7th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. W. Elliot- Johnson) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– Has the Acting Prime Minister received any communication from the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) approving of the action of the Government in removing Mr. Jensen from office?
– I have not yet received a reply to my cable.
– A personal friend who has held a position of some responsibility in the Expeditionary Forces has sent me this telegram from Western Australia: -
Can nothing be done to give men aboard, transports at Fremantle a fighting chance for their lives? They went prepared to fight and die in our behalf. Surely Australia cannot leave them like dogs menaced with destruction. What chance have men cooped up as they are on board ship T The present position is monstrous.
He suggests that .the men should be given their freedom on Garden Island or Rottnest. In view of the information to hand this morning that a desperate and almost successful attempt was made by some men to get ashore at Fremantle from a quarantined transport, does not the Minister for Trade and Customs think it highly advisable, and, indeed, necessary, that the healthy men who are being detained as contacts on board the transports should be allowed some freedom ashore, and at the same time be kept in safety by being confined to one or other of the islands off Fremantle?
– The men who attempted to land without permission did not come from a vessel carrying influenza cases. They came, not from the- Boonah, as was reported in the press, but from another transport that has been held up for a short period to enable those on board to undergo treatment which will insure that, although the vessel is healthy, the men she is bringing, who have come from infected ports, shall not act as carriers’ of the disease. All ‘ the transports are held up for this treatment… .1 shall look into the other matter to which the honorable member referred, to see whether it is possible .to do what he suggests.
– And treat the subject as an urgent one ?
– In the absence of the Acting Minister for the Navy (Mr. Poynton), I ask the Acting Prime Minister whether, seeing that there is now a drought, and stock are realizing only 3d. a lb. in the metropolitan market as against an export price of 6d., and as all freezing space is being quickly taken up, he will arrange with the Imperial authorities that as many vessels as possible having refrigerated space shall be sent here to carry our beef and mutton overseas ?
– The Government, in the representations made through the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), has frequently drawn the attention of the’ authorities at Home to the need of providing refrigerated space for the carriage of ‘meat, butter, apples, and other perishable products. We are doing all that we can to obtain such accommodation.
– On the 29th November, I asked the Acting Prime Minister a question regarding the premature publication by some newspapers of the Repatriation Department’s report. The matter had been referred to in the Senate on the previous day by a senator from New South Wales, and it had been said that one newspaper in Sydney - I think it was the Daily Telegraph - had not held back the report in accordance with instructions. I ask the Acting Prime Minister if he will inquire why the Adelaide Advertiser did not obey this instruction, which was observed by the Register and the Herald there. The honorable gentleman promised to ascertain the facts, and I. shall be glad if he will let me have them before the Estimates come on, as I wish to say something on the matter?
Mr.WATT.- My recollection is thatI sent to the Department for information on the subject, but I do not remember having received an answer. I shall see that the honorable member’ is told what he wants to know.
– Has the Acting Prime Minister any further statement to make regarding the first payments for the incoming wheat crop, and the result of the negotiations overseas for the sale of further wheat?
Mr.WATT. - The negotiations to which I referred last week, when replying to a question by the honorable member, have not yet been finalized. Correspondence has to take place between Melbourne and Sydney, which means delay, whether letters or telegrams aresent. I hope, however, to have the arrangements in such a state that I shall be able to make a statement regarding both the payment of the guarantees on the coming crop, and the sale of further wheat, some time this week.
– The following para graph appears in this morning’s Argus, headed “Hindering Earlier Peace”: -
Whenever the Allies were winning Great Britain refused to consider “ peace talk,” and whenever the Germanic Alliance was winning Von Ludendorff refused to consider peace . . Great Britain always seemed ready to crush Germany, and only President Wilson seemed ready to give her reasonable terms.
Mr.Watt. - Who wrote that?
– I do not know. It is an ordinary paragraph.
– No, it is not.
– The question of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Mathews) is not in order. I have frequently pointed out, and my predecessors in office have done the same, that a question founded on a newspaper statement is not in order unless the member asking it is prepared to vouch for the accuracy of the statement.
– I ask the Acting Prime Minister why the capitalistic press is allowed to print paragraphs such as that which I have just read, which a Labour or socialistic organ is prevented from reproducing or punished if publication does take place? Why should the editor of the Argus be allowed to go scotfree for doing things for which the editor of a Labour journal would be sent to gaol?
– First of all, I assume that the honorable member implies that the Argus is an organ of the capitalistic press.
– I should like some proof of that. If the journals of this country are to be divided in that sheep-and-goats fashion, as either capitalistic or socialistic, a large number of the brightest and happiest organs in the country will remain unclassified.
– There are only two sorts of journals - capitalistic and Labour.
– That remark only shows the sort of error that presides over the otherwise bright intellect of the honorable member. He assumes that some organs of the press may print statements which other organs may not print. I believe there was a time when, for certain reasons, the Censor’s Department was accused of such differentiation. I do not think it is accused of anything of the kind now.
– The position is exactly the same now.
– Has any organ of the socialistic press published on Monday been denied the right to publish Count Czernin’s statement? I would advise the honorable member to acquaint himself with the facts before he makes statements and I suggest that, in future, when he concludes, either inadvertently or otherwise, that a certain article has been written by an Argus writer in Melbourne, he ought to be sure that it is not a summary of a speech made by the Austrian Premier.
– Will the Acting Prime Minister say whether Cabinet has yet taken into consideration the advisableness of releasing the Irishmen who are interned in the Commonwealth?
– Cabinet has been dealing with that matter to-day. If the honorable member will give notice of his question, I will answer it to-morrow.
– As it appears to be the policy of the Government to build houses for workmen, will the Minister for Works and Railways consider the claims of other centres as well as Lithgow, for consideration in that respect?
– The construction of houses for workmen is undertaken by the Department of Works and Railways only on the requisition of the Department concerned. For instance, the Defence Department, which has a large factory at Lithgow, made a requisition to the Government for the provision of more housing accommodation. As to whether house construction will be undertaken in . other centres, that will depend on a requisition coming from some Department for better housing accommodation for its employees at such centres.
– Has the Acting Prime Minister been made aware of grave statements which have been circulated concerning the conduct of those in authority on the transport Medic, who are said to have been directly responsible for about thirty deaths. Allegations also have been made as to certain mismanagement of the vessel on the trip to Sydney and at Sydney. Will the Government take steps to have an independent civilian inquiry into these charges, apart altogether from any inquiry by the Defence Department?
– I am totally at a loss to understand to what the honorable member is referring. I have heard none of the rumours he indicates. If the honorable member will acquaint me with the particulars I will see that the statements are promptly examined.
– Has the Acting Prime Minister made any inquiries, following upon a series of questions I asked some time ago, regarding Anatole Melentievitch Mendrin, an ex-police spy of the Czar, who is now being employed by the Commonwealth Police Force in spying upon Russians in Brisbane?
– Order ! In asking a question it is not in order to make assertions. The object of a question is to elicit and not to give information.
– This case is being investigated, and I understand that data is being prepared in the office. As soon as the particulars are available I shall give them to the honorable member.
– As soon as the present influenza epidemic disappears and leaves his hands free, will the Acting Minister for Trade and Customs inquire urgently regarding the suitability of the southern shores of Port Stephens for use as a quarantine station for New South Wales ?
– It is my intention to make full inquiry, as soon as circumstances permit, as to the best location for the quarantine station in New South Wales.
– Is the Acting Minister for Trade and Customs aware that Port Stephens, which is one of the finest harbors in Australia, is shortly to be developed, and that we have there one of the most important Naval Bases in the Commonwealth? Having regard to these facts, in seeking for a suitable site . for a quarantine station in New South Wales, will he look further south?
– I have already stated that the whole subject will shortly be investigated.
– Will’ the Acting Minister for Trade and Customs ascertain if it is not a fact that a number of large buildings erected on. the southern shores of Port Stephens have been absolutely unused during the last two or. three years, and that they are eminently suited for the accommodation of persons to be quarantined ? Will he also take into consideration the fact that since Port Stephens is such an excellent harbor, it “is specially suited ‘ for a quarantine station ?
– When the matter is being investigated, I shall see that these facts are duly considered.
Battalion Colours - Return of Light Horsemen
– I ask the Acting Prime Minister whether it is a fact that instructions were issued by the Censor that the press was not to publish details of the battalion colours of the Australian Imperial Force. As the Argus has defied that instruction, and published those details, what action do the Government propose to take against that journal ?
– I cannot be expected to know every instruction issued by the Defence Department. If the honorable member will supply me with the facts, I shall inquire into the matter.
– This morning, I received a letter from a. resident of Rockhampton. complaining ‘ that , his son, who has . Been serving with the Light Horse, has’ been ordered to do’ garrison’ duty in
Turkey, and at the Black Sea ports. This soldier has been on service since October, 1915, and the writer urges that, as the Light Horsemen have had a rough time, his son ought to be allowed to return to Australia as soon as possible. As hostilities have ceased, will the Assistant Minister see that these men are returned to the Commonwealth at the earliest practicable date ?
– I shall have inquiries made into the matter..
– I call the attention of the Acting Minister for Trade- and Customs to the report of a: , speech made by Dr. Mannix at . Hawthorn yesterday, in which the speaker is alleged to have said that the refusal by the Minister to allow priests to enter the Quarantine Station was received with repeated’ cheers in the Federal Parliament. As one who was present when the statement was made, and did not hear any cheers1, I shall be glad if the Acting Minister will put the public right in regard to that matter.
– So far as I am aware, the statement that we were not allowing ministers . of religion to visit the quarantine station was not cheered, but some statement I made as to the seriousness of the position and our proposals for coping with it, were cheered.
CORAN gamite ELECTION.
– May i ask the Minister for Home and Territories whether he has received a progress report as to the counting of the votes polled at the election for Corangamite ?
– Some returns were sent on; but no progress reports are made, unless officially asked for. capturedgerman war-ships.
– Will the Acting PrimeMinister state whether there is any foundation for the press report that the
Commonwealth Government have made representations to the Imperial Government to secure, as additions to the Australian Fleet, some of the captured German warships ? If so, has any reply been received ? If such representations have not been made, will the Government make them?
– In all probability the Prime Minister has made such representations to the British Government, founded upon a general recommendation made to him, but I have no advices in regard to the matter.
Linking up the Eastern States.
– Is the Minister for Works and Railways in a position to state whether any steps have been taken towards linking up the eastern States with the Kalgoorlie-Port Augusta railway line by means of the proposed Hay-Wentworth line?
– No. The question of the construction of a military line was under the consideration of the Government some time ago, and certain recommendations were made. The New South Wales Government subsequently made representations as to the desirableness of a direct connexion with the East- West railway through Broken Hill. That proposal did not receive the favorable consideration of the Government, and no steps are being taken at the present time in regard to any further railway construction.
– Do the Government intend to push on with that line?
– The Government at present have no intention of constructing any railways in. that direction.
– I desire to ask the Acting Prime Minister whether Sir Lionel Halsey has yet been appointed a member of the Naval Board?
– I think not. I understand that he has been appointed Commander of His Majesty’s Australian ship Australia; beyond that, I know nothing in regard to the matter.
asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
Will he invite the Board appointed to investigate the matter of economy in public expenditure to inquire into the appointment of publicity officers in the Prime Minister’s Department, with a view to ascertaining whether, in the interests of good government of the Commonwealth, such officers are necessary; and whetherthe present publicity officers prepare for publication cablegrams or reports that are fair to both parties in this Parliament?
– The Economy Board has authority to investigate every form of Commonwealth expenditure, and this section of Government activity will necessarily come within its purview.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice-
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
2 and 3. With the exception of a small sum which was exported by permission of the Treasurer, the whole of the gold exports were made at the request of the British Government, and the Commonwealth Government is not at liberty to supply the information asked for.
asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
Is it a fact that, at a recent conference between the Metal Recovery Proprietary Limited and certain local producers of tin scrap, which conference was presided over by Sir John Higgins, one of the producers of tin scrap, Mr. A. W. Palfreyman, offered to make a free gift of 1,000 tons of scrap (worth in the world’s market £4 15s. per ton) to the above-mentioned company if the company would take delivery and pay the freight from Hobart, and that Colonel Oldershaw, chairman of the company, refused the offer?
– At the conference only one producer, Mr. Palfreyman, and two scrap metal dealers, Messrs. Pratt and Neuendorf, were present. As an inducement to the Government to permit a parcel of tin scrap from Melbourne to be exported to Japan, Mr. Palfreyman made the offer to the secretary of the Metal Recovery Proprietary Limited, who stated he could not accept it without consulting his directors. Mr. Pratt was, at a later date, asked to put the offer in writing, but it has not yet been received. Tin scrap is not, nor was it, worth £A 15s. on the world’s market.
asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
Railway Passes fob Relatives.
asked the Assistant Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
– It is not clear what the honorable member is referring to. If to the embargo imposed by the Imperial or other -Government on their exports, I am unable to give the information desired. The embargo imposed by the Commonwealth Government restricting the importation of certain goods during the war is still operative, except in regard to soap. The general question of protecting the interests of local manufacturers will receive every consideration.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
What amount has each member drawn up to the present time?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
Gibson, Esq., C.B.E. ; Edward Grayndler, Esq. ; Harold Percival Moorehead, Esq. ; Lt.Colonel Robert Haylock Owen, C.M.G.; John Sanderson, Esq.
Issue of Badges
asked the Minister repre senting the Minister for Recruiting, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
– On the 11th December, the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Chapman) asked me the following questions : -
I am now in a position to supply the honorable member with the following information : -
– Some time ago the honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney) asked me the following question : -
Will the Acting Prime Minister inform the House as to the number of men, with their positions, who in 1917, as officers of the Defence and Naval Departments, were in receipt of salaries and allowances totalling £500 and under £600, and so on up to £2,000; and also the names and positions of those who drew £1,500 and upwards in salaries and allowances in the same year?
I now lay on thetable a statement giving the information desired by the honorable member. It reads as follows :
Statement showing numberof Persons, with their positions, who in 1917, as Officers of
Defence and Navy Departments,were in receipt of Salaries and Allowances totalling £500 and under £600 and up to £2,000; also names and Positions of those who received £1,500 and upwards in Salaries and Allowances in the same year.
Defence Department. personswhoreceivedbetween £500and £600.
Central Administration. - Chief Accountant, Chief Examiner of Stores, Director of Rifle Clubs, Secretary Contract and Supply Board, Inspector Military Accounts, Officer Commanding Central Flying School, Director of Remounts, Staff Officer, Chief of General Staff, Inspecting Ordnance Officer, Assistant AdjutantGeneral and Director of Personnel, Director Physical Training, Acting Manager Small Arms Factory, Manager Clothing Factory, Manager Harness Factory. 1st Military District. - Deputy Assistant Quartermaster-General, Censor. 2nd Military District. - Assistant QuartermasterGeneral, General Staff Officer, three Majors Administrative and Instructional Staff, one Major Royal Australian Field Artillery, one Lieutenant-Colonel Royal Australian Garrison Artillery, Principal Veterinary Officer, Major Australian Army Pay Corps, Senior Ordnance Officer, District Paymaster, one Censor and two Assistant Censors, Officer Commanding Liverpool Camp, Officer Commanding Menangle Camp, Officer Commanding 1st Depôt Battalion, Liverpool, one Major Royal Australian Garrison Artillery, Adjutant No. 4 Australian General Hospital, Officer Commanding Field Hospital, Liverpool, Officer Commanding 21st Auxiliary Hospital, Officer Commanding Milson’s Island Depôt. 3rd Military District. - District Paymaster, Major Administrative and Instructional Staff, Major Royal Australian Field Artillery, two Majors Royal Australian Garrison Artillery, Member Permanent Medical Referee Board, one Censor and three Assistant Censors, Adjutant, Principal Medical Officer, Lt.-Colonel Intelligence Section General Staff, Senior Ordnance Officer, Acting Assistant Adjutant-General. 4th Military District. - Three Majors Administrative and Instructional Staff, Deputy Assistant Adjutant-General, Censor. 5th Military District. - District Paymaster, Major Royal Australian Garrison Artillery, Officer Commanding Blackboy Hill Camp, Censor, two Assistant Censors. 6th Military District. - Deputy Assistant Adjutant-General, Quartermaster-General.
Total, 64. personswhoreceivedbetween £600and £700.
Central Administration. - Inspector Ordnance Machinery, Assistant Secretary Department of Defence, Director-General Australian Army Reserve, Inspector Coast Defences, Finance Member, Director of Engineers, Director Military Training. 1st Military District. - General Staff Officer, Assistant Adjutant-General, Principal Medical Officer, Commanding Officer, 6th Australian General Hospital. 2nd Military District. - Assistant AdjutantGeneral, Medical Officer in Charge Permanent Troops, Officer Commanding No. 4 Australian General Hospital, President Permanent Medical Referee Board. 3rd Military District. - President Permanent Medical Referee Board. 4th Military District. - Commandant. 5th Military District. - Principal Medical Officer, Deputy Assistant Adjutant-General, three Majors, No. 8 Australian General Hospital.
Total, 22. personswhoreceivedbetween £700and £800.
Central Administration. - Superintendent Laboratories, Arsenal, Quartermaster-General, Acting Chief of Ordnance. 3rd Military District. - Assistant AdjutantGeneral, Deputy Chief Censor, 5th Military District. - Commandant. 6th Military District. - Commandant.
Total, 7. personswhoreceivedbetween £800and £900.
Central Administration. - Adjutant-General, Director of Munitions, Director-General of Medical Services, Manager Cordite Factory. 1st Military District. - Commandant. 3rd Military District. - Commandant, Principal Medical Officer.
Total, 7. personswhoreceivedbetween £900and £1,000.
Central Administration. - Acting Secretary Department of Defence, Manager Woollen Cloth Factory. 2nd Military District. - Commandant.
One person - Manager, Small Arms Factory - received between £1,000 and £1,200. personswhoreceivedbetween £1,200 and £1,500.
Central Administration. - Manager Arsenal, Administrator Rabaul, Acting Chief of the General Staff (see note), Manager Artificial Limb Factory.
One person received between £1,500 and £1,750.
Colonel (temporary Major-General) J. G. Legge, Chief of the Commonwealth Section, Imperial Genera] Staff, received salary at rate of £1,500 per annum.
Note. - General Legge held the appointment of Inspector-General during portion of this year, and the position of C.G.S. was carried on by a “ called-up “ officer during that period.
Navy Department. personswhoreceivedbetween£ 500and £600.
Naval Censor, Chief Clerk, EngineerOverseer of Contract Work, Staff Officer to Director of Naval Auxiliary Services, Deputy Victualling Store Officer, Deputy Naval Store Officer, Sub-District Naval Officer, three Commanders, six Lieutenant-Commanders, EngineerCommander, three Senior Naval Instructors, Staff Surgeons, two Surgeons, Fleet Paymaster, Staff Paymaster.
Total, 25. personswhoreceivedbetween £600and £700.
Principal Transport Officer, Commonwealth Shipping Agent, Acting Director of Navy Accounts, Naval Engineer Assistant, Engineer Manager, Acting Director of Radio Service, District Naval Officers - three, Naval Transport Officer, twelve Commanders, three EngineerCommanders, Fleet Paymaster.
Total, 26. personswhoreceivedbetween £700and £800.
Inspecting Engineer-Overseer, Director of War Services, Naval Secretary, Director of Navy Accounts, Director of Stores, Victualling and Contracts, Naval Store Officer, Victualling Store Officer, three District Naval Officers, Captain, Commander, two EngineerCommanders, Fleet Surgeon, Staff Surgeon, Fleet Paymaster.
Total, 17. personswhoreceivedbetween £800and £900.
General Manager Garden Island, Assistant General Manager Cockatoo Island, Captain, Engineer-Commander, Fleet Paymaster.
Total, 5. personswhoreceivedbetween £900and £1,000.
Director of Naval Auxiliary Services,five Captains, Fleet Surgeons.
Total, 7. personswhoreceivedbetween £1,000and £1,100.
Second Naval Member of Naval Board, Third Naval Member of Naval Board, Naval Representative, Captain in Charge, two Captains.
Total, 6. personswhoreceivedbetween £1,200and £1,300.
First Naval Member of Naval Board (RearAdmiral Sir William Creswell, K.C.M.G., R.A.N.). personswhoreceivedbetween £1,500 and £1,600.
Director of Naval Works (J. R. Settle) - transferred to Department of Works and Railways as from 1st December, 1917. personswhoreceivedbetween £1,700 and £1,800.
General Manager, Cockatoo Island (J. J. King Salter). personswhoreceivedbetween £2,400 and £2,500.
Rear- Admiral (Rear-Admiral A. C. Leveson, Commanding Australian Fleet Unit).
Mr.WATT. - On the 7th November, the honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney) asked me the following question : -
Following on a question which I asked last week, I would like to know whether it is possible to have a return prepared giving the names of the members of all Commissions and Committees appointed by the Commonwealth Government, with particulars as to the remuneration or allowances paid or payable to each individual? I ask this question in view of the lengthy list of such Committees and Commissions which has been printed in the Age?
I now lay on the table of the House a statement giving some of the information desired by the honorable member, which is as follows : -
Particularsregarding Salaries or Allow ances Paid to Members of Boards, Committees, etc., Appointed since the War to Assist the Commonwealth Government.
Commonwealth Shipping Board. - The Chairman, Rear-Admiral Sir William Clarkson, receives an allowance of £350 in addition to his salary from the Navy Department of £900, making his total remuneration £1,250 per annum. Dr. D. L. Dowdell, delegate member in London, is paid at the rate of £1,000 per annum, and an allowance of £2 2s. a day. Mr. C. G. Lyon, representative in India (now resigned), was paid at the rate of £1,000 per annum, with an allowance of £2 2s. a day. No salaries or fees are paid to other members of the Board.
The Deputy-Controller of Overseas Shipping (Sir Edward Owen Cox), the Deputy-Controller of Coastal Shipping (Mr. David Hunter), and the members of the Inter-State Central Shipping Committee are not paid salaries or fees.
Wool Committees. - No salaries or allowances are paid to members of the Central or State Wool Committees, or of the Sheepskin sub-Committees.
Enemy Aliens Committee. - No salaries or allowances are paid to members of this Committee.
Royal Commission on Navy and Defence Administration. - The members of this Commission do not receive any salaries or allowances. Travelling expenses may be claimed.
Royal Commission on Commonwealth Public Servants or Employees of Enemy Origin. - No salary is paid to Mr. A. N. Barnett, the Commissioner. When travelling, he is entitled to 30s. a day as expenses.
Federal Public Service Control Commission. - No salary is paid to Mr. D. C. McLachlan, the Commissioner. When away from Sydney, he is entitled to travelling allowance at the rate of 30s. a day.
Economies Royal Commission. - No fees are paid to members of this Commission.
Committee to Advise the Government on Legal Problems arising out of the War. - No salaries or allowances are paid to members of this Committee. The railway fares of the Sydney members are paid when they are required to attend meetings of the Committee in Melbourne.
Australian Metal Exchange. - No salaries or allowances are paid by the Government to members of the Sydney and Melbourne Committees of the Australian Metal Exchange.
Central Coal Board. - Twenty-five pounds a month is paid to Mr. A. McGowan, assistant to the Board.
Coal Purchase Boards. - Travelling expenses, according to his rank, and cost of railway fares, are paid to Captain Waley, the President. Miners’ representatives on Coal Purchase Boards are allowed £2 2b. each meeting, in addition to actual railway fares, such allowance not to exceed £4 4s. a week in addition to actual railway fares.
Council of Finance. - Each member of this body acts in an honorary capacity.
Central War Loan Committee in each State, and War Savings Committees in each State. - Each member of these bodies acts in an honorary capacity.
Commonwealth Stores Supply and Tender Board. - Each member receives £1 ls. for each sitting of the Board.
Military Board. - The regulations provide that the military members of the Military Board shall receive special duty pay at the rate of £75 per annum. No fees are paid to the other members.
War Railway Council. - No fees are paid to members of the War Railway Council.
Board ‘ of Business Administration. - Hon. George’ Swinburne was not paid anything in addition to his salary of £2,000 a year as InterState Commissioner. Mr. C. H. Reading receives £1,500 a year. Mr. H. V. McKay received £1,500 a year to 7th November, 1918; since then, he has acted in an honorary capacity. Mr. W. G. McBeath acts in an honorary capacity.
Central Contract and Supply Board. - Mr. S. Hutchinson receives £500 a year. He also performs the duties of Director of Automobile Transport without extra remuneration. Mr. I. Evans acts in an honorary capacity.
District Contract and Supply Boards. - Each member acts in an honorary capacity.
Munitions Directorate. - Mr. Walter Leitch receives £800 a year (in addition to £700 a year as Director of the Bureau of Commerce and Industry). Regarding Mr. R. J. Lewis, £375, representing portion of his salary, is paid to the Victorian Government for his services. The services of Mr. A. McKinstry are given free by the British Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing Company, of Manchester. Mr. P. C Oake, Assistant Director, is paid £500 a year.
Recruiting Committees. - Members of Recruiting Committees acted in an honorary capacity. Expenses at the rate of 12s. 6d. a day were allowed to members of these Committees when travelling on recruiting business.
Repatriation Commission (composed of six honorary members and the Minister for Repatriation as Chairman ) . - Inter-State members receive travelling allowance at the rate of £1 lis. 6d. a day. Reimbursement is made of out-of-pocket expenses in the case of members resident in Melbourne. ‘
State Repatriation Boards (each composed of seven honorary members). - Out-of-pocket expenses are reimbursed.
Soldiers’ Industrial Committees. - Services of members are honorary, but out-of-pocket expenses may be claimed.
Local Committees. - Membership is honorary.
Commonwealth Board of Trade. - No salaries or allowances are paid to members of the Commonwealth Board of Trade.
Bureau of Commerce and Industry. - The Director, Mr. Walter Leitch, receives a salary of £700 a year. When absent from Melbourne, he is entitled to travelling allowance at the rate of 25s. a day.
Institute of Science and Industry. - The Director, Dr. F. M. Gellatly, receives £1,250 a year. When absent from Melbourne, he is entitled to travelling allowance at the rate of 25s. a day. Members of the Executive Committee, excepting Senator the Hon. E. J. Russell (Chairman) and Mr. A. B. Piddington, E.C., are paid £2 2s. per sitting. Members of the Committees of the several States act in an honorary capacity.
Australian Wheat Board. - No salaries or allowances are paid to members of the Australian Wheat Board.
Wheat-Storage Commission. - No salaries or allowances are paid to members of the WheatStorage Commission:
Price-Fixing Branch. - The Chief Prices Commissioner, Mr. Percy Whitton, I.S.O., receives £1,200 a year salary. When absent from Melbourne, he is entitled to travelling allowance at the rate of 30s. a day. The Chairman of the Price-Fixing Advisory Board, Mr. A. D. Price, and members (Messrs.. C. J. Henty, Marcus Clark, and W. Harper) are each paid 30s. a day for travelling expenses when engaged outside the metropolitan area of the State in which they reside, and all fares incurred by them in travelling by land or water.
Leather Industries Board. - No salaries or allowances are paid to members of the Leather Industries Board, excepting the Deputy Chairman, Mr. R. J. Anderson (Hides and Leather Expert.) , who receives £5 a week.
Commonwealth Film Censorship. - The Chairman, Sir H. N. P. Wollaston, K.C.M.G., and Mr. Archibald Strong (member), each receive an honorarium of f 100 a year. The other member, Dr. Cumpston, Director of Quarantine, does not receive salary or allowance under this Board. The censors for New South Wales, Messrs. George Black, M.L.C., and Joseph Brown, each receive £300 a year.
Commonwealth Dairy Produce Pool Committee. - Members of the Committee, other than the Chairman (the Hon. W. Massy Greene, M.P.), may be paid, from moneys held by the Committee, such sums as remuneration or expenses as the Minister may from time to time authorize.
Sulphate of Ammonia Board. - No salaries or allowances are paid to members of the Sulphate of Ammonia Board.
Cornsacks Advisory Board. - No salaries or allowances are paid to the members of the Cornsacks Advisory Board.
Commonwealth Flax Committee. - No salaries are paid to members of this Committee, but one country member receives 12s. 6d. a day when he comes to Melbourne to attend meetings of the Committee. He is also reimbursed railway fare.
The additional information will he supplied as soon as possible.
Reports as to Condition of Patients - Movements of Officials - Removal of Sydney Station.
– On the 10th December, the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lynch) asked the following question : -
Will the Acting Minister for Trade and Customs, as administrator of the Quarantine Act, see that urgent telegrams sent by the patients or relatives of patients in quarantine, who are known to be dangerously ill, are attended to, since much indignation is being expressed throughout the country in regard to what seems to be the ignoring of these very important messages ?
I am now in a position to supply the following information : -
The actual procedure at the present moment is that at 0 a.m. and 3 p.m. each day a report as to the condition of every patient is sent from the Quarantine Station by telephone to the Sydney office. This notification is available to any inquirer, and is published in the daily press, both morning and afternoon, so that it is immediately available to any person who is interested. Direct inquiries by telegram or letter- are answered when received.
In connexion with military patients, Base Records Office is also advised if inquiries arereceived through them.
On the 10th December, the honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney) asked the following questions : -
Will the Acting Minister for Trade and Customs tell the House the names and positions of any persons who have visited the Quarantine Ground in Sydney and been permitted to leave without having to remain in quarantine for the remaining period?
I’ am now in a position to supply the following information: -
The actual position is as I stated on 10th December - that occasional communication by responsible officers with the Administrative Offices on the station has occurred, but the segregation of patients is complete.
On the 11th December, the honorable member- for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Austin Chapman) asked the following question : -
In view of the expressed desire of a large’ number of people in and around Sydney for the removal of the Quarantine Station from North Head, will the Minister in Charge of Quarantine have inquiries made regarding the suitability of Broken Bay for a quarantine station ?
The honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Kelly) also asked: -
In the absence of the honorable member for North Sydney, I ask the Minister in Charge of Quarantine if he will look into the suitability of Jervis Bay as a site for a quarantine station for New South Wales?
I now desire to say that, at present, owing to the fact that the Director of Quarantine is so fully occupied with the actually present risk from the introduction of the influenzal epidemic into Australia, it is not possible to make immediate inquiries as to suitable alternative sites. Such inquiries may, however, be made at a later date, when there is more favorable opportunity for doing so.
Accommodation for Invalids
– On the 10th December, the honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney) asked the following question : -
Inview of the fact that our soldiers have offered the sacrifice of their lives; will the Government cable an instruction to London that the best deck on each transport shall be reserved for the soldiers and officers who are most severely injured, and for those who are physically the weakest?
I am now able to furnish the honorable member with the following information : -
The instructions which have been issued to the transport officers and to the medical officers in charge of transports fully meet the suggestions put forward by Dr. Maloney. The Director of Medical Services of the Australian Imperial Force, who is now in Australia, fully confirms this.
– On the 10th December, the honorable member for Illawarra (Mr. Hector Lamond) asked the following question : -
Will the Assistant Minister for Defence confer with the Minister for Defence, with a view to making a statement in the House as to the exact position in regard to the proposed Gallipoli decoration?
I am now able to furnish the honorable member with the following information : -
It had been proposed to grant a special Gallipoli Star, but serious difficulties arose, owing to strong objections taken not only by members of Parliament and press in England, but by the Dominion troops themselves, to the issue of decorations to the Dominion troops serving in Gallipoli which could not be conferred on their British comrades who shared the dangers and hardships. Extension of this decoration would have involved even more serious anomalies for demands for issue of an indefinite number of further campaign decorations which would have becomeirresistible.
A committee, presided over by General Seely to whom His Majesty’s Government intrusted consideration of the question, made the following proposal, which has been adopted: -
” Theatre of war “ has been defined by the Army Council, in consultation with the Admiralty and Air Board, thus: -
The above solution removes the anomaly of troops serving in the same theatre of war side by side and not receiving the same reward for their services, and gives to nearly all those who first responded to the call of duty a decoration which will be extremely highly prized, and which hitherto has been confined only to those who rendered this service in France.
It will also remove the existing anomaly by which the 1914 Star is issued to many thousands of officers and men whose duty kept them at a base in France far away from the fighting line, whereas officers and men who offered their services at the beginning of the war, and took part in the fighting on Gallipoli or Festubert are ineligible for any special decoration. The grant by the King himself of one decoration to British,Dominion, and Indian troops alike will symbolize the unity of the Empire.
His Majesty’s Government are aware that great importance has been attached in Australia and New Zealand to a special decoration for Gallipoli. In view of the grant of the 1914-15 Star, a special clasp on the war medal will be given for the Gallipoli operations .
Employment in Australia.
– On the11th December, the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton) asked the following question : -
Has provision been made for the employment, on their return, of the men who volunteered to go home as munition workers? Failing employment, will they be provided foruntil they can get work ?
I am now able to furnish the honorable member with the following information : -
The agreement under which munition workers proceed to Great Britain terminates upon their arrival in Australia. The Government does not undertake to find employment for these men on their return, nor can it see its way to incur any further financial obligations in respect of munition workers. Action is being taken, however, immediately advice is received of the embarkation of the men in England, to furnish to the Chambers of Manufactures and Labour Bureaux in the various States lists of the men returning, together with the occupations they follow, for the information of any firms in search of any particular class of labour.
Cost of Maintenance
– On the 12th December, the honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. Finlayson) asked the following questions : -
I am now able to furnish the honorable member with the following information : -
– On the 12th December, the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) asked the following questions: -
I am now able to furnish the honorable member with the following information : -
It should be pointed out, however, that the works are being extended for the production of industrial alcohol used in connexion with the manufacture of explosives.
The following paper was presented: -
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 13th December, vide page 9296) :
Postponed clause 5 -
Section 12 of the principal Act is amended -
– Clause 5 is to amend section 12 of the principal Act, and section 12 provides that where there is an increase of capital above the pre-war standard of capital employed during an accounting period, in order to ascertain the taxable profits certain methods have to be resorted to.
It is provided that there shall be deducted either the percentage standard or the pre-war standard of profits, whichever be the greater. Clause 5 proposes to strike out the option provided for by section 12, namely, that it is competent for’ the taxpayer to deduct the pre-war standard of profits so far as increased capital is concerned. This is a very serious innovation,, and it is proposed to date it back to the 1st July, 1916, or twelve months before the section was actually enacted. The effect of the proposed alteration is very serious, and will most greviously hurt and penalize those who endeavoured to expand their business by an increase of capital.
The Treasurer (Mr. Watt) will remember the circumstances under which this option to select the pre-war standard of profits was deliberately inserted by Parliament. In the original Bill introduced by the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Higgs), who was then Treasurer, it was provided that under circumstances of the kind where increased capital was introduced during an accounting period, the taxpayer should be at liberty to deduct the statutory percentage, and the statutory percentage alone, which was then fixed at 6 per cent., so far as companies are concerned, and 7 per cent, in the case of individuals. When the new Bill was introduced by the late Lord Forrest in August last, there was a new clause inserted providing that the taxpayer should have the option of deducting the statutory percentage, or, if he so desired, the pre-war standard of profits, whichever happened to be the greater.
– He could take the alternative.
– He could exercise the option - taking either one or the other. That provision was deliberately introduced, and passed by Parliament, and was a direct amendment of the provisions of the measure introduced by the honorable member for Capricornia. Business men, manufacturers in particular, have since then relied upon getting the benefit of that pre-war standard of percentage, and have invested their money, profits and otherwise, in plant and in other directions, with the aim and object of expanding their establishments; but now they are told that they are to be denied the advantage of what they have done on the. authority of Parliament and in the ordinary course of their business operations. Besides its retrospective effect, the clause seeks to wipe- out the option given* by section 12 of the Act. Huge businesses will not suffer in any way. The clause will penalize the smaller businesses, the new and struggling concerns, which are progressive in character, and find it necessary from time to time to increase their capital with a view to expansion. I have no wish to repeat the illustrations I gave in dealing with this matter on the second reading. One will be sufficient. A small manufacturer, with a capital of £8,000, was called upon to pay £187 last year under the provisions of the Act as it now stands, but if the Committee agrees to_ this clause he will be called upon to pay £887 for that period. This year, under the Act as it stands, on his present figures and estimates, he would have been called upon to pay nothing in the shape of wartime profits taxation; but if this clause is agreed to he will be called upon to pay £1,000. The clause is a deliberate blow at the industries of the country, particularly the new and struggling ones, and, in view’ of the fact that manufacturers, relying on the wording of the Act, felt that they were at liberty to exercise the option of selecting either a percentage standard or a pre-war standard of profits, it will be very unjust to them to give a retrospective effect to this legislation. I urge the Treasurer to strike out the’ clause, or, at least, amend it so that it will not operate before the 1st January next. I do not doubt the right of Parliament to make any alteration in the law so far as the future operation of it is concerned, but retrospective legislation i3 vicious and dangerous from every standpoint. It is the retrospective character of the clause against which I particularly protest. It will create many hardships, and will deal a serious blow to industries.
.- The proposal to delete section 12 aims at collecting a retrospective tax upon a matter which the whole business community imagined was settled, finished, and done with. While no business man would imagine for a moment that a contract with the Government is absolutely binding, and cannot be altered by Parliament, there is an impression among the business community that there was a contract with them embodied in the section, of the_Act which it is now. sought to delete from the Statute. Acting on that contract, many firms have dealt with the profits they have made, and which they believed were legitimately theirs. In some cases they have put them back into the businesses by the installation of new machinery, or by the expansion. of their operations. In other cases, part of the money has been distributed in the shape of dividends, which have increased the value of their shares. If section 12 is deleted, totally innocent persons, who have acquired these shares, will suffer an appreciable and severe drop in the value of their stock. If the- provision had ,placed certain people in the community in the position of being able to rob the public by profiteering, the fact that the business community imagined that the Government had made a bargain with them would be no ground for objecting to the right of Parliament to remedy what was obviously wrong; but this has not occurred. The only people to whom the provision can apply are those who have established new businesses. It does not apply to old businesses which can- show a satisfactory percentage on the huge volume of capital in their business prior to* the war. On the second reading, I endeavoured to demonstrate that young businesses, may perfectly legitimately earn 40 per cent, or 50 per cent, on their capital during the first two or three years, and at the same time be selling to the public at the very minimum of profit. Those honorable members who heard my remarks will recognise that there- is nothing vicious in a young business making a large percentage of profit upon its capital. It may not be doing, so on its turn-over. It may possibly be making a very much smaller profit on its turn-over than wellestablished businesses are making.
We are all firmly convinced that it is essential that we should try to helpour young, struggling industries; and we should be very ill-advised if, through the fear that one or two businesses maybe entitled to retain too much profit, we place such a heavy handicap on what we are seeking to create. ‘ For these reasons,. I. think it would be a very great mistake to delete the provision in the Act, and make the tax retrospective for two and. a-half years. Only one thing could justify what amounts,, practically, to a, breach of faith, and certainly to an absolute restraint upon the creation of new industries; and that is, if the Treasurer could demonstrate absolutely beyond doubt that section 12 is giving opportunities to a large portion of the community to carry on profiteering, and practically rob the people. If the Treasurer could demonstrate this, much as I dislike the clause, I would be prepared to vote for it, but if he cannot show that, people, having had the opportunity to carry on flagrant profiteering, have not hesitated to take advantage of it, then it would be a grave mistake to create in the minds of the mercantile community the feeling that they cannot rely on anything that is done by Parliament. That .would certainly be the feeling created if this measure is made retrospective for two and a-half years-.. For these reasons I urge the Treasurer to seriously consider whether it is not possible to’ avoid the repeal of this section of the existing Act in the manner proposed in the clause under consideration. If he is convinced that an opportunity is afforded to certain people to profiteer - although <the profiteering is not so flagrant as to necessitate retrospective legislation over two and a half years - it might be justifiable to pass this clause, but it should be made to apply from the present time. However, a case must be made out to show that the opportunity for profiteering against which this proposal is directed will lead to a flagrant abuse in that direction before it will be wisdom for this Committee to make this legislation retrospective over a period of two and half years.
.- When the. Government first passed the War-time Profits Tax Assessment Act the managers of. the large established businesses and in- dustries throughout Australia -were very pleased, but if the Government succeed in passing this clause as it stands, the managers of the big monopolies in Australia will jump for joy, because the effect will be to at once crush out of existence the small men who are their competitors. It will make the position of the large establishments safe for years to come by absolutely crippling those who have recently engaged in similar industries. I am quite sure that that is not the intention of the Treasurer, but that will be the inevitable result of this proposal. The man of small capital cannot be considered on the same basis as the man of large capital. Every one will agree that in the case of long established firms in a big way of business and big combines a profit of 10 per cent, is a very good return on their capital. Their money has been put into these industries as an investment, and 10 per cent, in their cases is a very reasonable profit io allow. But a man with £5,000, £3,000, or less than that who goes into business takes a very big risk, especially in manufacturing concerns, as he has to buy his machinery and raw material on terms. By this clause such men will be placed at a very great disadvantage as compared with their competitors in a big way of business. I can quote a few cases to show how inequitably this proposal for a statutory 10 per cent, profit on capital will operate in the case of new industries. Under this proposal a man who puts the whole of his profits into the extension of his business - and it may be also money obtained from outside - will have to accept a decreased amount of profit, .whilst men who have restricted their business or have taken money out of it will be permitted to make a greater profit than before. I take an actual case of a company with £5,000, whose pre-war standard of profit was £1,250, or 25 per cent. They added during the years since 1914 to their capital and doubled it. They have now a capital of £10,000. Under the War-time Profits Act as it stands they would be allowed on that £10,000 to make a profit of £2,500, or 25 per cent., before they would become taxable, but under the clause now under -consideration they will be allowed to make only 17$ per cent, before they become taxable. If, instead of adding to their capital, they had reduced- it by about £1,000, the profit which they would be allowed before they became taxable would be £1,150, .or 28 per cent. That is to say, that a man who increases his capital has his percentage of profit reduced to 1 per cent., whilst the man who reduces his capital is allowed to make a profit of 28 per cent. Surely the Treasurer could not have anticipated that that would be the effect of the present proposal. Here are particulars of another case. There is a business with a capital of £50,000, and on the pre-war standard their profit was £10,000, or 20 per cent. They increased their capital during the course of the war by £25,000, and under the existing Act they would be allowed to make a profit of £15,000, or 20 per cent., whilst under this proposal they would be allowed to make a profit of only 16 per cent. If they had reduced their capital to £40,000, they would have been allowed under the existing Act to make a profit of £8,000, whilst under this proposal they will be allowed to make a profit of £9’,000, or 22J per cent. So that the man who reduces his capital, who takes no “risks, who even withdraws » capital from a business to invest it in the War Loan or on mortgage without risk, is allowed to escape additional taxation or to make more profit on his reduced capital, whilst the man who puts more capital into his business is hit every time under this proposal.
Another aspect of the case is very serious. Under the existing Act the period to determine the pre-war standard is fixed as the accounting period previous to 4th August, 1914. A number of companies made their balances on the 30th September, two months after the war broke out. Under this Bill it will be assumed that they have made up their pre-war standard of profits and their pre-war capital on the 30th September, 1913. That is the date from which their estimate of capital and profits will count. Here is an example of an actual case to show the effect of this proposal : On 30th September, 1913, a proprietary company had a capital of £3,000. They had added £2,000 profits to that capital in April, 1914, giving them a total capital of £5,000 on the 4th August, 1914. But in making up their pre-war standard of capital they are not allowed to take £5,000 as their capital, because they had not that amount of capital at the accounting period, 30th September, 1913. If they were allowed to taKe the actual capital that was in their business on 4th August, 1914f into consideration, they would escape with a tax of £75, but under this Bill they will have to pay a tax of £322 10s. on their actual capital. Surelyin the face of a case of that kind the Treasurer will not persist in this amendment of the existing Act.
The retrospective effect of this proposal has been emphasized by previous speakers, and, therefore, I will not dwell upon it. But it has always seemed to me that the Parliament put it to the mercantile community that it was intended to tax them under certain circumstances on certain standards, and gave them to understand that beyond that they were safe, and might use any profits they made in extending their business, putting in new machinery, opening new branches, and giving increased employment. It is, therefore, very unfair that when men have disbursed their earnings in extending their businesses the Government should come forward two years later and inform them that a large proportion of the money, which they told them two years before they might use to extend their industries, must be paid over to the Treasury.
– These men have for the most part been working on heavy overdrafts.
– Nearly every one of them have been doing so. Men in a small way of business, such as retail butchers or grocers, will turn over their capital twelve or fourteen times a year. A retail butcher can buy meat in the wholesale market every day. I could mention dozens of businesses in which the capital is turned over twenty times in a year. If the Bill taxed a man on the turn-over of his business, there might be some justice in the measure; but to tax profits on capital seems to me the most monstrous proposal that has ever been introduced into this Parliament. There is another phase of the problem which will retard progress. Under the Bill, a company or firm is only allowed a certain amount for management expenses. I know of a number of firms which, during the course of the war, have extended their businesses by opening branches. I know of three or four Sydney firms that have opened branches in Melbourne, and vice versa. . They have taken in extra partners, but under this Bill they will not be allowed any more for the management of their businesses, although they have to pay more on this account. One Melbourne business firm which opened up a Sydney connexion, thus incurring higher management expenses, is not allowed to deduct more than the statutory amount. The Act is prejudicial to the inauguration of new businesses; it is killing industry; killing enterprise, and is preventing employment. If this Bill goes through with the clause under consideration in its present form, it will mean absolute disaster, I believe, to a majority of those business firms that have grown up within the last eight or twelve years. If it is persisted in - I hope the Treasurer will not persist with it - it will mean absolute ruin, and retard the extension of businesses, damage the industrial life of Australia, and injure the prospects of employment for our men coming back from the war.
– I have listened carefully to the observations of honorable members who have addressed themselves to this clause this afternoon, and I would like to remind them that I was under no illusion, when I introduced it into the Bill, about its being accepted by the commercial community in the spirit in which it was offered. I have been refreshing my memory by a perusal of my second-reading; remarks on the measure, and I find I used these words -
This provision will be objected to strenuously by a certain class of taxpayer who, in a quite unexpected way, escaped taxation under the original Act. I am quite satisfied, however, that when honorable members come to deal with the matter as a principle, quite apart from the incidental effect of its operation as a tax, they will see that this is a fair provision to make. It is impossible to estimate what revenue this new provision will yield, but I think it will bring to the Treasury a fairly
Substantial sum. . Hence, honorable members may expect that it will be resisted by certain individuals.
It is no improper disclosure of confidence to say that it has been. I was fairly tired before I introduced this provision, but I’ am ten times more tired now, after having heard so much about the iniquity of imposing retrospective taxation. I was caught by that observation when first it came to me; but I point out that the Bill itself is retrospective. I do not mean the original Act. That was, in a measure, retrospective: but this Bill, with its gifts and fines, is all retrospective, and I put it to a number of Sydney commercialists, who waited on me, that if I am to ‘ cut’ out the imposts because of their retrospective nature, I must cut out also the concessions and gifts, because they, too, are retrospective. I am quite sure honorable members will realize that if I withdraw this Bill with its impositions, other retrospective clauses must also perish; but if I did that, there would be such a wide area of noise that the cry would ascend to the shivering heavens.
– It would be better to wipe them out altogether.
– The honorable member would cure the aphis by laying the axe at the root of the tree. He and I have discussed the principle privately. The Government has announced ‘its intention of going on with the tax as contemplated in the original measure.
– It is a pity you do not burn the Act itself.
– The honorable member would destroy it root and branch, but we prefer to water it in order that it may bear decent fruit in the meantime. I trust that honorable members will realize that, having taken the stand that we will not abolish this Act for this financial year, that is to say, that it must run the course intended that it should- run - until the termination of hostilities, or the 30th June supervening - we must set to work to improve the measure. That has been my job. I am not exactly an apprentice hand ; I am an improver. I have made as many inquiries as I have been able to in the time at my disposal to see, apart altogether from the, complaints made about the principle of retrospection, what the incidence of this phase of the measure would be. It is true that it has hurt progressive businesses more than businesses that have stood still. I realize that, because I have had a number of illustrations bearing on this point. It is clear that the business man who has stood still with his capital during the currency of the war period will escape unless he has been doing extraordinary profiteering or increasing the rate on his overturn, while the man who, by the absorption of recurring profits into his business, seeks to progress, finds that his margin of profit on the additional capital is maximized at 10 per cent. The difficulty, however, is not merely the question of unfairness in levying two rates upon the same man, but in respect of the distribution of profits where bond fide distribution has taken place, perhaps, without constitutional warrant, but in good faith. It is difficult, and in some cases impossible, to get that money back. In the case of partnerships which have been dissolved I can invent no means whatever to make sure of getting that money back from the hands into which the dividends or distributions have gone. And I find the same difficulty with respect to trusts which have been wound up, where the beneficiaries have been the recipients of such moneys. I do not know whether such cases can be met.
There is, further, the objection to which the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Higgs) alluded when I was introducing the measure. That is in relation to the operations on the market of purchasers of company shares. The honorable member said, “ What about those people who purchased shares on the basis of the return of a higher percentage on new capital 1” As to such cases, I do not think we can write an absolute indemnity to all those who deal with investment stock, or stock relating to speculative enterprises; but there are some people, of course, who have a perfect right to claim that, having bought on the higher return, and with a reasonable expectation of their shares still returning the higher percentage, this measure will be, to a certain extent, robbing them.
Those considerations have led me to review the measure, not from the standpoint of the inequality of the principle, but of seeing whether it will severely injure business. And I have come to the conclusion that it would cause, perhaps, more injury than the revenue “would demand if I dated the whole proposition right back to the original period, namely, the 1st July, 1916. But the longer I live at the Treasury the more I am impressed with the necessity for gathering in a large sum of money for public requirements. And I take it that no Treasurer is worth his salt who does not endeavour to make every tax yield fairly, but fully, that which the Legislature expected of it. I am not prepared to give up this section for this particular financial year. We should operate this 10 per cent. arrangement upon new capital; but I am prepared to submit a clause to the effect that the arrangement suggested shall operate as upon assessments from the 1st July, 1918. If honorable members care to accept that, it can go through without discussion, but I would not be justified in yielding up revenue which can be fairly gathered in for this financial year by accepting the suggestion of the honorable member for Kooyong (Sir Robert Best) that my proposal now should have relation to the average of the three years under consideration.
– Can the Minister give an assurance that the original section in the Act has provided an opportunity to make very large profits ?
– Yes. I am not out with the whip to flog the commercial community for having taken full and fair advantage of the operation of the law as it has stood. But the figures in possession of the Treasury and Taxation Departments clearly indicate that it is a proper thing to levy on these excess war profits. That is why the Government are determined to hold on to the principle; and those facts and figures which 1 have just indicated justify the Government in their retention of it.
– This year, will the 10 per cent. be allowed in addition to the capital existing in 1914, or in addition to the capital added since 30th June, 1918?
– All accretions of capital for the financial year 1916-17 and for 1917-18 are to be treated under the new clause which I am about to propose, on the pre-war basis. And then, coming into this financial year, for assessments dated after 1st July, 1918, there will be the line drawn; and we will allow on that new capital the 10 per cent. consideration. I move -
That paragraphs (a) and (b) be left out with a view of inserting in lieu thereof the following paragraphs : -
by inserting at the end of sub-section (1.) the following proviso : - “ Provided that paragraph (b) of this sub-section shall not apply to assessments made for the financial year beginning on the first day of July, One thousand nine hundred and eighteen, and any subsequent year “ ; and
by inserting at the end of sub-section (3)- the following proviso : - “ Provided further that paragraph (b) of this sub-section shall not apply to assessments made for the financial year beginning on the first day of July, One thousand nine hundred and eighteen, and any subsequent year.” 1 have moved what is, in effect, a new clause in lieu of clause 5, in the hope that honorable members will accept it unanimously, as a fair compromise, in view of all the facts.
– Is not the effect of that amendment to include the 1916-17 and the 1917-18, additions as new capital, instead of excluding them - as the Minister has stated ?
– I would not like to express any variant from the view which I expounded just now. I will confer with the Commissioner, so that the effect of the clause shall be made perfectly plain.
– The intention of the new clause - I take it - is that the option which now exists under section 12 of the original Act shall obtain as regards those accounting periods up to the 30th June, 1918.
– That is so.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
.- I have been asked by the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Rodgers) to submit a new clause in reference to partnerships. I therefore move -
That the following new clause be inserted : -
Section 10 of the principal Act is amended by adding the following sub-section : -
Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, thecapital and profits of any business carried on by a partnership shall be computed in exactly the same way as if it were carried on by a single individual, all capital contributed by any of the partners in money or in kind and used in making the profits being admitted as capital, and all deductions being allowed from the profits of the business which would be allowed if it were carried on by a single individual.
It was explained fairly fully by the honorable member for Wannon a few nights ago that, under the existing law, large amounts of capital may be held separately and severally by partners in a partnership. Especially is this so in the case of land which cannot be used by a partnership in estimating the total capital upon which the tax is levied under the principal Act. One case which has come under our joint notice will serve to disclose the injustice of the present law. It is a case inwhich three persons hold estates separately to the value of £60,000. These persons decided to enter into a partnership in order that they might work this £60,000 worth of landed estate. The new capital put into the partnership amounted to £20,000. Under the present law the £60,000 worth of land held by the partners in their separate and individual estates cannot be calculated as a part of the capital upon which the tax will be based under this Bill. I know that the Commissioner of Taxes has made an attempt to meet, in part, cases arising under this very unjust section of the principal Act. I understand that certain regulations have been framed under which it is permissible to capitalize either the amount of the rental or the grazing value of the land, such capitalizationbeing based on the length of thepartnership or on the lives of the individual partners themselves. The legal members of the Committee will readily understand how the calculation is made on. the lives of the individual partners. Either the rental value is assessed on the basis of the term that each partner is likely to live, or what may be regarded as the total period which will be covered by their joint lives, is divided by the number of partners, and thus an estimate is arrived at of the capital value of each life for the purposes of the partnership. Alternatively, the grazing or rental value of the land is estimated on the basis of the length ofthe partnership. These regulations indicate that the Commissioner has endeavoured to meet such cases in a way which will give a certain amount of relief.
But honorable members will admit that if the landed estate of the whole of the individual partners is pooled for the purpose of earning income, the whole of that capital should be allowed in assessing the total amount which must be paid for taxation purposes. The amendment, therefore, aims at insuring that, where property or capital in a landed estate is used by the different partners to earn money under a partnership, the whole of that capital shall be allowed as capital of the partnership upon which an allowance of 10 per cent. shall be made before any tax under the principal Act is demanded. That is the object which the honorable member for Wannon seeks to achieve, and it is one with which I thoroughly agree. Had he not anticipated me, I certainly should have submitted a similar proposal. I have merely to add that the honorable member himself would have been present this afternoon to have moved this amendment but that he has been unfortunately detained at a meeting in the country.
– Does the honorable member wish to make any difference between’ a sleeping partner and an active partner ?
– In cases of the kind I have cited, all the partners will be sleeping partners. At the present time, the tax is assessed only on the amount of the capital actually put into the partnership by partners.
– This is a problem to which reference has been made at various stages of the Bill. Consideration has been asked for the man who, instead of putting capital into a business, puts land into it which earns profits - profits that under this Bill will be liable to excess profits taxation. The suggestion has been made that we should value the land at its real value, however that result might be arrived at, and credit such value as capital in the same way that we credit as capital stock placed by a man upon land. That has been a problem which the Taxation Office has been endeavouring to solve for some time. The danger present has always been that of evasion, as the result of men putting one large estate into severalty, and operating it jointly, thus escaping one tax by means of bogus distribution and getting the benefit of another tax such as this by a pretence of joint holding. But it is perfectly clear that the injustice to bond fide co-operators or partners in these cases ought to be attended to, if we can, without undue leakage of the tax, allow for that kind of partnership. I have consulted the Commissioner of Taxes, with a view to ascertaining whether he can devise a means of meeting the case. He has advised me that we may safely adopt a new clause - not upon the lines recommended by the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Rodgers), because that clause provides no machinery for properly dealing with the matter, but a clause on the following lines : - “7a. Section seventeen of the principal Act is amended by adding at the end thereof the following sub-section : - (5.) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, the capital of a partnership’ which, for the purpose of its business to which this Act applies, uses, rent free, land purchased or in process of purchase by a member of the partnership, or in which a member of the partnership has an estate for life or a leasehold estate, shall include -
Provided that where the member has borrowed money on the security of his estate in the land, the average amount of the borrowed money outstanding during the accounting period of the partnership shall be deducted from the amount that would otherwise be included in the capital of the partnership business, and shall be deemed to be borrowed money used by that business within the meaning of subsection 15 of section fifteen of this Act.’ “
That provision seems to me to meet with safety all classes of cases.
Proposed new clause negatived.
Mr. WATT (Balaclava- Acting Prime Minister and Treasurer [4.33]. - I move the insertion of the proposed new clause which I have just read.
.- I think that most country members will vote for the proposed new clause whose insertion the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Watt) has just moved. I rise to call the honorable gentleman’s attention to this anomaly, that, whereas under the Income Tax Act incomes from partnerships are taxed at the point of distribution, under this measure they will be taxed at their source.
– The taxation under the Income Tax Act is the taxation of the individual; the taxation under the Bill is the taxation of a business.
– Nevertheless, great injustice will be done in some cases if the two measures are not brought into conformity. ‘ Take the case of a partnership the income of which is £1,800 a year, divided equally between two partners who draw £900 each. If under the War-time Profits Tax Act such partners were taxable as they are under the Income Tax Act they would have nothing to pay, because only incomes exceeding £1,000 are taxed.
– To what class of business is the honorable member referring?
– I am speaking of partnerships generally.
– There are amendments dealing with businesses in which there is not much capital employed which might meet the case the honorable member has in mind.
– There are cases which they will not meet. It is not just that a man whose sole income is from a partnership, and does not exceed £900 a year, should be taxed at the same rate as if he were receiving £1,800 a year. In the case to which I am drawing attention each partner will have to pay £200 in war-time profits taxation, though if treated as partners are treated under the
Income Tax Act, they would have nothing to pay. If there were three partners drawing equally from a business having an income of £1,800 a year, that is, each receiving £600 a year, they would be taxed to the amount of £133 each, or if the tax is raised to 75 per cent., to the amount of £200 each. That is not fair. Since the Commissioner of Taxes levies income tax on partnership incomes at the point of distribution he. should levy the war-time profits tax in the same way. I shall be glad if the Treasurer will do something to remove this anomaly.
Mr. AUSTIN CHAPMAN (Eden-
Monaro) [4.39]. - I understand that the case which the honorable member for Calare (Mr. Pigott) has in mind is that of an auctioneers’ partnership.
– No; any partnership.
– I brought the position of auctioneers . under the notice of the Treasurer, and understood from him that they will be exempt. When I spoke to him regarding partnerships generally, and urged consideration, he pointed out that very often, instead of there being only two, there were quite a number of partners. I think that the Treasurer can be relied on to give consideration to the small man, and is endeavouring to make the best of a bad job. In my opinion, the Bill should have been kicked out altogether, as it. will not touch the real profiteers. I hope that the honorable gentleman will remember that there are businesses, not in the nature of agencies, which may furnish very hard cases. -Proposed new clause agreed to.
– I mo ve -
That the following new clause be inserted : - “ F. Where a person proves that in any accounting period ending after the 30th June, 1915, his profits have not reached the point which involves liability to war-time profits tax or that he has sustained a loss in his business he shall be entitled -
to repayment of such amount paid to him as war-time profits tax in respect of any previous accounting period; or
to set off against any war-time profits tax payable by him in respect of any succeeding accounting period during the war’ such an amount as will make the total amount of war-time profits tax paid by him during the whole period accord with his profits or losses during that period.”
This provision is known as the averaging clause. It is contained in the English and in the Canadian law; it was in the Bill introduced by the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Higgs), and I think, though I speak subject to correction, it was in the New Zealand Act.
– There is a 6 per cent. maximum in the English measure.
– I mentioned that at an earlier stage. The fundamental principle of a War-time Profits Tax Bill should be the taxing of all profits made during the period of the war in excess of the. pre-war standard. Where that principle is recognised, it is -reasonable to apply such rates as 50 and 75 per cent. to the excess profits, but there are many cases in which, while the profits during the first year of the war exceeded those of pre-war years, in subsequent years losses were incurred, and persons have been taxed on the profits of the first year without being given any consideration for the losses of subsequent years. Until the war is ended it will be quite impossible for a large section of the commercial community to know whether or not they have made any excess profits. They have purchased large stocks at very high prices. There has been an artificial prosperity, and they have paid this taxation on the profits they have made. But. their warehouses are filled up with stock purchased at war-time values, and they’ must now realize it on a falling market. The result will be that, although they made some profits in the earlier part of the war, they must inevitably make heavy losses in disposing of their war-time purchases. It is surely unfair that the losses, as well as the profits, should not be taken into consideration. If we can agree upon the principle that only those profits in excess of the general average made during the war shall be taxed, there can be no objection to this proposed new clause. The Imperial Act includes a similar giveandtake provision. I urge that this clause is fair and reasonable, and should be accepted. Our Act provides for a system of pre-war profits based on an average of three years. It also allows a man the choice of three pre-war years. The tax provides for a pre-war capital. The mere accidental fact of whether a man makes a profit or a loss should not be taken into consideration during the war period. The average profit extended over the whole .period of the war should be taken, and any excess compared with the pre-war profits is all that should be liable to taxation.
– Every representation made to me by those who are stricken by this Act has been of similar purport to the argument of the honorable member for Kooyong (Sir Robert Best), and I have returned the same answer in each case, namely, that the Government might just as well let the Act go as to insert an averaging provision in it now. In every other direction we have remedied it, but I am not prepared to accept the amendment. As the honorable member has very properly said, it would mean an averaging of the profits over the whole of the war period. That would involve re-adjustments in all past assessments as far as they can be re-adjusted, and a further final adjustment at the end of the time to cover errors in adjustment made at the end of previous bookkeeping periods. The mover of the amendment suggests that it will really tax the profiteer; in my judgment, it will not. If there are any of that species about still - and all Governments have been after him., and failing, more or less, to get him - -
– The honorable gentleman does not say that the Government have been chasing a shadow ?
– He is more than a shadow, but he is fleeter than the honorable member. What the amendment means is this : A man 4may sell at heavy .profiteering rates for two or three years, but in subsequent years he may not be able to get full stocks, and it may not be his fault that he does not continue the profiteering. In the years 1914-15 and 1916- 17 he may have levied a heavy toll on the people, but, because he is not able to get full business on his turnover for 1917- 18, all his profiteering is to be forgiven him. He may for three years have profiteered heavily but because he makes losses in the next year and a half, all his evil is wiped out by his neglect to get stocks or his inability to trade. As a means of catching the profiteer, the amendment does not recommend itself at all, and, from the stand-point of the revenue, the Act might as well go by the board if the clause be agreed to. The Taxation Office assures me that huge and incalculable amounts which would have to be remitted or written down, and, as Treasurer, I am not prepared to do that at this stage. I remind honorable members who quote the Imperial, Canadian, and other Acts of this kind that there is no Act quite so liberal in its general provisions as the Australian Act. I have been told by an honorable member of this House, who has had occasion to study the principles and the incidence of the Imperial Act, that it is Heaven to live under this Act and Hell to live under the other.
– The conditions in Britain are totally different.
– I know they are; then why draw an analogy? The English Act provides for a lower rate of return for capital. Our Act has liberalized that allowance to 10 per cent. The’ Imperial Act allows an exemption of £200; under our Act the exemption is £1,000. On top of those advantages, the honorable member for Kooyong (Sir Robert Best) asks for the general remedial provision which is embodied in the Imperial Act. In Great Britain there are not the great seasonal fluctuations that characterize Australia, and business is more regular. We have made in our Act special provision for taking up the slack. We have given the pastoralists all sorts of concessions. We have inserted a hardship clause and1 a drought clause, and a number of other advantages which the British Act does not confer. If honorable members desire to insert in this Bill the averaging provision that is contained in the Imperial Act, I am prepared to accept it with the other machinery of that Act, but I am not prepared to accept the amendment under any other conditions.
’.- This proposed clause applies to every type of business. I do not know enough about the pastoral industry to be able to express an opinion regarding it; but, so far as ordinary commerce is concerned, I see the greatest danger in passing an averaging provision at this stage. Whether when the Act was originally passed it would have been wise to have had such a provision is a matter of opinion; I think, possibly, that it would have been fairer to the general trading community, but it is certainly too late to insert any such provision now. If that were done, the whole commercial community would be involved in chaos.
– It is strange that commercial people are so anxious for this provision.
-Iamoneofthem,and, therefore, may be permitted to express an opinion. The Act has run its course for three and a half years. We have traded and made profits; we can do nothing to alter the past. As we understand the Bill, this tax has only another six months to operate.
– Not necessarily.
– We ought to have a clear understanding about that.
– If the honorable member will read the original Act he will get a clear understanding.
– I understand the Treasurer intends to withdraw the Act after six months.
– The Treasurer will not do anything of the kind.
– The commercial community has traded for three and a half years without any averaging clause, and the amendment proposes that for the next six months we shall trade under an averaging provision. The armistice has been signed, and we believe the war is over. Many merchants have enormous stocks, and the general belief is that in the near future, although not immediately, the value of those stocks will fall considerably. The immediate result of the passing of an averaging clause now would be that every merchant and trader who has big stocks would shift them at any cost, because’, not they, but the Government would foot the bill. The effect of that might be admirable, so far as individual traders are concerned. In my own business we have a stock of nearly £750,000, and I would be delighted to shift it, but if we and others did that we should wipe a lot of smaller traders out of existence. If the Treasurer is really enthusiastic about doing something to assist the commercial community in regard to averaging, and this amendment were: made to apply up to June, 1918, some of the dangers I have suggested would disappear. But, in all seriousness, I do urge upon honorable members very careful consideration before voting for an averaging clause when the tax has only six months to run. If they agree to this proposal, they may involve the community in commercial chaos.
Proposed new clause negatived.
.- On behalf of the honorable member for. Wannon (Mr. Rodgers), I move -
That the following new clause be inserted : - “ B. Section 13 of the principal Act is amended by inserting after the words ‘ additional factor’ at the end of sub-clause (a) the words ‘ or for a calculation of the percentage standard in the case of a pastoral business carried on in a district which is proved to the Commissioner to be liable to severe drought, and in which the capital is liable to be decreased or wholly lost through drought.’”
I understand that at an earlier stage, when the position of the pastoralists was discussed at length, the honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Page) moved an amendment having much the same object as that which my honorable friend (Mr. Rodgers) desires to achieve, and that it was withdrawn on the suggestion of the* Treasurer that the whole questionwould be dealt with when we proceeded to consider the proposed new clauses. The position of pastoralists in the droughtstricken areas of Australia is well known ; and I understand that the Treasurer has a full knowledge of the difficulties and disabilities under which pastoralists, small and large, have to labour in such circumstances. In view of the promise of the Treasurer that the whole matter would be considered byhim, with a view of bringing forward a new proposal, or accepting the amendment of which my honorable friend had given notice, I shall not discuss the question further, but shall be glad to learn what are the intentions of the Government.
– In accordance with the promise that I gave last week, I have carefully gone into this matter with the Commissioner of Taxation, who recommends the phraseology of this proposed new clause as the best of the three propositions that have been framed with the object of meeting this particular pastoraldifficulty. In these circumstances, as I announced that the Government were anxious to provide for the out-back pastoralists who have to meet many of the grave difficulties of recurring devastations, I am prepared to accept the proposed new clause.
Proposed new clause agreed to.
.- I move -
That the following new clause be inserted : - “ Section 15 of the principal Act is amended by omitting sub-section 13, and inserting in its stead the following : -
Where in the case of a pastoral business any loss has been made during the prewar years, or if the profit in those years has not been sufficient to pay 10 per centum on the capital employed in the business during those years, such loss or deficiency shall be deductible from the profits of the accounting period. In computing such loss, an allowance shall be made on the capital employed in each year, and shall take effect as from the beginning of the Act.’ “
I would impress upon the Treasurer the fact that the new clause to which the Committee has just agreed, deals with an industry, whereas my proposal deals only with individuals in that industry. It is designed to meet the position of pastoralists who have been engaged in the industry for only five or six years, and prior to the war made no profits, but who during the war period have been making fair profits and have been compelled to pay this tax. I have supplied the Treasurer with a statement taken from the accounts of a pastoralist who has been in the industry for only six years. During the pre-war years he made no profit, but in the first year of the war he made a profit. He had from £7,000 to £20,000 invested in the enterprise, but in the pre-war years did not earn interest on his capital, or anything for his own services. In the first accounting period, however, he made a profit of £4,800, and was taxed to the extent of £2,050.
– Is this man carrying on the industry in an area subject to drought ?
– Has not the Commissioner power to grant him relief?
– He has not granted him any relief.
– He will have power to do so under the new clause to which we have just agreed.
– He has power under the present Act to grant relief in certain industries.
– We have inserted two new provisions in order to make that power more elastics - I refer to the amendment submitted by the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Rodgers), and the hardship clause.
– When I mentioned this matter last week the Treasurer said I was asking for something on behalf of a section of individuals in the pastoral industry that was not allowed to any other section of the community. I would remind him that it is allowed to all business people under sub-section 14 of section 15. On Friday last I referred to a statement setting out that one pastoralist in the three years immediately preceding the war showed aloss of £950, and that in the first accounting period he showed a book profit of £1,500. He wrote to the Department urging that since he had only made a profit of £1,500 in the first accounting period, and showed a loss of £950 in respect of the immediately preceding three years, he should be allowed to deduct that loss from his profit made during the assessment period. That request was refused, although, under subsection 14 of section 15, the Commissioner has power to make such, a concession to business people. All that I urge is that the concession should be extended to persons so situated in the pastoral industry, or that they should be at least allowed to earn 10 per cent. on the capital employed by them without being liable to this tax. The Department in Western Australia fixes values for taxing purposes from 6s. to 9s. per head for lambs, according to the district in which they are raised, and from 37s. 6d. to 52s. 6d. for calves, although the owners may not be able to get anything like that price for them when they proceed to sell.- It seems to me that the policy of the Government is to allow a man who makes a profit of £15,000 out of an option on a mining proposition to escape this taxation, whereas a pastoralist struggling under the adverse conditions I have mentioned receives no consideration. If two brothers were left £5,000 each and one of them went into the back country and put his money into a pastoral proposition, taking all the risks and privations attendant upon such a venture, he would have to pay this tax, though, possibly, he may not have made any cash profit. If the other brother put his £5,000 out on mortgage on city properties, and commenced business in the city as a commission agent, taking no risk or responsibility, he would be free of this tax, no matter howl large his income. Is that a. reasonable policy to pursue ? It is preposterous, and if I do not obtain any concession for these people, I shall fight the Bill through the third-reading stage and try to block it. It is damnable that concessions should be made to people living in Melbourne or Sydney who can come here and get the ear of the Government - it is extraordinary that a man who starts in a business as a broker or agent in the city, and lives on his wits, may make £15,000 or £20,000 and escape the tax - while the man who goes into the back country to fight nature, even if he cannot show anything more than a book profit, has to pay the tax. He may have to borrow the money with which to pay it. This is a matter of great importance, and I hope that the Treasurer will see fit to do something to give relief to a class more worthy of it than any other in the community.
– I think that concessions have gone quite far enough. We have met the case of the pastoralists as reasonably as possible, and this amendment asks us to go beyond bounds altogether. .First of all, the wording of the amendment leaves it to be supposed that any losses occurring in pre-war years are to be allowed during the war period.
– “ Pre-war years “ are defined in the Act.
– No, they are not. There are certain classes of pre-war years, three in number, but in certain cases there are six when abnormal conditions operate. I think the honorable member could, with some degree of reason, or less unreason, have confined his proposal to the three pre-war years.
– I am only dealing with those years.
– But the honorable member does not do that. He says, “ Where in the case of a pastoral business any loss has been made during the pre-war years.” The honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Rodgers) spoke of a business which had. been twenty years in operation, and had come to fruition; but T. certainly object to going back into all those enterprises for a score of years. What the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) apparently desires is to see that, before any profits are taxed in war time, there is 10 per cent, credit < allowed for pre-war time.
– I only ask for that in the case of people who, since starting, have shown no profits.
– But the honorable member does not say so in his proposal.
– Perhaps you will be prepared to accept an amendment like that?
– The honorable member has had much more time than I to refine this wonderful amendment, but I must say that I am not able to see any alteration in it since it was first submitted. It has serious defects, and its principle in itself is wrong in view of what we have done elsewhere in the Bill. We say to any other business man that, if he made losses during the three pre-war years, he may account for them and deduct them before he pays taxation on war-time profits; but we do not say to him that we will give him credit for 10 per cent, during the time the capital was not earning profits in pre-war time. Yet that is what the honorable member desires in the case of the pastoral industry.
– According to the ruling of the Commissioner on a section in the present Act, losses for that period cannot tie deducted.
– The honorable member apparently forgets that we have gone further out of our way to meet the pastoral industry during this revision of the Act than we have to meet any other class of business. We have inserted a clause dealing with hardships, by which, in the same way as in connexion with a land tax, the Board may reduce or remit altogether if, by reason of drought or adverse seasons or conditions, the returns from the land used for the purpose of the business have been seriously impaired. That is a wide and sweeping amendment, and, in addition, a clause has been inserted, at the suggestion of the honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Page), empowering the Commissioner to take into account, and allow a percentage on, pastoral properties that are liable to severe drought and the capital of which is liable to be seriously decreased or wholly lost through drought.
– Does that not give the Commissioner power to deal with such cases as those referred to by the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) ?
– When those basic and wide-flung concessions are being made, I do not like to hear it proposed that before we tax a pastoral business in war time on excess profits, we shall allow for losses during three pre-war years, and 10 per cent. on the capital.
– “ Or “ 10 per cent.
– It is “ and “ 10 per cent. on the capital. That is going too far, and I suggest to the honorable member that the Bill should be allowed to pass as it stands, with all the new conditions for beneficial and generous treatment to the pastoral industry. I cannot accept the amendment, which I regard as an invasion of the principle of the measure.
Proposed new clause negatived.
.- On Friday I introduced an amendment, and the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Watt) asked me to withdraw it and resubmit it on a future occasion.
– I did not suggest anything of the kind ; I merely said that the proper way to submit such a proposal was in the shape of a new clause.
– I regarded that, and accepted it, as advice. However, I move -
That the following new clause be added to the Bill:- “ 7a. Section fifteen of the principal Act is amended by inserting after sub-section (13) the following sub-section: -
Notwithstanding anything’ contained in the last preceding subsection, where in the case of a pastoral business war-time profits tax has been paid; and in any subsequent accounting period during the continuance of this Act the net result of the business shows a loss, the owner of the business shall be entitled to a refund of the amount of the loss: Provided that the amount to be refunded to any person in pursuance of this subsection shall not exceed the amount of war-time tax paid by him.’ “
This proposal is in accordance with the principle of the English Act.
– I rise to a point of order. This question has already been decided by the Committee. You, Mr. Bamford, were not in the chair when the honorable member for Kooyong (Sir Robert Best) introduced a clause toset off profits against losses ; but if you study the proposal now made you will find that the principle is the same as that dealt with and rejected by the Committee when proposed by the honorable member for Kooyong. The honorable member for Calare (Mr. Pigott) has adopted different and, may I say, less skilful wording, but there is no difference in the principle of the two proposals. I must say I am not able to understand why the Government did not accept the proposal of the honorable member for Kooyong (Sir Robert Best).
– I submit that the remarks of the honorable member are not relevant. The proposal of the honorable member for Kooyong (Sir Robert Best) provided for an average profit to apply to all businesses, whereas my proposal refers only to the pastoral business, and. provides, not for an average profit, hut only for cases where there is a loss. I submit that the two proposals are quite different.
– I do not see any difference in principle between the two proposals, and I must rule that the amendment of the honorable member for Calare (Mr. Pigott) is out of order.
.- On behalf of the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. West), I move -
That the following new clause be inserted : -
Section sixteen of the principal Act is amended by adding the following proviso to sub-section (12) : - “ Provided always that when the last accounting period prior to the 4th August, 1914, was not a date later than the 30th September, 1913, then any accounting period between the 4th August, 1914, and 30th September, 1913, shall be one of the pre-war trading years, provided that it is shown to the satisfaction of the Commissioner that the profits made between the 4th day of August, 1914, and the close of the accounting period are not proportionately in excess of the profits of the preceding part of such year.’’
I hope that the Treasurer will accede to the honorable member’s wishes. I wish to bring under his attention the circumstances in which the firm of Mcintosh and Sons find themselves, owing to the operation of the provisions of the Act. Mr. Mcintosh has endeavoured to put his case before the Treasurer, but the honorable gentleman could not find time to see him.
– I have never heard of him.
– He wrote to the Treasurer on the 13th December, 1918, as follows : -
I took the liberty of sending to you some particulars of how this law has and would treat my company if allowed to remain as it now stands, together with your proposed 10 per cent. amendment. I am inclined to think that you do not realize what it will mean to my company as fully as you might. It means that if the war terminated at once, it will coat us in the locality of£ 70,000 tax, whilst we will have worked five years for nothing at all to establish, the business, and a further seven years for practically a bare 10 per cent, on capital, as the pre-war paid-up was only £4,001, The Government propose to take £70,000, and leave my company £21,000 to £25,000 for our twenty-one years’ strenuous work. I would esteem it a great favour, as well as an act of grace, on your part if you would grant me an interview for one-quarter of an hour, at your convenience, before this measure is finally closed.
P.S. - Mr. Austin Chapman can get me in touch with you if you favour me.
He received no reply to this letter.
– Hundreds of people have written to me.
– The war-time profits tax means practically ruination for the firm of Mcintosh and Sons. Mr. Mcintosh puts his case very clearly in the following letter which he forwarded to the honorable member for East Sydney: -
My company commenced business in 1908, experimented until 31st August, 1911. That balance showed a net loss of £2,875 17s. 8d., as the statement which I gave you attached to Mr. Allard’s letter will show. We worked strenuously until 31st August, 1914, at which date we were fortunately able to wipe out our losses and get on the right side of the ledger. This was the first year, mark you, that any profit was distributed. That means we had five years of dead-horse to work off.
The Act provided, in section 16, sub-section 12, that the last pre-war trading year shall be the balance before the 5th day of August, 1914. Now, our 1914 balance showed £9,371 15s. 9d. profit; but the above provision in the Act cuts us out by the fact of our balance being on the 31st of August. We overlapped the allowed time by twenty-seven days, and we were prevented from the benefit of this year’s profit’ in our pre-war standard, and caused us to have to accept a 10 per cent.’ basis.
So, after seven years’ struggle, out of. the first profit of any note, we were called upon to pay nearly £8,000 by this so-called wartime profit tax. Mark you, if this were our only loss, it would not be so serious, but the pre-war standard remains unaltered, whilst the law exists; and, on the same basis for 1916-17, we will be called upon to pay nearly £12,000, and yearly after, accordingly.
I can assure you that if there had not been a war on we should have been able to sell at least another 1,000 cars during the war period to date, and would have made a better average of profit on each car ; but, owing to the factory supply shortages, together with dearth of shipments, our requirements were cut very short, and are still.
There are a very large percentage of businesses that balance between 30th June and 30th September, owing to it being a slack time of the year. If the law were amended to allow of the inclusion in pre-war standard of the 1914 balance, providing there were not any abnormal profits made in the last month or two, this would relieve a number of hardships with young and struggling businesses.
This law, in my opinion, should never have been applied to this country, as we have no war profits to speak of, in the sense that Europe and America have had by the huge supply of Army and Navy requirements, such as ships, guns, ammunitions, and war stores.
Trusting I have made myself clear in this matter, together with what Mr. Allard said in his letter, and to give you something further to guide you, I am enclosing copies of the assessment sheets for the war-time profits tax paid bv us outside of income tax, which was £7,841 “ls. Cd.
We have endeavoured to induce people to establish the manufacture of motor bodies in Australia. This gentleman went into the business, and prior to 1914 sustained losses. Then just as his business began to pay, the overlapping of twenty-seven days after the outbreak of the war leads to his having to contribute over £7,000 in the shape of war-time profits tax. Surely we are not going to take our pound of flesh from a man who establishes a new industry?
– “Unfortunately we have been doing it all along under this, tax.
– Some one must suffer under taxation. . But why should new industries be penalized in this way ? Mr. Mcintosh has put up a good case. He has circularized honorable members giving practically the information that I have already put before the House.
– A business that increases its capital from £4,000 to £30,000 in four years of war must be a pretty fair ona
– It is an easy matter to run a chandler’s shop in. a country town, but if the man who is successfully conducting a small chandler’s shop were suddenly asked to take charge of the wholesale business which supplies him he would be staggered. I can understand an honorable member, who does not deal in hundreds of thousands of pounds, regarding the profit made by Mcintosh and Sons as an enormous one. I suppose that the firm with which the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Bruce) is connected deals in figures running into hundreds of thousands of pounds.
– ls it not an importing business?
– No. Mcintosh and Sons have established a motor tody building business, one of those industries we ought to foster. We may not be able to manufacture goods as fancy-looking as those which can be imported; but, so far as quality is concerned, they are as good as any that can be produced in other countries. There are members of the Committee who are better able to speak of manufacturing industries than I am, but the honorable member for Illawarra (Mr. Hector Lamond), who was returned to this Parliament as a Protectionist, apparently does not know’ anything of the conditions of a great factory established in the State from which he comes. He says the man whose case I have mentioned is an importer, but he is an importer only of raw material, as are those engaged in many other industries. I hope that the Treasurer will take a favorable view of this matter, and. if he cannot go as far as we should like, will be prepared to do something to relieve persons engaged in these and similar industries of undue pressure under the Act
.- 1 am afraid that the honorable member did not speak from his book, though he spoke very well, as he always does. He spoke rather from his heart than from his head. Let me say what the real difficulty is in dealing with this matter. I have not, of course, investigated all the cases that have been submitted in documentary form to the Treasury. That would be a herculean task, and would occupy several months. This is a proposition emanating, probably, from a firm, whose date of balancing accounts fits in awkwardly with the provisions of the Act. They had a good year ending on the 31st August, 1914, and they desire that that should be taken as a prewar year. ‘ But that cannot be done under the Act. The same thing applies to all firms who balance late in August, in September, October, or November. There are a multitude of such cases of firms and individuals whose dates of balancing do not synchronize with the dates provided for in the Act. If we opened the door to meet the circumstances of a particular firm balancing upon a particular date we would have to open it to meet the circumstances of scores or hundreds of others. I am not prepared to do that.
– It is an argument for a uniform date of balancing.
– Yes, if we could arrange for that, but honorable members are trying to provide for the future what should have been provided for in the past, and the difficulty now of altering the law to meet hard cases is insuperable.
– Does the honorable gentleman not think that it would be fairer in arriving at the pre-war period to count back from the date of the commencement of the Act ?
– The dates have been well ind truly laid under the Act, .and on those dates all our assessments have been based, and will be for the next three years. All that cannot be altered now. It might be suggested that we should exclude a certain number of days from the 4tb August, 1914, up to the 31st August, and assume that profits made within those twenty-seven days should not be taxed. If we did that we should have to accept statements of sales, and would have great difficulty in making certain that we did not allow profits to escape which should be brought under taxation.
– We could take eleventwelfths of one year, and one-twelfth of a previous year.
– It might not be practicable to do that. We have acted upon a strict rule as to the dates, and all the earlier assessments have been based upon that. I am not prepared to rip up that principle now to meet the. circumstances of individual cases. I shall oppose the amendment.
.The amendment seems to me to represent a fair proposal, but I see the difficulty which its exact wording would create, and which has been mentioned by the Treasurer. If we opened the door to meet the case of a firm balancing at the end of August, a firm balancing on the 1st September would demand a similar concession. If we provided for the case of- a firm balancing on the 30th September, a firm balancing on the 1st October would expect to be included. I think, however, that it would help very greatly to meet the difficulty which has arisen if the Treasurer could see his way to adopt the principle of taking the number of months in the year which fell outside the war-time period, and on the profits during those months, estimate the average profit for the rest of the year.
The Treasurer has suggested that that would be impracticable if not impossible, but, from a very considerable experience of business, I say that it would be neither impracticable nor impossible, but that it would be simplicity itself. There is a very strong argument in favour of the adoption of that principle in the fact that the Act already provides for its application in other circumstances. In the case of certain businesses the Act contemplates taking a period up to a time when the war started, and, by the operations for that time, adjusting the profit over the whole twelve months. It applies only to businesses recently formed, but there would be no difficulty. at all in the application of the same principle to meet the cases which the amendment is submitted to relieve. The Act provides that where, owing to the recent commencement of business, there has not been one pre-war trade year, the pre-war standard of profit shall be taken to be an amount proportionate to the period of twelve months of the actual period during the pre-war period, during which the business was carried on. That is the very thing which I am suggesting can ‘ be applied with simplicity in this case. If a man was trading for only nine months before the declaration of war, the Act says that it is perfectly simple to take accounts for that nine months, and add one-third to the profits made during that period to estimate the profits from the twelve months’ trading. That would be a fair principle to apply, not merely to meet the circumstances of the particular case referred to by the honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Page) - because we cannot consider particular cases - but of a number of firms in a similar position. They are certainly entitled to get the benefit that is given to other firms. It is not fair to exclude some businesses from benefits conceded to others under the Act. I should be prepared to support an amendment on the lines I have indicated.
– It would not be. possible to accept that without ripping up the Act, and it is impossible to do that. I hope that honorable members will let us get on, because I should like to dispose of this Bill before the dinner adjournment.
. -This is too important a matter to be dealt with hurriedly. It is all very well for the Treasurer, who is looking out for boodle.
– I ask that that expression be withdrawn?
– If the honorable gentleman objects to the word “ boodle,” I will withdraw it and substitute the word “cash.” He should not get excited, be-‘ cause he must know perfectly well that what I mean is that, on behalf of the Treasury, he is looking out for all the cash he can collect.
– All right; the honorable member’s apology is accepted.
– I have not apologized yet. I say that the Treasurer feels it to be his duty to get all the cash he can under this Bill; but, to my way of thinking, he is adopting a method which is not a fair one. I know nothing of the particular case to which the honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Page) has referred, but I do know that, in the case of many firms who balanced six months after war was declared, their accounts included little or nothing of war-time profit. There was a period of stagnation in trade between the 4th August, 1914, and the beginning of 1915, and most businesses during that time made losses and not profits. The purpose of the Act is to secure war-time profits made unfairly at the expense of the community, and surely when the Act is before us for amendment, and it is admitted by the Treasurer that it requires amendment, we are entitled to consider a proposal to meet the circumstances of those who were carrying on business for nine, ten, or eleven months of the year prior to the outbreak of the war. The suggestion made by the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Bruce) is an eminently fair one, and I think the amendment now before the Committee is also fair. If the purpose of the Act is to derive revenue from those who have made profits out of the war, it is clear that those who made profits prior to the 4th August, 1914, did not make them out of the war, and should not be taxed on them. I want to put it on record that, though the Treasurer has refused to consider it, I regard the amendment as meeting a legitimate request, and will, therefore, support it.
.- When the original Bill was before the House I wished to move an amendment of this sort, but owing to the result of allnight sittings, I was precluded from doing so. The Minister in charge of the measure, seeing the justice of my proposal, said he would give it consideration when the measure went to another place. The Bill was, however, rushed through in another place also, and my proposal did not get the consideration which it deserved. I think that the principal objection urged against it was that as soon as the war broke out, at the beginning of 1914, everything appreciated in value, and people made large profits in consequence. Of course, we know that that was not so, and as the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Boyd) has pointed out, there was a slump in business for some time.
– In some businesses; but in others the reverse was the case. We have the figures in the Taxation Office.
– The slump which took place precluded altogether the possibility of profits being made immediately after the outbreak of the war. The suggestion I made that ten or eleven months of that year should be taken as the basis for estimating the trading for the whole year was an eminently fair one.
– If that had been done at the start, it might have been fair, but such a thing could not be done now without ripping up the whole of our past assessments, and I am not prepared to do that.
– I recognise that the Treasurer has made concessions and it is unfortunate that the amendment submitted by the honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Page), coming before the Committee in the way it does, obscures the fact that there are hundreds of other cases of companies, not so highly capitalized as that to which he has referred, which are just as hardly dealt with.
– It is equally unfortunate that the concessions I made earlier have been forgotten.
– This seems, on the face of it, such a palpably fair amendment that I thought the Treasurer would accept it. I know of thousands of cases in which the Act has operated very harshly in imposing taxation on businesses established shortly before the commencement of the Act. Businesses that were fortunate enough to balance on the 31st July are all right, because their last year’s profits are counted as the pre-war standard, and the businesses which balance’ six-monthly are not so hardly hit; but the man who balances every twelve months, and comes in a little after the pre-war accounting period, has been very hardly hit. The Treasurer is not showing his usual readiness to recognise a case in which an injustice is being done. I trust that, even now, he will meet us generously in this particular case.
.- I do not know whether the * Treasurer caught the remarks of the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Bruce), or the quotation, from the principal Act, showing that exactly the same principle as the honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Page) wishes to introduce here is actually in operation. With his extensive business knowledge, the honorable member for Flinders says that it is a comparatively easy matter to adjust the prewar standard if there have been nine months running’ before the war period. There is an average income for those nine months, and it is very easy to average over the remaining three months, which are covered by the war period, at the nine months’ rate. I add my request to the others made to the Treasurer, as this matter seriously affects new businesses and employment in Australia. ‘ I trust that he will take the question into consideration, as has been suggested from both sides of the Committee.
– I also urge the Treasurer to give this question further consideration. He tells us that it is too late, and that it means ripping up the Bill. I cannot see how it is going to do that. It affects manufacturing businesses. We have made extraordinary provisions in this country to try to give employment to our people. The motorcar body manufacturing industry has become a tremendous one. I am given to understand that the injustice that is being done is preventing the employment to-day of 300 - skilled Australians who have been trained here. Consequently, this legislation prevents a very large industry from being established. We are not asking, the Treasurer for anything new, because a similar provision is already in sub-section 6 of section 16 of the principal Act. The Treasurer’s own business experience must show him that it is very easy to apportion, say, eleventwelfths of a year, or, if necessary, threefourths of a year. This particular man, after five years’ struggling and striving, at a big loss of money and energy, establishes an industry that we have been trying to foster in this country. He uses Australian materials, and employs cur own people; he has to use very big capital, and run a great deal of risk, as is shown by the number of failures that have taken place in these motor concerns. After years of loss, he has succeeded in establishing the industry, and then, m the very year that he begins to make up a little money - although not all his loss - the war starts, and, unfortunately for him, his balance-sheet comes out at the end of August. The war started on the 4th August. Is he to be deprived of a fair accounting period because of those twenty-seven days? Is that consideration to cut him out of ordinary justice? I quite agree that the Treasurer must have some standard to go by, and cannot alter it to suit every man’s balance-sheet; but from the commercial stand-point it ought to be very easy to meet a case like this. The honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Bruce), who is an authority, tells as that the thing is done every day in commercial circles, and can be very easily done in this case. Our own knowledge of commerce, however small it is, shows that there should be no difficulty. Why should not a man be allowed eleventwelfths of his year ? This request should not be opposed, because our policy should be, “Let justice be done, even *M the heavens fall.”
– Will you take your tongue out of your cheek when you say that ?
– My tongue is not in my cheek. We have no right to be told that because the proposal is introduced at a late hour it will rip up the Bill.
– So it will, and it will rip up the Act, which is more important than the Bill.
– My opinion is that that would be a dashed good job.
– Apparently that is what is being attempted.
– No. I am quite prepared to catch the profiteer, but the Treasurer knows that this provision does not catch him. It may catch some profiteers, but it catches more inoffensive business men, while ‘we know that some of the richest profiteers, who have made fortunes since the war started, have said publicly that they will not have to pay a penny of this tax. What is the good of the Treasurer talking about our having our “tongues in our cheeks” when he knows that profiteering has been going on all the time ? Any business man with ordinary common sense can see that this Bill perpetrates an injustice. In the case of this particular man, the injustice is not only for one year, but his prewar standard will be taken as a basis of computation for all his taxation. I do not blame the Treasurer for not interviewing people - he has too much to do, and has too many peoplewaiting to see him; but he will not show his usual good judgment if he is not prepared to meet this man in a fair and reasonable way.
– I am not dealing with men, but with cases.
– This man’s case is typical. Why should I not bring it forward ? He does not go behind a hedge; he puts his balance-sheet before members of Parliament, and shows his hand to them. He shows his losses, and his profits, and the struggle that he has had. We ought to encourage that sort of candour. There is nothing under the rose. All his cards are on the table. It will be a monstrous injustice if his case is not met. This is a monstrously unjust Act, but I do not blame the Treasurer for it, because it was a legacy to him, and, in spite of what he has said to me, I state frankly that, in my opinion, he has improved the Bill. He has made the best of a bad job, but if he will meet this case he will make the job a little better. No doubt there are many hard cases that cannot be considered by the House. This man has had the enterprise to put his case before members in black and white. Probably, as the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Boyd) says, a number of men suffer in the same way, and the Treasurer should certainly be able to do something to meet them, even if an amendment has to be made in another place. All we ask for is ordinary common fair play. An honorable member who has had a practical commercial training says that it is a very easy thing to do.
– It is not an easy thing to do. The honorable member you refer to did not deal with the Taxation Office, but with the ordinary position inside a commercial counting-house
– At any rate, others have been able to deal with the same problem, and it ought to be very easy to make a computation on the basis of eleven-twelfths, or in some other way. A man should not be denied ordinary justice because he iscut out by a few days. I appeal to the Treasurer because we seem to be in his hands. He says he will not do this or that, and we have to bow our heads.
– Rather than disturb the. calculations of the taxing officers’, an injustice must be done tothe taxpayer.
– If we allow that sort of thing to happen, we are not worth our salt. We ought to insist on a change, if we believe that an injustice is being done. We should not be told that we are embarrassing the Government. We are not here to prop up or pull down Governments, but to look after the interests of the taxpayers. This man has had the candour to tell us that he is making many thousands. He runs the risk of that statement having a bad effect on honorable members, because we are inclined to hit the big man very hard, if we can, as the honorable member for Maranoa says. But this man has not cloaked his profits. He states clearly and emphatically that if we refuse to make an alteration because it does not suit our system of accounting or averages, we shall be doing him a gross injustice, and penalizing him to the extent of thousands of pounds, while at the same time we1 allow many profiteers to go scot free.I appeal to the Treasurer to put aside the little feeling which he seems to be showing in this matter. I know that he is anxious to get on with the business, and I am prepared to sit here and help him; but I ask him to look into this case, and take advice as to whether he cannot make a change. Personally, this man does not matter a button to us. There must be dozens of similar cases in which persons cannot make themselves heard in Parliament. If we do not meet these hard cases, we confess that Parliament is impotent to do justice.
Motion (by Mr. Greene) proposed - -That Orders of the Day Nos. 2, 3, 4, and 5 be postponed until after the consideration of Order of the Day No. 6, Government business.
.- I understand that the Government propose to bring before the House the amendment made by another place in the Iron and Steel Bounty Bill. When that is disposed of, what do they propose to bring forward?
– It is proposed then to go on with the Defence Bill.
– Then the position has arisen which I foresaw and foreshadowed last week, when it was proposed to sit longer hours and allow new business to be taken after 11 o’clock at night. When the Iron and Steel Bounty Bill has been disposed of, and the Defence Bill is called on, it will be found that some members who are interested in that measure have gone away, not having the slightest idea that it would come on to-day. They thought the Committee would go on dealing with the War-time Profits Bill, which has now been put over rather hurriedly and somewhat dramatically. I am glad of the intimation from the Minister for Price Fixing (Mr. Greene) as to what the Government propose to take next, because we should not be left in the dark. The Government have a right to deal with the business in their own way, but honorable members are liable to be called out of the building on business for an hour or two, and may not know under the present arrangements what is likely to be done. There are some Bills that I am interested in. It is my intention to oppose the Chief Justice’s Pension Bill - No. 2 on the notice-paper. I have taken the trouble to look up the votes of honorable members and Ministers when this question was previously before the House, and I find some of the Ministers were at that time opposed to the principle. If the business on the notice-paper is to be altered without the knowledge of honorable members, the Government could practically clear off the whole of it in their absence. But we have a right to know the intention of the Government in regard to alterations of the order of business. I thank the Minister for telling us that after the Iron and Steel Bounty Bill has been disposed of the Government intend to deal with the. Defence Bill - No. 8 on the business-paper.
– I support the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Tudor) in his protest concerning the action of the Government. I have come to the conclusion that it is nearly time the Government gave up trying ‘to conduct the business of the House at all. The incident we have just witnessed seems to indicate that the sooner the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) comes back the better it will be.
– What !
– I said that the sooner the Prime Minister comes back the better, for I would like to see the business of this country carried on. You will agree, Mr. Speaker, that when the businesspaper is placed before honorable members they are entitled to see the items discussed in their order. We were all led to believe that item No. 1 - the Wartime Profits Tax Assessment Bill - was important enough to occupy first place and be dealt with but we are now informed that the Government intend to deal with the Chief Justice’s Pension Bill.
– I do not know why the honorable member should assume that I agree with him.
– I am quite sure, sir, that if you were where I am now you would not agree with the action of the Government, and you would take a great deal longer than I am talcing to express your view. It is the duty of the Opposition to oppose, and, without for a moment suggesting that Mr. Speaker is in agreement with me, I take advantage of this opportunity to direct the attention of honorable members to the fact that the Government propose, instead of proceeding with the business in the order set out on the notice-paper, to consider a proposal to pay a pension, and to delay the consideration of the Estimates, involving an expenditure of over £100,000,000.
– Are they to be taken this session?
– I have been told so, and that they are to be passed, with onehalf of honorable members away in their homes in different parte of the Commonwealth.
– If the Estimates are to be taken, the balance of honorable members will have their Christmas dinner here.
– If we agree to the motion submitted by the Minister for Price Fixing, or Customs - this Minister for many offices - we will not be discharging our duty. I could understand a postponement of debate upon the Ministerial statement, though I should like to draw attention to the necessity for an early consideration of that matter, in view of the announcement made to-day by the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Watt) that he had taken the extraordinary course of removing a Minister from office without the consent of the Prime. Minister, who is in England. All the circumstances point to the need for a consideration of this matter before we deal with the Iron and Steel Bounty Bill, in connexion with which the Minister suggested that, as it was a simple proposal, the Government proposed to deal with it first.
– I do not think that I advanced any reason.
– I think the Minister said, when he moved for the postponement of items Nos. 2, 3, 4, and 5, until after the consideration of item No. 6, that he had one simple little amendment in connexion with the measure.
– But that was an aside.
– Asides in the House are very dangerous. The honorable member making an aside must always assume that the Hansard reporter will record the statement. Does the Minister mean to say that the Iron and Steel Bounty Bill and the Defence Bill are of greater urgency than the War-time Profits Tax Assessment Bill? Let the Minister be candid, and admit at once that a crisis has arisen on the Government benches. The Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Watt) left the House a few minutes ago in a petulant mood. Where are his supporters? Where are the Win-the-War party that sits behind the Government? Why are they not here now?
– There are more here than on your side.
– I admit that; but I am not speaking of the insurgents. I am referring to those staunch, dumb, and docile supporters that sit behind the Government. When one of them, like the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Richard Poster), ventures to make a few remarks, the Acting Prime Minister turns and rends him; but the honorable member for Wakefield was afterwards paid some small compliment, and everything was all right again.
– Why are you worrying the Government?
– The honorable member seems to think that he has done his duty to his party if he sits silently here and takes no part in this criticism of the Government, but I venture to say that if he were arguing a case before a magistrate he would be more severe.
– Perhaps because when a case is set down for hearing it is generally called up in its order.
– I thank the honorable member for his interjection. The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) will, I am sure, agree that when a case is set down for hearing it ought to be heard, and not postponed.
– Unless for good reasons.
– It should not be postponed unless the people concerned are warned. In this case honorable members who have prepared speeches expecting the Government business to be called on in the order set down on the notice-paper, are placed at a great disadvantage. Many of them, perhaps, have gone down town to attend to urgent private business, and when they come back they will probably be disappointed to find that the Iron and Steel Bounty Bill and the Defence Bill have been taken in their absence. They may desire to move amendments in connexion with these proposals, but the Assistant Minister has submitted a motion, which seems to be deception almost in the nature of the thimble and pea business now you. see it and now. you don’t. Now you see the War-time Profits Tax Assessment Bill under consideration, and how you see the Chief Justice’s Pension Bill. And now you don’t see it, because it has ‘ been . put under some other thimble. The odds are ten to one, and perhaps longer, that we shall not be able to say what particular measure will be under consideration at a. quarter to 8 to-night.
– What about postponing these items, and taking the Estimates now ?
– That would be a sensible proposal if the Minister in charge would agree. No one wants the War-time profits Tax Assessment Bill, and no one, I imagine, wants the Chief Justice’s Pension Bill, so it would be a businesslike method to bring forward the Estimates, and let the Corner party and the rebellious members point to the wickedness and maladministration of the Government. I am sorry the Acting Prime Minister is not here, as I do not want to nay anything very unkind in his absence, but, although he was subjected to a good deal o£ adverse criticism, I do not think he should have displayed petulance, because, after all, honorable members have been very kind to the Government. I am sure the honorable member for Grampians (Mr. Jowett) must at times have felt compelled to rise in his place and make a few observations in criticism of the Government. The Acting Prime Minister ought not to have displayed petulance this afternoon, and I am sure that when he has had time for consideration he will be sorry that he reported progress. We were all doing very well indeed. He should not have been so severe upon the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Chapman).
– Order ! The honorable member is not discussing the question before the Chair.
– I am sure, sir, you will admit that, in the interests of good government, much depends upon maintaining the order of business. The Acting Minister for Tirade and Customs has come forward with the proposal to postpone some most important measures until we have dealt with a trifling: “amendment of the Iron and Steel Bounty Bill; and after that it is proposed to consider the Defence “Bill, though I think honorable members will remember that the Acting Prime Minister informed us that the Government did not want the Defence Bill before Christmas.
– No; he wants that passed.
– Then I misunderstood the Acting Prime Minister, and I apologise, for I really did think it was intended to be placed in the list of slaughtered innocents.
– You will be one of the slaughtered, too, shortly.
– I hope, then, that I will be one of the innocents.. Since the Minister intends to take the Defence Bill’ after the Iron and Steel Bounty Bill is disposed of, I shall endeavour to insert an amendment in it in order to make iti more equitable.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Sitting suspended from 6.34 to 7.4-5 p.m.;
In Committee (Consideration of Senate’s amendment) :
Clause 3 (Use of Imported Sheet Bar Steel).
Senate’s Amendment. - At end of clause add the following proviso : - “ Provided that whenever the Minister authorizes the use of sheet bar steel other than that made in Australia he shall within thirty days thereof cause a statement of the reasons therefor to be laid before both Houses of the Parliament if the Parliament is then sitting or, if the Parliament is not then sitting, within thirty days after the next meeting of Parliament, and if either House of the Parliament passes a resolution of which notice has been given at any time within fifteen sitting days after such statement has been laid before such house disallowing such authorization it shall thereupon cease to have effect.”
– Honorable members will recollect that clause 3 provides that if, in the opinion of the Minister, such circumstances arise as make it impossible to obtain steel of Australian origin for the manufacture of black sheets or galvanized sheets, he may permit imported steel to be used. The Senate has amended the clause by the addition of a proviso with regard to the Minister laying an authorization before Parliament. Clause 3 formed the subject of much discussion when the Bill was before this Committee. I advanced the reason then that circumstances might arise–
– What are the circumstances ?
-Itwouldbeadvisable to have such additional protection of the manufacturers set out in the Bill.
– The manufacturers want it.
– The manufacturers of the secondary product want it.
– The manufacturers want it because the facts are that there are only two firms in A ustralia which can turn out the class of material required for the manufacture of this product; and they might demand such prices as would make it impossible for manufacturers to turn out the finished article. The Government considered it advisable to insert clause 3, and the Senate now asks this Committee to consent to the amendment.
It is one to which the Government can see no objection, and I therefore move -
That the Senate’s amendment be agreed to.
.- This is a matter of laying a regulation before Parliament. I ask the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Austin Chapman), who has been in this Parliament from the beginning, how many regulations have been even discussed - let alone disallowed - among the many thousands which have been laid upon the table. I recall that the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Bamford) gave notice several years ago, with regard to the disallowance of certain regulations. His notice of motion was never reached upon the business paper. He had no “ look in “ at all, although he sought, by other means, to initiate a discussion of the same matter. Unless there is to be something more than this proviso we might as well be without any reference to the Minister’s authorization at all. It is true that the Senate might be in a position to discuss and object to certain regulations laid before it; but the trouble is, so far as this House is concerned, before we had reached the stage of disallowing any regulation laid before us the imported material could be landed in Australia, and the manufacture of the product completed. If there is one fundamental principle in the Bill at all it is that Australian raw material shall be used in this manufacture. If we obtain sheet bar steel from overseas the finished product will have little of an Australian character about it. There will have been no Australian coal employed for the production of coke, no Australian limestone, no Australian iron ore, and no Australian wages paid. If we were to inquire into the whole process, I dare say it would be found that the rolling of the sheet-bar steel and the galvanizing and corrugating processes would not represent more than one-eighth of the actual wage-sheet covering the production from start to finish.
– It would be more than that.
Mr.mcwilliams. - I do not think it would be one-eighth.
– I understand that the Minister suggests it would represent probably one-fourth.
The real reason for Parliament proposing to give thisbounty is, first of all, that the article shall be produced in Australia, andthat Australian raw material shall be used. I stated during the second-reading debate, that the proposal should commend itself to honorable members, particularly in view of the fact that at present so little overseas freight space is available. Apparently, the idea is that the space which would be required for importing galvanized iron will be saved, but that there will be shipping space enough to import the sheet bar steel.
The Minister has advanced as the reason for the insertion of this proviso, that it will have the effect of preventing two firms in Australia from obtaining a monopoly. The Minister, by the very figures which he himself employed, showed that the quantity of galvanized and corrugated and black sheets used in Australia would be more than could keep one blast furnace going.
– What about the monopoly on the part of the people doing the galvanizing?
– Yes, there might be a monopoly there. But the Government might as well say, “Instead of keeping your rolling mills and galvanizing plant going, all you will be permitted to do will be to turn out this article, up to a certain stage.” That would be just like telling a hat manufacturer that he may make hats up to a certain stage, but that he must sell them at a certain price to another firm to finish off. That sort of practice would be altogether a mistake.
– If this proviso were not inserted a manufacturer might be squeezed out.
-Butwhatistostopa manufacturer, in view of the unlimited quantity of galvanized and corrugated sheets required, from putting up his own blast furnace? If he did that, there would be no need for this measure. The position is as though we were to pass a Bill with respect to the manufacture of wire netting or fencing wire, and were to say to a”company,”Youmustproduce the rods for manufacturing the wire, and then you must sell them to another firm to finish the article, and you must sell at a price regarding which we shall have the oversight. ‘ ‘ In effect, the Government have said to a company which has laid out, I understand, well over £1,000,000 upon its works, “We shall not give you an opportunity to finish off the article which you are producing. You must sell your product to other manufacturers, and at such a price that those people will be prepared to take it.”
– Clause 3 has been already assented to. The matter under discussion is the proviso.
– I am dealing withthe effect of the proviso; and I hold that it will have no effect at all, because we shall never have an opportunity to discuss an authorization which may be laid upon this table.
– I hope the proviso will be agreed to. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Tudor) was quite correct, so far as his argument proceeded; but when a bounty is being granted so as to create an industry, there mustbe some provision that those to whom the bounty is being given will not establish a monopoly and be placed in a position to freeze out any manufacturer who may begin operations in one of the other States. Suppose that a factory were started in Williamstown, or at some place in South Australia, or in Hobart. Suppose that the Broken Hill Company were to become interested in the business themselves. Does it not seem quite possible that that firm-, by not having the material to supply to others, might freeze out manufacturers in one of the other States?
The amendment relates only to action to be taken in a case of necessity. I cannot imagine any Minister using his authorization unless there were absolute need for the importation of the sheet bar steel. Parliament is giving a bounty which for some time will tend to foster monopolies, and it is safe and wise to provide that if a monopoly is brought about to the detriment of manufacturers in another part of Australia, the Minister should have power to say, . “ Unless you supply these manufacturers at reasonable prices we shall take care that they secure supplies from elsewhere.” The amendment introduces a very proper precaution, and I cannot understand the attitude of the Leader of the Opposition in objecting to it.
.- We have had such a sickener of regulations that it is a marvel that the Government can find a supply of paper to issue fresh ones. The honorable member for Franklin (Mr. McWilliams) is apprehensive that some local firm may create a monopoly. How long have our rural producers been compelled to endure Free Trade monopolies which have been foisted upon them ? If there is to be a monopoly, I would prefer that it should be one in which Australian labour and Australian materials are being combined for the production of an Australian article. But have we no other method than that proposed in this proviso of dealing with monopolists ? Parliament would be quite right, of course, in taking necessary precautions.
– This is theonly precaution that I know of.
– If the honorable member had supported certain other people a few years ago in their efforts to secure power under the Commonwealth Constitution-
– This looks like stretching out after the powers of atyrant.
– Oh, no; because, in the case of our Constitution, the tyrant would practically be the people of this country. When we have the initiative and the referendum, which are advocated by the honorable member for Henty-
– Do not saddle me with those proposals.
– At any rate, they are part of the programme to which I cheerfully assent. If the Ministry are merely anxious to adopt an additional precautionary measure against the public being fleeced, I have no objection to urge. But I do object to our Free Trade friends rising up and condemning our industries as monopolies.
.- In order to make my remarks more intelligible, I propose to read out the clause to which the Senate desires to add a proviso. Clause 3 reads -
In the event of such circumstances arising as would, in the opinion of the Minister, warrant the use of sheet bar steel, other than that made in Australia, for the manufacture in Australia of black steel sheets not exceeding one-sixteenth of an inch in thickness and galvanized sheets, the Ministermay authorize that sheet bar steel to be so used, and the black steel sheets not exceeding one-sixteenth of an inch in thickness and the galvanized sheets madefrom that sheet bar steel shall be deemed to be black steel sheets and galvanized sheets for the purposes of this Act.
Evidently that provision was not considered strong enough by the other branch of the Legislature, which now asks us to add to the following proviso: -
Provided that whenever the Minister authorizes the use of sheet bar steel other than that made in Australia he shall, within thirty days thereof, cause a statement of the reasons therefor to be laid before both Houses of the Parliament if the Parliament is then sitting, or, if the Parliament is not then sitting, within thirty days after the next meeting of Parliament, and if either House of the Parliament passes a resolution of which notice has been given at any time within fifteen sitting clays after such statement has been laid before such House disallowing such authorization, it shall thereupon cease to have effect.
At first sight the amendment is, apparently, in agreement with the argument advanced by the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. McWilliams). At the same time, it does permit of. a loophole for the importation of sheet bar steel. As one who has taken a keen interest inhe scheme of repatriation, I want to see as much work done in Australia as possible.
– That is one of the objects of the Bill.
– But for the fact that our shipping is controlled by the British and Commonwealth Governments, work could be found here for hundreds and thousands of people. The statement has recently gone forth that sufficient freight space is not available to permit of spinning machinery being imported.
The CHAIRMAN (Hon. J. M. Chanter) . - Order ! The honorable member is out of order in referring to that matter.
– The British Government have allowed Japan £202,000 worth of freight space, whilst allocating to Australia only a paltry £26,000 worth.
– Order ! The honorable member must see that his remarks are quite outside the scope of the amendment.
– I admit that.
– The whole object of the proviso is to insure that if the Minister sanctions the importation of sheet bar steel he must state his reasons for so doing.
– As an Australian who believes in Protection, it seems to me that the amendment to which we are asked to assent ‘ affords a loophole which ought to be closed.
– The amendment makes the existing loophole smaller.
– Still, it leaves a loophole. It will permit of the importation of sheet bar steel if the Ministry of the day have a majority at their backs, and think that the adoption of that course is necessary.
– But that proposal has already been assented to.
– If I could wipe out all that has been done by this Parliament, what a splendid . Legislature we should have. I do not wish to see anything imported which can be produced locally. ‘We have the raw materials here, and why should they not be utilized? The iron industry is the basic industry of any country, and we cannot, therefore, give it too much encouragement.
Motion agreed to.
Resolution reported; report adopted.
In Committee (Consideration of GovernorGeneral’s message) :
– I move -
That it is expedient that an appropriation at revenue be made for the purposes of a Bill for an Act to provide for the grant of a pension to the first Chief Justice of Australia.
In submitting this motion I would remind honorable members that our Judiciary Act makes no provision for the granting of pensions. But section 84 of our Constitution provides that officers transferred to the Commonwealth from a State shall preserve all their- existing and accruing rights. Now, the first Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia came over from the State of Queensland after he had served as Chief Justice of that State for ten years. Under a Queensland Statute passed in 1893, the salary of the Chief Justice was fixed at £3,500 per annum. That Act was incorporated with the Queensland Supreme Court Act of 1874, section 5 of which provided that -
Every Judge of the Supreme Court shall be entitled on his having served for fifteen years as a Judge in such . Court, or on his being disabled by permanent infirmity from performance of the duties of his office, to demand a pension by way of annuity to be continued during his life to the amount of one-half of the actual salary received by him at the time of such demand.
When the Chief Justice of Queensland became Chief Justice of the High Court he had served ten years on the State Sup/ema Court Bench. Had he remained in Queensland in that exalted office for another five years, he would have been entitled to retire on a pension of one-half of his salary. He was appointed to his present position on the 5th October, 1903, so that he has filled the office of Chief Justice of the High Court for fifteen years. Seeing that he gave up his position in Queensland with its accompanying rights and privileges to become the Chief Justice of Australia at the same salary as he was then receiving, I submit that it is only reasonable and just that he should be granted a pension, and placed in a position similar to that which he would have occupied had he remained in Queensland instead of accepting service with the Commonwealth.
– What do the Government propose to pay him?
– The proposal is that on his retirement he shall be paid the same pension as that to which he would have been entitled had he remained in Queensland, half of the salary - £1,750 per annum.
– All the public servants taken over by the Commonwealth with the transferred State Departments carried with them their accrued pension rights.
– Yes, and in providing a pension for the Chief justice we shall only be putting him in the position occupied by the public servants who were transferred from the various States at the inception of Federation, its payment being a mere act of justice. Of the three members who originally constituted the High Court, the Chief Justice alone came from a State Bench. Mr. Justice Rich, who at a later date was appointed to the Commonwealth High Court, was also taken from the New South Wales Bench.
May I give to the Committee a brief sketch of the services which Sir Samuel Griffith has. rendered to his country ? He has the unique record of a service of forty-six years in the public life of this country. He has been a member of the Queensland Legislature and of the Queensland Bench; has taken part in a Colonial Conference and in the Federal Convention; and for fifteen years he has occupied the high and dignified Office which he still fills. Sir Samuel is really an Australian, although he was born in Wales, in 1845, and is therefore now seventy-three years of age. He came to Australia at the age of eight years, was educated at the Maitland .High School, and, passing to the Sydney “University at the age of fourteen years, graduated there as Bachelor and Master of Arts after a brilliant scholastic career, distinguishing himself in classics and mathematics, and winning the Mort Travelling Scholarship.
Sir Samuel Griffith went to Queensland and was called to tie Bar of that State in 1867. He immediately gained front rank in the legal profession, was elected to the Legislative Assembly of Queensland in 1872, and after a brief period was, by virtue of his outstanding abilities, appointed Attorney-General. He afterwards held various portfolios until 1879, when he became Leader of the Opposition. He was Premier of Queensland from 1883 to 1888, then Leader of the Opposition again, and subsequently, from 1890 to 1S93, Premier, Chief Secretary, and Attorney-General of the State. In “1893 he was made Chief Justice of Queensland.
Sir Samuel Griffith introduced the first measure providing for free, secular, and compulsory education in Queensland, and was the first Minister of Public Instruction in that State. In 1901 he was made a member of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, an honour that he richly deserved, and, in 1903, he was appointed first Chief Justice of the High Court of the Commonwealth of Australia.
The Constitution of the Commonwealth created three fundamental institutions - the Parliament, the Executive, and the Judiciary. Of these the last named occupies a unique position, as it is the interpreter, or - as an American Judge has put it - the guardian of the Constitution. It is the duty of our Judiciary to determine in the conflicts that arise out of the exercise of the rights of sovereign powers of Commonwealth and State. It was recognised when the first High Court Bench was appointed that we needed a strong and powerful Judiciary, and that the best men that Australia could command should be obtained. When Sir Samuel Griffith, Sir Edmund Barton, and the late Mr. R. E. O’Connor ‘were appointed, it was felt throughout the legal profession and among the community generally that they would form a Judiciary which would administer justice impartially throughout the Commonwealth, and hold the scales of justice f airlyin the settlement of questions arising between the Commonwealth and States. All eyes turned toward Sir Samuel, the new Chief Justice, who was appointed to preside over the Court because of his ability, learning, knowledge, wide range of experience, and great strength of character.
Without desiring to pronounce judgment on a living record, I can safely assert that Sir Samuel Griffith has realized the high expectations of those responsible for his appointment to the Chief Justiceship. There was need of a strong man for the position, because the High Court had to be organized and set going as part of the machinery of the Constitution. It. was not long before the Court was properly started on its career. We were only then beginning to realize what our Constitution meant. Honorable members who were in this Parliament in 1901 know the pain and effort that were given, and the ability that was shown, in the first years of Federation, in converting the piece of parchment which was our Constitution into a living organism for the good government of the people of Australia. Critics outside sometimes dis- parage our public men, but when the history of Australia has been impartially written, it will be acknowledged that no other Federation in the world can show greater progress and development, or greater ability, in the settlement of national problems, than was shown by the Commonwealth of Australia in the first, twenty years of its existence. Many questions arose upon which the High Court was called to adjudicate, and it was for the Justices to interpret the instrument of government under which Parliament was working. When the judgments of the Court are quietly and fairly studied, the enormous difficulties of the Justices, and the pains they took, and the ability they showed in their interpretation of the Constitution, will be appreciated. In the framing of these judgments the Chief Justice played an exceedingly conspicuous part.
Sir Samuel Griffith was responsible for tlie introduction of many laws that are still on the statute-book of Queensland. As a member of a Colonial Conference he gave proof of abilities which marked him out as a statesman of the Empire, and as a member of the Drafting Committee of the first Convention he was practically responsible for the framing of the draft Constitution on which our present Constitution is based. When in Parliament he showed himself to be a wonderfully skilful draftsman. His was a keen, analytical mind, and he had a wonderful -gift for discerning the trend of debate, crystallizing the views of members, and embodying them in a clear piece of legislation. These abilities were again seen in his work in the Federal Convention of 1891 . He rendered invaluable service to Australia by the part he played there. .
While on the Queensland Bench he took up the subject of law reform, and the criminal code which he drafted is a model of perfection. He spent a great deal of time and research upon it, and in practical working it has been found one of the most useful codes that is known.
I will not’ remind honorable members further of the services which this great man has given .to Australia during the past forty-six years. When the history of this country is written, his name will be recalled with pride as that of a great British subject, who, in the Dominions overseas, played an important part in the building of the Empire.
.- I have never had a more painful duty to perform than that which I am about to undertake. But when the Government submit a proposition of this kind, even though the mover surrounded! it by . a very eloquent tribute to a very able man, I nave to consider what is my duty to the general public in the Capricornia electorate, whom I represent, and to the people of Australia. As the Ministry have chosen to bring this motion forward as a personal matter, it is most unpleasant for me -to be compelled to consider it from a personal stand-point, and to discount the eloquent tribute that the Minister (Mr. Groom), in proposing the motion, has seen fit to pay to Sir Samuel Griffith. I agree with all that he said about the intellectual brilliancy of Sir Samuel Griffith, about his great erudition as a scholar, his remarkable attainments as a lawyer, and also the distinguished position he filled as an Austraiian politician. I admit all those qualifications; but, in the phraseology of the honorable member for Barrier (Mr. Considine), “ he has been on a very good wicket.” The Minister has pointed out that Sir Samuel played a very important part in the public life of Aus-, tralia. In the political arena in Queensland Sir Samuel was a great protagonist, and if he had chosen to remain in public life no doubt he would have continued to show that he had pre-eminent qualities that entitled him to be a leader amongst his countrymen. But he did not choose the thorny path of the politician; he chose the primrose path. He left the politics of Queensland, and was translated to the position of Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. He represented to those who desired him to accept that appointment that it would not pay him to do so at the salary then attaching to the position - £2,500, I believe. There may have been political reasons for removing him from parliamentary life.; he was a most dangerous opponent.
– He was worthy of the position of Chief Justice.
– I admit that lie was the man most qualified for the position; but, at the same time, I remind the Committee that the salary was raised from ?2,500 to ?3,000 per annum in order to induce his acceptance of the post. The Minister has mentioned that Sir Samuel was entitled to certain pension rights as a Queensland public servant.
– I said that, had he continued in the Queensland Service, he would have been entitled to a pension.
– And why is he not entitled to a pension, like other public servants who entered the Commonwealth Service from the State Service ?
– Because he is not a transferred officer.
– Because, I venture to say, the Queensland Government would not agree to the transfer-. Sir Samuel knew what he was doing when he accepted the position of Chief Justice of. the High Court at a salary of ?3,500, and at the time he received a great deal of credit for having surrendered his pension rights as a State officer in order to become Chief Justice of the High Court. One must not forget that fact.
– A man cannot live long on credit.
- Sir Samuel Griffith was to receive a salary of ?3,500 per annum, and are we to infer from the honorable member’s interjection that he does not consider that salary sufficient?
– Yes, I do.
– In addition to the salary of ?3,500, he was given credit and the gratitude of the people for having taken the position. Brilliant as Sir Samuel has been in the past, for the last few years he has not been the keenest intellect on the High Court Bench. An attempt was made by the Prime Minister to induce the Queensland Government to regard Sir Samuel as a transferred officer, and the offer was made that if the Queensland Government would pay portion of the pension the Commonwealth Government would pay the balance. Finding that the Queensland Government would not agree to that suggestion, the Commonwealth Government now come forward with this audacious proposal to grant the Federal Chief Justice a pension of ?1,750. As a proof that the Chief Justice has not been the keenest intellect on the High Court Bench for some years, I instance the report which he submitted, as a Royal Commissioner, as to the monthly quota of men required as reinforcements. How did he proceed ? Did he, as a Royal Commissioner ought to have done, call for evidence from witnesses who were capable of saying whether the Prime. Minister (Mr. Hughes) was speaking the truth when he made statements regarding the need for reinforcements, which everybody now must admit were grossly exaggerated? No; he called no witnesses. In his report he said -
I have examined such documents and records as appeared to be likely to elucidate the matter, and have now the honour to submit to Your Excellency the results of my examination.
I have not thought it necessary to take formal oral evidence except such explanation as I desired of the various documents and records examined, which was very fully and freely given by Major-General J. G. Legge, to whom I am much indebted for his assistance.
Was that done because of any promise made bythe Prime Minister regarding a pension? I can assure honorable members that it is not pleasant for me to have to say these things, but when the Ministry bring forward this motion as a personalmatter, and at such a time, I must do my duty.
Sir Samuel Griffith chose the primrose path; a handsome salary, and the honour and prestige which attached to the position of Chief Justice of the High Court. A man can devote himself to no more noble work than the service of his country, whether as a shire councillor, municipal councillor, member of a State Parliament, or member of the Federal Parliament. Whatever may be said in disparagement of public life, whatever men may do to lower their high office, I maintain that service given to the country as a legislator is equal in importance to the service given by a Judge. Yet there is no pension for a member of Parliament, or even for a Minister of the Crown. There is no pension for the man who makes the law, or for his widow and children. Do honorable members know that the widow of an ex-Postmaster-General is earning her living as a typist, and that the widow of a former member of this Parliament maintains herself and children by working as a laundress and cleaner? All honour to both of them. ‘They are acting well their part, and therein the honour lies. When the Ministry come forward with a proposal to pay a pension of. £1,750 per annum to Sir ‘Samuel Griffith, I am reminded that for twenty-five years at least - ten years as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Queensland, and fifteen years as Chief Justice of the High Court - he has been in receipt of first, a salary of £3,000, and then a salary of £3/500 per annum. In addition he has received, I suppose, at least £500 per annum as expenses. If it be whispered to me, as a reason why. we should pay this pension, that he has financial obligations, I say that, out of that sum of over £S0,000 which he has received during a period of twenty-five years, he ought to have made provision for his old age. Recently the Government were asked whether, in view of the increased cost of living during the last few years, they would consider the question of increasing the old-age pension by 2s. 6d. per week, and what was their answer - “ In view of the state of the finances, an increase in the rate of the old-age pension is at the present time not considered justifiable.”
This proposed grant of a pension to Sir Samuel Griffith was decided by this Parliament years ago. In this House a proposal was made that a pension should be paid to the Justices of the High Court, and by twenty-nine votes to twenty, the motion was defeated. The division list as reported in Ronsard, Vol.. XIII., page 1245, shows that twenty voted for and twenty-nine against the proposal. Those who voted for it were Sir Edmund Barton, Messrs. A. Chapman, Conroy, S. W. Cook, Crouch, Cruickshank, Deakin, Sir John Forrest, Sir Phillip Fysh, Mr. Glynn, Sir Malcolm McEacharn, Messrs. A. Paterson, Sawers, Skene, Bruce Smith, D. Thomson, Watson, Willis, Ewing, and L. E.
Groom. The pairs in favour of the proposal were Mr. F. Clarke, Sir George Turner, Messrs. Wilkinson, Harper, and Hughes, Sir William Lyne, and Messrs. Kingston, Spence, and Higgins. Those , who voted against the proposal were Mr. Batchelor, Sir Langdon Bonython, Messrs. Joseph Cook, J. H. Cook, G. B. Edwards, Fisher, Fowler, Hartnoll, Isaacs, Kennedy, Kirwan, Mahon, Mauger, McCay, McDonald,- A. McLean, O’Malley, Page, Poynton, Sir John Quick, Messrs. J. B. Ronald, E. Solomon, V. L. Solomon, Thomas, Tudor, Watkins, Wilks, Fuller, and Salmon. The pairs against the proposal consisted of Mr. F. E. McLean, Sir W. McMillan, Messrs. E. N. Cameron, A. C. Groom, T. Brown, Sir E. Braddon, and Messrs. Phillips, Bamford, and S. Smith. A division was also taken on this question in the Senate on 6th August, 1903, and, as reported in Hansard, Vol. XV., page” 3169, three voted . in favour of it and. fourteen against. Those in favour of granting a pension . were Messrs. Harney, Pulsford, and Walker, while those against it were Messrs. Barrett, Best, Cameron, Dawson, de Largie, Dobson, 7 Keating, Matheson, McGregor, O’Connor, Pearce, Stewart, Styles, and O’Keefe. The pairs were as follows: - For”: Messrs. Ferguson and Neild, Sir John Downer, Messrs. Macfarlane, Gould, Saunders, and Sir J. H. Symon. Against: Messrs. Glassey, Smith, Playford, Charleston, Reid, Higgs, and Fraser. The matter on that occasion was dealt with from a public stand-point, and apart altogether from personal considerations.
When the question of the salary to be paid the Chief Justice was before this House on that occasion, Mr. (now Sir Joseph) Cook, said -
I intend to move that the salary of the Chief Justice be reduced by £1,000, because £2,500 is sufficiently high as a commencing salary . . . Therefore we shall do a wise . thing, and certainly a thing that will be in keeping with our protestations of economy, if we reduce the amount to be paid . . .
said, as reported at page 1224 of Hansard - and I bring this point under the notice of those who are too much inclined to consider the interests of persons in high places, and not to look broadly enough at those of the general mass of the community -
I do not see why a Judge with a salary of £3,000 should get a pension any more than a post-office messenger with a salary at £100 or £200. A Judge has a better chance of providing for his old age than the average working man.
During the last twenty-five years Sir Samuel Griffith has received over £82,000 by way of income as a Judge, and he should have made provision for his old age. Some one may whisper that he has financial obligations. If he was so foolish as to incur financial obligations in a desire to get suddenly rich, or for any other reason, that very fact should go against his appointment to the High Court or any other Bench. Our Justices » occupy such a high position in Australia that we should at least expect them to be common-sense and prudent men. Sir William Irvine, who in this House and throughout the country dwelt upon the necessity for every eligible man to go to the Front, might have. helped us in the war, but he did not. It is necessary that we should have the best brains to assist in the government of Australia, but Sir William Irvine also took the primrose path, and he retired from this Parliament to go on the Supreme Court Bench of this State at a salary of £3,000 per annum.
– Surely it is not necessary to refer to such a matter.
– I was about to point out that when the Labour party urged the payment of pensions to women and men of sixty and sixty-five years of age respectively, Sir William Irvine, as a member ‘of this House, said that the granting of such pensions was calculated to san the fibre and independence of the people.
– That is only when the principle is applied to the working classes.
– That is so, and it is on behalf of >the mass of the people that I oppose this proposal to grant Sir Samuel Griffith a pension of £1,750 per annum.
In -connexion with the war census of 1915 all persons of eighteen years and upwards possessed of property or in receipt of incomes had to fill in returns. The official figures- show that 66,460 males and 249,000 females, or a total of 315,460 persons of the age of eighteen years and over, had then no income whatever; 437,000 had an income of under £50 per annum; 495,000 had an income of £50 and not exceeding £100 ; 500,000 had an income of £100 but not exceeding £150 ; and 502,811 had an income of £150 but not exceeding £156. No less than 1,810,000 were in receipt of an income of under £3 per week, whilst 381,000 received an income of £3 per week and over. Out of a population of 4,900,000, only 1,876,000 had any income whatever. These thousands of married men, with families, in receipt of an income of £3 per week are expected to rear, educate, and provide for their families; and Sir William Irvine, and no doubt Sir Samuel Griffith, would consider that they ought to be prudent, and out of their wage put away something for their old age. If a man receiving £3 per week is expected to do that, surely the Chief Justice of the Commonwealth, who is receiving £3,500 per annum, and has been paid over £32,000 by way of income during the last twenty-five years, ought to be able to put away something, and so to render it unnecessary for the Government to bring forward a proposal of this kind.
I am astonished that the Acting Prime Minister and Treasurer (Mr. Watt), who the other day, paid himself the high compliment of saying that he was the only Treasurer who had ever tackled the Commonwealth finances, and who had succeeded in reducing the expenditure by £2,000,000, should be a party to a proposal of this kind.
– I suppose if he had included the honorable member in his statement this would not have been said.
– That is an absurd remark, more absurd even than the remarks usually made by the honorable member.
– The honorable member seems to me badly gravelled to-night.
– Since this is a personal matter, the task I have to perform is an unpleasant one. In the discharge of one’s, public duties one might have to meet the Chief Justice at a public function at any time, and it is extremely unpleasant to have to review his career in this way. I assure honorable members opposite that if they imagine that I take any delight in this matter they are mistaken. But the great public of Australia, who have to work for their living at £3 per week, will want to know what kind of a Government is this that proposes to give one man a pension of £1,750 per annum.
– The great Democracy of Queensland is providing the same pension for its Chief Justice.
– The Chief Justice of Queensland now receives only £2,500 per annum by way of salary.
– And when he retires he receives one-half of his salary by way of pension.
– When Sir Samuel Griffith was Chief Justice of Queensland the office carried with it a salary of £3,000 per annum, but his successor receives only £2,500, so that it will be seen that Sir Samuel Griffith has been rather a “ curled darling “ of the Judiciary and of the Queensland and Commonwealth Parliaments during the last twenty-five years. The Chief Justice of the United States receives less than we pay our Chief Justice, although that country has a population of over- 100,000,000.
As my time has almost expired, I move -
That after the word “ That “ the following words be inserted : - “ in view of the state of the finances and the just demands by the public and press for economy in Commonwealth expenditure, the present is not an opportune time to grant a pension of £1,750 per annum to any one,”
I may use the balance of my time to point out that the Chief Justice of Canada, Sir Charles Fitzpatrick, receives a salary of £2,083 the Chief Justice of the United States, the Hon. E. A. White, receives a salary of £3,125, while the Assistant Judges there are paid £3,020, all with no pension rights. In Canada there are six Judges, whereas in Australia we have no fewer than seven. I consider that we have done handsomely, as a Commonwealth, by Sir Samuel Griffith. It is very wrong, and not in keeping with the professions of this Government, to come forward with a proposal to pay £1,750 a year in this way, and if there is one thing that will defeat this “ Winthewar “ Government and their supporters at the next election it will be the carriage of a measure of this kind.
.- The honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Higgs) twitted me this afternoon with the fact that I am a silent member, and I have very largely to plead guilty to the charge. But I am a fairly attentive, and, I hope, a not unintelligent listener iri this House; and, further, I hope that my silence is the silence of modesty, and not always the silence of ignorance. I should preserve my usual demeanour, even in regard to this proposal, were it not that I feel I cannot remain silent, seeing that I intend to vote against the proposal of the’ Government.
Like the honorable member who has preceded me, it is with the greatest diffidence that I take up my’ present attitude. It is only because I feel compelled by my conscience to do so that I shall oppose the proposal now before the Committee. I think that,, from my point of view, the position can be very simply put. It is not necessary to canvass the qualifications of Sir Samuel Griffith. By common consent he is an ornament to his profession; he possesses great natural endowments, with fine legal attainments and very wide experience. In his own State, before be was offered the position of Chief Justice of the Commonwealth, he had risen to the very top of the tree, and was, I suppose, head, and shoulders above his fellows, both in the sphere of politics and in the world of law. A distinct and definite offer was made to him of the highest legal position in the Commonwealth. . There was no monetary inducement for him to accept the offer - indeed, the acceptance of it meant a financial loss to him. But one remembers that the position he was offered was one of very great honour, such as no man would lightly set aside. I, for one, have no doubt that Sir Samuel Griffith, conscious as he was of his mature powers, and keenly alive to the important duties that would attach to his new position, felt that in accepting it he would be able to render very valuable service to the Commonwealth. That conviction, I believe, was largely the determining factor in inducing him to accept the position.
The terms of the offer that was then made to him - because it was a distinct and definite offer - were very specific. Sir Samuel Griffith was offered the position of Chief Justice of the Commonwealth at a salary of £3,500 a year and no pension. That was distinctly understood. Sir Samuel Griffith accepted that offer with his eyes open, and knew exactly what .he was accepting and what it involved. For fifteen years he has filled his high office as, I think all will agree, with the most conspicuous success. He has fulfilled his part of the contract, he has faithfully done his duty; but I maintain that the Commonwealth has also fulfilled its part of the contract. He rendered service and he received the reward he had stipulated he should receive. For fifteen years, also, he has been engaged in work which, although intellectually exacting, was, I feel sure, performed by him with the keenest possible pleasure. He has all the time been working under conditions that tend to make a man’s work a real pleasure. What were the conditions? First of all, the Chief Justice has been doing work that was well within his powers; and that is always a great satisfaction to a man. His work was, as I say, very exacting and very important; but he was conscious of his power, and he felt that the work was always well within that power. In the second place, the work was congenial to him. He had been trained to it all his life - had grown up with it. He is a thoroughly .trained and skilled lawyer, and, therefore, the work from day to day, and from year to year, was perfectly congenial. Then, I think every reasonable man will admit, he was receiving for his labour adequate remuneration. In the last place, he had security of tenure; and that is, a great thing. If a man feels that his office is secure, it gives him solid satisfaction.
The fact that the Chief Justice occupies a high .and responsible position entitles him to no more credit for faithfully doing his duty, than is due to the humblest servant of the State who renders honest, conscientious service. If that be so, I should like to know on what ground this proposal of the Government can be justified. That is my difficulty. It is such a proposal as this that brings us hard up against a painful fact - a fact that, to my mind,- is a standing reproach to our social system. I mean the fact that there are in our community men and women who are engaged in ‘ a hand-to-hand struggle with poverty, and who are living continually within measurable distance of actual want. I desire at this stage to cite one or two cases along the lines indicated by the last speaker (Mr. Higgs). Every one of us, as members of Parliament, if we had not the experience before, are each day of our lives brought into contact with painful cases; and I shall cite three from the rank and file. We are asked to give this pension to a man occupying an exalted position; and the cases to which I shall refer are those of people in humble walks of life, who are fighting the battle of life manfully. I have not chosen extreme, but just ordinary every-day cases. A fine stamp of man, forty-seven years of age, waited upon me, and I learnt that he bad a delicate wife and seven children, the youngest of whom is sixteen months old. He had an accident in a saw-mill, by which hia right hand was mutilated, and he lost the use of it.e He applied for various positions, but on each occasion was rejected because he is unable to use his right hand. Efforts were made to get him an invalid pension, but this was refused on the ground that he is not incapacitated ; and I have his letter here asking me for my assistance in getting him employment. The second case is that of a . fine type “ of woman, with a son at the Front who has been wounded twice. Her husband, a good, steady man, was an assayer who got poisoned by fumes, and is now unable to follow his calling. He is anxious to get work in a warehouse, or something of the kind, but has not been successful, and the wife says she does not know what they will do, for the home will have to be broken up. The third case is that of a young rejected soldier, who was taken on two years ago as a messenger in the Defence Department at 15s. per week. At the end of the year his wage was raised to £1, and at the end of the second year to> £1 5s.; but he has just now been given notice that, being over twenty-one years of age, he cannot be kept on. A few months ago, his father was drowned, and bis mother is broken down in health. He has been helping to support his mother, and is now at his wit’s end to know what to do. These are the kind of cases that come before us for our consideration every day. Now, I say that, for people such as these, life is a stern battle, and though they are fighting bravely, many go down in spite of themselves. The community has not yet recognised its obligation to extend a helping hand to such as they.
There is another class in our community - our soldier men, who have been fighting another kind of battle in the great world war. To them we have incurred & deep debt of obligation. I have the honour to be president of a pathetic little association composed of men who lost their sight in the trenches. They are on the very threshold of life, and will have to face many years of darkness,’ as they are fine, healthy young fellows. Many of them have just married, and yet they will never have the pleasure of looking into the face, of wife or child. They are handicapped to the end of their lives as wage-earners. Some of us have been trying to have their position improved, and we have made a proposal that they shall receive a pension of £4 a week; but we are practically told that the country cannot afford this.
I am not going to labour the question, because I only desire to give reasons why I cannot conscientiously support the proposal of the Government. The community should be just before it is ;generous. We ought to face and recognise our real obligations to the rank and file of our people who have gone down in “the battle of life - who have been worsted in the fight - through no fault of their own. There is something radically wrong with a system that produces cases such as I have described - where men, honest, deserving, and anxious to work, cannot get work to do. We ought to recognise our obligation to all such. If the proposal before us were in any way part of a scheme for a general recognition of those obligations of ours - part of a scheme for making provision for those who have been temporarily or permanently worsted in the struggle of life - it would have my solid support. But, because it seems to be an instance of a tendency too common to pay regard to the claims of those in high places - to give to him that hath, while taking away from him that hath not even that which he hath - I am compelled to give my vote against the measure.
.-^1 regret that I did not have the opportunity of hearing the speech of the Minister (Mr. Groom); but I have learned from honorable members that he did not say very much about the principle of the measure. No matter what honorable members say, or how they may try to fool themselves, this case will be quoted as a precedent. It is the thin end of the wedge. I compliment the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) on the splendid speech he has made, and the stand he has taken on this question. There are about half-a-dozen members in the chamber to-night .who can remember the debate which took place in 1903 on the Judiciary Bill. It could not be said on that occasion that those who were opposed to the payment of pensions to Justices of the High Court were doing so because the name of any individual was mentioned. The honorable members for Perth (Mr. Fowler), Herbert (Mr. Bamford), Maranoa (Mr. Page), Newcastle (Mr. Watkins), the present Minister for the Navy (Sir Joseph Cook), and I voted against giving pensions to the Justices of the High Court. The Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) voted for them, and as he and the Minister for the Navy are away overseas, they can pair on this matter as, apparently, they are doing on every question. The Minister in charge of the Bill (Mr. Groom), and the honorable members for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Austin Chapman), Parkes (Mr. Bruce Smith), and Darwin (Mr. Spence) voted in favour of pensions.
– In the Senate the honorable members for Kooyong (Sir Robert Best) and Capricornia (Mr. Higgs) voted against pensions.
– The honorable member for Capricornia has already pointed out that fact; but I have no doubt that the honorable member for Kooyong will go back on his previous decision if the matter comes to a vote to-night. Most honorable members opposite will do the same.
– Why does the honorable member say that?
– Because of the experience of the past few days. For instance, the honorable member talked one way about the War Precautions Bill, and voted another way. He is like the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Richard Foster), a supporter that the Government do not mind having. He is allowed to say what he likes, as long as his vote can be relied on.
When this House debated the Judiciary Bill, the honorable member for Parramatta (Mr., now Sir Joseph, Cook) moved to reduce the salary of the Chief Justice from £3,500 to £2,500, if the pension then proposed . by the Government was to be given, whereupon the Government agreed to postpone the fixing of the salary until after the question of giving a pension was decided. This House deliberately, and the Senate subsequently, objected to the proposal to give pensions, and thereupon the salary of the Chief Justice was fixed at £3,500, and the salaries of the other Justices at £3,000 each. Two gentlemen who were afterwards appointed Justices of the High Court were members of the House at the time the Bill was passed. One of them (Mr.. Justice Isaacs) voted against giving pensions, the other (Mr. Justice Higgins) voted for them. No* question of individuality was raised during the debates, and I hope that throughout the discussion of this Bill honorable members will not bring into question the individuality of Sir Samuel Griffith.
– The honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Higgs) did nothing else but discuss him.
– I happened to hear portion of the speech of the honorable member for Capricornia, but I did not hear him deal adversely with the Chief Justice. I approach this matter from the point of view of the principle of the measure, and the precedent it will establish. We are asked to vote for the thin end of the wedge for the payment of pensions, and it is a Government that is pledged to economy that is asking us to do so.
Every metropolitan member could duplicate over and over again the cases mentioned by the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell). .Probably every honorable member could mention similar cases. Last week, within 2 miles of this House, a poor woman, who was in such awful circumstances when her boy died, probably through her not being able to obtain the necessaries of life, that she could not pay for burying the child, and was compelled to wheel his dead body in a perambulator to a public gardens, where she laid it down so that it could be seen by a passer-by. The honorable member for Fawkner will realize that if the cases he mentioned could occur in Albert Park, Prahran, or Hawksburn, there are still more pitiable cases in the poorer suburbs of Melbourne. Here is one case for which I can vouch. A man who has been a total abstainer all. his life, and has followed the hardest class of work, navvying and stoking, has been stricken down at the age of forty-eight years, and’ has been in the hospital for six months. He has a wife and six children. Honorable members who have been through the struggle know what happens in such circumstances. They know that the wife is compelled to go out and seek work. The honorable member has mentioned the case of a lad who has. been dismissed at twenty-one years of age because otherwise he would have to be given a higher rate of wage. Last week a boy went into camp with the Yarra Borderers, and when he returned to his work he found that he had been dismissed, and that another boy had obtained his position. When I made inquiries by telephone, the firm told me that when the lad was put on he was informed that he would be dismissed when he reached the age of eighteen, because if he remained with them after reaching that age they would be obliged to ,pay him a higher rate of wage. I asked the mother whether I would proceed any further in the matter with- a view to the Defence Department having the firm prosecuted. I would like to see some of these firms prosecuted if they dismiss youths who go into camp for military training.
– Was the boy dismissed because he went into camp?
– The boy was working with the firm until he went into camp. He reached the age of eighteen ‘years while in camp. The firm’s excuse was that they had told him when he was engaged that he would be dismissed on reaching that age. I am not able to verify their statement from the boy, and the mother says that it is not worth while going on with the case, but I would like to go on with it. I have another case on the same lines. Strange to say, the representatives of both firms concerned hold high official positions in the employers’ organizations of Australia. I shall not mention any names until matters are taken further. I have given the other firm the opportunity to reinstate their former employee. It is more my desire to get these youths employment than to have any one prosecuted. It is difficult for any young man to get employment to-day, because many of the firms say that there is no chance for them owing to the demobilization of the recruits in camp and the return of men from overseas. I agree with the then honorable member for Corinella (Colonel McCay), who said in this House that he did] not see why a Judge, with a salary of £3,500 a year, should get a pension, any more than a Post Office messenger with a salary of £100 or £200. Let us compare the pensions proposed to be given under this Bill with the pensions that returned soldiers, men who are crippled, are getting.
– Under your Act. which I cannot get altered.
– Of course, the honorable member sneers at the returned soldier who has been wounded.
– On a point of order, I will stand some insults, but I will not stand the insult that I sneered at a returned soldier. I ask that the expression be withdrawn and apologized for in accordance with the Standing Orders.
– I ask the honorable member to withdraw his statement.
– I withdraw it.
– I ask for an apology.
– I will make no apology.
– I call the attention of the Temporary Chairman to the standing order.
– You can do what you like. The honorable member sits grinning when I mention a case of a returned soldier, and he says, “It is under your Act.” ‘
– It was a sneer at your Ministry, and not at the returned soldiers. I ask that the standing order requiring that the statement be withdrawn and apologized for be enforced. The honorable member made a remark which was offensive to me, and an insult.
– I will withdraw the remark, but I will not apologize until I am compelled to do so. I will not apologize to this man, who grins at the mention of returned soldiers.
– I rise again to a point of order. I object tq be pointed at as a man who grins at the returned soldier. The honorable member for Yarra is not a returned soldier, and it was the measure introduced by the Government of which he was a member that decided the pensions to be paid to returned soldiers. There are many who try to make capital out of the returned soldier who would not give them decent pensions.
– In my opinion, the statement to which the honorable member for Illawarra takes exception is somewhat offensive, and I therefore ask the honorable member for Yarra to withdraw it-, -and apologize.
– I am willing to withdraw the statement; but I should like to be informed as to the standing order under which you call upon me to apologize* There are some honorable members of the Committee to whom I do not mind making an apology, but there are other honorable . members-
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.I call upon the honorable member to apologize out of the respect due to the Chair.
– I will apologize, but the honorable member cannot prevent me thinking as I do of his conduct, and of that of honorable members opposite. When the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) was seeking for the soldiers’ votes, he made the statement, which appeared in the publication All for Australia, that it was the intention of the Government Jo raise the soldiers’ pensions to £2 per week. When the late Treasurer (then Sir John Forrest) was asked whether there was any truth in that statement, he said it was the first he had heard of it; but there is no doubt that there was a deliberate promise made by the Prime Minister, when looking for the votes of the soldiers overseas, that their pensions would be raised. The honorable member for Illawarra speaks of a pension of 30s. per week, but not 10 per cent, of even those who are crippled and maimed get a pension of 30s. a week.
– I said that the pension of 30s. per week was proposed by the Government of which the honorable member was a member.
– The honorable member must keep quiet. He should know that he is not allowed to interject. He would not be allowed to do so if he were on this side.
– The honorable member must not reflect upon the Chair.
– I do not wish to do so; but the honorable member for Illawarra should be kept in order or put out. The Prime Minister promised the returned soldiers a pension of £2 per week, but honorable members may go to any meeting of returned soldiers and ask the crippled and maimed whether they are getting apension of £2 per week, and he will find that they are not. Under this Bill, however, the Government propose to give the Chief Justice of the High Court a pension of over £30 a week.
– It would be better for the honorable gentleman to give specific cases of men who are not receiving proper pensions than4 to make general charges. The honorable member knows that the Government are making every effort to assist incapacitated men. The proper thing for him to do is to bring specific cases under the notice of the Government.
– I have brought many cases under notice, but I have not been very successful in having grievances remedied.
I am opposed to the granting of a pension to the Chief Justice of the High Court, or to any Justice of that Court. When he accepted the position, the Chief Justice knew that this Parliament had deliberately decided that there should be no pension attached to the position. The matter was thoroughly dis-. cussed on the 23rd and 24th June, 1903, and, in the course of the debate, the present Acting Minister for the Navy (Mr. Poynton) said -
Personally I am entirely opposed to granting pensions to a’ few individuals who are in receipt of very large salaries.
I was fighting for some time to secure some increase of salary for persons very deserving of consideration. I refer to those engaged in cleaning the offices of the various public Departments. I am glad to be able to say that the Acting Prime Minister “ (Mr. Watt) has agreed to raise their salaries from 25s. per week to 27s. 6d. I give the honorable gentleman credit for that. It was only a fair thing to do in view of the present high cost of living, but the increase was secured only after a great struggle.
Honorable members may contend that this concerns but one case, and will not be quoted as a precedent, but there is no doubt whatever that it will be quoted as a precedent. When other Justices of the High Court become ill or incapacitated, and it is considered advisable to relieve them of their duties claims will be made for pensions for them.
– If this be agreed to there will be no answer to those claims.
– The honorable gentleman should remember that Sir Samuel Griffith, on accepting the position of Chief Justice of the High Court, though he received no- higher remuneration, gave lip his right to a pension as Chief Justice of the Queensland Supreme Court. The other Justices of the High Court did not do that.
– I believe that Mr. Justice Rich was a Judge in New South Wales entitled to pension rights, but the fact remains that this Parliament deliberately decided that there should be no pension attaching to the position of a Justice of the High Court.
– That decision was not sacrosanct.
– I am well aware of that, but it is an answer to the honorable member for Wide Bay.
– I mentioned the matter to show that there was a reason why a similar claim could not be made on behalf of the other Justices of the High Court.
– If this Bill is passed members of this House will be Unable to withstand the pressure that will be brought to bear upon them if pensions are sought for the other Justices.
I wish to make it perfectly clear that I have nothingat all to say against the Chief Justice of the High Court or any other Justice on the High Court Bench, but I do say that at the present time, in view of the state of our finances and in view of the answer given by the Acting Prime Minister within the past week to another request, this pension should not be granted. An honorable member asked the Acting Prime Minister whether he was prepared to increase the old-age pension beyond 12s. 6d. per week, and the answer given was that in September, 1917, the old-age pension was raised to 12s. 6d. per week, and the Government could not, in view of the present state of the finances, raise it again. I say deliberately that many of the persons in receipt of old-age pensions are tetter entitled to an increase of those pensions than is Sir Samuel Griffith to the pension proposed to be granted to him under this Bill. I will go so far as to say that throughout the country there is not one old-aged pensioner who is not better entitled to an extra 2s. 6d. per week than is the present Chief Justice of Australia to the pension of over £30 per week proposed to be voted to him under this Bill. I hope that honorable members will support the amendment, and will agree that this is not the time to adopt an absolutely new principle in opposition to a previous decision of this Parliament deliberately turning down a proposal to grant pensions to the Justices of the High Court.
.- In my view, questions of finance or of economy do not enter the consideration of this matter at all. The comparisons made between the’ amount to be paid under this Bill and the conditions of oldage pensioners are very wide of the mark. The principle underlying the Bill is the pensioning of our Judges, and I subscribe to that principle, whether it applies generally or to an individual case. I believe that the Judges in all the British Dominions have a reputation second to none in the world. Even the people of other nations admire British Courts as being beyond the possibility of corruption. If there is one thing of which the British people have a right to be proud, it is the character of the British Judiciary throughout the Empire.
– Does the honorable member suggest that it is their right to pensions that lifts them above suspicion ?
– The honorable member has made an appeal purely out of the goodness of his heart. I admire him for it; but this is a matter which the honorable member should have permitted to appeal to his head rather than his heart.
– Let your heart go.
– I think it necessary to use my head in dealing with this question. We have men of the highest calibre on our various Benches. So far as the High Court is concerned, it is quite true that at the outset of Federation, before there were any Justices of the High Court in existence a vote was taken as to whether they should be entitled to pensions. A good deal has been made of the fact that the decision of Parliament was that there should be no pensions attached to their positions; but what was the vote on the matter? It was a vote of tweny-two to twenty.
– No; twenty -nine to twenty.
– That was only a vote of little more than half the members ofthe House.
– That did not include pairs, and I think there were sixteen members paired for that division.
– The honorable member need not try to put that game up on me. In my opinion, the biggest farce in this Parliament is’ the arrangement made for recording pairs. There are twenty-five or thirty members present this evening, and if a division were taken, we should find the names of all the representatives of New South Wales in the pair-book, though they would not know how they were going to be made to vote. A vote of twenty-nine to twenty represents forty-nine members out of a house of seventy-five. I think that on one occasion there were seventy-six members of this House.
– I think there were.
– There might be only seventy-two.
– That is, if the constituencies were equally divided, but, as we know, they are not.
The Judges of the State Courts are entitled to pensions. There are men who have a long run at the Bar, and who extract huge fees from a suffering public, and amass great fortunes. They are indifferent about the receipt of a pension, as they have sufficient money to enable them to do without it; but there are other men, possessed of great legal ability but of no business capacity for the successful investment of money, and the position of a Judge to which there is attached a right of pension may appeal to them. If such a man, however eminent, were offered the choice of a seat on the High Court Bench of Australia, or the Supreme Court Bench of a State, the one carrying a pension and the other not, which position do honorable members think he would take? The fact that no pension was fixed in 1903 is met by the further fact that the Government say to-day that it is wise and necessary to grant ‘a pension. Whether it will establish a precedent or not, is a matter of indifference to me, because I believe in the principle.
– Does not all your argument apply just as well to members of Parliament and officers of the Public Service ?
– In nearly every case where public servants came over from the States to the Commonwealth, they carried their pension rights with them. Whether a man is appointed as a Judge of a Supreme Court, or of the High Court, he is appointed for life, and can retain the position practically as long as he pleases, so long as he does not come within the disqualifications, which are exceedingly few, and up to the present not one of our Judges has fallen within them. So long as he remains a Judge, he continues to draw his salary, and there is jio provision in the Act to take it from him. On’ some of the State Benches Judges have sat long past the years of their prime, and the public have had to suffer considerable inconvenience in consequence. In one State, I believe, an Act was passed to amend that condition. In another State, where pensions exist,, the total amount payable is limited, and the sum being drawn out by those who had retired already left so. little for others that Judges remained on the Bench longer than in all human fairness they could be expected to perform their duties efficiently. If we want to maintain the highest traditions of the Judiciary of the British Empire - and our Judges have absolutely nothing to look forward to, or hope for from any individual, or Government, or Parliament, when their time is up - we shall help materially and secure greater efficiency also by placing on the statutebook an Act authorizing the payment of the pensions to which they should legitimately be entitled.
– How do you apply this to the present proposal?
– The Minister gave such excellent reasons why it should be done that I shall not repeat them . So for as the present case is concerned, the Committee, by refusing to consent to this proposal, would be putting this distinguished member of the Bench in a. worse -position than if he had remained on the Supreme Court Bench of his State. It has been said that he accepted the position with his eyes open, and the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) suggested that his contract had been fulfilled. Like
Shylock, he wanted his pound of flesh, according to the honorable member.
– He wants more; he wants a pension also.
– I. venture to say that he has not asked for this pension. It is a Government proposal, and as such, I intend to give it cordial support.
The alternative - to giving a man, when he arrives at the age at which he should be in justice allowed to retire, a provision’ for his old age, is to allow him to remain on the Bench. Without speaking of any particular case, if a Judge of the High Court, when he reaches the time at which, in nature he ought to retire, is not in a financial position to do so, no Government will take the responsibility of retiring him.
– .There is the same provision in the Public Service Act. Public servants have to come up for examination at sixty, and out they go at sixty-five, no matter who they are.
– That is so; but I do not think that provision is in the Judiciary Act of any State. It certainly is not in that of the Commonwealth. I am not in any fear or trembling about this matter being raised as a precedent. I believe, with- the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Tudor), that it will be used as a precedent. If I were in his position, I would use it as such; but I am prepared to vote for it as a precedent establishing a principle. On these grounds, I have the greatest pleasure in giving the motion my hearty support.
.- The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) has offered a very valuable contribution to the debate. He said he had been twitted with not speaking very often. I have heard the honorable member on several occasions, and can testify that when he does speak, it is on a subject that he understands, and on which he gives the House light and leading. The Minister (Mr. Groom) outlined, in introducing the Bill, the life of Sir Samuel Griffith. Most of us, though much younger, have made ourselves acquainted, by reading and in other ways, with the career of that high and esteemed gentle-‘ man. Everybody admits that he is a brilliant man, and has given good service to this country as a Judge; but I do not know what that has to do with the question now before us. We are asked to introduce here a principle against which this House, in 1903, deliberately set its face, by twenty-nine votes to twenty, on a non-party division; because I find, on looking up the division list, that members from both sides voted for and against. The question should be still a non-party one. The issue should be whether we approve of the principle of paying pensions to men who occupy high and exalted positions. Whilst the Minister outlined the life of Sir Samuel Griffith, he gave no reason to justify the Committee in carrying a proposal to give him a pension. If we give him one, and deny it to any other Judge occupying a position on the High Court Bench, we shall be doing the others an injustice. As times goes on, the other Judges will feel that they are no longer capable of carrying out their duties,, and will ask to be relieved. If we grant. a pension in one case we cannot deny it in another, where a man has given his services to his country as a member of the Judiciary Whatever is decided in this Chamber this evening on this question should settle the principle for all time.
As the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) pointed out, Sir Samuel Griffith was a Judge in Queensland when his present position was offered to him, and the debate in this House took place prior to his appointment. Every one, including Sir Samuel Griffith, knew that there was to be no pension. Nevertheless he decided . to give the Commonwealth the benefit of his talents, and he was paid £3,500 a year for his services. That is a substantialannual income for any man. I should say that a man accepting a position. ,of( that kind would reason out that he would be able in a given number of years tei, provide for old age,, and save sufficient for that purpose. For fifteen years he has presided over this Court, and during that time he has drawn no less than. £52,000. Surely no one contends that out of that sum he has not been able to provide for himself for the rest of his life, if he has to retire? He is a keen man, and I have no doubt that he does not require this pension, but for some reason this proposal is brought before us. I cannot imagine that he would ask for it. He has completed his contract. He is free to continue on the Bench if his health permits, and if he finds that it does not, he is free to retire. When we are talking of economy, if we bring in measures of this kind, granting pensions to men in highly-paid positions because they are about to retire, the great mass pf the people will find fault, and they will have a right to do so, seeing that there are thousands of people who are unable to make ends meet. That is not a good thing for the future of this country
I agree with the honorable member for Fawkner that it is about time the Parliaments of this country set themselves to devise a scheme whereby everybody in the community, if unable to get Work, would be at least sure that the wolf would be kept from the door. No man in this country who is prepared to work should have want knocking at his door. His wife should not be put in the position, because her husband is unable to find work, of being unable to provide necessaries for herself and children. That is the thing that is sapping the moral life of this community. Any degeneracy that takes place in the race is, to a large extent, due to poverty. Whilst we make no provision for those who are so situated, we can scarcely regard ourselves as [entitled to make extra provision for those in, higher places. Conditions generally for the mass of the people are continually getting worse, and no step is taken in the direction of lifting them out of tlie rut which they are being fast pressed i-oto. They have no say in lie matter, because it is the system of society they live under that is putting them in that position. If we are going- in for pensions for certain individuals, we should do something for the. masses, because we should not allow anybody to want.
The only argument put up by the Minister for the granting, of a pension to this gentleman was that he was. virtually a transferred officer.
The position is vastly different from that occupied by the ordinary public servant, because it was clearly understood by Sir Samuel Griffith that the posi-tion carried no pension rights. He entered into the contract on that understanding. Sir Samuel Griffith was, at that time, a Judge of the Supreme Court of Queensland. He had pension rights, and that fact is advanced as another reason why he should be entitled to a pension from the Commonwealth. But I maintain that there is no analogy between his position and that of the ordinary public servant, who has worked for years at a much lower salary, and has earned certain emoluments upon his retirement. Parliament decided that the position should not carry with it a pension.
The honorable member for Henty (Mr. Boyd) argued that if we do not grant pension rights, the occupants of the Judicial benches may be compelled to remain there until they are practically imbecile. But there is another side of that picture. It is possible that many men, if they knew they could get practically half their salaries by retiring, would relinquish their judicial duties long before they were entitled to. What was. the effect of the law introducing pensions for Judges in New South Wales? It is well known to many honorable members that when that Bill was passed one Judge, who had sat on the Bench for only a few months, elected to retire, and for a great number of years received a pension of £1,350 a year. It cannot be said that a Judge, getting £67 per week, as in the case of the Chief Justice, could not have been able in about fifteen years to save sufficient to provide for himself if he elected to retire. And yet we are asked to agree to a proposition to pay him over £32 a week upon retirement, although his contract contained no provision for a pension.
– And these are the people who preach thrif t to the workers.
– With regard to this question of thrift as applied to the workers, I have no doubt that other honorable members have had an experience similar to my own, and have had many -calls to meet cases, of distress in their particular districts. Although we are now asked to provide a pension for the Chief Justice of the Commonwealth, there is a tendency to forget some of those gallant men who have rendered yeoman service to the Empire on the other side of the world. Unhappily, some of these men have had difficulty in getting pensions. I do not charge the Pension authorities with neglect, because, as a rule, they are sympathetic officers; but pension rights in the cases I refer to depend to a large extent on medical testimony, and I have found that this is not always satisfactory. Moreover, the Act provides that before pension rights can be recognised it must be established that incapacity has been the result of war-like operations, and ever since men have been returning from the war I have been pleading for consideration for special cases. I know of one man who took part in the Messines operations. As a result of cold weather he contracted rheumatism, rendering his return to Australia necessary. He was unable to follow his usual avocation, but has been denied pension rights on the ground that his incapacity was not in connexion with war-like operations. It seems strange that while difficulty should be encountered in cases like this, Parliament should now be asked to grant a pension to a Judge who has been drawing a very high salary, and who was quite prepared to accept the position without pension rights in any shape or form.
Before we talk about bringing in pensions for Judges, let us endeavour, as far as we possibly can, to assist those whoare in dire distress; such persons as those gallant men to whom I have referred, whose earning capacity is not equal to what it was before they enlisted. After we have done this, we can then think of providing for those in higher places. There is no justification whatever for this proposal. If the Chief Justice had remained in politics - the Minister states that he devoted many years to politics in Queensland - he would not have had any pension upon his retirement. Probably he would have gone out of politicsin the ordinary course of events, and no doubt would have returned to his profession. He was a very eminent man in the legal world, so it is probable that he would have built up a lucrative practice again. But he had the confidence of the people, and accepted an offer made by the then Queensland Government to become Chief Justice of that State. Subsequently he was appointed by the Federal Government as Chief Justice of the Commonwealth on a fixed salary, with no hope of a pension.
This question has not been raised since 1903, when Parliament decided against a pension. Now, in the last hours of this session and in a thin House, with half the members away, important legislation like this is sprung upon honorable members. I do not approve of it. There is talk of getting half-a-dozen important Bills, as well as the Estimates and Supply, through in the next four days. I venture to say the Government would have been wise to allow this matter to stand over until we re-assemble in the new year, when there will be a full House and ample opportunity for its consideration. It appears to me that this proposal, with some other measures, is to be smuggled through. That is what the action of the Government amounts towith half the members absent.
– What right have they to be away?
– Possibly the honorable member will be away himself some day. So long as I have been in this. House 1 have never asked the reason for any honorable member’s absence. We all know that there are times when it is necessary for an honorable member to be in his constituency. I endeavour to attend the sittings of this House as much as possible, but I cannot always be here, and I venture to say that I will be away on certain occasions in the future in order to attend to my constituents. We have to remember, also, that some members live a considerable distance from Melbourne, and they have been away from their homes and families for practically five or six months. They are entitled to go home a little earlier.Parliament should have closed down a week earlier than is intended.
We would not be justified in passing this proposal in the last hours of the session and in a thin House, because the Senate has two or three measures to deal with to-morrow, and will then get this proposal later. All the business is supposed to be done by Friday at the latest, but it is impossible in the time available to deal with it properly. In view also of the fact that Sir Samuel Griffith entered into his contract with the Commonwealth Government for the Chief Justiceship of Australia without any. pension privileges, this House ought to decline to pass the Bill which is to be introduced. If, however, the House does approve of it, the Bill should not be passed in its contemplated form. The principle should be made to apply to all Judges, because there will be no justification for denying the same privileges to Mr. Justice Rich, formerly a Judge in New South Wales. In addition, every other Judge will be equally entitled to a pension. They all do similar work, and they all belong to- the Judiciary.
. - When this matter was introduced in 1903 Parliament was able to discuss it impartially and impersonally. We should have been able to do the same to-night, but the Government left us no choice. The Minister (Mr. Groom), in introducing the motion, emphasized the personal aspect of the whole case, as his speech was nothing but a glorification and eulogy of the present occupant of the Chief Justiceship. If this is a principle, it should have been discussed without reference whatever to Sir iSamuel Griffith, the present Chief Justice. The Minister is entirely responsible for the fact that it has been reduced to a personal question. I have not a word to say against Sir Samuel Griffith personally. He ought not to have been discussed; the Minister should not have mentioned his qualifications at all. If we are to accept the principle now, in contradiction to the action of Parliament in 1903, we must accept it on the ground that it will apply not only to Sir Samuel Griffith but to every other succeeding occupant of the position.
I have only this to say about .Sir Samuel Griffith. He was a very prominent figure in the political life of Queensland, and was the hero of the Radical, or Bolshevik, section of the people in that State for many years. He was their idol. If honorable members will look up speeches delivered by Sir Samuel Griffith, they will find some of the most Radical opinions ever expressed in any parliamentary proceedings.
– He must have fallen away from grace, then.
– On that subject, I may mention that he was Leader of the Opposition when Sir Thomas Mcllwraith was Premier, and the people of Queensland woke up one morning to be told that an arrangement had been come to between Sir Thomas Mcllwraith and Sir Samuel Walker Griffith, and Sir Samuel was ‘ to be Chief Justice of Queensland. The salary was raised from £2,000 to £3,500 per annum. And that is how he got his name of “ Sir Somersault Sam.”
– You Queenslanders are “ hot stuff “ t
– Yes; he was a bit of “ hot stuff.” In order to get rid of a political opponent, the salary of the Chief Justice was raised from £2,000 to £3,500.
– It might have been to secure the services of an able man.
– I am sure that the Chief Justice was not averse to the receipt of the salary, or to being told that he was an able man. For ten years he occupied the position of Chief Justice of Queensland, during which period he rendered excellent service to the people of Australia in assisting to frame its Constitution. Then, the Chief Justiceship of Australia was created, and Sir Samuel was offered the position.. He had to consider whether to stick to the Queensland Chief Justiceship, with a pension following, or to accept the Chief Justiceship of the Commonwealth, with no pension attached. Any honorable member who recalls the circumstances will agree that it was a fact that he was lauded from one end of Australia to the other, because of his public spiritedness in sacrificing a certain pension in Queensland and accepting the Chief Justiceship of the Commonwealth, which carried no pension.
– But he did so.
– Yes; and he got the credit. ‘’ Verily,- I say to you, they have their reward.” The honorable member for Henty (Mr. Boyd) has stated that he is quite sure the Chief Justice has not asked that this pension should be given him. The Government have not told us why they propose to grant a pension. They simply say that it is a reward or a recognition of Sir Samuel’s splendid services to the country. That is why they propose to make the special allowance.
When the original Bill was before this Chamber in 1903, the reason given for the granting of a pension was specified. Clause 53 stated -
A Justice of the High Court, if disabled by permanent infirmity from the . performance of the duties of his office, shall be entitled to retire upon a pension, to be continued during his life at a rate-
Then followed several divisions of those rates. The reason there set out for the granting of pensions was disablement by permanent infirmity, as a result of which a Judge would be unable to satisfactorily perform the duties of his office. It is interesting to read the reports of that debate. The honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Bruce Smith) stated, in supporting the proposal to grant pensions, that it was sometimes an’ advantage to have a pension, because a Judge might develop some permanent infirmity which would render him incompetent to perform his functions as a Judge; wherefore, some inducements should be offered him to- resign. The honorable member added that if no pensions were provided for, it would be open for any Judge to remain on the Bench long after he had become incompetent^ through infirmity, to do his work faithfully and well. Mr. Bruce Smith continued -
Parliament would be much more ready to take steps to remove a Judge when they knew that a pension was provided for in case of his lacking ability, through illness, to properly perform his duties. I submit, therefore, that it is fair that Judges- who have arrived at an age within five years of the recognised allotted span of life should be offered an inducement to retire from the Bench, and make way for younger men.
Then the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Glynn) stated-
In England, of recent years, complaints have frequently been made in the public press regarding in cases the senility of the Bench. It has been repeatedly urged that it is very advisable to afford its Justices an opportunity to retire. It is said that they sometimes get livery, impatient, and somewhat petulant in their declining years, and that owing to the fact that pro rata, pensions had not been granted, Justices who ought to have retired have not done so.
That is the general tenor of the arguments advanced by the lawyers who were in that Parliament and are in the present Parliament, concerning why pensions should be granted. Their point was that it was necessary to grant pensions to get rid of Judges who had become incompetent. Is that the reason which the Government now have for proposing this pension, namely, that, through infirmity, the Chief Justice has become incompetent to discharge his functions, and that it is necessary; there1fore, as well as wise, to get rid of him? There are some who will be prepared to say “ Amen “ to such a proposal.
The statutory rule that officers should retire from the Public Service at the age of sixty-five would not be ill-applied to Judges of the High Court. Human intelligence has its limits, just as has human strength ; and when a man gets to the age of seventy-three - as is the case with Sir Samuel Walker Griffith - he may have quite exceeded his intellectual usefulness to the nation. Sir Samuel has had ten years’ occupancy of the Chief Justiceship of Queensland, at a salary of £3,500 a year. He has had fifteen years as Chief Justice of the Commonwealth, at £3,500 per annum - a total, during the twenty-five years, of £87,500, drawn from this country. In addition, he bas been granted £4 4s. per day travelling allowance for every day that he has been on tour. And, considering that his position has been permanent, free from worries, free from all dangers of interruption, from all dangers of strikes, and of disturbing elections, and with no broken time, and no stoppages of pay, it is nothing more or less than a public scandal that the Government should now suggest that Sir Samuel Griffith is in such a financially impecunious position that it is necessary for the country to come to his aid and grant him £33 a week to do nothing. He has enjoyed a salary of £67 a week for twenty-five years, in addition to his allowances.
I am not impressed with the amendment of the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Higgs) to the effect that this is not the time to grant such a pension. I say o that there is no time when such a position as the Government are now advancing could be justified. Members of Parliament in 1903 may have looked upon the matter from a different aspect than honorable members to-day. In those days they were able to regard it from a freer point of view; but the arguments then used were so strong that, both in this House and in the Senate, there were honorable members who refused to ally themselves with the principle then enunciated. It has been recognised throughout the Commonwealth administration that no pension may be granted to public officers. That has been a governing principle. No member of the Public Service is entitled to retire upon a pension; and in the Public Service it is insisted that officers shall provide for their own retirement ; we compel them to insure their lives, or to purchase annuities^ and the like. Suppose that we applied that same principle to the Chief Justice, which we could have done quite as honestly and justly as in the case of ordinary members of the Public Service. Sir Samuel Griffith would have been called upon to make an annual expenditure of a fairly heavy character, in proportion to his salary, in order to provide himself with an annuity, and we would have avoided this proposal to provide the Chief Justice with a pension. However, such a provision has been left as a matter for his own judgment ; and the salary which he has received has afforded ample scope with which to provide himself with a retiring allowance - a pension which would have been a godsend to many thousands of people in Australia.
How can we, at this time, justify such an expenditure as is proposed, when so much urgency exists for the payment of a living wage to the people? Honorable members were told* that this was to be a financial session, and we have been waiting all through the session for .the financial proposals of the Government. I congratulate this “financial” Government, this “ economy “ Government, this “ Winthewar” Government, on having disclosed something of their financial proposals at last. It is a case of greasing the fatted pig, of giving to those who. have, and of taking from those who have not.
May I ask the Government to consider this position. I shall quote Mr. Knibbs as my authority. He tells us, in the War Census Income Returns, that there were only 381,558 persons in Australia who were earning £156 per annum, - or £3 a week- and upwards. That left 1,760,106 persons who were earning less than £156 per annum ; and, out of that number, there were 315,000 - nearly as many as the total of those who were earning over £156 - who were receiving less than £50 a year. Mr. Knibbs points out that, of the total wealth in the community, those who were earning over £156 per annum owned £124,567,000 of the total net incomes of the community; leaving to those earning under £156 per annum £115,596,000. And, as for those earning under £50 a year - less than £1 a week - the total of their wealth was only £10,000,000 out of the grand total of £240,000,000 annual income.
There is no getting away from the unfortunate and regrettable fact that large numbers in the community are in circumstances of want and distress. Honorable members will have seen a paragraph in the Herald this evening. On the principal page it is related that a woman asked the police to lock her up. She was an old woman, shabbily dressed, and she told the police she had slept in the gardens of the city, and that the only food she had was what she could beg. The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) has given other illustrations. We are all inundated with letters from soldiers and soldiers’ wives who are suffering what they deem to be hardships. Only the other day I received from a woman in Toowong the following communication: -
I have been told to put this before you. My husband has been away three years and two months. Because he absented, they are to punish me and the two children by stopping all my pay; so now I can starve. I have no money, as I have a sickly child, and it takes all my money to pay my bills. I have a. bad leg myself, and cannot go to work.
I receive dozens of letters of a similar character, and so does every other honorable member. When we try to get special pensions granted to meet such cases, we are told that our requests cannot be entertained, owing to the imperative need which exists for economy. Take the case of the blind soldiers as an example. The rate of pension payable to blind and incapacitated soldiers is outrageously low and unsatisfactory. Yet the Government will not do anything to remedy it. Similarly, we cannot get any assistance granted to soldiers’ wives and children who are suffering in a thousand different ways.
Here I want to say a word or two on behalf of our soldiers who went to New Guinea. Many of them have returned the victims of malarial fever. We are all acquainted with the intermittent character of that fever, and some of us have asked that part pensions shall be paid to these men - pensions, say, for five or six days a month, upon which they are unable to work. But the Government will not listen to the suggestion. They say that this is not the time to give it consideration. Why, then, do they choose this time to grant a compassionate allowance to the Chief Justice of the High Court?
One reason which was urged in 1903 why the Justices of the High Court should be pensioned was that they should be relieved from fear of want. In order to place them above temptation, it was recognised that they should be thoroughly well paid. As honorable members are aware, in connexion with the original proposal, the question arose as to whether the Justices of the High Court should be paid a larger salary, with no pension, or a less salary, with a pension. After giving the matter the fullest consideration, Parliament decided in favour of paying them a good salary, in order that we might get the services of the best men. In the circumstances, I am compelled to ask who are the greater - the men who make the laws of this country or the men who administer them ? The Prime Minister of Australia, who, more than any other individual, has in his hands the making or marring of this country, does not receive a salary in excess of about £1,800 a year, and has no pension rights. Moreover, no Prime Minister has yet dared to suggest that he should be paid a pension He has to submit himself to the verdict of the people every three years. He has to undergo privations and to work in a way that no Chief Justice has ever worked, and, in addition, he gets plenty of abuse for his pains. I repeat that the lawmakers, who are responsible for the conduct of affairs in Australia, do not get pensions. Nobody has ever suggested that they should get them.
– It would not be a bad thing to pension some of them off.
Mr.FINLAYSON. - I think that it would. But here is the case of a man who is set high above even the law-makers of this country. His duty is to interpret the laws that we enact. He draws a salary nearly six times larger than that paid to members of Parliament, and more than double that which is paid to Cabinet Ministers, who have to work hard, and are responsible for the administration of the Departments. Yet not one of these persons receives a pension.
If Sir Samuel Griffith has not asked for this pension, why do the Government propose to grant it ? If he has given no intimation of his intention to retire, why is this motion brought forward ? Do the Government propose to grant him this pension to induce him to retire? Have they somebody else whom they wish to appoint to the honorable position which he fills? One naturally desires to know more about this proposal. I refuse to believe that all that Ministers have in their minds is a consideration of the financial interests of the Chief Justice of Australia. Of course, it may he that he is financially embarrassed- that he has been unfortunate in his speculations. If so, he is no worse off than are many other men. Why is it that these well-paid individuals are always the first to ask for charity from the public? Here is a man who has drawn £87,000 from the people of Australia, and the Government now ask us to give him a compassionate allowance.
– ‘He ought to be ashamed to accept it.
– It is a scandalous thing that a man in the position of the ‘Chief Justice of Australia should so demean his office as to allow the Government to hand round the hat for him, and to accept from the people of Australia a pension of £1,750 per year, or £33 per week during the period of his retirement. That is the average pay of eight or ten working-class families. “We have to choose between a compassionate allowance to the Chief Justice and the giving of a little bit extra to the working classes of the community. Has the Government so much money that it can afford this?
Ministers may say that, as the Chief Justice is seventy-three years of age, he cannot have many years to live. That is not the question. By voting for a pension we* shall establish a precedent for paying pensions to certain men in certain positions for certain reasons. Let us know where this will lead us. We should not look at the case from its individual aspect, but as it will affect others. There are many officers who. have rendered in their sphere as great services to the Commonwealth as the Chief Justice has rendered in his. Is it fair to those men to distribute largesse in one direction and to refuse it in another? There is no argument that would justify the payment of the proposed pension.
– Pensions are given to Judges in nearly all the States, including Queensland.
– That is so. But the pension system was adopted in those States prior to Federation, and when the Commonwealth Parliament fixed the salaries of the Justices of the High Court it refused to provide for pensions. Many of those who were members of this Parliament at the time had been members of State Parliaments, and probably it was their knowledge of the ill-effects and unreasonable results of the pension system that caused them to refuse to apply it to the Justices of our High Court. There is a tendency to-day to curtail these privileges, and had the State Parliaments the opportunity, an attempt would be made to cut down the pension list and leave to each man the responsibility of providing for his declining years.
.- I find myself in some little difficulty in regard to this proposal. I am an advocate of the pension system, and have done what I could to popularize it. I favoured the institution of old-age pensions long before that was a subject for practical politics, and I urged the increasing of the rates paid even when the Labour Government was giving the excuse that is now given by this Government - that it had not the money.
– The Labour Government increased the old-age pension rates.
– Yes, after pressure. It took a long while to get them to do it. We have not been asking this Government for an increase so long as we were asking the Labour Government for one. I am in favour of the extension of the pension system, because I think that it is a sound system. When a man has rendered service to his country, whether in the highest or in the humblest position, he should not be kept working until he falls into his grave. My difficulty arises from the fact that one Judge of the High Court has been singled out for a pension ; I understand that it is not proposed to give pensions to all the Justices of the High Court.
The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) overlooked the important fact that to do what is right to a man in a high position does not necessarily involve the denial of what is right to men in lower positions. The honorable member also overlooked the principle that should govern our consideration of these cases. It is not proper to say that to pension a Judge is to do a wrong to those members of the community who are not getting pensions. Our Judges safeguard the liberties of the humblest in the community as well as of the highest, and the privileges that we enjoy are largely at the discretion of those to whom we intrust the interpretation of our laws. It is one of the first considerations of a Democracy, that the interpreters of the laws should be in a position of the utmost freedom to decide according to their judgment, without fear, favour, or affection. They should not have the fear of poverty, nor the fear that a Government may visit upon them its displeasure for some judgment they have given. On similar reasoning it is wrong that a Government should nave it in its power to improve the position of a Judge. When a gentleman accepts a’ seat on a judicial Bench he should be debarred from promotion to the position of Chief Justice, because such promotion would depend on the Government of the day, on whose causes the Judge who sought it might have been adjudicating. We saw something of what a proposal of this kind leads to when, in the course of this dehate, the insinuation was made that the Chief Justice of the High Court of the Commonwealth is being offered this pension for political services rendered. I do not think that many people in the community will accept that suggestion.
My dilemma is this, that if I vote for the pension I shall vote for the violation of what I believe a sound principle in regard to the. judicial Bench, namely, that uo Judge should be the subject of any Government favour. Yet, if I vote against it, I shall vote against the principle of pensioning Judges - a thing I regard as essential to the good working of one of the most important institutions of a Democracy. Something has been said about the effect of pensions. A Judge is not able to carry on the business of a financial investor. If he gives that attention to the oases that press for his decision that is required of him, he has very little time for the supervision of investments. I think pensions necessary in order to secure for the service of the people the most efficient men available. In appointing a Judge we ask gentlemen who are earning considerable sums at the Bar to lay aside their private practice. We desire to attract to the High Court Bench and to the service of the Commonwealth the best talent available. Every industry, every interest, and every person in this country are dependent in some measure upon the decisions of that tribunal; and we must be able to offer to our Judges, not conditions that might attract men in the ideal world to which we hope all Democracies are advancing, but conditions equal to those which exist in the. proffession of the law to-day. In this matter, we are in competition with the States. At the time he was appointed to the High Court, Sir Samuel Griffith had a position of greater emolument in the Supreme Court of Queensland. The’ present Chief Justice of that State, although receiving a salary less than that of Sir Samuel Griffith, has a position which is superior from a financial point of view, because he has the certainty that when he retires he will be provided for for the remainder of his life.
The honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Higgs) alluded to the American Bench, but he omitted to tell us that it does not matter to the Chief Justice of America whether he is on the Bench or off it; he .gets the same salary when he retires as when he is in occupation of his position. That is an ideal principle for a Democracy to follow. When a man feels that his powers are waning, and that he can no longer give the best service to the State, he should be able to retire without suffering financial loss. The position of the American Chief Justice is on all-fours with that of the Speaker of the House of Commons, who on retirement loses only £1,000 of his official pay of £5,000 per annum. We should place our Judges in such a position that they are able to do that which they think ought to be done without fear of incurring any financial loss. We should place the High Court Judges in such independent circumstances that they may decide every matter without fear, favour or affection, and without apprehension that their decisions may prejudice the Government against them; and we ought to secure the best men, who will be attracted, not’ only by the honour and dignity which the position carries, but bv the knowledge that their old age will be provided for.
– It is with some diffidence that one approaches this matter. Sir Samuel Griffith has a great record, and has enjoyed a great salary. He has had every advantage that a man of culture and intelligence could have, and he has certainly distinguished himself in many ways. I find that he has benefited the literature of the future by the following publications: - Notes on the Australian Federation : Its Nature and Probable Effects (paper presented to the Government of Queensland) ; Notes on the Draft Federal Constitution formed by the Adelaide Convention 1897 ; and Some Conditions of Australian Federation, Presidential Address, University Extension Council, 11th June, 1896. Moreover, he found time in his leisure to translate into English verse in the measure of the original, the immortal works of Dante Alighieri. I believe he is the only person who has ever translated the work in that measure. May his memory reap the reward of that merit.
-The Italian press spoke very highly of his translation.
– I believe it did, and all honour to Sir Samuel Griffith. I have always advocated one pension only - for old men and women. Whether Governor-General, Judge, or labourer, no man should receive more than another when age has made him weak or feeble, aNd he is unable to earn a living. Time and time again, women of eighty years of age were asked to live in Melbourne on the 2s. 6d. per week paid by the Ladies’ Benevolent Society, because the then Government in their meanness would not pay more. The present Treasurer of Victoria (Mr. McPherson) is earning a reputation as one of the meanest men who ever held that office, for he is already clipping the wings of the poor.
– Order !
– Who will pay this proposed pension ? The Government who introduce it? No. This House, which may agree to it? No. The Senate that may indorse it? No. The people outside will pay. In the name of the people I dare this House to put to the electors at the next election the question, “ Shall theJudges receive this pension?” The people would sweep the proposal aside. Does any honorable member dare to say that if the people outside had the power of the Recall they would agree to £35 per week being granted as a pension to a man who has received over £87,000 in salary in the last twenty-five years? Some honorable members have told the Committee that Sir Samuel Griffith receives £3,500 per annum. He received more than that. A sum of £5,000 is provided each year to cover the expenses of six Judges, and I have teen informed that they each get £4 4s. per day as travelling allowance. How many workers who are keeping families would like to get that £4 4s. per week? The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell), to his credit, is seeking, as head of an organization, to get a pension of £4 4s. per week for blind soldiers, whose eyes will never behold their wives and children. If the Chief Justice of the Commonwealth were poor and poverty-stricken my pocket would be gladly opened to make a generous subscription. Many rich men may admire Sir Samuel Griffith, but I have never heard a poor man speak highly of him. The workers of Australia do not regard him as being friendly to them.
In any ease, is this the time to spend money on a pension like this ? Have we not been told by the Treasurer (Mr. Watt) that we must economize and increase the taxation? We know that if the widow of a soldier has more than five children, the sixth, seventh, and eighth must live on nothing. A pension allowance is made for each child up to five, but if the unfortunate widow has more than five children she gets no allowance for the others. The Defence Department only pay 3s. 6d. per week for each child. When a man is sent to gaol the State allows his wife more than that for the maintenance of her children. It is proposed that we shall offer this man £35 per week by way of pension. In the United States of America a big pension system was introduced after the Civil War, and in the early nineties I presented to the State Parliament of Victoria figures showing that we paid, by way of pensions to public servants in this State, more than double the amount paid in New South Wales, and more than was paid by way of Public Service pensions in the remaining Australian Colonies and
New Zealand. If the Chief Justice of the Commonwealth wants an old-age pension, let him apply for the 12s. 6d. per week on which we are asking old men and women to exist to-day. If we are to accept the statement made by the honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. Finlayson), it was almost a semi-bribe that he took when he went on the Queensland Supreme Court Bench:
– Do not say that.
– That was the statement .made at the time.
– Yes, but it was grossly unfair.
– It was a cadging proposal that he made. He said, “ I will not accept the appointment, for £2,500 per annum”; but he was prepared to accept the higher salary - and that was nothing more than a bribe. If the people were appealed to, they would vote against a proposal of this kind, but they would vote to increase the old-age pensions.
The late Dr. Carty Salmon, when dealing with this question in this House in June, 1903, said -
I am rather astonished to find that there is any apologist for the perpetuation of a system which in the past has been condemned throughout the length and breadth of Australia.
Sir Langdon Bonython, who then represented a South Australian constituency, said -
The Attorney-General correctly quoted me as saying that the pensions of tie puisne Judges in South Australia had been fixed at £1,300 per annum, and I believe that the Chief Justice has £1,500 per annum. I should like to add that I believe an Act was passed about nine years ago abolishing pensions for future Judges in South Australia.
Of those who voted on that occasion for the granting of pensions to. the High Court Judges, there remain in the House to-day only the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Austin Chapman), the Minister for Home and Territories (Mr. Glynn), the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Bruce Smith), and the Minister in charge of this Bill (Mr. Groom). Those who paired in favour of it were the present Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) and the honorable member for Darwin (Mr. Spence). Of those who voted against it only nine are in this Parliament today, namely. the Minister for the Navy (Sir Joseph Cook), the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Fowler), the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. McDonald), the honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Page), the honorable member for Grey (Mr.Poynton), Senator Thomas (who was then the representative of the Barrier in this House), the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Tudor), the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Watkins), and the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Bamford). Are those who voted against the proposal in 1903, and who are now members of the Ministry, going to vote for it on this occasion ? I hope they will not do so, although we know that sometimes, for the sake of Cabinet solidarity. Ministers have to vote against their consciences. I have endeavoured in vain before now to secure a destitute allowance for any man or woman who is in need, and who swears before a magistrate, a clergyman, or a medical practitioner, that he or she is absolutely destitute. Such people should have at least 10s. ‘per week.
Senator Millen, in a speech pregnant with many good and great facts, stated recently in another place that a subsistence allowance was granted in respect of only four of the children of a man who had been killed at the Front. When he was asked what was to be done where there were more than four children in a family, he replied that that was a matter for the persons concerned to consider.
I do not think Sir Samuel Griffith has asked any friend to plead for this pension for him, but I certainly object to any one “holding out the hat” on his behalf. If he is reduced, to penury - if, as the result of speculation, he has been ruined - then I am willing to give a month’s salary to assist, him. He has written his name wide in the annals of literature- by his translation of Dante’s Inferno. If Sir Samuel Griffith has not been instrumental in having this proposal put forward, then the Government, who call themselves his friends, are besmirching his escutcheon; and that I should resent. I shall vote against the proposal, which,, if carried, I warn honorable members, will be keenly remembered outside. In these times; when girls, with a few shillings per week, have to pay somuch more for their clothing, and the price of wool is higher than that of completed stockings before the war, a proposal of this kind ought not tobe put forward. If the proposal were to make the old-age pensions £4 4s. a week - the daily expenses allowance to Sir Samuel Griffith - I should welcome it. Unless the Chief Justice has been impoverished by misfortune, this proposal is an infamy and a scandal.
Motion (by Mr. Groom) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a Bill for an
Act to amend the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1904-1815.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
Motion (by Mr. Groom, for Mr. Poynton) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a Bill for an
Act relating to shipbuilding.
Assent to following Bills reported: -
Loan Bill (No. 2).
Motion (by Mr. Groom) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- I should like to know what the first business is to-morrow, and what will follow?
– The first business to-morrow will be the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, to be followed by Supply, the Chief Justice’s Pension Bill, and the War-time Profits Tax Assessment Bill.
– Does “ Supply “ mean the Estimates ?
– I think, the Estimates.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.16 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 16 December 1918, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1918/19181216_reps_7_87/>.