8th Parliament · 1st Session
The House met at 10.30 a.m., pursuant to the proclamation of His Excellency the Governor-General.
The Clerk read the proclamation.
The Usher of the Black Rod, being announced, was admitted, and delivered the message that the Deputies of the Governor-General for the opening of Parliament requested the attendance of honorable members in the Senate chamber forthwith.
Honorable! members attended accordingly, and, having returned,
The Deputy authorized by the GovernorGeneral to administer the oath entered, the chamber.
The Clerk read the commission, under the Great Seal of the Commonwealth, authorizing the Honorable Isaac Alfred Isaacs a Justice of the High Court of Australia, to administer the oath, or affirmation, of allegiance to the King required by law to be taken or made by members of the House of Representatives.
The Clerk announced that he had re ceived returns to the writs for the election of members of the House of Representatives.
The following honorable members made and subscribed the oath of allegiance : -
Anstey, Frank, Esquire, Bourke, Victoria.
Atkinson, Llewelyn, Esquire, Wilmot, Tasmania.
Bamford, Hon. Frederick William, Herbert, Queensland.
Bayley, James Garfield, Esquire, Oxley, Queensland.
Bell, George John, Esquire, Darwin, Tasmania.
Best, Hon. Sir Robert Wallace, K.C.M.G., Kooyong, Victoria.
Blakeley, Arthur, Esquire, Darling, New South Wales.
Blundell, Reginald Pole, Esquire, Adelaide, South Australia.
Bowden, Eric Kendall, Esquire, Nepean, New South Wales.
Brennan, Frank, Esquire, Batman, Victoria.
Bruce, Stanley Melbourne, Esquire, Flinders, Victoria.
Burchell, Reginald John, Esquire, Fremantle, Western Australia.
Cameron, Donald Charles, Esquire, Brisbane, Queensland.
Catts, James Howard, Esquire, Cook, New South Wales.
Chanter, Hon. John Moore, Riverina, New South Wales.
Chapman, Hon. Austin, Eden-Monaro, New South Wales.
Cook, Right Hon. Sir Joseph, P.C., G.C.M.G., Parramatta, New South Wales.
Cook, Robert, Esquire, Indi, Victoria,
Corser, Edward Bernard Cresset, Esquire, Wide Bay, Queensland.
Cunningham, Lucien Lawrence, Esquire, Gwydir, New South Wales.
Fen ton, James Edward, Esquire, Maribyrnong, Victoria,
Fleming, William Montgomerie, Esquire, Robertson, New South Wales.
Foster, Hon.Richard Witty, Wakefield, South Australia.
Francis, Frederick Henry, Esquire, Henty, Victoria.
Gabb, Joel Moses, Esquire, Angas, South Australia.
Gibson, William Gerrand, Esquire, Corangamite, Victoria.
Greene, Hon. Walter Massy, Richmond, New South Wales.
Gregory, Hon. Henry, Dampier, Western Australia.
Groom, Hon. Littleton Ernest, Darling Downs, Queensland.
Hay,- Alexander, Esquire. New England, New South Wales.
Higgs, Hon. William Guy, Capricornia, Queensland.
Hill, William Caldwell, Esquire, Echuca, Victoria.
Hughes, Right Hon. William Morris, P.C., K.C., Bendigo, Victoria.
Jackson, David Sydney, Esquire, Bass, Tasmania.
Johnson, Hon. William Elliot, Lang, New South Wales.
Jowett, Edmund, Esquire, Grampians, Victoria.
Kerby, Edwin Thomas John, Esquire, Ballarat, Victoria.
Lamond, Hector, Esquire, Illawarra, New South Wales.
Lavelle, Thomas James, Esquire, Calare, New South Wales.
Lazzarini, Hubert Peter, Esquire, Werriwa, New South Wales.
Lister, John Henry, Esquire, Corio, Victoria.
Livingston, John, Esquire, Barker, South Australia.
Mackay, George Hugh. Esquire, Lilley, Queensland.
Mahon, Hon. Hugh, Kalgoorlie, Western Australia.
Mahony, William George, Esquire, Dalley, New South Wales.
Makin, Norman John Oswald, Esquire, Hindmarsh, South Australia.
Maloney, William Robert Nuttall, Esquire, Melbourne, Victoria.
Marks, Walter Moffitt. Esquire, Wentworth. New South Wales.
Marr, Charles William Clanan, Esquire, Parkes, New South Wales.
Mathews, James, Esquire, Melbourne Ports, Victoria.
Maxwell, George Arnot, Esquire, Fawkner, Victoria.
McWilliams, William James, Esquire, Franklin, Tasmania.
Moloney, Parker John, Esquire, Hume, New South Wales.
Nicholls, Samuel Robert, Esquire, Macquarie, New South Wales.
Page, Earle Christmas Grafton, Esquire, Cowper, New South Wales.
Page, Hon. James, Maranoa, Queensland.
Poynton, Hon. Alexander, Grey, South Australia.
Prowse, John Henry, Esquire, Swan, Western Australia.
Riley, Edward, Esquire, South Sydney, New South Wales.
Rodgers, Arthur Stanislaus, Esquire, Wannon, Victoria.
Ryan, Hon. Thomas Joseph, West Sydney, New South Wales.
Ryrie, the Hon. Sir Granville de Laune, K.C.M.G., C.B., North Sydney, New South Wales.
Smith, Hon. William Henry Laird, Denison, Tasmania.
Stewart, Percy Gerald, Esquire, Wimmera, Victoria.
Story, William Harrison, Esquire, Boothby, South Australia.
Tudor, Hon. Frank Gwynne, Yarra, Victoria.
Watkins, Hon. David, Newcastle, New South Wales.
Watt, Right Hon. William Alexander, P.C., Balaclava, Victoria.
West, John Edward, Esquire, East Sydney, New South Wales.
Wienholt, Arnold, Esquire, Moreton, Queensland.
Wise, Hon George Henry, Gippsland, Victoria.
The Deputy retired.
– I move -
That the honorable member for Lang, the Hon. William Elliot Johnson, do take the chair of the House as Speaker.
I need offer no words of commendation, since most honorable members have sat under the Speakership of the honorable member for Lang, and no one will question the ability and fairness which characterized his occupancy of the chair. I have very much pleasure in submitting this motion, and trust that it will meet with the concurrence of the House.
.- I have much pleasure in seconding the motion. It is unnecessary toadd to what has been said by . the honorable member for Illawarra (Mr. Hector Lamond) in submitting it, for the House .as a. whole knows that even-handed justice was meted out by the honorable member for Lang as Speaker.
.- I rise, not to oppose the nomination of the honorable member for Lang for the office of Speaker, but to draw attention to one or two anomalies relating to the management -of .this House. In connexion with every industry in every State increases of wages have taken place, yet we still have throughout the Parliament attendants whose remuneration is based upon what 1 consider a very low standard of wages. T here -are attendants and others who have received very little consideration eithefrom the Government, the Speaker, or the President of the Senate. In New South Wales the basic wage is £3 17s. pet week. That is the minimum wage, and having regard to the cost of living, it is not too much ; yet we have on the staff of this House -confidential employees discharging important duties as between members and the public who receive only about £3 per week. Even the Victorian Railways Commissioners have increased the minimum wage of their employees to Ils. 9d. per day, and Government Departments generally have seen fit to grant increased payments. The employees of this Parliament are not under the Public Service Commissioner; they are controlled by Mr. Speaker and the President of the Senate, and arc not allowed- ‘to appeal to the Arbitration Court. There is in this regard a serious anomaly. Why should the President of -the Senate have any control over .the employees of this branch of the Legislature? Mr. Speaker should have full power and control over them.
– The honorable member should not forget to put in a word for members generally while he is dealing with this subject.
– I thank the honorable member for his reminder that there are quite a number of honorable members of “his Parliament who are not, I think, getting *a fair thing.
– I thought it was to draw attention to that matter that the honorable - member rose to speak.
– I shall put in a word for the right honorable gentleman. Ministers controlling great Departments, and having -to ‘deal with the expenditure of millions of pounds per annum, still receive the paltry .’allowance which was granted to them twenty years ago. It is unreasonable that these men, who, one ;by one, are ‘dropping off because of the heavy work cast upon them, should be expected by .the country .to be content with an inadequate allowance.
– And yet we never strike.
– The right honorable gentleman is afraid to strike, because if he did he would lose his job.
– Does the honorable member suggest that he would “ scab “ on us if we struck?
– I certainly would not “ scab “ on any one, but I would look after the right honorable gentleman’s job.
Another point to which I wish to draw attention is that, immediately after the dissolution of Parliament, a notice was posted in the rooms set apart for Federal members in the Commonwealth Bank offices, Sydney, that franked stamps must not be used by honorable members of the late Parliament. The dissolution having taken place, they had ceased to be members, and they were not to use O.S. stamps, although they still had a great volume of public correspondence to attend to in connexion with matters affecting their electorates.
– The same notice was posted in the Perth and Adelaide offices. Why should an exception be made in favour of Sydney?
– I hold that it was wrong to issue such a notice in respect of honorable members generally. It seems a paltry thing that the moment the House was dissolved the issue of stamps required by honorable members for their public correspondence should have been stopped by the order of Mr. Speaker or the President of the Senate. During the election period we had still to “deal, by means of correspondence, with questions relating to old-age pensions, and many other departmental matters, and yet O.S. stamps were withheld from us. I sincerely hope that, whoever is elected as Speaker of this House, will insist upon having the undivided control of all administrative matters relating, to it,, without any assistance from the President of the Senate. The Speaker would then have the responsibility thrown upon, him of seeing that adequate wages are paid to the employees of. the Parliament, and. that the privilege of using stamps is not taken away from honorable members under the circumstances I have mentioned.. I must say that I have always found Mr. Johnson, very courteous, and, personally, I have no feeling against him at >all. I hope, however, that if he be elected, he will do a fair thing towards our employees, and sec that they are assured a decent standard of living.
.- I beg to support the remarks made by the honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. Riley), more particularly in regard to the attendant in charge of the Commonwealth rooms in Sydney. I do not. say this because of the fact that it is a Sydney case, but merely because it is one which comes under the direct notice of New South Wales members. This attendant is a returned soldier, who was one of the first to enlist, and lias four years’ service to his credit. He was aa Anzac, and he is now given employment at the magnificent wage of £2 17s. a week.
– It is disgraceful !
– It is, especially in view of the fact that the Board of Trade in New South Wales, which exhaustively investigated the cost of living, fixed the basic wage at £3 17s. 6d. per week. I understand that when somebody found that we on this side of the House intended to take this opportunity to ventilate the case of this attendant, he was paid an, extra 5s. a week; but even that does not bring him within measurable distance of a living wage. We should not nsk our employees to work for wages which are Below those that an outside employer is allowed to pay in New South Wales. I feel quite certain that the matter need3 only to be mentioned for the incoming Speaker, who, I have no doubt, will bo Mr. Johnson, to take steps to have this injustice remedied.
– You are more sanguine than I am !
– I believe that when Mr. Johnson realizes that there is a feel ing of indignation amongst honorable members of this: House about this disgraceful treatment of an attendant, he will be strong and determined enough to withstand the pressure of the President of the Senate. As Speaker he should be the’ “ boss of the show “ here, and. not act at the dictation of the President of the Senate. As I say, I feel sure it is only necessary to mention the matter to have the .Speaker realize that he owes a duty to himself and the employees.
There is another matter to which I desire to refer, and that is the invasion of the precincts of Parliament by the military authorities. I wish to say,, in the most kindly manner possible, that, any Speaker in a British Parliament who allows any outside body to enter the Parliament and interfere with its affairs, is recreant to his duty as the custodian of the rights of a British community. The principle of British government is that the people are sovereign, and that when they have elected their representatives those representatives’ shall have full freedom of discussion; with nothing but their own rules to control them. Apart from all outside influence, the people’s representatives should be able, in. quite an unfettered, way, to discuss and decide what should be the laws of the country. Whatever the reason, justification, .or pretext for the entry of the military authorities within the precincts of Parliament, that entry is an interference with the rights and privileges of the honorable members of the House.
– What about the disloyalty expressed here?
– I wish honorable members to realize that I have no time for disloyalty. I am emphasizing the fact that the honorable members of the House are masters of their own destinies, and can always rule their own affairs. If an honorable member does, anything not in accordance with the rules or with the best traditions of Parliament, the House can deal with him - that is the duty of the House and not the duty of any outside body. The military authorities were allowed to come stamping into this House and interfere with, and take away, the correspondence of honorable members. A Speaker who allows that to be clone is recreant to his duty. Though I may seem to be speaking with some heat, I make these remark? in the most kindly spirit possible. I wish the Speaker to realize his responsibility and not allow any further interference by outside bodies in our business. If it be war “time and there may be danger to the Empire in certain contingencies, surely the House can protect itself? The British Parliament would sternly resent any interference by the military or others with its rights and privileges. The moment there is any hampering of the functioning of Parliament by interference from an outside body there is started a danger of revolution. The people under such circumstances are prone to get tired of parliamentary institutions and of doing things in a constitutional way. They begin to ask themselves, “ What is the use of this Parliament and its flummery to us if, when we send men to Parliament to represent us, we find that, instead of being allowed to speak freely, their words are censored?” The people see that when members are written to the correspondence is interfered with ; and there is started in the minds of the people agitation that may lead us into revolution before we know it. The people ought to be given every opportunity through a free and open Parliament to legislate in the interests of the community, and only in this way shall we avoid revolutionary ideas. Otherwise the only course will be to take the advice of the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), which he gave many years ago, when I sat humbly at his feet - the advice that the moment we of the Labour party found the doors of Parliament shut against us w’e should have to take some other action. The moment we allow any interference by an outside body with our rights and privileges the parliamentary institution is doomed, and the people will adopt other means of carrying out desired reforms. If we allow this interference with Parliament the day of reckoning will inevitably come, and on the heads of those who allow it will rest the responsibility.
.- I take this opportunity of referring to several matters affecting the Speakership and the forms of the House, because I know from experience the difficulty of doing so when the Speaker is in the Chair. The war has terminated, and we are told that we are to live in a new world. I hope that we shall show that this is a sane - Parliament, and that its members understand their responsibilities as representatives of the people. I have always objected to the Speaker wearing a wig and gown. Such robes are entirely out of place in a democratic Parliament. The horsehair wig is an obstruction to the Speaker’s ‘hearing, and, moreover, makes him look a perfect guy. It adds nothing to the dignity of the House, and the Legislatures of America, France, Switzerland, and some of the Australian States, realizing that the wig and gown are superfluous, have abolished them. To-day the President of the Senate wears no wig. The only Commonwealth Parliament that has been of real service to Australia was that in which the Labour party was in power, and in which the Speaker of this House wore no wig. During the three years nothing was” lost, but something was gained, by the conduct of business without that ornament on the Speaker’s head. In wearing a wig, the Speaker only follows old forms and customs, and we can very well start to drop forms and customs that impede the work of Parliament. I hope the Speaker will discontinue the wearing of the wig, so that when he is in the Chair he will look like a sane creature.
Another custom that has troubled me for a long -time is the use of the mace. This emblem has been abolished from all sane Parliaments, and, in my opinion, it is absolutely useless, and in no way contributes to the dignity of our proceedings. It does not encourage thrift or intelligence. After all, members of Parliament are supposed to be the creme de la creme of the people; that is why we are elected. Those honorable members who are new to the House will discover that when the Speaker is in the Chair, a plaster ornament, covered with gold leaf, is placed on the table, but ,as soon as we get into Committee, in which the business is of graver importance to the community, the mace is removed from the table, and hidden. On one occasion the State Parliament lost its mace, which was discovered, a long time later, in a Chinaman’s garden, where it was used for the purpose of scaring crows. The Chinaman, finding that it was a failure for that work, treated it as the Chinese in Sydney treated their joss following a long period without rain. They obtained a new joss, and, finding that ‘rain fell shortly afterwards, they chopped up the old one. Similarly the Chinese gardeners treated that stupid and uncalled-for thing called the mace. I feel sure that if the people outside were appealed to, millions would vote against the continuance of such an article in this Chamber. Honorable members are in the same position as are directors of a company; we are here as directors of *he affairs of the’ nation, and we do not require a mace. The only use for it that I can imagine is to hit on the head an honorable member who becomes obstreperous. Any elector who watches from .die gallery the use of the mace must conclude that a Parliament which continues such a practice is very stupid.
The late Speaker followed the habit of some of his predecessors in regard to motions of dissent from -rulings. Whenever such a motion was tabled, the Speaker next day read to the House a memorandum, to which no honorable member paid the least attention. That memorandum would be f,ull of ancient history from May, which had nothing at all to do with this Parliament. Actually the Speaker of this House makes his own standing orders. He is a creature of the Government in the same way as are all honorable members sitting on the Treasury bench.
– Who started making the Speaker a creature of the Government ?
– It was started by the Liberal party when on the death of Sir Frederick Holder they selected Dr. Carty Salmon for the position.
– My only object is to make this a sane Parliament and provide all possible facilities for the proper conduct of business, doing away with everything that is superfluous. Honorable members ought to jealously guard against, just as much as Mr. Speaker should, any encroachment of their privileges. On one occasion when there was a disturbance in England the Duke of Cambridge, who was in command of the Household Troops at the time, asked Mr. Speaker Brand, one of the finest Speakers the British Parliament ever had, whether he would accept the assistance of the military to guard Parliament, but the Speaker said, “When the civil police cannot control the people, it is for the Government to step in and remove the causes.” That reply should be riveted on the memory of every honorable “member of this House. It is the civil authorities who should be called upon to protect our privileges, and we cannot do better than adhere to that principle, which has been so well established in the British Parliament. I how that in this new world, after the war, members of this new Parliament will set out to make it a sane body, and proceed to do the business which is so badly needed for the people.
– Then let us get to it.
– I have no wish to detain honorable members, but I hope that the few pearls of wisdom I have breathed this morning will not be lost. I have nothing to gain - I presume there will be no other nomination. If I were to nominate any one I would nominate myself, on the principle that charity begins at home, but I speak now because it is the only opportunity that honorable members have of ventilating any grievances in relation to the Speakership. Once the Speaker is elected he has the Government behind him, and any notice of objection or dissent from his ruling is placed “at the bottom of the business paper, where it remains until Parliament dissolves. No matter how much honorable members’ privileges may be invaded, no matter how heinous the offence may be, an honorable member has not the least opportunity of having the matter discussed unless the Government give him the opportunity of doing so. I am satisfied tha.t even if my words have no effect I am voicing the opinion of people outside. As representative of the people of East Sydney, I feel that I must avail myself of this opportunity of expressing their opinion. I should not be worthy of the trust they have placed in me if I did not do so, and so long as I have breath in my body and hold my present position, any one who attemps to interfere with my prerogatives as a representative will find himself in “ Queer Street.” I hope that the silly business of having a mace will be abolished. It only requires some one with courage to draw attention to it. I have had the courage to do so, and I believe that, as a result of the step I have taken, the Speaker elected to-day will have fully impressed upon him how stupid it is to continue the practice of using the mace. What advantage does the House gain when Mr. Speaker comes to open our proceedings preceded by the Serjeant-at-Arms with a stick on his shoulder? This is not a military body, nor is it a court martial. We are supposed to be the creme de la creme of the people, and we are elected to do the business of the country. Let us wipe out all these uncalled for practices of the past, and start off as a sane assembly; let our presiding officer sit as an ordinary citizen, displaying, not a wig, but his own hair. I believe that Mr. Johnson has enough hair on his head to enable him to occupy the position of Speaker as did his predecessor during the years 1910-13, when so much good business was done in this House by the Democrats who had the opportunity of governing the country. There is no wig in use in the Senate, nor in the great Assemblies of the Continent of Europe, nor in the House of Representatives or the Senate of , the UnitedStates of America. The members of those Legislatures realize their responsibilities just as much as we do, and they do not require any flummery or foolish uncalled-for ceremonies to enable them to conduct the business they are called upon to do. I feel confident that to-day I am doing justice to the people, as well as to the House, in asking for the removal of the two anomalies to which I have drawn attention.
.- I desire to take advantage of this opportunity to protest against the Australian Parliament being a sweating institution. Undoubtedly the attendants are sweated, and every honorable member should know it. Mr. Johnson already knows it. The President of the Senate knows that these men are being sweated.
– It is not Mr. Johnson’s fault.
– I would certainly say to Mr. Johnson that when he is again placed in the position of Speaker, the odium ofthis Parliament being termed a sweating institution should cease. Here we have men working in and about this very Chamber on a wage of £3 a week - 17s. under the living wage; and Heaven only knows that the amount of £3 17s., as fixed in New South Wales, is really nothing upon which to save money.
Mr.Fenton. - And with the cost of living still going up.
– Every week ! The case of an attendant over in Sydney has been mentioned this morning. He has been receiving £2 17s. a week - just £1 every week under the living wage for that State. Mr. Johnson has the remedy in his own hands.
– It is a matter for the Public Service Commissioner.
– I ask the honorable member not to talk to me about the Public Service Commissioner. The Speaker of this Chamber is above any Public Service Commissioner, so far as the attendants in this Chamber are concerned.
– But not with regard to the attendant referred to in Sydney.
– I am speaking of the attendants here, for a start; and I would point out that honorable members sitting opposite - being virtually the Government, upon that side - have it in their own hands to say what should be done to remedy the complaint, not only in regard to this attendant in Sydney, but similarly with respect to other officers throughout the Commonwealth. There is this duty devolving upon attendants in and about this House, namely, that they must dress. I suppose that their uniforms to-day would cost not less than £12 or £14 each. Every day the employees must be presentable in attending upon this institution.
– And do not forget the brass buttons.
-Yes, not forgetting the brass buttons.
– And the starched shirts.
– Yes ; something of the stamp or the mark of the servant.
Several Honorable Members. - No ; nothing of the kind.
– These marks of servitude are about as stupid as the horsehair wig and the gown. But there is just this difference, that the brass buttons indicate the servant; and in an institution such as this there should not be such marks of servitude.
– What about your medal ?
– Not too bad, that medal! A medal which entitles one to travel upon one’s public business is totally different from those brass buttons which distinguish the messengers and attendants generally from honorable members themselves; for, I suppose, that is why those things were first introduced. Possibly it was that some of- ‘the attendants might have been mistaken for members of Parliament.
I trust that when the honorable member for Lang is again placed in the office of Speaker he will see that this is not a sweating institution. It- is an outrage that men should be sweated when engaged in and about .the corridors of this Parliament; that they should be paid £2 17s. a week, £2 18s. £3 0s. 6d., and £3 ls. It is an outrage that they should be paid such wages for doing work which, outside the precincts of Parliament, is remunerated at the rate of £3 18s. and per week. Here, however, it would seem that we can do nothing else but sweat the men who are attending upon us, cleaning the building, and doing (work of the like nature.
I desire now to refer to another, and more serious, matter. During the panic of 1918 it was decided by the Government that the tongues of honorable members on this side should be curbed, and that if that could not be brought about, then, at any rate, we should ‘be given no publicity so far as the records of Hansard were concerned. The plot was hatched and a scheme was brought down to this House. It was submitted that Mr. Speaker should ‘be given power to say whether or not the speeches of honorable members should he printed in Hansard. Mr. Johnson accepted the responsibility, and carried out the job as he was expected to do. This is not a personal matter so far as Mr. Johnson and myself are concerned - it is a national matter. Neither Mr. Johnson nor any other person in this community should have the right to say to an honorable member of this Parliament, “ That which you have spoken in the Legislature of this country shall not be printed.” Certain remarks which were censored, first of all by the military authorities, and their actions indorsed by Mr. Johnson, comprised a criticism of the intentions of Japan and of the aspirations of the Japanese towards Australia. I spoke upon those matters outside of this chamber before my constituents, but that which I said in this chamber was cut out of the official re- cord with the consent of Mr. Speaker. About four months afterwards in London, however, exactly similar material was used by the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) before the Peace Conference.
It is to be hoped that no longer will it be said that this Parliament is a sweating institution, that men are engaged in their duties here at less than a living wage - men who are being sweated. Also, I trust that never again will it be said that speeches delivered in this House have been allowed to be censored by a Speaker.
.- I do not wish to labour this discussion or to refer at length to matters which we may ‘be able to deal with more or less adequately when a Speaker has been appointed. Neither do I intend to take this opportunity of saying those harsh and unkind things about Mr. Johnson which I am quite sure he expects from me. As a matter of fact, I make no complaint about Mr. Johnson. On several occasions he was conspicuously fair to me. He imposed certain limitations on my right to discuss the character of the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), which, I thought, were very unfortunate, because I felt that the limitations of the English language already imposed restrictions sufficient when one was dealing with the character and capacity of the right honorable gentleman who is still Prime Minister. However, all I can say is that if Mr. Johnson is re-elected Speaker, I shall enter this Parliament in the confident hope and belief that we will get on excellently together. I now invite him to treat me even more fairly than he did in the last Parliament; to extend to me that, measure of friendliness and fatherly solicitude that I have a right to expect from him as an bid parliamentarian and not that he shall read the Standing Orders with a too rigorous strictness when I am endeavouring to deal with public problems. But I should remark here that it is- by no means a foregone conclusion that, the honorable member for Lang is to be elected Speaker on this occasion. Upon his having been nominated I do not think that we have exhausted the talent -of this House. I therefore move, by way of amendment -
That the honorable member for Dalley, Mr. William George Mahony, do take the chair of the House as Speaker.
Mr. Mahony is a man who possesses in a very high degree the -judicial temperament.
– Hear, hear! and this is quite spontaneous, too!
– He has also- and he has given very recent evidence of it - a very graceful and ornate diction, and his pronunciation of the vowel sounds has been more than once the subject of high encomiums. His knowledge of the forms of the House has been amply demonstrated’ to-day, as well as on other occasions. He is a distinguished member of the party to which I belong, and Labour members might well follow the example of those of other parties by electing to the judicial position of presiding officer a man who is likely to help his own side. If I secure the election of Mr. William George Mahony to the position of Speaker, I shall have done what I rose to do. Other matters may be left in abeyance until this distinguished gentleman has been placed in the office which I hope he may fill.
.- This seems an appropriate occasion to refer to the manner in which the names of honorable members appear in the Hansard reports, which, so far as this House is concerned, are, I understand, under the control of the Speaker. I have before me a volume of the Hansard record of last session, in which I find military titles attached to the names of some members who had served, or were then serving, in the Australian Imperial Force, although no recognition is made of the military services of other members. For instance, Lt.-Colonel Abbott and Major-General Ryrie are given their military titles, but Mr. Corboy, Mr. Heitmann, Mr. MoGrath, Mr. Yates, Mr. Fleming, and others who had also served or were serving are not referred to in their military capacity, apparently because they did not hold sufficiently high commissioned rank. In my view, if Sir Granville de Laune Eyrie, K.C.M.G., CB., is entitled to the publication in Hansard, week after week, of all his prefixes and suffixes, members who served in any military capacity should be given some similar recognition of their services.
– There should be no military titles, because we are a civilian community.
– All that I contend for is that if the services of a major-general or a colonel are to be recognised, the services of those who held lower rank should be similarly recognised. The Speaker should not differentiate between one set of men and another. Even Captain Bruce was given no recognition during the last Parliament of his military services, although he held commissioned rank. I recommend this matter to the attention of the Speaker, when elected.
As to the motion for the election of the honorable member for Lang as Speaker, I have had experience of that gentleman in the chair, and found him courteous and impartial. Therefore I shall not oppose his election, though if there is a nomination from the party to which I belong,- I shall certainly vote for one who, as the honorable member for Batman said, might, following the example of men chosen from other parties, be inclined to give his own side a fairer deal.
– I support the motion of the honorable member for Batman for the election, as Speaker, of the honorable member for Dalley. I need not enlarge upon the many qualifications which Mr. Mahony possesses for the office, which I should like him to fill. I am sure that, if elected, he will fittingly carry out its duties, and will act much more impartially than Mr. Johnson did. He may take exception to the wearing of a wig.
– God help this side if he were elected !
– I hope that the Farmers’ party will concentrate its efforts upon securing the election of Mr. Mahony. However, I shall not further discuss Mr. Mahony’s good points, because they are already too well known.
The honorable member for Darling has referred .to the lowness of the wages paid to the attendants of this Parliament. It has come to my knowledge that, although some of our waiters have just had their wages increased to £3 6s. per week, there is deducted from that amount the sum of 9d. for each meal. I hope that whoever may be elected to the high and important position of Speaker will see that these men arc better paid, and will increase their wages to at least the amount of the living allowance in force in New South Wales, and will also put a stop to the deduction of 9d. per meal. No waiter in private employment has to pay such a charge when receiving’ only £3 6s. a week in wages. It must be remembered that our waiters are often in attendance for very long hours. They may be required to remain here until midnight, or even until 4 o’clock in the morning. The high cost of clothing and other necessaries makes their conditions very hard, and they are entitled to at least as much consideration as other persons.
– We have heard a good deal on the subject of the wages paid to those in attendance on this Parliament, and about the general control of these premises ; and, as a member of the late House Committee, I wish to say a word or two on the whole subject. Honorable members may not be aware, yet it is a fact, that this Parliament House is owned, not by the people of Australia, but by the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives ; though if there is anything wrong it- is the fault of Parliament itself. . At one time there was here a Clerk of Parliaments who owned the buildings, and was in charge of the gardens, too. There were then most peculiar notions held on the subject of control.
– -Who was he?
– He has passed away, so that I shall not give his name. The House Committee is a joint body, composed of members from both Houses; but it is a farce, .because it has no control. When it meets, Mr. Speaker and the. President are very courteous when we wait upon them in regard to these matters, but we can get nothing more than courtesy from them. The House Committee may determine upon a certain course of action, yet be prevented from giving effect to it. Every one knows that the wages which our attendants are receiving are a disgrace. But why should we hide behind Mr. Speaker and the President? The fault rests, not with them, but with Parliament itself. The President and Mr. Speaker have no control over the public purse. They must obtain supplies from the Treasury, and if employees of the Parliament are sweated, we must blame, not the President or Mr. Speaker, but the Parliament itself. When Mr. Speaker is in the chair the House should have power to- instruct him as to what shall be done in regard to all such matters. I want the people- to realize that they do not own the Parliament buildings. Under the present system they are owned by the President and Mr. Speaker, and while we continue to allow them to control them, and give them- no power over the public purse, I shall not blame them for the low wages paid to parliamentary officers. Honorable members will admit that it is practically impossible for a man with a wife and three children to live on a wage of £3 6s. a week; yet many of our attendants receive an even lower wage. Despite our knowledge as to the* cost of living, we go on sweating officers and attendants of the House. I hope we shall talk no more about this question, but see to it that a living wage is paid to all parliamentary employees. I call upon the Treasurer (Mr. Watt) to see that a living wage is paid them. The Victorian Railways Board has fixed upon lis. 9d. per day as the minimum wage that should be paid in that Department, and that, I think, is little enough. We have parliamentary officers who are receiving less. We should bring up the minimum wage to the rate prevailing in New South Wales. A man with a wife and three children cannot exist with any degree of comfort on less than £4 a week. That should be the irreducible minimum, and it is up to us to see that the wages of our attendants are increased. If they are not, then we must blame, not the President or Mr. Speaker, but ourselves.
.- I rise in a spirit of fair play to make sure that new members of. the House shall not wrongly blame the honorable member for Lang for the failure to pay our attendants a reasonable wage. I know that it was not his fault, as Speaker in the last Parliament, that parliamentary officers received, and still receive, less than £3 a week. When I put a question te him on the subject he unwittingly gave me an inaccurate answer, which had been supplied to him. If there be any blame in this matter - and I maintain that there is - it rests with the President of the Senate. I regret to have to’ make such a statement, since I have been friendly with the President for many years; hut I certainly do not like to see him, as President, paying less than trade union wages. It may he news to many honorable members that on the dissolution of this House the typists attached to Hansard were given a four-months’ holiday without pay. That is unfair. When we go into recess, our allowance continues. Security of tenure is the best guarantee of good service. Everybody employed in this building should be regarded as an “ officer “ of Parliament, and be granted, from the highest to the lowest, the same holiday leave. The honorable member for North Sydney (Sir Granville Ryrie) will agree with me that generals unaided cannot win a war. Wars have been won by privates in an army - as, for instance, by Xenophon - after all the officers have been removed, and. sometimes men have won a battle in spite of their generals. Happily, that was not our experience in the recent war. I am sure the honorable member will agree with me that all officers of the Parliament should participate in any holiday system associated with’ it.
I little thought when, at the opening of the first session of the last Parliament, I introduced this means of ventilating a grievance that it would be again resorted to. I availed myself of it on that occasion because I felt that I had been unfairly treated in connexion with the deletion of a sworn declaration from the pages of Hansard, and desired to have it again placed on record. The declaration, which related to an incident in the House, was deleted from Hansard on the motion of the present Minister for the Navy (Sir Joseph Cook), and I seconded that motion because the right honorable member gave me an assurance that he would inquire into the incident. To his credit, be it said, he has told the honorable member concerned that he ought to apologize to me and so end the incident; but that has not been done. Those who wish to make themselves familiar with the purport of the declaration will find it in Hansard, volume lxxxii., page 22, of 14th June, 1917.
I am confident that if the honorable member for Lang (Mr. W. Elliot Johnson) is elected as Speaker his position will be strengthened as a result of this debate. I think I am right in saying that when, during the war, the parliamentary buildings were invaded by military officers, acting under powers conferred on them by the War . Precautions Act, he was not in Melbourne, but that the President of the Senate was. If that statement is incorrect I hope I shall be corrected, because I desire to be perfectly fair, and would not, even by imputation, wrong any man. The only incident of the kind that I can recall from the pages of British history is that made by a great Englishman, who entered the House of Commons and removed the Mace. Had Cromwell been a king he would have been called a great man, hut because he rose from the ranks of the humble he was not so regarded. Another honorable member of this House and I, while in London, narrowly escaped trouble because of an accusation that we had thrown a rose on the magnificent statue of Oliver Cromwell, erected near Westminster.
We must take up a strong position as to military or any other authorities having power to enter these buildings without the permission of the presiding officers. On the occasion to which reference has been made, I was denied entrance to the building by a junior military officer, who asked me who I was, and who, when I showed him my member’s badge, said he wanted something more than that - he would be content only with a card issued by his Department. I got into the House; but I resent the action of the military. The parliamentary institutions of British communities have reached their present stage by means of many a fight. England had the vilest franchise in the world previous to the war, though to-day she has a very fair one. This, however, has only been, achieved by continuous fighting. While continental countries retained the autocracy of monarchy, England cut its head off in the time of Cromwell, and every succeeding George has found’ Parliament making itself more powerful. I appeal to Mr. Johnson, and I also appeal to my friend, Mr. Mahony - if by some unlikely chance the latter be elected - to, under no circumstances, permit the military to take possession of Parliament, and interfere with its rights and privileges, which are the great heirloom of the British race.
– I have to tender my thanks to the mover and seconder of my nomination for the position of Speaker, and to submit myself to the House.
– I have also to thank the mover and seconder of my nomination, and submit myself to the House.
Question. - That the Honorable William Elliot Johnson do take the chair as Speaker - put. The House divided.
Majority . . 25
Question so resolved in theaffirmative.
Mr. W. Elliot Johnson was taken out of his place by Mr. Lamond and Mr. Corser, and conducted to the chair.
Then Mr. SPEAKER ELECT, standing on the upper step, said : - I have to thank honorable members for electing me for the third time to the honorable position of Presiding Officer of the House. I take it that my re-election is an acknowledgment on the part of those with whom I have been associated previously of the manner in which I have conducted hitherto the duties pertaining to this high office. I listened to the debate upon the motion submitted by the honorable member for Illawarra (Mr. Hector Lamond), and seconded by the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Corser), and I heard a good many things which were a surprise to me. Many inaccuracies, I venture to say, were unconsciously uttered by honorable members. I very much regret that the question of the treatment of servants of the House has been imported into the debate, because it might possibly hamper the Presiding Officer in connexion with any action which he might contemplate taking in certain directions. Since it wouldbe difficult to avoid the suspicion of action being due to political pressure, I may say at once that political pressure as far as I am concerned would not induce me to take any course which I did not approve myself. I know nothing of any officers of the House having been sweated, and, as a matter of fact, few public servants have, on the whole, as easy a time as the attendants of the Parliament. No mention of this matter has been made to me on any previous occasion; the occasions on which advances have been made to the salaries of officers have been during my occupancy of the Speakership. At no time during the regime of any other Speaker was this question raised.
– I admit that the cost of living has risen during thewar period. Because of that, both last year and! this year, as honorable members are aware, in order to mitigate any hardships that might have arisen consequent upon the increase in the cost of living, extra payment was made to the attendants of the House, not by way of increase of salary, but in the form of bonuses, which, in practice, amounted to the same thing.
– Sixpence per day.
– The amounts were £10 for one year, and £15 for this year. Whatever the amount of the increase, this House concurred in what had been done when I reported the matter.
– The House Committee were promised at the end of last Parliament that the question of increases would be looked into by the President and your-self
– I know nothing about that promise. But I say that I have never heard, before any allegation of sweating. Certainly no individual case of sweating has ever been brought under my notice. So far as I have been able to judge, the attendants of the House have had little to complain of in regard to the duties which they have been asked to perform.
– At £2 17s. 6d. per week.
– Speaking from memory, and subject to verification, there is no attendant of this House who is in receipt of a wage of less than £3 per week.
– That is not so.
– I could tell you of one, but he might get the sack.
– There is one, but I am afraid that he would get the sack if I mentioned his name.
– Honorable members know me well enough to accept my assurance that no attendant of the House would be dismissed on that ground. I deprecate the use of political influence in regard to these matters. The attendants of the House are allowed as many holidays as I can possibly give them during the year. Except during the time when Parliament is sitting, they are not asked to be in attendance for long hours, and in order to make up for any inconvenience they may have suffered in consequence of honorable members themselves sitting and working beyond the hours allotted to the. performance of duties in ordinary avocations, they have been allowed, as far as I was able to do it, increased holidays. I think they have very little to complain of in that regard. I will say no more on that subject at the present time beyond the intimation that the whole matter will shortly be considered, quite irrespective of what has just transpired. I repeat my appreciation of the honour which honorable members have done me in re-electing me to the position of Speaker, and I assure them that I shall endeavour to conduct the business of the House with the same care and attention as I devoted to it in the past.
Reference has been made to the Mace.
I am at a loss to understand why the appearance of the Mace on the table should have much the same effect upon some honorable members as a red rag is supposed to have on a bull. But I remind honorable members that the Mace which lies onthe table is the symbol of the authority of the House. It is the symbol of the supreme authority of Parliament, and if honorable members would only read the Standing Orders they would find that it is placed on the table in accordance with them. While the Speaker is the mouth-piece of the House, the Standing Orders are the voice of the House. It is the voice of the House which says that the Mace shall be placed on the table. With reference to what honorable members have termed the “ invasion “ of the military in certain circumstances, the episode referred to as such occurred during my absence from the House, when I was in Sydney. Upon its being reported to me, I took certain steps to safeguard the privileges of Parliament, and on reporting my action to the House, honorable members approved of what I had done. Therefore, I had the concurrence andauthority of the House for whatever steps I took on that occasion. Then, in reference to honorable members’ speeches in Hansard, it must be remembered that during the period of the war the House gave me the. instruction, as its presiding officer, to take a certain course in certain circumstances, when representations were made by the Crown Law officers regarding certain references in the speeches of honorable members.
– Is that odious practice to be continued?
– I take it that if the circumstances necessitated it, it would be resorted to during war time. Things which would not be tolerated in ordinary times are often necessary in war time. However, I want honorable members to understand explicitly that whatever was done on that occasion was done by the order of the House. Mention has also been made of certain functions in this House in which the military were concerned, and I take it that the reference was to the use of the steps in front of the House on occasions of military reviews, and so forth. On such occasions the practice is for applications to be made to Mr. President and Mr. Speaker for permission to make use of the steps, and all the arrangements in connexion with the disposition of the space are left in the hands of the military authorities, always subject to the proviso that there is not to be the slightest interference with the free ingress and egress of honorable members. I regret to say there have been one or two cases in which that proviso has been disregarded, and honorable members have made complaints to me of interference, but in every such case I have taken prompt action to protest to the military authorities against that interference, and ask for assurances that it would not be repeated in future, which assurances I have duly received. Again, I thank honorable members for the honour they have conferred on me. I shall endeavour to carry out the duties of the office with perfect impartiality, and, I hope, in accordance with what we recognise as the best traditions of the Mother of Parliaments.
The Mace was laid upon the table.
– Mr. Speaker, I desire to offer you my hearty congratulations on your election to your present high and honorable position. It is the third Parliament in which you have occupied the highest office that the House has at its disposal. During the intervening periods you have witnessed many stirring episodes, and your life, like ours, has been a chequered one, but I think we can all say of you, what every man who occupies your position would wish his followmembers to say, that you have meted out evenhanded justice to us all. Of course, justice does not always appeal to those who receive it as it does to those who stand afar off and watch the flagellator at his work; but as one who has been on both sides of the House under your presidency, I may say that you have always demeaned yourself with that dignity and regard for fair play which is the very essence of parliamentary government. It is, perhaps, impossible to hope that this Parliament shall pass away without some one of those smiling gentlemen before you forgetting that very excellent advice you have just now and from time to time given them; but I venture to say that all of us, no matter what our opinions may be - and this is a House where there are many opinions - realize that you take the position fully seized of its dignity and importance, and with a high resolution to do your duty, and allow every honorable member the fullest possible liberty of Speech in accordance with the Standing Orders. Again I congratulate you on your elevation to the office, and the House on having once more secured your services.
– I also desire to congratulate you, Mr. Speaker, on being re-elected. I think that, with the exception of Mr. Speaker Holder, you are the only Speaker who has had the honour of. presiding over a third Parliament. I admit that we are apt to regard Mr. Speaker’s decisions according to the side of the House on which we sit, but I can remember the presentPrime Minister (Mr. Hughes) saying worse things about a Speaker than any other honorable member who has sat in Opposition has ever said. I remember when the then Speaker “saw” Mr. Agar Wynne instead of the Prime Minister, the wrath of the latter knew no bounds, and honorable members who were in the chamber at the time were doubtful whether the Mace was to be used as a symbol or as a waddy for the purpose of drawing the attention of people outside to the alleged unfairness of the Chair. I realize that the Speaker has a most responsible position to fill, but I hope that he will view the Standing Orders leniently as they are applied to honorable members, particularly those in Opposition. I shall have a further opportunity to speak with regard to the Standing Orders in connexion with an election to fill another position which is to follow. I shall, therefore, content myself with again expressing my congratulations to you, sir, upon your re-election. Mr. McWILLIAMS (Franklin) [12.40].- On behalf of theCountry party, I desire also to congratulate you, Mr. Speaker. Our parliamentary association has been a very long one, and I have always found you scrupulously fair. Personally, it has not been so much justice which I have had at times to seek at your hands, as mercy. 1 trust that the relations existing between yourself, myself, and other honorable members will’ continue throughout the life of this new Parliament, and that when its activities shall have ceased, there will still be the same happy relationships as exist at the present time.
Since it is the- practice for leaders of all the various parties within this Chamber to express their congratulations upon an occasion such as this, I think it only proper that I also should follow the custom - not that I see any sense in it, but because it is obviously one’s duty to follow tradition. I, therefore, desire to congratulate you, sir, and to thank you for the fair play and the constant mercy which yom have shown to me, the which, I humbly appeal, shall continue to be extended to me in the future. I am very pleased that you were elected, although it was not my privilege to have voted for you. You will perceive, sir, and appreciate, that I am the same slave of party as ever - having neither will nor brain which I may call my own. It appears, however, that a certain honorable member had proposed, in opposition to yourself, the election as Speaker of somebody of the name of William Michael Patrick Mahony. Some such person as that was sought to be elevated to the high office of Speaker of this honorable House! I felt at once that there was a sinister influence behind an amendment having for its object the elevation of anybody bearing such a ‘ name. I repeat that I was impressed at once that my country was in dire danger. I saw the Black Hand of Sinn Fein, of the Fenian Brotherhood, of the Irish Invincibles, and of the Soviets of Russia. Nevertheless, I was shackled; I was prevented from voting for the man in whose hands were to be placed the safekeeping ‘ and security of those sacred principles of Protestantism which rest now, sir, in yourself. I knew, what the election of anybody meant who went by the name of Mahony. I saw there the baneful hand of the O’Ryan, and of the Mannix. The hand of Rome was mixed up in it; and, slave though I am, I realized that those sacred principles of Protestantism, which secure a man protection from poverty, from unemployment, from destitution, and bad debts, rested upon yourself. Therefore, I cannot now permit the opportunity to pass without congratulating you upon, your election to the Speakership of this honorable House. I feel that you will capably perform the duties attaching thereto.
But there are other matters. It seems that these rebels upon this side have actually dared, to raise the question of military intervention and aggression upon these precincts. By their protests it would appear that these rebels also stand upon ceremony and privilege; but I assert that neither ceremony nor privilege shall prevail when the necessities of our country otherwise demand. Is this sacred Chamber to be the dug-out. of rebellion? No, sir ! There is only one right, and that is the right of might, sir. This is the doctrine, “ You do what you can today, for I hope and expect to do the same to-morrow.” This Chamber shall never grant protection to the enemies of my country : and every man who disagrees with me upon that is certainly disloyal. Why should not the military enter here? Why should not some authority - anybody - interfere with,, our correspondence, seize upon any man’s letters, so long as you in your position of Speaker, sir, are there to maintain those principles which I have already stressed ? Are you - holding your high office - to permit me or any man upon this side to have correspondence or to hold association at all with the enemies of my country, without your taking adequate steps for the protection and salvation of this country? Every instrument available to you should be utilized to defend your country and my country and its institutions from those who dare to disagree with you. Disagreement, as a matter of fact, is the sole test of patriotism and of loyalty to one’s country. Let us stand convinced, let us rest assured, that he who robs our hen-roost to-day may, and even shall, have his hen-roost robbed to-morrow.
A question has been raised in connexion with the menials of this establishment. It is true, or I believe it to be a fact, that there is discontent abroad throughout the community, and that it has displayed itself even within the precincts of this sacred House. There is a discontent rampant throughout our land which has been generally brought about by an odious class of agitators who, in a free community, ought not to be allowed to exist. This discontent, I repeat, has spread itself even unto this establishment. For the actions which you have hitherto’ taken to counter it, I, of course, do not blame you, because I feel that you would not permit - that, indeed, you would not have it in your altruistic heart - that anybody should receive less than he is getting ! I call attention to the fact that there are within these precincts officials, many of them well secured in the things of this life. What matters it to them if the price of bread is raised 3d. or 6d. a loaf? They have their £600 per ‘annum, their £700, their £800. Their emoluments during the period of the war have been granted by the pound sterling, while those of these petty menials have been disbursed only in shillings. And why not? It is quite true that these comfortable officials might conceivably see their way clear to recommend a decent standard of existence for the menials engaged about this building; but why should they do so seeing that every augmentation of a menial’s wage might possibly mean less bonus for those higher up? Every man must look to himself! If I am on the £600 mark, why should I go to the trouble and hazard of recommending that the men away down in the service of this Parliament, who get £3 or £4 a week, should receive another pound, seeing that I might get that pound myself? Some of these lowly persons have complained to certain rebels upon this side - it would appear - that they have actually to wear brass buttons. Why should they not wear brass buttons in order to show their insignificance? This is a spirit, of rebellion. But there is another thing also Apart from the discontent itself, it is equally true, I understand, that they are not permitted to join any organization, although there is a Public Service organization in existence to which one mighthave thought they had right of membership. It appears, however, that they have been given plainly to understand that there is no Public Service organization which can take them in. Of course, it is obnoxious to feel that they should be under the impression that they can remedy their causes of discontent by stating their ‘ complaints to these rebels upon this side of the chamber. As a matter of fact, the very consideration of their being in such close contact with men of attainments such as ourselves should weigh considerably with them. They ought to realize that the workers on the wharfs cannot possess the advantage of daily contact with personages like us. It is an education; it is worth money; but these menials do not regard it as any factor of value or satisfaction that they should be so closely and continuously thrown into association with ourselves. Some of them, apparently, assess their own values upon the positions which they are permitted to hold; and, with an absurd expectation of improving their conditions, ‘they have actually held communication with certain of these obnoxious rebels here. Of course, they would not dare to go to you, sir, so they speak to these people upon this side, and get them to bring forward their grievances and air the alleged defects of their occupations. Upon any and every occasion when political influence is brought to bear with an idea of improving their positions, it is but right and natural that we should point out to these servants how absolutely wrong and misguided they are.
But our common safety demands that we should do something in the direction of their alleviation. We are at the mercy of these men. If this spirit of discontent is allowed to continue - and God knows what it is; I do not know whether it is Bolshevik or Sinn Fein, or the two in combination - it behoves us to have regard for our personal safety. Who knows but that one of the arlets who waits upon us at table may poison our soup? In self-preservation, then, it seems that we should pay consideration to these men. I hope that you will give them what they should get, ‘not because their services are worth it, but for the protection of honorable members.
Now, is there any other subject on which I should speak? I feel that this is one of the few opportunities that we shall have for the expression- of our views. It is seldom that I address myself to the Parliament; indeed, I disturb you very little, Mr. Speaker, and when I do speak I contribute to the welfare and harmony of the assembly. But the flood of volubility to which I have listened this morning has infected me with the wish to speak, much as a man may be infected with typhoid by contact with a sufferer. There is the military question. I say, do not let it disturb us. As for free speech, as the Prime Minister said, do not let it disturb us. If free speech becomes an annoyance, stop it. Do not let anything intervene against the_ interests of the country. We are about to enter upon a new session in a new Parliament. We are face to face with a great crisis in our history. We have just come through a war during which it was the gentlemen on the other side of the chamber who played the patriot, while the traitors and enemies of the country were, of course, all on this side. Do not permit us to stay here if the patriots are determined to save the country and we are in the way. The war is over, and we have entered into the paradise which has been created by the gentlemen who sit behind the Government. We are about to deal with the situation which has “been created. We have the problems of the country to consider. The Government propose to set everything right by an increase of 21/2 per cent, or so in the duty on salt and pepper and similar things. That is their way of facing the issue; that is how they are to get kudos. I do not intend to occupy much time in speaking here, because I can find other occupation which will be more pleasant to me personally and of more service to the country. This is my first speech in this Parliament, and it may for some time to come be my only speech. I welcome you gentlemen opposite to the responsibilities which now confront you. You will undoubtedly face them boldly, and, as far as men holding forty-seven different views can do so, will come to bold conclusions and to plans as definite as is possible to men who possess no definite ideas regarding the situation. I again congratulate you, Mr. Speaker, on your election, and cry “ God save the country!”
– Mr. Prime Minister, the honorable member for Yarra, the honorable member for Franklin, the honorable member for Bourke, and honorable members generally - I have again to thank you for your congratulations, and again to express my appreciation of the honour which you have conferred on me. I once more give you my assurance that I shall do my best to carry out impartially, in accordance with what I believe to be the best traditions of the Mother of Parliaments, the duties of this high office, and I hope that at the conclusion of my term of Speakership it will be admitted, even though I may not have secured the united approval of honorable members, that making allowance for the frailty of human nature and the misunderstanding that is so often created, even by the bestintentioned efforts, I have given the best that was in me. When a private member, I sometimes felt that a Speaker had been somewhat unfair to me, but on reflection it has occurred to me, especially after personal experience in the chair, that recogniton must be given to the difficulties of the position of a Presiding Officer. I hope that honorable members will give me credit for the best intentions regarding them individually and collectively.
Before resuming my seat I express my deep regret at missing so many familiar faces from the chamber. I cannot repress a feeling of sadness when, on looking round the chamber, I see so many places unoccupied ‘by those who used to fill them. Some of those who are no longer here have, unfortunately, “gone west”; others have fallen in the fight during the recent electoral campaign. I express my sorrow at no longer seeing here many with whom we were long associated, in friendly companionship.
To new members I desire to extend a welcome. I realize that they may feel strange in their new surroundings, and I should like them to know that I am their friend, as I am, I hope, the friend of every member of the House, and that they can come to me in any difficulties that may confront them.
– Financial difficulties?
– I am afraid the narrow margin of my bank balance will not permit me to promise that, but my advice will always be at their disposal in regard to difficulties connected with procedure and similar matters.
– I have ascertained that it will be the pleasure of His Excellency the Governor-General to receive Mr. Speaker in the North Library this day at 2.45 p.m.
– Then I shall resume the chair at 2.43 p.m., and will cause the bells to be rung in time to allow honorable members to assemble then.
Sitting suspended from 12.56 to 2.43 p.m.
The House proceeded to the Library, there to present Mr. Speaker to His Excellency the Governor-General.
The House having re-assembled,
– I have to announce that, accompanied by honorable members, I presented myself to His Excellency the Governor-General, who was pleased to congratulate me upon my election.
The Usher of the Black Rod, being announced, was admitted, and delivered the message that His Excellency the Governor-General desired the attendance of’ honorable members in the Senate chamber forthwith.
Mr. Speaker and honorable members attended accordingly, and having returned,
– I have received from His Excellency the GovernorGeneral a commission giving me authority to administer the oath to members of the House. I do not think it necessary to read it.
– I desire to make an announcement in regard to the changes made in the Ministry in consequence of the resignation of Mr. Glynn and Mr. Webster as Minister for Home and Territories and PostmasterGeneral respectively. His Excellency has been pleased to appoint the Hon. A. Poynton to the office of Minister for Home and Territories, and Mr. G. H. Wise as Postmaster-General. His Excellency also approved of the appointment of Sir Granville Ryrie and Mr. Laird Smith as Honorary Ministers.
(By leave). - I move -
That this House places on record its profound regret at the loss the Commonwealth has sustained in the death of the late Eight Honorable Sir Edmund Barton, P.C., G.C.M.G., and its sincere appreciation of the eminent public services rendered by him as a Minister of the Crown for the State of New South Wales, as a member of the Federal Convention, as first Prime Minister of the Commonwealth, and as a Judge of the High Court of Australia.
This House tenders its deepest sympathy to Lady Barton and the members of her family in their bereavement.
It is with feelings of profound sadness that I submit this motion. Time has diminished members of this House who had the honour and privilege of the late Sir Edmund Barton’s acquaintance and enjoyed the inestimable benefit of his friendship. There are, however, many here who knew him well ; and there is not one who knew him, either here or in any other sphere, but who entertained for him during his life the profoundest respect, and now regrets very deeply his death. For the last forty years he played a conspicuous part in the history of this country. In the State of New South Wales, which was his native State, he achieved a position of great distinction. He deliberately put aside a career in his own profession which offered him great opportunities and great emoluments, and entered public life; and both in the State of New South Wales and, subsequently, in the wider sphere of the Commonwealth, he devoted himself unselfishly to his country’s interests. He was one of the men who drafted the Constitution of the Commonwealth under which we now live. He was the leader, after Sir Henry Parkes, of that great movement which resulted in Federation. In this Parliament he played the part of the Prime Minister of the first Commonwealth Government, and he showed to all who met him here, and to all our fellow-citizens outside, the rare pattern of his mind. He was a man who took the broadest outlook; nothing that was petty or mean was entertained by himfor a moment. He differed from many of us on matters of public interest ; but I think I speak for all those who were in Parliament with him, both here and in the State of New South Wales, when I say that it was impossible to entertain for one of such kind and generous nature any but feelings of the highest respect, affection, and esteem. It is not necessary for me to speak of the part he played in the High Court of Australia. His great knowledge of constitutional law eminently fitted him to take a part in that highest tribunal of the Commonwealth, and to rank as the worthy peer of the eminent jurists who compose it. He has gone, and a great man - great in the best sense of the term - has passed away. He was a scholar, an orator, a statesman, and a Judge; but, above all, he was a patriotic, honorable, great man. It is, perhaps, those qualities which make up what we call a man, and which endear those who possess them ‘ to their fellow -creatures, that mark him out and endear him to us. Australia mourns one of her greatest sons. It is with very deep regret that I have to submit this motion, and ask that it be placed on record, and a copy sent to Lady Barton.
.- .- It is with sincere regret that I second the motion. Like the Prime Minister, I am one of the few members left of those who were privileged to sit in the first Federal Parliament. The late Sir Edmund Barton was, I believe, the last representative of the first Federal Ministry with the exception of an honorable member of this House who was an Honorary Minister in the Cabinet. I regret exceedingly that Sir Edmund Barton, who had rendered such great service to the Commonwealth, was called away so suddenly. On behalf of honorable members on this side, I sympathize with Lady Barton and her family in the lost they have sustained. The work done by the deceased gentleman in connexion with Federation is well known. Those who knew him in this House recognise that he was eminently fair, and although we on this side differed from him politically, we have only the kindliest recollections of him. I deeply regret that such a fine career is ended.
– I rise to add a few words in support of the motion. All who were brought in contact with the deceased gentleman must have been struck with his ability and nobility of character; he was a true Australian and a true gentleman. No eulogy that we could pass upon him in this House would be nearly so lasting .as the monument he created in the form of the freest and best Constitution ever created for any country. The work he did in stamping indelibly on that Constitution his own personality and ability will live for many generations. The equal of that Constitution has never been enjoyed by’ any people, and most of all that is best in it is owing to the personality, individuality, and ability of the gentleman whose decease we all mourn.
.- I join in the expressions of deep regret at the loss of a great Britisher - an Australian of the Australians - who did his duty as a man. A few days ago, when travelling on the East- West Railway, and while the train was at the station named after the late Sir Edmund Barton, a passenger asked me why the deceased gentleman was not allowed to crown a glorious career by accepting the office of Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia. My answer was that the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) was the only man who could state the reasons why the late Sir Edmund Barton had not been honoured with a law position that is unique in the world, namely, the Chief Justiceship of a continent. His career was great in all things - great in friendship, great in humanity, and great in the desire to do good for Australia. What a fitting end it would have been to his public life if he had had the honour of being made Chief Justice of the High Court. I regard this as the psychological moment for asking why the Chief Justice of the High Court was picked from amongst barristers who have never had one hour’s judicial experience? Is it that when gentlemen are elevated to high positions on the Bench they become fossilized, and cannot improve ? ‘ Is there any other profession in the world in which the highest positions are filled from amongst the students? I. make my protest that that great man was passed over in favour of a man who was a mere barrister, being not even a Judge. Was it because of political influence? It may be said that the health of the deceased gentleman was not good, but we know that the late Chief Justice, Sir Samuel Griffith, who draws the biggest old-age pension paid to any man in Australia, and who, to his infamy, after drawing £86,000 of Australian money in salary accepted a pension of. £1,750, was ill, but could remain on the Bench. Loving the man Barton as if he were my own flesh and blood, and knowing his greatness, I resent that he was not considered fit to be made Chief Justice of the High Court. Owing to his courtesy I was enabled to present to the High Court a motion indorsed by 5,000 citizens at public meetings in Melbourne, protesting against the insult offered to a Justice of that Court on his first taking his seat, when ‘all the barristers present, except one, crawled out of the Court like whipped puppies. The Judge whom they had insulted was an honour to the Bench, and succeeded greatly; and I believe that even the legal fraternity, who walked out of Court when he first took his seat, have complimented him since. Loving the late Sir Edmund Barton as a man, I protest that he, in my opinion, should not have been passed over by the Government when making an appointment to the Chief Justiceship of the High Court. To the dear woman who shared his life, and to those who will bear his name in the years to come, the only solace I may offer is that those whom we have loved best in thislife and lost will but add to the numbers who will welcome us when our turn comes to pass through the shadows. Those bearing the name of Barton must feel their hearts pulse with pride when they look upon hisrecord, and know how he was held in reverence and regard by his fellow men. That knowledge will, I hope, help the dear lady and her family to bear the great loss they have sustained.
– I ask no pardon for saying a few words concerning my old chief. I regret the criticism offered by the honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney), because it seems to me that this is not the occasion for introducing a discordant note of that kind. Let me say, for the information of other honorable members, that the late Sir Edmund Barton was offered the position of first Chief Justice of Australia, but declined it. To his credit he preferred the unselfish course, and to take one of the subordinate positions on the Bench. In my opinion, he was the greatest man who ever sat in this House. I have sat at the feet of, and worked alongside, most of them, and, with due deference to the giants of today, and the present Prime Minister, who has done so much for Australia, I regard the deceased gentleman as the greatest of them all. He was not afraid to speak his mind freely and frankly to his opponents, but whilst he had many opponents, he had no enemies. When the first High Court Bench was appointed, he stood aside in deference to Sir Samuel Griffith. What happened in later years we all know. His health failed, and probably that fact influenced those who had to appoint a Chief Justice when Sir Samuel Griffith retired. At any rate, we owe him a great debt of gratitude for his services to Australia, and it was with pleasure that I listened to the feeling remarks that fell from the lips of the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Tudor). I am sure that all who knew the late Judge indorse those remarks and tender their most sincere sympathy to those who have been bereaved.
– I indorse all that has been said regarding the services of the late Sir Edmund Barton. I think, however, it would not be right to allow the remarks of the honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney) to be placed on record without challenge, lest it should seem that the passing over of Sir Edmund Barton, in connexion with the Chief Justiceship recently, was a slight upon that distinguished jurist. I was exceedinglyglad that, notwithstanding the pre-eminent position held by the late Sir Edmund Barton, the Ministry did not offer him the Chief Justiceship. I hold strongly to the sound constitutional tradition that once a Judge is appointed to the Bench he should not be able to receive any favours from the Government of the day. I hope that tradition will never be departed from. I am glad that this valuable precedent has been created - that no matter how great the services of a Judge may have been, when the question of appointing a Chief Justice arises, Governments will not reward or punish gentlemen on the Bench for decisions they may have given. The Executive should not be able to offer any inducement to Judges to deviate in the slightest degree from the duty they owe to litigants who have claims against the Government. I am certain that, in following that sound and righteous course in connexion with the selection of the Federal Chief Justice, the Government, no more than this Parliament, wished to pass any slight upon Sir Edmund Barton, who stood pre-eminent amongst the great judicial minds of this country.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable members standing in their places.
Motion (by Mr. Hughes) agreed to -
That Mr. Speaker he requested to transmit to Lady Barton the foregoing resolution, and a copy of the speeches delivered thereon.
Motion (by Mr. Hughes) agreed to -
That leave he given to bring in a Bill for an
Act to amend the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway (Lands) Act 1918.
Bill presented by Mr. Hughes, and read a first time.
Motion (by Mr. Hughes) (by leave) agreed to -
That, unless otherwise ordered, this House shall meet for the despatch of business at three o’clock on each Wednesday afternoon, and at half -past two o’clock, on each Thursday afternoon and at eleven o’clock on each Friday morning.
– I would like to ask the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, without notice, whether the Government have taken into consideration the desirability of malting some increase in the payment to members of the Permanent Military Forces of Australia ?
– I can only say, in reply ito the honorable member, that the mutter he has mentioned has had the consideration of the Cabinet, and that at as early a - date as possible .a scheme will be submitted for the approval of the House for the purpose of putting the financial status of the members of the Permanent Forces upon a better footing. The Minister for Defence and I, indeed, the whole of the Government, realize that something should be done in this direction. The Permanent Military Forces of Australia have Tendered very great service during the great war. In fact, it was largely due to those forces that we were able to send such an efficient army overseas.
– Has the Prime Minister came to any decision with regard to the Central Wool Committee? Is that body still to run die country, and not the Government, which should do so ?
– I have not come to any decision in regard to the Central Wool ‘Committee, but since the honorable member introduced a deputation to me a few weeks ago, I have done very little but discuss the everlasting wool-tops question, only to find that .the further I go into it the more confused I become. I do not know whether the Central Wool Committee is running the country, as the honorable member asserts. That momentous issue has not yet come before me, and it has not occurred to me that it is doing so. However, I hope to he able to make an announcement within a few days in re gard to the wool-tops matter which the deputation brought before me a week or so ago.
– I desire to ask the new Postmaster-General when the House can expect an announcement of his policy in regard to country postal and telephone services?
– My policy will be disclosed at an early date.
– Is the Prime Minister aware that a certain firm in Sydney - Japanese, I understand - is exporting large quantities of munition steel to the East? I would like to ask him whether there is any significance in the fact?
– I am not aware of it. If the honorable member will supply me with the name of the firm I shall .take steps to prevent this export.
Poet Adelaide Post Office: Line Inspectors Association Award : Country Mail Contractors
– Is the PostmasterGeneral prepared to lay upon the Library table all papers and correspondence in reference to the proposed new post-office for Port Adelaide?
– I will make inquiries, and if there is no objection to the course suggested! by the honorable member, I will adopt it.
– Will the Postmaster-General glace upon th’e table a copy of the award recently secured by the Line Inspectors Association?
– Is the PostmasterGeneral aware that a promise was given to all country mail contractors that they would be compensated for losses sustained owing to the high cost of fodder during the drought ? And- is he aware that that promise has never been carried into effect? Will he also see that such undertakings are honoured?
– I will make inquiries. I have no knowledge of the matter at all.
– Is it a fact that a firm of architects in Sydney has been making the whole of the plans and under- baking the supervision of war service homes? If so, will the Prime Minister cause inquiries to be made regarding the amount of money which will eventually go, to that firm, namely, something like £56,000, including supervision?
– - I know nothing of the matter myself, but if the honorable member places his question on the noticepaper I will take steps to obtain the information.
– Have the Government any definite information concerning whether the marine engineers’ strike has ceased; and, if so, when the strike ended ? Also, can the Prime Minister inform me when we may expect the larger boats to be running between the mainland and Tasmania?
– I do not know; but official information has been forwarded to the effect that the strike is over, and’ that the men are presenting themselves for work.
The Cleek laid upon the table a copy of an election petition received from the Principal Registrar of the High Court, at Melbourne, under section 202 of the Electoral Act, viz.: - -Petition of John Kean against the return of Edwin Thomas John Kerby as member for the electoral division of Ballaarat, in the State of Victoria.
– As a matter of privilege, I desire to ask a question. I understand that you, Mr. Speaker, have received a petition challenging the right of the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. Kerby) to sit in this Chamber. Is it customary for an honorable member concerned to take his seat in this Chamber while such a petition is under consideration ?
– I would point out that the petition is one which has been received by the Court of Disputed Returns, and that the document which ‘has just been read is merely a copy sent to the House of Representatives for its information.
– That is not an answer to my question.
– That is a matter entirely for the honorable member himself.
The following papers were presented : -
Arbitration (Public Service Act) -
Awards and Orders made by the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration and other documents in the following cases: -
Australian Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association - .
Dated 19th December, 1919 (two).
Dated 24th December, 1919.
Dated 19th December, 1919 -
Australian Commonwealth Post and Telegraph Association and the Commonwealth Postmasters’ Association.
Australian Commonwealth Post and Telegraph Officers’ Association (two).
Australian Letter Carriers’ Association (two).
Australian Postal Linesmen’s Union.
Commonwealth General Division Telephone Officers’ Association.
Commonwealth Public Service Artisans’ Association.
Federated Public Service Assistants’ Association of Australia (four).
General Division Officers’ Union of the Trade and Customs Department of Australia (two).
Postal Electricians Union.
Postal Sorters Union of Australia.
Audit Act- Finance 1918-19- The Treasurer’s Statement of Receipts and Expenditure during the year ended 30th June, 1919, accompanied by the Report of the Auditor-General.
Audit Act -
Transfers of Amounts approved by the GovernorGeneral in Council -
Financial year 1918-19 -
Dated 12th November, 1919.
Dated 14th January, 1920.
Contract Immigrants Act -Return for 1919.
Customs Act -
Proclamations Prohibiting the Exporta tion (except under certain conditions) of -
Birds of Paradise and their Plumage (dated 21st January, 1920).
British and Australian Silver Coin (dated 20th December, 1919).
Cinematograph Films (dated 20th December, 1919).
Dried Fruits (dated 28th October, 1919).
Goods to Germany, Austria-Hungary, Turkey and Bulgaria (dated 14th January, 1920).
Trade Spirits and Distilled Beverages containing essential oils, &c, to certain parts of Africa (dated 21st January, 1920).
Woollen Fabrics and Yarns (dated 6th. December, 1919).
Proclamation Prohibiting the Importation (except under certain conditions) of Absolute Alcohol and certain other goods (dated 1st November, 1919).
Regulations Amended - ‘Statutory Rules 1919, No. 243.
Defence Act -
Royal Military College - Report for 1918-19.
Regulations Amended -
Statutory Rules 1919, Nos. 252-255, 206-273, 282, 283.
Statutory Rules 1920, Nos. 3, 4, 5, 14, 26.
Electoral Act - Regulation Amended Statutory Rules 1919, No. 262.
Electoral Act and Referendum (Constitution Alteration) Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1919, Nos. 229, 260, 276.
Electoral (War-time) Act - Regulations Amended- . Statutory Rules 1919, Nos. 259, 285, 287.
Immigration Act - Return for 1919.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired under, at–
Alpha, Queensland - For Postal purposes.
Brighton, Victoria - For War Service Homes purposes.
Hobart, Tasmania - ‘For Repatriation purposes.
Rupanyup, Victoria - For Postal purposes.
Stanthorpe, Queensland -For Defence purposes.
Sunshine, Victoria -For War Service Homes purposes.
Tamworth, New South Wales - For Defence purposes.
Naturalization Act -
Return of Number of Persons to whom Naturalization Certificates were granted during 1919.
Naval Defence Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1919, Nos. 248, 284, 297, 298.
Norfolk Island - Report of the Administrator for the year ended 30th June, 1919.
Northern Territory -
Ordinances of 1919 -
No. 11.- Deputy Administrator (No. 2).
No. 12. - Justices Appeals (No. 2).
Papers presented to the British Parliament - Afghanistan, 1919 - Papers regarding hostilities with.
Dardanelles Commission -Final Report - Part II. - Conduct of operations, &c, with Appendix of Documents and Maps. Income Tax - Royal Commission [Imperial] -
Minutes of Evidence with Appendices -
National Relief Fund - Report on the Administration up to 30th June, 1919.
Out-of Work Donation - Scheme of - Final Report of the Committee of Inquiry.
Austria - Treaty of Peace between the Allied and Associated Powers and Austria; together with the Protocol and Declarations Annexed thereto, signed at Saint-Germain-en-Laye, 10th September, 1919.
Austro-Hungary - Agreement between the Allied and Associated Powers with regard to the Contributions to the Cost of Liberation of the Territories of the Former Austro-Hungaiian Monarchy, signed at Saint-Germain-en-Laye, 10th September, 1919.
Czecho-Slovakia - Treaty between the Principal Allied and Associated Powers and Czecho-Slovakia, signed at SaintGermainenLaye, 10th September, 1919.
Italian Reparation Payments - Agreement between the Allied and Associated Powers with regard to, signed at SaintGermainenLaye, 10th September, 1919.
Peace Proposals made by His Holiness the Pope to the Belligerent Powers on 1st August, 1917, and Correspondence relative thereto.
Serb-Croat-Slovene State - Treaty between the Principal Allied and Associated Powers and Serb-Croat-Slovene State, signed at Saint-Germain-en-Laye, 10th September, 1919.
Ordinances of 1919 -
No. 5 - Appropriation (1919-1920).
No. 9. - Native Labour, 1918.
Patents Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1919, No. 239.
Post and Telegraph Act - Regulations Amended -
Statutory Rules 1919, Nos. 247, 249, 257, 279, 280, 281, 291. 292.
Statutory Rules 1920, Nos. 1, 6, 15, 24.
Public Service Act -
List of Permanent Officers of the Commonwealth Public Service, as on 30th June, 1919.
Appointments, Promotions,&c., of -
Regulations Amended -
Statutory Rules 1919, Nos. 246, 256, 258,
264, 275, 286.
Statutory Rules 1920, Nos. 9, 10, 17, 20, 21, 22, 23.
Railways Act -By-laws Nos. 12, 13.
Seat of Government -
Ordinances of 1919 -
No. 6. - Rabbit Destruction.
No. 7 - Leases.
War Service Homes Act - Land acquired under at -
Adamstown, New South Wales.
Belmore, New South Wales.
Coburg West, Victoria.
Concord, New South Wales ( 2 ) .
Drummoyne, New South Wales.
Kelvin Grove, Queensland.
Newcastle, New South Wales.
War Precautions Act - Regulations
Amended-Statutory Rules 1919, No. 250.
War Precautions Act and Moratorium Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1919, Nos. 251, 261.
Wool-Central Wool Committee -Statistical Bulletin, No. 2- (Wool Season 1918-19-
Analysis of Quantities of Wool Appraised during Seasons 1917-18 and 1918-19.
– I have to inform the House that I have attended in the Senate Chamber, where His Excellency the Governor-General was pleased to deliver his opening Speech, of which, for greater accuracy, I have obtained a copy. Since honorable members have had a copy of that Speech placed in their hands, I presume that they do not desire me to read it. (For text of Speech, vide page 6).
Motion (by Mr. Hughes) agreed to -
That a Committee consisting of Mr. Kerby, Mr. Cameron, and the mover be appointed to prepare an Address-in-Reply to the Speech delivered by His Excellency the GovernorGeneral to both Houses of the Parliament, and that the Committee do report this day.
The members of the Committee retired, and, having re-entered the chamber,
.- I move -
That the following Address-in-Reply to His Excellency the Governor-General’s Speech be agreed to : - “ May it please Your Excellency : -
We, the House of Representatives of the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia, in Parliament assembled, beg to express our loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign, and to thank Your Excellency for the Speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.”
The Speech of His Excellency the Governor-General intimated that the state of war with Germany had been concluded’ by the final ratification of the Peace Treaty on the 10th January. We are all most heartily pleased that that state of war has come to an end. At the same time, however, we have to consider that the war feeling has not by any means subsided. In Europe, and in other parts of the world, there is still a very unsettled state of affairs; it is obvious that it requires only the faintest breeze to fan the flames ofdiscontent into another war. We hear of the propaganda of the Russian Bolsheviki now being circulated throughout the world. We are aware of the encouragement given to that propaganda by tie lackadaisical manner in which the Peace Conference has been dealing with questions arising from the Peace Treaty, and we have noted the further encouragement provided by the delay on the part of the United States of America in respect to the ratification of the Treaty. So, although the state of war is officially at an end, we are still faced with unsettled conditions all over the world, and, consequently, we must be prepared for any eventualities.
With respect to the mandates given to us over certain of the Pacific Islands, and which mandates have not yet been ratified, we know that there are, quite close to Australia, immense territories which at present are being exceptionally badly administered. The sooner the Peace Treaty is ratified - with or without the indorsement of the United States - the better it willbe for the interests of Australia. Meanwhile the development of these islands is being delayed. Unfortunately, we have no authority to move in the direction of their development, and we find that trade which should be coming to Australia is being diverted. Unless we can very quickly grasp the situation, the trade of those islands will have been permanently turned aside from- the Commonwealth. The right way in which to develop the islands is by private enterprise. We do not desire , to* witness there the establishment of any socialistic enterprise that would amount, officially, to a condition’ of working for the good of the State, but in which each man would be actually working for what he could make for himself. I would impress upon the Government the desirability of giving every encouragement to private enterprise in the development of these islands. There are, at the present time, in Australia, companies which are asking for permission to prospect and work them, and, as soon as the mandates have been officially settled, we should take every step to turn them into profitable assets of the Commonwealth. It is strongly suspected that oil deposits are to be found there. American engineers were brought out at great expense, and are now supposed to be at work there under the joint control of the British and Australian Governments, but they are doing nothing to develop the oil-fields. Australia will be more dependent upon oil in the future than she has been in the past, and it therefore behoves us to test and develop our oil resources to the utmost.
The Commonwealth Government finds itself in a very serious position financially, and the money markets of the world are very tight. Immense loans are outstanding, and there are great public works which should he undertaken, and for the carrying out of which the ‘Government must give financial assistance. There are great difficulties in the way of doing this, but means must be found for surmounting them. The development of Australia, and of the islands under her control, must not be kept back; and, if things are properly taken in hand and sufficient courage is shown in administration, we shall quickly be repaid the expenditure that we incur. The construction of railways is necessary to develop the central parts of this continent, where there are huge areas of undeveloped pastoral country and vast mineral wealth lying absolutely untouched. Until proper transport facilities are provided, this part of our territory will not give us the return that we should get from it.
I was pleased to hear the GovernorGeneral declare that it is proposed to invite the representatives of the States who are parties to the River Murray water agreement to confer with the Government of the Commonwealth “ with a view to expediting that great national work.”
The Murray Valley, if irrigated, would support a population greater than that now inhabiting Australia. ‘Courage is needed for the carrying out of the necessary conservation schemes, but their completion .and the utilization of the resources which we shall’ then possess will provide the Commonwealth with immense wealth.
Our present method of collecting taxation is an extremely clumsy one. The Commonwealth imposes both a land tax and an income tax, and a land and an income tas: is imposed by the laws of, I think, every one of the States. I am pleased, therefore, to hear that a Royal Commission is to he appointed to consider the whole incidence of Commonwealth taxation. “What is needed is some satisfactory arrangement between the Commonwealth and State authorities as to methods of assessment and collection and as to the distribution of the proceeds of the taxes. In place of a Commonwealth and a State Department of Taxation in each of the six States, with a duplication of returns from the taxpayers, we should have but one taxing authority. This would relieve the public of a great deal of trouble and annoyance, and would undoubtedly largely diminish the cost of collecting the taxes. I am of the opinion, however, that in the past Royal Commissions have been used largely to shelve inconvenient proposals, and that little has been done with their reports beyond putting them away as records. I hope, therefore, that, not only will there be an inquiry by a Royal ‘Commission into the incidence of Commonwealth taxation, but that effect will be given as soon as* possible to the recommendations of the Commission.
It is a matter of congratulation that it is intended to bring in an amending Repatriation Bill. I have had numerous complaints from soldiers who have been compelled to apply to three or four Departments to get their cases inquired into. This is unsatisfactory to the soldiers concerned, and to the administration. I hope that the Repatriation Department will be so re-arranged that all questions of repatriation can be considered and dealt with by one body. I would like to bring prominently under the notice of the Government the fac* that the pension rates for disabled soldiers are extremely low. Only 30s. a week is given to men who have been totally disabled, and it is impossible for a man to live on such a pension. I hope that the Government may find money somehow or other to increase the pension for total disability. Great discontent is being caused by the difficulty which returned men have in getting land on which to settle. Except for the Federal Capital Territory, the Commonwealth Government have no land which it can place at the disposal of returned men, and no two of the State authorities are in agreement on matters of land settlement. In Victoria alone there are at the present time 6,000 men waiting for land, and some of them have been waiting for as long as twelve months. This state of things does not reflect credit upon those who are responsible for it. Our returned men are the best class of settlers that could be got, but the unnecessary and tiresome delays to which they are subjected tend to make applicants for land downhearted, and many of them are losing energy because of the manner in which they have been treated.
In the interest of the development of our country districts greater postal facilities must be provided for country residents. Except as to the telephone service, the inhabitants of our cities have little cause of complaint, but those who go out into the back country need much greater facilities for communication. The country postal and other services will never be a paying’ concern in actual pounds, shillings, and pence; but if a liberal policy is pursued by the Post Office the net gain to the community at large will be greater than any book loss that may be shown by the Department. I am very pleased that there are at least twelve or thirteen returned soldiers who are members of this Parliament. They have been repatriated fairly well, and I trust will make themselves felt here as they did overseas. The new PostmasterGeneral has had quite a number of questions to answer to-day, and- I hope that it may be his policy to provide greatly improved facilities for communication throughout the country.
It is gratifying to know that the Commonwealth Bank is to extend its operations. I am sure that we are all agreed as to the wisdom of that. The Bank should have full control of all banking matters, and the more it competes with private banks the better it will be for the community.
A very important question is that of the defence -of the country. The position of affairs in every part of the world is very uncertain at the present time and we must be prepared to defend the rights and privileges that we possess. Consequently, our Defence Department must be ready to immediately mobilize a sufficient number of men to defend the country should it be attacked. The low pay that is given to our Army instructors has already been referred to this afternoon. The whole of our permanent staff is inadequately paid. At the beginning of the war, Australian rates of pay were greater than those of the British Army, but at the present time a staff lieutenant in the Imperial Army receives as much for his work as a staff major in the Australian Army. If we want the best men for our Defence Forces - and we must have the best obtainable^ - we must adequately pay them. We can have nothing but praise for the work of our Instructional Staff, both before and during the war, and I was very pleased to hear the Assistant Minister for Defence (Sir Granville Ryrie) state, in answer to a question this afternoon, that the question of an increase of pay to, at all events, the lower arms of the Permanent Forces was being considered, and that there was a very big possibility of an increase being granted in the near future.
There is one other matter relating to Defence on which I should like to touch, and it certainly requires some consideration. I am not in favour of our present system of promotion by seniority. We have, unfortunately, a number of deadbeats in our Permanent Forces, and by getting rid of them, we should be able, no doubt, to increase the pay of those who are deserving of it without adding to the capital expenditure of the Commonwealth. A branch of the Defence Force which possibly is going to come most to the fore in the near future is that of aviation. It is hopeless to expect the Government to expend the huge sums of money necessary to maintain a fighting aerial force, but we have in Australia many private commercial companies that are about to commercialize aviation, and by the Government giving these companies assistance and advice, recommending them the right type of machines to use, and practically insisting that they shall be easily convertible into war machines - as commercial machines can be at the present time - we shall he able to form in. Australia the nucleus of a very large aviation force. We need go no further than the work performed by our own aviators during the recent war if we want testimony as to what they wills do on any future occasion.
Whilst dealing with aviation, I wish to add my praise to that already given to Captain Sir Ross Smith and his crew. Those men have performed a deed which will go down in history as a record, not only for themselves, but of the enterprise of Australians. I should like to see some greater recognition than has yet been given to the mechanics who accompanied Sir Ross Smith. The two officers of the party have been knighted, and rightly so, but so far the mechanics on whom devolved most of the hard work, and most of the mechanical work relating to the engines, have received only bars to their Air Force medals. I should like to see honorary commissions given to both men.
– Why not a title?
– They would probably not know what to do with a title.
I am pleased to learn that the Government intend to drop all Government control over trade and commerce. During the war it was undoubtedly necessary that we should have various Pools established and maintained under Government supervision, but the time has come when the Government is going to shed that responsibility. It is now the duty of the primary producer to take control of his own industry, and to work it for the benefit of not only himself, but Australia as a whole. I am convinced that our primary producers will do that. By increasing the co-operative efforts which they have already adopted, they are going to do away with much of the commission charges which were originally responsible for the rise in the price of goods, and I am hopeful that once they get properly going in. this direction, they will increase their production to such an extent as to very quickly bring down the high cost of living.
Tariff revision has been talked of for a long while. I hope that the Tariff now about to be introduced1 by the Government will raise a wall sufficiently high to keep out all competition. We want to encourage not only our primary but our secondary producers, but in helping the secondary producers of Australia, we do not wish to encourage them to work six hours a day, and to secure greater returns from their toil than does the primary producer for his sixteen or twenty hours’ work a day. I hope, also, that the Tariff will be strongly proEmpire, and that the bonds which have united us with the Mother Country during the last five years are going to be increased by interchange of trade, and by our working within the Empire for the good of the Empire. Our minerals, of which we are going to have large quantities for export, should go first to the Mother Country. If that be our policy, there will not be the necessity that existed evidently this afternoon for putting a question to Ministers as to munition steel being exported to foreign countries.
Our industrial situation at the present time is fairly acute. We have, unfortunately, gone from one dispute to another, with the result that we find that practically the whole of our industries are in an almost chaotic state. There can- be no doubt that the existing Conciliation and Arbitration Act has failed. It has not accomplished what was hoped of it, and, consequently, it is time that an amended law dealing with the prevention of disputes, so far as the Commonwealth Constitution will permit us to legislate in that direction, should be brought into force.
– A War Precautions Act?
– Yes, any measure that will put a stop to industrial disputes should be brought into force.
– Is not the War Precautions Act dead?
– Not where there is a state of petty war. The Government intend immediately to bring in legislation for the prevention of industrial disputes, and I hope it will be successful in preventing a large number of disputes which threaten at the present time, and such as we have had unfortunately during the last twelve months. The question of the basic wage does not call for discussion. We are all in perfect agreement that every man should have at least a living wage.
– Except men in this House.
– I make no exception, neither does the House as a whole. We are all in agreement that every man. should have a living wage, and, no doubt, if those to whom, the honorable member refers go direct to the right authorities, they will secure a living wage.
The question of shipping is of vital consequence to the Commonwealth, and therefore the Government shipbuilding programme that is now being pushed on with should be augmented. We have had, unfortunately, during the last ten or eleven weeks, a large number of ships lying idle, and we have to endeavour to overtake the arrears. The Commonwealth line of steamers has undoubtedly done much to keep down fares to and from Australia. It has also kept down freight charges, and has consequently been the means of bringing into the country a much greater amount of wealth than would otherwise have been secured. In these circumstances, we are going to push forward with the shipping programme, and to increase it at every opportunity.
We have also to consider at the present time the population of the Commonwealth. Here we have an area greater than that of the United States of America, yet we have only 5,000,000 people inhabiting it. We have to increase our population. We want assistance in shouldering our financial burdens, and we need assistance in dealing with the great Defence problems that are arising. The best way in which we can immediately increase our population is by encouraging a suitable type of immigrants to come to Australia. We have in the United Kingdom, at the present time, hundreds of thousands of discharged soldiers who are awaiting an opportunity to come to Australia, but, unfortunately, we have in London six different States with six different immigration policies, each practically working against the other. We have no coordination of effort similar to that which characterizes, the Canadian Immigration Bureau. If the Commonwealth Govern ment would set to work to cO’-O’rdinate the efforts of the States, giving us unity of purpose, and advertising, not one part of Australia, but the whole of it, . we should secure a suitable type of immigrant - a type of which we are urgently in need - and induce such people to come here in their thousands. That would undoubtedly assist us in shouldering the burden that we must carry for years to come.
The establishment of a Bureau of Science and Industry was an absolute necessity. The Bureau is already doing good work. It is undoubtedly increasing production, and has fully justified itself.
There is another matter mentioned in the Speech of His Excellency, and it has also been brought up in this House this afternoon; I refer to the Federal Capital. We are all in favour of getting the Federal Parliament away from the capital cities of the Commonwealth as soon as ever the financial situation will permit of our doing so.
– What about Ballarat?
– I intend, when this matter is brought up again., as I understand it will be, to bring under the notice of the House the special facilities that Ballarat offers. At present I cannot see where we are going to get the financial backing that is necessary to move the capital to the Canberra site. No doubt, the removal of the capital to Canberra is a very good scheme in the sky; and if aviation develops to the extent we hope, we may probably be put in a position to go there. Until that time, however, I think I am voicing the opinion of, at any rate, quite a number of members of the House when I say we cannot improve on Melbourne as the place where we should carry on the Federal affairs of the Commonwealth.
I am pleased to read in the Speech of His Excellency that His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales will make a visit here within the next three months. This will serve as an opportunity to Australians to express their loyalty to the personal respresentative of the Crown. I trust that the visit will be the means of bringing all sections of the community together to show their loyalty to Throne and Empire. I know that the welcome the Prince will receive will exceed his highest expectations. It is only becoming to us, and an acknowledgment of what we owe to the
Mother Country for the work she has done for us during the last five years, that we should pay all the respect possible to the representative of the King when he pays us this visit.
.- I greatly appreciate the compliment extended to me when I was assigned the duty of seconding the motion for the Address-in-Reply. I feel that it is more a compliment to the constituency I represent than to myself. I discharge the duty that now falls to me with the greater confidence because I know that every honorable member always listens with the greatest patience and- kindness to the maiden effort of a new member, and that you, Mr. Speaker, view with lenient eye any lapse which a new member may make in relation to parliamentary procedure.
I desire at the outset to say that I esteem it a great privilege to have been selected to come here as a representative of such an important constituency as that of the capital of Queensland. I wish to assure honorable members that I shall at all times endeavour to maintain the traditions of Parliament and of the executive Government. I have very much pleasure in seconding the motion proposed by my honorable friend, the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. Kerby). I also desire to congratulate that honorable gentleman on the very fine speech in which he introduced himself to the Chamber. It is an effort which I should very much like to emulate if I had the capacity. I desire also to compliment the Government on the result of the recent election. I came forward as a supporter of the Government, because I felt that their policy stood for the true interests of the country.
It is not my intention to deal in detail with the Governor-General’s Speech. I have no desire to detain the House, and, furthermore, I know that we shall have further opportunity to express our opinions when the measures referred to in the Speech are brought before us for consideration. There are, however, one ortwo matters to which I should particu-‘ larly like to refer.
I agree with the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. Kerby) in what he said in reference to repatriation. I am sure that all honorable members are pleased to know that the Government intend to amend the
Repatriation Act so as to bring about coordination of departmental activities. We know that there have been delays, that men have unfortunately been kept waiting for many months, and have been greatly discouraged. This, no doubt, is due to difficulties which, to a great extent, will be overcome by co-ordination. Personally, I feel that the Government have not treated the returned soldiers ungenerously: but the best efforts of the Government should be devoted to help those men to positions where they can depend on their own efforts. That, I am sure, is the desire of the great majority of the men.
Another matter to which I should like to refer is that of immigration. I am glad the Government intend to encourage the bringing of the right kind of people to this country, the prospects of which are unlimited. In common with all other countries, we are labouring under a great debt in consequence of the war. But Australia, also, in common with every other country, has suffered another great shortage. This shortage is not only one of money, but consists of tha* great factor which produces money - manhood. During the last five years, a great many of our young men have been lost to the country, and far too many of them are for ever lost. Their dust lies on Gallipoli, in Flanders, France, Palestine, and wherever the glory of the British Army is greatest.
I trust the Government will encourage production, and I am pleased to see that they intend to amend the law in regard to water conservation. In this connexion I think some encouragement ought to be given to the people of Queensland in the way of irrigation and conservation. I feel sure that had there been legislation of the kind in force now, millions of pounds would have been saved, even during the last twelve months, in the State from which I come.
I am also pleased to see that the Government intend to amend the maternity bonus, and this can be done with great benefit. There are many now who seek the bonus although they do not require it, and, in my opinion, it would be much better if that money could be given to those who really require it in the shape of an increased amount. “We are all agreed that everything possible should be done to assist ‘women through such a trying time.
As I said, I do not intend to speak at any length. I thank honorable members for the patient way in which they have listened to me. I am willing to concede to every one in this House the very finest sentiments, and I only ask that they “will give me credit for a desire to carry out faithfully the duties which my constituents have sent me here to perform.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Tudor) adjourned.
– I beg to lay before honorable members the following correspondence: -
On behalf of my family andmyself, I desire to thank you most sincerely for your sympathy with us in our sorrow.
It is with deep gratitude that I have received your letter of the 18th September last, forwarding a bound copy of the resolutions of sympathy passed by the Senate and House of Representatives on the occasion of the death of General Botha, and of the speeches which were delivered in both Houses. These resolutions and speeches go to show the high esteem in which the late General Botha was held, and I ask you to convey to the members of the Senate and the House of Representatives ray grateful thanks for their expressions of sympathy on the death of my friend and colleague.
The copies of the documents for Mrs. Botha have been handed to her.
The Honorable the President of the Senate, and
The Honorable the Speaker of the House of Representatives,
Message transmitting Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure for the year ending 30th June, 1920, and recommending appropriation accordingly, reported.
Ordered to be printed and referred to Committee of Supply, when appointed.
Concessions from Imperial Government.
– Has the Prime Minister a statement to make to the House as to the probability of securing more substantial and effective concessions from the Imperial Government, particularly in regard to our primary products, in return for the generous preference given to Great Britain in the Australian Tariff?
– I shall probably be in a position to make a statement on this subject at an early date.
Lithgow Small Arms Factory.
– I have received from the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Nicholls) an intimation that he desires to move the adjournment of the House to discuss a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely, “ the dismissal of men from the Small Arms Factory at Lithgow.” The honorable member will not be able to move as he desires until the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply has been dealt with.
Mr. McDONALD took the oath and subscribed the roll as member for the electoral division of Kennedy.
– May I ask honorable members generally not to put to Ministers without notice questions of which notice can be given ? When the subject of a question is ofsuch urgency that obviously it would be detrimental to the welfare of any considerable body of citizens to delay the asking of it, it is proper to ask it without notice; but, as honorable members know well, it is not usually under such circumstances that questions are asked without notice. I shall be glad if honorable members will be good enough to confine their questions without notice to matters of real urgency. I shall answer such questions if I am able to do so.
Mr.FENTON.- I have a question to ask which I consider important, because there are quite a number of troubled hearts in the community among the soldiers and their relatives. I wish to know whether the moratorium provisions for the protection of soldiers and their dependants who are renting houses are still in operation against rapacious landlords?
– That is a question of which I think the honorable member should give notice, especially as I am unable to answer it right away.
– The question which I wish to put to the Prime Minister is one which I think he can answer without notice. In view of the fact that persons interned during the war were not informed of the charge against them, nor confronted . with their accusers, I wish to know what steps it is proposed to take to satisfy this House and the people of Australia that injustice has not been done to many accused persons. I desire, also, to obtain information as to the number of persons who were interned and the number still interned, but I shall put on the noticepaper my questions on those subjects.
– In view of the statement of the Prime Minister, I suggest to the honorable member that perhaps the whole of the questions might reasonably be put on the notice-paper.
– The first of my questions can well be answered immediately.
– If the honorable member says that that question is urgent, a different complexion is put upon it.
Question not answered.
Upon other honorable members rising to ash questions without notice -
– In view of the statement of the Prime Minister that it is not the intention of Ministers to answer questions without notice, unless they are of an urgent character, it would be wasting the time of the House to permit the asking, without notice, of questions which might reasonably be set down on the noticepaper. Therefore, I ask honorable members to give notice of all such questions.
– Has the Speaker become the Prime Minister?
– Order ! It is entirely at the option of Ministers themselves whether they will answer questions or not
– Hear, hear; but it is not for the Speaker to take upon himself the responsibility.
– Order ! It is not in order for an honorable member to interject while the Speaker is on his feet. Since the Prime Minister has informed the House that it was not the intention of Ministers to answer questions without notice, it must be obvious that if I permitted such questions to be continued, I would be doing something which was not conducive to the proper conduct of ‘the business of the House.
– I must respectfully request honorable members generally not to load the business paper for Friday mornings with questions on notice Telated to the Department for which I am responsible, when Ministers have very little time at their disposal for obtaining the answers.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
Will he lay on the table a full statement showing how the profits from army and troopship canteens have been allocated and apportioned?
– The surplus profits of the army and troopship canteens have not yet been allotted or apportioned. It is proposed, at an early date, to introduce a Bill constituting a Trust for the administration of these moneys, and it is intended such moneys - over and above all the obligations under the Repatriation Act and Regulations - shall be devoted to the widows, orphans, widowed mothers, and other immediate dependants of our fallen soldiers, and also to the more seriously disabled returned soldiers.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Is it the intention of the Government to guarantee a minimum price for wheat for the 1920-21 season?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: - 1 and 2. A guarantee of 5s. per bushel at country sidings has already been announced for the season 1920-21..
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Whetherhe will make a statement as to the progress of his negotiations with the representatives of the dairying industry for its better organization and for the marketing of butter and cheese ?
– Conferences have been held in each State, and delegates appointed to a Central Conference, which will be held in Melbourne early in March, when the details of the scheme will be considered.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
For the information of the honorable member, I may say that recent press cable advice from London indicates that the Royal Commis sion sitting in London to inquire into the incidence of British Income Tax intends to recommend the abolition of assessment on the average income of three years, and to substitute assessment on the income of the preceding year.
Mr. STEWART (for Mr. Gregory) asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
Will he favorably consider a retrospective amendment of the War-time Profits Tax Act which will afford relief in cases where it is stated the Act has been found to operate very harshly on pastoralists and graziers, who, prior to the war, had made no profits, and in many instances had shown heavy losses, and who now are being heavily taxed on book profits (increases of stock) which, it is alleged, may never be realized?
– The points raised by this question were very fully considered by the Parliament when the amendment of the War-time Profits Tax AssessmentAct 1918 was under consideration, and it was considered that very full provision was made for relief to pastoralists, especially those operating in districts liable to severe drought, in which the capital of the business was liable to be lost or reduced owing to drought. It is probable that pastoralists have not made themselves acquainted with these provisions of the law. This matter will doubtless be considered by the proposed Royal Commission on the incidence of Commonwealth direct taxation.
Date of Termination - Trial of War Criminals
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The Government’s policy in this connexion will be announced in due course.
Royal Commission’s Report: Supplies foe Bundaberg Refinery.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
When he expects to bc able to lay on the tabic of the House the. report of the Royal Commission on Sugar?
– The report will be placed on the table of the House as soon as the Government has had an opportunity of considering it.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
In view of the promise made that not less than 1:3,000 tons of raw sugar should be sent from the sugar districts of North Queensland to the Bundabery refinery, and as 200 employees of the said refinery are prematurely thrown out of employment by the non-delivery of this raw sugar, thus swelling the numbers of unemployed caused by the recent severe drought, will he say when the shipment of raw sugar to the refinery will be resumed ?
– The delivery of sugar has been dislocated owing to the strike,, but the question of further deliveries will be considered so soon as the normal condition of shipping shall have been resumed.
Victualling Allowance - Rates of Pay - Promotions
asked the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
Motion (by Mr. Hughes) agreed to -
That the Standing Orders be suspended in order to enable the Committees of Supply and Ways and Means to be appointed before the Address-in-Reply to His Excellency the GovernorGeneral’s opening speech has been agreed to by the House, and to enable all other steps to be at once taken to obtain Supply, and to pass a Supply Bill through all its stages without delay.
.- I move -
That the honorable member for Riverina (the Hon. John Moore Chanter) be appointed Chairman of Committees of this House.
It is unnecessary for me to make a lengthy statement in submitting this motion, since the honorable member for Riverina is well known to the majority of honorable members, and has previously filled with distinction and credit to himself the position of Chairman of Committees. I can say with confidence to new members that in the honorable member, if he be elected, we shall have a fearless and impartial Chairman. The honorable member held this office during the whole of the last Parliament, as well as on previous occa sions, and I hope that my motion will meet with the concurrence of the House.
.- It is with sincere pleasure that I second the motion. As the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Atkinson) has said, the honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Chanter) is well known to the House, and during his occupancy of the chair on previous occasions gave satisfaction’ to almost every one. He had occasionally to play the part yesterday described by the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) as that of a flagelator, but it appeared to me that on some occasions at least the punishment meted out by him, if not merited, was, at all events, welcomed and rather sought after. The honorable member never used the whip until he had resorted to a good deal of suasion, and had asked for some consideration for the delinquent. The honorable member for Riverina is not exactly the father of the House - that is a position to which I aspire - but he has been in politics much longer than I have, having had considerable experience in the State Parliament of New South Wales, as well as in the National Parliament. His decisions as Chairman of Committees have met with the approval of the great majority of honorable members, and I am sure they will never be challenged. They will be followed, I am confident, by any honorable member who is privileged in the future to occupy the position, for they displayed such a soundness of judgment that no one could cavil at them.
.- It is with reluctance that I rise to take the action that I am now about to do, but there are certain matters which I desire to bring before the House. Those who were in the last Parliament will remember that the Electoral Bill was before the House in November, 1918. The sitting, which opened on the 7th November, extended throughout the night, and after a brief adjournment was resumed at 11 o’clock on the morning of the8th November. Shortly afterwards I rose to exercise my undoubted right to speak to a certain clause in reply to the present Treasurer (Mr. Watt), who was then Acting Prime Minister, but the honorable member for Riverina, who was then Chairman of Committees, ruled that I had already spoken twice to the clause, and was, therefore, not entitled to speak again. I was positive, and I think most of those present shared my view, that I had spoken only once, and I told the Chairman so. Hisreply was that I must sit down, and I had to do so because I knew that if I failed to obey his direction I would be suspended.
SirJosephCook. - The honorable member knew that from previous experience.
– Yes, but I have never been suspended.
– I have.
– I am aware of that, and I think the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Bamford) must have had the honorable gentleman in mind when he said that on some occasions he thought those who had been punished by the Chairman were looking for punishment, and rather welcomed it. I make this statement because my experience on the occasion referred to may be that of any honorable member at some future date. The Hansard report of the proceedings is as follows: -
.- I admit that if I were in the Minister’s position I would do exactly as he is doing. Naturally, Ministers want their Bill, but-
– Order ! I find the honorable member has already spoken twice on this clause.
– I spoke only once, Mr. Chairman.
– I find, on reference to the records, that the honorable member has spoken twice.
– Not on this clause. I spoke on clause 123, and before I rose I spoke to the Clerk on the subject.-
That was to verify my own belief that I had spoken only once on the clause.
– It is the duty of the Chairman to be accurate in cheeking the mem-‘ bers’ times. The honorable member first spoke on this clause at 11.25 a.m., and again at 11.52 a.m. He now proposes to speak again, but he has exhausted his time.
– I am sure I did not. I say deliberately I do not think I did, and I do not think any other member believes I have spoken twice on it.
– I ask the honorable member to withdraw that statement.
– I will withdraw it. You are not going to put me out.
Mr. Finlayson. You try it on.
– I did expect that the Leader of the Opposition would endeavour to support the Chair.
When I was on my feet for the first time, the present Treasurer (Mr. Watt), who was then Acting Prime Minister, had sent to me an intimation that he wished to see me on important business. I am sure that the honorable gentleman will not mind my saying that he had then received a cable, stating that the armistice would probably take effect on the following Monday; and I was with him at the time the Chairman said I had spoken for the second time. Had the Chairman of Committees admitted he had made a mistake - and every man is prone to make mistakes - I should not have called attention to the subject.
– It was the case of the record of the Clerk against your recollection.
– It was the Chairman’s own record, and not the Clerk’s. The Chairman stated that I had spoken at 11.52, whereas it was the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Austin Chapman) who rose at that time. The honorable member for Kooyong (Sir Robert Best) spoke at 11.53, the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony) at 11.55. the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Atkinson) at 12 o’clock, the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Watt) at 12.7, and I followed. I did not get a complete Hansard record of the proceedings until November 19th.
– Anything happening after 12 o’clock is excusable.
– It was 12 o’clock noon, not midnight. We assembled at 3 o’clock on the afternoon of the 19th, and then I made the following personalexplanation : -
On Friday week, when I rose to speak on clause 125 of the Electoral Bill, the Chairman of Committees told me that I had exhausted my right to speak on the clause, having already twice done so. I ‘denied at the time the accuracy of his statement, and was threatened with expulsion; but the proof of the Hansard report furnished to me next day showed that I had spoken on the clause only once. As there was a possibility of a galley slip not having been delivered to me, I waited until the publication of the complete record, and from that it is evident that I spoke only once, beginning my speech at 11.24 a.m. At 11.52 the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Austin Chapman) spoke. That was the time at which, according to the Chairman of Committees, I had spoken. His speech lasted for two or three minutes. At that time, I was absent from the Chamber interviewing the Acting Prime Minister. Our rights here are little enough, and they should not be reduced 50 per cent.
I think I have a right to place on record the treatment meted out to me by the nominee of the Government. I have admitted that every man can make mistakes - the man who says he does not make mistakes makes the biggest mistake of all. It is true that this was after an all-night sitting, but I should be failing in my duty as a member of this House if I’ allowed my rights to be curtailed without protest.
– Did the honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Chanter) ever apologise ?
– He never said a word about the matter, I had to withdraw the remark that I “thought” I had only spoken once - I was not allowed to think. In view of that action of the late Chairman of Committees, I am reluctantly compelled to protest against his appointment. If any other honorable member is nominated for the position I shall vote for him.
– I distinctly remember the incident referred to by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Tudor). I remember the feeling of surprise I experienced on hearing that the honorable gentleman had spoken twice, my recollection being that he had only spoken once. However, it was not my province to interfere with the Chairman of Committees, although I was in charge of the Committee at the time; I trusted that the records of the Chairman, or of the Clerk, were more reliable than the faulty recollections of Parliamentarians like the honorable gentleman and myself. We had had an all-night sitting, dealing with that troublesome Electoral Bill, and honorable members were very strained. We were trying to hasten the close of the Friday sitting in order that honorable members might catch their Inter-State trains. Surely the honorable member does not mean to suggest that because the late Chairman of Committees made a mistake-
– Had he risen and admitted his mistake I should never have raised the question again.
– Surely the honorable member does not suggest that the fact that the late Chairman made a mistake is a reason why he should not be re-elected to the position, whether he acknowledged the mistake or not? The Leader of the
Opposition (Mr. Tudor) admits that we are all prone to make mistakes.
– Hear, hear !
– And that we are all reluctant to acknowledge them.
– Not on this side of the House.
– I hold it to be probable that even honorable members opposite are fallible. Let us be fair, and acknowledge that the record of the honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Chanter) stands unchallenged for the impartial and splendid regulation of our Committees.
– Rubbish !
– Although the honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney) clashed with the ex-Chairman of Committees (Mr. Chanter) on a vital matter, and will doubtless tell the House something about it-
– I think I shall.
– I speak with almost as much experience of deliberations of this kind as most honorable members, and I say, without the slightest hesitation or reservation, that the honorable member for Riverina, as Chairman of Committees in the last Parliament, was scrupulously just, .impartial, and able in assisting honorable members in the discharge of their Committee business.
– He assisted his party !
– Not his party; the honorable member for Riverina, as Chairman, ruled as often against mo as against honorable members opposite.
– He is a good party man!
– I do not regard the Chairman of Committees as a . “ party man.” As soon as a man is appointed to the position of Chairman he should shed all colour and atmosphere of party, and that, I think, both the presiding officers of the House have done. I am glad to hear this nomination, and I hope the House will frown down any attempt by Mr. Tudor to belittle the record and ability of the honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Chanter).
– Than a lawyer, I know nobody more able to ,put up a case for or against than is the Treasurer (Mr. Watt) . Possibly the profession of the law allows a man to become a sophist. I am sorry to say that the Treasurer is a sophist; to would argue either way. This election is just another phase of the division of the spoils of office. The Ministerial candidate is one of the six survivors of the noble fourteen who left a certain room upstairs when the present Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), after holding the position of chairman of the party for two days and one night, was afraid to put to the meeting a motion concerning his leadership. The chairmanship is one of the paid positions of the House. With new recruits, the National Labour party number nine, and they ‘have already more than their fair proportion of offices. I accuse the honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Chanter) of having been absolutely unjust while he occupied the position of Chairman. Following the occasion on which I was ordered out of the House - the first time in a parliamentary career of thirty years - the Chairman left the chair, walked on to the floor of the House, and, by his remarks, rubbed the salt into the open wound. I placed the incident on record! in Hansard in the form of a sworn declaration. On a subsequent date the Labour Whip told me that my declaration was being discussed in the House. I came into the House, and the Minister for the Navy appealed to me to agree to expunge the declaration from the records of the House. He stated that the declaration had been read when the House was in Committee, and’ was, therefore, out of order. The honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Chanter), as Chairman of Committees, should have known whether the reading of the document was in accordance with the Standing Orders. However, I was in a good humour when the Minister for the Navy (Sir Joseph Cook) appealed to me, and, after first requesting that a member from each side of the House should be chosen to investigate the matter, and decide whether the Chairman or I was in the wrong, I agreed to leave the matter in his hands. Ultimately the honorable member for Riverina would not indorse his statement. All that. I desired him to do was to admit that he had made a mistake. I did not want an apology from a man older in years than I am. He would not acknowledge that he was wrong. The sworn declaration was expunged from the records. The Minister for the Navy kept his contract. I remember him saying to the Chairman, “ If I were you, sir, I would withdraw and apologize, and so have done with the matter.” I told the honorable member for Riverina that if he swore a declaration that my statement was wrong, I would prosecute him for perjury. I could do nothing more. He accused me of going into his district on one occasion to speak against his re-election. The only time I went into bis electorate during elections was when I went, at my own expense, to urge the Labour branches of the district to adopt him as their candidate. His own common sense ought to have told him that my constituents required my presence in Melbourne during an election at which I was opposed. Even now, if the honorable gentleman will say that he regretted that he made a mistake, I will accept his word willingly. I come now to a humorous incident. Did not he, when Chairman, call me to order, and ask me to sit down, when I was singing God Save the King!* And did I not tell him and the Ministry that I would see them damned first? Whenever I am singing God Save the King, or whatever is the national song of the British race, I shall sing it standing. If the discussion to-day does nothing else, it will at least prove to the honorable member for Riverina that he, like others, is fallible. It would have been better if he, acting on the advice of the Minister for the Navy, had acknowledged that he had made a mistake, instead of compelling me to take the advantage of an opportunity, which occurs only once in three years, to register my protest. Let any honorable member read the declaration, and ask himself if any man could do more to prove that he had all the evidence on his side.
.- Having been present in the chamber throughout all the proceedings referred to by the Leader of the Opposition, it is only fair to those who were not present on that occasion that I should state a little more than has been said with regard to the incident. Concerning the remarks of the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Tudor) I am able to state ‘ that everything he said regarding what happened upon the occasion in question is absolutely accurate. I can, from my own recollection, confirm his account. But, with regard to the implication that the Chairman of Committees in the last Parliament (the Hon. J. M. Chanter) was deliberately and intentionally unfair, I think it only right that one who was present and had personal knowledge of the whole incident should protest. There is not the slightest doubt regarding what occurred. There had been an all-night sitting. I understand that there are some twenty new members in this chamber. Most, if not all of them, are unfamiliar with all-night sittings. Possibly they will have become painfully familiar with such occurrences before long.
– You were one of those who were always looking for allnight sittings. You would come here every day with your swag up.
– That is not the point now, : Honorable members had gone through an all-night sitting of the House and we were resuming next day. The Chairman of Committees (Mr. Chanter) obviously referred- to and relied upon his notes. It is equally obvious that his notes on that occasion were inaccurate. There is not an honorable member of this House who fails to realize that the Chairman honestly believed that the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Tudor) had spoken twice.
– Why has he not said so?
– I cannot say. These situations are, after all, more the outcome of habit than anything else. Some people readily admit their mistakes, others do not; I have been accused by my friends of being one who is always too ready to apologize, and who withdraws what may be deemed to be an objectionable statement far too soon. It may be that there are honorable members opposite who are tardy in making reparation for ‘hasty and unjust statements with respect to honorable members upon this side.
– I have always apologized for anything unkind I may have said about you.
– I am glad to hear that, ‘ and I believe it is true also. But I object to this whole subject being raised now, and to the stressing of the implication that Mr. Chanter was, upon the occasion in question, deliberately unfair. I am satisfied that he was not, but that he made a purely accidental mistake, and that he honestly believed that the honorable member for Yarra had spoken twice.
– When I said that I had to withdraw it.
– I deprecate the fact that recriminations to which, unfortunately, we have become accustomed in the past should so soon be launched in this new Parliament. It was once said of a great house, whose scions came to their doom in- consequence of such principles, that of the past they forget nothing and from it they learn nothing. I trust that those remarks will never be said of the Opposition in this- chamber.
– What we want to know is, are you a Government supporter?
– I am a member of the Australian Country party, which’ is a very good party. I have not risen in support either of the Government or of the Opposition, or, indeed, of any party. This is not a party question, but one having to do with the impartiality of an honorable member who held an office of authority in this House. It is a subject which should be above all party. Had it been raised in a party spirit, such as the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley) has implied, the procedure would be a degradation to this House and to those honorable members responsible. I plead that, in this new Parliament, which” consists of at least one-third new members, and includes the cream of the intellect of the country, as typified by the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Nicholls), who has just interjected, we should endeavour to forget all those bitter memories of the past, all those personal, and almost vindictive, recollections
– Is Mr. Chanter a member of your party ?
– So far as I know, the honorable member for Riverina is perfectly able to answer for himself.
– Did he not attend meetings in your party room-
- Mr. Chanter is as well able to speak for himself as is the honorable member for Darling.
Other honorable members interjecting
– Order! I have called for order several times. I must ask honorable members to obey the Chair.
- Mr. Chanter endeavoured to be perfectly impartial. Upon the occasion under review he made a purely unintentional error.
– Did he admit his error?
– I am delighted to hear the voice of the new honorable member who has just interjected, but I would be still more pleased to listen to him upon an occasion when he was not interjecting during remarks made by myself. I strongly deprecate that this matter should have been raised, and I ask the House to unanimously elect the honorable member for Riverina to the office of Chairman of Committees.
.- I move, by way of amendment -
That the words “ Riverina (the Hon. John Moore Chanter) “ be omitted, and the words “ Dalley (Mr. William George Mahony) “ be inserted in lieu thereof.
It is unnecessary for me to add that honorable members oh this side of the chamber believe that Mr. Mahony would carry out his duties equally as well as, if not better than, the honorable member who was Chairman of Committees during the last Parliament. I believe, at any rate, that no such quarrelling and fault-finding would have to be recorded, after three years’ occupancy of the chair in Committee by the honorable member for Dalley as during the regime of ‘ the honorable member for Riverina.
.- I second the amendment. I see no reason why these positions should not be contested. From whatever side of the House a member is chosen to occupy the position of a presiding officer, we have a right to look to him to deal out evenhanded justice. I know that there have been times when we have had an all-night sitting, after a long day in Committee, and without any sleep, when we say and do things which we afterwards regret. We usually find that if a man has made a mistake he has been ready to make amends. In the first words which I spoke here I said that it was likely that I would say and do things on the spur of the moment which I might afterwards have cause to regret, but that if I did I hoped that; I would always be found sufficiently manly to admit my mistake and own up, whether that involved a public apology or not.
– The Chairman of Committees should set lau example in such matters.
– I agree that our presiding officers, ki matters pertaining to the observance of the Standing Orders and decorum, should present a pattern and example which we should all be delighted to follow. The evidence which the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Tudor) has presented this morning shows conclusively that the gentleman who occupied the position of Chairman of Committees in the last Parliament made a mistake, and failed to admit it. I think that he ought now, even at the eleventh hour, to admit the mistake he made. A man who shows himself reluctant to admit that he made a mistake is likely, in the position of Chairman of Committees, to commit grievous errors in the future. I feel sure that if it had been the Prime Minister who suffered as the result of the mistake made by the honorable member for Riverina as Chairman of Committees in the last Parliament, he would have been only too ready to admit his mistake, but because it was the Leader of the Opposition who suffered as the result of his mistake, he is not prepared to admit it, even at the eleventh hour.
– That is a very grave charge to make.
– Then why has the honorable member for Riverina not admitted his mistake before? We should not forget that his denial of the right of the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Tudor) to speak a second time upon a clause of a Bill in Committee was accompanied by a threat which meant expulsion from the Chamber if the order of the Chair was not obeyed. It should be remembered, also, that the honorable member for Yarra deports himself in thi* Chamber in a way which honorable members generally might well follow. He is amongst the least offensive members of the House, and is prompt in obeying the demands of the Chair. I have pleasure in seconding the amendment moved by the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley), in order that honorable members may he given an opportunity to show that they do not approve of some of the actions of the Chairman of Committees in the last Parliament, and may be able to record their votes against his election on this occasion.
There seems to be a happy combination between the so-called Nationalist party and the so-called Country party.We have had an impassioned address by the honorable member for Grampians (Mr. Jowett), who urged the House to be unanimous in. placing the honorable member for Riverina in the chair as Chairman of Committees of this Parliament. It is significant that this appeal should have come from the Deputy Chairman of the Country party. It gives colour -to the rumour daily gaining currency that, after all, the so-called Country party is merely an unimportant wing of the National party.
– Listen to the sneer at the “so-called” Country party.
– By their votes on this question honorable members will show where they are. The records of divisions in this House live, and they indicate exactly the position of parties.
– Of course, this is a party question, according to the honorable member.
– It seems to me that the honorable member for Grampians is to-day just as responsive to the crack of the Ministerial whip ashe was in the last Parliament. I should prefer to see some evidence of heart and fight in the Country party, even upon a comparatively unimportant question.
– That is the honorable member’s trouble, is it not?
– We shall yet have plenty of trouble. It is sometimes desirable to gird a little at a certain section in this House when we find its members so amenable to the demands of the party in a majority. I shall content myself by saying that I will support the amendment in ‘the hope that a majority of the members of this House will see their way to make a change in the occupant of the position of Chairman of Committees.
– I have nothing to say against the honorable member for Riverina as Chairman of Committees. I suppose that, like every other Chairman, he always looks after his pals. The only fair man I ever struck was Mr. Alex. Poynton, the honorable member for Grey. He made me go down on my knees, and apologize to him, when he was acting as Chairman of Committees, although he was a member of our party at the time. There was not much favoritism about that. The debate has shown that, the Country party, notwithstanding all the protestations wo have heard that it is separate and alone, has an honorable understanding with the Government. That has been made plain by the honorable member for Grampians (Mr. Jowett).
– There will be another honorable member for Maranoa in three years’ time.
– The party to which the honorable member belongs has been trying for the last eight Parliaments to secure another member for Maranoa. If he will be my opponentI can tell him that I will go next time-
– Every time the honorable member’s friends have said that I would be out I have been returned. I can tell him that I will be in this Parliament when he will be out.
– Order ! The honorable member is wandering away from the question.
– I have told the honorable member for Oxley and his friends in Brisbane that they will not get me out as member for Maranoa unless they cut the Barcoo out of my electorate. I am satisfied that the Country party is just as conservative as the other crowd opposite, and is only a Country party in name.
– The Country party seems to be worrying the honorable member.
– Order ! The honorable member will resume his seat. There seems to be some misapprehension on the part of certain honorable members as to the question before the Chair. The question is the election of a Chairman of Committees, and not the views of parties in this House.
– I do not know the name of the gentleman who interrupted me, or where he comes from, but after he has been here a little while he will understand that I shall not worry very much about himself or his party. The honorable member for Grampians has given the show away. I remember that, in connexion with a Wheat Commission which was inquiring in Adelaide, a statement was made to the effect that there was no combination and no Trust, but there was an honorable understanding, and it appears to me that the Prime Minister and his party have an honorable understanding if not with the Country party, them with the officials of that party, including the honorable member for Grampians. It is idle for us to nominate a candidate from this side. This is supposed to be an election by the House, but we know that it has been fixed up. Directly I came to Melbourne a member of the Farmers’ party told me that the honorable member for Lang (Mr. Johnson) was going to be Speaker, and the honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Chanter) was going to be Chairman of Committees. That is a peculiar thing, but he was a good tipster, if he was nothing else. If the officials of the party had not been discussing this particular matter, the individual members had evidently been discussing it among themselves. To debate the election of Chairman of Committees is beating the air, because it is a foregone conclusion that the honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Chanter) is to be the man. I would point out to him that it is a hard thing for any man, when he does another a wrong, to own up to it publicly.
– I do not see that it should be.
– Well, it is a hard thing. The honorable member for Riverina accused another honorable member of doing something that he did not do, and then had the power of expelling him, when that man was leader of our party. If I had been in the position of our leader I should simply have sat down and said, “ I am sticking for the truth, not for parliamentary procedure. Put me out.” If he had been put out then for telling the truth, he would have had the sympathy, not only of the House, but of every man outside who believes that truth and justice should prevail above all things.
– The honorable member for Riverina had one of our members put out contrary to the Standing Orders.
– The honorable member for Melbourne Pouts (Mr. Mathews) has escaped being put out many a time when he should have been. If he was put out on one occasion when he should not have been, it was only one instance the other way. I feel that the honorable member for Riverina, when elected, will be as fair as he possibly can be. He may make errors, but every man makes errors. If our protest does no harm or no good, it will at least let him know the feelings of us who are in opposition. I would remind the honorable member for Grampians (Mr. Jowett) that ever since he has been in Parliament he has had the pleasure of sitting behind the Government. When he has a taste of sitting in Opposition, with a brutal majority against him on that side, such as we have against us now, I wonder whether he will put up as good a fight as we have done. During his first session he was always looking for an all-night sitting. He would come up here wrapped up in an overcoat weighing about 56 lbs., and with a- swag on his back like a black gin’s benjamin, which had been carried about .the bush for twelve months, and with a billy-can and a water-bag in hishand, looking for it. No wonder the honorable member talks about all-night sittings.
– I support the nomination of the- honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony). I well remember the incident referred to by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Tudor). Honorable members should, perhaps, sympathize with the honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Chanter) instead of criticising him so severely. He has had considerable experience in the chair, but he has reached such a stage that he can no longer be relied upon. He has fallen into a condition of senile decay, and perhaps on that account it might be wise to relieve him of such an important position.
Question - That the words “ Riverina (the Hon. John Moore Chanter) “ be omitted with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ Dalley (Mr. William George Mahony) “ (Mr. Blakeley^ amendment) - put. The House divided.
Question so resolved in the negative.
Question - That the original question be agreed to - put. The House divided.
Majority … … 23
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
.- I desire to acknowledge the honour which has been paid me by electing me to the important position of Chairman of Committees arid Deputy Speaker of the House. I wish especially to thank the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Atkinson) and the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Bamford) for having nominated me, and the other honorable gentlemen who have spoken to the motion. I desire also to assure honorable members that nothing that has taken place in this debate, no criticism passed upon me, “will influence me in the slightest degree in the performance of my duty. When I take the chair I know no party in this House, and I forget everything that has been said. I want to remind honorable members, if they will permit me to do so, without adopting the form of a lecture, that for the good conduct of business here there are Standing Orders made and approved by honorable members themselves for the guidance and direction of Mr. Speaker and myself when we occupy our judicial positions. If these Standing Orders are thought to be inadequate, it is within the power of honorable members to alter them. It is the duty - the imperative duty - of the presiding officers to interpret them to the best of their ability, and in an impartial manner. I may also be permitted to remind honorable members that the dignity and decorum of this House cannot be maintained by presiding officers without the assistance of honorable members themselves. They must have that support. If Mr. Speaker or I, when acting in our respective capacities, make mistakes, we are immediately open to challenge.I leave my past record in the hands of those honorable members with whom I have been associated, and my future with the members of the present Parliament. I shall be judged by my actions. All I can say is that I shall do my duty fearlessly and impartially, and as courteously as possible, in accordance with the Standing Orders. Again I thank honorable members for the honour they have conferred on me.
.- I rise to offer my very warm congratulations to the honorable member who has just resumed these new responsibilities. As an old parliamentarian, and one who, I believe, has come under the lash both - of Mr. Speaker and the Chairman of Committees
– Not lately.
– May I suggest that we always think the other fellow, -and not ourselves, deserving of reproof? I now admit quite frankly that when I have come under the lash either of Mr. Speaker or the Chairman of Committees, I think I deserved it, though sometimes I thought otherwise. But whatever our individual opinions, or our likes and dislikes may be, we should not forget what we owe to those who are intrusted with the important duty of presiding over the proceedings in this House. Now. that the little breeze is over - I regret very much that it should have blown over these proceedings, and particularly in connexion with a man of the venerable character of Mr. Chanter
– But he never acknowledges his mistakes.
– We have heard a good deal this morning from honorable members opposite about acknowledging mistakes, and in connexion with this matter I do not charge my memory -with one single case in which a member of that side ever acknowledged an error.
– Because we are always right.
– Now, there is the explanation ! The honorable member for East Sydney declares, that honorable members opposite are always right.
Ti want to say, however, that I have known Mr. Chanter for many years. I knew him when he was a Minister in the !New South Wales Government thirty-four years ago, and I am exceedingly pleased to see him occupying the position of Chairman of Committees in this House at this time of day. I am sure we shall be safe in his hands, and I congratulate him.
– You are all right.
– That may be so, though no one’ knows better than the honorable member who has interjected that I have not always been safe. But these are little incidents in the parliamentary life of every honorable member. I feel very warmly towards my honorable friend who has just been elected to this important position, and I hope he will have a successful three years of office.
– Is it not a fact that the Minister is about to transfer to a calmer atmosphere ?
– No, I do not know anything about it. I like the society of my honorable friends opposite so much that I propose to stay amongst them. As to my honorable friend, the Chairman of Committees, I hope he will have good health and strength for the performance of his arduous duties, for, indeed, they are arduous in these days. Sometimes, I think we do not make enough allowance for Mr. Speaker or the Chairman of Committees. We are prone to forget that they are human beings and, like ourselves, subject to all the disabilities of human nature. If we can only think of them just as men like ourselves, serving in their high offices to the best of their ability, I think we would then make more allowances and have more consideration for them. Notwithstanding the criticism that has been offered to-day, I feel that I can assure Mr. Chanter of the warm support of honorable members in the discharge of his duties.
– I desire to make a personal explanation in connexion with the vote that has just been taken. Owing to the fact that the bells began to ring whilst honorable members on both sides were on their feet, I -was not aware that the time within which honorable members could cross the Chamber had expired. I intended to vote on the other side. Three of my colleagues in the Country party were in the same position. I make this explanation on behalf of myself and my two colleagues1. Although our votes were recorded with the “ Ayes,” it was our intention to vote with the “ Noes.”
– I am one of the three.
– I am sure we all sympathize with those honorable members who made a mistake in recording their votes on the last division. We often make mistakes in voting, and these honorable members have acknowledged that they omitted to cross the chamber at the proper time. I think it is a lesson to us all that we should not vote against people because they have made mistakes.
Government Expenditure - Shipping Losses - Directorate of War Propaganda - Cancellation of Shipbuilding Contracts - Marine Engineers’ Strike - Cost of Living - Profiteering : War Precautions Act
Motion (by Mr. Watt) proposed -
That the House do now resolve itself into a Committee to consider the Supply to be granted to His Majesty.
.- Earlier in to-day’s proceedings the Prime Minister moved the suspension of the Standing Orders to enable a Supply Bill to be introduced before the debate on the Address-in-Reply had been concluded. Nothing was said when that motion was submitted, and it was formally agreed to. I thought at the time that it was necessary to grant Supply to enable the members of the Civil Service to be paid, and I expected the Prime Minister to give reasons for submitting the motion. I understand the procedure is that before agreeing to a motion of this nature honorable members have an opportunity of ventilating grievances. The Government are about to ask for the sinews of war to enable them to carry on. Is Supply to be granted for any particular time?
– For three months.
– I have not heard that from a Minister of the Crown.
– We cannot tell the honorable member until we get into Committee.
– I think we ought to have that information before, because when the House goes into Committee we shall have virtually agreed to some amount.
– Some amount.
– I do not know how much. Unless there is some urgent reason, such as facilitating the payments of civil servants, I shall certainly object. Although the Government have been returned by a large majority, we do not know what support they are likely to receive from the House, because we have not had an opportunity of testing their strength. We do not know whether the party which calls itself the Country party is going to support or oppose the Government.
– Why does the honorable member say “ the party which calls itself the Country party ‘ ‘ ?
– I say it advisedly, and not offensively. But that is the view I hold regarding it. Before I agree to the motion to go into Committee of Supply I wish to hear from the Prime Minister, the Treasurer, or from one of the Ministers, something in regardto what I consider has been extravagant and reckless expenditure on the part of the Government. Honorable members may smile, but I am sure that the majority of the people of Australia is anxious to have some particulars in regard to this matter. It is strange, indeed, that the AuditorGeneral’s report, which was issued about eight months ago, was laid on the table of this House only yesterday. I have not had an opportunity ofperusing it, and I do not believe ithas been printed or made available, to honorable members. I notice, however, from the press that there are certain items of expenditure and certain losses on which some information should be given. I refer to a statement in the daily press of to-day, headed “ Shipping Losses,” which reads -
Details are furnished of the loss entailed upon the Commonwealth in connexion with shipbuilding in America. An agreement was made with the Patterson, McDonald Shipbuilding Company, Seattle, to construct ten wooden cargo-carrying steamers at a cost of 5,300,000 dollars. Subsequently the contract was so amended that the cost would have been 8,900,000 dollars. Advice had, Mr. Israel added, been received that eight of the ships had been sold at a loss of £326,000. In view of the enormous increase in cost compared with the original contract, a very fortunate sale would appear to have been made.
I wish to know what the Government have to say in regard to that. The paper from which this statement is taken supports the Government - I do not know upon what grounds - and thestatement concludes, “ a very fortunate sale would appear to have been made.” The people of this country, as well as the members of this House, should have some explanation, and I am sure the primary producers in particular will want to know more about it.
– Is the honorable member quoting from the Argus?
– I am.
– You do not always quote the Argus.
– Perhaps not. I am quoting from the Auditor-General’s report, as published in the Argus, which shows that an alteration was made in the contract involving an increased cost of some hundreds of thousands of dollars, and that on the sale of these ships there was a loss of £326,000.
– Did he say anything about the Sydney contract?
– I intend to refer to that. The Auditor-General’s report continues -
An expensive experiment was the establishment of a Directorate of War Propaganda. It had a very brief existence, and cost £2,266;
I want to know all about that, and the reason for its discontinuance. It may be that Ministers are able to give some satisfactory explanation, and, if so, well and good. The report also refers to the cancellation of a contract with the Wallace Power Boat Company Limited, in the following terms: -
Cancellation of a contract with the Wallace Power Boat Company Limited, of New South Wales, for the construction of six wooden barquentines cost, including progress payments, £51,839, while the cancellation of another contract with Hughes, Martin, and Washington Limited, New South Wales, cost £72,500.
Why was it necessary to cancel those contracts, ‘and why was such a loss incurred ?
– That information was given to the House last year.
– If a satisfactory explanation can be given, I shall have nothing further to say; but on the face of the Auditor-General’s report, it does not appear that any great business capacity was shown by the Government in making contracts which were subsequently cancelled, and at a loss to the taxpayers of such a large amount of money. If they can give an explanation, let them give it. I am also anxious to know before the House resolves itself into a Committee of Supply, who bore the expense in connexion with the hold-up of shipping, arising out of the dispute with the Institute of Marine Engineers. I want to know whether a large proportion of that expense of holding up ships which do not belong to the Commonwealth, was borne by the Commonwealth Government. It is a mostimportant matter, in which a very large majority of the people of Australia are interested, and if that expense was borne by the Government, we should have a full statement of the reasons why. I cannot go categorically into all the matters I wish to refer to,upon which the Government could be criticised at this moment, but there are some things on which it is appropriate a pronouncement should be made at the earliest possible moment, because they are of vital importance, affecting as they do the interests of the whole of the people. We all know that, since the election’s of the 13th December last, there has been a sharp rise in the cost of living.
– That was only natural.
– Yes. It was pointed out by candidates who faced the electors that it would come about. I do not quarrel with the decision of the people of Australia, but I feel it is my duty in the interests of the electors of West Sydney to have something to say on this matter, because, although we have not succeeded in preventing a Government getting into power that is, in my opinion, backed by the profiteering interests of the country, we may still be able to do something in order to prevent that profiteering pressing too heavily on the people.
– The honorable member advised the people to vote against giving the Commonwealth Government the necessary powers to deal with profiteering.
– The High Court has not yet decided that the Commonwealth Government have not the power to deal with profiteering. Imagine an interjection of that sort coming from, an honorable member supporting the Government when he knows that, at the very height of their power, under the War Precautions Act, they repealed all regulations having anything to do with the controlling of profiteering !
– It was done at the instigation of Opposition members.
– Not at all. There is no better evidence of what the Government believed to be their power under the War Precautions Act than the drastic regulation proclaimed the other day dealing with the Institute of Marine Engineers, the most undemocratic regulation ever issued by a British Government. ‘ That proclamation, which prevented a body of men from making use of their own funds for the maintenance of their wives and families without the consent of the AttorneyGeneral, was ample evidence of the view whichthe Attorney-General (Mr. Hughes) holds of the powers the Government possess under the War Precautions Act. Otherwise it was a gigantic piece of bluff on the ‘part of the Government in order to achieve the result they desired. As I was saying, the Government, at the height of their power, when there could be no dispute as to their having complete authority under the War Precautions Act, repealed all regulations which had any bearing upon a reduction- in the cost of living in Australia. I ask leave to continue my remarks on a future occasion.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
As honorable members know, there is to be a luncheon- to Sir Ross Smith and his companions, ari-d seeing that the House usually adjourns on Friday at 4 o’clock, if honorable members have no objection, it would perhaps be as well to adjourn now.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 4.58 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 26 February 1920, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1920/19200226_reps_8_91/>.