7th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. W. Elliot Johnson)’ took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
Extension in Case .of Hardship. lt.-Colonel ABBOTT.- Will the Acting Attorney-General inform me if in the Active Service Moratorium Regulations, which apply to members of the Australian Imperial Force, provision is made in cases of hardship for an extension of the term of a mortgage beyond the period specified in the regulations embodied in the schedule to the Bill as introduced?
– The honorable member was good enough to’ inf01711 me that he intended to ask this question. When the Bill was under discussion the honorable member, who has taken a keen interest in this matter, raised the question of the right of soldiers to have applied to them the same privileges as are accorded private citizens under the General Moratorium Regulations in regard to an extension of the term of a mortgage on the ground of hardship: In the case of ordinary citizens, under’ the General Moratorium, after the expiry of the time specified, a further extension of twelve months may be granted in cases of hardship, and the honorable member urged that this extension should also be provided for in the case of members of the Australian. Imperial Force under the Active Service Moratorium.’ In Committee on. the Bill I moved an amendment of the schedule dealing with the Active Service Moratorium Regulation’s, so as to give the soldiers the same rights in this respect as is given to private individuals. The honorable member’s wish has, therefore, been gratified. Amendments were made to the schedule of the Bill in which these regulations are embodied for an extension of the prescribed dates in the General Moratorium, which ranged from August until June, 1920, so as to provide for a sliding scale running from February, 1920, to July, 1920. These several amendments have been embodied in the respective War Precautions Regulations, so that they are now in operation. When the Moratorium Bill is passed those regulations, as amended, will continue in force by virtue of the Act.
– Has the attention of the Acting Prime Minister been drawn to a paragraph in the press Stating that the honorable member for Grampians (Mr. Jowett) has resigned his position as a member of the National Federation?
– As a trustee.
– As a trustee or vicepresident. If the statement is correct, does it mean that the honorable member has also resigned from the party under whose auspices he was elected, and are we to take it that the Ministerial party is falling to pieces or merely decaying?
– The question is not in order, and the Acting Prime Minister will not be in order in replying to it, since it has nothing to do with the administration of any Department, and does not relate to a matter coming within the official cognisance of members of the Government.
– In view of a reported statement that the revenue derived from the taxation of pastoral leaseholds in arid, unreliable rainfall country in the interior does not cover the cost of valuation and administration, and having regard also to the fact that the decision of the High Court in the case of the Canowie Pastoral Company, was unfavorable to the Department in respect of such valuations, will the Treasurer state whether it is the intention of the Government to discontinue the taxation of such leaseholds in the interior?
– I have not seen the statement to which the honorable member refers,and know nothing as to its import other than what he has conveyed. I think my honorable friend is aware that a Royal Commission has been appointed to inquire into the basis of valuation of Crown leaseholds under the Land Tax Act. It is not correct to say that the revenue derived from those leases is insufficient for any purpose, since the collection of the tax has been held up pending the decision. It is not the intention of the Government to eliminate the taxation of Crown leaseholds; but it is desirous of embodying in legislation, if the recommendation of the Commission be in that direction, perhaps a more equitable method of valuation.
– The Premier of New South Wales, in announcing a comprehensive public works policy, is reported to have intimated the intention of his Government to proceed with the construct tion of 200 miles of railway, and to have said : “ These lines the Commonwealth Government have arranged to finance out of the proceeds of the forthcoming war loan.” Will the Treasurer state whether that statement is correct, and, if so, whether this policy on the part of the Commonwealth Government will apply to all States?
– I have not seen the statement quoted by the honorable member, and cannot imagine that the Premier and Treasurer of New South Wales would have made such a bald announcement without a fuller explanation. Condensation has probably produced the rough meaning of his statement without the necessary qualifications. The Premier of New South Wales is aware, as is the head of every State Government, that we have made proposals to the States to finance certain works of a repatriative kind that will lead to land settlement. The arrangement made holds good with regard to all the States that accept it. I do not know whether it embraces, in the case of New South Wales, £2,000,000, more or less, but it is a general arrangement with all the States.
Wheat Pool. [REPRESENTATIVES.] Seamen’s Strike
– In view of the very favorable financial statement published this morning by the Minister in charge of the Wheat Pool, will the Treasurer state whether it will be possible to have further dividends declared at an early date in connexion with that Pool?
– It is easy to perceive the solicitude of representatives of rural districts -with regard to the distribution of further moneys from the Wheat Pool. I have endeavoured to explain before, that until the question of payment for the recent sales to the British Government by the Australian Wheat Board is settled, the Commonwealth Treasury cannot see its way to authorize any further payments. The Government, however, is desirous of clearing up the matter as soon as possible. We are still cabling the Imperial authorities, and will announce the policy to be pursued as soon as it is possible to do so.
Mr. FOWLER. ~ Will the Acting Prime Minister state whether the Government’s option over the Blythe River iron deposits has been abandoned, and whether it is the intention of the Government to enter into speculations of a similar character ?
– As announced this week, in another place, it is not proposed to exercise the option to which the honorable member refers. The Government gave instructions to have all the reports, plans, assay results, and figures, which are embodied in the report of the experts, copied for presentation to both Houses of Parliament, and that I expect will be done, next week. As to what the honorable member refers to as “ speculations,” I give no pledges.
– In regard to an advertisement inviting applications for leases of pastoral blocks in the Northern Territory, and setting out the rental, and the requirements as to stocking up to a certain limit within a given time, I desire to ask the Minister for Home and Territories whether he has based that limit of demand for stocking on the advice of expert pastoralists who are familiar with the country?
– The conditions were settled with the Administrator on information supplied by him and gathered in the Territory. Many months ago I saw some pastoralists in South Australia and discussed with them the question of what conditions should be provided for in respect of these leases. It was on such facts as were then gained that the conditions were finally settled. If the honorable member has any suggestion to make I shall be pleased to receive it.
– As the control of the Australian Navy has again reverted to the Commonwealth Government, is the Acting Minister for the Wavy prepared to take the responsibility of extending clemency to the lads who were sentenced by the court martial on H.M.A.S. Australia?
– I do not intend to do anything until the Admiralty has had an opportunity of seeing the papers and dealing with the request that has already been made to them by the Government. I think it would be very wrong to step in at this particular stage in order to do what the honorable member suggests.
Food Scarcity at Wyndham.
– At the present time there is a serious shortage of food at Wyndham. The Western Australian Government are able to send food supplies as far north as Derby by the Singapore line of steamers, and I desire to ask the Acting Minister for the Navy whether he will use his utmost endeavours to have such supplies carried at short intervals to Wyndham ?
– The honorable member is aware of the present situation, and I shall certainly do what he requests. We have already promised that when we return to anything like normal shipping conditions first consideration will be given to those districts most urgently in need of supplies. I am doing all I can, as the honorable member is aware, to have food supplies sent to those places that axe very badly situated.
– I have received a telegram from the Secretary of the New South Wales Labour Council, requesting me to inquire from the Acting Prime Minister whether he can give any information as to when the Russian internees will be deported, and whether Miss Reid will be allowed to accompany a man named Klushin. I understand that Miss Reidhas been married to this man under Russian law.
– As to the first part of the question, I am afraid that I cannot give any definite information regarding when the Russian internees will be deported. We are operating in association with the Government of Britain in matters relating to other nations, and all the ports of Russia are still closed to deportations from British or other belligerent countries.
– What about Odessa?
– Odessa, Vladivostock, and all the Baltic ports are closed. As soon as a port opens, which we are advised will accept deportees, the Russian aliens here will be deported. As to the latter part of the question, I am not familiar with the circumstances of the association between the two parties referred to, and I cannot give any promise.
Policy of the Government.
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. W. Elliot
Johnson). - I have received from the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Higgs) an intimation that he desires to move the adjournment of the House to discuss a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely, “ The policy of the Government with regard to deportations.”
Five honorable members having risen in their places,
.- It appears to me to be necessary to act promptly in this matter, seeing that the
House might adjourn at any time, and the people whom the Government propose to deport might be on the high seas before we had an opportunity to deal with the questions I propose to bring under the notice of honorable members. We have grave reason to complain of the manner in which the Government have treated this question of deporting enemy subjects, and, indeed, of the manner in which they have treated the whole question of deportations. As long ago as the 27th June I brought under the notice of the House a circular-letter issued to the wives of enemy aliens, to this effect -
Head-Quarters, Brisbane, 12th June, 1919
It is possible that your husband will be deported. If so, you and your children will have to accompany him, except under the following conditions: -
It will therefore be necessary for you to forward to this office immediately your certificate of marriage, and the certificate of birth of your children.
In the event of your not being able to produce these certificates, it will be necessary for you to supply this office with the date and place of your marriage, and also the full Christian name, date and place of birth of each of your children.
Should the children desire to stay here though their parents are deported, they will have to state their desire in writing.
In exceptional cases, the wife of an enemy alien subject may be allowed to remain in Australia even if she were not a British subject before her marriage, in which case it is necessary that she state fully her reasons for not desiring to accompany her husband.
Intelligence Section, General Staff
That is only one of many circular-letters issued by the Government to various people throughout Australia.
– I shall tell the honorable member the facts so far as I know them. When I brought that circularletter under the notice of the House I asked whether the Government approved of it. The honorable member for
Kooyong (Sir Robert Best) interjected, “ Were those circulars sent out indiscriminately, or only to certain individuals?” and the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Watt) replied, “ Only to certain individuals.” I forwarded a petition to the Acting Prime Minister, but, owing to that gentleman’s illness, it was sent on to the Defence Department, and, in reply, I received a letter, signed by Mr. T. Trumble, Secretary, dated 14th July, Stating, amongst other things -
With reference to your letter of the 5th instant, addressed to the Acting Prime Minister, and a petition received by you from certain enemy aliens resident in the Ambrose and Mr Larcom districts, together with a supporting petition signed by other residents of the districts, I have to’ inform you that nothing is known of these individual cases at headquarters, but that only in exceptional cases is it proposed to call on uninterned enemy aliens to show cause why they should not be deported, and that before any person is deported he will have an opportunity of applying to a specially appointed tribunal for permission to remain in Australia.
– The Commandants acted on their own authority.
– If so, it is the duty of the Government to prove the fact. The Government appointed a Committee, to go into the question of the policy of the Government with regard to those aliens, and came to a decision.
– Was not the decision come to before the Committee was appointed ?
– No. I have tried to get from the Government what the Committee reported, and what was the Government’s decision or what was the attitude of the Government; but the Acting Prime Minister has been unable, so far, to put the paper on the table, although he was under the impression that it had already been placed there. The report of the Committee has been kept back, and we desire to know why. The Government have said that they are prepared to take responsibility for the conclusions of the two Boards, the Special Committee of Magistrates and the Committee of Reference, in regard to the matter. It is all very well for the Government to be pre pared to take responsibility for the action of any of the Boards, but my complaint is that the Government have not looked into matters for themselves, and that previous wrongs are being perpetrated.
As late as the 22nd July a letter was written from the Department of Defence, signed by Captain C. Woods, of the General Staff, the same gentleman who had signed the circular-letter I have read, to a lady residing at Mount Larcom -
With reference to your letter of the 14th inst., I have to inform you that you will bc allowed to take 84 lbs. of luggage with you, and, in addition, you may carry a small parcel of articles for immediate requirements. You will be permitted to take f 50 sterling, or its equivalent in valuables. With regard to your farm, you may appoint an attorney to look after your interests, but its disposal will be decided by the Government.
– Is that the wife of an internee ?
– I cannot say whether the lady is the wife of an internee, but her name is Mrs. N. Koppchen. Her letter was embodied in a petition signed by several mothers who are claiming the consideration of the Government. In that petition is the following: -
And what about the farms? Are wo given pay for our work and the work of our men? We, the wives of those men who are to be deported in the name of our children, many of them born in Australia, emphatically protest against the confiscation of our property. We women and children arc entitled to the earnings of our mcn and fathers, and by wronging them you are injuring us. Our children alone have a legal right to the belongings of their parents. We, the guardians of our children, advocate their legal rights by asking the Federal Parliament to see to it that their fathers get paid for the value of their work created through hard work and hardships on our part.
That refers both to the internees whom it is proposed to deport and those whom evidently the Government intend to deport, although they were not interned. The petition goes on to say -
On the 12th inst. were Peace medals given to our children in the schools, with the inscription, “ Victory, the triumph of liberty and justice. The Peace of 191!).” We don’t caro to believe that any Government stands for such a justice and liberty as to take from these children their birthland as well as the values their parents have created for them.
The following are the signatures: -
Emma Prost and four children; Mathilda Worner and two children; Emma Abraham and four children; Anna Ruckert and two children; Frieda Rummeny and four children; Hedwig Schmidt and two children; Amanda Meiberg and son.
Let me say at once, on behalf of the party I represent in this matter, that they do not desire that any German or Austrian enemy subject who is proved to have been disloyal to the Allies during the war shall be allowed to remain in Australia, but they do take the stand that even the most disloyal of those people is entitled to an open and public trial. The internees numbered 7,000, or 8,000, altogether, of whom I believe some 2,000, or 3,000, have been already deported at their own wish. Of these internees some were interned because they were advising people not to go to the Front. Some were charged with organizing an immediate armed rising of Germans, Austrians, and others to attack Australians in Australia as soon as an opportune moment presented itself, if the Germans got the upper hand. There can be no doubt about that, but there were also a number of unnaturalized Germans and Austrians, and also naturalized Germans and Austrians, who, owing to public opinion at the time, were deprived of their employment and their businesses, and asked the Defence Department to intern them because they and their wives and children were starving. They were interned, and their wives and children were humanely granted by the1 Government a sustenance allowance. In the internment camps, therefore, were all kinds of people. The Government have appointed a Board consisting of six magistrates to hear the cases.
– That is not a Board. Those are six separate tribunals lent by the States, three in New South Wales, and the three others scattered through the other States. The Board is the other body that sits afterwards.
– At any rate, there are those six magistrates, and there is an Aliens’ Board of Reference - a Court of Appeal. Judge Williams, BrigadierGeneral Williams, and Mr. Teece constitute that Appeal Court. I understand, and I believe my information can be verified, that these Committees get before them the internee who desires to remain in Australia, and ask him certain questions. They do not tell him anything about the charge against him, and the questions they put are simple, such as “ What is your name ?” “ What is your birthplace?” “ What age are you?” “ Why do you want to remain in Australia?”
– And “ Have you any means 1 ‘ ‘
– My honorable friend tells me that that question is also asked.
– I answered that allegation after inquiry, and stated that there was no shadow of justification for the suggestion.
– The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. West) will be able to deal with that matter himself. The internees then retire, and the Committee decides, in their absence and secretly, what they will do. In many cases the Committee has evidence which has been collected by the Defence Department, and which, it is alleged, proves that these men are disloyal, but the internee is not told what the charge against him is, nor is he told the name of his accuser. This could have been justified in time of war. I venture to say that no Government can conduct a war efficiently unless it has a secret service system. The Government of every country has its secret agents, and the Government can convince any reasonable person that in the midst of war there is no time to have trials, or to hold a public and open inquiry, because the moment you j?ive the name of your secret agent his usefulness is gone. We must bear in mind that, although these people were accused of being disloyal, they were not put in gaol. They were merely put in- an internment camp and supported there at Government expense for the safety of the Commonwealth. I am prepared to defend that action on any platform as unavoidable during the war; but now that the war is over, now that the Germanic Allies have been utterly defeated, Germany’s former rulers are refugees in foreign countries, the Germany Navy or the greater part of it at the bottom of the sea, and the great German Army disbanded, the Government ought to be prepared to give every man -whom it is proposed to deport a fair and open trial. I shall be interested to bear from the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Watt) what justification there is for refusing such a trial.
– In such an open trial, what case would you state for the Judge or jury to decide?
– That the accused is proved to have acted in a disloyal manner to the British Allies during the war.
The Government have either changed their policy with regard to the people who were not interned, or, as they claim, they never had such a policy, and the policy adopted by the Commandants was adopted on their own initiative and under 4i misapprehension. It may be said that no action is being taken regarding persons who were not interned, but I have the following case, given to me by Senator Needham : -
August Zoller - Zoller and his wife wore born in Germany, and have been resident in Australia for many years. Was not interned during the period of the war, although not a naturalized subject. Conducted his business as butcher most of the time. Has been carrying on that business, and is still a resident in Northcote. Was on parole during the whole period of the war. Local police report favorable. Gave him a good character. Now listed for deportation. Has two children Australian born.
– How doe3 the honorable senator who makes that statement know that the man is “listed for deportation?”
– That is the case as given to me. I had also the following letter handed to me by Senator Grant: -
I most respectfully wish to bring before you the following matter, re my position as a deportee from Fiji, or a subject of German birth, namely: -
That I am sixty-eight years of age, and the climate, after residing here and in Fiji for over forty-one years, is not suitable for my age and health. ,
That my children are all living here, and settled down, and I have no interest at all in Germany.
Having been naturalized here in New South Wales in the month of January, 27th, 1883, I possess the certificate; also having been naturalized in Fiji, 5th January, 1907, the certificate is in my possession; and I have complied with the conditions laid down by the Government of Fiji.
All my relations in Germany are dead.
Hoping you will grant me my request to remain near my family for the rest of my few years of life, as I have no interest in Germany.
Your most obedient servant,
Franz E. Volk.
Dorothy Cottage, Long View-road, off Great North-road, Five Docks, Sydney, N.S.W.
– What happened to that man?
– I understand that it is proposed to deport him.
– But do you know?
– I know in a general way, and challenge the Acting Prime Minister to deny it, that these internees are brought before these Committees and not informed what the charge against them is, or of the name of their accuser.
– The honorable member is shifting his ground. Does he know anything about that case?
– I am informed that it is proposed to deport that man. The Acting Prime Minister is intervening in the hope of gaining some advantage by throwing me off the track, but that will not do. This is only an individual case.
– I wanted to know what knowledge the honorable member had, because it is not good enough to suggest a thing and then claim it as proved.
– The honorable gentleman can obtain any quantity of information. He knows there are two main facts - that neither the magistrates nor the Appeal Board give the accused the name of his accuser, nor do they tell the person concerned why he is to be deported. That applies to hundreds, and, probably, thousands of cases. The instances I have just quoted were given to me as those of men about to be deported.
I have roughed out some suggestions for the Government. As regards the women, who have been informed that it is proposed to deport their husbands, the
Governmentsaythey do not propose to deport anybody who has not beeninterned. The least the Government can do now is at once to send. word to those women to the effect that the Government never had any intention to deport their husbands, or, at anyrate, that it is not their intention to deport them now. I suggest, therefore: -
Is not that a most reasonable suggestion? All the Government have to do is to issue instructions to the Commandants to this effect : “ If you have sent any circulars of the kind referred to, send awire to every woman, saying that the Government have no intention to deport her husband.”
We take our stand on that. We say that now peace has arrived every man is entitled to an open and public trial. Our great boast is that our jury system is the safeguard of the liberty and property of the individual, and that that right was won for us 700 years ago.
– Some do not boast about it now.
– Seven hundred years ago it was secured for us, and it is the pride of out race to-day.
– To the honorable member trial by jury is still the palladiumof British liberty.
– Why not?
– Notwithstanding all the miscarriages of the system in Australia ?
– There have been miscarriages of justice.
– When two men fought in the streets of Melbourne with revolvers, the plainest possible evidence to obtain what was the result of the case?
– I am sorry, but this argument is taking up my time. Let me proceed with the suggestions that I have to offer -
He is not allowed- to do that now.
As I have pointed out, some of these persons reside at Mount Larcom, 1,000 miles from Holdsworthy Camp. How can they bring witnesses down there? It is impossible for them to do so.
We must not forget that our State Governments sent immigration agents abroad to invite these people to come to Australia. Many of them came here to avoid conscription in Germany. At the conclusion of the Franco-German war many persons left
Germany and France because they desired to reside in countries where there would be no possibility of war. Some of them came to Australia. We invited them to come for various reasons. The Conservative-Tory party opposite-
– What! ‘
– You are the Tory party. You have individuals among you who are opposed to “Democracy.
– I thought that this was a non-party question.
– If there is any fear that party political animosities may be stirred up by my remark I withdraw it, and simply say that these people were brought here by the State Governments. They came to Australia, took up virgin forest land, felled the trees, cultivated the soil, married Australian girls in some cases, and reared Australian children. The greatest solicitude should be shown by every one inquiring into their cases to see that no injustice is done; but I think no Government can defend the methods adopted in dealing with them.
– With the exception of one slip, for which the honorable member duly atoned, the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Higgs) has discussed this matter from his point of view in as temperate a way as could be expected from his side of the House, but, at the same time, his accusations and suggestions cover a very wide area which I doubt whether it is possible to deal with properly in the limited time available for honorable members on a motion of this kind. The main object with which the honorable member addressed himself to the Chamber appears to have been to seek, first of all, a declaration of the policy and procedure of the Government in relation to the deportation of enemy aliens, and, if that was not satisfactory, to give a list of suggestions for the modification of the policy now being pursued. I want to set forth what the Governmenthave done in regard to this and other kindred matters during the last twelve months.
When it became plain - I speak from a recollection that has not been checked by reference to the files - that the war was either drifting to a close or had closed, the Government realized that a number of questions relating to enemy aliens resident in Australia demanded very careful consideration. Ministers were living a pretty busy life in the broken sessional and administrative work we were doing, and, therefore, we selected a body of the most experienced and competent departmental heads, and associated with them a member of the Senate, and we authorized them to inquire into all phases of the enemy question that would need treatment at the close of the war. That body was presided over by Senator Fairbairn, and deliberated for many months. It brought to the Government, as it was requested to do, a very complete report. It looked into the question in the light of all the inquiries made in Great Britain and the other Dominions, and it had the advantage of perusing the discussions that took place at the Imperial Conference and all printed documents the British Government had circulated for the use of the Dominion Governments. I venture to think that hereafter the report of this body. will be regarded as a very complete and reasonable document. It was, as a preliminary step, referred to a subCommittee of the Cabinet, who, in their turn, for many weeks sifted all the matters covered by the recommendations. Finally, Cabinet considered the sub-Committee E report, and authorized both the report of the Committee and the recommendations of the Cabinet sub-Committee to be printed and laid on the table of Parliament. That was the position when, unfortunately, I was dislocated from work, and I imagined, as I informed the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Tudor), that the documents had actually been laid on the table; but on making inquiries from the Acting Attorney-General (Mr. Groom) I found that this was not the case. There were so many subjects covered in the report beyond the question of the treatment of internees or aliens, that it was deemed inadvisable to lay the documents on the table until the Government saw the exact nature of tha Peace Treaty determinations relating to enemy property and other subjects covered.
– Does not that suggest that the Government should have refrained from deporting people until the Peace Treaty determinations were ascertained?
– We delayed submitting the documents to Parliament not because we did not know what the Peace Treaty covered in regard to the question of deportation - we knew what it covered in that regard - but because we did not know the exact nature of the economic phases of the Peace Treaty which do or may cover or colour questions of enemy property and debits and credits within Australia. In order to be quite safe and quite fair we did not deem it advisable to proclaim the findings of Cabinet until we could see whether, in view of the conditions of the Peace Treaty, they were possible of operation.
– Then why go on deporting while you did not know ?
– I am addressing the intelligent members of the House, and I beg to say to the honorable member that if he will refrain-
– I have as much intelligence as you.
– Then I wish the honorable member would show it occasionally.
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. W. Elliot
Johnson). - I must ask honorable members to cease interjecting.
– On a point of order, I object to the language used by the Acting Prime Minister.
– It was a damned insult.
– Order ! I ask the honorable member for Melbourne Ports to cease interjecting.
– I think that the Acting Prime Minister should restrain his language, and be more gentlemanly and courteous to honorable members on this side of the House.
– On a motion for. adjournnifcnt an honorable member’s time is very limited. If honorable members will refrain from interjecting there will be no excuse for retorts which may develop into personalities. However, if the Acting Prime Minister addressed himself to an honorable member in language which that honorable member considers offensive, I am sure he will be only too willing to withdraw it.
– I have frequently made the remark that I was addressing the intelligent members of the House, and have not been called upon to withdraw it. Before I had the opportunity to show the application of my remark, the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Mathews) took umbrage at it and covered the House with confusion and noise.If ho asks for a withdrawal of my remark I shall withdraw it, but not otherwise.
I was saying that I was addressing the intelligent members of the House, and it is extremely difficult in the short time available to cover all that a Minister wants to cover in speaking upon a matter of this kind. If honorable members will allow the Government to place before them the information they seek to give they will see that thepoints exciting the interest of honorable members opposite are covered. In the meantime I am drawing attention to the procedure adopted by the Government in dealing with all the interwoven and interlaced enemy problems, amongst which is the question of internment and deportation.
The honorable member’s questions deal with the ‘’ clean -slate “ policy. At this stage I do not propose to elaborate that policy extensively, but simply say that, at the conclusion of a great struggle of this kind, it is apparent to all the belligerent nations, victorious or otherwise, that there must be a reckoning between the Allies and their enemies in regard to the debits and credits existing prior to the war, or evolved during the war, between the nations of the central empires and their allies, and the great nations and their allies opposed to them. All these have to be written down against one another, and one of the greatest problems which statecraft and accountancy have to face is that of ascertaining the facts of debits and credits, and making due allowance for them. If enemy aliens, residing in Australia, owe us money, if Germans, residing in Germany, owe us money, or if Australians, residing in Germany, owe that country or Australia money, it may all have to come into the sum. It is perfectly plain that the different nations will have to establish a great countinghouse to properly mark the debits and credits existing prior to the war, and developed during the war, for satisfactory settlement in accordance with the treaty terms at the conclusion of the war. That “ clean-slate “ policy is affected by the report of the Committee, presided over by Senator Fairbairn, and the findings of the Cabinet sub-Committee, so also are questions of enemy aliens residing in Australia, who own property here, and owe no debts outside Australia, and enemy aliens residing in Australia who own enemy shares. These are the problems that demand attention, possibly followed by important legislation.
– I think the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) sold all the enemy shares.
– The honorable member’s “ think “ is wrong.
– It is not. His “think “ is the Prime Minister’s statement.
– No; it is his “ think “ as to the Prime Minister’s statement. I cannot imagine the honorable member for Bourke being a liar.
– I would not be a politician if I were not a liar.
– The honorable member is not a politician. He is so nearly dead that we may with safety call him a statesman. The inference from his statement, at which I take no umbrage, is that, being a politician, I am a liar. I pass it, because I have known the honorable member too long-
– I did not understand the honorable member for Bourke to accuse the Acting Prime Minister of being a politician.
– Sir, you do not know the honorable member for Bourke as well as I do. There was a double-barrelled insinuation in his remark.
There are questions also of naturalization now and hereafter, and of denaturalization at the conclusion of the war. There are questions as to what is to happen to Germans who tap at Australia’s doors and ask for admission to the country later, questions of admission relating to passports, immigration, - and naturalization. These are all embodied, and because some of them may be covered by the Peace Treaty provisions wo cannot give the information to the
House. Although he has a full knowledge that these problems must be dealt with, by Parliament, the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Higgs) has elected to confine his attention to one question, namely, the deportation of persons who belong to Germany, Austria, or other enemy countries.
– It is a question of deportation, irrespective of whether or not they are enemy aliens. The deportations are not confined to enemy aliens.
– The honorable member may believe that that is so, but the mover of the motion dealt only with enemy aliens. I could deal with the deportation of others, but I am replying to the honorable member for Capricornia.
– Cannot the Acting Prime Minister deal with the other cases?
– Perhaps. If any of the honorable member’s friends have been sent away, he is quite- at liberty to utter his elegy.
– Some of my enemies have not gone. That is what I complain about.
– That grievance is common to all of us.
Let me explain the procedure which the Government have adopted in relation to the deportation of enemy aliens. First of all, I should state that the Government invented a special machine to deal with all internments at the close of the war.
– “ Machine “ is a good name for it.
– It is a better machine than honorable members opposite invented for the internment of these people. Of the approximately 7,000 persons who have been interned, the majority were interned long before the present Government assumed office. We became merely the custodians of them by virtue of our Ministerial responsibilities.
– They were interned by the man who is still Minister for Defence. (Senator Pearce).
– I am not putting a party colour upon this question, but I say that the internment machine invented by a Labour Government was worse than the machine which the present Government has devised, because the former Administration left the whole matter entirely in the hands of the Defence officers. We considered that there was a grave danger in that arrangement, that it was not proper to allow the officers of the Defence Department, who had placed these people in internment, to decide whether their applications for release should be granted. We thought that a specific and well-chosen tribunal, and one more representative of civilian thought in this country, might well deal with all appeals, and we created a Committe of three, comprising a gentleman who was at that time a prominent barrister in Melbourne, and is now Judge Williams, of the Victorian County Court; Brigadier-General Williams, a civilian soldier, who filled the position of Commandant of Victoria with such conspicuous success for a long time during the war, and who has lived a life that has kept him in touch with the people ever since he was a boy; and a representative of the neighbouring capital of Sydney, Mr. Teece. We arranged that all applications for release from internment should be made to the Minister through that body. That was a reform which ought to have been, and, I believe, was, gratefully accepted by the internees, and every release granted since then has been on the recommendation of that tribunal. We were called upon to deal with the question of deportation, in some cases suddenly. Under the conditions of the Armistice and the arrangements which followed, the exchange of prisoners of war and of civilian prisoners interned had been arranged amongst some of the nations, notably Britain and Germany, and various ships were sent from Britain to take away those men whom the British Government had contracted to return to Germany.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
Extension of time granted.
– The honorable member has not touched the question yet. This is a lot of window-dressing.
– I cannot obey the scriptural injunction to “ answer a fool according to his folly.”
Mr.Fenton. - Or turn the other cheek. Mr. WATT. - I have done that too often, and have found that it is a process which makes one lament.
– Will the Acting Prime Minister say what was done in regard to the internees in Fiji? I understand that some Australian girls were involved.
– I cannot say offhand, but I shall ascertain for the ‘honorable member.
We fulfilled our part of the Armistice bargain. The people who desired to be repatriated to enemy countries, the voluntary deportees, were put on the ships quickly, but in case there should be enemy internees who were being deported against their will, such objection not being known to the Government, we asked the State Governments to nominate six magistrates to whom all cases of enemy aliens who were being sent away against their will could be referred. Speaking from memory, three magistrates were nominated in New South Wales, where the principal internment camp is, and three others in other States. We decided that these magistrates should take into consideration all relevant facts relating to men who were being deported and who might wish to remain in the country. By an instruction prepared by the Commonwealth Crown Law Department, the magistrates were directed to have regard to the following conditions: -
The Commonwealth Government has decided that in dealing with appeals, the following considerations should guide the magistrate: -
Whether the appellant has such ties with the Commonwealth that he is, or is likely soon to become, practically Australian; for instance, persons within the following classes might usually, in the absence of strong grounds to the contrary, be exempted from repatriation: -
Those whose upbringing has been Australian, e.g., persons of ten years or more residence who came to the Commonwealth when under sixteen, persons of twenty years or more residence who came to the Commonwealth when under twenty.
Persons over sixty years of age who have been in British Territory not less than twenty -five years.
Families of ten years or more residence where the children, or some of them, are not less than ten and not more than eighteen years of age, and have been or are going to Australian schools, and are either British born or English speaking.
British-born women who have mar ried Germans, whether exempted or not, and other women married to husbands exempted under (a) or (b).
Whether the appellant’s sympathies have been shown to be on the side of the Allies.
Whether owing to age, infirmity, or other cause the appellant cannot be expelled without inhumanity.
There is a large number of enemy aliens who have been naturalized and are drawing old-age pensions.
– And the Government are cutting off the pensions, with gross inhumanity. These pompous expressions on paper do not carry much weight.
– Order ! The honorable member is quite out of order.
– The honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) often forgets where he is. At the proper time I shall deal with the question he has raised, but I am following one consecutive line of thought with the object of showing that the Government have endeavoured, with the information they possessed, to tackle this matter properly. The instructions continued -
For instance, there are men who claim to be engineers and chemists, and, providing they would not injure the Commonwealth by the prosecution of their business after the war, they were to be allowed to remain. I submit that those are humane and sane instructions which were issued to the magistrates to guide them in their considerations; but if, notwithstanding them, a magistrate decided to recommend that the appellant should be deported, the case came before the departmental officers who deal with these matters. If it appeared to them that certain conditions had been overlooked, or had not been given due weight, the case was then submitted to the Committee comprising Judge Williams, Brigadier-General Williams, and Mr. Teece, who had power to act as a Court of Appeal and finalize the recommendations to the Government.
– Will the Acting Prime Minister say who were the departmental officers who dealt with these cases?
– I can ascertain their names for the honorable member.
– Have any persons been deported who have been deprived by the Military authorities of the opportunity of having their case heard by a magistrate?
– Not since, at the close of the Armistice, we created the procedure to which I have referred.
– None were deported before that date.
– The instructions are perfectly plain. The orders of the Government in relation to enemy aliens are that only those who have been in internment are subject to deportation.
– That is not so.
– I do not say that other enemy aliens have not been deported, but I assure the House that the Government have issued that determination, and that it represents their policy. If any honorable members will inform me of enemy aliens who have been deported, although they had not been interned, I shall immediately investigate the cases.
– There is the case of one man who was deported twice. I refer to Freeman, who was never interned.
– Freeman was not deported under the arrangements to which I am referring. There are others who have been dealt with under the Unlawful Associations Act, but they were not proceeded against for being enemy aliens; also other undesirable aliens were deported. For merely being an enemy alien, no man who has not been interned has been deported, certainly not at the will of the Government. I repeat, that the Government have been acting as the custodians of internees whom it was our duty to guard, although we had not the initial responsibility for their internment. I believe that an analysis would disclose that the bulk of the 6,000 or 7,000 persons interned were arrested and segregated during the first few months of the war. They have been kept in internment, apparently for reasons that appeared good and sufficient to the various Administrations that have controlled the affairs of Australia during the war period.
The honorable member for Capricornia has asked for an open public trial of these persons. That is his suggestion in relation to those who desire to appeal against deportations.
– We should treat them just as Britishers would like to be treated.
– I am dealing now with the question as to whether, there should not be, as the honorable member for Capricornia has suggested, an open public trial. The honorable member said, amongst other things, that it would have been imprudent for any nation or Government, during the war period, to expose the operations of its secret service. I quite appreciate the very vivid way in which he made that point, and may say that the bulk of honorable members all through have taken the same view. They have realized that it is an absolutely indispensable pre-requisite to weapon a Government with the right to examine its community, to find out any hostile internal movement, and the Government which did not do that would be leading itself blindly up an alley to slaughter. Why were these persons, in the bulk of cases, subjected to internment without public trial ? Let us look at the facts broadly, and, for the present, without sentiment. Sentiment is a powerful operating feature in all the public affairs of this country, but safety is more important than sentiment, and the safety of the nation must be the supreme law just as it was in ancient Rome. When the Intelligence Department and the Police Force brought them information about hostile movements of Germans or pro-Germans why did not the Government grant such persons a public trial ? The reason was, plainly, that it was possible to get a great deal of information if the people in German communities throughout Australia were not obliged to face the German communities in which they lived. I know districts in Australia - I am particularly familiar with one - where it would be absolutely unsafe for any Britisher or Australian to stand up and say in a public Court, ‘ ‘ That man has uttered sentiments that are disloyal to Australia.” If it is true that that kind of fact recommended itself to the interning Administration as all-sufficient it is equally true now with regard to releases. If we were called upon to grant a trial in open Court to the appeal cases - there are nearly a thousand appeals - it would take months, or years, to hear them, and the intimidation that would be exercised on the original or subsequent informers would be so unendurable that the authorities would not be able to obtain their evidence. What has been done generally by all Administrations that have had to deal with this matter of interning Germans, is this-
– Always do the right thing.
– Then the honorable member should do the right thing by remaining quiet.
– What purpose is served by asking the honorable member to keep quiet? As I said of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Mathews) if he had to keep quiet he would possibly burst.
– There is such a thing as tricky knowledge which, by some people, is spoken of as brains. It is cunning.
– I could apply a far more violent term, but I do not wish to cross swords with the honorable member. My desire now is to give facts. I will deal with the honorable member’s interjection, if necessary, at a more appropriate time.
If the. position in regard to an open trial was true when these internments were made it is equally true to-day. It would be impossible to get people from the districts from which the bulk of these internees have come to stand up in open Court and give their evidence. They would have to leave this community because, for their country’s good, they had told the Government of the day what they knew. Their lives here would be insufferable. Judging by the investigations I have been able to make what happened was this : The Intelligence Department of the nation brought information to the authorities about certain Germans-
– The pimps and spies of the authorities.
-(Hon. W. Elliot J ohnson) . - Order ! These constant interjectionary punctuations are entirely out of order, besides being of a distinctly offensive nature; and they must cease.
– One might describe them as punctures! This information, so far as my information goes, was not acted upon, and certainly it has not been acted upon for the last two and a-half years, during which I have had a personal knowledge of the procedure, unless it was confirmed by a reference to the State authorities, known as the police. If the information came originally from the police it was not acted upon unless confirmed by the Intelligence Departments of the. Navy or the Army. It was upon that kind of inter-related information that the Departments and the Governments of the day were satisfied. That is the only information the Departments have, and it is the kind of information which the magistrates have nut in front of them to show the cause of any internment. The internee, on his part, can ask why it is proposed to deport him, and he has every opportunity, by documentary or personal representations, to show why he should not be deported.
My honorable friend (Mr. Higgs) says that now that the war is over and the German Navy lies on the sands of Scapa, we might safely do a number of things that wecould not do during the war. That is true of some things, but not of others. It would be extremely injudicious now that the war is over to subject to terrorism either the Intelligence officers, the Police Force, or patriotic citizens who have come to the aid of the several Governments that have been in office during this period. I say plainly that the Government is possessed of information which shows clearly that, notwithstanding the overwhelming and crushing defeat of Germany on land and sea, there are in certain German communities in Australia to-day Germans and GermanAustralians who have been allowed to roam at pleasure, and who are as truculent as they were in the early stages of the war. This community must protect itself. Even if there is a slight injustice in some part of the procedure adopted, the safety of. this community is more important than the display of sentiment towards a particular class of people. I do not hesitate for one moment to say that the procedure adopted, while not customary in time of peace or in connexion with civil matters, is the inevitable concomitant of the war, and that it can be operated with moderation and tolerance, as it is being operated to-day. The members of our party, and I believe, the members of the Opposition, have no vendetta to ply against Germans generally. But we will not allow Australia to be subjected to dangers and hostile influences by permitting to remain here men who ought to go back to the country from which they came. We are determined, whether honorable gentlemen here or elsewhere like it or not, to follow what we believe to be a considered line of policy and procedure, so that we can safely say to the people whose servants we are that we have done this thing because we considered it to be our duty. We have followed this course without undue cruelty, but with resolution and determination to the end.
– Did I understand the honorable gentleman to say that every, internee who is to be deported can ask for and be furnished with the charge made against him, and the reasons given for it?
– I did not say that. I saidthat he could learn the reason why he was being deported. Such a man may ask, “ Why am I tobe deported?” And the instructions to the magistrates are that he may make representations by documents or in person to show reasons why he should not be deported.
– If he does not set this information how can he reply to it ?
– If he has influence, or can bring political pressure to bear, he can obtain a trial.
– The honorable member for Batman is very ready at suggesting motives.
– I repeat, that if such a man has influence, or can bring sufficient political pressure to bear, he can get a trial. In such circumstances a man has obtaineda trial, and has secured his release.
– I am not dealing with the past. That is a generalization which might hit any kind of Administration. I am dealing with matters for which the Government of to-day are responsible - with the inauguration of the machinery and policy in relation to deportations and releases. No political pressure is recognised or exercised in relation to those important matters. If we found that an officer had yielded to such pressure he would receive the swiftest treatment.
We have been doing a very unpleasant job, because it was cast upon us, and doing it in a better way than did any former Administration the preceding part of it. I think I am at liberty to say that only this very week I entertained a number of honorable members opposite in a confidential chat about the enemy internee problem.
– It is hardly right to say that the honorable gentleman “entertained” us. He received a few of us as a deputation.
– I use the phrase in the historic sense of the man who entertained an angel unawares. I did not “ shout “ for the angels, but if I have been remiss in that direction I shall make amends.
– Did the entertainment comprise any musical items?
– No ; the honorable member was not present. Apart from his suggestions as to an open trial, I think the honorable member for Capricornia has been astute and considerate in putting before the Government a series of further proposals for their consideration.
– Does the honorable gentleman use the word “ astute “ in a sinister sense ?
– No one would accuse the honorable member of any sinister intention when he smiles as he is now doing. It is only when he adopts his ancient funereal role that we become doubtful.
– Is the honorable gentleman trying to “ talk out “ this matter?
– I will sit down if that is the suggestion.
-I think the Acting Prime Minister should deal seriously with this business. We have only a very limited time in which to discuss it.
– Honorable members opposite have themselves elected to adopt this method of bringing the matter before the House, and they moved that I should be granted an extension of time. As I said at the outset, it is impossible to deal with the whole matter on an occasion like this ; but since a great deal is covered by the suggestions and recommendations of the honorable member for Capricornia, I beg leave to defer to his views, and not to those of the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan). The honorable member for Capricornia and others of his party are apparently anxious to obtain the views of the Government, and. I am giving them.
– The question is an exceedingly wide and important one, and both sides are anxious to ascertain all the facts. Might we not have a suspension of the Standing Orders to allow further time for this discussion?
– I am afraid not to-day; but it may be possible at a later stage. I desire, on the adjournment, if I may be permitted to do so, to speak of the procedure for the next fortnight. The honorable member for Capricornia has given us a series of suggestions other than his proposal that there should be an open trial. Some of these suggestions have, for me, novel features, and I shall see that they are recommended for the consideration of the Acting AttorneyGeneral (Mr. Groom) and the Acting Minister for Defence (Senator Russell), in order that we may determine how far they are capable of adaptation to what we consider to be safe principles.
As to the confiscation of the property of those people who are sent away, there is no desire or intention on the part of the Government that there should be anything of the kind. Being German subjects, if they are deported, and, in that sense, repatriated, they will probably come within the Treaty provisions. This nation cannot expropriate these people without regard to the compensation features of the Treaty.
– No matter what other injustice is done, property is to be safeguarded.
– It is a question, not of safeguarding property, which has neither feelings nor soul, but of safeguarding the interests of certain people in property which is a human interest, and not an interest of shares or bricks and mortar. Honorable members are aware that enemy shares were placed in the hands of a receiver, not that the holder should not get the money again, but that they should be held in trust until after the war. The Peace Treaty provides for such settlements, and to its terms we shall become subject if we adopt it in this Parliament. Certain honorable members made representations wider than those advanced by the honorable member for Capricornia. It was said by them that we ought to release a great many more internees than we were releasing. I want to deal with only one phase of that contention, and not to traverse the whole of the ground. Certain Australian and British-born men are in the internment camps with enemy subjects, but under the promise made by the then Prime Minister (Mr. Fisher) as to the administration of the War Precautions Act, every Government has taken care that before any of this class was interned his case should come before the Cabinet. Those who have been Executive Councillors during the war period know that that has been so. We are anxious to release the Australianborn, because we do not propose to deport them under the same conditions as enemy aliens, but to keep them here. We are awaiting the time when Britain will announce to us that the Peace Treaty has become binding on the requisite number of principal Powers, and is an actual fact in the life of the United Kingdom and the Dominions, when we will release all these men. In regard to the others, the more honorable members are familiar with the motives and procedure adopted by the Government in relation to the release or deportation of men who have been or are interned, the more they ought to approve of the improvements made by the recent alterations. If honorable members can show me that the principles I have enunciated have not been followed, I shall welcome the information. I shall follow up, as far as I am capable, any cases that are supposed to be exceptions to the determination of the Cabinet, and involve personal injustice.
.- I was not aware this question was to be discussed until I entered the House this morning, and if I rise now it is not to make any affirmation against the Government. I wish it clearly to be understood that I have not a word to say in defence of the Germans interned. The Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Watt) is quite right when he states that this is not a party question. My objection is not to the internment of Germans, but to the fact that many men in the country, of German origin and birth, have been able to escape internment because of their wealth and social standing. On the other hand, there are many men and women of Australian birth, with fathers and mothers also of Australian birth, who have been dismissed from the Public Service because of their German origin. Is the Minister in charge of the House (Mr. Groom) aware of that?
– I regret I was not listening to what the honorable member was saying. My attention was, for the moment, diverted.
– Then I might as well sit down.
.- The address of the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Watt) lacked nothing in clarity and sympathy, and if it were a literally accurate statement of the position as it is in Australia to-day in regard to aliens and others, no possible exception could be taken to the position of the Government. In view of the very brief time at my disposal, I challenge the honorable gentleman at once upon the two main statements he put before the House. He alleged that nobody was to be deported from this country who had not been interned, and also that there would be no inhumanity - notably in connexion with old-age pensions - to any person by reason of his racial lineage. I have to tell the Government and the country that I can quote one instance which has just recently come under my notice, which appears to be typical of many. It is that of a Bendigo man who has never been interned and against whom no charge has been made, who is known to have been a useful resident of Australia, if not technically a citizen. This man has been notified’ that he must present himself at once in Melbourne for deportation. The Acting Prime Minister, apparently because he does not know, and the Defence Department does riot’ think it necessary to inform him, complacently takes his place in this House and tells us that no injustice will be done with the Government sanction. My complaint is that the Government do not appear to know or care to attend to what their Defence officers are doing. While the Government declares that it take3 the responsibility, it suffers this abuse to go on without protest.
What is the use of the Acting Prime Minister telling us that no man will be deported unless he has been interned or has given some evidence of disloyalty? Every honorable member knows, if he is honest with himself, that there is injustice in spite of the solemn protests of the Acting Prime Minister. I will take it that the honorable gentleman is candid in what he has said, aud that he does not know of these occurences. .But is it not worth his while to investigate? Is it becoming in him, as Acting Prime Minister, on a motion of this kind, to disclose his ignorance on a vital matter affecting the liberty of people whom we are pledged to guard so long as they are residents within our shores? It is in my own knowledge that an old man, getting into the seventies, with probably a residence here of thirty or forty years, and nothing against his character as an honest, hard-working person, is to be deprived of his old-age pension. And this, although he is naturalized, as he must be to get that pension. When. I asked for an explanation as to why this old man is robbed of his only means of sustenance, I was told, officially, by a departmental officer, that a person in such case must prove his loyalty. How is he to’ prove his loyalty, and to whom must he prove it. He has never been called upon to prove his loyalty, but he has been harassed and chased away from Queenscliff, where he has lived for a number of years, and is left to starve in hie old age. We are making the vital mistake of endeavouring to live up to the standard which we have imputed to the enemy we have been fighting. We have declared that the enemy does this kind of thing, and we have held it up to pU D110 reprobation, as something for which the enemy ought to be punished ; but we imitate an example which we, in other times, declare to deserve our strongest condemnation.
As to the Secret Service, the honorable gentleman who leads this House (Mr. Watt) has spoken of the national safety - told us that the safety of the nation is the highest law. I do not grant that, sir. I challenge the complacent view of those who are content to say that, in the interests of safety, we must do this or that. In the interests of safety you may not invade a sacred principle, or do injustice to a single individual in the country. We have to buckle on our armour, throw out our chest, and, like men, run the risk of doing the right thing. It is idle to open our proceedings with solemn prayer to the Deity, and then disregard the equally solemn injunction that religion imposes on every man to do justice to his fellow-citizens and fellowmen. We should not be afraid to do the right thing. Would, however, the safety of the country be jeopardized by doing the right and honest thing by the men whom we are now wronging? Not a bit of it. Every one of those men to whom we do an injustice, and to whom we deny the application of the fundamental principles of British justice, will, through his friends and relatives, become, so far as the Government can make him, an active propagandist of disloyalty. Instead of safeguarding the interests of Australia by doing obvious injustice to any residents in the country, we are really doing our best to spread disloyalty and. disaffection.
The- Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Watt) spoke of the means taken to inquire into the loyalty or otherwise of men who have been interned, and he sought to justify the Secret Service on the ground that it is an immemorial practice in war time, and after war time, to avail ourselves’ of this means of knowledge in order to safeguard the” nation. The honorable gentleman mentioned the German communities ; and I ask, What are the means adopted in their case? The means are, through the Defence Department, to make use of every tittle-tattle, gossip or malevolent whisper, probably from an interested party, in order to make out a case against a man who is to be put behind prison bars without himself getting a hearing. The honorable gentleman says that we must adopt this means because, forsooth, if I, or any one else, were to publicly accuse a man of disloyalty, the accuser’s life and property would not be safe. Such a statement applies to every court of justice and every tribunal that was ever erected in a free country; but it has been found, as the result of years of experience, and particularly has it been found in Britain, that it is worth while to do these things in public - to do the right, even at the risk of its resulting indirectly in injury to somebody else. I make bold to say that there axe men who have been interned on this secret evidence and to whom gross injustice has been done. What happens ? A man may have a grudge against one of those unfortunate persons of so-called enemy birth ; it may be a private grudge, caused by personal spite arising out of a business deal or a private estrangement between families and relations, but a case is built up in secret, and the man has no chance to answer the charge. Some have had a chance, because they had sufficient influence, political and private, to enable them to go to the Minister in charge and protest their loyalty. These have succeeded in having trials, if not in public at least with the ordinary forms of justice, and, to my knowledge, as a result, some have been liberated. But what about an unfortunate wretch who has no such influence? He gets no trial, never sees the document or his accuser, and has no opportunity of having the merits of his case examined.
The Acting Prime Minister the other day, said that the Labour party was very likely to get the reputation of being defenders of Germans; and honorable members deprecated the statement. We should hesitate, he said, before we allowed a character of that kind to attach to us. What do honorable members suppose that I can gain in my electorate or in this House by appearing to be the defender of Germans or Germany? I have nothing to gain and all to lose. But, from the very beginning of this war, from the moment that I thought it was going to result in a vendetta and acts of revenge against men who had done no wrong in this country, it is true that much of my public activities have been directed to correcting that injustice. It is not because it will redound to my advantage or disadvantage, or because it will do this party harm or good, that my conduct will be influenced. It will be influenced only by the best traditions of the administration of British justice, which have been brought down to this country and which, instead of abusing, we should hold more sacred to-day in a free Democracy than even our forefathers did in the years gone by.
The honorable member who moved this motion (Mr. Higgs) ‘has rightly pointed out that the deportees who are principally affected are men who were invited here, not so much by the Labour party as by the Liberal and Conservative parties. On the platform those gentlemen were accustomed to hold forth at large about the protection that would be given, under the British flag, in this country to immigrants so long as they were obedient to the country’s laws. Now, forsooth, because of the war, which took place in another part of the world, men in this country, who left the Central Powers because they hated the military traditions of the country in which they were born, and who were making, or were likely to make, good citizens here, are to be turned out. This will create amongst their friends and relatives a feeling of hostility and disloyalty which is likely to live many years after the war is over. The honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey) tried to get a moment’s attention to the fact that we are driving out of our Public Service young Australian-born men - not only young men who were not born in enemy countries, but young men neither of whose parents was born in enemy countries, and to whose ancestors of three generations back you have to go to get what is conceived to be the taint of enemy blood. What will be the effect of treating these young men! in this way ? What will be the effect of throwing a young Australian out of the Public Service, in which he has won in competitive examination his right to work and live? He will go out into the general community hating the Government that treated him in that way, and teaching others to hate the Government also. So far from the Government safeguarding the interests of the nation, the interests of the nation will be, to a great extent, jeopardized by these acts of injustice.
.- I desire also to raise my voice in protest against this policy of the Government. I regret that the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Watt) has confined his reply to the question of the deportation of enemy aliens. In answer to an interjection by me he said that the mover of the motion had dealt only with that question. I am much more concerned with the deportation of men, more particularly members of the working class, who were not enemy aliens. The Acting Prime Minister and the rest of the Cabinet have throughout refused to give us information about those cases. I have received the following letter: -
New Angledool, N.S.W., 6th June, 1919.
On 19th February, 1919, I, a Commonwealth citizen, was served with an order under the Alien Restrictions Regulations. Upon protesting to the Acting Minister for Defence, I was calmly informed through Military headquarters at Sydney, that my application (demanding an inquiry, because I have done nothing to justify the action of the Military authority) had been dismissed. So there is Russian justice - go to Siberia and live or perish there, because the Military say so.
I have ample proof of my loyalty, but all my protestations were of no avail.
Had I been guilty of any wrong I would say nothing, but to carry the brand of Cain without recourse to justice is going back to slavery.
This so-called liberty, fraternity, and equality is civilized man’s greatest farce,
There is the case of a man who claims to be loyal and to be able to prove his loyalty, but the Minister for Defence refused an inquiry, and the man was ordered out of the country. Another case amongst many was that of Abraham Marks, who was convicted under the Unlawful Associations Act, received a sentence of six months, was kept in goal for about seventeen months, and finally deported. I wrote to the Acting AttorneyGeneral (Mr. Groom) about that case on the 5th February of this year. It was the 28th April before I obtained any definite information from the Department about that and other cases. Then I received the following curt intimation : -
With further reference to your letter of 14tb instant relative to the cases of Messrs. Abraham Marks and Paul Freeman, I have to inform you that both, of these aliens have been deported from the Commonwealth.
I know of two Germans who were interned at Holdsworthy because they were unable to earn a living. When the war broke out there was strong national antipathy manifested towards German aliens, and it was impossible for a number of men belonging to the working class to follow their usual occupations. For them the only alternative to utter starvation was internment. They had to give themselves up in order to obtain sustenance for their wives and families. During the war we had introduced here a modern equivalent of the Lion’s Mouth of Venice. Anybody with feelings of hostility or more sinister motives could impute disloyalty to others, and send the accusation in to the Intelligence Branch of the Defence Department. Those aimed at never knew who their accusers were, and had. no opportunity to contradict the allegations made against them. Such a system is absolutely disgraceful, and I cannot understand how honorable members opposite could sit down and allow so monstrous an injustice to be perpetrated. There can be no excuse for it now, no matter what may be said about the necessity for an espionage system in time of war, and no matter how members may defend the devious methods used by every Government when war is declared. There can be no reason now for not giving every one of the men or women who feel aggrieved an open opportunity to face their accusers, to see the charges laid against them, and to answer them. That is what is being asked for; but what are the facts? Apart from the deportation of enemy aliens, we know that men of British birth - English, Scotch’, and Irish - have been deported from here during the whole course of the war without trial. Men are picked up and charged and left in gao. - as Marks was left, and as others have been left - and then deported. I believe that Paul Freeman has again been deported, this time as a German. I understand that, onFriday last, he was brought before the so-called tribunal ; but what chance had he? The Government put him in Holdsworthy, and said, “ You are a German; prove that you are not.” I honestly believe the only reason why the Government deported him was that he had come into conflict with the mining companies in Queensland after discovering a valuable copper “ show.”
– Of what nationality is he? .
– My own impression, from working with him at Broken Hill and knowing him for seven or eight years, is that he is an American. He speaks with a pronounced American accent.
– The American Government will not let him land there.
– Sufficient evidence has been adduced to create a strong suspicion in the minds of a considerable section of the public that the only accusation against him is that he has come into conflict over this mining “show” with themining companies in Queensland.
– That has been denied over and over again.
– It has not been disproved, and the honorable member and his party will not give us a tribunal where the charge can be tried.
– Your statement has not been proved.
– The Government have refused us an opportunity to prove it.
– It is expressly denied by those whose names you have supplied.
– I have evidence in my possession that both Corbould and another man made the statement publicly that they were responsible for Freeman’s internment.
– Can you supply that evidence to me?
– I will supply it, if the honorable member will give us an inquiry, but not otherwise. If Paul Freeman proved to the authorities that he was an American it would not prevent his de portation. The Government are determined to deport him in any case. If he proved he was not a German, the only difference would be that he would be deported to the country of which he proved that he was a citizen.
– Some of the Americans who come here are far more dangerous than a lot of the Germans.
– Whether one nationality is more vicious than another is a different question. The point is whether an injustice is being done, not only to Freeman, but to other citizens. Many people were deported during the war, and many others will be deported now that the war is over. Not aman is safe while this system of persecution is permitted. Any honorable member who did not happen to be born in this country, and who “misses the bus” at the next election, would be just as liable to be deported as anybody else. The man who does not raise his voice in protest against this damnable system deserves deportation. I am actuated only by the desire to obtain justice for these individuals. There is no justice in the methods employed up to the present time. It is quite clear to those who examine the social status of the men who have been deported, keeping in mind the system introduced in other countries, during and since the war, that there is a concerted movement to deport people who are opposed to the prevailing economic system.
Debate interrupted under standing order 119.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.15 p.m.
State Wheat Boards - Particulars of Operations - Overdrafts
asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
Mr.WATT. - The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : - 1, 2, and 3. The State Wheat Boards are not under the control of the Commonwealth Government or of the Australian Wheat Board. They are State organizations under the control of the respective State Governments. Details of such matters are not reported to the Australian Wheat Board.
Mr. STORY (for Mr. Austin Chapman) asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
– I shall endeavour to obtain the information desired, and will furnish the honorable member with a reply as soon as possible.
Recruiting Claims : Remission of Sentences of Imprisonment
asked the Assistant Minister for Defence, upon notice -
Mr. POYNTON (for Mr. Wise).No claims in connexion with recruiting in New South Wales which have remained unpaid for more than a year are held by this Department. All claims reaching the Department receive prompt attention. As the late Recruiting Committee cannot furnish a statement of outstanding claims, it has to be left to claimants to make application.
asked the Assistant Minister for Defence, upon notice -
Mr. POYNTON” (for Mr. Wise).The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
Returned Soldiers Unemployed - Conveyance of Foodstuffs to Northern Queensland
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice!- -
Whether he will allow returned soldiers who are- out of work through industrial troubles the usual sustenance allowance paid to other returned nien who have lately arrived?
– Provision has already been made for returned soldiers who have involuntarily lost their employment as a result of the strike- to be paid sustenance. Any applicant desirous of consideration in this regard must first lodge a formal application.
asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Acting Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as fo]. low : -
asked the Acting Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
Instructional Staffs: Temporary Ap pointments: Retirement of Major Sadler.
asked the Assistant Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Assistant Minister for Defence, upon notice -
Mr. POYNTON (for Mr. Wise).- The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– I am not at present aware whether the United States Government votes sums for the purpose mentioned, but I shall have inquiries made so that the subject may be considered in connexion with the Budget.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Mr. GLYNN (for Mr. Greene).The information is being obtained.
asked the Minister for Tradeand Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow. -
Power to Imprison Unwilling Witnesses
asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
With reference to the answers given to the Inter-State Commission by Mr.Knox, managing director of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, if the Commission has not the power to commit unwilling witnesses to prison until they give the required answers, will the Minister introduce legislation to give the InterState Commission such necessary power?
– I have already announced the intention of the Government to introduce a Bill to amend the InterState Commission Act. The matter will be taken into consideration in that connexion.
Preference to Soldiers
asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
-The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
Case of Mrs. Lily Williams - Parents of Apprentices
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
In view of the husband of Mrs. Lily Williams, of 153 Queensberry-street, North Melbourne, having disappeared for three months, will he give the following information -
What was his pension, and what arrears, if any, have not been claimed?
What other pensions have been allotted to Mrs. Williams, to her eldest child, and to her baby?
– Inquiries are being made.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
With reference to unmarried soldiers killed in action who prior to enlisting were not actually contributing to the expenses of their parents’ home, but were serving their articles in some profession or their apprenticeship to a trade, will the Minister bring in a Bill to amend the War Pensions Act to provide that parents in such cases shall receive the benefits of the Act?
Mr.WATT. - The matter is under consideration, and in the meantime the Repatriation Department has arranged that special allowances may be paid in such cases if the circumstances warrant it.
Limitation of Advances
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
Whether there is any reason for the statement that the advance under the war service homes scheme has been reduced to 90 per cent. of the cost?
-No reduction has been made. Under the rent-purchase system (Part IV. of the Act) a deposit is not essential, but where an advance is made upon mortgage under Part V. it is limited to 90 per cent. of the property. In both classes the limit is £700.
Trade Use of Letters “ A.I.F
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
In connexion with the regulations prohibiting the tradeuse of the letters “ A.I.F.,” are the military authorities empowered to require the removal of the letters “ A.I.F.” from the business premises of returned soldiers where no attempt is made to monopolize the letters to the detriment of returned soldiers generally?
– Ithas been necessary, in order to prevent the improper use of the letters “A.I.F.” and other words and designations, to require those desiring to use them to apply for permission to do so. All applications must be forwarded to the Repatriation Department, and permission is granted in all bond fide cases. This regulation is under the War Precautions Act, the administration of which is vested in the Minister for Defence.
asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
Whether, in view of the fact that when the basic wage was 10s. 4d. per day, Commonwealth public servants were granted a war bonus at the rate of £12 per annum, and, according to a later judgment of the Arbitration Court, the basic wage is now11s. per day, it is the intention of the Government to increase the war bonus now payable to public servants?
– The war bonus was granted by the Arbitration Court, and any increase therein can only similarly be granted.
asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
Mr. GLYNN (for Mr. Webster).Inquiries are being made, and replies will be furnished as early as possible.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
Whether the Government will exempt from the payment of income tax all returned sailors and soldiers receiving a wage or salary of less than £250 per annum?
– This matter will be considered by the Government.
Refusal to Ship Wool
asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The information desired is being obtained, and a reply will be furnished to the honorable member as soon as possible.
asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
– I shall endeavour to obtain the information desired, and will furnish the honorable member with a reply as soon as possible. #
Offer to Erect Buildings
asked the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -
Does the Government propose to accept the offer made by Mr. George Fitzpatrick, on behalf of the Federal Capital League at Queanbeyan, and recorded in the Daily Telegraph of 4th August, for’ the formation of a syndicate to erect the whole of the buildings at Canberra and present them to the nation free of cost, provided a lease is given of adjoining lands?
– I have only just seen in the newspaper the offer referred to. All suggestions as to construction will receive due consideration.
– On the 7th August, the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley) asked the Assistant Minister for Defence the following question: -
Whether he will supply a return showing the salaries paid to the following positions in the Australian Navy in the years 1913 and 1919 respectively : - Paymasters, chief writer, writer, captain, 1st lieutenant, 2nd lieutenant.
I am now able to furnish the honorable member with the following information : -
Bill presented by Mr. Glynn, and read a first time.
The following paper was presented : -
Defence Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1919, No. 196.
Debate resumed from 13th August (vide page 11578), on motion by Mr. Groom -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
Upon which Mr. Tudor had moved by way of amendment -
That the following words be inserted after toe word “ That “- “ before introducing a Bill to establish a Bureau of Science and Industry, the Government should have furnished the House with an estimate of the approxi mate cost per annum of such an institution ; and should also have made preliminary arrangements with the State Governments to avoid duplicating the existing State bureaux or work at present carried on by them.”
.- In considering this Bill we are handicapped by the knowledge that the Government have forestalled the consent of the House by entering into certain negotiations and making appointments in connexion with an Institute of Science and Industry. It is but another example of the bad effect the use of the War Precautions Act has had, not only upon Ministers, but also upon Parliament itself. Everything is carried out by Executive act. Parliament is considered as nothing. It seems to me we shall need a new generation “of Ministers, and possibly a new generation of legislators, before we rid ourselves of this virus of the Ministry desiring to do everything on their own - flouting Parliament, and, through Parliament, flouting the people. We are also handicapped by the fact that no scheme is set out in the Bill itself. There is practically nothing before honorable members beyond the fact that certain gentlemen are to be appointed to draw up and carry out some scheme for the formation of an Institute of Science and Industry. The scheme itself is not put forward by Ministers. They propose to hand over to certain directors, some of whom have already been appointed, the task of drawing up a scheme which will be acceptable to Parliament and to the country. The Government have not presented to the House any financial statement or told us how much the Institute will cost Australia. They have not in any way taken the House into their confidence, or stated how they will collaboratewith the States, which already have big agricultural bureaux carrying out a similar class of work. The Minister (Mr. Groom) made great use of the words “ co-ordination “ and “ co-operation,” which seemed to me to mean in this case the squeezing out of the States and the Commonwealth doing everything on its own. In effect, the Government say that one man trying to find a road through a jungle has a better chance of success than half-a-dozen men would have. You cannot set one man to make a certain discovery. Great scientific problems are solved only by many minds working from different points of view to achieve the same end.
– I am not aware that any member of the Government has said anything to the contrary.
– The Minister has said that the Commonwealth Institute; by coordinating the work of the States, will have a better chance of solving these problems than will all the different States working independently. I doubt that very much indeed. Many years’ experience of science has shown that the big results are achieved by various minds working independently on the one problem.
– The experience of the States of the American Union, working separately, but in co-operation with the Federal authority, shows the reverse to be the case.
– Why does not the Minister enter into some arrangement with the Slates ?
– The Bill provides for that.
– It does not provide for anything of the sort.
– The honorable member cannot have read the Bill.
– The Bill provides for the appointment of directors to carry out the scheme, and co-operate with the States if they choose.
– We cannot compel the States to co-operate.
– No, but it is of no use tohold a pistol at the heads of the States and say, “Unless you agree with us we shall duplicate all your existing machinery, do the work on our own, and squash the State bureaux.”
After reading the Bill and the speech of the Minister, I am impressed with the fact that the principal services of this Institute are to be rendered to primary production. The very work which the Minister has emphasized is that which is now being carried on by the States. Many of the States have very big Departments, with wellequipped laboratories, and headed by distinguished men who have been very successful in working out problems in connexion with our primary industries, including the breeding of new varieties of wheat and the treatment of diseases in cattle.
– There is room for improvement.
– I have no doubt that the honorable member will approve of the Government’s scheme, because one of the things which the Minister stressed as a justification for the creation of this Institute is the necessity for reclaiming great areas of Queensland from the prickly pear, which the State Parliament has been trying for years to eradicate. I do not know in what way the Commonwealth will be able to supplement the experiments which have been already made in that connexion.
– Already, the Commonwealth is co-operating with the Governments of Queensland and New South Wales on that subject.
– What does the Minister mean by co-operating ?
– Combined efforts by the Federal and State authorities and sharing the cost.
– That means the Commonwealth is paying for the eradication of the prickly pear in Queensland.
– The Commonwealth and the States are co-operating and sharing the expenditure for that purpose.
– Then the Commonwealth has undertaken to supply money for this purpose without consulting Parliament. How much money have the Government provided?
– The Commonwealth has agreed to provide £4,000 per annum for five years, and the States of New South Wales and Queensland each £2,000 per annum for the same period.
– How much have the Commonwealth provided for the eradication of St. John’s wort in Victoria?
– There is no proposal of that kind.
– Victoria has been attempting for years to eradicate that pest, which is more dangerous than the prickly pear.
– I thought the honorable member was dealing with the Bill on national grounds.
– I am; but when I find that the Government have allocated a sum of money to certain States without consulting Parliament, I begin to think that the national point of view is not taken by the Ministry.
I look upon the scheme represented by this Bill as flamboyant and impracticable. I have always found that the people who go the whole hog on education, and regard it as the beginning andend of everything, are divided into two classes - firstly, those who have not had the advantage of education; and, secondly, those who have been so overeducated that they are not able to make their living in the practical walks of life. So it is with science and technical education. Those men who are the greatest sticklers for technical and scientific education are those who have not had the advantage of training in technical schools or workshops, or those who have gone in for extra scientific education to such an extent that they are incapable of appreciating the commercial side of industrial enterprises.
Lt.-Colonol Abbott. - Would the honorable member shut out science from this Institute ?
– No. Some have regarded as a blot on the Bill the fact that the man who has been appointed chairman of directors is not a scientist. I regard that fact as a distinct advantage, because on a board of directors we want not so much scientists as organizers. The fact that the chairman of directors is not a scientist is the one good feature I have discovered in the scheme.
During the debate a good deal has been said about what Germany has done with the aid of science. The great commercial advance of that country has been ascribed to the use of science in industry. I differ altogether from that point of view. Germany became commercially great, not by reason of the scientific education of its workmen, but because it harnessed finance to industrial and business concerns.
– Germany cribbed a great many of its scientific ideas from other countries.
– Almost every one of the scientific methods which Germany uses were discoveredby other countries. The Germans saw the advantage of placing those methods at the service of their industries, and the Government, not only provided the money, but insisted upon the controllers of industries using science in their work. I find not one provision in the Bill for the harnessing of science to industry. In the country districts I have seen an old horse harnessed to a jinker with a few bits of twine; but in this scheme, not even to that flimsy extent is science harnessed to industry. As a preliminary step in this project, the Government should have said to the big industrial concerns, “We are prepared to help you in your industry by placing science at your disposal, if you will do your part by providing some of the wherewithal.” Under this Bill the Government adopt the very opposite policy. They propose to setup a big Institute, appoint directors at £1,200 per annum, and spend money in ail sorts of ways; but in only one small clause of the Bill is provision made for industries to pay for the scientific aid to be provided by the Government.
– Clause 13, paragraph d, provides that one of the functions of the directors shall bo the recognition of persons or associations engaged in industries for the purpose of carrying out industrial scientific research, and cooperation with and the making of grants to them.
– I shall deal with the making of grants directly. The Minister has said that the directors of the Institute will not spend money without the consent of Parliament, but in half-a-dozen clauses of the Bill provision is made for the directors to make grants.
– But only out of money appropriated by Parliament, and under regulations made.
– What is the use of fooling us and the directors by telling them that they have power to make grants, and then telling us that Parliament has to appropriate the money?
– The honorable member knows that that is the usual procedure. Parliament appropriates money for a purpose, and then regulations are made to govern its expenditure.
– I was not aware that that was the procedure.
– That is the way in which repatriation money is appropriated and expended.
– On the contrary, my observation has been that the money has been practically all spent before the Government, at the close of the financial year, ask Parliament for approval of the expenditure. That is what will happen in connexion with this Institute. Again, if grants are to be given for travelling scholarships, they must be given to cover a number of years. What is the good of saying that a scholarship has been granted for research for a period of ten years, if in the second year the payment of the money is to be subject to a parliamentary appropriation? Does the Minister expect that scientists trained in a university without relation to ordinary business, will make an immediate success when they become associated with a commercial enterprise, and attempt to graft business methods on their scientific training. Id a small way I am a captain of industry; that is to say, I am engaged in manufacture which requires a certain amount of scientific research. The big discoveries and improvements in industry are made little by little. No man can become associated with an industrial concern, and in a month, or even twelve months, put it on the high road to fortune.
Lt. -Colonel Abbott. - If that had happened to the Allies during the war we would not have been out of the wood for ten years, but science made such rapid strides that we were successful much sooner.
– Because science was harnessed to the business all the time. In any case, the men who made the big scientific discoveries during the war were principally graduates from institutions like the Ballarat and Bendigo Schools of Mines.
– This interesting debate demands a quorum. I call attention to the state of the House.[Quorum formed.]
– During the war British scientists showed that they did not lag behind those of other countries, but the principal discoveries were made, not by university men, but by those who had graduated from such institutions as the Ballarat School of Mines, and had practical working experience.
During the last three years various advisory councils and other bodies of scientists have been endeavouring to find effective substitutes for certain commodities of which, owing to the war, there is a shortage in the Commonwealth ; but not one discovery of any moment to Australia has been made by the ultra-trained men. I have had some experience of their methods, and have been surprised at the ridiculously childish schemes which they have brought forward to. relieve some of our shortages.
– Will the honorable member go into details ?
– I can do so. I would remind honorable members that at the very forefront <of .a recent number of Science and Industry, the journal of the Institute, there was set out as a big achievement on the part of the Advisory Council, its discovery of a substitute for tin plate.. My association with .a business in which, the use «f tin plate is involved led me to .ascertain that their final conclusion was that the only .substitute for tin plate which they could nominate was a material, .the price of which was very rauch higher than even the enhanced price of tin during the war period. And this was placed before the people as a very great .achievement. The Advisory Council could have learned from a dozen different manufacturing establishments in Australia at the very outset of its investigations that the material it recommended would be suitable but for its price. It began, however, with the very ABC of the investigation of the subject, and, working from the bottom, prosecuted experiments which had been made long before by various private firms.
I recognise that in opposing a scheme of this kind one lays oneself open to the charge of being unprogressive, and of not being anxious to expand the industries of Australia. My objection to this Bill is that I see no future for a scheme based on the principles for which it provides. The Government should not have entered upon this project, nor should it have made appointments to the Institute without first consulting Parliament. In the second place, I see no evidence that the Government have endeavoured in any way to cooperate with the> different States, which are already spending large sums on scientific research work in relation principally to our primary industries.
– Are not these proposals mere copies of what is being done in the States.
– They are almost the same. We have already in the States adequate laboratories and many scientists carrying out investigations designed to assist our primary industries. It seems to me that the title of this Bill is a misnomer, and really a fraud, since, in framing it, there has not been any attempt to provide for the harnessing of science to industry. Doubtless, several scientists with high .degrees will be .appointed to the Institute, but not one of them will have had any experience of ordinary working conditions. Those of us who have had experience as workers in <or controllers of factories know full well that big scientific discoveries are not made in a day. They represent gradual accumulations of minor discoveries, and the steady building up of small improvements. Unless we are going to get these chemists and scientists right into our factories, workshops, and chemical laboratories, no good will result from this Bill. If we put the scientists into private workshops and factories and called upon the industries benefited by their work to subscribe to the cost, the position would be different; but, as it is, we shall not obtain any advantage from the Bill.
I protest against this Bill, in the first place, because no definite scheme has been placed before us, and because we are asked to commit ourselves to an unknown expenditure in connexion with it. It is all very well for supporters of the measure to say that Parliament will have annually to appropriate the money necessary to provide for the maintenance of the Institute, and that, therefore, we shall have full control over its expenditure; but my experience is that, once a Parliament commits itself to such a scheme, it will not stop at an expenditure of £10,000, £20,000, or even £50,000 per annum. We know how quickly a new Department grows. Every head of a Department wants to boom it, and to make it appear to be the most essential of all. A Department is no sooner created than the officer placed in charge of it requires a staff of secretaries, filing clerks, and others, and it speedily becomes a vast spending body. It is fastened on the people, and we are unable to get rid of it. Because the Government have not formulated a proper scheme, because they have not submitted a statement as to the cost which this scheme will involve, and also for the reason that they have not attempted in any way to provide for the extension of scientific research to the workshop and the factory, I am utterly opposed to this Bill.
.- While I am opposed to the motion for the second reading of this Bill, I give place to no honorable member in the belief that it is absolutely necessary to bring to bear on our primary and secondary industries the best scientific knowledge. I recognise that we shall have to improve our methods of business in order to hold our own in the fierce trade competition that must follow the war. We shall have to go, not only to Great Britain and to the United States of America, but particularly to Germany in respect of some matters, in order to learn the best system of conducting our industrial enterprises. I do not wish to be considered unprogressive, but I am opposed to this Bill, because I can see in it nothing more than a proposal for a useless expenditure of money. We are told that the object of this Institute is to stimulate production. With such an object we must all have sympathy. Honorable members, and the people generally, have again and again urged that we must increase our production in order to meet our war expenditure, and to balance the financial ledger; but this Institute will help us very little in that direction.
– We cannot yet say that we know enough of it to be able to make that statement.
– Th at is so, but we have had some indication of what it is likely to do, and I can see nothing more in this Bill than an attempt to set up another Department which will be superimposed upon the scientific bureaux already carried on by the States. It is useless for the Minister (Mr. Groom) to tell me in a light and airy way that the work of this Institute and the State bureaux will be coordinated. As a member of the Public Accounts Committee I have learned of what has happened in connexion with schemes of this kind, and I know what will happen in this case. I am surprised that Ministers do not profit by experience. They do not seem to realize the rapidity with which Departments grow. We have seen an unnecessary Department established and rapidly assume vast dimensions. One may enter such a Depart ment and find it impossible to fault it, yet it ought never to have been created. We have for instance the Prime Minister’s Department. This is the only part of the Empire in which there is such a Department, and it is certainly an anomaly. Some one got on the blind side of Mr.Fisher, who apparently thought he would be justified in creating a precedent, and he set about establishing a Department of the Prime Minister. That Department is not wanted in Australia. All the work that it did even during the war, when the Prime Minister was certainly a busy man, could have been done very much better by means of temporary additions to the staffs of other Departments.
In regard to all these Government enterprises, the position is the same. Parliament is induced by Ministers to consent to the setting up of an establishment, and the expenditure on that establishment increases from year to year. Government factories are generally started without any satisfactory preliminary business investigations. Such a thing would never be done by, for instance, the Broken Hill Proprietary Company. If a scheme is submitted to that company, it takes steps at once to secure the bast possible advice with regard to it, and once it has ascertained that it is likely to prove a sound and payable proposition, it sets to work upon it, with the result that within two or three years the shareholders get some return for their money. When we inquire into the position of a Government enterprise like the Small Arms Factory, we see that Parliament has not got what it intended, and that the expenditure upon it has grown beyond all anticipation. If ordinary business methods had been followed, if a thorough preliminary investigation had been made, we shouldhave got what we wanted, and with much less expenditure.
– That is hardly a parallel case.
– These observations will apply to practically all Government enterprises. The Minister in charge of this Bill cannot tell us what the expenditure on the Institute will be. I do not blame him for that, but he should at least be able to give us a very reliable estimate. I should not care what the cost was as long as I was satisfied that the results would be beneficial; but my objection is that we are not going to obtain any good results from this scheme.
– That is more than any one can say at the present time.
– Honorable members have indulged in the expression of a pious hope that the Institute will prove of great value, but we have had no concrete case showing that its establishment is likely to have an important bearing on any industry. We could get better results by devoting the best talent available to specific propositions. Could an Institute of this kind add anything to our knowledge of nodules in meat, or any other pest? The present organization has done little or nothing in this direction, except in a perambulatory sort of way. Of course, in the case of a pest like the fly, it would not matter what the cost of the investigation was so long as we got results; but we are not likely to get any “ forrader “ in the way that this Institute will probably act. It would be far better to pick out special subjects and allow the States and the Commonwealth together to devote the best talent obtainable to them. Professor Reid came out some time ago on behalf of the British Government to investigate matters concerning wheat, and, on request, devoted some attention to the fly pest, for which, he says, he has already discovered a remedy. Whether or not that remedy will prove efficacious, we are more likely to attain success in this and other similar directions by selecting particular subjects for investigation. Most inventions and discoveries do not come from organized or applied science, but from men who are practically engaged in the industries concerned, and who submit their ideas to the scientists for development.
The Minister talked a great deal about the Bureau in America, but it would be more to the point if he showed us that the proposed Institute in Australia is to bo fostered and conducted in the same way. We have not unlimited funds, and unless we can look forward to successful results, the idea can only end in waste.
Nothing has been said to upset my contention that the Institute is not going to achieve its object of stimulating production. ‘ We are told that it is not the intention to interfere with the States organizations, but only “co-ordinate.” I like the word “ co-ordinate,” and coordination is a good thing if it can be brought about. But, apparently, we are going to do much more than co-ordinate and co-operate ? The present Commonwealth Bureau has already sent out reports, and issues a monthly journal containing more or less interesting matter. The States, however, were doing all this kind of work, and, if I may say so, were issuing much better journals.
– The Commonwealth journal is printed on the very best paper.
– Where does all the information come from in the journal?
– It is a re-hash of what has been published in the past.
– Yes; what does the journal contain ? I am not complaining of the matter, but however good it may be in itself, it is not directed to any particular purpose. The only result of this Bill will be the creation of another Department to find billets for people and issue reports.
As to the appointments proposed, Dr. Gellatly may be the best man for the position of director, but I hope, for the sake of the honour and reputation of the Government, that it is not true they have already appointed Dr. Gilruth. Probably Dr. Gellatly, who is not a man of any special scientific standing, is there as an organizer and business head.
– It is curious to select a doctor of medicine for such a post.
– I believe that Dr. Gellatly is a barrister and a journalist. As to Dr. Gilruth, I do not think he is better qualified for a position of the kind than many men who could be found in Australia; besides, he has just left a Commonwealth position, and it would appear as though the Government were hunting for another for him. At a time like this, the Government ought to give Parliament some say in matters of the kind, or, at any rate, conduct them openly, and allow for competition.
– What is the salary to be paid to Dr. Gilruth?
– I think it is £1,500 a year.
– If that is so, it is about time Parliament made a stand.
– If we were to propose that the appointment should not be made, honorable members opposite’ would vote in favour of the appointment.
– That is the honorable member’s opinion. If there were proper co-ordination, three good scientific) men, with a few clerks, could do all that was necessary. Did we ever know a body created with practically unlimited power to make appointments, and so forth, which did not in a little time have a whole host of officials around it ?
It is only a pious hope, which will not. be realized, that there is to be no interference with the States Departments, but only co-ordination. What about the Quarantine, the Electoral, and the Taxation branches? Is there co-ordination in regard to these, although the Government and every official, both Commonwealth and State, knows that there should be? Could there be any more disgraceful exhibition than what happened when the influenza epidemic broke out? The State and Commonwealth Quarantine Departments squabbled while people were dying.
– The Commonwealth called the representatives of the States together, and an agreement was come to which was observed by the Commonwealth.
– For how long?
– All through; we never deviated from it.
– No, because the Commonwealth wanted to have all its own way.
– Because the States had made an agreement.
– That was a flagrant instance of the way in which the public interest was sunk amidst the squabbles of public Departments. But the quarantine business is not over yet. What about Tasmania and the Commonwealth? Tasmania, as a clean State, stood out for seven days’ quarantine, because that was the period agreed on at the November Conference. The Commonwealth, however, tried to compel Tasmania to accept the Commonwealth view, although the Commonwealth doctors know no more about the disease than do the State doctors.
– Surely the honorable member does not think that quarantine should be controlled by the States ?
– No ; but I am pointing out the position, and showing what fudge the Minister was talking about co-ordination. Ministers come down at a time like this and make statements in an airy way, when they ought to be discussing business. The time is most inopportune for the establishment of an Institute of the kind proposed. Unfortunately, our financial position, like that of Great Britain, and most other countries, is very critical.
– That is because they have abandoned the idea of investigations of this kind.
– Other countries have not abandoned the idea of this sort of bureau, because they have never been foolish enough to adopt it. I give way to no one in my desire to assist and make use of scientific investigation, but I must see some results from the expenditure of our money in the way of increased production.
– This Institute will lift Australia out of the mud, and Tasmania with it.
– Australia has never yet been in the “ mud.” However, the times are so bad that we should be very careful about spending money without adequate return.
– That is what we expect.
– Show me how we are going to get it. All this maudlin calk at a time like this sickens practical people. It is imperative that the Government should be economical, and set their faces against any unnecessary expenditure, not because we do not want this Institute, and many other things, but because we cannot afford them. At the same time, the Government should have, what I am afraid they lack, enterprise and business acumen, so as to be prepared to take a proper risk in seizing an opprtunity to stimulate production. There are many ways in which this could, and ought to be, done, and if a little money were lost here and there, no blame would attach to the Government.
– To what is the honorable member referring?
– To a number of industries. For instance, in the wool industry and the mining industry, the Government could assist, and ought to assist, even at the risk of losing a little, in view of the fact that if success were attained, there would be ample return for the outlay.
– What about the standardization of iron and steel - standard ships, and so forth?
– Good heavens! Here is an honorable member asking me how the standardization of iron and steel can be brought about without an Institute of Science and Industry. Does the honorable member think the Broken Hill Company and the great steel concerns cannot take advantage of all the best knowledge existing in the world? Does the Colonial Sugar Refining Company go round holding out its arms for some one to come and help it? No; it employs and pays the best chemists good salaries.
– We want to expand that idea.
– We shall not do it in this way. If the question of the standardization of iron and steel is very pressing, let us put the best men on to attend to it, and get it done. In that way we shall obtain some return for our money; but do not wait till a perambulating institute reaches the question of steel in its programme. If it is true that Dr. Gilruth has been appointed to this Institute, do honorable members think that is going to settle the question of the standardization of steel?
– The honorable member asks whether it is true. The Minister has not denied it, and I assert that it is true.
– If it is true, I shall be sorry to hear it for the sake of the reputation of the Government.
I object, further, to the way in which this business was started. During 1916 the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) had a column or two in the papers on the subject of an Advisory Council of Science. Probably some one had caught him on the hop when he was busy, and obsessed him for the moment with the idea; but I do not suppose that even he at that time expected the scheme to develop in this way. Science at that time was very much in evidence. We were attributing the great success of Germany to her scientific activities, and science loomed large in the public mind. The war is over now.
– But the industrial war is still going on.
– I stated earlier that I did not object to the application of science to industry. We should go to science, but the Government, in this Bill, are founding a bodythat will give us anything but science. It will give us reports that will lead nowhere so far as practical business is concerned. I want to see the proposal remodelled before I support it. Probably the Prime Minister never intended that the Advisory Council should develop into an Institute in this way without Parliament being consulted and everything being done above-board’. There have been far too many instances lately to show how this Chamber is losing its grip of the purse-strings of the country. The Treasurer (Mr. Watt) cannot even tell us what he expects to spend on the Institute.
– It will cost £500,000 at least.
– That would be a large sum of money to spend, although, if we secured adequate results, I would not mind spending £5,000,000. The country must be assured first, however, of adequate returns. We can get them if we set about the business in a proper way. That will mean doing away with what we have done, and starting afresh.
This is another instance of the expenditure of money without parliamentary sanction. Not long ago we had a debate on the question of spending money on ships without parliamentary sanction. I tried very hard to catch your eye, sir, during the time allowed for that debate, because I wished to say that I considered that the Government had acted unconstitutionally, but that I could have overlooked it if, on the very first opportunity, they had admitted the fact to Parliament. Everybody knew when the contract for those ships was concluded, and it was the duty of the Government, before any question was put on the subject, to tell the House of the proposed expenditure. No Minister, however, took that course. When objection was raised, the Acting Attorney-General (Mr. Groom) pointed to the fact that the House had adopted the Ministerial statement of policy.
– The Acting Minister for the Navy announced it in the House several days before.
– He should have made the announcement three weeks or a month before. He should have said to Parliament, “ We have done certain things. We know we have acted irregularly, but our excuse is so-and-so, and we hope Parliament will accept it.”
– What has that to do with the Institute of Science and Industry?
– It has everything to do with the attempt to establish an Institute, because there has also been unauthorized expenditure on that body. If Ministers had come to the House, as in duty bound, as the trustees of the public purse, and told the House that they had done things irregularly in England, but that they had been forced to that course because their actions had to be kept secret to prevent interference by the Shipping Ring, the House would have been satisfied, and we should never have heard anything of the motion for adjournment moved by the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Boyd), which was so strongly supported.
– Order! I ask the honorable member not to go into that matter.
– I am quoting it simply as an illustration on parallel lines. The Government are following the same evil course in this case, and I object to it. The States have been doing this work, and some of them have on occasions achieved very valuable results.
– How much have we been able to do in Tasmania?
– I do not know that it has been very much, but some of the people there have had the pluck to start out and do a good deal for themselves. The orchardists of the Huon district took drastic action in connexion with certain pests, and that helped them to found the industry of which the country ought to be proud.
– I believe they are waiting down there with shot-guns for two or three of the scientists to come back.
– The scientists did very little for the apple-growers of Tasmania. The growers in the south of the island have done things for themselves very well. Three or four of the States have been issuing periodical publications showing the work they have done. What the Commonwealth should do is to meet the States and co-operate with them in the proper sense. ‘ We need only one real bureau.
– The Government wish to co-operate with the States.
– They say that that is their wish, but, if it is, they are not going the Tight way about it. We all admit the value of science, but surely if we find that we are moving in a direction that is not leading towards the goal we should, as sensible men, retrace our steps in time.
– Does the honorable member mean that the Commonwealth should not appoint any scientific experts at all?
– My contention is that we should have had a thorough understanding with the States; looked into the whole proposition with them, and seen what was best for the whole of the people of Australia, because, after all, it is the one taxpayer that keeps both authorities going. We sometimes forget that we are one agent and the States other agents for the same people. We should all look to the general interests of the community. If that had been done, we could have started a bureau on something like sound lines. One bureau is enough for Australia. We should have a good central bureau, and then we could have our officers in all the States. That would secure co-ordination.
– Do you mean the States to give up their bureaux, and we to have an Australian bureau?
– Yes; and let the Commonwealth and the States share the expenditure. In that way we should get good results. There is plenty of room in this continent for the application of science.
– Competition in obtaining that science is good.
– If we have a good, sound bureau we do not need a lot of competition. Does the honorable member think that Western Australia is trying to outdo Queensland in knowledge of tick or prickly pear? As soon as any State finds the best remedy for a pest all the other States will adopt it, after its value has been proved. If we had one bureau, with a sub-department in each State, we could do all that the Minister expects to do by means of State and Federal bodies at very much less cost and in a far more progressive way. We should found our bureau on very different lines from those now proposed. Australia will not grudge the money so long as anything like satisfactory results are obtained.
I am so convinced that we are on wrong lines in this measure that I shall oppose the second reading. I want to see the Bill thrown out, so that we may get on to the right path. From a bureau such as I have outlined, people interested in industries who required assistance to work out their problems would be able to obtain assistance just as well as they could fromsix or seven bureaux. We are not starting on business lines, and we shall not succeed if we do not. We do not want our scientific men necessarily to be business men. We want them to be good at the subjects with which they have to deal, and we require a good organizing business head. This, for all I know, we may have in Dr. Gellatly.
– What do you suggest should be done?
– I have suggested that we should start afresh, and build up one bureau for all Australia.
– You would ask the States to repeal their Acts?
– Exactly. I do not say that they will agree to any such proposal. But if they will not, the position cannot be helped. It is our duty to do the best that we possibly can for the people whom we have been elected to serve. I ask the Minister whether there has been any conference between State and Federal authorities with a view to re-organizing their Departments?
– We know very well that the States will not give up their Departments.
– If that is the case, I am opposed to the proposal of the Government on the ground that it is altogether too big. If it is merely a question of co-ordinating the Departments of the States and the Commonwealth in regard to science and industry, we can do very much better than we shall do by means of this Bill. It is all very well to talk about what has been done in other parts of the world. But there is no evidence that we are starting our Institute in anything like the way that the Federal Institute was started in the United States of America. To me it does not matter what some conference may have determined. My objection is that there has never been a proper attempt made by the Federal authorities to get the States into line on this matter.
– Is not that attempt being made under this Bill ?
– No. Under this measure, we shall merely have another Department, and we shall not insure any more friendly relations between the States and the Commonwealth than exist today.
– At the present moment the Advisory Council is working in completeharmony with the States.
– But the Commonwealth authority has not got into its stride yet. I hold that the whole business should be commenced afresh and I shall certainly back up my opinion with my vote.
– I do not altogether agree with ray honorable friend who has just resumed his seat. He is like the curate’s egg - good in parts. When he talks about abolishing the excellent work that is being done by State organizations-
– I did not suggest that they should be abolished.
– When my honorable friend gets his speech properly corrected, doubtless I shall agree with him entirely. This Bill is not intended to sanction the creation of a Bureau of Science and Industry. It is a measure relating to a Commonwealth Institute of Science and Industry, and, following their usual tactics, the Government have first created the Institute, and now come to Parliament to sanction their action. I am sick of this sort of business. The Government cannot blame its supporters if they speak out, and say that it is time this sort of thing came to a stop. I believe in the creation of a Bureau of Science and Industry, but I also believe in doing things decently and in order. This matter has not been brought forward in accordance with the best traditions of Parliament, and Ministers are asking their supporters to carry burdens which they ought not to be expected to carry. If the Bill is not put in its proper place for a time, until some better scheme is forthcoming, I shall vote against the motion for its second reading.
I am strongly of opinion that it is essential we should create an Institute upon the lines of similar organizations in America. But I believe it would be useless to create an Institute of this character to act independently, and to overlap the activities of the different State Departments. We have had many of these activities in existence for years, and they have accomplished excellent work. They struggled during their initial stages against prejudice of every kind, and many of them are only now overcoming that prejudice. Science, particularly as applied to our primary industries, has justified itself a thousand times over. We have been told that it is intended to co-operate with the States, and that all State activities, with this Institute as a nerve centre, are to be organized upon proper lines. I am sure that any such organization would produce results that, from a monetary standpoint, would justify a very large expenditure. But I ask the Minister for Works and Railways (Mr. Groom) whether the co-operation of the States with the Commonwealth in these developments was not determined upon before this Department was created by the Commonwealth.
– ‘Since the Advisory Council has been in existence it has been co-operating with the States.
– Yes. I am pleased that there is an inclination in that direction in some of the States, but that circumstance does not remove any objection to the action of the Government in first establishing this Department, and afterwards coming to Parliament to justify its action. It is simply belittling the States, saying to them, “We have launched this enterprise, and now we want you to co-operate with us.” ‘
Two or three years before he left public life that splendid Leader of this House for many years, Mr. Deakin, was exceedingly anxious to see his ideas as to the creation of an institution of this kind, of which he was enamoured, come to fruition. Later on, the present Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) became fascinated with the same project. He told the people on several public occasions that he intended to develop a scheme at the proper time. In fact, on one of his days out, when he was having a good time, he said that he was prepared to justify a scheme that might develop to the extent of spending £500,000 a year. I would not object to that amount of expenditure if, in the successive stages of its development, such an Institute would fully justify its existence. This may well happen ; but, for Heaven’s sake let us do the thing decently, .and let us put an end to the Parliament and the country being continually committed to big schemes involving possible heavy expenditure without being consulted.
– What does the honorable member suggest should be done ?
– In this case, the Government should have foi- lowed the usual practice of Parliaments, and not have humiliated honorable members on this side of the House. Ministers will not have the whole of the members on this side wet-nursing them for very long.
– How would the honorable member launch this scheme?
– First of all, I would settle with the States the matter of co-operation. The first steps towards that end were only taken by the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Watt) at the last Premiers’ Conference; when, upon the outbreak of influenza, there was a rush of business which caused it, and many other matters of importance, to be set aside. It was not showing sufficient respect and courtesy to theStates, and to the Commonwealth itself, to submit a question of so much importance, practically without notice, to a conference that was unexpectedly interrupted. The scheme had been launched previously without seeking a conference with the States.
– In 1916, when the scheme was launched, the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) invited the State Premiers to a conference in Melbourne. They were consulted right from the beginning.
– That conference was not convened for this particular purpose. It came to no conclusion upon this subject. I have been following up this matter, because I am interested in it.
– I believe that the honorable member supports the scheme.
-Not on the present lines. Although the Minister (Mr. Groom) may elucidate the matter as to the date upon which the cooperation of the States was first sought, he will not move my primary objection that this Institute was commenced, and a liability incurred in regard to it, before Parliament was asked to consent to the establishment of it.
Until a scheme has been submitted by the Government showing that the ordinary lines of courtesy and decency towards the States have been followed - that is to say, if this Bill is designed to create an Institute of Science and Industry independent of the States - I shall oppose it at every stage.
– What else can it do as we are now proceeding?
– There were many omissions fromthe speech with which the Minister introduced the Bill. He did not tell us what the Institute would cost.
– The main question is whether we are to get value for the money we spend.
– The main question is whether we propose to do things in the proper way - by cooperating with the States. When they are treated in this way, can we wonder when we hear so much from Ministers about the hopelessness of co-operating with the States, or about getting the consent of the States to certain proposals? If the Institute is launched in its proper form, with the State Agricultural Bureaux, the Agricultural Schools, Workmen’s Colleges, and other institutions all properly co-ordinated under it, the Commonwealth Institute, the central activity, may lead Australia excellently well in the application of science to industries, primary and secondary. One of the greatest requirements of the Commonweath is the further development of chemistry in relation to the soil, and in regard to its application to manufactures.
Another reason why I shall oppose the Bill, until we have a proper statement from the Government upon the matters to which I have referred, is the personnel of the proposed directorate of the Institute. The Minister has told us nothing.
– Directors have not been, and cannot be appointed. The only arrangement made is the appointment of the director, Dr. Gellatly.
– Well, that is one.
– What about Dr. Gilruth ?
– No appointment has been made.
– Has he not been appointed ?.
– I am delighted to have the Minister’s assurance, because Dr. Gilruth made a most awful and lamentable failure of his administration in the Northern Territory. But it is remarkable that we have had no assurance, previously, from the Minister, although he has been plied again and again during the course of this debate for information on this point.
– I make the statement now, because it has been repeated so often. I had intended to reply to it in my speech.
– -The Minister’s assurance is a great relief to me, because we could not have had a greater failure in administration than during Dr. Gilruth’s term in the Northern Territory, and but for the fact that strong protests were made he would have secured an appointment for another term of five years. In order to get out of a difficulty he was allowed to remain there until the war was over. This man who made such a failure of the Northern Territory, and who has been ridiculed in both Houses of Parliament for years past, has now been sent abroad upon some mission. Is this true? !> it true also that his expenses are being paid ? If he had been appointed to this Institute of Science and Industry it would have damned the whole business from A to Z.
– But he has not “been appointed.
– That is a blessing .
– Then why talk about it?
– I am talking about it in the hope that the appointment never will be made.
I want honorable members to carry their minds back twenty or twenty-five year3 ago, to the time when scientific education was first being applied to agricultural operations in the different States of Australia, through the Agricultural Colleges. When the professors began to teach farmers how to grow wheat and carry on other operations, they were simply beating the air for years and years.
– What about Lowrie ?
– He was a farmer as well as a professor, reared among the Highlands of Scotland on porridge and the Shorter catechism. As a poor nian at the plough Professor Lowrie won his way to the University, but even after he had obtained his degree, and entered upon his profession, it took him years to remove prejudice from the minds of some of the farmers.
– William Farrar was not a practical farmer; he was a surveyor.
– Farrar was a university man who became a practical farmer, and if he had never done anything else but breed Federation wheat would still have been regarded as one of the greatest benefactors to this country. Things are different to-day. The foundations for higher scientific education have been laid, and farmers are ready to listen to scientists with the practical side of their education fully developed. But if they are expected to listen to the type of man that was administering the Northern Territory - if he is placed on the staff of the Institute of Science and Industry - then farewell to progress.
– Surely the honorable member realizes that there never was a time when scientific assistance was more necessary than it is to-day.
– I do, but I want the Government to go about it in the right way.
– But you say you will not assist us to do it even now.
– I will not assist the Government until they settle the matter with the States.
– What do you mean by that ? We have been consulting with the States right through, and they are cooperating. We want authority to go on.
– If the Government desire by the dissemination of scientific knowledge to secure greater efficiency, they might well give attention to those concerns with which they are dealing to-day. Let them eliminate the waste that is being reported in nearly all Government activities.
– Point to one instance.
– The honorable member has been away fighting for this country for several years, or he would have known that during the whole of that time we had Royal Commissions of expert business men inquiring into and reporting upon the inefficient management of various Government Departments.
– What did those Commissions do ?
– They showed waste in expenditure amounting to hundreds of thousands of pounds, and the unfortunate fact is that those who were responsible for this waste are in the same positions and with the same authority to-day.
I repeat that I do not intend to support this Bill until the States and the Commonwealth have had a reasonable opportunity to co-ordinate State activities with this scheme. There is no hurry for a week or two. The House has enough business to keep members fully occupied for twelve solid months. In order to make this scheme successful we want big men - the biggest men that can be found. I do not care what salaries are paid if the right men are obtained. In the meantime I am against the Bill.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Fenton) adjourned.
Deportationof Enemy Aliens - Return of Ministers from England.
– I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
During the adjournment debate earlier in the day, I promised to inquire into the case of one man who is supposed to have been listed for compulsory deportation. The Acting Attorney-General (Mr. Groom) has since investigated the case of Zoller, and finds that he twice applied for deportation, although,apparently, he found cause to object when the time of departure actually came.
– Was the application put in writing?
– There is a letter in which he says -
If I may be permitted to wait until the next boat, I will be ready to sail, but it is impossible for me to go by this boat. I am anxious to get back to Germany, and do not intend to return to Australia.
That is in his own handwriting. I am glad to have the opportunity of removing the misapprehension regarding my statement this morning, that we were not compulsorily repatriating any men without fair inquiry, but others we were repatriating at their own request. If, however, honorable members know or discover any cases to which the principles I have expressed to-day have not been applied, the Government will be glad to hear of them, and to see that their determinations are strictly observed by the Departments concerned.
– Will the honorable member have a few copies of his speech today reprinted for distribution?
– I shall leave that to be decided by the Acting Attorney-General. No doubt, if copies of the speech are made available, honorable members who are being appealed to for an exposition of the deportation policy will be enabled to give it clearly. In regard to the case of J.O. Seyffert, mentioned by the honorable member for Barrier (Mr. Considine), a search has been made, and no order for his deportation has been discovered. No such case as that mentioned by the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) is traceable in the Department, but I shall be glad to have investigated any cases in respect of which honorable members think that the principles I have enunciated have been violated.
– Has the Acting Prime Minister investigated the cases I mentioned yesterday ?
– I have placed them in the hands of the Crown Law authorities, and have not yet received any answer.
By way of explanation, rather than apology, I intimate to honorable members that I expect to be absent from the House for a fortnight.
– Where is the honorable member going ?
– To the “little grey home in the west.” I think that, in view of the important happenings at the Peace Conference, responsible Ministers should take the earliest possible opportunity of making themselves acquainted with the Peace Treaty, and entering into a consultation with the returning Ministers.
The honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Higgs) suggested that this trip involved a contradiction of a statement made by me earlier in the session, that Ministers in Australia have been in frequent consultation with the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) abroad. It does not; but cable communication is not as full as conversation first-hand can be. Quite a number of things happened at the Peace Conference which neither the press cablegrams nor those sent to Ministers in Australia fully explained. I desire, also, on behalf of the Government, to convey to the returning Prime Minister and the Minister for the Navy (Sir J oseph Cook) a record of the work of the Government during their sixteen months’ absence.
– And the rocky position they are in to-day.
– The Ministerial party and the Government stand as impregnable and motionless as Gibraltar.
– “Motionless” is good.
– That was a slip.
-It was no slip. It was specially designed to trap honorable members opposite. We do our work without exhibiting our mobility. Honorable members of the Opposition should not think, when they see honorable members on this side reserved, placid, and confident, and not throwing their arms about, that we are not accomplishing things. During the Prime Minister’s absence of sixteen months, important things have happened. The war has terminated, and the actions of Parliament and the Departments should be made known to returning Ministers.
During my somewhat extended occupancy of the position of Deputy Leader of the House, a position not sought by me, and one which I have no desire to continue to occupy, I have received from honorable members on both sides of the House nothing but consideration. I wish to openly and publicly acknowledge that, and, as I shall not be in a position to express that feeling in quite the same authoritative way later, I take this opportunity of doing it. Government members have realized, perhaps more than Opposition members have allowed themselves to do, some of the problems the Govern ment have been dealing with, and the pressure put upon us, and they have extended to us a sympathetic consideration which we have appreciated. But to honorable members of the Opposition, whose function is to oppose and fight, I render a similar acknowledgment. I can imagine that they might have made the task of the Government more irksome, but during the strenuous period through which we have passed they have shown to me and other Ministers a courtesy that is all too rare in public life.
.- While the Acting Prime Minister has occupied the position of Leader of the House, I have got along with him very well. Members on this side have extended courtesy to him, and we have received courtesy in return. Although honorable members may disagree upon many matters, we should at least give each other credit for sincerity in the opinions we express. I support the request of my colleague (Mr. Higgs), that the speech of the Acting Prime Minister, an regard to the deportation of enemy aliens, should be made available in pamphlet form. It contains a statement of the principles which dominate the Government policy in that regard, and copies of the speech will be handy for distribution. The deputy leader of our party (Mr. Higgs) made a speech extending over less than half -an -hour in which he set out. reasons why a certain course should be followed, and I should be glad if the Government would arrange for a few copies of his speech, and the speech made by the Acting Prime Minister in reply, to be distributed. Honorable members would then be able to follow the complaints and suggestions made, and the answers thereto by the Government.
– I think that could be arranged. The honorable member’s suggestion is that proof slips of the two speeches should be pinned together and distributed ?
– That could be arranged by Hansard. We will have the two speeches sent out together.
– That will satisfy me.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 4.11 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 15 August 1919, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1919/19190815_reps_7_89/>.