of the jobs they held, but also out ‘ of the town. (Hear, hear, and applause.) He would be one who would help the workers to do it. There had been too much of mincing matters all along; there was too much of “ They don’t count,” and laughing at them when they showed disloyalty. (Applause.) The men were nothing but disloyal rebels. (Hear,hear.) Ifthe people laughed all the time at such disloyalty, they were going towards bringing about a state of Bolshevikismin Australia similar to that obtaining in Russia. (Applause.).
Sergeant. R. R. lnwood,V.C., said-
-is he the man who laid out half-a-dozen others?
Mr.CONSIDINE-No ; he is the man who is reported to have laid out halfadozen.
– He is a pretty good man.
-Sergeant lnwood- said -
I have very great pleasure in getting up to speak to-night. When I left here’in 1914 I was stoned by mongrels at the train as I went off. When I cameback those mongrels were the first to come up to me and shake me by the hand. What” will I Bay next? (laughter.)I am proud ofmy comrades who stuck to me. I do not give a continental for the dirty mongrels who stoned me when I left. (Applause.) The sooner they pull down their hall, the better. They did not have a flag up this afternoon, but it was soon put up. (Applause.) We know them, and we will know them again. If the boys stick together, like they did in France, there will be no Bolshevikism in this town. (Applause.) We want to do the same with them as they did in Queensland/ We should drive them from town to town.
A Voice. - We will give them what they got at Hughenden.
Sergeant lnwood. - I would like to be at one end of the street with a machine gun and have them at the other end. I would drive the mongrels out, and make them dance some as they went. (Applause.) I am surprised’ at you people allowing them to hold a picnic on Sunday.
A Voice. - We did not know anything about the matter.
Tha’t is the report published in the Nationalist organ in Broken Hill- of the speeches made on the night of the 12th inst. As a result of those speeches, several fights and a good deal of disorder occurred in Bi-oken Hill, and various meetings were held, at which speeches were made. In reference to an allegation at a subsequent meeting that the report published in the Barrier Miner was incorrect, that journal, on the 18th November, published a footnote to this effect -
Mr. Kerr was wrong when he told the meeting yesterday that the Miner published an incorrect report of speeches by Sergeant lnwood and Mr. G-. C. Dempster. The Miner report was true and correct, but false interpolations wore road into the report, and false comments made upon it outside the Trades Hall and elsewhere.
I wish to give the whole of the facts in connexion with this occurrence, and my object in bringing the matter before the House is to endeavour to prevent a recurrence of the regrettable happenings in Broken Hill and in other centres of the Commonwealth - not as a result of antagonism between soldiers and the workers, but as a result of an attempt by certain other interested individuals to provoke trouble between the returned soldiers and members of the working class. In this connexion it is only fair to .point out that on the loth November the following advertisement was published in the Barrier Daily Truth, the Labour organ: -
The members of’ the Barrier Returned Soldiers Association desire to inform the public of Broken Hill that they have no design against the Trades Hall, unionists’ residences, or other unionist buildings of any kind.
Any reports to the contrary are malicious mis-statements, and can in confidence be Ignored.
J. Stagatich, Secretary.
Honorable members will see that the Returned Soldiers Association was in no way responsible for the regrettable occurrences. In regard to the speech of ‘Sergeant lnwood, it must be said for him that he has had at the Front extraordinary experiences, which may have left him in such a state of mind that he was more susceptible, as afterwards transpired, to the suggestions of other men, who were not. returned soldiers, but who occupied the platform at the meeting on the 12th inst.,’ and were acting as prompters to him. We all recognise that when men have passed through the trials of warfare their nerves are not in a normal .state, and no doubt Sergeant Inwood’s feelings were played upon by other individuals.
– Was he stoned when he left Broken Hill?
– He says he .was.
– I know he does; but any man who was present on the occasion referred to by Sergeant lnwood knows that there was no stoning.
– Did the people give him a good send-off ?
– 41’here was some dissent and hooting when the first batch of soldiers left Broken Hill; but two of those who .participated in that hooting were in France six months later as members of the Australian Imperial Force. Certain lads did hoot some of the men when they were leaving the railway station at Broken Hill; hut there was no stone-throwing or violence of any description, except that, after the departure of the train, a number of civilians made an attack on the Socialists’ hall, and broke a few windows.
– It was not an enthusiastic send-off?
-No; but two of the men who participated in it subsequently enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force, and served in France. lT.-Colonel Abbott. - If gentlemen who were in Broken Hill at the time, and are in Melbourne now, assert that stones were thrown by the mob, and that the soldiers retaliated, will the honorable member dispute the statement?
– It is absolutely incorrect. I would not be so foolish aa to make a public statement as to the correctness of which I was not certain.
– Melbourne citizens who were in Broken Hill at the time tell a different story.
– I do n6t care how many come forward with a different story; I repeat that there was no stone throwing.
– What part did the honorable member play in the incident?
– I played no part in it.
– In Broken Hill it is said that the honorable member did.
– That is not so; the honorable member should wake up.
– Did the honorable member see the send off to these men ?
– I was not there.
– So that the honorable member is merely going upon hearsay evidence.
– No, I am taking the statements of men who were there. I invite honorable members who wish to ascertain the -facts for themselves, to read the reports of the occurrence as recorded in the two daily papers published at Broken Hill. In the local Nationalist organ there is an account of the disturbance, and we may rest assured that if any stone throwing had occurred it would have been recorded. Such an incident would not have escaped notice. A considerable number of returned men are standing shoulder to shoulder with the workers of Broken Hill, and have participated in the demonstrations which have since been held. That fact alone shows conclusively that there is no truth in these statements as to stone throwing.
As the result of these speeches, scenes such as those reported in the Barrier Daily Truth of 15th instant - amongst which are the following - have occurred : -
Semi-drunken returned soldiers, about twenty in number, were responsible for a series of brawls in Argent- streeet yesterday. The trouble commenced at the intersection of Argent and Chloride streets. The first man stuck up was Mr. J. S. Flynn, whom a returned soldier accosted with the question, “ What are you wearing that- red flag for? “ Mr.
Flynn retorted, “1 believe- it is the people’s flag.” Another individual interposed, saying; “ Sou called me a .police pimp in the Central Reserve,” to which Mr. Flynn replied, “I don’t know anything about that. I would be sorry to call any man a police pimp who was not.” The piece of ribbon that had been in Mr. Flynn’s coat was torn off, and one of the attackers proceeded to burn it. At that there was a scuffle, Mr. Flynn felling one individual; but in the process fell on top of him without hurt.
Several other incidents occurred, amongst them the following: -
A most cowardly incident was witnessed at the Grand Hotel corner. A civilian who approached from the direction of Sulphide-street was accosted by four or five warriors, and wa> deliberately tripped, presumably because he wore the red. Picking himself up the first time he was knocked down again, and upon trying to rise was struck with a pint tankard. A woman who rushed to his assistance was alsoknocked down with the tankard by a uniformed individual, who had been responsible for the previous reprehensible act. The insulted and ill-treated woman refused, however, to give the alleged man in charge.
As a result of these regrettable occurrences, a meeting was held, and a returned soldier informed the union authorities that at- that meeting it had been decided by -certain individuals, among whom there were only a few soldiers, to attack the Trades Hall, the Barrier Baily Truth office, and a building in Sulphidestreet, Broken Hill, known as the Socialist Hall. Union officials passed the word around, and the afternoon shift, instead of going to work, held a meeting. The result was that 5,000 of the Barrier workers decided to take steps to protect their halls from assault, no matter from what quarter it might come. On the Thursday, when the French Mission was at Broken Hill, fights took place betweenvarious individuals, and the outcome of this was that the afternoon shift on that day lost work. The unions held a. mass meeting, and took steps to secure immunity from attack by these interested individuals. As I have said before, the returned soldiers, as an association, repudiated any connexion with these deplorable events, and -last Sunday a Labour peace meeting was held in the Central Reserve, Broken
Hill, at which, I am pleased to say, the platform was occupied by returned soldiers as well as by union officials. Returned soldiers not only participated in the meeting, but, in uniform, and out of uniform, took the platform in support of the action of the Barrier unionists in defending themselves against these unwarrantable charges and against the premeditated attacks by certain individuals in this country whoare endeavouring to stir up strife between the returned men and members of the working classes organized in unions.
Lt. -Colonel Abbott. - The honorable member’s trouble is that the returned soldiers have been telling the Broken Hill people a few home truths. Is that not the point?
– No. We do not object to home truths, because both sides in Broken Hill are in the habit of telling them. What we do object to is the action of representatives’ of the employing classes in Broken Hill and elsewhere in making speeches with the object of inciting returned soldiers against the workers organized in unions. Those who make these speeches have not the excuse that soldiers have, who have been through the ordeal of battle. Every one can make allowance for the physical or mental condition of returned men who have passed through such scenes. The mine managers of Broken Hill, ‘however, have no such excuse for their action in playing upon the feelings of returned soldiers when they entertain them. They have no excuse for telling the soldiers of incidents that have never occurred, and so endeavouring to incite them to make attacks upon union property.
My desire is to prevent a recurrence of these troubles. I wishto avoid the occurrence of riots, not only at Broken Hill, but elsewhere. Why should the authorities permit people occupying exalted positions in the industrial life of the community to say what they please with the object of inciting against the working classes such of our returned men as are susceptible to their blandishments? Whv should they allow this to be done, while, on the other hand, in every case they avail themselves of the War Precautions Act to proceed against workingclass citizens, fining some of them and sending others to gaol? Why should they remain idle, so far as these exalted individuals are concerned, seeing that they avail themselves of regulations under the War Precautions Act to fine the publishers of Barrier Baily Truth £50 on a trumpery charge of printing an airticle prejudicialtorecruiting, when that article merely contained comments on the attempt of the mine-owners of Western Australia to obtain for their gold a bonus of £1 an ounce on the blood and suffering of the men at the Front, and not on their actual gold production. The authorities take action in such cases as these, but allow a mine manager to incite returned soldiers and other citizens of Broken Hill to attack the working class section of the community. If that is to be their attitude, then those charged with the preservation of peace and good order must be held responsible for anything that takes place in the country.
– Where were the police on this occasion?
– I am glad that the honorable member makes that inquiry. I shall read a statement onthe point.
Lt. -Colonel Abbott. - Does the honororable member assume that the police were “got at”?
– I do not; but I shall make the following quotation from Barrier Daily Truth of the 16th instant in regard to the comments made by the Police Magistrate in dealing with the cases of seven men who had been arrested. It is set out that the magistrate said that -
He would take a lenient view of the cases.
The remarks of some of the speakers were very indiscreet, and the actions of some of the others were the same. Faults had been prevalent on both sides, but they had to como to some reasonable understanding on the matters which they were disputing.
Five offenders then pleaded guilty, and were bound over, self in f 5, and one surety of f 5, to be of good behaviour for twelve months, in default imprisonment for one month. . . .
In dealing with another case -
Inspector Bannon said that, although the assaultwasa serious one, in view of the way the other defendants had teendealt with, he would like defendant to be dealt with the same as the others. Defendant was bound over to be of good behaviour for twleve months, self in £5, and one surety of £5.
The inspector of police saw the secretary of the MinersUnion and told him that the authorities would supply men to defend the Trades Hall, the Barrier Daily Truth office, and other property that might be in danger of attack. The secretary of the union told the inspector that his action on that occasion was a contrast to the action of the police in having permitted civilians to be assaulted on the previous day, and that if the unionists of Broken Hill could not protect their own property the sooner it was out of their possession the better. All this feeling and turmoil is the result of men in responsible positions, such as that of Mr. Hebbard, the manager of the Central Mine, taking the platform andmarking statements which give a lead to the action of others. If riots do occur at Broken Hill, or in any other part of Australia, as a result of similar speeches, and the Government take no notice, the workers of this country will come to the conclusion that there is one law for the working man who infringes the War Precautions Act in any way and another for such persons as mine managers.
– What is your complaint? What do you desire the Government to do?
– The Governmentought to intimate - not to the soldiers, but to those who incite the soldiers - that if this line of conduct is pursued and people are incited to violence, proper steps would be taken to prevent it. I have no desire to see anybody prosecuted, but the Government must make it quite clear that this sort of thing shall cease. Now that an armistice has been concluded, and the war is practically over, there must be no attempt to stir up strife or riot in the community. If our differences cannot be settled in a rational manner by the interchange of opinion, and if the Government will not enforce the law, they must bear the responsibility for any riots or bloodshed that may result from the workers of this country taking the law into their own hands in order to protect themselves from attack.
Motion (by Mr. Watt) put -
That the question be now put.
The House divided.
Majority . . . . 23
Question so. resolved in the affirmative.
Original question put, and resolved in the negative.
Lay-out of Lithgow and Canberra.
asked the Minister for Works and Railways, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are. as follow. -
In regard to the proposal to bring to Australia captured German cannon, and other war trophies, will he take steps to see that every Federal electorate in the Commonwealth shall equally participate in the distribution, quite apart from the proposal to establish a war trophy museum in each State?
What arrangements have been made with the War Office to bring the trophies to Australia?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Assistant Minister for Defence, upon notice -
Will he lay on the table of the House all papers in connexion with the inquiry into the case of Mr. Simeon Solomon, under section 46 of the Public Service Act, and also copies of all papers in connexion with his discharge?
– The papers will be laid on the table of the Library for the perusal of the honorable member.
New Zealand Reciprocity
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows : -
The question of reciprocity between the Commonwealth and New Zealand is under consideration here. No communication has been received from the. New Zealand Government. In some isolated instances, men of the one country have been assisted by the other, and the amounts refunded by the responsible authorities.
asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
Will the Government take steps at an early date to release the Irish internees, in view of the conclusion of an Armistice, and the expressed desire of the Acting Prime Minister to restore mutual good feeling in the Commonwealth ?
– This matter is awaiting full consideration of the Government on the declarationof peace terms, or some indication of the action to be taken by the British Government in regard to similar internees in the United Kingdom.
asked the Assistant
Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Assistant
Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
What is the total cost to date of the pricefixing administration and Government activities in connexion with the Government policy of price-fixing during the war?
– £30,496. The profits derived from the activities controlled by this branch have realized an amount of over £250,000, which sum has been paid to the Consolidated Revenue.
Assistant Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– Inquiry has been made, and the report which has been received is being laid on the table of the Library.
asked the Assistant Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
-The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
The matter was the subject of discussion at the recent Lands Conference, when it was agreed by Senator Millen that if, associated with the’ leases, there couldbe made available small holdings from which a settler might obtain a return while the oyster beds were maturing, a portion of the £500 advance might be applied to the development of such beds. A reply from the Minister for Lands, Now South Wales, is awaited.
asked the Minister in charge of Recruiting, upon notice -
Will he lay on the table of the House the full details of. the cost of the voluntary-ballot recruiting scheme, showing separately the expenditure in each State and at the administrative centre?
– The particulars required by the honorable member are as follow : -
Details of the Cost of Voluntary Ballot Recruiting Scheme.
Administrative Centre. - Printing voluntarv ballot cards, 750,000, £26913s. ; printing envelopes, 650,000 of each kind, £1,450; printing letters to accompany cards, 500,000, £220; printing stickers for publicity, £66; badges, £606; salaries, £135; total, £2,806 13s.
Various States. - Queensland, £2,096; New South Wales, £1,095 9s.; Victoria, £5,371; South Australia, £55; West Australia, £116; Tasmania, £25; total, £8,758 9s. Grand total, £11,565 2s.
The total given yesterday was £11,710, but on receiving the details from New South Wales, it was found that a sum of £145, included in their list, had also been included in Administrative expenses, which accounts for the difference.
FinalSorters - Employment of Returned Soldiers.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
Whetherhe will supply the following information: -
The number of letter-carriers and assistants that have been appointed to the position of acting final sorters in the Postal Department in the capital cities of the Commonwealth ?
Also (a) the length of service of each one appointed to such position, (b) the number that receive a salary at the rate of £168 per annum, (c) the number receiving a salary of £162, (d) the number receiving less than £162 per annum?
The number of returned soldiers employed as temporary postmen, motor andmail drivers in the Postal Department?
The number that have been employed in such positions continuously for (a) six months, (b) nine months, (c) twelve months,
eighteen months, and over?
– Inquiries are being made, and replies will be furnished as early as possible.
On the 8th November the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley) asked -
How many returned soldiers are employed as temporary assistants.’ postmen, and mail drivers in the Postmaster-General’s Department?
The answer is 772.
asked the Assistant Minister for Defence, upon notice -
Whether it is a fact that military officers abroad going overseas on leave or transport duty arc reduced to half pay until returned to their regiments?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
Wihen leave, at their own request, is granted to members of the Australian Imperial Force to return to Australia on private affairs, half pay is allowed from the date of embarkation abroad to the date of disembarkation on return. These officers are under the command of the officer commanding troops on the transport when returning, and may be allotted transport duty during the voyage, without additional pay.
asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
– I shall ask my colleague, the Acting Minister for Trade and Customs, to obtain’ and supply the House with the latest available information on the matter.
– On the 6th November the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Tudor) stated-
Some citizens of Italy, who are resident in Australia, are still being called up for military service abroad. In view of the armistice between Italy and Austria, will the Government take into consideration the hardships these people are undergoing - some of them having to sell their businesses at a loss - and see whether, under the circumstances, they can not be relieved from military service?
I am now able to furnish “the honorable member with the following additional information: -
This matter is being represented through the British Government to the Government of Italy. In the meantime, no Italians are being sent out of Australia.
– On the 6 th November the honorable member’ for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney) asked the following question : -
Statements have been made by the military police that their hours of duty are from 8 a.m. till 11 . p.m., and that meat is no longer served witu their last meal, which they have at 4.30 p.m. Their evening meal consists of only tea, bread, and jam, although they are kept on duty till 11 p.m. I ask the Assistant Minister for Defence why Captain Graham has ordered that change in the evening meal, and also why he said’ to a man named A. C. Fisher, who had obtained leave for forty-eight hours to attend an examination for the Railway Department, that he was a disgrace and a dishonour to the service, although the man has a good discharge after 505 days’ service? Is it the intention of the Department to starve the military .police, and thus render them unable to do their duty?
I have now received a report from the Military Commandant in connexion with this matter, in which it is stated that it is not considered that the police have any reasonable cause for complaint. Their work, in his opinion, is not hard, and their provisioning is satisfactory. The leave for men of the police force is arranged as follows : -
Each man gets two afternoons per week, from noon to fi.30 p.m., and two nights per week, from 5.30. until 8 a.m. next morning. They also have alternative Sundays. Where military police have to forego an afternoon owing to disembarkation of troops, &c, an endeavour is made to make it up.
The system of work is as follows : -
Daily. - One patrol goes on leave each day, but remains in camp as a reserve from 8 o’clock until noon, proceeding on leave at noon, and returning at 5.30, when they are on police duty until 10 or 11 p.m.
A second patrol goes on duty at 8 a.m., and is relieved at 5.30 p.m.
A third patrol, or the reserve patrol, stands by in camp from S o’clock until 5.30 p.m., when they go on duty, assisted by the men who have been on afternoon leave, and remain on duty until 10.30 or 11 p.m.
No alteration has been made in regard to the meals of the men by Captain Graham, and no complaints have been made by other members. The menu, which is very varied, is considered quite satisfactory. The evening meal is invariably supplemented with either cheese, cake, soup, or pudding.
It would appear that Captain Graham did his be3t, in the interest of the service, to assist . Private Fisher, who, though seemingly satisfied, made complaints unknown to his commanding officer.
The- following papers were presented : -
Defence Act.- Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1918, Nos. 281 and 282,
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
The object of this Bill is to remedy certain defects which have been found in the operation of the ‘Service and Execution of Process Act. In paragraph b of subsection 1 of section 15 that Act provides that where a summons or warrant has been issued against a person who has deserted, his wife or child, or left them without means, it may be served or executed in another State. Since the passing of the Act several States have amended their laws with respect to cases of desertion of wiy.es or children. The New ‘South Wales Government has brought under the notice of the Commonwealth Attorney-General the fact that there is no provision in the Commonwealth law to meet cases in which proceedings are taken for expenses before the birth of a child. The New South Wales Infants Protection Act of 1904 provides for the payment of preliminary expenses and the expenses of the future maintenance of the infant, and, in order to enable the service of proceedings under that Act in another State, we have been asked to amend our law by inserting the following words in section 15 : - or failed to make adequate provision for the payment of maternity expenses in connexion with the birth, or expenses in connexion with the future maintenance, of any infant of which he is the putative father.
Clause 3 amends section 18 of the original Act, which provides that when a warrant has been issued by any Court or Judge or justice of the peace having jurisdiction in any State or part of the Commonwealth for the apprehension or commitment of any person, that warrant may be executed within any other State . or part of the Commonwealth. But cases have arisen in which men have been convicted and have absconded from a State while waiting for an appeal to be heard, and there is no provision for the issue of warrants to secure their arrest in another State. This amendment removes that defect.
The next amendment affects section 22, which is one of the sections of that part of the Act dealing with the enforcement of judgments, and providing machinery for the enforcement in one State of a judgment that has been obtained in another State. Since the original Act was passed there has been a change in regard to Admiralty jurisdiction. Formerly, in some of the States the Courts of Admiralty jurisdiction were Imperial Courts, while in other States the Supreme Courts exercised Admiralty jurisdiction. Now, all Supreme Courts are vested with that jurisdiction. The amendment contained in clause 4 brings our law into harmony with the existing condition of affairs.
Clause 5 amends section 28, its object being to allow the making of regulations to provide for the service and execution in the Territories of the Commonwealth of the civil and criminal process of the Courts of any State or part of the Commonwealth, and the execution in those Territories of the judgments of those Courts, and vice versa.
– Could the Commonwealth law be used to ‘ make a man responsible for the support of his wife in cases where he has, not deserted her?
– We do not interfere with the substantive law of the States in matters such as that. All that our legislation does is to enable the processes or judgment of the Courts of a State or Territory to be served or enforced in any other part of the Commonwealth.
.- Having briefly and cursorily examined the measure, I see no reason for taking exception to it. Its provisions are likely to affect the supporters of honorable members opposite rather than the supporters of this party, who have less idle time on their hands.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported without amendment; report adopted.
Standing Orders suspended, and Bill read a third time.
Mr. WISE (Gippsland - Assistant
Minister for Defence [3.26]. - I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
Our original Defence legislation Avas passed in times of peace, and the war has discovered many defects in it which the Department has thought well to ask Parliament to remedy from time to time, as they arise, instead of allowing them to accumulate. The Bill deals first with the seniority of officers. The Act contemplates an Army Reserve, to be composed of men who have passed through the Citizen Forces, and makes the officers of that reserve juniorto those of the forces defined in the Act as “active.” The present reserve, however, consists of men who have been at the Front, and whom it would be improper to make junior to men who have not seen active service.
– The members of the Forces that have gone abroad are asked, when they return, to join the Army Reserve, and will carry their rank with them, but we wish to provide that they shall be senior to those who have not been to the Front. Without an amendment of the Act, thev would be junior to men of the Citizen Force who have never left Australia.
– There is to be no raising in rank.
-No. They merely retain the rank with which they come back.
The next amendment deals with the calling up of classes. Under section 60 there is power to call up classes of men, but we are allowed to call up only the whole of a class. The first class consists of those between eighteen and thirty-five years of age. When called up, they must be called up as a whole class. But it may not be necessary to call up a whole class, and during the war the Government called up only those from the age of twenty or twenty-one upwards instead of from eighteen. That action was not strictly in accordance with the Act, and we desire legislative authority for calling up part of a class, instead of a whole class, should it be necessarv.
– “Will the amendment allowing part of a class instead of a whole class to be called up also allow another class or a portion of another class to be called up as well ?
Mr.WISE. - One class must be exhausted before any of the next can be called up.
The Act provides, in connexion with cadet musketry training, that there must be certain practice with service rifles and ammunition on open ranges, no provision being made for previous practice at miniature ranges. A considerable amount of time is thus wasted, and there is useless expenditure on travelling and ammunition, because better results could be obtained by requiring a certain standard of efficiency at miniature ranges before sending the cadets to the musketry ranges. “We propose, therefore, to amend the Act to allow for this part of a cadet’s training to be dealt with by regulation. This will enable the training to be improved from time to time to secure greater effioiency.
– What is the meaning of the addition to section 61?
– It is considered desirable that persons who are exempted by the Act from service in time of war shall be required to take all the preliminary steps, including registration and medical examination, so that, should their exemption cease because of change of employment or status, no f resh proclamation may be necessary. Paragraph g of section 61 sets out that persons employed as medical practitioners or nurses in public hospitals are exempt from service in time of war, and the present proviso requires that this exemption shall not extend to duties of a non-combatant nature. It is unnecessary to include nurses in this exemption, inasmuch as the liability to serve in the Citizen Forces in time of war is imposed only upon the male inhabitants of Australia. So far as medical practitioners are concerned, all the younger ones will, by virtue of the compulsory training provisions of the Act, be officers in the Citizen Forces, and it will be unnecessary, therefore, to provide for calling them up under this part. It is not considered desirable that public hospitals shall be called upon suddenly to lose all their medical officers, and, therefore, the present provision, which requires that these persons shall be liable for service under Part IV. has been deleted, as there will be an ample number of medical officers available elsewhere.
Another alteration of more material consequence is proposed. Section 98 makes provision for the punishment of certain specific offences by the infliction of the death penalty by a court martial. It has been held that the words “ court martial “ under this section apply, not only to a court martial constituted under our Defence Act, but also, in the case of an Australian soldier serving with the. Regular Forces overseas, to a field general court martial convened under section 49 of the Army Act, and to a general court martial convened under section 122 of the Army Act. Two specific cases have arisen in which a member of the Australian Imperial Force while on service abroad has killed another person, but no provision Ls made in section 98 for the punishment of murder by death. Under section 41 (2) “of the Army Act, the only legal punishment which. a court martial can award for murder is death, but under section 98 of our Defence Act an Australian soldier cannot be sentenced to death by any court martial, even for murder. The question recently arose in two cases of soldiers who were on trial in Egypt and in Palestine for murder.
-Do you propose to give to the military authority the power to shoot a man without civil trial?
– We propose to give them the power to inflict the punishment of death for murder. In the cases to which I refer the Court was in a difficult position, because it could not legally pass a sentence of death under section 98 of the Australian Defence Act, and under the Army Act it could not award any sentence other than death. Of course, in ordinary circumstances the crime of murder would be tried, not by a court martial, but by a civil Court. That is the case where a civil Court is available. But a civil Court would not be available in France or Palestine.
– The prisoners, could be sent elsewhere.
– That could not be done; it would be necessary to send all the witnesses as well, and they could not be spared. At the same time, it is provided that the sentence of death shall not be carried out unless it is confirmed by the Governor-General in Council.
Sections 75 and 77 have proved to be difficult of administration, and require slight amendments in the wording in order to describe accurately the offences which these sections are intended to cover. The penalties also vary, and it is desirable that the maximum should be the same, and not less than six months’ imprisonment, and also that a monetary penalty should be added. It must be remembered that the circumstances of the cases differ tremendously, and it is necessary that a Court should have a wide discretion in awarding punishment, more especially as some individuals would probably prefer, when the penalty was not heavy, to undergo a short sentence rather than obey the Act.
There is another provision in reference to the legal status of rifle clubs. It is necessary at times for rifle clubs to sue or be sued, and clause 12 makes provision for them to be made corporate bodies, in order that they may sue or be sued in their own name, and hold real and personal estate.
The last clause deals with the records of trainees. Under the present system, not only must the record book and duplicate record book be kept up to date, but the history contained therein must also be provided in case the record books are lost or destroyed. It is proposed by clause 13 to introduce a record sheet which will enable a permanent record to be available always for all purposes.’ The whole history of each trainee will be kept on such record sheets, which will be maintained on the loose ledger system, one trainee’s history being placed on each sheet. These sheets will be bound up in loose leaf ledgers on a system approximating a card index, and will take the place of the duplicate records book.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Tudor) adjourned.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
This is one of the shortest measures ever introduced into the House, but it is of importance. By the Amendments Incorporation Act of 1905 Parliament provided for our Statutes to be brought up to date after each amendment, and issued in a consolidated form. The Queensland Parliament is the only other Australian Legislature that operates that principle. In other States amending Bills are continually passed, but there is no machinery for the regular consolidation of the Statutes, although it. is done periodically. The regular and automatic consolidation of Statutes is of very great convenience to honorable members, the professions and the general public. The sole purpose of this Bill is to rectify an omission from the original Act by providing that in future, when a consolidated Statute is published, the method of citation prescribed in the amending Act shall be inserted in substitution of the short title of the principal Act.
.- The consolidation of Statutes is a very good principle, and is of great convenience to honorable members. This Bill seems to be a step in the right direction. I am in hearty agreement with anything that can be done to simplify our laws. I have no doubt that the Acting AttorneyGeneral has studied the proposal from a legal stand-point, and has assured himself that no person will be disadvantaged by the passing of this Bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported without amendment; report adopted.
Standing Orders suspended, and Bill read a third time.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this measure is to give control over waters for naval purposes. Under the Customs Act we have control over water for purposes of trade and commerce, but there is no such control for naval requirements. The Bill is based on an Imperial Act of 1865, which was amended in 1868, and further amended in 1893. It may be described as a measure to provide for - (1) the safeguarding of warships and naval establishments at their bases; (2) the safety of civilian and commercial interests inthe vicinity of Naval Bases by regulating the use of the waters and foreshores where naval operations are carried on, and naval material is stored or manufactured; (3) against naval exercises and operations being interfered with, obstructed, or overseen at such places; and (4) for the prevention of the construction of any works,’ &c., at any port that has been developed for naval purposes, which would tend to interfere with the functions of a Naval Base. The Bill would apply at the present time to such places as Cockburn Sound, Westernport, and other Naval Bases, as well as Cockatoo Island.
– Will this power extend beyond the Department’s own property ?
– Only to waters and land in the vicinity.
– Would the Bill empower the naval authorities to override the Sydney Harbor Trust?
– Certainly !
– The Bill is based upon an Imperial Act which has been many years, in force, and a copy of which is available to honorable members.
– Could the Department under this Bill take control of any foreshore adjacent to a base?
-It could if it were considered necessary to do so, but it is unlikely that such an extreme measure would be taken unless there was abundant reason for it. The Bill was passed after a very short debate in the Senate, and I do not think there is anything in it to which exception can be taken.
.- This Bill is more far-reaching than the speech just made by the Minister would lead one to believe. Under it a regulation might be issued declaring thatthe whole of the waters of Westernport Bay, where we have a Naval Base, should be used for only naval purposes.
– That is not good enough.
– No ; it might also be applied to Jervis Bay, where we have the Naval College, Port Stephens, and Cockburn . Sound. Then, again, under it all waters within a quarter of a mile of the foreshore of Cockatoo Island or Garden Island might be proclaimed “ naval waters,” and ordinary navigation in such waters could thus be stopped.
– The Government would have no power to do that.
– The honorable member is under a misapprehension. The Constitution provides that where a Commonwealth law conflicts with the law of a State, then the Commonwealth law shallprevail. The Governor-General will have power under this Bill to make regulations for, amongst other purposes, the mooring or anchoring of vessels “ within, or so as not to obstruct navigation into, in, or out of naval waters.” Under such a regulation navigation for other than naval purposes might be prohibited in the whole of Westernport Bay.
– Is that not a rather exaggerated view to take of the power to be conferred on the Governor-General under this Bill ? Does not the honorable member admit that some such power must be given to the Naval Department?
– I admit that, it must have certain powers in>this direction, and since, according to the Minister, the Imperial . Act on which this Bill is based, was passed in 1865, and has not been amended since 1893, it is quite possible that legislation of this kind may be of a wise and necessary character. The utmost care, however, should be exercised by the Parliament in granting power to make regulations of this kind. During the last four years we have had an experience of the kind of regulations that may be passed under the powers conferred by an apparently simple and innocent looking Act. If honorable members had foreseen the class of regulations that would be passed under the War Precautions Acts, I do not think thev would have allowed that Bill to go through. Some of those regulations are altogether in excess of the power which we thought we were giving the Government when we passed that Bill.
There are ten clauses in the Bill before us, and the most important are clauses 3 and 4. Under clause 4 the Governor-General may make regulations providing for regulating the mooring or anchoring of vessels so as not to obstruct navigation in, into, or out of naval waters; for appropriating any space as a mooring place for the exclusive use of warships ; for prohibiting or restricting the entry into any naval waters of any vessel having explosives on board; for prohibiting or restricting the discharging of explosives in any naval waters; for restricting the use of fire and light on board any vessel in any part of any naval waters; for regulating the speed at which vessels may be navigated in such waters; for prohibiting or regulating the breaming, careening, and cleaning of vessels in any specified part of naval waters; for prescribing the lights or signals to be carried or used; for conferring powers of search; for prescribing penalties, not exceeding £100, or imprisonment for six months, for any contravention of the regulations ; and
Practically anything might be done under the paragraph I have just quoted. It is just possible that the States may discover that the control of their own harbors and dockyards has practically been taken from them.
We have to accept the assurance of the Minister that this Bill will be administered with caution, and will not be used to secure arbitrary powers such as are not suggested in the Bill itself. It must not be forgotten, however, that a similar promise was given to us by the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) in regard to the regulations relating to the censorship, and that such regulations have been most unsatisfactory, while their administration has been anything but fair. The regulations made under the War Precautions Act are not quite in accord with the statements that were made to the House as to the character of the Bill when we were discussing it some four years ago: The power conferred on the Governor-General to make regulations is really a power conferred upon the Minister administering the Act. Under this Bill, the Navy Department or the Navy Board may take power to control some of our finest harbors which have not yet been put into general use. They would have power, if they chose to exercise it, to practically prevent the navigation of Sydney Harbor for a quarter of a mile on either side of Cockatoo Island except by war vessels. We must exercise the greatest vigilance in dealing with measures of this kind. I certainly do not feel disposed to grant these extraordinary powers. lt is true that Parliament has the right to disallow any regulation, but in actual practice we have practically no opportunity to discussthem. A number of notices of motion to disallow regulations under the War Precautions Act have been placed on the businesspaper, but the Government have not afforded us an opportunity to discuss them. We can deal with such notices of motion only by shifting the present Government. It seems to me that we shall place in the hands of the Ministry too wide a power if we pass the Bill as it stands. The Australian Navy was able to carry on during the war without any of these powers; but I recognise that it may be said that since we are now constructing Naval Bases, the Department of the Navy requires more power in this direction than it has hitherto enjoyed.
.- In view of naval developments during the war, and of Australia having to set out on quite a new programme, so far as its naval defence is concerned, it is, I think, abundantly clear that the Department must have better control of naval waters than it has to-day. In fact at the present time there is practically no Navy control ; but, at the same time, it would have been better to postpone this Bill until the Government were dealing with the naval policy as a whole. The Minister for the Navy (Sir Joseph Cook) will, I suppose, be returning from the Old Country presently, bringing with him, no doubt, the most modern ideas of naval defence after close consultation with the British authorities.
– Early next year we expect to occupy the Flinders Naval Base, and we must have the powers given by the Bill.
– I have not the slightest objection to the Bill, but it does certainly give very wide powers.
– The powers are no wider than those exercised in other countries.
– However that may be, we shall after the war have to revise the whole of our defence system .on both land and sea; and in this revision the terms of peace will doubtless be a factor.
– Of course. Has not the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) threatened !
– Do not ask me to engage in your little quarrel with the Prime Minister.
– I have no quarrel with him.
– Unless there be great and immediate need for the Bill, in view of possible conflict with existing rights, mercantile or otherwise, T think we ought to wait until the return of the Minister for the Navy next year.
– But Parliament will probably be up in a few weeks, and we must have these powers.
– I have no objection to the Government taking absolutely necessary powers, but I think the pre.sent. proposal is premature, seeing the necessity there will be for sketching out quite a new naval policy in the future.
– This Bill does not affect policy at all.
– Perhaps not; but the Department is getting its house in order for the naval works, and, in anticipation of difficulties that may arise, are seeking the powers specified in the Bill.’ I do not question the right of the Government to take the powers, for the defence’ of Australia stands pre-eminently above every other interest; but has the Minister given consideration to the fact that Australia -will have to undertake a new naval defence scheme ? However, if the Minister assures me that these powers are required immediately I shall support the Bill
.’ - I suppose that if honorable members did not make a protest against what might, without offence, be described as the grasping position taken up by the Government, “we would be told in the future that no objection was made when the Department sought these powers by means of legislation. I quite agree that the Navy Department must have certain control over the waters. There are charts which indicate that Western Port is one of the finest ports in Australia. It has a consistent depth of water which in the future is bound to make it one Qf the largest of our commercial shipping centres.
– It has a narrow channel.
– On the contrary, it has an entrance 7 miles wide, with * depth of 120 feet, and there is an average depth of from 60 to 70 feet for miles inside. Moreover, the bay is large enough, I suppose, to enable quite a navy to manoeuvre. Port Phillip, on the other hand, presents difficulties at the entrance ; and the question is whether, in the matter of depth, we shall be able to keep pace with the increasing size of mercantile vessels. At the entrance to Port Phillip there is a bar of rock, which presents great- difficulty in navigation, and has to be blasted out, although at high tide the largest vessels can now be dealt with. While the Navy Department is perfectly justified in taking control of waters adjacent to the naval bases, I trust that, at any rate, a portion of Westernport may be permitted to become an important commercial shipping centre. I understand that the Commonwealth has purchased the Williamstown establishment, and that, as space is required there for an extension of the dockyards, it is necessary to remove the cadet, gunnery, torpedo, and other schools to Flinders. In the change I hope that, while the Department keeps, perhaps, its best eye on the naval side, it will at least not lose sight of the-fact that the commercial and mercantile sides have their claims. That is ah aspect of the question I earnestly impress on the Minister, with the object of securing full and free commercial development.
.- I look on this Bill with a considerable amount of suspicion and trepidation. It is a Bill apparently hatched out of war scare and war fever.
– That is not so; it is due to the fact that we are removing the establishment ‘ from Williamstown to Flinders Base.
– The. powers sought are not exercised at Williamstown.
– We have no naval base there. Our warships do not go to Williamstown.
– It is quite obvious that the. Navy must have sufficient power to protect its bases and- special spheres of operation, and that in time of war that power must be very wide and effective. This Bill ‘gives such tremendous powers to the Naval Board as might make one think that it was intended for war time and not for peace time. As an illustration, I invite honorable members to observe exactly what the Bill does include,- though it is quite obvious that nothing we on this side will say will have any effect. The Minister has in- .troduced the Bill on behalf of the Government; and the influence we might wield is shown in the fact that, in addition to the Minister, there are only two Government supporters present. How can I hope, for instance, to convert the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Bruce Smith), or the honorable member for Denison (Mi. Laird Smith) in their absence 1 If they were present they might be prepared to listen, and inclined to see that, at any rate, some of our” statements have reason behind them.
The definition clause contains the following : - “Naval waters” .means any port, harbor, haven, roadstead, sound, channel, creek, bay, or navigable river of Australia in, on, or near to which the Commonwealth now or at any time hereafter .has . any naval establishment, dock’ dockyard, steam factory yard, victualling yard, arsenal, wharf, or mooring, and includes the sea bod or river bed of any such port, harbor, haven., roadstead, sound, channel, creek, bay, or navigable river, up to and including high-water mark.
In Brisbane the Navy Department has its naval stores on the river, right in the very heart of the city. According to this Bill, the Board will have .absolute control over the whole of the navigation of the Brisbane River, with absolutely no limitation, in war or peace.
– They can do that’ how under the War Precautions Act.
– That only emphasizes the point I made previously that this is a war-time measure and not a Bill to be applied to peace time. One might easily understand all the power which this Bill seeks to give being required in war time.
– Has there been any abuse of these powers in Brisbane ?
– They have been used to an extent under the War’ Precautions Act; but whereas that measure gave general powers, this Bill gives specific powers. I invite honorable members to look at clause 5 and compare it with the definition of “naval waters.” The Minister may make regulations to prohibit the construction of any jetty, wharf, building, or structure in any defined naval waters, or any factory or store within 5 miles of the limits of a dockyard, or within 2 miles of the limits of any defined naval waters. In plain language, that means that at any time the Minister for the Navy may prohibit the erection, of a building in Brisbane without his permission.
– The honorable member has omitted to explain that the provision in the Bill refers to factories or stores for explosives, oil, or other inflammable material.
– Twenty miles . above Brisbane, on the Brisbane River, there 33 a reserve for an explosive magazine, at Sherwood. As it has a river frontage it will probably come under the control of the Naval authorities, and may be defined as “naval waters.” Within 2 miles of that reserve the Minister could prohibit the erection of any store.
– -NO. He could only prohibit the erection of a store for explosives or other inflammable material.
– It is a pity that I am not allowed to make my own speech.
– I ask ‘ honorable members to cease their interjections.
– -Stores for explosives, oil, or other inflammable” material are already required to ‘be built a considerable distance outside city boundaries for the sake of public safety, and if the Naval authorities are given power to prohibit their erection within 2 miles of any defined naval waters this authority will “impinge upon that of the State Governments and municipalities in a hundred different ways.
– There are two big oil stores in Sydney Harbor, on the foreshore.
-^; is generally necessary that these oil stores should be on water frontages, but the Naval authorities will have the power to prohibit the erection of any wharf or building which may be necessary for ordinary commerce. I admit that in war time all such matters should be under proper control ; but if we seek to take this authority in times of peace it will lead us into no end of trouble, and bring about a series of conflicts between the Naval authorities and municipal or harbor authorities.
– If the Navy do any of those extreme things to which the honorable member has referred, would not the Commonwealth Parliament immediately repeal the statute?
– It has” to be assumed that there is common sense behind the ad-, ministration of an Act.
– A moment or two ago the Minister reminded me that these powers already existed under the War Precautions Act. It is our bitter experience of that Act which makes us so suspicious as to what might be done under this Bill.
– I know of no extreme things that have been done by the Navy under the War Precautions Act.
– Notice has been given of a Bill to extend the provisions of the War Precautions Act, and I can promise the honorable member that when that measure comes forward we shall treat him to a. few illustrations, and give a few reasons why the Act should not be extended. For the moment I cannot mention any extreme action which has been taken by the Navy Department under the War Precautions Act, but the point is that under this Bill it is acquiring powers which it already possesses under the War Precautions Act, and which are so unlimited that it is inconceivable that they should be necessary in peace time. It seems to me that there is no guarantee to the local authorities, who depend upon navigable harbors and rivers for carrying on their affairs, that- regulations drawn up by the Minister for the Navy may not seriously interfere with all their operations. The Department of the Navy even . take authority to order the removal of any vessel, and to board any vessel and unmoor it.
– It is absolutely essential that they should have that power.
– They can do it now under the ordinary law’.
– If they have that power under the, ordinary law there is no necessity for passing it in this Bill. There is no doubt the Navy should be given free and . unfettered control over waters for their purposes; but, surely, they will not require the unlimited powers that this Bill will give. They are given in such extraordinary directions that one is naturally led to the conclusion that hereafter there will be no need for any harbor or port authorities, and that’ permission must be obtained from the Minister for the Navy before anything is done on a foreshore.
– This Bill is based on the Imperial Act.
– The fact that it is based on the Imperial Act is no recommendation for it. We have been following Imperial measures too slavishly. Nothing brings the Courts of Australia into more ridicule than does the fact that they hase their decisions on statutes passed in the reign of Queen Anne. I do not criticise the Imperial authorities in regard to what they consider necessary for the purposes of their Navy. I am thinking of what is necessary in Australia. I am second to none in my desire to see that our Navy is amply strengthened in order to meet all requirements for the defence of Australia, but I cannot see that we should do something simply because it is done in the Mother Country. The Minister cannot get over the fact that under this Bill he will have power to prohibit the erection of a jetty or wharf, or the passage of any boat up a river, port, or harbor, no matter whether it be a row-boat or not.
– Yea. That is quite right, so long as it is in defined naval waters.
– The definition of “naval waters” is so extremely wide that because the Department of the Navy have stores in the centre of Brisbane, it is sufficient to give them authority over the whole of the Brisbane River.
– Why should they not have that power if they “need it 1 It must not be thought that the Department will use it. In any case it would, be very funny if an emergency arose, and the Navy did not have the power to do these things.
– The honorable member has just given away the whole case. If an emergency did arise, Parliament would be just as ready as it was when the War Precautions Act was introduced to give the necessary power.
– But. the House might not be sitting. There might not be more than twenty-four hours available in which to meet the emergency.
– ‘What emergency does the honorable member ‘anticipate would arise so suddenly as to justify the exercise of such drastic powers on the part of the Navy?
– I do not know,’ but surely the Government would not act unless the circumstances warranted it.
– Then the admission is that this Bill is necessary because of something that may happen.. Because of something which is likely to happen, the Government are to be given the authority which .they already possess under the War Precautions Act. These powers are to be made a permanent feature of the operations of the Department of the Navy. Possibly, for some time the Minister will be careful not to bring himself into conflict with the local authorities by the exercise of these powers, but we must not take things as we find them ; we must look to the future. One thing more than another that is demanded from honorable members in this House is foresight. It is our duty to foresee what’ effect this Bill may have. I can foresee no necessity arising demanding that the powers asked for in the Bill should be permanently placed in’ the hands of the Minister for the Navy. If an emergency should arise the Parliament would unhesitatingly give the Minister these powers.
– If it were sitting at the time, it would do so.
– The law is that if a state of war is proclaimed by the GovernorGeneral the House must be immediately summoned.
– I am contemplating an emergency that may arise in peace time.
– What is likely to happen ?
– The honorable member has already asked to be permitted to make his speech without interruption.
– From one point of view, this Bill may have an effect in a direction pleasing to me, but that is not its purpose. The Bill is a step towards Unification, because it makes the Federal authority supreme in the control of ports, harbors, rivers, and so on all over Australia. I believe in Unification, because I think that one authority should deal with all matters of general concern. But this Bill is not put forward as a measure of Unification, and honorable members opposite, if it were so put forward, would object to it. I do not think that they realize its nature. They have not had an opportunity to consider it, yet, like sheep, they follow the lead of the Government, consoling themselves with the reflection that they have been elected to support the Ministry. The Bill gives to the Commonwealth powers over the navigable waters of Australia which will diminish, and to a large extent exclude, the authority of the State Governments.
.- Like the honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. Finlayson), I regard the Bill as dangerous and detrimental to State interests. Personally, 1 do not think that the Government will be able to exercise the powers given under it, except in war time. The definition of “ naval waters “ includes any port, harbor, haven, roadstead, sound, channel, creek, bay, or navigable river of Australia, in, on, or near to which the Commonwealth now, or at any tune, may have any naval establishment, and includes the sea-bed or riverbed up to high-water mark. Port Jackson cannot properly he regarded as a naval base, but under the definition to which I refer its waters will be naval waters, and subject to the control of the Commonwealth Government. At the present time it is governed by the Sydney Harbor Trust, a body appointed by the Government of New South Wales,. which possesses sovereign rights. The Trust has framed certain regulations controlling the use of _the harbor. Under the Bill, a vessel loaded with explosives could not anchor within 2 miles of Garden Island, because of the naval establishment there. Similarly, the use of the waters near the Ordnance Store at Leichhardt would be restricted. The House may not be inclined to regard me as a constitutional authority, but I would remind members that when the Commonwealth tried to get possession of Garden Island, the New South Wales Government prevented it from doing so. Under the Bill, explosives, oil, and other inflammable material must not be stored within 2 miles of a wharf or jetty belonging to the Navy Department. Now, on the Parramatta River the Shale Oil Company has an oil store within 2 miles of Cockatoo Island, where there is a naval dock, and further up the river there is a petroleum store, which is also within 2 miles of the dockyard.
– Clause 5 says the Minister “may.”
– The honorable member, as a lawyer, should know that in an Act of Parliament “ may “ means “ shall.” Why should the Naval Department have the right to regulate the speed’ of vessels on Sydney Harbor, except during war time? I am sure that honorable members generally do not desire to hand over to the Navy Department the control of the commerce of cities like Sydney and Melbourne, and when they realize what the Bill proposes they will not agree to it. As a New South- Wales representative, I shall contest every clause, and put every obstacle in the way of handing over the control of our harbors and rivers to a
Commonwealth Department. The Minister referred to the powers of the Imperial Naval authorities, but he forgets that there is no navy depot close to that part of- London where the wharfs are situated.
– There is the victualling yard at ‘Deptford.
– No explosives are kept there. About 1861 or 1862 there was a series of explosions at powder mills there, but now explosives are not kept near London. The control of places like Westernport and Port Stephens, where there is very little mercantile shipping> might perhaps be left to the Navy authorities, but they should not have the powers given’ them in the Bill. The honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. Finlayson) pointed out that under the Bill they could take control of the commerce of Brisbane, regulating all the traffic on the Brisbane River between the sea and the city and 20 miles above the city. The Bill provides that explosives shall not be stored within 2 miles of any defined naval waters. But if that provision were applied to Sydney Harbor, there would be a great interference with commerce. The Government should have the Bill redrafted.
– Do you think that there should he any Bill at all?
– Except during war time, it is unnecessary in regard to ports like those of Melbourne and Sydney.
– And in war time it is not needed, because the Federal Government has extraordinary powers.
– It is necessary to store inflammable materials on the shores of Sydney Harbor, but under the Bill the Navy authorities could interfere with that. I am quite sure the honorable member will agree that that is not right. With a plausible Minister in charge this Bill might easily slip through a House in which members do not scan very closely the legislation introduced by the Government. I do not think that the provisions of the measure can override the sovereign rights of the States. Sydney Harbor and all the establishments connected with it existed before the Commonwealth was created, and the Federal authority has no right to interfere with them. 1 recollect the trouble that occurred in connexion with a proposal that Garden Island should be transferred . to the Commonwealth. The Imperial authorities received that island in exchange for land at the bottom of. George-street, now forming portion of Circular Quay.’ It was given to the Imperial Government for contain purposes, and they were willing to transfer it to the Commonwealth on the one condition that His Majesty’s Imperial ships should have the use. of it. for repairs and other work of that kind. But the State Government, in defence of State rights, objected to the transfer, with the result that the” island still remains the property of the Imperial Government, although the Commonwealth is allowed full use of it. This Bill will give the Commonwealth power to regulate the speed at which vessels may be navigated in any specified part of naval waters, which are defined as waters where the Commonwealth has any naval establishments. That means that the. Navy Department may take control of all the navigable waters of Port Jackson. Surely the Government do not desire that “naval officers shall prescribe the speeds at which ferry boats shall run up and down Sydney Harbor, or the pace at which a man may propel a canoe. Honorable members will admit that it is necessary for commercial firms to have store houses about the harbor at which ships may “discharge explosives, or oil, or other commodities, which are to be kept in n safe position until they are required. The Cockatoo Island Naval Establishment is not 2 miles from the Balmain shore, on which there are all sorts of . shipping yards and stores. It would be possible under this Bill for the Navy to require them all to be shifted. Regulations may be made which may prohibit the construction within 5 miles of a dockyard of any factory or store for explosives or any other inflammable material. Are the Government to have authority to order the removal of factories that are established on the shores of Sydney Harbor? Under the definition of “vessel,” the Navy Department will have, power to dictate to everybody, and it will almost be necessary to obtain the permission of the authorities to hold a regatta on a holiday. The only excuse I can imagine for some of the provisions in this- Bill is that it was drafted by a naval officer who did not appreciate the considerations I have mentioned. The present harbor regulations provide that a vessel arriving with explosives or inflammable material on board must not go beyond a prescribed anchorage, where the dangerous cargo is removed in the interests of the safety of the city. The Bill will confer power to interfere with that regulation. Nobody will object to the Navy Department having control Over purely naval waters; but even under Unification some Board or other civil authority would be required to control each port for commercial purposes. I am certain that the commercial community of Sydney will agree that the’ powers conferred in this Bill exceed the Navy’s requirements. The Commonwealth should not be given, authority to remove any existing oil store. Some portions of the Bill will be of no avail, because they represent an interference with the constitutional rights of the States. I shall not vote against the second rending, because I believe it is necessary for the Government to have control of naval waters, such as the Base at Flinders and Cockburn Sound ; but I hope the Government will recognise the wisdom of amending the measure in the directions I have indicated.
.- There is danger in hurrying through the Hou.se a measure of this sort. I am prepared to admit the necessity for the Commonwealth having control of purely naval waters, such as Henderson- and Flinders Naval Bases; but. having regard to the conditions in Sydney Harbor, where the naval authorities have all sorts of victualling yards, stores, and repair shops, the powers of the Bill are excessive. The volume of foreign and Inter-State ship1 ping that passes in and out of that harbor is enormous, and I see a danger in giving the naval authority power by regulation to suddenly deprive shippers and owners of workshops in close proximity to naval dockyards qf the right’s they have enjoyed for years past. The interests of these people can be seriously interfered with upon the recommendation of the Navy Board. Their rights may be taken from them by the issue of a regulation under this Bill while the doors of Parliament are- closed. These are dangerous powers to confer on any body outside the Parliament itself. It might be necessary to exercise them in time of war when we have to provide against sudden emergencies, but in time of peace we should not give any body outside Parliament itself the power to interfere with the ordinary course of commercial undertakings.
Let us consider for a moment how this Bill might operate. Our naval repair yards are situated at Garden Island, which is practically at the entrance of Sydney Harbor, and the whole of the shipping entering Port Jackson has to pass close to that island in order to reach the various wharfs. The island is in one of the narrower portions of the Harbor, and vessels. have to steer a course which brings them close to it.
– Under the Imperial Act there is a regulation which provides that “ no boat shall approach within 100 feet of His Majesty’s Dockyards.” Would it interfere with shipping in Sydney Harbor to provide that no vessel should approach within 100 feet of Garden Island ?
– The conditions in Great Britain are totally different from those operating in Australia. I can well understand that such a power is necessary in connexion with certain naval bases in the Old Country, and that in the absence of such power there mightbe serious danger of something happening. But shipping in Sydney Harbor has necessarily to go within a short distance of Garden Island, where these naval works are situate. Then, again, we have the Darling Harbor wharfs,- at which all Our big oversea vessels are berthed. Our v big wheat stacks are there, and oversea vessels load and discharge cargo of . all kinds at the Darling . Island wharfs. At the end of the island - on what is known as Spion Kop - there is a naval victualling yard, so that we might wake up one morning to find that a regulation had been issued under which our oversea shipping had been ordered to leave their berths at Darling Island.
– Is that probable?
– Anything is likely to happen under the Naval administration as we know it, and I maintain that this power should not be given.
– Did anything of the kind occur during the war while we had control ?
– If the Navy Department has had the right to exercise such powers as these under the War Precautions Act, can the Minister point to any instance where it has done so? Has there been any need during the war to put such a power into operation ? This Bill threatens a serious danger in respect of the big oversea vessels which load and discharge cargo at Darling Island. Their loading operations might be seriously interfered with, or the vessels themselves might suddenly .be ordered from their berths. The power to do anything of the kind is one that Parliament should retain, and it should be exercised only by legislative enactment.
Going further up Sydney Harbor we reach the big repairing and constructional yards at Cockatoo Island. On the north side of the Harbor - in the electorate of North Sydney, and not more than a mile and quarter from the Naval Dockyards at Cockatoo. Island - we have the Shell Oil Works and large petroleum’ depots. Is Parliament going to give the Navy Board power to issue a regulation . ordering the ‘owners of those establish ments in which employment is given to a large number of workmen, and on which thousands of pounds have been ex- ‘pended to remove them ? Are the owners of these depots to be left to the tender mercies of the- Navy Board, at whose sweet will they may be ordered to quit since they are within the prohibited area of 2 miles of a naval dockyard? Then again, Cockatoo Island commands the entrance to the Lane Cove River and the Parramatta River. A little further up we have Spectacle Island, which is devoted to such a purpose that under this Bill no vessel would be allowed to navigate o the waters in close proximity to it. Is the Navy Board to have power by regulation to put a stop to all traffic up the Parramatta River? If the Bill be passed, as it stands, the Government will be able to issue a regulation declaring; that these are “ naval waters,” and that the whole of the Parramatta River shall be closed to the people of Sydney. The Minister for the Navy (Sir Joseph Cook) will not be at all pleased if, upon his return from the Old Country, he discovers that during his absence the entrance (to this fine river, which is the pride of Australia, and is really the entrance to his electorate, has been closed to general traffic. While I am. quite prepared to say that Parliament should have the power to do anything in this direction that is necessary for the safety of the country, I am not prepared to give to any body outside Parliament the right to take away the rights and liberties, and to seriously interfere with the commercial- enterprises of the people.- ‘
We -have also to consider how regulations passed under this Bill might affect Balmain, which is about a mile and a quarter from Cockatoo Island. On the Balmain foreshore we have various large industrial undertakings. We have there, amongst other industries, yards where the repairing, breaming, careening, and cleaning of commercial vessels - works specially mentioned in this Bill - are carried on. Such establishments could thus be prohibited. In other words, the whole of our works at Balmain could be closed down by a regulation issued under this Bill. On the Balmain foreshore, opposite Cockatoo Island, we have large paint and oil works, which have been established in recent years, and on which there has been a very considerable outlay. These works come within the immediate scope of this Bill. They belong to the class of industry which under it may be prohibited if they are within 2 miles of naval yards. Are the owners to be at the mercy of the Naval Board? They have had the pluck and enterprise to establish this industry at Balmain, and this House should hesitate to give to any outside body the power to order its removal.
If the Minister says that the object of this Bill is to’ secure uniform control of naval waters throughout Australia, my reply is that the proper way to secure that uniformity is to seek Constitutional power to bring about Unification. If the powers are to be exercised, let the Commonwealth Government itself exercise them, and not farm them out to others under regulation’s. I urge the Minister to put the Bill into dock for repair and overhaul, because I do not think that it has received the consideration to which it is entitled.
– I take different ground from that of previous speakers in opposing the Bill. First of all, I think that the Navy Board and the Ministry, whatever the personnel, will always have enough common sense to insure that no regulation will be passed with the effect of closing up particular works; in any case, we can rely on Parliament to see that justice is done in this regard. It is dangerous to (jive any Government power to issue regulations indiscriminately, but we must remember that we are the masters of the Minister and of the Navy Board, and that if they do any injustice in any part of the Commonwealth, it will be’ our duty to apply a remedy. I feel quite sure . that whoever the Minister may be. Sydney Harbor, and other harbors throughout the Commonwealth, will be quite safe so far as the factories, and works there established are concerned. The Minister for the Navy (Sir Joseph Cook) is said to have visited all the Navy dockyards and works at Home; indeed, one of the objects of his visit was to enlighten his mind, and obtain a broader view of naval works in other, parts of the world. If his visit is to be of any benefit to this country, I think we should wait until he returns to give us the benefit of his experience before we legislate.
We are told by the Acting Minister for the Navy (Mi1. Poynton) that these powers are required in view of the removal of the establishment from Williamstown to Westernport. If that is so, it would be quite a simple matter to pass a Bill, giving the Navy Board control over the waters around Flinders Naval Base. To this, there would be no objection ; but it is sought to take powers over waters throughout the Commonwealth. Our aim in engaging in the great life and death, struggle, which we hope. has now happily ended, was to break down the military and naval power of our enemies; and unless we succeed, all the lost lives, and the enormous expenditure involved, will have been almost wasted. We . have fought, and we desire peace, because we hope to see, as a result, lessened expenditure on armaments. I take it that one of the ideas underlying the League of Nations, which we hope will be brought about,, is disarmament; and this, of course, must mean a cessation of naval construction. It may turn out when the terms of peace are all settled that Australia will not be called upon to supply a Navy. The League of Nations, I understand, means that there shall be one Navy controlled by that League. and that Great Britain shall be one of the contributors.
– You would not expect the League of Nations to exercise such powers as are con templated in the Bill?
– I am suggesting that if the result of the League of Nations is what we anticipate, we shall not need these great Naval Bases, for which we are making preparations. If the League is to be of any benefit to humanity, there must result a curtailed expenditure on the Army and the Navy. We did not go into the war with the idea of getting so many millions of pounds in indemnity or territory, but to break down the military despotism in Europe: and the fact that peace has almost been declared should cause us to hesitate before we give greater powers to the Naval authorities. In my opinion, if, after the League of Nations is formed, we here are called upon to maintain a Navy, our present establishment will be more than enough for requirements. I oppose the Bill, because I think it is not introduced at the proper time. After peace has been, declared the Government ought to come down with a defence programme, in view of the facts as we shall then know them. At present everything is in the melting pot, and until we know the results of the Peace Conference we are groping in the dark. On these grounds I suggest that the Bill be postponed until the return of the Minister for the Navy (Sir Joseph Cook).
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 (Short title).
.- I think the Minister (Mr. Poynton) might pay regard to the statements of previous speakers, and give the Committee some explanation as to the urgency of the Bill, and as to whether it will involve any very considerable additional expenditure. I take it that the honorable gentleman has good reason for ‘ introducing the Bill at the present time, but he ought to tell us why it. is regarded as so urgently necessary, when there are other important questions, more far-reaching in the interests .of the people, awaiting discussion. It has also been suggested to me that the Minister might explain how far the Bill will affect the expenditure on- private works now in progress,- near any of’ -these Naval Bases. I take it that the Bill has no bearing on the policy of the Government in regard to constructional work, and that the Navy Board will not exercise any autocratic authority, and call for the discontinuance of any existing industry, unless that be absolutely necessary for the protection of the Bases. The Bill, I think, might well have waited until we have had a comprehensive review of the whole question of the construction of Naval Bases and the control of the foreshores of the Commonwealth.
– I am under the impression that at. present the Naval authorities have no legal right or power to interfere in any harbor or waterway in any part of- Australia. Under local Acts, Harbor Boards have certain powers, and it seems an anomaly that the Navy Board should have none; but the reason is that it is only a few years since our Navy was created. When vessels of the Royal Navy come into our waters they exercise all the rights and powers conferred upon them under the Imperial law; but if the Sydney or the Australia were to return, as we hope they shortly will, it would be quite open for a master of a vessel who had anchored quite close to one of those men-of-war to refuse to move.
– I am not objecting to the powers conferred by the Bill.
– The inference I drew was that the honorable member thinks there is no necessity for this sort of legislation.
– I merely ask the Minister to explain the urgency of the Bill.
– I think I am right in saying that without these powers the Navy is very liable to be defied in the way I have suggested; and that is not a dignified position for the Navy to occupy. Itis not desirable that such powers should be given by means of a regulation under the War Precautions Act; they should be conferred by means of an Act of Parliament.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 2 agreed to.
Clause 3 (Power to define naval waters and appoint harbor masters, &c).
.- Every honorable member who has spoken has been wide of the mark. The Government are merely asking that the power which is given to the Imperial’ Navy in regard to British waters shall also be given to the Australian Navy in regard to Australian ‘ waters. The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. West) is very much concerned abouthis “beautiful harbor.” I arn sure that the Commonwealth Government have no desire to take away the rights of the State Governments in regard to Sydney Harbor, the Brisbane River, or the beautiful’ Yarra, but I maintain that the Australian Navy should be given the authority to close certain portions of these rivers and harbors just as the Imperial Navy has power to close certain waters. It is like beating the air to oppose the proposal. We have not heard of an instance in which the’ Imperial Navy or the Australian Navy have done anything under either the Defence of the Realm Act or the War Precautions Act which could be called into question.
– The honorable member for Maranoa has put the position accurately. This Bill is based on the Imperial Act. We are about to take over the Flinders Naval Base, and unless legislation of this character is passed, vessels coming into Westernport can tie up to our wharfs, or even to our warships, and we shall be powerless to prevent it. The Customs Act gives the Minister for Trade and Customs control over waters for Customs purposes, and the State authorities have control oyer waters for marine purposes; but the Navy has no control over the waters of the Commonwealth. It has been suggested that the Bill should be postponed until a new naval policy is defined, but there is nothing in the measure that could affect) any such policy. I am assured by the Department of the Navy that the powers given in this Bill are urgently required. The suggestion has been put forward that terrible obstruction might be caused in the Brisbane River or Sydney Harbor, but I Gannot conceive of any Parliament tolerating such extravagances in administration. The Imperial. Government issue regulations indicating the localities that pass under, the British. Act. The same will be- done here. Very little additional expense will be entailed in administering the measure.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 4 (Power to make regulations).
– I take exception to the power given in all our recent legislation to frame regulations without the necessity of submitting them to Parliament. In our earlier legislation it was always provided that regulations must be laid before both Houses, and I think that similar provision should be made in this Bill, and that honorable members should receive copies of any regulations which are framed. I know that the Minister has said that he cannotimagine certain things being done by any reasonable Government, or, in fact, any Government in power in the Commonwealth, but knowing that it is the aim of departmental officers to reach out for as much power as possible, I am very reluctant to hand over to them the power to make regulations which have not to be submitted to Parliament. Officers in the Defence and Naval Departments, who think themselves the lords of creation, and imagine that they are all powerful, will have the power to frame these regulations.
– They must satisfy the Minister.
– In 99 cases out of 100 the Minister is satisfied. We have had more regulations* issued under the War Precautions Act than under all our other Acts, and many of them are not at all necessary. Ministers must be guided by the officers of their Departments. If their officers say that such-and-such a regulation is absolutely necessary, Minis- ters must be” on extraordinarily firm ground before they can even refer it back again for consideration. Hitherto we have had too much government by regulation. Parliament is now surrendering to the Departments a power which, in the future, they can only be deprived of by amending legislation.
– No doubt Parliament should always be careful in regard to the powers contained in a Bill in regard to which regulations may be enforced, but this measure is merely giving to the Australian Navy powers which the Imperial authorities possess. One characteristic of the Imperial Navy is its jealous- regard for its prestige, and everything associated with it. During this war we have not been able to learn what the Navy has done. Even if it has performed remarkable deeds of valour it has kept them to itself, because it is against its traditions to speak of them. We can depend upon it that our Navy will have the same jealous regard for its prestige, especially now that our ships hu ve been associated with the Royal Navy during the present war. Is it likely that those advising the Government would frame a regulation that was not needed for the protection of the interests of our Navy, which has a national work to perform? In the abstract there is -something in what has been said by the honorable member; but, to my mind, it would not conduce to efficiency to give more opportunity for parliamentary obstruction of the administration of the country’s affairs. I have no fear that any regulation will be of a character to call for challenge by Parliament. Should such a regulation be framed, not it, but the existence of the Government responsible for it, would be challenged.
– I agree generally with what the Leader of the Opposition has said concerning regula tions, and I have regretted hundreds of times the vote I gave allowing the Government to make regulations under the War Precautions Act. But I have read the list of subjects in regard to which it is proposed to give the Naval authorities power to make regulations, and I find nothing to object to in it. I think that this power is needed. Surely what is good enough for the Imperial Navy should -be good enough for ours, and weshould give ‘our Naval authorities the power that is given to the Imperial Naval authorities.
Clause agreed to.
Clause’ 5 (Construction of certain buildings may be prohibited).
.- Is it necessary to fix the distance within which the construction of certain buildings may be prohibited at 5 miles? There was an oil depot at .Spotswood, close to, and another one at, Williamstown, within 150 yards of the Naval Depot there. At Gore Bay, on Sydney Harbor, the British Imperial Company has oil tanks which are hot more than lj miles in a straight line from the Cockatoo Island Dockyard.
– But the Imperial Government, although possessed of the power which it is proposed to give to our Navy Department, did not object to those tanks.
– Our Navy authorities will not necessarily prohibit a thing because they have the power to do so.
– They would not make a prohibition without very good reason.
– We must remember that the Imperial Act was framed as long ago as 1865, and that it is twenty-five years since it was last amended. Since then we have greatly increased our knowledge of the explosiveness of oils.
– Is this power likely to be abused?
– I do not think so.
– At Sydney there is a store for explosives which I should like to see removed.
– If any removals are made the owners of ‘the property should be compensated. In the seventies the Cerberus, which was then an up-to-date boat of her class, used to lie close to a couple of hulks on which explosives were stored. These hulks are now moored in Altona Bay. The danger of explosions of oil is not so great as it was twenty-five years ago.
– Is not the danger of petrol explosions very great?
– I have not heard of a petrol explosion having effect over a distance of more than half a mile. It is the State Parliaments that should regulate the storage of explosives and inflammable material. At the Victoria Dock there is a store of petrol which is close to the busiest part’ of Melbourne, there being near by iarge warehouses in which spirits, which are nearly as inflammable as petrol, are stored.
– What harm will be done by giving the Navy Department power to prohibit the construction of certain buildings within ‘5 miles of the Flinders Base?
– I have nothing to say against that, but there is not likely to be stored within 20 miles of the Flinders Base one-hundredth part of the petrol that is now stored within 1 mile of this building.
– We are dealing with the future.
-It must be remembered that existing buildings may constitute as great a menace to the safety of a naval establishment as anything that might be built. It has been thought quite safe to locate the Commonwealth Arsenal at Tuggeranong, within less than 5 miles of the Federal Capital, which we hope to make one of the model cities of the world. The Minister should differentiate between explosives and oils.
– Some oils are very dangerous.
– Then they should be specified. I do not think that any one of us would be afraid to erect property within a quarterof a mile of the biggest oil depot in Australia ; but we would not erect property within that distance of a depot for high explosives like T.N.T.
– What were the oils that exploded in America?
– There was a big explosion in Jersey City, on the New Jersey side of the Hudson River, but its effect was not felt at a distance of 5 miles - in fact, a great portion of the city was not affected at all. In my opinion, the clause needs redrafting, and any oils which are dangerous should be specified.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 6 to 10 agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Standing Orders suspended.
Motion (by Mr. Poynton) proposed -
That this Bill be now read a third time.
.- The Leader of the Opposition argued that the regulations under this Bill should apply to some of the new Naval Bases, but not to the’ old ones. That Seems strange reasoning. I ask the Minister why such wonderful progress is being made in the construction of Naval Bases in Victoria and Western Australia, whilst nothing at all is being done in New South Wales?
– The expenditure in Western Australia is absolute waste.
– The expenditure on all the Naval Bases is waste of money, in my opinion.
– I do not agree with the honorable member. At Jervis Bay and Port Stephens there are great natural harbors, which are closer than Sydney to great productive districts like the Riverina and the north and northwest, and I ask why steps are not being taken to open them up?
– The honorable member is now exceeding the scope of the Bill.
– Will I not be in order ‘ in discussing Naval Bases and the effect that this Bill will have upon them?
– This Bill does not deal with Naval Base construction. It, is merely for the control of waters surrounding naval establishments.
– Then I ask the Minister what the Government propose to do regarding the waters at Port Stephens and Jervis Bay. Why do not those places receive the same consideration as the waters at Flinders and Cockburn Sound?
– At Flinders the Department constructed a wharf on dry land, “ and then dredged the earth away in order that the water might come up to the wharf.
– It is a calamity that at a time when we are taxing the people in every way we should be spending money with a lavish hand in creating artificial ports. I do not care what Government were responsible, for that expenditure; the present Ministry are not doing their duty if they do not stop this waste. How can the Minister reconcile the demand for more taxation with the statement of the Leader of the Opposition that the Government have been building a Naval Base at a place where there was no water in which to float a ship? At ‘Port Stephens there is plenty of water.
– The honorable member is out of order. I again remind him that the Bill does not deal with the construction of Naval Bases, but only with the control of the * waters surrounding them.
– I was under the impression that I could discuss whether the waters surrounding certain Bases were suitable. How can the regulations under this Bill operate at places where there is no water? They can operate at places like Port Stephens and Jervis Bay, where there is plenty of water. Is it fair that .money should be spent with a lavish hand in trying to bring water to one place, whilst at other places, where there is abundance of water, no works are being put in hand? This is no laughing matter for the people who are finding the money, and some day the Ministry will get an awful shock unless more definite attention is paid to the complaints which honorable members make in this House. It is outrageous that the splendid waters surrounding Port Stephens and Jervis Bay are not’ being utilized.
– The construction of Naval Bases is in accordance with Admiral Henderson’s report, and he advised that certain Bases should “ be constructed before others.
– Admiral Henderson did not recommend the work that is being done at Flinders.
– I ask the Minister whether Admiral Henderson recommended that, we should proceed with heavy expenditure in creating an artificial harbor in Victoria, and that nothing should be done in connexion -with the waters at Port Stephens and Jervis Bay. It is a peculiar scheme that gives preference to the shallow waters at Flinders over the deep water at Port Stephens. I wish to call attention, ih the most marked way, to” the extraordinary efforts that are being made to spend money on a lavish scale in ports where there is not a great natural depth of water.
– What depth of water is there in Jervis Bay ?
– The depth of water in the entrance is hundreds of feet, and there are 10 miles of water available, 60 feet deep, inside the Bay. No large expenditure is required there to make the harbor suitable for the purposes of the Navy. I hope that the Minister will not shelter himself behind “the statement that these works have been undertaken because they were recommended years ago by some Admiral. . Unless I obtain from, him a satisfactory statement showing that it is the intention of the Government to put a stop to the unnecessary expenditure to which I have referred, I shall vote against the third reading of this Bill.
.- I regret that the honorable member for EdenMonaro (Mr. Austin Chapman) was not present during the debate on. the motion for the second reading of the Bill. Those of us who have been protesting . against the powers to be conferred upon the Minister under this Bill have pointed out that we have not provided that the Arsenal shall be at least 5 miles distant from the Federal Capital city, although explosives will be made there; whereas, under this Bill, explosives and oil are not allowed to be stored within a certain distance of any Naval Base or work. I visited the Flinders Naval Base over two years ago, and there saw a wharf alongside of which it will only be possible, at high tide, to bring a vessel drawing 5 feet of water.
– The depth of water there is 9 feet at low tide.
– That will be the depth after a channel up to the wharf has been made. There is not that depth of water at the present time. The honorable member’s interjection reminds me of the complaint of a returned soldier with regard to land that had been made available for settlement, and which he said was too wet for farming and too dry for fishing. It seems to me that the wharf to which I have been referring will not be covered by the provisions of this Bill relating to “ navalwaters.”
– It was constructed when the honorable member’s Government was in office.
– That Government also received the honorable member’s support. Wherever I find that public money has been wasted, I shall not hesitate to expose such waste, whether it occurred during the regime of the Government with which I was associated, or while any other Administration was in office. The newspapers which have been complaining recently of the wasteful expenditure of public moneys would obtain plenty of “copy” if they visited these works. An object-lesson as to unnecessary expenditure is to be obtained within half-a-mile of this House. Returning, however, to the Flinders Naval Base, I may say that the wharf to which I have already alluded was constructed on dry land. The end of it was no nearer the water than Mr. Speaker’s chair is to the base of the steps at the front of Parliament House. It was constructed on dry land, the responsible engineer holding that it was well to construct it in that way, and then to dredge a channel up to it. That was certainly an innovation, so far as my knowledge is concerned, and I do not think that any business firm would have tolerated lt.
– “It is with no desire to prolong the debate that I proposeto say a few words. We can understand thatthe command of certain waters and the approaches thereto is justly placed in charge of the Navy Department. I suppose this means command of the waters for a distance of 3 miles from the land, and that where there are contiguous islands the distance may be extended. But I desire to protest against this Bill at the present time on the score of economy. The mode of naval warfare has changed greatly. Time was, during this terrible war, when a naval unit of the super-Dreadnought class, with equipment, would cost anything up to £4,000,000. That is an amount of money that could be very well spent in defending Australia in the way of submarines and aeroplanes. The submarine, so far. as my reading goes, has completely changed the mode of naval warfare, and the first thing needed for this class of vessel is deep water. It appears to me, therefore, that in constructing a Naval Base . there must be deepwater frontage, and the deeper it is the better the Bases must be. We have heard, and I know of my own knowledge, of instances where a wharf for a Naval Base has been built on solid land, which those concerned in the construction began to dig away. Such a method of procedure is too ridiculous to consider for a moment. There have been, . and are, many committees of inquiry in connexion with various Departments; and perhaps it would be as well to have another to ascertain whether those who advised such a stupendous piece of engineering absurdityare still in the Department and drawing large salaries. At’ the Henderson Naval Base, Fremantle, I saw in the construction of a mole, material used that went away just like milk. This rock, which seemingly became hard when exposed to wind and weather, instead of being cut in huge blocks, and thus used to form the mole, was smashed by explosives, and prepared by hand, labour. I was informed that at least 40 feet of tho mole thus constructed was’ washed away one stormy night. I maintain that the engineers concerned should have reported to their superior that this was an absurd method of constructing a mole, and that, failing satisfaction from the superior, the engineers should have appealed to the Minister to stop that useless expense. I know that bags of this material were taken away from the Base, but it is quite possible that some are still in existence to-day, and in the possession of the Department.
However, in view of the changes in naval’ warfare, it seems to me that, on the score of economy, the Minister ought to keenly watch any future expenditure on Naval Bases, with a view to avoiding unnecessary expense. I know thatI am throwing myself open to the criticism of those naval experts to whom I have alluded, and, maybe, they will ask what I know about the matter. To that I reply that Ihave some knowledge of the North Sea, which the average number of shipwrecks per annum shows to be, perhaps, one of the most dangerous in the world, and I also know how the enemies’ submarines managed to escape the network of our mines. Under all the circumstances, I suggest that it would be worth while to ask some of the submarine experts of Europe, who have had the greatest of all educations, that of experience, to give us the advantage of their opinion as to whether our Naval Bases should not be constructed on a different plan altogether.
– That does not affect this Bill; we must have control of naval waters whether there isany alteration in the plans or not.
– Quite so; and that is one reason why I should be very diffident in voting against the Bill. I simply wish to enter my protest on the score of economy, and to request the Minister to keep in mind the points I have saised.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Debate resumed from 9th October (vide page 6715), on motion by Mr. Watt -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
– I say quite frankly that I am not at all in love with this proposal to compel the people in the Commonwealth to subscribe to war loans. One reason is that, happily, the war is practically over.
– Money will still be wanted.
– I do not think that any one believes that the dreadful tragedy, which has been recently brought to a close, will be re-opened in our time; and we all hope and may expect peace to be ratified within the next six months.
We can have a great deal too much compulsion.I, myself ,. believe that what is called the laissez faire doctrine in the Old Country - letting things take their own course; and not having so much legislation - was the result of too many restrictive’ Statutes. It is to be regretted that the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Watt), and his Government, deem it necessary to introduce a Bill for compulsory subscriptions to war loans, having in view the extremely handsome way in which the people of the Commonwealth have endeavoured to shoulder their responsibilities in this regard. I know that some people are of opinion that those who subscribed to the various war loans are making a “ good thing;” but any one who is interested in making money, and has capital to invest, can find a hundred different enterprises in- the Commonwea’lth which will return him or her a very much higher rate of interest, and on very good security, than can. be obtained from either the 41/2 per cent, loans free of taxation, or the 5 per cent, loan subject to taxation.
I regret also that the Acting Prime Minister felt it necessary to remark that many people in the Commonwealth have not done their duty in this regard. I have heard instances of very rich men in the Commonwealth who have actually npt put a single penny into war loans ; but I am satisfied that thousands, and tens of thousands, of people have undertaken heavy responsibilities, and a certain amount of risk, in the endeavour to answer the appeal of the Treasurer. While the Acting Prime Minister made that statement that a great number of people were not doing their duty, I venture to say that not a single editor of the conservative daily press, although he might use the most vulgar terms regarding men who did not see their way to enlist, and describe them-as “ shirker IS. “ slackers,” “ pariahs,” and so forth, referred to any of the wealthy classes in anything like the same terms, or, indeed, in any terms, so far as I remember, of deprecation, because they had. not subscribed to war loans. It was left to the Treasurer (Mr. Watt) to call attention to the fact.
– It would be a little difficult to prove.
– Of ‘ course the press might not have at its disposal the same information as had the Treasurer, but I think it is pretty generally known that men with very large banking accounts have not put a single penny into loans, whereas many wage-earners, who could not be certain of employment six months hence, incurred financial responsibility in order to subscribe. Does the Treasurer really mean to put this law into operation ?
– I am entitled to ask that question in view of the several occasions on which Ministers have allowed Acts to lapse without giving effect to them.
– I know of only one, the bachelor tax, about which the Leader of the Opposition has talked so much this session.
– On another occasion a regulation was issued allowing boys eighteen years of age to enlist without their parents consent. The Government afterwards modified it.
– That was not a regulation ; it was merely an announcement.
– If the Government really mean business with this Bill, I sincerely hope that the Treasurer will reconsider it with a view to altering what may prove to be its most inequitable, unfair, and cruel provisions. In the event of there being a deficiency in the subscriptions to a war loan, the Treasurer is authorized to compel any one who has not subscribed to it to contribute six times the average amount he has paid in income tax in three years. The Treasurer has circulated some comparative tables, showing that the amounts which non-subscribers to the war loan may be called upon to con. tribute are as follows: -
They do not appear to. be very large amounts, but the Bill also states that although a person may have subscribed to each previous war loan, it does not necessarily relieve him from subscribing to the seventh. The Treasurer tells us that in these circumstances such a person may appeal to an Appeal Board, which will take everything into consideration. That Board will comprise the Commissioner of Taxation, the Secretary to the Treasury, and another gentleman who is to be appointed, but the Commissioner of Taxation and the Secretary to the Treasury are both very busy men, the former being already a Court of Appeal in regard to income taxation, land taxation, and entertainments taxation. I venture to say that already he is overwhelmed with work.
– He has just been relieved of most of the administrative routine.
– Is that with a view to his taking up the duties which will be placed upon him by this measure?
– Wo. It has been found necessary to do this in order that he may properly undertake the heavy financial work devolving upon him.
– The Treasurer’s courteous information only supports my argument that the Commissioner of Taxation has a great deal of work to do. Yet it is proposed to add to his duties by compelling him to hear the numerous appeals that will probably be made in case there should be any deficiency in the subscriptions to a war loan. I see no provision in the Bill by which he may keep a record of non-subscribers to war loans on whomhe is to make a levy. Apparently if the Treasurer finds that there is a deficiency in the subscriptions , to a war loan, the Commissioner of Taxation will collect a list of names of persons who pay income tax, and a circular letter will be issued to them calling upon them to contribute so much towards the deficiency. There ‘are tens of thousands of people who have subscribed to previous war loans, and possibly there are tens of thousands who, in answer to the Treasurer’s appeal, have gone to the banks in connexion with the sixth war loan, deposited 10 per cent, in cash, andundertaken to finance the balance. Their surplus income, and even portion of the income which they require to meet their daily and weekly expenses, may already have been set apart to pay subscriptions, to previous war loans or repay the banks. Therefore,there must be appeals from all parts of the Commonwealth for relief from the compulsory subscriptions which people may be called upon to make.
The Treasurer informed us that he did not anticipate having to put the compulsory provisions of this Bill into operation. He said that the mere fact that such legislation was on the statute-book would be a kind of threat or a sword of Damocles which people would be afraid would fall on them, and, therefore, they would contribute to -the war loans without compulsion. Indeed, he went so far as to say that the suceess of the seventh war loan was . partly due to this fear.
– There is no doubt about that.
– From the experience one has of what happens to people when things are said that hurt, I should say that the Treasurer’s remark was one that could have been avoided in reference to the people of Australia.
– I gave them credit for a vast amount of patriotic and public spirit, but I said that some people needed this lash. Such a remark does not offend the patriotic majority.
– I am prepared to concede that the scene has changed, but we shall require many millions of- money to meet our obligations. There will be reduced expenditure directly peace is proclaimed. There will beareduction, for example, in the amount spent on munitions.
– There will also be a saving in regard to the effect of reduced casualties upon our pension payments.
– Yes, that is an important point. However, for at least twelve months a great deal of money will have to be spent. I shall not be surprised if we have to raise £50,000,000 during that period. People have responded so freely in Australia that I do not think the Treasurer will need to put this meacure into force even if it is passed.
At the same time it is necessary for us to consider how inequitable the Bill is. A man with . a taxable income of £1,000 from personal . exertion, who subscribed £196to the last war loan, satisfies the requirements of the Treasurer, although he may not have subscribed one penny to any of the previous war. loans, but another man, with a taxable income of £1,000 a year from personal exertion, who has subscribed to every previous war loan, is not exempt from subscribing to a new war loan, and may have to submit his business affairs to the Board of Appeal. He may be possessed of no property; he may be paying £2 a week for a house, and if he has a large family he may be educating his children for the professions, so that his expenditure may beeating upa very considerable portion of his £1,000. On the other hand, the man who has property worth £6,000, which returns him an income of £300 per annum, may be called upon to subscribe only £24 18s. 6d. to the war loan, although he may not have subscribed to any of the previous flotations. No bank would refuse to advance £3,000 for investment in the war loan to a man who. possessed £6,000 worth of free assets and would pledge the -war loan script as collateral security. A man possessing £6,000 worth of property would be in a better position to- subscribe to the war loan than a man without property, even though the latter might have an income of £1,000 a year. There are generous fathers of families who spendall their money on their families, and put by nothing. Yet the Bill compels these men to subscribe to the war loan, and would allow the man with £6,000 worth of property to escape. That is inequitable. The Treasurer could have effecte*d his purpose more easily by following a method similar to that adopted by the Defence Department in its endeavour to get young men to enlist for military service abroad. He could have issued a circular to every man possessed of property, and in receipt of income, asking him, “ Have you subscribed to the war loan? If so, how much have you subscribed? If you have subscribed, do you still hold your bonds or certificates of subscription ? If you have parted with your holding, to what extent have you done so?” Many persons, and some of the banks, sold their bonds and inscribed stock at the end of six months, making anything up to 11 per cent, on the turnover of their money.
– Do you say that 11 per cent, could be made by selling war loan bonds ?
– The £10 bonds were sold for about £9 17s. 6d., I think, and there was little to be made out of them, but the concession that was given in regard to the payments enabled as much as 11 per cent, to be made by selling bonds or stock after six months. Directly a man subscribed 10 per cent, of the amount that he was prepared to invent in the loan, he began to earn interest on the whole amount that he was ready to take up. Subsequently, at intervals of about a month, he completed his payments in instalments of 15, 20, 25, or 30 per cent.
– I think that the honorable member’s calculation is not correct.
– I speak on the authority of an actuary.
– The figuresare based on the assumption that the stock was sold at par.
– They are based on the assumption that the stock was sold as soon as the interest on it had been received.
– But stock decreases in value bv the amount of the interest immediately the interest on it has been paid.
– That is the theory, but, as a matter of fact, stock does not diminish in value to that extent.
– Probably a man could not sell at par. In any case, there would be the brokerage qf 10s. per cent, to pay, and, perhaps, the stock would be at a discount; but those who subscribed to the first loan made more than 4J per cent, on their money.
– Yes; there was a bonus.
– That bonus enabled subscribers, in some cases, to get as much as 10 per cent, or 11 per cent.
– It was the bait on the hook.
– It was an inducement to get subscribers; in other words, the loan was floated at a discount. The interest to investors over the whole period was £4 13s. 4d., although the nominal rate was 4£ per cent. Had the Treasurer issued such a circular as I have spoken of, he would have got as good a response as he can expect by the compulsion that he proposes-. We should at least insert in the Bill a provision which will prevent soldiers’ widows and other dependants from being pestered with formal requests for subscriptions. No man who has seen active service should be compelled to subscribe to the war loan.
– Such men are exempt.
– Only whilst on active service.
– The Bill says, “ who have been on active service.”
– No parent whose son has been killed on active service, or during the* period of enlistment has been rendered permanently incapacitated from earning his living, should be called on to subscribe to a war loan. In my opinion, no person who has subscribed to the war loan an amount equal to six times the amount of his payments in income tax since the commencement of the war, and has not sold his bonds or certificates, should be compelled to make further subscriptions. The Treasurer has at his disposal machinery enabling him to ascertain exactly the holdings of every subscriber. The banks . would know the names of those on behalf of whom they receive interest.
– The Treasurer could not ascertain the names of the holders of bonds.
– He could ascertain the names of the holders of inscribed stock, and I think that it would not be beyond his power to ascertain who are receiving interest on bonds. The banks, in all probability, hold a lot of bonds for subscribers, and collect the interest on them.
– They would not be authorized to give the names of the bond holders.
– Probably they would not disclose the information unless compelled. Would it not be fairer and cause less irritation if those intrusted with the collection of this forced subscription had a list of the names of those who have subscribed to loans with a statement of their holdings, so that a man who had subscribed to the utmost of his ability, and had not sold his bonds or stock, might not be called upon to assist in making good any deficiency!
– I thought I had made it clear that that is what is contemplated. Notices are not to be sent to all taxpayers indiscriminately ; they will be based on the knowledge which the Commissioner will have of the war-loan holdings of taxpayers.
– ‘Then the man who has not subscribed at all will escape, while the man who has subscribed to three loans and not to the fourth will be punished ?
– The man who has not subscribed at all will be caught first.
– How will the Department know that a man has not subscribed ? It can have records only of those who are holders of inscribed stock.
– We have a. record of the names of holders of inscribed stock, and nan get the names of the holders of Treasury bonds.
– I do not remember the Treasurer having said at any previous time that it was the intention of the De:partment to get those records. The Department has the names in the ledgers of those who bought inscribed stock, but it will not have the names of those who hold bonds.
– It will have the names of the original buyers.
– But the bonds change hands from time to time.
– All the changes are recorded.
– lt would not be difficult for the Commissioner of Taxation to get a list of the people who are able to subscribe to the loan, and he can get from the Commonwealth Statistician a list of the people who have property. Of course, persons may have large estates, and yet not have very big incomes. If the Treasurer can get all this information, and he admits that he can,- would it not be better for him, instead of introducing this Bill, to ascertain the names of the persons who have not subscribed, and send to them notices asking why they have not done their duty.
– During the last two years we have done a great deal of that. I sent out 14,000 notices in connexion with the sixth war loan.
– Did the Treasurer know that the persons to whom the notices were sent had not subscribed!
– No; but we had a very fair idea.
– That is news. I would have preferred that the Treasurer had stated the matter in that way when he said what the effect of this Bill would be on the people rather than that he should have cast a broad aspersion on the general public.
– I made it plain that the Bill, was not aimed at the general public, but at those persons who.should have subscribed, but had not done so.
– There can be no doubt that, whatever methods were adopted by the Treasurer, thS public were induced to subscribe very liberally to the war loans, and I believe that inasmuch as the huge borrowing that was required to carry on the war will shortly be unnecessary, and that the money we shall require to borrow for purposes of repatriation will not amount to anything like the sums we have raised during the last year or two, the Treasurer ought to reconsider his intention to force this Bill through the House and allow it to lapse.
– I indorse the appeal of the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Higgs) that the Treasurer should reconsider the necessity or otherwise of proceeding with this Bill. We are hopeful that we have got beyond the very heavy borrowing stage. It is gratifying indeed to know that the seventh war loan was a distinct success, and I believe that future borrowing will not be of the same dimensions, except for renewal purposes, as the loans we have been raising during the war. If the Treasurer,- who is the responsible Minister, declares that the exigencies of the case demand that this Bill shall be proceeded with, I will not oppose it, but on the face of it, the measure, as framed, will create many hardships by reason of its inequitable incidence. The Bill has been brought on so . unexpectedly that I am at a disadvantage in debating it, but speaking generally, so far as its objective is to make shirkers shoulder their share of financial responsibility I am with the Treasurer. If a loan is undersubscribed, it is necessary, according to the machinery of the measure, that the Treasurer shall notify the Commissioner of Taxation of the amount of the shortage and then the Commissioner must send out notices to those who he thinks ought to subscribe. The mere issue of that notice in itself involves a penalty which, cannot be mitigated if the Commissioner’s contention is upheld. It is quite true that a person upon whom the notice . has been served has a right to appeal, and if he satisfies the Board of Referees that he should not subscribe, it is competent for, the Board either to release him from the obligation cast upon him by the notice, or to reduce the amount of his compulsory subscription. But, even though the Board sees fit to remit portion of the amount the man has been called upon to subscribe, he is nevertheless liable to a penalty corresponding to the proportion he is ultimately obliged to subscribe. Many instances of the inequitable effect of this Bill have come under my notice, and, had I known that the measure would be proceeded with to-night, I should have been prepared to quote some examples to the House.
– I did not intend to bring on the Bill to-night.
– One instance has come under my immediate notice. A man, who in ordinary circumstances would he liable to subscribe nearly £5,000, on the basis of six’ times hi3 average income tax, has already made subscriptions to previous loans to the extent of £30,000. That has involved him very heavily, but, being animated by strong patriotic feeling, he felt keenly his duty, and he did not hesitate to pledge himself financially in order to subscribe to all war loans but the last.
– He would not he called upon to subscribe further.
– According to the terms of the Bill, that man, who has already subscribed six times the amount he would be called upon to contribute under the terms of this Bill, will be liable to a penalty unless he subscribes to the latest war loan six times the amount of his average income tax during the current financial year. By way of contrast, take the case of the man who has not subscribed at all. He has but to subscribe to the present war loan six times the amount of his average income and he is removed from possibility of attack by the Commissioner. He is the man whom we desire to reach with a measure of this kind, no doubt, but he has been a shirker, and escapes penalty, whereas in the other case the patriot is liable to suffer I am speaking only of the terms of the Bill; I am prepared to think that substantial relief would be granted in the actual administration of it.. If not, this House dare not pass such a measure. lt is competent for any man to go before the Appeal Board, and we may suppose that that tribunal would be influenced by the circumstance that a man had made subscriptions to previous loans; indeed, they are required to do so. It is true that the sending out of notices is at the discretion of the Commissioner, but I am not persuaded that the Commissioner can possibly know who are the present holders of bonds. He may know who the original subscribers were, but the bonds may have been sold, and the original subscriber may not. now be a holder at all. In those circumstances the Commissioner cannot say whether or not any man holds bonds. In regard to inscribed stock the position is different. The Department has records from which the names of holders of stock can be ascertained, and those persons will not receive notices.
It is desirable that the Commissioner should at least give some intimation to the individual whom he thinks should be a subscriber that, in his opinion, he has not fully discharged his duty in respect of a particular loan. If such an intimation were given and the man still refused to subscribe, or failed to give good and valid reasons for failing to subscribe, then he would render himself liable to a penalty with his eyes open. But the fact is that men are in a condition of great uncertainty by reason of the fact that no minimum holding is fixed by the Bill whereby a man can be secure, other than his actual subscription in the financial year to the latest loan. That is his only security. The Bill does not take into account subscriptions to previous loans. If it were possible for the Commissioner to know who had already subscribed, the position would be different; but, in the circumstances, serious injury may be done to a large number of individuals who have already discharged their full duty in this respect.
The terms of the Bill are harsh, and its success will largely depend upon the way in which it is administered. Two members of the Board of three which is to administer it - the Commissioner of Taxation and the Secretary to the Treasury - have already been nominated. We know them to be fair and reasonablyminded men, and I am confident that they will have due regard to the exigencies of those who are called upon to subscribe, and who have already subscribed to previous loans. Harshly administered, the Bill would do serious and gross injustice te the unfortunate people upon whom notices under it were served. I ask the Treat,urer to consider whether it is necessury now to proceed with it. If he still thinks that it is, I urge him to give the House an assurance which will remove the uncertainty that now exists as to the position in which many will be placed under the Bill as it stands. A man might have financially embarrassed himself in order to contribute to previous loans, but unless he is prepared to subscribe to a war loan during each financial year in which a war loan may be launched - to subscribe an amount six times in excess -of the income tax paid by him - he may be penalized. One reply that the Treasurer will make to this complaint is that arrangements have been made with the banks to advance 90 per cent, of the amount to be subscribed. It must not be forgotten, however, that such advances must be repaid within eighteen months, and that in many cases where a man has other financial obligations, it would be quite impossible to make the repayment within that period. Another reply which the honorable gentleman may make to my objection is that any attempt to fix the minimum subscription to a loan might discourage subscriptions on the part of a large number of people. It may be said that because of the uncertainty which exists under the Bill as it stands, many persons will take care to protect themselves by making large subscriptions. It is not fair, however, that those who have already done their duty fully and completely in this regard should be liable to be penalized in the manner prescribed by the Bill. . We have to hope for some relief in the administration of the measure. It may work out satisfactorily, but, on the other hand, it may not. It is certainly a source of the deepest anxiety to a number of conscientious men who have already done their duty.
– The people to whom the honorable member refers will always have the right to sell their previous holdings.
– That will be the only protection open to such individuals. But in selling out his existing holdings a man may depress the market to a degree and proportionately discount fresh subscriptions to the new loan. I know that the Treasurer appreciates these difficulties in connexion with the Bill, and I certainly hope he will endeavour to fix a minimum subscription.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Kelly) adjourned.
In Committee (Consideration of GovernorGeneral’s message) :
.- - I move -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue bo made for the purposes of a Bill for an Act to provide for the payment of bounty on the manufacture of black steel sheets and galvanized sheets in the Commonwealth.
The object of the Bill which will be based upon this appropriation is to provide for the payment of a bounty on the manufacture of black steel sheets and galvanized sheets in the Commonwealth. I need hardly state that this is an industry which is needed, perhaps, more than any other in Australia. Owing to the fact that we were not manufacturing the black sheets from which galvanized sheets, and also steel plates are made, we were compelled during the war period to pay prices much in excess of those which would otherwise have ruled. The bounty for which this Bill provides will enable manufacturers here to turn out the raw material - that is to say, the black sheets - from which both galvanized sheets and tin plate are made.
– Will it reduce present prices ?
– We believe that it will result in the price to the Australian public being very much less than it has been throughout the war. Galvanized iron, which in pre-war days was selling at from £18 to £19 per ton, went up during the war to something like £100 per ton.
– What was the price fixed?
– The price fixed was a percentage on the landed cost.
– The material went from one to another until the price was brought up to £100 per ton.
– The regulations put a stop to that. During the war period, we have also been paying an enormous increase on the pre-war price of tinned plate, which, as honorable members know, forms the raw material from which the packing for many of our primary products is manufactured. I have not the slightest doubt that the non-existence of this industry in the Commonwealth has led to Australia having to pay, during the war, an enormous bill which she would not otherwise have had to meet.
– Would it not be better to make a comparison on normal prices ?
– I merely referred to the vastly increased prices of - galvanized iron and tin plate during the war period to illustrate the need for the establishment of this industry in Australia.
– We should give the manufacturers sufficient encouragement to carry on the industry under normal conditions.
– That is exactly what we propose to do. I should prefer to explain the details of the Government proposal when the Bill itself is before us.
– If we give you the motion, shall we not be committed to the terms of the message?
– The House will be committed by the terms of the message under the Standing Orders in exactly the same way as in the case of a taxation measure.
– Shall we be allowed to amend the Bill ?
– An honorable member will be allowed to propose any amendment he desires.
– Excepting so far as it might increase taxation.
– The amount cannot be increased, but there is no amount actually specified in the message. It is not possible for me to give an undertaking that at the Committee stage of the Bill honorable members will be able to introduce amendments which the. rules of the House do not allow.
I might explain at this stage that it is proposed to raise the bounty on a ‘ sliding scale, and the amount paid will depend largely on what the shipping freights to Australia are. The proposals have been talked over very carefully with gentlemen likely to manufacture this article in Australia.
– With Hoskins?
– I do not think so.
– I know.
– I repeat that these proposals have been talked over very carefully with gentlemen who, we believe, will engage in this industry if it is established in Australia ; and they are quite prepared, so long as the shipping freights do not fall below £6 per ton, to go on erecting their works and manufacturing this article without any bounty or further protection. Honorable members are aware that there is at present a duty on galvanized-iron sheets, the rate being, speaking from memory, 25s. per ton. There is no duty whatever on black sheets. We are proposing to establish a bounty, as well as the- duty, on galvanized sheets ; and this, we believe, will enable manufacturers to establish this industry, and for the future carry it on in competition with the world. The rate of shipping freights will be sent to us from time to time by the Board of Trade in London, and the bounty will be paid quarter by quarter on the certificate of the Board as the shipping freights from ports in England. . As the shipping freights come down the bounty will automatically increase, until the net duty and bounty on galvanized sheets will amount, I think, to £5 per ton, that is, the combined effect of the duty and bounty when the shipping freights fall to the lowest point mentioned in the Bill. But if the shipping freights are above the minimum amount mentioned in the Bill, then the bounty will be correspondingly less.
– What percentage is it on the average value of the article?
– Taking iron after the war at £20 per ton, it will be 25 per cent. ; and we think that will be sufficient for the manufacturers, under Australian conditions, to compete in the markets of the world.
– Is there not a big difference in the wages paid ?
– There may have been prior to the war, but the general impression, particularly amongst the men who will manufacture this article, is that the rate of wages in European countries is not going to fall to the pre-war level. They feel convinced that the industrial conditions in European countries are going to be more closely assimilated than previously to those that obtain in this country. Consequently, we believe that the proposed duty, combined with the bonus, will be sufficient to enable manufacturers to carry on here.
– Do you propose a duty on black-steel sheet or tin plates?
– Not at the present moment; but bounty will be paid on black-steel sheets. I may say that negotiations have been going on for some considerable time between the Broken Hill Company and Messrs. Lysaght, who have been the chief importers of galvanized iron. Those negotiations, I believe, have borne fruit, and Messrs. Lysaght are about to erect at Newcastle a plant which, for a start, will turn out at least 20,000 tons of iron per year.
– Of black sheets?
– Of galvanized iron. There is also another proposition which, I believe, will come to a head very shortly, for the negotiations are well forward, and under which the tin-plate industry will be established at Newcastle on a . very large scale ; in fact, it is hoped that sufficient tin plates will be turned out to meet the whole future requirements of Australia.
– What about wire netting ?
– This Bill does’ not deal with wire netting; but I can assure the honorable member that negotiations have taken place, and definite arrangements have been made, to draw the. whole of the wire for wire netting requirements with a big plant to be erected in Newcastle. We hope to see the whole of the wire required for. wire netting, fencing wire, and so forth, turned out at these works in the near future. ‘This plant is in connexion with the steel works at Newcastle.
Without going into the details of the Bill at this moment, I should like to say that Messrs. Lysaght are almost in entire agreement with ourselves in regard to this bonus ‘being sufficient to warrant them in erecting these works and carrying on the industry at Newcastle.
– You are making a mistake.
-The honorable member may know a great deal more about this matter than I do ; but I can tell him that I have personally conducted the negotiations with Messrs. Lysaght and with the sub-committee of the Board of Trade, and Messrs. Lysaght inform me, through their representative in Australia, that they are entirely satisfied with these conditions, if we will go one little step further.
– We did not get these full explanations when the Labour Government introduced Bonus Bills. They threw them on the table and rang for the Caucus.
– I think I have given the Committee sufficient information to enable honorable members to form an opinion as to whether or not the resolution submitted should be passed. When the Bill is introduced it will show what the proposals of the Government are, and I shall be delighted to give a full explanation of its provisions.
.- I realize that the Acting Minister for Trade and Customs has given the Committee an explanation of a very important proposal. Of course honorable members are not as acquainted as the Minister is with the details. T should like to say that . previous Bonus Bills introduced were not, as the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Bruce Smith) has said, thrown upon the table by members of a Labour Government.
– .They were thrown on the table, and the Government then rang for the Caucus.
– That statement is not correct. It was my privilege to introduce two or three of such Bills, but I know that the original Iron Bounty Bill was introduced bv the late Sir William Lyne, and a general Bounty Bill providing for bounties on flax, wool-tops, and a number of other manufactures was also introduced by that gentleman.
We are now considering one of the most important messages dealt with previous to the introduction of a Bill. We are in the dark as to the amount of the bounty proposed to be granted. Recently, in considering a message of this kind, we were confronted with the position that if we accepted the resolution moved, it would be impossible for us afterwards to vary the terms of the message, which covered a taxation Bill. The honorable member for Hunter . (Mr. Charlton) endeavoured to submit an amendment to the Bill, but it was promptly ruled out of order as against the terms of the message. Before we are asked to go on with the consideration of the Bill to which this resolution refers, we should be given time to compare it with the Act under which a . bounty was granted on the manufacture of p’g iron and steel sheets. We should be in a position to assure ourselves as to the industrial conditions of the employees who will be engaged in the industry that is to be assisted by the proposed bounty. I recognise that it is very important that this industry should be established in the Commonwealth. I believe that it -will be impossible for this Parliament to grant a bounty equivalent to the protection afforded during the past two or three years by the high shipping freights which have prevailed. If the rate of freight from Great Britain to Australia on such a commodity is to be £6 per ton, there will be but a very poor lookout for the wheat farmers of this country.
– The rate of freight will be lower in three months.
– I do not think so. I do not say that freights will be kept up at their present rates, but I think that for some time to come they will certainly be as high as £6 per ton.
– They Wave been reduced now by 25 per cent.
– On what rate of freight is that percentage based ? Freights have been up to £12 and £14 per ton.
– The average freight now is £9 or £10 per ton.
– I think that it may be £10 per ton on such a commodity as iron, which could be brought from the Old Country before the war at a freight rate of, I suppose, 53. per tom
– Or as ballast.
– I remember long before the Newcastle works were established, when Mr. Hoskins was operating the works at Lithgow, and when Mr. Sandford, before him, had charge of those works, the complaint was made that it was impossible to start the iron industry in Australia, because pig-iron was imported from Scotland and other places as ballast, and the local article would not have the advantage of the protection afforded by a freight charge. When the Iron Bounty Bill was being introduced in 1907, the late Sir William Lyne made the statement that it cost more to bring pig-iron from Sydney to Melbourne than from. Liverpool to Melbourne.
I shall look forward with interest to the provisions of the proposed Bill, to see whether it is not possible for us to establish this industry on a firm footing in Australia. The increase in the cost of pig-iron has not been proportionate with the increase in the cost of galvanized iron. Notwithstanding the fact that the Government fixed the price of galvanized iron, and allowed 10 per cent, on landed cost, eliminating the sale and re-sale of the commodity, contractors land othersfound it impossible to obtain galvanized iron unless they purchased their joinery from the same firm, and an increased price was charged for the joinery, to overcome the fixed rate on galvanized iron. In order to defeat the intention of the Government in fixing the price, another expedient was resorted to. The price was fixed for new galvanized iron and not for second-hand, and new galvanized iron had holes punched through it in the places necessary for the erection of, say, a G4t. fence or the roof of a house, and it was then sold as secondhand galvanized iron >at a price higher than that fixed by the Government for new galvanized iron. I know that to be an absolute fact, and information as to what was being done was given to Senator Russell, who had charge of price fixing at the time.
– Who put up that yarn on the Minister?
– The information was absolutely correct. The price of galvanized iron went up to such an extent that contractors were prepared to take down a second-hand galvanized iron fence and replace it with a new Marrah fence, and pay a certain sum of money in addition.
That was done in more than one State in the Commonwealth during the past twelve months. I may inform honorable members that the race-course at Frankston was fenced with a galvanized iron fence that had stood for forty years, and it was purchased at a price which represented double as much for the iron as was paid for it when the fence was erected. I am prepared to lend every reasonable assistance to place this industry on its feet, as we did the pig-iron industry, because that was the foundation of our steel rail ‘business, and enabled us to send steel rails to the other side of the world for use in connexion with the war. My previous experience of Bounty Acts leads me to look forward with pleasure to .seeing this Bill itself. Notwithstanding what the Minister has said,, we produced black steel sheets at Lithgow, where there was a mill for galvanizing and corrugating them; but it was found impossible to compete with the imported article. Now that conditions have changed, the industry may have a chance of succeeding. I do not think that black sheets for tinning have ever been produced in Australia. Certainly no tinning has been done here. The honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Bamford) raised the question in this House, and discussed the advisability of giving a bonus for the manufacture of tin plates in. Australia. That would be a step in the right, direction, and would lead to the establishment of another industry to which our men who are returning could turn their attention.
– Of course, I shall give my support to this Bill. I congratulate the Minister (Mr. Greene) on the fact that his first Bill is such an important one, but I regret that we have to discuss it in the dark, in view of the fact that under the message we may not be able to effect amendments which we may deem necessary for the establishment of this great industry.
– I have already told the Leader of the Opposition that the message is so framed that it will not prevent honorable members from making any amendment in the Bill.
– If we consider that the bounty is not sufficient, can we increase it ?
– No . Honorable members cannot increase the charge on the people without a message from the Governor-General recommending it.
– My complaint is that if we consider that the Minister is not giving sufficient consideration to this industry our hands are tied. We have to accept a measure which may not go so far as we should like to go, or reject it altogether. In the consideration of the establishment of such a big industry the Minister ought to have the advantage of the full consensus of opinion of the House. No one would be foolish enough to assert that there should be the slightest party feeling over a matter of this kind.
– We must be sure that the Bill will not create a big monopoly.
– That is a risk which has to be faced. I was astonished to hear the Minister say that some of the big industries we looked forward to establishing in Australia are now in actual operation as a result of the war conditions. Some honorable members were afraid of the high rate of wages that would have to be paid, but the war has shown us that the highest wages are often the best wages k ‘ pay. The Australian workman is so mach superior to most of the workmen overseas.
– Provide:! there is no slow-down policy.
– That is the difficulty. How are we going to get along in this country if we do not establish industries? As an old Protectionist, I welcome the wonderful conversions we see all around us. Enthusiastic barrackers for Protection of to-day were Henry Georgeites a short time ago. I do not chide them. On the contrary, I welcome them to the fold. The Australian workman has shown that if he chooses to work he can earn good wages. Men of the Hoskins type are glad to pay big wages. The go-slow policy, I hope, will be condemned in every direction. That it is not one the Australian workman adopts has been shown during this war. In answer to an interjection the Minister said that some of these industries were about to be established by negotiations with big firms. We ought to avoid monopolies. We must base our legislation on such foundations that there will be some competition. ‘During the war we have seen wonderful rises in ;the prices of articles manufactured in Australia. We can only avoid this by competition.
– The negotiations referred to have been carried on apart from the Government, though we have been aware of them. The Broken Hill Company have been in negotiation with various subsidiary companies.
– I am not opposed to big companies. We must have companies with big capital to initiate big industrial undertakings. On the other hand, we must be careful to see that we do not put the whole thing in their laps so that monopolies will be created on every side. My personal opinion is that the less the Government have to do with these matters the better it is.. Government interference in price-fixing is an example of the harm that may be done. Every “day in the week the price of primary products has been fixed, but the Government have forgotten to fix the most important thing - the seasons. Until the seasons can be fixed, price fixing will always prove to be a failure. We must also be careful not to bring about a system of Socialism. It is astonishing how men who have talked the loudest against Socialism now accept without a murmur a proposition which really is the Socialism that they would have avoided a short time ago. I have no doubt that if the Minister has framed his Bill on reasonable lines, which will give consideration to those who are engaged in this industry, he will receive generous support from the House.
– Has he not told us that he has been in consultation with the big manufacturers ?
– Why should he net get the information from any source. The trouble in the past has been that this was not done. However, the Minister, should take care that the big manufacturers do not outflank him as the small manufacturers would if they had the chance of doing so. We must leave an open field for competition. Honorable members have talked about the protection which is afforded by high shipping freights, but the great factor is the cost of production in other countries. What is the use of giving a bounty if it will not compensate for the low rates of wages which are paid across the seas?
– If freights are £6 per ton, they are a very big protection.
– Some big corporations are very clever with their bookkeeping, and the Minister knows that some of them run their own ships.
– That is safeguarded in the Bill by the fact that the Board of Trade in London must declare from time to time what are the market rates of freight.
– I am glad to hear that all these tilings are safeguarded. It is a very difficult task to safeguard them. We w,ant to provide a fair field and no favour, and to see that our workmen have an opportunity of getting a living.
– Very well; let the State undertake the work.
– I am prepared to judge these things in the light of the past, and not in a theoretical way. Government enterprise’ in- these matters has been a failure in Australia. Look at the industries which the State has fathered in New South Wales.
– Does the honorable member think that the Post Office is a failure ?
– The honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. Riley) is a better judge of the encouragement which should be given to the manufacture of wool tops. If the Government will extend to this industry the same measure of encouragement that has been granted to the wool-top industry, I shall be quite satisfied. I congratulate the Minister for Price Fixing (Mr. Greene) upon this proposal, but I would have been better pleased had he stated that it was the intention of the Government to embark upon a similar policy in regard to every industry in the country.
I would have welcomed the announcement that the Bill which he wishes to introduce represents only the beginning of a big scheme to provide employment for our own people.
– The honorable member may take that for granted.
– After twenty-eight years’ experience of parliamentary life, I am very reluctant to take anything for granted.
– The honorable member is asking for more as he goes along, and he is getting it.
– I will accept the advice of the sagacious member for Henty (Mr. Boyd) by taking what I can get, and then asking for a little more. But I cannot forget that when I stood at the table of the House in the capacity of a Minister and made certain promises, though the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Watkins) and a few more stood staunchly by, I always had to ascertain quietly or by some other means where other honorable members stood. However, we now look back upon those times as pleasant memories. Honorable members who did not then agree with me that it was high time we established industries in Australia - members like the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Bruce Smith), who was not then a Protectionist-
– I cannot see any cure for the present position. You have reared so many houses of cards that we cannot take them down.
– The war has shown us what fools we have been to send our raw products across the seas in order that they may undergo the process of manufacture at the hands of foreigners, and that upon being returned to us we may pay for them five times their original cost. We cavil about giving the Australian workman an increase of 10 per cent, on his wages; and yet we willingly pay the foreigner 400 per cent, and 500 per cent, more for the manufacture of our products into finished articles. I have held the opinion, which I am now voicing, all my life, but I do not pride myself upon the fact, because I recognise that wise men alter their views. I congratulate the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Bruce Smith)-
– I cannot tell whether the honorable member wishes the State to control this industry or not. He blows hot and cold.
– I have already said that I am opposed to the State control of industries and to pricefixing.
– Then why did the honorable member say that he hoped the State would take up all industries?
– I did not. If the honorable member cannot understand what I say, that is not my fault. I tried to make myself understood .
– I admit that.
– But it is very difficult to make the honorable member understand. However, I welcome him into the Protectionist fold. I should like the Government to give assistance to all industries,- but not to assume control of them. I congratulate the Minister for Price Fixing (Mr. Greene) upon possessing such a warm barracker as the honorable member for Parkes.
.- Tlie honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Austin Chapman) is very inconsistent. He has affirmed his belief in allowing private enterprise full play, and announced his opposition to anything in the form of Socialism. Yet he now intends to support a Bill, the very root principle of which is Socialism. It appears to me that some honorable members want private enterprise when it suits them to have it, but are willing to accept State aid to private enterprise whenever they can get it. Personally, I intend to be very careful in regard to this bounty proposal. The Minister for Price Fixing (Mr. Greene) has stated that if the freight falls below £6 per ton, the bounty will operate. Before the war galvanized iron could be bought at from £18 to £20 per ton, and the Minister now proposes to extend to the industry a bounty of £5 per ton. That is equivalent to 25 per cent, upon its pre-war prices - not a bad bounty.
– He did not say that the bounty will be 25 per cent.
– But that is the rate at. which it works out.
– If the honorable member will wait until he receives, a copy of the Bill, he will see that all these things have been fully provided for.
– I am only making use of the Minister’s own statement.
– That was not my statement.
– The Minister said that if the freight fell below £6 per ton he would make the measure of protection up to that amount, by means of the bounty.
– No, no !
– We all desire to see this industry started. But we are not prepared to pay large companies huge bonuses which will make them millionaires within a short time. Does the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Chapman) know that the labour that will be employed in this industry will be very small indeed ? As a matter of fact, the work is chiefly done by machinery.
– The Messrs). Hoskins employ plenty of human machinery.
– If a big company embarks upon the manufacture of galvanized iron in Australia it will be equipped with up-to-date machinery, and, consequently, there will not be much difference between the cost of the labour that will be employed in it and the cost of similar labour engaged in the industry elsewhere. I would like to see the industry established, but we need to be very careful as to what we do in the direction of granting a bounty to it. I need scarcely point out that,- although no boots have been imported into this country for a very considerable time, on account of the war, boots are dearer than ever they were. Notwithstanding that Australia is full of,, leather, and that we have the requisite labour and machinery in abundance, boots are to-day costing at least 25 per cent, more than they should cost.
– What about the woollen industry ?
– The mere fact of establishing the galvanized-iron industry in our midst will be no guarantee that the consumer will be able to purchase supplies of that article any cheaper than they may be purchased to-day.
– The increased cost of boots is due to the large quantity of leather which is held in the country, and which cannot be got away.
– The honorable member should read Mr. Piddington’s report on the manufacture of boots. According to the evidence given before the Chief Inter-State Commissioner, Mr. Piddington, only about 10 per cent, of the cloth we use is imported, and for that a high price is paid. But* the price of the locally manufactured article is put up to the price of the imported article. The same thing will happen in regard to manufactures of iron. I think that we should fix in- the Bill a maximum price for galvanized iron if we are going to give a bounty for the production of that article.
– It is provided in the Bill that, if the manufacturer’s profit, as ascertained by the Auditor-General, exceeds a certain percentage, he shall receive no bounty.
– I am .satisfied with that provision. The general public must be* protected more than it has been protected in the past. During the war the local manufacturers have had no scruples about robbing the people. They cried out for Protection, and, having got it, have used it to fleece the public.
;Like other honorable members, I think that the time has come when Australia should foster what industries she has, and offer inducements for the establishment of new industries. I recognise the need, when bounties are to be given, for such safeguards as the honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. Riley) has mentioned. The only fault I find with the Government proposal is that it does not take in more kinds of iron and steel production. We have in Australia one of the finest and most up-to-date steel works in the world, and it is proposed to start, with Australian capital, the manufacture of certain articles for which steel of the finest quality will be required. Australian engineering- firms which suffered from the shortage of raw material at the beginning of the war propose important and far-reaching developments in this direction.
– I do not think that the honorable member can say that any capital is purely Australian. English money is constantly flowing into and out of Australia.
– The capital to which I refer is held by residents of Australia, who propose ‘ to manufacture wheels and axles for railway work.
– -No bounty is given for that.
– Nor is the industry protected with a duty; and our. population is so small that the market is limited. On the other hand, we are, per head of population, the largest users of galvanized iron in the world. The manufacture of railway wheels, axles, and similar material, for which the finest quality steel is needed, and for which the market is small, should be encouraged. The schedule should cover every branch of steel manufacture. I should like to add that the production of wheels, axles, and tyres will not only require the use of steel of the finest quality, but will give far more employment than the manufacture of galvanized iron. I do not make this comparison to prevent the Government from going on with the proposed bounty; I make it to show that the whole iron industry should be put on a proper basis in regard to bounties.
– I often long for the old days of this Parliament, when we were ranged on each side as Free Traders or Protectionists. The Melbourne Age wa3 then continually decrying the importer and the indentor and explaining the need for keeping money in the country. It wanted a fence put round Australia to keep in our money. That policy suited manufacturing States like Victoria, but the people of other parts of the Commonwealth had to pay for it. I cannot see the difference between the fat importer, living in a beautiful house on the shores of Sydney Harbor, and a fat manufacturer living in Melbourne. The war has shown what the manufacturers are capable of in their treatment of the consumers. I came into the House a confirmed Free Trader, believing in the free interchange of products between countries. The Protectionist used to say, “ Why not have our own factories, employing our own workmen to make everything we want, leaving it to other countries to do the same.” One of the staunchest Protectionists I have ever known was my present Leader, the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Tudor). Several times I wa3 almost converted by the arguments of the honorable member until I could get away and think for myself.
– On some items you were a sound Protectionist.
– No, not even on bananas. The honorable member knows how I slipped on bananas. It was in doing a “pal” a good turn; and I fell. I believe in Australia being self-contained All Australian manufactures, new and old, should be given a square deal. If there is one thing that will make our continent great, it is the steel and iron industry; and when that has been established others must follow. So far as the manufacture of machinery is concerned. Australia can turn out some of the best. The firm of Walkers Limited, in Maryborough, produces some of the most excellent machinery in the world. The firm is now engaged in the construction of steel ships, and it has turned out some of the finest locomotives ever run in this land. Walkers Limited has successfully competed, in a State where wages have been higher than elsewhere, in connexion with locomotive orders for Victoria and South Australia.
I believe in the principle of bounties rather than in that of Protective duties, because then we know very well what we have tn pay. An industry, until it has become well established, should be assisted by bonuses. In the early days of Federation, in preaching the cause of Protection, the Age told people all about the bright side of the Protectionist argument. This war has shown us what Protection has done. An honorable member interjects that it has shown the necessity for Protection. I can only say that, had there been any more of it here, God knows what would have become of the people ! The more our industries have flourished lately, the more the people have been robbed. In the absence of competition, which was the very thing that kept the price of local manufactures, down, up went the cost of everything we eat and drink and wear - not forgetting our entertainments. In Australia we have the raw material, and we have workmen second to none. They have proved that overseas during the war, both in the matter of workmanship and of speed. If the Government can guarantee that we shall get iron manufactures at a reasonable price, the bonus will have been given in good faith, and the whole of the people will have benefited by it.
.- It has been asserted that, as between the importer and the manufacturer, there is little to choose. I quite agree with that. T am opposed to bonuses being conferred on any set of manufacturers. Speaking as a working-class representative, I fail to see what advantage it give to the workers.
– This is a p *> create jobs for the workers.
– Workers are concerned in what they are going to get for their labour upon those jobs. What especially interests the working class, whose sentiments I voice, is not so much the granting of bonuses as in stopping robbery on the part of manufacturers, and in regard to which the workers are the victims. Although the workers to-day secure high wages, the cost of living is also relatively high, and there is little in it, therefore, for the wage-earners.
– They do not consume iron or steel.
– No ; except when they kick against social conditions, and then the . iron enters, not only their body, but their soul. I intend to oppose the granting of any bonuses to manufacturers, or any coddling of private industries by Parliament. If the present economic system is to be retained, and society is to continue in the same fashion as hitherto, the State should operate these industries. Why should the people be taxed for the purpose of paying a bonus to a set of so-called philanthropic individuals who desire to establish industries and wring more profits out of the community? Let the people have the profits. If the Commonwealth Parliament can raise millions of pounds for the purpose of financing a war to slaughter human beings, surely we can raise money for the establishment of industries by the State.
– That was tried in New South Wales, and commodities have not been made any cheaper.
– The honorable member is not prepared to see anything made cheaper. This Parliament is composed of men taken from the workshops, the banks, and businesses, and we are given full control of the Commonwealth. Every aspect of industry is controlled by the laws made by this Parliament; but iron and steel works, brickworks, shipbuilding, the manufacture of locomotives, and other industries, cannot, it is alleged, be carried on by the people through their representatives; we must give a bonus to private individuals until they are strong enough to be able to exploit the people without further nursing. I cannot see any sense in the people taxing themselves to provide bonuses for private enterprise to establish industries, when the country can raise millions of pounds for the purpose of engaging in the slaughter of the human race. Are we to industrialize Australia, and adopt the mad system that lias. been adopted in every other country? Let us take note of what has happened elsewhere. We do not desire Australia, like the United States of America, to become the home of Trusts and Combines for the further exploitation of the people. We do not desire Australia to be run by the local equivalent of Wall-street.
– Does not the honorable member desire Australia to follow the example of the Bolsheviks?
– If the Australian people were to do. that, they would be showing more common sense than in giving a bonus to private enterprise for the establishment of steel works. Whatever is being done in the direction of Bolshevism is being done by the people themselves to the country which they own; and whatever advantages are gained by Bolshevism will be reaped by the people of Russia.
– By those who have been murdered.
– The honorable member has a devil of a lot of sympathy for the persons who have been murdered by the Bolshevists, but very little sympathy for the thousands who were murdered under the regime of the Czar. The rank and file of the Australian people cannot see the force of granting bonuses to private enterprise for the establishment of industry. Australia has been able to raise so much money in order that the country might play its part in the war; but when it comes to a question of establishing an industry that is comparatively insignificant, in comparison with the great war, we must leave the job to private enterprise.
– As the honorable member objects to a bonus, would he object to a protective duty being placed on iron in order to assist the establishment of the local industry?
– I have already said that the difference between Free Trade and Protection is the difference between Tweedledum and Tweedledee. We have the choice of being robbed by the importer or by the manufacturer; I object to being robbed by either.
– If the industry cannot be established without assistance, will the honorable member advocate Protection ?
– Whatever industries are necessary can he established by the people, through their representatives in this House. Do honorable members say that we have not the ability to run these industries, and “that they must be left to private enterprise?
– Then, why does not the honorable member establish them?
– I am not a magician to establish industries by a wave of the hand; but the honorable member, with others in this House, can take steps to establish industries for the people, instead of passing legislation to pay bonuses to private enterprise. The Commonwealth is engaging in ‘shipbuilding, and has established a Fleet of steamers, and why should it be necessary to leave to private individuals the establishment of the iron and steel industry? The world has advanced a stage since the Manchester school was established. To-day, the Birmingham school rules the world, and the Steel Trust is one of the dominating factors in international life.
– If the honorable member desires to keep the Steel Trust out of Australia, ho must support either a bounty or a protective duty, so that the Trust’s goods will not be dumped in this country.
– I do not believe in the present economic system at all, and am no more interested in the State as a State establishing an industry than I am in individual private enterprise doing bo.
– Under what organization would you carry on industry t
– Under the organization of the people, socially organized to produce for use instead of for profit.
– Do you mean syndicalism?
– The’ honorable member is discussing economics.
– This is a question of economics. So far as working-class economics go, there is nothing to choose between the manufacturer and the importer; but so far as concerns the State, as society is organized in this country, engaging in industry, if there is to be a choice between that and private enterprise my vote will go in favour of the State in preference to giving a bounty to private enterprise concerns. To my mind this Bill is merely the thin end of the wedge, the beginning of the domination of this country by the iron and steel industry. It will lead to the establishment of the influence of that industry, and the building up of the political power that will be wielded by the companies, such as the ‘ Broken Hill Proprietary Company, with its Newcastle steel ‘ works, which are engaged in exploiting the iron and steel trade to-day.. As they develop, the iron and steel trade will become .a dominating factor in the country, just as the Steel Trust has become in America and other countries,- and just as in Great Britain, and elsewhere, the development ‘ of steel and the exploitation of the mineral resources of the world have been dominating factors in provoking war and bloodshed in the search for new markets, under the pressure of the necessity to find an output for the steel that has teen produced. We are laying the foundations for the same condition of affairs in Australia. I am against private enterprise controlling these concerns, and, if there is to be a choice, I am in favour of the State controlling them, with no bounty for private concerns.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Standing Orders suspended; resolution adopted.
Ordered - “ That Mr. Greene and Mr. Groom do prepare and bring in a Bill to carry out the foregoing resolution. .
Bill presented by Mr. Greene, and read a first time.
Motion (by Mr. Groom) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a Bill ‘ for an Act to extend the duration of the War Precautions Act 1914-16 and for other purposes.
Bill presented, and (on motion by Mr. Groom) read a first time..
House adjourned at 10.16 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 21 November 1918, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1918/19181121_reps_7_87/>.